Author Topic: Question About Combat  (Read 629 times)

Avan Madisen

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Question About Combat
« on: November 16, 2016, 06:45:32 AM »
This is my first post on these forums, I picked up Steamcraft because I'd been looking for a Steampunk RPG for a while when found a copy in my local game store and thought I'd give it a try.

I've been going through the rules but I have a question about the combat system since the there is something that seems quite glaring in its absence to be, unless I've missed something.

Basically, in the section that details how to run combat on pages 113, 114 and 115 the only examples of combat rolls don't show how the defender's abilities and actions factor in (e.g. attempting to dodge or parry an attack). In my mind actually getting a hit on a master martial artist is much harder than fighting a novice, however following the rules in the book the target to roll under would be same in both cases. Is this how the rules were intended or have I missed a section?

The main reason I ask is because I know my players, and if I tell them they can't attempt to parry or dodge attacks because "the rules don't allow it" they'll want to play something else, plus I don't want to just throw in something of my own as it might unbalance the game.

Thanks in advance.

Darius

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Re: Question About Combat
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2016, 01:42:33 PM »
Thanks for buying the game!

I understand the combat issue.  It really relates to the idea of how do you represent defense in combat.  Consider a similar question.  Should a master swordsman be harder to his than a novice?  He would be trained in how to use a sword, which will mean he will have learned how to block, parry, dodge, etc.  So shouldn't it be harder to hit him?  Shouldn't a more agile character be harder to hit or a faster one?  There is a giant rabbit hole one could go down here that will complicate the system, raise issues of fairness, and lead to min/maxing based on bonuses.  I decided to avoid that.  But avoiding those issues for a lighter combat system doesn't work for everyone. 

This isn't to say you do not have options:

1. If you look at pg 74 under acrobatics you will find active defense.  You can use that skill for dodging attacks.  So, if you are going to have a martial arts character you can have them take this skill.
2. Not my first choice, but you could grant the same ability to dodge incoming non-projectile attacks to the martial arts ability. 
3. This was in the original rules, but removed before publication.  The original Martial Arts skill provided a bonus to the Armor Factor.  Every 10 points in Martial Arts granted 1 point of AF provided that the PC/NPC was wearing armor that had a speed penalty of 4 or less.   There was some concerns raised about min/max, which made be consider lowering it to needing armor of speed penalty 1 or less.  Then that led to concerns about confusion between mention 4 for using the skill but 1 for AF.  Then issue of fairness was raised.  Why don't those using melee weapons get a bonus?  I decided to skip the entire issue by just removing the benefit entirely.  But it plays well allowing the PC to have higher AF.  It makes them a little stronger than is intended, but it doesn't break combat.
4. Every 10 points in Martial Arts grants a 1 point penalty to hit.  So, a PC with 50 in Martial Arts would give any attacker a 5 point penalty.  It is a minor benefit that might appease your players. 

Parry Rule:

1. PC/NPC declares he will give up an attack that round and instead chooses to parry.
2. The attacker and the defender (the one parrying) both roll against the required attack skill. 
3. If both succeed then you compare how much that succeeded.  The one that succeeds by the most points (the difference between the skill rating and the dice roll) wins.  If it is the attacker, then the defender suffers half damage.  If it is the defender, then no damage occurs.
4. If the defender rolls a critical success and the attacker does not, then the parry is not only successful, but the defender has reversed the attack.  This allows the defender to immediately roll dice to make an attack. 

Avan Madisen

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Re: Question About Combat
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2016, 03:39:03 PM »
Thanks for the reply, wasn't expecting one so soon.

You're absolutely right about the Rabbit Hole, I've seen some games that handle parrying in very strange ways.

I noticed the 'Dodge' part of Acrobatics after I posted my original message (I was right about having missed something) and granting a similar bonus to Melee Weapons did cross my mind. However I do feel that a character would only be able to do this if they A) have a held action to react, or B) sacrifice part or all of their next action.

I've also been thinking a little about the issue and one idea I had was taking into consideration that in melee, a character's attack is not necessarily a single attack but a sequence of attacks throughout the turn, which would include a fair amount of dodging and parrying, so a successful 'hit' would not necessary be a single hit.

The idea of the Parry Rule is one of those fallback, generic ways of handling it and I'm probably going to allow this, plus it works for both Melee Weapons and Martial Arts and would give Parrying as a Specialisation of each a real use. However, I would also add 10 point penalties for every parry attempt after the first one, partly as a warning to players about fighting too many enemies at once.

Again, thanks for the reply.

Darius

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Re: Question About Combat
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2016, 05:43:26 PM »
I noticed the 'Dodge' part of Acrobatics after I posted my original message (I was right about having missed something) and granting a similar bonus to Melee Weapons did cross my mind. However I do feel that a character would only be able to do this if they A) have a held action to react, or B) sacrifice part or all of their next action.

That would be correct.  Without this, then essentially all combat would involve both an attach phase, and then a defense phase.  In systems where there is some way to mitigate damage from every attack all of the time leads to very long combat.  In SC, combat tends to go either very fast or slow depending the dice rolls. 

The benefit about using acrobatics instead is that this would apply to multiple attacks, and not just one.  It represents tactical usage and not an every attack use

Quote
I've also been thinking a little about the issue and one idea I had was taking into consideration that in melee, a character's attack is not necessarily a single attack but a sequence of attacks throughout the turn, which would include a fair amount of dodging and parrying, so a successful 'hit' would not necessary be a single hit.

It is meant to be a series of events.  You can think of damage as somewhat telling the story.  Low damage would mean a good evade/block meanwhile large damage would represent a quick direct hit. 

Quote
The idea of the Parry Rule is one of those fallback, generic ways of handling it and I'm probably going to allow this, plus it works for both Melee Weapons and Martial Arts and would give Parrying as a Specialisation of each a real use. However, I would also add 10 point penalties for every parry attempt after the first one, partly as a warning to players about fighting too many enemies at once.

Seems reasonable.