Instant kills in AFF2?

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aduial
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Instant kills in AFF2?

Post by aduial » Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:36 pm

I've been looking at ways of adding the possibility of instant kills to AFF2. Now, instant kills don't make sense for a lot of high fantasy roleplaying, but for grim and gritty "realistic" settings they have a certain appeal, at least to me. The trouble is that if instant kills are very likely, they ruin any system. Also, we really want to be able to control the instant-killing of heroes, without stopping them from worrying about it.

After thinking about it for a while, I've come up with the following house rule which I am thinking about using for gritty games.

If you roll a critical hit in combat against a non-monstrous mortal opponent (so no demons, undead, constructs or otherwise otherworldly enemies, and no dragons either), you may test LUCK (for the normal cost of a LUCK point) in order to turn the normal critical hit into a Kill.

A Kill means the target is instantly dying, brought to negative hit points and loosing LUCK fast. (Or, in the case of most NPCs, instantly dead.)

This allows for a very small chance of instant kills. It may be useful for characters to quickly take out enemies if they are lucky and get in an early critical hit.

It MAY be used against the heroes as well, in situations where it is suitable. But the fact that you CHOOSE wether or not to try for a kill means you won't accidentally kill off a hero in his first engagement with a pack of feral dogs. But you can still use it from time to time to keep those routine goblin-slaughters feeling potentially deadly at all levels of play.

As criticals are rare, it shouldn't slow down play any, but offers an extra tactical option for use of LUCK.

Granted, I'm a bit of a simulationist, so I like a system to be able to model any situation that COULD potentially happen - and someone dying instantly from being hit in the head with a rock can certainly happen. I like my rule, I think it's non-intrusive and elegant. But I'm not ENTIRELY sure it brings enough to the game to warrant actually specifying it.

Thoughts?

MountainPeak11
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Post by MountainPeak11 » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:29 am

I'm like you in that I like to visualise all the possibilities - you should see my campaign book!!!

I think this is an excellent idea and it seems like you've worked on it a lot. I shall be using this in my campaign! :D

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torus
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Post by torus » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:14 pm

yep I like this too. How about an Assassin talent which gives a bonus to this Luck test?

aduial
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Post by aduial » Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:41 pm

Another reason to add this rule is as a small way of balancing warrior-types compared to various magic users. Wizards and Sorcerors have an imposing number of ways of taking someone out of action in a single round or to inflict horrendous amounts of damage.

However, there may be a problem with this: There's no save. More to the point, all other instantly-out-of-action manoevers you can do in the game is in some way dependent on some attribute of the target. Most spells such as Death, Cockroach and so on can be saved against using LUCK, and even NIP-dualled ZAP-spells (causing an horrendous 6d6 points of damage with no armour or save) can be soaked with extreme amounts of STAMINA.

This new rule introduces a way of killing someone that cannot be stopped in this way. This won't usually be a problem: player characters are allowed to be left at dying instead of dead, and so it CAN be stopped in their case. But it can be a huge problem if it creates anti-climaxes where humanoid BigBads are killed out of hand... The only defense a GM really has against this is making sure everyone is low on LUCK by the time they confront a Big Bad, or giving BigBads some kind of supernatural defense against it... And the only elegant way around it, especially as it isn't really a named core-mechanical effect, would be to make someone immune to critical hits entirely.

spaceferret
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Post by spaceferret » Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:20 pm

In the first edition, a critical hit always reduced stamina to -1, regardless.

This meant that 1 in 36 hits would kill the opponent outright. Not a problem for heroes as there was inevitably a Stamina spell around, but I do recall that the main "boss" character in my first AFF campaign was slaughtered by a critical hit - not from a player character, but by an orc that the heroes had convinced to help them out.

It wasn't really a very balanced rule, all in all…

gmwoodnz
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Post by gmwoodnz » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:39 pm

I've been browsing this forum for a little while now, as I gear up for my first AFF2 campaign, and I had actually been considering a similar rule:
Critical hits to characters with a LUCK score work as listed in the book. Critical hits to other characters (extras, essentially) kill them instantly.

It lets the Heroes cleave through mooks in a single turn, cuts down on the book-keeping of tracking SKILL damage to them, but still gives major villains and heroes a bit of "plot protection".

An alternative (and slightly nastier) formulation that just occurred to me would be that a critical hit does SKILL/STAMINA damage as per the book + 1 LUCK point. If the character can't pay the LUCK point, they are killed instantly. This has some appeal to me, too, because it will make heroes much more cautious once their LUCK runs out.

aduial
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Post by aduial » Tue Jun 21, 2011 10:49 pm

gmwoodnz wrote:Critical hits to characters with a LUCK score work as listed in the book. Critical hits to other characters (extras, essentially) kill them instantly.
That does seem to have something going for it, and solves the things I was worrying about: If you don't want it to be instagibbable, give it LUCK.

It is tempting to demand that LUCKy characters still test for luck in order to avoid the instakill and only suffer the normal effects. With another houserule that I've nearly decided to use, where you can keep saving against instakill-effects until you make the save or run out of luck, it should work nicely.

Of course, this does require another problem to be solved, that I'm worrying about. Things without luck test against skill when they would normally test against luck (though obviously not for the above rule). But that makes a lot of monsters from OotP completely immune to magic. With a luck score of 15-16 (which is above the maximum, but well... when the SKILL is that much above the theoretical SKILL maximum I guess those rules don't apply to monsters) that's not so bad, as every spell resisted knocks the resistance down a notch. But well.. ahm. Well, that's a topic for another thread.

Thanks for the idea though. Basing the results of criticals on wether or not a creature has a luck score may solve some of the things I wasn't too sure about. Even if there are still some problems to be thought out...

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Post by spaceLem » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:17 pm

I think that instakill is important -- it kind of spoils the surprise when the assassin firing their crossbow across the hall at the king needs to fire another 3 times to actually finish him off... but that could probably be handled by GM fiat.

If the PCs wish to do it though, maybe to take the lone goblin sentry out before it alerts its friends, then it should still be possible. I would suggest that if you succeed on a stealth roll, then you can do double damage, and that's maximised if the target is not in combat at the time. That should be enough to take out weaker foes without making it too easy (spend a bit more silver and hire an ogre to guard the door if you need the security).
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Post by Skyrock » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:45 pm

spaceLem wrote:If the PCs wish to do it though, maybe to take the lone goblin sentry out before it alerts its friends, then it should still be possible. I would suggest that if you succeed on a stealth roll, then you can do double damage, and that's maximised if the target is not in combat at the time.
That is actually already in the rules.

Surprise (p.64) already grants you +6 to hit and +2 to damage rolls. Rear attacks (p.59) grants further +4, making it a total of +10.

Next, crank out the combat options. An all-out attack (p.64) increases _dealt_ damage by 1 for every -2 you take on to hit.

Trading all your to-hit bonus for damage (not unreasonable against a measly goblin), you get to deal 8 to 10 stamina with a successful hit.

Against the average goblin with Stamina 5 and Light Monster Armor (at best -2 damage), that is already guaranteed death. No. Damage. Roll. Required.
Even the ogre with his stamina of 10 would face a (low) risk to get instantly slain.

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Post by Wyrin » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:36 pm

Bit late to this party but what about

If an opponent struck by PC is suprised, and that current STAMINA is less than the PC's base SKILL, the strike is an assassination - instant kill.

Easy dropping of goblin guards - and scales with increased XP

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torus
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Post by torus » Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:11 am

On reflection I'm inclined to agree with Skyrock that the rules for Surprise and Rear Attack get you most of the way there.

I might add another combat option, something like:

Lethal Strike
This option involves targeting a particularly vulnerable area on the opponent with a directed attack. At the cost of -4 to combat total, damage is increased by +1 and the opponent gets no armour roll.

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