Knowing When to Avoid Combat
Posted by Journeyman GM
So this semester, I’ve been running a game of Necessary Evil, a plot-point campaign for Savage Worlds in which all the players are supervillains. Last session I had every player character, save one, die and if she didn’t have the power of Invisibility, she probably would have too.
Their mission (Plot Point 3: The First Family) was to head to a military outpost where the V’sori, the big bad aliens who have taken over the world, are holding the president of the (now obliterated) United States and his family and are scheduled for public execution. Although they are villains, they had to rescue them because one of the family members new the location of Hydra’s secret base. Plus it would hopefully bolster resistance support if the family were to escape instead of being publicly executed.
The team arrived at the outpost and, seeing only six guards outside, went in guns blazing. But two rounds in, the doors to the facility burst open and 12 Drone Soldiers, 6 K’tharen Troopers, 4 elite K’tharen bodyguards, and a V’sori warlord came out of the compound to aid in the fight. The team stayed, fought, and died.
But it didn’t have to be that way. The scenario listed a lot of ways to completely avoid such a difficult combat. If they waited, they would have seen a few guards come out to check the spacecraft, who they could have quietly incapacitated and stolen their armor. Alternatively, they could have had the team’s gadgeteer sneak up to one of the ships and rig an override to make it under her control. Having one part of the team make a distraction while the other part went to rescue the family would have worked too. But the scenario did say that if they went directly into combat, they would have to face a really tough battle with all the soldiers at the outpost.
I’m guessing the group partly chose their course of action because they were used to the D&D mentality of bursting into a room and killing everyone inside. Usually those are “balanced encounters” where the team has reasonable chance of winning. Avoiding combat because it’s too difficult or running away are rare in D&D and I think my players were in the same mindset. Hopefully this experience has taught them when to fight and when not to.
But all is not lost. Since this is a comic book world, hardly anybody ever dies for real. The V’sori have taken the villains’ unconscious bodies to one of their motherships and are going to be experimenting on them. The remaining survivor and another Omega cell (a guest group of player characters) are going to be going on a mission next session to rescue them. Raiding a mothership is absolutely suicidal, but Dr. Destruction has a few tricks up his sleeve to get them on undetected. Once they’re on though, they’re going to be on their own. Should be a very interesting session where going in guns blazing is definitely NOT the answer!