Parrying Against Squad Attacks

Just curious to hear how others have handled (whether narratively or mechanically) the act of Parrying against an eight- or nine-dice squad attack roll.

It seems impossible to generate enough momentum to overcome anything but the most abysmal of rolls by the squad in that instance … at the moment, I choose to narrate such moments as the PC being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the onslaught, left in a position where there is no way to parry all the incoming attacks, thus allowing a well-placed blow to sneak past their otherwise stalwart defenses, but it feels somewhat antithetical to the spirit of 2D20 to have something as common as a full squad of minions be indefensible like that.

As I said, I’d like to hear how other tables handle this, or if I’m misinterpreting the rules.

When I ran Conan, most mobs had low TN and low focuses which means even 9 dice rarely generated an insurmountable number of successes and sometimes parrying was simply to reduce how much Doom the enemy generated

That’s interesting. I hadn’t considered that parrying would reduce the amount of Doom generated. Is that because you don’t view the Doom generated by a Struggle to be bankable? If so, is this RAW or a house-rule? I’m not aware of any distinctions that prevent the GM from holding onto Doom, no matter how it’s generated.

Doom is generated by excess successes. Parrying reduces success. Ergo parrying reduces Doom generated.

Ohhhh, that’s true … you literally subtract the successes of the loser from the winner and only the remainder still counts. I think I’ve had a tendency to abstract that interaction to the point where I’m just looking for a pass/fail condition, but I wasn’t processing the actual arithmetic that the RAW call for.

Good point.

Thank you.

Actually, you don’t subtract successes, you subtract generated Momentum.

If the attack generated 5 Momentum, the parry only generated 3 Momentum, the attacker has the difference, in this case 2 Momentum, left.
As the attack could be against a different Difficulty than the parry, you don’t compare successes, you always compare the generated Momentum.

If the attacker had 1 untreated Wound and made the attack as a Swift Attack (Momentum spend), his attack would be at D3, while the defender might still roll the parry against D1.

Quite right, thank you. Just a brain stutter; Momentum is the term of art I was looking for.

Right! It’s been a while since I ran Conan (or any 2d20 game other than the Fallout playtest). Need to rectify that!

I’d say the advantage squads and mobs have over lone heroes is clearly intentional; even Conan sometimes thought twice before leaping into the midst of an armed mob. Other times, the stories show him sweeping his broadsword from side to side, keeping the legions at bay or some such badassery. There are all sorts of ways to narrate these situations–I use pulp stories, and also action movies, as inspiration. What I staunchly resist in my games is the D&D-style narrative that a single attack and parry roll represents a single stroke and a single block; a round of combat can be several moments of exchange, struggle and movement. The rules go out of their way to strip time and space of definition in action scenes, and this should be exploited to give creative details. Does the PC successfully parry five attackers by swinging his sword in a single, dramatic arc? or does he dodge behind furniture, tossing a vase as a distraction? In my mind, the rules are not there to get in the way of creating a cinematic narrative, they make a point to stand out of the way.

1 Like