Saturday, 23 February 2019

Combat engine

I'm learning to love little tools for running games - tables, charts, simple minigames for specific situations. The most fun I've had as a GM is when the game takes a turn I didn't expect, but I have the resources at hand to roll with it and keep going without hesitation.

I have two favourite adventures from my long-running Genius: the Transgression game. The first was when the party's mad psychologist decided to ignore all the advice he was getting from trusted NPCs and overrule the other party members by walking right up to the spooky shut-down asylum and knocking on the door to ask about renting the place. The other was when I asked the players if they wanted to travel to darkest Africa to hunt for forgotten treasure in the jungle and they decided that no: they wanted to open up Mad Science Craigslist and look for gigs in their home town to make some quick money. (Millennials. They'll surprise you.)

In both cases I flailed a bit before continuing, so I have an ongoing quest for little minigames I can run with half my brain while I furiously sketch out the basics of a scenario with the other half. I created this system to see if it was possible to use a chart for NPC tactics in a fight and reliably get a result that looks like deliberate planning and tactics, or a slow slide away from deliberate planning and tactics. It might also work well for a solo game, but I haven't tried it that way. I was in a swashbuckling sort of mood when I wrote it.

Combat tactics

NPC opponents have an Aggression rating of 1 to 6, with most starting on 4.

To find an opponent's tactic for the round, roll 2D6 of the same colour and one of a different colour. If the single die comes up a 1, 2 or 3, continue the same tactic from the previous round. On a 4 or 5, total the two same-coloured dice and add Aggression, then pick from the Tactic table. If it shows a 6, roll it again and pick an action from the Twist table.

As they take or inflict wounds, gain or lose the advantage in a fight, NPC opponents' Aggression will rise or fall. Experienced fighters will change only a small amount, while green, frightened or vengeful opponents will change more. Each time someone in the fight (either PC or NPC) suffers a setback, there should be a chance for Aggression to change. If the NPCs are nervous or demoralised, Aggression will drop when they suffer a setback and rise when a PC does. If they are angry or undisciplined, Aggression will rise when they suffer a setback and drop when a PC does.

If you want a more straightforward fight, without unexpected moves, drop the Twist die. If you don't want to bother with Aggression, roll 3D6 for a tactic.

Tactic table
3 Panic Flee without caution, open self up to opportunistic attack
4 Surrender Throw down weapons and submit to opponent
5 Disengage Attempt to divert opponent's attention away from self
6 Retreat Move towards cover or out of range
7 Guard Defend only, no attack
8 Probe Attack cautiously, testing opponent's defense
9 Wear down Draw the fight out and try to tire the opponent
10 Stand-off Wait for opponent to make the next move
11 Balance Attack and defend evenly, no particular strategy
12 Feint Try to trick opponent into defending against the wrong move
13 Reverse Rapidly switch between defensive and aggressive fighting to off-balance opponent
14 Taunt Try to anger or dismay opponent into making a mistake4
15 Press Stay on the offensive and hope opponent's skill is inferior
16 Strike Try to penetrate opponent's defence with a fast attack
17 Charge Attack with ferocity, risking injury to wound opponent
18 Frenzy Attack wildly, risking death to wound opponent

Twist table 

1 Reinforce Call for help from allies/bystanders
2 Change Weapon/objective/ground
3 Disadvantage opponent Throw a burning candelabra, maneuver into uneven terrain, cut a curtain so that it falls over their head
4 Advantage self Take the higher ground, move so that they are not facing the sun, draw/pick up a second weapon
5 Bargain Try to persuade opponent to surrender/back out of combat/change sides
6 Trick Try to convince opponent they are about to suffer a setback or gain a false advantage

No comments:

Post a Comment