Combat System

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Post  Saint Jiub on Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:33 pm

Well, I think partly the "horridness" of the costs springs from our current Fatigue pool - will+end-2 means 100 fatigue, max. If we just do Will+End, even a basic character will start with betwee 50 and 100 Fatigue, meaning that run-of-the-mill fighting styles can be maintained for quite a while.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:22 am

There's another thing to consider. Martial arts aren't about Combo +++!! powerups that consume magic points for 1000 firaga damage. Martial arts are about being as efficient and as economical as possible. I spent several years training Aikido and Aikido Kendo, and about the only thing I still remember is how the emphasis was on being fluid and economic in everything. If you exert yourself unnecessarily or have to force a technique, you're doing it wrong. From what I've seen in various European martial manuals, the same philosophy applied to our swordsmanship - that one of the important points of being a capable fighter is that you don't tire yourself swinging around like a moron, because you fight in a direct and precise manner calculated to defeat your opponent. For this reason, I think we should reserve fatigue cost only for extraordinary actions (like "powerattacking" your strike to get through that dremora's hide for better damage) or as a penalty of some kind...

We could have tiring out your opponent be one of your aims during combat. For example, if you're in a wrong guard compared to your opponent's, you're going to have to exert yourself to parry, and suffer fatigue loss whether he actually hits you or no. Using a stroke wrong for your starting guard or ending your stroke in a wrong type of guard is going to cost you fatigue as well. This way, a good fighter can fight without losing fatigue, while a bad or simply unwise fighter will have to tire himself out by constantly trying to wing it. Of course, screwing over your technique to catch your opponent in a bad guard would be a viable tactic, although only if you're sure the gamble is strongly in your favor. The penalties will have to be huge enough to prevent this be used too often, and yet light enough that one bad decision doesn't spell doom for the combatant.

If you miss by 50 or more, you leave yourself open, granting your opponent a hefty bonus against you; this would be the moment where good ol' disarming and tripping and in-twain-cleaving comes into play. As guards and strokes give attack bonuses against particular other guards and strokes, you could set up an opponent into opening himself with clever technique. And a master fighter is going to rape and murder with impunity anyone sufficiently below himself (until such time when he rolls a 100 while surrounded by a bunch of angry nords with axes).

Of course, as a good number of fights our character will face will be against monsters, we might have to come up with a few monster-slaying schools, focusing on particularly useful weapons (polearms, axes, greatswords). On the topic of schools, perhaps we should just come up with generic schools for our weapon types, and then create regional variants of some guards and strokes that work well in certain situations. While a dunmer and an imperial might have their own schools of sword fighting, they will be similar enough to warrant little more than just a name change. Schools will have to be split into those favoring offense and those favoring defense, and the "poor man's martial arts" that study combat without arms and armor. With all the generic filler, this will look deceptively impressive when done.
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Post  Saint Jiub on Wed Jul 21, 2010 11:27 am

You know, for all that I've been stressing Simplify, Simplify, Simplify, this kind of complex combat interaction could actually make for a very interesting battle system. If we do this, I'd actually like to try and incorporate magical combat into the same system - instead of a mage using a certain type of guard he could use Alteration to Shield himself, or Chameleon to misdirect the foe, or Conjuration to summon extra layers of protection. The same with attacks - you could have brute-force Destruction attacks, Illusion misdirection, Restoration to boost your mundane combat skills... You could even have martial combat styles dedicated to disrupting spellcasters, since in a magical world warriors would definitely need to develop some kind of defensive and offensive counter to the otherwise overpowering effects of magic. This could get interesting.
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Post  Dagoth Durr on Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:06 pm

I now want to play a badass combat-medic who uses his knowledge of restoration as magical steroids that lets him beat people to a pulp more effectively.

I like the stance and guard thing. We can probably make it pretty simple, while simultaneously giving the combat a unique quality among pen and paper games, as well as that combination of fantasy and strange, detail oriented realism that Morrowind had going for it.

Also I'm still alive, just very busy and mostly useless.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Thu Jul 22, 2010 1:16 am

Dagoth Durr wrote:
Also I'm still alive, just very busy and mostly useless.

My abridged biography.
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Post  Saint Jiub on Thu Jul 22, 2010 11:36 am

Dagoth Durr wrote:I now want to play a badass combat-medic who uses his knowledge of restoration as magical steroids that lets him beat people to a pulp more effectively.

so you want to play a Redguard? :-D
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Post  Dagoth Durr on Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:21 am

That's racist. You're racist.
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Post  Saint Jiub on Fri Jul 23, 2010 12:40 pm

Oh come now. If I was trying to hate on black people I would have suggested a Dunmer :3
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Post  Admin on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:27 pm

I'm of two minds about combat stances and magical fighting styles. On the one hand, I think that they're an incredibly neat idea that bear looking into, but on the other, simplicity has long been a stated goal of mine. With that in mind, if we choose to have combat styles it should almost be an optional ruleset: if not otherwise stated, you're assumed to be using the "basic" style and it will play just as normal, but if your GM allows it you can track down and learn a combat style from a fighting school, a trainer, or a monestary at the cost of XP, gold, a quest, or whatever balancing factor we deem necessary.

As a complete side-note, I propose that we develop our own cutesy alternative to "GM." I suggest SK, for Scrollkeeper.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:44 am

The thing is, fighting styles are how good at you are at fighting; they're not optional. If we have them in the game, every character who thinks about fighting will have to use them, because his skill with weapons, shield, armor and dodging implies that he had mastered at least one fighting school to a degree. Someone who doesn't know a good starting guard very likely doesn't know how to hold a sword properly either. So, we either have these in the game or not; middle ground is stretching it too far plausibility-wise. Also, leaving them optional equates combat styles with super secret fightan magic techniques you can learn from an ancient geezer on the sacred mountain, and if we do that I'm leaving. Making this an entirely alternative combat system would be a lot of work, but as we already have a more basic system fleshed out, I guess it could be done.

However, I would like to argue against the urge to simplify everything. We're moving toward the point where everything in-game is done using a single modular formula, and every attribute and skill is treated the same. Rules mastery will be an empty term. Simplicity is golden. To a point. Look what simplicity did to non-casters in d&d. If we follow suit even-handed, we're going to have to butcher magic and monsters too. The guard&stroke system I'm proposing is not complex. It does not rely on a host of odd side-rules, it does not require long explanation. It is a way to loosely simulate how combatants move and strike in battle; at least to me it seems intuitive rather than byzantine. Magic would be clumsy at first, because applying the same system to magic combat would be less intuitive - none of us has experience with actual magic, I believe - but it will be no more complex than generic spell-tossing, while being fresh and original, and seamlessly integrating with melee combat dueling, eliminating the need to have to disparate systems to resolve combat actions.

There is another argument against this approach to magic, though. Marksmanship is, and will remain, simply shooting against people's defense values. There are no martial arts related to archery; it's just your ability to hit targets. A lot of people would argue that magic is completely the same, differing only in that you shoot fire instead of arrows. However, there is an argument against this split, too. First, thrown weapons could be used in melee. Second, magic is not limited by character class, everyone can use it. Even if we treat magic like archery, we'll need a way to integrate them both into melee combat.

So, to cut short, either we use this to the hilt, or we dump it completely. Leaving half-finished bits of it floating in a simplified game is just going to stick out and break balance.
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Post  Dagoth Durr on Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:12 am

I agree with Slotha Sil. And not just because his avatar is amazing.

And really, if we want to stand out from the crowd at all, we need to have complexity somewhere that other games don't. This is a good candidate. Otherwise we might as well just run Nirn as a setting for DnD.

Also, welcome back Admin. Talk to Sellus Gravius to finish your release.
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Post  Admin on Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:27 am

From what I can tell, Combat Styles will simply levy a bonus and a penalty on the character using them, whether it be to damage, attack, defense, or any number of things. My suggestion was that the "basic" style would provide neither a bonus nor a penalty. Now, if my understanding of the suggestion was incorrect than obviously my opinion should be discarded, but as is I see no real reason to not include a simple style that neither aids nor hinders the character in question.

As to all your other well-thought-out points, I have no choice but to agree with you. The system has clearly evolved beyond me during my extended absence, and will likely continue to evolve should I find myself leaving again. I suppose that, while I'm here, I can provide some aid, but you clearly know what's going on with the combat system more than I do and I trust your judgment. Besides, if it doesn't work we can catch it in playtesting, so either way we have nothing to lose.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:40 am

...In short, yes, the guard and stroke system is about outwitting your opponent to get bonuses or to to force penalties, shifting combat resolution to your favor. We can remove it. But it is also (or at least I plan it to be) about matching your approach to the opponent's gear and abilities. This particular part is completely embryonic because I have yet to do any research on it, but it is the reason this mess was started in the first place - I felt that the combat will never be fully balanced or fully immersive with just gear and dice rolls. Player needs to have some input into the way his character fights that goes beyond talking the SK into granting roleplaying bonuses.

As for the "basic style" - some guards can be generic, of course, in the sense that they can open up into anything. But the whole system revolves around the fact that every guard and every stroke have strong points and weak points. If there were a perfect balanced technique that offered no weakness to exploit, everybody would use it and we'd be back to throwing dice. The concept of a balanced style can exist as a mixture of defensive and offensive techniques, but not the way I think you are proposing.


[edit]I've just had this weird campaign idea about a weapon master who invents the balanced technique and uses it to troll the PCs.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Wed Oct 20, 2010 5:09 am

Sooo... are we dead?
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Post  Hexx on Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:08 am

I'm afraid so.

There was a thread on /tg/ a while back (maybe a month or so) about one guy who had been working with his friend at home to make a Morrowind PnP game too and turns out he had a lot more stuff than us figured out. Admin showed up there and we spoke about giving the guy linkage here so he can at least cannibalize some stuff and give us a bit of credit. I have no idea what the status is with his game either though.

Been checking the forum every day and kinda feeling bad about it all the time, but yeah, seems we've become the Proglass Ancestral Tomb.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:40 pm

And I was just about to finish that much-vaunted combat system of mine, too.

Oh well, no use crying over a detonated milk. I'll just make something generic and never actually use it. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Post  Hexx on Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:27 pm

I feel REALLY fucking bad for this man, but almost everyone just dropped off the face of the earth. Tell you what, I'll make a thread or two on /tg/ and try to get some info about the guy or anything else and maybe direct them here. Maybe they can take over the forum and we can lend a hand with their stuff.

I dunno, I feel a tiny sense of bro-hood with you dudes, even if most left months ago. I kinda grew a bit attached to this place :/
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Post  Saint Jiub on Fri Oct 22, 2010 9:08 am

I wouldn't say we're dead. Remember last semester when, after school started, we had a span of two or three months when nobody posted? This semester, for me, is like last semester but worse. And fall break won't give me a chance to work on this either, because I've got friends coming in from out of town. But when winter break rolls around, I'll be able to get working again. So it's not dead, just hibernating.
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Post  Hexx on Sat Oct 23, 2010 10:16 am

Hmm, alright then. I've been a bit busy but I'll try making a topic or two at a good time for /tg/, get some blood in here.

However does that semester thing include people like Rainbay who disappeared around march? she's our first casualty.. Yeah I am a dirty european I dunno how american schools work.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:00 pm

Ah, so there's three of us here. Now we just need a healer and we're good to go.

Now, I shall proceed to complain about the stuff I'm working on again. I've said before that combat will involve chaining actions to maneuver your opposition into unfavorable position. However, after several dozen hours invested into combat manuals, I am having a great deal of trouble deciding how and where to abstract and how and where to be detailed. According to what I've learned (and oh the revelation, I should have recalled that from my Kendo training of yesteryear) combatants do begin by taking up guards. These guards, however, are not exactly rock-paper-scissors stuff I thought they were. Instead... ugh, let me start from further back.

Human body is split into four quarters by two lines that cross at the center mass. Upper left square (as seen facing your opponent) is his head, neck, chest, and right arm, which is the primary threat source. Upper right is head, neck, chest, and left arm (which holds the shield, or a parrying weapon, or grapples, or assists the right hand, or takes up in a reverse grip). Lower left is the abdomen, the crotch, and the right leg. Lower right is the abdomen, the crotch, and the left leg. A guard you take determines which parts of your body are more or less presented to your opponent, and which if the quarters of yours you are better or worse defending with your weapon, and which quarters of your opponent are you threatening, and which stroke you can most effectively pull. Further course of action is determined by how knowledgeable the combatants are and how well they've read each other. There is no perfect countering to anything, and several strategies (starting with a Fool's guard, for example) actually rely on leaving yourself vulnerable in order to lure the other guy into attacking. Once you are attacked, you try to evade the attack while at the same time taking control of your opponent's movement. If you succeed, you move him into an unfavorable position and issue a master stroke (a counterattack) which tends to be the finisher in real-world combat. IRL duels were extremely short, less than a minute usually. For a more in-detail look into the material, I'd warmly suggest Medieval Combat by Mark Rector; I think there is a copy on /rs/.

Taking that into account, I decided to adopt the quarter system as the basis of attack strategy. Because we already have separate defense scores for body parts, using targeted attacks makes a lot of sense, and the characters will adopt certain combinations of guards and strokes depending on their weapon and armor loadout. Guards will give bonuses and penalties to different quarters, both for attack and defense; you will not be shoehorned into using a certain stroke just because you had no helmet and had to start in a Roof guard, but going for your opponent's right leg while defending your own will be more difficult than going for his head while protecting your own (Roof guard being a high guard, holding the sword with both hands above your head). Hence, the guard-and-stroke economy will mostly be about choosing bonuses and penalties, and you will be free to disregard it if your stats are high enough. But against a stronger opponent, you'll need to think, and think well - bonuses to attack mean bonuses to damage. While I'm sorry to let go of the whole "tiring out your opponent" part, the crowd who was working on fatigue might just as well be dead, and fatigue apparently won't work as a separate point pool anyway, so no great loss there.

As for actual strokes, dear old Mr. Talhoffer worked with nearly everything that was about in the Medieval Swabia, so I have enough material for everything from long knives to poleaxes. Each type of weapon (I'd split them into short blades, long blades, axes, blunts, polearms, spears, and staves) has a number of tricks it can do, and I will represent this as either generic combat options (there is no reason to have several types of a stroke that goes from the right upper quadrant for the head, as they all have a similar localized effect and are fended off in a similar manner) or as specific strikes that do something (trapping and pulling with axes and polarms, tripping with spears and staves, and so on), mostly in order to give you advantage for the next round of combat. As a lot of weapons share similar qualities, they will share a number of actions - as I said, hooking and pulling can be done with both axes and halberds, and with sword crossguards too. If the enemy misses you by a large enough margin, you will get an opportunity for a master stroke against him. These will be like ordinary strokes (they are), and the advantage is that you get them for free, breaking your opponent's strategy, and occasionally, spine. Their exact kind will be decided by your guard and the opponent's failed stroke. If you're in Roof, for example, and the goofus goes for your leg and misses, you can land a nice wallop on his head as he's bending forward (or, if you swatted his weapon aside, you get an uppercut to his face, but they both come of as a headshot so I'll treat them the same. And we have dodging and parrying joined in the defense stat anyway).

There will be a notable disparity among weapons, sadly. Some just suck, some are just too simple. Long swords and polearms will get the most play, as my source material comes from the time period when cheap steel plate made shields and most blades obsolete, and two major weapon groups were powerful straight longswords and various polearms and poleaxes. This, and other stuff, will cause some problems with fluff, as Tamriel is mostly in the late Iron Age and lots of old Roman gear is still used, and plates are too heavy and too weak to be compared with Medieval European gear Talhoffer and his cronies worked with. Still, the setting is not anachronistic enough to make the task of normalizing these difficulties an impossible one, and quite a lot of it makes sense as it is.

What else... ah, yes. Archery is just standing and shooting. Targeted shots will be possible, of course, but range penalties will be prohibitive enough to force archers to coordinate with tanks and dabble into melee as well. And using a bow while someone is climbing into your mouth with a battleaxe is a free easy attack for the other guy; bows aren't melee weapons, although longbows can serve as staves. This will compensate for the archer's ability to select targets and attack without moving. Bows will use strength in attack formula, while crossbows won't; I don't know what to do with crossbows yet. They WERE fearsome weapons, after all, but their design put a limit to what you can do with them. Perhaps give them a fixed attack bonus to simulate their ability to puncture with impunity?

Unarmed will have a role - hello boxing and wrestling - but will mostly be important in certain strokes or master strokes; fists never could compete with actual weapons and I see no way to let them, bar using magic.

Speaking of magic, casting a spell will be an action identical in length to a stroke. I won't go further into detail until the magic people come back, but this will prevent combining spells with normal attacks. What we will have is some sort of penalty (halved effect, or doubled difficulty) that will allow the caster to finesse and hasten casting, and add a minor effect to his fighting. Small effects, like maybe casting an illusion effect prior to attacking to lower you opponents defense in your targeted quadrant, or adding some weight to the blow, or adding magic damage. Some strokes will allow for this, some won't. I have yet to think about this, and whether it should be in at all (everyone can get good at magic, no need to drop people scraps). Magic is a mess in general, for now.

And, about adeptness ranks in weapon and defense skills. They won't grant special abilities. We need to decide what they do (and, to allow for customization, maybe we should come up with several options for each rank).

Mm. Two weapon fighting. This is a tricky one. Shield + weapon is the traditional version of this, and I have enough Viking material to get by. But using two actual weapons is not much of a battle tactic - you double your advantage but also double your weaknesses, and the latter outweighs the former. Late Renaissance dueling styles used the rapier to open up the opponent for a dagger strike, and daggers were also used to trap the opponent's weapon and stop him from deflecting your own. Maybe, buy just maybe, we should ease the realism on this. A guy with two longsword is a fantasy trope, even though it may be as stupid as chainmail bikini. I will just combine choice shield and weapon bits for this and let it fly. Both weapons will be used in concert for a single attack, so while you may get two counts of damage for yourself, you cannot actually attack two times or take two guards at one or somesuch bollocks. You're just enabling yourself free master strokes, in essence.

Aaaaaah... bloody hell, there was something else, but I can't remember what it was.

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Post  Slotha Sil on Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:02 pm

MONOLITH OF TEXT

Gods below, what have I done.
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Post  Hexx on Sat Oct 23, 2010 3:47 pm

.... Fuck this, I'm reading that tomorrow.
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Post  Slotha Sil on Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:28 am

Ah yes, I remembered what I meant to post back then. Combat schools mostly assume one opponent. There could be stuff for facing multiple opponents (I haven't gone through everything yet) but so far being outnumbered is a very bad thing unless your stats are much better than theirs. And there will be cumulative penalties for being surrounded, as you have to pay attention to (and suffer the attention from) more than one direction.

Also, concerning magic. Back then I posted an attempt to turn TES spells into modular units which can be quickly and easily assembled at spell creation. Let's go a step further and keep magic at embryonic level - the mage learns basic effects, like fire damage and paralysis, and that is that. Which elements he uses and in which quantity he decides when casting, i.e. the character decides to toss a 3d10 fire bolt, or a 2d10 fire bolt 1d10 speed damage, or 1d10 fire 1d10 frost 1d10 shock. Or cast 1d10 fire to stay within his mana allowance, or just unload everything he has in one handful of angry clattering dice. That way casters obtain on-the-spot flexibility and trickiness. With the system I have at the moment, which is largely copied from Morrowind, mages simply can't have the ability (magicka reserve OR the ability to beat necessary casting checks) to act as tanks or primary damage dealers, so we might just as well make them great support. As for combining casting and armed combat, we'll just limit combat casting to your mana allowance; calling on more power requires concentration that you can't afford at the moment, and focused casters will still have a huge advantage over dabblers when it comes to free magic (while, of course, being worse with actual weapons).
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Post  Slotha Sil on Sat Oct 30, 2010 8:21 am

...

What do we do with the katana? It's not made to deliver pommel blows, and it lacks a cross-guard so it cannot hook or trap. And it cannot stab like a straight blade.

What actually makes this Akaviri weapon so good, fluff-wise?
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Post  Hexx on Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:06 am

They can cut through steel knight armor like a hot knife through butter Combat System - Page 8 Trollface

But really, I think i'm serious...

http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Morrowind:2920,_Morning_Star

Third entry, 14th Morning Star. It seems it's purpose IS to actually combat armor while being agile (akaviri believe in just dodging blows instead of blocking) while "Western" ideology is "he's got a big hammer, I'll build even better armour".

Y'know, why don't we just make it so that "western" weapons deal consistent damage while katanas are a speed/crit thing, due to being an agile weapon for agile snake-men?
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