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Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 03:56 PM #1
There are zero incarnations of swarm rules that I don't hate.
5e, please fix this. In my very first 3e campaign--my very first time playing D&D!--our entire party was almost TPKed by a swarm of locusts. Then in my very second 4e game, we fought a swarm of spiders. We didn't die, but it was really annoying nonetheless. It's also unsatisfying to do damage to a lump of hit points.
I've decided that swarm rules are stupid. If you want a swarm of rats, then throw ten rats against the party. If you want a swarm of locusts, treat it as an environmental hazard, not a monster that can be chopped to death.
Last edited by B.T.; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 04:17 PM.
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 04:10 PM #2
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Disagree, I like swarms to a large degree.
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 04:14 PM #3
Scout (Lvl 6)
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 04:27 PM #4
Guide (Lvl 11)
I think that previous swarm rules have always worked quite well. Only some kinds of attacks will work against a mass of many individuals. Perhaps they are a little too deadly on the offensive side - they could have a built in death spiral so that their damage output was based on their remaining hitpoints. I might be tempted to use a sort of remaining HP vs. AC system to determine how much damage you take, no need for attack rolls.Everyone is weird, but those who are weird in the same way call themselves normal.
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 04:59 PM #5
Orcus on an Off-Day (Lvl 22)
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 04:59 PM #6
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
I have to say, I really, really like the swarm rules variations that @pemerton 's mentioned before (where a hobgoblin pike formation could "kill" adjacent hobgoblins to heal) and ... uh ... someone else? mentioned (where a swarm, when defeated, leaves a couple low-powered versions of it behind as survivors).
That being said, swarms can be really hard to deal with at low-levels depending on the ruleset (because, generally, your access to non-standard-weapon damage is significantly curtailed).
Get that right, and use some of the above variations (when appropriate) to prevent them from being gigantic bags of hit points, and I think you'll have some improved swarm rules (and the ones we have in 3.XE and 4E are still pretty good)."A rock on a stick has a 5' reach unless otherwise specified."
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 05:10 PM #7
Defender (Lvl 8)
It seems like the rats and kobolds in the playtest were WotC sticking a toe into those waters. 6 rats attacking a single person could get condensed into a single attack, with a single roll and a single source of damage. No other fuss necessary, although their hp are counted separately.
I like swarms, too though. I'm sure they'll turn up eventually.
Thursday, 27th September, 2012, 01:21 AM #8
I really like 4e swarm mechanics (I don't know 3E's version - it wasn't in the original Monster Manual for that edition, was it?).
There are three things I like that are core to the mechanics:
* The aura attacks, that give the whole "swarm of things nibbling away at you" vibe.
* The contrast between single target and AoE attacks in the way they effect the swarm. If the swarm was single targets, AoEs would still be strong, but maybe overly strong; and single target attacks would be super-weak because of the overkill problem.
* The ability of the swarm to occupy enemy spaces, which means that you can very easily generate the feel of a PC being surrounded and swamped by enemies. I don't just use swarms for rats, spiders etc, but also packs of hyenas, phalanxes of hobgoblins, etc, and the "surrouned by closely-arrayed enemies" has a distinctive and effective feel.
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 05:25 PM #9
Grandmaster of Flowers (Lvl 18)
Mearls on handing the rats in the first playtest as individuals:
Mike Mearls, can you please explain why including 18 rats in a single encounter of the playtest was ever a good idea, especially since you included no rules for handling such large groups of enemies (Swarms, mooks, minions, etc.) and especially since they have 'Advantage' constantly thanks to such high numbers meaning you roll 36d20 every time you want them to do anything?Mearls' answer:
You could say it was a good idea in that it gave us a lot of immediate, aggressive feedback to never, ever, ever do that again and to immediately, right now, fix that.They've tried it your way, in the first playtest no less, and it worked extremely badly.
Wednesday, 26th September, 2012, 05:44 PM #10
I would never include 18 rats in a single encounter. There's something much more satisfying about killing a rat than plinking away at a mass of hit points that represents a rat swarm.
Last edited by B.T.; Wednesday, 26th September, 2012 at 05:48 PM.
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