Keeping Track of NPCs in Combat
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
When running an RPG it often is only a matter of time until a fight breaks out (in game that is). When it does, there suddenly is a lot of information to track for the GM. Initiative, NPC stats and special powers. It can all become a bit overwhelming and before you know it the pace has slowed to a crawl.
Some games suffer from this problem more than others, but whatever the game, keeping information organised and easily accessible can only help. While GMing a Dragon Age campaign I became attached to the combat cards provided as part of the game (they really helped to keep track of the numerous enemies in the larger fights). Now that I'm getting ready to run a Forbidden Lands campaign I really wanted something similar.
Forbidden Lands has a few things to keep track of for each NPC. The big ones are the four attributes, all of which may change during the course of a combat due to damage, and equipment that may be damaged as the fight rages on. All of this will change the number of dice rolled, so getting it right is important. And then there are the actions to track. Everyone gets one fast and one slow action per round. That seems easy enough but is complicated by the fact that these actions can be used for reactions, like parrying and dodging. So by the time a character's turn comes around they may already have used one or both of their actions, or they may wish to save one of them for later.
Fria Ligan offer custom initiative cards that help with tracking actions. These work great as long as there are no more than ten participants in any given combat. As I'm about to start a campaign with six players it seems that the ten combatant limit will be exceeded more often than not.
To help with all of this, I've created cards that should help with tracking stats and actions. Get them for free on DriveThruRPG.