View Full Version : Some Game Mastering Questions

April 18th, 2011, 16:25
Hey folks, been running some test battles and ran into some questions about how to run a good C&C session in FG... figured maybe some of you would have some ideas.

1) Dead bodies: I have been replacing dead combatants' tokens with 'dead body' tokens, but find that the battle field gets difficult to use pretty quickly. First, it can become hard for FG to tell which figure you're clicking on if somebody stands over a dead body (I would *love* a FG feature to move tokens to a background layer that could be used for dead bodies, battlemat scenery items, horses/vehicles, etc.). Also, if the figure is still on the battlefield, it still shows the combatant's colored square as taking up space as if they were still standing. I suppose that's easy-enough to ignore...

2) Also related to dead combatants, how do you deal with them in the combat tracker? I find that they are kind-of irritating to have pop up over an over after they are dead (especially when they roll higher Initiative rolls than the living). I have also found that if you delete them from the combat tracker, any effects that update on that combatant no longer update any more. I find myself wishing that there was an option for having all Effects resolve on the combatant that they are assigned to, but I suspect that there's a reason that they resolve the way they do... and everybody else seems to be using it just fine, so I assume that I'm just doing something wrong here.

My current solution is to delete the dead guy's token, the put a big "DEAD" in his name so that it's painfully obvious when the turn for "Orc 12 DEAD" shows up in the chat window that he can just be skipped. I guess "DEAD" could be an effect, too. If I want to take the time, I'll visually scan through the CT to see if the dead guy has any Effects tied to him - if not, then I'll delete him altogether.

How do you guys handle dead guys in combat?

April 18th, 2011, 18:14
not sure how other rulesets resolve this, and I suspect that it could be handled better by changing how it is scripted (for instance removing all minus hp combatants from the initiative roll), but personally what I do currently is when they are dead is I click the show/hide NPC check box so that they are invisible to players, that way they do not try to attack them, and their turn is not flagged in the chat window.

it should be possible to make the tokens appear translucent to players (the same way it appears to the GM when the tokens are invisible to the players) or maybe a coloured (blood red?) mask could be applied when they are dead. I don't know, I have never looked into it.
In any case it could require some work by someone.

is the main issue how the GM tracks this or how the combatants appear to the player?

April 18th, 2011, 19:26
I had thought of the idea of making all >1 hit point combatants always autoroll a 0 for their Initiative. It's easy for me to come up with things to request to have implemented into the ruleset, but you're so generous with your time programming, that's neither really fair to ask nor practical seeing as how I can't afford to put you on a payroll and you have your own very good ideas that you're working on ;) Oh, and you have a life! I figured that I should ask what others are doing, as often there's a simple solution to these issues that I just overlooked or haven't found in the ruleset.

This is a combination/balance of a GM tracking question and a player view issue - I'm happy to go with a solution that first runs the game right, and looks as good as possible on teh battlemat as well as in the CT/in gameplay. I'd like to be able to show the dead bodies & have Initiative automatically work the way I want it, but as Daffy Duck said, "I WOULD LIKE... [pause] ...'I would like?' I would like a trip to Europe." I'm fine with just hiding the figure (again, thank you for the feature, Sorce!) and maybe just dragging the inviso-figure out of the way somewhere... or deleting it, as it's not serving much purpose anyway. I was just wondering if I was missing something.

April 18th, 2011, 19:38
well i did say it could require some work by someone.
which I thought you might translate as meaning it could be done by anyone other than me..:)

currently I am sort of in fear of my job, so I am kind of concentrating on that for now, meaning that I am doing very little on the FG front.

but I am also curious as to how others handle this, because it is not really a C&C thing, as far as I know there is no provision for dead NPC's in any other ruleset either (I await the death mail to correct me).

April 18th, 2011, 20:14
I agree - I wasn't sure if I should post this question here or in a broader forum. Praps I'll do that - if I do, I'll post the link here.

Being in fear of your job is no fun - take care of bidness, my friend! If you never post another update, you've already changed the face of the ruleset far, faaaarrr for the better!

April 19th, 2011, 05:40
I always delete the dead out of the tracker when they die. This also deletes the dead token off the map simultaneously. I'm pretty sure that is the way most DM's handle it.

There is no reason to keep the dead bodies lying around on the map or in the tracker. They just get in the way and slow things down.

If there is something important that they carried that the pc's might find, I just note it down. If the players don't have enough imagination to realize their are dead bodies laying at their feet after they just had a battle and think to tell me they are searching all of them, then I guess they just don't get the stuff. The burden should be on the players to learn how to interact with their gaming environment.

April 19th, 2011, 05:53
Now you realize that if there are any Effects on the other living combatants that are marked as being updated on the dead guy's turn, that those Effects will never get updated again after you delete the dead guy, right? Or do you handle that somehow?

April 19th, 2011, 05:56
I delete the dead out of the CT as well. My story window tells me how many there were and what treasure, ect.

I started gaming so long ago. Even before miniatures the player and the GM had to use the mind's eye to follow events.

FG2 gives us so many goodies, but for the sake of keeping the game moving I remind my players what they see before, during and after combat situations.

I really enjoy that FG2 lets me keep the feel of the table top in my games. Too much more, and well...you may as well call it a video game and drop the GM entirely!

EDIT: To clarify - I tend to wait til effects are at a minimum. I re-apply as needed. My players try to pay attention to the "Dead" and "Dying" text in their CTs, so confusion is at a minimum.


April 19th, 2011, 06:41
Yeah, just deleting the guy from the CT was my first assumption, after I tried to leave the bodies - I like leaving those around when I can, as they sometimes pile up and can change the combatant's tactics on both sides, or distract light-fingered thieves from more important duties.

But barring that, just deleting the guys was the first thing I did, too, as all their info is usually stored for retrieval in modules. Now with the Effect issue, I think I'm just going to put an effect of "DEAD!" on them and do as Sorcerer suggested: set them to invisible & just drag them off someplace to dispose of later. That way it's pretty quick and I don't have to worry about the potential of an orphaned Effect getting neutered in the process.

April 20th, 2011, 00:36
Now you realize that if there are any Effects on the other living combatants that are marked as being updated on the dead guy's turn, that those Effects will never get updated again after you delete the dead guy, right? Or do you handle that somehow?

In 4e, effects applied by opponents would be "end next" or "save ends" or "encounter".

"Encounter" ones would still be in effect even if the creature that applied it were already dead. "Save ends" would still be in effect until the character saved successfully, regardless of if the creature applied it were already dead.

So, that leaves only "end next" which we have to account for - so, you wait until the creature's turn comes round again, the effect will drop, then you can delete him. You can simply turn the corpse sideways temporarily to remind you he is dead and that you'll need to remove him from the CT as soon as the effect drops, which would be in 1 round or less.

That is how I would handle it in 4e, but 4e doesn't have any effects that last a certain number of rounds.

If you had to account for effects that lasted a specific number of rounds and it were being counted automatically based on the creature's initiative count, then it might be necessary to leave the corpse in the CT until the effect expires.

I wasn't aware that C&C even had that sort of functionality for automatically counting rounds for effects expiring, however. If it doesn't automatically keep track of it, then the DM would have to keep track of it manually anyway, thus it wouldn't be linked to the corpse. I'm not as familiar yet with the C&C ruleset yet though, so maybe it does have this feature, in which case, you would need to account for that.

April 20th, 2011, 02:15
In 4e, effects applied by opponents would be "end next" or "save ends" or "encounter".
Ah - gotcha. I assumed only the C&C folks followed this thread. Before discovering C&C I was running 4e. For the most part I really enjoyed it - lots of interesting ideas. The thing that killed it for me was that the "flattening of the character classes" was made up for by the variety of feats (not sure if that's the proper term), but when I tried to use a lot of feats, I just found that I couldn't keep track of them all - especially when DMing with a lot of NPCs. I almost invariably found that I had missed an important feat for somebody somewhere that would have affected the game outcome. I found myself pining for something simpler, I just couldn't keep up.

4e is a fun system, though - I'll have to try to find time to play in a campaign sometime. It also has a *great* FG ruleset, and it was sure a let down coming over to the C&C ruleset at the time. It was a lot more bare bones... until Sorcerer came along and souped C&C up ten-fold, usability-wise. My next son will be named Sorcerer!

If you had to account for effects that lasted a specific number of rounds and it were being counted automatically based on the creature's initiative count, then it might be necessary to leave the corpse in the CT until the effect expires.
Yeah, that's pretty much it. It's not such a huge deal or anything - there are far more pressing issues I'd like to see tackled, mostly on the application front.

I wasn't aware that C&C even had that sort of functionality for automatically counting rounds for effects expiring, however.
It does have effects that either count up or down - useful for either keeping track of things like being stunned, or in the case of counting up, keeping track of bleeding or characters who are in the negatives, stuff like that.

But when you apply an Effect to a combatant, it is automatically set to update on the turn of the combatant who's turn it currently is (which is normally the guy who's attacking & causing the Effect to be applied to the target in the first place). So in the end, most Effects are based on somebody else's turn, so deleting a combatant can be risky. But the workaround is easy enough.

April 20th, 2011, 06:51
Ah, very interesting. I'm glad to hear C&C ruleset has that depth of functionality. I'm just newly playing around with it.

I am currently heavily into 4e and Savage Worlds, but I started my RPG hobby back in 77 with 1e. So, I'm planning to do some stuff soon with using C&C to do some old AD&D modules.

One idea, if it doesn't actually matter who applies the effect, then you can simply move the turn flag temporarily to the character getting the effect - that way, it will be set to his initiative, rather than the attackers - then move the flag back to the correct place. I think that might work, but you'll need to test it out.

April 20th, 2011, 07:47
Yes, that works well, too... I've done that a few times, and in the end that is the solution I prefer: Effects should update on the round of the person to whom they are applied. For me I find that I have to choose the method that is the easiest to remember, as once the game gets going, it's too easy for me to forget a simple step & screw up my consistency. So in the end, for me it's easiest to just make the dead guys invisible & drag their ghosty tokens out of the way.

C&C used to play like d20, maybe a little better - so much of the improved functionality is due to Sorcerer - he's the dude!

Glad that you've got another gaming outlet, V! I'm running some old school stuff too - I'm currently fixin' to run 1st edition Greyhawk.

Moon Wizard
April 20th, 2011, 18:18
The way I am handling in the upcoming 3.5E ruleset is to remember the initiative that the effect was added on, rather than the combatant who applied it. The combatant name who applied the effect is still there for informational purposes, but the initiative controls when the duration is decremented. With this kind of implementation, removing combatants from the tracker does not impact effects.


April 20th, 2011, 23:46
And lest we forget to tell you how awesome you are also, Moon_Wizard... You are.

April 21st, 2011, 00:13
Hey Moon, that sounds like a pretty good solution, in terms of at least updating the effect at the same time during the round and untying it from the combatant who caused the effect. The only hitch (for C&C anyway) might be that in 3.5 you don't re-roll Initiatives every round, you roll once and keep them throughout the rest of the combat, right? In C&C you usually do re-roll every round, so a combatant who is stunned for one round early in the current round, then rolls a poor Initiative on the next round could have his stun expire before it ever affects him, no? Or maybe I'm missing something there.

That said, I suppose funky things can happen with the current C&C rules: Bob is fighting an Orc.

Round 1: Orc wins Initiative, attacks first and stuns Bob (Effect is applied). Bob then gets his turn, but has the Effect stunned so stands there babbling.

Round 2: Bob wins Initiative, but still has the Effect "Stunned" so stands around for a 2nd round babbling (effectively doubling the length of the effect). The Effect won't be updated/removed until Bob has lost his turn a second time. Not fair to Bob... but Orc is quietly pleased.

What makes sense to me is that the Effects for each combatant are updated at the end of that combatant's turn - that way the Effect updates are always relative to the person on whom the Effect is applied. So if you get stunned for 1 round *before* your turn, the stun will be in effect for the current round - if you get stunned *after* you've acted for the current round, your stun will be for the next round. But as far as you are concerned, the stun affected you for one round... no matter what your Initiative is at any point, and no matter who has been added or deleted to/from the Combat Tracker.

Maybe I'll try my hand at adding an optional rule - that scheme seems like the most bullet-proof solution to me. Sorce has his hands full with life (I do too, but to a lesser degree, I think), so maybe I can muddle through adding the option if anyone else is interested. Sorce shouldn't have to shoulder all of the things I come up with for him to do :D

April 21st, 2011, 11:10
I agree with MW that divorcing the effects totally from the creatures that caused them, is the best way to go.
Unfortunately in the case of the current C&C ruleset that would require a total rewrite of the effects system, and how it interacts with the combat tracker - something that would be quite time consuming.

I don't know the 3.5E rules on initiative, but the d20_jpg ruleset works like that of the C&C (or a should put that the other way around since the C&C effects system is based Moon wizards d20_jpg code), as does the initive system in the 4E ruleset, so I assumed that the new 3.5E ruleset would have similar initiative possibilities to all these rulesets (we will have to wait and see).

Doc. the example you use is a perfectly valid example of an anomaly, but the situation is quite complex. Sticking with your example. Stunning also causes bob to lose any dex bonus and for his opponents to get a +2 to hit him.
thus if there were more than one orc, and these were after Bob in the initiative chain, then you would want the effect still to be valid after bobs turn, but to expire before the orcs get a chance of a second attack. Having it expire directly after bobs turn would give him an advantage over the remaining orcs that he should not have.

The problem is differentiating between "your turn" and a combat round (on which all effects/spell durations are based)

probably (assuming we don't rewrite the whole system to work as MW suggests) then the fairest thing is to have effects expire at the end of each combat round, but that also has the problem of the difference in timing between effects coming into play on the first persons initiative and those that come in on the last initiative (which effectively would expire a round early)

anyway, if you plan to have a look at this yourself, the thing to bare in mind is that the combat tracker is a list of windows (each combatant is a window) and the effects found on each combatant is also a list of windows. So the difficulty (at least the thing that caused me the most stress last time I looked at this) is remembering which window list you are in and which one you are searching though/referring to at any one time.

I might get a couple of hours to look at this over the Easter holidays - but probably only as far as removing dead NPCs from the initiative roll (you don't want to remove dead/dying PC's from the initiative do you? - I think even if the player can't act its good to give the GM pause to think over the players situation)

April 21st, 2011, 16:46
Dang it - you're right, my example works from the perspective of the person who has the effect applied, but not from the perspective of the other combatants. Years ago I was going to script a simple combat tracker into a web page, and I remember running into some of this as I tried to work out the details. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I do remember getting frustrated and just kinda moving on to another project. I guess the whole Effect thing really has to be looked at as just an abstraction, like C&C recommends anyway.

Given the complexity of this part of the code, it'd be dumb for me to start my lucrative new career in FG scripting (sign up today at ITT Tech!) by taking on such a project. Sorce, don't mess around with that stuff on my behalf... as always, you're too kind. This issue is not really that big of a deal - enjoy your holiday! It's been an very interesting discussion and has given me some new insight in to how to treat Effects in my game. There is room for improvement on this aspect of the ruleset, but frankly, the other tidbits that I'm aware of that you're working on for the next rev. are *far* more exciting than a fix for this little funky bit.

Peace out.

(PS: I do find the word "Noble" next to the name "dr_venture" to be pretty funny - that's about the opposite of the character's nature!)

April 22nd, 2011, 05:46
One thing I'm still puzzled about.

If the effect is tied to the turn of the combatant that applied it and you re-roll initiative every round, doesn't that already totally mess up the timing of effects expiring?


Bob has first place initiative.
Orc 1 has last place initiative. Orc stuns bob for 1 round.

Next round.
Orc now has first place initiative.
Bob now has last place initiative.

The effect expires lasted only 1 initiative count.

If it were exactly reverse, it would last 2 full rounds.

No matter how you slice it, it won't work properly as long as your changing the initiative order every round.

Perhaps the solution is to simply make an option to not re-roll initiative every round. I'm pretty sure that timing of effects was the reason that 4e stopped using re-rolling initiative every round, because it causes all sorts of headaches for timing of things.

The other option would be to have the initiative count remembered by the effect (like Moon_Wizard said)--regardless of who applied it or what initiative count he had next round and regardless even wether that combatant still exists.

But, I would assume it would be much much easier to simply stop reroll of initiative than to completely change the effect subsystem.

That doesn't address the initial question about dead combatants, but thats really a minor concern compared to actually being able to properly time the effects. As it stands now, it sounds as if the counter isn't actually capable of timing the effect properly, unless I've totally misunderstood the conversation, which I'll admit about half went over my head.

April 22nd, 2011, 07:07
Vod, I think you summed it up correctly on all accounts, as far as I can tell. It's the re-rolling of the Initiatives that throws everything out of whack. But I believe even in 4e you can hold your action (say with a guy aiming a bow at a doorway & waiting for somebody to go through it) and basically reset your place in the Initiative order. That's not a huge issue, but there it is.

In the end, it's just not a perfect clockwork system - and I actually don't mind that so much... some stuns work out better for the affected person than others. It's the luck of the draw. But I also enjoyed our old school method of rolling a group movement then group attack initiatives - it added an element of having to set up your attacks in the movement phase. Sometimes the other guy would just move away from you before you got your attack, sometimes you wanted to move first and sometimes you wanted the other guy to move first. You get the idea.

It was the anal side of me that wanted it to all add up, but it just can't without more gyrations than it's worth. Unless, once again, I'm missing something!

April 23rd, 2011, 09:58
Your correct that in 4e you can hold your action and interrupt at a later point in the round, however, that doesn't mean that you have to actually move the character in the initiative order. I don't. I doubt if most people do.

For one thing, it defeats the intent of winning the initiative if you do. Winning the initiative doesn't mean you act first, it means you decide first. It's your perogative to decide to act later--your reward for being more alert than your opponent.

This doesn't permanently change your place in the order, though.

In an ideal world, you would re-roll initiatives every round -- but, then that brings in the problems with timing of effects, which we are trying to avoid.

Thus, the best way to handle things, in 4e or any other version of D20, at least in regards to using Fantasy Grounds is to roll initiative once and leave the order static for the entire encounter. That allows the software to count the timing of effects properly. Especially in 4e, where there are about 10 times the amount of effects to track in the average encounter, there really is no other way you could do it. It would be a nightmare otherwise.