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Episode 2199: The Mouse that Sword


Banter during a combat is a well-established trope of fiction, and can be a lot of fun, but is not often seen in games. Some players do it, for sure. However for many people, once combat is entered in a roleplaying game, the roleplaying part drops away and the game is reduced to a tactical battle involving counting squares on a map, calculating movements, rolling dice, and counting up damage points.

Often at this stage the game dialogue becomes something like:

"I hit the goblin next to me. 13. 6 damage."
"It hits you back. Take 4 damage."
"I Disengage and move here."
"I cast a Magic Missile. 7 damage to that goblin there."

We like to imagine that what is happening is more like this:

"Foul goblin! Taste my blade!"
"Filthy human! Why do you persecute us so? Take some of your own medicine!"
"Aiiee! Let's see what you can do against Melkor the Magnificent!"
"Never fear, friend Rogar! I shall vanquish that goblin. Telum magicae!"

I recently came across an interesting rule in a roleplaying game called Wicked Ones (in which you play the monsters):

Rule of Description: You can’t access game mechanics before giving at least some level of description. Even a simple one-line explanation suffices.

In other words, in this game you can't just say, "I hit the goblin next to me. 13. 6 damage." You need to describe what you're doing first. "I step forward and swing my blade at the foul goblin!" This rule forces you to be more descriptive. Inspired by this, I can imagine a game rule that requires you to deliver a line of combat banter before each attack. The game then enforces combat banter.

Some people might not enjoy this, in which case don't use it. But maybe try it and see if it encourages your players to get more creative and melodramatic during combat, thus making it more fun for everyone.

Commentary by memnarch (who has not seen the movie)

Ok, this is an impressive display by Finn. Jumping back up, still not tagging himself with the lightsaber, and then somehow managing to lock blades with Kylo. Now I'm thinking he'll end up perfectly fine, no need for artificial limbs later at all.

Hm, Kylo's lightsaber has a very obvious rip or flare or something in the 6th panel. That seals the deal on it being intentionally defective. It makes me wonder as well why it might be that way. Comic-wise, that's obvious. Getting it in the mail means the seller could get away with selling a low quality laser sword. If someone tried that at a bar, the seller would probably end up shanked.

The panel layout is pretty good here. This feels like a proper climax scene for the movie now, and I only just realized the different border usage started two comics ago too.


GM: <roll>... Kylo’s efforts aggravate his Wound and he has to catch his breath.
[SFX]: whmmm...
[SFX]: whmmm...
Finn: I seize the opportunity to leap up and attack again!
[SFX]: whmmm...
Kylo Ren: I don’t even bother parrying.
Kylo Ren: I just dodge his feeble attempts.
[SFX]: Whooom!
Kylo Ren: You have no chance against a Force user with a laser sword.
Kylo Ren: I am a lithe and adroit cat, playing with a feeble mouse.
[SFX]: whmmm...
Kylo Ren: Let me show you how this is really done! 17!
[SFX]: Whooom!
Finn: Block! 20!
GM: Your swords lock.
[SFX]: kzrzkk zkrzzk!!
Finn: Woof.

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Published: Thursday, 01 September, 2022; 02:11:02 PDT.
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