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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: Sovem on August 23, 2007, 10:41:42 AM



Title: Pondering called shots
Post by: Sovem on August 23, 2007, 10:41:42 AM
A lot of games have rules for combatants to make "called shots" on their opponent. They sacrifice a bit of their chance for success in return for the possibility of extra damage (or special effects; like "the Zorro," disarming, etc.). I've always liked these rules; indeed, I'm contemplating them for my own system that I've been working on for a year or two now.
It was just such contemplation that led me to wonder... how realistic are called shots? That is, consider the following scenario:

You are fighting an opponent. Both of you are armed with swords. You see his eye go to your sword arm and he begins a swing to chop it off. Is the burden on him to hit it, or you to make sure your arm is out of the way/sufficiently blocked?

I see many different variations on this scenario. In the above, if we assume the swords are, say, katanas, I don't really see any difference between the defender moving his sword to block and arm shot or moving his sword to block a slash at the chest. If that is the case, why should our attacker take any difficulty penalty?
It seems to me that it really depends on the manner of defense. Is the defender blocking? Then what's the difference between an arm and the chest? Is the defender dodging? In that case, I could see a penalty for hitting something as small and limber as a limb.

What if they were fighting with knives? Or with Great Hammers? Or if the attacker had a katana, and the defender had a short sword? In all the scenarios, it seems like the key factor is whether the defender wants to get out of the way, or manuever to block the attack.

What say the Forge? What does this mean in terms of game mechanics?


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: David Artman on August 23, 2007, 11:22:24 AM
It kind of works both ways, it seems, and your preference will come down to either handling issues (number of randomizers to roll) or sense of "verisimilitude."

First, with regards to ranged attacks, a called shot is usually just a variation on aiming: take a bit longer adjusting for wind and range, and you have a higher chance of hitting a smaller (i.e. specified) target. Simple enough, and clearly the onus is on the to-hit roll.

Second, melee--the trickier one. If the attacker is unaware, we're back to the aiming situation: sacrificing time (and, thus, risking being noticed) to insure a specific target is hit. Probably less time than for aiming at range, but time nonetheless.

Now, if the attacker is aware, then the "both ways" comes into play: The attacker is focusing efforts to hit a particular target; as such, it becomes easier to defend. This limited target area could be represented with to-hit penalties, OR it could be represented with bonuses to "parry" or to "dodge" defensive rolls. You might also have variable penalties based on the size of the target: a small and therefore more mobile target would be harder to hit/easier to keep out of the way of the attack.

Weapon size/speed are all orthogonal to these hit/defend considerations: a dagger attacks faster than a great hammer, whether being focused on a particular (large or small) target or not. It's an utterly separate contributing factor.

Of course, there is another way of looking at the whole thing. You could build a system where previous attacks or defenses adjust following defenses or attacks. If I've extended myself for a killing lunge thrust to the heart, it becomes easier to hit my arm and head but harder to hit my torso or legs and impossible to hit my back-extended, balancing other arm. Conversely, if I've just made a basic parry against a low torso attack, I might have an easier time rolling my follow-up attack over the top, for a head hit, than I would trying to beat right back along the same line, for a torso hit (i.e. the defender's weapon is already in the general area it needs to be, to parry mine).

Such a system would be far better for simulating the ebbs and flows of actual melee, and it would basically "encode" called shots into the core mechanic (rather than layering it on top): as long as you are going with "best openings," you have the best chances to hit (or defender has hardest time parrying/dodging). But as soon as you want to ignore an opening and try for a harder (i.e. less exposed) target, you incur penalties (defender gains bonuses). That's the "called shot" but it reflects current stances and positions more than mere target size (i.e. most called shot systems).

And face it: in the end, every attack is trying to hit a lethal spot or is trying to hit a spot to incapacitate a limb or to knock out the victim. Body blows want to slice open a huge wound or penetrate to vital organs, every attack to the head wants it lopped off or in twain, limb attacks want that limb disabled and bleeding out. Put differently, EVERY rational melee attack is a "called shot" in the sense that a good meleer is looking for opening to make lethal blows, not just slashing in the general direction of the victim, happy to hit whatever might get in the way (mindless zombies and acre-stomping giants notwithstanding).

So that's the direction I'd be heading, if I found myself wondering over the nuances of called shots as easier defense or harder to hit. A high verisimilitude combat system is going to treat each maneuver as a change in the dynamic state between the combatants, with fluctuating "best attacks" from moment to moment and no real notion of a called shot so much as a calculated delay (to aim or to wait for the opponent provide a better opening--or fool him into doing so!).

Hope this helps. As a boffer meleer, martial artist, and fencer, I'd be interested in seeing a tabletop combat system that worked more like real life combat, complete with dirty tricks to gain advantages, relative stance considerations, and rick/reward trade-offs for various types of attacks or defenses.

There was a martial arts CCG that basically did things this way, but I can't recall its name--it always seemed like a great "bolt-on" for an RPG that wanted really "accurate" combat techniques and reactions.
(*google google* It's called Ultimate Combat!)
David


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Moreno R. on August 23, 2007, 01:51:16 PM
Hi J. F.!

A way to solve the "called shot" problem (or to avoid it, if you prefere) is using a "fortune in the middle" method

With the usual "fortune at the end" systems, you have to say, before, what are you doing, and the roll simply tell you if you was successful or not. So, you have to say before the roll if you are trying for a called shot, and you have to modify the roll to take in account this.  This is tricky, because in a real combat, things are not so easily divided in "called shots" and "normal shots", and this division feel artificial.

With a "fortune in the middle" system, you could roll normally, deciding how much successful you are (how the events of the melee advantage you, in positioning and openings, if you prefere), THEN you decide how to "spend" this advantage you rolled. And you could decide if going for a strong hit, ot fot a less forceful hit but done with much more precision exactly where you want.  This for me give a much better "feel" of the ebb and flow of combat, keeping both the uncretainty and the tactical decision.

The only drawback I see, is that the entire system must be about "fortune in the middle" or "fortune in the end", this is not something that you can use only for an ad hoc rule. So I don't know how much this advice will be useful to you, without knowing what kind of system you have in mind.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: xenopulse on August 23, 2007, 01:58:26 PM
David already hit most of the points. :) Here is one design suggestion, since we're talking about you using it in your design. It's just meant to show one way it can be done that I haven't seen used yet.

I think "real" attacks are always aimed. Random hit location tables, per se, make very little sense. You're always pointing your sword or gun at some part of the opponent's body. If you wanted realism, for ranged attacks at least, you could have different probabilities of where you hit depending on where the person is primarily aiming at. And the spread from the center of the aim to the other locations would depend on the skill of the shooter and the other factors involved.

Ah what the heck, here's a quickly slapped together example of what I mean:

Hit Location Matrix (http://www.berengad.com/public/hitloc.jpg)

If you want to be random, roll a D20 and a D12 and find the cross-section. That's where you hit. And yes, it means you can miss if you roll outside the human bounds. (You can add weapons or shoulder bits or whatnot, too.)

Now, if your skill is great or your roll good, you just select a sub-section of the matrix to determine where you hit. So if you're a crackshot, you could pick a 6x6 area out of the 20x12 area, say "first D6 is 4-9 on the x-axis, second D6 is 7-12 on the y-axis." Or, in short gamer lingo, "6X4, 6Y7."

Anyway. That's just one way to do it :)


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Filip Luszczyk on August 23, 2007, 02:20:43 PM
The old Babylon 5 RPG had something like this. Only, In B5RPG there was a silhouette of man with a hex grid on it. Like, dozens of little hexes. Attacker was choosing one of these hexes as his target, and then, if I recall, there was some deviation depending on the margin of success, and a die was rolled to determine which hex was hit, exactly. It was possible to hit air, obviously, or to hit the cover (the cover was represented by arbitrarily covering some part of the silhouette with a sheet of paper). All that to determine which point of the body got hit by the attack that most probably took you out anyway.

A friend of mine tried to run the game some years ago. There was a certain gimmicky elegance to it. Also, it was as bothersome and unwieldy as a combat system can get.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Moreno R. on August 23, 2007, 02:38:10 PM
I think "real" attacks are always aimed. Random hit location tables, per se, make very little sense. You're always pointing your sword or gun at some part of the opponent's body. If you wanted realism, for ranged attacks at least, you could have different probabilities of where you hit depending on where the person is primarily aiming at. And the spread from the center of the aim to the other locations would depend on the skill of the shooter and the other factors involved.

Christian, do you know the game "Harnmaster"? Its combat system (one of them, anyway) is build around that same idea.  There are different matrices for different kind of forms (human, avian, serpentine, etc.) and when you roll "to hit" you choose one quadrant, and the system tell you where you hit. For melee combat you simpy say if you hit high, low or medium, but for ranged weapons you can tell exacly the point you aim for (and for the mounted matrices, there is even the horse underneath to be hit)

The complexity of the game vary with the different edition, I don't remember if the ranged called shot is in every edition (In the gold one I am rather sure there is), and the game cost a bundle, But if you want to see how it works, in Columbia Games homesite there are some variant rules for archery that show how it work in the game. You can find them HERE (http://www.columbiagames.com/HarnPage/harnmaster/combat.html)


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: xenopulse on August 23, 2007, 02:40:19 PM
I've played Harnmaster, but I don't remember the different areas. Now that you say it, though, it sounds familiar. I definitely remember huge hit location lists and differently-colored damage results.

I also remember, despite wearing a helmet with a visor, getting bit in the eyes by a wolf (a red result, no less). No system is perfect, I guess :)


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: J. Scott Timmerman on August 23, 2007, 02:58:14 PM
Sovem,

If you're looking for realism, I'd have to agree with David in that the classic "take a penalty to the attack to do more damage" is not the way to go.  If you wanted to make a simple mechanic that's slightly more accurate (but not perfect, by any means), then you could say "take a penalty to defense to do more damage".

A defender, skilled or unskilled, is faced with the choice of how to defend.  This is not often simply a matter of clutching one's stomach instinctually, or parrying every strike that aims to the face, but also a matter of stance and positioning, as well as sacrifice.  Sometimes it's better to have your wrists slit than your vitals.

You could, as many systems do, assume this conscious choice comes down to stats and the roll of the dice.  But, especially in the case of characters who don't hold self-preservation as their highest priority, there is some level of value judgment.

In the end, how important is that to your game?  I.E., is the drama of your game dependent upon characters making value judgments in defense?  Yes, I'm saying defense is a conscious, real-time decision on the defender's part, but do you see issues like deciding how to defend being a central and interesting part of your combat system?

As a sidenote, fighting, either in reality or in a gaming system, can only be explained through a paradigm, as humans aren't capable of thinking in better ways.  I suggest that once you select a single paradigm for how conflict works in your game, stick with it.

The only other alternative is to have a game that takes into account multiple paradigms on how to view combat in a "realistic" manner, which could get incomprehensibly complex, but might be a fun experimental game.

I'm sorry I don't have as many suggestions as the other posters seem to.  I just hope some more theoretical advice helps, since you seem to be concerned about "realism" in your initial questions.

-Jason T.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Callan S. on August 23, 2007, 05:31:14 PM
Hi Sovem,

If you perfected this, what would that do for gameplay? I know your going for realism, but after you got it would you say "Ah, now I have realism I can get on with doing X in the game" or is just getting realism your goal?

If just getting realism is your goal, you might consider bringing in other players to help create that. Because if you did develop a really realistic system by yourself and your not going to do anything else with it, that's the end - there's no room for other players.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: contracycle on August 24, 2007, 04:55:05 AM
Re Bab 5
A friend of mine tried to run the game some years ago. There was a certain gimmicky elegance to it. Also, it was as bothersome and unwieldy as a combat system can get.

Ha! You should see Milleniums End then, which is the "parent" system.  The Babylon 5 version was the massively streamlined version!


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Sovem on August 24, 2007, 07:00:13 AM
Hmm, it seems the issue is even more complex than I first thought. I think that, since realism is not exactly intrinsic to the game I'm making, that I'm going to have to go with a generalization, rather than delving into the extremely murky and confusing waters of hit tables and hex grids. Or, maybe just do a generalization of the hex grids... I'm not sure. I know that I've decided that the defender will determine the flow of combat, whether he decides to block or to evade will determine what stats of the attacker are important, but I'm not sure how called shots will fit in...

But, that's another topic entirely. In fact, if I get time later, I may post it to see what y'all think.

Thanks for the advice and examples!


Title: my honest opinion on 'realistic' combat.
Post by: Monkeys on August 24, 2007, 07:10:56 AM
People who talk about realistic combat in role-playing games seem to mean only realism in terms of the chances of causing wounds, and the physical effects of those wounds.

i) I doubt more than a tiny number of people have any real knowledge about that anyway.

ii) I'd hate for my hobbit to be wounded by a dragon in an unrealistic way.

iii) Applying realistic physical behaviour, combined with ludicriously unrealistic psychological behaviour (creatures fight to the death rather than retreat, fear has no effect on people's skills, everyone has unlimited time to make split-second decisions and the ability to consult about these decisions) doesn't make anything more realistic.

The most realistic combat system is probably as follows:

i) roll for fear.
ii) if no one runs away, roll for who wins.
iii) if you're still alive, roll 2d6. That's how many years you're going to have nightmares.


Title: Re: my honest opinion on 'realistic' combat.
Post by: TomTancredi on August 24, 2007, 08:05:30 AM

The most realistic combat system is probably as follows:

i) roll for fear.
ii) if no one runs away, roll for who wins.
iii) if you're still alive, roll 2d6. That's how many years you're going to have nightmares.

LOL. I utterly agree. iii) had me going for 3 minutes in the office.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: David Artman on August 24, 2007, 09:21:54 AM
Hit Location Matrix (http://www.berengad.com/public/hitloc.jpg)

If you want to be random, roll a D20 and a D12 and find the cross-section. That's where you hit. And yes, it means you can miss if you roll outside the human bounds. (You can add weapons or shoulder bits or whatnot, too.)

Now, if your skill is great or your roll good, you just select a sub-section of the matrix to determine where you hit. So if you're a crackshot, you could pick a 6x6 area out of the 20x12 area, say "first D6 is 4-9 on the x-axis, second D6 is 7-12 on the y-axis." Or, in short gamer lingo, "6X4, 6Y7."

That's a VERY cool idea for an aimed shot, and it might even work with melee and my ideas about ebb and flow, too.

* A melee attack skill lets you pick the quadrant you're aiming for and determines the "area" of it. Different skills and/or weapons allow for larger or differently shaped areas.
* THEN, you can delay to narrow down that area further (aiming/calling a shot). Of course, if you delay enough that the defender's "initiative" comes up, he might attack ahead of you.
* The KEY is that, once you've rolled to hit a quadrant, your weapon is in that "area" until some later count of initiative. This positioning, in turn, adjusts your chance of parrying against attacks against you in that quadrant.
* SO if your opponent then gets to his initiative count and attacks in that quadrant, you'll have a bonus to parry. Conversely, if he attacks elsewhere, you have a penalty as you try to haul your weapon into that new quadrant... should you choose to do so!
* REPEAT. Now HIS weapon is in some quadrant for some time period, and that impacts HIS defensive capabilities.

Sprinkle liberally with hindering effects from limb hits, bleeding out from wounds that aren't instantly lethal, and attacks to subdue; and I think you'd have a nice system with high verisimilitude but minimal handling. Basically, every combatant would have a chart (like that cool grid above) and maybe some tokens or a dry erase marker (laminate the grids) to mark their weapon's current quadrant and which of their quadrants was last attacked (i.e. their opponent's weapon position).

Hmmm.... Wonder if you even need a randomizer, then, or if it could all be done with resource allocation (like action point systems). Ooo! And in such a system, delaying or aiming is how one gets more resources! Spending them dictates how accurate the hit was: you only miss because your opponent expends more resources defending (to "push" your hit off his body grid) than you spent attacking (to "pull" your hit to the best spot in the quadrant that you want to hit).

Man... this has wings. You know when you get that "something cool is going on here" feeling...? I'm getting it....
David


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: xenopulse on August 24, 2007, 12:21:59 PM
I was going to use this system for a mecha combat game long ago (before stumbling across the Forge), and I had templates in mind... rows for bursts, scatters for shotgun weapons, and so on, that you'd impose on the grid.

I do think, David, that this has some worthwhile applications for a good tactical system, but we should probably take any attempts to make it such to a new thread :)  I'm curious to see how you'd tie it all together into a resource system like you outlined.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Justin Nichol - BFG on August 25, 2007, 10:46:58 AM
Called shots have always been a source of amusement. If you've ever played Hero system, the difficulty modifier to hit the head is -8 which is huuuuge. So under Hero system Boxers are the most powerful beings on the planet because they regularly hit their opponents head. Another very funny occurrence is random hit locations. It's like wait, why did my character hit him in the foot with my spear -or- damn I just wanted to subdue him but I rolled the head with my mace and killed him, but I never would have managed a called shot if I had rolled to not hit somewhere lethal *sigh*

The way I do it in my system is that people hit somewhere when they do a plain strike, it may be center mass, the face, the limbs and extremities depending on how much damage they do and how they want to describe it themselves. If a character wants to strike for a certain location but it has no ultimate effect on mechanics there's no penalty (because I got sick of people trying to describe their attacks in interesting ways and having the GM go "wait wait wait are you really trying to cut his cheek? That's a head strike...") If the called shot has some specific extra effect such as striking a monster in it's weak underbelly or hitting someone in their eye, or disabling their weapon arm, or making a social attack, then they spend a predetermined amount of Focus (to aim) and then attack normally with no difference in difficulty.They are distracted and have to hesitate to aim properly but it's no more difficult usually, it doesn't take long and it's not aggravating, no consulting charts.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: J. Scott Timmerman on August 25, 2007, 12:15:19 PM
In ERA d6, you could say that in a way, all attacks are "called shots."  Though there are ways of adjusting the difficulties of certain target effects (through adjustment to one's style of defense), the attacker ultimately determines the effect of their attack.  Notice I say "effect" rather than "target area."  That's because target area, in ERA d6, is primarily a descriptive element, not a mechanical one.  When a character says, "I attack the eyes," the assumed mechanics are that the player is attacking with intent to "blind."  And so on.  There is a bit of inference from context here, but the player can always make their intended effect explicit if necessary.  Just my 2 cents, because there are gamers (like myself) that are averse to random targets or complex targeting systems, unless the situation truly calls for it.

-Jason T.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 27, 2007, 01:58:30 AM
I can't speak for weapons, but I can speak from an unarmed perspective.

If I'm going for a specific attack, either on the ground or standing up, the other guy can usually see it coming and defend it pretty easily. If I'm just flowing and not going for a specific target and just where I see the opening I have a much easier time hitting it. This also goes for my "signature" move of the triangle choke. I can get it on about 99% of the people I grapple with. I only get it consistently if I'm going for another move though. The setups for it are well known, so the only time I get it is when they're focusing on defending something else that I am actually going for and they're leaving themselves open to the triangle.

The penalty to hit a specific target seems to fit pretty well to me.

It works differently with guns apparently, so the overlay system used in A&8 or Millenium's End for example, or the ORE system seem to handle that better.

I'm not sure if anything different factors in with bladed weapons and such as I haven't done any full force fighting with them.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 27, 2007, 02:06:09 AM
Called shots have always been a source of amusement. If you've ever played Hero system, the difficulty modifier to hit the head is -8 which is huuuuge. So under Hero system Boxers are the most powerful beings on the planet because they regularly hit their opponents head.

They hit their opponent's head when an opening presents itself, not whenever they feel like it. A boxer who keeps swinging for the head of a relatively well matched opponent will hardly ever hit. Continuously swinging for the body will present a similar problem, compounded with an increased shot of getting counter hit in the head. That's why boxers mix body and head shots - when they land it's when one of the two wasn't being defended well enough, not because they specifically were aiming for it. They do aim for both the head and the body in their combinations but when they get through it's less because of them aiming and more because the defense wasn't up.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Justin Nichol - BFG on August 27, 2007, 02:34:46 AM
But in boxing, I think a person would have a pretty good chance of hitting the head if they decided to. It wouldn't be as ridiculously difficult as it is in Hero system if a boxer decided to work the body or work the head more, the point is not that it's an effortless sort of thing to strike someone but only that it can be done with a much greater chance of success than most systems and especially Hero make it seem. Besides, we're playing a game, not real life, and it shouldn't be so friggin' insane to try to do a called shot because as of yet I've never come across anything simple that would allow for someone to model when a persons defenses are up or down for a particular attack. What you do with the triangle choke would be better resolved as a sort of grappling feint than anything else just for simplicities sake.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 27, 2007, 04:16:54 AM
Not really. Your chance of hitting the head isn't bad if you're mixing your targets. If you're aiming specifically for the head your chance of hitting it right then is pretty low. If you compare percentages, and look at the number of hard shots to the head that actually land early in the fight you'll see it's really low. Jabs land. Shots land on the arms. A slightly higher number make it through to hit the body, but there are fights where evenly matche boxers go an entire 3 minute round without landing a single shot to the head.

As for the triangle choke, it would be best resolved with a random table. I'm going for at least a dozen moves at any one time, certain moves are higher or lower percentage for me, but which one I get depends on a number of factors. Having a simple grappling offense and grappling defense rating, doing a roll to compare if I got any attack through, and then rolling on a table to see which one lands and what the consequences are would model things reasonably accurately. It doesn't cover any of the minutae, but you really don't want to cover things like flipping your hand from palm up to palm down to get a tighter grip, whether you keep your back flat on the ground to prevent a certain move from working (but still being open to some others), whether the relative body size affects the possibility of certain moves and how each fighter deals with people of different body types. You could go as far as having different positions, different tables for each position, have those tables pre-customised to fight the fighter, and go from there for some extra realism, but beyond that you'd be adding in extra details.

Something similar could probably be done with other forms of combat (except gun maybe), where each character has a preferred set of maneuvers at different ranges, and depending on the situation has an increased likelihood of doing a certain move while in a certain range.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Justin Nichol - BFG on August 27, 2007, 11:51:51 AM
Well again we're trying to have fun, and players like to have a little self-determination. Realism means little compared to fun, and if there's one thing that has become a truism over time it's that tons of chart and random tables and not getting to choose what your character does is no fun.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: David Artman on August 28, 2007, 06:33:31 AM
I do think, David, that this has some worthwhile applications for a good tactical system, but we should probably take any attempts to make it such to a new thread :)  I'm curious to see how you'd tie it all together into a resource system like you outlined.

OK, started over here:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24676.0 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=24676.0)

David


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Hereward The Wake on August 28, 2007, 09:06:38 AM
I've always had a problem with called shots as well. After all hits are directed at something! whether in close combat or with missles.
As far as shooting goes, but actually aimingat something you are more likeley to hit it! because it focuses you more where as is you just aim at something big you won't be so accurate! so is the oposite to most game where the called shot is harder! Also its not slowerbut that also depends on you timing etc.

In close combat as has been mentioned you are trying to mask yuour true intentions from you opponent, if you just plug a shot at the head you will get blocked or counter hit, but if you set up a combination and decive etc its more likely to work.

As has also been mantioned, the result is also more to do with what the defender is doing in reponse to the attacker as to how succesful it will be

The problem IMO is that conventional games focus on specific traits to determin success rather than the situation which one is in and what you are used to. Also training and skill will generally mean that you get quciker at things and you will be doing more complex things more simply which will mean that they take less time.
JW


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Elizabeth P. on August 28, 2007, 10:23:35 AM
I've always been wary of most called shot mechanics, because they seem so arbitrary, especially when it comes to a character using Firearms.  In the heat a fight, where two characters are going after each other, there's not a lot of room to stop and think and hit just the right spot, unless you take extra time to aim.  There's a difference between being in a combat, and watching a combat as well.  Someone that is outside a combat (like a sniper) should have an easier time with a called shot because of the time to aim, and sometimes the equipment being used.  During a combat, an actually successful called shot, versus a very lucky shot, are difficult to tell apart.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 28, 2007, 01:59:26 PM
Well again we're trying to have fun, and players like to have a little self-determination. Realism means little compared to fun, and if there's one thing that has become a truism over time it's that tons of chart and random tables and not getting to choose what your character does is no fun.

I agree completely. I was just saying that some of the called shot rules work out alright. Where they stop making sense though is guns. That makes me that more curious how A&8 deals with seperate gun fight and brawl rules.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: dindenver on August 28, 2007, 10:21:17 PM
Hi!
  I "think" what most called shot mechanics represent is not so much "I aim for the head" But instead the attacker's ability to overpower their opponent's defenses. Let's face it, if two char's are evenly matched, you can't afford to take the called shot penalty. But, if you have some advantage on them, the called shot is a way to end the fight faster...
  As far as the answer to your question goes, there are a couple of factors that effect the "right" answer:
1) When attacks are resolved, does the defender get to roll? In other words, is the defenders skill reflected in the attack or defense roll?
2) Does the attack roll in your system effect damage? In other words, is the attacker's excess of skill paid out in any way?
3) What is the point of combat in your game? Is it a test of skill? Strength? Will? Aggression? If you are using a more innovative resolution mechanic, maybe this does not belong there at all...
  I think that if the defenders gets some kind of skill roll, trading accuracy for damage is a viable mechanic. I mean that's the risk, if you underestimate the others guys skill/luck, then you are boned, right?
  On the other hand, if defenders skill is not factored into the mechanics, then attacker's skill shouldn't either, right? If the defender doesn't get to roll their skill and doesn't get a called defense, then it doesn't seem fair or balanced...
  I think if the attacker's skill is already factored into the damage mechanics, then a called shot is unnecessary. But, if there is no correlation between skill and damage, then a called shot is necessary.
  And if the resolution is based on Rage or Willpower, then a called shot may not even be relevant...
  Well, good luck, I hope this helps and for the record, I like called shots rules too. But they really only make real world sense with  ranged combat in my mind...


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: dindenver on August 28, 2007, 10:29:37 PM
Hi!
  Migo, regarding you technique for landing the Triangle Choke, what you describe is referred to as a feint, not really an example of a called shot or lack thereof. In a Feint, you make a move as if you are performing one attack, when in reality, you are performing another. I love the idea of this kind of attack and in  fact in my game its a fairly efficient move. Essentially you  sacrifice initiative for accuracy (which in my game translates into more damage).
  This might be a little off-topic,  but not much since it is related to novel combat mechanics...


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 28, 2007, 11:26:32 PM
Hi!
  Migo, regarding you technique for landing the Triangle Choke, what you describe is referred to as a feint, not really an example of a called shot or lack thereof. In a Feint, you make a move as if you are performing one attack, when in reality, you are performing another. I love the idea of this kind of attack and in  fact in my game its a fairly efficient move. Essentially you  sacrifice initiative for accuracy (which in my game translates into more damage).
  This might be a little off-topic,  but not much since it is related to novel combat mechanics...

No, it's not a feint. It's taking an opening. A feint is doing something conscious, I'm just responding to what the other guy does. I'd say if anything it's faster than doing anything consciously.

Obviously, someone else might be setting it up with a feint, but if you're doing that you're still reducing your chances of landing anything particular are less than just taking the opening that's presented.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Hereward The Wake on August 29, 2007, 03:03:58 AM
Agreed, from RL. The problems most games suffer from IMo is that the conception is that it is easier to hit something big than it is to hit something small! I roll to hit and that is the default, if I actually say I am going from a specific target, because it smaller it must be harder. Equally the assumption is that to aim or focus on a specific target that it take more time/preperation. Again this is not true across the board.

Thats wher training comes in, you train to be able to do those concious things unconciously.

Hence I don't feel that conventional/traditional mechanics wortk as they approach combat from a incoorect premise. In hand to hand/melee its about responding to your opponents tactics/stratergy and attempting to make sure that yours is better than theirs.
Of course this is gaming and not reality andf we have to make soem allowances for that. But With called shots I have always felt that it was like saying that you charecter was going to open that door but to actually crab the door handle you have to make a called shot! Obviously grabing and turning the door handle is harder than just pushing the door, but is that a decision you actually make? or even if you just push the the door, you aim where to put your hand you don't have to "think" about it.

Don't forget that that we are dealing with systems that have been built on layers and leyers of waht has gone before. Most combat systems are basically wargame rules with extra layers added on to give more options/feel. But really as soon as the action goes away from the wargame type fighting one needs a completely differnt system and approach.
So if you want Called shots, then you are going to end up with a system that feels more "real" if you want more "realism" then look at addressing combat differently, perhaps.
JW



Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on August 29, 2007, 02:37:18 PM
snip

Absolutely a good point. The current systems do well within their context, but it's definitely worth rebuilding combat systems from the ground up.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Morte on September 14, 2007, 10:16:52 AM
*delurks*

Um, hi everybody.

I'm sort of working on a sci-fi ruleset that's meant to encourage savvy tactical play. I would like to encourage players to "work the angles" with stealth, picking firing positions, lulling the enemy into a false sense of security, etc. And I figure the best way to get players to do what you want is to give dice bonuses for doing it.

So I thought of letting them work to gain bonuses to bring off difficult but deadly called shots. E.g. one might say that (in some rules) a head shot is -3 to hit and x3 damage, but you can get +1 to hit for kneeling and +1 for bracing your aim and +1 for taking a round to control your breathing. So a player who makes time to get all the bonuses, e.g by stealth or by sweet talking the target then drawing a gun when their back's turned, has a huge advantage over one who just walks in and fires.

As for details... The first idea I had was the hit location hex grid. You pick an aim point, then make your attack roll and a simultaneous d6 "miss die". If you hit apply damage with a location modifier. If you fail, take a direction from your miss die and a distance in hexes from your margin of failure. That gives you an actual location, which may be outside the target (no damage) or behind armour/cover (apply damage reduction). With the right numbers, that should mean that "centre of chest" is the best target for most attacks, but particularly skilled/close/prepared shooters have a higher probable damage on the head shot. I am under the impression <G> that this is realistic. And if you want an arm/leg shot to disable it might work, or it can miss altogether, or it can go wrong and you end up shooting somebody through the spine.

I'm not sure whether the hex thing would be too cumbersome for regular game(r)s. I'm hoping for my game to have combat that's rare, deadly and decisive so it ought to stand a lot more crunch per attack than an all-action dungeon crawl. Now I've read the comment back up the thread about the B5 game, I'm not so sure...

Going from there, I wondered if I could simplify it and get roughly the same end results with less rules. I think a reasonable compromise would be:
- Normal attacks are assumed to be to the centre of the chest. Your results (margin of success or damage roll or whatever) imply where you hit -- high was heart or spine, medium lung, low went through a shoulder muscle, and so on.
- You can take a penalty to hit and go for a head shot which will do much more damage. If you fail, you missed. This seems vaguely realistic for head shots -- three quarters of the directions you can miss in do end up outside the target.
- You can shoot to disable on arms or legs, there's a penalty to hit, if you make the shot there's no damage bonus but that specific limb is declared "degraded". Misses are just misses, or maybe on critical failures you roll a normal attack to the chest. };->

Then we come to the business of "how do you stay calm enough to do this stuff in the middle of a fire fight?", which has been bothering me for a while. I plan a fairly simple rule: you may not make a called shot if have been attacked in the last three rounds. So you can start a fight with a called shot, and it's a damn good way to start an ambush, and snipers who are looking on godlike from a hide can make serial called shots; but otherwise you're down to more basic combat once you're in the thick of things. If I go with some sort of "composure" capability, like the "cool" stat in CP2020 or a D20 Will save, I might allow a check on that for an exemption.

I would welcome any thoughts...


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: xenopulse on September 14, 2007, 03:01:18 PM
Welcome to the Forge, Morte :) I'm Christian.

That simplified version you have toward the end, without a grid, could be done in several ways. Since I like throwing things out there (as you might have seen earlier in the thread), here's one such way that just came to me.

Let's say you have three possible good results: heavy damage (critical location such as head, neck, heart, etc.), regular damage (hitting the shoulder, the chest but not a vital part, the arm), and handicaps (knee, hand, and so on). You can take three different kind of shots: just try to hit, try to hit critically, or try to inflict a handicap. Then you have three charts that look a bit like this:

Regular: 1-5 miss, 6-15 regular damage, 16-18 handicap, 19-22 heavy damage, 23+ choice of heavy damage and/or handicap
Critical: 1-10 miss, 11-13 regular damage, 14-15 handicap, 16-22 heavy damage, 23+ choice of heavy damage and/or handicap
Handicap: 1-10 miss, 11-12 regular damage, 13-19 handicap, 20-22 heavy damage, 23+ choice of heavy damage and/or handicap

All other factors--skill, penalties, dodge, range, etc.--are simply added to or subtracted from the hit roll. This way, you have one roll, a quick looking up of the chart, and then you can figure from the effect where the bullet hit exactly. Trying to achieve a specific effect makes it less likely to hit overall and more likely to get the desired result, but the ultimate outcome is still variable unless the player rolls exceptionally well, in which case s/he can select what they want.

It's still a called shot, but a call on the intent of the attack (hurting or hindering), which is really the underlying reason why people do called shots.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on September 14, 2007, 09:17:33 PM
I like the hex grid idea much better than using the penalty to hit for gun shots. Using a penalty to hit in melee is ok, using it in with ranged attacks doesn't seem quite as appropriate, since you're dealing with a limited number of projectiles and you are going to be aiming for something. In melee you obviously are as well, but there it's an equal amount of responding to openings, creating openings and aiming for specific targets so it works to abstract it.

For getting bonuses for aiming - the Riddle of Steel and EABA both do this in different ways. Both have free versions that can be downloaded. (www.theriddleofsteel.net and www.btrc.net) so you can check those out for ideas of how similar things have already been done. For getting bonuses for sweet talking, sneaking, etc, Donjon has a cool mechanic, it uses a dice pool, if you suceed at a sneak, you can carry those successes over and add them into your dice pool for the attack. It's a really smooth way of handling things IMO.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Morte on September 15, 2007, 10:34:55 AM
It's still a called shot, but a call on the intent of the attack (hurting or hindering), which is really the underlying reason why people do called shots.

I like the naming based on ends rather than means, i.e regular/critical/handicap instead of chest/head/arms. It makes it clear to new players why they would want to try it. It also works on pentagonally symmetrical acid-spitting worms that don't have chests, arms or heads. For that matter, it would work for starship combat.

Quote
variable unless the player rolls exceptionally well, in which case s/he can select what they want.

Is that the "fortune in the middle" thing that was mentioned earlier, where you see how well the roll went before finalising what you were doing?

I'm thinking that declare then roll (?"fortune at the end"?) is in keeping with the game of judgement and canny risk taking I'm looking for -- you suss out the enemy, figure your best move, make your play, and see what happens. I wonder how fortune in the middle would help in this context (i.e. using more effective called shots as a way to reward and promote good tactics). I don't see how it helps, but then I've never tried it.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: Morte on September 15, 2007, 11:06:11 AM
I like the hex grid idea much better than using the penalty to hit for gun shots.

I worry that it'll be too much paperwork, though play aids should help. Even if it works out fine, I also worry that gamers will dismiss it out of hand as too much paperwork without ever giving it a chance. But I think it has the potential to be a worthwhile "minigame" within the game, and if it's fun to do then people will be OK with spending time on it. In the campaign I ran with the last version of my rules I used the penalty to hit for bonus to damage, and it all seemed rather intangible and bland. Pointing at a chart and saying "where did the bullet go... {roll...} left lung!" might spice things up a bit.

I'm also conscious that I (so far) use abstracted rules for burst fire rather than rolling once per bullet, and getting into concrete hit locations will limit my options with that.

Quote
Using a penalty to hit in melee is ok, using it in with ranged attacks doesn't seem quite as appropriate, since you're dealing with a limited number of projectiles and you are going to be aiming for something. In melee you obviously are as well, but there it's an equal amount of responding to openings, creating openings and aiming for specific targets so it works to abstract it.

I see what you mean, but I'm not too bothered in the specific case of firing bullets at humans (though now I'm thinking about other stuff). In practice you probably either go for the chest (the default percentage play), or the head to kill, or the arms/legs to hamper. And the head/arms/legs are a lot harder to hit than the torso, and missing them will frequently be a complete miss. So I think dice modifiers work rather like the ballistics, and it's not such a huge abstraction.

But when I've used "minus to hit, plus to damage" in GURPS and a couple of D20 systems, they seemed silly...

Well, I'm inclined to take both systems to the table and see what transpires.


Quote
For getting bonuses for aiming - the Riddle of Steel and EABA both do this in different ways. Both have free versions that can be downloaded. (www.theriddleofsteel.net and www.btrc.net) so you can check those out for ideas of how similar things have already been done. For getting bonuses for sweet talking, sneaking, etc, Donjon has a cool mechanic, it uses a dice pool, if you suceed at a sneak, you can carry those successes over and add them into your dice pool for the attack. It's a really smooth way of handling things IMO.

Hmm, dice carry overs vs situational bonuses that you usually only get after being clever. I need to think more about that.


Title: Re: Pondering called shots
Post by: migo on September 16, 2007, 03:52:33 PM


I like the naming based on ends rather than means, i.e regular/critical/handicap instead of chest/head/arms. It makes it clear to new players why they would want to try it. It also works on pentagonally symmetrical acid-spitting worms that don't have chests, arms or heads. For that matter, it would work for starship combat.

Thanks for bringing this up. For the system I'm working on I have called shots doing exactly that, but I didn't make the connection that it would work well with non-humanoids, even though it seems really obvious now.