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Tywyll

Attacking 'from behind'

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So, in 5th Edition, Defensive Maneuver makes a big deal about attacks 'from behind'. However, other than 'surprise attacks' (which I find vague and unclear other than when the target is completely surprised) I can't find a reference to the benefit of attack from behind or to the side, basically I can't find any facing benefits or penalties.

 

Can someone point me to them please?

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Well, the advantage Indirect can be purchased so an attack comes from behind the target, whatever their facing, as can someone using Invisibility (which would both just be a surprise attack)

But you're right there's not much in the rules about facing and attacks from behind, just a few mentions of the concept.

 

5th edition FRED, page 234

 

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Unless he pays for an Adder [Position Shift], a character cannot change the direction he’s facing or move from a prone to a standing position by Teleporting. His facing and body positioning at the end of his Teleport are the same as it was when he began.

 

(this is Also found in 6th edition HSR1 pg 301)

 

Its also covered a bit under Multiple Attackers FRED pg 380:

 

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If the attackers successfully Coordinate, the defender suffers a -1 DCV for every attacker after the first, down to a minimum of ½ DCV. 

 

This is the primary way in which Defense Maneuver is useful.  (As a house rule I have always ruled that nobody has to coordinate to mob up on a target in melee combat, its only necessary when using mixed or ranged combat to coordinate to create this penalty).

 

However, in 6th edition, HSR2 page 26, its stated explicitly that

 

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Generally speaking, the HERO System doesn’t have any rules for facing (i.e., which direction a character’s looking toward).

 

But it goes on to explain:

 

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changing facing while Running, Leaping, Swimming, Swinging, or Tunneling is a Zero Phase Action in most circumstances. That means a character can’t do it after performing a Full Phase Action, but the GM can rule otherwise based on the situation, the abilities involved, common and dramatic sense, and other relevant factors. Changing facing with Flight or Teleportation depends on Turn Modes and/or the the use of the Position Shift Adder.

 

Which does suggest that facing is actually an issue, and if you use miniatures this makes sense.  As a practical matter, GMs should let logic and circumstances dictate if someone is attacked from behind, but its usually going to be a surprise attack (someone sneaks up from behind).

 

I have built abilities which simulate the ability to attack someone from behind in combat, such as a teleporting ("blinking") animal that pops behind a target or a roguish ability to sneak up behind people even in a fight (add a bit of damage, and a bunch of OCV only for that maneuver).

 

But... you bring up a good point: why does Defense Maneuver cost so much if its application is so uncommon and often indistinct in nature?  Yes 10 points isn't much... at the superheroic level, but its a fair amount at the heroic level where its almost exclusively going to be used.

 

 

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7 hours ago, Tywyll said:

So, in 5th Edition, Defensive Maneuver makes a big deal about attacks 'from behind'. However, other than 'surprise attacks' (which I find vague and unclear other than when the target is completely surprised) I can't find a reference to the benefit of attack from behind or to the side, basically I can't find any facing benefits or penalties.

 

Can someone point me to them please?

Please see the DCV MODIFIERS TABLE on p373 (as labeled on the page) of 5th Edition (Revised) aka FRED. What you're looking for is in that table as it relates to being attacked from behind (both in and out of combat).

 

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16 hours ago, Surrealone said:

Please see the DCV MODIFIERS TABLE on p373 (as labeled on the page) of 5th Edition (Revised) aka FRED. What you're looking for is in that table as it relates to being attacked from behind (both in and out of combat).

 

 

Ah, thanks for that!

 

Next question, in a hex map, what constitutes 'behind'? Only the rear hex? The 180' arc? In TFT for example, your front three hexes are considered 'front', the right and left one behind you count as your 'side' and only the single hex counts as 'rear'. 

 

Also, since Hero doesn't have any rules governing a figure being locked into place or being penalised for moving around someone in combat, what prevents other characters from circling each other every action to get that sweet 1/2 DCV?

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17 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

But... you bring up a good point: why does Defense Maneuver cost so much if its application is so uncommon and often indistinct in nature?  Yes 10 points isn't much... at the superheroic level, but its a fair amount at the heroic level where its almost exclusively going to be used.

 

 

 

Yeah, that's my problem. It's a cool ability, if it gets used enough to warrent it.

 

I'm thinking you would need coordination to work without a skill roll AND rear attackers get auto 1/2 DCV.

 

However, this also leads to needing some sort of 'threatened hex' rule, or else there is no reason not to run behind someone every time your turn comes up, which is clearly stupid. I'm allowing characters to abort to an attack (illegal, I know) against a target that moves through their surrounding hexes and the target suffers 1/2 DCV.  If they move more than 1 hex. This is someone else's rule, but I like it. 

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25 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

 

Next question, in a hex map, what constitutes 'behind'? Only the rear hex? The 180' arc? In TFT for example, your front three hexes are considered 'front', the right and left one behind you count as your 'side' and only the single hex counts as 'rear'. 

That's the GM's call. I've seen many GM's run the rear three hexes as follows: the single hex immediately to the rear of the character entails attacking from behind (with the target at 1/2 DCV) while those to the left and right rear of the target are considered flanking  attacks (with the target at -1 to -3 DCV depending  on base DCV of target, maneuver/visibility of attacker, preparedness of target, etc.).

 

 

 

32 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

Also, since Hero doesn't have any rules governing a figure being locked into place or being penalised for moving around someone in combat, what prevents other characters from circling each other every action to get that sweet 1/2 DCV?

Defense Maneuver, the purchase of powers that result in not caring if one is hit (in Hulk-like fashion, for example), positioning oneself with one's back to an ally or a wall, judicious use of cover with maneuvers like Snapshot, and the like all prevent this.  Plainly put -- point expenditures and/or good character play by discerning players are all that's required...

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21 minutes ago, Surrealone said:

 

Defense Maneuver, the purchase of powers that result in not caring if one is hit (in Hulk-like fashion, for example), positioning oneself with one's back to an ally or a wall, judicious use of cover with maneuvers like Snapshot, and the like all prevent this.  Plainly put -- point expenditures and/or good character play by discerning players are all that's required...

 

No, those prevent the repercussions of back attacks...what I'm asking is how do you stop the clearly unrealistic spinning fight effect that seems to result if just played straight. I attack you from behind, okay now I swing around behind you and attack you from behind, etc, etc. That's not how fights happen in the real world because trying to pull that off would get you killed. 

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6 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

 

No, those prevent the repercussions of back attacks...what I'm asking is how do you stop the clearly unrealistic spinning fight effect that seems to result if just played straight. I attack you from behind, okay now I swing around behind you and attack you from behind, etc, etc. That's not how fights happen in the real world because trying to pull that off would get you killed. 

 

Is it so unrealistic?  Speedsters use the tactic regularly in the comics. Normal knife fighters circle each other, too.  Those are two examples off the top of my head without putting any effort into considering it...

 

As for preventing the repercussions of back attacks being different from stopping people from using them -- if the outcome is the same (no r little advantage/effect), what difference does it actually make? For me, it doesn't make enough difference to matter -- and only amounts to differences in how the story is told (i.e. how the combat actually unfolds if one was to write it up as a set of comic book panels or as part of a chapter in a book.)

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11 minutes ago, Surrealone said:

 

Is it so unrealistic?  Speedsters use the tactic regularly in the comics. Normal knife fighters circle each other, too.  Those are two examples off the top of my head without putting any effort into considering it...

 

Superheroic speedsters is one thing. Heroic Knife fighters circling each other isn't at all what happens. At no point, unless something distracts or prevents one of the fighters from responding, do either of the two knife fighters get to stab the other guy in the back. Movement in the real world isn't static like it is in a game, they literally circle each other, moving simultaneously. If there are no rules to prevent unrealistic movement then you get people only every attacking someone's rear because that has the best mechanical advantage. 

 

11 minutes ago, Surrealone said:

 

As for preventing the repercussions of back attacks being different from stopping people from using them -- if the outcome is the same (no r little advantage/effect), what difference does it actually make? For me, it doesn't make enough difference to matter -- and only amounts to differences in how the story is told (i.e. how the combat actually unfolds if one was to write it up as a set of comic book panels or as part of a chapter in a book.)

 

Even if that were so, it would look stupid. Captain America and a Hydra Thug in armor face off. Cap runs behind the thug and punches him in the back. Thug miraculously doesn't go down, turns around, runs behind Captain America and punches HIM in the back... That would be the dumbest comic ever. 

 

The mechanical problem is that when you reduce a target's DCV by half, it frees up your combat levels to go into things other than accuracy, so you damage increases. Aimed shots become more viable as well, which could further up damage. Attacking vs half DCV is a huge advantage and isn't meant to be something you can trigger easily (it usually requires at least an attack).

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For all this study--which is both interesting and cathartic, as it's nice to know when you're not the only person with a particular issue-

 

My own solution was to rule that if you are in close quarters combat-- actually fighting or leading with an opening attack--  and the defender is aware of you, then you don't get the bonus.  The defender is assumed to turn with you enough to prevent you from getting behind him. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it's possible for a second or third opponent to flank a character who is dealing with another.   In this case-- if the defender is already aware of the attacker-- I'll allow half the bonus to the second and subsequent attacker(s) on the grounds that it is harder to duck and weave more than one person.  Oh- almost forgot: the defender is assumed to be focusing on the guy who would have gotten the largest bonus, so that will be the guy who tries to run around behind the defender in the middle of combat.  Amusingly enough, this house rule was inspired by watching a demonstration of knife fighting.  :lol:

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

For all this study--which is both interesting and cathartic, as it's nice to know when you're not the only person with a particular issue-

 

My own solution was to rule that if you are in close quarters combat-- actually fighting or leading with an opening attack--  and the defender is aware of you, then you don't get the bonus.  The defender is assumed to turn with you enough to prevent you from getting behind him. 

 

it's possible for a second or third opponent to flank a character who is dealing with another.   In this case-- if the defender is already aware of the attacker-- I'll allow half the bonus to the second and subsequent attacker(s) on the grounds that it is harder to duck and weave more than one person.  Oh- almost forgot: the defender is assumed to be focusing on the guy who would have gotten the largest bonus, so that will be the guy who tries to run around behind the defender in the middle of combat.  Amusingly enough, this house rule was inspired by watching a demonstration of knife fighting.  :lol:

 

Yeah, I'm glad I'm not alone! 

 

The problem for us is that we transferred characters over from TFT where position and placement are extremely important and it led to the PCs fighting in certain ways. I prefer, if I have to use a map, that the game system include some sort of 'lock down' mechanic (like threatened hexes) to prevent running past a target unless you use a Move by or Move Thru. So the fact that you can literally run around Dr. Destroyer/Evil Lich every phase and punch him in the back of the head really bothers me.

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

My own solution was to rule that if you are in close quarters combat-- actually fighting or leading with an opening attack--  and the defender is aware of you, then you don't get the bonus.  The defender is assumed to turn with you enough to prevent you from getting behind him. 

 

To stop the endless daisy chain of characters back-stabbing each other I had to set down a house rule for this as well.

 

You either have to approach from stealth or have a total of 3 attackers on a single target to get "behind" them.  Otherwise I assume the defender is responding in real time to avoid getting flanked.

 

It really does make for some ugly game play to have players endlessly running behind each other for a flanking bonus.

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Right you are. 

 

My. Apologies, but I was (and am again) working from a phone and tried to keep it simple to avoid endless retyping and arguing with speel heck, but I left off something I feel is critical here:

 

The above house rule assumes that the defender is _aware_ that he is in a combat situation.  If he's walking down the street and a stranger walks passed him, turns, and plants one in his back, this is most definitely a full-bonus attack from behind. 

 

I don't try to overlap "attack from behind" with "attack from surprise" because they are effectively the same damned thing: that's the whole reason you attack from behind.  It's a surprise! 

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I'm allowing characters to abort to an attack (illegal, I know) against a target that moves through their surrounding hexes and the target suffers 1/2 DCV.  If they move more than 1 hex.

 

Yeah I do the same thing.  You can't use any maneuvers or skill levels, but you can abort to attack someone running around right past you.  And like Duke, I have the same kind of turning and facing rule (I vaguely remember something like that actually being presumed in the rules, actually).

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30 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Yeah I do the same thing.  

 

 

And I am number three on that list.   It really sure why it isn't an actual rule:

 

Sorry, Tim.  I know you're aiming your musket at Johnny Three Shoes and I know Red Robby just ran right across the tip of your weapon and brushed against your shoulder on his way to stare at your spine, but you're committed.  You can't change up and butt stroke Robby on his way by... 

 

 

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I was reading the rules for Surprised in Champions Complete(CC) 147 and it does mention that a person isn't "Surprised by a foe simply stepping around behind him to attack from behind." I would think that they'd be Surprised by an attacker if they didn't notice him, meaning not perceived.

 

One more point, Sight and other Ranged senses only have 120 degrees of coverage if you are going strictly by the rules.

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Guest Usagi
On 11/14/2019 at 1:16 AM, Tywyll said:

So, in 5th Edition, Defensive Maneuver makes a big deal about attacks 'from behind'. However, other than 'surprise attacks' (which I find vague and unclear other than when the target is completely surprised) I can't find a reference to the benefit of attack from behind or to the side, basically I can't find any facing benefits or penalties.

 

Can someone point me to them please?

 

6E2 50 Surprise and Facing

"One of the most common ways for a character to be Surprised is to be attacked from behind. However, that’s not to say that all attacks from behind qualify for the Surprised bonus. As always, the GM should apply common sense and dramatic sense — remember, combat is a dynamic situation where the rules reflect many variables. For example, if an opponent a character doesn’t know about attacks him from behind, that usually means the character is Surprised (though not necessarily, as discussed above). But if the character knows about or can see an opponent, that opponent can’t get a Surprised bonus just by making a Half Move behind the character before attacking. The opponent might get the bonus if the character is distracted (for example, if he’s already fighting one foe who’s in front of him), but moving behind a character before attacking does not per se earn an attacker a Surprised bonus."

 

6E2 37 DCV Modifiers Table

Characters attacked from behind (Surprised) in combat are ½ DCV.  

 

Defense Maneuver I: No attacker is considered to be attacking “from behind.”

 

The primary purpose of Defense Maneuver is to eliminate the DCV penalty for being flanked i.e. attacked by two or more opponents who encircle and distract the character.  One attacker alone cannot do this -- as they move around to your rear flank, you'd naturally just turn to follow (remember, while the game works in discrete actions, in "reality" all actions are occurring essentially simultaneously).  Part of what makes this confusing is that Defense Maneuver assumes the use of the Multiple Attacker optional rule (6E2 49), and that rule doesn't make it clear whether multiple attackers have to Coordinate their attacks to get "behind" their target.

 

In my game, I rule the following:

  • A character facing multiple attackers is at ½ DCV versus all attackers, regardless of whether they Coordinate their attacks.
  • A character performing Defense Maneuver I is at full DCV against multiple attackers who do not Coordinate their attacks.
  • A character performing Defense Maneuver I is at -1 DCV per attacker after the first against multiple attackers who Coordinate their attacks.
  • A character performing Defense Maneuver II is at full DCV against multiple attackers who Coordinate their attacks.

In my campaign Defense Maneuver I is extremely common, it represents basic combat training, and it's exceptionally rare to find a trained warrior who lacks it.  Even most thugs (i.e. untrained warriors, often members of street gangs) know enough to keep moving in combat and not let foes get behind them.  Characters who lack this basic skill are typically characters with no idea what to do in a fight, and are extremely vulnerable to wolf pack tactics.  Using wolf pack tactics against a trained warrior is much harder, requiring coordination and offering a much less effective bonus.

 

If you want to be make mob tactics less effective, then use this ruling:

  • A character facing multiple attackers is at ½ DCV versus all attackers after the first if they Coordinate their attacks.
  • A character performing Defense Maneuver I is at -1 DCV per attacker after the first against multiple attackers who Coordinate their attacks.
  • A character performing Defense Maneuver II is at full DCV against multiple attackers who Coordinate their attacks.

You'll note this makes Defense Maneuver I slightly less valuable, since this way all characters are at full DCV against multiple attackers who do not Coordinate their attacks.

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Guest Usagi
On 11/14/2019 at 8:07 AM, Christopher R Taylor said:

But... you bring up a good point: why does Defense Maneuver cost so much if its application is so uncommon and often indistinct in nature?  Yes 10 points isn't much... at the superheroic level, but its a fair amount at the heroic level where its almost exclusively going to be used.

Defense Maneuver really doesn't cost that much.  If you rule as I do, and allow easy mob tactics against untrained warriors, then the 3 point version of Defense Maneuver is about the best three points you'll ever spend.  If you're a Fighting Man with a 6 DCV and are fighting 2 uncoordinating Goblins with 3 OCV, then that 3 points is basically granting you 15 points worth of DCV by preventing you from taking a 1/2 DCV penalty.

 

Combine Defense Maneuver I with Rapid Attack and you've got a character who can take on whole mobs at once.  1/2 Phase action to mitigate the multiple attackers penalty, 1/2 Phase to Multiple Attack and take out everyone in HTH range.  The 10 point level just removes the need for a 1/2 Phase action.

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It just does not take any special coordination or working together in order for a mob of people to hit someone easier because there's lots of them.  That's a ridiculous rule.  Its just a matter of only being able to dodge and even be aware of so many attacks at once (unless very well trained) let alone have the facing to deal with them.  That's not because these people are so very well trained or are working together well. Its just a matter of numbers and natural limitations.

 

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Defense Maneuver really doesn't cost that much.  If you rule as I do, and allow easy mob tactics against untrained warriors, then the 3 point version of Defense Maneuver is about the best three points you'll ever spend.

 

If it cost 3 points it would be fine.  If it cost 5 points it would be fine.  10 points is too much for something that honestly doesn't come up much in a game.

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Guest Usagi
32 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

If it cost 3 points it would be fine.  If it cost 5 points it would be fine.  10 points is too much for something that honestly doesn't come up much in a game.

Well, it does only cost 3 points for the basic ability.  You don't have to buy it at the 10 point value.

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8 hours ago, Usagi said:

Well, it does only cost 3 points for the basic ability.  You don't have to buy it at the 10 point value.

 

Spot-on.  So rather than create some ad-hoc, un-needed house rule, I'm baffled as to why these GMs don't simply slap 3 points on their skilled mooks and NPCs (a la Defense Maneuver) and then make sure their PCs encounter such NPCs enough that the light bulb finally goes on for them. This is really what I was getting at when I suggested the use of Defense Maneuver or the purchase of powers that result in not caring if one is hit (in Hulk-like fashion, for example) … or using position (back-to-back with an ally … or back to a wall) to prevent munchkin-ized circling just to game a mechanic.

 

Again, plainly put -- point expenditures and/or good character play by discerning players are all that's required. As a reminder, the GM is a player, too (s/he plays all the mooks/NPCs). I really prefer it when GMs take that type of approach, rather than just shutting down a mechanic for no reason other than what I consider GM laziness.  And as a GM, I know I'd get a lot more of a chuckle out of people munchkin-izing the rear attack mechanic only to find a) it didn't work, b) they wasted movement doing it, and c) they whined due to a) and b)...  

Note that I'm not saying shut the PCs down at every turn … but the more abusive the group or player tended to be with the mechanic, the more prepared I'd be as a GM to curtail it.  It's also easily explainable within the storyline, as mooks and their tougher NPC brethren tend to learn when a character or group repeatedly uses the same tactic(s) ... ad nauseum … and they usually tend to devise a counter to it.  Some of the baddies may see it first hand. Others may see it on camera recordings of events (like, oh, the news … or police footage … or a livestream of footage at the mook base, etc.). Still others might hear of the repeatedly-used tactic by word of mouth, since just like heroes talk among themselves, so do those with villainous intent. If your baddies aren't learning from repeated use of the same tactics by players/groups such that they come up with counters that present new and interesting challenges, then something's probably missing from your game, anyway … right?

With some decent GM'ing and judicious use of points combined with good storytelling, you just don't need a house rule to end the munchkin behavior; it'll resolve itself if you simply use story and NPC learning to dis-incent it. Or be heavy-handed and slam down the GM fiat gavel.  Your choice. You certainly get a more immediate return, but you miss out on a fun storytelling opportunity … not to mention listening to munchkins whine.

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3 minutes ago, Surrealone said:

And you shouldn't need the GM fiat hammer when you have other ways to disincent certain munchkin behaviours...

You shouldn't have to pay 10 real or 3 real and an HPA every turn to not be subject to inane rules abuse. 

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