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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Alternate combat system  (Read 7864 times)
andy
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« on: October 15, 2004, 11:47:19 AM »

The one part of Sorcerer I have a hard time embracing is its combat system. Frankly, while the game's core mechanic is simple and elegant, the combat section seems to be a little too crunchy and granular--almost like it's a concession to gamism.

Now don't get me wrong-- normally, I and my group of Old Guy gamers are always up for crunchy gamism. However, at times, we diverge (I ran Everway and Amber, for example). I intend Sorcerer to be just such a divergance.

At any rate, and with no further ado, my draft alternate system:

                      Lean and Mean combat for Sorcerer

In this game, combat will be resolved in a fashion similar to the resolution system used for other actions in Sorcerer Ė in other words, there will be no initiative, no separate damage/effects/weapon tables and no defense dice/rolls. Combat will be resolved by the typical Sorcerer roll-off (after adding/subtracting bonus/penalty dice), with the winner inflicting injury upon the loser.

After the dice have been cast, the winner inflicts damage upon the loser equal to one die of penalty per victory, which comes directly from both the loserís Will and his/her Stamina. When a combatant reaches zero in both scores, he/she is out of commission.

Spiffy weapons give their wielders bonus dice:

Weapon/Effect

Small weapons (knife, club, beer bottle, small handgun, etc.) = 1 die bonus

Medium weapons (sword, big handgun, bayonet, etc.) =2 dice bonus

Large weapons (two handed sword, shotgun, rifle, hant-to-hand special damage attacks, etc.)   =3 dice bonus

Mondo weapons (automatic rifle, other special damage attacks  etc.) =4 bonus dice



The demon ability speed doubles the recipientís base (not bonus) dice in the turn that it is used and gives the recipient the wicked cool Matrix-effect.

The demon ability armor absorbs one damage per point of armor per fight. Mundane body armor absorbs one damage (light vest), two damage (heavy vest/light suit) or three damage (riot gear) per hit.

When two or more opponents are attacking a single target, they compare their rolls to the targetís roll separately.


Well, what do you think?

Andy
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Sean
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2004, 01:50:04 PM »

I would drop the weapon bonus threshold two dice: -1 for small or improvised weapon, 0 for medium, etc.
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sirogit
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Posts: 503


« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2004, 02:02:43 PM »

Whoa, stop the presses!

I really think this is the first time someone's said there's too much detail in the rules.

First thing's first, you really shouldn't lock "Detail" and "Gamism" as 100% mutually shared traits.

Secondly, there's a lot of description that you'd be missing out on, mainly defensive actions and simultanous chaos when more then 2 people are involved. The iniative rules are quite usefull outside of combat.

Thirdly, is Sorcerer combat too slow or hard to memorize for you? Because that seems rather strange.
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Bill Cook
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Posts: 501


« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2004, 10:24:55 PM »

You've shifted the damage multiplier into the dice pool. And removed pain effects. Do you realize that, once conferred, Fast is continuous? And .. just reading along here .. it looks like the demon ability, Armor, has become a first-line hit point total. Whereas normal armor, limiting damage per hit, is improved considerably, as compared to bonus dice.

Any change that would make normal stuff better than demon abilities would be uber-bad, IMO.

Quote from: Andy
When two or more opponents are attacking a single target, they compare their rolls to the targetís roll separately.


Unless I'm mis-remembering, that's how Sorcerer does it.

** ** **

Here's my thing, and I'm just as guilty as anyone else: how much of these changes reflect limited understanding of Sorcerer combat during play? I notice you didn't write, "During our session, Bob's AK 47 did just as much damage as the policeman's shotgun, and that's wrong!  So I'm doing damage as extra dice .." I get the feeling, then, that these changes are speculative.

You probably have read elsewhere that part of Forge spirit is to play the page. I find that my reflex is to game the average (system-wise) of what I've played. How much of these changes reflect your comfort zone?

I recommend that you at least attempt combat as is.
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Bill Cook
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Posts: 501


« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2004, 11:01:18 PM »

Just had the thought: when you said "compares to the target's roll separately," did you mean defense re-rolls? Trying to remember how it goes ..

I know that after you've acted, you have your full defensive pool available per attack. In the case of declaring full defense, where dice are rolled to determine precedence, I'm unsure whether you use that result for later turn attacks or it's as normal.

Help?
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The_Tim
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Posts: 31

Armchair Game Theorist


« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2004, 04:04:28 AM »

I think the main problem is that you are fixated on the combat mechanic as a combat mechanic when it is is really the cluster-fuck mechanic.

Since sorcerer rules determines consequences of tasks instead of task success in some situations the basic rules will lead to unsatisfactory outcomes.  These situations are ones in which a number of actions are being performed in a short space of story time and there is a good chance that one action will negate the effectiveness of another.  Attempts to deal bodily harm to those around you is a prime example of these sorts of situations.  However, any situation in which a number of things are happening at once and it really matters who does what first can use the ordering system from the combat section to good effect.  A shouting match or unstructured debate, for instance, where who gets the line in matters as much as what the line is.
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andy
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2004, 07:22:59 AM »

I again start with the disclaimer that I think that Sorcerer is a great game. Really. I've bought a couple of copies, a few supplements and I'm planning on running it. Given my extremely limited (and correspondingly precious) game time, that is as high a compliment as I can pay any game.

I am also impressed with the supporter loyalty that Ron has created, both with his customer support and with his Forge follow-up. Loyalty is a good thing.

Dogma is not.

While I am fully capable of memorizing the combat rules (and chewing gum, at the same time no less!), I have sat down and run combats, summonings and other sample events. I've created and tested a boatload of NPCs and demons and had them pound the crap out of each other. I think that the Sorcerer combat system works, but not as well as the rest of the game, probably because the combat system is a departure from the basic, core mechanic.

My suggestions are my first draft at an alternate system. I posted them to obtain constructive criticism and tweak the alternate to the point where I either use it or abandon it and go with the combat rules as written.

Responses (and thanks for the input)--

Sean-- I'm still working on the bonus dice/weapon issue. I think that I will need to take demon special attack abilities up a notch, tied to their Power.

bcook1971 (a good year)-- I would probably limit Fast to turns equal to the demon's Power. The pain effect still exists, just not separately from the damage effect--damage immediately impairs the damagee, but without a separate "pain" impairment (the pain rule is nice and crunchy, but I'm after smooth and elegant). Finally, you're right, I botched the demon ability Armor. Any suggestions?

The_Tim-- I agree that who goes first matters, but I think that it slows a game to determine initiative. Combat should have a chaotic side--in real life, it's confusing as hell. But in this game, I'd like to resolve conflicts/tasks in as few dice rolls as possible.

Thanks to all for the input.

Andy

[/b]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2004, 08:14:57 AM »

Hello,

Tim's right, and I think his main point is getting missed.

The failing in the Sorcerer book is to talk about a "combat" system at all. There is no combat system. There is a group resolution mechanic.

I happen to think it's the best group resolution mechanic currently available for Fortune-heavy play, especially when the aesthetic goal includes the potential for savage repercussions for failure. It's kind of like a HeroQuest extended contest that requires high Action Point bids. I use it for non-combat non-action scenes all the time.

But I also think that trying to convince Andy to 'play it right' is a waste of time. Bluntly, Andy, I think you're really enjoying the role of Adept Press Forum Freethinker, and so any argument that we present is just fodder for you to keep playing that role.

Alter the system as you see fit. Play it that way. Tell us how it works out. But quit posing as "I'm so not blinkered by dogma" boy.

Best,
Ron
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andy
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2004, 09:17:00 AM »

Ron--

I was going to respond with an impassioned defense of free thought (a bad thing?) and go into an analysis of the history of RPG creation, and conclude with pointing out that if you were not a "free thinker," Sorcerer and the Forge would not exist.

I'll spare everyone.

Thank you for creating Sorcerer, running the Forge (with a little help from your friends) and providing criticism and support to other game designers (myself included).

I'm still working on an alternate combat system. Please PM me with any suggestions.

Thanks to all.

Andy
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Sean
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« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2004, 10:04:47 AM »

Andy -

I'd also cut down on mundane armor, so that light armor is the default and you get a penalty die for none. Assuming you're working with a fantasy background as your descriptions seem to suggest.

Ron -

I agree with you about the Sorcerer complex conflict rules. They're really good. Once I thought of 'initiative' as an expression of power, as an expression of who gets to attempt to execute their intent first, they really came clear to me.

They also solve a big problem with most combat systems, namely the 'swarm of gnats' problem. Big-ass monsters are lethal in Sorcerer because they usually act first and usually get all their defense dice afterward.

I figured this out through a lot of trial and error though, including trial and error of the type Andy's embarked on. Some of us just don't trust an engine until we take it apart and put it back together worse a few times, even when we see it tearing down the highway.

Anyone Who's Reading -

One way to simplify combat is just to get rid of the temporary damage rules and take a wound multiplier on victories. This makes it less lethal and more manageable both, and makes it pretty easy to keep everything in your head.
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The_Tim
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Posts: 31

Armchair Game Theorist


« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2004, 10:23:21 AM »

Andy, I wasn't telling you that you shouldn't alter the rules.  I was saying that your alteration of the rules is fundamentally flawed because it seems to cut out an important aspect of the game.

I don't see how your modification would actually handle a group conflict as opposed to pairs of individuals exchanging blows.  If you could clarify that I think you would get better feedback to help you with your rules alteration.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2004, 02:14:46 PM »

Hello,

One last point: Andy, I want to check on one thing - you, uh, aren't using the Apprentice as a basis for all these points, are you? 'Cause if you are, then I should say right now that it's fucked, and nothing at all like the rules in the core book.

Best,
Ron
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andy
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« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2004, 04:08:38 PM »

Ron-- Actually, I bought two copies of your nifty little hardback--one for me and one for my players to use (giving them a xerox copy of my book without Adept's license would be stealing IMHO).

But at the beginning of this thread, I explained myself poorly (I was also finishing a brief, which always tends to addle my already limited capacity).

I am not trying to create a new Sorcerer combat system out of whole cloth.

I am trying to figure out a way to use the existing Sorcerer core mechanic (which works for great for everything else)for combat.

Chapter 6 of Sorcerer (page 99) clearly defines the issue, at least for me-- it provides a very pretty rules engine, and then says that it works for "Everything But Combat." I am not saying that Sorcerer's combat system is broken, I am just saying that I like the core mechanic better than I like the combat system and I want to figure out a way to run my campaign with one mechanic, not two. (See Mike's Standard Rant Number 5). I may develop a mechanic that I like better, and I may not, but nothing is lost in the attempt. I can always revert to the system as written.

I'm not here to gore anyone's ox or to fight for pleasure--in my day job I regularly engage in wars of words with highly educated opponents, so that's the last thing that I want from the Forge. I prefer peace in my rare free time.

I hope that I have explained myself better.

I'll shut up now.

Andy
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Sean
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« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2004, 05:17:09 PM »

Hi Andy -

In this case, I think you at least need to process TheTim's response to you, even if you reject it.

Sorcerer has two resolution mechanisms:

Simple Conflict: declaration of intent (usually just one person, though can be multiple parties (e.g. running a race)), opposing die pools, high non-tied die in any pool wins, number of dice higher than highest die in other pool determines margin of success.

Complex Conflict: 'free and clear' declaration of multiple intents with response, opposing die pools, highest non-tied die in any pool goes first, the parties they're acting on can either withdraw their intent and roll full dice for defense (new roll) or roll just one die for defense and keep their original action (if they're still standing to take it). Then the original roll of the acting party (the one you determined initiative from) is compared to the defense roll of the party acted upon (one die or full) as per Simple Conflict above.


Combat is one example of complex conflict but there are lots of others. This is somewhat against the letter of the rules but there is a long line of interpretation of the rules this way, and once you see it this way the real brilliance of the system comes out.


Basically: when there is a single intent governing something (we race, we wrestle, I try to sneak by the guard), you're usually in a simple contest, and when there are multiple intents governing something (the trap wants to spike him with the poison needle, he wants to open the door without springing the trap) you use the complex contest rules. What the complex contest provides is an Initiative step for figuring out what order different Intents 'happen' in. But the way to think about Initiative in Sorcerer is in terms of imposing one's personal force on a situation, not in terms of 'quick draw' and the like.


I'm a homebrewer to the point where it hurts my gaming and I'm the last one to tell you not to rewrite the thing to your own specs. But it's really, really worth understanding the complex conflict/combat system in Sorcerer, because, well, it's one of the most elegant mechanics I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot in the last 28 years of gaming.
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andy
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« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2004, 06:33:32 AM »

Thanks Sean and The_Tim.

The crunchy part first-- in my test model, I will treat demon Armor as removing damage equal to the demon's Power every turn. Fast will give the user two actions every turn. Extremely potent, but demons need to be damn scary. I am slowly abandoning by own preconceived notions of game balance (at least for this Sorcerer campaign).

The High Concept part--  Sean, your explanation is both persuasive and easy to understand, and I am considering both your and Tim's extremely cogent advice. But, at this time, I still think that the Simple Conflict resolution system could work better for combat than the Complex Conflict resolution system.

At its core, Sorcerer is a truly Narrativist game. As such, I think that any mechanic that slows play tends to make the Narr less effective (more to the G and/or S than the N). I would use the Simple conflict resolution system to resolve the poison needle trap, for example-- one roll, no declarations (beyond "I disarm the trap"),no tables and you learn the results relatively quickly.

I will later post an example combat as I would see it using the Simple resolution system--I'll probably go with an alternate write-up for the examples in the Sorcerer book.

From one 40+ gamer (only 26 years)to others, thanks for your input.

Andy
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