As a reminder, my fellowship is hobbit messenger, ranger scholar, dwarf captain. Upon a request from the Thain of the Shire, they were investigating rumors of trouble in the Southfarthing, as well as a shortage of pipe weed, which made the Thain sad. AFter a disgustingly uneventful journey, (the hobbit messenger has travel 3 favored, and heart 7, plus prowess that she used on heart) they arrived at local pipe weed magnate Rosemary Longbottom, widow and business owner of the Longbottom Leaf plantation. After some initial skepticism, she was convinced, (persuasion by the messenger, helped out by the dwarf captain, using the -2TN but needing 3 successes way that one of you geniuses suggested to me last week as much more thematic than spending hope) she was explaining how the market had changed, due to a new and very rich customer from somewhere down south, when in comes a little girl in tears, telling how her brother got beaten up by some big folk, and she had been sent to tell Rosemary who functions as the sort of country squire in this part of the Shire. OUr noble heroes at once jumped up, drained their good brown ales, and, leaving all that could be spared, headed with little Dandelion back to her family house, where they were nearly set upon by the angry teenager, who tried to make a dint in the dwarf with a pitchfork, (brawling 2/12) Willie has reckless as a distinctive feature, but I rolled serious crap, so it was the comedic event it was intended to be.
After some negotiations and who are you's, which the party navigated with eplomb, the three set out with the four Bankses to see what might be seen. Oddly, in our fellowship, it's the dwarf who's good at scan, which I was using for tracking; the Ranger is the lore whore of the group. The dwarf obtained *four* successes, so I was able to allow him to note the little hobbit prints among the big people tracks, and find a shortcut and a stealthy approach to the camp of the ruffians. Oh, did I forget to mention that Willie the teenager had been beaten up and his little sister hobbit-napped?
I had planned a wonderfully multi-level combat, with our fellowship plus 4 semi-competent hobbitses vs two highway robbers and two footpads, with the strategic introduction of a goblin chief, two goblin guard and three goblin archers when things were going well for the fellowship, with three Dunlendings who had been tracking the orcs available if needed to bail everyone out. This was going to be a mess, because I wanted to push combat hard to see how it flowed, and just how much trouble the players were in. I figured that the hobbitses would help the company to an initial advantage, that would take a little time to manifest, because of the commentary I'd been seeing about combat, and about the time the ruffians were being bested, the goblins would show up (late as usual) to turn the tide, and then the Dunlendings could save any bacon what needed saved. (In our game, Dunlendings are more like the captain from the Treason of Isengard who reacts to the orcs shooting at Aragorn over the gate of the Hornburg by beheading the orc captain who ordered it, honorable, with a just grievance, (DAmn you post-colonial history) and working for Saruman, who is hiding his corruption. For people who've played the LotR Living Card GAme, there was a whole bunch of scenarios that fit this, and I rather liked the idea.
Well, nothing went as I expected. First of all, any fear that combat for beginning characters is going to be a whiff fest, well, that didn't match my experience. With all my adversaries having a might of 1, they were going to die quickly on 1/6 of the rolls, since a Gandalf or a 10 made for wounds, which as I read the rules immediately take out Might 1 critters. The ruffian chief went down with three quick endurance hits, two of which were from the long-hafted axe of our dwarfcaptain. One of the hobbitses was a mediocre shot, but pegged a footpad in the initial volley. By the end of round 1, I had two dead ruffians, one unconscious, one in a comical spear battle with the RAnger. I accelerated my time table, and arrows began coming in from nowhere as the orc chief and two guards walked into the fight. The dwarf triple-successed with a GAndalf on his first swing, "nice yead you've got there mr. orc chief, it'll go well on my mantel. The Ranger wore down his ruffian, then turned to skewer one of the guards in one go. (I never made a successful protection roll all night, and that wasn't fudging.) Various gore ensued, and within three total rounds, 8 of ten adversaries were either messily dead, or incapacitated on the ground. The lone surviving ruffian surrendered, and through a cool bit of RP, the Company discovered that he had gone to criming because of desperation, a lost farm and dead family due to a bad winter, so they let him go on his word that he would crime no more, even sending him with a letter to the messenger's "da" to try and help him out to get started.
Conclusions: Combat is really a lot more deadly than we all expected. Of course, the rolls could have gone the other way, resulting in a TPK, which I did have a way to mitigate planned. I had been expecting a much longer and more drawn out fight, based on what y'all had been posting. I made the mistake of not using the orc chief's snake-like spped on the first hit, because I was concerned about his deadliness in a straight-up fight. He never got a second chance, so I'll not be holding back in future. All in all, the affray was sharp, but the orcs were dismayed by the sharpness of the defense, for a very short time before they were no longer dismayed about anything.
The long-hafted axe is a truly nasty weapon when wielded two-handed. Even an endurance hit is quite effective, and that injury rating (my dwarf chose keen I think) was brutal.
Distinctive features are quite powerful. Hope was getting spent fairly freely, and with forward stance, the dwarf was rolling 5 success dice, inspired by his "fierce" distinctive feature and a hope point. The fight was short enough that he only used two points of hope as other opponents were not worth the cost.
All in all, I think the feeling of combat is pretty close. I didn't have the enemies act particularly stupidly, and the rolls were pretty good, but all in all, it felt a bit like the fight in the chamber of Marzabul, smaller in scale, but deadly and quickly over. Things I have learned, don't hold back on the villains fell abilities at all, you may never get a second chance.