Saturday, December 5, 2009

Killing Armies and Taking Names

Berserk 23 is a nice showcase into how much of a basket case Guts actually is. Not that this should be surprising to anyone whose read this far mind you.
It does provide fertile ground though, for having that 'other voice', the one that subtly nudges a character to do things that might not exactly be heroic in the name of getting the job done.
It also showcases the strain of trying to achieve two goals at one time. In Guts case, it's protecting Casca or going after Griffith. He's bound to Casca but oh does he want to get Griffith.
There are also things going on outside of Guts that influence him. For example, in this series, incubi haunt dreams. They take the mind and twist it into things that it probably shouldn't be. Take the most extreme things and force themselves into the forefront of the mind.
And because of the Brand itself, Guts is under constant attack. And sometimes that attack is not just a physical attack. The spirits and hosts of undead can also possess an individual and make them do horrible things. Was it the spirits? Was it the dark dreams? Was it just lack of self control?
Another battle showcases a group of the new Band of the Hawk. They're all high level apostles but here, in human form, they're like heroes. No, more like super heroes. They spur through an army like a hurricane. In many ways, this is what a high level group of adventurers is like when facing lower level opposition. The enemy can't hit the characters. When they do hit, it's for relatively minor damage. The characters can pull tricks out of their bag that these low level entities may never have even heard of.
And... if the characters have earned their power honestly, then this is the way it should be. Even in a game like Warhammer where it's a bit more grim and gritty, a character on his fourth career, especially with several other allies on their fourth careers, is going to mow through most standard opposition like orcs, goblins, and even humans. It's just the nature of the beast of increased toughness, attacks, and strength. These factors allow one hit kills. Mind you the open ended nature of damage may turn that around but in the meantime....
Lastly, when recruiting armies, think about how its done. In this volume, there are two methods given note. The first is that captured prisoners are turned against their former countrymen. This is a demoralizing tactic but could easily backfire. Espeically if the players are part of the captured. The second is captured prisoners in a similiar manner, but if they survive three engagements, they can either go free of join the army and earn promotion and rank like anyone. This works well when fighting against rival armies that are composed from many different nations and may not have a single unifying leader for the entire army. Perhaps some of those from one nation hate another so much that they'd be willing to join another army.
Lastly, don't forget the common folk for bringing characters more information. In this case, the group learns from a shepherd provides the group details as he tends his flock.
Allow the characters to claim as much action as they want but remember that they'll never know everything and may still have to rely on the common folk for the coming and goings of various events.