Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Marching order is important

Before I dug into some OSR games I never actually thought about marching order. I thought it is just silly and more like a feature you need in computer games (for example Baldur's Gate). But now I have read both Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord and thanks for them marching order is now really important. Not only in oldschool adventuring but also in modern games.

Sometimes in any game player characters are venturing in city streets or strange planets and an encounter happens. Then I start to figure out who is standing where and players usually tactically tell then their location. But if the marching order was used that hassle would be not happening as player characters are already in position and I just would have to locate the enemies.

Picture from
Marching order is not some technical game rule to follow. It simply tells in what order and formation player characters are venturing. Who is in the front row and who is in the back and are there some characters scattered around walking nearby and are some characters protected in the middle. When this all is decided before any encounters it gets more interesting. I have found out that without marching order most powerfully defensive characters are always in the direction where enemies attack. This time in the front and next time in the back. Players get this small cheating tactical phase of announcing their characters' locations but it is not realistic. Or very exciting.

So, thanks to Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord I will from this post use marching order in every game I GM.


Philo Pharynx said...

Of course this assumes that the party is spending 100% of the time marching in formation. I can buy that when they are in a hazardous situation like a dungeon, but not in a city or general travel. Their standard order will be a general tendency, but not an absolute rule.

Unknown said...

Sure it is different in cities and more relaxed places where no hostile encounters are expected. But before an encounter in for example city streets GM could as the formation if it is not known (ie. one is hanging out near the fountain, another is at veggie stand and third is getting his chainmail fixed at blacksmith etc.). Also in this kind of surprising situations the starting positions could be randomly determined. Or characters might have time to adjust their places in that encounter.