It is currently Mon Oct 15, 2018 3:50 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 5 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: TRoS Combat: Round by Round Resolution
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 8:12 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Crow Caller wrote:
First of all, my group does play exchange by exchange


Grettir wrote:
Fair enough and completely up to you and your group, but explicitly against the rules as written.


higgins wrote:
I mean... what's the big deal here? While the method might result in a clunky game pacing, what do you see inherently wrong there? Pacing aside, this actually seems to be superior way to play as it doesn't isolate the fighting groups as tightly and there's more chances of being able to run saving your friend and thus more chances of adding drama! I believe that Jake wrote the quoted paragraph because of pacing issues, not because he saw the "isolated combat islands" as a core principle of the system.


Cinematic Combat

The fundamental principle here is called "Cinematic Combat". Jake envisaged TRoS combat scenes as just that -- combat scenes. In a film or a book the action does not flick from central character to central character as they parry and riposte. Instead, the narrative stays with one character until something happens that is relatively interesting. Then the limelight shifts to the next central character.

In order to support this design goal Jake created a number of elements in TRoS combat. One of these was no minis. There was to be no tactical combat environment. In order to ensure people didn't bring in minis on the sly he created the "everyone moves half their Move every exchange in a random direction" rule. He figured that the bookkeeping involved would grind a mini's group to distraction, force them out of the Sim minis/tactical representation headspace and into the Nar abstract representation headspace.

He removed the time issue. Time is deliberately vague in TRoS combat. If you give Simmers a timescale they'll start debating "realism", the curse of any RPG discussion. By removing the time umbilical cord the hope was that the flow of the combat would take precedence over the passing of time. To facilitate this Jake added the non-sequential Round rule. The limelight stays with a character until something interesting happens. The limelight doesn't have to go round the player group sequentially, in a set order. The passing of time is shown to be unimportant in TRoS combat.

In an abstract combat environment you need a mechanism for handling movement in an abstract manner. In a combat system where the passing of time is unimportant you need a mechanism for handling timing. In a combat system designed around real fighting techniques you need a method for handling relative positioning. The Terrain Roll is TRoS great catch-all.

TFoB, Terrain, p. 48 wrote:
Reduced to its most basic form, a terrain roll is this:

The player declares that his character wants to do something other than attack, defend or parry that is not otherwise covered by a combat maneuver. The Seneschal assigns a TN for the attempt, and the player removes as many dice as he likes from his CP, rolling them against that TN. As long as he achieves at least one success, he succeeds.


The intention here is that the Terrain Roll gets used for everything else, with the referee setting the TN.

Round by Round Combat Resolution

What though if we want to Drift TRoS combat towards a Simmy, round-by-round approach? What if we want to get out the minis and watch this combat unfold rather than just talk about how it unfolds? What areas of the system might need to be tweaked in order to get this to work smoothly? The following posts look at this goal.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: TRoS Combat: Round by Round Resolution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:44 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Movement

Firstly, I want to get some rulebook quotes in here so that I can refer to them later.

TRoS Core, p 11 wrote:
Move is a measure of how much distance — in yards — one can cover on foot in approximately 1 or 2 seconds (one combat round). Average Move is 6.


TRoS Core, p 11 wrote:
As discussed in Book Five: The Laws of Nature, characters may cover distance equal to their Move score in yards each Round. During a combat Exchange this number is reduced to their Move score in feet. Moving so far constitutes a "charge," which is treated as an Offensive Stance (granting +2 CP for attacks, but inflicting a —2 CP penalty for defense for the whole round). Even if not charging, one must move half as far (1/2 Move) during each Exchange (melee combat only). This movement may be forward, backward, or to the sides.


TRoS Core, p 11 wrote:
Crawling characters (move) 1 foot per Round.
Cautious characters (move) half of their Move score in feet every Round.
Walking characters (move) their Move score (in feet) every Round.
Hurried characters (move) twice their Move score in feet every Round.
Sprinting characters move four times their normal Move score in feet every Round.


As I see it resolving TRoS combat round-by-round and in a sequential order (player A resolves before player B who resolves before player C in any given round) introduces a number of issues for movement.

Referee: OK, here's a quick drawing of the scene. You're about to enter the square in front of the Abbey of Saint Peter. You are entering from Abbott's Row, here. Renee is leading, carrying the sack with casket containing the martyr's hand. Agnes is behind him with her son Philippe. Next to Agnes is Bart and trailing behind are Andreus and Simone. As you enter the square a shout rings out. You see three armed men sprinting towards you from the direction of the Castle, here. Behind you, some ways off, you hear a whistle blow. Off to your left in the alcove here you can see some of the Cardinal's men standing in the shadows. One of them starts to draw his blade which glints in the moonlight...

So, what have we got here? We have some characters that will engage in melee and some who will stay out of melee and do out-of-combat actions. Those doing out-of-combat actions will be split between archers, wizards, and non-combatants. We will assume that at this point in the scene the referee provides each player with a list of all characters and points of interest in the scene and their character's precise distance from each of those things (the perfect case situation for sequential round resolution combat).

How far can they each character move in a round? How far *must* they move in a round? And most importantly, in round 5 when it becomes critical to know the precise location of everyone in the square, where are they?

Anomaly 1: Lagging Behind
A character may move their MOVE score in Yards per Round.
A character may move their MOVE score in feet per Exchange.
There are two Exchanges per Round.
Therefore a character moving outside the combat zone may move their MOVE score in yards while an unengaged character in the combat zone may move double their MOVE score in feet per Round. Obviously the latter character moves far less distance in a Round.

Anomaly 2: Compulsory Movement
Every character engaged in melee combat is required to move half their MOVE score in feet per exchange. This movement is in a random direction -- the PC is no more in control of it than the NPC, it is a simple result of the act of melee combat.
If this movement is tracked then a visual aid will have to be adjusted with each exchange of each character.
If this movement is not tracked then a mechanism will be required to adjudicate positioning when that becomes critical to an action.
If this movement is not to be random then a mechanism is required that allows this movement to be adjudicated (something more sophisticated than "the player gets to decide" or "the referee is in charge, he decides").

Anomaly 3: Non-melee Characters Interacting With Melee Characters

When you have characters that are out of the melee combat and other characters that are in it you need a mechanism for arbitrating what happens when someone that is essentially outside the scene wants to interact with someone in the scene. In relation to movement you have rules for the different movement speeds but distance is often more important than movement in this instance. Usually the out-of-combat character will want to know how far someone or something is from them.

One point here is that the character would never know the precise distance to something once it get past a certain, relatively short distance. All distance measurements past that point should be approximate.

That aside, the melee environment is one of continuous movement. The distance from a static, external character to one that is within the melee is always changing. A mechanism is required to handle this movement, so that when the archer declares that they are firing their bow the referee is able to determine the distance to target accurately.

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: TRoS Combat: Round by Round Resolution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:51 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Timing

Once again I'll start the analysis with some rulebook quotes:

TRoS Core, p 72 wrote:
Whenever a situation involving combat begins the Seneschal declares that time is now measured in Combat Rounds. A Round in The Riddle of Steel lasts approximately 1 or 2 seconds, during which attacks are made and other events take place. Each Round is then divided into two Combat Exchanges (sometimes called an "Exchange of Blows"). An Exchange, being half a Round, is roughly how much time it takes to attack with a weapon and begin to recover. A whole series of Rounds constitutes a Bout, or a fight. Bouts occasionally undergo a pause, such as when opponents circle or break apart from one another. Though these pauses are still measured in Rounds, one may assume that these Rounds last much longer than 1 or 2 seconds.


TRoS Core, p 111 wrote:
The casting time for "Spells of One" is the CTN of the spell in seconds.


TRoS Core, p 111 wrote:
The casting time for "Spells of Three" is 10 seconds per CTN of spell.


I am hoping that the timing problem is going to be pretty apparent to everybody. In the combat environment the length of a Round is a variable and its duration is based upon the context of what each particular character is doing. For Round by Round combat resolution this is a game breaker and needs to be addressed.

Anomaly 1: The Variable Duration Round

Firstly, a Round is described as lasting 1 or 2 seconds. A Round contains two Exchanges. An Exchange is described as lasting the amount of time it takes to attack and begin to recover. How long that takes depends on the weapon being used. As a result the two knife-fighting squires will nip through their Rounds of combat far quicker than their greatsword-wielding masters. Obviously if this is resolved Round by Round the squires will be seen to be pausing, waiting for their masters to catch up as it were.

It gets worse though when opponents start taunting each other, circling, or otherwise pausing a moment to catch their breath mid-combat. At this point a Round is described as being far longer than 1 or 2 seconds. So while the squires continue to slash at each other their masters decide to circle a moment, looking for any sign of weakness from previous blows. So what happens? Do the masters stand still while the squires go through a few more Rounds? What then if they wish to intervene -- their Round is progressing...?

Anomaly 2: The Timeline

Finally, we're back to the problem of having people outside the melee environment trying to interact with people within the melee environment.

Imagine for a moment that we arbitrarily decide that a Round is two seconds, always. A mage casts a CTN 5 Spell of One -- 5 seconds until it goes off. When does it go off, in terms of Rounds? And if we say the spell manifests at the start of the second Exchange of the third Round, what are the implications for the CP allocation rules (if any)?

However, the duration of a Round isn't 2 seconds -- it is a variable. So when will that spell manifest? Will it be Round 2 for the masters, Round 5 for the squires...?

A mechanism is required to iron out the kinks in the timeline caused by the duration of a Round being a variable.

Anomaly 3: Short Round Duration

The other side of the coin that needs to be examined is the effect short Round duration has on non-combatant characters. By this I mean if we have a pair of knife-fighters slashing sway at each other and we agree that they can wield their weapons as fast as any weapon can be wielded then we can say that a Round for them lasts 1 second. So they can go through twenty exchanges in 10 seconds.

Not many fights last twenty exchanges particularly between lightly armoured, average people. So is it a good thing that those outside the combat have, potentially, a tiny window of opportunity in which to do something about that fight? A wizard might get off a Spell of One but nothing more complex. Ten seconds of movement doesn't allow much distance to be covered. It's hardly enough time to get a decent taunt in on an opponent. Does this need to be addressed in Round by Round combat resolution?

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: TRoS Combat: Round by Round Resolution
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 12:42 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Terrain Rolls

Terrain Rolls cover both Movement and Timing and they are a lengthy subject so I've decided to give them there own post.

Anomaly 1: Terrain-related Manoeuvers Have No Duration

Within the combat environment Terrain Rolls rely on CP dice for resolution. Why?

James on the Official TRoS Forum wrote:
...Consider this idea for CP: CP is a resource of "how much effort" a character can employ in a single combat round. This effort can be spent on 'attack', 'defense' (be it parries, blocks, evades) or 'movement' (terrain rolls). If the movement is particularly difficult (snip) then it is unlikely that the character has as much 'effort' to expend on his sword swings and defences. (snip) By creating the combat pool as a resource in the player's hands, it places the tactical choices of 'effort expenditure' there as well.


That's all well and good but how much time is occupied by the performance of a terrain roll? Let's assume that a Round is declared to be two seconds, and an Exchange one second. The player in their second Exchange declares a Terrain Roll and sacrifices CP for it. That is resolved. Then their attack/defense is resolved with remaining CP. All within a second under these assumptions.

Does that make sense for all the different types of Terrain Rolls? Some of them but not others? None of them?

For some Terrain Rolls the activity being performed is simultaneous with the attack/defense manoeuvre being performed. The CP sacrifice represents the amount of concentration that is being diverted from the attack/defense manoeuvre towards dealing with the current terrain. For example, when fighting on slippery terrain the combatants cannot help but deal with the terrain at the same time as dealing with their opponent.

On the other hand the Multiple Opponents Terrain Roll would seem to occupy time that is separate from the attack/defense manoeuvre that is being performed. In other words it would seem to require more effort, more extraneous movement. Is it reasonable that this action occupy no time? In essence it happens between Rounds and the effects cannot be negated until the next Round. For myself I have difficulty accepting, from a Sim perspective, that this is realistic.

If we're putting everything on a fixed Round duration, do we need to include durations for Terrain Roll activities?

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: TRoS Combat: Round by Round Resolution
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 10:25 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:43 pm
Posts: 2112
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Pacing

Round by Round combat resolution goes hand-in-hand with the use of miniatures and a scale representation of the combat scene. If you don't have this then you can't track movement and positioning accurately. If you're not going to track movement and positioning then you might as well abstract the movement -- which pretty much takes us full circle back to Cinematic combat resolution...

Anomaly 1: TRoS is a Miniatures Game, Right?

A quick word from the game's designer:

Jake over on The Forge wrote:
(When asked if a character is allowed to stand still while fighting) My take on it is that you do have to move -- you can't fight in place with most weapons -- though it doesn't need to be much. I actually discourage using miniatures except for the most basic understanding of a scene, and using terrain rolls whenever movement is a crucial factor.


Resolving combat Round by Round is less of an issue for game pacing than using miniatures to track a TRoS combat. A typical TRoS combat, in my experience, involving five player characters and their retainers against a similar number of opponents -- say between fifteen and twenty combatants -- takes about twenty minutes to resolve when the players are familiar with the rules. Running a similar combat where all movement and questions of Line of Sight are tracked through miniatures will take an hour or more. IMO, if a single scene takes an hour or more to resolve then it is difficult to recover the pace of the narrative (and the game tends to become about combat, because that is what is occupying the most game time).

So we might need to put some effort into ensuring that the combat scenes are roughly the same duration as any other type of scene. We don't want to loose track of why we're fighting in this scene just because it takes so long to conduct the fight scene.

While we're looking at scene pacing we need to consider the impact Round by Round has on the pacing. In Cinematic, the limelight shifts from the player when something interesting happens. So when the player is not actively involved they are at least at an interesting point in their combat. In Round by Round the limelight shifts regardless of what has happened. Usually, nothing interesting will have happened. The player's experience of combat therefore changes significantly. On the one hand the player has to wait longer for their turn -- but their turn is longer and always ends at an interesting point. On the other the player's turn comes around more frequently -- but their turn is short and usually ends without anything interesting having happened. As a result the combat scene doesn't flow -- the player's experience is of a stop-start combat resolution.

Do we therefore need to address pacing when considering tweaking the rules to suit Round by Round combat?

Do we need a mechanism to assist the player in remembering effects that occurred in the previous Round that influence the current Round?

Regards,

_________________
Ian Plumb
Illustrations for Gamers
Lyonpaedia
Griffin Grove Gaming
Kraftworks for Kids School Holiday Program


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 5 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron


Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group              Designed by QuakeZone