Fighting Questions

Ok, getting into some of the nitty gritty here, so let’s review.

The idea so far is that combatants will have die pools of D6’s. When they go after someone in a fight, they are trying to hit a fixed target number, with a result as follows:

4 – Inconvenienced
7 – Harmed (possibly handicapped. Maybe another term)
13 – Taken Out

These are statuses which map to in-fiction effects, and they also accumulate, so an inconvenienced character who is inconvenienced again becomes harmed.

Statuses can be changed by spending unused dice. Unused dice are dice which have been rolled, but which were not necessary to hit the target number. If, for example, you rolled 4,3,3 then you can hit a 7 with 1 unused die (or a 4 with 2 unused dice) which you can use for stuff. Much of the stuff is currently undefined (and is expected to be a place for mechanical hooks) but specifically, they can be spent to “downgrade” statuses.

With that in mind, I’m looking down the barrel of the following questions:

  1. Does the attacker choose the target number he’s going for, or does he simply take the result?
  2. When a status “rolls up” does the previous status remain? That is, if a second inconvenience becomes harm, is the target now inconvenienced and harmed, or just harmed?
  3. Is there an option to respond to a Taken Out result?
  4. Are statuses the only possible outcome, or are they simply the non-specific outcome? That is, is a disarm a _form_ of harm, or something with a difficulty equivalent to harm (because it has a similar impact but with player-directed outcome)
  5. Are 3 statuses enough? Do we need 4?
  6. How many dice should it take to offset a status?
  7. Who gets to say what form the status/result takes in the fiction?
  8. What order to things happen in?
  9. How big an advantage is 1 die?
  10. How does this map over to multiple combatants?

That’s a lot. Enough to tempt me to just accept a standard injury model and move on, but I’m kind of dumb that way, so let’s press on and work through these, though it may take a while.

1. Does the attacker choose the target number he’s going for, or does he simply take the result?

Ok, two options: decide before you roll (declare intent) or declare after you roll ( describe outcome). The argument for post-roll is that the assumption is that every attack is an attempt to finish the fight. It also opens up an interesting decision-point of allowing the attack to choose to get a lesser outcome in order to keep more unused dice. That is, if you rolled 4,1,1,1 then you might feel better off taking the 4 and three unused dice (which probably need a cool name) than taking the 7 with no remaining budget.

The argument for a pre-roll decision is that it adds a little more strategy to the mix. It makes risk-taking a bit more of a calculated gamble, and it does _not_ require any post-roll decisionmaking. That’s kind of a big deal, since post-roll decisions are a big source of friction – you totally don’t want a player sitting there deciding if he really wants that 7 or those unused dice on a borderline case.

So, there’s a clear priority conflict here with no clear answer. I think either option could work well, so it’s really a matter of taste, style and (of course) subsequent testing to see which works. It’s one of those situatiosn where you make a decision, but put a pin in it to come back to. With that in mind, I’m going to go with decision before the roll because I think it will be easier to test whether that feels frustrating than it will be to test if it’s what people want.

2. When a status “rolls up” does the previous status remain? That is, if a second inconvenience becomes harm, is the target now inconvenienced and harmed, or just harmed?
The default assumption in most systems would be that the effects stack – that is, that you would now be inconvenienced and harmed. I’m inclined to buck that trend, at least while we have such a short list of statues, because it effectively lengthens the “damage track”. This might prove to be too much bookkeeping in the end, but it’s what I want to try for now.

3. Is there an option to respond to a Taken Out result?
I feel like there should be, but the real answer to this can be found in the question of sequencing. If all action is simultaneous, then this is easy to implement – just let overage dice be used immediately to mitigate an effect. Unfortunately, simultaneous action has its own drawbacks, so this question needs to be set aside until we answer the question of order of events.

4. Are statuses the only possible outcome, or are they simply the non-specific outcome? That is, is a disarm a _form_ of harm, or something with a difficulty equivalent to harm (because it has a similar impact but with player-directed outcome)
I’m strongly inclined to the latter, and as I think about it, I think the rubric may be simple. Outcomes are defined by the attacker, harm by the defender. That means that the fiction of being taken out stays firmly in the hands of the player, which is a plus. It also works nicely with the idea of hitting set difficulties, and it also supports players who are very descriptive as well as those who are not.

Curiously, this also suggests an interesting extension of the outcome ladder, which might be a little meta, but kind of resonates with me. To inflict harm AND describe it, you must hit the next target up. That is, the target for taking someone out in the way YOU want is 19. It means the “one shot kill” still exists as a possibility when dealing with very skilled opponents, but it’s rare. That has some weird interplay with things when the target is already hurt, so I’ll need ot think about it some more, but if nothing else it feels like a good optional rule.

5. Are 3 statuses enough? Do we need 4?
Dunno yet. But the answer to that previous question may prove a suitable compromise.

Ok, enough for today. We’ll run through 6-10 tomorrow.

6 thoughts on “Fighting Questions

  1. Bryant

    There’s a pretty direct cognate for deciding desired outcome before the roll — Feng Shui mooks. You decide how many you’re going to try to take out at once, then you roll, and if you miss the target you get nothing. In practice I find that this discourages people from trying to do the really cool stuff; you get a tendency to take the high probability shot.

    Reply
  2. Rob Donoghue

    @bryant yeah, that’s the part that bugs me – calling difficulty increases the chance of a whiff result, which is kind of the opposite of cool. That’s a bog strike against.

    That said, that might be offset by the use of “unused” dice in a failure. That is, failure might mean ALL your dice are available. That may or may not be workable, but it’s an options rattling in my head.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Perhaps regarding point 1 you’re simply required to take the maximum target you can reach. Thus the 4,3,3 is a 7 rem 1, the 4,1,1,1 is a 7 rem 0, and a 4,6,3 is 13 rem 0. Runs faster with less deciding before and after rolling.

    Reply
  4. Reverance Pavane

    What do the dice actually mean?

    I mean, a fighter with 3d6 is going to fight at that ability regardless of what her opponent does. So what’s the difference between rolling a 3 and an 18? What does it represent?

    Personally I think the dice roll represents the ability of the character to perceive and exploit any opportunities that the opponent presents.

    In other words it tends to favour a philosophy of deciding after the roll. However I also don’t think that there is any decision to make, since the character will almost always be seeking to obtain the best result that they can. Therefore the best result should always be taken.

    So your roll of [4,3,3] should be always be a result of 7 with 1 die.

    [Additionally, if a result of 4 with 2 dice is a better result then something is probably wrong with your system, as it says that an Ordinary Success is better than an Expert Success.]

    That being said, it may be possible that your actual objective in the combat is not to take out your opponent, but something else, for example to survive. In which case you just need an Ordinary Success because you will be using your bonus dice to defend against the attacker. [This is another reason I think you should bump up the levels of damage in each grade by 1 level (4 – hold your own, 7 – inconvenience opponent, 13 – harm opponent, 19 – take out opponent).]

    Alternatively you might consider the situation where a character decides that they declare in advance that are going to use one dice for defence, in which case the result will always be the highest that leaves them with at least 1 die.

    [Also in game play I find that having players attempt to optimise the results of the roll after the fact spoils the flow of combat.]

    Also I think you are going to have to go simultaneously, since you are using extra dice to represent the skill of your opponent to defend herself.

    And combat isn’t an either/or situation. There is a strong possibility that mutual annihilation actually happens in actual combat (especially with heavy weapons), so that both people are taken out simultaneously.

    [Of course one can mitigate results by statements, similar to the “you succeed if” of normal skill use. For example “you fail because I retreat from combat” (or even “I succeed by impaling myself on your spear”). Or is the ability to make use of partial success not a consideration in combat, and if so, why not?]

    Just some thoughts.

    Reply
  5. Greg Sanders

    So, would statuses effectively be counting in binary?

    1 Inconvenienced
    2 Harmed
    4 Taken out.

    So inconveniencing someone twice harms them. Inconveniencing them again means they’re harmed and inconvenienced. Doing it for a fourth time means they’re taken out. However, harming someone that is already harmed would also take them out.

    Alternately, if you view it as a straight track, than harming someone that is already harmed might just take them to harmed and inconvenienced.

    Reply
  6. Rob Donoghue

    @Rev I actually suspect the fixed-best-result approach is the better one, but that’s why I want to try the other approach first. It’s more about a quirk in my own methodology than anything else – if I go with the option I think will be better, then I will probably confirm that. Trying the other one first means that if it doesn’t work, no harm no foul.

    @Greg hadn’t thought about it those terms, but yes, more or less. It’s mostly just an issue of presentation.

    Reply

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