View Full Version : collateral damage! is it missing from your combat scene?

2009-06-16, 09:12 AM
I noticed that in a lot of my older games (and some of the more recent ones where I ran it really tired), combat tends to be very much focused on the combatants, which is a good thing, I suppose.

But one thing I always forget about is the scenery. I mean, yeah, I remember things like tables, chairs, and other things that could potentially change the battle. But I almost never say, have the barbarian crash through a wall from a missed swing, or have the mage blow off the entire side of a building, expanding the battlefield, or other such collateral damage that alters the terrain.

Thinking back at it, I realized that I really could use some help on managing this sort of thing. But then a question comes up: what's a good and quick guideline for doing collateral damage? I mean, sure, I could sit around and calculate damage done to the terrain by crossing it against the material hardness and all that. But seriously? not exactly the funnest activity in the world. I guess I could just eyeball everything and just arbitrarily throw out descriptions as on the fly.

How would you do it?

2009-06-16, 09:19 AM
I guess I could just eyeball everything and just arbitrarily throw out descriptions as on the fly.
i would do something like this.

loosely based around what seems like the most fun/going to get the biggest laugh at the time.

2009-06-16, 09:20 AM
I've always done it ad hoc and thrown it in as amusement or the situation dictates. Sometimes I use it to point the bigger gaffs in character behavior- (In the tavern) "I cast fireball!" "The tavern catches fire."

I also sometimes use it as plot drivers- I used the slippery frozen lake as a scene for combat once. Most of the characters were unprepared, so opponenets that the party would normally have handled easily were much more challenging and it made for a combat everyone enjoyed.

One time, I also ended up with a carriage driver as collateral damage, and from that point on, every time the party hired a carriage it was destroyed, the driver killed etc. It became an ongoing challenge to see if I could come up with new and legitimate ways to kill a carriage driver. Then there was the Great Carriage Crash when one of the PC's tried to drive it after the real driver bit it.

2009-06-16, 09:21 AM
You know what you need? AD&D 2nd edition Player Options: Combat and Tactics. You can easily adapt the rules in that book to any game and it brings a lot of rules to flesh out your combats even rules (or random tables) for collateral damage or other unexpected events.

2009-06-16, 09:34 AM
I just ran a session where a couple of modified dire animals partially destroyed a farmhouse the PC's were defending. All of this was either eyeballed, or made no difference to the game, so was just stated.

They initially broke through a bedroom wall, then another into the main room. As they destroyed pillars, parts of the house would cave in, either becoming difficult/impassible terrain. Almost took out a loft a PC was in. It also attacked the civilian occupants, the PC's realized that saving them was more important than killing the monsters (which they did very quickly after the homeowners got out)

While they were doing that, one of the bad guys went through the fields, killing fleeing farmhands before trying to sneak up on the Ranger (he failed).

Kris Strife
2009-06-16, 09:55 AM
If I need/want to avoid collateral damage icly, I assume collateral damage can happen, just to be safe.

2009-06-16, 12:12 PM
I like to use collateral damage to reward players who put ranks into Knowledge (architecture). Occasionally they can pick out a weak support beam or see a crack in a wall that might break open with the precise application of war hammers.

Basically, feel free to decide that a certain pillar/wall/ceiling has been weakened over time and has fewer hitpoints or less hardness than a typical pillar/wall/ceiling. If it fits into the combat and makes things more fun, break stuff!

2009-06-16, 12:45 PM
Collateral damage once drastically changed the face of my campaign. Let's put it pseudo-mathematically.

Forest + dragonbreath + fire elementals = fire!

Forest + fire = forest fire!

Forest fire + nearby city = burning city!

Burning city + ill-advised Control Weather = fire followed by flood!

It escalated from there. The PCs ended up founding their own country. The game had started out as a police beat.

Fun times.

2009-06-16, 09:48 PM
Well, I like to think that collateral damage will always happen in a battle when people start actually dealing enough damage to strike down walls and stuff.

I think from now on, I'm gonna try to handle it like this.

whenever a PC must roll for an attack, I'll ask him to roll for damage at the same time too. This will help me save some time to go through combat, but also help me see how much damage that blow was going to do.

If the attack is a miss, the damage becomes damage he's done to the scenery. And then I just look at what's around him (i.e. within a 5 foot reach) and the appropriate section will take some damage with me describing it. i.e. say the barbarian is fighting an orc next to table, swings and misses. (but would have dealt 12 damage had he hit) I would then declare that he has shattered the table next to him in the course of swinging at the orc and missing. Now the table doodad next to him is no more.

And hell, another example I can think of is if the barbarian is charging a guy with his back to the wall, but misses, say he would have done 100+ damage (or some other arbitrary amount that is equally impressive), I could always say the two (or maybe just the barbarian, depending upon the miss) crash through the wall behind them and fall outside.