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Old 04-29-2020, 12:26 PM   #21
Stormcrow
 
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

I don't see how Conan has ablative DR10. He's certainly got some DR through Tough Skin, but not that much. Instead, he's got a lot of Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue, not to mention a lot of Hit Points and Health. He's also got a lot of traits that help him avoid damage in the first place: he doesn't take lots of sword-thrusts to the abdomen that he just shrugs off.
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Old 04-29-2020, 12:53 PM   #22
Kromm
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

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Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post

I don't see how Conan has ablative DR10. He's certainly got some DR through Tough Skin, but not that much. Instead, he's got a lot of Hard to Kill and Hard to Subdue, not to mention a lot of Hit Points and Health. He's also got a lot of traits that help him avoid damage in the first place: he doesn't take lots of sword-thrusts to the abdomen that he just shrugs off.
While there's a simulationist school of gamers who hate to "black box" anything, and who insist that a dodge must be stepping aside, a parry must involve weapon-on-weapon contact, etc. – and, reversing description and mechanics, who insist that anything described as a cut must correspond to injury and thus contact, anything described as avoided must correspond to no injury and thus no contact, etc. – I find the game more satisfying if one doesn't do that.

Instead, many of a hero's "injuries" in a novel are successful defenses that mean no injury in the game, and just a symbol for "I've been in combat!", explaining why those wounds don't seem to matter one scene or chapter later. Likewise, when a hero who needs time to recover from combat in a novel despite no explicit mention of a particular wound, this is a symbol for "I've been injured!", and would mean missing HP in game terms. And you can read it the other way too: HP lost in game can be "black boxed" after combat as just the result of a strenuous fight with lots of frantic defending, while the hero who has lost no HP in game can be treated dramatically as having many injuries, none of them serious.

This helps avoid the need for strange traits that crank up injury-taking capacity, be those inhuman numbers of HP, ablative DR, or some other thing. For the most part, injury-taking capacity or its lack is rated by active defense scores.
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Old 04-29-2020, 02:01 PM   #23
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

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Realistically, fights result in injuries and injuries result in lots of down time. I don't think the problem is actually about single-player games, its about play style and genre.



Most combat heavy games either need "partial failure" conditions other than wounded, access to rapid healing tech, or to mostly be about fights you have good odds to win.



I don't think that changing the number of characters in a party actually fullfills any of those, unless the enemies aren't scaled as well. But if you have 5 close fights in a row, you'll probably come out of it all banged up.
I agree. It's realistic that a person will need weeks of recovery after a fight with even a pickpocket wielding a small knife. I think I erred by not implementing enough of the cinematic options. When I prepared this campaign, the grittiness of the Hyborian setting influenced me towards realism, but in retrospect, grittiness does not necessarily mean realistic. Conan is pulp, after all.
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Old 04-29-2020, 02:30 PM   #24
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

One option is more based on GMing style than rules.
As the GM allow the player more time to gain the tactical or narrative advantage in combat. The advantage of having one player is that you don't need to split the focus, so you can let the player take as much time as they want to arrange the fight, stealth, pre fight positioning, intimidation and dirty tricks all can help.
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:28 PM   #25
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

By the way: see also pages B496–7, "Keeping the Characters Alive." It's pretty much the Basic Set's answer to the question.
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:37 PM   #26
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

I've played large amounts of combat-heavy games with single players, (even in The Fantasy Trip, where there are no defense rolls, and armor reduces your DX as much as it protects you, and death is at 0 or -1, and there is very little if any magic healing available, and it takes two days of bed rest to heal each point of damage not healed by first aid) without undue PC death or constant hospitalization.

The main things that I find work without forced balance and gameyness such as having the universe magically provide only opponents callibrated to lose have been:

1) Have the player learn combat tactics, in sessions where the player is told to expect to lose a lot of characters. e.g. Do some sample arena combats, or simple sample combat games, or "funnel" adventures, or whatever, until they learn what tactics work, and what gets you killed. Have them learn the importance, possibility, and ways of avoiding or greatly reducing getting seriously hurt.

2) Don't restrict the player group to only one PC. Let the PC join others, make friends, earn comrades, recruit or hire helpers, or run multiple characters (then if one does get badly hurt, they can rest while the other(s) do things) etc.

3) Encourage appropriate caution.

4) Accept that getting wounded some times, and healing, and having to stay alive in such situations, is an interesting part of the game.

And also, though it really doesn't come up a whole lot, except for the weaker NPC comrades:

5) Accept that the risk of death and serious injury is also a vital and interesting part of the game. If you expect to always survive, and not to have to figure out how to avoid death, and really have that be at stake, then you're undermining most of the challenge, interest, logic and point of the situations supposedly in play.
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:46 PM   #27
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

Apart from any "artistic integrity" concerns, giving Conan Ablative DR means he can't be knocked out with a blow to the head from behind out of combat, and so forth, which seems rather against the spirit of '30s pulp. If I desired to stat up "resilience points", I would probably look at a pool of points to be spent on defensive Impulse Buys.

("Damage Resistance as substitute hit points" also interfaces very poorly with armor divisors. There are many valid responses when a Barbarian Hero opposes you, but any set of rules that makes "switch to bodkin arrows" one of the best ones is problematic).
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:55 PM   #28
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

In the end, getting into fights, even if they're easy, will eventually result in bad rolls getting you wounded. Getting into fights where you feel a concern about losing will do so faster. This is not a distinctive feature of single player campaigns.
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Old 04-29-2020, 06:54 PM   #29
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Default Re: Combat in Single-Player Campaigns

Conan is a extremely cinematic setting, it may seem gritty but that is in the descriptions, not in "the rules of the world".

Basically you can have a very cinematic game and explain things like "flesh wounds" as "The enemy cut your arm and you feel week for a moment from the pain but your willpower overcomes the pain quickly and you fight on with blood dripping from your arm" or whatever.

For me at least when reading Conan, i definitely got the idea that Conan had "plot protection". That is presented in Gurps with things like luck and buying success.

As for the single player combat:
-A combatant should find a way to not be flanked- be it terrain, mobility, npc allies or whatever.
-the single combatant should definitely have luck
-they should have abilities like weapon master to allow for multiple parries and such or high enough dodge to make it a viable defense.
-They should have some emergency. best likely to be limited, way to recover from bad things. so things like flesh wounds might well work as the character point burn definitely limits it.
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