Conflict mechanics


  • Pitcrew

    What are you looking for when you decide to roll/negotiate/telenuke? Do you want a 2 hour tabletop tactical grid experience? The whole conflict decided in one roll and then you pose it out? Simply a chance to use the powers you've bought up with hard-earned XP?

    If there was a basic system that with dice in a few rounds decided the outcome in general terms, and did not have tactical mechanics, would that work for you?


  • Pitcrew

    In general, I want a couple of things out of a system:

    1. Representation of my hard work. This can be simply benefits from the hard work put into building skills through RP/XP/etc, but by preference, there should be some benefit for any good planning/preparation done ahead of the conflict.

    2. Choices. I don't want to just drop X of my dice against Y of their dice. I want to be able to flank the enemy, investigate their weaknesses and take advantage of them, get to the higher ground, attack all-out, or whatever.

    3. More than just a single die roll. Dice are really, really random. I generally like to see a couple of successive dice rolls made, none generally more important than others, but all building up on top of each other, so that probability can assert itself.



    1. I prefer round-by-round posing and combat, particularly on games with a combat code.
    2. Fuck a telenuke in it's goddamn ear. It's horrible and anticlimactic.

  • Coder

    Telenukes are the antithesis of RP. It's one reason why I hate WoD anymore because so many things can just drop 'you lose' buttons on your head and there's not a lot you can do about it.

    Hell I remember when the Baali basically had a World Reset power that fully summoned a prime true demon to the world that could do anything.

    Nexus Crawlers or anything with Reality Warp/Manip (Any ST that doesn't use this in the most horrific way possible isn't being true to how scary those things are supposed to be).

    The traditional mage Telenuke, etc.

    So I don't use them. Telenuke is not an option in the game systems I use because they don't add to roleplay. They just end it with some dice rolling.


  • Pitcrew

    I've just received the new edition of 7th Sea, and I have to say I very much enjoy the conflict resolution presented therein (although it's still a bit mushy and underexplained). It looks at the dice roll in a whole new way. In simplified terms:

    A) You determine your Approach for a scene. So, if the scene is an investigation in a haunted house, you might say "I'm going to come armed with an array of anti-ghost materials and look for ways to placate or exorcise the ghost."

    B) The GM tells you what dice pool to use for that Approach. "Okay, that sounds like Wits+Scholarship." You roll that pool (plus various bonuses you might get from Backgrounds, Advantages, or special items). Let's say, in this case, that you have 3 Wits + 3 Scholarship + the GM likes your description of showing up festooned in holy symbols and ancient books (1 bonus die) + it's the first time you've used Scholarship this session (1 bonus die), so you roll 8 d10s. You roll 2, 2, 1, 2, 10, 4, 5, 7

    C) See how many "raises" you have to spend, by putting together dice to make groups of 10. Here, we have (10) (4, 5, 1) (7, 2, 2) - so 3 raises and a 2 left over. I can "sell" that 2 back to the GM to get a Hero Point (which allows me to activate special abilities and other stuff).

    D) During the scene, spend raises to accomplish tasks, exploit opportunities, and avoid negative consequences as they come up. If you spend a raise and the action is possible, then it just happens. "I use my ancient chant to ward off the ghost long enough for Other PC to create a holy water barrier to this room," costs a raise, and it just succeeds. If the action you propose is not possible ("I interrogate the thug to find out where the shipment is" when the thug doesn't know), then you just keep your raise. If the ghost starts hurling furniture, you spend a raise to duck and dodge away. The GM can also point out Opportunities that raises can be spent on - someone could spend a Raise to identify that lonesome, spectral tune as being the key to the musical lock back at the manor house, for example.

    E) Some things raise the price of actions. The GM can spend part of their pool to apply "pressure" on the PCs that says "do this/don't do this or spend an additional raise to do what you want to do" (but PCs can apply pressure to NPCs as well), and if you want to do something out of line with your approach, or something that uses a skill you don't have, then it costs more raises. For example, avoiding the consequence of the hurled furniture above is an athletic sort of thing, not a scholarly thing, so for our PC whose approach is Wits+Scholarship, they'd have to spend 2 raises to avoid the furniture. 3 if they don't have Athletics at all. Otherwise, they can choose to hold their raises and just take the Wounds.

    I really like this way of thinking about conflict and about dice rolling - there's a flexibility and a back-and-forth to it that I find very appealing.



  • What I want most in a combat system is the freedom and flexibility to showcase my character.

    Many systems reward player skill and ingenuity, but very few of them reward a character for being a character, or even allow them to be one. By this I mean, if I OOCly know that my +4 dex knife is the most powerful weapon in my arsenal against a guy with a certain type of armour, I don't want to feel forced or even motivated to use it for that reason. I don't want a system where combat consists of a series of attacks with the goal of each to be as powerful as possible, and as a result essentially identical with really minor variations... like punch-punch-punch-punch-win.

    My ideal roleplay fight works something like this:

    A heated argument at a bar turns into a shove, which turns into someone grabbing a bottle and smashing it over the other's head. Someone swings a punch and misses because they're drunk, a bottle is hurled and someone lifts up a chair to shield themselves, the chair is then smashed to smithereens and the chair-leg becomes an improvised club. By getting smashed in the face with a chair leg, someone is sent slamming into the bar-top, and that hard surface is what injures their jaw. A dazed opponent fails to make a move (as a player choice, not a coded repercussion), someone grabs them and sends them flying through a window. The fight moves from the bar to the lawn, then the pool, and eventually someone grabs a knife.

    Things like this would never happen if the person with the knife knew from the very beginning that a knife is the best weapon for the job, or that staying stationary at the bar is advantageous as it doesn't consume a move action, or that in the pool they have to take a movement debuff. The person slammed into the bar would not choose to skip their chance to attack, even if it makes sense for them to, as they wouldn't want to sacrifice their turn and increase their chances of losing overall.

    A system that decides the outcome in general terms without tactical mechanics sounds just fine to me, if it would encourage more creativity throughout the fight by causing less pressure turn-by-turn.

    I don't really care about a chance to use the powers I've bought with my hard-earned XP if it means sacrificing the character. As @Seraphim73 mentioned, I want representation of my hard work, but for me that hard work should be things like creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship, less about things like min/maxing.

    When rolling, I want a good chance to fail, otherwise there's no point in rolling and you may as well just go by constant stat values. Suspense and uncertainty are something I enjoy in roleplaying games.



  • @Kestrel
    Your description is normally how I would expect combat to go anyway in that situation (escalation, unless you know going in that you need The Gun Of Kills Men or something or are going in for the purpose of overkill or going in with the expectation of needing use bigger weapons). A number of games I've been on that had coded systems, one of their design setups was 'you have X resource to run attacks, to use your bigger ones you must use smaller ones to build the X resource up to use them'. It led to fights of using lower-end attacks and weapons to build up, and sometimes the larger weapons ended up being unnecessary in the scheme of the fight.


  • Politics

    @Kestrel said in Conflict mechanics:

    What I want most in a combat system is the freedom and flexibility to showcase my character.

    Many systems reward player skill and ingenuity, but very few of them reward a character for being a character, or even allow them to be one. By this I mean, if I OOCly know that my +4 dex knife is the most powerful weapon in my arsenal against a guy with a certain type of armour, I don't want to feel forced or even motivated to use it for that reason. I don't want a system where combat consists of a series of attacks with the goal of each to be as powerful as possible, and as a result essentially identical with really minor variations... like punch-punch-punch-punch-win.

    My ideal roleplay fight works something like this:

    A heated argument at a bar turns into a shove, which turns into someone grabbing a bottle and smashing it over the other's head. Someone swings a punch and misses because they're drunk, a bottle is hurled and someone lifts up a chair to shield themselves, the chair is then smashed to smithereens and the chair-leg becomes an improvised club. By getting smashed in the face with a chair leg, someone is sent slamming into the bar-top, and that hard surface is what injures their jaw. A dazed opponent fails to make a move (as a player choice, not a coded repercussion), someone grabs them and sends them flying through a window. The fight moves from the bar to the lawn, then the pool, and eventually someone grabs a knife.

    Things like this would never happen if the person with the knife knew from the very beginning that a knife is the best weapon for the job, or that staying stationary at the bar is advantageous as it doesn't consume a move action, or that in the pool they have to take a movement debuff. The person slammed into the bar would not choose to skip their chance to attack, even if it makes sense for them to, as they wouldn't want to sacrifice their turn and increase their chances of losing overall.

    A system that decides the outcome in general terms without tactical mechanics sounds just fine to me, if it would encourage more creativity throughout the fight by causing less pressure turn-by-turn.

    I don't really care about a chance to use the powers I've bought with my hard-earned XP if it means sacrificing the character. As @Seraphim73 mentioned, I want representation of my hard work, but for me that hard work should be things like creativity, teamwork and good sportsmanship, less about things like min/maxing.

    When rolling, I want a good chance to fail, otherwise there's no point in rolling and you may as well just go by constant stat values. Suspense and uncertainty are something I enjoy in roleplaying games.

    Lots of people fight tactically in real life, too. And for example, your "drunk guy misses because the player wants to, not because of the system" ignores that there is a system and that when people buy stats, they buy stats to avoid/encourage certain types of situations. If I buy stats that make it unlikely that being drunk will slow me down at all in a fight, there's no reason it should.

    I get what you're saying--I really do. I love the kind of scenes you're talking about. But when a game has stats, those stats should have weight, yes?

    That said, take a look at the new Exalted (third edition) combat system. It has two different types of attack: withering and decisive. Even if you take everything else away, this difference (withering wittles away at your Initiative and decisive actually does damage despite there not being any required difference in what your character is doing or their intent) can go a long way into depicting the sort of fighting you'd like to see.



  • Another thing that works great with Exalted 3e is that it does not mechanically matter how you launch Decisive attacks in a lot of circumstances along with Withering attacks being highly narrative. My tabletop game saw somebody build up initiative through sword fighting a foe then, when they tried to flee, finish them with a thrown javelin to the back.

    The javelin did not have anything like the weapon stats of the character's magic sword but the threat of said magic sword had allowed them to take control of the fight. They were swinging it with intent to kill but presumably connecting with punches, kicks or slams of the pommel as their enemy desperately defended themselves.


  • Politics

    @Packrat said in Conflict mechanics:

    Another thing that works great with Exalted 3e is that it does not mechanically matter how you launch Decisive attacks in a lot of circumstances along with Withering attacks being highly narrative. My tabletop game saw somebody build up initiative through sword fighting a foe then, when they tried to flee, finish them with a thrown javelin to the back.

    The javelin did not have anything like the weapon stats of the character's magic sword but the threat of said magic sword had allowed them to take control of the fight. They were swinging it with intent to kill but presumably connecting with punches, kicks or slams of the pommel as their enemy desperately defended themselves.

    Yes. I am dying to play this, actually. I am considering adding this sort of thing to my homebrew system (which uses different stats, etc., and is much more streamlined; but this particular aspect of the combat system is... neat).



  • That is what I am working on for the (eternally still in progress) Space Nobles game I am still plodding through planning out, FUDGE dice mechanics with a momentum/initiative system stolen or at least heavily influenced by Exalted 3e.

    So you roll to attack, with modifiers to the roll for equipment/circumstances, net successes +1 is added to your Momentum for the fight. Narratively, you are shooting at somebody and forcing them to take cover, pressing them in a sword fight, etc. Minor injuries might take place but nothing significant.

    You can instead on your turn choose to spend Momentum points to try a more decisive attack where, depending on how many points you spend, you can disarm them on a success, or wound them, grapple them, etc. If you succeed then the Momentum is all gone, if you fail then you lose a few points but could potentially try again. Wearing armour does not inherently defend against a Decisive attack, it defends against regular attacks as you are (potentially much) harder to disadvantage because you can take more risks and ignore more threats. But if somebody has you pinned and is sticking a knife into your eye or has lined up a shot on your head or whatever then it no longer matters.


  • Politics

    @Packrat said in Conflict mechanics:

    That is what I am working on for the (eternally still in progress) Space Nobles game I am still plodding through planning out, FUDGE dice mechanics with a momentum/initiative system stolen or at least heavily influenced by Exalted 3e.

    So you roll to attack, with modifiers to the roll for equipment/circumstances, net successes +1 is added to your Momentum for the fight. Narratively, you are shooting at somebody and forcing them to take cover, pressing them in a sword fight, etc. Minor injuries might take place but nothing significant.

    You can instead on your turn choose to spend Momentum points to try a more decisive attack where, depending on how many points you spend, you can disarm them on a success, or wound them, grapple them, etc. If you succeed then the Momentum is all gone, if you fail then you lose a few points but could potentially try again. Wearing armour does not inherently defend against a Decisive attack, it defends against regular attacks as you are (potentially much) harder to disadvantage because you can take more risks and ignore more threats. But if somebody has you pinned and is sticking a knife into your eye or has lined up a shot on your head or whatever then it no longer matters.

    Yeah, I love that. I also really like that it makes each Health Level matter. Because before, you took 1B or 1L and it was a glancing blow. Now, glancing blows don't really mean anything HL-wise; if you take even a single HL of damage, someone nailed you. Perhaps not badly, but it's still a solid blow that is impactful, narratively speaking.


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