Jump to content
Tywyll

Speeding Up Combat

Recommended Posts

First, I definitely agree with Bolo on having maneuvers (especially the most commonly used ones) on the character sheet.

 

Goons/mooks do not need a lot of options.  More  important enemies can have more - there won't be three of them making decisions for each PC making a decision.

 

Combat can be sped up a bit by using multiple colours of dice.  Roll one colour for damage and a second for hit location, and both can be rolled in one roll.  Add in a third colour and you can roll to hit at the same time, but I find most prefer separating to-hit from damage.

 

Flipping this around, "faster" for its own sake is not the goal.  We could start the session with each player rolling an Adventuring Skill roll.  A good roll means they found the adventuring hook, located and defeated the bad guys and found the treasure, with some wounds and lost resources along the way.  A bad roll means things went poorly.  An 18 is a total party kill.  Very fast, but not very fun.

 

Describe the results.  Not "8 to hit with a defensive strike; 7 BOD to location 5 - 35 stun!", but:

 

"The swashbuckler crouches defensively to reduce his target area, and slashes out with his rapier.  What was meant as a light, defense-testing blow surprises his brutish Orc opponent, thrusting into his face for 7 BOD and 35 STUN."

 

No faster, but more interesting/fun will feel faster.

 

Some of the slowness may just be learning the ropes of the new system, of course.  That will come with time.

 

Another character build issue - how is the Damage to Defense Ratio?  If the characters are using 6 DC attacks, and have defenses of 18, 8 resistant, BOD will rarely be done (average KA is 7) and a typical attack will manage 3 STUN past defenses.  Combat will take forever.  Move the dial to 9 DCs and defenses of 12, 6 resistant, and combat will be much more swift - and considerably more brutal - with a typical KA passing 4 or 5 BOD and 18-21 STUN past defenses.  I'd consider somewhere between the two to be the sweet spot.

 

Let's say the PCs are running very defensive characters with 6 DC attacks and defenses of 18, 8 resistant, BOD.  Give the enemies 9 DC attacks and 8/4 defenses.  Now the opponents are passing 3 BOD and 12-15 STUN past PC defenses, and PCs are getting 3 BOD and 13 STUN past defenses.  They're still very comparable in damage, but combat will end much faster.

 

In-game, watch what commonly gets looked up in the rules.  Have those rules handy - e.g. the maneuvers and hit location chart on the character sheets (or the latter on index cards or other small, easy to see summaries).

 

Identify the specific slowdowns and you can find more targeted workarounds.  I recall one player who built a grid so he knew what DCV any roll would hit using a range of OCV values.  I would just adjust my OCV by the difference of the roll from 11.  A 15 means you can hit a DCV 4 lower than your OCV, and a 9 means you can hit your OCV + 2.  That works for me because I have a head for numbers, but he didn't and the grid worked for him.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you use standard character sheets or custom ones.  It is quite easy to set up custom ones that work for you. The big saving here is that you can describe a strike for Mr Muscle as OCV 6 DCV 6 Dam - 8D6N and for Mr Agile as OCV 7 DCV 8 Dam 6D6N.  This means that each player looking at the manoeuvre on their character sheet get their base chance with OCV and DCV built in - your skill levels still have to be assigned.  It saves some time.

 

You describe hit locations as a waste of time, so do not use them in normal combat.  You lose some detail but if it is detail that is not adding to game enjoyment, then you will not miss it.  You can leave the potential for targetting those areas - for when only a headshot will do or when you want to stop someone running away but do not want to kill them.

 

Doc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

 

Yeah, but you need like PRE+40 to get someone to surrender...that's hard to pull off.

 

First off, it caps at PRE +30.

 

But why does it have to be the top of the chart?  PRE + 20 is awed - losing a full phase and dropping to half DCV gives the PCs a huge advantage.  And he "will possibly do as the attacker commands".  How committed is he to the battle?  A monster trapped in its lair with no way out will probably keep fighting.  A group of bandits looking for an easy score?  Not so much.  Even PRE + 10 (may obey orders that seem worthwhile to him - like living to fight another day) may do the trick for this less committed opponent.

 

Now, let's assume our combat-hardened veteran, Arnie, has a 15 PRE, so 3d6.  The orcs have a 13.  The Orcs rush into battle.

 

Arnie lashes out with his Greatsword, gets 8 BOD and a Stomach Hit (x4 STUN).  24 STUN get past its defenses, and it takes 4 x 1.5 = 6 BOD.  The Stunned Orc clutches its stomach and moans.

 

Arnie brandishes that Greatsword and calls out "Who will be next to spill his life on my blade?"

 

OK, 3d6 base, -1d6 for being in combat, Arnie has way better weapons and armor (+1d6 for superior technology/power), +2d6 for an extremely violent action (due to the good hit - the orcs just watched one of their own cowed by a single hit), +1d6 for a good soliloquy (and I think I'm stingy here, if anything).  That gets us to 6d6, average roll 21.  A bit above average and we get +10.  The Orcs only get a half phase action on their next move (move OR attack).  If they were just looking for an easy target, but they may "strategically withdraw".  They won't break and run,  but they may well decide this target is not worth the risk.

 

That was a pretty plain vanilla PRE attack - Arnie has a half decent PRE, no reputation, no social skill attempt to enhance his dice and no great circumstances other than a hit that's a bit above average.  What happens if he uses his next phase to take a Called Shot to the Orc's head?  -4 OCV (the Orc is stunned, so the penalty is halved, as is the Orc's DCV), and that 7 BOD does another 8, plus 35 STUN and the Orc drops.  "Well - which of you will be next?"

 

OK, Still -1d6 for "in combat" and another -1d6 for repeated use, but the orcs were already looking to strategic retreat (partial retreat; +2d6) and an extra 1d6 for that first Orc dropping before he even took a swing seems reasonable (over and above the other modifiers), so now we have 8d6, or 28 average.  That's another +10 result, +20 with a fairly good roll.  To me, the Orcs need a real reason to keep up this fight, or they're out of here.

 

If they are more afraid of their evil wizard master, that may provide a bonus against PRE attacks, or at least make their decision to retreat less likely (higher rolls needed), but if this was an opportunistic attack by a roving band of Orcs, I'd think they are off to seek easier prey. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/26/2019 at 11:53 PM, Tywyll said:

Other than the 1 hit or 2 hit minion rule from 4e FH, are there any good ideas on how to speed up combat? I mean beyond system mastery and electronic tools.

 

Limit Speed. It's broken.

 

Make everybody the same Speed or within 1 pip. For me, everybody at 3 SPD is enough for your generic heroic campaign. You may allow the odd exception. The Big Cats have SPD 4 - are your reflexes that good?

 

In Superheroic campaigns there have been enough builds and advice of late that means your Speedster doesn't have to have a higher SPD than your brick, just more movement and a higher DCV. 

 

Mooks don't block or dodge.

 

Don't allow big defences in the game that thwart attacks. If your average Supers attack is 8-10 dice then 30PD means fights will last forever - a complaint often lodged against the system. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Tywyll said:

These are all really good advice. 

 

However, it's not things like VPPS or complicated builds that are slowing us down. I built all the characters for the players, based on their original TFT characters, so they don't really have any weird abilities. We are playing FH. So characters are mostly skills and martial arts (only one caster). But with that we have hit locations and all that nonsense that slows things down. I want villains to be able to use MA on occasion, but that slows me down (I realize I could have prepared better for that). 

 

Ah, then that's easy.

 

First, make sure your PCs have their total bonuses calculated and easy to see on the character sheet.  Let's say Bob the Fighter has a base OCV of 5.  He has 1 level with longsword, and he knows 3 martial maneuvers (defensive strike, fast strike, martial block).  Just go ahead and write his Defensive Strike OCV as 7 (base 5 + 1 with longsword + 1 maneuver bonus), and his Fast Strike OCV as 8.  While the players are still learning, it's fine to tell the player what number he needs to hit.  "The orc has a DCV of 4.  You'll need a 14 or less to hit him, 15 or less if you use your fast strike."  As they figure it out, they'll get faster and you'll be able to surprise them with enemies that are unexpectedly tough.  A martial arts villain can often move around his combat levels and be much more effective with clever use of maneuvers.  Don't do that when the players are still new -- it's a cheap shot on new players and they won't know how to handle it when they're still figuring out what "OCV" means.

 

Second, learn the hit location chart yourself.  There's no need for every player to look at the chart every time they hit somebody.  Instead, they can just say "I hit location 14" and you know that's the thigh.  So you say "you got him in the thigh, that's x2 Stun.  How much Body did you roll?  7?  Okay so he takes 14 Stun, minus his Defense of 8.  He loses 6 Stun."  Just kinda narrate it as you go.  Do that for a few sessions and they'll understand much better.  Give them a copy of the hit location chart, so they can follow along, but make sure you know it (Note:  I don't know it, I had to look it up for this example.  But we don't play heroic level games or use the chart).

 

Third, if you're using partial coverage armor for your villains, have a big note on their sheet about it.  "Doesn't have armor on locations 6 -- Hands, 7-8 -- Arms, or 14-18 -- Thighs, Legs, and Feet".  That way when the players hit your mook, you'll be like "oh yeah, that's the unarmored part".  I'd write both the number and the body part description to jog your memory in the midst of combat.  That can speed things up because it increases the amount of damage the bad guys are taking through their defenses.  Also, as people start taking Body, they may want to run away.  I don't care if he's still got 8 Body left, that bandit just got stabbed in the arm.  He may not want to stick around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MrAgdesh said:

Don't allow big defences in the game that thwart attacks. If your average Supers attack is 8-10 dice then 30PD means fights will last forever - a complaint often lodged against the system.

 

That is a big one. Balance defenses against attacks and don't let them get too out of whack in either direction.

 

Regarding SPD, I agree that it can get out of hand easily. I tend to run lower-DEX, lower-SPD games when compared to the published materials. SPD is typically 1-2-3 for Normals, 2-3-4 for Heroes, and 3-4-5 for Supers. DEX is typically 11 +/- 3 for Normals, 17 +/- 3 for Heroes, and 20 +/- 3 for Supers.

 

What ranges do you use?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

 Even PRE + 10 (may obey orders that seem worthwhile to him - like living to fight another day) may do the trick for this less committed opponent.

 

Yeah you don't have to actually get them to literally surrender, just to the point they seriously reconsider their actions and decide they're better off back at the base or a nearby bar.

 

Quote

Don't allow big defences in the game that thwart attacks. If your average Supers attack is 8-10 dice then 30PD means fights will last forever - a complaint often lodged against the system.

 

As with all rules, this is variable: if you want a really stand out "damn that guy was tough" villain, then that's the way to go about it.  It will force people to come up with a different approach or slog it out over the long haul.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My most recent campaign has average defences set to mean that being hit by three average attacks would take someone out of the fight.  I have allowed players the ability to raise their defences or attacks if, by doing so, they incur defence, CV or END penalties.  I did this to try and encourage players to think about their tactics, increasing defences at the cost of being able to hit opponents, able to do more damage at the cost of being easier to hit or becoming fatigued.  It is the ability to make significant decisions that makes combat interesting, this is probably more for knowledgeable players but it is the kind of thing that experienced gamers pick up reasonably quickly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my game mooks never have a PRE higher than 13.  When my players build their characters they are encouraged to buy up PRE and consider getting Oratory (when appropriate) or striking appearance.

 

I am currently playing (yeah I am not the GM for a while) a Draconian bodyguard (steampunk world).  He is big, strong, tough as nails and has a high PRE + Striking appearance (only usable to intimidate humans).  Once when he was being shadowed by two folks he lured them into an abandoned church, was able to sneak up on one of them and put his double barreled shotgun in his back.  Afterwards he told him "I don't want to cut you in half with my shotgun, so just give up."  He did and he convinced his partner to give up and then I got the info I needed and left them with no boots, pants or guns ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, GM Joe said:

 

That is a big one. Balance defenses against attacks and don't let them get too out of whack in either direction.

 

Regarding SPD, I agree that it can get out of hand easily. I tend to run lower-DEX, lower-SPD games when compared to the published materials. SPD is typically 1-2-3 for Normals, 2-3-4 for Heroes, and 3-4-5 for Supers. DEX is typically 11 +/- 3 for Normals, 17 +/- 3 for Heroes, and 20 +/- 3 for Supers.

 

What ranges do you use?

 

Pretty much the same ones as your good self  - across the board.

 

I'm about to grandfather some characters to 6E. Interestingly, some of the players have already talked about reducing their DEX as it isn't directly tied to CV anymore so this is a good and welcome change.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

My most recent campaign has average defences set to mean that being hit by three average attacks would take someone out of the fight.  I have allowed players the ability to raise their defences or attacks if, by doing so, they incur defence, CV or END penalties.  I did this to try and encourage players to think about their tactics, increasing defences at the cost of being able to hit opponents, able to do more damage at the cost of being easier to hit or becoming fatigued.  It is the ability to make significant decisions that makes combat interesting, this is probably more for knowledgeable players but it is the kind of thing that experienced gamers pick up reasonably quickly.

 

I did exactly the same. Playing the Heroclix game for some years actually took me back to the comics and how frequent it was for a couple of brick combatants to only land about three to four telling blows before one of them was KOed (Submariner#8). Agile dodging types, along with trained humans often got one punched if the Big Hitter landed. I came up with a set of loose rules about roughly what I was expecting from the various archetypes in things such as CV, damage soaking, SPD etc, so that they tended to play out to the source material. I'd played the game for years and realised that fights only drag on if you don't follow these kind of guidelines. That's just experience with the system though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As  general rule, I myself set a limit on "max defense" to be-- depending on the type of game I'm going for-- between 2/3 and 3/4 the max offense.  As someone else has already noted, archetype can make me swing this way or that, at least a little bit:

 

"Okay, you have a great justification for why your character should start out at nearly the cap on CV.  But given what you've said, it seems that your character isn't the type to rely on plate armor.  I'd like to see your defense down a little if you're going to rely on skillful footwork."

 

or "You understand that you can buy up your CV, right?  Oh!  You see your guy an standing fast, waiting for an opponent to charge into reach of his hammer?  Not with that PD, I don't think.  you're going to get hit a lot; buy better armor...."

 

 

That sort of thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

 I came up with a set of loose rules about roughly what I was expecting from the various archetypes in things such as CV, damage soaking, SPD etc, so that they tended to play out to the source material. I'd played the game for years and realised that fights only drag on if you don't follow these kind of guidelines.

 

Great insights, and very true.  Over time, experience teaches you what will and won't work and what goes smoothly.  Sometimes a long fight is interesting, sometimes quick surprising fights are better.  I particularly liked the trick of starting up something that felt really familiar and kind of old hat, then introducing something unusual or interesting in the middle: the ground collapses, a Hunted shows up, the fuel tank explodes, the enemy suddenly surrenders -- what is their scheme???  And so on.

 

But keeping the battles so they feel like the source material is a very important thing to maintaining a sense of the genre.  If it feels wrong, people will sense it even if they aren't sure why, and that leads to dissatisfaction and frustration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're all on the same page really.

 

One thing that I have tried to instil is that there is no shame in getting one punched. Sometimes it has happened to characters (who make amends later in the scenario) and sometimes they have done it to the villains (usually when its a supers team vs villain team and there are individual fights). One PC was even prosecuted for excessive force against a villain because he badly injured him landing a blow. These days bad guys DO press charges.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, MrAgdesh said:

We're all on the same page really.

 

One thing that I have tried to instil is that there is no shame in getting one punched. Sometimes it has happened to characters (who make amends later in the scenario) and sometimes they have done it to the villains (usually when its a supers team vs villain team and there are individual fights). One PC was even prosecuted for excessive force against a villain because he badly injured him landing a blow. These days bad guys DO press charges.

How do you solve the problem of the player being out of the combat? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I forgot one last item.  I print sheets for the villains to be thrown away or put in sheet protectors for wet erase marking.  Then when they recover or lose stun/end, I just write it on the sheet.  When a power which uses charges is out, I cross off that power.  I also sort the villains based on the trip sheet.  This only really becomes a problem if there are a lot of villains, but I seem to handle up to 6 fairly well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2019 at 12:24 PM, Doc Democracy said:

Do you use standard character sheets or custom ones.  It is quite easy to set up custom ones that work for you. The big saving here is that you can describe a strike for Mr Muscle as OCV 6 DCV 6 Dam - 8D6N and for Mr Agile as OCV 7 DCV 8 Dam 6D6N.  This means that each player looking at the manoeuvre on their character sheet get their base chance with OCV and DCV built in - your skill levels still have to be assigned.  It saves some time.

 

You describe hit locations as a waste of time, so do not use them in normal combat.  You lose some detail but if it is detail that is not adding to game enjoyment, then you will not miss it.  You can leave the potential for targetting those areas - for when only a headshot will do or when you want to stop someone running away but do not want to kill them.

 

Doc

If you leave out hit locations, how do you determine stun for ka? Do you use a flat x3 or the d6-1 (5th edition)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2019 at 2:49 PM, GM Joe said:

 

That is a big one. Balance defenses against attacks and don't let them get too out of whack in either direction.

 

Regarding SPD, I agree that it can get out of hand easily. I tend to run lower-DEX, lower-SPD games when compared to the published materials. SPD is typically 1-2-3 for Normals, 2-3-4 for Heroes, and 3-4-5 for Supers. DEX is typically 11 +/- 3 for Normals, 17 +/- 3 for Heroes, and 20 +/- 3 for Supers.

 

What ranges do you use?

Only one character has a SPD4 and the rest have SPD 3. Dex ranges from 14-20.

 

Defence wise, the players have low resistant defences but only one character took any serious hits, the rest have high DCV so its hard to hit them (which is probably good). Their damage is far higher than their defences. One player upgraded his armor last night so he now has 7 rDef (with his combat luck) and he's getting another suit built that will raise it to 8 rDef. However, when buffed by the priest he can do 4d6ka (my campaign limit). So he wouldn't take his own damage very well. He's the most extreme example. The next highest is probably 6rdef and 2 1/2d6 ka (though that character hasn't been buffed before, she could easily hit 3-3+1). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2019 at 3:38 PM, Doc Democracy said:

My most recent campaign has average defences set to mean that being hit by three average attacks would take someone out of the fight.  I have allowed players the ability to raise their defences or attacks if, by doing so, they incur defence, CV or END penalties.  I did this to try and encourage players to think about their tactics, increasing defences at the cost of being able to hit opponents, able to do more damage at the cost of being easier to hit or becoming fatigued.  It is the ability to make significant decisions that makes combat interesting, this is probably more for knowledgeable players but it is the kind of thing that experienced gamers pick up reasonably quickly.

Sounds very Mutants and Masterminds!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/29/2019 at 9:48 PM, Duke Bushido said:

As  general rule, I myself set a limit on "max defense" to be-- depending on the type of game I'm going for-- between 2/3 and 3/4 the max offense.  As someone else has already noted, archetype can make me swing this way or that, at least a little bit:

 

"Okay, you have a great justification for why your character should start out at nearly the cap on CV.  But given what you've said, it seems that your character isn't the type to rely on plate armor.  I'd like to see your defense down a little if you're going to rely on skillful footwork."

 

or "You understand that you can buy up your CV, right?  Oh!  You see your guy an standing fast, waiting for an opponent to charge into reach of his hammer?  Not with that PD, I don't think.  you're going to get hit a lot; buy better armor...."

 

 

That sort of thing.

 

I think this would work if we'd started the campaign with HERO, but since they just built characters in TFT and are used to more traditional FRPG thinking (you get the best gear you can in this world when you can), saying oh, you can't have heavier armor because it doesn't fit your concept really isn't going to fly. And I'm okay with that. I use the reduced STR rules from APG and they are terrified of suffering an encumbrance penalty so that has been self-limiting at least! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/30/2019 at 12:46 AM, MrAgdesh said:

My fights now seldom go beyond 3-4 turns so if taken out they aren’t out for long. 

The other thing is that when you KO a villain they stay KOed. 

 

Being out for 3-4 turns seems a terribly long time in HERO. One of my players got stunned and basically didn't get to do anything for 45 minutes (I know because he timed it and I barely heard the end of it). How do your players handle losing their actions for long stretches? I mean I remember Pathfinder and I wasn't a fan of getting hit with a spell that meant I didn't get to act for an hour or more while the fight dragged on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Tywyll said:

If you leave out hit locations, how do you determine stun for ka? Do you use a flat x3 or the d6-1 (5th edition)?

 

Now, I simply use a flat x3.  It is another thing that makes stuff faster...if I want drama, then I introduce GM flimflam, "they have reversed the polarity of the neutron flow and things are more uncertain, killing attacks will do d6-1 for the duration of this combat".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Tywyll said:

 

Being out for 3-4 turns seems a terribly long time in HERO. One of my players got stunned and basically didn't get to do anything for 45 minutes (I know because he timed it and I barely heard the end of it). How do your players handle losing their actions for long stretches? I mean I remember Pathfinder and I wasn't a fan of getting hit with a spell that meant I didn't get to act for an hour or more while the fight dragged on.

 

It is a problem in every game.  It is important for the GM to find ways to keep players involved, even if characters are not.  I have found that handing one of the players, whose PC is hors de combat, a villain to run for the duration of the combat keeps the player very much engaged.  I am content for those players to see the powers and skills of my villains (though I keep some of the the complications hidden) and I find that those players play that villain far more effectively than I would have.  There is obviously nothing more satisfying than driving your friend's hero through 6" of battleship plate armour...  🙂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...