How does a combat round look like?

Post Reply
jibjib
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:54 am

How does a combat round look like?

Post by jibjib » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:09 pm

I like this system and I want to introduce it to my group of board gamers.
However the combat system is kind of vague and that's a big hurdle for me.
I know how attacks work but I don't know how a round of combat looks like, so I could really need some help.

Lets say an archer, a wizard and a warrior are walking through a tunnel when 10 meters up ahead from around a corner two goblins, one carries a javelin, and an ork shaman cross their path.

Walk me through a round of combat.
What's the order of initiative?
Can you move 10 meters and attack or only move?
What stops the players or director from swarming the magic users.
Do you use a battle mat? If not, how do you keep track of who's fighting who?

In short, tell me how you interpret combat.

darksoul
Knight
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:15 am

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by darksoul » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:51 am

Just to put my opinion, when a system is vague it offers more flexibility and creativity for players. I don't think every thing has to have a mechanic but there are things I like mechanics for.

-When it comes to combat order ranged attackers, then magic/spells and then melee.
-Aside from that order there is no initiative. If there are two wizards let them choose who goes first. Or who ever declares first.(btw if this seems odd or is a problem then I can direct you to the blog of a D&D DM who convincingly points out that it's not a big deal to have no initiative)
-When it comes to moving, as per the book, in combat you can move 2m in a round. That's movement in combat, not regular movement. Things like escaping are covered by the movement rules.
-I don't think anything stops anything from swarming the magic user except proper strategic placement of the party. I'm sure you can give the enemy a penalty if the Magic user is behind the others.
-I use a map/battle mat for my AFF game. My brother does not use a battle mat for his D&D game.
I's really not that hard to keep track of who is fighting who without a battle mat. Most players pick a target and attack. If there is only 1 target then the entire party will be dealing with that target. If there is more then
targets are decided upon initial attack. Most often players will say "I keep attacking the same target" or "I'll switch targets." So

Now, that's the basics. I run my game with a few additions.
If I'm running the story. I determine NPC actions. Then I tell the party to declare their actions. I then tell the players the NPC's actions. Then follow the above order.
You don't even have to do it like this. To start the round you just ask anyone if they are doing ranged attacks. Let them go. Then ask anyone if they are casting, then let them cast and same for melee attackers.

I'll use your example to illustrate how I do it.
I decide NPC actions: Javelin Goblin throws at wizard, Other goblin moves forward to attack fighter, Wizard casts a spell at fighter(Lets say firebolt).
PC's declare their actions: Archer shoots at Shaman, Wizard casts spell at shaman, Fighter attacks archer.
Tell players NPC actions.
Resolve actions:
Ranged: Archer shoots Shaman. Javelin Goblin throws at wizard. (Hit or miss, both have a penalty now for being under attack.
Magic: Shaman and wizard cast spells.
Melee: Fighter attacks archer(Archer uses the same roll he used to attack to defend himself, he does not get to attack the fighter.) Goblin attacks fighter.(Same here. Fighter does not make a new roll. He keeps the roll he made against the Archer.

This has all been described w/o a battle mat. You know who is attacking who. Even if players change targets it's not that hard to keep track of.

And, that's it.
I'll wait for a reply before I post more. I'm guessing you have questions.

darksoul
Knight
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:15 am

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by darksoul » Thu Mar 12, 2015 6:01 am

Just as an addition, I run combat similar to the game books.
The game books would tell you if you could run or couldn't or when you could attack a magic user and how. For the most part, it was always very logical.
Examples, if you were fighting an enemy, you couldn't drink a healing potion.
Some fights you could run away from. Some fights you had your back to the wall and were to the death.
Since you started off further away form a wizard he would usually cast a spell first but it was the only spell he could cast because you'd engage him in melee right after.

jibjib
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:54 am

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by jibjib » Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:41 am

Quick reply.
I've been reading Dungeoneer and that helped out.
Dungeoneer, like you said, reads that the director tells what the enemy will do then the players tell what they will do and then execute the actions.

I do think that initiative and mobility is important in battle. I'm sure we can all think of examples where a smaller army won by abusing or out-manoeuvring the enemy. Without that battles can become tedious and predicable.

I always assumed that character, in battle, can move as far as reasonably possible, but that's never described. I don't know where the 2m fits in, I thought that was the range of a melee attack.

Two more questions.

A fighter and wizard stand next to each other and across from them stands a beast with 2 attacks. After the wizard who can move first? If it's the monster that moves first than that means it can attack the fighter and wizard. but if it's the fighter that moves first than the monster can only attack the fighter and the wizard stays safe in the back.

A wild boar is charging at an archer. Can the archer shoot a crossbow, drop the crossbow and draw a dagger so he isn't unarmed in the coming melee attack.

User avatar
bottg
Site Admin
Posts: 1339
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:53 pm

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by bottg » Fri Mar 13, 2015 11:50 am

jibjib wrote:Quick reply.
Two more questions.

A fighter and wizard stand next to each other and across from them stands a beast with 2 attacks. After the wizard who can move first? If it's the monster that moves first than that means it can attack the fighter and wizard. but if it's the fighter that moves first than the monster can only attack the fighter and the wizard stays safe in the back.

A wild boar is charging at an archer. Can the archer shoot a crossbow, drop the crossbow and draw a dagger so he isn't unarmed in the coming melee attack.
For the first, it depends on the context. If they can see each other and there is a full rounds movement between them, then the warrior and monster both move and thus meet in the middle. If the distance is very short then you might want to compare SKILL ratings, withe the higher moving first.

For the second, i would allow this, but the archer would not inflict damage if he wins. A "win" on that round would simply mean he avoids damage.

In general, do whatever seems right. Make a note of the monster action declarations and then ask for the player declarations. Remember that everyone is moving more or less simultaneously.

darksoul
Knight
Posts: 318
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:15 am

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by darksoul » Tue Mar 17, 2015 10:19 am

Bottg summed up everything I was going to say with fewer words.

Combat is supposed to be a mess of simultaneous or near simultaneous actions. Btw the only reason I have my players declare actions is so I know that they are committing to killing or attacking a singe target and that the target gets the penalty for being outnumbered. I don't want my players then changing targets.

The thing about initiative is that it's mostly an RPG thing. It's supposed to represent who goes first in combat, but you get some weird things. Take your example of the wizard and fighter. If there was a distance of 15 feet. between them and the enemies won initiative, then they run up beside the wizard and attack him and the party can't do anything. So while that enemy was moving forward 15 feet the fighter did nothing.

Also, mobility is something more relevant to large scale battles and use of vehicles or horses, not hand to hand. Once hand to hand is engaged, fighters really can't move far or don't move far unless they are trying to run away. Even the example you pointed out involved mass combat.

I'm just pointing out a few issues with initiative. It's just a system to keep things orderly for running combat, but it's not necessary. Here's the post from the DM I told you about.


And Dungeon World proves that. Dungeon World doesn’t have initiative. It doesn’t have a special action economy. Nothing changes when a fight breaks out. And when you run Dungeon World for someone who was raised on D&D, it blows their f$&%ing mind. It’s fantastic.

How does that work?

Think back to any other scene in the game that isn’t a combat. Let’s say the PCs pick up the gold idol and suddenly the temple rumbles and starts to collapse. “What do you do,” the DM says urgently. “I’ll hold my shield over my head and flee for the exit,” yells Alice, playing the fighter. “Okay,” says the DM, “you make it to the doorway. What about you Bob?” “I flee after Alice, but I don’t have anything to protect me.” “Uh oh, make a Reflex save!” “Fourteen.” “You get clonked on the head, take five damage and end up sprawled on the floor.” Carol says, “I’ll dash over to Bob and get an arm around him and help him flee for the exit. My shield spell is still working. Hopefully it will protect us.” And so on.

Now, compare that to scene where the players enter a room and there’s nothing immediately threatening. The DM describes the room and then what happens? Alice say something like “I’m going to move toward the open doorway on the far side and watch out for trouble.” Then Bob says “I’m going to examine the treasure chest. I think it might be trapped.” And Carol says “I’m going to check out that statue. Do I recognize the runes?” And the DM responds with “Alice, you don’t see anything coming, but you stand at the ready. Give me a Perception check. Bob, you search the chest. Give me a Search check. Carol, you don’t recognize the runes.”

Notice how, in both of those scenes, the game settles into a natural rhythm. There’s no explicit turn order and no defined action economy, but those things are still happening. The DM manages the pace of the scene and everyone bounces from decision point to decision point, which establishes a sort of action economy. You can do a thing. Then we’ll resolve it. And you or someone else can do a thing afterwards.

Dungeon World simply says “that’s how the game flows, we don’t need to impose anything special on the game just because there is a fight.” And it doesn’t. And it works just fine. Now, the structure of the game itself helps the GM set the appropriate pace, but a skilled GM wouldn’t even need that.

And I kid you not, you could totally run a D&D combat without bothering to roll for initiative. The first person who wants to act, let them act. Then, bounce the action to a bad guy. Maybe the bad guy the PC attacked. Or another PC instead. Shotgun the actions around, and just keep it up. Hell, you can give the players the control over the initiative as I did with Popcorn Initiative and not break a damned thing.

User avatar
torus
Knight
Posts: 322
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:18 pm

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by torus » Mon Mar 30, 2015 11:56 am

One of the best things about AFF is no initiative rolls. Also the level of abstraction is quite flexible. For example you can have one roll representing everything the hero does in the combat round, e.g. not only the Attack strength but also dodging missile attacks, with appropriate modifiers in each case. Or you can have the hero roll separately for each action.

User avatar
bottg
Site Admin
Posts: 1339
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:53 pm

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by bottg » Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:47 pm

torus wrote:One of the best things about AFF is no initiative rolls. Also the level of abstraction is quite flexible. For example you can have one roll representing everything the hero does in the combat round, e.g. not only the Attack strength but also dodging missile attacks, with appropriate modifiers in each case. Or you can have the hero roll separately for each action.
Exactly. We tend to use a combat roll for attack or defence in the missile phase, and another in the combat round, but you can run it in several ways!

jibjib
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:54 am

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by jibjib » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:03 pm

I don't know if AFF is right for me. I like the fluff and the fast and loose play but when it comes to combat it should me tight. Everybody should be able to read the rules in the book and not ask the director how combat works. It's the one time the director can take the hands off the steering wheel and see where it ends. Why use stamina points and dice when a fight is all up to the director anyway?

Mr Nibbs
Knight
Posts: 256
Joined: Wed May 08, 2013 1:09 pm

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by Mr Nibbs » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:37 am

[quote="darksoul"]The thing about initiative is that it's mostly an RPG thing. It's supposed to represent who goes first in combat, but you get some weird things. Take your example of the wizard and fighter. If there was a distance of 15 feet. between them and the enemies won initiative, then they run up beside the wizard and attack him and the party can't do anything. So while that enemy was moving forward 15 feet the fighter did nothing.

That's not how it works with AD&D2, but I haven't played that since '93. Initiative represents who starts their action first, but that fighter would take 7 segments to reach the wizard (at 2m per segment). The difference in initiative tells you how long the delayed reaction is, (say it's three) and that gives the wizard four segments to get off a spell (maybe a magic missile?) and the other characters four segments in which they can move 8m and charge the attacking fighter (whose chances I don't fancy much). Players would be expected to give instructions in real time with no access to rule books. That's off the top off my head...

The Dungeon World example is a rare treat - it really doesn't get much better than that until you introduce the plastic swords :o)

User avatar
torus
Knight
Posts: 322
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:18 pm

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by torus » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:34 pm

jibjib wrote:I don't know if AFF is right for me. I like the fluff and the fast and loose play but when it comes to combat it should me tight. Everybody should be able to read the rules in the book and not ask the director how combat works. It's the one time the director can take the hands off the steering wheel and see where it ends. Why use stamina points and dice when a fight is all up to the director anyway?
Not sure why you say it is all up to the director - he/she has no more or less control over events in AFF than in any other RPG. Put simply, each round everyone declares their intentions, makes an attack roll and applies modifiers, and then opposing combatants compare their attack scores and damage/armour rolls to see who hits and what damage ensues. Missiles and magic are resolved first, then melee.

User avatar
SkinnyOrc
Hero
Posts: 652
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am
Contact:

Re: How does a combat round look like?

Post by SkinnyOrc » Thu Jun 04, 2015 4:22 am

Yeah initiative isn't something I miss with AFF. As people have said you either end up breaking the round down into something like segments, which is complicated and slow, or use the old your go their go, which is completely artificial. Obviously both sides would be acting at the same time and personally I prefer to keep combat short and sweet.

I guess the one time who acts first would make a difference is if someone dies. Then if you had initiative they might not have completed their action before they snuffed it. But I only see that applying to missiles and spells versus the same, melee combat can't be representing one blow per round so they'd still be able to cause damage. So it seems like a small thing to gloss over for the sake of keeping things moving.

I reckon the main take home here is a lot of RPGs conventions are so established it's not easy for people to consider another way. I'm out of touch with D&D these days but character classes, armor making it had to hit rather than to damage, and XP for killing and treasure were all ridiculous. Yet millions of people happily enjoyed playing those rules. So maybe the take home should be if they're having fun good luck to them... but they're still stupid rules.

Post Reply