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Combat

In the ARG System, combat is simply the use of weapon skills. However combat can be tricky, so a few extra rules are required. When combat seems imminent, the first thing the GR should do is determine where the combatants are in relation to each other (who's close enough to hit whom), what environmental factors may need to be included (darkness, fog, the characters are all standing on a narrow stair or stuck in quicksand...), which weapons are ready, and then the GR calls for character actions.


Melee Rounds

What actions can be performed is partially a function of time. Time in the ARG is generally tracked in minutes, hours, and days.... However when critical events are about to occur (as in combat) the GR will start tracking time in Melee Rounds (MR). A MR lasts 6 seconds and is subdivided into 12 phases. A phase is an abstraction whose only purpose is to keep track of individual events in the MR. They could be considered to last 1/2 second, however that is only approximate, since there may actually be more or less than 12 phases in a MR due to various bonuses and modifiers.


Rolling Initiative

Determining who can do what when (especially in combat) can be one of the biggest headaches a GR can face. We will present several methods that can be used to determine initiative.

  1. The simplest system is to have the players roll one dice (any type) while the GR rolls one dice for their opponents, letting the side with the highest roll go first. It's not very realistic, but it works.
  2. Some systems assign a single speed value to each player during which they always attack. Since this crudely deterministic method eliminates some of the random nature of combat, it could be considered even less realistic than the above method. However it is simple, and if you prefer to use that method, just start with the Physicality score and resolve all actions in descending order. The GR may choose to subtract the weapon speed scores or ignore them entirely.
  3. Some players prefer a method that does not involve melee rounds. In this method, all players would roll d6 and add their Physicality score to generate a number between 2 and 12. This would be the segment in which they could begin to act. If someone had a weapon speed of 4, then under this method they would make 1 attack every 4 segments as long as they continued to attack the same target. (Under this system, the weapon speeds should be re-calibrated by taking the given weapon speed and subtracting it from 7. The result is the new weapon speed.) If the player decided to perform a different action or pick a different target, he would need to roll his initiative again. The result would be the number of phases of delay (as the character re-orients himself) before he could begin a new action.


Rolling To Hit

Actions and Maneuvers

A lot can happen in six seconds, and it is assumed that each melee round is actually filled with a flurry of faints, jabs, parries and other actions. However, to keep things simple, only one roll is used to represent a character's success throughout the melee round. Although exceptions will be made for experienced characters and certain types of monsters, most combatants will get only one combat roll per MR.

One Roll

Those who win initiative get first choice as to whether they will attack or choose to wait and defend. Those who lose initiative may use their roll to counter-attack (if the attacker failed to hit) or defend themselves (if the attackers "to hit" roll was successful). The defender also has the option of just accepting the damage (not rolling a defense) and counter-attacking anyway. (This option is best used if the hit was successful, but very light.)

Stance--an optional rule

If the GR agrees to this optional rule, the players may elect to choose an "aggressive" or "defensive" stance before initiative is rolled. All players choosing an aggressive stance gain a +2 to attack rolls and -2 to defense rolls. those choosing a defensive stance get a -2 to attack rolls and a +2 to defense rolls. the stance may be changed each MR.

Rolling "To Hit"

All actions are resolved in order starting with the highest initiative. The attacker rolls d20 and adds all modifiers for his weapon skill (these should already be totaled and recorded on the player's character sheet) and tells the GR the results. The GR then takes this number and subtracts the 10 as well as the experience and modifiers of the defender's chosen defensive skill (dodge, parry or block) lus any situational modifiers which might apply. If the resulting number is positive, the attacker has hit.


Combat Options

Attacker's Options

Attacking to Subdue--involves an attempt to disable an opponent without killing them. this can be important when one needs to get information out of an enemy but have to catch them first. When one attacks to subdue, one strikes with the flat of their weapon's blade, or the haft, or pulls their punches in some way. The end result is that these attacks only do stunning damage and all killing damage is ignored. (Stunning and killing damage will be discussed later.)

Calling Shots--is another option that is likely to come up. In general, one strikes one's opponent wherever their defense leaves an opening. Only a fool would pass up on a sure hit for one less certain, if their life were on the line. However there may be special occasions where that is necessary (i.e. the players face a nigh-invulnerable opponent that can only be hurt in one small spot--remember Smaug the dragon?) If a player tells the GR he wants to hit a specific body part, the GR should assign a penalty based on the size and difficulty hitting it. In general the penalty should be from -2 (for a specific arm or leg) to -5 (for a head shot).

Defender's Options

Once an opponent has made a "to hit" roll that is likely to be successful, the defender has three options.

Blocking--with a shield is the most common option. If the defender has a shield ready, he simply rolls his shield skill and hopes the results are greater than his opponents' weapon skill plus 10. If the roll indicates success (even by only 1 point) then the entire defensive value of the shield is subtracted from the damage before the armor values are figured in. Shields are easy to learn and use. However, the disadvantages to using shields are: they prevent one hand and arm from being used for anything else, and they add an initiative penalty on attacks because of their bulk (-1 for small, -2 for medium and -3 for large shields.)

Dodging--is one option that doesn't require the character to possess something to use. A player simply makes an Athletics or Acrobatics roll and subtracts the result from the attacker's roll. In order to use this skill, the player must be free to move up to one yard to the left, right or behind him. If he is blocked or crowded in any way, he suffers a -1 penalty for each direction blocked. The GR may impose additional penalties if the situation warrants it.

Parrying--is the use of a weapon skill to defend rather than attack. The player simply makes his weapon's skill roll and subtracts the results from the attacker's roll. The player doesn't suffer the same restrictions parrying as dodging, however the parrying weapon must be of approximately the same size as the attacking weapon. If a weapon is used to parry another weapon more than 2 weapon classes larger, then there is a chance that the smaller weapon will break. This is calculated at a 1% chance for every point the parrying weapon failed to stop. If the defender fails to roll higher than his amount on percentile dice, then his weapon has broken. Note: the player only has to make this roll if the parry was at least partially successful.

Extra Actions

Occasionally, the character will need to make an extra action. Usually this occurs when the character is being attacked and he has already used up all his actions, or if he desperately needs to finish off an opponent before the opponent can complete some action. The extra action rule is provided to represent the character's willingness to attack, even without an "opening" in his opponent's defense, or the extra effort that only the fear of immanent death can produce.

Only one extra action is allowed per MR. If it is an attack, it will generally occur at the end of the round. An extra defense can be used in whatever segment it is need. In either case the extra action suffers a -2 penalty. In addition, the character suffers an initiative penalty on the next round. Either the weapon's speed penalty is doubled, or if a shield was used to block, the shield's initiative penalty is doubled. And, yes, if the optional "stance" rule is used, then all penalties are added to the extra action penalty.

Other Actions

"My character wants to leap off a boulder and attack in the same round." Can a character engage in other actions during combat? The answer is yes!...provided the GR says so. Here are some things to consider in determining what additional actions a character can perform during combat.

Except in rare cases (i.e. the characters are waiting in ambush) players must make an initiative role before starting any action.

Most actions will delay an attack until they are completed (except for actions like talking). Simple actions will generally not otherwise affect the combat. The most common example of this is when combatants must close within striking range before they can fight. The GR should add a 1-phase delay in the attack for every yard traveled at walking speed. If the distance can't be covered in 6 seconds, then no (non-missile) combat takes place that MR.

More complex actions may cause a penalty to combat if a failure results.

Very complex actions will cause a penalty (generally -1 to -3 points) if successful, while failure may prevent any further actions that MR (i.e. a failed Acrobatics roll).


Weapon Damage

As in other skills, the d20 roll determines the degree of success for the character's attempt to use a particular weapon skill. Once all modifiers have been added and subtracted, the resulting number (if positive) is multiplied by that weapon's damage multiplier. The result is the amount of damage that was caused by that weapon. More information on weapons will be provided later, but in general, multiply the results by .25 for very small weapons, .33 for small, .50 for medium, .66 for medium-large, .75 for large and 1.0 for very large.

Weapon Damage charge

100%

75%

66%

50%

33%

25%

1

1

1

1

1

1

2

2

1

1

1

1

3

2

2

2

1

1

4

3

3

2

2

1

5

4

3

3

2

2

6

5

4

3

2

2

7

5

5

4

3

2

8

6

5

4

3

2

9

7

6

5

3

3

10

8

7

5

4

3

11

8

7

6

4

3

12

9

8

6

4

3

13

10

9

7

5

4

14

11

9

7

5

4

15

11

10

8

5

4

16

12

11

8

6

4

17

13

11

9

6

5

18

14

12

9

6

5

19

14

13

10

7

5

20

15

13

10

7

5


Weapon Types

For some GRs the only information they will require is the general weapon type (for example: 1-handed arms, cleaving, small .33, speed=5). Other GRs, who use weapon sub-skills, will want to know the specific weapon used.

Weapon

Type

Damage

Speed

Dagger

slash

.25

6

Axe, hand

cleave

.33

5

Sword, short

slash

.33

5

Club

bash

.33

5

Sword, long

slash

.50

4

Mace

bash

.50

4

Hammer, war

bash

.50

4

Sword, broad

slash

.66

3

Axe, war

cleave

.75

1

Flail

bash

.75

1

Sword, bastard*

slash

.66/.75

2/3

Sword, 2-handed

slash

1.0

2

  

Javelin

pierce

.50

5

Quarter Staff

bash

.33

6

Trident

pierce

.75

2

Spear

pierce

.66

3

Halberd

cleave

.75

2

Pike

pierce

1.0

1

 

Knife, throwing

slash

.25

6

Sling

bash

.33

5

Bow, small

pierce

.50

2

Bow, long

pierce

1.0

2

Bow, horn

pierce

.75

2

Xbow, hand

pierce

.66

2

Xbow, light

pierce

.75

1

Xbow, heavy**

pierce

1.0

12

*The first set of numbers represents 1-handed use, the second set represents 2-handed use.

**Heavy Xbows take one full MR to load. The speed listed only applies to the second MR.

Pole Weapons

Pole weapons and other weapons which are more than 2x as long as a hand weapon wielded by an opponent may be used to fend off attacks. When a character wielding such a pole or other long weapon elects to fend off attacks. The attacker can do nothing until a successful parry has been made and the attacker has moved closer into striking range. Once this is done, the attacker can roll an attack the next MR and the defender with the pole weapon must successfully defend and move back into striking range or "grip up" on their weapon.

Missile Weapons

Regular bows take 2 seconds (4 phases) to get an arrow, nock it, and draw the bow. A very experienced archer might shave 1 phase from their time. Slings take an extra phase longer because, though they are easier to load, the slinger must accelerate the bullet before releasing it. All missile weapons, if they are readied but not fired before the end of the MR, have a speed of 12 at the beginning of the next MR.

Aiming

All missile weapons must be aimed for 2 phases or face a -3 penalty to hit. They may delay 2 additional phases for a +1 aiming bonus or 6 phases for a +2 bonus or an entire melee round for a +3 bonus.

The archer may also face penalties if his target is hard to see or hit. The penalties may range from a -2 if the target is partially obscured up to -5 if all but the head or other small portion is behind hard cover.

Missile Weapon Ranges

Missile weapons and their ranges will be following. At this point I can't seem to find a single, reliable, and authoritative list of ranges for various weapon types.


Armor and Weapons

If a character is engaged in combat, hopefully he is wearing some armor. Armor in the ARG system functions just as it does in real life, by absorbing damage that would otherwise harm the wearer. While in future versions of the game, we may develop more detail rules for armor, we are currently using five broad types of armor. They are:

It should be obvious that different weapons will be either more or less effective against different types of armor. Leather's sponginess stops damage from blunt weapons more effectively than other weapon types, while chain mail's hardness protects it from edged weapons, but its flexibility makes it more vulnerable to blunt weapons than other weapon types. Following is a list of Damage Points (DPs) stopped by each armor type for each of the four damage types. The player should list the DPs stopped for each damage type on the character sheet next to the armor worn. (For a more simplified approach, simply ignore damage types and use the average DPs stopped for each type of armor.)

 

Bashing

Cleaving

Slashing

Piercing

Leather

5

2

3

4

Reinforced Leather

6

3

5

4

Piece Metal

4

6

6

6

Partial Plate

7

8

8

7

Full Plate

9

9

8

7

 

On a successful blocking roll, the DPs stopped by the shield are first subtracted from the attack damage, then the DPs stopped by the armor are subtracted, then whatever is left over is added to the character's wound level. The DPs stopped by a shield are the same for each weapon with the exception of the following types: blocking rolls verses flails and similar weapons suffer a -3 penalty due to the weapon's ability to go around the shield, and a successful block against missile attacks prevents any damage from being applied.

Shield Type

DPs Stopped

Initiative Penalty

Small

2

1

Medium

3

2

Large

4

3