combat tactics

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
earcaraxe
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:51 am

combat tactics

Post by earcaraxe » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:58 pm

As GM how do you handle combat positioning regarding the defense of glass-cannons by their companions/bodyguards? In previous editions there was an optional rule about winning initiative in order to gain free movement (breaking away from melee). Im not sure if there arent any more satisfactory handlings of the problem. I wonder how it even works "in reality" (no idea. Is it even possible to "defend" someone from melee attackers in reality?)

lanir
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:23 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by lanir » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:35 pm

I'm not sure which aspect of this is causing you problems but I think you can just let the bodyguard setup work unless you see the less tough characters starting to outperform their companions. If that's not a problem you don't need to threaten them much as a GM. Generally you want the players to all feel roughly the same level of challenge overall (individual encounters may vary).

If the tougher guardians or the more squishy caster types need more of a challenge you can build an encounter with that in mind. One person can keep a single foe at bay and away from a ward (someone they're guarding). As long as they're not overpowered or unaware of a threat this should generally work fine. When you introduce multiple foes in more open areas then it becomes a challenge to guard someone. You can add ranged foes to the encounter or use many less challenging foes instead of one big threat.

If you want to keep this more interesting you can try describing situations where a character has a choice about taking some additional risk to do something they might want. The enemies make some mistake and leave an opening, but to take full advantage of it would require breaking up the standard group tactic of covering the squishies. Just make sure you aren't bribing one player to abandon their job and get another player's character killed. That can generate bad feelings and drama that no one needs. Make sure the numbers will support either choice. Probably won't work for every group (hardly anything does) but it might work for yours.

Telarus
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:16 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by Telarus » Tue Feb 05, 2019 8:49 pm

My house rule is a Dex test against the defender's Dexterity step. Failure ends all movement for the turn.
Trigger is walking into defender's threat range (depends on weapon 1-2 hexes, 6-9ish feet). So at least twice if trying to "slip around someone" in a narrow hallway (2 hexes, ~10 feet), or 3 times in narrower spaces (5 feet or less). In old school D&D this was automatic ("sticky melee").

earcaraxe
Posts: 38
Joined: Wed Aug 16, 2017 8:51 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by earcaraxe » Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:15 pm

thanks telarus!

(to ianir: also thx for ur attempt at answering, but im looking for a satisfactory and simple way to model "real" situations not to tailor the events/circumstances to the players' feelings/needs).

to telarus: why dex instead of initiative? would that give initiative too much value?

Telarus
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:16 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by Telarus » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:06 pm

Mainly to keep it really really simple (based on the Impaired Movement suggestion of halting movement on failed Dex checks in thick underbrush, etc). Opportunity attacks, or using Initiative, would bring in a whole can of worms (Armor mods, boosting Talents, spells, etc). Characters can withdraw from threatened space with no test, only entering threatened space forces a test. This is a 'soft rule' (when it makes sense), and characters can still use things like Acrobat Defense, Anticipate Blow, Great Leap, etc after movement stops to gain a bit of advantage in the situation. But they have to deal with the thing that wants to stab them/eat them first. You have a better chance than rolling raw Dex against Physical Defense, but some things will pin you down (Wyverns have a Dex of 9, Dragons around 15). But you still have a chance of slipping by them. Use the situation to inform when you call for these tests. If a defender is being Distracted, or dealing with a spell effect like Unseen Voices, skip the Dex tests or grant situational bonuses or penalties (like let the penalties from Distract apply to the defender's Dex step/target number).

Slimcreeper
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Re: combat tactics

Post by Slimcreeper » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:12 pm

I added a combat option for this sort of situation:

Guard Duty: A character may decide to spend a round protecting an area of the battlefield.The character uses close combat abilities to control movement through the area within 2 yards of him or her. The character’s movement rate is halved and he or she is considered Harried for any ranged attacks or spellcasting tests. However, any hostile character moving through the area within 2 yards of the character also moves at half speed. This can be combined with Reserve Action to attack a character that enters the zone, as well as other options such as Aggressive Stance.

So you try to charge past a person and 2 or 3 hexes count as 4 or 6, meaning you probably can't reach your target, and the guard can have a reserved action readied to wack you in the back of the head once you run past. And because it's an option, it's easy to ignore if you don't need it. I haven't tried it out yet, so if you do let me know.

Telarus
Posts: 249
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Re: combat tactics

Post by Telarus » Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:58 am

Oh yeah, reserved and delayed actions are really important in this situation, especially if they have to take more than 1 round to close.

Also, both parties are looking to Knockdown the other. The defender wants to pin the attacker so he can't reach the target, and if the attacker knocks the defender down, he no longer threatens/controls the area. Stun attacks also work well here.


I used to have people "count down initiative" as they moved, and if you got within a bout 10 yards, I think, of a character that had movement left and who wanted to stop you, they could intercept by also "counting down" and moving towards you.... it was ok, but really fiddly when more than a few characters are involved.

Tattered Rags
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by Tattered Rags » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:10 pm

Figuring out how to control the field is a big issue with Earthdawn combat. There are area-denial spells, but how does a Warrior keep the bad guy from simply walking around them to go after the squishy in the rear? Or maybe there's an open book that's summoning a Horror directly behind the evil cultist; what stops the hero from walking up and closing it?

Filling a choke point with a body is an unsatisfying answer since that doesn't work in every scenario.

I like the simplicity of Telarus's Dex roll, but I also like the idea of Slimcreeper's combat option, as it forces the player to make a conscious decision that they will guard the area.

Perhaps marry the two ideas? Guard duty, line in the sand, none shall pass, whatever you call it, should force an opponent trying to get past you to suffer in some way. The best is halting of movement for, at the very least, people coming into the threat range. But I don't like it being automatic.

(Ugh: the following got very complex quickly as I tried to balance it.)

Anyone entering a hex threatened by someone using the combat option must succeed in a dex roll against ?? or their movement is reduced to zero. Or should the person using the option roll something? How does this affect a charging person?

Anyone attacked by someone using this combat option can only move in a direction allowed by the user, or directly away from the user, whether the attack hits or not. Moving in any other direction causes the target to be harried. If the new hex is also threatened by the option user, another roll is made to see if they must halt their movement.

Penalties for using this option are the same as Defensive Stance, but they do not gain the benefits of Defensive Stance.

(You know what, here's a simpler version that mostly just does what Telarus does.)

-3 to all tests except Knockdown tests
User must declare melee combat Talent or skill and can only use that when attacking (includes unarmed combat)
Any opponent attempting to enter a threatened space must succeed in a Dex test against the total Step of the user's declared talent or skill. Each success allows the opponent to move into a threatened hex. If they have enough successes to move through all threatened hexes they wish to, they can continue on with their movement as normal. Any failure reduces their movement to zero. Charging opponents who fail must make a knockdown test against the user's declared Talent or skill. (Maybe charging opponents can move 2 hexes per success?) Movement out of a threatened hex does not force a roll unless it is also movement into a threatened hex. A hex is considered threatened if an opponent in that hex can be attacked by the user using their declared Talent or skill.

If no one can spot any obvious flaws with that, I might try it out.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

Telarus
Posts: 249
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 1:16 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by Telarus » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:01 pm

I really like the addition of the Success mechanic.

If you are going to bring in talent/skill ranks, it may be worth targeting the incoming attacker's Physical Defense with the Talent/Skill (this is how Acrobatic Defense & Maneuver work).

Hmmmm... so you might be able spend successes from those type of abilities (Great Leap also comes to mind) to negate one threatened hex.

Tattered Rags
Posts: 359
Joined: Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:04 am

Re: combat tactics

Post by Tattered Rags » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:12 pm

Telarus wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:01 pm
If you are going to bring in talent/skill ranks, it may be worth targeting the incoming attacker's Physical Defense with the Talent/Skill (this is how Acrobatic Defense & Maneuver work).
The reason I brought in the Talent was to reflect different level of abilities for a given person to hold an area. Forcing that person to roll can cause several off-turn rolls, which complicates things.

Also, I'm not sure how to manage the interaction. Does success just stop the opponent? Is there room for extra successes? Does the result instead serve as the DN for the opponents' dex rolls, or is it against an opponent's stat? When do they roll? Are they allowed to do something else with their Standard Action that round, or is this attack roll their action?

I'm not opposed to it; I just can't figure out how to make it work. Answers to some of those questions are obvious, but others not so much. Any suggestions? I do like the benefit that making the ground-holder roll does suggest that you can overwhelm them to get someone past.
Telarus wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:01 pm
Hmmmm... so you might be able spend successes from those type of abilities (Great Leap also comes to mind) to negate one threatened hex.
My proposed method does allow for use of something other than Dex. I like that.
Adventure I'm running:
Under the Stars

Adventure GM post-mortem:
Under the Stars Postmortem

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