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Saturday, February 28, 2009

D&D combat vs Time

Time wins again!

Actually, no. This particular conflict is yet unresolved, and I think that I may have figured out where the D&D abstract combat/time system started to break down. I could be (and probably am!) wrong - but here is a point where the long round feels wonky.

Touch attacks.
In D&D there's the assumption that foes spar, that the 'to-hit' roll represents the one chance in that time to 'land a telling blow' or somesuch. OK. So in walks a cleric who was clever enough to reverse his cure spell, and all he needs to do it touch the target - not to land a telling blow. In the D&D combat round there's a lot of implied action, and many of these imply contact. Touching a target - surely - is an easier task than drawing blood...
So - not a big deal as far as I am concerned, but it is very easy for me to imagine a player (probably would have been me if I ever played!) crying foul. "You want to give coup to the hobgoblin who is swinging a you...ok..."
Maybe I'm laying the blame in the wrong camp. Perhaps the apocryphal moment was spurred by a carrion-crawlin' a-hole DM (OK. That almost certainly would have been me)

I dunno - I don't feel like I'm doing a good job of elucidating this idea. It's just turning into an anti-player screed...

-------------And while I'm at it!

Called shots.
I've always had players want to do this. Really, from as long as I can remember running games - at least one player wants to poke an eye out, hamstring, disarm, etc...I've realized that this has NOTHING to do with D&D combat and time. Sorry. One reason why I liked T&T early on was because it supplied a method to resolve such things...and the D&D long round really gives them ammunition - "with that much time I can't aim for the neck, huh?" - I wonder how many variations there are on called shot house rules out there...

I don't really hate players - can't blame them for looking for/thinking of advantages, seeing as how I'm pelting them with blood bats and poisoned darts and whatnot...


nanobri said...

I played DnD a long time ago but have not kept up with it since. I've played a few White Wolf games (Mage and Exalted being my favorites). I'm playing an Exalted game currently. And I've also played Nobilis which I really like as well.

How long is the "long round" in DnD that you are referring to?

It seems every system has some area in which the rules get a little iffy. I think as long as everyone just accepts that things are not perfect and tries to have fun then things are usually ok. :)

nanobri of

Ragnorakk said...

1 minute!
I'm thinking of the "Zero Edition" of the game, the original rules - though I think that that stuck for a while...

Yeah - no game is going to have the 'perfect' mechanic for every situation -
sometimes I like really 'chunky' time resolution, other times, not so much - a more open-ended way to interpret the passage of time...

strengths and weaknesses everywhere!

I've had no experience with the games you mentioned - I wasn't much of an 'active' gamer for the better part of a decade (the same one that White Wolf came into it's own during - no connection though!) - but I've read about Exhalted - and that looks like it could be a lot of fun - and speaking of fun, Encounter Critical looks like a frigging blast!

nanobri said...

Wow, yeah, a minute long is pretty crazy. I think I prefer more on the order of a few seconds.

I've not heard of Encounter Critical, I'll have to check it out.