Ok, so with the help of Chuck and Mike, I feel a bit better about a few things. But when I was trying to write up a concise summary of the combat rules last night, I ran into a few snags.
Like was documented in Starting Over… and Starting Over… Further tweaks, the basic mechanic for the MARPG revolves around these points for skill, characteristic, and combat resolution checks…
The idea is to roll on 2d10 and get a number below the designated target, which is always the characteristic or derived characteristic value involved, added to any ranks in an applicable skill, and modified by environmental or opposition effects. Sounds tough, but it boils down to:
[Characteristic or Derived Characteristic value] + [Ranks from applicable Skill] +/- [Modifiers]
For example, if we have our Tracker with a Mind characteristic of 5 and a Tracking skill at 3 ranks, by default any “tracking” he tries to do will have a target number of 8. If the rain washes away the tracks, the GM may make things more difficult (-2). Or if there’s a layer of snow that the quarry has walked through, the GM may make things easier (+2). And if the quarry is smart enough to try and cover her own tracks, she can roll against her own Tracking skill to do so. Success on her part would make things more difficult for the Tracker, and failure would make things easier.
If the character has no applicable skill, the target is based solely on the characteristic value and any modifiers from the GM or any opposition.
Success or failure is determined by comparing the die roll (2d10) to the target number. Roll the target number or less and you succeed. Roll above and you fail. The Quality of Success or Failure (QoS or QoF) can then be used, as in the quarry’s case, to make an opponent’s task easier or more difficult.
Great, so that handles the skill or characteristic action resolution. Not too tough. Pretty consistent even.
Now we apply it to combat.
As its bare essentials, combat boils down to one opponent trying to do damage to another. The damage may be direct, as with a sword in his hand, or indirect, as in a trap laid for a pursuer.
So let’s say our Tracker has caught his quarry, a female thief who took something from his employer. She is wearing leather armor and carrying a short sword. The Tracker is wearing chain mail and carrying a longsword. (Let’s forget for a moment that most trackers would probably wear less noisy armor while stalking prey.)
Each character has Hit Points (HP) like in most other systems. In MARPG, HP is equal to the character’s Body characteristic value times 4. So since each of our characters has a Body of 5, each has 20 HP.
Let’s talk about armor and weapons for a moment.
- Armor has two main values (beyond weight). First is the number of Armor Points (AP) it has, This is equivalent to the number of HP a character has. Second is the Absorption Rate (AR), which notes how much damage the armor can take to itself in a single blow before the strike cuts through the armor to the character’s HP. For instance, a suit of Chain mail has an AR of 6 and an AP of 48. Soft leather armor has an AR of 3 and an AP of 24.
- Weapons also two main values beyond weight. First is the Strength (Body) needed to wield the weapon. Second is the Damage Potential (DP) of the weapon. For example, a long sword has a Strength to Wield (StW) of 6 and a DP of 8. A knife only has a StW of 1 and a DP of 6. A short sword has a StW of 3 and a DP of 7. (Values for StW and DP may change.) A character with a lower Body score than needed to wield a particular weapon will drop the DP of the weapon an equal amount.
With these ideas, let’s look at our Tracker and his Quarry. Both have a Body characteristic of 5. The Tracker is wielding a long sword (StW 6) so the DP in his hands will go down by 1 for the weapon and be 7. On the flip side, if the woman he’s tracking (Body 5) is wielding a short sword (StW 3) and has no issues getting the max damage for the weapon.
Now let’s talk about how armor affects each character.
- Each character has a “passive defense” (PD) as a derived characteristic value equal to the total of their Body + the AR of any armor they’re wearing divided by 2. So the formula is (Body + Armor’s AR)/2. If the character isn’t wearing armor, their PD is equal to half their Body characteristic value (rounded up). PD is similar to the concept of an Armor Class (AC) in other systems.
So with that in mind, our Tracker has a PD of (Body 5 + Chain AR 6) / 2 = 5.5. We’ll round it up to 6. His Quarry has a PD of (Body 5 + Leather AR 3) / 2 = 4. The Tracker’s armor will obviously absorb a bit more damage than our thief.
Really we’ve only added a few new ideas to the basics we discussed earlier in the post.
Our Tracker now looks like this:
- Characteristics: Body (5), Mind (5), Soul (6) (we’ll talk about these in another post)
- Derived Characteristics: HP (20), PD (6)
- Skills: Swords (Body) (4 ranks) (default target 9), Tracking (Mind) (3 ranks) (default target 8 )
- Items: Chain Mail (AR 6, AP 48), Long Sword (DP 7)
And our Quarry (thief) looks like this:
- Characteristics: Body (5), Mind (6), Soul (5) (we’ll talk about these in another post)
- Derived Characteristics: HP (20), PD (4)
- Skills: Swords (Body) (6 ranks) (default target 11), Tracking (Mind) (2 ranks) (default target 7)
- Items: Leather Armor (AR 3, AP 24), Short Sword (DP 7)
(Acronym reminder: HP = Hit Points, PD = Passive Defense, AR = Absorption Rate, DP = Damage Potential)
Now let’s walk through a bit of combat. The Thief heard the Tracker coming, and is not surprised. She has her sword out and is ready to defend herself.
Let’s ignore initiative here and just say that the Tracker goes first. He’s going to attack the Thief with his long sword. The Tracker’s player rolls a 5 on 2d10. The Tracker’s Quality of Success (QoS) is Target 9 – Roll 4 = 5. Great. It’s a hit!
The Thief can choose to actively defend with her short sword (i.e. parry the blow), dodge, or take the hit and strike the Tracker. She chooses the last option. The GM rolls a 7. The Thief’s QoS is Target 11 – Roll 7 = 4. It’s another hit, but the Tracker tagged her as well.
Though the thief didn’t defend herself, she has her PD on her side, which is 4. And she has her Leather Armor on, which has an AR of 6.
Here’s where my questions come in… Should the Thief’s armor absorb all 6 points of damage, doing 6 points to its AP of 24? Should her PD kick in, absorbing 4 points (to where exactly?) and letting 2 points get through to her HP?
In the next round, the Tracker chooses to attack again with his long sword. He rolls a 8, which means a QoS of 1. Not a great hit, but a hit nonetheless.
The Thief decides not to let him just smack her again, so she parries with her short sword. She rolls a 3, which means a QoS of 8.
Her parry beats his attack and she manages to avoid any damage.
Moving to the third round, the Tracker attacks again. He rolls a 10, which means a QoF of 1. He missed.
Not waiting to see if he was going to miss, the Thief dodges, which is a Body characteristic check. She rolls a 6, which gives her a QoF of 1. It’s ok though, his attack missed anyway. And on the other side of the Dodge, she attacks with her short sword. She rolls a 2 (natural 1 and 1 on 2d10) for a critical success. Critical success means she gets all 11 points of her target number. Her short sword has a DP of 7 however, so she can only do 7 points of damage maximum.
Again, my question is… how does damage get computed? The Tracker has a PD 6 and an AR 7 for his chain armor. Should the armor absorb all 7 points of damage? Or should it take 6 and have 1 get through to HP?
On the flip side of this, it doesn’t seem fair that a Critical Success in this case would only allow the thief to do her maximum. Should she perhaps do the same amount of damage as her target number, which would be 11? This would be tantamount to finding the chink in his armor and exploiting it.
So what do you think?