Combat and You: A Tutorial

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Combat and You: A Tutorial Empty Combat and You: A Tutorial

Post by MagicRob on Tue Jan 10, 2017 10:44 pm

Good evening folks!

I'm going to write this to generally outline how combat runs in the oWoD systems, how that interfaces with a forum pace, and what sorts of combats you can expect in this game.

There are three general types of combats in a forum:
1- Sparing. This is pretty common, and while dice might be involved, generally speaking the players can work together to narrate this sort of combat. Sparing isn't life threatening, and often times the two (or more) people involved elect to go cinematic rather than rules heavy. That is to say, they will compare dice pools OOC, elect a winner, and then try to make the posting sound as natural and fun to collaboratively work towards that predetermined conclusion.
2- Mass Combat, structured. That is to say, Staff has written a plot that is likely (or certainly) going to come to combat. Or, a player has decided well before the scene starts to engage in combat. Maybe they want to jump someone, or maybe it's just time for batman to be batman. In this case, staff will usually collect some crucial data before the scene starts, make a series of necessary roles, and then post a narrative conclusion. This might be done each round, or after the total combat scene has occurred. Generally staff works with the players before hand to arrange the most efficient ending. Often times there will be posting windows (like all actions must be submitted within an hour, or by end of day). While it can go slowly, it's fair, balanced and won't drag on as long as you think.
3- Mass Combat, unstructured. This is whenever you're having a scene that wasn't originally prepared to be combat suddenly going combat. Regardless of why this happens, this is the messiest form of combat and is generally filled with the STs playing catch-up and attempting to institute order to a scene already in motion. Harder than it sounds, I assure you.

In oWoD, combat wasn't clean. It wasn't easy. It wasn't streamlined. You're welcome. Here is the process.

1- Establish surprise round (not always necessary). Roll Stealth or supernatural ability that grants ambush.
2- Defender rolls resistance (typically Perception+Alertness, but sometimes super powers prevent ambush or make it harder). If Defender has more successes than the attack, skip to step 6.
3- If attacker has more successes, roll Attack (adding any bonus dice from the ambush itself into the to-hit). Attack is generally Dexterity + Combat Ability, difficulty varies but is generally 6 barring some sort of environmental factor.
4- Roll Damage, ambush attacks rarely allow for a defensive action. Generally Strength + weapon + maneuver+ carry over successes or the rating of the firearms + carry over successes.
5- Soak. Generally Stamina+ Armor, but there are powers that can increase this number.
6- Initiative is rolled. Wits + Dexterity + 1d10. This is not rerolled each turn. If initiative has been called, Ambushing is impossible and can't be attempted again.
7- Actions are declared in order of lowest Initiative to highest. Ties act simultaneously. This is a bit important as it allows those with high init scores to gauge the combat before committing to an action.
8- Attack rolls. See step 3.
9- Defensive Actions. If you are being attacked, and you have yet to act, you can always abort your action to something defensive if you spend a Willpower or make a successful Willpower roll. Generally this is a Dex+Dodge roll, but you can also block or parry with brawl and melee if you meet the criteria.
10- If the attacker scored more successes, you move to damage. See step 4.
11- Soak. See step 5.
12- Multiple actions (thankfully fairly rare in D:tF) always occur at the end of the 'every man' action, but will continue in initiative order if more than one combatant has them.
13- New round. Start from step 7 and repeat through 12 until combat is resolved (either through death, retreat, or fade-to-black narration).

As you can see, this is a tricky process. Often times, players will also have specific questions before wanting to declare an action (is the target in range of X power? Can I perform Y action? Do I know my opponent has Z abilities? Etc). Often times an ST will have to look up rules, or consult with one another on how one power interacts with another or what's fair or any myriad of issues that might come up in a scene (like jesus, this werewolf is mulching the PCs, how do we not kill the game?!). Given the generalized pacing of a forum game, most mass combats will have a rather generous window on when actions can be submitted, and sometimes we allow if/then statements.

For example:
Staff knows that the PCs are going into a hive of vampires to lay the smack down. There isn't negotiations, this is just gonna be straight up battle. They start the thread, set the scene, make any necessary rolls for stealth/ambush/security/etcetcetc. Once the first blood sucker shows it's ugly little face, combat is declared. Staff requests that players post in their character forums their actions and allow an if/then statement such as 'If I go first, I will stab a vampire with my sword, but if I go last, I want to go fully defensive".

I'm not going to go into all the different combat nuances here except for two things: Multiple Opponent Penalties, and Full Defensive.

Full Defensive is a combat action where you declare that your ENTIRE ACTION is defending. This includes the multiple actions part of a single combat. You give up all other actions and dodge, parry, whathaveyou at your full dice, but you lose a single die to your pool for every attack you counter.

Multiple Opponents increase the difficulty of all mundane actions by +1 per opponent past the first to a max of +4.

Needless to say, combat is messy and time consuming. Forums tend to take a scene and already slow it down. If in a tabletop, a single combat that goes 5 turns can take an entire hour to resolve, it might take a week or more in a forum game. Feel free to utilize the cinematic option (where staff makes your decisions and runs the sheets involved to the best of their abilities); this speeds things up dramatically but takes things out of the PC's hands.


“If you could be either God’s worst enemy or nothing, which would you choose?”
― Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

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