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SpaceBadger's Blog: BBCodes stopped working in this Blog Description, so I moved my Links down to a Blog Entry and made it Sticky, so the latest new Blog Entries will actually be below (following) the Links entry.
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In Moot Member Blogs [SBRD] Combat Rules and Other Thoughts Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #22 New August 10th, 2013 06:37 AM
[SBRD] Combat Rules and Other Thoughts

I received another PM this evening asking about the combat rules for this game, and gave what has become my standard reply:

I've requested comments and suggestions on combat rules several times, and Sabredog was the only one who ever responded. He suggested either a Striker variant or straight CT. After discussion, we decided the Striker variant was too deadly for this campaign, and went w straight CT.
Nevertheless. the question got me started thinking about combat rules again, and since I am having some trouble sleeping I figured I might as well dump my thoughts here and see if it contributes anything toward this campaign.

I will admit that I was a real rules nerd as a kid. I started playing D&D my sophomore year in high school (and started trying to play Traveller the next year, but couldn't find anybody who wanted to play it), and by the time I graduated I was on at least my third houseruled D&D combat system. Then in college when I finally found some other people to play Traveller with, I'm sure I went through at least three more houseruled combat systems for Traveller. Heck, when I discovered GURPS I couldn't even leave that ultra-detailed system alone, but had to at least try out some houserule variations of my own design.

Then I went for a long time without any gaming, until my kids got old enough to want to try it. For several years I was never a player, always a GM, until my oldest son decided that he wanted to try GMing, and now I get to be a player in games that he runs - or else we play a sort of modified style that we made up in which we are both players, and sort of take turns as GM.

I find now that I don't really care that much about what rule system is used to determine the results of actions or combat, as long as it delivers reasonable results in terms of roleplaying and gives a feel for the characters having different degrees of skill at different things. I am much more concerned with having a system that allows meaningful description of different character concepts in game terms.

That is one of the things that has pulled me back to Classic Traveller as a ruleset (we previously played "Traveller" using GURPS or Fudge rules). In CT with its 2d6 coarse grain resolution, a point or two in skills or situational modifiers can really make a difference in results. I really like the basic CT skill levels: skill-0 is just familiarization, enough to avoid non-proficiency penalties; skill-1 is trained competence, and can actually influence results; skill-2 is experienced professional level, with greater influence on results; skill-3 and 4 are expert levels which allow effortless success at basic tasks and give a good chance of success at harder feats; while skill-5 and 6 are extreme expertise that is very rarely seen.

As long as any combat system will work with those kinds of skill levels, at that scale of granularity, then I am probably happy with it.

I suppose I have some bias toward systems in which a "hit" means only that the target was hit, and then some other system determines whether that hit got through armor and did damage, but I am also OK with systems like CT in which armor makes a target harder to hit, and a "hit" means a hit that got through and did damage. Either way is really OK as long as results are believable and roleplayable and don't take bloody forever to determine.

As far as the results of combat go, the old standard is Hit Points, and Traveller has its own form of Hit Points with damage being applies to physical characteristics. I have gone through many variations of houserules on Hit Points, Vitality Points, Stun Points, you name it... but really, all I care about now is the result for that combat action in terms of roleplaying.

Was it a miss, or a minor wound with no game effect? Is the character's combat effectiveness (usually either movement or ability to attack and defend) impaired in some way, either temporarily or for the duration of this fight? Is the character down and out of the fight, either temporarily or for the duration of the fight or permanently (dead)? Those are the important things to know as the result of any combat action.

I guess that is why I don't care so much about what rules we use for combat, so long as they produce believable and roleplayable results that reflect the characters' relative skills in meaningful ways.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Go to [SBRD] Reavers' Deep - Table of Contents
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RSS Feed 8 Responses to "[SBRD] Combat Rules and Other Thoughts"
#8 August 11th, 2013 01:10 AM
samuelvss Says:
I think that sounds like it would work, to keep the bookkeeping down for the GM. I've never used it, of course, but it makes sense.
#7 August 11th, 2013 01:07 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
I was just thinking I had seen some version that gave the kinda results that I think matter most for roleplaying combat: mere graze, or reduced effectiveness, or out of action for some period of time. Not really use numbers at all, just effects. Sound familiar to anyone?
#6 August 11th, 2013 01:06 AM
SpaceBadger Says:
OK, and what do y'all think of Sabredog's idea that after the first blood, I just throw hits at you and let you decide where to apply them and then keep track of them. If you're getting low, maybe make comments like "I'm hit bad over here." or "I'm about done." or whatever. Save messages back and forth, wouldn't it?
#5 August 11th, 2013 01:01 AM
samuelvss Says:
Especially for this format, I think Badger's first reaction of strait CT is the way to go. Otherwise, we are mired in combat minutia.
#4 August 11th, 2013 12:07 AM
Fritz_Brown Says:
But, mainly I haven't jumped in because I don't care - as long as it can make a good story, and I don't die quite as easily as the bad guys.
#3 August 11th, 2013 12:06 AM
Fritz_Brown Says:
I think sabredog has it right, really. I might suggest something along the lines of the T2300 system. 1) initiative using Coolness Under Fire, but could be any sort you like; 2) to hit rolls, modified by circumstances; 3) hit placement and damage, modified by armor and such; 4) effects. The main reason for 3 (IMHO) is for roleplaying purposes and to prevent "armor" from being a cure-all (wearing a bullet-proof vest should leave several parts vulnerable, but really protect the torso).
#2 August 10th, 2013 07:41 PM
sabredog Says:
I have the PC stats in front of me so I can see if the first hit takes one out in any case, but after that I don't worry about tracking their results, I've found the first two rounds really decide the battle the majority of the time - after those two rounds bodies are on the ground, wounds received and the morale starts flagging on one side or the other. And there is also the additional potential headache of tracking full strength blows vs. reduced strength in melee... I don't IMTU. I've also found that except in rare circumstances the melee combat doesn't last much longer than 4-5 rounds, either. Firearms (of all types) tend to be the norm, and the knives come out only for those short, quiet actions or in some rare duel. Overall my advice would be to keep it simple and still provide tactical choices to the players. The former makes it fun for you and the latter for the players
#1 August 10th, 2013 07:41 PM
sabredog Says:
Here is what I do, and would probably do in PbP circumstances as well: I don't use the "every die rolled is a separate packet of damage" rule. I treat the first hit as First Blood, roll to see if it comes off his STR/DEX/END, and then just tell the player how many hits he took in any round after that. Its up to the player to distribute those among his attributes and stress over the odds of continuing combat. I have enough to track in the action with the NPC's and tracking the overall ebb and flow of the battle, and keeping my descriptions colorful and exciting without collapsing into the old D&D "you take six hit, now roll" number crunching.

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