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Author Topic: Some Initial Questions  (Read 7139 times)
Valamir
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« on: April 24, 2002, 07:29:56 PM »

Ok, I went home and started delving a little deeper into RoS.  Came up with some initial questions (not the least of which is how will I ever remember the proceedure for bidding for initiative...thats a little rule happy IMO).

But specifically:

1) Targeting areas.  Am I free to target any area I want?  Several of the examples point out the "natural flow" from taking a low parry into an attack against a certain area, but I see no rules to enforce this.  I see nothing stopping me from attacking zone I, one time and zone IV the next.  Am I missing something?

2) Assuming I can attack anywhere I want, why would I ever attack any location other than your least armored location...over and over and over.  If you are armored everywhere but your left arm, why wouldn't I target your left arm *every* single time (at least until shock and pain wear you down).  If this is indeed the best "gamist" strategy, isn't that rather boring and unrealistic?

3) Page 238, the first bullet of the "more advice" section:  Huh?  That makes no sense to me, so either it is just color translating a real combat tactic into game mechanic terms that doesn't really work, or I'm missing something huge about how combat is supposed to work.  

4) Did there used to be some rule where defense dice were allocated to an area BEFORE you knew for sure which area was being attacked (or is there still this rule and I just missed it)?  It seems like several sections of the text (such as item 3 above) only make sense in this context.  Otherwise I don't really care what section you target I'm going to spend however many dice I need to beat you...regardless of where my sword theoretically ended up after the last attack...this somewhat ties back into number 1 before.  Seems to me that from what I know of real fighting, which sort of attack you made last should severely limit what sort of attack (or defense) options you have available to you next.  I don't see this anywhere either, unless I flat out missed a whole section.

5) Why would I ever defend against a Beat, and why would I ever use one.  Looks to me that Beating as a maneuver suffers the same problem as it did in 7th Sea...namely being entirely useless because of the way the mechanic is written.  This is how I read it.  Tell me what I'm missing.

I put 3 dice into a Beat...I roll 1 success.  You lose 1 die from your pool.

What good is that?  I lose 3 dice, you lose 1.  Why would I EVER perform this move.  Similarly why would you ever defend against it?  Even if all 3 of my dice succeed, I lose 3 dice and you lose 3, so we're basically even.  Why would I want waste dice defending against an attack thats going to  cost you more than it costs me?  Because winning would give me the initiative?  Heck you already have that.  I'll let you keep it and wait for you to attack me when you have fewer dice than you used to.

Thats what I've come up with so far.

BTW are there plans for a GM screen?  This is a very "lots of special rules" type of game which I could never play without some serious cheat sheets available.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2002, 07:26:03 AM »

Hey,

Those are all really good questions and I shall chime in to say "I wanna know too."

But my substantive contribution to this post is to say that there's some GM-screen information available at the website. Unfortunately, the actual tables for it aren't available through the download link; the link that looks as if it might be for that purpose just takes you to the company that's going to make them.

Best,
Ron
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2002, 09:50:11 AM »

We'll start w/ Valamir's questions...

1) You are free to target any area you want. "Natural FLow" is a narrativist thing...it adds color, but for the most part even in a real fight you can target "area I" then area "IV" without much problem. You've missed nothing.

2) You're free to do so, but it is a little dull. Many GMs have house rules that say that if you attack the same area over and over again then it gets easier to block. I agree with that rule, and we'll probably put it into the August Edition. I (gasp) rely a lot on GMs to make judgement calls over things like that, as I didn't think that TROS needed MORE rules.

3) It works. We've done it several times. People with heavy armor use less dice for defense when attacked in armored places generally, because (a) Armor sucks up dice, and so they don't usually have as many to spare as a less armored opponent and (b) they're happy just "taking the blow," as armor is really very effective. So often if you constantly strike for a knight's torso he'll go light on the defense because he figures he can handle it. Do that for a little while and he'll forget that his neck/face/whatever isn't armored when you throw into it, and he'll stick with his "conservative" number of dice...but when you hit (and he expected that you might), he won't have as much protection, and the fight is yours.

4) Defense dice have always been allocated after the attacker declares. We played with once having defence dice planned for a specific place, but felt that it was too slow and pitched it. The sections you referred to work just spiffy in their current form. While is is true that the location of your last defense does effect your following attack, we felt again that that would slow things too much. We've run campaigns (with people that practice various forms of fencing or martial arts) where we get very specific about how they go from spot to spot, but that's a flavor thing, and probably overkill as a standard game rule.

5) That's very much how a beat works in the "real world." The fact is that if you just give into it then while you will lose some dice, you won't lose a ton. If you defend against it, you might lose dice, or you might steal initiative. So it's really an issue of initative. If you don't mind staying on the defensive longer, than just take the beat (many fencers do that). If you're more agressive, then go for the defense against the beat and try to steal initiative.

Something that's hard for people to grasp until they've been fighting a little while in-game is that you develop your own style of play, a style which has certain advantages against other styles, and weaknesses elsewhere. I use beats when I play because most characters fall for them, just like I use beats when I spar against newbies (but not senior students, because the seniors don't fall for them). There isn't a "best" way to do anything, unless you win. Then that was the "best way" that time.

The GM Screen is available for download online. Look on the left frame where it says "Master Screen Reference Sheets! New!" The "Master Screen link in the main frame is to the company that's making the Master Screens (which we got to handle at GAMA, and man are they cool!).

We'll put a link in the main frame, too, to avoid similar confusion in the future.

As for the whole rules-heavy initiative thing...it's pretty basic. Pick a stance, throw a red die or a white. All done.

Thanks for the challenging questions. They are helping A LOT to making the next printing/revised edition a thousand times better, and I appreciate it a lot.

Jake
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2002, 10:37:44 AM »

Hey,

Um, as long as we're slingin' jargon, that would be a Drama mechanic, which is not necessarily a Narrativist/Or Not issue ...

Anyway, more substantively, I was thinking about the difference between Swashbuckler (from Jolly Roger Games) and The Riddle of Steel. The two games have some similarities, and they share a commitment to the intensity of combat in terms of player identification with the process. (Another minor similarity: like ROS, Swashbuckler has no "hit points," and people hit the dirt by failing Physique rolls, which get harder as resisted hits accumulate.)

It mainly comes down to this: Swashbuckler combat is largely defined, exchange to exchange, by whatever moves were performed in the previous exchange. Each maneuver has a limited range of possible following maneuvers, and the authors did an exceptional job of picking "flows" that match cinematic sword combat (of the older, good school). Just where a blow lands, or what combination of blood loss and pain takes a combatant down, are handled through Drama.

By contrast, The Riddle of Steel combat is largely defined, exchange to exchange, by whoever hit or didn't (retained or gained initiative), and by the specific damage done to a specific body part, defined mainly through attendant shock, pain, and blood loss. Just how a blow (taking or receiving) feeds into the body postures and the next exchange's options is handled through Drama.

They both work. They both achieve that "immediacy." And to my way of thinking, both benefit from leaving certain aspects of the combat events open to colorizing through Drama, rather than nailing down every last detail procedurally. It's especially interesting that what is formalized, and what is left "open," is the opposite for these games.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2002, 10:43:53 AM »

Quote from: Jake
We'll start w/ Valamir's questions...
1) You are free to target any area you want. "Natural FLow" is a narrativist thing...it adds color, but for the most part even in a real fight you can target "area I" then area "IV" without much problem. You've missed nothing.


You may, as a feature to offer to your website (or maybe you've already planned it for the upcoming combat sup) want to include some descriptions of how to add this color to a game for people who aren't THACA afficionadoes and have no idea how this would work realistically;
(remember by far the majority of your players learned their knowledge of sword play from watching Xena)...

Quote

2) You're free to do so, but it is a little dull. Many GMs have house rules that say that if you attack the same area over and over again then it gets easier to block. I agree with that rule, and we'll probably put it into the August Edition. I (gasp) rely a lot on GMs to make judgement calls over things like that, as I didn't think that TROS needed MORE rules.


Hmmm.  I have an inherent problem with rules like this I'm afraid.  Basically you're saying "the rules not only allow this, they encourage it...but it really isn't that fun so we don't recommend you actually do it...so we'll rely on the GM to penalize players who play by the rules"

I worded that a little strongly on purpose to make a point, but the rules do actively encourage this behavior.  As I recall there is an added benefit to hitting the same area multiple times beyond picking one with low armor.  That being that you "reactivate" the largest wound penelty to that area.  So if I earlier hit you for a level 3 wound, I can attack that same area, get only a level 1 wound, but still stick you with the penelty for a level 3.

Since there is no aspect of you trying to outguess where I'm going to attack there is no penelty for being so obvious, and there is no advantage to the defender for knowing its coming.

So the rules are telling me "do this!"...but the designer is telling me "Its dull so GM's should discourage it"...

That doesn't sit well with me, I'm afraid.


Quote

3) It works. We've done it several times. People with heavy armor use less dice for defense when attacked in armored places generally, because (a) Armor sucks up dice, and so they don't usually have as many to spare as a less armored opponent and (b) they're happy just "taking the blow," as armor is really very effective. So often if you constantly strike for a knight's torso he'll go light on the defense because he figures he can handle it. Do that for a little while and he'll forget that his neck/face/whatever isn't armored when you throw into it, and he'll stick with his "conservative" number of dice...but when you hit (and he expected that you might), he won't have as much protection, and the fight is yours



Ok, so you're relying on the player forgetting when you announce the blow to his arm, that he doesn't have much armor on his arm...and for him to treat the blow nonchalantly the way he would if you were attacking his plated torso...

Interesting that that works.  I can't imagine that working with any of the number crunching players I'm used to playing with.

Quote

4) Defense dice have always been allocated after the attacker declares. We played with once having defence dice planned for a specific place, but felt that it was too slow and pitched it. The sections you referred to work just spiffy in their current form. While is is true that the location of your last defense does effect your following attack, we felt again that that would slow things too much. We've run campaigns (with people that practice various forms of fencing or martial arts) where we get very specific about how they go from spot to spot, but that's a flavor thing, and probably overkill as a standard game rule.


Swashbuckler did this very well (in a very non technically rigorous) manner.  It added a good bit of strategy to attack choices.

Even the ability to select the equivelent of a Ward might be useful.  If I know that you're going to try to hit area IV, I should be able to favor my defense to protect area IV (get a couple free dice or something).  Maybe there is a maneuver that allows this already, I didn't get to the defensive maneuvers yet.


Quote

5) That's very much how a beat works in the "real world." The fact is that if you just give into it then while you will lose some dice, you won't lose a ton. If you defend against it, you might lose dice, or you might steal initiative. So it's really an issue of initative. If you don't mind staying on the defensive longer, than just take the beat (many fencers do that). If you're more agressive, then go for the defense against the beat and try to steal initiative.


But in the real world I don't KNOW what my opponent is doing.  Is he really beating, is it a feint? If I just give in will I discover that was a huge mistake because his real hope was to get me to do just that to set up a follow-up, etc.

But in the game I KNOW its a beat.  I know EXACTLY what the effects of the Beat will be (I'll lose a couple of dice), I know EXACTLY what the odds are of my opponent succeeding.  I know EXACTLY the maximum and expected number of dice I'll lose, and I can calmly and rationally say EVERY SINGLE TIME, fine...I'll take the beat.

I can't see any point whatsoever in game terms to ever try to steal the initiative in a beat situation.  At the end of the beat you'll have lost more dice than me so I will be in a BETTER position to steal initiative from you next engagement than I am by defending the beat (this will always be true unless the attacker did something stupid like beat with 2 dice only).  I know the absolute worst case is that I'll lose the same amount as you.

I know I'm being a little difficult here, but your combat rules are very very Gamist.  By Gamist I don't mean not realistic (i.e. not a good simulation), I mean they are rules that enable the player to succeed or fail by his choices as a player.

As a player looking to maximize my success in combat, I would NEVER beat.  It makes sense to you because you know what a beat is and what a beat is for.  Your fellow knowledgeable combatants will respond in a reasonable manner.  But all of that is irrelevant to the game.  What matters in the game is what the rules say...and I can't concieve of an occassion where it makes sense for me as an attacker to voluntarily sacrifice more dice than his opponent will lose.  Can you put together a scenario in actual game mechanics terms where you would say "ok and now I'm going to beat" and then go through and show how this action is a superior choice from just using that many dice to attack.  I can't think of one.

Quote
Something that's hard for people to grasp until they've been fighting a little while in-game is that you develop your own style of play, a style which has certain advantages against other styles, and weaknesses elsewhere. I use beats when I play because most characters fall for them, just like I use beats when I spar against newbies (but not senior students, because the seniors don't fall for them). There isn't a "best" way to do anything, unless you win. Then that was the "best way" that time.


A maneuver that makes sense only by relying on your opponent to be ignorant might work well in a real bout.  I find its a poor solution in a game.  You may use this tactic successfully against a newbie PLAYER, but even if I'm playing a complete Tyro, if I'm a knowledgeable player I'm not going to fall for it.  

When fighting for your life, you make a newbie mistake, you die.  In a game, you make a newbie mistake, your character dies, you make a new character and you'll never ever ever fall for the beat again...

Like item 3 above, rules that rely on players being foolish make me nervous.


Quote

As for the whole rules-heavy initiative thing...it's pretty basic. Pick a stance, throw a red die or a white. All done.


I didn't question initiative.  I questioned BUYING Initiative (the little "samurai, blade slinger" example, which requires bidding dice and making opposed rolls against different attributes.  Thats what seemed particulary rules heavy to me.



On a related note.  May I suggest the following play aid.

Maneuver and Location Cards.

I have a hand consisting of all of the maneuvers I know and all of the locations I can attack with that weapon.  I play a card for my Weapon, my Maneuver, and my target location.  The Maneuver card has all of the rules for the maneuver on it, and the Location card has the damage table for that location.  I think that would reduce search time enormously.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2002, 12:49:33 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
On a related note.  May I suggest the following play aid.

Maneuver and Location Cards.

I have a hand consisting of all of the maneuvers I know and all of the locations I can attack with that weapon.  I play a card for my Weapon, my Maneuver, and my target location.  The Maneuver card has all of the rules for the maneuver on it, and the Location card has the damage table for that location.  I think that would reduce search time enormously.

Whoa!  Hang on a moment there!  Now, you're stealing one of the few original ideas I have left for Scattershot!  Wah!

(Well pretty close, we're combining the maneuver and location cards to create a higher number of maneuver/location cards; it is a collectible card game.  We need a high card count.)

All's fair; I'm just kidding.  Boy I wish I had the scratch to pony up for Riddle of Steel, it sounds great!

Fang Langford
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2002, 01:59:17 PM »

Quote from: Le Joueur
Whoa!  Hang on a moment there!  Now, you're stealing one of the few original ideas I have left for Scattershot!  Wah!

Sorry, but some game beat all y'all to it. You'll have to take my word for it, but I remember some system where you have cards for weapons and you select your maneuver off of it. Hell, we always photocopied whatever RM charts were important to our characters, especially the weapon charts.

And we all remember the Lost World books where your whole character was an interactive play aid that actually considered the relationship between the maneuvers to determine results.

No, not new or original for anyone, sorry.

Mike
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2002, 02:38:03 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: Le Joueur
Whoa!  Hang on a moment there!  Now, you're stealing one of the few original ideas I have left for Scattershot!  Wah!

Sorry, but some game beat all y'all to it. You'll have to take my word for it, but I remember some system where you have cards for weapons and you select your maneuver off of it.

No, not new or original for anyone, sorry.

First of all, I'm trying out this second-hand sense of humor here, gimme a break.  Second there are no new ideas, especially if you're willing to abstract so much (and there shouldn't be; I think the wheel works just fine as it is).

Third, I think I know what game you're refering to and it was neither collectible nor played like a card game.  In Scattershot presents: a Collectible Card Game, you put out a character card and 'obvious-equipment' cards, shuffle, and then begin playing by drawing from your deck and playing into a simple two-part tableau.  Hit Points and Combat advantage are tracked with simple chits of some kind and many cards represent quite specific 'to a location' maneuvers (that can be played either independantly or upon other cards, within limits, as 'flurries').  It otherwise functions exactly in the Scattershot Mechanix.

Thank you for participating in this test of the Emergency Whining System.  Had this been an actual complaint the audible 'Wah!' would have been followed by ceaseless ranting and wailing.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

Fang Langford
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2002, 02:41:35 PM »

Wow...things got exciting in here. The maneuver cards are actually an idea we've been playing with for a long time. What would most of y'all think about just putting them up online? That'd be the cheapest for everyone involved, and it wouldn't be too hard on our end.

Valamir wrote:
Quote
You may, as a feature to offer to your website (or maybe you've already planned it for the upcoming combat sup) want to include some descriptions of how to add this color to a game for people who aren't THACA afficionadoes and have no idea how this would work realistically;
(remember by far the majority of your players learned their knowledge of sword play from watching Xena)...


We were planning on doing some of this in the combat supplement. Playtesting showed us, however, that those that want it do it without being told, and those that don't know better just move along and never notice the loss. It's like Ron's comment on Drama (not narativism...ah, terms, terms...). I'd love to see this swashbuckler game. I've never heard of it before, I'm afraid.

Quote
Hmmm. I have an inherent problem with rules like this I'm afraid. Basically you're saying "the rules not only allow this, they encourage it...but it really isn't that fun so we don't recommend you actually do it...so we'll rely on the GM to penalize players who play by the rules"

I worded that a little strongly on purpose to make a point, but the rules do actively encourage this behavior. As I recall there is an added benefit to hitting the same area multiple times beyond picking one with low armor. That being that you "reactivate" the largest wound penelty to that area. So if I earlier hit you for a level 3 wound, I can attack that same area, get only a level 1 wound, but still stick you with the penelty for a level 3.

Since there is no aspect of you trying to outguess where I'm going to attack there is no penelty for being so obvious, and there is no advantage to the defender for knowing its coming.

So the rules are telling me "do this!"...but the designer is telling me "Its dull so GM's should discourage it"...

That doesn't sit well with me, I'm afraid.


I understand where you're coming from much better now. The wound rule was inserted to get the "attack the gimp leg" effect. You're right in many ways about the rules encouraging attacks to a single spot. I guess we'll have to insert a rule in the new edition to balance that out. (Did I mention that the first edition is almost sold out...?)

Quote
Ok, so you're relying on the player forgetting when you announce the blow to his arm, that he doesn't have much armor on his arm...and for him to treat the blow nonchalantly the way he would if you were attacking his plated torso...


It does work. It may not with your players (which perhaps speaks highly of them), in which case don't use it. There is an element of creativity in the game--make up some more strategies (and send them to us).

I'll answer the rest later...I have to go off to my real job now.

Jake
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Jürgen Mayer
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« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2002, 07:53:33 AM »

Quote
Wow...things got exciting in here. The maneuver cards are actually an idea we've been playing with for a long time. What would most of y'all think about just putting them up online? That'd be the cheapest for everyone involved, and it wouldn't be too hard on our end.


Do that! It's a great idea!
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2002, 11:20:44 AM »

I just wrote a long answer to all the rest of Val's questions, but my computer crashed as I tried to upload them, so they're gone...I'll address them again later, but now I'm tired.

I've gotten a few inquiries concerning buying now or buying in August. The answer is that the current editon of the book is good and fine, and the bulk of things altered for august will be minor, consisting primarily of a re-edit. Anything not in the current edition will be available online when the August one hits the shelves.

I have also received several inquiries about limited editions. The leatherbound limited edtion is only available in the current printing. There are also not that many left (hey, it's limited).

What we will be doing is what we promised all along, which is continued expansion on the web. Instead of putting tons of new stuff in the up-and coming edition, we'll be putting it on the web as free supplementals.

So, in other words, "Buy now while supplies last."

Many regards and lots of happy gaming,

Jake
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2002, 01:12:27 AM »

Quote from: Jake
(Did I mention that the first edition is almost sold out...?)


I just helped in my small way toward that sell out. I picked up RoS today at Imperial Outpost, exactly where you said I could find it, Jake. The guy on duty there, Bob Pfeiffer, spoke high praise of the game, and mentioned playing with you personally, so I told him I'd drop his name here on the boards for you. He mentioned that the store would be starting up a tournament style game for RoS in the near future, as well.

As for the rules additions in the Revised Ed. how exactly will those be available? Will it be a simple errata file that one can print up and tuck into the book, or... what?

If you do the Cards, I'll use 'em, so count at least one potential user. As it is, I'm prolly gonna go hit the site to check out the Seneschal's Screen stuff here in a few.

For the rest, I can't really comment yet. I'm not even through Chapter 2 (switching back and forth between RoS and Sorceror, which I picked up today as well) but I'm sure I'll probably have some questions and clarifications to throw up here on the board once I'm through it all. I'm excited though, and when the D&D game I am playing in now winds down, I'm going to suggest, if I think I'm familiar enough with the system by then, a game of RoS to follow it. I suppose we'll see.
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sirjaguar
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2003, 12:00:14 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood

Quote

Since there is no aspect of you trying to outguess where I'm going to attack there is no penelty for being so obvious, and there is no advantage to the defender for knowing its coming.

So the rules are telling me "do this!"...but the designer is telling me "Its dull so GM's should discourage it"...

That doesn't sit well with me, I'm afraid.


I understand where you're coming from much better now. The wound rule was inserted to get the "attack the gimp leg" effect. You're right in many ways about the rules encouraging attacks to a single spot. I guess we'll have to insert a rule in the new edition to balance that out. (Did I mention that the first edition is almost sold out...?)



Here's a way to alleviate this problem (assuming you think it's a problem):

At the beginning of each round (not each exchange) and prior to any attack declarations,  a player can spend 1CP to get a two dice bonus to their defense of a specified arm or leg  Or they can spend 4CP to add their WIT or REFLEX (whichever is higher) to the defense of a specified limb.  Only one limb per round can be protected in this way.

If the specified limb is not attacked, the bonus (and the spent CP) are lost.  And, yes, if the character is on the defense twice in a round, he gets the bonus both times (assuming his protected limb is attacked both times).

The idea is the defender is anticipating his attacker's moves and trying to take advantage of them.  This is just a general concept and should be tweaked by rules masters (which I am not).  Maybe legs shouldn't be protectable in this manner, for the sake of realism.

Actually, a character who doesn't want his gimp arm or leg repeatedly attacked probably needs to evade or surrender.
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Lawson
 
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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2003, 03:32:31 PM »

I have a suggestion on how to make beats a bit more useful. What if when you attack with a beat it preforms just like a feint but only during the initial exchange? You declare your cut then after your opponent declares his defense you pay a cost to activate it. And to show experienced veterans from novices allow a battle skill check to notice the beat?


Also on the idea of cards, why can you not include a backing for them? That way they could be placed face down only showing your opponent the basic maneuver? OR you could keep the maneuver secret and guess the attack that is coming and receive a bonus die to you CP for the exchange if your guess is correct. Kind of like Flashing Blades, you guess what your opponent is doing and can get bonuses for anticipating the correct maneuver.

Keep in mind I have just finished READING the main book that I received about 4 days ago. I do not want to change anything without playing it first. These are simple suggestions that "could" help. I for one have never seen such a well designed and complete game in my life. I have no idea how the game plays yet as my group has just completed designing "test" characters and we will practice the system this Sunday. But from the excitement my players have shown this is going to be a great system. Anyway my rant is done......
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"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
-Roy Batty, Blade Runner
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