Cutting head with single strike

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Cutting head with single strike

Post by RazanMG » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:12 am

How much damage to do it? So far my idea is: -6 on Called Shot and need to inflict at least "3 Wounds".

Edit: My player has made a vow that he will cut 2 heads with one strike. Thats why Im trying to mechanically bite it.
Last edited by RazanMG on Fri Sep 22, 2017 12:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:19 am

Honestly, I don't love mechanics like this. Whenever a fighter is attacking, she's trying to do the maximum possible damage. I think this happens when you land a finishing blow that does a lot of damage.

"Oh! I did 56 points of damage!"
"Wow - okay - you feint low, and he drops his shield. In the instant it takes to gap in his defenses to register, you have already swung your sword. It bites into his neck and his head flies free. There is an moment pause, and his body falls, severed neck spurting red."

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Calamrin » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:36 pm

I also tend to dislike those mechanics, especially if the GM uses them against the players!

Id be a bit miffed if the GM hit me for 30 points of damage and told me my right arm fell off :D

Does make me smile though thinking back to the rpg called Runequest i used to play back in the day....a good combat in that often ended up with limbs and heads strewn all over the floor from both sides :o

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by etherial » Fri Sep 22, 2017 1:43 pm

Slimcreeper wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:19 am
Whenever a fighter is attacking, she's trying to do the maximum possible damage. I think this happens when you land a finishing blow that does a lot of damage.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by phantomgangster » Sat Sep 30, 2017 3:20 am

Mmmmh, I have a couple of options for you (of how I would play it)

First, the ATTACK must be perfect, not only the damage itself but the targeting. Put a negative modifier on the attack roll since is a focused attack. If the attack fails is because the opponent saw the intention and blocked the attack. If the attack is successful and considering all the issues affecting the situation (armor, etc), the damage roll must at least surpass the wound threshold twice or another number of your choosing. Yes, it is hard, that is the idea.

Second option, simpler and faster, the attack must be "perfect" (meaning that the total amount of the attack roll must be legendary), and the damage roll must kill the enemy with THAT hit.

This is based on the premise that my mission as GM is to give the PC's the opportunity to develop the character part the most. Meaning that my official stance on players like that is to look at them over my glasses and say"Ok... if you want... but you know is gonna be damn hard, right?" And if they do it or if they brag about it I play with that. He will be recognized by people if he is successful. Actions have consequences.

Another thing, make the player feel the moment. Give them the die an say it "No Re-rolls. This is you only chance to do this, ok?" Make the player feel the pressure the character is passing because is the moment of truth. Failure should feel bitter in your mouth. It is better that way because when they succeed, that makes them happier than all the gold in the world.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by DarkHawk » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:40 pm

There are times that you have to take the mechanics out of the equation.
It's about having fun.
If your warrior is hell bent on taking two heads with one mighty swing. Then make him work for it: he just gave himself a heroic personal quest.
When it comes down to it, the mechanics are just a tool for sorting out conflicts.
Damage represents cuts, bruises, physical and emotional exhaustion or illness.
Wounds represent a large amount of physical damage. Broken ribs, Torn/cut muscles, Black/swollen eyes, pneumonia, etc...

It's final call is up to the GM about how to handle this kind of situation.
A called shot to the eyes that causes a wound can blind if the GM says.
A called shot to the shoulder that causes a wound could force the warrior to drop his sword..

How it plays out just needs to be fun, and exciting.
In my group I would allow the option to behead someone, It would just be very difficult to hit in combat.

I had one Dwarf Scout name Dorin.
He would always make a "called strike to the neck" It was his signature move and eventually would get referred to as "Dorin's Strike"
When he hit he gained a +4 steps to damage. If he wounded he jugular-ed them and they often went the rest of the combat bleeding out in an homage to the Evil Dead cellar scene.

However, this was not an absolute or a balance breaker.
He eventually bought a knack to lower the Called Shot penalty for his signature strike and abruptly died shortly after against a horror construct where his strike provided no tactical advantage. Un-dead things have little care about their jugular blood compared to living slavers.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Avanti » Wed Jan 31, 2018 1:12 pm

I once went with a home rule about "headshots" and such. It went terribly. Because above a certain power level players used that option exclusively because they were sure to hit and inflict a quick death.

Nowadays in my games called shots can be used to bypass armor if the shot or strike is made to hit an exposed part. This actually works nicely with creature analysis (or horror for the matter) in a way that you can identify the soft spot. The penalty is usually as per rules but for full armor (or good quality) I will increase it to be equal to the armor's rating.

As for hit points I treat them a bit arbitrarily - for NPCs and GM creatures, especially for non-key NPCs. Let's say the group is facing of a couple of guards, each around 50 death rating. If one guard gets hit and the damage dealt is say 40 (even if still below his unc. rating) I will usually say he is dead and done. This has the benefit of freeing me up in book keeping as I only need to track more-or-less how much damage each foe has and allows me and players to create more of an epic story where a cinematic finisher is a real possibility. On the other hand the same guard would probably be still standing if he was hit 70 times each dealing 1 damage: bruised, bleeding, breathing heavily but still up. At that point a single medicore hit will knock him out cold or a good hit will send him straight to deaths domain.

To conclude: making a vow to cut two heads with one swing was a role-playing aspect, the player did not have to roll any dice to do it. So fulfilling the vow should be considered the same - part of a role play and narrative. Of course involving a skill check will add difficulty and make it more memorable but building a specific rule set for that single instance is unnecessary and might unbalance the rest of the game. Let the player work to set up a scenario where he potentially has two heads to take. No-one will just line up and stand next to each other. Make him use Taunt, Manouver, Distract or other such talents to craft the necessary conditions. Make him understand the he needs to wear them down before both enemies let their guard slip enough for him to pounce. And then just roll to hit (eg. higer defense of the two, with the called shot penalty, requiring an additional success or something, depending on the amount of thought and role play before hand this can be easier or harder) and if the hit lands with decent damage - there you go. That is in a combat scenario. He might just as well tie up two random people and... you know.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Spader » Thu Feb 01, 2018 12:48 am

My view on this one would be quite simple. Targets should be standing side by side (obviously). Target number would be the highest physical defense with at least two extra successes to strike at precise timing and angle to hit both necks. A hit with not enough successes would result in a normal damage roll on the first opponent. A good enough roll would allow damage on both opponents. That is, the damage roll result will be first applied on the first opponent. If there is excess damage, the difference will be applied on the second opponent. If the damage roll result is high enough to top the death rating of both opponents and at least one wound is inflicted on each then congrats!

I reckon this rule makes the feat near impossible and I feel it the way it should be.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Lys » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:08 am

Mechanically, you would need the Second Attack talent, as there is no other way to attack two opponents with the same weapon on the same round. Hit the first opponent with Melee Weapons and the second with Second Attack, if they both die, you could narrate that he cut both their heads off in a single strike.

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Re: Cutting head with single strike

Post by Slimcreeper » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:59 am

Lys has the right of it. If it happens mechanically, narrate it however you like. If you've seen Critical Role, it's the "How do you want to do this?"

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