Amalgama is the table top role playing game I have been building for some time now. Its to-do list has grown to three pages, but I still feel like I’m making progress. I’m currently in the process of playtesting some of the monsters and classes for the game, and I’ve just rolled up three new characters to fight a hoard of skeletal soldiors.
These ones have more complicated abilities than those in previous playtests. We have the weaponmaster, who can change weapons on the fly, and has all kinds of consumable charge abilities, the sorcerer, who can buff herself, hover in the air to stop from getting attacked, and attack multiple people at once, and the berserker, who gets bonuses to rolls after failing them, and getting hit, and can attack twice in a row if someone fails to defend themself against him. But fundamentally we have the same make up as the previous party: two warriors and a mage. Today they will be fighting a swarm of skeletal soldiors at strength three (meaning appropriate for three players to fight) which means nine skeletons in total. They are normal difficulty. I gave the players the first strike.
I arrayed the skeletons in three squads neatly. The sorcerer rose into the air and enchanted her staff with +3 attack for battle. None of the skeletons were close enough to try and stop her. The weaponmaster, seeing all of the opponents, smartly decided to stay back and defend the sorcerer, taking our her spear, which gives her free attacks against people who enter her proximity. She then threw one of her two javelins at a skeleton, killing it. The berzerker, not having the option of a ranged attack, charged into one of the skeleton clusters, and clove a skeleton in two with his axe.
On the skeleton’s turn, two of the groups charged headlong at the sorcerer and the weaponmaster. The weaponmaster braced his spear and tried to attack four of the six skeletons as they entered the proximity. Three skeletal warriors were defeated, but the weaponmaster was tired significantly in the attempts. A final skeleton ran from the berserker, who pursued it to his comrades. Once the skeletons reached the sorcerer, all of the skeletons attempted to knock the sorcerer down from flight at once (spending all of their tactics tokens).
The sorcerer spent a significant amount of magic rebuffing their efforts, but managed to stay aloft, which virtually guaranteed the victory of the party. Without a ranged attacker, and a sorcerer with such a high trick bonus, the skeletons were practically helpless against it.
But regardless they soldiered on, all piling on the weapon master, attempting to defeat her before she switched to a weapon more suited to defending himself next turn. Two daggers shot out from the weaponmaster’s sleeves at the skeletons, which chipped the bones of some but did not rebuff the attacks. In an incredible stroke of luck however the weaponmaster blocked every swing of a sword, axe, or mace, and expended minimal energy in doing so.
In the final round, the sorcerer shot magic misslies at two of the skeletons, the weaponmaster switched to a handaxe and axe-murdered one, and the berzerker just ripped one to shreds, killing all of the remaining skeletons.
The skeletons seemed to have barely scratched the players. I was interested in how the fight might have played out had the skeletons moved first. The fight was reset, and this time I gave the skeletons the initiative.
All nine skeletons charged headlong into PCs. The weaponmaster attacked four of them with her braced spear, killing two of them, and reducing the strength of all of them significantly. Six of the remaining skeletons attacked the sorcerer before one finally hit her in the head with its club, knocking her unconscious. The last skeleton attacked the berzerker, who did not bother defending himself because of his pain tolerance ability (which reduces the penalty when getting hit), and that ended up costing him very dearly when he rolled poorly and a skeleton hacked into his arm with its blade.
When the turn turned, the berserker struck back fiercely against the skeleton that struck him, killing it easily with the help of his revenge ability. The weaponmaster switched to sword and buclker from spear, and attacked a skeleton fairly defensively, failing to kill it. The weaponmaster and berserker then ran away from the skeletons. The skeletons all pursued the weaponmaster and only one was able to catch up to her.
On the skeleton’s turns one of the defeated skeletons returned form the grave (it rolled a 6 with the skeleton ability “restless”) and netted the skeletons 5 more combat tokens. The one skeleton in the weaponmaster’s proximity attacked it recklessly (skeleton ability) and the weaponmaster blocked it with her shield. The now six other skeletons then rushed after the weaponmaster. This time the skeletons got lucky and five of them managed to catch up to her (when both parties have exhausted their tactics tokens who catches whom comes down to mostly luck). They all attacked recklessly and were hit by the weaponmaster’s hidden daggers. The weaponmaster barley survived, with two combat tokens.
The berserker ran back into the field of undead and attacked a skeleton with his great axe, clearing the swarm of combat tokens. (once a swarm is out of combat tokens, each member of the swarm die after their next attack) The weaponmaster smashed a skeleton to pieces with its shield and then tried to run away from the swarm. One of the two skeletons near her managed to chase after her successfully.
On the skeleton’s next turn none of them managed to rise again from the dead. Three skeletons ran after the weaponmaster. Two of them caught up with her, one of who’s attack she parried and who she shattered to pieces with her shield. The other one knocked the weapons out of her hands, broke her wrist, and knocked her to the ground, defeated. She managed to cut it as well though, and it fell to pieces. The final skeleton tried to chase after the berserker, who could not catch him.
In the next round, the berserker killed a skeleton, and then on the skeleton’s turns, one skeleton rose from the grave, both skeletons attacked the berserker, who killed them both as they did so.
That fight wasn’t exactly close because the berserker probably could have fought three or four more skeletons, but it did injure two members of the party. Looks like initiative is very important indeed to this game. I’d say that on the whole there that fight was definitely harder than the one with the devourer.
Anyway, this playtesting has caused me to change a couple of the rules of combat, but overall this system seems to produce very dramatic battles! My only concern is that considering how long the battle lasted and that the sorcerer was defeated in the first round, it may not be fun for that character. Maybe I need to give characters something to do in combat after their defeat. But also, most GMs I should think will not try to concentrate their fire on one player, and that is certainly amping up the difficulty of these fights. If the sorcerer had survived the first round, as it was when the players won initiative, the skeletons would have had a very difficult time of things.