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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Non-Combat Actions in Combat

Charles Taylor had some objections to my post on turns and rounds, where I suggested we shouldn’t define rounds at all, but leave them fluid.
Why define the length of a melee round at all?
So that you know what can be done in one round.
I’ll take this as a practical request: How do we handle the two situations he describes, if the round is undefined?

Situation # 1:

Can I run and hit the switch on the tower that’s 100 metres away? Piece of cake in a 1 minute round, a brisk walk will do it. Simply impossible in a six-second round.
A little odd, because it doesn’t have anything to do with combat, so how you define a round is irrelevant. All we care about is how far we could walk or run before some event (tower explodes, maybe?) and how fare we actually need to travel to avoid that event. Then, compare the two distances, Potential vs. Actual:
  • Potential is Greater: Success!
  • Actual is Greater: Failure!
  • About the Same: Roll, 50/50 chance.
You can use real-world guesstimates to figure out Potential distance, as long as you remember to adjust for conditions. Maybe knock off a fifth of potential distance for twisty paths, halve the distance for jumping over barrels thrown by a gorrilla, and halve again if also dodging bombs thrown by turtles.

(Bombs thrown by turtles is in theory a combat situation, but really we just need to know where the bombs are targeted, such as “every ten yards/meters”, and roll for ranged attacks when the runner reaches that point.)

SItuation #2:

Can I rifle through the trash and find the macguffin before the troll kills my friends? Quite possibly with a one-minute round, ridiculous with a six second round.
A more relevant situation, since presumably the troll and your friends are trading blows. But again, it depends on how you assess the time needed to find the macguffin. How much trash are we talking? And how obvious is the macguffin when you see it? Typically, GMs rule that a ten by ten-foot area takes one turn (ten minutes) to search, but in that case, your friends are either going to be dead, or will kill the troll. The length of a round is irrelevant.

So, presumably, we’re talking about an easier situation. A small pile of stuff that could fit in a backpack, maybe. You might have to search for more than the six seconds Charles thinks is “ridiculous”… or you might luck out and the macguffin is right on top. There’s no precise real-world times for this, so don’t bother: roll to see if you finish first.

For a quick search in the middle of a combat, roll 1d6. On 5+, you finish quickly and can still act in the same round. Otherwise, the number rolled is the number of rounds needed to find the macguffin.

What about combining Situation #1 and Situation #2? Reach a tower 100 meters away and pull a switch before a troll kills your allies? I’ll admit, trying to run that as written might require defining the length of a round, so that you could figure out how far you could travel… but why would you set up a situation that way? It definitely seems like a set-up, something the GM imposes on the players as part of some storyline, as opposed to something that arises organically from player decisions.

But I may address that kind of situation, and ways around it, later.
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1 comment:

  1. This reminds me of the way Dungeon World handles timing. If you needed to run 100m away and pull a switch, what's important isn't how fast you can run, but whether you can do it before a troll pulps your friends, so you'd roll Defy Danger plus your Dexterity to see if you could do it. The GM is well within their rights to say "no, the troll is too close, you can't do that," and that's really the end of that.

    It's got some fun ideas written into it. I very much enjoyed my time with the system.