New traits for combat

Hello all

I've been thinking about making combat a bit more interesting for non-magic wielding characters.

Many RPG systems have combat systems that incorporate the ability to do "extra" stuff in combat. In DnD 3.x, these are covered by feats. The Warhammer 40k games have talents. Each of these unlocks a way to do something in combat beyond "hit them".

Ars doesn't have anything like this, the closest we have is asking the GM if we can do something funky with the combat difference.

Has anyone tried to come up with a system of abilities that could be purchased using XP that enable combat moves, or make combat moves easier.

For that matter, I wonder if it might be an idea coming up with some combat moves and what kind of combat difference you need to spend to pull them off.

To start, for combat moves,
Disarm an opponent
Trip an opponent
Force advantage on an opponent (i.e. save some of your combat advantage for the next turn)
Riposte, take a penalty to defense and apply it to attack
Power attack, take a penalty to attack, double that penalty and add it to damage as a bonus

I believe the old 3rd edition core book had a number of options like this. Maybe you can find an old copy?

I suspect it will be completely broken when combined with trained battle groups mind you.

Long time back in either 3e or early 4e days my old troupe wanted this and I thinks it's something which could be handy. I'll try to find the notes but what I recall is moved like a strike a limb or object, ready actions/overwatch, flanking. I wrote some rules for dual wielding in Ars a while ago that need a play test.
Borrowing from 40k RPG is a good source as it's a system that has mechanics but doesn't need a battle map.
I'd love to know how you go.

I've wondered about implementing some sort of system like this. I thought about basing it on Spell Mastery; call it "Combat Mastery." Buy Combat Mastery for each Martial Ability separately; each level gives you access to a different special move or other advantage, chosen from a list.

Combat mastery as an ability, I like the sound of that.

I don't have third ed but I shall keep an eye out an my LFGS.

I have the 40k rulebooks so I'll see what can be harvested from those.

It all depends the kind of adventures you like to tell and run. Personnally, I rather put the emphasize on dilemna, choice and consequences. So adding complexity to combat for grogs, I see little interest.
It could be something I would consider in Grogs only story, but otherwise, Magus and Companion are the characters getting the spotlight - as Storyteller, I won't have enough time to plan little story to let grogs shine, nor my players are really interested in micro-managing them.

Nevertheless, if you want to follow some existing rules, I would go in favour of Combat mastery ability, that you purchase like spell Mastery, but instead of being for a skill, it is for a weapon. It adds to the skill when this specific weapong is used, enhancing its combat ability as well as allowing the grog some unique move.
Example: Grimly McSneaky has Weapon One-handed at +4, as well as mastery 2 in dagger, so Dagger would be at +6, plus some additional benefits.
Mastery could increase damage, initiative, bypass armor, etc - I let your creativity run wild :wink:

Considering the xp cost, my guess is that you would rarely see a mastery above 3.

I think that StreetFighter style signature moves like "whirlwind attack!" are fine for PCs in an rpg like D&D or Exalted, but not for your typical gritty grog in Ars Magica -- they are best reserved as supernatural powers. That said, Clesrada from The Contested Isle are a fine way to provide "mythical" signature moves; each is a minor supernatural virtue that can be initiated.

Things like feinting, charging, pinning the opponent etc. on the other hand should be easily within reach of anyone trained in combat, without the need of special extra "masteries", which in my opinion introduce just pointless complications and xp sinks. ArM5 already gives as standard options something like "Power Attack" and "Desperate Defense": spend an extra Fatigue level and add your Combat Ability as a bonus for one round to either Attack or Defense. It also suggests that maneuvers like tripping or pinning the opponent should be achieved with a sufficient Attack Advantage. Lords of Men (p.133) gives a nice a table for stuff like Tripping, Disarming, Grappling, Tackling, Pinning etc. including what skills can be used to perform the action, what skills can be used to defend from it, and the attack advantage that is needed for the attacker to be successful.

One thing that is missing is "carryover": do stuff now that will give an advantage in following rounds. This needs some checks, since in ArM4 it allowed sufficiently capable brawlers to take off a gargantuan dragon with a single punch after half-an-hour of dodges and feints. I think a simple way to model it is to treat a feint as a "bruise" attack (again, see Lord of Men), except that a) the attacker incurs no penalty for the weapon used and b) the "bruise" instantly "heals" at the end of the next round.

I'd worry about seeing lots of masteries for grogs at that point. It takes 30 xp to get from 5 to 6 with Great Weapon, or you could spend that 30 to get +3 to all uses with Poleaxe... you know, the only great weapon you usually use, that you already have a specialty in. If you do the Combat Mastery, you really want to design it so the skill doesn't just add straight in.

I should think, that combat masteries in ArM5 best be traits of specific trained groups, not of single grogs. Maybe a leader could know one, and then has to train a specific trained group (ArM5 p.173) for a season to impart it.

What about Viking shield walls, Byzantine cataphract wedges, Welsh longbow volleys and Italian crossbow teams?