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Old 10-13-2015, 04:14 PM   #1
VariousRen
 
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Default Fighting in Poor Lighting

A party of PC's is being ambushed at night at their camp, which is lit by a few torches and a camp fire. We've already established that the torches and low burning camp fire give a -3 vision penalty because they are throwing long flickering shadows, so a -3 to all attacks going on unless people have night vision.

My question is what happens with defenses when lighting is used to penalize attacks. Basic Set pg.394 says that all attacks are penalized, not skill, so as written defenses shouldn't change. This seems like it would turn most fights into a stalemate, with evenly matched opponents having normal defenses but no extra skill to deceptive attack it down to hit-able ranges.

I haven't had much experience with low-light fights, so I figured I would ask if this would cause any problems and drag out fights, and if defenses should be penalized by penalty/2.
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Old 10-13-2015, 04:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

As far as I can tell, active defenses are rarely penalized, not even by shock penalty. Also, bad lighting does not show up on the Active Defense Modifiers table on B548f.
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Old 10-13-2015, 05:12 PM   #3
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

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Originally Posted by VariousRen View Post
I haven't had much experience with low-light fights, so I figured I would ask if this would cause any problems and drag out fights, and if defenses should be penalized by penalty/2.
The most straight forward answer: Depends on your power level... and if the sides are evenly matched in terms of skill. However, regardless without any penalty mitigator (Night Vision, Dark Vision, etc) combat will slow a little.

Unless one-side really just outclasses the other, which case it's just a lopsided fight that gets even more lopsided.


Lower attack skills, 10-14 range, means attacks and defenses are almost 50/50, no one can afford to Deceptive Attack. Feints will feel strongly rewarded and almost necessary. At this level it will probably drag a bit.

'Mid'-level skills, 15-17, means attacks are slightly better. Still going to be feints instead of Deceptive Attacks. Committed Attack Determined could pull of a Deceptive Attack at this skill level. Combat will slow some.

High level skills, 18-21, means it will only slow it down a bit. The skill 20 warrior isn't making -3 Deceptive Attacks every turn anymore (unless he's going AOA Determined), though he try for Committed Attack Determined.

DF Knights, skills 22-25, does he even notice the darkness? He can afford to Deceptive Attack (even a -1 on the enemy's defense is useful) or targeted attack (limbs or vitals-3, face or neck -5) which will help keep the combat moving at a steady pace.

Uber skills, 26+, this piddly torchligt does not even phase this warrior. Even total darkness or sudden blindness will not stop this killing machine.
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Old 10-13-2015, 06:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

Defenses become penalized by trying more risky attacks to make up for the lighting penalty - All Out or Committed attacks for the attack bonus.

Otherwise, yes, people trying to hit each other in the dark is a bit farcical.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

By the way, that was how Pat Garret killed Billy the Kid, in a barn in the dark.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

Note that poor lighting can be combined with stealth, which will speed things up by causing the defender to not get a defense at all.
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Old 10-13-2015, 07:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

Unless the defender knows he's coming anyway. Then the main advantage is just masking the approach.

In the incident I described, Billy knew Pat was coming for him. In retrospect he might have been wiser to wait by the door. Maybe he was afraid the backup would see him.
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Old 10-13-2015, 11:57 PM   #8
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

The only 'visibility' penalty for active defences seems to be "can't see the attacker: -4". 'Flank' or 'Rear with Peripheral Vision' attract a -2 which could also be considered a penalty for poor vision.

Either way, this implies that an Active Defence only attracts a -2 when it's "hard" or "very hard", and a -4 when it's "almost impossible" to "impossible" in the sense these terms are used on B345-346. At most I'd only assign a -2 when the lighting penalty is -6 or worse, and the -4 is clearly for when there's no light at all, and I'd be inclined to go with what the rules imply - no penalty at all as long as you can see at all (or have some other targeting sense to use instead).

As for this resulting in a comedy of people flailing around madly, hitting nothing, that's how brawls in the dark tend to go, and the real damage is done by getting hit by things you never because they blind-sided you or were aimed at someone else.

Firefights are even worse. You're firing at vague shapes and muzzle flashes, unless you have good modern low-light sights you can't see your own sights, and friend vs foe is based mostly on their relative position, so if someone gets turned around in the confusion (easy enough even in daylight!), they could well be shooting at their own side. Night Vision gear helps to an extent, but it cuts into peripheral vision, making it easer to lose orientation - to my mind that's probably the biggest advantage of the gear in UT over today's gear - the goggles and visors don't have this limitation.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:52 AM   #9
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Default Re: Fighting in Poor Lighting

I'd apply them to the skill and calculate defence accordingly (so basically -pen/2)

Otherwise it makes no sense (I can't see you enough to hit you without taking a penalty, but I can see you enough to stop you hitting me without a penalty?). Other sources of penality seem to apply to defences so I don't see why these shouldn't

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
The only 'visibility' penalty for active defences seems to be "can't see the attacker: -4". 'Flank' or 'Rear with Peripheral Vision' attract a -2 which could also be considered a penalty for poor vision.

Either way, this implies that an Active Defence only attracts a -2 when it's "hard" or "very hard", and a -4 when it's "almost impossible" to "impossible" in the sense these terms are used on B345-346.
That to me seems pretty close to a -8 light penalty as a point of comparison.

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
At most I'd only assign a -2 when the lighting penalty is -6 or worse, and the -4 is clearly for when there's no light at all, and I'd be inclined to go with what the rules imply - no penalty at all as long as you can see at all (or have some other targeting sense to use instead).

As for this resulting in a comedy of people flailing around madly, hitting nothing, that's how brawls in the dark tend to go, and the real damage is done by getting hit by things you never because they blind-sided you or were aimed at someone else.

This is something that having successful defences being a subset of successful attacks actually works well for (for most people throwing attacks at -8 due to very poor light is going to pretty much give flailing around without much hope without really worrying about adjusting defences).

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
Firefights are even worse. You're firing at vague shapes and muzzle flashes, unless you have good modern low-light sights you can't see your own sights, and friend vs foe is based mostly on their relative position, so if someone gets turned around in the confusion (easy enough even in daylight!), they could well be shooting at their own side. Night Vision gear helps to an extent, but it cuts into peripheral vision, making it easer to lose orientation - to my mind that's probably the biggest advantage of the gear in UT over today's gear - the goggles and visors don't have this limitation.
Yeah, I think its definitely worth playing up the disadvantages of TL8 night vision to match that description. I'd certainly penalise defending against gun fire in the dark. Even with the "dodge this" rules tweak you need to be aware of an attack to have chance.

Last edited by Tomsdad; 10-14-2015 at 12:18 PM.
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