Co-op and Combos In Combat?

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Right now I've been basically running a tutorial for my games. After a few bad combat encounters and figuring out what my groups like, I want to make combat more thoughtful.

I had them fight a man in an encounter where the goal was to get him on his ass. I noticed that a lot of people were doing their own thing and they did win, but never fulfilled roles such as the Tank, Support, Healer...etc So this next session I was going to set them up with one last tutorial before setting loose the evil **** that could kill them if they're not careful: A set of goblins the same size as the party and with similar stats.

Right now we have a Paladin, a Thief with Psychic powers (he can light things on fire, move things with telepathy, read minds and create a shield… don’t ask...), a Fighter, a Ranger, and a small purple skinned ginger Wizard with an afro named Woobie. They just reached second level and I wanted to test and see if they could beat themselves by teamwork. This troop of goblins would consist of a Paladin goblin, a Psion or blue goblin, a hobgoblin, an Archer goblin and a witchdoctor goblin with their own set of moves/abilities/spells/tools/thingsthatcanbeusedtokillotherthingsinacreativemanner.

My question is: What kind of combos can be seen when really good teamwork is put into play, how often is teamwork seen in games in general, and a resource or some kind of place to find combos to use in game? And of course, can any of them be effective?

What edition?
(it really does make a huge difference) 
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis

Well... I want to say that we run a 3.5 game, but really it's all homebrew and we rarely follow all the rules because we lack the books and generally get our info from the internet. We take from both 3.5 and 4th when needed, and I also implement a lot of solos as boss monsters, but rules have been changing to accommodate for the fact that the only one who’s not new is myself.


 


I’m perfectly willing to implement rules and ideas from older versions but I try to focus on 3.5.

In my game last week I improvised something that my PC did as a combo of sorts right on the spot.

They were fighting a rock golem. The two dwarf tanks got the same initative roll and asked if they could attack at the same time. I had no problem doing this. The mage that went a couple spots ahead of them casted a ray of frost spell on the golem. I just described it hitting him in the arm based on where the mage was in the room.

The dwarves then decided to focus their attacks on that arm. I figured it was magically frozen rock now, and that it had a chance to shatter easier. They both rolled critical hits, after the damage was rolled I just had the arm shatter into a shower of rocks. The three of them worked in combo to pick apart the golem bit by bit.

I think I gave the tanks +2 to attack since they were side by side infront of the golem, keeping it from getting to the rest of the party. The frozen rock thing was on the fly. I would say most combo attacks would depend on the situation and if they make sense.
Well... I want to say that we run a 3.5 game, but really it's all homebrew and we rarely follow all the rules because we lack the books and generally get our info from the internet. We take from both 3.5 and 4th when needed, and I also implement a lot of solos as boss monsters, but rules have been changing to accommodate for the fact that the only one who’s not new is myself.

I’m perfectly willing to implement rules and ideas from older versions but I try to focus on 3.5.

Part of why people complain about 4th Edition is that they codified combat roles the way some video games do. But, since you seem to want them to play those roles, perhaps you should take a page from 4th Edition. Give the "tank" a mark, which makes his allies harder to hit, and punishes the target for trying. Give the "healer" a couple of essentially free healing abilities. Give the "support" a way to give someone an extra attack every now and then. The "damage" is probably taken care of, but if there's a particular PC that isn't well suited to the other roles, give them an extra 1d6 damage per round, or something. The hope is that they would then fill their roles without a lot of effort.

Or just try playing 4th Edition.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

My question is: What kind of combos can be seen when really good teamwork is put into play, how often is teamwork seen in games in general, and a resource or some kind of place to find combos to use in game? And of course, can any of them be effective?



in 3e...

Flanking - position the goblin party so that the PCs are more surrounded.

Cover/concealment - position the goblins so that the party has a harder time engaging and hitting them.

there is no cleric or bard so support buffs (like cleric 1st level spell "bless") are a little lacking.  Depending on what spells the wizard/witchdoctor has, he/she/it could be the "support" class.  Spells like Obscuring Mist, Grease, Cause Fear, Enlarge Person, Magic Weapon can benefit other party members or hinder the enemy.

That being said, the combat round is six seconds long, decisions about what to do should reflect that.  One of the biggest complaints about combat in 3e and 4e is that it has become too tactical; too many options to consider bogs down the process.  teamwork is a good thing, but sometimes the combat situation does not allow for intricate teamwork.  Sometimes it boils down to each party member taking on a single enemy in the hopes of either killing he/she/it or living long enough for another party member to finish off his target and then helping out.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.

It's not that I want them to fulfill roles, although that would be nice, I'm more focused on working together to solve problems rather than hit it until it stops moving. I didn't really give an example of this but I think I have one:

I play a lot of TF2, and love it when my team works together to solve a problem. One instance was that while I was attempting to capture the control point and the entire other team had respawned. It was just me as a soldier, a heavy, and a gun slinger engineer. The engi popped down a dispenser for heals and ammo while moving to the left covering the flank, the heavy stayed on the point with his minigun revved while I moved to the right to route. The Engi popped down the mini after the other team consisting of 6 players attempting to flank the heavy, got distracted long enough with the mini sentry, while I came in with a buff banner from behind and finished them off.

Having roles is ok, but what I really want to do is show them how nasty they can be when they work as a single unit rather than a group of people with swords and magic. And it's not that I only want them to fit a role; if a wizard can do something tanky when they need it, go for it! So long as people are having fun then I don't care. But with this group they want teamwork and it’s hard not to just beat it until it stops moving because there's too many other options to go through.


I think what I was trying to get at was that I want to throw more dangerous stuff that statistically they can’t deal with, but with teamwork they can. And I want to show them how to do this but I’m lacking in overly good examples because I’m not as experienced as a should be.

What you are looking for will really only come with experience.  You as the DM can give the players subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) hints but 3e and 4e have very complex tactical combat rules that even after years of experience, veteran players need reminding of Surprised.  In the course of the campaign your players will feel out each others' abilities (strengths and weaknesses) and through serendipity will find out what works and what does not.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
It's not that I want them to fulfill roles, although that would be nice, I'm more focused on working together to solve problems rather than hit it until it stops moving. I didn't really give an example of this but I think I have one:

I play a lot of TF2, and love it when my team works together to solve a problem. One instance was that while I was attempting to capture the control point and the entire other team had respawned.

This is a fascinating example, because it's an example of something that D&D is generally terrible at: providing problems to solve, rather than things to hit until they stop moving.

Try this for a session: give both sides a goal to attain, such as getting one of their members to occupy a particular point on the map for one round. If you need to, state that doing so teleports allies into the area and enemies out, and magically secures the area. Then give the scene a time limit of, say, 5 rounds, after which both sides are teleported out and the area is magically secured, i.e. no one wins.

Now the players have a problem to solve: how to get a PC into position and keep the enemy out of position. They could just win by killing the other side, but that might take too long, for a couple of reasons. They could gain a partial victory by keeping the enemy at bay, but also not risking themselves. Or they could get clever and attain a full victory.

Slaughter is boring and usually doable without much finesse. Other goals, and time limits, will make the players have to think, and weigh options and consequences.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

It's not that I want them to fulfill roles, although that would be nice, I'm more focused on working together to solve problems rather than hit it until it stops moving. I didn't really give an example of this but I think I have one:

I play a lot of TF2, and love it when my team works together to solve a problem. One instance was that while I was attempting to capture the control point and the entire other team had respawned. It was just me as a soldier, a heavy, and a gun slinger engineer. The engi popped down a dispenser for heals and ammo while moving to the left covering the flank, the heavy stayed on the point with his minigun revved while I moved to the right to route. The Engi popped down the mini after the other team consisting of 6 players attempting to flank the heavy, got distracted long enough with the mini sentry, while I came in with a buff banner from behind and finished them off.

Having roles is ok, but what I really want to do is show them how nasty they can be when they work as a single unit rather than a group of people with swords and magic. And it's not that I only want them to fit a role; if a wizard can do something tanky when they need it, go for it! So long as people are having fun then I don't care. But with this group they want teamwork and it’s hard not to just beat it until it stops moving because there's too many other options to go through.


I think what I was trying to get at was that I want to throw more dangerous stuff that statistically they can’t deal with, but with teamwork they can. And I want to show them how to do this but I’m lacking in overly good examples because I’m not as experienced as a should be.


You could show the players some monsters or NPCs using teamwork.

The weak monsters working together might make for a greater-than-normal challenge for the party.

The NPC's could be allies. While the players are fighting one monster with the basic attack-until-it-dies strategy, the NPCs dispatch identical monster quickly with a little teamwork.

If the players are smart, they'll see the benefit of teamwork without you forcing them to play it that way.

If not, they'll take a potentially easy encounter, bang their heads against it until they die and complain about what a terrible DM you are. I'm joking.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I tend to play 3.5e, but the version you're playing reminds me of all the good parts of 2nd edition, lots of interesting house-rules to supplement a bare mechanic. I try to word any advice in such a way that it works in any system.

My immediate thought was the psionic thief making a shield so afro named Woobie can cast powerful magics without much worry about the archer. If you have a good strong damage dealer it's hard to hit much at that level. One of the weaker guys can help his ally out, possibly giving him a bonus to hit his opponent. The thief can move to flank the opponent after the wizard casts a spell. The spell choice here can be done with teamwork in mind. Then, the thief can backstab/sneak attack the flanked opponent. Beware enemy spellcasters... at such low-level everything is pretty dangerous, but even a single sleep spell or burning hands can nearly wipe out the party if saving throws don't go well.

Tried and true tactics (that I hate to propogate, but they are effective):
1) KILL THE WIZARD!!!!
2) Gang up on the strongest bad guy
3) Finish off the most wounded opponents first (10 opponents with 1 hp each is still 10 opponents attacking you).
4) Don't get your allies in your own spell areas - unless they are immune
5) Never get surrounded (unless you have good area-effect spells that don't hurt allies)
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.

I was going to get a gang of goblins to show them by beating them silly, and now that I think about it I could probably use this strategy against them. Mainly I was hoping for strange combos like the shield on the wizard that I would have never thought of. I thought maybe bringing in some mobile cover like barrels the goblins can push/roll around.

Thanks Joseph, this really helped! :D 

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