First Round, First Blood...[The Vault #24]

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We know there are some tactically oriented players out their that have been itching for some realism and movement dynamics. We're not going to throw miniatures your way, but what we can offer you and Authors this week are some ideas for how to spice up your encounters by introducing some strategic mechanics for the first round of combat, before everything would naturally devolve into chaos and the fog of war.

You might use these (or introduce them to quests) in the following ways:

  • By adding a skill roll to determine if the party can pull one of these off. 
  • By presenting a few as tactical options the party can choose at the beginning of a combat encounter.
  • Have the enemy use one. Or maybe adventurers and foes can use one each, so long as no one suffered from surprise on a Spot or Notice check.
  • Use them for unit based army skirmishes or battles (ideas for how to do this will be forthcoming in a future Vault and/or Quest).
  • Introduce them into Player vs. Player battle.

Whatever you do, for the sake of play balance we urge you to think of them as a once per encounter, first round Surge (they'd also be ideal for small party play).  Only one should be chosen by the party (even if not all party members participate in the maneuver), to avoid bogging down play.

  1. _Ambush!_ (#Ambush) Someone is getting taken by surprise! > Each participant may choose one foe. The ambushed individuals does not get to resolve Abilities or damage during the first round. 
  2. _Shield Wall_ (#Shield Wall) The ultimate in defensive tactics. > For each participant in the wall, reduce damage taken by 2. Each player may discard a :melee: card to add +1 damage to enemies this round. 
  3. _Diversion_ (#Diversion) Draw their attention. > Designate one or more individual as the diversion. They are the only individuals that suffer a Surge or Ability effect this round. (Can be used on the first Surge round only). 
  4. _Pincer Attack_ (#Pincer) Two attack the target from its flanks. > Gain a +2 to each roll. If the final total of the roll would be 20 or above, apply the critical effect. 
  5. _Encirclement_  (#Encirclement) Strike from all sides! > For each individual that attacks the same target, apply +1 to :roll:s and damage. Any failed :roll: results in an ally taking the effect of the failed ability. 
  6. _Sword and Shield_ (#SS) The measured application of offense and defense at once. > Must discard a :melee: ability to use. Reduce damage you suffer this round from all sources by 1. Deal 2 damage to one foe. 
  7. _Break Formation_ (#Break) By scattering, the group disrupts a coordinated attack. > Lower the Tier Value (against Encounter cards) by 1 per participant or subtract -1 from rolls per participant (against Adventurers) until the next Surge event, then reset all to normal.  
  8. _Charge!_ (#Charge) Bold ferocity may carry the day... > Negate any passive damage reduction of one targeted foe and deal 2 damage for each participant. Discard a :melee: ability to target a second foe. 
  9. _Brace_ (#Brace) Brace to absorb a blow. > Suffer 1 less point of damage this round.  Discard an :Influence: card to negate all damage that would be done to one other party member.  
  10. _Running Retreat_ (#RunRet) Flee! > For each participant, remove 1 Tier worth of Encounter cards from combat. Each participant may discard one :ranged: or :magic: card to increase the Tier level removed by +1.
  11. _Holding Action_ (#Hold) Jam up the enemy advance by holding your ground. > Increase the damage each participant suffers by 1 this round, but reduce the damage of all other party members by 2. Participants may discard an ability to deal 1 damage to one foe.  
  12. _Sword and Sorcery_ (#SSorc) Shock and awe, sorcery and steel. 
  13. _High Ground_ (#HGround) Better leverage, better vantage point. 
  14. _Narrow Pass_ (#NPass) Champions square off in the gap. > Choose one adventurer and one Enounter card. Only those participants can use any offensive abilities/attacks this round. 
  15. _Pit Trap_ (#Pit Trap) Spiked, deep, and cleverly concealed. > Make a Notice (:ranged:) check of 10 or above.  On a failure, one falls into the pit for 3 damage OR the loss of ability play this round. 
  16. _Flanking Action_ (#Flank) Come at em sideways! > Gain a +2 to the next ability :roll:.  Discard a :ranged: card to deal +2 damage as well.  
  17. _Spider Hole_ (#Hole) The ultimate jump scare. > Make a Craft (:magic:) or Survival (:ranged:) check of 10 or above. On success, each participant gains +2 on the first roll and +1 to damage. 
  18. _Cavalry Charge_ (#CavCharge) Ride them down! > Make a Ride (:melee:) check of 10 or above. On success, each participant may deal one foe damage equal to half the roll, but takes damage equal to the Tier Value of the foe. 
  19. _Disarm_ (#Disarm) Take from them the means to fight. > Discard an ability card to reduce all damage done this round by 1.  Gain a +2 to :roll: against the targeted foe next round. 
  20. _Trip_ (#Trip) Taken em down! > Choose an opponent (only one per adventurer). That Encounter card's first Surge doesn't occur until the 4th round, not the third. The participant may also discard a :music: ability to increase damage dealt by other adventurers to that tripped foe by +1. 

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* Confused by the formatting of the list? The _underscores_ (#hashtags) :icons: and > Special instruction scripts are provided for the ease of Quest Authors, who can copy and paste these directly into the Quest Creator to save time.