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Surprise

posted Nov 17, 2012 18:10:56 by DanTrue
On page 155, there is an example using the surprise rules and kill silently together. Where an assasin slices the throat of a guard, using Choose Location:head and Kill Silently.

However, it dawns on me that many characters will have 5 HP in the head, which is the max damage for a dagger. Therefore, even if he had a dmg. modifier of 1d2, he will often not inflict a serious wound (3 avg. dmg fort he dagger, 1.5 for his dmg reduction) - this would waste his benefit from kill silently (other than the guard is still unable to scream out).

Now, obviously this can be handled quite easily, as the damage of the dagger represents how it works in a straight up fight, not when applied perfectly to a throat. But I wanted to which of the possible ways people use, and/or what Pete/Loz had in mind. I see multiple ways of doing it:

1) It is not truly a combat attack, so simply apply the maximise amount of damage for the attack. This will ensure he passes out and he can be finished off (though strictly speaking he won't bleed out on the floor, he'll wake up again soon enough).

2) Apply normal damage, but the assassin has a whole round of stabbiness to finished the opponent off before he can sound an alarm. He is held over the mouth, so the defender likely recieves some penalty to evading the coming attacks. (if he manages to evade, is he then prone as usual? this would allow him to scream out an alarm regardless of kill silently).

3) Hand wave it. Regardless of damage done, the guard is lying on the ground with a cut throat, unable to do anything but contemplate the life choices that let him to this point.

I would likely go with option #3, as slicing a throat on isn't really a combat event. Unless perhaps if the defender was a character or a major villain with luck points - then I would apply weapon damage, to reflect a wound done in the throat area, but not a succesfully slit throat.

But what do you think?

- Dan
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12 replies
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bluefenix42 said Nov 17, 2012 18:45:08
A very finely crafted weapon can have up to +2 additional damage.

A really smart assassin would also empower his weapon with a Folk Magic spell like Bladesharp.

Finally, consider the Bleed special effect - if the target fails the initial Endurance check, they are guaranteed to die eventually if left untreated.

See previous thread on this subject here: http://www.thedesignmechanism.com/forum.php#/20121018/instant-kill-stab-1988966/page2/
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PatHenry said Nov 17, 2012 20:02:41
I would go with the old, old rule that a helpless character can be slain. "Helpless" being defined here as success in all categories of attack: Surprise against a non-alert target, Location, Kill Silently, Hand Over the Mouth, etc.

So, sort of Option 2, with Option 1's wisdom that this isn't exactly an active combat situation but more of an applied Skills (Assassin) situation. And, yes, handwave-y for drama.
[Last edited Nov 17, 2012 20:05:30]
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DanTrue said Nov 17, 2012 20:05:17
Yes, I realise there are plenty of ways to kill a man in one stroke, especially if using high-quality gear or magic. And I participated in the discussion you linked to. The point was rather how to handle these situations - it might also be slicing the throat of a tied prisoner - you wouldn't keep rolling weapon damage until he finally dies in those case. Are assassinating a guard the same? Is it fair to simply say "well, you managed to damage his throat without him defending him and applied kill silently - automatic major wound". I would properly go with this if the target wasn't important, but then again - a lot of things can go wrong, and the damage roll allows for this.

Also, if I need to apply bleed I need to either loose Choose Location: head or Kill Silently, either of which might mean he can scream an alarm.

- Dan
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AmazingOnionMan said Nov 17, 2012 21:42:31
I use your option 2: if the initial strike doesn't take out your mark, you can still stab again. And again. And probably against a target that cannot properly defend itself(no readied weapon etc).

A somewhat interesting anecdote: this situation came up recently; the PC attempted to slice a guard's throat silently, didn't inflict enough damage on the first strike and missed on the second(this was where the panic struck, as I described the guard struggling free and drawing his weapon). The PC deperately bodytackled the guard and knocked him down into a conviniently placed ravine. This took the guard out of the fight, but still didn't kill him. Enter more panic as the alarm sounded and the banditcamp was roused.

The PC's then legged it.
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PatHenry said Nov 18, 2012 01:12:35
Well, again, I would view a trained assassin sneaking up on an unaware target and taking them out more in terms of picking a lock, disarming a trap, forging a horseshoe, or other sorts of Skills based tests. A trained assassin could probably take out an unaware victim armed only with a fountain pen or dental floss or a hardbound book or hand towel, so it is less the weapon and its belabored stats than the lethality of intent, the circumstances that enable the intent, and the Skills that enable that intent. It is not a combat situation, per se, although I suppose I might rule it such against a highly skilled and trained and important NPC. I might give the latter a Luck point, as I would yield to any PC in similar straits.
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[Last edited Nov 18, 2012 01:18:30]
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redcrowkp said Nov 19, 2012 10:48:56
For me it really depends on whether or not the target is a mook or a high ranked NPC. If its just a mook, then I'd call a successful roll automatic death. The End. If it is a high ranked NPC then I would probably roll out the entire attack/damage scenario and see what happens.
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joni.virolainen said Nov 20, 2012 05:17:04
AmazingOnionMan, your example really made me feel it like part of RQ game. Mud, blood, desperation on both sides. Cool!

Dan, I agree that going for a throat might not be an instant kill and I doubt that it would be in real life, either. Personally I would force a willpower test on the victim if he can sound an alarm whether he's dead or not. If the victim fails, he is in too much shock to raise the alarm, if he succseeds he can do it. Remember, he is struggling to stay alive there while someone is stabbing him to throat!
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AmazingOnionMan said Nov 20, 2012 17:35:15
In the rules for "Kill Silently" it is implied that the sentry is held fast. Adding an automatic "grappled" effect(which can be extended to a knockdown) will make it more efficient. We'll still suffer the chance that the sentry is still around next round, but also still at a significant disadvantage.
I also allow for substituting "Kill Silently" for "Stun location". And garottes strangle away fatigue as well as damage - as would an unarmed choke.
The fountainpen-assassin would grapple his victim down, and wait for the bleed to set in, the book-wielding assassin go for stun location, the towelsnapper entangle and strangle(or blind) the victim. I don't really see how dental floss is going to help, unless you spent a whole lot of time braiding it first.

But I also see the value in treating this as a single skill-check.

[Last edited Nov 20, 2012 17:42:19]
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joni.virolainen said Nov 20, 2012 18:16:53
I suppose that dental floss could work as some sort of garrote :-)
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redcrowkp said Nov 21, 2012 09:12:00
I'm not sure dental floss would work very well for killing anything except gingivitis.
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joni.virolainen said Nov 21, 2012 09:20:10
I suppose it all depends on how strong it is. Although not as good as steel wire, I can see it block arteries at the neck thus causing unconsciousness and ultimately death.
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BruceMason said Nov 21, 2012 10:18:03
This topic has come up before and I think it's a matter of context as well as principle.

On the principle front, I've long assumed that the damage roll in RQ is random because in everything that's going on in a frantic melee, there are so many random factors that your skill is just the start point.

Now most skill rolls in RQ don't have a random effect. If you succeed at an Athletics test to scale a wall then you succeed at it, there is no usually no further random roll to determine how effective your climb was.

The 'problem' with assassination is that it straddles the line between a skill roll and an attack. If the character is a trained assassin with a kill silently combat style creeping up on a bored conscript guarding a hut then that to my eyes would be a skill roll. I would roll combat style versus perception, on a success the guard is killed/KO'd etc silently. On a failure I would rule that a combat starts usually with surprise for the assassin.

On the other hand, say an untrained peasant is trying to sneak up behind a wary, elite guard. Then I would suspect that the peasant would fail 9 times out of 10. I would require a stealth vs perception then if successful the peasant could attack from surprise. Odds are that even if the peasant manages to inflict a serious wound the guard will probably be able to shout a warning. Of course, no one might hear.

However, I think rather than trying to write a page of rules dictating when it is a skill check and when it isn't and what luck points can be used for and what they can't, you have to take advantage of the fact that there is a human GM who is able to make a judgement call based on the context.
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