Saturday, March 21, 2015

Introduction to Bare-Knuckle Fighting (How to play)

This is an introduction to the mini-game I posted yesterday (as of today as beta v. 0.4, please update the versions you already downloaded). All the rules one might need are already on the sheet, but I think it can get a bit confusing during the first game, so a little summary of the main features might be helpful. In the great scheme of things the Bare-Knuckle Fighter is showcasing on a very basic level how combat is supposed to work in Lost Songs of the Nibelungs, but it works very well as a stand-alone dice game.

Character generation

It's not much, but instead of going with fixed values, I thought it would give the game a bit diversity if the numbers weren't all the same. First roll Base Attack and Base Defense, use 3d6/ignore lowest die for each of them. Note the result on the sheet.

Next up are Endurance and Health. Here you first need to find out how many d6 a character has by rolling a d3 for each (consider this an option, you might as well just roll 1d6 to 3d6 Endurance and Health for both characters to keep the playing field at the same level). The result is the number of dice you got for creating Health and Endurance. Roll for each, add 10 to Endurance and note them on the sheet.

The 10 buffer for health are best kept separate as noted on the sheet. As soon as your character is in the buffer zone, he might go down (save [remaining buffer points] + d20 vs. 15 to stay conscious every time you get damaged while being in the buffer zone).

You are now ready to start the first game.

How to Play a Game of Fisticuffs

Both players roll 3d6. Every 6 generates a new die, every 1 is discarded. Add the result for initiative. Both players see each others result. The lowest initiative has to distribute his dice first. If a tie is rolled, both distribute the dice in the same way (lowest result as defense, highest as attack) and see what happened (it's more like a blind hitting at each other ...).

Consider what the enemy might do with his dice and find a way to work with that. There are several options now. It all highly depends on what the other player has in store for you and how high your base attack and defense are.

Sherlock Holmes, starting a bare-knuckle fight [source]
Considerations 1 (damage):

Successful attacks result in either getting damage, dealing damage or both. Those first hits will mostly deplete a characters Endurance (number rolled with the damage die), but to simulate the harsh reality of punching each other in the face, every damage die used in a successful attack also deals 1 point health damage.*

As soon as Endurance is gone, damage goes directly to health (and yes, you still get the additional plus 1 damage per die) . As soon as a character is in the damage zone he needs to check if a hit will knock him out (save [remaining buffer points] + d20 vs. 15 to stay conscious).

A player has now options to stay on top in this. He could deliver several hits to deplete health 1 point a time to get into the enemies buffer zone, He could focus on the enemies Endurance (may require less hitting, but also more damage with less dice). He might also consider to regain Endurance every once in a while by using a drop die action.

Considerations 2 (actions):

It's crucial to get an understanding of how to distribute your dice and the options available in a given round. Even with some bad rolls you got options to either bluff the other player into distributing his dice some way or another or to build up an advantage for the next round.

Every die you have available in a round is an action. If you attack someone, you need to deal damage, too. If you want to defend a coming attack, that's at least one die for that, too. But you will get into situations where such a straightforward approach won't be successful and you might want to consider the following options.

First of all, dice can be delayed into the next round. You need to decide the action that is delayed (attack, defense or damage) and position the die on the sheet for the other player to see. You may delay up to two dice per round, but it could be for all possible combinations of actions (even for two of the same, like two attacks, for instance). You can defend and attack no more than two times per round, but the number of dice you use to do so is only limited to the dice available in a round (remember that each attack needs at least one damage die assigned).

But dice could also be "dropped", which means you could declare to use the die for another action. You can drop as many dice as you got available in a round. There are four drop die actions to consider:
Advantage - At the end of the round you dropped the die your fighter will be in a better position to hit the enemy (+ 1 to future attacks). You may use another drop die to get into an even better position and get another + 1 every time you do that. You keep this advantage until the enemy decides to counter it (see below).
Maneuver - At the end of the round you dropped the die your fighter will be in a better position to defend himself against the enemy (+1 to base defense). You may use another drop die to get into an even better position and get another + 1 every time you do that. You keep this maneuver going until the enemy decides to counter it (see below).
Regain - You may drop a die to regain Endurance at the end of the round (if the enemy doesn't decide to counter it). The endurance gained is the number shown on the die.
Counter - You may drop a die to counter any one of the other drop die actions. "Regain" needs to be countered in the same round, the others may be countered any time and it needs only one counter to do so (even if they are already at +2 or more).

Considerations 3 (rolls):

There are high and low rolls and you may got doubles and triples. All this has an impact in the game and it might result in a huge advantage for one player. High initiative distributes the dice last, this way he knows what the other player is up to in that round and may act accordingly.

But having a low initiative is not without options and a player that lost initiative may, for instance, try to force the first player to distribute dice in a way beneficial for him (in other words, he builds up a threat, like, say, a drop die action and forces the other player to either allow the threat (future benefit) or oppose it (immediate benefit of the other player dropping one of his dice, too)).

Doubles and triples, now, are dangerous. The added values of a double or a triple count for both/all the dice (yes, those are critical successes, so a triple six not only generates three new dice, it also counts as 18 for each die and will most likely end a fight), but they need to be used for the main actions (defense/attack/damage) to have that effect and a rolled 1 is always discarded (so a triple 1 is always a critical failure). You couldn't use one of them to gain more Endurance ("Regain" die drop action) than the value shown on the die and you may only delay a double. Delayed dice from the previous round don't count for initiative, but do count for doubles and triples. There are only doubles and triples possible. If you somehow achieve 4 dice with the same number, they are interpreted as two doubles (and so forth).

Also Sherlock Holmes, making his point [source]
Most of the time, if you're threatened by a double or a triple, you may cut your losses and consider your options carefully: full defense against at least one attack and a "regain" die drop action to get back some of those precious endurance points, to give but one example. But you could also go into full attack mode and force the enemy to consider some defense action ... The beauty of it is that you always get more than one option to handle a situation.

That should do it

This is all I got so far. The rules on the sheet are updated (one clarification, two typos) and the above is hopefully a great help to make a first game run smoothly. If there are any more questions, I'd be happy to clarify. Other than that, have fun with the Bare-Knuckle Fighter dice game!

[Edit:] Tomorrow I'll post a pdf of both (the sheet and the clarifications above) and upload it it on drop box.


*Optional Rule: Ignore damage to health if both fighters agree to use gloves (but only damage on health through the number of damage dice used, this will still hurt as soon as Endurance is gone!).

13 comments:

  1. I'm finding this quite difficult to understand.

    Probably you should not present the flavor of the game until you've finished at least with the bare mechanics. I.e Players roll dice and end up with pools.. and .. do something with them? I'm 5 paragraphs in and still don't know.

    Typically I would suggest describing games of this nature top-down.

    Ie. players take turns? or there's a series of rounds involving both players? or something, which proceed until one combatant or the other has been knocked out (i think).

    During a round.. players do x, then y, then z. Now give the detailed version of x y and z.

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  2. Thanks for commenting and making me aware of this! As I have those rules in my head, it might very well be that I wasn't entirely able to translate this to the page. If that's the case, I'm sorry for the confusion. When I see what I wrote, I think it can be done. But in the end it's not on me to decide :-)

    That being said, I'd like to ask you if you already took a look at the game itself (linked above and I posted a pdf of it yesterday). It functions as the board to put the dice on and there is a column on the right describing what a player can do step by step. It pretty much sounds like what you are describing (I believe). In this post I just expand on the rules given on the game itself. I will consider what you wrote, though, and edit the post accordingly as soon as I'm back from work ...

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  3. I assumed the PDF would be the same as the earlier posted PNG.

    It's improved, but still could do better. Currently you have mixed together comments about decision making when making the game, along with possible variations on the game at the same time as the game is being explained. It would be better to move the options and comments to after the initial explanation.

    For example, first paragarph is currently
    "Instead of using fixed values, I thought it would give the game
    a bit diversity if the numbers weren't all the same (one could go
    either way, still). First roll Base Attack and Base Defense, use
    3d6/ignore lowest die for each of them. Note the result on the
    sheet."

    I would suggest instead:

    "First, Determine Base Attack & Defense. Roll 3d6, drop the lowest die, and add the total of the remaining two in the Base Attack on the character sheet. Repeat this for Base Defense. These will vary from a possible low of 2 to a high of 12."

    In the second paragraph, I don't know what the rules are. It says something about a d3 and 1d6 and 3d6 and then dice count, and then a roll and then adding ten.

    Maybe it wants to say

    "Next up are Endurance and Health. For Endurane, roll a 1d3. This selects a number of d6 to roll. For example if you rolled a 2 on the 1d3, you would now roll 2d6 and add them together. Next, add ten to this number. For example, if you roll a 3 and a 5, you would ad this together to get 8, then add 10 to get 18 health. Succinctly this might be described (1d3)d6 + 10. Repeat this same rolling method for Health."

    If Health and Endurance are computed differently they should probably be different paragraphs.

    Definitely the aside about "you might as well just roll 1d6 to 3d6" should be moved out of this paragraph, because it makes it harder to understand the suggested rules. Also I have no real idea what this suggestion is. Are you saying to just make the characters roll the same number of dice? Perhaps it would be better to simply give the default rules as 2d6 +10, and offer the more complex option as an aside.

    "The 10 buffer for health.." Since you just introduced a +10 for health and endurance, you should realy clarify if this 10 is the same or distinct.

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  4. How to play a game of fisticuffs:

    I suggest start by introducing the concept of a round or similar, so you can describe things like "what happens during a round" and later say "a new round begins ...".

    I find the description of the players rolling 3d6 confusing, because the dice are not added up. That might be personal.

    Instead of "every 6 generates a new die, every 1 is discarded", I would say "Dice showing 1 are removed from the player's pool, reducing the dice they have for the round. For each die showing 6, the player takes an additional die, rolls it and ads it to his pool. (These added dice also follow the 1-remove and 6-extra rules.)"

    "add the result for initiative" ? Does this mean "Total all the remaining dice, this is your Initiative." That makes the add/remove interaction with initiative clear, and removes the confusion about what initiative is.

    "Both players see each others results." Don't the players see all rolled dice at all times?
    (other's is possessive)

    ". If a tie is rolled, both distribute the dice in the same way
    (lowest result as defense, highest as attack) and see what
    happens (it's more like a blind hitting at each other ...)."

    At this point, the reader doesn't know what distributing dice means. Probably say something like "Place the lowest die in the pool on the defense slot and the highest on the attack slot (see ... for more information on die placement.)"

    However this leaves unaddressed what the players should do if they have only one die on a tie, and also whether a player may use their extra if they have more than two dice.

    "Consider what the enemy might do..." IMO this really belongs elsewhere. Intro text can set the tone and mechanics following text can point out basic play considerations.

    "Considerations 1 (damage):"

    Damage really needs to be defined/described here.

    Something like "When players successfully attack their oponents they apply damage to their endurance and/or health." immediately prior to the mechanics of the same.

    However, in the first paragraph all I learn is that endurance attacks take away one health, but not, for example, how much endurance hits take. I also still know nothing about how my dice affect this. In fact, finishing the three paragraphs of "Considerations 1", I still don't know what any dice do. However I'm already learning about effects of being in the "damage zone", but damage zone doesn't appear on the chracter sheet, so I'm pretty unable to use this information.

    Instead I would suggest telling the players that they can put dice in attack, damage, and defense, and then immediately describe the mechanics of what attack, damage, and defense dice do, without necessarily going into the full details.

    FWIW, I was coming at this thinking it might be a fun minigame to use for a D&D boxing match (X2 Castle Amber), but it's probably a little too heavyweight.

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  5. That certainly puts it in perspective. Thank you for taking the time and putting so much thought into it. It's really helpful and constructive. I'm at work right now and can't answer in detail right now. I will do so as soon as I'm at home (it's also a pain to write this with my mobile ...).

    For now let me just say that the game really is quite easy in general. Two players roll 3d6 and the one with the lowest result has to distribute his dice first (what "distributes" means is quite obvious on the sheet, so that shouldn't be a problem, in my opinion). There is no clear cut answer to what happens next, as there are way to many possibilities. That's why I went with considerations instead. Everything else is details open to interpretation. Anyway, I'm not saying your wrong in stating it could have been done better, but more on that later. And thanks again for your comments!

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    1. I think dice distribution could be more obvious with some sheet updates. For example the text suggests that multiple dice can be put into the same delay, but the sheet suggests only one.

      "Drop" also suggests by layout that it's a different category. It possibly can be viewed that way, but nothing encourages the viewer to think of it as part of the same distribution phase. I'd probably put them all in one box, with some softer watermarking or gray lines dividing the categories.

      If this is a game about interpreting the results, I think that isn't implied clearly in the text, and there's a lot of numerical mechanics for interpreting. For an interpretive fight, I would probably loosen up the descriptions of advantage and counter quite a bit.

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  6. Alright, after careful re-reading and consideration I stand by my initial reaction: you can't read this post without being at least somewhat familiar with the layout and concepts of the game or using the references in the post. And this is stated clearly at the very beginning of the post:

    "All the rules one might need are already on the sheet, but I think it can get a bit confusing during the first game, so a little summary of the main features might be helpful."

    I'm talking "main features" here and logic dictates that you need to be aware of those to understand what I'm talking about. So the post builds on, clarifies and (to some extent) expands on the original rules. The very beginning you got lost in is a clear reference to the sheet:

    "First roll Base Attack and Base Defense, use 3d6/ignore lowest die for each of them. Note the result on the sheet. ..."

    Cross-reference this on the sheet and you'll understand what I'm talking about here. And it's that way through the whole text. The rules about damage are on the sheet, the post elaborates on it. The sheet states 1-3d6 (reads 1 to 3 six sided dice) for Health and Endurance and above you'll read:

    "Here you first need to find out how many d6 a character has by rolling a d3 for each (consider this an option, you might as well just roll 1d6 to 3d6 Endurance and Health for both characters to keep the playing field at the same level). The result is the number of dice you got for creating Health and Endurance. Roll for each, add 10 to Endurance and note them on the sheet.

    The 10 buffer for health are best kept separate as noted on the sheet."

    Again, clear references. All the text does (or tries, at least) is clarifying what's supposed to happen here!

    Another example. You write:

    "However, in the first paragraph all I learn is that endurance attacks take away one health, but not, for example, how much endurance hits take. I also still know nothing about how my dice affect this."

    Now the sheet says about damage:

    "Do 1 point health damage for every damage die used in a successful attack, the numbers rolled are damage to endurance until endurance is 0. Then rolled damage goes to health."

    So the very thing you point out missing in the text was on the original sheet the whole time. I really think you read this post under the wrong premise. What I wrote here is a collection of explanations, reflections and observations I thought useful for the people playing it for the first time (or getting familiar with the rules, at that). Again, the very thing you said has no place here and (ironically) something not evident on the sheet itself (as you'd prefer it). With expectations and intentions that far away from each other, it's no wonder you were left confused.

    In the end I think we agree on what rules are supposed to do and how to present them. That's just not what this post was supposed to do or to be. And I don't want to make this an argument about if I'm able to do so or not, as you clearly misread the premise of the post and your whole argument falls with it. That being said, the whole point of this endeavor is to get better at it (that's why it's a beta-version and free) and I'm aware of my shortcomings (most of the time), so I very much appreciate your criticism in general and will ponder on your suggestions a bit more as soon as I take another look at the rules.

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    1. If you WANT the same deconstruction of the game sheet, which is *also* hard to understand, I could give it, but you seem more interested in defending the existing work.

      Game rules are very hard to get right and take proofreading and improvement, but if you don't want to do that, it is certainly your prerogative.

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  7. Splitting the explanation this way is very hard to understand. Please realize that I WAS reading both the game sheet AND the explanation, and after 15 minutes of effort I gave up because it was just too hard to follow.

    I still do not understand the game after now spending well over an hour trying to figure it out.

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    1. Okay. Please understand, this is the internet and I really wasn't sure how to work with what you commented. It's nothing personal, but from what I've read the only conclusion I could come to was that you didn't read the actual rules. I've asked people I've actually played the game with and they also couldn't gather where you were coming from in this. So I got defensive. Sorry. I'm in an awkward position. When I explain the rules, it's done fast and understood, but that's the only feedback I got so far and it's from people I explained the game to, not from those reading it ...

      I'd be glad to get some intel on that, though. You're right, it's hard to get right.

      I think the best way would be for me to try and explain the rules and you tell me what's not working for you in the rules. If we can get to an understanding, we can find a way to some constructive dialogue. If you are still interested in doing that, I'd be happy to try and get there.

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    2. In the rules as written, that is.

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  8. I'll just go ahead and explain it ...Let's start with the general concept and ignore the character generation for now. At the beginning both players have three dice. Those dice represent the possibilities a character has in a round. They are his possible actions. So if your character needs an advantage in a fight, it's represented by the dice he uses for that, same goes for attacks, defense, etc.. It's micromanagement, really. You roll to see what you have and decide what's the best option to handle with what's coming at you.

    There are three main categories to choose from when deciding how to distribute those dice: the main actions (attack/defense/damage), the delaying of the dice for a main action to use in the next round (as per the rules, two dice per round) and the drop die actions (benefits indirectly affecting the fight, but you have to use a die for it, loosing it for the main actions that round).

    At the beginning of a round those three dice are rolled. The sum of those rolled dice is the initiative and the player with the lowest initiative has first to decide what his actions are. There is no specific attack or defense or damage die, how those dice are distributed is totally up to the player to decide (so he could delay two dice and drop one in one round, for instance). The numbers he rolled will factor into this, too. A weak roll like a two doesn't do much for an attack, but could gather a benefit in the next round when used as a drop die. Or delaying a die could make an attack in the next round that much stronger and so on.

    The tricky part is to see the options the other player has and find the best way to proceed. You go all defensive, he might just use the freedom he got that round to delay and drop dice to be much more dangerous in the next round. Actually, like in a real fight, you have to make decisions not about what's coming at you, but about what could come at you and how you will deal with it.

    That's what makes it so hard to describe without playing it: from the first roll on and the first decisions you make, each fight is different. It's a mix between luck, bluffing and strategy.

    Are you with me so far?

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  9. Now for the mechanics. To hit a target, you add the dice you distributed for attack and the active die drop action (if you have an advantage in the fight) to the base attack. The result needs to be higher than the defense the opponent gathered (which is his base defense + the defense dice he distributed + any die drop actions (maneuver) he has active).

    You can have two attacks per round and you can defend against two attacks in one round. The limit of the dice distributed to that is the number of dice available to you that round. That might be some delayed dice from the round before or a die you generated because you had a 6 in your initiative. But you need to distribute a damage die to each attack you assign.

    As you see, it might need careful planning to bring an attack home, but a lucky initiative can go a long way, too. It depends, so to say.

    If an attack is successful, you deal damage. This means, as long as a character still has Endurance, you'll deal one point damage to health for each damage die you used and the value of the die itself as damage to Endurance. If Endurance is gone, damage is dealt directly to Health. If that gets into the buffer zone, the opponent has to check if the punch knocks him out. If the buffer is done, the opponent goes down.

    One drop die action is to regain Endurance back to avoid that scenario above for as long as possible. But to take a break like that will mean sacrificing dice for drop die actions and needs to be considered carefully.

    Again, how you get there is totally up to your strategy. I had a character, for instance, with a base attack of 5 (frickin' low), so my main strategies were to get (and keep, because one die drop action of the enemy would get it countered) an advantage in a fight and delay dice for stronger attacks (which made me a bit slower in the process ...). I also decided it was a good strategy to do as much Health damage as possible to get into the enemies buffer zone before his endurance was empty (more damage dice, less damage), forcing a K.O. that way ... Might have worked, too :)

    That's it in a nutshell. Did this help to get a better understanding of the rules?

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