Combat Maneuvers

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Combat Maneuvers

Post by YMMV » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:38 am

I'm really digging game and how it handles combat. I love that there's no initiative and everybody more or less acts simultaneously. The only thing missing (for me at least) is something for warriors to do besides just damaging their foes.

While I'm thinking of adding in some extra combat actions, I wanted to see how other people handle situations like disarming or tripping or whatever. So what house rules, if any, do you for these types of actions?

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Post by Slloyd14 » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:48 pm

I have not thought about extra combat maneuvers but I agree that we need many more options in combat. If I get time, I may look in some D20 sourcebooks for inspiration for maneuvers to do.

Whatever we have though, we can't have too big a penalty to attack strength for trying to do them as they will be unlikely to be carried out and people will just ignore them.

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Post by torus » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:14 pm

Perhaps you had this in mind, but the combat manoeuvre system in Runequest II is a good place to look for ideas.

Good overview of the system here:

If some of these were incorporated sparingly, it might help add flavour without losing the simplicity and excitement of AFF combat.

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Post by bottg » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:11 am

More options is a good idea, but i would also say that if there are too many, it might slow combat down. If a player has 20 different options to choose from, a round becomes 15 minutes choosing the option, followed by 30 seconds of dice rolling and determination.

Maybe even a list with requirements in Weapon Special Skill? So "Mighty Blow" might mean you have a -1 to your armour roll if you lose the round, but a +2 to your damage if you win, but requires 4 in Sword special skill?

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Post by torus » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:06 am

parkusuk wrote:More options is a good idea, but i would also say that if there are too many, it might slow combat down. If a player has 20 different options to choose from, a round becomes 15 minutes choosing the option, followed by 30 seconds of dice rolling and determination.
Yes I agree, so I'm pretty wary about it. To be honest I think AFF combat works very well as it is, with just a few house rules to cover unusual actions or situations. However some people do like a bit more simulation, perhaps as an option for combats against major NPCs.

In fact I would add maybe just two or three combat options, and also limit the use of some of them (e.g. push back, mighty blow) to rounds following an attack you have won.

I also propose a simple rule for weapon reach, which I mentioned on a different thread: Attacking an opponent whose weapon has greater reach (e.g. dagger v sword, sword v. spear), you must win a combat round in order to close the distance, and can inflict damage only in subsequent attacks. If a combatant falls, slips or drops their weapon (due to a fumble), their opponent can chose to increase the distance again. Some weapons might even suffer a -1 penalty at close distance.

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Post by YMMV » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:53 am

I was in fact thinking of something like MRQII's combat maneuvers as well as Dragon Age's stunts. They were my main inspirations going into this. Unfortunately, none of the ideas I came up with felt right when grafted onto AFF. Thankfully, there was a nugget of wisdom that I happened upon that led me to the solution I like the most at the moment. Following the example of the feint maneuver, I've developed a number of other actions that I've taken to calling Risky Maneuvers. In a few of these, there was need of figuring out the 'degree of success' of the attack, which for speed and ease I've decided to just use the third die that would be used for damage/armor. Also, to be clear, damage and armor are still used as normal, these just augment the attack like Feint does.

In the brief moment when the weapons lock, either combatant could send the other weapon flying. Compare the degrees of both combat checks and whoever has the higher result disarms the other. How hard the weapon is to recover depends upon the difference of the degrees.
1-3: Weapon is nearby, and is recovered at the end of the next round
4-6: Weapon is beyond immediate reach, recovered at end of the 2nd round from now
7+: Weapon is lost behind enemy lines, cannot be recovered until end of combat

Positioning can mean everything in combat, and this maneuver is used to put either yourself in a better position, or your opponent at some disadvantage. The winner of this combat round can either gain the difference (min. 1) as bonus to their next combat check against the target, or make the target suffer half the difference (min. 1) as a penalty to next action. How one achieves this positioning is left up to the player, whether its slipping under their guard, kicking sand in their face, whatever, as long as its entertaining.

Pierce Armor:
If the target loses, they must roll armor twice and take the lower roll. If the target wins, they may choose any Risky Maneuver to retaliate with as their opponent has left themselves open searching for the weak spot in the armor.

Mighty Blow:
If the user of the maneuver wins, they may roll damage twice and take the higher roll. If their opponent wins, they may choose any RM to retaliate with.

Called Shot:
If the user wins, the difference (min 1) between the degrees is used to determine which limbs they can target. If the opponent wins, they have their choice of retaliatory RM.
1-3: Legs, target cannot move for one round, meaning they cannot use the skirmish RM or try to escape from melee, but they can be forcibly moved.
4-6: Arms, choose one arm and the target loses the use of it for one round, most likely not being able to take advantage of a weapon or shield in that period.
7+: Head, opponent is stunned and may not take any actions for one round, but may still defend themselves.

Keep at Bay/Close In:
For use with (or against) weapons with reach. The loser of this round cannot roll damage if they win the next round as their target has either kept them at distance with their weapon's reach or the opponent has slipped within the reach of the weapon.

For use with two-handed weapons only. The user of this maneuver does no damage, but if the degree of their combat roll is higher, they destroy a weapon or shield held by the target. The target gets no retaliatory RM if they win.

This is what I have so far. I don't think I'd want the number to grow much bigger, if at all. I know they're rather rough, and may not be entirely balanced, but I figure its a good start. The only thing I'm not too happy about is that these can't/shouldn't be used with ranged weapons as the archer suffers no risk from using them. I still haven't thought of a good idea for them.

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Post by torus » Sat Jul 02, 2011 11:41 pm

These are very interesting - some good ideas which I think I will use. If possible, I would prefer to use them to augment the existing range of 'Combat Options'.

Interesting idea to use the third dice. I would probably prefer to do this only when it was not also going to be used for damage/armour. Also, it seems to me that as you have framed it, this provides a way for weaker combatants to even the odds against any arbitrarily stronger opponent. Which is presumably what you are aiming for. But there would need to be limits on when this can be done.

I think in my Disarm option I would have the success be based on the normal attack strength comparison, with the damage & armour dice determining where the weapon goes, using your table. In fact I would also say the disarm is only effective if you exceed your opponent's attack strength by 3 or more (whereas your opponent can still do damage if they win as normal). Because of the -4 unarmed penalty, disarming needs to be difficult.

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Post by aduial » Tue Jul 19, 2011 2:36 pm

Personally, I think too many mechanical wonders of this kind ruins the beauty of the system.

Instead, I'd say that if you can concievably do something with an attack (which isn't already modelled by the damage system), and you win the combat round - then what you wished to do happens instead of you dealing damage. (Or in addition to damage as normal if that is the main target of the action appropriate.)

For more far-fetched stuff, the Director can impose a penalty, which should be -2 for stuff which is farfetched and powerful but that you see regularily in action movies, and -5 if it pushes the limits of Suspension of Disbelief.

Want to disarm someone? Push them over a cliff? Cleave their shield in half with your battleaxe? Just win the round and give up your damage.

Want to nail your enemy to a wall with an arrow at fifty paces? Shatter their sword with a well-aimed hammer-stroke? Cut them above the eyes with your dagger so the blood running into their eyes give them a penalty for the rest of the combat? Knock someone out cold from behind? Take a -2 to your combat roll and THEN win the combat round and give up your damage.

Want to knock out the enraged minotaur with your barehanded elf character? Cut cleanly through the trunk of a tree with a single swordstroke to attack your enemy for normal damage? Take a -5 to your combat total, and win the combat round.

Want to fly? Breathe fire? Raze an entire forest in a single action? Learn a magic special skill.

If a stunt such as this seem to involve more than one skill, use the lowest one for the combat roll. (So, if our sword-swinging swashbuckler wants to swing himself on the chandelier to cross the room and then attack an enemy as a single flamboyant action, he rolls acrobatics if that is lower than his swords skill, or swords if that is his lower skill. Either way, the result is his combat total.) In this case he would do damage as normal (since he is simply embellishing a normal attack with a second skill). Do NOT ask for an extra roll. The need for several rolls to succeed swiftly reduces the chance of success so much that smart players avoid such actions altogether.

Using this as a guideline should allow the Director to handle any suggestions the players have in a way which is foreseeable enough for players to actually want to take the options.

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