Sunday, June 19, 2011

[WRG]Some Notes on Combat

The first thing I'm going to look at, in this effort to make an RPG out of a set of miniatures rules, is the combat resolution method. In WRG, when two generals or champions fight, the method is in two rounds: first, an exchange of missiles (in circumstances where that is appropriate), then, if neither is wounded or killed, an exchange of hand to hand attacks. The result is determined by the number of “casualties” inflicted using the regular unit vs. unit combat table.

The general method by which the combat table is used is to determine a “factor”, which starts at a base determined by the type of weapon used and the type of armor protection of the target. For instance, when shooting bows at targets rated as “HI” (for “Heavy Infantry”, which is defined as “Men in less complete [than EHI, or “Extra Heavy Infantry”] metal armour or in horn armour”, or, basically, what D&D would class as chainmail), the basic factor is 1. This factor is then modified by circumstances, such as “target shieldless” or “shooters disordered”, and a “random factor”. This latter is determined by rolling an averaging die (a six-sided die marked 2,3,3,4,4,5) and counting minus, then another die and counting plus. The other die is determined by whether the shooter is classed as “regular” (uses another averaging die) or “irregular” (uses a regular six-sided die). For missile fire, this random factor is counted as -1 if the minus die scores higher, +1 if the plus die scores higher, and zero if they are equal (this changes for troops without combat training, who are defined as 'D' class troops, but we'll skip that for the moment). For hand to hand combat, though, the minus die is subtracted from the plus die to give a factor ranging from -4 to +4 if irregular, or -3 to +3 if regular (the random factor is limited by the training class of the troops, so that a General, for instance, cannot have a random factor below 0).

This final factor is then compared to the combat table to give a number of casualties. This figure is determined by the number of attackers, counting each figure as 20 men, or counting each “model” (elephants, for instance, or chariots) as 5 of whatever is depicted. Since in single combat there is only one figure or model, we look to the result in the column depicting one figure. This can range from 0 casualties to 13, depending on the final factor total. In single combat, the total generated by each participant is compared to the other, with equal results indicating no effect, the higher result wounding the opposing figure, and twice as many casualties as the opponent indicating a kill. Another aspect of the system we will have to consider is the “risk to the general”, which indicates what happens to a general who is part of a body of troops when they take casualties, but I will leave that aside for now.

That all sounds pretty complex, but in practice it is very simple. We have, however, run into some problems for our purposes. First, if one figure does not fire missiles, but the other does, this method of resolution ensures that the non-firing figure will nearly automatically be killed. Second, while this system works very well for the single combat of two members of opposing armies, it reduces the whole thing to a simple die roll, or at best two. This may be unsatisfying for players in a game where the only figure they have is the one representing their character. We'll come back to this in a bit.

Now, we need to determine what factors exist in the game to differentiate one figure from another. There are several. First is the type, mentioned above, of “regular” or “irregular”. These are defined in the rules as follows: “Regular troops are enlisted into units commanded by officers. They are usually, but not always, paid and uniformed. They are taught drill as well as weapon handling, and can obey orders such as 'Double your ranks!' and 'Left incline!'”; “Irregular troops are combined into units usually consisting of relatives or neighbours and usually commanded by a local chieftain or feudal superior. Their training has been largely confined to weapon handling and keeping roughly in line, and they can only obey orders such as 'You lot go over there and do so-and-so!' They are not necessarily inferior in fighting power to regulars, but are usually less manoeuvrable, and always less consistent in behaviour.” This seems like an excellent starting point for differentiating different characters, so that each player will pick a category for his figure. We might call them “Disciplined” and “Enthusiastic”, in keeping with the individual scale of the game.

Next, we have the class of the figures, which is defined as 'A', 'B', 'C', or 'D'. Basically, 'A' class troops are elites, while 'D' class troops are untrained or barely so (civilians, for instance, are classed as 'D' in those lists where defense of refugees was a notable part of the history of the army described in the list, or where civilian engineers and laborers had a notable part to play in one battle or another). This is related to the idea of character power, but one thing that comes out is that there is little indication of the class changing over time. Instead, it refers to basic fighting ability. We may depict this by reference to something like character class, but we'll have to wait and see on that.

Finally, from the point of view of combat, the last differentiation we can find is in the Fantasy Adaptions section, where we find an entry for “Heroic attributes for general or unit commander” listed. This is where we should count experience and whatever equivalent to character level we end up using. The basic entry indicates that a figure with heroic attributes fights as if it were 3 figures, and adds a bonus to the morale reactions of units it influences as commander or general. We can assume that the number of figures and morale bonus should be related to the experience level of the figure, so that a starting figure fights as one figure with no morale bonus, a “second level” (or whatever) figure will fight as two and gain a +1 bonus to unit morale when leading, and so on.

(We have other ways to differentiate figures from each other, but we'll discuss religious attributes, magical powers, engineering abilities, and so on later. In addition, we need to figure out an equivalent to the alignment system, but I personally am not fond of D&D's alignment system, so perhaps another method will suggest itself. I will probably cheat and look at what others have done since D&D, or have suggested as alterations to the D&D system.)

That's a lot to consider. Right now, it looks like we're going to have a system in which the player will pick type (Disciplined or Enthusiastic), fighting class (perhaps this will influence other choices, or perhaps it will be based on a type of character class, but we'll have to see about that), and then gets an ability to fight based on a character level mechanism or some such thing.

One other matter to consider is the difference between “figures” and “models”. Since a dragon, for instance, counts as five actual dragons to a model, while a warrior counts as twenty to a figure, the fighting ability of a single dragon starts out as four times greater than that of a warrior, further modified by the type of weapon and defensive capability of each. So, if a dragon's attack is counted as “Elephant or chariot horse” attacking an “HI” figure (base factor of 2), then the “HI” figure counts as “Other infantry weapons” attacking an “Elephant” model (base factor of 1), each inflicts one casualty as a base. However, the dragon does so as a unit of five dragons, while the “HI” figure does so as a unit of twenty warriors. That's a 20% vs. 5% ratio. That is not so important in a game of armies, but is critically important to us in our game of individuals. Perhaps we should count models as fighting on the “4” column of the casualty table, so that our dragon attacking with a factor of 2 gets 5 casualties. More specifically, we'll end up treating large creatures as several figures, varying the number based on the creature.

Decisions, decisions.

Another thing to consider is a method to get similar results to the table without using the table. We could call this our "Alternate combat system".

Anyway, the result gained through this is defined as "wounded" or "killed". We'll need to figure out what that means to our individual characters. While a wounded general is shuffled off the battlefield or captured by the enemy, our individual warriors can choose to keep fighting, but with some sort of penalty. We don't need no steenkin' hit points, but we do need to know what a wound does to the character. We might also include a vital statistic that indicates how resilient the character is to being wounded, which we might call "Endurance" or "Size" or "Physique" or some such thing. Similarly, we might have another vital statistic (or the same one) which increases the penalty of a wound inflicted, which we might call "Strength" or "Physique". I like "Physique", and may have to use it. We'll find other vital statistics for other aspects of the game. Maybe the fighting class we discussed above will be a rolled vital statistic instead. Many things to consider.

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