[MUD-Dev] Re: Combat Was Re: Leaving characters in play

Travis S. Casey efindel at io.com
Wed May 27 07:41:17 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Monday, 18 May 98, Orion Henry <orionZ at netcom.com> wrote:

> -- Action times varry and are reasonable to the weight of the weapon vs.
> the strength and speed of the attacker... thus an oger with a tree will
> execute his swings less frequently than an elf with a rapier.

I'd think that they should also depend on how the weapon is used -- a
thrusting weapon like a rapier is generally faster to attack with than
a swinging weapon like a sabre.  Further, the time to make an attack
depends on more than just the time to move the weapon in an attacking
motion -- the character may have to move into range to make the
attack.  This can make a considerable difference.

For example, a rapier is much heavier than a dagger, but the character
wielding the rapier has a much greater reach.  The dagger-wielder
would have to be much faster than the rapier-wielder to attack first,
because he/she has to be able to move around the rapier and into
striking range.

> -- All blows land unless something is done about it (duck, parry).  Most
> blows that land will be fatal or near fatal unless they landed on, say,
> your helmet instead of your head.

This is a very interesting aspect, IMHO -- it completely breaks with
RPG conventions.  However, I can't say that I'd feel comfortable with
it.  I've done a great deal of sparring, fencing, etc., and it simply
doesn't fit with my experience.  There are several reasons why attacks
miss in combat, even when no attempt to block or dodge is made:

- The attacker may misjudge the distance, resulting in an attack that
  doesn't make it to the target.

- The defender may move, not because he/she is trying to defend, but
  for other reasons -- e.g., as part of the circling for position that
  often happens in combat, in preparation for an attack, or the
  "defender" may make an attack at the same time.

- Bad luck/inattention to the environment.  An attacker may stumble,
  trip, slip, etc.

- Tension.  An inexperienced combatant tends to tense up, or even to
  become shaky.  Adrenalin changes the speed of one's reflexes and
  makes one stronger, able to move the weapon around faster.
  Unfortunately, since a new combatant isn't used to these effects,
  he/she can't compensate for them, and may miss even an easy target.

- In anything more than a one-on-one duel, things are even worse.  An
  attacker can be accidentally bumped by someone else or distracted or
  startled by something happening nearby.
As one gains experience in combat, one becomes less likely to make
these mistakes, and thus, more likely to hit the defender.

For experienced combatants, it's probably a decent approximation that
a melee attack will always hit someone who isn't defending, though, so
if the characters in your game are going to mostly be experienced
fighters, the rule works for melee.

For missile combat, though, it doesn't work.  Even a small variation
in aim can cause a miss, and even under the best conditions, a gust of
wind can spoil everything.

> -- Most fights will last 15 - 20 seconds like this with the exception of
> the rare meeting of the two masters who could make a display of flashing
> blades and whitty one liners until one or the other drops from exhaustion.

Or if someone who's much better than his/her opponent *wants* combat
to last a long time.

> -- ( It was joked about that if one was good enough he or she could execute
> combat actions at priority menial, so one could chomp on an apple and read
> a book while parrying the thrusts and swings of one's adversary ;-) 

There's a scene in Zelazny's first Amber series where a swordsman
shows off how much better he is than his opponent by cutting the
buttons off the opponent's jacket, one by one.  Oddly enough, he loses
the fight -- but I'll let you read it yourselves to find out how.  :-)

[much about luck cut]

> -- Luck will rebuild itself with rest, warm food, spicy mead, and some
> music down at the pub to soothe ones rattled bones.

> -- Pushing ones luck too far might damage it for good. "I shall not come
> with you Frodo, I am old and I feel my luck is running out..." -B. Baggins

The first edition of the paper RPG Top Secret had an interesting
variant on luck points -- each character started with a random number
of fortune points.  Spending a fortune point could make any action
succeed, or could save a character's life, but fortune points never
came back, and the players didn't know how many fortune points their
characters had.  Thus, eventually, one's luck would run out -- and you
never knew just when that would be.

       |\      _,,,---,,_        Travis S. Casey  <efindel at io.com>
 ZZzz  /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_   No one agrees with me.  Not even me.
      |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
     '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)

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