Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Encounters: Bar Fight!

One of the goals I have in my Eberron campaign is to hit as many of the big pulp tropes as possible: train heist, airship adventure, ancient temple, cultists, secret science installation, you know, the important ones.  And of course, the one trope that transcends all genres: the bar fight.

With my PCs recently heading into Sharn, I decided that a big-city bar brawl would be a great opportunity to let them bar fight while they were still low enough level that a bar-fight could be a reasonable challenge.  Once this was decided, I figured I should do what Harbinger of Doom did and make alternate powers for my PCs to use in the bar fight.  My next thought was that I have three Essentials PCs that don't have the traditional At-Will, Encounter, Daily structure: Art the Changeling Thief and Tact the Warforged Slayer have no attack powers at all; Bosh the Valenar Elf Hunter has a single encounter attack power.  That's not to say these characters don't have combat options--they have combat useful class abilities, triggered powers, and utilities that make them REALLY strong.  Because of this, I decided to go a new direction to make bar-fighting fun.

I handed each of the PCs this list:

Bar Fight Weapons:
Melee Attack Bonus Damage Special Qualities
Fist +1 1d4 Unarmed
Stool +0 1d12 2-handed, Brutal 1
Pool Cue +1 1d10 2-handed, Reach
Bottle (Unbroken) +0 1d6 1-handed, High Crit., off-hand
Bottle (Broken) +0 1d6 Sneak Attack, Off-hand
Pewter Tankard +0 1d6 Defensive, Off-hand
Chair Leg +1 1d8 Versatile
Ranged Attack Bonus Damage Special Qualities Range
Dart +1 1d4 Sneak Attack 5/10
Bottle +0 1d6 High Crit. 3/6
Platter +0 1d10 Brutal 1 5/10
Plate +0 1d8 Brutal 1 5/10
Billiard Ball +1 1d6 Brutal 1 5/10

I told them, for all attacks, to just use their standard math with their standard gear-but to use the item with which they were attacking's dice, special qualities, and a bonus to the attack roll, if applicable. This changed their combat effectiveness very minimally. My one caster is a bard, and I figured if there was any sort of magic that was acceptable in a bar fight, bardic magic would be it.

Other rule modifications: All damage was "nonlethal." For the PCs, what that meant was that if they dropped to 0 HP, they could still make "death saves," but they'd never accrue failures-they could, however, roll a 20 and get back into the fight.

And the main combatant:

This guy managed to do what I wanted: instill fear into the PCs. It helped that I scored a crit on the poor, defenseless elf on the first punch of the fight, but his other abilities were impressive.

Bear Hug+Hurl proved to be a powerful way to control the fight and deal with being outnumbered. I changed Bear Hug to target Reflex, because it made more sense. I recharged it a lot early in the fight, which made Lurg particularly hated. One-Two punch made for some useful bread-and-butter attacks, once again, taking advantage of a little bit of control, keeping the fight, at least a little bit, on his terms.

The rest of the combatants were minions with a twist: each of them had a "defeated state." For some, their defeated state was simply dropped, for others, like the bouncer, the defeated state was to do something else, like barricade themselves in the back with the money.

Because I never want fights that don't, in some way, move the plot forward, I introduced a temptation to this fight that the PCs embraced. They knew that the Order of the Emerald claw had men in the bar, meeting with the same guy they were about to meet with. They took advantage of the bar fight to take out the two guards (whom they would have had to fight later) left in the common room. This meant two of the PCs who would have made the rest of the fight fairly simple instead fought non-minion Emerald Claw warriors, ratcheting the fight's difficulty from "standard" to "hard." However, considering that this was a low-risk situation, with no bleeding to death possible, it was a good choice, as it lowered the eventual Emerald Claw fight from High-Moderate to pretty easy.

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