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In Moot Member Blogs Proposed Play-by-Post Combat Action System Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #52 New July 31st, 2014 03:15 AM
Proposed Play-by-Post Combat Action System

I have had this rattling around in my head for a long time, but especially lately as it appears that we should be getting into some combat soon in SBRD. This system is expressly designed for Play-by-Post; I don't know if I would use it in tabletop gaming are not, although maybe worth a try if it works as intended in PbP.

I wasn't happy with how the bit of combat played out toward the end of SBRD Chapter 01 on Devonia; it felt like I was directing most of what happened, with the PCs making a few rolls now and then. Also, we had not specified a posting pace; I thought it was going great with the players posting several times in one day to get through the combat, but feedback later was that they had all felt rushed and had to check in via phone, tablet, etc, during not-the-most-convenient times, simply because they were afraid of getting left out of the action if they did not post.

My goals for this new system seem simple, but for me at least they have proved somewhat more complex to refine to something that I think will actually work. The goals are 1) to keep combat flowing as quickly as possible, but without players feeling rushed; 2) keep back and forth postings to a minimum; preferably each player making one post per round describing their intentions and providing any necessary rolls, then the GM making one post back with results, then move on to the next round.

Beginning Combat Action

Combat action begins when either side initiates combat. This can be a GM declaration, or a Player declaration if a Player is making some combat action. ("I draw my pistol and shoot him in the face!" is a pretty clear declaration of combat!)

Combat Posting Pace

Once Combat Action begins, the default posting pace increases to at least one post per Player per day. If any Player who is involved in the combat has a problem or anticipates being too busy to keep up this pace, he/she should inform the GM with his/her request to either: postpone the combat a day or two until not so busy; have the GM run his/her PC during combat, with suggestions as to how the PC would act; or whatever else the Player has in mind. The GM will issue a decision so that the Player(s) know if/when Combat Posting is actually starting, and what the expected posting pace will be.

Once the posting pace is agreed, if a Player misses a post the GM will decide on that PC's action, taking into account the Player's previous declarations of intent. The reason here is that once the pace is decided, it needs to keep flowing.

(It is possible for Combat Action to proceed at more than one round per day, if all the involved PCs get their posts made, the GM resolves them and declares the next round, etc. )

The Combat Round remains the venerable 15 seconds from CT.

Combat Action Declarations

The GM declares "Round One, state your PC's actions" (or Round Two, etc.)

Each Player states what he/she intends for his/her PC to do in the next 15 seconds. This can be as detailed or ambitious as possible (if not enough time for all desired, the GM will say so in his/her reply with results), and may or may not include the technical definitions of Move/Stance and Targeting; if those are not included, the GM will interpret as best as possible.

Each Player includes a 2d6 roll for each action stated, and preferably includes suggested DMs (weapon skill, and DMs from Weapons/Armor tables and those below) to save the GM time in looking them up. If the Player does not include all rolls that the GM feels necessary ("I really think you needed an Athletics or at least DX roll to make that flip over the railing and onto the stairs...") then the GM will make the roll instead. The GM will also adjudge what DMs are applicable to the roll, taking into account those suggested by the Player.

After all Players have posted their PC's actions (or GM has supplied actions if necessary; see Combat Posting Pace above), then the GM declares actions for any NPCs (or may have done so during Player posting) and declares the end of the Combat Round.

Combat Round Results

After getting action declarations from all involved PCs or NPCs, the GM takes the rolls that each made (or makes rolls for them if omitted), applying DMs to get a final result.

Target Numbers for Success: I like Supp4's Rule 68A and will generally use that. Standard success target for combat is 8+; may vary if easier (unaware target 1m away) or harder (other circumstances not already included in DM's below).

Order of Resolution: All actions are resolved simultaneously, unless either 1) one side has surprise, in which case that side may get a surprise round or get to have its actions resolved first, before the other side's responses; or 2) other circumstance suggest to the GM that some actions should happen before others.

Results: Unlike the standard CT results per round, and perhaps (if I understand) more like the T5 results per round, most actions and rolls do not result in a single "You hit him" or "You missed", but rather possible hits or misses on any opponents included in the PC's stated Move/Stance and Targeting choices. A successful roll is generally necessary to hit any enemies, although the GM may give a bonus if the enemy really botched his/her own roll. Beyond that, results are based on a comparison of rolls (tip of the hat to Star Wars d6) and interpretation by the GM. The GM's reported results will include whatever the PC could see of his/her own attack results, plus any hits on the PC, plus any movement results: generally, everything that happened in the round that the PC is able to sense.

Damage: Standard CT damage with First Blood rule. For later hits (after First Blood) the GM should determine what Attribute the damage was applied to, either randomly or influenced by the comparative success rolls. (I don't want to slow things down by wasting another back and forth exchange on where the Player chooses to apply damage!)

Next Round: After reporting all results, the GM declares the next round, and it all repeats again.

DMs (Die Modifiers), Stances, Targeting, etc.

One big change here is that since results cover everything that happens in the 15 second combat round, some of the Player's choices need to be a bit broader than just "I shoot at Emperor Ming." That is where the Stances and Targeting priorities come in. If the Player doesn't specify in these terms, the GM should interpret as best he/she can, attempting to avoid the slowdown of back-and-forth questions as to what the Player really intended.

Weapons, Range and Armor DMs: Just use the ones from your Traveller system of choice. I will be using CT, from The Traveller Book or various supplement books. (It is suggested that positive DMs for Armor (making it easier to hit) be ignored.) This includes equipment DMs such as Scopes. I also like the Aiming DMs from Mongoose Traveller and may include those; not sure, need further consideration.

Move/Stance Choices and DMs: Some of these are old standards, some are standards re-defined by me, and some are completely new stuff that I made up, so I will clarify each individually:

Evading: Just as in CT, this means the PC is on pure defense, no attack, trying to hide or not get hit. This may be dodging away from a Close Range attacker, hiding behind a wall or obstacle, lying flat on the ground if no cover is available, or even running evasively ("Serpentine! Serpentine!"). The actual DM varies by range, and Cover and Concealment DMs also apply.

Stand and Fight: The PC is not taking any evasive action at all, just standing and shooting like at the target range. This may be because he/she has confidence in the superiority of his/her armor, or because he/she has confidence in his/her superior shooting, or because he/she is sniping and has surprise with nobody shooting back, or because he/she knows he/she has no other chance of hitting and needs the positive DM. Not necessarily standing, this also includes sitting, kneeling, or lying prone; whatever is needed/available for best firing position, but not taking evasive action. Attack DM: +2; Defense DM: +2. (Interpretation: you get a +2 on your attacks vs enemies, but they also get a +2 on attacking you because you are not dodging or evading.)

Firefight: Your PC is taking advantage of whatever cover is available, but is also popping out to try to get some attacks in against the enemy when opportunity presents; like most gunfights you see in movies or TV. Your PC's attacks may strike any available enemy targets, as you are taking whatever opportunity shots you have. Attack DM: +0; Defense DM: +0. (This is assumed to be the default Traveller combat situation for which the other various weapon/range DMs were calculated.)

Movement While Attacking: Standard DMs from whatever ruleset you use.

Targeting Choices and DMs

One Target (or Succession of Single Targets): If the Player specifies that his/her PC is attacking only one target, or attacking only one target until that one goes down and then moving to successor single target, that improves his attack on his target but also makes him more vulnerable to attack by others, as he is not paying attention to them. Attack DM: +1; Defense DM: +2.

Firefight: Taking whatever enemy targets may present themselves; again, this is assumed to be the default situation. Attack DM: +0; Defense DM: +0.

Firefight with Target Preference: The PC is watching for targets of opportunity, but has a definite preference for one particular target: the enemy boss, or the most dangerous enemy, or the Plot Device That Must Be Destroyed. This is risky, because it doesn't give the PC any positive DM, just the likelihood that if his/her attack is successful it will hit the desired target; but the PC's concentration on that one target gives a -1 DM against other targets of opportunity, and also gives them a bonus on attacking the PC. Attack DMs: +0 against target, -1 against other enemies; Defense DM: +1.

Suppressive Fire: The PC does not have any particular target in mind, but is simply putting fire downrange in hopes of making the enemy keep their heads down, hindering their attacks against friends. Generally empties the weapon used. Attack DM: -4 (no particular aiming); Defense DMs: depend on range and weapon choice and available ammo, generally from -1 to -4, apply to all friends attacked by enemies who are subject to the suppressive fire.

I would like feedback on this, especially if you feel I have left out some option that ought to be included. Examples will follow in next post.

Oh yeah, one more thing I forgot, that should have been included up above with Results:

Detail Level of Results: This should be worked out ahead of time between GM and Player(s), as to whether the Player wishes the GM to write up a detailed narrative of the results, or just give the bare details and allow the Player to interpret that in writing up what his PC precisely did to achieve those results (if the Player wants to do this, it should be included at the beginning of his/her next action post, so as not to slow down the game).

Examples of Play:

Example 1: Firefight, two PCs vs three NPCs:

Ace and Sarge are seaching a warehouse for the McGuffin. They believe that it is unoccupied, but actually there are some enemies present elsewhere in the building, and they have security cameras that the PCs fail to notice. Ace has his autopistol out, while Sarge carries his trusty Advanced Combat Rifle.

After a brief search (during which enemy guards notice them on the security cams, call a silent alert, and converge on the PCs' location), Ace finds the crate with the McGuffin. He needs two hands to open the crate, so will either need to lay his pistol aside or holster it; he decides to holster it. Just as Ace gets the crate open, the guards burst into the room.

GM: Guards appear, two coming through separate doors to a catwalk above you, one through a door on your level. No apparent armor; one of the guys on the catwalk has an ACR, the other two have autopistols, all out and aimed at you. Technically they could have a surprise round, but they waste it by yelling stuff like, "Freeze!" and "Don't move!" OK, are you guys ready to shift over to Combat Posting? Beginning Round 1 when you are ready...

Ace: Sure, bring it on!

Sarge: Yeah, let's do it! Sarge will first try to take out the guy above with the ACR, but then he is diving for cover behind the biggest, solidest looking box that he can see within reach. [Call that Firefight with Target Preference, maybe? I'm not just standing there to let the other guys shoot me! Do I get any cover or concealment DMs? Combat Rifle skill-3; rolled 9 on attack, rolled 6 if I needed anything for that movement.

Ace: Whoa, I'm not gonna be the Target of Opportunity either, if you don't mind! Ace will just dive for that nearby cover that Sarge mentioned, Evading and drawing his pistol to be ready for next round. Just roll for me if I need a roll.

GM: OK, the goons all open fire at both of you; Firefight mode, Firefight targeting; they don't care which of you they hit, but don't especially want to get shot themselves, either.

Wow, notice how nicely everybody is complying with the new rules and stating their actions? Of course, Sarge's move doesn't fit neatly into the system, so the GM has to interpret a little bit...

The GM rolls for each of the goons; each has skill-1 with his weapon. The guy with the ACR rolls 3; the other catwalk guy rolls 8; the other guy rolls 4. Because of Ace's Evasion (Short Range), all of the attacks are treated as -1 against him. The GM decides to go along with Sarge's description of his move as normal Firefight with Target Preference; Sarge won't get any favorable DMs, but has -1 Attack against the two pistol-wielding goons, and +2 Defense (meaning they all get +2 on their attacks with respect to Sarge).

Results:
Sarge, 9+3=12, +1 for Range=13 (against ACR goon only, per description)
ACR Goon, 3+1=4+1=5; that is 7 vs Sarge, 4 vs Ace, not good enough to hit either one
Other Catwalk Goon, 8+1=9+2=11, 13 vs Sarge, 10 vs Ace - could hit either one or both
Other Goon: 4+1=5+2=7, 9 vs Sarge, 6 vs Ace - could hit Sarge, not Ace

The GM looks at the comparative results and decides that Sarge definitely hit ACR Guy, and Other Catwalk Goon definitely hit Sarge; that 10 is good enough that Other Catwalk Goon also hit Ace as he was diving for cover; but that Other Goon with his roll of 4 was too slow and both Sarge and Ace got behind cover without being hit. (O Good and Merciful GM! )

The GM rolls 3D=13 for Sarge's damage; under First Blood this all goes to ACR Guy's Endurance, and he falls unconscious. He then rolls 3D=5 for Catwalk Guy's hit on Sarge, and 3D=7 for his hit on Ace.

GM: Sarge drills the ACR Guy and knocks him down. The Other Catwalk Guy gets hits on both Sarge and Ace; Sarge takes 5 hits to Strength, Ace takes 7 hits to Dex. The ACR Guy and the Other Guy don't hit either one of you, although one of his shots zings scarily close as Sarge hits cover.

Sarge: Cool! Can you roll to see if the ACR Guy and his gun fell over the catwalk railing? Sarge is gonna continue firing at the other two guys, normal Firefight mode. Roll=7, skill=3.

Ace: Dang, that hurt! OK, Ace has his autopistol out now and will return fire, normal Firefight mode. Roll=10, skill=0. That's a hit, right?

The GM decides that both goons will continue firing in Firefight mode, using their doorways as concealment but popping out to shoot. He decides that the walls are not substantial enough to stop bullets; no Cover DM. Sarge and Ace have chosen a better position, however; they get the Cover DM of -4. Catwalk Goon rolls 8, Other Goon rolls 10.

Sarge, 7+3=10+1=11, good enough to hit one or both Goons
Ace, 10+0=10+2=12, good enough to hit one or both Goons
Catwalk Goon, 8+1=9+2=11-4=7, no hits
Other Goon, 10+1=11+2=13-4=9, could hit one or both

GM rolls 50/50 chance for ACR Guy falling over; he falls. Grins fiendishly and rolls again for whether or not gun fell with him; nope, it fell on catwalk.

Rolls 3D=5 for Sarge's hit on Catwalk Guy, 3D=8 for Sarge's hit on Other Guy, 3D=3 for Ace's hit on Catwalk Guy, 3D=12 for Ace's hit on Other Guy. Catwalk Guy is hurt but still conscious; Other Guy is seriously injured or dead. The GM compares Other Guy's roll of 10 to Sarge's 7 and Ace's 10, and decides that he got a hit on Sarge before falling down. Rolls 3D=10 (3+3+4).

GM: The ACR Guy topples off the catwalk and splat down to the warehouse floor; more injury, he's really not looking good... but he dropped his gun and the ACR is now lying up there on the catwalk. I think the ACR rounds could probably penetrate this box you are behind, so you'd lose your Cover bonus against it.

GM: You both got hits on both of the other goons; Catwalk Guy is still up and moving, in fact you can see he is going for that ACR. Other Guy is down and looks bad, maybe dead, but before he fell he hit Sarge with one shot; take 3 to Strength, 3 to Dex, 4 to Endurance.

Sarge: OK, we're both hurt but fighting, but so is he, and if he gets the ACR we lose our Cover. Time to end this, right? Sarge is Evading this round, staying behind the box in full cover, switches his ACR to full auto and draws his autopistol and hands it to Ace. "Cover me, OK? Just pop up and blaze away w both those guns to mess this guy up. If you don't actually take him out, don't worry, I will!"

Ace: Sounds like a plan. Ace takes Sarge's autopistol, Evading for this round, ready to pop up when Sarge says go.

The GM decides that Catwalk Guy reaches the ACR and picks it up, but doesn't get an attack this turn.

GM: OK, so you're ready to go; no shots fired this round, but you don't hear Catwalk Guy moving any more.

Sarge: He's ready to start shooting at us; maybe he knows he can shoot through this box, otherwise why go after the ACR at all? Sarge will try to surprise him by moving around the box to the other side from where he was previously firing, then tap Ace and stand up. Taking a Stand and Shoot action, with One Target: Mr. Catwalk Guy who now has the ACR. Full auto. Rolls 9 and 11, WooHoo! Yeah, skill-3 and autofire!

Ace: Popping up on Sarge's signal, Suppressive Fire with both autopistols, and I guess I'll also go with Stand and Fight mode. Roll 7.

The GM decides that Ace's suppressive fire with two autopistols at this range is worth a -3 DM. Catwalk Guy still gets to shoot back, and this time the PCs don't have Cover bonus, and Catwalk Guy gets a +2 because they both chose Stand and Fight. Catwalk Guy rolls 4 and 7, also using full auto.

Sarge, 9+3=12+1=13+1=14+2=16; second roll 11+3=14+1=15+1=16+2=18
Ace, 7+0=7+2=9-4=5+2=7 - no hits, but close!
Catwalk Guy, 4+1=5+1=6+2=8-3=5; 7+1=8+1=9+2=11-3=8 - that one could hit

GM rolls Sarge's damage at 3D=15 and 3D=7; Catwalk Guy is at zero on all stats, and dies! Catwalk Guy had one potential hit, but comparing his numbers to Sarge and considering the hail of bullets fired by Ace, he decides it would be more dramatic to just have him shot up and dead.

GM: Catwalk Guy also knows how to use full auto, and one round comes very close, but Ace's Suppressive Fire definitely had him rattled, so no hits! Sarge's burst hits Catwalk Guy and rips him open; he goes down looking rather dead.

Example 2: one PC vs THREE NPCs (but with some surprise...)

After bandaging each other with spray foam and other goodies from their first aid kits, Our Heroes check the fallen Bad Guys and find ACR Guy and Catwalk Guy both dead; Other Guy is unconscious but seems in no danger of bleeding out immediately, so they give him a spray of Bandage Foam and tie him up with cable ties.

Ace reloads his autopistol with a fresh magazine and goes back to look at the McGuffin.

Sarge slings his ACR, reloads his own autopistol, and goes prowling to see if there is anybody else in the building, possibly aroused by all the gunfire.

At the far end of a long hallway, and through several doors which apparently muffled the combat sounds, Sarge opens a door and finds...

GM: There are three Bad Guys inside, as you can tell by their uniforms. They are right inside the door, all at Close range, but with their backs to you. You don't have total surprise though; you will get to attack first, rather than simultaneous, and I'll give you a DM+2 for semi-surprise, but they are all turning toward the door, and seem to be reaching for pistols. One guy is standing, the other two are sitting side by side at a table, doing something on datapads. You ready for some Combat?

Sarge: Yeah, ready to rumble! Which reminds me, Sarge is way better at Brawling than he is with an autopistol; I think he'll take advantage of the Close range to slug the standing guy with his autopistol as a makeshift club, then try to kick the nearest seated guy over onto the other guy - actually trying to kick them both off their chairs, if possible. Brawling-4, rolled 8 and 7.

The GM rolls for the three Bad Guys, although instead of being simultaneous, their attacks will happen after Sarge's attack. Each has skill-1 with his weapon. #1 rolls 11, #2 rolls 6, #3 rolls 2.

Sarge, 8+4=12+2=14 - hit #1, roll 2D= 9 damage. First Blood rule puts that all against #1's Dex and knocks him unconscious, so he won't get to make his attack on Sarge.

Sarge's kick, 7+4=11+2=13 - hit #2, roll 2D=7 damage, applied against Strength but not enough for knock-out. GM decides this is enough to force Dex roll not to fall off chair; Dex is 7 and roll is 12, so Bad Guy #2 topples over into his buddy. That shouldn't do any damage to #3, but how about a Dex roll to stay in his chair, with -2 since he didn't get kicked directly. Dex is 7 and roll is 8, so he also falls, but not badly enough to hurt himself.

The GM decides that although not knocked out, #2 is too tangled up in the fallen chairs to get off a shot, but #3 fires at Sarge.

#3, 2+1=3+1=4, not good enough

GM: Sarge slams Bad Guy #1 in the head with the gun and knocks him down. His kick knocks #2 into #3 and both fall over. #3 manages to draw and get off a shot, but misses.

Sarge: Boo-yah! Sarge will yell, "Drop 'em!" in his best Menacing NCO voice, and if they don't drop immediately, start shooting. Firefight mode, trying to get the table in between us if it comes to shooting.

Sarge now has both of the guys on the floor covered with his autopistol; they are pretty demoralized, so drop their weapons and surrender.
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RSS Feed 1 Responses to "Proposed Play-by-Post Combat Action System"
#1 July 31st, 2014 09:07 PM
Dig it. I by the way will put the First Blood to the largest characteristic I have which will be Dex or End, then Str. Just so ya know. Also, when do I get a Character Wiki Page?
 


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