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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2020 4:11 pm 
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I've been trying to use swarms in my games lately and have run into some problems with conditions and other rules that either don't really work or work, but don't make sense.

Example: the dwellers are facing a swarm of 10 bandits when the Galdr drops a Beckon Ygdrisll alka on them. Does each member of the swarm proc a separate aura and they all hit each other and die a horrible, verdant death? Or does the swarm as an entity proc a single aura? Bob Ross the Berserker (see other post) has a ton of multi tags he can use (because almost all his runes are mental). How does that affect the swarm? Does he hit the swarm three times or once? How does degeneration affect a swarm? What level is a swarm? It says that "When you play a rune for an action or power, you must assign actions to one member of the swarm...Swarm members must remain adjacent to one another when possible." RAW that means that swarms can't really move. Does a swarm resist its own beneficial conditions, and do they apply to the entire swarm? Can a swarm be possessed? How would that work?

Here is what I am thinking of using in my saga:
Attribute: Swarm
Base Level modifier: +1/Rank
A swarm is a group of creatures that work together with some degree of coordination. The swarm template is applied to a base creature and all members of the swarm are considered copies of that creature for mechanical purposes. Swarms do not necessarily have a number of members equal to the ranks in swarm (though that is a reasonable default assumption). Ranks of swarm may represent several abstract quantities including, but not limited to, number of members, unit cohesion, and training. Four viking warriors trained to fight in a shield wall may have 8 ranks of swarm, while a chaotic mob of 10 peasants might only have 3. Swarms gain the following qualities:
    All for one, one for all - A swarm lives, dies, and moves as a swarm. Individual members cannot leave and rejoin.
    Condition Resistance - A swarm cannot gain intensity in any condition, though they may be affected by conditions like aura and taunt. When a swarm would take a condition, it instead suffers damage equal to the condition intensity it would have taken.
    Enhanced Wyrd - When a swarm wyrds, it draws a number of runes equal to its destiny+Ranks in swarm
    Damage - A swarm does not take damage as normal. Instead, If a swarm takes damage equal to its Essance+Ranks in a single combat round then it looses a rank of swarm. When it loses its last rank of swarm it is no longer a swarm. A swarm cannot lose more than one rank from a single hit unless otherwise noted
    Unit Move - A swarm moves as a unit, but may spend no more than one rune on movement in a round
    Size - A swarm occupies a number of hexes equal to its Ranks, but its size for the purpose of unarmed damage, speed, etc remains that of the base creature
    Knockback resistance - When a swarm would take knockback it takes an equal amount of damage instead
    Area Effects - Damage that affects all creatures in an area (such as from attacks with an [area] tag or aura damage) deal triple damage and can explicitly cause the loss of more than one Rank
    Multiple Hits - Damage that affects more than one creature, but not all creatures (such as from the [multi] tag) deal double damage and can explicitly cause up to three Ranks to be lost
    Damage Types - Spiritual damage is treated as physical (swarms do not suffer drain). Mental and social attacks are considered weak
    Healing - Any time a swarm receives healing, the counter on the damage it needs to take before losing a Rank is reset. Lost Ranks are never regained, unless the Norn decrees that reinforcements have arrived (this should be a pre-planned thing, not the result of some healing power)
    Sacrifice - If the swarm has some ability that requires a sacrifice, a minor sacrifice is a point of damage, a moderate sacrifice is a Rank of swarm, a major sacrifice is two Ranks of swarm, and ultimate sacrifices can't be made
    Death/Drain - For the purposes of powers that ask for the number of runes in Death or Drain, that is equal to the number of ranks lost.
    Misc - Swarms cannot make social attacks and cannot use skills other than perception


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PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2020 3:53 pm 
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jstomel wrote:
I've been trying to use swarms in my games lately and have run into some problems with conditions and other rules that either don't really work or work, but don't make sense.


Andrew is the best one to chime in on this, but for my money - and correct if I'm wrong here, anyone, this is what I say....

jstomel wrote:
Example: the dwellers are facing a swarm of 10 bandits


Okay. Cool. 10 Bandits. Classic.

jstomel wrote:
...when the Galdr drops a Beckon Ygdrisll alka on them. Does each member of the swarm proc a separate aura and they all hit each other and die a horrible, verdant death?


If you're talking about 10 Bandits, so your Aura condition would need to be 6 (as in, one greater than half their number) in order to affect the Swarm. When that happens - yes, horrible, horrible death. Aura is a nightmare.

The point of the Swarm rules is to make book keeping in your part, as the Norn, a lot easier. You're just knocking off a Swarm member every X number of damage, and keeping in mind that any Condition worth factoring into the Swarm has to have an intensity of one greater than half its number.

jstomel wrote:
Or does the swarm as an entity proc a single aura?


Yeah you're basically treating a Swarm as one big character, but it shrinks and becomes weaker whenever you knock off the number of its health.

jstomel wrote:
Bob Ross the Berserker (see other post) has a ton of multi tags he can use (because almost all his runes are mental). How does that affect the swarm? Does he hit the swarm three times or once?


That's interesting. Sounds like an effective strategy to me, with Multi affecting +2 targets on the battlefield.

I'd also consider pulling the crunch-lens back a bit and ask: what's going on? if they're ambushed by 10 bandits in a tight corridor then maybe there isn't enough room to have viable targets and each Multi-tag is only going to hit +1 enemy. Or, if you've been dropped in the middle of the 10 Bandits from crashing through a hole in the thatch roof then yes - swing. Swing and swing.

Bob Ross should be able to use what they've spec'd their character for to the fullest. If they have a lot of Multi, they can be the "swarm killer". But keep in mind a solution to one thing is not a solution to everything.

Maybe there's a Swarm of 10 banits below, but also 5 archers on the roofs above, sniping. Maybe there's a boss who tackles the swarm-killer specifically, and wrestles with him. There's lots of work-arounds to keep the game challenging for characters who seemingly have one situation on lock-down.

jstomel wrote:
How does degeneration affect a swarm?


Get the Degeneration intensity up to one more than half its number. Then Degeneration goes into effect. How that manifests narraitvely is up to the Norn.

jstomel wrote:
What level is a swarm?


Any level you want its members to be? You just have to make them all the same level. Unless you have to factor in a Base Level (for things like Flight, quadroped, etc.) then really what matters is the health of the swarm (the marker for one of them dropping) and their individual Destiny.

jstomel wrote:
It says that "When you play a rune for an action or power, you must assign actions to one member of the swarm...


Yes. So if you have 10 Bandits, they can each use as many as their Destiny in runes in a round. So, better make sure that Bob Ross brings the hurt in that first round or they're going to dogpile him. (If there are any left that is.) Let's run this through with an example.

* Let's say the 10 Bandits each have 3 health and 2 Destiny.
* So we've got a pile of 30 runes - you don't care which runes are which; they may as well be coloured stones, since Powers activate on colour for Denizens. (Boy do I love that rule.)
* Your Galdr drops Beckon Yggdrasil to put the Aura on the Swarm, but the intensity is only at 1, so it does nothing. It needs to be 6. (Does NOTHING? That seems unfair! Well, it sucks to be ganged up on, there's only so much the Norn is going to want to track, so let's keep going with your 2 PCs on 10 NPCs battle.)
* Remember that every time your swarm of 30 runes takes 3 damage, that's one Bandit dead.
* Let's say Bob Ross swings a good swing and taps Multi twice, so he's doing (for the sake of argument) 3 damage with his axe to 5 people. (One for the regular hit, then +2 targets and +2 targets.)
* That reduces the Swarm to only 5 members.
* Now the Galdr would need an intensity of 4 on Aura to affect the Swarm. (Half of 5 rounded up is 3, one more is 4.)
* Remaining 5 Bandits then all get a shot off on Bob Ross. Each bandit has 2 runes to act, so, let's hope Bob Ross has some Contingency or a great Protection Factor.

That assumes the Bandits don't have any armour and didn't spend any of their runes defensively when Bob Ross attacked. They could have. Let's say they had Swords, which give a +2 parry. Then each of those 5 would only have needed to pay one rune of the two they have and defend Bob Ross' attack. Then all 10 would be able to attack Bob Ross. Suddenly he's not so invincible.

jstomel wrote:
Swarm members must remain adjacent to one another when possible." RAW that means that swarms can't really move.


Not really? If you're using Theatre of the Mind then it does not matter. If you're talking miniatures, just keep in mind that they're all part of the Swarm. If someone gets separated you can always knock them off, so long as players don't abuse that. I've had Swarms advance, spread out, cluster, and even separate into two smaller Swarms - it's not like the calculations are too complex.

jstomel wrote:
Does a swarm resist its own beneficial conditions, and do they apply to the entire swarm?


Yeah. Unless the intensity gets up there. And yes they'd apply to the entire Swarm. Does that suck for the Swarm? Kind of. If you really want the Swarm to have a beneficial condition, just give them all an Active Power that would bestow it, and on their turns make sure enough of them activate it to put the condition into play.

The point is not having to keep track of 10 different characters at once.

jstomel wrote:
Can a swarm be possessed? How would that work?


RAW the Possessed would just have to to have an intensity of one more than half their number, then they would be Possessed. I must have the Seithkona (or whomever) pay a concentration tax in runes to try and maintain it and pass out when she fails, because that sounds very taxing.

Swarms are a lot easier than I think you were thinking. They're meant as a simplification tool. I will never go back to running 10 Bandits separately again. Let Swarms be your friend!

//Panjumanju

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PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2020 1:55 pm 
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Alright, if I quote Oanju's reply, I think I'll adress both posts. My answers are inline below.

Panjumanju wrote:
jstomel wrote:
I've been trying to use swarms in my games lately and have run into some problems with conditions and other rules that either don't really work or work, but don't make sense.


Andrew is the best one to chime in on this, but for my money - and correct if I'm wrong here, anyone, this is what I say....

jstomel wrote:
Example: the dwellers are facing a swarm of 10 bandits


Okay. Cool. 10 Bandits. Classic.

jstomel wrote:
...when the Galdr drops a Beckon Ygdrisll alka on them. Does each member of the swarm proc a separate aura and they all hit each other and die a horrible, verdant death?


If you're talking about 10 Bandits, so your Aura condition would need to be 6 (as in, one greater than half their number) in order to affect the Swarm. When that happens - yes, horrible, horrible death. Aura is a nightmare.

The point of the Swarm rules is to make book keeping in your part, as the Norn, a lot easier. You're just knocking off a Swarm member every X number of damage, and keeping in mind that any Condition worth factoring into the Swarm has to have an intensity of one greater than half its number.

jstomel wrote:
Or does the swarm as an entity proc a single aura?


Yeah you're basically treating a Swarm as one big character, but it shrinks and becomes weaker whenever you knock off the number of its health.


Yup, there's a massive detonation as everyone is reduced to a fine red mist.
You could spread them out, but that would go against the RAW in LotA. But this is the direction that the new Swarm rules have embraced. As e first tested them, it made sense to keep them as a unit on the battlefield. But over the years we found other scenarios where separating the group made sense and we house ruled the Swarm requirements. The goal of the updated Swarm rules is to provide resolution guidelines for the most common actions: conditions, damage, healing, defend and initiative. These unified rules will make it easy to resolve, but may need some on-the-fly adjudication by the Norn to make some aspects more granular. If the players crave hyper-realism then you want individualized denizens, but otherwise, most players will accept levels of abstraction to move things along.

Panjumanju wrote:
jstomel wrote:
Bob Ross the Berserker (see other post) has a ton of multi tags he can use (because almost all his runes are mental). How does that affect the swarm? Does he hit the swarm three times or once?


That's interesting. Sounds like an effective strategy to me, with Multi affecting +2 targets on the battlefield.

I'd also consider pulling the crunch-lens back a bit and ask: what's going on? if they're ambushed by 10 bandits in a tight corridor then maybe there isn't enough room to have viable targets and each Multi-tag is only going to hit +1 enemy. Or, if you've been dropped in the middle of the 10 Bandits from crashing through a hole in the thatch roof then yes - swing. Swing and swing.

Bob Ross should be able to use what they've spec'd their character for to the fullest. If they have a lot of Multi, they can be the "swarm killer". But keep in mind a solution to one thing is not a solution to everything.

Maybe there's a Swarm of 10 banits below, but also 5 archers on the roofs above, sniping. Maybe there's a boss who tackles the swarm-killer specifically, and wrestles with him. There's lots of work-arounds to keep the game challenging for characters who seemingly have one situation on lock-down.


Yup, let them shine when they can do it. You have many tools in your Norn toolbox to deal with that. If you want to drain his resources, blind him or shroud your denizen swarm. This will cost him runes to overcome, dampening his output. With the new rules you can also spread them out. Feel free to drop a heal as a call for "reinforcements" from around that corner.

Panjumanju wrote:
jstomel wrote:
How does degeneration affect a swarm?


Get the Degeneration intensity up to one more than half its number. Then Degeneration goes into effect. How that manifests narraitvely is up to the Norn.


All Swarms have herd immunity that needs to be overcome. You want to manage the conditions of a swarm as a whole, if you start doing 1-offs then it's a slippery slope. I'm not saying not to make exceptions, but be aware of the pandora's box you're opening. If one member of the swarm broke off to fight a 1-on-1 fight with a dweller, and the dweller drops a condition on that one guy, then maybe make an exception and make a note for yourself and that denizen. With RGS 3 we formalized a term called Swarm Threshold and that number is used for a few things, including condition resistance.

Panjumanju wrote:
jstomel wrote:
What level is a swarm?


Any level you want its members to be? You just have to make them all the same level. Unless you have to factor in a Base Level (for things like Flight, quadroped, etc.) then really what matters is the health of the swarm (the marker for one of them dropping) and their individual Destiny.

jstomel wrote:
It says that "When you play a rune for an action or power, you must assign actions to one member of the swarm...


Yes. So if you have 10 Bandits, they can each use as many as their Destiny in runes in a round. So, better make sure that Bob Ross brings the hurt in that first round or they're going to dogpile him. (If there are any left that is.) Let's run this through with an example.

* Let's say the 10 Bandits each have 3 health and 2 Destiny.
* So we've got a pile of 30 runes - you don't care which runes are which; they may as well be coloured stones, since Powers activate on colour for Denizens. (Boy do I love that rule.)
* Your Galdr drops Beckon Yggdrasil to put the Aura on the Swarm, but the intensity is only at 1, so it does nothing. It needs to be 6. (Does NOTHING? That seems unfair! Well, it sucks to be ganged up on, there's only so much the Norn is going to want to track, so let's keep going with your 2 PCs on 10 NPCs battle.)
* Remember that every time your swarm of 30 runes takes 3 damage, that's one Bandit dead.
* Let's say Bob Ross swings a good swing and taps Multi twice, so he's doing (for the sake of argument) 3 damage with his axe to 5 people. (One for the regular hit, then +2 targets and +2 targets.)
* That reduces the Swarm to only 5 members.
* Now the Galdr would need an intensity of 4 on Aura to affect the Swarm. (Half of 5 rounded up is 3, one more is 4.)
* Remaining 5 Bandits then all get a shot off on Bob Ross. Each bandit has 2 runes to act, so, let's hope Bob Ross has some Contingency or a great Protection Factor.

That assumes the Bandits don't have any armour and didn't spend any of their runes defensively when Bob Ross attacked. They could have. Let's say they had Swords, which give a +2 parry. Then each of those 5 would only have needed to pay one rune of the two they have and defend Bob Ross' attack. Then all 10 would be able to attack Bob Ross. Suddenly he's not so invincible.


If you make individual denizens, then you are using the exact formula as dweller creation. the more the swarm rules deviate from that, the harder it is to gauge the power of thr Swarm. It may become as useless/random as CR in D&D. I'm pretty sure the RGS3 Swarm level still needs tweaking and optimization and I hope to get more of that done this month.

Panjumanju wrote:
jstomel wrote:
Swarm members must remain adjacent to one another when possible." RAW that means that swarms can't really move.


Not really? If you're using Theatre of the Mind then it does not matter. If you're talking miniatures, just keep in mind that they're all part of the Swarm. If someone gets separated you can always knock them off, so long as players don't abuse that. I've had Swarms advance, spread out, cluster, and even separate into two smaller Swarms - it's not like the calculations are too complex.

jstomel wrote:
Does a swarm resist its own beneficial conditions, and do they apply to the entire swarm?


Yeah. Unless the intensity gets up there. And yes they'd apply to the entire Swarm. Does that suck for the Swarm? Kind of. If you really want the Swarm to have a beneficial condition, just give them all an Active Power that would bestow it, and on their turns make sure enough of them activate it to put the condition into play.

The point is not having to keep track of 10 different characters at once.

jstomel wrote:
Can a swarm be possessed? How would that work?


RAW the Possessed would just have to to have an intensity of one more than half their number, then they would be Possessed. I must have the Seithkona (or whomever) pay a concentration tax in runes to try and maintain it and pass out when she fails, because that sounds very taxing.

Swarms are a lot easier than I think you were thinking. They're meant as a simplification tool. I will never go back to running 10 Bandits separately again. Let Swarms be your friend!

//Panjumanju


Yup a good Possession can end the fight pretty quick, but you need to exceed the Swarm Threshold by 3 intensities. Take a look at the Swarm guidelines (lines in bold) in the RGS3Swarm section and let me know your thoughts. My goal is to ensure that Swarm rules do not take more than a page to explain. There are some easy to remember rules of thumb, and then adjust as needed. Let me know!

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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 2:28 pm 
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I think the new swarm rules are better, but still either too complex in some circumstances and not complex enough in others. It seems weird that conditions go like "no effect....no effect.....no effect.....dead". I do think the new rules simplify things by making all swarm members take the same action. Before you had huge rune bags and had to manage every swarm member individually, not good. I still think the new rules don't really account for multi and area. One of the good things about the original swarm ruleset was how it treated mental damage, I would recommend treating all damage that way (multiply damage by the number of members hit). That makes people with area and multi attacks swarm killers, but that has always been the role of the fireball in RPGs.


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PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2020 4:09 pm 
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jstomel wrote:
I think the new swarm rules are better, but still either too complex in some circumstances and not complex enough in others. It seems weird that conditions go like "no effect....no effect.....no effect.....dead". I do think the new rules simplify things by making all swarm members take the same action. Before you had huge rune bags and had to manage every swarm member individually, not good. I still think the new rules don't really account for multi and area. One of the good things about the original swarm ruleset was how it treated mental damage, I would recommend treating all damage that way (multiply damage by the number of members hit). That makes people with area and multi attacks swarm killers, but that has always been the role of the fireball in RPGs.


I have a game tomorrow night on roll20, if you can write-up your proposal a little more concretely, I can try it out.

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