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Systems Where You Dread Running Combat

Crikey Turnip. In WHFRP 2e it's even worse for whiffy dice rolls. The opening intro paragraph has a tale of a pc making lots rolls under 35% or something. Not gonna happen.
The setting should be grimdark, not the system

One thing a lot of systems seem to be super-shy about is giving any reliability to skill rolls, especially in combat. Its one thing when an opponents defenses can make things hard, its another when even the baseline requires a lot of semi-Hail-Mary's.

(Depending on background, this could happen with some editions of RQ).
 

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payn

Hero
A buddy of mine had Aces and Eights a western RPG. The rulebook was enormous and seemed interesting but ended up too damn complicated for its own good.

Combat in theory seemed pretty cool. Everyone declared what they were doing and a timer ticked off and the things would happen. There was a circle template that you would roll on to see if your shot hit the target or not. Turned out pistols were wildly inaccurate and your best bet was to just grab a shotgun. You then would run at your enemy while they missed all their shots and give them both barrels at close range.

I'd not go back to that again.
 


zarionofarabel

Adventurer
I think you have to take a pretty broad brush to lump everything in that group together. OD&D combat and D&D4e combat were both "hit point attrition" but they were pretty vastly different in how you did things and the benefit thereof.
Yeah, but the HP attrition is still the main factor, it just gets worse in the newer editions as HP bloat makes combat take forever. It's just tedious.
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
Crikey Turnip. In WHFRP 2e it's even worse for whiffy dice rolls. The opening intro paragraph has a tale of a pc making lots rolls under 35% or something. Not gonna happen.
The setting should be grimdark, not the system
The example in the opening doesn't give you any stats. What you don't realise is that Imke has an Int of 45, double mastery in the Perception skill and the Keen Senses talent. That's an 85% chance of success - of course she made the check!

But seriously, I only learnt the word 'whiff' recently (right on this here forum) and it doesn't bother me. The average human in 2e will hit about a third of the time. An experienced warrior can potentially get that as high as 80%.

If you're not an experienced warrior and bothered that you keep missing - try and avoid getting in fights with scary monsters!
 

TheSword

Legend
I think even within a system you like at some levels there can be elements that are just a nightmare.

For instance Pathfinder and 3e just became an absolute nightmare to run past level 13ish. The weight of stacked spells, powers, summoned creatures, maths etc bogged the game down into a slog fest that sucked all fun out of the game. The solution… don’t play high level Pathfinder or 3e.
 


GURPS. Oh my gosh, GURPS GURPS GURPS.

First off, the whole "1 round = 1 second" thing is both tedious and ridiculous. Especially when a lot of times your whole action is, "I ready my weapon." Great.

Then you have to sit there and watch while 4 other people go through their combat turn.

"Declaring an attack . . . but do I apply penalties for hit location? Oh, so do I roll my actual weapon skill now, or the separate 'Hit Location Skill' number? Whatever, then I attack . . . but the defender has two possible defenses (parry and/or dodge). Did I hit? Yes? Oh. Cool, now what happens?"

"Oh, roll damage . . . but then look up what the hit location effect is if I did enough damage. Oh, and now the opponent has to make a Health check?"

And that doesn't even count the whole GURPS 4th edition stuff with burning fatigue to improve results, extend a particular maneuver, etc etc.

It's wasn't uncommon for a SINGLE ROUND of GURPS combat to take 20+ minutes.
 

Voadam

Legend
As a DM I'm a D&D guy.

I have played a lot of Vampire and I own a bunch of White Wolf stuff but I would not want to gauge how tough an opponent would be for a group. As a player I don't like the take dice away from your attack to defend aspect, but I can run my characters fine and do my best in combats, but I would be very uncomfortable judging the potential lethality of combat situations.

Same for Shadowrun, I am fine with designing my troll mage and throwing down lots of d6s, but I barely have a handle on the actual damage systems and running a combat would be an uncomfortable dive into blind guessing about lethality.

GURPS I do not like the 1 second rounds where a lot of times you could be not attacking. And going beyond basic combat felt like playing battletech with a 10 hp low level D&D character.

I tend to take narrative concepts from systems like World of Darkness, Ars Magica, Shadowrun, and GURPS and throw them in my D&D games where I am mechanically comfortable as a DM.
 

jhingelshod

Explorer
GURPS. Oh my gosh, GURPS GURPS GURPS.

First off, the whole "1 round = 1 second" thing is both tedious and ridiculous. Especially when a lot of times your whole action is, "I ready my weapon." Great.

Then you have to sit there and watch while 4 other people go through their combat turn.

"Declaring an attack . . . but do I apply penalties for hit location? Oh, so do I roll my actual weapon skill now, or the separate 'Hit Location Skill' number? Whatever, then I attack . . . but the defender has two possible defenses (parry and/or dodge). Did I hit? Yes? Oh. Cool, now what happens?"

"Oh, roll damage . . . but then look up what the hit location effect is if I did enough damage. Oh, and now the opponent has to make a Health check?"

And that doesn't even count the whole GURPS 4th edition stuff with burning fatigue to improve results, extend a particular maneuver, etc etc.

It's wasn't uncommon for a SINGLE ROUND of GURPS combat to take 20+ minutes.
Reminds me of playing Car Wars where we sometimes played all day to find that about 10 seconds of game time had elapsed...
 

turnip_farmer

Adventurer
The rulebook was enormous and seemed interesting but ended up too damn complicated for its own good.
Hah - that's funny. I've never seen Aces and Eights, but I know it was written by the same people as Hackmaster - the game I described upthread as sounding really interesting by being far too complex to ever try,
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The only time I've dreaded combat scenes was when we were playing Pathfinder. For my group, PF combat meant an hours-long ordeal involving multiple textbooks and arguments about flanking, attacks of opportunity, multiple types of actions, and so forth. No matter how hard the DM tried to build tension and keep everyone immersed in the story, it all went right out the window so that we could play a weird D&D board game for two, sometimes three hours.
 

Scars Unseen

Explorer
The only two systems where I grew to actually dread running combat were D&D 3x and Pathfinder 1. They were fine at lower levels, but once PCs hit 10th level or so, both systems got ridiculous. I don't touch either now.
Yeah, this is why I never got into Pathfinder. By the time it came out, I was so over mid to high level 3E that the last thing I was looking for was another version of that. Of course when I found a group that was running 4E, I swiftly found that wasn't for me either. I started looking at OSRs and semi-OSRs (I'm not sure how I'd categorize Castles and Crusades) as well as more narrative systems (which again were very hit or miss with me).
 

Azuresun

Adventurer
One thing a lot of systems seem to be super-shy about is giving any reliability to skill rolls, especially in combat. Its one thing when an opponents defenses can make things hard, its another when even the baseline requires a lot of semi-Hail-Mary's.

(Depending on background, this could happen with some editions of RQ).

This was my main beef with the 40K RPG's--the baseline percentages are really low (and in published adventures, negative modifiers are thrown around like candy, the writers seeming to assume that the skill levels will be something like 80+). And if you're not trained, your attribute is halved, which really pushes it into the terrain of "don't bother".

The assumption seems to be that you'll be dumpster diving for bonuses on every single roll (when you shoot someone, you're at +10 for a superior weapon, +20 for a short burst, +20 for point-blank range, etc), but that just shifts the problem around, as figuring out what the modifier is this time adds overhead to every roll, and can often get uncomfortable as you try to wheedle every possible bonus out the GM rather than just rolling the dice.

I do wonder what would happen with the system if you just increased skill baselines by +30 or something, or just said that if your skill after all modifiers is 50+, you can take a basic success rather than rolling.
 

Retreater

Legend
Yeah, this is why I never got into Pathfinder. By the time it came out, I was so over mid to high level 3E that the last thing I was looking for was another version of that. Of course when I found a group that was running 4E, I swiftly found that wasn't for me either. I started looking at OSRs and semi-OSRs (I'm not sure how I'd categorize Castles and Crusades) as well as more narrative systems (which again were very hit or miss with me).
For years I tried to get my group into Castles & Crusades while they struggled and slogged through the rules of Pathfinder, which were making them miserable and stressing out players and GMs. Only now they're starting to get into 5e, because they had invested so much time trying to master Pathfinder. I think they got used to a system that took a decade or more to learn.
I'm starting to come to the realization that 5e is probably where I should stay when it comes to a fantasy RPG. If it's all about elves and dwarves fighting goblins in dungeons with swords and magic missiles - I guess I can just say "we already have D&D at home."
 

TheSword

Legend
For years I tried to get my group into Castles & Crusades while they struggled and slogged through the rules of Pathfinder, which were making them miserable and stressing out players and GMs. Only now they're starting to get into 5e, because they had invested so much time trying to master Pathfinder. I think they got used to a system that took a decade or more to learn.
I'm starting to come to the realization that 5e is probably where I should stay when it comes to a fantasy RPG. If it's all about elves and dwarves fighting goblins in dungeons with swords and magic missiles - I guess I can just say "we already have D&D at home."
I do think that Level Up could scratch the itch for complexity while allowing 5e to fundamentally stay the system of choice.
 

jdrakeh

Adventurer
Yeah, this is why I never got into Pathfinder. By the time it came out, I was so over mid to high level 3E that the last thing I was looking for was another version of that. Of course when I found a group that was running 4E, I swiftly found that wasn't for me either. I started looking at OSRs and semi-OSRs (I'm not sure how I'd categorize Castles and Crusades) as well as more narrative systems (which again were very hit or miss with me).

Castles & Crusades was the first 'light' d20-based game I got into. I don't think it's technically OSR as most people use that term (as it doesn't try to mechanically recreate any specific older system), but it's certainly a good, light, alternative to mechanically heavy d20-based RPGs and does capture the feel of older editions of D&D (it feels a lot like AD&D to me).
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yeah, but the HP attrition is still the main factor, it just gets worse in the newer editions as HP bloat makes combat take forever. It's just tedious.
Um, it doesn't change the combat length. They took away the wildly high defenses and damage resistance and rolled all the "how hard to defeat this" into HPs. Combats take the same number of rounds because there's less misses and less reduction of damage.

Well, that's not quite true - removal of quadratic casters has also reduced the damage dealt. So if you actually want to blame longer combats on something, it's that pure casters don't eclipse martials anymore.
 

Perhaps I am alone in this, but there are systems I otherwise enjoy with the exception of an important portion of the game - such as combat.
[snip]
Are there any systems that you find yourself dreading combat (or other significant portions of the game)? How do you get past it in your GM brain? Do you just avoid those rules sets altogether?
Twilight:2000 2E... Loved the game overall, but the combat rules were... underwhelming. PC's were hard to kill, NPCs were easy to kill.
T2K 2.2 added the skill resolution to the problem list... and was the basis for Traveller: The New Era

Traveller: The New Era - combat and skills. Inherited from T2K2.2 Char Gen was great. The Setting sucked, but I ran it mostly in the classic Setting, some 100 years before the TNE setting.

WEG Star Wars (d6) 1E. The "Your skill success roll is your initiative" is spiffy in concept, but not in play. 6P+ a credible threat in Stormtroopers (about 2 per PC) goes to a positively painfully slow process. And realize that PCs can, and often do, 2 to 3 actions per round, so that's doing it 2 to 3 roll→sort→resolve passes per round. One turn went like so: Declare→Roll1→Sort1→Resolve1→Roll2→Sort2→Resolve2→Roll3→Sort3→Resolve3→Roll4→Resolve4→Roll5→Resolve5 (PC with 8D Blaster skill and a +1d Scope did 5x4d shots; no other characters had more than 3, hence dropping the sort step).

AD&D (both editions) - The combat rules are overcomplicated and not exciting, at the same time.

L5R 2E/3E: Art duels. Not that they're hard, they just don't feel right.

TOR 1E: Travel process. Hope Recovery
TOR 2αE: Councils. Encounter table. Difficulties. Hope use.

Generally, I just avoid games that have too much of this sort of problem. Often, I use other editions with differences for that. Exceptions:

T2K 2.2 however, made things worse, not better, for T2K. It's only been the 4th ed that has solved the combat and skill issues for me. Until that point, i simply halved the PC hit points per location.
AD&D - I'll never run it again. The differences in Cyclopedia push it, barely, into the "yes, I'll run this edition if sincerely asked by sincere players"...
WEG SW: I'd rather run FFG.
TOR: hybridizing.
 

pemerton

Legend
I can't stand D&D hit point attrition style combat. I find the monotony of it extremely tedious and boring.
I think you have to take a pretty broad brush to lump everything in that group together. OD&D combat and D&D4e combat were both "hit point attrition" but they were pretty vastly different in how you did things and the benefit thereof.
For me, what differentiates 4e from classic D&D attrition is that most hits have not only the attrition component but some sort of forced movement and/or debuff component. Which is much more directly connected to the fiction.
 

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