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Author Topic: [Society of Medieval Foam Combat.] Not an RPG but close  (Read 2413 times)
Necromantis
Member

Posts: 148


« on: January 11, 2011, 10:06:21 PM »

First off
the link

Ok. So where to start.
I was visiting my brother in Atlanta Ga. He had just started LARPing and repeatedly challenged me to come fight him in the backyard. I finally relented and found it to be fun, though I didn't enjoy any of the rules they set in the LARPs he is a part of. I just liked the combat. It was fun and really good exercise.

So my solution was this. I had been working on my own tabletop RPG for some time and was feeling comfortable with rules/mechanics.
Some of my friends and I started making weapons and fighting before the game on [tabletop rpg] game night.
This new SMFC activity was born from it.
We now get together once or twice a week for about 2-3 hours per game.

Here's the part where I am having trouble.

Using the unfinished rules that I posted above (plus some that haven't been injected into the manual yet- which I am just learning how to use indesign and wanted to have a small project to work with) I wanted to know a couple of things.
1.Other than the typos and not being finished. How does it look? Keep in mind I have not taken on course on layout or design. Just me and my determination. It is purposely black and white. for printing.

2. Now on to the main question:

Everyone regardless of size gets 10 health points (hp)
weapons do anywhere from 1 to 4 natural damage.
What happens a lot in play is that we have to stop after been hit and calculate our health.
That's the problem. on the fly calculations.

if you get hit in the head, neck, chest, back, stomach, your weapon does double damage.
if you get hit with a "heavy blow" your weapon does double damage.
okay.. ummm.. Ii think an example makes this easier to grasp.

Ex. -- Long sword

a long sword does 3 natural damage.(theres a sticker on the bottom of the weapon to tell natural damage)
if...
you get hit with a long sword on the arm. leg, foot, or crotch without being a hard solid hit and it cost 3 health points
you get hit with a long sword on the arm. leg, foot, or crotch with a hard hit it cost 6 health points
you get hit with a long sword on the head (not face). chest,stomach, back, throat with a normal (not heavy) blow - it costs 6 hp
you get hit with a long sword on the head (not face). chest,stomach, back, throat with a heavy blow - its an instant kill.

now that may seem fine but if you get 2 blows back to back - one heavy blow and one regular -- its hard to just know how much health you have left or if your dead. Not to mention you are on the move.

We all really like the system but are there any improvements that might help with this sort of thing?
for now we just assume well get better in time.
We do play another type of game called "assumed armor" that a person can only be killed by striking a heavy blow to the "kill zones" (head, chest, etc)
but thats only when we want a really long match. Not something that we choose to do for every match.
In medieval times on the battlefield - kills happened in seconds - not minutes - we want to capture that.

Thanks,
Brent Carroll
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David Artman
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« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2011, 10:22:16 AM »

Best reply I can give you is to read my GLASS rules:
http://glasscutters.org/GLASS.pdf

In particular, I have some design rules for live-combat LARP, to whit:
1) All weapons do 1 point, with two exceptions (two-handed blow = 2; single-shot-per-reload projectiles = 2).
2) NOTHING makes weapon damage go up (except buying single-use-per-Reset Abilities).
3) The average person has 3 Health. Buying additional Health is pricey.
4) Real armor must be worn to get its benefits (exception via Abilities).

The point is just that, over a decade or more of LARPing (and foam fighting back in the mid-80s), I think it's madness to have multiple damage values. It means one has to make a lot of (noisy, chaotic) Calls; it leads to a lot of "close enough" calculations, which gyp some combatant types; and it makes for arms races, as players buy up damage, then defense, then damage, etc (and, thus, new players got no hope of doing much other than dieing a lot).

Some of that might not apply to your sport. But one might ask, "How much verisimilitude do you NEED, for a melee combat sport?" All that futzy math will more often than not end up being two or three or four hits to go down. So cut out all the math and give folks 3 or 4 Health, let weapons do 1, and play. If you want more verisimilitude, you can do Armor as Health points (more hits) or armor as "perfect defense" (a UK thing) which means any hits to armor are ignored. I do not like the latter, for GLASS, because it incentivizes everyone to wear a TON of armor and, thus, make attacks to exposed bits like necks, faces, head, joints, etc--kind of more dangerous than I like my sports.

Of course, another "sport combat" technique is the SCA's: hit a limb, lose the limb; hit a head or torso, lose the fight. Kind of silly in practice, I find, because (a) there's a pause after each hit while someone takes a knee or drops their shield and (b) you get a lot of folks fighting from one or both knees--munchkin on munchkin action, yo! ;)

Anyhow... hope this helps. I am guessing your brother has joined SOLAR... the game troupe/system which made me start to write GLASS because of all the dysfunction I saw in actual play, using their (D&D, tabletop-influenced) rules. (And SOLAR is a copy+some-changes of NERO, which is so fucked up it's got two warring rules committees!).
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Editor - Perfect, Passages
Necromantis
Member

Posts: 148


« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2011, 12:05:21 AM »

While I agree that making all weapons do the same damage would help the problem, I don't like the idea of a dagger doing the same damage as a greatmaul.
Therefore in my game a dagger does 1 and a greatmaul does 4.

I should mention that we play full force. a waiver is signed before playing. We hit hard. There has been blood drawn in 3 of the 5 games we've held.
to say that a normal Larp tap and and full un-pulled swing does the same damage creates a dynamic in the game that leads to dispute.
We have 3 levels of force (thought about a 4th but dropped it)
Glancing Blow - a tap - or getting hit with a non bladed part of a bladed weapon - for instance - the flat of an axe or the pole of a halberd - this does no damage
Striking Blow - a solid hit (something a kin to an allowed hard larp strike) - does natural weapon damage on "wound Zones" (limbs) and Double Damage on "kill zones" (Head neck chest back)
Heavy Blow - these sting. they make a player say "owe" - they bruise. These either kill or do double damage depending on location of strike.

Now I started off these games with a sort of fencing approach.
First to score 10 strikes wins.
with a break between each strike.
Like fencing - only "Kill Zone" strikes were worth 2 strikes.

This immediately Caused everyone to work for those kinds of strikes. Which was good. I kept that.
Meanwhile you had the guys that slowly wittled you down with leg strikes .. which was good too.

Now I tried something kind of like what you suggest. Making all weapons worth the same (or less of a dynamic spread)

I had
Daggers/short swords/spears/handaxe/1hand mace -- worth 1
Greatsword/longsword/arming sword/Great maul/ warhammer/flail/etc worth 2

Can you guess what happened? No one played with the maul or the great sword.
 No one played with the dagger - not even in the off hand.

Why? cause mauls and greats swords are slower.. but they do the same damage??
this is combat - this isn't roleplaying. People pick the weapon they do the most damage with.
Be that a dagger or a huge sword.

So after all that
my point is .. who would pick a lumbering weapon like a greatmaul against a man with a short sword and shield
if they do they same damage. hes gonna get chewed to pieces - even after that crushing blow to the shoulder that would nearly kill his opponent.
There is no incentive to pick a slow clumsy weapon like the maul or greatsword (much more nimble a beast though) if you cant
take a hit to the arm then kill your opponent with a single blow (which weve found works best so far)  if it does no more damage than a dagger.

everyone would pick the quickest lightest weapons they could and wed end up with a weak - storyless larp.
Not at all what we want. We would just go larp. (some of the guys do. They say the difference is like video games to tabletop- totally different)
Do you see my dilemma?
Now that is not to say you haven't been helpful. but I don't exactly know how to lower the numbers anymore and make the weapons dynamic.
I want there to be a reason you pick a weapon.
There are no weapons allowed that don't have a legit historical place in the middle ages
(or before-- how do we know there wasn't a guy using a gladius in the 1300s?).
theres no rapiers or for god sakes no damned "buster swords" as if any human being could wield that ugly hunk of metal.
no "drizzt's ??scimitars??" who thought that sabre wannabe could possibly be called scimitar? sorry off topic.

anyway. I appreciate the suggestions, it has to be looked at like a different game that what is currently used as LARPS.
too different. (even a cleaned up - modified larp like GLASS - Nice work btw)

SMFC is a full contact, serious workout, none-stop, sweatflinging, snotbubble popping, safety glasses crushing, medieval fight club

and we love it. However the insta-math is annoying.
math kills bloodlust.
With all that in mind.. any advice?
are we doomed to kick ass now and do math later?


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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2011, 02:45:52 AM »

What might shorten things is if weapons are more of an anti armour thing. So if an armour is classed as leather, say, weapon A does no damage to those spots, while weapon B: does one point. And no more than one point (in say a three hitpoint system), so as to avoid math. And you have tougher armour, but you have weapons that can still do damage through them. However, since it's only one point of damage regardless, that doesn't make them super extra desirable over a dagger.

Personally I'd also have rules for weapons available. Have scenarios, like your just not going to be carrying your great maul down an alley after drinking at the pub. It's going to be a selection of smaller weapons. Circumstance matters.
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David Artman
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2011, 09:42:03 AM »

I think I follow  your point about "big weapons should be big damage".

The thing is... that's not really how (modern) boffers or latex weapons work. Choosing a short weapon over a long doesn't actually offer any more speed (or vice versa). The trade-off is, simply, reach versus getting on the inside.

Dagger gets inside a polearm and the polearm can't do any damage (barging with the staff doesn't do "damage," though it might off-balance someone). Conversely, polearm can keep dagger at bay. Only the most RIDICULOUSLY long (or over-built) weapons are actually slower to use than your average foam broad sword. And two-handed swords use a totally different combat style than one-handed (which you may or may not permit--things like guard hooks and reaching up the blade to get leverage).

At least, that's my experience with foam combat. With live steel, it's a different situation, of course--but that's another thread.

Finally, most late-period weapons were invented to solve a particular defensive challenge, so maybe you can use that to distinguish them rather than a bunch of pointless math. Something like what Callan suggests:
* Only penetrating weapons can do 1 point of damage through plate (ex: pick or morningstar).
* Only penetrating or bludgeoning weapons can do 1 point of damage through chain (ex: rapier and mace).
* Only bludgeoning and slashing weapons can do 1 point of damage through hard leather (ex: maul and sword).

But that could be just as much of a bitch to track.

Alternately...  there's the time-tested and cinematic "fight until you think you're beat" method. Observers and social feedback quickly adjust the attitudes of folks who would "cheat" by staying up a bit longer... also, their opponent will reflect their own reluctance to admit defeat, by similarly rhinohiding until an equitable (or obvious) conclusion.

Anyhow... hope you can find what you want. It is starting to sound like an Impossible Thing Before Breakfast: High verisimilitude through varied damage but with no mental math. Maybe you should look into electronic methods to track hits, damage, and when to go down? (There's a thread in this forum that talks about just that... be prepared to spend some money... it's similar to electrifying fencing attire, basically.)
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2011, 01:26:15 PM »

Quote
It is starting to sound like an Impossible Thing Before Breakfast: High verisimilitude through varied damage but with no mental math.
Aye, a collision of possibly impossible to reconcile priorities was coming to my mind as well.

I was thinking instead of electronic, if you had small bags tapped to various sides of the body (and coloured roughly the same as the clothing they are taped to), they could be hit to burst open! And you could put water with red dye in it (if staining isn't an issue) or some sort of red confetti that disolves in the rain (so you don't leave a mess behind). And it'd look awesome! No more tracking of numbers.

Quote
Observers and social feedback quickly adjust the attitudes of folks who would "cheat" by staying up a bit longer
Personally I'll say I dislike this because observers themselves are likely to cheat because they work from their own bias (generally confirmation biases at that). What's the point of swinging foam swords if it comes down to whether someone thinks your cool or or not as to determine the battles conclusion?

What I like is where deeds come before opinion. All walk, no talk. But that's me.
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Necromantis
Member

Posts: 148


« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2011, 03:53:00 PM »

I really appreciate the thought you guys have put into this.

I'll try to touch on some points of misconception. These don't really have any bearing on the problem, but i'd just like to explain how what we do is a little different. I know I am not breaking new ground or anything. I just want you to know I am not (at all) picking at your objections. Just clarifying.

Quote
It is starting to sound like an Impossible Thing Before Breakfast: High verisimilitude through varied damage but with no mental math.
Yeah there will have to be a compromise.
I am currently seeking that.

Quote
The thing is... that's not really how (modern) boffers or latex weapons work. Choosing a short weapon over a long doesn't actually offer any more speed (or vice versa)....

I have build all the weapons that we use personally. all but the first few That I made are weighted to represent more realistic control.
Most are weighted on the point end of the weapon rather than the hilt end like other folks do it.
On PVC cores I do this by Gorilla Gluing an all thread rod or sawed off bolt down the tube. on Fiberglass cores. I superglue BBs and layers of duct tape to the "tip" end and no pommel weight. (lot of trial an error - especially everyone likes these skinnier more realistic looking models. best. despite there increase in price.
I have weighted flails and maces. (all thread)
My greatsword is my real Gem. Eventhough I truely HATE greatswords in life. I am proud of this monster.
even though its only weighs about 6 pounds (molded Lead heavily padded cross-guard)
shes a little wobbly towards the tip but definitely as unwieldy as i image a real great sword would be.
all the weight so far away from the fulcrum (the hand--not the center of balance where one would rotate the blade when making cuts)
and the ever-mentioned greatmaul. all that weight out on the end of a 48" haft. yeah definitely the most unweildy one of the bunch. also stings a bit to get hit with . haha.

anyway. they dont feel at all like those fun noodle models or the 5"x2" Thick Dagorhir looking things either. Now I cant say anything one way or the other for latex or Calimacil type blades for balance But my brother says he thinks we would break them with the way we hit.
anyway. I am not trained in martial combat so I don't know how well I have done on balance but I have put steps in to insure that people dont just make the absurdly light models my brothers group tends to favor.
so yeah....
Quote
long (or over-built) weapons are actually slower to use than your average foam broad sword
thats about right. overbuilt. hahaha. and not average either. ;)

Quote
Have scenarios, like your just not going to be carrying your great maul down an alley after drinking at the pub
I think scenarios would be a nice Idea.
So far its been choose your weapons based on what you want to fight with. Don't change your weapon based on what the other guys are using. You wouldn't be able to change so readily if you met them on the battlefield.
I think there could be some cool standard scenarios though up though I am not sure any would include leaving a pub. unless some of the guys had just left a pub and were tipsy. haha.

we have 6 games now.
Duel - this one is pretty easy to get. 1 on 1
Berserker - 1 guy against everyone. We usually make him vulnerable to only heavy blows to the kills zones and everyone else start with 5 health (depending on the number of people the berserker takes on)
Gauntlet. - new members have to "run the gauntlet" they get 20 Health and must take on 5 players 1 at a time using the same Heath pool.
Even teams - divide into teams. everyone has the same stats. 10 health - (both teams assume the same type of armor)
uneven teams - one team has more players than the other. and assumed armor (see above posts) is adjusted to make it more fair.
ex: heavy team(more players) assume no armor -- while -- light team (less players) assume they have on light armor (reduces weapon damaged by 1 natural damage -- Longsword does 2 instead of 3 -- dagger still does 1)
and Free for all - every man for them selves. Personally I hate these. Probably cause I suck at them. too much chaos.

Would be cool have to other ideas. Got any?

Quote
Insert Quote
What might shorten things is if weapons are more of an anti armour thing....
I like this idea. I like the realism of it. for instance making horizontal cuts against banded plate and a vertical cut against splint.
I think it would get just as complex and hard to decide in a split second.
So far none of us have any armor. The guys that larp either play barbarians or wizards or steampunk.
("sorry guys your steampowered arm canon cant be counted as a bracer - the metal parts could hurt someone or damage a weapon.")

The "no armor" rules do include (will include) wearing real armor. Real armor blocks all damage. (quilted gambeson does nothing)
but we are a fairly poor lot so I don't see a lot of that in the near future. its t-shirts and jeans (and hoodies right now)
there are a couple of things weve implemented during play - on the fly.. things like
a heavy blow to an opponents shield- makes them drop it - considering it to be broken.
or a heavy blow to the half of a "wooden" portion of a weapon (spear) with an edged weapon
(greatsword in our case) would be then treated like a quarterstaff or rendered useless (drop it)

so we kinda do that sort of thing. just not on the scale you suggest. I like the idea though. Good one Callan.

Quote
I am guessing your brother has joined SOLAR
No. he plays exadun (steampunk) and some other fantasy larp I dont remember the name of.. its small offshoot of his exadun people.
One of my guys played SOLAR but dropped it for playing SMFC because he "kept hitting people too hard in solar after fighting with us."
thats what he said anyway. I think he didnlt like the cost of solar - cause he hits like a feather.. really fast though. like "tap tap tap tap" your dead - damn hand axe.

Jesus I am longwinded.

Gonna stop here.

I guess I'll bring up the issue at our next game. (this coming monday)
in the meantime
Heres a link to the facebook page (hasn't caught on yet.. we just made it)
its has some pictures from out last game.
though it doesn't really count cause we were missing 7 guys.
ended up being more like sword and board practice.
anyone whos curious I'm the big guy with the red fox on his shield.

anyway.

thanks for the ideas. I'll be mulling them over.








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stefoid
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2011, 09:46:31 PM »

OK, hows this off the top of my head:

nominal HPs for each human player is 2.

damage is always 1 HP per well struck blow - glancing blows dont count.

If your immediate opponent has a BIG category weapon, halve your current HPs, rounded down.

If your immediate opponent has a  SMALL category weapon, double your current HPs.

Colour code your weapons for immediate category recognition.

Put some kind of accelerometer thingy in the end of each weapon such that it makes an audible noise if 'struck well' occurs.  Maybe something like a stiff short spring with ball bearing on the end, inside a metal tube, such that if enough force is exerted, the ball hits the side of the tube and goes TING!  Wouldnt work for thrust hits, but Ill leave that for the mechanical engineers.

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stefoid
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2011, 09:49:00 PM »

Make that 'rounded up', otherwise when a wounded human faces somebody with a BIG weapon, they immediately die of fright!  :)
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stefoid
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2011, 09:54:21 PM »

Armor:  anyone well struck in the head or torso is immediately dead regardless of the weapon, unless the location is armored, in which case they take normal damage.

not perfect, but maybe playable.
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Necromantis
Member

Posts: 148


« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2011, 10:38:46 PM »

Now theres an idea. keep the weapons the same but change Hp to fit. I'll try to play around with that. I am a tabletop kind of guy. so I'll fight a couple dozen fights in my mind and see how it fairs. best I can do Until monday (next meet)

Good outside-the-box thinking stephoid.
I think the best indicator of a stiff blow is the guy getting hit.
We have one cheater on the team (if you glaced at the pics - hes the biggest guy. the "fat viking")
-- the best way to get him to stop cheating is to knock the crap out of him.
a good "ouch" or expletive isn't easy to cover up. baring that I guess we could demand a showing of the "wound"
and the red splotch would tell the tale.

Some of the really good ideas that are a little out of our league would be the "dye/confetti packets" and the "spring dinger". device.
Considering I have over 40 weapons (including shields - if you dont think a shield is a weapon .. haha. fight me or Rosanna.. *grin*)
and I'd have to modify them all.
Would it be awesome to have .. say.. a shirt that you could hit and turn red? absolutely
a audible weapon? heck yeah. but unless Nerf or someone calls me with offers.. it doesn't look to be in the cards.
(rest assured that If they did call - i wouldn't take your credit -- you'd get a grin inducing email *wink*)

In attempt to less longwinded than usual.
Goodnight.
I'll let you know how it goes.

Brent. 
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stefoid
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2011, 04:30:12 AM »

If your weapon is capable of thrusting, you put a (2nd) spring dinger perpendicular to the thrust direction.  i.e. in the hilt perhaps.
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Necromantis
Member

Posts: 148


« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2011, 05:15:18 PM »

Make that 'rounded up', otherwise when a wounded human faces somebody with a BIG weapon, they immediately die of fright!  :)

I must have missed this when I read it last night.
It literally made me laugh out loud. The visual that is.
*wounded player runs screaming at an opponents back - sword raised high ready to strike*
*the opponent wheels around with a great maul in his fists. he raises it overhead only to watch the swordsman fall limp to the ground, his scream raising in pitch as it goes from battlecry to epic terror to death rattle to muffle be the sodden earth*


Of course It might not be as funny to those unfortunate souls lacking overactive imaginations.

-Brent
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Longwinded, Corny and Right.
SteveCooper
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2011, 04:22:53 PM »

It seems to me you might have better luck simulating medieval combat by picking some scenarios and trying to work out simplified rules for each scenario, then looking for commonalities.

In each period of history, people have tried to 'max the system' by choosing the best weapons and armour available. So design the systems so that the munchkin's choice is the actual choice made by real combatants.

For instance; start by designing 15th-century knight-on-knight combat. Those guys didn't use swords at all against each other. On foot they used pollaxes, and on horse, warhammers. Daggers came into play only during grappling, when you would wrestle someone to the ground then use the dagger to find a gap in the armour.

So, potential rules for that situation;

- Bladed weaons do no damage against plate armour.
- Plate-piercing weapons (pollaxe, warhammer) kill on the second good hit.
- Heavy Weapons (greatsword, mauls) force someone to step back if hit in the upper body, or fall if hit in the foot.
- Someone on the floor can be killed by a heavy weapon hit to the body, or a dagger if the attacker's open palm is on their chest.

Now look at another situation; 18th-century duellists. These guys typically chose rapier and an off-hand weapon like dagger, cloak, or mail glove. So what system makes rapier and dagger a good choice? How about...

- Thrusting weapons (rapiers, daggers, smallswords) kill on the first thrust against an enemy. Cuts do nothing significant.
- Rapier blades can be grabbed.
- Once the first lethal blow is struck, the fight continues for five seconds to see if the loser can force a draw.

Again, it's simple, but it should play realistically.

Then simply start combining the pieces, looking for points where you need to clarify how the rules fit together. So you might include these extra rule when blending the two;

- the 'five seconds to force a draw' rule doesn't apply if killed by heavy or plate-piercing weapons.
- a rapier hit to the leg forces someone to fall over for the rest of the fight.

The other thing I think I'd so is a bit of research into the weapons themselves. I've LARPed quite a lot in the UK, and also had the pleasure of handling this sword (the photo is not me) and I can say with confidence that real swords are quicker to swing than even very light LARP weapons such as the cavalry sabre here

Lastly -- please invest in helmets. Even the poorest peasant would have tried to get hold of headgear before going off to war, and for good reason. If you're swinging around concussion-causing, nose-breaking weapons, at least keep your face intact. ;)
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SteveCooper
Member

Posts: 19


« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2011, 04:32:26 PM »

even though its only weighs about 6 pounds (molded Lead heavily padded cross-guard)
shes a little wobbly towards the tip but definitely as unwieldy as i image a real great sword would be.
all the weight so far away from the fulcrum

That's about the right weight but a greatsword shouldn't be unweildy. I've trained with longswords (~48in) at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, and they move like you wouldn't believe. The balance point is about a hand-span down the blade from the crossguard. A greatsword shouldn't be much different. Again, the real ones are faster than any LRP weapon I've ever used.
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