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Combat Questions

Discussion in 'Dragon's Egg RPG' started by Steerpike, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Here are some thoughts on the issues posed in the main thread:

    1. If two characters in front in a ten foot hall want to try to form a shield wall, that is doable. If all the characters are going to do is concentrate on maintaining a wall and not fight, I'll give a +4 AC bonus to the shield-bearers (that's from a rule specifically for shield walls in another C&C supplement). If they're in front fighting as normal, but just happen to have shields, they'll get a +2 situational bonus to AC.

    2. Players behind the two in front will have partial cover against ranged attacks, due in part to the shields and also to the bodies in front of them. Those further toward the rear will have more cover. Probably 1/2 cover for the front people and 3/4 for the back row.

    3. Players shooting from the rear-most ranks will have a situational modifier that reflects the fact that they are fifteen or twenty feet and have 6 people or so in front of them. This depends on where the enemy is. For a distant enemy, there may not be a penalty since the enemy is in full view. As the enemy nears, it may have 1/4 cover. If the enemy is engaged with the people at the front of the shield wall, the enemy will have at least 1/2 cover against ranged attacked from the back rows and the risk of hitting a friendly target increases.

    4. The general rule is that you need a weapon with reach to attack past another player in front of you. I tend to relax that when it makes sense. The people immediately behind the shield bearers can attack the enemy with melee weapons, though at a -2 situational modifier to reflect the fact that they're having to try to get their own attacks through the shield wall. If the shields are between the enemy and the group from the enemy's perspective, they're also between the enemy and the group from the player's perspective.

    Other situational modifiers (usually a +2 or -2) will be applied depending on the circumstances. For example, if Nod is trying to shoot from Baldhart's shoulder, while Baldhart is trying to thrust her sword through the shield wall, that's probably a -2 situational modifier to reflect sitting on top of an individual engaged in active combat. If Baldhart keeps still so that Nod can get a steady, shot, then no modifier.

    If people want to try to do things via a SIEGE check to add bonuses or counter penalties, etc., just let me know. Remember, the SIEGE check mechanic is there precisely so players can try to do creative things.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
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  2. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    Quick doubts: Is it possible to use the Dodge and Evade without dodging, focusing on parrying only so you can shield someone behind you?

    There is nothing about not adding the bonus, however, it's worthy checking before attempting this... Besides the DEX bonus, do those stances bonuses also apply to the AC provided by a Shield Spell?
     
  3. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Wow… a 1/2 cover bonus (+4) is totally worth the situational modifier (-2).

    And with the situational bonus for the shield wall, those behind the wall still get the +4 if the shield-guys fight! This is going to work better than I had hoped! I take it Baldhart and Sir Matthew have weapons with enough reach? (Not sure how long the spear is.) I didn't think Nod would be able to piggyback while she thrusts through the wall. This should be an amusing formation! Would Nod NOT have the risk of friendly-fire while piggy-backing because of the elevation (with the -2 being because that barbarian lady won't stay still)?

    What if all three shield-guys form a box around a lone enemy who's against a wall? I know STR checks would prevent an enemy from being stuck there forever, but while the enemy is trapped in a desperate melee, are there situational bonuses and such for that?
     
  4. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    So, wait… Baldhart gets a situational -2 for being behind the wall. Nod gets -2 for sitting on her shoulders. But if Baldy's just fighting with a guy on her back, and there's no wall… no penalty?

    You know what that means, Phil. We're like these guys!
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. Sparkie

    Sparkie Auror

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  6. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Good.

    In fact, a "wall" would be denser, provide a greater defensive bonus, but also penalize attacks by people in it due to limited mobility. I'd leave this to case-by-case decisions, just keeping in mind the possibility. We don't have enough shield-bearers to form a "wall" anyway. I think we have enough people with long pointy things we could form an ersatz pike formation… at least in a narrow enough space.

    Good. And I'd keep it that way even if those farther back are deliberately trying to "hide behind" the front ranks, and nothing else: the people in front aren't going to be stationary, so it's not the same as hiding behind an object. Someone doing this might also gain the benefit of Dodging (extra +2), if it seems appropriate.

    Good. Most times I've seen "firing into a melee" penalized by -4, which would be the same as 1/2 cover. Only thing I might adjust is that, in situations such as narrow corridors, distance won't be enough to eliminate the effect of people standing in front of you. If you're directly behind the front rank–and have the opportunity to shoot "around" them, i.e. they are standing still– then no penalty; if you're firing from a third rank, the enemy is probably going to get some benefit of cover regardless.

    Yep.

    D&D3e also has a rule for "aiding another": rather than making an attack, you make an attempt to interfere with the enemy in some way. You roll as a touch attack (i.e. ignoring armor); if you succeed, you may either add +2 to your friend's attack or +2 to the friend's AC, your choice. My experience with team fighting is that this is probably lower than it should be–really, if all you're trying to do is interfere with the enemy's actions, you shouldn't have to roll to get this benefit: you'll have some effect on him–but it does have the virtue of being simple. Of course, it's simpler still to make the bonus automatic and skip the extra die roll.

    In situations where the player specifies manner of interference–e.g. hook the enemy's shield, foul his weapon, etc.–I'd say make the touch attack roll. If successful, increase the bonus significantly: either to +4, or, for something like fouling a weapon, a straight success: opponent loses his attack that round. (Note that "attacking" a weapon should entail a size modifier.) If this is done in the situation under discussion, the penalty for striking from the second rank should also apply to the attempt; it would not in an open-field melee, where the assisting character can engage the opponent directly. (Another reason to make the "generic" aid bonus automatic rather than roll-dependent: you don't need to worry about which modifiers apply in that particular situation.)

    While we're in the vicinity: this can also be used to deal with flank/rear attacks–the bonuses for which are too low anyway, really. Fact is, if you've got a two-(or more)-on-one situation, the target will have problems whether any of the opponents are flanking or not. If the attackers deliberately coordinate, that is. If they're all trying to get their own hits in, any bonus might be minor at best: in fact, they're as likely to interfere with one another as to aid one another. Conversely, if the defender has any ability to maneuver at all, it will be very difficult for the attackers to remain on his flank/rear.

    What might be easier is to give multiple attackers a flat bonus, and limit flank/rear bonuses to classes with the specific ability to make them (thieves, assassins… this might require making the bonus cumulative with the bonuses those classes get: as the rules currently stand, they only get their normal–and better–bonus to flanking attacks). Giving a bonus based on number of attackers (+1 to all if two, +2 if three, etc.) might make sense as well; a flat +2, no matter how many attackers, is simpler–if they want better bonuses, they'll need to make specific attempts to coordinate their actions… and to avoid interfering with one another in their eagerness to make the kill.

    Example, based on above (not sure why this specific one came to mind… :p ): warg and goblin rider.
    - Both attacking from the same direction: no modifiers there. Defender can effectively treat as single opponent.
    • Net: ±0 all around.
    - Warg attempting bite, goblin attempting attack: the warg's motion isn't same as in normal riding; warg is effectively interfering with, rather than aiding, rider. Goblin has penalty to attack, unless he's trained to coordinate with striking warg (i.e. equivalent of horsemanship skill). Note that C&C also imposes a -2 penalty for melee attacks from a mount if the attacker doesn't have the horsemanship skill; this might be adequate, though it also assumes the mount is simply acting as a mount, not itself attacking, so I'd say the goblin faces an additional penalty in this situation. (Imagine attacking from a horse rearing to club with its hooves.)
    • Net: warg ±0, goblin -4.
    - Warg simply running, goblin attacks: goblin strikes as normal, gets charging bonus to damage (and does not face AC penalty for "charging"–though the warg might).
    • Net: warg -4 AC, goblin +2 damage.
    - Warg attempting bite, goblin acting to distract/impede target: coordination. Warg gets bonus to attack; possibly this requires goblin to make "touch" attack roll to provide the bonus to the warg (which should take into account the mounted attack penalty, if so).
    • Net: warg +2 (automatically), or better depending on goblin's action; if an action requiring a roll fails, warg ±0 (the +2 goes away: the goblin surrendered it by trying something fancier).
    - Warg and dismounted goblin attacking: I promise you, a wolf will attempt to flank, if there's any way possible for it to do (i.e. it has the space). The goblin almost certainly knows and will take advantage of this. Coordination: bonus to attack for both; not only should the warg gain more than a measly +1, its actions should make it harder for the defender to deal with its companion. Alternately, goblin might choose to assist warg: goblin requires no roll, automatically increase warg's bonus.
    • Net: warg +2, goblin +2 (assuming both attack).
    The above assumes the warg has limited intelligence, and will either do its own thing or do what it's trained to do: it does not make considered decisions to, say, assist the goblin. Of course, the warg could have been trained to do just that: if its rider is fighting dismounted, it does what it can to distract or foul their opponent, increasing the goblin's attack… real-world dogs (police, military) are often trained to coordinate actions with their handler. Grabbing a limb and hanging on–whether causing "bite" damage or not–is really gonna louse up the target's ability to cope. (The bite damage should at the very least be reduced, since part of it assumes a tearing motion, absent in this case.)

    That's realistic. Or… give both +2 (for multiple attackers), in all the above situations: end story. Depends on how detailed you want to be. I love to reward clever actions; I'm less fond of keeping track of every possible variable in a fluid situation. :rolleyes:

    Oh, at least. "Ranged attack from mount or unstable platform: -4," per C&C. In fact, if the attack is being made from the shoulders of someone engaged in melee combat, I'd be inclined to make it even worse. On the other hand, I'd also be inclined to reduce the penalty for firing from a normal mount, so it's probably a wash.
     
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  7. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    …but Nodrick would totally run Bartertown.
     
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  8. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Shield walls rock. ;)

    My inclination would say that's a situational call: it's seriously not worth trying to define bonuses for every possible situation. (Trust me: I know. I have tried.) My inclination here would be to say that there's a bonus for multiple attackers (see my previous post), and the defender is also flat-footed, losing any DEX bonus he might have due to inability to maneuver; possibly he'd receive an additional penalty (say, another -2 to his AC on top of the above).

    However, the attackers might be at a penalty as well; this situation would fall under my "coordinated action" option, but the final benefits will depend on just how coordinated they actually are. In such a tight situation, the attackers won't have as much room to maneuver either, and will have some limits on how they throw their blows —really, this is fairly minor, as any weapon provides multiple options; the bigger problem will come from trying to not foul one another's shots (very easy to do), or, of course, to not hit one another.

    If the attackers were practiced in this formation, I'd say the defender is pretty much toast: if it's a normal humanoid, I might not even require hit rolls. The attackers should be able to pin his limbs and administer a coup de grace.

    If the attackers were not practiced in this formation… I might not give them any bonus at all. (The tight formation and limits to mobility the wall imposes cause the multiple attacker bonus to be a wash.) Possibly even a penalty. The defender would still face the same penalties mentioned above, however, so it's still to the attacker's benefit to put him in the situation.

    Just because shield walls rock doesn't mean they're meatgrinders. What they do is make it as near as impossible as you can manage for the enemy to hurt you. Actually killing him is a function of waiting for or compelling openings through which your limited attack options can be used. But—with a shield wall, you can usually afford that wait. Unless you get sloppy, a single human-sized, human-capability opponent will never be able to hurt people in a properly-formed tight wall. Period.

    That being said: we aren't necessarily talking about a "wall" quite that tight here, so… back to "situational."
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    We can make it -4. I'm OK with that :devil:
     
  10. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Okay, Ravana… first you take all your character's goodberries and stash them far, far away. Now you're talking down the piggy-back bonus. C'mon… do you want goofy piggy-back combat or not? If you talk Steerpike down one more point, Baldhart will flick Nodrick off her shoulder and into the shit pit.

    (Before Nod starts tugging Baldy's pigtails, I'm bluffing Phil.)

    (Okay, think fast… think of something…)

    What say that Nissa looks in the Goddess Boon Manual and discovers a loophole regarding Brynhild's mounted combat boon? The +2 boon is given to He Who Rides The Shoulders Of A Devout Follower Of Brynhild, changing the -4 back to a -2. Ta-daaaa
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  11. Sparkie

    Sparkie Auror

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    Looking to exploit every little loophole we can, I guess. ;)
     
  12. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    You know, I think I'd actually accept that.

    Once. ;)
     
  13. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    My doubt was obfuscated by a certain barbarian playing mount to a certain halfling. ;x
     
  14. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    My answer: contained in earlier post. Probably GM's call. I'd consider concentrating on parrying to be the equivalent of one of these two… you're defending: no need to create an additional category of modifier. (Otherwise, someone would try dodging and parrying.…)

    The Shield spell improves your AC; it should be cumulative with situational modifiers, just as any other personal AC is.

    A better–at least more intriguing–question would be whether or not you could use your Shield spell to join a defensive wall. Given the way the spell is described, I'd be inclined to say yes, you could. Though depending on how you interpret "transparent" wall of force, it might make for slight difficulties in your allies coordinating with you: if it's visible but see-through, no problem; if it's invisible, they won't know exactly where it is.
     
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  15. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    Not that I want different modifiers, it's just because Evade sounds so desperate in it's description - you do whatever you can to avoid injury - that it's good to make sure it can be used to parry only.


    Well, it mentions the DEX bonus, but not other kind of bonus, so, after the Shocking Grasp doubt I don't want to risk counting on these bonus and discovering in the middle of a fight that my AC is not as badass as I expected. =P

    I could use it to be part of a shield wall, but I don't think I would. Even if it's visible but transparent, it's hard to see enough to be a problem to the other players, and it lasts only 1 min. Unless it's set up to block a charge I guess most shield walls should last long enough to poke your enemy - more or less - to death...

    Anyway, her magic isn't reliable enough to be taken into account when planning this kind of strategy, hah.

    Her usage would be something like "Come at me bro, I'm a friggin tanker!".
    1 min later: "I lied!" *running away*
     
  16. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    PM from Nissa

    Yes, Mauve. Cast under the Taint. But wait a bit. First, I'll appear to Hiljikki in a dream and lure her with a tempting vision of the 'future.' She will see Baldhart leap over Darin. Midflight, Nodrick will give Darin the middle finger just before bumping his head on the ceiling. I'll cut off the vision at Darin's enraged expression at Baldhart, who is about to fall on her face thanks to the low ceiling. Hiljikki will not be able to resist running into spell-fail range as she races to see the aftermath.
     
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  17. Sparkie

    Sparkie Auror

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    Haha! Awesome!
     
  18. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    I know, right! T_T

    Well, don't think that Mauve, when pressed, wouldn't use a failing spell as a desperate mean to injury enemies. I mean, probably the Taint amplifies the bad effects... It's a weapon, hah! (Hey, she tried to kick a cask on Rydh! She is a little crazy.)
     
  19. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Well, Evade mentions "using all one's energies to dodge and parry"–so parrying is already included in that one, at least. I'd be inclined to say that if you were only parrying, rather than both parrying and dodging, it would be the equivalent of dodging, and provide the same bonus. This would probably only matter in situations where you're cornered, and can't "dodge" effectively: considering parrying to be equivalent, you'd be able to do that instead, for the same bonus dodge gives. So, in terms of mechanics, it's the "same" action, just in a different situation.

    ---

    Interpretation/Commentary–not to be taken as gospel:

    Here's the problem: the way both Dodge and Evade are defined, they require keeping track of how many opponents you're facing. You can dodge up to three opponents (and get +2 against each), or Evade one (and get +4). Either involves your full action for that round.

    I hate having to keep track of how many opponents one person is facing. It might be easy enough in a static combat situation, but when combatants are moving around, the bonus you chose at the beginning of that round (Evade) may not be the one you'll wish you had by the end, if someone else engages you (Dodge). Additionally, if you're doing "everything" you can to avoid one opponent, at least some of this will carry over to additional ones: if you're dodging around to evade one, you're still moving quickly, erratically, and defensively.* You'll still be harder to hit–for anyone. And you will almost certainly become aware of the additional opponent moving in on you, unless you can't see him… which isn't likely, if you're moving around that much. I don't see why you should be penalized at the end of a "round" just because your action was dealt with first: action in combat is meant to be roughly simultaneous.

    That having been said: if we were to go with a flat defensive bonus, regardless of number of attackers–and then give the attackers a bonus for numbers, which is easier to keep track of than when/if the defender loses his bonus–then Dodge and Evade would have to be modified in the way they're defined. Easiest would be to merge them into one: if you aren't doing anything other than trying not to get hit, you should have a serious advantage to doing so. Call it +4, unless your situation prevents you from taking certain actions: if you're cornered, you lose the "dodge" component; if you're unarmed, you lose the "parry" part, etc.; bonus is reduced to +2. If you're backed into a corner and unarmed… don't sweat the modifiers: just go ahead and surrender.

    An added advantage to doing this is that, if additional attackers do engage a character in a given round, then they can receive the multiple attacker bonus… even if the first attacker has already acted, and did not. And you still don't need to worry about whether or not the defender's bonus changes during the round.

    In fact, both Dodge and Evade could be thrown out: you could just say that when doing nothing other than defending, you get a bonus to your AC equal to your level-based "to hit" roll. Of course, for 1st-level characters, this would suck. (And would continue to for non-fighter classes for quite some time thereafter.) I don't think this would be good as a primary rule. Something like this might be allowed situationally, say where a higher-level fighter is dueling an opponent one-on-one, and wants to make sure his defense is as good as possible for one particular round. (Especially the first, if he loses initiative… which we aren't worrying about in general (good!), though it might be important in that instance.) Or, perhaps, if the defensive action has a chance of accomplishing a particular effect–such as disarming the opponent.

    As usual, it comes down to the choice between ease of play and making things as interesting as possible. And in most cases, the GM is only going to use the "official" modifiers as guidelines, adjusting them as seems appropriate to the situation and rewarding clever (or novel, or amusing) player actions. Which is why I prefer to keep the modifiers simple. Especially in play-by-post. By the time you fully analyze a combat situation, decide where everyone is and what actions they wish to take, it can be three days later and the combat has yet to start. Easier to say "Your character knows that fighting defensively is going to make her harder to hit than if she's trying to hit back," state a baseline modifier, and adjust for situation from there.

    [* Most games don't have a clue how easy it is to defend yourself when that's all you're doing. Seriously: if you have a shield, and are doing nothing other than protecting yourself against a single opponent, the bonus ought to be closer to +10. Or more. 'Course, the shield itself should be a lot more effective than they make it.…]

    ---

    Always best to ask. And don't rely on my answer being the correct one, either. It might be when I'm running things; Steerpike might see things differently. (We are, by the way, exchanging messages so that we can resolve as many interpretations as possible, so that when I start up, everyone will be on familiar territory. Considering the timing of this thread, I suspect it was at least partially inspired by similar considerations, in addition to sorting out the specific situation the party was in.)

    The spell mentions the DEX bonus because this is a normal addition to your AC, and they want to make sure you know it doesn't get excluded–since the Shield spell says it provides a flat AC, rather than a +N to AC. The reason it's phrased that way is because the spell can't provide a greater AC than what is stated: it does not stack with protections such as worn armor or a real shield you're carrying. (This is not entirely rational, but that's the way it works… presumably it's something they threw in to prevent what they viewed as a potential "abuse.") So if for some unguessable reason you were wearing plate mail (+7, taking your AC to 17, above the AC 16 from the spell), the spell would not affect your AC in any way… though it would still stop magic missiles and give you a saving throw bonus.

    I'm not clear on whether or not protection from magic items (rings, cloaks) would stack with the spell. Sticking to the spirit of the rules, they probably should not. Bracers definitely wouldn't: they provide a specific AC, not a +N to AC, so they'd count as worn armor. Since there is a difference between bracers and other protection items, I'd lean toward those other items adding their bonuses to the Shield, just as DEX does. Of course, this won't matter until we start finding some to use.

    [D&D3e finally provided a mechanism to sort all these out: there are four different kinds of bonus which can affect AC: deflection, enhancement, natural armor, and dodge… in addition to the base AC arising from worn armor, shields, and DEX. Plus situational modifiers, which of necessity are generally independent of these. (I didn't say it was a good mechanism.…) In most cases, bonuses of the same sort do not stack, so it's a bit easier to tell when two things work together or don't. Guess what? In 3e, the Shield spell doesn't affect your AC… it provides 3/4 cover. Which would be fine when you're facing opponents yourself; it would also provide no additional bonus from hiding back in the third rank, as it's the same type of bonus. It would raise your cover to 3/4 if what you had was less than that; the modifiers from both spell and position would not be cumulative, however–you'd get the better of the two. This does not apply to the C&C version of the spell, fortunately.]

    [Though on the other hand, if it were taken as a cover bonus, it would stack with worn armor, etc.–with everything other than cover, in fact.]

    [Oh: in 3e, they also say "invisible" rather than "transparent." Guess someone else came up with the same question.… :p ]

    Yeah, it would be more effective at higher levels, where it would last longer. Still, six rounds of combat isn't bad. I wouldn't use it as a primary strategy, but if there was a sudden need for someone to step up–most likely because someone already in the wall got wounded or taken down: once a gap forms, it's no longer a "wall"–it's something to keep in mind.
     
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  20. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I make use of Rule Zero. Just sayin' :)
     
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