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17 June 2013 @ 09:24 pm
Dungeons & Design 6.5: Combat Addendum  
So, yeah, I forgot a couple things.

Facing and Grids
Urgh. I'm really, really torn here.

I've already written a lot about trying to avoid the kind of things that computers do better, because it just leads to ever-increasing complexity and minutiae and pretty soon you're playing Advanced Squad Leader by yourself because everyone else has jumped screaming out of the windows. On the one hand, facing and a battlemap adds a lot of tactical depth to combat and allows for flanking, backstabs, variable defense depending on where the attacker is, blocking enemy movement, formations, and so on...and on the other, all of that doubles or triples the time combat takes as well, since it requires moving the actual figures around as well as recognizing when different modifiers apply, remembering the actual modifiers, and then taking the time to apply them. Using something like encounter zones, where characters are "in melee," "close," "medium," or "far" from each other, makes it easier to keep track of range but harder to deal with if other parts of the system are concrete. I'd personally say it's better to provide detail and let it be stripped away, but that's mostly based on personal experience--I like it better when I know the distances and can handwave them if necessary, but still pull them out if I or the players need to know.

I don't have the kind of instinctive revulsion of miniatures and grids that some gamers online seem to have, and a couple months ago I broke out the old 3025-era Battletech boxed set from the 90s and ran softlykarou and one of our friends through a scenario. It wasn't bad at all, though there were some moments when I was flipping through the rulebook looking for a modifier or how a specific scenario actually worked. Battletech is no Advanced Squad Leader, but it does have several fiddly bits. One of them I screwed up as we played was how movement interacted with fire: flat penalty if the mover is firing, penalty based on distance moved if the mover is being fired on.

Maybe I should just test it out and see how long it takes. Are Attacks of Opportunity the main reason 3.x combat was so horrible, the way parts of the internet seems to claim? Obviously ever-escalating interactions of spells and feats using exception-based design and skyrocketing hit point numbers had a part to play too, but I've solved the second one except for boss battles against giant monsters and maybe part of the first one--that will come in when I talk about magic and advantages.

Edit: Poll removed because it didn't work.

Monsters & Magic
So, Monsters & Magic is out, and I bought it! Now I can reference it as I write here the way I'm already referencing True 20.

Relevant to the current topic, Monsters & Magic uses a similar system to the one I was thinking of, where it's roll + mods vs. static difficult, and then you can spent the points on different effects. Either on damage, or on continuing bonuses or maneuvers in three ranks--at 5, 10, and 15. There's an odd quirk that it tries to stick to one roll and adds weapon damage to this roll, meaning that it ends up the same as nWoD combat where the roll is "How much have you hurt the target" rather than "Do you hit?" Since it keeps pre-3.x's one-minute combat rounds and sticks to abstract AC, I think this actually makes more sense than the rather odd separation between attack and damage, but it seems like the kind of thing that would cause a lot of grief among OSR advocates--and in fact, it was brought to my attention by reading a forum thread where someone was questioning why it's easier to hit with two-handed swords than daggers.

5,10,15 seems really high for effects to me, though. I'll need to read further to see what they think giving up 15 damage is worth, and take that into account when I'm costing my own maneuvers, especially considering the lower hit point values I was thinking of using. On the other hand, if a few blows can kill you, disarming the enemy seems like a good idea, and if the dragon has 400 HP because it's huge and you have ~25, maybe shooting it in the eyes to blind it is better than swording it in the hitpoints.

Playtest playtest playtest.
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Final Fantasy I - Airship
softlykaoru: Chusoftlykarou on June 18th, 2013 03:50 pm (UTC)
I like minis and maps overall for more complicated combats/more rules heavy ones but I think they can get distracting and nit-picky. Given the way I've seen you run combats I would not be opposed to using minis in a game you ran.
dorchadasdorchadas on June 21st, 2013 01:07 am (UTC)
Maybe I'll test them out in WFRP and see if it works at all :)