Thursday, March 25, 2010

TnB RPG: Combat

The Tankards and Broadswords RPG guidelines for combat are relatively straightforward, but I designed them to allow for a lot of "wiggle room", both on the part of the players and the GM. Combat in an adventure RPG should be exciting, fun, challenging but not exhaustive or demoralizing, and above all, it should never bog down gameplay with endless bickering and arguments over +1 to this or -1 to that. As I state at one point in the combat rules, the GM is advised to, when in doubt, "let the characters slide into home base".

Taking Action

- Combat is handled through a series of combat rounds, each round encompassing approximately six seconds of "in-game" time.

- At the beginning of a combat round, each player makes a Reflexes skill check. NPCs and monsters make checks as well, although the GM may choose to have opponents with the same Reflexes rating just make one roll in order to cut down on the bookkeeping.

- Combatants act in order of highest overall result to lowest, with ties settled by A) the highest Reflexes rating, or B) if necessary, a coin-flip.

Combat Movement

- When a combatant's turn to act in the combat round comes about, they can move and then act (fight, cast a spell, etc.), act and then move, or even move, act, and move again. The following strictures apply:

  1. - A human-sized character can cover approximately six meters of ground in a combat round and still act normally.
  2. - The same character can cover up to twelve meters of ground in a combat round, but any die rolls they make that round (except for Defense and Peril checks) suffer a -3 penalty.
  3. - Finally, the character can move "flat out" and cover up to twenty-four meters of movement in the round, but they can't take any actions (except for Defense or Peril checks) for the remainder of the combat round.

- With regards to actions made during the combat round, a general rule of thumb is that the character can make one Skill check as their action for the round (except for Defense or Peril checks), plus any related minor actions agreed upon by the GM. For example, if the character wants to attack with a broadsword that's a Melee skill check, but the GM may allow them to draw or pick up the weapon and still attack normally.

Attacks and Damage

- Unless otherwise determined by the GM, an attack (Melee or Ranged skill check) is opposed by a Defense skill check made by the defender. If the attacker equals or exceeds the Defense skill check's total, the attack succeeds. If not, it fails.

- A successful attack always delivers 1d points of damage, plus the Balance of the attack roll, plus any damage modifier from the weapon. For example, a 1d roll of 4 combines with an attack Balance of +2, and a broadsword's damage modifier of +1, for a total of 7 points of damage.

- If the defender is wearing armor, the Armor Value is subtracted from the damage. For example, against the above damage result, a character wearing a coat of Heavy Mail (AV 4), would take 3 points of damage.

- Damage is subtracted from a target's Health rating. All PCs regardless of archetype have a base Health of 24. Monsters and NPCs will have varying Health ratings; non-combatant characters will usually have a Health of 6, while "minion" type NPCs (city guards, cultists, enemy footmen) will usually have a Health of 12. Fully statted-out NPCs (major villains or allies) will usually have a Health of 24, just like the PCs. Monsters can have any Health rating, but typically it is based on the size, mass, and toughness of the monster in question.

- If a PC or major NPC reaches 0 Health, they are incapacitated. If their Health becomes a negative value, the character will have to make an Endure Peril check in order to avoid death. The Break Point of the check is based on how far into the negative the character's Health has gone - the more badly wounded, the harder it will be to stay alive. Unless otherwise decreed by the GM, monsters and minor characters who reach 0 Health are simply killed.

Optional Combat Maneuvers

- At the discretion of the GM, the PC may attempt various combat maneuvers during the course of their combat actions. Any PC can attempt them (they are not bought as a kind of special ability), and players are encouraged to try and come up with their own combat maneuvers that will be adjudicated by the GM. Typically, there is a "give and take" with each maneuver; i.e., trading attack for defence, trading chance to hit for chance to do more damage, etc..

Here are a few sample combat maneuvers from the Core Rules. :

Two-Weapon Fighting
The character uses a one-handed weapon (melee or ranged) in each hand (or a double-ended weapon like a quarterstaff, at the GM's discretion). It is an unpredictable fighting style, but it is also difficult to master. When attacking with two weapons, the character uses Weighted Rolls for their attacks.

Web of Death
The character lashes out at encircling foes in all directions, weaving a web of death around themselves. The character makes one Melee attack roll applied against all their attackers' Defense checks, with a penalty of -1 for each opponent (i.e, against 3 opponents, make one attack roll at -3).

Charge Attack
The character rushes headlong into their target, using pure physicality to add power to the attack. The character and the target make opposed Athletics skill checks. If the character succeeds, the Balance is applied as a bonus to their attack roll. If the character fails, the defender's Balance is applied as a penalty. If the character is mounted, half the mount's Athletics skill (rounded up) is added to the character's Athletics roll.

The attacker makes a Reflexes roll vs. the defender's Detection skill, attempting to fool the defender with a clever ruse. If the attacker succeeds, the Balance of the roll is applied as a bonus to their attack roll that round. If the attacker fails, the Negative Balance is applied as a penalty.

There are, of course, more combat-related rules than this, but the above covers the basics of determining action order, movement, attack and defense, and doing damage. Again, nothing terribly original, but the rules are kept simple and fairly straightforward for a reason.


SuperSooga said...

This looks really neat, I like the way it's headed. It's a great relief to see a traditional-style fantasy game being developed that isn't a retroclone.

Very much keeping an eye on this!

Mike D. said...

I really dig your combat rules, simple - straight forward - and fun (well it sounds fun anyway).

Dagda said...

If the playtests lead you to conclude that players rolling initiative every round is a bit much, one alternative could be:

1-When you roll initiative, you only use the result if it's higher than your current score.
2-Rolling initiative is optional and counts the same as moving about 6 meters.
3-Your initiative starts at 0, and something or things (maybe rolling a natural 2, getting severe negative balance on a check or even just getting hit) can cause it to be knocked back down to 0.

Having written this, I'm not sure that it'd actually simplify things much, but hey. At any rate, I definitely like the approach you've sued here.

Badelaire said...

Thanks for the positive feedback guys!


I know what you mean. Two alternatives that'll make it into the Core Rules:

1. Make reflexes checks as usual, but just apply them to every combat round, and don't re-roll them every round.

2. Make one 2d roll for each side - PCs and Bad Guys - and apply everyone's Reflexes rating to that result. Coin Flip for ties between good guys and bad guys, parties on their own sides can decide amongst themselves who goes first on a tie.

This is just one of those issues that'll have to get hammered out during playtesting, I'm guessing.