Impractical Applications: A Room With a Shouldn’t

I talked earlier this week about can, can’t and shouldn’t in terms of how locations affect characters’ actions. There are a lot of potential examples for this, but the main one that comes to mind for me was a long time ago in my game, when the group went after Zora for the first time.

The fight took place in a room usually used for demon-summoning—one PC already present, along with Zora, the others bursting in. It was a round room, decently sized (twenty yards across I think), but small enough that the short-range fighters could cover the whole area, and roofed with tough multicolored glass, in a building shielded against magical communications and guarded from outside by an enormous spider-demon the group attempted to sneak past. Needless to say, this being my game, there was no battlemap.

There were two big “can” behaviors that affected (and highly complicated) the confrontation. The first was due to the room being an enclosed space; Shadow, being stealthy and prone to walking on walls, was able to slip in and get high enough up that nobody noticed him sneaking past the entire confrontation to go deal with a complication in the room beyond. The other was due to the ceiling being, well, glass—Shoren realized that it could be used as a weapon, and broke it to rain shards of glass on his opponents.

Most of what the room created were “can’t” behaviors. The people who fought at range just plain could not get out of each other’s ranges, and there was practically nowhere in the room that Ruby couldn’t slap with a blood chain. The enclosed space meant that the rest of the group couldn’t follow Shadow to the other side of the room (which could alternately be read as a “can” behavior on Zora’s part, letting her block anyone who had to cross the room via the floor), and the indoor nature meant that anyone who chose to flee could not do so without leaving themselves open to pursuit.

And then there was the shouldn’t. There was only one—as with all shouldn’ts, it was also a can. The characters shouldn’t destroy external barriers, as that would likely get the attention of the enormous spider-demon. Needless to say, like many shouldn’ts, it ended up happening by the end of the fight—not, as many do, because that would be awesome, but because the characters just plain forgot that that was likely to be a problem.

All in all, it made for a quite interesting combat setup.

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