Making Combat more Tactical

The unique One Ring rules set invites tinkering and secondary creation. Whilst The One Ring works brilliantly as written, we provide this forum for those who want to make their own home-brewed versions of the rules. Note that none of these should be taken as 'official'.
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kdresser
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Making Combat more Tactical

Post by kdresser » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:28 am

Has anyone experimented with making combat feel more tactical? I like the TOR system overall, but the combat is missing something for me. Outside of the stances and called shots, it doesn't feel like the player is able to make many tactical choices in combat. I also had a hard time narrating what was happening as the LM. I'm learning the GURPS combat system to see if I can glean a few things or integrate it somehow without bogging it down too much.

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Rich H
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by Rich H » Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:01 am

Define what you mean by tactical.

More player choices?
More LM choices?
More system mechanics - which areas?
More complexity - examples of what you mean?
More interesting encounters/locations?
More attack options - like what?
More defense options - like what?
Tactical Movement?
... etc
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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kdresser
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by kdresser » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am

Rich H wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 7:01 am
Define what you mean by tactical.

More player choices?
More LM choices?
More system mechanics - which areas?
More complexity - examples of what you mean?
More interesting encounters/locations?
More attack options - like what?
More defense options - like what?
Tactical Movement?
... etc

Great question! I guess in terms of giving players more choices and probably some tactical movement. For example, being able to intentionally aim at an orc's eyes for an instant killshot with a bow, possibly using a round or two to aim and give bonus...or the ability to climb a nearby tree and leap upon and wrestle down a goblin, hoping to gain enough advantage to stab him. Both of which feel like legitimate options for a warrior in Middle Earth.

I guess TOR RAW combat feels sort of like the old turn based Final Fantasy games. 1. Pair off enemies and heroes. 2. Take turns rolling dice until one of you is dead. 3. You can also attempt to give each other boosts or try to run away instead of trying to hit the foe.

Does that make sense? GURPS has really intriguing and intuitive combat choices with a mechanic for pretty much anything. I'm figuring out whether I should be doing perhaps some GURPS-ish tweaks to the RAW or finding a way to more fully integrate both systems together on a way that keeps the game fun.

I guess the combat system doesn't feel very realistic or immersive To me.

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Rich H
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by Rich H » Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:44 am

kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
I guess in terms of giving players more choices and probably some tactical movement.
So, I think that all these options can be done in the RAW (rules as written) without needing to houserule them. I'll break them down one-by-one...
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
For example, being able to intentionally aim at an orc's eyes for an instant killshot with a bow, possibly using a round or two to aim and give bonus
Prepared shots like this already exist in the rules. If you hit and the enemy fails their protection test then they are Wounded and, usually, die unless they have specific traits to stop this from happening. The LM and player would simply narrate the result as a strike to the eye. The tactical element is making that choice to Prepare their attack.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
...or the ability to climb a nearby tree and leap upon and wrestle down a goblin, hoping to gain enough advantage to stab him. Both of which feel like legitimate options for a warrior in Middle Earth.
Terrain options can be provided by the LM; it's up to them to create interesting options within their game for the players to interact with - I do this kind of thing all the time. In such a case I'd ask them to make an Athletics test, success would give them an adavantage to their attack. Additionally, I'd also let players create these kind of options by simply asking if they could do it. Also, the rules have Combat Advantage Dice and I'd let a player narrate the effects of adding such a die to an attack as leaping from a tree, without the need for an Athletics test. So, TOR allows for multiple ways to do these kinds of things - LM driven, player driven, or through advantage dice.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
I guess TOR RAW combat feels sort of like the old turn based Final Fantasy games. 1. Pair off enemies and heroes. 2. Take turns rolling dice until one of you is dead. 3. You can also attempt to give each other boosts or try to run away instead of trying to hit the foe.
Only if you play it out in such a way without adding any interesting elements or descriptions or narrative... TOR's initiative system isn't really that different from other games where one side resolves their actions before the other side. In fact, it can get (tactically) quite interesting when players start to consider the affects on initiative due to being the attacker or defender in a combat encounter; this has provided some interesting opportunities in combat beyond many other RPGs.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
Does that make sense? GURPS has really intriguing and intuitive combat choices with a mechanic for pretty much anything. I'm figuring out whether I should be doing perhaps some GURPS-ish tweaks to the RAW or finding a way to more fully integrate both systems together on a way that keeps the game fun.
TOR relies on experienced players and GMs to be able to make rulings. Just because a rule doesn't exist for every possibility doesn't mean that something can't be done - GMs and players simply apply some common sense, set TNs to tasks or allow specific actions based on the circumstances, and apply modifiers and/or penalties based upon what it being performed.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
I guess the combat system doesn't feel very realistic or immersive To me.
I disagree on this, I find something like GURPS breaks immersion due to the amount of rules for things.

I'm going to assume from your queries and issues with the game that you aren't an experienced RPer so have trouble applying your own rulings based on the rules within the book? TOR, unlike more restrictive RPGs, expects quite a bit of initiative on behalf of the players and GM and there's an expectation that they will take the rules of the game and run with them in order to provide further options like I've described above in response to your questions. Its a skill that takes time to learn but is a much more preferable position than needing to have a rule defined for every option available to a PC and without one it means something can't be done. That's a state of mind that we should never fall into and I really dislike games that do this - I prefer games that provide a base mechanic for task resolution, a few examples, and then let each gaming group get on with things and allow them to apply their own options by extrapolating out of the base mechanics. TOR, I think, does this.

As an example, I wrote up the following: https://www.dropbox.com/s/7r4ak3wjvb76g ... s.pdf?dl=0. This isn't a house rule, there's nothing in there that isn't as per the RAW; I've just thought about some options and written them down which is really no different to making up this kind of stuff on the fly except I have a document that I can go back and refer to! So, right here, you have a lot of tactical options to combat (including movement) but they are all accommodated by the TOR rules. In addition, you can create house rules if that's the way you want to go; for instance, I use a few additional Stance Options in my campaign but everything that you've asked here can easily be applied using the RAW and some player/LM creativitiy and initiative.

Hope that helps and, just out of interest, do you play or LM TOR? Just asking because it feels like you need to chat with someone a little more experienced at running these kind of game systems in order to appreciate the way the system can be used to do the things you want it to do. Not trying to be patronising here - happy to chat/help further.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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kdresser
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by kdresser » Fri Apr 28, 2017 2:47 pm

Thanks for sharing all your thoughts, Rich. You assumed correctly, I am new to Role-Playing. I played DD 5e for a few sessions as a player and immediately was hungry to try role-play in Middle Earth, which is when I discovered TOR a year or so ago. I LM'd a One shot for my siblings and regularly listen to recordings of game sessions. In both cases, combat wasn't narrated well. Just felt like characters standing still and exchanging numbers and dice results. I had a hard time visualizing the fight from a RP standpoint. All I could imagine was players and orcs statically facing one another, standing still and taking turns exchanging whacks until the fight was over.

I'm interested to experiment with some of what you described in the RAW to make things feel more fluid, and let players feel like they have more freedom. I hope to do some LMing this summer. Thanks for your input. I'll post my development as it happens.

Also can you recommend any audio sessions with experienced narrative-savvy players that I can listen to?

Corvo
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by Corvo » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:31 pm

I can get some of your points, Kdresser.

My TOR campaign uses a heavily modified combat, indeed. A lot of it is taken from the system of The Riddle of Steel and its modern scions (Blades of the Iron Throne and others).
It's a fairly complex set of house rules, though, and I wouldn't suggest it to a novice.

Note: tRoS and BotIT are games created by historical fencing buffs, so they are pretty tactical, but complex too, even if the complexity isn't in the rules per se, yet in the logical implications of every choice you have to make.

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kdresser
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by kdresser » Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:58 pm

Corvo wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:31 pm
I can get some of your points, Kdresser.

My TOR campaign uses a heavily modified combat, indeed. A lot of it is taken from the system of The Riddle of Steel and its modern scions (Blades of the Iron Throne and others).
It's a fairly complex set of house rules, though, and I wouldn't suggest it to a novice.

Note: tRoS and BotIT are games created by historical fencing buffs, so they are pretty tactical, but complex too, even if the complexity isn't in the rules per se, yet in the logical implications of every choice you have to make.
I looked into ROS as well before I found GURPS. I'm interested to see what you came up with. Would you mind sharing?

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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by kdresser » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:38 pm

Rich H wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 8:44 am
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
I guess in terms of giving players more choices and probably some tactical movement.
So, I think that all these options can be done in the RAW (rules as written) without needing to houserule them. I'll break them down one-by-one...
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
For example, being able to intentionally aim at an orc's eyes for an instant killshot with a bow, possibly using a round or two to aim and give bonus
Prepared shots like this already exist in the rules. If you hit and the enemy fails their protection test then they are Wounded and, usually, die unless they have specific traits to stop this from happening. The LM and player would simply narrate the result as a strike to the eye. The tactical element is making that choice to Prepare their attack.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
...or the ability to climb a nearby tree and leap upon and wrestle down a goblin, hoping to gain enough advantage to stab him. Both of which feel like legitimate options for a warrior in Middle Earth.
Terrain options can be provided by the LM; it's up to them to create interesting options within their game for the players to interact with - I do this kind of thing all the time. In such a case I'd ask them to make an Athletics test, success would give them an adavantage to their attack. Additionally, I'd also let players create these kind of options by simply asking if they could do it. Also, the rules have Combat Advantage Dice and I'd let a player narrate the effects of adding such a die to an attack as leaping from a tree, without the need for an Athletics test. So, TOR allows for multiple ways to do these kinds of things - LM driven, player driven, or through advantage dice.
kdresser wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 4:57 am
I guess TOR RAW combat feels sort of like the old turn based Final Fantasy games. 1. Pair off enemies and heroes. 2. Take turns rolling dice until one of you is dead. 3. You can also attempt to give each other boosts or try to run away instead of trying to hit the foe.
Only if you play it out in such a way without adding any interesting elements or descriptions or narrative... TOR's initiative system isn't really that different from other games where one side resolves their actions before the other side. In fact, it can get (tactically) quite interesting when players start to consider the affects on initiative due to being the attacker or defender in a combat encounter; this has provided some interesting opportunities in combat beyond many other RPGs.
Rich, i think my biggest struggle is the roll then narrate style of TOR, particularly in combat. Do you have any tips on how to GM from a more 'The player wants to do this maneuver narratively, lets make a way to let them try that' approach? I think it's more common for a player to use a bonus di and make up a narrative reason rather than saying 'I want to climb and look for a vantage point. What should I roll/do mechanically to make that a reality?'. Thanks!

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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by Stormcrow » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:52 pm

kdresser wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:28 am
Outside of the stances and called shots, it doesn't feel like the player is able to make many tactical choices in combat. [...] I'm learning the GURPS combat system to see if I can glean a few things or integrate it somehow without bogging it down too much.
Are you looking for tactics or details? GURPS is both. The One Ring sacrifices detail for abstraction but remains tactical.

For example: called shots. In GURPS, you decide you're going to shoot an opponent in the eye because, although you'll be at −9 to hit, a hit will increase your wounding modifier to ×4, his knockdown rolls are at −10, and you only need to cause 2 hit points of injury against an opponent with average Health to blind him. So with your longbow you spend your first turn Aiming to add your accuracy bonus of 3, your second turn Aiming to add another +1, and your third turn Aiming to add another +5, for a total of −4. You check the range table; your opponent being 10 yards away garners a −4, taking you down to −8. On your fourth turn you take an All Out Attack (Determined) for a +1, making the total modifier −7; you fire and roll against your effective skill of 7. Lucky you! You rolled a 6, good enough to strike the eye. Now the opponent gets to try to Dodge your roll. Let's say he fails. Your basic damage in longbow is 1d+1 imp. You roll a basic damage of 4 points. You get the ×4 wounding modifier, so you do 16 points of injury. The target is blinded. The target also had only 11 hit points, putting him at a total of −5. A knockdown roll is forced upon him, but with a Health of 11 and a −10 penalty he can't succeed. He still rolls to see if he remains conscious, and fails by more than 5, so he's unconscious. He's not quite dead, but if you're using the bleeding rules, he will be soon.

The The One Ring, you decide you're going to prepare a shot to try to take down an enemy with one blow. You spend your first turn preparing the shot. On your second turn you roll against your Bow skill of 3, succeeding with a 16. It's automatically a penetrating shot, so the enemy makes a Protection test against your bow's Injury of 14; he rolls his Armour of 2d and get a 10. The shot gets through and the enemy is Wounded. Being a Loremaster character, the NPC is down and out of the fight.

The two systems give you exactly the same tactical choice with exactly the same end result, but GURPS gives you way more control over the details of how you do it. The One Ring abstracts most of it away. You can compare all sorts of subsystems between the two games and see the same thing happening. In The One Ring, you choose a stance, which produces a target number that governs everything that happens. In GURPS you choose from a series of maneuvers that get much more detailed about exactly what you're doing from second to second.

Whether that breaks your "immersion" in the game depends on what you like. I like both systems for very different reasons. I like the detail of GURPS, and people who want to be able to manage their moment-to-moment actions do too. I like the abstraction of The One Ring, which fits well with the epic style of Tolkien, who doesn't go into great detail about the motions of combat.

One thing I'll say about modifying TOR with rules from GURPS: be warned that GURPS is designed to be highly modular, but TOR is not. You can add or remove the various subsystems of GURPS as you like and the system will keep on chugging along just fine. You can't do that with TOR; its systems are tightly integrated with each other. Be wary of unintended side-effects if you introduce GURPS-level detail.
I also had a hard time narrating what was happening as the LM.
The roll-then-narrate meme of TOR is overstated. For tasks, it goes like this: First players narrate what they want to do ("I swim across the river.") Then the Loremaster tells them what they need to roll. The players roll. Finally, the players narrate success or the Loremaster narrates failure ("My character Trotter pulls himself out of the other side, dripping" or "Your character Trotter gets swept away by the current.")

Don't overdo the narration. As a player, I hate waiting for a referee to describe for me in excruciating detail the outcomes of every roll I make. I get it. I stabbed the orc and it died. I don't care about your amateur pulp fiction. Get on with the game.

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Rich H
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Re: Making Combat more Tactical

Post by Rich H » Sun Apr 30, 2017 9:24 am

kdresser wrote:
Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:38 pm
Rich, i think my biggest struggle is the roll then narrate style of TOR, particularly in combat. Do you have any tips on how to GM from a more 'The player wants to do this maneuver narratively, lets make a way to let them try that' approach? I think it's more common for a player to use a bonus di and make up a narrative reason rather than saying 'I want to climb and look for a vantage point. What should I roll/do mechanically to make that a reality?'. Thanks!
I think both those options (ie, the use of bonus die and asking if they can climb a tree to gain an advantage) are viable. In the first one, the player would just spend the extra die and then narrate (lets call it describe from now on) what they did (eg, jumping out of a tree to attack). The second option, in my game, would need an Athletics test and if successful the PC would get a bonus to their attack; failue would mean them missing the attack. Therefore the bonus would need to be worth the risk (of losing an attack).

And Stormcrow's post above is good stuff; he states what I've said earlier but through a slightly different view. I also agree with him about this narrative control that the players have. It isn't that big a deal and it really is just describing action, not coming up with wacky fanfic prose. That's stuff is fine if you like that kind of thing but is in no way necessary. And pay heed to his comments about modularity in game systems - real big one that to house ruling games, whether you have lots of experience playing them or not. It's really easy to screw up the balance and dynamic of games doing big and/or significant changes.
TOR resources thread: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=62
TOR miniatures thread: viewtopic.php?t=885

Fellowship of the Free Tale of Years: viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8318

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