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Playing without the "Stunning" rule


Lucius
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Bob Dylan to the contrary, maybe it's just not true that "Everybody must get stunned!"

 

I know at least one person around here doesn't use the stunning rule, and I wondered if there were others.

 

 

I'd like to know what effects that has on the game play.

 

 

Lucius Alexander

 

Enquiring palindromedaries want to know

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It smoothed over game play for my group. In one combat, each of the characters would get Stunned locked as soon as they got out of the last one. It simply came up too often to be worth the dramatic effect, so we ditched it. Let me add the caveat that we were playing online and combats could be really slow and frustrating to get through in some cases. We adapted our play style and campaign rules to reflect the medium we played in. Losing Stunned did nothing to detract from the game as near as I could tell. If any of those old players are around to comment, they might have a differing opinion.

 

I've often considered changing the threshold for the Stunned effect to 1.5 or 2x CON to trigger it. I am guessing that 1.25 or 1.5x CON would be around the magic number so that it can still happen but not very often. Another option I looked at is NPCs at regular rules (Stun==CON) and PCs at a higher threshold (Stun==CON x1.5). I have not tested either alternative out so I could not tell you the net effect.

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We use it; it has been in the rules since 1E, so it's kind of a staple of the combat system. I think it would be perfectly acceptable, and not break anything, if you choose not to use the rule. Nolgrath's situation seems like a great example of if/when to make changes to the system, such as not using Stunning.

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I think it's an important part of the combat options especially when building a character with a high RECovery.  Characters (Player or NPC) can be designed where Stunning them is the more attainable option vs. Knocking them out.  This is where the Teamwork skill is encouraged as it allows multiple characters to coordinate their attacks so that any Stun past defenses is added together for purposes of determining if the target is Stunned.

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I like it, but I could see using some rules options instead of it. The Wounding option (6E2 108) would come to mind, where instead of being in Mortal Kombat "Finish Him" mode, you're just psychologically reluctant for a moment -- also triggered by BODY instead of STUN.

 

You can also ditch the free recovery. This means that temporary vulnerable states are the player's choice, especially if there's no STUN inflation.

 

So to cut a long story short, I could picture alternate scenarios but I do like the "temporary setback" mechanism instead of the "shop til you drop" approach of D&D-esque hitpoints, or most death spirals. Combined with aborting actions and different speeds ('though I'm not as sure about the latter), this brings a unique rhythm to combat scenes.

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There are a number of small parts of the system you can remove if it helps smooth over combat that won't have too great an impact on everything. Possibly some character design considerations, but that's it.

 

It's like many games I've been in that decide to play without Endurance Tracking (typically Convention Games); removing Stunning greatly smoothed out Nolgroth's online games, which were all Heroic - where I think it's easier to remove some of these elements. Losing a phase when you only have 3-4 a Turn can be a bigger deal than losing one when you have 5-7 a Turn.

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It is an important part of the overall feel of the game as opposed to others. Games like D&D (especially 2E and before), you simply had protagonists and antagonists taking turns hitting each other. Heroes/Champions has different characters attacking different number of times per "round" (in this case turn), and their ability to do so hampered by stuns and having to take aborts.

 

That said, if you remove it for both the heroes and their opponents, it likely won't unbalance the game, nor effect builds too much other than disincentivizing high Cons (which is used for pretty much nothing else unless a power has "requires a con roll" attached) and Teamwork skill.  Removing END as Ghost Angel puts forth is probably more disruptive and as mentioned, is done all the time.

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or have them up their Con and/or  Def

I generally plan on either my character is not going to get hit much or can take an average 12DC hit (need to do 45 stun to daze)

 

Or I could choose to remove an element that was getting in the way of everybody having fun. Simpler and does not involve a low-point character having to spend a large chunk of points change or luck their way into some good armor.

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One option would be for characters to be able to make a Ego or Constitution roll to break out of it, modified by circumstances.  So you can be stunned but shake yourself free of it if you need to.  I'd assign a penalty for just "because I don't like being stunned" but give a bonus for "if I don't break out she'll die"

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i really like the Stun rule and have incorporated versions of it even into other game we have played. I makes a lot of sense and is consistent with what we see in fiction and some of what we see in real life.

 

That having been said, i would be interested in finding out how your play-test goes. I would think you would find players abandoning normal attacks for killing attacks again like they did in previous editions and you would loose the coordinated attacks as the main benefit of those was to stun you big boss, so everyone could haymaker him.

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Normal Attacks, especially in 6E, would still be the best attack to reduce a target to 0 Stun quickly, so I don't see why that would be abandoned because you couldn't Stun a target.

 

Coordinated attacks even more so for knocking a target out as fast as possible.

 

I suppose if the primary reason you're using a Normal or Coordinated Attack was to Stun you'd look for another option, but if the purpose is to Knock Out a target, then that wouldn't change at all with the removal of the Stunning mechanic.

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  • 10 months later...

So to cut a long story short, I could picture alternate scenarios but I do like the "temporary setback" mechanism instead of the "shop til you drop" approach of D&D-esque hitpoints, or most death spirals. Combined with aborting actions and different speeds ('though I'm not as sure about the latter), this brings a unique rhythm to combat scenes.

I like what you're saying here - Stunning makes damage and wounds "mean something" unlike "I still got hit points, so I'm still 100% effective" while also avoiding the death spiral scenario of "I took damage, now I'm less effective and will inevitably take more damage and get less effective and so on until I'm dead."

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary says if we got rid of stunning, we could get rid of CON entirely without too much trouble...

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Over the years, I've run many heroic campaigns without the stun rule. Works fine for me. I like STUN because it gives us a non-lethal damage track. That's very appropriate for heroic, cinematic campaigns. I don't find the stun rule necessary or even helpful in that case.

 

I do use the stun rule for superheroic campaigns and for grittier heroic campaigns, though.

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I have never thought about getting rid of the Stunned rule before. I imagine it would work best for lower tier games and ones that are more deadly. In those situations, the chance of getting stunned goes up quite a bit more and thus the time the Players spend twiddling their thumbs grows. And while that isn't always bad, if it is something wherein one team member can reliably expect to be stunned at least once per turn (on just 3 or 4 speed), then it can get to be no fun quick. That said, Stunning a foe is certainly a good way to end fights more quickly. So it is a balancing act that needs to be maintained. The idea of raising the baseline condition for Stunned to 1.25 or 1.5 of CON seems like a good halfway point for solving any slowdown issues one might be having. And of course if you aren't having issues, don't try to fix it.

 

Foreign Orchid.

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That would involve a more extensive overhaul of the system.

I didn't meant getting rid of STUN damage, just saying that one could let CON handle both getting stunned and getting knocked out, i.e. not keeping a damage tally.

Not that it would make sense in a game where you still track BODY and END.

 

But actually I wish we had more uses for CON, e.g. resistance rolls.

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That gives me an idea. Rather than tracking Stun strictly, why not do away with the stun stat. To KO someone you must bring them to zero con. To achieve con damage, you must deal normal stun damage. After applying defenses, any remaining stun does Con damage at a rate of one per 10 points past. It cam either go by the Speed rounding or standard rounding rules. So a character with a 15 con would need to be hit with 15 hits that pass defense or one hit that did 150 stun past defense. Possibly bring that down to a 1:5 rule.

 

Anyway, that isn't a well thought idea just an off the cuff idea.

 

Foreign Orchid.

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Interesting, but you lose a LOT of granularity that way which amps up the randomness of damage. It makes KOing people very streak prone. Having a lot of stun and attacks that do stun do a lot of dice of damage tends to flaten out stun damage to a nice average. I would rather give up the Con stat. Stunning could then be just halving someone's stun total in a single shot. Other than the stun mechanic and being used as a target for Drains (ie Poisons and diseases) Con is pretty useless now.

 

 

That gives me an idea. Rather than tracking Stun strictly, why not do away with the stun stat. To KO someone you must bring them to zero con. To achieve con damage, you must deal normal stun damage. After applying defenses, any remaining stun does Con damage at a rate of one per 10 points past. It cam either go by the Speed rounding or standard rounding rules. So a character with a 15 con would need to be hit with 15 hits that pass defense or one hit that did 150 stun past defense. Possibly bring that down to a 1:5 rule.

Anyway, that isn't a well thought idea just an off the cuff idea.

Foreign Orchid.

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