I hate combat

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Matthias

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
37
Not because it corrupts the youth: I love violence in media! Not because my character might die: death is fun!

I hate combat because it's church: an hour of boredom endured each week for social reasons. If it's D&D 5e or easier, we're playing snakes and ladders for an hour, which I'm willing to do. If it's something less forgiving, then I'm filing taxes for an hour, which I'm not.

Some games let you get to the fun part (death! violence! blood!) without the snakes or ladders or taxes. I've even made up my own quick combat systems, because of the nerd "doing work to avoid work" thing. But that's not something popular enough to play IRL.

Not badwrongfun if you enjoy all of that! (Some people really enjoy church, too, and more power to them.) I'm clearly in the minority. Just wanted to get it off my chest.
 

lgm

Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2021
Messages
12
Reaction score
26
A more narrative game maybe more to your liking?

Or maybe 'less is more'. Running traditional rpgs and have combat as a rare event could get you where you need.

The third option is to rant and rave, get it out of your system, and enjoy your weekend!
 

Moonglum

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
734
Reaction score
1,330
This is the Lord entering your heart and moving you towards The Fantasy Trip - the only only major FRPG I know where combat and other tactical action is its own fun game that you'd be more than happy to play all by itself.
 

Gabriel

Legendary Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2019
Messages
1,639
Reaction score
3,629
I hate boring HP-attrition combat. I hate the way most D&D combats are run with just mindless hit and damage rolls with no detail or description. D&D was already bad in 1e and 2e with the stacks of HP to hack through, but 3e and onward really made a slog for the slog's sake. 4e was the only one with interesting stuff going on, but even it had the HP attrition dialed up as far as the knob would go and then ripped off.

You need to play a game with a more interesting combat system.
 

Stumpydave

Legendary Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Messages
252
Reaction score
593
I hate working out initiative and how working out who goes in what order completely kills the flow of the game. I hate maths and working out who gets what modifiers and I absolutely hate wonderful plans being undone by a bad roll.

Give me a system where all the pre-combat planning adds to a pool and then roll the whole pool. Every success/double/whatever gives the player a wound to inflict or resist. At the end of the combat carry on with the story.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
I hate working out initiative and how working out who goes in what order completely kills the flow of the game.
I’m with you there. The good news is that you don’t actually need initiative, especially not individual character initiative that’s rolled and then put into a rotating roster. That’s the first thing I rip out of any game that has it, and I’ve never missed it. D&D 3e did it, and for 20 years everyone’s just assumed that’s how it has to be done, but that emperor has no clothes.

Letting players take their side’s turns in whatever order they wish works just fine, is less of a hassle, and better facilitates group participation.
 
Last edited:

Altheus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2018
Messages
82
Reaction score
159
I hate working out initiative and how working out who goes in what order completely kills the flow of the game. I hate maths and working out who gets what modifiers and I absolutely hate wonderful plans being undone by a bad roll.

Give me a system where all the pre-combat planning adds to a pool and then roll the whole pool. Every success/double/whatever gives the player a wound to inflict or resist. At the end of the combat carry on with the story.

What I do to get around this is pregenerate initiative for npcs and get players to roll it in advance, preferably immediately after the last fight or at the end of the session.

That and keeping fights not being a continuous exchange of blows but instead includes shoves, trips and grapples and having enemies use tactics and fight intelligently suffices to maintain interest.
 

VisionStorm

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
196
Reaction score
424
I hate working out initiative and how working out who goes in what order completely kills the flow of the game.

IMO, random initiative/order of actions accounts for roughly 50% of everything that makes combat a boring tedious slog in most games. The other 50% are 30% inflated HPs, and 20% the nature of the beast (i.e. there are aspects of the nature of RPG mechanics that will always drag out extended combat engagements a bit). Out of these three things, random initiative is the easiest one to get rid of, followed by inflated HP.

I’m with you there. The good news is that you don’t actually need initiative, especially not individual character initiative that’s rolled and then put into a rotating roster. That’s the first thing I rip out of any game that has it, and I’ve never missed it. D&D 3e did it, and for 20 years everyone’s just assumed that’s how it has to be done, but that emperor has no clothes.

Letting players take their side’s turns in whatever order they wish works just fine, is less of a hassle, and better facilitates group participation.

Pretty much. Another way to handle order of actions is by GM fiat and/or readiness and proximity (whoever is ready and within reach/range goes first, followed by whoever needs to make some preparations, etc.).
 

zanshin

Legendary Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
325
Reaction score
572
You roll initiaitive once and then it's action order to the end of combat. Takes a couple of minutes at the table (at most). Ensures everyone gets a turn. I batch enemies of the same type acting on the same initiative (but sequentially). I have run strike ranks, and non random initiative (Bushido) but neither seemed compellingly better.

What is the big issue? Curious to learn.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
Pretty much. Another way to handle order of actions is by GM fiat and/or readiness and proximity (whoever is ready and within reach/range goes first, followed by whoever needs to make some preparations, etc.).
Yeah, as PbtA games have shown (and others figured out long before) GM fiat does indeed work fine, provided the GM has a handle on things and makes sure everyone gets a go. For those that prefer more structure, side initiative is a tried and true alternative. There are other methods too, such as going by front vs back line or in phases based on what everyone is doing.

You roll initiaitive once and then it's action order to the end of combat. Takes a couple of minutes at the table (at most). Ensures everyone gets a turn. I batch enemies of the same type acting on the same initiative (but sequentially). I have run strike ranks, and non random initiative (Bushido) but neither seemed compellingly better.

What is the big issue? Curious to learn.
It’s not that it’s hard, it’s that it’s a whole step you have to go through, then keep track of the roster (at least on the GM side of things), and there’s almost entirely no benefit to any of it. It would also be easy to have everyone get out of their chair and spin around three times at the start of combat, and it would serve about as much purpose. Initiative rosters are also boring. The fact that nobody ever misses them says a lot about how much fun they’re not.

There’s also the fact that individual initiative tends to encourage players to act as individuals rather than as part of a group. Many players will zone out until their turn comes around, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and that’s more likely when it comes at a predictable point in the round. They’re also less likely to take actions that support or otherwise interact with the other characters, since rotating initiative is really just a predictably rotating camera/spotlight. It’s very telling that systems that work this way also have to come up with ways to delay or change your initiative order so that group tactics even become possible, which wouldn’t be necessary if they didn’t prescribe an order to begin with.

As for benefits… there really aren’t any. Sure, with a roster you can be sure that everyone gets a go, but any GM can tell when someone at the table hasn’t gone yet, so you don’t need a roster for that. Deciding whether the PCs or the enemies go first is actually easier without a roster of rolled initiative slots, and then the people at the table can decide which order makes the most tactical sense in the moment. Things actually move faster, and people are more consistently engaged, and you might even see players acting in ways that benefit other players’ characters, since the spotlight is on the whole team.

The only other thing people might bring up is that it allows for one more way in which a particular stat can affect things, but usually the stat in question is already overpowered, and it losing its power over initiative won’t actually affect people’s choices in character creation. Dexterity is often the culprit here, and it’s rare for it doing too little in a system—far more likely for it to be a god stat.

If you like determining things once and being done with it, you can determine which side wins initiative at the beginning and then go back and forth. Or you can just declare that PCs go first unless surprised, which is what Shadow of the Demon Lord does. Another method I’ve seen is to have everyone roll vs. a static value in order to go before the enemies. If you really want to keep them on their toes, you can determine side initiative each round, which doesn’t require any more cognitive load than keeping track of a static roster, and the unpredictability means even more engagement.

Establishing a rotation at the beginning of combat seemed like a quality-of-life improvement only in comparison to rolling individual initiative each round. Compared to just about any other method it comes up short.
 

zanshin

Legendary Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2021
Messages
325
Reaction score
572
Yeah, as PbtA games have shown (and others figured out long before) GM fiat does indeed work fine, provided the GM has a handle on things and makes sure everyone gets a go. For those that prefer more structure, side initiative is a tried and true alternative. There are other methods too, such as going by front vs back line or in phases based on what everyone is doing.


It’s not that it’s hard, it’s that it’s a whole step you have to go through, then keep track of the roster (at least on the GM side of things), and there’s almost entirely no benefit to any of it. It would also be easy to have everyone get out of their chair and spin around three times at the start of combat, and it would serve about as much purpose. Initiative rosters are also boring. The fact that nobody ever misses them says a lot about how much fun they’re not.

There’s also the fact that individual initiative tends to encourage players to act as individuals rather than as part of a group. Many players will zone out until their turn comes around, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, and that’s more likely when it comes at a predictable point in the round. They’re also less likely to take actions that support or otherwise interact with the other characters, since rotating initiative is really just a predictably rotating camera/spotlight. It’s very telling that systems that work this way also have to come up with ways to delay or change your initiative order so that group tactics even become possible, which wouldn’t be necessary if they didn’t prescribe an order to begin with.

As for benefits… there really aren’t any. Sure, with a roster you can be sure that everyone gets a go, but any GM can tell when someone at the table hasn’t gone yet, so you don’t need a roster for that. Deciding whether the PCs or the enemies go first is actually easier without a roster of rolled initiative slots, and then the people at the table can decide which order makes the most tactical sense in the moment. Things actually move faster, and people are more consistently engaged, and you might even see players acting in ways that benefit other players’ characters, since the spotlight is on the whole team.

If you like determining things once and being done with it, you can determine which side wins initiative at the beginning and then go back and forth. Or you can just declare that PCs go first unless surprised, which is what Shadow of the Demon Lord does. Another method I’ve seen is to have everyone roll vs. a static value in order to go before the enemies. If you really want to keep them on their toes, you can determine side initiative each round, which doesn’t require any more cognitive load than keeping track of a static roster, and the unpredictability means even more engagement.

Establishing a rotation at the beginning of combat seemed like a quality-of-life improvement only in comparison to rolling individual initiative each round. Compared to just about any other method it comes up short.
Well I sometimes miss people out and thats with rolled and recorded initiative ( i write them down on paper once rolled). Without a system for tracking whose acted I am not sure I could manage more complex fights. Maybe it's my senior gamer status.

If my players were having to choose who was acting now, on a turn based Igohugo that would definitely slow things down, as I have one player in particular who suffers from analysis paralysis, as well as a need to interrupt. Guaranteeing a turn also helps players who are more tentative and less confident, as its their guaranteed spotlight time.

But if it works for you, great.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
One other thing that works, but I forgot to mention, is to simply go clockwise around the table. ICRPG explicitly says to do that, and it works for games without an initiative structure, for those who might forget who hasn’t gone this round. Despite what I said earlier, that might also be me, especially if we’re a few rounds in.

I will also say I’m a fan of the Savage Worlds card-based initiative, mostly because it’s unpredictable but also easy to manage (just look at the cards on the table), and it’s exciting when you pull a joker and get a bonus. Best variation of the initiative rosters concept I’ve seen.

The best thing is, you can use pretty much any of these methods with pretty much any game. Systems tend to present their initiative mechanics as if they were closely integrated into things, but they tend to be pretty fungible in reality, and the few things that plug into them are generally expendable.
 

VisionStorm

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2020
Messages
196
Reaction score
424
Well I sometimes miss people out and thats with rolled and recorded initiative ( i write them down on paper once rolled). Without a system for tracking whose acted I am not sure I could manage more complex fights. Maybe it's my senior gamer status.

If my players were having to choose who was acting now, on a turn based Igohugo that would definitely slow things down, as I have one player in particular who suffers from analysis paralysis, as well as a need to interrupt. Guaranteeing a turn also helps players who are more tentative and less confident, as its their guaranteed spotlight time.

But if it works for you, great.

Trust me, if a player "misses" their turn, they'll tell you. And if they don't, they probably weren't paying that much attention to the game to begin with, so not much of value was lost. But you know what method of determining order of actions also produces this type of results (players missing their turn)? Random initiative, because one of the many issues with random initiative is that it detracts from the actual situation (as Roseblack Roseblack pointed out) so players stop paying attention and start playing with their dice or with their phone waiting for their "turn" in the spotlight. So everyone becomes disassociated with the situations transpiring in play and combat becomes an abstract, cyclical exercise of rolling to hit and damage trying to end this thing fast, rather than thinking in terms of strategy, narrative flow and what makes "sense" in the situation.

I can't count the number of times I've had people with bows ready and loaded, and melee attackers right in the thick of it, inches from their foe. But everyone had to wait for the melee guy charging from 60 feet away, cuz they "won" initiative. So that means the world has to freeze for everyone who's already ready and able to take action so that the guy who has to run halfway across the battlefield can attack first, cuz "initiative". And I as the GM also have to wait for everyone to roll "initiative" so the dice can tell me who goes first (like they're the ones in charge of this game), when I already know that the guy with the ready and loaded bow can fire right away. So why am I wasting time adding extra steps at the start of combat when I can just look at the player with the archer in this scenario and say "OK, you go first. Roll to hit..."?

But when you handle order of actions through GM fiat or player-directed strategy players are forced to become more engaged because combat flows from the situation rather than by the order that the dice dictate to you. So you actually need to pay attention to what's going on to know when you can intercede to declare or resolve your character's actions. And since there's no process of rolling initiative at the start, combat can start right away. So there's no break off point where players get distracted rolling dice and noting order of initiative, so they can forget WTF is going on. Combat begins automatically instead, while circumstances are still fresh in their mind, so they have less time to look down at their phone and can immediately start saying what they want to do, and the GM just handles them as they see fit as the opportunity comes up.

You're also conflating Random Initiative with using a Roster of PCs. You don't need to roll dice at the start of every combat to keep track of which PCs are participating in combat. I still keep one even without Random Initiative, to keep track of damage, status conditions and stuff like that. Plus to have visibility of what PCs and NPCs or enemies are present, their role/class, etc. to help me visualize things.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
The best thing is, you can use pretty much any of these methods with pretty much any game. Systems tend to present their initiative mechanics as if they were closely integrated into things, but they tend to be pretty fungible in reality, and the few things that plug into them are generally expendable.
The 5e initiative is baked into the system and intimately tied into ability & spell durations. Much as I would prefer B/X style initiative, changing it would be a major pain in the ass.
 

Agemegos

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2021
Messages
92
Reaction score
235
I’m not into skirmish wargames either. I keep combat in RPGs to a minimum by running and playing in games that have something else to be about — mysteries and thrillers, mostly — with rules support to attract players to activity other than “kill monsters” and objectives other than “take their stuff”. I like a game where the combat system has low detail and high lethality, and an experience system that does not reward, that perhaps even penalises, defeating enemies in combat and especially killing them.
 

Ladybird

TRAHR
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
Messages
3,293
Reaction score
7,682
I can't count the number of times I've had people with bows ready and loaded, and melee attackers right in the thick of it, inches from their foe. But everyone had to wait for the melee guy charging from 60 feet away, cuz they "won" initiative. So that means the world has to freeze for everyone who's already ready and able to take action so that the guy who has to run halfway across the battlefield can attack first, cuz "initiative". And I as the GM also have to wait for everyone to roll "initiative" so the dice can tell me who goes first (like they're the ones in charge of this game), when I already know that the guy with the ready and loaded bow can fire right away. So why am I wasting time adding extra steps at the start of combat when I can just look at the player with the archer in this scenario and say "OK, you go first. Roll to hit..."?
I hate that sort of situation. My solution is that the character who actually initiates the fight gets a free swing in, and then we drop into initiative order, so everyone gets to take advantage of their initiative and the aggressor gets to feel like they actually started the fight.

---

My main problem with RPG combat isn't the conflict. Conflict is interesting and adds some spice to types of story, it's cool. It's how you suddenly drop out of playing an RPG and the in-character side, to play a skirmish wargame for a while instead where your characterisation doesn't matter that much and there are suddenly objectively correct choices (eg. whatever is most likely to bring the conflict to a close the quickest), and the rules require more precision because they could kill characters so some of the more free aspects of a human GM are lost. It's not it's badwrongfun, it's just not what I really want from game night.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
The 5e initiative is baked into the system and intimately tied into ability & spell durations. Much as I would prefer B/X style initiative, changing it would be a major pain in the ass.
Would it? I’m not an expert on 5e by any means, but looking at the basic rules I see most durations stated as concentration, 1 minute, 1 hour, etc. There’s the occasional 1 round, but in that case you just have the effect end at the end of a round, rather than tying it to the end of a specific character’s turn.

I also gather that side initiative is an optional variant in the DMG, among others, and Mearls published his own initiative variant a couple of years back. Apparently the designers don’t think 5e breaks if you change initiative. But maybe I’m not seeing what you’re referring to.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
Before engaging in a meaningful discussion on the topic of boring combat I would have to ask, are we discussing combat as sport or combat as war? I am not saying one is better than the other and find both approaches enjoyable but it helps to know where someone is coming from before I pitch in my 2 cents.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
Would it? I’m not an expert on 5e by any means, but looking at the basic rules I see most durations stated as concentration, 1 minute, 1 hour, etc. There’s the occasional 1 round, but in that case you just have the effect end at the end of a round, rather than tying it to the end of a specific character’s turn.
Spell durations are tied to the end of target and caster turns. If you fuck with initiative too much it causes unwanted consequences that have to be accounted for. It's not impossible but it's a lot of work for little payoff.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
Spell durations are tied to the end of target and caster turns. If you fuck with initiative too much it causes unwanted consequences that have to be accounted for. It's not impossible but it's a lot of work for little payoff.
I see what you’re saying. But to my understanding, tying durations to specific characters’ turns isn’t actually important in itself and is more a consequence of the default initiative system than a reason for it. The suggestion above to tie durations to the end of the round of the turn in question is straight from the designers, and it’s also what some close relatives of 5e do.

As for payoff, sure, for you it’s probably not worth it if the default system doesn’t bother you. For me the default system is tedious, and I’m not going to use it in any case, so the bar for payoff is lower. I guess I’m also pretty loose in my interpretation of things to begin with, especially if I don’t see them as crucial to player decision-making.

I don’t run 5e, but right now I am running Monarchies of Mau, which is based on it, and its default initiative system is looser (winner picks the next to go and so forth until the end of the round). Even so, I often don’t bother with it.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
Roseblack Roseblack My experience with 3x showed me that tracking spell and ability durations individually by round is far more tedious than rolling for initiative once at the start of combat and recording it on a whiteboard but I am not going to argue the point.

Oh hey I didn't notice you were new to the board, welcome!

If you are looking for more streamlined 5e hacks I recommend you take a look at Into the Unknown. It combines some of the better design elements from 5e and B/X.
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
Oh hey I didn't notice you were new to the board, welcome!

If you are looking for more streamlined 5e hacks I recommend you take a look at Into the Unknown. It combines some of the better design elements from 5e and B/X.
Thanks. I’ll look into it. I do have a newfound respect for B/X, thanks to Old-School Essentials, though I haven’t gotten to take it for a spin yet. I might do a thread about that if I find the energy.
 

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
Thanks. I’ll look into it. I do have a newfound respect for B/X, thanks to Old-School Essentials, though I haven’t gotten to take it for a spin yet. I might do a thread about that if I find the energy.
A B/X thread would be welcome! I am always interested in sharing ideas to improve my game or help others improve theirs.

Edit: I also like 5e quite a bit but after running and playing for years I am a little burnt out and on a B/X kick.
 
Last edited:

TJS

Legendary Member
Joined
May 5, 2018
Messages
1,624
Reaction score
3,052
Something I'm playing around with in a rules hack I'm working on for a Game of Thrones style game of medieval noble houses and intrigue is just using a dramatic task resolution system for skirmishes. Similar to Dramatic Tasks in savage worlds where everyone makes skill rolls and you need to get a specific number of successes in a certain amount of time to succeed.

This system would have a combat system, but I want it to be focused more specifically on duelling, rather than small group. The benefits of using dramatic tasks for combat larger than one on one would be:
1) Using basically the same system for a whole range of dramatic situations
2) Players can actually contribute with mininal combat skills (they can spot someone sneaking around the back or cause a distraction etc)
3) You can scale up easily if there are large numbers of NPC on each side (the players just roll different skills to rally or lead)

What I'm bored with is the idea that the rules for combat always treat is as a small scale squad skirmish.
 

Silverlion

Legendary Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2017
Messages
1,818
Reaction score
2,498
Have you tried High Valor? I mean it seems simplistic, but the tactical choices matter. Just hitting and rolling has no combat effect you aim for the kill but risk death in return, or take a more "safe" mode of conflict and strike to wound a specific way (you describe), and if you succeed you injure that limb/eye/whatever and slows your target with that problem for an easier kill so long as you take advantage of the wound. Though it does lean narrative (Description matter, but in character.)
 

opaopajr

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,542
Reaction score
1,981
I hate combat crunch too. I am of the experience that I like to have the option WHEN I need it, but otherwise like to leave it turned off. (My fastest AD&D 2e battle was less than 10 seconds and it involved awareness, surprise round charge attack, morale break flee, following slaughter and capture of injured; around six dice rolls total, half being the solo player. We accomplished so much those sessions.)

A lot of the classic systems of yesteryear assume a modular crunch complexity. BUT!, they also explain they are options, discuss the advantages and challenges of each, and then expect you to make coherent decisions for your table's tastes. IMHO, most stuff tends to peak around 1e and 2e editions and from there on becomes a Katamari Damaci (video game reference: blob stuff together to make a star!) of cruft options.

All your struggles I have seen fixed on lite and ultra-lite chassis of D&D, GURPS, WEG d6, Talislanta, WW oWoD, Cyberpunk, etc. and their homebrew mods. (Only exception I've seen is FASA games; those be clunky clusterfucks whose Gordian Knots I have not seen solved to satisfaction.)

No system will save you for you have already been saved; that path of "new-system-salvation!" is like selling you opium, chasing the dragon while ignoring your GM responsibility. It was answered before in 70s, 80s, & 90s, it is being re-answered now as the Cult of RAW and Cult of the Balance from the d20 Glut Years are fading powers. You have to assume mastery over your system's offerings and use the 'OFF' buttons they give you to tailor your experiences. Most big name games already have toolkits built-in and/or quickstart versions.

:smile: Relax and know you are not alone. Do a survey of your table and see who else wants to dial down the tactical cruft. Then isolate what your table defines as cruft about combat and check correspondence if there's already suggested solutions in your cozy, reliable system (there probably is). Finally try out a few mock battles and see if the flavor is to taste before incorporating the changes into the campaign. You got this!
 

opaopajr

Legendary Member
Joined
May 4, 2017
Messages
1,542
Reaction score
1,981
The 5e initiative is baked into the system and intimately tied into ability & spell durations. Much as I would prefer B/X style initiative, changing it would be a major pain in the ass.

It's not as bad as you think. Give it a whirl. :smile: Whatever perceived losses there are are mostly fine-grained tactical advantages.

I know and love CCG loophole exploitation as the next gamer. But in RPGs I will gladly sacrifice a lot of that for a simpler experience to get in more playtime and ease any confusion from other players. What is lost from the initiative change in my experience is worth losing for my tastes. Try it, you might like it!
 

AsenRG

Legendary Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2018
Messages
7,951
Reaction score
8,018
Play a game without combat. Something like the Dallas rpg perhaps.

Or find a game with interesting combat. Either edition of Feng Shui could be a good choice.
I hate boring HP-attrition combat. I hate the way most D&D combats are run with just mindless hit and damage rolls with no detail or description. D&D was already bad in 1e and 2e with the stacks of HP to hack through, but 3e and onward really made a slog for the slog's sake. 4e was the only one with interesting stuff going on, but even it had the HP attrition dialed up as far as the knob would go and then ripped off.

You need to play a game with a more interesting combat system.

Yeah, what these two said:thumbsup:!
 

Jan Paparazzi

Legendary Member
Joined
Oct 26, 2017
Messages
318
Reaction score
449
When I see a grid then I know it will take a while for combat. I generally play other games now and those systems I use (WoD, BRP, Unisystem) have shorter combat. The combat generally last between 15-30 mins and the rules are pretty vague on some things, so you have to fill in the blanks a lot to give it some flavor. But that's the way I like it. The Swiss army knive approach to combat, with all of the players being stacked with magical items and spells, doesn't work for me. The turns take too long and it bores me. Plus it leads to some sort of arms race where everyone is ramping up their characters all the time. It becomes more like a board game or card game.
 

xanther

Legendary Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
1,404
Reaction score
1,536
Combat in my games lasts about 10-15 minutes. Maybe it's not combat it's the crunch you dislike.
Same, or much less if the numbers are small, live 6 v 12. Not so much because it is super deadly and over in two swings, but because each "round" is fast, so can go through 10 "rounds" in a couple minutes max.

I also dislike the height of "tactics" being run into range and attack or play a feat "card."

I want movement, aim, being able to decide to defend or go berserk, aid a friend, drink a potion, jump, etc. to all be tactical options that are supported by the rules and do not slow the flow of combat one bit. My combats have that.
 

xanther

Legendary Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
1,404
Reaction score
1,536
.....This system would have a combat system, but I want it to be focused more specifically on duelling, rather than small group. The benefits of using dramatic tasks for combat larger than one on one would be:
1) Using basically the same system for a whole range of dramatic situations
2) Players can actually contribute with mininal combat skills (they can spot someone sneaking around the back or cause a distraction etc)
3) You can scale up easily if there are large numbers of NPC on each side (the players just roll different skills to rally or lead)
...
With you on these desired elements though do approach it differently as do like combat.
1) I use the same count success system for all situations, just different talents/skills determine how many dice you roll and what a success represents is different...in combat it could be a hit or block, in a negotiation it could be a price reduction, more aid, more time, or level of positive reaction to you.

2) I don't limit what one can do in combat or with the dice you roll to swing to hit....the success represent more power or effectiveness, you can use them do to thing like move etc.
More importantly, finding a count success system makes those with minimal combat skill something that cannot be ignored. Maybe best to explain by example. A success is a 5 or 6 on a d6. The minimal combat skill person (farmer) rolls 1d6, say a tough veteran rolls 4d6 (and gets modifiers to make success easier), and lets say an evil overlord rolls 6d6 (also with modifiers).
Most systems compare farmer skill to overlord skill (or AC) to see if farmer hits [and in most systems farmer has 0% or always hits on an x]
Not here.
Everyone rolls the d6 they have, so if it was 3 farmers and veteran vs. overlord, the farmers each roll 1d6, the veteran rolls 4d6 and the overlord 6d6.
On average one of the farmers will get a 5 o6 6 (so 1 success from that source) and veteran say 2 success, and the overlord say 3 success. A "success" does not just mean "oh i hit." Rather one can apply one's success to move, block, etc. and hit. So the farmers have a chance to get a "success" that is unaffected by the level of their opponent.

For example, (1) the farmer and veteran could decide all out attack, now the overlord could use all 3 of their success to block these attacks, block 2 and hit with one etc. or (2) the farmer could decide to act as a shield man and use their success to block an attack against the veteran, or (3) the farmer could use their success to move behind the overlord...and the overlord would have to use a success to counter this move by the farmer yet that leaves the overlord one less success to attack the veteran or defend against the veteran's attacks.

The point is, the farmers can't just be ignored and their chance to hit (get a success) is not reduced by the overlords mere "level."

3) I love large battles, my scale up relies more on this approach as in I do not need to compare unit x to unit y to see it's chance to "hit" unit y. Rather all units roll there dice at the same time. The question does unit x hit unit y is answered by seeing if unit x applies more successes to attack unit y than unit y applies success to block unit x's attacks.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TJS

Brock Savage

Cosmic Barbarian
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
2,672
Reaction score
5,995
It's not as bad as you think. Give it a whirl. :smile: Whatever perceived losses there are are mostly fine-grained tactical advantages.

I know and love CCG loophole exploitation as the next gamer. But in RPGs I will gladly sacrifice a lot of that for a simpler experience to get in more playtime and ease any confusion from other players. What is lost from the initiative change in my experience is worth losing for my tastes. Try it, you might like it!
If you have links to a viable system by all means share!
 

Roseblack

Active Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
29
Reaction score
59
I’ll also chime in on disliking hp attrition. It’s a lot of bookkeeping for what is really just a pacing mechanism.

Aside from the card initiative, another thing I like about Savage Worlds is that it mostly does away with attrition and instead focuses on setting up one good, decisive hit to take down the enemy. Major opponents have more of a buffer against instant kills, but the same principle applies.

As with all things Savage Worlds, it’s a bit swingier, but pacing-wise it averages out about the same as a hp system without the bookkeeping. It also means helping to set up a decisive strike can be more useful than attacking all the time, so you get more variety in character actions.

I wish more systems would explore this space instead of automatically defaulting to a hp-attrition system.

I also like systems that allow you to group minor foes together and treat them as one unit instead of tracking them all individually. Not only is managing multiple hp pools a pain with little benefit, but my players are never clear about which nameless mook they’re targeting. For example, I like how ICRPG treats the entire scene as a single challenge with a certain amount of “hearts,” which can include all the things involved in it.
 
Last edited:
Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com
Top