shapeshade
 member, 105 posts
Wed 24 Jul 2019
at 21:09
IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
In some RPGs, the combat is a big percentage of the whole point of playing.

Some people like combat in RPGs, whether they're a big part of the whole point or not.

Heck-- as a player, I kinda like combat in RPGs.

BUT... combat does really slow down the game, if that's not the main thing you're here for.

I'm thinking about a PbtA variant that's really light on combat, resolving the things that usually go slowly really quickly.

The genre/setting doesn't matter much, but for an example let's do old-school fantasy:

You're exploring the dungeon, you turn a corner-- a bunch of goblins! And they attack! (How many? A lot! Maybe a dozen! Who has time to head-count every goblin?!?)

Every player says what the main thing their PC does in the combat is:
--The cleric, already out of divine magic due to an earlier encounter, attacks with the ol' trusty mace.
--The fighter defends the thief, who's still wounded from that earlier encounter.
--The mage decides that's a lot of goblins, and tries using that magic wand she found earlier.
--The thief starts shooting (aiming around the fighter) her crossbow, reloading, shooting.

Okay, so:
--The cleric has a +1 bonus to melee.
--The fighter has a +2 bonus to defend.
--The thief has a +2 bonus to crossbow.
--The mage has a +2 bonus to use magic stuff.

Average: +2.

2d6 are rolled: a 6 and a 1. Even with +2, that's 9. The party wins the combat, but some serious damage gets taken... The GM says who takes it, and how much.

"Damage" in this context may or may not be wounds, though-- maybe the magic wand gets broken... or stolen!

There. We just finished combat in the time it took to do ONE set of player and GM posts. Now the players/PCs can evaluate their losses, and try to work out what they're gonna do next...

All things that normally slow down the story could be done this way.

What if the mage noticed that the goblins were already somewhat wounded themselves? And what if she speaks Goblin? She could shout "Wait! Truce! Let's talk first!" and try to negotiate.
--Okay, she's got a +1 bonus to being persuasive...
--roll 2d6+1... 2 and 4 + 1 = 7... A non-violent compromise is agreed to, but it means the party has to give up part of their supplies (food, potions, torches)...

Oh well, at least the party can move on now...

--What if the combat roll was 10 or higher? The party wins without a scratch.

--What if the negotiation roll was 10 or higher? TMaybe the goblins would be giving the party something instead of the other way around...

--What if the negotiation roll was 6 or lower? The goblins give an ultimatum: Surrender your food, potions, and one or two of your weapons, too... or else! (The party also takes -1 forward on their next roll... (and/or -1 off their next average!) ...but everyone gets XP!)

--What if the combat roll was 6 or lower? The party loses! At least two PCs take serious wounds, and they have to run for it, and in the confusion the fighter and thief get split up from the cleric and mage, and they all take -1 forward toward their next roll... (but everyone gets XP!)

But the story moves FAST! LOTS more time for characterization, for exploring, for travelling, for plot twists... Leveling up would be faster, too... Maybe when the party totally blows a roll, everyone gets 2 new xp?

But this would work for ANY genre game. Sci-fi, horror, cyberpunk, pirates, ninjas, whatever-- solo games, too-- it'd make it easy for a solo player to run a whole party on their own...

What do y'all think? Would any of y'all have any interest in playing a game this way...?

This message was last edited by the user at 21:10, Wed 24 July.

Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 20 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 13:12
IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
One of the best parts (in my opinion) about the PbtA mechanic is that it a throw off the dice is a 'springboard' type event.  A player has some cool move that is baked into their playbook, and then they change the scene with it.  One of the most exciting things after a throw of the dice in any PbtA game is the perennial question: what happens next?

I think it could certainly work though (using a single roll to determine an encounter, I mean).  But I would be cautious of lumping an entire party into one throw of the dice.

This skews the game in a couple of ways you might not have intended.  Here are the first two off the top of my head:

Averaging.  There isn't a lot of wiggle room in PbtA (+0 is average, +1 is competent, +2 is generally good, +3 or +4 is generally awesome).  The story might devolve into something like: Oh, you have a +0?  That stinks, we both have have a +2 and Johnny has a +4 ... you may as well not be here, if it weren't for you we'd be rolling with +3 but now we're only we're rolling with a +2.

[Or worse yet ... Johnny tells the other three guys they are useless ... because without them he is at +4]

More folks doing a task should help, in other words, not drag the average down.

^^ That one is easily fixed (by not doing averaging the scores at all).  I'm sure there are other simple methods of 'teamwork' type effects that could be brought to bear.  Perhaps the guy making the roll uses his stat, and the guy that assists adds a +1?

Ignoring what makes folks different. What does a thief's 7-up look like?  How about a wizard's 10-plus?  What happens if the cleric rolls a 6-minus?  These should absolutely be flavored to the character (they are after all, shaping the story).

^^ This one, too, could be solved as well.  One PC would be 'lead' on that particular challenge, and their specific moves would dictate how the scene is flavored.

So, while I'm not saying it cannot be done, I think there might be a few kinks that needs to be worked out before a single-throw type resolution could be implemented.
shapeshade
 member, 106 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 13:40
Re: IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
Ski-Bird:
One of the best parts (in my opinion) about the PbtA mechanic is that it a throw off the dice is a 'springboard' type event.  A player has some cool move that is baked into their playbook, and then they change the scene with it.  One of the most exciting things after a throw of the dice in any PbtA game is the perennial question: what happens next?

I think it could certainly work though (using a single roll to determine an encounter, I mean).  But I would be cautious of lumping an entire party into one throw of the dice.

This skews the game in a couple of ways you might not have intended.  Here are the first two off the top of my head:

Averaging.  There isn't a lot of wiggle room in PbtA (+0 is average, +1 is competent, +2 is generally good, +3 or +4 is generally awesome).  The story might devolve into something like: Oh, you have a +0?  That stinks, we both have have a +2 and Johnny has a +4 ... you may as well not be here, if it weren't for you we'd be rolling with +3 but now we're only we're rolling with a +2.

[Or worse yet ... Johnny tells the other three guys they are useless ... because without them he is at +4]

More folks doing a task should help, in other words, not drag the average down.



Ah! I agree...


Ski-Bird:
^^ That one is easily fixed (by not doing averaging the scores at all).  I'm sure there are other simple methods of 'teamwork' type effects that could be brought to bear.  Perhaps the guy making the roll uses his stat, and the guy that assists adds a +1?



Uh... I don't get how that would work-- it just sounds pretty much like the Aid move... but how about this:

Combat! Everybody say the main thing you're doing, and roll for it.

--The cleric rolls a 6 result for Hack and Slash.
--The fighter rolls a 9 result for defend.
--The mage rolls a 11 result for magic wand use.
--The thief rolls a 13 result for crossbowing!

The cleric, therefore, affects the battle with a -1 modifier, the fighter 0, mage +1, thief +2.

The -1 and +1 cancel each other out, but the end result for the whole battle is a +2, and so the GM rolls 2d6+2 for the party to determine how the combat goes...


If their results had been 0, 0, +2, +2, the GM roll would get +4 added to it, and so on.

How's that?


Ski-Bird:
Ignoring what makes folks different. What does a thief's 7-up look like?  How about a wizard's 10-plus?  What happens if the cleric rolls a 6-minus?  These should absolutely be flavored to the character (they are after all, shaping the story).

^^ This one, too, could be solved as well.  One PC would be 'lead' on that particular challenge, and their specific moves would dictate how the scene is flavored.


I didn't see that as a problem, and still don't... because I felt like the GM would just narrate the results of the individual contributions into the story.

UNLESS... you mean that it would take too much storytelling agency away from the players. I can see that...

...But, again, I don't understand your fix exactly.

But I think I get the idea: my fix is to just let each of THEM tell the results of how each of their rolls affected the battle. I'm not even sure it would make things take any longer, and if it did, it might only be a little...


Ski-Bird:
So, while I'm not saying it cannot be done, I think there might be a few kinks that needs to be worked out before a single-throw type resolution could be implemented.


Yes, I agree, and that's why I'm here, to hear people agreeing and disagreeing with this approach, and to spot and avoid any problems before I get it into my head to try it for real...

I don't care how many dice rolls are involved-- what I care about is speed, namely wrapping up a particular encounter in just one set of responses from everyone...
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 21 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 15:09
Re: IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
shapeshade:
Ski-Bird:
Ignoring what makes folks different. What does a thief's 7-up look like?  How about a wizard's 10-plus?  What happens if the cleric rolls a 6-minus?  These should absolutely be flavored to the character (they are after all, shaping the story).


... I don't understand your fix exactly.


I guess I meant that if an encounter was reduced to a single move (adjusted of course by some method of figuring out the party's modifier) ... then what happens to the playbook moves?  Do they apply?  If so, whose?  Does each character get to add some cool tweak to the result?

Moreover, what about the other basic moves?

In this fictitious game, let's say that the generic combat move is as follows:

Combat!
Roll+Melee.  On a hit, trade wounds with the enemy.
-On a 10+, pick two ...
-On a 7-up, pick one ...
  • You do not mark a wound, but your enemy still does.
  • You create an opportunity for your allies.
  • You impress, surprise, or frighten the opposition.



Let's say we have a dwarf fighter with the move All Goblins shall meet my AXE!.  When this guy rolls a combat action ... on a 7-up, he trades wounds with the enemy as normal ... but against goblins he lands two wounds, or can assign one wound each to two separate goblins.

Now let's say that the ranger has some similarly flavored 'arrow move' on his playbook.  The thief, and the cleric, etc.  They all have some cool twist.

Which one applies?

Leaving combat alone for a moment, now let's say that at the generic Magic move is:

Magic!
Roll+Arcane, On a hit you spend one Mana and cause the effect you were after. (assign a wound, remove a source of opposition, create a source of opposition, etc)
-On a 10+, pick two ...
-On a 7-up, pick one ...
  • You regain one Mana.
  • You are not Fatigued.
  • A Wild Surge occurs.


Now let's say that our handy-dandy mage has the playbook move: Charmy McCharmerson!. When this guy rolls a Magic action, he gets to add the following to the text of the basic move, Magic!

You are a master mesmerist.  On a hit, you place the condition, Entranced, the foe.  In addition, add these results to the list of options you may select from:
  • The target will not realize that he has been charmed, even after the spell fades.
  • The target will blindly follow all orders ... even ones that may harm them.


If our fictitious party finds themselves in an encounter ... Does the party roll Magic? Does the party roll Combat?  Which basic move does the group roll apply to?

It sounds like there might not be separate basic moves at all and there would be an all-encompassing basic move perhaps called Encounter! which would resolve the action.  I think doing it this way would take away some of the flavor, though.

---

Ok, these were certainly silly examples, and I just came up with them off the top of my head.  But what I was getting at is this ...

If you take the basic moves and boil it down to a single roll and the result is a simple [Lose, Partial Success, Win], it sort of steals some of the shine from the playbooks.  When would they get to bust out the cool stuff that makes them cool?

Secondly, if you make it a single action [i.e. roll the dice and I'll tell you if you (Lose/Hard Move, Partial Success, or Win)] then when does the mage use the basic move Magic!, or when does the bard use the basic move Interact! (of course, with the obligatory playbook move, Silver-Tonged Devil)?

A single roll with a single modifier is ... meh.

In other words, the different moves, and the tweaks that the individual playbooks add to them, are a large part of the game.

Reducing/eliminating them might come with an unwanted side order of the 'not-funs.'
shapeshade
 member, 107 posts
Thu 25 Jul 2019
at 16:43
Re: IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
Ski-Bird:
shapeshade:
Ski-Bird:
Ignoring what makes folks different. What does a thief's 7-up look like?  How about a wizard's 10-plus?  What happens if the cleric rolls a 6-minus?  These should absolutely be flavored to the character (they are after all, shaping the story).


... I don't understand your fix exactly.


I guess I meant that if an encounter was reduced to a single move (adjusted of course by some method of figuring out the party's modifier) ... then what happens to the playbook moves?  Do they apply?  If so, whose?  Does each character get to add some cool tweak to the result?

Moreover, what about the other basic moves?

In this fictitious game, let's say that the generic combat move is as follows:

Combat!
Roll+Melee.  On a hit, trade wounds with the enemy.
-On a 10+, pick two ...
-On a 7-up, pick one ...
  • You do not mark a wound, but your enemy still does.
  • You create an opportunity for your allies.
  • You impress, surprise, or frighten the opposition.



Let's say we have a dwarf fighter with the move All Goblins shall meet my AXE!.  When this guy rolls a combat action ... on a 7-up, he trades wounds with the enemy as normal ... but against goblins he lands two wounds, or can assign one wound each to two separate goblins.

Now let's say that the ranger has some similarly flavored 'arrow move' on his playbook.  The thief, and the cleric, etc.  They all have some cool twist.

Which one applies?



My thought is that they would all apply, narratively, but yes, it's true that things like that would have to be factored in.

Probably mostly, in mechanics terms, I would think it would translate to more advantage to either the PC's roll, or the GM's roll for the party. (In this case, I think the dwarf's roll.) This is a simplification, and so some things are just gonna be simplified...


Ski-Bird:
Leaving combat alone for a moment, now let's say that at the generic Magic move is:

Magic!
Roll+Arcane, On a hit you spend one Mana and cause the effect you were after. (assign a wound, remove a source of opposition, create a source of opposition, etc)
-On a 10+, pick two ...
-On a 7-up, pick one ...
  • You regain one Mana.
  • You are not Fatigued.
  • A Wild Surge occurs.


Now let's say that our handy-dandy mage has the playbook move: Charmy McCharmerson!. When this guy rolls a Magic action, he gets to add the following to the text of the basic move, Magic!

You are a master mesmerist.  On a hit, you place the condition, Entranced, the foe.  In addition, add these results to the list of options you may select from:
  • The target will not realize that he has been charmed, even after the spell fades.
  • The target will blindly follow all orders ... even ones that may harm them.


If our fictitious party finds themselves in an encounter ... Does the party roll Magic? Does the party roll Combat?  Which basic move does the group roll apply to?

It sounds like there might not be separate basic moves at all and there would be an all-encompassing basic move perhaps called Encounter! which would resolve the action. I think doing it this way would take away some of the flavor, though.



I absolutely see the kind of thing you mean, but I just don't see it as a big problem. (I admit it simplifies some flavor out of existence, but not to the point it's a BIG problem.) Combat is something that the whole group does, so each party member rolls to find out how each of them affects the group roll to resolve it. Casting a spell during combat just affects how the story goes as we learn how it resolves.

Hypothetical example:
--The party enters goblin combat.
--The mage both casts a spell and has the mesmerism move.
--The mage rolls an 8.
--The party wins the combat (let's say with a group roll result of 10-- "with barely a scratch.")
--The GM says:

"You defeat the goblins without any of you getting seriously wounded.
--Cleric, tell about the moment in the battle when you were face to face with a goblin who was wielding a weird exotic weapon you've never seen used before.
--Fighter, tell about the heroic thing you did to protect the thief.
--Thief, tell about the amazing shot you pulled off that helped secure victory.
--Mage, tell about the effects of the spell you cast, and exactly who you managed to mesmerize, and what you got them to do..."


Ski-Bird:
Ok, these were certainly silly examples,



I didn't particularly think so...



Ski-Bird:
and I just came up with them off the top of my head.  But what I was getting at is this ...

If you take the basic moves and boil it down to a single roll and the result is a simple [Lose, Partial Success, Win], it sort of steals some of the shine from the playbooks.  When would they get to bust out the cool stuff that makes them cool?

Secondly, if you make it a single action [i.e. roll the dice and I'll tell you if you (Lose/Hard Move, Partial Success, or Win)] then when does the mage use the basic move Magic!, or when does the bard use the basic move Interact! (of course, with the obligatory playbook move, Silver-Tonged Devil)?



When they're not doing GROUP things. Like in my original post, that Negotiation thing was all the mage. Not everything is a group activity. (The Arcane Duelist class, if you don't hate that class, would still especially shine by calling people out and fighting 1-on-1..) The difference from normal, in that Negotiation example, was that the Negotiation only took 1 round of player/GM responses to work out and get settled. (However, although the mage was conducting the negotiation, the whole party was gonna be bound to follow the results, so everyone would have gotten xp if it just totally bombed)...



Ski-Bird:
A single roll with a single modifier is ... meh.

In other words, the different moves, and the tweaks that the individual playbooks add to them, are a large part of the game.

Reducing/eliminating them might come with an unwanted side order of the 'not-funs.'


I do grasp what you're saying... And I admit it's a risk... But:
--Any thoughts on my responses above?
--Any other suggestions on how to maybe avoid that problem...?
Ski-Bird
 subscriber, 23 posts
Fri 26 Jul 2019
at 11:17
Re: IC: PbtA combat-lite variant
As long as it's fun, quick, and no one feels like their contributions don't matter ... I'm sure it will be fine however it gets sorted out.