Combat options

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
Slimcreeper
Posts: 394
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:18 pm

Combat options

Postby Slimcreeper » Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:06 am

So, there is a real chance I'll actually start putting together a 4th edition game in the next month or so after a bit of a dry spell. There are a couple of house rules I've thought about, most of which I'm probably not going to use. However, there are a few that I'd like to include from the beginning. Would anyone (especially those who have played to the higher circles) care to share their insights?

Because I don't like making rolls with very little chance of success:
Damage and Wounds
Instead of a step penalty, a character can choose to take a number of strain points equal to the wound penalty on a given. Note this can cause additional wounds.


Because I just don't _get_ the stun rules:
Stun: Only blunt melee weapons can be used to stun targets. Make a called shot against the target. If successful, make a damage test, modified by physical armor. If it beats the target’s wound threshold, the target is knocked out for a number of rounds equal to the amount by which the damage test beat the wound threshold. Otherwise, stun is just like regular damage, except that will never exceed a character’s death rating.


Imagine a bodyguard holding back, waiting for you to make a move against his ward. He reserves his action until you make your move. Then he unleashes a deadly series of strikes, driving you away. Or you are fighting on a cliff and your opponent finds himself between you and the edge. Taking advantage of his limited mobility, you swing with all your might, knowing that he can't escape. Then to your surprise, he turns and leaps into the boiling sea below.
Force Back: The attacker makes a close combat attack. Reduce the number of successes by one. If the attack would still connect, double the number of successes. However, if the target would like to avoid the attack entirely, all he has to do is step back into an adjacent hex or square of the attacker’s choosing. This cannot be used on an ally.


To keep from having to sum weight:
Equipment and Encumbrance
Almost any item or kit counts as one thing, whether it is a waterskin, sewing kit or lantern. The only exceptions are weapons, which count as a number of items equal to their size rating. 100 coins equals one thing.

The easiest way to carry a bunch of stuff around is with a backpack. A character can carry a number of things in his or her backpack, up to his or her strength value. The only downside is that a backpack has an initiative penalty of -1.

A character can carry a bag with one arm instead of a backpack with no initiative penalty. A bag can hold a number of items equal to a character’s strength step, but occupies one of the character's arms. If the character has both a bag and a backpack, the combined initiative penalty is -2.

A character can carry a reasonable number of things in his or her hands and in pouches and sheaths, up to his or her strength step. These things are considered to be ready to use, but count against the number of things the character can carry in his bag and pack.

Every extra thing a character carries causes an additional -1 to the character’s initiative.

I know traditionally rpg characters can carry a 140 lb pack and swordfight like a prancing ballerina in plate armor, but I think we all know that's insane. I also count initiative penalties against swimming and climbing. Bring a mule or a porter!

The Undying
Posts: 95
Joined: Thu Aug 04, 2016 6:10 am

Re: Combat options

Postby The Undying » Fri Aug 19, 2016 9:04 pm

I'd recommend playing Rules As Written (RAW) before making modifications, but that's just me. The more rules, the more things slow down, the more disagreements develop.

My specific thoughts on the things you've listed:

- Strain versus Step Penalty

Step Penalties, especially those from wounds, should be scary. They should make the players reconsider their situation, potentially pulling away. They add a layer of drama would suck to lose. Imagine this situation: you're players are facing a horror, it's terrified the characters, and they have a 4 step penalty until they shake the effects. This is an in-game mechanic to reflect how unsettling it is to face off against these things, not an arbitrary difficulty enhancer. A sizable penalty will effectively scares the players, making them fear for their characters, and makes them evaluate whether to stay and fight or try an alternate strategy. That all goes out the window if they just say "Oh, okay, guess every action I take this turn costs 4 strain." Plus, keep in mind the balance of this: a 4 step penalty on a magician and a Warrior is effectively equal, but a 4 strain/test penalty has a SIGNIFICANT cost for the magician and not so much on the Warrior.

- Stun

Unless you've seem players wanting to stun in the past, I'd say just let sleeping dogs lie. If/when someone really wants to stun someone, tackle it then. Honestly, in most cases, allowing non-lethal attacking simplifies things: you're still cutting/pummeling someone brutally, but give the PC/NPC the option to NOT kill if the attack would reduce the enemy below Death rating.

- Knockback

Again, unless you're planning a lot of cliffside combats, this seems very edge case. If/when it comes up, just roll with it, maybe treat it like a Maneuver: wanna push them back, cool, you can do that if you get two extra successes on your attack roll and perform the knockback instead of the +4 damage.

- Equipment and Encumbrance

I agree, summing things up is a pain if you're going old school with pen and paper. Again, though, I think stacking a new system is just a different way of complicating things. Likely, you just need to eyeball things: low strength with a laundry list of items, naaaaah; middling strength with heavy armor and a laundry list of items, naaaah; high strength ... eh, you're the team mule, give it to him.

Utsukushi
Posts: 147
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:05 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Utsukushi » Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:57 pm

Undying, I think Slimcreeper's Strain-for-Step-Penalty rule was only going to apply to the penalty from Wounds -- so if you have 3 Wounds, you can choose to take Strain instead of letting them affect a given action, basically gritting your teeth and pushing through the pain but making the wound a little worse.

I like that one, conceptually, but I haven't gotten to play at high Circles and I can see it making Wounds irrelevant very quickly. Especially, as Undying notes, for the 7-Durability Disciplines. I'm.. on the fence with that, I think, but lean towards thinking things are probably better balanced the way they are.

That Stun rule scares me. It's a much better representation of trying to stun someone than the rules are, I agree, but as a player, I read that and think, "So, with my Longsword, I'm going to have to actually fight this out, but if I just pick up a club or hammer instead, I have a way to win fights in one round? Done."

For something closer to that, maybe modify what being Stunned means to you. Eg, not Knocked Out, but.. just... stunned. Dazed. I'd suggest a more Taunt-like effect (eg, penalties to their rolls for the next turn, or perhaps a number of turns equal to the number of Successes) - but that might have people making rolls with little chance of success which, I agree, can be very frustrating. So maybe.. if you exceed their Wound Threshold, they count as Harried for turns based on how much you exceeded said Wound Threshold? Something more like that. Outright unconsciousness needs to be hard to achieve, especially on Round One.

Force Back... I'm not quite sure what you're trying to do with that. So, you're basically adding +4 to the Target Number, because you need at least one extra Success, and if you make it... you get to double your Successes. But stepping backwards is an absolute defense against this.

... Yes. This is tailor made for the edge-of-the-cliff scene you describe. I think a little bit too tailored. The penalty feels too low for the possible benefit, yet at the same time, much too high for an attack that can usually be completely voided at little price. Right now I'm not actually thinking of a good way to get the effect you do want, but I don't see this rule being used, ever, unless your Barsaive is seriously chock full of cliffs.

And on Equipment, I agree wholeheartedly with Undying. If you don't want to fuss with the fiddly numbers, don't fuss with them - just enforce a "Be Reasonable" policy. I do kind of like the Initiative Penalties for packs, actually. I mean, not as a player, of course, but as a concept, there's good reasoning to that. Backpacks do have a way of sort of vanishing during battles and magically reappearing when they're over. Mind you, they should probably act as armor when you're Blindsided, then, too, and...

User avatar
Mataxes
Site Admin
Posts: 907
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:51 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Mataxes » Mon Aug 22, 2016 10:33 pm

Utsukushi wrote:For something closer to that, maybe modify what being Stunned means to you. Eg, not Knocked Out, but.. just... stunned. Dazed. I'd suggest a more Taunt-like effect (eg, penalties to their rolls for the next turn, or perhaps a number of turns equal to the number of Successes) - but that might have people making rolls with little chance of success which, I agree, can be very frustrating. So maybe.. if you exceed their Wound Threshold, they count as Harried for turns based on how much you exceeded said Wound Threshold? Something more like that. Outright unconsciousness needs to be hard to achieve, especially on Round One.


Outright unconsciousness in one blow is hard to achieve period.

Ultimately, it depends on what sort of fell you're going for. Do you want a more cinematically inclined game, with the classic Hollywood "single blow to the head" knockout? Or do you want a grittier, more "realistic" approach. Each has its place, but the default Earthdawn rules haven't traditionally been slanted in the cinematic direction.
Josh Harrison -- The Lore Merchant
Troubadour and Magic Theorist
Line Developer: Earthdawn

Slimcreeper
Posts: 394
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:18 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Slimcreeper » Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:37 am

I'm sorry - you guys have been really helpful and I keep getting interrupted in replying to this.

For the Wound Push, how about this as an alternative? A character can opt to grit her teeth and push through pain, ignoring all wound penalties for a test. However, the character burns up one of her remaining recovery tests for the day and takes an additional wound. The character can use Wound Push for multiple tests in a single round, as long as she has recovery tests, for example on a spellcasting test and then on the effect test.

Hey ... dumb question ... do wound penalties affect spell effect tests and how does that affect spells with multiple effect tests spread over several rounds?

With Force Back - I originally thought about this as a reverse Giving Ground, and I was thinking about bodyguards defending their charge by delaying their action. But maybe the bodyguards could delay their action and then be able to strike from a blindsided position? Just so you can't ignore them.

Try to do stun next time.

User avatar
Tattered Rags
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Tattered Rags » Fri Aug 26, 2016 11:51 am

Now I'm thinking of a Bodyguard Discipline designed to interrupt attacks, absorb damage meant for someone else, deal more damage the more wounded they are, and carry people in their arms while listening to Whitney Houston.

Anyway, weird where ideas crop up; thanks for the seed.

User avatar
Tattered Rags
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Tattered Rags » Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:09 pm

For forcing someone back, why not just use the knockdown rules and the "Attack to Knockdown" combat option? The idea is that the attack shoves the person back, right? If the flavor is more setting up a series of attacks that drive the opponent back, substitute Dex for STR in the knockdown test.

User avatar
Tattered Rags
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Tattered Rags » Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:31 pm

Regarding stun, what about the rules don't you get? Perhaps you would actually like them if that missing piece was grasped?

And, if you're going to let people ignore Wound penalties, your latest idea of suffering a Wound while using a recovery test makes sense to me. Though it seems to favor high Toughness characters who already are less likely to be Wounded (though perhaps more likely to be hit, considering their place in the battle). It doesn't penalize in the same way Strain would. You could add a Wil roll to avoid the recovery test, but then you're rolling more dice, which isn't usually more fun.

Slimcreeper
Posts: 394
Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:18 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Slimcreeper » Fri Aug 26, 2016 3:43 pm

Tattered - funny enough Living Room Games 2nd edition did introduce a body guard discipline.
The big thing for the Force Back is that I want mooks that can make it really hard to attack the BBEG without themselves being a giant pain to kill. With stun, I think the thing that bothers me is the willpower test to heal it. Are we tracking stun separately or not? I don't want to. I would like a cinematic knockout, but maybe it could be a knack or something. What I'm thinking right now is maybe stun attacks can't cause wounds (as per the rules) and can't kill (as per the rules) and that's all there is too it.

User avatar
Tattered Rags
Posts: 278
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:44 pm

Re: Combat options

Postby Tattered Rags » Fri Aug 26, 2016 9:32 pm

Regarding stun, I see your point. The Willpower bonus requires that stun be tracked separately. Lose that and you don't have to track it.

Using Knockdown rules for "Attack to Knockback" shouldn't be a big hassle, should it? One that makes the mooks a "pain to kill"?


Return to “For Game Masters”



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest