AAR: The Black Company

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AAR: The Black Company

Postby Mercevial Xenn » Thu Oct 15, 2015 10:39 am

RE:

AAR: Black Company

Well.... We're through our first combat! And Ataxia made the veterans yield..(j/k)

I just read through the Window rolls sections and found that we we following them pretty accurately.

Attack vs. agility and armour (opposed rolls) made perfect sense and the fact we were able to roll our attacks and our foes stats (with some well placed meta-gaming) made writing complete posts strait forward.

The only real issue I came across was the rules for a tie. In the event of the Storyteller getting a tie, a success/failure/locking of horns, depending on situation, is fine as they can decide what they think is best for the story. When it comes to players, though, I think we may need to have a hard rule in place. I may be biased (ha ha), but I was thinking, all things being equal, a tie should favor the hero (making damage or wounds as little as possible/ superficial).

Another thing I thought about was the effects of a 'perfect hit' (or a natural 1 on attack roll) Perhaps some bonus (drop 2 rungs instead of 1 / have an option to knock the character unconscious regardless of health rung)

Just brainstorming here, of course.

I thought our group here did a great job of keeping the combat feeling real, adding emotions and intensity and making it more than a series of dice rolls. I find I'm preferring the Window over the other styles of D20.

Good job to all of us on this inaugural battle!

If I think of anything else, I'll post it
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby Herzog » Thu Oct 15, 2015 4:17 pm

yea, i never know how to roll for ties...especially in oppose checks.

In D20, it's always meet and exceeds for a success...including your opponents. But the window it is just that...a tie.

The other thing is how armor should be handled, and if health should be rolled against a static target number.
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby Merry Mortician » Thu Oct 15, 2015 7:30 pm

Disclaimer: I had a long, mind-numbing day so odds are good for this turning into an incoherent ramble.

It's worth noting we didn't drop to a d30 Health rung. After d20, we were out for the count. I don't mind because I feel the scene would have dragged out unnecessarily for another round or two otherwise.

I think the topic of Health traits as well as rolls, and of lethality, offers quite a lot of material for discussion. We could go 'round and 'round. The way I see it, Herzog should let us know just how lethal he intends for this game to be and then we can debate.

The Window is designed with combat as almost an afterthought. It is the deadliest system I've seen (even more than Shadowrun and OWoD!) because it does not assume the player characters are goliath heroes of yore. The system says, "One good spear thrust and it's over," which is true IRL. Every die rung you possess makes a significant difference to your chances of success for an Agility roll, and even more so for Health rolls since those determine whether you live or die, RAW. The entire discussion moving forward hinges on one question: should we use Health rungs to reflect wounds or should we assume that a hit or two will kill a person, depending on weapon and context?

I won't say a lot on the matter yet because it seems moot without a defined angle as outlined above. I think that assuming standard attacks drop your Health a rung is the better option for low-"level" characters because they don't have access to Agility or Health traits good enough to rely upon. In a game where we had better traits to begin with, I'd probably really enjoy combat being effing terrifying. That said, I see two angles that won't shred my suspension of disbelief.

1) Each Health rung dropped is assumed to be a superficial cut or the like. Once your Health rung drops off the scale, you suffer an incapacitating wound and probably need a secondary Health roll that has something to do with stabilizing.

2) Each Health rung dropped is progressively catastrophic. The first is a superficial cut or the like, then a broken bone, then horrific maiming, etc. Short of magical intervention, recovery will take so long as to effectively remove a character from the story or force the story to fast forward a lot between sorties.

The last thing I'll say for now (again, I feel like there's almost too much to spell out before we establish the foundation of the discussion) is that some sort of minion class enemy would feel appropriate after our training and initiation montage. Giving standard, unremarkable mooks the same number of rungs as PC's would be like giving Pathfinder enemies way too many hit points. They become far too deadly (we'd save time by handling wounds as described RAW in The Window) and probably tedious to put down.
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby PMiller » Fri Oct 16, 2015 12:47 am

Yes, this combat was a great read. It also introduced the idea of non-lethal and the way things dragged out was a good representation of that. But it is likely a unique situation as combat will become much deadlier going forward.

I really like the idea of Horns tossing out the veteran over the rail. Also the incapacitating shot to his balls was good too.

Some of the comments in the Fallout AAR apply here too so I will not repeat them here.

Mercevial Xenn wrote:The only real issue I came across was the rules for a tie. In the event of the Storyteller getting a tie, a success/failure/locking of horns, depending on situation, is fine as they can decide what they think is best for the story. When it comes to players, though, I think we may need to have a hard rule in place. I may be biased (ha ha), but I was thinking, all things being equal, a tie should favor the hero (making damage or wounds as little as possible/ superficial).
Herzog wrote:yea, i never know how to roll for ties...especially in oppose checks.

In D20, it's always meet and exceeds for a success...including your opponents. But the window it is just that...a tie.

A tie is supposed to neither a success nor a failure. In the case of combat, that means you sort of hit and could trigger an Armor/Check, but the target number to resist might be raised significantly. It actually makes more sense when you consider the Attack versus Defense differential’s impact on the Target Number to resist the damage.

I do think we have been off in how we have been using Health Checks because we have been trying to self-resolve like we have been doing in the d20 rule sets.

The Window combat is deadly. The idea of minions was an interesting concept. But we are all still feeling our way out for damage because The Window left it very open for interpretation. We have sort of strayed by treating Health like HP. If we are trying to capture that from Pathfinder, then it does make some sense. But that is not really the spirit of The Window.

So when you chop someone with a greatsword, have high strength, and maybe power attack, it is deadly. So if you hit them, they are likely to be incapacitated. That would mean rolling a Health check against a TN of 4-5 maybe. Failure would drop them multiple rungs depending on how bad they failed. Success will still drop them a rung, but they are still in the fight because adrenaline is countering the pain if nothing vital got hit.

Where someone is stabbed/sliced with a knife by a small gnome with no strength, the TN to resist might only be 6-8 on average and failure only drops one rung. Yet that big swordwould be TN 4-5 to resist and could take the guy down 1-3 rungs depending on the result.

But those TNs on Health checks could become lower if the Attack beat the Defense by a larger margin. So that arrow from a composite bow gets a 1 that beats Defense of 12, could very well be a head shot where the Health check is going to be TN 2 or be dead. Success means the foe survived, but is knocked out since the arrow grazed the skull to deflect instead of penetrated. On the other side the knife slash of 4 that barely beats the Agility of 5 is likely to only be a flesh wound unless the foe really flubs their Health Check against a TN 8.

Trying to standardize things too much might actually hurt the role-playing where there is supposed to be room for creativity and doing cool things.

Ultimately, rolling Armor and Health checks probably needs to be done by the GM for the foes. The PCs roll theirs too, but only after being given a target number by the GM. There will be less self-resolving of their attacks in combat for the players, but they in turn self-resolve themselves instead on the incoming attacks.

The hard part is determining the Target Numbers (TN) for the Armor and Health Checks. But if you start with the base of 6 and modify from there it might not be too bad. Such on the fly modifiers could be:
    Attack/Defense could be a tie, raises TN
    Attack/Defense differential could lower the TN by 1-3
    The weapon itself be more deadly could lower the TN
    The Attackers Strength could raise or lower TN
    The foe’s size (smaller than Small or larger than Large) could change the TN

Now non-heroic minions should have average or worse Traits (lots of d20s). That means they might not survive very long and that is as it should be. As our characters level, combat still remains deadly. PF combat is still very deadly at higher levels too. I had a 12-13th level encounter in PF that only lasted 2 rounds. The foes were capable of killing characters if it had lasted longer. Full Attacks with +20 damage bonuses can really reduce HP in a hurry.

New Issues:
1. With Armor being so important, there could be a balance issue for someone playing a monk or dexterity type build. In PF/D&D AC reflects Dodging, Armor, and Dexterity, plus Monks get some bonuses to offset lack of armor. Perhaps an armor equivalent superpower will be appropriate, but it would only be about d20 total until magic comes into play.

Also Dexterity build characters would find themselves limited too maybe. But if you are in Medium to Heavy Armor, realistically your Agility for defense would be reduced too. So maybe that is balanced. I suppose Two Weapon Defense could add some additional bonus or something for those type of characters.

Also you can substitute a Weapon Skill for defense when using it to help defend yourself in many situations. At least it works for melee combat at least so that might help balance things out.

2. Combat Maneuvers. One of the things that I thought helped balance out Fighters in the conversion was they would have more Skill Points for weapons and things like Combat Maneuvers where other classes had to spend their Skill Points on Magic and such instead.

But The Window encourages to try cool things while keeping it simple. Horns tossing the veteran over the fence with his horns was a good example. Cool thing to try, the dice rolls supported it. But the die roll I used was his Weapon Skill instead of a Combat Maneuver Skill. In retrospect, maybe that maneuver should have had a 1 rung penalty because he was lacking the Combat Maneuver? Not sure.

I don’t see using that technique again except to toss a foe over a castle parapet or something. But if combat gets more deadly, then skewering someone would be just as incapacitating.

But going for Disarms, Trips, Sunders, and Bullrushes all have Feats associated with them in Pathfinder to make them improved (avoid the AoO and provide a bonus). Since anyone can technically try those maneuvers, then maybe there is no need for a separate skill for them like I had in the guide. Or maybe the maneuvers require the Maneuver Skill to apply your Weapon Skill to the check instead of a d20 or a -1 Rung to your Skill in the attempt.

3. Called shots: The Window liked to encourage attempting these too. “I aim for his head and pull the trigger.” Obviously if you succeed, that will likely kill the guy. While I think that is great to liven up the combat, that sort of thing is actually being written after we roll the dice so it is coming out. It goes back to the Attack versus Defense differential. You roll a 1 and beat the foe’s 12, then you write it as a head shot if you want. You only beat the defense by 1 (ie. 2 versus 3), then it was hit but not very good (sword cut to the off arm).
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby Herzog » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:27 pm

OK. This got backburnered while I was under time constraints. Hopefully, I didn’t leave it too long and the thread dropped out of every one’s memory.

The deadliness of combat: I am of two minds on this one. The first, is that I’ve always wanted to run a game where player character death was likely. The problem is that with PBP and story telling, people get attached to their characters and don’t want them to die. Especially after they’ve spent months on character development and background.

On the other hand, I don’t want a game where the characters are heroic and able to wade thru minions like a hot knife thru butter.

So we’ve got to find a balance. I felt and still feel that the Window’s system provides that balance. Yes, we’ve been treating the Health trait more like HP. But it still only takes a few successful strikes to incapacitate a character. If we take in account the differential in the success of an attack, or the type of weapon causing more then 1 rung to drop, then the combat is deadlier. But still balanced as the same rules would apply to the NPCs.

I still don’t think I would be comfortable killing off player characters. Not without agreement from all those playing. Perhaps this might be a cause were we can incapacitate a character for a while, and that player runs with a second character in a different storyline or something. Also, with magical healing, perhaps incapacitating wouldn’t be as drastic if a healer could reach the character in time. Yes, he may be out of the fight, but at least he lives kind of thing.

The luck trait could also be used to turn a deadly wound into something that can be survived as well.

Like Pmiller has said already. It looks like armor becomes the key to survival during combat.

Copy/Pasting from the Fallout discussion:

So to recap from what all has been said by Pmiller and such for combat

1.) The attack roll itself to determine if you succeed is the opposed roll vs opponents defense. Normally, this would be agility, correct. What about the instances like Xenn were he has Melee defense? Player chooses the higher rung?
2.) Once an attack succeeds, then we determine damage. Damage is against a TN based on weapon and situational modifiers. If the player fails, then he loses a rung (s) of health.
3.) Armor: If the player is wearing armor, they can decide to lose a rung off the armor rating to negate health damage. For instance…PC has d20 armor, gets shot. He fails his TN health check, so he would normally lose a rung of health. Instead, he decides that the shot penetrated his armor, but still stopped most of the force of the shot…but now the armor is less effective and loses the rung instead, going to d30.

Do I understand that correctly?

Also, the last rung of health….i had used d20…but had been questioning on rather it should be d30…..i think by the time you hit d30, you are seriously wounded and it wouldn’t take much to take you out. I am fine with using either however.

Obviously, like PMIller said, we are going to have to address Monk type characters and dexterity builds.

I think combat maneuvers should be handled like super powers in a way. Like charge, bullrush, etc. Every person may know how to charge, but perhaps they do it at d30 or something unless they’ve been trained…

Called shots: Not sure about you guys, but I’m writing the description of the result after I’ve rolled the die…so I am not sure called shots are something we can apply…perhaps called shots could be something like Aiming, were you spend a round focusing in order to raise your attack by a rung or something. Tho that works more with ranged than melee….

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now.
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby PMiller » Thu Oct 29, 2015 1:05 am

Herzog wrote:The luck trait could also be used to turn a deadly wound into something that can be survived as well.

Like Pmiller has said already. It looks like armor becomes the key to survival during combat.
Luck is one of those things to avoid death and killing characters.

Herzog wrote:So to recap from what all has been said by Pmiller and such for combat
1.) The attack roll itself to determine if you succeed is the opposed roll vs opponents defense. Normally, this would be agility, correct. What about the instances like Xenn were he has Melee defense? Player chooses the higher rung?
2.) Once an attack succeeds, then we determine damage. Damage is against a TN based on weapon and situational modifiers. If the player fails, then he loses a rung (s) of health.
3.) Armor: If the player is wearing armor, they can decide to lose a rung off the armor rating to negate health damage. For instance…PC has d20 armor, gets shot. He fails his TN health check, so he would normally lose a rung of health. Instead, he decides that the shot penetrated his armor, but still stopped most of the force of the shot…but now the armor is less effective and loses the rung instead, going to d30.

Do I understand that correctly?
Some attacks (like spells) would also target Perception, Health, or Wisdom instead. I would say a Skill that is better and applicable can be used in defense instead of Agility. Unarmed Combat is good example in a brawl. Melee Combat skill would work that way as well, where Ranged Combat Skill would not.

Re: Armor: Yeah, I think you got it. As long as the situation makes sense, though. PC gets shot, fails armor check. They can drop the armor a rung to turn that into a success instead.

However, rolling all at once, I can see the decision being made after knowing results of both Armor and Health Check. But getting hit and passing Health Check doesn’t mean you don’t lose a rung of Health since it depends on the weapon. Bullet wounds are going to probably drop a rung of Health even on a success.

Herzog wrote:Also, the last rung of health….i had used d20…but had been questioning on rather it should be d30…..i think by the time you hit d30, you are seriously wounded and it wouldn’t take much to take you out. I am fine with using either however.

Yeah, d30 would still be alive and a stiff wind could take them out. Since it was a trial combat and we were talking non-lethal, only going to d20 was fine.


Herzog wrote:Obviously, like PMIller said, we are going to have to address Monk type characters and dexterity builds.
Maybe we need to address it, maybe we don’t. We are talking characters with better Agility. If they also have high Melee Combat Skills, that could help. I have not looked at Swashbucklers in PF to convert, but they have parry Skills that would effectively be an Armor Replacement to help avoid incoming attacks.

I will be looking more since I have 2 Monks in another PF->The Window game.

Herzog wrote:I think combat maneuvers should be handled like super powers in a way. Like charge, bullrush, etc. Every person may know how to charge, but perhaps they do it at d30 or something unless they’ve been trained…
Charge is not a Combat Maneuver per se, like Bull Rush. But even in PF they are considered as something doable untrained. Default would be d20, I think. Having the Superpower d20!, unlocks the maneuver to use with an already existing Combat Skill. Though, we might have to say Ranged Disarm and Disarm are two different Superpowers.

Herzog wrote: Called shots: Not sure about you guys, but I’m writing the description of the result after I’ve rolled the die…so I am not sure called shots are something we can apply…perhaps called shots could be something like Aiming, were you spend a round focusing in order to raise your attack by a rung or something. Tho that works more with ranged than melee….
Yeah, I write after knowing the results too. I only brought it up because of the example in The Window’s section on combat. We can probably can ignore that issue.
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Re: AAR: The Black Company

Postby Herzog » Mon Nov 02, 2015 4:41 am

Others have any more input?
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