Swiping attacks when dealing with swarms.

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Hello there. 

Wanted to know how other DM's deal with Fighter when it comes to swamrs. I know the MM list specific rules about swarms but one of the fighters in the group asked me about if he can swing his weapon in an arcing form and try to hit multiple creatures. Eventually I just had him rull a 1d6 for number of creatures attacking him and then roll an attack roll with -3 pendenlty. 

Thanks
 
The mechanics governing a swarm is as if the creature was a single entity. Fictionally, it's multiple enemies. Resolve it as you would any other individual monster, along with whatever traits the stat block details (such as half damage from melee or ranged attacks). Fictionally, the fighter can swing his weapon in an arc and may be hitting and killing multiple creatures, but it's all the same to the swarm mechanically.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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First of all, yes of course he can. And....

You came up with a decent "and." If you're never not sure what the "and" should be, talk to your players. I have no doubt that the player who suggested this had some thoughts he would have been willing to share about the effect (if the not the precise mechanic) he expected from such a move.

Another thing to consider is that the weapon in question might have a flat side, which might be more useful in these situations.

It has helped me immensely to think of HP loss as "stress" rather than "damage" and to think of "0 HP" as conditions other than death that nonetheless remove the target as a threat. It's easy for me to imagine that swiping a weapon through swarm enough times (assuming the constituents were large enough to be cut) would stress out the organization until eventually it lost cohesion.

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

First of all, yes of course he can. And....

You came up with a decent "and." If you're never not sure what the "and" should be, talk to your players. I have no doubt that the player who suggested this had some thoughts he would have been willing to share about the effect (if the not the precise mechanic) he expected from such a move.

Another thing to consider is that the weapon in question might have a flat side, which might be more useful in these situations.

It has helped me immensely to think of HP loss as "stress" rather than "damage" and to think of "0 HP" as conditions other than death that nonetheless remove the target as a threat. It's easy for me to imagine that swiping a weapon through swarm enough times (assuming the constituents were large enough to be cut) would stress out the organization until eventually it lost cohesion.

Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm really inteurged by your "HP as stress" system. Ironoicly I've been trying to change the HP to something that would make combat challanging and satisfying. I might use that system if you don't mind. As a DM i've always hated killing PC so I always say that a as a DM I am not out to kill my players so trying to balance combat and challange at the same time does require more work on my part.

I've been working on some revisions of my own, If you're interested then PM me and we can do some info exchange. 

Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm really inteurged by your "HP as stress" system. Ironoicly I've been trying to change the HP to something that would make combat challanging and satisfying. I might use that system if you don't mind.

Not every form of attack is easily translated to "stress," but most of them are, and much more easily than translating them into physical injury. No one walks around with an arrow sticking out of them, let alone fights at full efficiency.

Furthermore, when dealing with clearly non-magical HP restoration, such as a warlord's Inspiring Word in 4th Edition, it's easier to imagine an alleviation of stress, rather than that the warlord causes wounds to close up.

As a DM i've always hated killing PC so I always say that a as a DM I am not out to kill my players so trying to balance combat and challange at the same time does require more work on my part.

Yes, this is the constant dilemma. It's why D&D put in Raise Dead, because we want to walk that knife's edge, but if that edge is going to be real then sometimes we have to fall off it.

But guess what: just because players have to lose sometimes doesn't mean their characters have to die every time they lose. Instead of sweating combat balance, try setting up situations in which the monsters have no particular interest in killing the PCs. Watch TV and movies for examples, because they don't want to kill their characters either, but they do want them to seem challenged. And you'll see that characters in those stories lose all the time. Try it out.

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

Yes but that is just fluff. It doesn't have any mechanical effect. (@OP) 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Yes but that is just fluff. It doesn't have any mechanical effect. (@OP) 

Fighter: "Oh, okay then. Never mind. I'll just swing my sword, as usual, instead of trying to think of cool things to do."
Wizard: "I use burning hands."

Seriously though, what would be the reason for blocking this from having a useful effect? I don't even see a need for a penalty.

In other news, I continue not to see the point of sending in enemies specifically designed to give fighters a hard time. I would appreciate an explanation.

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

A fighter can mark the whole swarm with a single attack, which is something that he couldn't do with 9 minions (another way of representing mass-troops).

The isn't just doing "I swing my sword", at least not in 4e, he has exactly the same number of in-combat powers as the wizard.

Roleplaying is its own reward, punishing the player for not doing so is not fair in my book (every carrot is a stick in disguise). 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
A fighter can mark the whole swarm with a single attack, which is something that he couldn't do with 9 minions (another way of representing mass-troops).

The isn't just doing "I swing my sword", at least not in 4e, he has exactly the same number of in-combat powers as the wizard. 

I'm not sure this has to do with 4e. Even if it does, the point remains for 3.5 and weapon damage types, or similar systems.

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

It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.

It's also not unreasonable just to say "Yes, and..." which I suggested in the first place. What the original poster did was fine, in any edition, if it makes sense to him or her.

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

OP: I answered the question in the context of 4e. If you're playing another edition, please note my answer may not be accurate. (I don't remember the rules of 3.5 anymore despite having played it for 8 years.)

If the fighter wanted to do some kind of close attack such that it was more effective against the swarm, it's just a matter of adjudicating an improvised action, DMG page 42. I would suggest a skill check with a potential for interesting failure followed by an attack and level-appropriate amount of damage. If you're new to DMing, however, it may be easier to work within the fighter's given powers until you've gotten a bit more familiar with the system's limits.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.

I suppose it's not unreasonable, but it's a little naive of us to believe that 4e has that much market penetration. Not everyone realizes that edition matters enough on questions like this to mention (and with "Yes, and..." it doesn't.)

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

And I gave another suggestion. 

If you want me to phrase it in 'yes, and' terms. "Yes, and it looks very impressive. However, as you flail around wildly, you realise that there are more foes than you first thought. Your mighty sweep takes out a wave of foes but dozens swarm forward to take their place"

Roleplay and an awesome scene are their own reward. There is no necessary reason to connect them to mechanics. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.

I suppose it's not unreasonable, but it's a little naive of us to believe that 4e has that much market penetration. Not everyone realizes that edition matters enough on questions like this to mention (and with "Yes, and..." it doesn't.)




If you're talking about monster mechanics, then of course the system matters.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
If you want me to phrase it in 'yes, and' terms. "Yes, and it looks very impressive. However, as you flail around wildly, you realise that there are more foes than you first thought. Your mighty sweep takes out a wave of foes but dozens swarm forward to take their place"

That's blocking. "Hey, cool idea. Nothing happens."

Just saying "Yes, and..." doesn't necessarily accept and add on to the idea, especially if it's immediately followed with a "However."

Roleplay and an awesome scene are their own reward. There is no necessary reason to connect them to mechanics.

That's not the case for everyone. If someone comes up with what they think of as a plausible and creative idea, they expect something to come from that, because they're probably coming up with that idea because they feel like they're not having the kind of effect they'd enjoy having in the scene. It doesn't need to be mechanics, but something should happen, and it should encourage further creativity not stonewall it, negate it, or give it side effects.

It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.

I suppose it's not unreasonable, but it's a little naive of us to believe that 4e has that much market penetration. Not everyone realizes that edition matters enough on questions like this to mention (and with "Yes, and..." it doesn't.)

If you're talking about monster mechanics, then of course the system matters.

This is a DMing board, not a rules board.

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

If you want me to phrase it in 'yes, and' terms. "Yes, and it looks very impressive. However, as you flail around wildly, you realise that there are more foes than you first thought. Your mighty sweep takes out a wave of foes but dozens swarm forward to take their place"

That's blocking. "Hey, cool idea. Nothing happens."

Just saying "Yes, and..." doesn't necessarily accept and add on to the idea, especially if it's immediately followed with a "However."



Except it accepted what he did and gave in-game effect to it. Just because the mechanics didn't change doesn't mean that the scene did not.

Roleplay and an awesome scene are their own reward. There is no necessary reason to connect them to mechanics.

That's not the case for everyone. If someone comes up with what they think of as a plausible and creative idea, they expect something to come from that, because they're probably coming up with that idea because they feel like they're not having the kind of effect they'd enjoy having in the scene. It doesn't need to be mechanics, but something should happen, and it should encourage further creativity not stonewall it, negate it, or give it side effects.



As I said above, giving carrots to someone for roleplaying is the same as giving sticks to someone who doesn't. If they feel they are not having the effect in game that they want to, then that is a matter to be discussed outside the game (as you usually advise). Having a talk with the dm, they could come to the conclusion the DM will use fewer swarms in future, or that he will continue to use swarms so it would be worth the fighter picking close burst powers (of which the fighter has plenty to choose from).  You can deal with any of these issues within the rules set and, as they say, "If it ain't broke...".

It's not unreasonable to default to 4e, unless the OP says otherwise.

I suppose it's not unreasonable, but it's a little naive of us to believe that 4e has that much market penetration. Not everyone realizes that edition matters enough on questions like this to mention (and with "Yes, and..." it doesn't.)

If you're talking about monster mechanics, then of course the system matters.

This is a DMing board, not a rules board.


 

But the DM is working within a ruleset. If I said that you should beef the "use gadgets" skill of the fighter to power up his power-armour because fighters are underpowered, that would be meaningless. He wants advice on a given situation, and that advice will differ within the framework of different rule sets.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@Fardiz: Out of curiosity, if a player wants to have his character do a close attack mechanically because he described it so fictionally (perhaps he knows that's more effective against swarms or perhaps not) and the character doesn't have a close attack power, what do you do?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Except it accept what he did and gave in-game effect to it. Just because the mechanics didn't change doesn't mean that the scene did not.

Any effect was entirely zeroed out in your example.

As I said above, giving carrots to someone for roleplaying is the same as giving sticks to someone who doesn't.

Sounds like something out of Harrison Bergeron.

I'm willing to accept the risk that someone feels a creative person got an advantage over the risk of putting a damper on someone's eager creativity combined with the risk of starting an argument with them.

If they feel they are not having the effect in game that they want to, then that is a matter to be discussed outside the game (as you usually advise).

In the meantime, they can be quite easily accommodated.

Having a talk with the dm, they could come to the conclusion the DM will use fewer swarms in future, or that he will continue to use swarms so it would be worth the fighter picking close burst powers (of which the fighter has plenty to choose from).

Assuming 4e.

You can deal with any of these issues within the rules set and, as they say, "If it ain't broke...".

Adherence to the rules has failed spectacularly in giving me the kind of enjoyment I want out of the game, and further active or passive policing of others' adherence has predictably not increased that enjoyment.

But the DM is working within a ruleset. If I said that you should beef the "use gadgets" skill of the fighter to power up his power-armour because fighters are underpowered, that would be meaningless.

Particularly because that's a rules-based answer on a DM board.

He wants advice on a given situation, and that advice will differ within the framework of different rule sets.

Mine didn't. His decision was fine, no matter the edition.

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

@iserith A close attack is actually a series of attacks, so if he mechanically unable to make all those attacks in one turn, you can describe the transition of one turn to the next still as one large sequence, even if the melee attacks themselves are unrelated.

@Centauri - you gave one answer, I gave another. Both are valid but nothing you have said has made me feel that yours is in any way superior. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@iserith A close attack is actually a series of attacks, so if he mechanically unable to make all those attacks in one turn, you can describe the transition of one turn to the next still as one large sequence, even if the melee attacks themselves are unrelated.



What do you think of the improvised attack option I presented above? It does what the player wants and is still within the rules. In fact, the player takes on an added risk (potential for failed skill check and interesting consequences) for his character in exchange for a possible benefit.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I don't have the rules for improvised attacks to hand (and in the four years I've played the system, I have never seen anyone implement them so I can't comment on their effect in play). 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@Centauri - you gave one answer, I gave another. Both are valid but nothing you have said has made me feel that yours is in any way superior. 

  Superior I don't know about, but one's blocking, the other isn't. That's all.

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

Fair enough. I use improvised actions rules all the time and have gotten good enough with them to adjudicate instantly. Knowing that the DM will gladly adjudicate any idea that pops into their head without bias seems to encourage players to be more creative.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
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Fair enough. I use improvised actions rules all the time and have gotten good enough with them to adjudicate instantly. Knowing that the DM will gladly adjudicate any idea that pops into their head without bias seems to encourage players to be more creative.

That's pretty much my approche to DMing. One thing that frustrates me about playing RPG's on the PC is that the rules are set in stone so you are limited to the mechanics. As a DM; you are the computer running the game but and having flexability is a must. I always like that as a DM you think of so many possiablities and then the player comes along and throws a curve ball at you. 

@Centauri - you gave one answer, I gave another. Both are valid but nothing you have said has made me feel that yours is in any way superior. 

  Superior I don't know about, but one's blocking, the other isn't. That's all.



You're giving it negative connotations, but sure. I don't necessarily that players should be able to do absolutely anything they want. There is a reason they sit down to play that game, which comes with that set of rules. However, seeing as I play with like-minded players that is not an issue. To each their own.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
@Centauri - you gave one answer, I gave another. Both are valid but nothing you have said has made me feel that yours is in any way superior. 

  Superior I don't know about, but one's blocking, the other isn't. That's all.

You're giving it negative connotations, but sure. I don't necessarily that players should be able to do absolutely anything they want.

Creative ideas shouldn't be blocked, but if you're playing with like-minded people they're not likely to suggest anything that should need to be blocked. There's no slippery slope.

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

That's pretty much my approche to DMing. One thing that frustrates me about playing RPG's on the PC is that the rules are set in stone so you are limited to the mechanics. As a DM; you are the computer running the game but and having flexability is a must. I always like that as a DM you think of so many possiablities and then the player comes along and throws a curve ball at you. 



I'm still not sure what edition you play, but as far as my advice goes, 4e is very easy to adjudicate on the fly in a manner that suits your DMing style. Limiting the characters to only what is spelled out in power card format ultimately causes your players to think inside the four corners of their character sheets and approach the challenges you present to them in more or less the same ways every time. To me, that's boring. Not every problem can be solved with Twin Strike!

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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This topic seems mostly resolved, but I thought I'd chip in with my (also 4e) opinion/solution.


The Fighter wants to make his typical slashing attack hit more of the space of the swarm to get around a swarm's tendency to ignore single blows, and because he doesn't have a power for it, it falls under DM adjudication; I'd suggest modelling his attack as a torrent of slashing strikes with a Close Blast 1 instead of a Melee Weapon, and the attack can otherwise function as an MBA. On a glance through the Compendium, I see that Monks have an at-will allowing them to use a Close Blast 2 equivalent that could be even more useful in this situation, so I feel like the adjudication is reasonable.
Most of these seem like good ideas.  The first one that pops into my head is to allow the fighter to use an attack and not halve his damage for attacking a swarm.  in return, he grants CA, as his wild swing across the front line and into the ranks is likely to open up his sword arm to counter-attacks.  

I'm not sure it's a good idea, but I'd probably run it by the player if it came up at my table.