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Author Topic: Combat wishlist  (Read 1059 times)
MikeS
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« on: August 05, 2012, 06:43:58 PM »

Since we have a gun wishlist thread, I thought I'd put up a general combat wishlist (for SC 3 or Mastercraft in general). Most of the below is for moderately realistic games/movies, not taking into account totally over the top stuff.

1. Guns should be deadly. When someone is covering you with a gun at close quarter range and you have no cover, you should be seriously worried. It doesn't mean that you should have no options: especially if there's only one guy, you might distract him, or talk him down, or make him launch into a monologue that takes up his attention to give you an opening. But while he's paying full attention to you, even the shoddiest goon should be a threat in this situation.

2. Extension of number 1: gun combat should be deadly. My worst SC1 moment: I was running one of the pre-made missions where the henchman was going to slip poisoned perfume into the samples at a fashion show. The (low-level) PCs caught him, and a behind-the-stage gunfight erupted at 10-foot range. After 5-6 rounds of combat in which nothing much happened (nobody was rolling well), the PCs finally got annoyed, threw away their guns, charged the guy, grappled him and pinned him. While I thought it was cool that the game forced the PCs do something else than just shoot the bad guy, I thought it did so for the wrong reasons.

3. Weapons should be better than no weapons. One of the first things that the average movie hero does when he goes to hand-to-hand is get a weapon, even if it's just improvised. Conversely, an unarmed hero will typically strive to disarm an armed opponent first, and some of the tensest scenes in movies resolve around two combatants fighting for a weapon.

4. Being tripped should be a problem. How many movies have you seen where the fallen guy just spends two half-actions to get back up again? Usually, his opponent his raining down blows or kicking him in the ribs, and thus the prone guy will either a) try to take his opponent down as well, or b) roll out of the way or in some other fashion get out of reach before he gets up.

5. Being disarmed should also be a bigger deal. You typically can't just spend an action or two to pick up the gun again. The other guy his trying to beat the crap out of you. Sure, if you have another weapon on your body, just draw that, but picking up stuff in the middle of the fight is just asking for trouble.

6. It should be possible for a moderately fighty character to knock out an unaware opponent, either by knocking them on the head or grappling and choking them out or what have you. This should also work against the PCs. In many games, it is awfully difficult to get the characters captured, because knocking them out is so hard. I'd actually suggest knocking someone out should be a single check, rather than working it into the combat system, because you don't want to end combats too suddenly.

7. Style feature: combats should move and be mixed up. What's more exciting, a martial arts movie where the fighters keep on using the same three moves in some combination, or a Jackie Chan-styled fight, where the maneuvers are highly varied, the scenery is tightly integrated into the fight, and the fight is combined with a second scene type (chase, race, etc)? Characters should have incentive to use different maneuvers from turn to turn, rather than the same old "I attack with the sword." Mastercraft is doing a good job with this already on the whole. What I'd like to see is a greater incentive to use some of the maneuvers: maybe a greater bonus to the next maneuver, being able to set up a special maneuver not normally accessible, etc.

8. Wounds. Those are usually difficult to work into the system, but are highly useful in cinematic context: the hero can't do a certain action because his hand is wounded and has to find a different way, the villain escapes the heroes grapple by driving his finger into the leg wound, etc. Warhammer FRPG 3rd and Dresden Files have interesting approaches to the subject. Ideally, they shouldn't reduce the combat effectiveness of the character too much (ie in a realistic fashion), but instead introduce some kind of inconvenience.

Thoughts? Any others?
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2012, 08:04:21 PM »

Responses:

1 + 2:  1 is solved almost entirely by campaign qualities (with the right combination in SC2.0, as well as FC) combat is totally deadly - crits happen all the, vitality is negligible, and players will die if they stand around in a gunfight.  Unfortunately though, for 2, bad rolls do happen - and no core rule is going to change that, short of removing rolling (though Action Dice go a long way towards fixing the problem of uncinematic rolling).  Which brings me to my own little wish.

Improve Cover:  Cover isn't very good at the moment.  In my experience, the +4 defence from half cover gives you, on average, one less bullet from a burst fire.  I've yet to see it really negate the bullets.  Human Shields are a bit of a bugbear for me because of this - when your Attack Check is averaging mid-20's against a Defence 12 target, you can happily ignore the fact that he has a human shield.  Which, while really cool sometimes (Stargate: Atlantis - Shepard shooting Kolya when he has Weir), being able to ignore human shields without specific feats all the time cuts down on the drama.

3:  I think the current balance is right.  Weapons typically do more damage, have range and have qualities - the latter two unarmed attacks can't have.  I don't think it should be swayed further in the direction of weapons though, plenty of brawlers / martial artists exist in the source material (SC, 10kB and fantasy) which means that the rules need to make them available for play.  I think some small caliber weapons could be improved though - SC2's 1d4 damage is just laughable, and with almost no range they just aren't practical (thought he holdout in FC isn't too bad).

4 + 5:  The problem here is that the reason these things happen in films is to negate counter attacks while getting up / getting your weapon back.  In d20, this is the Attack of Opportunity - something SC abolished long ago.  I think something similar could be introduced in the form of Advanced Actions / Tricks - granting free attacks when someone raises from prone, or readies a weapon.  You could also add a Pummel like trick that only works vs Prone opponents (for some ground and pound).  I don't think that AoO's should be a core rule again though.

6:  Agreed.  I'd go as far as to say that you should be able to spend an Action Die to make a totally unaware (or just dead to rights - surrounded by a team with guns) opponent effectively Helpless.  You can use subdual for an instant KO, or lethal to just slit their throat.  I mean totally unaware or dead to rights though - so not at all on their guard, tense, in combat, or having an exit available.  Effectively extend the extremely deadly situation rules, and add a dash of narrative control.  Kinda fixes point 2 that you made, too.

7: Agreed, but it is as much the GM as it is the game.  If the GM has things like that happen in their game, as well as rewarding players for thinking dynamically (action dice rewards), then it'll happen more and more often.  Things like the Mix Up trick give additional reward already - so the tools exist, the GM just has to encourage players to use them a lot.  FC is great in that mid level characters can have a half dozen useful and varied tricks ready to go, so you do see good variation in the combat (like you mentioned).

8:  Definitely.  There's a taste of it in things like Cheap Shot, but I'd like to see more.  SC had Foot Stab in it's Fencing chain, as well as Snap! in the Submission chain - the sort of things I'd very much like to see the return of.  I love the idea of inflicting little status effects on the enemy (and my players) to reduce their abilities temporarily, and make them think of a new tactic.
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Desertpuma
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2012, 08:14:20 PM »

Some of these are just the need to roll high on your attack role vs bad rolling. There are also Campaign Qualities that can affect this.

1. Guns are already deadly. This is a cinematic game and you are only guaranteed to hit wounds if you either roll a threat that can be activated or you have down your opponent's Vitality.

2. This goes with #1 already. As for your example, no one was rolling well as you stated. That's is not so much a game issue.

3. In real life, certainly I agree, especially if it is a gun and at range. If it is close quarters, it depends on the weapon vs the skill of the person facing it. An expert at unarmed combat does not necessarily need to go get a weapon to be effective.

4. Being tripped is a problem, it does require you spend a half action to stand already. There are feats that can give you bonuses, either to stand as a free action or to fight will prone.

5. It is merely a half action to pick up a weapon just the same as drawing a weapon. If you have the Quick Draw feat, then you can draw as a free action.

6. Terminal Situations - One of the uses of this is to catch someone completely unaware and flat footed. Per the GM's discretion, you can merely spend a single Action Die and effect their death or KO. But this is entirely up to the GM.

7. In FantasyCraft & MasterCraft, most likely, this would be using things like Edge or the Mix-Up Trick. The choice to use more than a single style of attack is at the discretion of the player already.

8. You are already suffering upon taking your first wound. As for the inability to take certain actions or operating at a penalty in certain situations, that would be up to your individual GM.

Damn, ninja-ed by Sletch!
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« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2012, 09:17:13 PM »

Since we have a gun wishlist thread, I thought I'd put up a general combat wishlist (for SC 3 or Mastercraft in general). Most of the below is for moderately realistic games/movies, not taking into account totally over the top stuff.

1. Guns should be deadly. When someone is covering you with a gun at close quarter range and you have no cover, you should be seriously worried. It doesn't mean that you should have no options: especially if there's only one guy, you might distract him, or talk him down, or make him launch into a monologue that takes up his attention to give you an opening. But while he's paying full attention to you, even the shoddiest goon should be a threat in this situation.

2. Extension of number 1: gun combat should be deadly. My worst SC1 moment: I was running one of the pre-made missions where the henchman was going to slip poisoned perfume into the samples at a fashion show. The (low-level) PCs caught him, and a behind-the-stage gunfight erupted at 10-foot range. After 5-6 rounds of combat in which nothing much happened (nobody was rolling well), the PCs finally got annoyed, threw away their guns, charged the guy, grappled him and pinned him. While I thought it was cool that the game forced the PCs do something else than just shoot the bad guy, I thought it did so for the wrong reasons.

Welcome to what FC pg 217 calls Terminal Situations, which while probably not covering #2 certainly includes #1.

It also sounds like you'd like something akin to 2.0's Stand Off action to continue into 3rd edition, which I think would be cool. Certainly it could be expanded from the reliance on mutual resolve checks to allow you to threaten or impress an opponent in addition to simply staring them down.

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3. Weapons should be better than no weapons. One of the first things that the average movie hero does when he goes to hand-to-hand is get a weapon, even if it's just improvised. Conversely, an unarmed hero will typically strive to disarm an armed opponent first, and some of the tensest scenes in movies resolve around two combatants fighting for a weapon.

Unless you've invested in unarmed combat options, this is already quite demonstrably the case.

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4. Being tripped should be a problem. How many movies have you seen where the fallen guy just spends two half-actions to get back up again? Usually, his opponent his raining down blows or kicking him in the ribs, and thus the prone guy will either a) try to take his opponent down as well, or b) roll out of the way or in some other fashion get out of reach before he gets up.

I've said before that sprawled doesn't feel anwhere near as disadvantageous as it should. It makes me lament the removal of the vulnerable condition (basically flatfooted, but not removed by being attacked or taking an action). Sprawled should be doing horrible things to your error ranges (like reducing the cost to activate them), but I can see specials being allowed to drop an AD to make a parry-like Hail Mary reflex save against adjacent attackers.

It certainly should take a full action to get back on your feat if you haven't invested in any sort of character option to speed up the process.

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5. Being disarmed should also be a bigger deal. You typically can't just spend an action or two to pick up the gun again. The other guy his trying to beat the crap out of you. Sure, if you have another weapon on your body, just draw that, but picking up stuff in the middle of the fight is just asking for trouble.

It's also a fundamental component of many a fight scene where one of the participants makes a dive, recovers their lost weapon, and fucks up their opponent's shit.

While this is with swords, I think this clip of the climactic fight from Ladyhawke is a good reference for what I've been talking about for the last couple of points

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6. It should be possible for a moderately fighty character to knock out an unaware opponent, either by knocking them on the head or grappling and choking them out or what have you. This should also work against the PCs. In many games, it is awfully difficult to get the characters captured, because knocking them out is so hard. I'd actually suggest knocking someone out should be a single check, rather than working it into the combat system, because you don't want to end combats too suddenly.

The terminal situation rules already largely cover this, including taking down PCs, and then pummel gets part of the way there during the surprise round of combat. Certainly, it should be easy enough to cold cock standard NPCs, at least those without something like tough, who don't see you coming.

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7. Style feature: combats should move and be mixed up. What's more exciting, a martial arts movie where the fighters keep on using the same three moves in some combination, or a Jackie Chan-styled fight, where the maneuvers are highly varied, the scenery is tightly integrated into the fight, and the fight is combined with a second scene type (chase, race, etc)? Characters should have incentive to use different maneuvers from turn to turn, rather than the same old "I attack with the sword." Mastercraft is doing a good job with this already on the whole. What I'd like to see is a greater incentive to use some of the maneuvers: maybe a greater bonus to the next maneuver, being able to set up a special maneuver not normally accessible, etc.

Jacki Chan is a highly trained fighter and dancer, who would have the entirity of the (sorely lacking) improvised/environment-as-a-weapon feat chain. But yes, I agree, d20 combat, having evolved from miniature army gaming, is horribly static.

Because, seriously, the Family Guy chicken fights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUxAKTn1aD8

There's no particular skill, they're just pure unadultered kineticism and mindless violence -- that never stop moving. Now, back in the day, I spycrafted the original chicken fight and put them at Level 14. Now, I have no problem with higher level characters being well trained and uttery awesome, but that feeling of awesome does have be easily accessible at much lower levels. Mastercraft did a lot of that by tossing 2.0's level restriction on feats out the window, and most of the rest is covered by the aready existing Shove trick, but I think the ability to make a fight mobile could be available out of the box as a campaign quality -- if you roll higher than the opponent's defence+con bonus with a proficient attack, you can choose to move them 5ft in any direction and occupy their position; a feat would replace Con bonus for Fort save bonus

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8. Wounds. Those are usually difficult to work into the system, but are highly useful in cinematic context: the hero can't do a certain action because his hand is wounded and has to find a different way, the villain escapes the heroes grapple by driving his finger into the leg wound, etc. Warhammer FRPG 3rd and Dresden Files have interesting approaches to the subject. Ideally, they shouldn't reduce the combat effectiveness of the character too much (ie in a realistic fashion), but instead introduce some kind of inconvenience.

A lot of that is already covered by critical injuries (aka the Table of Ouch) and the Cheap Shot trick -- which totally needs to be put back in the useable untrained box it occupied in 2.0 -- and is honestly just a good narrative desription of a successful or failed check.
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2012, 09:30:42 PM »

Improve Cover:  Cover isn't very good at the moment.  In my experience, the +4 defence from half cover gives you, on average, one less bullet from a burst fire.  I've yet to see it really negate the bullets.  Human Shields are a bit of a bugbear for me because of this - when your Attack Check is averaging mid-20's against a Defence 12 target, you can happily ignore the fact that he has a human shield.  Which, while really cool sometimes (Stargate: Atlantis - Shepard shooting Kolya when he has Weir), being able to ignore human shields without specific feats all the time cuts down on the drama.

It strikes me that a human shield should be all about massively increasing the error range of an attack targeting you; a successful attack that falls within the error range -- and while Mastercraft as it stands doesn't allow this, pretty much everyone responded to an earlier post about errors that they want the option to activate errors on otherwise successful attacks to replicate events like a mighty blow shattering the weapon that makes it -- mean the attack hits the human shield. And by massive increase, I'm talking at least +10 on top of the weapon's base error range.
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2012, 09:31:46 PM »

I'm just going to respond to Desertpuma's replies, since they are very similar to Sletch's.

Believe it or not, I'm actually aware of most of the things you mention, and I think they mitigate the problem, but don't solve it.

Some of these are just the need to roll high on your attack role vs bad rolling. There are also Campaign Qualities that can affect this.

1. Guns are already deadly. This is a cinematic game and you are only guaranteed to hit wounds if you either roll a threat that can be activated or you have down your opponent's Vitality.

I guess we have different definitions of deadly. With the average hand gun, you need at least two crits to take a mid-level character out of the fight; even with all the lethal campaign options tacked on, that doesn't usually happen on the first shot, and many would argue that the odds are low enough as that you should at least gamble on not getting crit'd. I'm not talking Soldiers here. Anybody should be dangerous with a gun.
Extending terminal situations works and is a good idea for part of the problem. For the other part, my favored solution would be to adjust the threat range with bonuses and penalties taken on the attack, ie aiming increases crit likelihood, shooting at long range reduces it.

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2. This goes with #1 already. As for your example, no one was rolling well as you stated. That's is not so much a game issue.

Well, it sort of is: they well rolling averagely, which meant they were hitting the bad guy, but just chewing through vitality, and not critting. Same for the bad guy. Don't remember if SC1 had lower weapon damages, but the bad guy got hit 5-10 times without slowing down too much. Before you ask: there was a Soldier and a Wheelman in the party, so it's not like they were incompetent.

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3. In real life, certainly I agree, especially if it is a gun and at range. If it is close quarters, it depends on the weapon vs the skill of the person facing it. An expert at unarmed combat does not necessarily need to go get a weapon to be effective.

Sure, the unarmed master might not want the weapon, but I'm still pretty sure that one of the first things he would do is take his opponent's weapon away, because it makes him weaker. The fact that this doesn't happen indicates that a) it's either not worthwhile to remove the weapon since it doesn't change damage (or threat) much, or b) it's too easy to get the weapon back.

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4. Being tripped is a problem, it does require you spend a half action to stand already. There are feats that can give you bonuses, either to stand as a free action or to fight will prone.

Spending a half action isn't really an acute problem. The opponent just spent a half action to knock you down, at the risk of falling down himself. I'm not arguing for a return of the attack of opportunity, either, but maybe for a check to get back up if the opponent wants to stop you, and bigger bonuses to attack prone characters. It's much harder to get out of the way when you are lying down. I'm also not arguing only from the point of realism, but from the movie point as well.

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5. It is merely a half action to pick up a weapon just the same as drawing a weapon. If you have the Quick Draw feat, then you can draw as a free action.

Exactly. Oops, I dropped my weapon, now I gotta spend a half-action to get it back. That's not a big deal, but being disarmed _should_ be a big deal. How often do you see in movies that a disarm actually leads to an immediate surrender? Wouldn't ever happen in Mastercraft. Drawing a new weapon, on the other hand, should be pretty easy.

If you increase the severity of the consequences for being disarmed or tripped, you should make it more difficult to pull off, too. Put a hefty penalty on the attempt, but then give the PCs maneuvers that help them set up the trip/disarm by providing a bigger bonus to the next attack.

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6. Terminal Situations - One of the uses of this is to catch someone completely unaware and flat footed. Per the GM's discretion, you can merely spend a single Action Die and effect their death or KO. But this is entirely up to the GM.

Agreed. Simple solution.

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7. In FantasyCraft & MasterCraft, most likely, this would be using things like Edge or the Mix-Up Trick. The choice to use more than a single style of attack is at the discretion of the player already.

Admittedly, Mastercraft is _much_ better than any of my face-to-face D&D games ever were, but not quite yet where I'd like it to be.
In my opinion, what Sletch said plays a lot into it: cover bonuses aren't really large enough. But so, neither are bonuses for aiming, anticipating, etc. I'd like for most of these to scale better with skill level/character level.

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8. You are already suffering upon taking your first wound. As for the inability to take certain actions or operating at a penalty in certain situations, that would be up to your individual GM.

That's not that severe a penalty. Also, it goes away as soon as your last wound heals, and has hardly a narrative impact. Sletch's idea with the temporary conditions is a good one. One could extend that to longer-lasting conditions, and vary it a bit more, eg penalty to a specific type of check, or "can't handle items with that hand. Take stress damage for every round you do so anyway".
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2012, 09:45:33 PM »

Well let's look at some possible fixes for what you are talking about:

1 & 2. If you crit, there is nothing stopping you from tossing an Action Die (if you have one) to the damage so you drop the bastard faster. I've numerous times once I succeeded on the crit and it works amazingly well. The only true flaws are not getting the threat and a stingy GM.

3. This happened to a couple of my characters and one of the reasons was what you stated about it not being worthwhile as it was more worthy to just hit him again. Mainly, I did not want to risk attempting the disarm in favor of attempting to hit my opponent.

4. In 3rd Ed D&D there was a feat called Knockdown that basically means in MasterCraft terms that if you knocked someone sprawled, then you got to immediately get a follow up attack if you were adjacent. I think that is worthy of a feat here too. I knock you sprawled and immediately pounce on you.

5. I can see both sides to this one actually. Disarming would need to be given more credence but this is also a cinematic game and people will look at their sheet and see lots of vitality.

7. While I cannot speak for Pat, I know that he believes in that bonuses will available are also weighted more strongly in FantasyCraft. It is actually one of the bonuses to the system and you improve those bonuses through either skills or feats.

8. I've employed Sletch's idea about stress damage as a GM fiat but it is not in the rules anywhere. It is certainly something that could be resolved with a Campaign Quality.
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2012, 09:48:46 PM »


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4. Being tripped should be a problem. How many movies have you seen where the fallen guy just spends two half-actions to get back up again? Usually, his opponent his raining down blows or kicking him in the ribs, and thus the prone guy will either a) try to take his opponent down as well, or b) roll out of the way or in some other fashion get out of reach before he gets up.

I've said before that sprawled doesn't feel anwhere near as disadvantageous as it should. It makes me lament the removal of the vulnerable condition (basically flatfooted, but not removed by being attacked or taking an action). Sprawled should be doing horrible things to your error ranges (like reducing the cost to activate them), but I can see specials being allowed to drop an AD to make a parry-like Hail Mary reflex save against adjacent attackers.

It certainly should take a full action to get back on your feat if you haven't invested in any sort of character option to speed up the process.

I'm all for action dice being able to get you out of tight situations like that, or even a fancy maneuver letting you get the upper hand in this situation. But not a half action.

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5. Being disarmed should also be a bigger deal. You typically can't just spend an action or two to pick up the gun again. The other guy his trying to beat the crap out of you. Sure, if you have another weapon on your body, just draw that, but picking up stuff in the middle of the fight is just asking for trouble.

It's also a fundamental component of many a fight scene where one of the participants makes a dive, recovers their lost weapon, and fucks up their opponent's shit.

While this is with swords, I think this clip of the climactic fight from Ladyhawke is a good reference for what I've been talking about for the last couple of points

Absolutely. But I think we can both agree that this involves a skill check and maybe a bunch of action dice, and not a "Now I will bend over and pick up my weapon. For my next action, I will make a Standard Attack.".

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7. Style feature: combats should move and be mixed up. What's more exciting, a martial arts movie where the fighters keep on using the same three moves in some combination, or a Jackie Chan-styled fight, where the maneuvers are highly varied, the scenery is tightly integrated into the fight, and the fight is combined with a second scene type (chase, race, etc)? Characters should have incentive to use different maneuvers from turn to turn, rather than the same old "I attack with the sword." Mastercraft is doing a good job with this already on the whole. What I'd like to see is a greater incentive to use some of the maneuvers: maybe a greater bonus to the next maneuver, being able to set up a special maneuver not normally accessible, etc.

Jacki Chan is a highly trained fighter and dancer, who would have the entirity of the (sorely lacking) improvised/environment-as-a-weapon feat chain. But yes, I agree, d20 combat, having evolved from miniature army gaming, is horribly static.

Well, you got the point. Not everybody is a Jackie Chan, but it sure is much more interesting to watch Jackie Chan than a broad slew of western martial arts movies from the 80's where the fighters just beat on each other with the same 4-5 moves. Sometimes they don't even change the camera angle.

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8. Wounds. Those are usually difficult to work into the system, but are highly useful in cinematic context: the hero can't do a certain action because his hand is wounded and has to find a different way, the villain escapes the heroes grapple by driving his finger into the leg wound, etc. Warhammer FRPG 3rd and Dresden Files have interesting approaches to the subject. Ideally, they shouldn't reduce the combat effectiveness of the character too much (ie in a realistic fashion), but instead introduce some kind of inconvenience.

A lot of that is already covered by critical injuries (aka the Table of Ouch) and the Cheap Shot trick -- which totally needs to be put back in the useable untrained box it occupied in 2.0 -- and is honestly just a good narrative desription of a successful or failed check.
[/quote]

Yes, the Table of Ouch does it, but how often do you use it instead of just inflicting wounds with your crit (unless I am misunderstanding how the table is used...)? I'd prefer, eg, a called shot that you spend AD on after a hit to create the injury, but forego vitality damage on. I don't see a simple solution here to create the result I want, but I can think of a few approaches.

Basically, I think there are several options for combat in RPGs, but most games just make it a mini-strategy game. Given that I mainly play/run PbP games these days, I'm strongly interested in an option that takes fewer rounds, but I think the same would be true if I was playing face-to-face. Combat just eats up too much time. If the mini-game simulates action movies well enough (which most games don't), then that's almost forgivable. Alternatively, it could be a mini-game with enough depth to hold interest, but that typically scares off a lot of the role-playing crowd, who don't want to crunch numbers and think deep strategy.
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2012, 10:04:53 PM »

I'm just going to respond to Desertpuma's replies, since they are very similar to Sletch's.

But... I was in first... Sad     (I kid).

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I guess we have different definitions of deadly. With the average hand gun, you need at least two crits to take a mid-level character out of the fight; even with all the lethal campaign options tacked on, that doesn't usually happen on the first shot, and many would argue that the odds are low enough as that you should at least gamble on not getting crit'd. I'm not talking Soldiers here. Anybody should be dangerous with a gun.

The problem here is you get out of "Cinematic" territory and into full on simulationist territory.  In most films, it takes a couple of hits to drop the bad guy / hero.  That's what SC tries to duplicate - a couple crits, or a couple shots post-vitality to drop the bad guy or hero.  With all the campaign qualities switched on, even higher level characters will have few vitality, so they don't survive long, but are still able to "dodge" a reasonable amount of fire and take a couple rounds before they're out - by design.  You could make a "more fragile heroes" quality that drops vitality to 1/2/3 (instead of 6/9/12 or 2/3/4), should you wish to make it less rounds 'til they're down and out.

The baseline has to be somewhere though, and the bulk of Spycraft's customer base wants it more cinematic, with the ability to dial it more towards deadly - rather then "deadly as hell, not that much you can do with it" (like GURPS, where you're lucky to have 15 HP as a human, and an average rifle does 7d6 or more damage).

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In my opinion, what Sletch said plays a lot into it: cover bonuses aren't really large enough. But so, neither are bonuses for aiming, anticipating, etc. I'd like for most of these to scale better with skill level/character level.

Dunno if you read my longwinded thread where I kind of ramble about firearms and SC3, but I've said most of the above in there.  My suggestion was to give all weapons an "accuracy" score - based on how accurate the weapon is - and add that to your attack when making Aim actions (inaccurate weapons would be 1, so +1 to hit, but things like highly accurate sniper rifles or lasers might have a 5, which is far more substantial).  I also said there, as I did here, that cover needs to be more substantial - think Mr A's +10 error range goes way too far, but is a good thought - error range increase definitely needs to be involved when human shields are.  My current thought is to outright double cover bonuses - half cover (human shield) will give a +8, which will make most combatants seriously pause and consider their actions.

Like him, I strongly think that successes should be able to be errors too.  The core rule of "if it succeeds it's not an error" just negates too many existing penalties - who cares if the weapon has an error range of 7 if you can hit on a roll of 2?
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2012, 10:44:48 PM »

Well let's look at some possible fixes for what you are talking about:

1 & 2. If you crit, there is nothing stopping you from tossing an Action Die (if you have one) to the damage so you drop the bastard faster. I've numerous times once I succeeded on the crit and it works amazingly well. The only true flaws are not getting the threat and a stingy GM.

I think what bothers me is that so much rides on the crit, yet there is very little in the game that improves crit ranges, and nothing in terms of maneuvers. This doesn't just bother me inside of combat, btw.

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3. This happened to a couple of my characters and one of the reasons was what you stated about it not being worthwhile as it was more worthy to just hit him again. Mainly, I did not want to risk attempting the disarm in favor of attempting to hit my opponent.

Personally, I still think martial arts is too good in terms of damage output. What unarmed combat should primarily do is knock people around, disarm them, daze them, wind them, etc, but it should be poor in terms of direct damage. Of course, one could also take the view that this is represented by bashing down vitality points, but that's the least satisfying thing to do.

I think it might worth playing around with the idea of having failed maneuvers still create a vitality damage, so the clock keeps on ticking, or at least reduce vitality points even more, as Sletch suggested.

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5. I can see both sides to this one actually. Disarming would need to be given more credence but this is also a cinematic game and people will look at their sheet and see lots of vitality.

Sounds to me then like vitality kept you from doing something cool and you instead opted to do damage, then?
I'm of course exaggerating, but this is exactly where a lot of my griping is coming from. The cost of any special action usually is that you won't be doing damage that turn, and, balanced against that, most of the special actions just don't seem good enough. I assume this is also the reason why the martial artist has to do so much bare-handed damage; who would take him otherwise?

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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 10:56:21 PM »

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I guess we have different definitions of deadly. With the average hand gun, you need at least two crits to take a mid-level character out of the fight; even with all the lethal campaign options tacked on, that doesn't usually happen on the first shot, and many would argue that the odds are low enough as that you should at least gamble on not getting crit'd. I'm not talking Soldiers here. Anybody should be dangerous with a gun.

The problem here is you get out of "Cinematic" territory and into full on simulationist territory.  In most films, it takes a couple of hits to drop the bad guy / hero.  That's what SC tries to duplicate - a couple crits, or a couple shots post-vitality to drop the bad guy or hero.  With all the campaign qualities switched on, even higher level characters will have few vitality, so they don't survive long, but are still able to "dodge" a reasonable amount of fire and take a couple rounds before they're out - by design.  You could make a "more fragile heroes" quality that drops vitality to 1/2/3 (instead of 6/9/12 or 2/3/4), should you wish to make it less rounds 'til they're down and out.

The baseline has to be somewhere though, and the bulk of Spycraft's customer base wants it more cinematic, with the ability to dial it more towards deadly - rather then "deadly as hell, not that much you can do with it" (like GURPS, where you're lucky to have 15 HP as a human, and an average rifle does 7d6 or more damage).

Don't get me wrong: I like to have characters that can take a reasonable amount of risk, but I'd rather they'd survive by being harder to hit than by being able to soak more damage.

Your GURPS example is only partially valid: while the damages in general are very high compared to health, the base rule also has blow-through (you don't take more damage than HT in one shot unless the vitals/brain are hit), and you're also not out of the fight at 0 HT (admittedly, being at 0 HT is not where you want to be, but I've seen characters go to -4xHT and live). It still is a lot more lethal by this comparison. Then again, cover and range make being hit a lot harder, too. High point GURPS characters actually have pretty good survivability.

What I'd want in an RPG is a mechanism that protects characters from the GC freak lucky roll, but at the same time doesn't encourage them to take foolhardy risks. I'm fine if the character dodge a bunch of shots while running from one cover to the next at range. I'm less fine if the characters feel like it might be a good idea to charge straight at the mooks with rifles, because those guys won't do crits anyway.

I think the solution isn't necessary less vitality, but changing threat ranges.

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In my opinion, what Sletch said plays a lot into it: cover bonuses aren't really large enough. But so, neither are bonuses for aiming, anticipating, etc. I'd like for most of these to scale better with skill level/character level.

Dunno if you read my longwinded thread where I kind of ramble about firearms and SC3, but I've said most of the above in there.  My suggestion was to give all weapons an "accuracy" score - based on how accurate the weapon is - and add that to your attack when making Aim actions (inaccurate weapons would be 1, so +1 to hit, but things like highly accurate sniper rifles or lasers might have a 5, which is far more substantial).  I also said there, as I did here, that cover needs to be more substantial - think Mr A's +10 error range goes way too far, but is a good thought - error range increase definitely needs to be involved when human shields are.  My current thought is to outright double cover bonuses - half cover (human shield) will give a +8, which will make most combatants seriously pause and consider their actions.

Like him, I strongly think that successes should be able to be errors too.  The core rule of "if it succeeds it's not an error" just negates too many existing penalties - who cares if the weapon has an error range of 7 if you can hit on a roll of 2?

[/quote]

I did read it! I haven't done a good job with keeping up lately (it got a bit too technical in the middle, and thus got postponed), but I liked it. I liked it enough as that I wanted to expand the discussion to other forms of combat.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 10:59:20 PM by MikeS » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2012, 03:32:33 AM »

I'm all for action dice being able to get you out of tight situations like that, or even a fancy maneuver letting you get the upper hand in this situation. But not a half action.

If you've dropped a precious feat slot on it, then yes absolutely you should be able to reposition as a half instead of a base-line full action. If you're spending character options on something, you deserve it. Heck, I'd happily see th benefit of You Can't Touch This Supremacy being the ability to make an acrobatics check or drop an action die to resposition as a free action

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Absolutely. But I think we can both agree that this involves a skill check and maybe a bunch of action dice, and not a "Now I will bend over and pick up my weapon. For my next action, I will make a Standard Attack.".

What you're looking at there is

Marquet (dude in white) manages to inflict the stunned condition with a kick to the head on sprawled Navarre (dude in black) -- I'd say the Retribution action from the AC is a good insert here -- allowing him to get up and grab his sword, then move and attack Navarre.

At which point Navarre is hugely lucky. Marquet misses his attack, allowing Navarre to use Combat Instincts to make a disarm check (successful) meaning he gets to pick up the sword (half action) and attack Marquet (another half action) on which he rolls a crit and dumps his remaining action dice to confirm and pump up the damage to 1-hit lethality.

OR similarly, take the standard movie situation where a hero gets the baddie to punch/throw/etc them conveniently next to a discard weapon. Again, 1 half action to recover weapon, 1 half action to use it.

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Well, you got the point. Not everybody is a Jackie Chan, but it sure is much more interesting to watch Jackie Chan than a broad slew of western martial arts movies from the 80's where the fighters just beat on each other with the same 4-5 moves. Sometimes they don't even change the camera angle.

Eh, the moves don't bother me so much as the tendency for characters to remain rooted to the spot while wailing away on each other. I mean, go back to the 30s and the way that the climactic fight between Robin Hood and Gisborn ranged all over the castle, with all manner of using the environment to help and hinder.

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Yes, the Table of Ouch does it, but how often do you use it instead of just inflicting wounds with your crit (unless I am misunderstanding how the table is used...)? I'd prefer, eg, a called shot that you spend AD on after a hit to create the injury, but forego vitality damage on. I don't see a simple solution here to create the result I want, but I can think of a few approaches.

I think the ToO is a wonderful idea that was poorly implemented: the only person likely to spend double the number of AD required to simply activate a critical hit is the GC and gimping PCs for the long term is quite the probematic consideration. If you want the PCs to indulge in ToO shenanigans, I think you're going to have to do something like say "if you roll a threat that you choose not to confirm, you can instead choose to eschew the normal damage to inflict a critical injury".

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« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 09:03:26 AM »

With regards to Martial Arts in SC2.0, your base untrained unarmed damage is 1D3, if trained 1D4, with the Martial Arts Feat it goes to 1D6+the stat bonus, and if Master's Art then you are at 2D6+the stat bonus. With Master's Art, you do have a threat range of 18-20. It is not overpowering considering what you are spending to get it.

As for the Disarm vs attacking choice, I chose to attack because I was betting that I had a better chance to crit with a 18-20 threat range than the skill check threat of 20. Plus I could deliver 2D6+3 in damage and if it was crit then I could do 15 Wounds, not counting any additional AD to damage, which would drop my opponent. It had nothing to do with the Disarm action being less effective because of the action itself.

When I ran Living Spycraft, one of my regular players basically build Dolph Lundgren the Sambo Expert for his character. During ranged combat, he would try to get to the villains as quickly as possible and grapple them. He had maxed his Athletics score and with level 8 had an 18 Strength which was also his stat mod for his Martial Arts. Throw in the Submission feat chain and I knew as the GM that the NPCs would be toast if he got a hold of them. But they did not know that so I could not unfairly target him. If it was too hectic on the battlefield, he would race into combat and pull people out, easily carrying them back to a safer area. He had also maxed his Intimidate skill which basically made him the imposing giant in the room that people were threatened with facing if they didn't talk.

He preferred to Grapple because his Athletics skill was so high and if he held them all they could do was try to get out of it. He removed their ability to use a weapon and frequently broke their arms so they could not use weapons anyway.
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« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2012, 06:33:15 PM »

With regards to Martial Arts in SC2.0, your base untrained unarmed damage is 1D3, if trained 1D4, with the Martial Arts Feat it goes to 1D6+the stat bonus, and if Master's Art then you are at 2D6+the stat bonus. With Master's Art, you do have a threat range of 18-20. It is not overpowering considering what you are spending to get it.

I really didn't like Martial Arts in SC2.0.  You almost never got Master's Art (level 15+ requirement pretty much says "Nope"), and if you didn't get high enough Martial Arts (Strength) was clearly better then the other options - you could Strength to Attack, Damage, Defence, Initiative, Defence and Initiative.  Which is silly.  You could also combo it with Berserker chain to have fairly obscene Defence / Initiative scores due to the double dipping.

The only thing I did like was that untrained is 1d3, and trained is 1d4.  For the 2 feats themselves FC's (second printing) are far more balanced.  I did like many of the other feats though - Spirit, Vital Points, Submission, Dirty Fighting.  All very cool stuff.  Just Martial Arts / Master's Art were pretty wonky.
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2012, 08:50:31 PM »

I'm all for action dice being able to get you out of tight situations like that, or even a fancy maneuver letting you get the upper hand in this situation. But not a half action.

If you've dropped a precious feat slot on it, then yes absolutely you should be able to reposition as a half instead of a base-line full action. If you're spending character options on something, you deserve it. Heck, I'd happily see th benefit of You Can't Touch This Supremacy being the ability to make an acrobatics check or drop an action die to resposition as a free action

Agreed. I'm not sure getting up should necessarily take a full action, but it should take a roll if the opponent is trying to keep you down. The feat can improve your odds (and probably should do something else that's cool, maybe be folded into some kind of acrobatics feat).


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What you're looking at there is

Marquet (dude in white) manages to inflict the stunned condition with a kick to the head on sprawled Navarre (dude in black) -- I'd say the Retribution action from the AC is a good insert here -- allowing him to get up and grab his sword, then move and attack Navarre.

At which point Navarre is hugely lucky. Marquet misses his attack, allowing Navarre to use Combat Instincts to make a disarm check (successful) meaning he gets to pick up the sword (half action) and attack Marquet (another half action) on which he rolls a crit and dumps his remaining action dice to confirm and pump up the damage to 1-hit lethality.

Have to disagree on the "lucky". Navarre is using an active dodge here (could either be a full defense + Combat Instincts, or (which I would prefer since you can pump AD into it) something like a Parry Trick without weapon), and he is using it to set up his disarm (which is, incidentally, how all disarms that I am familiar with work: you set up your opponent with a failed attack and use his overcommitment to get his weapon; a more aggressive approach usually gets you stabbed/cut).

The thing that frustrates me about this scene is: I can almost bet that, if attempted by one of my players, it would end with a regular hit, and the fight would continue like nothing happened, instead of being a cool finisher. The crit is too necessary to make the scene work, and there is no way you can get one if you don't roll it.


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