View Full Version : Making the support engaging

2013-04-10, 03:42 PM
Recently I hosted a session in an ongoing campaign for my friends. This particular session was the culmination of the adventure and involved them being besieged in the fortified monastery they had been staying at for the past few months. It was not particularly huge forces involved on either side, but pressing nonetheless.

One of my players plays a physician who'se expertise does not exactly lie in combat, and as such she opted to stay away from the walls and focused on treating the wounded and providing support. Unfortunantely I discovered I had a hard time providing engaging tasks for the player and as such the session was not as fun for her as it could have been. I was not as prepared as I could have been, which certainly made things worse, but even if I had been I doubt it would have been much better.

As such I figured I'd seek some advice from the collective experience available on these boards.
What advice do you have that allows non-combat support to be as fun and engaging as the combat that goes on around it is? What should one focus on? What tasks should be provided? How do you make it more than dicerolls and movement?

2013-04-10, 03:56 PM
May I assume you're playing D&D 3.5?

2013-04-10, 04:03 PM
No, we're playing a fairly "realistic" swedish fantasy rpg called Eon. Though I was hoping that most advice would be generally applicable to most systems. But feel free to suggest for dnd 3.5 if you have some ideas, maybe some things could be adapted.

Well worth pointing out though that this player in particular does not care much for mechanical crunch.

2013-04-10, 04:15 PM
Well, I was thinking that the player has been just making Heal checks.

In D&D, combat is its own game, and skill checks are just a very elementary version of that. Combat presents many options and many opportunities for description. Skill checks are just single pass/fail tests with very few options otherwise.

I was going to suggest turning emergency medicine into a triage minigame. Get him acquainted with a couple NPCs, each with their own heartbreaking backstory. Later, have both of them be severely injured. The player can now save either one of them, but not both. Don't stop him from trying, though.

Basically, the player needs to be able to make interesting choices with meaningful outcomes. Simple pass/fail skill checks don't accomplish that.

2013-04-10, 04:43 PM
I am not familiar with the rules of Eon, but adding a bit of Fake Constraints to the physicians job might help a little. So you take the decision points somewhat away from skillchecks, which are pass/fail and move it into making concrete decisions. This depends on the personality though, and how inclined the character / player is to help with conflict resolution between groups. Basically, you take a page from any given book or RPG and you make the actual problem not be the actual problem. Make up two groups (or more) and have them complicate the situation at hand. This all assumes the other players are busy fighting. For instance:

There's plenty of supplies, but the monks are refusing to treat the wounded because of faith differences - your job is to convince them to do so, or at least make them release the supplies so you can help.

There's few supplies, so a local merchant / noble / gang of warriors / group is hogging them - your job is to convince them to share.

The enemy has started to use poison, your job is to figure out the early signs and come up with a treatment.

The enemy is attacking from multiple sides, and wounded are streaming in from several locations - where do you direct the people under your command, and where do you go?

Someone has taken a mortal wound, and wants to share a secret with you before death - why, and what would that mean, if anything?

The wounded are loosing morale, and are beginning to be convinced you will fail - and in their trashing and fatalism, they are disrupting the other patients. Your job is to help solve the issue.

This person here is a pilgrim, and is about to lose an arm. If the individual loses their arm, they are going to lose their livelihood. Do you amputate or do you try to heal? - what do you do, oh physician?

If there's few enemies outside the walls, perhaps you need some herbs gathered. You're the only one who can identify them, so time to rally up the other PC's and make a midnight strike to get the plants and help save the wounded.