This is part of a series of articles that tackles the concepts of tropes and how they can be applied by a DM/GM to improve their favorite Role-Playing game adventures. It is heavily inspired by the sheer goodness of the TV Tropes Wiki.
All right, so Marty’s dead now and we need new cool tricks to spice up our game.
This week, I decided to go deeper into the Rule of Cool and start to dig up for a Trope that exist solely because of this Rule and see how it can apply to a RPG scenario.
The Blade Run
The hero and his enemy are in the midst of a fighting duel. The enemy makes some flashy move with his conspiciously large sword that’s guaranteed to reduce any mortal to tomorrow’s worm feast. But as the dust clears, the enemy is in for a nasty surprise, as the hero is balancing in an Ass Kicking Pose on the blade of his sword, which is the perfect place for him to run across the blade toward his unguarded opponent.
The concept of this trope is perfect for fantasy and is pure Fluffy coolness. Ingredients: Hero, Villain, Big-ass sword, shake and serve. Hmmm…. Pulling it off from a Crunch point of view might not be that easy….
Aside: In an Anime style games like BESM it’s so simple it hurts. You declare to the GM that you won’t attack and put all your efforts on jumping over the next sword stroke and stand on the sword. If the GM is cool sensitive he’ll allow it (I think I would). Then mention that now that you’re standing on his huge sword, you can charge into the bad guy who should be a bit short of defenses.
However, just thinking about doing this in D&D makes my eyes water.
Ahhh I see a challenge here and I must rise to it! Caveat: let’s not do the classical thing and create a subsystem (AD&D) or a feat (D&D 3.5) for it. This trope can be achieved in D&D (or any crunchy system) by doing a slight subversion and play with the scale of the encounter a bit for a cool adventure hook. I’ll give you an hint: look at the image.
You have this Gargantuan Humanoid construct that’s rampaging the countryside. It’s shaped like a plate-mail wearing Cyclop with lots of knobs and pointy ends sticking out all over it. Oh yeah, Colossus guy also has this Kickass sword the size of Bus and uses it to destroy the nearest plot-significant(TM) piece of real-estate.
Aside the second: While a PC can’t usually occupy the same space as another creature in D&D, it can stand on an adjacent space. If the only point of contact of said space happens to be the creature’s leg, chest, shoulder or head, it’s still usable. Heck Iron Heroes is practically built on that assumption! Holding on to said space is another matter and subject to some serious DM controlled chills and thrills.
So say a 50-60% chance success before bonuses to climb from it’s feet to its head’(i.e. DC = 13+character level). At half speed, this should take quite a few rounds.
Now while your more prudent players are trying to be inconspicuous about it and try to slowly climb up on the colossus to get the the eye-mounted control gem, your Maverick wants to get up there real fast and open a can of Whoop-ass on that walking piece of Architecture. You allow her to spot that when the creature strikes with its huge sword, it usually digs a few feet into earth/rocks/walls/cattle/Martys and stays there for the rest of the turn. So once Starbuck’s turn comes, she rushes to the sword and start running up it’s steep incline (Balance Check). If she’s short on speed and is still on the sword by the end of her turn you give her the following options:
- Jump onto the Colossus body and make a grab for a handhold (Running jump check followed by a Dex Check, or for the soft at heart… Roll behind screen, say ‘you lucky dog’ and tell Gung Ho that it worked)
- Drop and grab on the sword until the end of the next swing (Balance Check + Strength Check)
- Stand on the sword and run over and under the blade and it’s edge to always stay in the same relative position (Huge Difficulty, but compensated by a huge Coolness bonus, Balance checks ) while the sword is swung again.
The idea is not to let the player fall, unless the fall isn’t too dangerous and the hero can try again. If you must give the hero a real challenge, drop a few mooks or a brute on or near the sword for her to fight while running the blade. Go overboard with the description and always, always let the player know that she stands on the sword because you feel it’s still cool enough. She must know that she’s on borrowed time and need to get to that gem pronto.
If she grows cocky or careless, drop the gauntlet and have the colossus smash the sword against the nearest temple. Give Batgirl a reflex save to avoid total splatterification but make it clear that she blew her chance and must pick herself up from the sacred ruins, dust her outfit and start again (maybe loosing to that lame rogue who made all his boring climb rolls).
Such risky maneuvers must absolutely have an equivalent reward (else no-one will try it). If Stupid Ranger (he he, I finally placed it) makes it to the shoulder of the colossus, poping the gem (or activating the lever that drops the sword for good, or getting to the switch that opens the hidden door underneath the Creature’s feet, etc…) should be ea
So there you go. No new rules, cool set up…. At least I’d like to think so
P.S.: Can you believe that I wrote most of the piece before finding out that this is exactly what happens in the 3rd or 4th fight in the Shadow of the Colossus PS2 game? Honest! That’s a Trope for you!