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Author Topic: Small questions  (Read 4859 times)
Jason Morningstar
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« on: September 17, 2005, 02:14:40 PM »

Hi all,

My friend and I sat down to try out Burning Wheel revised today and found it pretty frustrating. 

Some small questions:

If you are using the basic (non-scripted) combat system, do shields have any value/effect? 

Can you script an action for any of the three spots in a volley, or only in sequence?  Can you declare that your action will take place in action three rather than action one, even if you only get a single action?

Steel and pain:  "Make a Steel test".  Against what, exactly?  The number of dice of the injury? 

How do GMs typically handle scripting for, say, a dozen opponents?  Maintaining some control over all the details seems extraordinarily daunting. 

Thanks,

Jason

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rafial
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« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2005, 03:23:42 PM »

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If you are using the basic (non-scripted) combat system, do shields have any value/effect?

By basic, I assume you mean bloody versus tests?  If you are doing straight up tests, you might give an advantage die to the guy that has a shield if the other guy doesn't.  In general with a bloody versus test, you'd want to look at the situation and see if either side has a situational advantage (see page 30 of BW).

If you are doing the "divide skill into attack and defense pools" thing, then you might want to add shield dice to the defense side.

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Can you script an action for any of the three spots in a volley, or only in sequence?  Can you declare that your action will take place in action three rather than action one, even if you only get a single action?

The actions must be distributed "as evenly as possible" but the odd ones can go wherever you like.  So if you had only one action, yes, you could put it in the third volley.  If you have four actions, you have one in each volley, and one you can put in the volley of your choice.

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Steel and pain:  "Make a Steel test".  Against what, exactly?  The number of dice of the injury?

Against your Hesitation.  Hesitation is 10 - Will.  So if you've got a Will of 4, you roll Steel against an obstacle of 6.

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How do GMs typically handle scripting for, say, a dozen opponents?  Maintaining some control over all the details seems extraordinarily daunting.

Typically by having "canned scripts" and having blocks of opponents following the same script.  Does it make them a little more predictable?  Yup, but a PC in BW needs every advantage they can get anyway ;)
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2005, 04:33:43 PM »

Thanks Rafial, that is very helpful.

You misunderstood this question, I think:

"Can you script an action for any of the three spots in a volley, or only in sequence?  Can you declare that your action will take place in action three rather than action one, even if you only get a single action?"

To clarify:  We're in Volley #2.  I have a single action to use in volley #2.  Must it be the first action, or can it be the second or third within the volley?  So if my opponent, for example, sets and Great strikes, could I script my single action to fall on the same action as his great strike rather than during the set?

Which raises another question - can you string out multi-part actions across volleys?
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Bankuei
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« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2005, 06:05:24 PM »

Hi Jason,

As far as I know, you can't script for a later action on the same volley- it's part of the price of being slow.  Tactically, you know most volleys the opposition can only do their "thing" on the first action, and plan accordingly, which also makes that 4th or greater action option a big deal.

You CAN script actions across multiple volleys, such as, "Trying to untie and free my buddy they were about to hang" is probably going to come out in several volleys. 

Finally, a very useful idea for canned script actions is to set up 3 or 4 canned scripts to work with, and have various characters use one.  For example, an aggressive script is going to be Strike, Block, Strike most likely, while a cunning one might be Counterstrike, Avoid, Strike.  You can label them A,B,C, or whatever works for you and give it to the NPCs and even have them switch options depending on their situation.  For example, an injured character probably will switch to a defensive script, or probably try to run away.

Chris
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2005, 06:57:40 PM »

I'm not looking at the book but if you have an avoid in a volley and someone has Set, Great Strike, the Avoid counts against the Great Strike.

Hope that makes sense, I don't have the book in front of me but I'm fairly certain that I'm right and that's how I'd call it at home.
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rafial
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« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2005, 11:10:07 PM »

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I'm not looking at the book but if you have an avoid in a volley and someone has Set, Great Strike, the Avoid counts against the Great Strike.

Paka's understanding is not the same as mine.  "Actions are matched up in each volley--first actions against first actions, second actions against second actions" (BW145)

I don't see anything special to counteract that under Avoid or Great Strike.  Avoid does say that if you do another action in the same volley your own action gets a +1 Ob.  Also, I note in the example on BW277 with a Lock as the second action versus a character who avoided in the first (and has no second action) there is no mention of the Avoid applying against the Lock, only natural defenses.

What I do believe is true is that you can never get a "second action" in a volley unless you had an actual "first action"  So that is one of the benefits of speed, you may get an action that the opponent cannot take any active countermeasures against.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2005, 05:51:53 AM »

Thanks guys.  I hope you can see by the discussion my minor questions evoked why we feel a little overwhelmed by BW. 

The thing I'm observing is that one really needs to use the entire system - unlike, say, GURPS, which is the most complex RPG I've ever run, where you have a great degree of control over the granularity, even subsystem by subsystem. Would you agree with this? 

We're impressed with much of BW and are considering using it for a new campaign, but handling time is a huge issue and we're concerned with conflicts taking a long time to resolve. Even in our little test melee I could see things speeding up as we figured things out, but the bottom line is that you are scripting out every heartbeat.   Is this a valid concern? 
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rafial
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« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2005, 09:40:40 AM »

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The thing I'm observing is that one really needs to use the entire system - unlike, say, GURPS, which is the most complex RPG I've ever run, where you have a great degree of control over the granularity, even subsystem by subsystem. Would you agree with this?

Hmm... I'd phrase it little differently.  I think you could keep BW quite light by doing everything with simple or bloody versus tests.  However the more detailed subsystems add so much of interest to the proceedings that I'd say the BW is a complex RPG where I actually want to use all the detail.

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Even in our little test melee I could see things speeding up as we figured things out, but the bottom line is that you are scripting out every heartbeat.   Is this a valid concern?

My experience with classic was that the handling time of scripted combat was never any worse, and probably better than the typical d20 battle.  Interpret that how you will :)  The nice thing about revised is that you now have the option to ask "does anybody care about fighting out this battle?" and if nobody does, fall back on a bloody versus test.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2005, 10:17:55 AM »

My experience with classic was that the handling time of scripted combat was never any worse, and probably better than the typical d20 battle.

Yeah, that's actually not particularly encouraging ... in our test session, we first ran the conflict as a bloody versus fight, and were really unsatisfied with the outcome. 

On a related note, how much information do you need to keep track of concerning NPCs?  All their stats, derived stats, skills, traits, instincts?  It seems like all that could come into play in a fight.  Or can you just wing it?  Is that even possible? 
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rafial
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« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2005, 10:38:35 AM »

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On a related note, how much information do you need to keep track of concerning NPCs?

Major NPCs will get the full workup of course.  Minor NPCs (for battles) need full stats, combat related skills, and gear.

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Or can you just wing it?  Is that even possible?

Oh sure... Incompetent NPC: all stats and skills are B3, Competent NPC: all stats and skills are B4.  What skills do they have?  Well, at the moment of need think "would this NPC know how to do this?".  If so, they have an applicable skill, if not, they are defaulting to B1 or B2 root.
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Luke
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« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2005, 07:05:48 AM »

On a related note, how much information do you need to keep track of concerning NPCs?  All their stats, derived stats, skills, traits, instincts?  It seems like all that could come into play in a fight.  Or can you just wing it?  Is that even possible? 

you might consult pages 280-281 of the Burning Wheel. They have guidelines for creating NPCs.

Also, Wilhelm's correct in his read of the book. Note, don't listen to anyone quoting rules (about any game) unless they also quote a page number. Bad Paka, bad.

-Luke
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2005, 07:46:54 AM »

OK, so we generated characters and set up a big combat to introduce the system.  Character generation (5 players, 2 GMs) took two hours, and six seconds of combat took another two hours.  I'm assuming this will get faster with familiarity.  Somebody please tell me it gets faster with familiarity.

One PC got hit hard and failed his Steel test, resulting in 5 hesitation.  At this point he had to run screaming or stand there and get butchered - or am I missing something?  His opponent had a strike scripted, and would have the leisure of scripting more strikes or great strikes for the next set of three, during which there would be no active opposition to his actions.  Right?  It didn't feel right.

There seemed to be a death spiral of guys getting tagged, made less effective, then as a result getting tagged again until they were functionally useless due to obstacle penalties.  Either that or killed with a single blow, which happened twice.  Is this how it is supposed to be?

I feel a real sense of desperation, because I can see some really positive things about BW, but my players were not happy with the way our test turned out, and I found myself saying "just give it time, it'll get better."  And that sucks, because I hate being in that position and I don't know for sure that it is true.

--Jason
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Bankuei
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2005, 08:44:34 AM »

Hi Jason,

How many people were in the combat you ran?  All the PCs + 1 NPC for each?  Definitely a rough way to start, as I assume everyone was having to learn all the new manuevers and go through a decision tree if that was the case.   Yes, it does get much faster, especially if the players can script their own without having to look up each manuever as well as know the basic mechanics for most of them.

Hesitation does hurt- and the usual (best) response is to run.

Quote
There seemed to be a death spiral of guys getting tagged, made less effective, then as a result getting tagged again until they were functionally useless due to obstacle penalties.  Either that or killed with a single blow, which happened twice.  Is this how it is supposed to be?

Did anyone use FoRKs?  Stances?  Both of those make it a lot easier to deal with penalties.  Also, what kinds of weapons, armor, and stats did the characters have?  Instant death doesn't happen too often, though a really good hit can drop a person from being able to fight.

Chris
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2005, 09:51:14 AM »

How many people were in the combat you ran?  All the PCs + 1 NPC for each? 
Did anyone use FoRKs?  Stances?  Also, what kinds of weapons, armor, and stats did the characters have? 

Thanks Chris.

It was one NPC per PC, and we just had them keep coming - the point was to give everybody a chance to try out the system in a variety of combinations.  So I and another guy made up a bunch of random dudes with from 3 to 8 lifepaths to set them against.  In the end everybody fought one person, except two guys, who each got an instant kill and fought two.  The PCs were built with 8 lifepaths and no exponent cap - our plan is to make these guys the heroic ancestors of the eventual player characters. 

One PC used aggressive stance late in the evening and it was an "a-ha" moment for everybody.  Nobody used FORKs.  We gave everybody 3 die armor and weapons varied from spears and polearms to swords and axes.  No ranged weapons and no mounted combat and no shields.  There were a lot of positioning conflicts with different weapon lengths and so forth.  One guy got disarmed and one PC died; we had established at the outset that they were all going to die eventually but we didn't have time. 

My co-GM and I ended the evening thinking the whole introduction had been a huge mistake.  We reasoned that combat is so hellaciously complicated* that if we got that down, the rest would be gravy.  Also, a battle of wits was suggested, but with five players that seemd like it would leave people out and not really show off the system. I'm open to ideas on how to salvage my reputation and provide a proper kickass start to our BW campaign.  I think I burned all the patience and courtesy my group has for me.  We either get it right next week or, I swear to god, they are going to mutiny and play D20. 

--Jason

*I know, I know, but the last game we played resolved every conflict with a single die roll, the end.  Sort of a sharp adjustment. 
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MetalBard
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2005, 09:58:13 AM »

An easier way to do this would be to try out a Duel of Wits (possibly using one of the scenarios on the BW site) and have the players take sides.  While only two players may be dueling, depending on the sides they take, the other players can throw in helping dice to the arguments they support.  It might be an easier way to introduce the idea of the scripting system (and it applies to Fight! as well...  those helping dice are really useful there).
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