Sunday, October 18, 2015

Condensed Combat (or BASTARD!ng D&D)

Told you it would be about D&D in my next post. Sometimes those things do work :-) And while I tend to meander from subject to subject and/or write too long texts for any sane person to read (and if you do it nonetheless, I really do love you with all my heart, dearest of all readers!), I thought I surprise you all and give a somewhat more focused approach a shot. So this is about one thing I did for BASTARD! (combat!) and how it worked out in play-testing (they all died!). It's D&D, but with a twist. Let's talk about it ...

Not new, but expanded on ...

There's a double meaning to that header. For one, the version of the BASTARD! Combat system I'm about to show you is just a more concise and detailed version of the one I posted a few weeks ago. Nothing changes, but it needed more information on how it was supposed to work. The other meaning would be that this still uses the D&D combat system (there's even a "How to" on the sheet ...). Same attack rolls you'd use, same damage. It works like a frame for those D&D combat systems. It's faster while being complex and with a (for me at least) satisfying system for initiative, but it's still D&D.

Anyway, without further ado, the revised BASTARD! Combat System:

Open in new tab for more detail, please.
Take a look and take your time. It's all you need to know to use it. The D&D option at the bottom gives you all you need to convert it to D&D variants up to Pathfinder (I think) and it should be easy enough to tinker with it or add variant rules as needed (a feat could give a character one more die for initiative purposes, et cetera). It is quite deadly, if characters aren't working together (countering and sharing) and dismiss using the environment in their favor (as unbound combatants would get really dangerous). But it covers a lot of ground in one round (with several attacks and actions) and is fast once you get it down. Let's have a short example ...

Short example of one round of combat:

Let's say we have 3 level 0 player characters (A, B, C; C is a Grunt and gets to bind [level + 2] enemies) and 7 enemy combatants (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). To make it easy we'll say the PCs all have 2 initiative dice each and the enemy combatants have an initiative value (Movement Rate) of 9.

Phase 1: A rolls 2 and 4 (initiative = 6), B rolls 1 and 3 (Initiative = 4) and C initially rolls a 6 and a 1, gets another die for that round, rolls it and adds a 4 (Initiative = 11). So initiatives are (highest to lowest)

C - (1 to 7) - A - B

Phase 2: For this example we'll allow them all to move freely, which means that A and B have nowhere to hide and won't move (or maybe hide behind C, who knows), the enemy combatants would engage and C would step up to confront them when possible. Actions are declared. B goes first and has to declare lowest die to highest. Which means his 1 goes first, so one enemy engages him and attacks. B counts as engaged now when declaring the 3. The DM declares to have him engaged with a second enemy, also attacking. B declares to attack one of them and is done.

For A it's the same. The 1 has him engaged immediately, the 4 gets him another enemy and another attack. His mode of action is to hit back.

With 4 enemies already engaging in combat, it leaves 3 unaccounted for. Mean bastard that I am, I decide that the three try to help two of their friends against A or B. They go for B, each of them getting one attack.

But we are still at declaring actions and C has yet to decide what he'll do with this mess. He sees B in trouble and could decide to act upon it. He is faster than the enemy and a level 0 Grunt, so he may bind 2 of those enemy combatants engaging B. He will get to attack first two times and declares, he'll focus those at one of his enemies, but he risks getting at least three attacks ...

Phase 3: This is the moment where the monkey bites into the soap, so to say. It could go several ways and people will always get an opportunity to react to the flow of combat. Resolved is fastest to slowest, so C gets cracking at the first enemy. If that first attack hits true and kills it's target, he will be able to attack the next one, even move to it, in short, do anything necessary (and possible) to resolve his actions.

So if he's (say) able to kill two enemies with two attacks, he'd still be able to bind two enemies (if he wants to) and he'd still be prone to two attacks (if unbound enemies are around). In this scenario he'd kill two and bind two more before the enemy could even act. It narrates itself without effort, I imagine.

After him what's left of the enemy gets to hit and do stuff if they are unbound and not already engaging. Which is none at this part of initiative (all are engaging and/or bound). So A resolves next lowest to highest (because slower than the enemy), which results in two attacks before he's to attack in the end.

Let's say he dies with the first attack. In a case like that it'd leave 2 unbound enemies to move and attack the next slower character (B).

This is turning out bad for most of the group, as A had to die for the example and B is now prone to three attacks (or being positive about it: B now gets only three attacks instead of 5!). If B survives those three attacks, he'll live for round two ...

So that's how it worked in BASTARD!

Yeah, we tried it that way and it worked. It seems brutal, but if the group works together and uses their surroundings to avoid getting flanked, it should be possible for low level characters to get out of it alive. It's on purpose as I really like to encourage tactical cooperative play in my games. It might take a round or two to get used to, but as long as you keep order of initiative and use the rolled dice as visual help, it actually plays down quite well.

If you like this method and even go as far as testing it, feel free to give me feedback about it or ask questions and I'll help. And as always with these things I'd be happy to get comments and thoughts about it.

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