Into The Breach

D&D Combat Objectives

Into The Breach continues to influence how I think D&D combat should be run. Its because in addition to varried terrain, Into The Breach uses a limited set of turns and variable objectives: Kill X, Guard Y, Hold Z, Destroy A, Don’t take B total damage. This makes each round section of combat a short tactical puzzle. Your “party” in this game consists of 3 mechs with limited movement, HP, and 1-2 attacks that do damage, push/pull enemies, freeze them, set them on fire etc.

Often D&D combat can devolve into a sluggish exchange of blows between sides with the only objective being to kill one side. This is often unrealistic- most people don’t want to die and really only the most zealous will fight to the death.

B/X provides tools to help a DM guard against this outcome by employing three checks: Suprise (2-in-6), Encounter Reaction (2d6), and the Morale Check(2d6).

Another tool to add would be eliminating “kill everyone” as the default objective to combat once its determined the encounter is hostile and involves conflict. Here is my stab at such a thing:

INTELLIGENT CREATURES (Goblins & Gnolls, Orcs & Ogres)
01 | Grab the gold/valuables
02 | Capture the caster & spellbook
03 | Sacrifice the cleric in the name of foul gods.
04 | Hit & Run! Reduce 1+ PCs to 50% HP then withdraw
05 | Loot the party for supply and equipment packs
06 | Push the PCs out of the room/area/bridge; then guard it
07 | Capture the animals/NPCs/Hirelings
08 | Hold position until more dangerous reinforcement arrives.

INSTINCTUAL CREATURES (Animals, Beasts, Basilisks & Hydras)
01 | Attack the nearest NPC/pack animal-- drag into the underbrush
02 | Attack the weakest/smallest PC-- drag into the underbrush
03 | Hold a specific territory
04 | Bloody the largest PC in a territorial display
05 | Fight until hit with magic
06 | Ravage backpacks for food
07 | Hit & Run-- next three encounters will be with this creature
08 | Territorial display, but will yield ground quickly

UNINTELLIGENT CREATURES (Oozes, Constructs, (Most) Plants)
01 | Attack nearest PC
02 | Consumes one PC then goes dormant or leaves
03 | Probe each PC looking for X: gold, nectar, metal, stolen jewels
04 | Attacks until PCs issue a command or says “stop” in creature language
05 | Moves to inconveniently occupy a space the PCs want to move to/through
06 | Covers or grows around an object of significance for reasons unknown
07 | Attracted to PC with specific color/sound/smell/taste/astral aura
08 | Attack those who stole something