combat mechanics

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    • combat mechanics

      My players are complaining that the defend vs attack system makes it so that nothing can ever happen. They griped quite a bit about getting hit hard after using their actions to attack. The current viewpoint is that you should not act until you are attacked and then just defend which means you will never be able to attack... I'm used to them, they really like the system. the combat is just different enough from what they are used to to make them uncomfortable and unsure.

      Any suggestions I can give them or hints on adjusting their skills or abilities to make this a bit easier on them? I've been reminding them about the reaction option.

      also in the demo games when there are bad guys and it says "Action Dice 6" does that mean they get 6 dice for all rolls?
    • RE: combat mechanics

      Originally posted by wyldkat
      My players are complaining that the defend vs attack system makes it so that nothing can ever happen.


      During my first sessions I made the point to make the enemies rather underpowered, but of overconfident nature. That way their first battles won't be too stressful.

      Originally posted by wyldkatThey griped quite a bit about getting hit hard after using their actions to attack.


      They shouldn't really use all of their Actionpoints to attack if they are intending to be able to defend themselves.

      Remind them to use a little strategy. For instance, they could attack an enemy in pairs of 2. That way they can use Reactions to defend each other quickly, thus have together have about double action points.

      Originally posted by wyldkat
      The current viewpoint is that you should not act until you are attacked and then just defend which means you will never be able to attack... I'm used to them, they really like the system. the combat is just different enough from what they are used to to make them uncomfortable and unsure.


      As I said, defense is safe, offense always has some risk involved. But with a little strategy and smart use of skills it can all work out perfectly.

      Originally posted by wyldkat
      Any suggestions I can give them or hints on adjusting their skills or abilities to make this a bit easier on them? I've been reminding them about the reaction option.


      They could use more complimentary and special skills.

      Complimetary skills that could help you in a certain situation can be rolled, and your sucesses/2 can be added to your main-roll if you had a least a partial sucess!

      Knowledge skills that have something to do with figthing, might be misused, allow/use with care (Cost 2,1)
      Acrobatics is complimentary to martial arts and such, maybe it can be used for melee attacks too (Cost 5,3)
      Duel Dancing can buff a martial arts attack or intimidation (Cost 5,3)

      Combat Instincts increses the base number of combat actions (2) by one per purchase (Cost 10), be wary can be overused!
      Fast Draw Useful for Firearms (decreases load times) but you can also draw swords with it for no action dice cost (Cost 5,3)

      also in the demo games when there are bad guys and it says "Action Dice 6" does that mean they get 6 dice for all rolls?


      Yeah it's explained somewhere, to make things easier on creatures many actions are bundled into one number of AD.

      Basic Compendium, Page 290

      NORMAL ACTION DICE - The Action Dice a creature gets to roll when performing any standard
      action, everything from their basic movement to standard attacks and defense. In addition, this number
      also represents the average number of Damage Levels the creature inflicts upon its target with an attack.


      In your case I think it just ment the number of action dice for this specific attack, even though I assume that it is probably suggested to create Janah you are only ment to kil similarly to creatures, just with standard dice.

      Personally I made myself an Excel List I keep open on the side and fully create each Janah character to allow for more versatility (my players have a lot of charisma and persuasion etc, so they could just as well talk their way out of somewhere!)
      [IMG:http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v356/Philot/Stuff/smarttrack.jpg]

      The post was edited 4 times, last by Sherbie ().

    • RE: combat mechanics

      Sherbie is correct, the best way to let your PCs shine in combat is to pit them against much weaker foes. In Kung Fu movies, for example, the heroes wade through waves of minions, usually taking them out with one blow. In Shard terms, the hero would have 10 Action Dice and the minions would each have 2-3 AD each and very little to no armor. The hero would also likely have 1-3 additional levels of Combat Instinct (which would give them 1-3 additional Actions per Round).

      Keep in mind that the Animal Templates do not give the lowest possible Ranking an animal will have in an Attribute, it gives the average for that animal across world. So if they have an Attribute of 2 in their Agility, that means 2 Action Dice when they attack something. Only exceptional characters (i.e. heroes and major villains) have Rankings that are considerably higher (or closer to a Zoic's Maximum Attribute Ranking).

      Likewise, in a Kung Fu movie, whenever the hero and the villain with the long white eyebrows square off, you know that fight will take a minimum of 10 minutes of screen time. That's a long, long time! Some fights can go even longer (I believe the record for a final martial arts battle in one of those movies is close to 30 minutes). In Shard terms, we're talking two equally ranked combatants with an equal amount of Actions and Action Dice. If they just attack, waiting to get a lucky shot, then combat will seem to take forever. They must be clever, they must use Bonuses for roleplaying, they must team up on the villain, or lure him to some dangerous area and use the environment against him. These fights are won by the hero because of their cleverness and ingenuity, rarely just by blind luck.

      I hope that helps!

      -Aaron
    • why would some one use up all of their actions attacking especially if they are doing little damage. A little proactive defense might be important in these situtations.

      One good attack is worth just as much or more than a bunch of small ones. Personally I would probably split my actions between attack and defense.

      Also do any of your players take advantage of reactionary moves to counter attack attackers
      "One without crystal is without life"
    • RE: combat mechanics

      Yep,...Sherbie, Aaron, and Iceage have really touched well on all those factors that might help your players enjoy the dangerous side of SHARD combat a little bit more,...because, in general,...it really is what the GM decides to throw at the players that determines the kind of fight they are going to have on their hands... Not the outcome, necessarily, but the pacing, dynamics, and "feel" of the fight...

      Once both you (as a GM) and your players have rolled up and determined all the Initiatives and number of Combat Actions for the all player characters and NPCs alike, that's when the GM's control of the pacing of play through those Actions becomes really important to keeping the combat itself fun, fair, and fast-paced...

      When I'm GMing a medium-scale battle (with as many NPC enemies as there are players, for instance), I make a point of indicating who's first, and if it's an NPC I have them use up a series of their Actions attempting some special maneuvers... If it actually goes off effectively against the players, then something dramatic and cool starts off the fight... If it doesn't, then that NPC has effectively "wasted" their Actions in that vain attempt, and will most likely get taken out by the PCs in a spectacular and fun way after that NPC's Actions run out later that round...

      If, on the other hand, it's a player who's character is first in Initiative, I ask them what they like to do, and whether they'd like to do multiple things to start off with, and specifically remind them that they need to consider how many of their Actions they wish to keep for Defense, or to React later during that round. I usually advise keeping half for later when you may be dealing with multiple opponents...or when you may want to help rescue or support your allies fighting nearby. In other words, strongly advise that they don't use up all their Actions at once...

      Once the first person in Initiative has declared and performed a series of actions (either doing a single action, or bundling several actions together), then I immediately go to the second person in order of initiative to see how they might React... Remember, it's still technically the first person's "turn", but everyone gets the chance to take Reactions (one Action each) in order of Initiative between every Action or series of bundled Actions the Initiative winner takes, until they decide their turn is done (thus saving the rest of their Actions for either future Reactions or Defense during that same Round).

      If the person who is second in Initiative is an NPC, I almost always have that NPC react with a single Reaction Combat Action allowed, which may or may not force another player to use an Action to defend (after all, the enemy might be drawing a weapon, making a movement, performing Acrobatics, etc.), but this will ALWAYS serve to further chip away the number of Actions the enemy has at his disposal... I do this to help players maintain a small advantage over the NPCs, unless the NPCs rolled so poorly for their Actions that I don't need to bother... This also helps keep the action feeling fast-paced, since stuff is happening on all sides... This makes it REALLY important for the GM to keep careful track of the NPCs number of Actions, so that when the time comes, you can give the players the fun moment of hitting the NPC hard when they run out!

      If the second person in order of Initiative is a player character, I ask that player if they'd like to React to what they've seen happen, and though I don't necessarily urge them to do so, I want to make sure they understand that they have that chance to be a part of the action right then and there, if they'd like...

      I'll do this as quickly as possible for each PC and NPC in order of Initiative, then go right back to the person whose turn it actually is and see if they still have things they want to do with one or more of their remaining Actions... Often the person whose turn it still is will have some new things they'd like to try (if they have enough Actions to consider doing them) based on the Reactions they've just seen unfold... Continue asking them how many Actions they have left, and continue to urge them to pass their turn on to the second person in order of Initiative BEFORE they run completely out of Actions (to make sure they still have the chance to React and Defend later, if they need to)...

      Again, my players seem to do fairly well, even against an equal grouping of NPC opponents of similar level, merely because:
      • I have the NPCs use up their Actions either initially (if they win Initiative) or by having them React almost every time one way or another, when given the chance.
      • I keep careful track of how many Actions each NPC has, and how many they use, as they use them.
      • I encourage players to React so they feel like they're always in the "thick" of things, making a difference, but NEVER encourage them to use up all their Actions to attack without leaving at least a few for Defense.
      • I always encourage players to act wisely, with good tactics, and in concert with one another to effectively force NPCs to "use up" their Actions, thus placing them at the player's mercy.


      Doing this, I often find that most average-sized battles, with equal or lesser opponents of a similar number, often only last two or three combat rounds at the MOST! And the players, for the most part, come out of these fights excited and happy...

      Scottie ^^
    • Ok, all of that helps. The demo I am running is the one in the intro pdf so the fight is against the gorrila with 6 actions and his band of brigands (about 15, can't remember off hand) with 5 actions each. I basically let the honor guard with the group deal with most of the brigands, leaving the PC's with the gorrilla and .... I think it was 4 brigands. I do have it all written down I'm just too lazy to go find it right now! lol

      I did the bit where you have the NPC's use up their actions as much as possible defending and doing stuff. I kept reminding the players they could react if they wanted. The problem we had was that the PC's had basically 5-6 ranks in their combat skills so they really had no up on the bad guys. It was the first real combat we've run so we were learning as we went. In a case like that it would make sense to drop the Action Dice for the bad guys to more like 5 for the gorilla and 4 for the brigands or even 3 for the brigands? They did finally get the idea of working together, but it took them a bit and they got pretty trashed because the NPC's rolled well and the PC's didn't.

      I'm going to get it up on Obsidian portal today. Even with the griping they had a lot of fun playing it and are going to win. I just wanted to make sure i wasn't messing up somewhere on the combat.
    • Heh! It sounds like you are headed in the right direction, and for a first-time fight, it's totally OK to "fudge" for the benefit of the players to make sure they enjoy the process and have a good time (that's what it's really all about, anyway...)...

      If decreasing a foe's dice seems like a good way to relieve them of a bit of the stress, I say "go for it"! But honestly,...sometimes players just have "bad roll" days where the dice just aren't on their side... But you know what? That's exactly what Story Points are for! Make sure to remind them they have those on the side, just in case...

      A good thing to think about and discuss, as well, is the idea that even some of our favorite action film heroes got their butt kicked from time-to-time, only to find an opportunity to rise up for some righteous pay-back later on! That can be a great theme when some combats just don't seem to go the PC's way...

      Oh,...and don't forget to apply the damage multipliers when players make great rolls and beat their opponents by four successes or more... That stuff adds up and can end a battle really dramatically in mere moments!

      Hopefully all this stuff helps!

      Let us know!

      Scottie ^^
    • They didn't have any story points left over from building their characters and haven't earned any in game yet.

      With the multipliers, one of the NPC's got one and that's what dropped one of the characters. I think dealing with that is going to be pretty dramatic and let the healers do some of their stuff in this particular case, but in the future I think I might fudge the multipliers for the NPC's a bit. One hit is enough to take out a couple of the PC's making for very short and not so fun combat! LOL
    • Making combats more fun

      You can also, btw, drop the damage multipliers for minions too. Just use it for major NPC villains and other badasses. You can justify this by saying that the average minion does not receive enough training or possess enough skill to get those multipliers in combat. And this is perfectly acceptable.

      Again, it depends on the tone for your campaign. A more gritty realistic campaign would probably not do this, where PCs played characters just trying to survive in the world, either ordinary folk who are thrown into extraordinary circumstances, or perhaps members of the Underworld who have to claw and scratch for their existence and to rise in the ranks. In campaigns like this, ingenuity should certainly be rewarded as the smart characters would rise quickly in the ranks.

      But if you were playing a more heroic level campaign, then you might want to suspend damage multipliers for minor NPCs and minions. Here the point is for the PCs to shine and be the world's badasses, so it makes sense. Reserve the damage multipliers for the chief NPCs. The players will quickly learn to give these villains their full attention or else they'll end up needing the care of a healer very quickly. But the minions they can relax a little bit around and knock them around for fun (and it is fun to knock around minions).

      Looking forward to reading about your continuing adventures. :)

      -Aaron
    • I hadnt thought of dropping the multiplier for minions. This is a really good idea.

      In combat I had three PCs against three NPCs. The players were a Weasel/ lawyer, a Komodo Dragon/ Mercenary, and a Rabbit/ Monk

      The lawyer had 5dice to attack and a 3 strength. He also carried a three shot pistol.

      The Komodo Dragon had 4 dice to attac and a 5 strength. He used a sword

      The Rabbit had 5 dice to attack and a 3 strength.

      The lead npc had 5 dice to attack and damage.
      The secondary npcs had 4 dice to attack and 4 strength.

      A few well made rolls allowed the Pcs to disarm the two henchmen right off the bat.

      After that one of the Npcs bundled his actions and attacked the rabbit. This left the rabbit with 2 or 3 stamina.

      The komodo dragon got a few good hits on the wolf (leader of the npcs), but didnt manage to take him down to much.

      The Weasel stood off and used his pistol.

      After a few rounds the Pcs were handily beaten by the Npcs. The Npcs offered the Pcs a deal. If the weasel could beat him in one on one combat in the spiral arena he would tell them what they wanted to know. It was that or they were just going to be killed in a back alley with no chance for honor.

      The weasel felt obligated to accept honorable combat over a death in the back alley.

      The date set by the Wolf was after the villains plans so even if the PC won it still wouldnt do any good.
      "One without crystal is without life"
    • learning combat

      I've just started GMing a campaign for one player. Since neither of us has ever played before and we're learning as we go, I had to come up with a way for us to learn combat together.

      I got the character to agree to enter a tournement in the spiral arena. All the fights are different. Some are melee combat with normal weapons, some are with suthra weapons and armor, some are natural weapons only, etc. Each opponent is a completely different type than any other.

      This has really worked out well. If the pc gets his butt kicked too bad, I can "back up time" and start the fight over so the player can use a different strategy and I can have the npc use a different strategy. It's giving us both a better feel for combat.
      Pamela
    • RE: learning combat

      That's a great way to go about it pjcrick!

      Recently I've been talking to some of my own players about getting together and experimenting with SHARD combat in a variety of ways to prepare them for running games of their own this year...

      I've noticed that, since Actions always seem like these precious things that my players are always loathe to expend (often only doing so one at a time), doing these tests might embolden them to become more experimental during combat, which is always cool!

      Here's some of the things I've been thinking of doing:

      • test the flow of combat by rarely using Reactions, and seek to wait until it's actually your turn to perform Bundled Actions primarily
      • test "stylistic" combat more frequently to make use of Duel Dancing more often, to determine how much difference it really makes when used commonly
      • test the effects of using as few Defenses as possible to see if the risk of extreme damage is worth the chance to attack more fully with the Actions you'll save
      • test all of these things out using large groups of NPCs against a large group of players to gauge to what extent adding addition members to combat increases the time combat takes
      • test utilizing Complementary Skills (which can create additional successes for a single attempted action) more often during attack attempts in combat to determine if the use of that extra Action can turn the tide of battle


      I figure that, by doing this, not only will my players get into the swing of running combat themselves for others, but they'll also then have a better idea of what tactics to recommend to their players, and what outcomes they might achieve by doing so!

      Scottie ^^