RPGaDay2020 Day 23: Edge

The RPGaDay2020 prompts in a map by dunroaminpress

Yesterday in RPGaDay2020 I talked about TheAngryGM’s crafting system to use all those Rare monster parts.

Today the theme is Edge. There are a couple of different ways I could go here.

First is living life on the edge – pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and finding new things you are capable of. Always pleasing when it works.

Our last session worked out like that. You may remember they have taken over a building as headquarters for a franchise, and I was planning to launch an investigation. Well, we never got onto the investigation. They spent all their time first going for healing from Ophio poisoning, then having a series of visitors coming to their building. Some were coming as patrons of Carlotta’s Curios expecting normal service (which was a way to explore and introduce what “normal service” was, including as a secret route off the streets and to the sewers). There were also some coming to interview for the post of majordomo to their franchise (although it’s called Panache, I’m using the rules from Acquisitions Inc).

Where’s the Edge here? Well, I felt really unprepared going into the session and like I didn’t have much. I had prepared the interview candidates and the investigation clues I mentioned in Thursday’s blog post and that was about it. So I’m very pleased with how I managed to improvise all this city role-play, including bringing in assorted characters I made up on the spot, and my son (one of the players) said he found it an enjoyable session.

Fighting near an edge

The other edge I want to talk about is a classic trope of film action – the battle on the bridge or near the edge of a building or cliff. This is something I’ve never actually done in any of my campaigns, although I have considered it, and I’ve wondered how it works.

Obviously falling is described in the rules: 1d6 damage per 10′ fallen, unless you have Feather Fall or similar. But how do you decide if someone does fall?

This reminds me I did have a similar situation in a session last year when fighting the colossus in Castle Amber. Some of the characters had climbed trees to attack from nearer (colossus) head height, and one of them got close to the edge of the branches. I think I ruled they had to make a Dexterity (Acrobatics )check to manage to stay in the tree and they failed…fortunately Reed had Feather Fall to hand.

So that’s one option – an Acrobatics or Athletics check. Or maybe a Dexterity saving throw (when should you use a saving throw versus an ability check for something like this?)

Checking the PHB, there is also Shove:

Shoving a Creature

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

The target must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. Instead of making an attack roll, you make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). You succeed automatically if the target is incapacitated. If you succeed, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Basic Rules Chapter 9 Combat/Making an attack/Melee Attacks

So presumably you can try to Shove your opponent over the edge. Similarly there are spells which will move the target, such as Thunderwave.

Lava – Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

If you succeed in your Shove is that it? They fall 100′ into the lava below and there’s nothing they can do about it?

I think I would be inclined to give the victim an Acrobatics check to see if they manage to catch onto the edge (particularly if it would be a fall to their death). It adds an extra element of suspense, and also gives them a chance to save themselves, gives them a bit of agency and allows the player to feel they have participated.

What about the chance of tripping off the edge during melee? Well, I know it’s the sort of things films love, but unless there’s a particular reason for the drama (and I’ve introduced the risk already), I’d be inclined to assume that even in the heat of battle they are paying sufficient attention not to fall off.

How do you handle battles on the edge? Respond in the comments below.

Come back tomorrow for Day 24, and we’ll look at that essential ingredient – Humour.

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