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Old 09-06-2020, 09:12 AM   #1
philosophyguy
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Default [Basic Set] Advice for abstracting combat as a contest

My play group has discovered that we enjoy official combat for major setpieces, but in most combat situations we don't need that level of granularity.

I am thinking about using the contest mechanic to abstract some of the detail of combat so it isn't as detailed, but I'm struggling with the implementation.

Has anyone done something similar? My current plan revolves around using the contest mechanic with each side needing some number of wins in order to win the encounter. I'm trying to determine a heuristic for deciding how many wins is needed in this extended contest, and how to translate the results into impact on HP/FP. We're playing a cinematic campaign, so I'm looking for reasonable interpretations rather than strict accuracy.
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Old 09-06-2020, 09:58 AM   #2
Blind Mapmaker
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Mannheim, Baden
Default Re: [Basic Set] Advice for abstracting combat as a contest

I've been wanting to do somthing like this for a while, but I haven't really got into so far. tbone made an interesting system for mini-games called 'sims' on his website.

It's not geared towards combat (the example is a somewhat violent dwarven sportsball thing, though), but the more-than-quick-contest / less-than-full-on-simulationist-combat are dang good and might be a good starting-off point.

In general I would follow the formula tbone gives: some rolls are static modifiers, some are mandatory, some are random challenges and some should be players' choice. In combat, I'd also add willingly expending resources (FP, energy reserves, powerstones, even potions etc.) to get another bonus on the final roll. Also if things actually get dicey you can narrate the opening stages and then pushing players into GURPS combat in medias res. Though that might work better with some groups than others.
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Last edited by Blind Mapmaker; 09-06-2020 at 09:59 AM. Reason: deleted a comma
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Old 09-06-2020, 12:21 PM   #3
Blind Mapmaker
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Mannheim, Baden
Default Re: [Basic Set] Advice for abstracting combat as a contest

Got a little time with nothing else to do and thought I'd give it a shot following tBone's outline (the basic mechanics are his - I am just filling in the blanks):

Each party of combattants rolls 3d6 to decide the outcome.

Each PC rolls the following as complemtary rolls to that 3d6 roll (see the article for details).

1. Attack: Use your main attack skill. If you're willing to expend at least three times the FP of an FP-based attack you may use that instead. Roll only vs. the lower skill if using spells and such. Subtract -1 if your average damage is lower than the average DR in the other party, subtract -3 if your maximum damage is lower than the average DR.

2. Defence: Use your preferred Active Defence. You may add DB for a shield, but subtract -1 if your chosen Active Defence is Shield.

3. Chance Roll (1d6):

1: Toughness: Roll vs. HT
2: Sneakiness: Roll vs. Stealth
3: Tactics: Roll vs. Tactics
4: Reflexes: Roll vs. doubled Basic Speed
5: Scary Face: Roll vs. Intimidation
6: Pure Damage: Roll vs. ST

4. Choice Roll: Roll vs. another one of the skills above of the player's choice.

5. Tally all the rolls and modifiers from all the PCs then either assign some comparable modifiers for the other party or roll and tally their rolls. Then have one of the players roll 3d6+party tally and roll 3d6+opponent modifiers. Compare and interpret the rolls.

That last bit is the hard part if we're actually talking combat. Obviously the winning party wins, but if the margin of victory is only one or two, the other folks might still be standing or in orderly retreat and their opponents might have taken considerable damage too. If you want to keep things moving I suggest treating a margin of victory of 1-2 as medium damage with maybe one character below 0 HP if help is readily available and the rest above 1/3 HP, MoV of 3-4 as everybody above 1/3 HP and MoV 5+ as scratches and expended resources/FP. It probably makes sense to note down any critical failures during the preliminary phase and assign the worst damage to those PCs.

Of course, you could also treat any MoV from -2 to +2 as a reason to play out some of the combat, though that might not be what you want.

You might add extra modifiers according for capabilities of the PCs - like +2 for fire magic users vs. trolls - or the situation - like an overall +4 for a well set-up ambush. The list under 3 is of course expandable pretty much ad infinitum - just make sure you don't mix up the probabilities if you use more d6s (though nobody is going to diss you if you use d20 for tables in your GURPS game).

Hope that gives you some ideas. As I said the main kudos for the system goes to tBone. It's a really neat one.
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Last edited by Blind Mapmaker; 09-06-2020 at 12:30 PM. Reason: added "use" before "more d6s"
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Old 09-06-2020, 01:34 PM   #4
Stormcrow
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Ronkonkoma, NY
Default Re: [Basic Set] Advice for abstracting combat as a contest

Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophyguy View Post
My play group has discovered that we enjoy official combat for major setpieces, but in most combat situations we don't need that level of granularity.

I am thinking about using the contest mechanic to abstract some of the detail of combat so it isn't as detailed, but I'm struggling with the implementation.

Has anyone done something similar?
Lots of people have suggested this. Search the forums.

The main problem is all of those traits that characters can take that rely on all those details. What benefit does someone with Combat Reflexes get? What happens when someone is stunned for one second? Can you take extra time to aim?

What I have found is that combat, as written, speeds up considerably if you simply not go into combat time until it's absolutely necessary, and you drop out of combat time as soon as it's no longer necessary, even if you anticipate more combat to come momentarily. Don't let players stop to think about what they want to do; explain ahead of time that they have to announce their maneuver within, say, five seconds of their turn arriving, or else they Do Nothing or Concentrate. Don't ask players for flowery descriptions of the combat, and don't offer any. Get it over with quickly. And if players just want to do something like Aim or Move that doesn't involve rolling or explaining details, just acknowledge them and move on to the next turn.

In other words, I've found it's not the granularity that slows down GURPS combat; it's people dwelling on the details. If it's an unimportant bit of combat, don't give it so much attention. Just resolve it and move on.
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