Roleplaying Resources

Low Combat Campaigns

From: (Sarah E Kahn)
Subject: Re: Getting adventures away from combat
Date: 30 Nov 1994 04:27:14 GMT
How to avoid combat in campaigns?

The obvious answer to your question is: don't put the characters into situations in which combat is necessary for them to accomplish their goals. Think of other obstacles that might stand in their way. After all, how many times has physical violence been the means by which you have resolved important conflicts or achieved important goals in YOUR life? Probably not many.

I suspect, though, that your real question is “How do I keep my players interested in a low combat game when they are accustomed to combat-oriented adventures?” A few suggestions (in increasing order of desperation):

  1. Tempt them with something they really, REALLY want. And don't allow them to be able to get it by means of combat. If they don't get the picture and keep trying to fight things, under the deluded notion that this will help them in some way, then go on to number Two.
  2. Don't give them opponents. Let them get through the game without running into any openly hostile NPCs. If they insist on attacking even the friendly NPCs, then move on to number Three.
  3. Don't give them any fair opponents to fight. Let the NPCs they encounter be either so powerful that initiating combat would be suicidal, or so weak that even the idea of attacking them should turn their stomachs. If they STILL attack the friendly, super-powerful NPCs, go to option Four. If they attack the friendly weaklings, go to option Five.
  4. These characters are too stupid to live. Kill them. If you want to be really nice, I guess you could have the super-powerful potential allies think that this is all a terrible misunderstanding and spare the characters. But I wouldn't.
  5. These characters are probably played by adolescents who still think that torturing peasants is a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon. And hell – sometimes it CAN be. But if you're bored with this sort of thing, then bring in the super-powerful NPCs. After all, peasants BELONG to someone, you know. Serfs have Lords. Street scum have some sort of police force, or at least an unofficial militia. If they try to fight the super-powerful NPCs…go to number Four.

You probably won't have to go beyond Number Two to get the point across.

– Sarah

Juha juuso Vesanto