34 – The Fight Over Combat Mechanics

The Mythcreant Podcast

Mike, Chris, and Oren discuss extended conflict rules in roleplaying games. They describe the differences between simulated combat systems and mini games, before they’re drawn into a debate about their weaknesses and strengths. Finally, they cover what encounter mechanics in general can add to a game, versus what risks they pose.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

PTA – Prime Time Adventures

Why Mouse Guard Is Amazing

Night’s Black Agents

Torchbearer Is Fun – With House Rules

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  1. Weylin

    Focus fire is something that is not hard to counter or discourage in my experience. To stop it if it is not something you want to is to make sure that ignoring other enemies for even couple of rounds would be a serious mistake. Then sure you can focus fire on the orc chieftain and take him out, but ignoring the orc warriors for the round or two it takes means they would be taking unanswered attacks… which could actually cost them the encounter, possibly fatally. Ignoring the drow bodyguards for the rounds of focus fire to kill the drow matron is probably going to get one of your party killed.

    In several games I have regularly had my character playing “maul the minion” to keep them off another PC or pair of PCS. I have even built a couple of M&M characters who that was really their role… they didn’t have the damage to seriously hurt the Big Bad, but they could occupy a squad of minions.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      That’s certainly a good dynamic if you can make it work. My problem with D&D type systems has always come down to math.

      Example: I have two orc opponents with 20hp. My ally and I can both do 10 damage. Doing 10 damage to both orcs does us little good, as there are no wound penalties or anything else to decrease their combat effectiveness. If we do 20 damage to one orc, then it’s out of the fight and we’ll take less damage in response.

  2. Rand al'Thor

    Just listening to this debate. What do you guys think about Mouse Guard if you just hack it and give defend a bonus against attack (such as attackers cannot attack if defended against, or bonus dice)?

  3. Rand al'Thor

    Just another thought: How about something like wound penalties to rolls in D&D, disadvantage from 5e when they are almost dead, or losing limbs but not hit points?

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      In general I support wound penalties, like what Legend of the Five Rings has. I’ve found them difficult to houserule onto a system though, on account of it being hard to get the values right. A system like D&D is balanced around the idea that a PC can keep fighting right up until the end, and it can mess things up if you start handing out penalties.

      That said, if you can make it work numerically, than all the power to you.

      • Rand al'Thor

        Pathfinder SRD had optional wound thresholds.

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