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Old 07-10-2018, 11:46 AM   #31
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Suggested Revision of UC Talents

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
Summary

Rules question - if a figure is knocked down before he attacks, can he stand up as his action? Or must he wait to stand up next turn (and effectively lose 2 attacks).

If he did not move at all that turn, he is eligible to switch to the Stand Up option and stand. Otherwise he is down for a turn.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:01 PM   #32
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Talent Point Cost Assessment

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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
After thinking it through, I think that the reduction in talent point cost for unarmed combat talents is justified, and might not go far enough.

Consider this - one-handed swords add from +3 to +5.5 to a figure's barehanded damage (AM, p. 21). A dagger effectively adds +2 in regular combat.

UC I lets a figure do one point more damage, barehanded. I personally don't think that's even worth 1 talent point, since the Knife talent costs 1 point and will let you do +2 damage.
Um, so IF you are trying to create a game where it is a (nearly?) equally effective choice to fight with no equipment and use martial arts instead, then you might want to balance those sorts of numbers. If you're making a game to represent a kung fu film, that could make sense, and you might even want it to be better to be unequipped - oh wait, the armor restriction and abilities at UC IV and V do sort of do that, if anyone could reach those levels.

Is that what's wanted?

I would think it would make more sense to have it be more effective to use physical weapons and equipment than to not. Blackbelts rightly fear people with weapons, even knives. Weapons do damage for the reason they're sharp metal and they're also bigger and longer than hands and you don't get hurt when they get hit. If you balance them to be equal with UC talents, then you'll get what you aim for: a game where it's just as effective to use your hands as weapons (or moreso, as you can't detect when someone's armed & ready if their weapons are their hands, you can't disarm them, they don't need to buy or carry any gear, they don't make clanking sounds, etc).


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
UC II lets a barehanded ST 8 figure do the same damage as a ST 8 fighter with Knife talent and a dagger. A ST 11+ figure will do significantly less damage than a fighter with comparable ST armed with a sword. He can "throw" a foe by shield rushing him. However, any fighter with a shield can do that. Two talent points to get to this level of ability is overpriced in my opinion.
Overpriced only if you want UC to be as effective as being armed with sword & shield.


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
UC III lets a barehanded ST 9-10 figure do about as much damage as a sword armed fighter with the same ST. A ST11+ figure will do 1.5-2.5 less damage than his sword wielding counterpart. Allowing the figure to defend barehanded is also a pretty minimal benefit, since anyone with knife, sword, ax/mace or pole weapons can do that.
And since Defend is often not a useful move anyway. But again, why would your goal be to make unarmed combat as good as armed combat?


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
However, the ability to "throw" a foe and require him to roll 5/DX to avoid falling down is potentially VERY powerful. Effectively, he can neutralize any enemy with less than 2X his ST most of the time. In my opinion, UC III is worth one talent point, but I'm not sure about 2 talent points.

UC IV gives the "eyes behind" ability and makes the figure very hard to hit if defending. In my opinion, UC IV is worth one talent point, but I'm not sure about 2 talent points.
It seems to me that positional tactics is one of the main features of TFT, and removing most of the facing effects is an unfortunate kind of feature because it removes that. (Kind of like why I don't like simply removing all effects of Unready weapons with a Quick Draw talent - it makes game situations have fewer features to consider.) Having "I only have one side hex" be a 1-point talent that comes with other abilities and leads to UC V, seems undesirable to me.


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
UC V is the payoff ability. The figure is much harder to hit in combat (even moreso with the new limit on attribute increases). The nerve strike ability is very nasty; a ST 10 martial artist will do 3 points of damage 2/3 of the time. The figure is effectively impossible to hit if dodging or defending. This talent is definitely worth 3 talent points in my opinion.
Yes, as the only non-magical way to make yourself harder to hit without sacrificing your action, it's definitely worth (more than) 3 memory points, even if that were the only effect of it. One good thing about the original extreme path to UC V was that it made these very potent/unique abilities really hard to get. Reducing the costs of UC I - III may make sense for them, but having magic-like effects at IV and V be cheaper to get to as a consequence is a balance consideration (and again, then it depends on what balance you're aiming for - do you want balance aimed at "everybody knows kung fu fighting" or do you want it to be a rare difficult possibility?).

The drop-weapon effect is quite severe and seems wrong (every time you hit someone hard enough, you "hit a nerve" and they drop their weapon? I haven't even seen that in extreme kung fu films.) Though again, if the design goal is to get everyone doing kung fu, it also leads in that direction (and I have seen that in kung fu films).

Of course, this is another place where memory points and attribute caps make a big difference. Memory point limits mean large talent investment leaves little room for other things unless you have high IQ, and attribute caps (or a steep EP curve) means taking high IQ means less ST + DX.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:05 PM   #33
Steve Jackson
President and EIC
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Default Re: Unarmed Combat

I think I like the Kick suggestion.

I am not concerned that a trained swordsman would be overall superior to a UC fighter. Otherwise the armies of the Middle Ages would not have carried swords.

But there is room for UC improvement.

What if at UC II or III there begins a cumulative penalty to hit the martial artist, and possibly a slight damage reduction? Most of the arts teach both redirection of blows and (e.g., aikido) just not being there when the blow comes.

I think at UC 5, all your hexes should be front. UC 5 is based as much on Bruce Lee as on any observation of RW fighters.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:14 PM   #34
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Unarmed Combat

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
What if at UC II or III there begins a cumulative penalty to hit the martial artist, and possibly a slight damage reduction? Most of the arts teach both redirection of blows and (e.g., aikido) just not being there when the blow comes.
I've played TFT with various forms of house-rule talents that give (armed) fighters a +1 or +2 or +3 dice to be hit, and I liked that there was a way to be better at defending oneself (my main thing I want to houserule in TFT anyway, having fallen in love with GURPS defenses). However the large ability shifts of an entire die seemed too severe and led to people feeling out-classed by people with a higher talent level than them.

So I think a gradual increase is better than a whole die shift.

I would want an equivalent path to defense increases for armed people, representing having your sword or shield there, or other ways skilled armed/armored people can avoid getting hurt.
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:32 PM   #35
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Suggested Revision of UC Talents

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
If he did not move at all that turn, he is eligible to switch to the Stand Up option and stand. Otherwise he is down for a turn.
Are you sure? Unless you mean Unarmed Combat throws to be an exception, this contradicts Advanced Melee "Reactions To Injury" page 18:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Advanced Melee "Reactions To Injury" page 18
A figure which takes 8 or more hits in one turn IMMEDIATELY falls down. If it has not already attacked, it may not attack that turn. It may do nothing NEXT turn except stand up (or stay down). If it is in HTH combat it may do NOTHING next turn.

Consider:

Abilities that knock people down become fairly desperate time-buying attempts if this is so, because they are uncertain of success and sometimes cost something (Trip spell), but standing up always succeeds.

For example, if the situation is A faces B, and A acts first, if A chooses to try to knock B down and succeeds, and B can then stand up as his action, the next action between them is A facing B again (he's achieved nothing for knocking B down, unless time is on his side because his pal C is now able to help out).

The old Metagaming (Bill Gustafson) answer to this was that falling down costs you your next action phase (whenever that is) and your next movement phase.

[HOWITZER]
I'd also point out that it leaves room for a "stumble" effect which someone could immediately recover from. There could even be a "Tumbling" talent (or effect of Acrobatics talent) which allows you to roll adjDX (minus injury penalties, naturally) to convert a Fall into a Stumble...
[/HOWITZER]
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Old 07-10-2018, 12:45 PM   #36
JLV
 
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Location: Far northern California
Default Re: Unarmed Combat

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Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
I think I like the Kick suggestion.

I am not concerned that a trained swordsman would be overall superior to a UC fighter. Otherwise the armies of the Middle Ages would not have carried swords.

But there is room for UC improvement.

What if at UC II or III there begins a cumulative penalty to hit the martial artist, and possibly a slight damage reduction? Most of the arts teach both redirection of blows and (e.g., aikido) just not being there when the blow comes.

I think at UC 5, all your hexes should be front. UC 5 is based as much on Bruce Lee as on any observation of RW fighters.
I think I like this concept. It tracks with my personal experiences too. I'd be very interested in hearing more detail about how you think that should work. And let's face it, UC-V should be more cinematic! This is a world where magic works, so why not Crouching Tiger, etc?
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:25 PM   #37
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: Talent Point Cost Assessment

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Originally Posted by Skarg View Post
Um, so IF you are trying to create a game where it is a (nearly?) equally effective choice to fight with no equipment and use martial arts instead, then you might want to balance those sorts of numbers.
No, that's not my goal. I think martial artists should be viable, but not as good as normal sword wielding fighters. I'd just like them to be more competitive, though inferior.

My analysis is simply that even with Steve's lowered costs, beginning martial artists with UC I-III are utterly outclassed by beginning armed fighters.

Primarily this is because their damage causing ability is no better than someone armed with a 2h club or dagger AND they have to expend 3 attribute points on IQ that the fighter doesn't have to. The requirement for very high DX also forces the player to push DX to a level that is arguably sub-optimal.

UC IV doesn't change this fact; you need to compare a 34+ point martial artist with a 34+ point fighter and the fighter is every bit as dominant if not moreso (better DX allowing more armor). Armored enemies are tough on martial artists because their bare handed damage tops out at 1-1, or if they're lucky maybe 1d6.

At UC V, the balance may shift some, but you'd need to compare a 35+ point martial artist with a 35+ point fighter. The nerve strike seriously overpowers the martial artist (unless the required 3 points of damage has to happen after armor protection is subtracted AND the opponent is heavily armored).
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:43 PM   #38
John Brinegar
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Default Re: Unarmed Combat

A quick observation on the real cost of UC V: it's not just 3 points, as you have to have UC I-IV to get it. How does this affect judgments on its valuation?
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:46 PM   #39
Skarg
 
Join Date: May 2015
Default Re: Talent Point Cost Assessment

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
No, that's not my goal. I think martial artists should be viable, but not as good as normal sword wielding fighters. I'd just like them to be more competitive, though inferior.

My analysis is simply that even with Steve's lowered costs, beginning martial artists with UC I-III are utterly outclassed by beginning armed fighters.

Primarily this is because their damage causing ability is no better than someone armed with a 2h club or dagger AND they have to expend 3 attribute points on IQ that the fighter doesn't have to. The requirement for very high DX also forces the player to push DX to a level that is arguably sub-optimal.
I agree that the lower UC talents could be more accessible even that Steve's mentioned talking point. I think IQ 6 and low DX should be able to learn UC I (or some unarmed combat talent) - everyone can learn some martial arts and be more dangerous with their unarmed attacks, and low-DX people will still be lame martial artists just because they have low DX - no need to not let them have any martial arts ability at all.

In considering balance with UC skills, I think you should also take into account that UC people do best in HTH, where the tables are turned, and weapon-users can't use their weapons (except maybe a dagger). Adding the ability of UC to affect HTH initiation chances (I'd make it start with being harder (than it currently is) for someone without UC to initiate HTH), and also having HTH make it harder for people to use knives on you in HTH.


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
UC IV doesn't change this fact; you need to compare a 34+ point martial artist with a 34+ point fighter and the fighter is every bit as dominant if not moreso (better DX allowing more armor). Armored enemies are tough on martial artists because their bare handed damage tops out at 1-1, or if they're lucky maybe 1d6.
Yes, that's true but it seems to me should be true. UC shouldn't overpower weapons & armor, but offer different abilities. i.e. the UC person gets the zero-UC warrior with weapons & armor in HTH, denies their dagger use, and pins them or gets a dagger in an armor niche. Armed warriors then start to want some level of UC to deny HTH by UC gurus, which means they want to invest in some UC too, etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
At UC V, the balance may shift some, but you'd need to compare a 35+ point martial artist with a 35+ point fighter.
What do you think a 35-point character with UC V should be like?

If EP is only going to be spendable on attributes again, should it even be possible for someone with +3 attributes of experience to have the pinnacle-level of UC talents?


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Originally Posted by tbeard1999 View Post
The nerve strike seriously overpowers the martial artist (unless the required 3 points of damage has to happen after armor protection is subtracted AND the opponent is heavily armored).
Yes.
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Old 07-10-2018, 01:54 PM   #40
tbeard1999
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Tyler, Texas
Default Re: Unarmed Combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jackson View Post
I think I like the Kick suggestion.

I am not concerned that a trained swordsman would be overall superior to a UC fighter. Otherwise the armies of the Middle Ages would not have carried swords.
I totally agree. But even your revised DX and IQ prerequisites mean that most martial artists will be in the ST 9-10 range. This results in 1 die of damage. They can only average about 0.5 points of damage per hit against a generic ST 12 DX 12(10) IQ (8) fighter with small shield and leather. Conversely, with only 1 point of armor, the fighter will lay 6 points per turn on the martial artist.

Eliminating the DX and IQ prerequisites is an easy tweak that would let martial artists allocate more points to ST. This would make them a little more competitive, but still markedly inferior.

The low damage is pretty hard to overcome (though kicks might help a little). Even a ST 16 (!) martial artist will do 1d+3 damage vs the 3d+1 damage a greatsword using fighter will do. 6.5 average points vs 11.5 average points.

Quote:
But there is room for UC improvement.

What if at UC II or III there begins a cumulative penalty to hit the martial artist, and possibly a slight damage reduction? Most of the arts teach both redirection of blows and (e.g., aikido) just not being there when the blow comes.
I have no problem with it and it certainly fits the trope. However, some will argue that sword wielding figures should be able to receive similar benefits. So I'd give the rationale some thought.

I also think that using damage absorption instead of (or in addition to) imposing a DX penalty on attackers is a perfectly valid way to simulate defenses. While it may not exactly feel right, it produces the right result - a target takes less damage and is a very simple mechanic.

Quote:
I think at UC 5, all your hexes should be front. UC 5 is based as much on Bruce Lee as on any observation of RW fighters.
Sounds good to me.

We really do need a clarification on the UC V nerve-strike ability. Is it 3 points of damage BEFORE armor and shields or AFTER subtracting armor and shields?

Addendum - I just spoke with the player who always ran martial artists in my TFT campaigns (he's CTO of my firm). He said that what we ultimately did on nerve strike was require that the martial artist do at least 3 points of damage BEFORE armor/shields and that at least 1 point penetrate armor/shields.

He said that letting martial artists nerve strike if they did 3 points of damage before armor was too powerful, while requiring 3 points of damage after armor was too weak. For what that's worth.

Last edited by tbeard1999; 07-10-2018 at 03:18 PM.
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