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Author Topic: Realism and combat  (Read 17453 times)
Ariakas
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« on: June 08, 2002, 01:21:29 AM »

Greetings, everyone. I have come to address the matter of tRoS's combat system and the realism it seeks to create when in action.

Every FRPG I've ever seen has the players trying to get the biggest weapons they can find and effortlessly chop up the opposition with them. The use of, say, unarmed attacks or a small weapon, like a dagger, is almost unheard of, save for when one needs to conceal a weapon or only knock a foe out instead of kill him.

I've played around with tRoS's combat system and I think it's great. However, as a combat system geared toward realism, I have a slight problem with it. You see, every weapon is considered equal in that anyone can pick up and use any weapon as proficiently as any other weapon. As such, anyone going into battle with a dagger to face someone with, say, a polearm, is pretty much screwed no matter what. Because of this, I have devised a method to 'balance' the game's weapons. The idea is not to make it so that no weapon is superior to another, but rather to take into consideration that some weapons are just easier to use than others. Take your fists, for example. You've always got them (usually), and most anyone can fight someone with them. Now, take something heavier, like a maul. Naturally, no one uses a maul as skillfully as they do their fists.

Anyway, this method of mine involves adding an activation cost to actions made with larger weapons. I'll leave the exact rules on this up to you guys. Attacking bare-handed or with a dagger might not require any activation cost, but swinging that big heavy maul might require you to spend 2 or 3 extra dice to use it proficiently. I realize that adding expenses in this manner to someone's attack doesn't make the system any more realistic speed-wise, but it does reflect the increased difficulty to use bigger, heavier weapons proficiently.

When I tried this method of mine, the players told me it was great that they could finally select the weapons they wanted to use, and not just the most damaging one they could find. It seems to have added another level of realism to the combat system; using it, a player's choice of weapon can have greater ramifacations on how he fares in battle, and that's how I think it should be. After all, who would try to fence with a two-handed greatsword?

Well, that's my take on the whole realistic combat thing. As for the system, it's great, with or without my new rules. Keep up the excellent work.
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Lance D. Allen
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Posts: 1962


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« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2002, 04:51:47 AM »

Hi Ariakas,

I think you make a valid point. A friend of mine, an SCA fighter, mentions that if you are using a greatsword, and you miss, you may not get another shot if your opponent is using a lighter weapon, due to the weight. I sorta discounted that, and didn't think much of it until you brought it back up.. Fact is, you're probably right. If you HIT with the greatsword, game over, most likely, for me. If you miss though, that'll give me time to get in there and nail you, because you're trying to get your sword back around to parry. For this, I would propose the following rules additions to mass weapons and certain types of polearms, and when slashing only...

You do not get a penalty to attack CP on the first action after an initiative roll. This reflects that you have your weapon ready to strike, and can get it into play pretty quickly.

If you miss an attack due to a dodge, you get a penalty to defense CP on the next action, whilst you bring your weapon back into position. Say, 1 or 2 CP, tops. This only counts if you are defending with the weapon, though.

If B beats A's successes by a margin of two or more, then A gets a penalty equal to half of B's success margin, rounded down, on his defense next round. Again, this only applies to defending with the weapon, not dodging or blocking with a shield.

If both attack simultaneously, mass weapons get a -1 die on their reflex roll for determining initiative.

But then again, after taking a look at the weapons and their ATNs/DTNs, I think most of my suggestions are unnecessary. The ATN/DTN of heavier, harder to use weapons is higher, which I believe reflects the speed at which they are wielded. Likewise, the shortsword and punch have low ATN/DTNs to reflect that they are easy to use.

Eh, I dunno. It could go either way, I guess. It would depend on how you choose to run things, and your overall familiarity with actual combat techniques, and the advantages/disadvantages of light -vs- heavy weapons. Jake, care to shed some light on this?

One thing I do think is odd, upon further inspection, is the high ATN for daggers, though. Admittedly, they would be difficult weapons to use against a larger weapon, but that is reflected by the length penalties, I think. Two dagger fighters would, I think, fare about as well as two brawlers, though the results would be much bloodier.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2002, 06:08:04 AM »

Quote from: Ariakas
Greetings, everyone. I have come to address the matter of tRoS's combat system and the realism it seeks to create when in action.

Every FRPG I've ever seen has the players trying to get the biggest weapons they can find and effortlessly chop up the opposition with them. The use of, say, unarmed attacks or a small weapon, like a dagger, is almost unheard of, save for when one needs to conceal a weapon or only knock a foe out instead of kill him.

I've played around with tRoS's combat system and I think it's great. However, as a combat system geared toward realism, I have a slight problem with it. You see, every weapon is considered equal in that anyone can pick up and use any weapon as proficiently as any other weapon. As such, anyone going into battle with a dagger to face someone with, say, a polearm, is pretty much screwed no matter what. Because of this, I have devised a method to 'balance' the game's weapons. The idea is not to make it so that no weapon is superior to another, but rather to take into consideration that some weapons are just easier to use than others. Take your fists, for example. You've always got them (usually), and most anyone can fight someone with them. Now, take something heavier, like a maul. Naturally, no one uses a maul as skillfully as they do their fists.

Anyway, this method of mine involves adding an activation cost to actions made with larger weapons. I'll leave the exact rules on this up to you guys. Attacking bare-handed or with a dagger might not require any activation cost, but swinging that big heavy maul might require you to spend 2 or 3 extra dice to use it proficiently. I realize that adding expenses in this manner to someone's attack doesn't make the system any more realistic speed-wise, but it does reflect the increased difficulty to use bigger, heavier weapons proficiently.

When I tried this method of mine, the players told me it was great that they could finally select the weapons they wanted to use, and not just the most damaging one they could find. It seems to have added another level of realism to the combat system; using it, a player's choice of weapon can have greater ramifacations on how he fares in battle, and that's how I think it should be. After all, who would try to fence with a two-handed greatsword?

Well, that's my take on the whole realistic combat thing. As for the system, it's great, with or without my new rules. Keep up the excellent work.


It's been my experience that the "Biggest Weapon Theory" doesn't hold in tRoS as-is. But, hey, whatever suits you.

You mention fencing with a two-handed Greatsword.

I feel a combat example coming on.

As it turns out, that's not the greatest idea in tRoS.

I'm going to put Greatsword Joe (who KNOWS that Greatswords are the best thing ever) with 8 CP (and all relevant attribs 4) up against Jack Rapier (uses a Rapier and Buckler), with a similar CP in a shirtsleeves duel over Jack's Mother's Honor.

Now, Joe read his tRoS manual, and thus cautiously chooses a defensive stance, unwittingly telegraphing his die throw.

Jack also chooses to telegraph by taking the Agressive stance.

Dice are thrown.

White. Red (Jack was angry, and he just wants to stick this sumbiatch.)

Jack chooses a straightforward Thrust-to-end-all thrusts: nine dice to the chest (zone XII.) Since he lost a die to Joe's reach, this drains his combat pool: A bold move.

Joe uses his defensive stance to full effect, tossing ten dice for a defensive parry.

Jack rolls against his ATN 5 and gets the (strangely unrandom) result of [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9], yielding 5 successes.

Joe rolls against his DTN 7 and gets the (remarkably similar) result of [10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1], yielding a mere four sucesses.

OH MY GOD! JOE FAILED THE PARRY.

This is going to hurt.

The Rapier's base damage (in my manual, anyway) is STR + 3 (+margin) for a total of 8.

Joe isn't wearing armor, and thus only reduces the damage by his toughness (4.)

A d6 is thrown: 6

Hm.

Chest Shot.

Blood Loss 19
Shock: 13 (bye-bye Combat Pool)
Pain: 13-WP(4): 9 (eh. Double bye-bye Combat Pool)

"Punctured lung with, with serious internal bleeding, death from drowning is very likely."

This duel is clearly over.

On further examination, you will see that Joe was dead the minute he took on a Rapierman with a Greatsword and without armor. Even had he gone offensive, the BEST result he could realistically have hoped for was simply to take Jack with him.

Joe is wising up. He'll use the insight from this one to make a Sorceror who will Smite Jack Rapier. :)
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2002, 06:14:17 AM »

Quote from: Wolfen

One thing I do think is odd, upon further inspection, is the high ATN for daggers, though. Admittedly, they would be difficult weapons to use against a larger weapon, but that is reflected by the length penalties, I think. Two dagger fighters would, I think, fare about as well as two brawlers, though the results would be much bloodier.


Eh. Actually, parrying or blocking a Dagger is quite difficult.

Usually it's just more effective to stick the guy. (why isn't Thrust a defensive maneuver?)

Thus why Dagger fights are usually quite short. :)

I dunno about the high ATNs though. Maybe Jake can explain the thinking on that?
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2002, 06:24:01 AM »

Quote
You see, every weapon is considered equal in that anyone can pick up and use any weapon as proficiently as any other weapon.


No.  The manuevers available can be very different.  A dagger guy is punching & grappling also: a polearm guy has none of that.

Weapons also have social differences: it's a lot easier to walk into an inn with a dagger than with a polearm.

As to your main point about mass, I think that's covered by the ATNs and DTNs of the weapons. (e.g. Maul = A8/D10, Fist = A5/D6) You may have an argument that, say, daggers aren't given their due, but I think your overall modifications are excessive.

What you may consider is a minimum strength to use these weapons effectively.  Obviously Grandma w/her str of 2 shouldn't be tossing a maul about, even if she is fantastic w/the rolling pin.

Quote
After all, who would try to fence with a two-handed greatsword?


People did fence with two-handed greatswords: http://www.thehaca.com/manuals.htm, look especially down the page at "Goliath":

Quote
Anonymous English manuscript from the late-1400s/early-1500s - Goliath. A significant work covering unarmored great-sword combat and wrestling.


More generally, if you want to make a case for changes to the system, I think you owe it to yourself to check out the background for the system available at the main riddle site.  You may disagree, but they do present a large amount of documentation for the combat system; frankly, tons more than most any other game.

-Jeff
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Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2002, 06:45:59 AM »

As mild counter to what Bob wrote:

- The rapier is a wonder weapon.  In fact, there's been some discussion on this board that the rapier a) has too high a damage bonus in general, and b) is far too effective against heavy armor.  For now, take it out of the running, and the greatsword/longsword fares somewhat better, but will still lose to cut & thrust styles in no-armor matches.

- The greatsword is really best used when everybody's got lots of armor on.  Then you can take the hits, and have the power to dish some out yourself.

- In point of fact, armor changes the game.  For my money, mass & shield is the best system in the game once you get heavily armored opponents.  Sword & shield may be the best "generic" form of combat.  All others shine more in some circumstances than others. (Pugilism's great in a barroom brawl.)

-Jeff
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Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2002, 06:58:21 AM »

Quote from: Jaif
As mild counter to what Bob wrote:

- The rapier is a wonder weapon.  In fact, there's been some discussion on this board that the rapier a) has too high a damage bonus in general, and b) is far too effective against heavy armor.  For now, take it out of the running, and the greatsword/longsword fares somewhat better, but will still lose to cut & thrust styles in no-armor matches.


-Jeff


There's a reason it was a favored dueling sword for some three centuries or so in Europe (from near its invention to the death of sword-dueling.)

The Rapier is lethal (no bones about it) on a thrust, and difficult to defend against. Its overall damage bonus seems quite correct to me.

But, yes, as it stands, it is overly effective against armor. When meeting heavy armor, a Rapier has two options: 1) Bend. 2) Break.

I think I'd put an upper bound on Rapier Damage (8 or 9) and *MAYBE* drop the thrust damage to STR + 2.

The problems of Rapier interaction with armor were why I specified that it was a shirtsleeves duel. I didn't want to mess with it.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Jaif
Member

Posts: 327


« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2002, 07:34:08 AM »

Quote
There's a reason it was a favored dueling sword for some three centuries or so in Europe (from near its invention to the death of sword-dueling.)


Agreed.  When I called it a wonder weapon, I was referring to that.  The point being that you can put most weapons in the game up against the rapier in a 1-on-1, no armor situation and the result should, and likely will, go to the rapier.

aside - big rapier discussion: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2196&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=rapier&start=0

I've searched, but can not find one thing.  I believe Jake said that they were officially reducing the rapier's damage to +2, and allowing it to feint starting w/a thrust.  He also (in the thread I referenced) seemed keen on the idea of reducing damage further against heavy armors, but I'm not sure he went the distance for that one.  As far as I'm concerned, the heavy armor issue & feints are the important ones, and the damage is obviously debatable, though I tend to favor +2.

-Jeff

P.S. Frankly, I'd treat the rapier as the exact opposite of a mass weapon, so it would have (say) a -2 against hard armors, and a -x shock.
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Jake Norwood
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Posts: 2261


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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2002, 08:11:04 AM »

I agree with the rapier mods for armor. Pretty much all of them.

As for the SCA guy talking about the non-elegance of the greatsword...

Bullcrap. The greatsword is blindingly fast in the hands of someone who has trained with it, not just "played" with it. I used to belong to the SCA a few years back, and while I'm glad they're having a good time, they're also just playing a game, and rarely is there any real training or historical technique in what they do. My attempt is NOT to bash the SCA, but to kinda boldly sorta say that SCA experience is really pretty much moot when discussing real fighting with real weapons...any of them. If you want more details private message me. I had a wonderful time fighting and goofing off with the SCA guys, but it isn't a martial art.

As discussed the ATN/DTN issue covers things like mass and clumsyness of weapons. There is not need at all for additional die penalties. Every weapon in TROS is modelled as best as we could according to real models. Long recovery time for a maul? You allready paid for it when you used 4 more dice than usual for an attack, draining next exchanges' possible defense. You want to use a dagger vs. a polearm...right... Are you looking for realism or cinematism? I love both, but the distinction is important. Daggers vs. Polarms are for the brave, stupid, or Riddle-masters. In a cinematic game, though, that might be fun.

The high ATN of a dagger...yeah, it's probably a bit excessive. I'm considering dropping it by one in my home games now that I've begun to train weekly with the dagger. On the other hand, it's still easier to grap or punch a guy than to knife him (get some rubber knives, read some of the dagger plates from thearma.org, and go out and try it with a friend...you'll see what I mean). Part of the difficulty isn't sticking your opponent, but doing that in a way that keeps you less open. That's part of the ATN, too--not just attacking, but attacking wisely.

Anyway, this is a great thread. Keep it up.

Jake
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Lance D. Allen
Member

Posts: 1962


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« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2002, 08:32:45 AM »

Quote
As for the SCA guy talking about the non-elegance of the greatsword...

Bullcrap. The greatsword is blindingly fast in the hands of someone who has trained with it, not just "played" with it.


I overemphasized my point, mostly by omission, methinks. What was said was that, all things being relatively equal (size, speed, skill and armor of the opponents) that if a greatsword misses, a lighter weapon can use the split-second to get in and strike while the greatsword is coming back into play. He was not at all denigrating the greatsword, considering that it was one of his favorite weapons.

Quote
If you want more details private message me. I had a wonderful time fighting and goofing off with the SCA guys, but it isn't a martial art.


Actually, been intending to do just that...
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Bob Richter
Member

Posts: 324


« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2002, 08:50:18 AM »

Quote from: Jaif
Quote
There's a reason it was a favored dueling sword for some three centuries or so in Europe (from near its invention to the death of sword-dueling.)


Agreed.  When I called it a wonder weapon, I was referring to that.  The point being that you can put most weapons in the game up against the rapier in a 1-on-1, no armor situation and the result should, and likely will, go to the rapier.

aside - big rapier discussion: http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2196&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=rapier&start=0

I've searched, but can not find one thing.  I believe Jake said that they were officially reducing the rapier's damage to +2, and allowing it to feint starting w/a thrust.  He also (in the thread I referenced) seemed keen on the idea of reducing damage further against heavy armors, but I'm not sure he went the distance for that one.  As far as I'm concerned, the heavy armor issue & feints are the important ones, and the damage is obviously debatable, though I tend to favor +2.

-Jeff

P.S. Frankly, I'd treat the rapier as the exact opposite of a mass weapon, so it would have (say) a -2 against hard armors, and a -x shock.


Hm. I like treating it like a Scimitar-on-the-cut. That's better than what I was thinking of, and would yield fairly realistic results.

The damage for the Rapier _has_ been officially decreased to +2 (I forget where that one is, too.) I was just going with what's in my book, 'cause I'm not sure what ELSE is going to change before the August edition.
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So ye wanna go earnin' yer keep with yer sword, and ye think that it can't be too hard...
Bankuei
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« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2002, 10:15:59 AM »

Quote
the high ATN of a dagger...yeah, it's probably a bit excessive. I'm considering dropping it by one in my home games now that I've begun to train weekly with the dagger. On the other hand, it's still easier to grap or punch a guy than to knife him (get some rubber knives, read some of the dagger plates from thearma.org, and go out and try it with a friend...you'll see what I mean).


Actually, coming from a martial art that specializes in daggers, the main cause of that is that most people stick for the body/head.  Knives are great defensively and offensively if you go for arms until you close in, then start for the meatier targets.  Of course, I definitely would drop the ATN on knives, because they are not that much harder to use than your fists, it just requires a slightly different mentality on how to apply them.  

Chris
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Ace
Member

Posts: 204


« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2002, 10:42:39 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
Quote
the high ATN of a dagger...yeah, it's probably a bit excessive. I'm considering dropping it by one in my home games now that I've begun to train weekly with the dagger. On the other hand, it's still easier to grap or punch a guy than to knife him (get some rubber knives, read some of the dagger plates from thearma.org, and go out and try it with a friend...you'll see what I mean).


Actually, coming from a martial art that specializes in daggers, the main cause of that is that most people stick for the body/head.  Knives are great defensively and offensively if you go for arms until you close in, then start for the meatier targets.  Of course, I definitely would drop the ATN on knives, because they are not that much harder to use than your fists, it just requires a slightly different mentality on how to apply them.  

Chris


Are you practicing Arnis or Escrima? Just curious.
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Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2002, 10:56:28 AM »

Quote
Are you practicing Arnis or Escrima? Just curious.


Neither, Penjak Silat.  Our fighting range is closer than the filipino arts.  Escrima range is "long range" for us :)

Chris
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Ace
Member

Posts: 204


« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2002, 11:25:32 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
Quote
Are you practicing Arnis or Escrima? Just curious.


Neither, Penjak Silat.  Our fighting range is closer than the filipino arts.  Escrima range is "long range" for us :)

Chris


Yowza! Well I officially (using my mighty earlier adopter powers) draft you to write it up for us.

Seriously though IIRC Pentjak Silat is one of the only martial arts that emphasizes fighting on different terrain. I wonder if there is a way to model that for The Riddle?

I thought the use of theknife (a kris isn't it)was secondary to unarmed techniques? Are there different style varients or is that a misconception of mine
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