The first question “What do we want out of a Gloranthan combat system?”.
Interesting question to which I have the following answers.
- I want it to reflect classic warfare of antiquity where that suits game play
- I don’t want it to be laborious
- I want to encourage tactical thinking
- I want it to encourage player co operation
- I want magic to be a game changer
- I don’t want player knowledge of a rule system to be the deciding factor
- I don’t want spend the evening in books looking up rules
- I want skills and character to be a greater influence than weapons and armour
- I don’t want to slaughter players out of hand on unlucky dice rolls
- I want to have an element or risk and scare players
- I want it to be fun
Ok what does this mean, let’s look at these desires in detail and hopefully we won’t find to many contradictory.
“I want it to reflect classic warfare of antiquity where that suits game play.”
This means I want style of warfare that I can recognise from this period, and for it to play in out reasonably similar way to real world ancient combat.
The shieldwall , direct frontal assault from two sets of evenly matches and armoured characters should end up in stalemate, and attritional battle that usual ends when one side outflanks the other or breaks their wall, and only then the killing begins.
Skirmishing, I want lots of running round throwing stuff, but being wary to go hand to hand. I want light troops being scared to engage heavy troops directly, but being effective when they flank engaged troops, I want greater numbers to make a difference. I want both sides able and willing to run off when out matched.
Cavalry, I want cavalry to be rare but devastating, formation breakers, kings of the open field, but limited against heavy infantry in formation.
I want it to be vicious, personal and dirty. No heroic knightly elegantly killing without blood or screams. But close personal raw violence in which lives the victor and conquered changed by the event and where they are wary of going back for more.
“I don’t want it to be laborious”
The rule system should be as simple as possible. A clear mechanic which can be weighted when necessary but doesn’t over burdened by new mechanics spells, abilities and effects.
Also I am thinking in the WOD: Glorantha system cutting out all multi attack spells and abilities, but allowing split actions due to skill.
“I want to encourage tactical thinking”
I don’t want a system where direct fighting, following the rule mechanic and having the stats brings the best and clearest resolution.
I want characters to seek asymmetrical warfare, ambush, outflanking, applying their strengths to their enemies weaknesses, understand how their characters fight and maximising advantage.
“I want it to encourage player co operation”
Role-playing is a communal activity, I want a combat system which rewards player cooperation and penalises independent thinking. Players who fight independently will be less effective than players who fight as team. This reflects real world combat and I love the system to catch a sense of that.
So i’m wanting to allow players to parry for one another if close enough and gain advantages when double teaming targets
“I want magic to be game changer”
I want magic to be one of the things that breaks a deadlock, gives the killer advantage, breaks an opponent’s moral. I want Orlanthi flying over a shield wall to engage from behind to be significant, the fear of a shade to swing a battle for a few rounds, the proper use of counter magic to create a great defensive position.
RQ doesn’t have mass effect combat spells such as fireball so the nature of combat doesn’t change drastically. I just to make sure magic can and should used to bring tactical advantage.
“I don’t want player knowledge of a rule system to be the deciding factor.”
I want a rule system that rewards character thought in the game world, but not player knowledge of how to game the system. So a clear system that is flexible an cuts out on additional rules,( goodbye combat manoeuvres).
” I don’t want spend the evening in books looking up rules”
So simplicity and the ability to make stuff up on the fly, based on a familiar mechanic.
“I want skills and character to be a greater influence than weapons and armour”
I want character and magic to have a much bigger effect on the outcomes than armour and weapons, so the balance of the system needs to reward dice pools and effects, than what armour and weapons a character has.
It would be good if the effects of armour and weapons would be cancelled each other out in the system most of the time.
“I don’t want to slaughter players out of hand on unlucky dice rolls”
I don’t want a combat system that enforce the death of characters for no other reason than bad rolls, obviously combat is a risk, but defeat should not equal death in all or even most circumstances.
Retreat should be an option and the rules should not make it fatal.
Surrender should be often taken, and incapacitation should not be death in many situations.
Death will happen but I would prefer it to be either earned or meaningful. In short I don’t want to be George Martin.
“I want to have an element or risk and scare players”
No combat should be a sure thing and if a players chooses it he chooses possible negative consequences, but that doesn’t mean character death.
I also want a system that means can experience some of their characters fears.
“I want it to be fun”
A rules system that can cut the boring stuff and react with flexibility to focus on the eyjoyable elements of combat.
Yes so none of that is contradictory at all.
Ok next comes the write up for WOD:Glorantha combat system