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Combat Rule Objections

posted Oct 16, 2012 12:01:27 by trevor.ellis
I LOVE RQ6 with just a couple of areas that to me are not acceptable.

ACTION POINTS ARE EVERYING!

Book states that "facing multiple opponents in Runequest is often exceptionally dangerous” - not quite true - “being engaged in a fight where the opponent(s) have more Action Points than you is usually exceptionally dangerous”.

The split between 2AP and 3AP falls in the middle of the range of humans. I doubt that a 2AP human would survive long enough to get high combat skills. If in doubt run a few combats with 80% 2AP vs 60% 2AP. My house rules will change this so that most humans have 3AP.

I'LL PARRY ONLY IF YOU CRITICAL!

I don't like this one bit, it does not feel right. Being able to choose to parry a blow after the attack roll is not something I can live with.

PRE-DETERMINED SPECIAL EFFECT CHANCE

I fear that using the same roll for weapon attack and special effect attempt must lead to rule-playing not role-playing. That is I would select an opposed effect depending on teh chance of it succeeding, e.g. 80% vs 70% - attack roll of 8% has 100% chance of special effect working so I choose an opposed effect - attack roll of 10% has a 33% chance of opposed effect working. As opposed effects generally have a greater impact on the fight I will call for both parties to re-roll.

If my logic or my math is wrong please let me know.
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36 replies
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trevor.ellis said Oct 16, 2012 12:04:55
Typo: "80% 2AP vs 60% 2AP" should be "80% 2AP vs 60% 3AP"
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Alfonso_García said Oct 16, 2012 12:16:12
I have find that my players, when they win a maneouver in combat (an special effect in RQ6), tend to select an automatic effect if they roll low (like choose location) and opposed effects when they get a critical roll or a high roll result (disarm, trip, etc).

It can be metagaming, but I see them playing clever their rolls.

And,it's true. AP's difference in the game is brutal.
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lawrence.whitaker said Oct 16, 2012 12:59:24
Hi Trevor,

Action Point differential is crucial - we have an entire section of the GM chapter (page 424) devoted to this issue, along with some tips and strategies for dealing with it. Its worth reading through these and applying them during a combat. They work: they've been thoroughly playtested and I see, time and again, good use of the rules by 2 AP characters to gain advantage even in the face of superior odds.

I'LL PARRY ONLY IF YOU CRITICAL!
I don't like this one bit, it does not feel right. Being able to choose to parry a blow after the attack roll is not something I can live with.


It represents a defending combatant judging the grade of his opponent's attack and then choosing whether to position himself in such as way as to make an active defence. You opine the issue of AP differential, but this would become more acute if characters were forced to declare and use a parry irrespective of the success of the blow. Choosing when to parry is part of the AP economy and is as important whether a defending character has 2 AP or 3.

Furthermore, as we say in the GM chapter, successfully parrying a failed attack generates a Special Effect which can drastically alter the direction of the fight - especially if there's a distinct AP differential.

I fear that using the same roll for weapon attack and special effect attempt must lead to rule-playing not role-playing. That is I would select an opposed effect depending on teh chance of it succeeding, e.g. 80% vs 70% - attack roll of 8% has 100% chance of special effect working so I choose an opposed effect - attack roll of 10% has a 33% chance of opposed effect working. As opposed effects generally have a greater impact on the fight I will call for both parties to re-roll.


I've never seen it lead to 'rule playing'. I do see it leading to interesting and exciting choices of Special Effect rather than stock choices such as Choose Location or Maximise Damage. The Special Effects that use opposed rolls tend to be ones that slow-down, erode or negate the opponent's ability to react. We also use the original roll as the opposing factor because, as you'll have noticed, RQ6 doesn't have automatic effects generated by a critical, as previous RQ versions did (such as auto double damage, or auto ignore armour, or auto impale). This system ensures that a critical success by the opponent that needs to be resisted still counts when resolving an opposed Special Effect; re-rolling would potentially negate that advantage.

And don't forget Luck Points. Used judiciously (such as re-rolling either your dice, or forcing an opponent to re-roll, or buying a last chance Action) they can also make all the difference.

There are plenty of tools, nuances and subtleties in the RQ combat system to handle the perceived weaknesses or bugbears you've highlighted. On 2 AP characters getting to high skill levels - my Arthurian campaign, used to test the RQ6 rules, has four characters out of a group of 7, with only 2 AP. All their combat styles are in the 90-110% range, so its perfectly possible to have 2 AP, survive, and get into triple digits.

But, of course, RQ is your game, and if you find the AP economy and Special Effects mechanics aren't working for you, do change things - it may suit your style of game better. But I would recommend that you give the combat rules a careful read, look at the GM chapter and, most crucially, look at some of the nuances built into the system that may help without needing to change anything.
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BruceMason said Oct 16, 2012 13:20:33
Well, on an empty surface two fighters with identical skills, weapons, magic and armour and both capable of choosing the optimal special effect in every circumstance but one with 2 APs and one with 3 APs then the one with 3 APs has a big advantage.

And in general, if you have 2 APs and your opponent has 3 APs then you are not on a level playing field. Same is also true if you have a greatsword and your opponent has a dagger. However, as Batman has shown in taking down superman, any playing field can be levelled if you are smarter than your opponent.

On the parrying choice after the effect: I would have agreed with you in MRQII because the special effect choices for parrying were often not better than simply choosing not to parry a failed attack. In RQ6 the details have been thoroughly overhauled. In particular, a failed attack basically means you get an unopposed parry. Succeed at an unopposed parry and, naturally, you get a SE. A parry is usually the best time to trip, disarm or otherwise disadvantage an opponent because it means you get to follow up with an attack against a hopefully compromised foe.

On the final point: using your attack roll as the "target number" for any opposed special effect - that makes perfect sense to me. E.g. you get a special effect but with a fairly mediocre success - say rolling a 19 - and you're facing a nimble, fast opponent. You calculate that you're just not quick enough to trip or disarm him but at least you can hit on the head and hope for the best. If you have to make a second roll to assess "how good" your special effect is then the quality of your special effect is divorced from the quality of your attack roll. E.g. you critical your attack (roll 03, skill 65%) and choose to trip but roll a lousy 87 and 'fail' your attack roll for the special effect meaning that the clumsiest fool can avoid being tripped by your devastatingly effective attack.

As ever, I suspect that you'll find that in actual play that your opinion will change. Of course it might not; everyone has different tastes.
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Thalaba said Oct 16, 2012 14:48:49
On the final point: using your attack roll as the "target number" for any opposed special effect - that makes perfect sense to me.
Yep - me too. Every decision we make in life factors in the odds of success somehow, so having some inkling about how successful one Effect might be vs. another doesn't break the realism for me at all.

However, as Batman has shown in taking down superman, any playing field can be leveled if you are smarter than your opponent.
However, if you only have 2AP and your opponent has 3AP then chances are he's actually smarter than you, or you're very clumsy. Remember that INT factors into how many AP you have. From a roleplaying perspective, if you don't want characters to suffer in combat because they aren't smart and quick, then adjusting the point at which a character is given 3AP seems like a good solution.
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trevor.ellis said Oct 16, 2012 17:59:00

Lawrence is starting to sway me on some points.

The PARRY ONLY IF YOU CRITICAL could work as a game mechanism - in real life no-one could judge the effectiveness of an incomming blow that carefully - you have to begin your parry movement long before the blow hits you. Ditto with Special Effects - creating the oppertunity to trip someone and assessing the success factor to that degree is asking a lot.

The "rule playing" can be disguised as exciting "role playing" if a) the players are of equal experience with the rules, or b) the GM very carefully explains to a new player the choices facing their Character for Special Effect and how their character might judge the likely outcomes.

However a character with INT 12 and DEX 12 is not especially thick or slow, but would have 2AP. About 50% of the humans that the character might fight would have 3AP. Alfonso confirms that "AP's difference in the game is brutal". So if the 2AP character fought other humans of about the same level then that character ain't gona see many grandchildren..... unless the campaign really did minimise combat situations.

I'll still go for a revised table. And thanks for all the replies.


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bluefenix42 said Oct 16, 2012 18:42:41
I was also concerned about some player characters having more AP than others. My solution as a GM was to increase the overall level of starting attributes for player characters. To me, that also made the characters feel more heroic, and reduced the chances that any one character would be far far behind the others in a particular area such as Hit Points, AP, Strike Rank, etc. That, and I and many of my friends simply find it hard to get excited about characters with very average stats.
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lawrence.whitaker said Oct 16, 2012 19:00:49
Hi Trevor,

in real life no-one could judge the effectiveness of an incomming blow that carefully - you have to begin your parry movement long before the blow hits you. Ditto with Special Effects - creating the oppertunity to trip someone and assessing the success factor to that degree is asking a lot.


Well, Pete Nash, who is the architect of the combat system, is a skilled swordsman in real life, and the system is based largely on realistic capabilities and decision making. But I'll let Pete contribute more on this issue.

The "rule playing" can be disguised as exciting "role playing" if a) the players are of equal experience with the rules, or b) the GM very carefully explains to a new player the choices facing their Character for Special Effect and how their character might judge the likely outcomes.


Um... surely b) is part of a GM's job anyway? And it helps a) to come into being. I ran a demo game of RQ6 at a local con a couple of weeks ago with three people utterly new to the system. I had a crib sheet of the Special Effects available for each player and, when we got into the first fight, it didn't take long for them to study their options and arrive at some great combinations that led to fun fights. Minimal effort from me; a little effort from them. It really doesn't take too long to get up to speed with the variety, effects and possibilities.

However a character with INT 12 and DEX 12 is not especially thick or slow, but would have 2AP.


This, of course, depends on how characters are built. If you're going for dice roll and assign, then INT is, on average, 13 (2d6+6) and I'd imagine that players would look to assign a 12 or 13 roll to DEX, putting them into the 3 AP bracket. If you use Points its even easier to build an AP-optimised character.

About 50% of the humans that the character might fight would have 3AP. Alfonso confirms that "AP's difference in the game is brutal". So if the 2AP character fought other humans of about the same level then that character ain't gona see many grandchildren..... unless the campaign really did minimise combat situations.


Or if the character uses his Action Points wisely, learning to use range, reach, passive blocking, distance, movememt and so on to mitigate the advantage a 3 AP foe might have. I can't stress this enough. Plus, its also a function of how the GM structures the encounters.

Again though, try a few test combats out with different combinations of opponents and try out a variety of different tactical options. Setting a consistent number of 3AP for all humans (other species you might want to leave as is, to reflect racial capabilities etc) won't break anything.
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BruceMason said Oct 16, 2012 19:03:12
The simplest solution if you don't like AP differences is to give everyone a fixed number. I personally would choose 3 APs with mooks only getting 2 APs. (That also simplifies book-keeping for minor NPCs.) That way APs becomes a species attribute like movement.

If doing that I would make SR equal to INT+DEX and not have a random component. That way high INT & DEX maxmises the chance of going first which will counteract (to some extent) the loss of variable APs. It also simplifies book-keeping and reduces time taken in rolling initiative.


Edit: ah I see Loz also suggested 3 APs as a simple fixed number if required.
[Last edited Oct 16, 2012 19:04:36]
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DanTrue said Oct 16, 2012 19:30:51
in real life no-one could judge the effectiveness of an incomming blow that carefully - you have to begin your parry movement long before the blow hits you. Ditto with Special Effects - creating the oppertunity to trip someone and assessing the success factor to that degree is asking a lot.


I fight sword & buckler three times a week - and I do this all the time. It is astounding how quickly ones reflexes can react, but it is quite possible.
Not only is it possible, it is necessary. If you move to parry even single possible attack your opponent makes, at some point it is going to be a feint and you'll leave some other area open.

Also, remember that you can advance attributes. What does a fighter have to gain if all humans are 3 AP? By using the table, that young whippersnapper with 12 DEX and 12 INT, can be taught by seniors, do physical training and go with his fellows on adventures. In the end he can spend his XP on advancing his DEX, gain 3 AP and suddenly get over that hurdle. Quite as a young warrior would in real life - if he lacks it, he needs to build up a physique and mental state to allow himself to fight - it is not simply about learning some sword moves. And of course, it comes easier to others (those who start with 3 AP, because they are naturally gifted).

Remember that having a high CHA will make it much easier to gain those XP, also.

So, do what you gotta do, it's not going to break anything as Lawrence said, but I would find it a bit bland. If you want to go for a more heroic feel, then let your characters start with higher attributes or more stats points, instead. At least that's how I would handle it :)
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AmazingOnionMan said Oct 16, 2012 19:43:05
I just want to say that I like the combatrules as they are, a very nice mix of attributes, tactics, player savvy and luck.

The one thing that doesn't really work for me is that the difference between Mediocre(2 AP) and A whole lot better(3 AP) is the differance between an average human being and a just barely, slightly above average human being.
I don't mind a differance in AP, but the breaking point should have been lower or higher on the scale.
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DanTrue said Oct 16, 2012 20:17:46
The one thing that doesn't really work for me is that the difference between Mediocre(2 AP) and A whole lot better(3 AP) is the differance between an average human being and a just barely, slightly above average human being.
I don't mind a differance in AP, but the breaking point should have been lower or higher on the scale.


Well, I find it rather in line with my experiences, but that doesn't have to stop you of course.
But, as Lawrenze said, there are numerous examples from play of people with 2 AP trumping someone with 3 AP, simply by using the environment better or using the many tactical options in the combat rules.

I would just recommend trying it for a time, and then introduce static 3 AP for all humans if you still think it better.

- Dan
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AmazingOnionMan said Oct 16, 2012 21:03:53
I would just recommend trying it for a time, and then introduce static 3 AP for all humans if you still think it better.

Better-schmetter:-) As I said, I don't mind it. I just think it's a weird breaking point.
Joe Average is unable to keep up with the local professor of history, who again is on equal footing with an olympic gymnast.
As is, my players(all 2 of them) are running around with 3 AP. They get an extra d6 to add to stat of choice(current chargen-houserule). Unsurprisingly, INT and DEX were very popular choices for that die.
We ran a few mock-combats when we got the game, and while 2 APs aren't the end of the world, defensive tactics was the standard MO compared to the faster combatants. Basicly cool kids vs the not-so-cool kids. This produced some minor teeth-grinding..

As a flaw in the system however, it is minor at worst and easily fixed if necessary.
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sdavies2720 said Oct 22, 2012 18:01:53
I like the 2/3 AP Split in the middle of normal human range. Almost everyone opts for 3 APs, but some players choose to optimize other capabilities of their characters, such as magic, which makes a clear division between those who go in and those who need to be protected. And the 2 AP folks aren't helpless, they just clearly aren't as good.
[Last edited Oct 22, 2012 18:02:48]
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trevor.ellis said Oct 22, 2012 18:17:59
If the player of the 2AP character uses the rules better than the Player/GM of the 3AP character then the 2AP character might scrape throught a few fights. But all other things being equal the 2AP Character vs a 3AP player is fairly close to helpless.


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