Combat concerns

I was just reading another thread on combat and it motivated me to post a few concerns of my own here and hopefully get some feedback on how other troupes have dealt with them.

I have no problems with highly abstract combat, but certain portions of the rules seem close to broken. In particular, the rules for missile combat and for shield grogs seem problematic. Since shield grogs favor the players, this doesn't seem like such a big deal. Missile combat, though, is an issue, as are a few other things that come up regularly.

  1. There are no rules for firing into combats (or blasting spells into combat, for that matter).

  2. It's not at all obvious why grouping offers any real advantage for missile combat for either the missile shooting group or the defending group. In particular, a group of naked, trained celtic warriors with two handed swords charging a group of ungrouped longbowmen will likely arrive without a scratch because they've dumped their entire bonus into defense while heading across the open field. On the other hand, it's not at all obvious why grouping should offer any advantage to the longbowmen. Unlike melee combat, there's no real reason that missile fire should be more effective in a small group. Also, it's potentially crockable, since a group of longbowmen standing at a distance and putting their entire bonus into offense (since no one is in melee range) is a truly frightening thing.

  3. The movement rules are so close to nonexistent that issues about how many rounds of fire you can get off before an enemy closes are left entirely in the GM's hands (which may be okay, but is symptomatic of the general problems here).

  4. Mounted knights? Lance charges? No rules.

Those copncerns exist and are well spotted. I do not plan on giving you a reason why, but possible quick fixes for those. Maybe one or 2 of them might be useful

  1. Make it a stress situation vs a fixed number (12, for example). If you fail by 3 or more, you hit a friend. Count the ammount by which you failed to your damage total. So if you fail abysmally, you can easily kill a friend.

  2. make fire against fixed numbers, not defence. 9+ or 12+ for moving targets. Add the defence of shields to your difficulty. So, grouping vs missiles is not useful anymore. A little bit extreme, but it solves your naked fanatics problem.

  3. Volley fire is mmore effective isually, since you cannot cover from different attacks coming from different directions at once. It is the volume of fire, that offers advantage. If you think top be lousy (it is, considering the 3-4 guys shooting missiles in ArM5 combat) you can drop grouping as an advantage for the shooters as well.

  4. Introduce ArM4 rules. Other HR can include 5 paces for foot (10 running), 10 for mounted 20 for full trot horse.

  5. Double the damage bonus of the spear while mounted and charging. It makes a charge truly fearsome, but stuill requires you fatiguing yourself to get the bonus.

Best,

Xavi

4)Serf parma but i tought that the riding ability could give you a bonus to your attack skill (i think it was up to +3). That's a start for a knight with a lance. You can easily introduce some rules concerning the weapon range (as other people have already suggested in other combat related thread).

The naked celtic warrior problem... Well, i don't allow it when it look silly. I mean, full defense bonus for fighting in a group while charging the bowmen?! I would allow full offense bonus on a charge, or all out attack of the group. Defense i allow it when you don't move(as in the 300 graphic novel/movie) or on a strategic retreat. But it's a case by case decision. When you can help one another, you can get the group bonus(the interest of grouping bowmen is more to accelerate mass combat to me).

Well... i got to read the 4th Ed combat.

-Bellysarius

While the above solution is fully workable, personally I'd avoid it based on the fact that it would bog combat too much. I think I'd simply check if the arrow hits (i.e. attack beats defence), and if it doesn't, the roll would be treated as a botch (albeit no breaking bows/snapping bowstring-results). As SG I could then assign a number of botchdice according to how many people were in the melee, the surroundings etc. If friendly fire occurs I'd just use base damage total. The potential of friendly fire, IMO, should be frightening, but not deadly. Combat is deadly enough as it is, and base damage is deadly as well.

I think this is a realy good idea, actually. I buy that completely. I've compeletely dropped grouping for other purposes than army vs. army combat, for which it works like a charm. Btw, I'd never let the fanatics exert themselves and gain defense bonus. No combat-dodging, cart-wheeling, duck-and-weave charging naked fanatics in my saga, thankyouverymuch.

I agree. Still, I think it's good way of handling it (relegating to SG, that is, not the fact that it's not covered in the rules).

I buy that as well. I'm incorporating it from hereon.

In this case only the horse would fatigue itself but horses will be tired only after a lot of such charges. So do not count any fatigue in this case.

Nope, I was refering to the rider fatiguing itself, not the horse.

If you want a reason is because he has to withstand the impact of the lance himself for it to be effective. If you want a metagame reason, it is because it is the character the one that exerts himself/herself according to the rules :slight_smile: besides, it adds more to the equilibrium issue.

As an alternative, count it as a normal exertion action. IIRC ArM5 has itr as an example of exertion. The fact that you are on a horse does not change much. I find it better to double damage, though, since it is more dramatic and (would seem) more realistic. Also, add the str of the horse to the equation as well, if you want.

GFlad to see some stuff got acceptance. The fixxed number for firing is actually an ArM3 rule that we have never fully dropped. It works quite OK for us

Best,

Xavi

There is no reason fatiguing the rider. And I see no things would need balancing.
Knights in your system would fall unconscious on the tournaments and battlefields after some charge. :smiley:
Your other suggestions are good anyway.

You have never ridden a horse. (And I don't mean "sat on one while it moved", I mean ridden.)

Perhaps you are not in the same Saga as Xavi?

No, knights in tournaments or on the battlefield would have to "rest" occasionally, or be fit enough to endure the stress, or not charge a half-dozen times in a row. Xavi didn't suggest (afaik) that any charge be an exertion, only ones that did the suggested obscene amounts of damage.

It doesn't have to be a very high difficulty number. Makes some sense to me.

No, that's wrong. The charge is simply a game mechanic. It doesn't represent how much activity the rider needs to do before during or after. It simply models that moment of real exertion when the combatant focuses his efforts. He wouldn't use that same intensity every round and so wouldn't suffer the fate you describe.

You just have to see these rules, as has been said before, as an abstraction. They provide checks, balances and trade-offs. If you want that extra attack bonus, you have to pay the price. If you try to gain that bonus too many times you're in trouble.

As for why the rider might be fatigued, there are two key reasons.

  1. Riders exert themselves when controlling their mounts, especially at full gallop. They don't ride horses into battle so they can put their feet up and let the horse do it all for them, they ride them for the extra speed and power and height advantage. It's still taxing work.

  2. That's what the game says. If the player wants his character to enjoy the attack bonus, he pays the fatigue penalty. Simple as that. It's a mechanic.