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3E/3.5 Charge!

Water Bob

Adventurer
I am setting up a Conan game for my players. This is a brand new game, and there will be some players new to Conan.

I'm using the Conan RPG by Mongoose, which is based on d20 3.5.

I'm looking for opinions on how you would describe the situation to a new player who isn't used to the rules.



Situation: A Pirate is walking down a path among some ruined buildings. Picture devastated cities in Europe at the end of WWII, but with a fantasy twang to the scene, and you get the idea. There's plenty of places to hide.

And, sure, if the player playing the Pirate does something to earn a warning, I'll surely give that to him. But, for this question, let's say he's just walking down the path. It's near dusk. He's wary to a general level--not super alert, but not with his head in the clouds either.

A Barbarian steps out from behind a rock 20 feet in front of him.

We roll initiative. The Barbarian wins. The Pirate cannot act until the Barbarian's turn is over. In fact, the Pirate is flatfooted until after the Barbarian has completed his actions.

The Barbarian charges the Pirate.




How would you explain that to a player, especially if the players says, "As soon as I see the Barbarian, I jump five feet to my left behind a rock, just off the path (assuming there is such a rock--let's say this is possible)."

How do you explain to the player that, because of the game rules, the Pirate must wait for the Barbarian to spend the time to cross the 20 feet and charge him. The Pirate can't dodge out of the way, even though the distance to dodge out of the way is just a few feet?

Mechanically, the Pirate lost initiative, but he's frozen for a few seconds while the Barbarian runs at him. By the rules, the Pirate can't even draw his weapon until after the Barbarian's charge!

Help me explain that logically so that a player would accept it (without just saying, "Whelp! Dem's the rules!")



The example is the same (but, I think harder to explain) if the charge distance is 60 feet.

Or, what if the Barbarian emerges from behind a rock 60 foot distant. The Pirate stops in his tracks, stares at the Barbarian, and tries to parley, "Ho there! State your business!" And, the response from the Barbarian is that he breaks into a run, directly at the Pirate, the Barbarian screaming his head off with a war cry.

The Barbarian can cover that 20 yards in a few seconds. Let's say 3 seconds or so. Three seconds seems like it is an eternity when you see a bear of a man running towards you.

How do you describe that situation so that it makes sense to a person who has never played the game before?
 

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Water Bob

Adventurer
Guess I'll answer my own post. Nobody plays 3.5E anymore?


I'm about to hit the sack, and I put on Conan The Destroyer. Early in the film, Conan & Co. is being follow by Grace Jones' character, Zula. They're all on horses. Bombaata, played by Wilt Chamberlain, doubles back to turn her away, and she seems to leave. But, as he turns to head back to Conan and the group, Zula begins a charge, screaming a war cry!

I counted. Six seconds! She takes about six seconds to gallop up on Bombaata, and he reacts so slowly that he barely gets his sword from his scabbard when she strikes, knocking Bombaata--the Commander of the Guard at Shadizar--off his horse!

Obviously, Bombaata was caught flatfooted (even though he's on his horse), and Zula won initiative and used a Charge Maneuver on her action.

Check it out! The charge starts at 1:16, and by 1:22, Bombaata is off his horse!




So....this really answers my question.
 

You explain it that despite how it looks at the table, the actions in the game world are happening largely simultaneously, and the combat sequencing via the stop-start nature of combat rounds is an abstraction and a conceit of turn based combat within the game.

A reasonable player accepts this and moves past it.

An unreasonable player who sooks it up at this point, has larger issues.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
You explain it that despite how it looks at the table, the actions in the game world are happening largely simultaneously, and the combat sequencing via the stop-start nature of combat rounds is an abstraction and a conceit of turn based combat within the game.

Which is fine for round 2+. The first combat round, though, it's hard to accept simultaneous action when one party of that action isn't doing anything.

The Pirate is walking down the path.

50 feet in front of him, the Barbarian steps out from behind a rock, standing in the path. He is not moving. Just standing, staring at the Pirate.

The Pirate stops walking. He doesn't want to provoke the Barbarian, so he says, "Ho, there, Friend! What..."

Then, the Barbarian starts running at the Pirate, screaming a feral war cry.




The Barbarian starts combat with his offensive action, the charge, from 50 feet away.

Initiative is rolled. The Barbarian wins.

This means that the Pirate is flatfooted. And, he can't even pull his weapon from his scabbard as the Barbarian runs to him from 50 feet away.

I could see a player asking, "I'm just standing there doing nothing as the guy runs across 50 feet towards me?"
 

Hewet

First Post
This is what makes sense to me:

The barbarian surprises the Pirate, so he has a partial action: moving out of the rock. If he wants to attack directly, then that action is moving out of the rock (let's say it costs 10') and moving another 30'. In this round the Pirate is flatfooted, but he is not receiving any attack now. This is the first round, the barbarian had a partial action and the Pirate had nothing.

Next round, they roll iniative because both can do something. The round starts at the point where the barbarian is moving towards the Pirate. If the barbarian wins the initiative, he... well, is faster in his action than the Pirate reacting. If the Pirate wins the initiative, he can react to this threat before the barbarian arrives where he is at, but doesn't have much time, he has to think fast because the barbarian is charging. But he is not flatfooted so he can dodge the attack (at least he can try 😅).

PS: in the movie, I see that the attacker had the partial action to start charging with the horse and next round he won the initiative, so he could hit the other man.
 


Teemu

Adventurer
If I remember things right, there’s a variant rule in either 3.0 or 3.5 where combatants are restricted to one standard action only during the first round of combat (similar to surprise). That’d change things if the barbarian and the pirate are far enough when initiative is rolled, because you’d be restricted to a partial charge (up to your speed only, not double).

The variant favors casters, which is mentioned wherever it’s published (maybe DMG). Perhaps not an issue in the Conan game.
 


Water Bob

Adventurer
This is what makes sense to me:

The barbarian surprises the Pirate, so he has a partial action: moving out of the rock. If he wants to attack directly, then that action is moving out of the rock (let's say it costs 10') and moving another 30'. In this round the Pirate is flatfooted, but he is not receiving any attack now. This is the first round, the barbarian had a partial action and the Pirate had nothing.

Next round, they roll iniative because both can do something. The round starts at the point where the barbarian is moving towards the Pirate. If the barbarian wins the initiative, he... well, is faster in his action than the Pirate reacting. If the Pirate wins the initiative, he can react to this threat before the barbarian arrives where he is at, but doesn't have much time, he has to think fast because the barbarian is charging. But he is not flatfooted so he can dodge the attack (at least he can try 😅).

PS: in the movie, I see that the attacker had the partial action to start charging with the horse and next round he won the initiative, so he could hit the other man.


But, let's say that there is no Surprise. And, let's say the Barbarian is 60 feet away.

Say that they exchanged words. We're not yet in combat. Then, the Barbarian gets tired of the jabbering and charges the guy.

Initiative is rolled. Barbarian wins.

Barbarian runs 60 feet to swipe at the Pirate, and the Pirate waits for that to happen.
 

Hewet

First Post
Back in the day we used to "declare initiative". "What is your intent?" before rolling initiative.

In that case, if the Pirate say "I'll try to jump 5 feet away" and barbarian wins initiative, then the barbarian tries to hit the Pirate while he is trying to move/hide or whatever he wants to do. This helps to understand that actions are occurring "at the same time".
 

Orius

Adventurer
It's.....not a great film. But, hey, it's Conan. And, I own it. :whistle:

Yeah, it's got a lot of dumb moments. But it's more entertaining than the last film, and it kind of makes for an okay D&D movie. If my usual players hadn't seen that film, I'd rip stuff off from it.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
Yeah, it's got a lot of dumb moments. But it's more entertaining than the last film, and it kind of makes for an okay D&D movie. If my usual players hadn't seen that film, I'd rip stuff off from it.


I actually like the 2011 Conan film. I was disappointed with it at first, mainly because I was hoping for the Conan movie to end all Conan movies--a masterpiece, or at least something as good as the Lord of the Rings movies. What I got was a summer popcorn action film. It was good. I liked it, and it's grown on me a bit. I think it is better than its contemporaries, like the remake of Clash of the Titans.

As far as the three films...

I love the original 1982 Conan The Barbarian. I think it stands the test of time. I like it more now than I did when it came out.

I like the 2011 Conan The Barbarian remake as I just described. It's OK. Was hoping for better. But, I don't hate it.

Conan The Destroyer, the Arnold sequel, has some moments that just kill it. It opens with Conan praying. Conan doesn't pray. Well, yeah, he did in the 1982 film, but he also said, "To hell with you!" if Crom is not with them for the battle. The barbarian surely doesn't pray like he did in Destroyer.

The mirror thing, with Thoth Amon, was not interesting or exciting, and the ape creature just looked so fake. It tore you out of the movie.

Malak is likeable and sometimes funny, but they needed to tone him down. He was too stupid in parts.

Conan discovers that the Palace Guard is chasing them, and in the very next scene, Conan gets drunk when they camp. Yeah, that's not Conan.

And, the Dagoth (or is it Dagon?) creature at the end, again, looked very unconvincing. It did have that Lovecraftian vibe to it, which is good. But, it was so silly looking and fake.



On the other hand, many of the set were pretty cool. The city and palace looked great. The outdoor locations were picked well. Grace Jones' portrayal of Zula was well done (though Wilt was Stilted, and the young girl very naïve--which, I guess, was the point). I really liked the set of the shrine where they found the horn. It had a good Conan feel as in many of the stories where Conan explores long, lost places. And, the Wizard battle was kinda neat.

For some reason, the wizard didn't have the same charm he did in the first film, either.
 

Orius

Adventurer
I liked the Thoth Amon bit myself, it's the sort of thing that seems to fit an old school illusionist, but if I tried that in my game, my players would likely start smashing the mirrors right away. 😕

Conan does act kind of goofy in the movie. Like running around in the fur lined speedo the whole film. The first film was better on this account, the mail he's wearing when he first sets out to find Thulsa Doom is more typical. And he's kind of a moron too, I don't see Howard's Conan buying Bombaata's lame excuses for an instant.

Dagoth I chalk up to the limitations of special effects, makeup and costumes of the time.

Zula was interesting. Yeah, she's a nasty piece of work when she's introduced, she is a bandit after all. But there's the way she bonds with Jehnna, acting like a big sister to her as the film progresses.

Thoth Amon's illusionary castle wasn't bad either.

Another point against the film is the lack of Subotai.
 

If you want to avoid this rules oddity, some games have two cycles of initiative. First everyone moves, then everyone acts.

Pathfinder 2e has an odd way of balancing this. You get three actions per turn, and can make multiple attacks (albeit at -5 for the second, and -10 for the third, but there's still a chance to hit). So if the barbarian moves and attacks, he has spent his turn to get in one attack. Then the pirate can make three attacks back. Being the first to engage can be disadvantageous.

An alternate rule system would nix the grid, and instead conceptualize combat areas as stages, arenas, and fields.

Stages are about 30 ft. across.
Arenas about 150 ft. across.
Fields about 800 ft. across.

Everyone in the same stage can make melee attacks against each other.
You have disadvantage on ranged attacks in the same stage (except maybe with thrown daggers).
There can be multiple stages in the same arena, and switching between them requires your action.
You can make ranged attacks against people in a different stage, with no penalty.
You can attack someone in a different arena with a ranged attack with disadvantage.
Switching between arenas takes two turns, or maybe one if you can make a check.
Fields are usually too big to matter in combat.
 

I don't see why this is difficult to explain. Combat in 3.x is turn based. In the fiction all actions are taking place roughly at the same time, and a round is just a few seconds of time. But since this is a game, someone has to go first, and that is decided by rolling initiative.

So yes, a barbarian can charge towards you and strike you before you can react. Its not that you are staring at the barbarian waiting for him to make his move; you are unprepared to fend him off. That is what flat-footed means; he catches you off guard, and you haven't yet prepared for battle.

Now if the barbarian first makes his presence known, then the pirate gets to respond, and he is no longer flat-footed.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
I don't see why this is difficult to explain. Combat in 3.x is turn based. In the fiction all actions are taking place roughly at the same time, and a round is just a few seconds of time.

Let's say the round plays out to where the Barbarian charges the Pirate and kills the Pirate with that one blow.

You're saying that while the Barbarian is running that 60 feet the Pirate is simultaneously dying from a blow he doesn't receive until the end of the round?



Now if the barbarian first makes his presence known, then the pirate gets to respond, and he is no longer flat-footed.

So, you're saying that if the Barbarian comes out from behind the rock and stands in the path, not doing anything but staring at the Pirate. The Pirate stops walking and attempts to parley with the Barbarian blocking his path. The distance between the two is 60 feet.

The Barbarian, after a minute or so of hearing the Pirate jabber, decides to charge the Pirate--that the Pirate is not flatfooted even though he lost initiative on the first round of combat?
 

Let's say the round plays out to where the Barbarian charges the Pirate and kills the Pirate with that one blow.

You're saying that while the Barbarian is running that 60 feet the Pirate is simultaneously dying from a blow he doesn't receive until the end of the round?

You are overthinking this. The barbarian simply charges and takes a swipe in a matter of seconds, while the pirate is too late to respond. Thats it.

So, you're saying that if the Barbarian comes out from behind the rock and stands in the path, not doing anything but staring at the Pirate. The Pirate stops walking and attempts to parley with the Barbarian blocking his path. The distance between the two is 60 feet.

The Barbarian, after a minute or so of hearing the Pirate jabber, decides to charge the Pirate--that the Pirate is not flatfooted even though he lost initiative on the first round of combat?

I'm not saying anything regarding what the pirate is doing. That is up to narration. But the rules state that you are flat-footed until you have taken a combat action. Basically, the pirate could have his sword in his hand, but be unprepared for the barbarians sudden charge.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
You are overthinking this. The barbarian simply charges and takes a swipe in a matter of seconds, while the pirate is too late to respond. Thats it.

And...during that "matter of seconds" the Pirate is doing nothing. If the Barbarian can move 60 feet during that time, the Pirate can do....?



But the rules state that you are flat-footed until you have taken a combat action. Basically, the pirate could have his sword in his hand, but be unprepared for the barbarians sudden charge.

Can't pull your weapon, either. Pulling your sword is a Move Action if 1st level, Free Action combined with a Move Action at 2nd level and above, for Pirates.
 

Greenfield

Adventurer
It's all in the presentation.

"A huge Barbarian springs from the rubble ahead and charges. He's on top of you before you can react."

As for the situation over all: In terms of general wariness, I tend to give my Pirates, er, PCs a Listen or Spot check. The rules would give one with a -5 penalty for "distracted" in the situation you describe.

Why? I mean, some would say that the Barb' was laying still under 100% cover/concealment, so there was nothing to Spot or Listen to. But he either had to make a Listen check of his own, or he had to be watching the trail. If he can see you, then there's a line of sight, so you might see him. And when he starts to move clear of the rubble, to take his position on the trail and begin his charge, he might make a noise before he comes into sight.
 

Water Bob

Adventurer
It's all in the presentation.

Agreed! Which is why I posted the thread--to see how others would sell it to their players.



As for the situation over all: In terms of general wariness, I tend to give my Pirates, er, PCs a Listen or Spot check. The rules would give one with a -5 penalty for "distracted" in the situation you describe.

The mechanics are the same whether the Pirate is aware of the Barbarian or not. The Barbarian pops out of hiding, 60 feet away. The Pirate stops in his tracks and says, "Ho, there, traveler. What be your business?"

The Barbarian answers by starting a charge. Initiative is rolled. Barbarian wins. Barbarian bowls down the Pirate after crossing 60 feet because the Pirate is flatfooted.
 

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