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Help Wanted - Fans of Combat Mechanics

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Alright. I’ll check out the video. I don’t have anyone to play test my system with (which is kind of why im here). But I’m gonna keep posting in case someone else comes along in the next few who thinks it might be worth looking into. Failing that I’ll move on.

Edit - regarding “slowing down combat mechanics,” that depends on what you mean. I think the mechanics of the combat will move along very quickly - faster than say, a round of 1v1 combat in D&D. But the combat itself will last much longer because each moment of the combat is dealt with. The combat will tell its own story based on the math with the GM only adding flavor to each exchange.

I do not play d&d, there are many other games with better and more interesting combat mechanics, it is a very low bar to beat.

A fundamental problem that I can see in what you are trying to do is, for you:

rolling dice to resolve something results in adding to an abstraction, (eg. "momentum") ...
that abstraction (momentum) may later be used in another die roll which may then result in something happening.

This is what immediately strikes me, is what you are doing is layering abstraction upon abstraction, this is what makes it slow and confusing. What you could be doing is - make something happen - with each player action. How detailed that "something" is you can tune to how detailed you want the system. Having nothing tangible happen is one of the problems with what you are trying to do. The other problem you have is describing how the thing works, it is largely incomprehensible from the way you have written it. Sorry if I am blunt. My number one recommendation is to simply read and play more RPGs.
 

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Sam Crow

Villager
I do not play d&d, there are many other games with better and more interesting combat mechanics, it is a very low bar to beat.

A fundamental problem that I can see in what you are trying to do is, for you:

rolling dice to resolve something results in adding to an abstraction, (eg. "momentum") ...
that abstraction (momentum) may later be used in another die roll which may then result in something happening.

This is what immediately strikes me, is what you are doing is layering abstraction upon abstraction, this is what makes it slow and confusing. What you could be doing is - make something happen - with each player action. How detailed that "something" is you can tune to how detailed you want the system. Having nothing tangible happen is one of the problems with what you are trying to do. The other problem you have is describing how the thing works, it is largely incomprehensible from the way you have written it. Sorry if I am blunt. My number one recommendation is to simply read and play more RPGs.
Not at all. You did exactly what I asked which is tell me if you think it’s a splat, so you’re on record.
 

Bilharzia

Fish Priest
You can get more and better feedback and guidance from:
and
 

pemerton

Legend
@Sam Crow

I think your system is potentially interesting. I wouldn't worry too much at this stage about criticisms of your exposition - it could be improved but I found it clear enough and was able to get the general gist. Setting out the action and resolution process in dot point form might help. Or charts for the different defensive options (eg what gear is needed?; how is the withdrawal handled?; what posture can it be used in?; etc).

One thing I missed - does using Block force the character into defensive posture?

Another thing I missed - what is the significance of shifting between postures?

A third thing - how is action declaration handled?

And a suggestion: your system is close to, though not identical to, Burning Wheel's detailed melee resolution system, Fight! I would suggest you might want to look at that.

Some features of BW:
  • action declaration is blind, mutual, and extends for 3 volleys (each volley normally has one or two actions);
  • it is possible to change declared actions down the track, but this soaks actions;
  • there are three "postures" - called "stances" in BW - aggressive, defensive and neutral: being in aggressive stance penalises defensive actions and augments attacks; vice versa for defensive stance; and neutral stance imposes no modifications;
  • changing stances itself costs an action;
  • BW doesn't have an analogue to your momentum, but it does have positioning - the rules for this have changed over editions, and I'm more familiar with the 2004 (Revised edition) version, which requires an opposed check at the top of each volley (which does not itself count as an action) to determine (depending on who tries to do what and who wins the check) whether the distance between fighters opens, closes or is maintained (weapon length is an important factor here),
 

Conceptual Summary

In every mortal combat, there’s a tale of terrible beauty so compelling that it stands, alone, as its own story.​

Here is where you lost me. If you have seen people die violently, there's no terrible beauty, and it is not compelling.

Beyond that, Aramis said it best: your jargon is far, far too thick. I used and enjoyed Phoenix Command, Millennium's End, and Riddle of Steel, BTW.

But I commend your efforts. (y)
 

Sam Crow

Villager
@Sam Crow

I think your system is potentially interesting. I wouldn't worry too much at this stage about criticisms of your exposition - it could be improved but I found it clear enough and was able to get the general gist. Setting out the action and resolution process in dot point form might help. Or charts for the different defensive options (eg what gear is needed?; how is the withdrawal handled?; what posture can it be used in?; etc).

One thing I missed - does using Block force the character into defensive posture?

Another thing I missed - what is the significance of shifting between postures?

A third thing - how is action declaration handled?

And a suggestion: your system is close to, though not identical to, Burning Wheel's detailed melee resolution system, Fight! I would suggest you might want to look at that.

Some features of BW:
  • action declaration is blind, mutual, and extends for 3 volleys (each volley normally has one or two actions);
  • it is possible to change declared actions down the track, but this soaks actions;
  • there are three "postures" - called "stances" in BW - aggressive, defensive and neutral: being in aggressive stance penalises defensive actions and augments attacks; vice versa for defensive stance; and neutral stance imposes no modifications;
  • changing stances itself costs an action;
  • BW doesn't have an analogue to your momentum, but it does have positioning - the rules for this have changed over editions, and I'm more familiar with the 2004 (Revised edition) version, which requires an opposed check at the top of each volley (which does not itself count as an action) to determine (depending on who tries to do what and who wins the check) whether the distance between fighters opens, closes or is maintained (weapon length is an important factor here),
Whew this is as close as I've gotten to something encouraging so far lol so thanks!

My plan is to have a post each for each of the maneuvers, concepts etc. and link to them in a ToC at the top of the thread. In fact at this stage I should probably replace the conceptual summary with a ToC and the mechanical summary with an FAQ and FLC (Frequently Leveled Criticisms) since they're so bad and really seem to set things off on the wrong foot.

I'll put posts that answer your questions in more detail but, for now:

1. Block doesn't put you into defensive posture.
2. Each posture has its own options and limitations. So if you switch between them you can or can't do this or that.
3. The winner of an exchange gets to declare and act first in the next exchange.

I've listened to a couple videos on Burning Wheel but haven't yet read Fight! I did watch the video recommended yesterday on Ubiquity, which has dice that would be perfect for what I'm trying to do.

Oh Edit - about the bullet points...for sure! I actually hope to do a cheat sheet in which each maneuver/posture/etc. has bullet points summarizing it for easy reference.
 
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Sam Crow

Villager
Don't give up.

And also: don't expect an outpouring of love. Gamers are a tough audience.
Haha I appreciate that! And yeah I literally basically said “If this sucks tell me.” So far the critique seems to have mostly to do with presentation, which I think I can fix. I think it’s too early to know if the whole thing is flawed at its foundation or if it’s too crunchy. I’m still confident it’s gonna be okay on that part.
 

Sam Crow

Villager
Attacking – Offensive Posture

Description


When you are ready and able to attack, you may enter offensive posture, and the very act of attacking puts you in offensive posture. As with defensive posture, offensive posture has its own options and limitations. They are:​
  • Except for the counterattack, attacking is only possible from an offensive posture.​
  • Momentum can only be built in offensive posture.​
  • You cannot recover ardor or avoidance in offensive posture.​
  • You cannot parry in offensive posture.​
  • If you are successfully parried and then counterattacked, you remain in offensive posture during the counterattack. Therefore, you can’t parry a counterattack (because you’re still in offensive posture during the counterattack and you can’t parry in offensive posture).​
  • You can block with a shield in offensive posture.​
  • You can evade in offensive posture.​
  • Simply by electing to stop attacking, you can switch to defensive posture from offensive posture at anytime except during the instant you are counterattacked.​
  • Being attacked takes you out of offensive posture and into defensive posture. In order to go on the offensive again, you'll need to successfully defend an attack or wait for your attacker to disengage.​
Example A

Al and Bob are ready to fight. Al decides to engage Bob, who enters defensive posture. The pair exchange engagement for parry and Al wins, gaining momentum. Al can press the attack or decide he wants to back off and drop into defensive posture, forfeiting his momentum and the attack to Bob.

Example B

Al engages Bob and is successfully parried. Bob counterattacks. Al can only attempt to block (if he has a shield) or evade the counterattack because, at the moment he is counterattacked, he’s still in offensive posture. After the counterattack, Al is in defensive posture and Bob is in offensive posture.

Example C

Al has been pressing the attack for a while now and fatigue is beginning to catch up with him. To try and catch his breath, he drops into a defensive stance, forfeiting his momentum and the attack to Bob.

Notes

You can think of offensive posture as dramatically or as subtly as you like. It simply represents the changes – sometimes great, sometimes small – in your fighting stance when you’re on the hunt.

Fighters in offensive posture are trying to “control the fight." In watching a fight (e.g. MMA/boxing/HEMA), the fighter who is advancing is generally the one in offensive posture (think Conor MacGregor). As we’ll see though, you can fight and win using defensive posture as your basic strategy (think Floyd Mayweather).

Depending on the abilities of your fighter and the weapons he's using, you may be more or less comfortable on offense than defense by default.​

Next

Proceed to Attacking - Engagements or return to the Table of Contents.
 
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pemerton

Legend
About changing from offensive to defensive posture (eg choosing to parry):

(i) is that at will (so I can do it in response to a counterattack)? Or does the 5th dot point trump the second-last one?

(ii) does any momentum that's been built up get forfeited?
 

Sam Crow

Villager
About changing from offensive to defensive posture (eg choosing to parry):

(i) is that at will (so I can do it in response to a counterattack)? Or does the 5th dot point trump the second-last one?

(ii) does any momentum that's been built up get forfeited?
You can only parry in defensive posture, not offensive.

You can change from offensive posture to defensive (but not vice versa) at any time simply by choosing not to attack except during a counterattack.

If you attack and are successfully parried, the defender can counterattack you before you switch to defense. The thinking here is that a good parry can set you up to be attacked before you can get your weapon back to defend it.

Yes - you lose all momentum once you switch from offense to defense (in fact you also lose all momentum the instant your attack is parried blocked or evaded but more on that later).

So let’s say you’re attacking and I’m defending. Unless I successfully parry and counterattack, you can stop attacking and switch to defensive posture whenever you choose. There could be several reasons you’d want to do this; e.g. you’re getting tired or losing exchanges and I’m starting to get better position (more on that later too).

I’ll clarify in the post. Much appreciated! Those questions are exactly what I’m looking for.
 
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Sam Crow

Villager
Attacking - Engagements

Description


Excluding feats (which we’ll cover later), there are two ways to attack a defender. One is to commit to a strike. The other is to engage.

Engaging a defender recognizes that he has a weapon just like you do. If you ignore that weapon and just try to hit him like he doesn’t have one, he could easily parry and cut your head off your reckless body. We'll look at why that is in Attacking - Commitments.

Engaging an opponent is a declared maneuver that is more of an attack on your opponent’s defense than it is an attack on your opponent himself. Successful engagements put you in a better position to strike and your opponent in a worse position to defend.

Because the purpose of an engagement is to overcome your opponent's defenses rather than hit your opponent, engagements do not result in damage.

To engage your opponent, you first need to be in offensive position (see Attacking - Offensive Posture).

Once there, you declare your intent to engage. You flip a number of coins equal to your engagement skill plus any momentum you’ve already built to that point plus/minus any situational modifiers. Meanwhile, your opponent flips coins applicable to the opposing defensive maneuver he chooses.

If your opponent gets more heads than you, you've lost the exchange. That is, you've gained no positional advantage and your opponent will use the excess heads he flipped to his advantage as described in the defense maneuver sections later one. He will also be able declare and act in the next exchange before you if he chooses. Finally, you will lose any momentum you’ve built to that point and it will be deducted from your ardor (more on ardor, later).

If you get more heads than he does, you’ve won the exchange. That is, you’ve gained a positional advantage (e.g. his sword is down, he's flat-footed, his shield is out of place). As a consequence, he must abandon his square (more on squares later) to one that you choose. More importantly, you carry the excess heads you’ve gained into the next exchange as momentum.

Example

Al and Bob are eager to fight, swords drawn and ready to go. Al is an journeyman warrior; he knows it’s dangerous to pretend Bob doesn’t have a sword and just try to whack him. Al realizes he must gain a tactical advantage first.

Al enters offensive posture and engages Bob. Al flips 10 coins, the number equal to his engagement skill with his sword (there are no modifiers or momentum at this point). He gets 7 heads. Bob elects to parry and flips 10 coins, the number equal to his parry skill with his sword. Bob gets 5 heads.

Because Al has engaged Bob, Al has gained momentum, a representation that Bob's ability to defend himself has been reduced
.


Notes

Proceed to Momentum or return to the Table of Contents.​
 
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Sam Crow

Villager
Attacking - Momentum

Momentum is the conversion of excess heads won during a successful engagement into coins in the next exchange. So if you win an engagement by 2 two extra heads in this exchange, you get to flip 2 extra coins in the next exchange. If you win the next engagement by, say, 3 heads, you can flip 5 extra coins in the exchange after that.

Momentum can be built in this way - by continuing to engage and winning those engagements consecutively - until you’ve built it up to its maximum. Your maximum momentum is equal to your current ardor (again, more on ardor later).

Whenever you decide the time is tactically right, you can make a committed strike. When you do, you add all your gained momentum coins to your skill with your weapon and any situational modifiers.

Thus, you can potentially land a devastating and debilitating shot when the time is right. We’ll cover how that works in Attacking - Committed Strikes.

Momentum is an, err, double edged sword, however.

First, except in the case of a successful parry-counterattack, momentum can only be built from winning consecutive engagements. In any instant in which you do not successfully engage or strike, your momentum stops. And strikes do not win momentum, they spend it as we'll see later.

Second, a successful parry, block, or evasion all and your momentum and that lost momentum is deducted from your ardor. However, if your momentum stops because you elect to stop attacking, your momentum is simply lost without penalty.

Finally, as noted above, your momentum cannot exceed your current ardor. Any momentum gained that exceeds your ardor is lost and deducted from your ardor.

Example A - Gaining & Using Momentum

Al elects to engage, and Bob drops into defensive posture. Al flips 10 coins, the number equal to his engagement skill with his sword (there are no modifiers or momentum at this point). He gets 6 heads. Bob elects to parry and flips 10 coins, the number equal to his parry skill with his sword. Poor Bob only gets 3 heads.

Al wins the exchange by 3 heads, forcing Bob back in a quick flurry of steel. Al continues to engage in the next exchange. This time, he flips 13 coins vs Bob’s 10. Al gets 8 heads and Bob gets 5, gaining Al 3 more momentum.

The repeated assault is paying off as Bob continues to backpedal and Al presses his attack. Al decides the time is right and he elects to commit to a strike. Al will flip 10+3+3=16 coins vs Bob’s 10. We’ll see what happens there when we get to
Attacking - Committed Strikes.

Example B - Stopping Momentum

Picking up from the first successful engagement above, Al has 13 coins to flip versus Bob's 10. He elects to keep engaging.

However, this time, Bob decides to evade. He gets 6 heads. Al only gets 5.

Al has lost the exchange and, with it, all of his momentum. The physical exertions of building and pressing the attack catch up with him and the 3 lost momentum are deducted from his ardor.


Example C - Forfeiting Momentum

It's later in the fight. Al and Bob have been clanging and banging for a while and are tired. That is, their ardor has decreased.

Al wins an engagement by 5 heads. His ardor is currently at 6 heads. Al knows that any momentum that exceeds his ardor of 6 will actually cost him ardor. Therefore, he elects to disengage to catch his breath.

Doing so, he loses all momentum and cedes the attack to Bob, but he conserves his energy and doesn't lose ardor.


Notes

Proceed to Attacking - Commitments or return to the Table of Contents
 
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Sam Crow

Villager
Attacking - Commitments

Description


A commitment or committed strike is when you actually try to land a blow on your opponent's body.

It has to be done at the right time. Strike too late and you miss your opportunity; strike too soon and you leave yourself exposed for a deadly counterstrike. When you commit to a strike you do just that; you go all in.

Committing to a strike works with the same basic mechanic as every other maneuver, and goes as follows:​
  • You declare a specific target area on your opponent's body (more on these, later), usually an area that is minimally armored.​
  • You flip a number of coins equal to your strike skill plus any momentum you’ve built to that point plus/minus any situational modifiers.​
  • Meanwhile, your opponent flips coins applicable to the opposing defensive maneuver he chooses plus the rated difficulty of the body part you've chosen (again, more on these, later).​
  • If you get more heads than he does, your strike has landed and the consequences will be addressed in the Trauma section.​
  • If you get less heads than he does, your strike has missed and you are exposed.​
Exposed means that you cannot make any defensive maneuver for the instant following your failed attack. Your opponent can immediately attack you and you cannot block, parry, or evade it. Note that he need not counterattack you to do so and, therefore, he can attack you by having avoided your strike any way he chooses.

Thus, it's quite important to put yourself in the best possible position (i.e. have the most coins available to flip) when you commit to a strike. Example A will demonstrate the danger of trying to strike an opponent before you've gained positional advantage through momentum. Here again, the example will use target difficulty which will be explained in a later section.

Example A

Al and Bob square off to begin combat. Al elects to attack and Bob drops into defensive posture. In the very first exchange, Al is feeling reckless and immediately commits to a strike. He select's Bob's unarmored lead shin as a target. Bob elects to evade.

Al has 10 coins available to him for his strike; there are no situational modifiers and he has not built any momentum. He flips 10 coins and gets 5 heads. Bob has 12 coins available to him for his evasion; 10 for his evasion skill and 2 for the difficulty of Al having targeted his lead shin. He flips 12 coins and gets 6 heads.

Bob has won the exchange, slipping deftly back and to the right as Al's sword sails short of its target. Because he committed to strike, Al is exposed in the following instant, being ever-so-slightly too forward with his sword too ever-so-slightly too low.

Bob immediately strikes at Al's head. He has 10 coins available to him, just as Al did when he chose to strike. However, because he is exposed from his failed strike, Al cannot attempt to parry, block, or evade. Thus, Al can only flip 3 coins for the difficulty of Bob trying to his head. The result is a 10 to 3 advantage for Bob's strike. If Al isn't wearing a helmet, that might be the end of him.


Example B will demonstrate the same scenario, but will assume that Al has built up some momentum, first. Instead of foolishly taking a whack at Bob's leg first thing like he did, above, Al will engage Bob as described in Attacking - Engagement and Attacking - Momentum.

Example B

It's the third exchange in the combat and Al has been on the attack, this time engaging Bob to break down his defense before striking him. He defeated Bob's parry by 2 in the first exchange. Using the momentum from that exchange, he engaged again and defeated Bob's parry by 4 in the second exchange.

Having built up 6 momentum, Al elects to commit to a strike as he did in Example A. However, now Al now strikes with 16 coins, the sum of his 10 strike skill plus his 6 momentum.

Meanwhile - just as in Example A - Bob has 12 coins available to him for his evasion; 10 for his evasion skill and 2 for the difficulty of Al's targeting his lower left leg.

Al flips his 16 coins and scores 8 heads. Bob flips his 12 coins and scores 6 heads. Al's sword slashes into Bob's unarmored lead shin with 2 points. We'll see later that the heft of using a longsword will triple those two points and cause quite a bit of trauma to Bob's poor leg.


Notes

Continue to Defending - Defensive Posture or return to the Table of Contents.​
 
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Sam Crow

Villager
Defending – Defensive Posture

Description


Except in the case of a counterattack, you automatically enter defensive posture whenever attacked. You must remain in defensive posture for every instant after which you were successfully attacked. While you never have to leave defensive posture, you may leave defensive posture at any time if you were not successfully attacked in the preceding instant. As with offensive posture, defensive posture has its own options and limitations. In addition to the above, they are:​
  • You may leave defensive posture and enter offensive posture any time you were not successfully attached in the preceding instant; including the instant after you successfully parry, block, or evade.​
  • Parrying is only possible in defensive posture.​
  • A counterattack can only be made immediately after successfully parrying; therefore, counterattacks are only possible in defensive posture.​
  • A counterattack immediately takes you out of defensive and into offensive posture.​
  • Except in the case of a successful parry turned immediately into a counterattack, momentum cannot be built in defensive posture.​
  • You can block with a shield in defensive posture.​
  • You can evade in defensive posture.​
  • Success points - excess heads you flipped that beat your opponent's attack score - can be converted a number of ways with defensive maneuvers, as described in their respective sections.​
Example A

Al and Bob square off to fight. Al attacks Bob. Bob automatically enters defensive posture.

Example B

Al flips 10 coins in an engagement against Bob and counts 6 heads. Bob flips 10 coins to parry and counts 5 heads. Bob has been successfully engaged and must remain in defensive posture in the next instant.

Example C

In the instant following Example B, Al flips 11 coins in another engagement against Bob and counts 6 heads. Bob flips 10 coins to parry and counts 7 heads this time. Bob has successfully parried Al. If Bob chooses to, he may immediately counterattack Al. If he does, he leaves defensive posture and enters offensive posture.

Example D

Bob counterattacks Al, counting 4 heads. Al evades, counting 7 heads. Al has stopped Bob's counterattack and may choose to attack in the following exchange. If he chooses not to attack, he enters defensive posture and may remain in it for so long as he desires.

Notes

Proceed to Defending - Parry or return to the Table of Contents.
 

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