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The Riddle of Steel one shot

Started by Bankuei, May 03, 2002, 06:10:19 AM

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Bankuei

So I finally got a chance to try out ROS.  I ran up some pregen stats, but left the spiritual attributes open for the players to define.  I had pretty much laid out everything and left that and weapons as choices for the players in hopes that it would speed up preplay time.  Although I think the crunchiness of weapon choices ate up about half an hour :)

One player did remark that some of the weapons just didn't balance in terms of play stats(sim overriding gamist concerns :P).  

Anyway, I wanted to run a fast combat heavy swashbuckling kind of thing, so the scenario was basically rushing to rescue their clan folks from a heretic insurrection at a castle.  Pretty mindless, it was a bit hard to really test out the spiritual attributes since they were kinda quickly drawn up, but they did indeed come into play at times.

I started off the fun with a boat fight, which very quickly demonstrated how deadly the system gets with a bunch of the heretic rabble getting maimed as they tried to board.

The next scene was a mob scene which wasn't as smooth as I would have hoped, since the rules for intimidation/morale weren't really clear so I winged it.

Finally, the classic "fight up the stairs" bit occurred, which showed quite a few things about the system:  

1)Terrain makes a big difference.  Failing terrain rolls suck.  Real bad.  Stumbling or falling in a fight costs you a lot.  Mostly this occurred to the heretics, but one player took a bad fall and landed on something that hit him in the groin.  Our master swordsman was suffering significant pain penalties and no longer the master swordsman.

2)Player characters are NOT underpowered in this game.  Against most characters, they easily mopped up.  Of course, many npc's had held out decently until they got a bad break with a terrain roll.  There had been a couple of times where the players had close calls with getting severe injuries.

3) There NEEDS to be a rule about choosing hit locations, since everyone pretty much would aim for an unarmored spot.  This session alone at least 6 npc's had their kneecaps removed.

4) The rules about handing out extra spiritual attribute dice as events occur (or handing out xp as something happens) work very well.  It may not be realistic, but dammit, it made things easier for me and encouraged the players a lot.

5)Armor does save lives

Everyone had a good mindless time, and hopefully, Clinton will run a campaign of this(I'm interested in seeing what happens with a meaningful story this time :P )

Chris

Jaif

Quote3) There NEEDS to be a rule about choosing hit locations, since everyone pretty much would aim for an unarmored spot. This session alone at least 6 npc's had their kneecaps removed.

We agree here. I use the optional to-hit location rules at the beginning of the appendix, and it's always cut low, under the shield, or cut to the arms.

I'm thinking something simple, like giving an extra die to the defender if the same person attacks the same spot twice in a row.  I'll wait awhile to see if the trend continues, though.

Quote5)Armor does save lives

Agreed.  This game does a number of things well (and elegantly).  It is nice to see Armor, Shields, Horses, and Terrain all modelled nicely so they not only are advantages, but have some feeling beyond +10% to the die roll (speaking generically).

-Jeff

Bankuei

Actually, the problem we had was that everyone DID cut low, almost all the time.   Certainly it made sense while fighting up the stairs, but for some reason,   I don't think that many folks lost legs(as opposed to arms got hit elsewhere) in battle that often.  

From my personal experience with martial arts, for leg shots you either need a longer weapon, or need to be up closer to effectively pull off.  We're debating if we want to make a CP cost for the "out of the way" type hits.

Chris

Clinton R. Nixon

My quick solution which I will most likely use is this:

On level ground, area III is the 'default' area to hit. Moving above or below that is -1 CP for each step; i.e. area I (the ankle/shin area) is -2 CP, and the shoulder (area IV) is -1 CP.

If above or below someone (on steps, for example), the 'default' area may change - if I was fighting someone 3 feet higher than me, area II (upper leg) would be the 'default' and I would be at -3 CP to hit them in area V (the head), for example.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

Jake Norwood

I'm very curious in seeing what kinds of solutions to the "same spot every time" problem that many of you are facing. Here's my non-mechanical-pure-life-experience-mixed-with-some-research 2 pennies...

Leg shots: These were the most common of all wounds ever delt in realy battle. At the battle of Wisby, one of the best preserved medieval battle digs, over 40% of the corpses had taken leg wounds, most of the serioius. One poor chap lost both legs with one hit.

Area III as default: This is a very balanced-game kind of idea, but the problem is that the real-world area III is probably actually the hardest place to land a hit, and the head/shoulders and legs are the easiest. In so many games the head is hard to hit (with a swing) because it's small, and it's lethal, which tends to spoil game balance (so I hear)...but the head is very easy to swing at, and not too easy to defend. Thrusts are another matter, as covered by the optional hit location rules in the appendix.

Weapon length making it hard to hit legs: This is not true for anything of "medium" length or longer. My experience with shorter weapons is minimal, but I'm quite proficient in longsword, greatsword, and cut-and-thrust (talking real world, here), and the legs are still the easiest hit (exept maybe the hands...).

I do like the idea of granting extra defense dice if someone keeps hitting at the same spot over and over again. That's quite accurate in my experience with full-speed sparring.

As for modifications to make the game more "balanced" or "gamish" then fine, but it's not what the game was written as (again, though, it's your game now...you all bought it...). It supposed to be messy and gritty, but not horribly so. Real play has brought this out for most of you, I believe.

Anyway, just popping in.

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Valamir

What I'd be interested in is some sort of "knowledge game" where the defender can estimate where he thinks the attacker is likely to attack (or where he most doesn't want to get hit) and if the attacker can estimate where this defense is, he can hit where it isn't.

I'm afraid I haven't become intimate enough with the rules yet to actually have concrete rules suggestion but what I'm envisioning is something along the lines of this.

The defender has a certain number of bonus defense dice (maybe 2-5 or so) which would come from some source related to how skillful a fighter he is.  This number may be higher for those chosing a defensive stance.  These dice would be assigned to a hit location area (like Area IV).

If the attacker launches an attack against that area some or all of those dice could be added to the defense.  If the attacker launches an attack against an area adjacent to that area, some or all of those dice could be added to the defense at a 2 for 1 ratio.

This I think would have a few effects that I like the sounds of:

1) I prefer a slightly more cinematic fight scene where equal combatants can cross swords for an extended period of time.  1 swing 1 kill is great for dealing with mooks, but all of the combats I've seen (and have played on the computer sequencer) are over in 2-3 rounds.  A couple of extra defense dice should extend combat by a round or two.

2) Once an attacker launches an attack and learns that the defender is pulling these bonus dice in, he can evaluate (if its an adjacent area, if its THE are he'll know for certain) which are the defender is concentrating on and his next attack will be elsewhere.  This should make an opportunity for a small probing attack to determine defenses before delivering the main attack where it will hurt.
   It will also require a choice between making a small probing attack initially which may cause the attacker to lose the initiative, or making a big attack initially and perhaps attacking into the defenders main defense.  It may be desireous to have the bonus defense dice be a different color and NOT count towards stealing initiative.  The defender would have to use his own dice to take the initiative, relying on the bonus dice would offer defense with no offense.

3)  A player could defend his more vulnerable areas and leave his armor to handle the rest.  Thus a defender on the stairs could dedicate his defense to protecting his legs, but they'd be useless if the attack came to his head.  He could also protect already injured areas from repeat attacks in this way.


How does that grab anyone.  Jake, is it within the bounds of "realistic".  Being a non martial person myself I don't have real experience to draw from.

Jake Norwood

Val-

I'll have to spend some time playing with rules like that. We had something similar once, but couldn't find a way to make it quick, so we pitched it. It is reasonably "martial," although many masters would warn against favoring one area over another.

As for the more cinematic game effect, with longer combats, that's actually very easy to do. The problem that most of us have as players is that we're used to all-or-nothing style combat from nearly every system out there. On the other hand, if you play TROS defensively (as a PC or as a mook), then fights can go long. The longest we have on record is an hour and a half of real-world time, between me and a playtester, where we were both being very careful with our defenses, as neither one of us wanted to "risk it all" on some rash manevuer or die choices and get killed. Finally, wanting to finish it, the playtester tried something rash--he went for a big attack. I used a counter and whacked for about a level 2 wound. That gave me the advantage I needed to finish the fight in another round or two. The choices that GMs and Players make with their defense will determine the length of the fights. If you want long fights, have your mooks fight defensively, looking for the PCs to make a mistake and then exploit it, according to how you think the mook would do it. Because the system is lethal, even mooks think twice about charging hopelessly into battle against a superior force. They wanna live, too.

Jake
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET

Bankuei

Jake said:
QuoteWeapon length making it hard to hit legs: This is not true for anything of "medium" length or longer. My experience with shorter weapons is minimal, but I'm quite proficient in longsword, greatsword, and cut-and-thrust (talking real world, here), and the legs are still the easiest hit (exept maybe the hands...).

Well, I'm mostly into escrima and Silat, which both use shorter weapons, so maybe I'm a bit biased :P  

Quoteleg shots: These were the most common of all wounds ever delt in realy battle. At the battle of Wisby, one of the best preserved medieval battle digs, over 40% of the corpses had taken leg wounds, most of the serioius. One poor chap lost both legs with one hit.

OTOH, what was the primary weapons used in the battle?  I can easily see everything from thighs on up being easily reached targets, it just seems that a lot of kneecap hits went on, probably more than I'd expect from sword fights.  I'm not denying the value of leg hits, I'm just wondering from a sim standpoint how often it occurs with swords(polearms, I'm sure were fairly common).

Chris

Jake Norwood

Quote from: Bankuei
OTOH, what was the primary weapons used in the battle?  I can easily see everything from thighs on up being easily reached targets, it just seems that a lot of kneecap hits went on, probably more than I'd expect from sword fights.  I'm not denying the value of leg hits, I'm just wondering from a sim standpoint how often it occurs with swords(polearms, I'm sure were fairly common).

While polearms were common, especially spears, even an "arming sword" expereinces no problem striking below the knee, and a longsword (only a few inches longer than an arming sword) can strike the foot with no additional effort.

Escrima sticks, as I understand them (I've played with them, but never trained), are used very close in, with methods rather different from sword or axe-work (which, other than spears, were the most common weapons until the age of plate, where hammers and maces became more predominant than swords on the real battlefield).

I'm in support of rules to cover the issue we're talking about in here (tweaking CPs for striking the same area over and over again without variation). It reminds me of "Ko," a rule in the old chinese/japanese boardgame "Go." I think that restricting areas like the feet for "short" weapons (short swords, escrima sticks, etc) is also wise, at least as an optional rule. But I maintain that anything of medium length can strike any area with no real difference than any other.

Jake

ps-I'd love to see escrima stats/maneuvers for TROS if any of you want to put them together. They've always fascinated me.
"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
___________________
www.theriddleofsteel.NET

Lance D. Allen

I rather like the rule of getting to add an additional die for attacking to the same place more than once in a row. Simple, and it does the job of discouraging the same attack over and over..

One rule I was contemplating, but was going to leave unsaid until I'd had a little experience with the combat system is one which limits where following attacks may be directed, and how. My original thought was that you must attack the adjacent region to your last attack.. But I realized, after choreographing various maneuvers, that this was flawed. I am quite capable of coming up (Zone VI) in a slash, then thrusting for the throat in a seamless motion. The only thing I can think of is simply, as a Seneschal, restricting follow-up attacks to things which have a certain sense of flow. If you parry a high attack to your left, then your attack ought to be high left. If you parry low, your attack ought to be either coming up, or against a low target zone. If the sweep of your attack brings you left to right, then you ought to make your next attack (assuming you get the next offense) ought to be to the right, or at least coming from the right.
Does anyone see a way to codify this, or does it just seem best to leave it up to GM discretion?
~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls

Bankuei

Actually, escrima sticks are used for practice, the real weapons are sword and dagger(from the spanish), machetes(ow!), bolo swords, or two daggers.  Silat is very similar, although it uses primarily knives and close in weapons, and really shines at jamming up to grappling range and still using weapons.  Most of the weapons range from dagger to shortsword length.

As far as maneuver differences, both styles strike a lot at the attacking hand/wrist as a counter, both tend to parry at the wrist/hand with a free hand(or use the weapon strike to do so), and both go for very fast attacks.    The only major differences in the two styles are that escrima goes for more traditional swings, silat has quicker, choppy cuts, and it also does way more grapples, and breaks.

Two manuevers I'd be interested in seeing are locks/breaks, and attacks that increase the amount of shock/pain/bloodloss by the techniques used("twist the blade, THEN rip it sideways, like thus...").

Chris

Lyrax

Wouldn't be too hard.  We could just have a CP cost of X, and, if the attack is successful, the Shock and Pain would be increased by X.  Bloodloss could be increased by X-1.  Or we could increase the exact amounts, but I think the concept is sound.
Lance Meibos
Insanity takes it's toll.  Please have exact change ready.

Get him quick!  He's still got 42 hit points left!

Jaif

I don't know anything about those combat styles, but if memory serves with cuts & bashes you can spend an extra die to increase damage by 1 (maybe w/thrusts too).

-Jeff