Magical Combat...

Yes I understand it. But it doesn't help me if I want to use the combat clock. I'm looking for a way to change the initiative system in order to make character with the lowest score be the quickest. I'm not trying to resolve a problem of distance or a problem of order.

Have you tried stress die - Quickness - Weapon Initiative mod + Encumbrance?

Not a bad idea, yes. In this case the goal is to make 2 on the dice.

you could end up with negative numbers with the above formula. Without working out an entirely new system ( weapons, skills, stats), the formula posted would give you want to want.

The reason I started playing Ars Magica in the first place was to get away from these ultra-micro-managed, inordinately long, tedious and boring debates about how many inches (or feet, or meters, or rods for that matter) a man in steel scalemail and a longsword can run in X amount of time. This is why games like Middle Earth and Runequest are collector's items and not currently being played: it's no fun!

First, define a pace in your saga. Whatever it is, just so everyone knows. (We use the "normal" pace of one step = approx. 3 feet, but if you want to go Roman, kudos to you. It doesn't matter as long as it's consistent from story to story!)

Next, figure out how far someone can do the following in one round:
a) Move and do nothing else
b) Move and engage in combat in the same round
It's not supposed to be that hard, people. Basically what you want is an invisible circle around any person (like an unprotected maga) that you can define as--inside this line I can suffer a melee attack in a single round, and beyond it I will have at least one round to cast a spell.

The rules (at least the house rules we use) are pretty clear: it takes an entire round to cast a spell (except fast-cast) and the spell goes off at the end of the round. If you're magus gets licked before that, that's it--you're licked. The solutions to this problem are tried and true: put some grogs in front of you (and one or two behind can't hurt), and invest in some armor. Also, Gift of the Bear's Fortitude or a lesser version can't hurt either.

Hum... This has the exact same effect :laughing:

Else, yes, just take all the things that usually add to your initiative, make them a malus, make the things that substract a bonus, and you're good to go.
Note, however, that this won't change anything if you keep the standard declarative/resolutive order.

Another option might be to have your spell take turn on your next initiative.

Turn 1, I begin to incant a PoF at init 7
Turn 2: My PoF takes of at init 7. I begin to incant a second PoF
Turn 3: My second PoF takes of at init 7. My target dies.

What's wrong with my suggested mechanic? To spell it out - the cost in ticks is (6-roll/3), in this way rolling higher is better (as always), so you can keep all the bonuses as bonuses, but it translates to lower initiative. 1 tick is obtained on a roll of 15 or above (no 0 or negative ticks allowed).

I'm with Bash on keeping the battle abstract and non-formal, and indeed would like an even less simulationist and more story-oriented mechanic. But the exalted-style combat clock makes for an interesting alternative to the normal combat round, for sure. Be aware that in the original combat system one can add multiple actions to increase the tick count, which serves to add color and options to combat.

I'm probably showing my 3rd edition bias here, but I tend to think that the simplest, quickest solutions are the best. The goal is to keep play moving, not dwelling on complex math problems (unless that's your thing, then hey! go for it). We don't do a whole lot of magi vs. magi magical combat, usually, but when it happens we've found that the basic 3rd edition rule was superior to any kind of "magical initiative" process. Here's why (I know you were curious):

Because all formulaic spells go off simultaneously this makes a few key factors very critical-

  1. Don't pick a fight unless you're pretty certain you're the baddest dog in the brawl (AKA "don't bring a knife to a gunfight")
  2. Are you confident in your Parma? Really? Better be sure
  3. TACTICS. Never underestimate the importance of cover, concealment, surprise, trickery, and treachery!
  4. The alternative is a potential arms race as magi vie for the quickest draw in Mythic Europe

That all said, I kind of like the idea of the clock, but can you do it with less math?

Yup, always an important start. We use pace=meter for maximum simplicity. Works perfectly. Only other group i know personally running the game uses pace=yard and that works just as fine.

Hmm? I´ve certainly played Middle Earth and i never thought it was one of those "precise" systems?
The one i have is the massively simplified version of Rolemaster(which if not perhaps "overprecise" most certainly is overcomplex).

Yeah we prefer similar, except the spells go off the NEXT round but with a massive initiative bonus, which means that someone REALLY great at fastcasting can do something about it, but only with severe difficulty.

We use pace=yard (no meters in medieval Europe, y'know?), but it doesn't matter a whit, you're right.

Maybe I'm confusing ME with something else...I am, ahem, a few years removed from my youthful days and I sometimes mix these things around in the gelatinous mass that serves as my brain. Whichever it was, I meant systems that make you keep track of the integrity of every piece of armor (helm, cuirass, greaves, left and right, etc.), whether you're weapon is bludgeoning, slashing or impaling, and all that. Takes 30 minutes just to fight a single round. Maybe it was Runequest.

Interesting idea. With formulaic going after missiles and melee it seems a bit more harsh on the magi, but they have the ultimate equalizer with magic anyway.

Allright, nothing's wrong, I just misundesrstood what you wrote.

Ok, just to be sure I really understand it : at the start of a combat, a player makes it initiative roll. He gets 20 (wow), and so gets on the first tick (there is 6 tick on the combat clock, right ?). He's in the first tick, so he's acting first. He acts, then he reroll initiative, and get 12. As others players go one tick down, he's going on the 2nd tick. I'm I right ?

R.Alex -

The number of ticks needs to be carefully thought over, to match the game's statistics and be fun. I don't know if 6 is right, but in this example I'll use it for the formula. I'll use a 7-tick clock, however. Let's imagine the clock: it is like a pie (or pizza) with seven "slices" on it, and a hand pointing at which slice is "now". The players in Exalted use tokens to signify when they act, so initially all characters are on slice #1, the "now" they begin at. Each initiative roll makes for (6-roll/3) ticks, bound by 1 tick for really good rolls and 6 ticks for "negative" rolls.

At the start of combat, Player 1 rolls a 20 on initiative (wow), which means his action takes 1 tick. He moves his token one slice forward, to slice #2.

As combat begins, the SG moves the hand to slice #2. Player 1's token is there, and his character acts. He then rolls initiative for his next action, and gets 12. That means his action takes (6-12/3)=2 ticks, which means he counts two ticks from his current position at slice #2, to reach slice #4.

Now, think of Player 2. At the start of combat he botches, which with his negative Qui leaves him at a negative Initiative total. But the number of ticks is bounded by 6, remember? So his action takes 6 ticks (and fails, since he botched, but that's another matter). He moves his token up 6 ticks, from slice #1 to slice #7. His token is now right next to the hand, but not on it; there is no confusion about whether he acts on this tick or not - that's why the clock has 7 slices, but the maximum number of ticks is one less (6). Since he botched, he can't re-roll init until he gets to his turn (botching sucks!).

Bash - I don't know how to make it simpler. Perhaps it would be easier to count forward - let the "bonuses" to Init penalize the roll, and count ticks as simply (roll/3) or something like that. But this means rolling high is bad, which clashes with how rolling works in Ars Magica.

Thats not ME(or at least not the one i know, of course the one i know was a "local" translated release so its always possible they may have changed something). It does have the slash/blunt/stab weapon types though but the way its setup with rapid lookup tables based on single or at most two die rolls, it tends to run quick and easy even with "newbies" playing.

Wether it exists there or not is irrelevent because its use is for game reasons, not in character reasons. Or, for comparison, do you expect all in character conversation to be handled in the correct language of the character?

And we still allow magi to sacrifice power to cast faster, meaning its not really a problem to get off a decent spell in the same round, its even quite possible to get a spell off before anyone else can do anything, but its going to be restricted to extremely weak formulaic or even weaker spontaneous spells..
This is ONE part of why we tend to play in a "XP rich" environment.

And yeah, magic STILL rules. This just means it isnt ALWAYS superior. Way more fun! :mrgreen: