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Combat as a single roll

Campbell

Relaxed Intensity
There are some games like Blades in the Dark or Cortex Heroic that pretty much treat armed conflict the same way they treat any conflict.

I have seen other games (mostly Powered By The Apocalypse and Gum Shoe) that treat other sorts of conflicts with more depth than combat.

Masks, Power Beyond Doubt, Urban Shadows, and Monsterhearts all focus much more on relationships, emotional states, and social ties. They have elaborate systems backing up the social environment, but often only have a single move for physical confrontation. These physical confrontation moves often emphasize its social dimensions.

Night's Black Agents and Trail of Cthulhu both focus way more on investigation than violent conflicts.

I am familiar with some games that have rules for resolving conflicts with a single dice roll or contest (Burning Wheel, Chronicles of Darkness). That usually is not the default resolution method.
 

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dragoner

Dying in Chargen
How are attack/defense factors typically done in RPGs?
You're right in that it could probably easily reduced to a 4 attack factor or something, but generally I find that it gets pretty involved with choosing weapons, armor, bonuses, etc..
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
Anytime a bad roll makes the game hugely unfun, it’s a bad plan. . .
I'm questioning your first assertion. I had a lot of fun playing AD&D 2nd ed. but it was pretty easy to fail a saving throw and effectively get kicked out of the game. Not sure it matters though, since you were responding to a straw-man argument that didn't fully account for the OP.

I like the resource-use approach, though I'm not sure I like the evaluation of the roll in the Forry example. One could use hit points, too. Roll high, gain 5 HP. Roll low, lose 5 HP. What if a PC is out of resources, and he fails his Let's-Move-Along roll?
i played a lot of AD&D too, and a few unforgiving campaigns. But that was the expectation, so losing a character wasn’t hugely unfun. I’m really thinking about game systems where the social contact is that you will win unless unlucky AND foolish, which is most systems nowadays. But agree, beside the point.

I got good mileage out of surge loses in 4E as a penalty, but it was in the context of only doing It occasionally, not as the main resolution technique. Also no vampires or weird builds that would disproportionately be harmed. Definitely not a universal solution, more of a toolkit thing to bring out when you have 90 minutes left and want the upcoming combat to be over fast so you can get to the cool fight.

i didn’t ever use it in a critical situation, as it’s a shortcut, and not supposed to be game-changing. If I accidentally did so, I’d probably change the effect into some other resource loss — you used up any remaining daily powers, your sword is damaged and will be at -2 until you get a chance to mend it — whatever seems reasonabLe. The basic thought is that when you play a crunchy combat game, and you want to one-roll through it, make the roll cause resource attrition; not resource destruction, but attrition, so the cushion going into the fun fight at the end is less comfortable.
 

pemerton

Legend
There's already been mention of HeroWars/Quest and Burning Wheel which are two of the first I thought of.

Maelstrom Storytelling is another one. So is Prince Valiant - though like the two mentioned above it also permits extended resolution.
 

Psikerlord#

Explorer
I play RPGs for the fun combat. A one roll win/lose mechanic would mean combat is over waaaaay too fast for me. 20 min combat, awesome, perfect! 2 min combat wrapped into a single dice roll with no depth? No thank you.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I play RPGs for the fun combat. A one roll win/lose mechanic would mean combat is over waaaaay too fast for me. 20 min combat, awesome, perfect! 2 min combat wrapped into a single dice roll with no depth? No thank you.
Sure. If you play RPGs for the combat, this definitely isn't an idea for you. As I said, it would only suit rules-lite games which don't have a combat focus.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
As I said, it would only suit rules-lite games which don't have a combat focus.
And, I'll repeat that the rules-lite part of this isn't really true.

In general, in D&D, social conflicts are managed as "you talk, roll a persuasion or intimidation check, and here's the result." However, the rest of the game is hardly "rules lite".

There is no reason, a priori, that this cannot be flipped - that interpersonal and/or exploratory efforts were rules-complex, but combat was simple.
 

Plane Sailing

Astral Admin - Mwahahaha!
The recent ‘yellow king’ RPG from Pelgrane has an interesting single roll to handle conflicts involving multiple participants. I‘ve not played it, but it looks interesting
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
I play RPGs for the fun combat. A one roll win/lose mechanic would mean combat is over waaaaay too fast for me. 20 min combat, awesome, perfect! 2 min combat wrapped into a single dice roll with no depth? No thank you.
A one-roll combat could mean that you could spend twenty minutes slicing through a horde of orcs (the ones with equal capabilities and temperaments to elves, dwarves, and humans, of course) instead of spending four hours fighting that horde. One opponent, one roll.

For reference, here's how long it would take Boromir:
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Interesting.

If I were doing this in D&D it might work like this:

Players’ team picks one champion to make the check. That champion outlines some stakes. We’re gonna want to know what they want to achieve on a success or a fail. Kill all the enemies? Drive off all the enemies? Hold position long enough for something else to happen? On a loss do they intend to flee? To hang back and cover their allies’ escape? Surrender?

And what’s the DC? I think adding up all the CRs of all the enemy combatants might be a place to start. Might need an 8+ all CRs.

And what’s the check? For a fighter it might be a melee weapon attack plus 1 for each attack they can make (including whether they choose to use action surge). For a wizard it might be an arcana check plus one for each spell level of a spell slot they choose to cast (fireball would be a +3, for instance).

Obviously I haven’t tested any of this but it seems close to workable. I think instead of HP, I’d use exhaustion or an injury track like exhaustion with an extra level for each point of CON modifier. Or I guess we could roll on the level-appropriate-damage table that the DM screen has.

Once the check is resolved, we have a new scene with a new question to address. If you win, are you pursuing and can you catch your pursuers before they regroup or alert their allies? If you lost can you evade capture and escape? Or, are you left for dead while your allies escape? And can they get around back to you to heal you before you kick it? (I assume baddies generally aren’t gonna double-tap).

Curious. Might work. Might even speed up PBP considerably. That’d be interesting.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
Rather than have an entire set of rules with armor and hit points and attack rolls and movement and stuff, I was musing over the idea of combat being just a single roll. The loser is defeated.

It would need to be in a rules-lite game, and one which doesn't have a combat focus. And defeat would have to be defined as not necessarily being death - it could be surrender, KO, fleeing, etc.

Conceptually it's easy to say, of course; in practice there would be challenges to making such a system. But it would certainly help those who find combat in RPGs a bit on the boring side. A fight is no more involved than picking a lock or climbing a wall.

It does mean PCs might lose very quickly though. Needs thought!
Standard option in Burning Wheel.

useful, doesn't need to be rules light. Definitely not for everyone, and even for most fans, one occasionally wants more depth.
 

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