Reply To: Codex Adventum: Road to Monsterberg Beta Test

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Hans Hellinger

Ok so, notes on the last session for Playtest Group 4. Jack, please share this with your group.

Jack having spent a week working on FOV every night was required to focus his attention on more important matters than gaming, and therefore was unavailable. So Sam ran the session as a “Session Zero” – meaning an opportunity for his guys to familiarize themselves with the combat rules.

To do this, they did a kind of Battle Royal between Nils, Johann, and Kalina, with Kunes coming in at the end to finish things off. I was invited to jump into the Discord session towards the end of this so I listened to part of it and gave some (somewhat garbled) advice in real time.

The result was that Johannes, who was a good defensive fighter, well armored and equipped with a ‘mini pavise’ shield, was able to fend off both Nils and Kalina and eventually killed Nils, but not before Nils destroyed his shield. Johannes was also fairly seriously wounded. Apparently there had been an exchange of gunfire before I arrived to the game.

Then Kunes entered the fray with his montante sword and killed the now shieldless Johannes with a bypass attack which brought him below 0 HP. We rolled on the catastrophic damage table just for fun, which indicated a severed lower leg.

Comments – points of confusion (hopefully) clarified

One thing that happened before I got there was that Nils destroyed Johannes shield with his boar spear. He apparently did a multi-dice attack, attempting bypass, and rolled a Crit (natural 20). Problem was, even with the natural 20 he didn’t have enough of a bonus to hit with a bypass, so they ruled it as him destroying the shield. This is fine, because ‘common sense’ is rule 0 for codex. But it could have also been done another way…

A Critical Hit
Codex rules state that a natural 20 is always a hit. The only possible exception is if the defender also rolls a natural 20 but we can skip that for now. Question is, does it count as a bypass? I would say no. But it’s a multi-die attack, resulting in a Critical, which means it does extra damage – one extra dice per die thrown into the attack. So if say, it was a 2 dice thrusting attack with Nils boar spear, it would be D8+2 (normal damage) + 2d6 piercing crit damage. Also, the spear has +1 AP, reducing the protection of the armor by 1. So this means between 5-22 damage, vs. armor of 7. This may well be enough to seriously hurt Johannes in spite of his armor, (or to damage his shield. But in the latter case the shield has to be targeted).

Attacking shields – shields can be destroyed, but they have a DR (like an armor value) and a lot of hit points. The type Johannes had was a ‘Mini Pavise’ which is listed in the system as having a hardness of 6 and 8 HP. Somewhat hard to break but not impossible, the best method may be to make multiple single-die attacks. Anything over 6 damage will hurt the shield so big weapons are best for this.

Johannes high Defensive value – The character sheet only showed the defensive values (active and passive) with the shield, so when he lost it this was another point of confusion. The shield is worth 4 points to both Active and Passive Defense. Once it was gone both his passive and active defense should go down by 4. I think we left this off due to space limitations on the character sheet but I’ll amend the sheet to show two values. Shields also always grant a Free Dice on every Active Defense roll, something to keep in mind.

So how do you deal with a badass?
Johannes, unlike Nils and Kalina, is a professional soldier, so he is a hard nut to crack. Taking apart his defenses such as by neutralizing his shield is a good idea, but there is a larger principal to keep in mind. The Martial Pool, your dice pool, limits how many things you can do in a turn. Special Feats may enhance this, but basically you will have no more than 4 actions per round – attacks, defense, movement, things like reloading, or attacks of opportunity.

This latter part is especially significant. Once Johannes spends his pool, such as by fighting with one (or both) characters with Attacks or Active Defense die rolls, he is out of pool and can only use his Passive Defense. This gives his opponents a good opportunity to do something like grabbing his shield, or grappling him and using their combined strength to bring him down. This is often one of the best ways to deal with an armored or particularly skilled opponent in the Codex System.

And it’s why being ganged up on is so dangerous in the Codex rules.

Grappling from a distance
In addition, Nils had another option – Grappling from a distance. Any weapon with a grapple bonus (like Nils’ boar spear) can be used to make grapple attacks while still at Onset or Melee range. A hit means you can initiate a grapple, essentially a contested strength check, and success can mean for example that you strip away or temporarily neutralize your opponents weapon, including a shield.

Anyway, overall I think the fighting went well and seemed to go more smoothly than it did in the first session. I hope this commentary is helpful and / or amusing!