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Old 04-21-2013, 06:32 AM   #1
Tomsdad
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Default Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

Ok as an offshoot of the wait - parry/counter thread, I was thinking about in RAW you only have to actively defend against a 'successful' attack (or rather one that will be successful should you either fail to actively defend or decide not to).

Now I read a few threads on when I searched on this, and I've read T-bone's DECIDE article, and there seems to be some debate on this

One of the points that was raised that an attack that misses is an attack that will miss if you choose to do nothing, and that being able to employ all the techniques that follow successful defences is a bit over balancing (or in fact any other secondary benefits the various options give you following a successful defence other than successfully defending).

Then it stuck me not choosing an active defence is not the same as just standing their hoping your opponent will miss. GURPS assumes that it is a combat situation with the inherent difficulty involved in that. Which is why you get a +4 if it's not, or a +4 for a telegraphic attack etc, etc.

I.e a miss in GURPS turns is not just a matter of your opponent aiming somewhere 'over there' but partly you also not being 'over there' any more due to the normal rough and tumble of combat.

So I'm thinking that I might ask my players to decide to actively defend in response to them being attacked not in response to them finding out if they will be hit or if they won't.

Positives:

More tactical choices to make, "is this chap good enough to hit me?" I'd allow evaluate checks to try and determine opponents skill (i.e. also allow contest's to try and mask you skill level, but we'e getting into GURPS feint territory here).

Active defences in general are more of a tactical choice, right now you take them (or choose to have them available) because you'll be hit if you don't. Now you choice weather or not to is not based on such concrete information. This will make feints slightly more powerful because I'd rule if the 'defender' failed the contest role he's has to make the same choice. However since the feint isn't an attacks I would not actually have the defence rolled (just used up as response) that way you won't have any parry/counter attacks to feints that aren't actually attacks. The Defender will obviously know at that point that it was feint, but can't do anything about it by then (they'll still get the defence negs on the following attack). If the defence included a retreat I would have the retreat take place, my rationale being a successful feint works by looking like a legitimate attack and a retreat is a reasonable response to an actual attack. This will mean that feints can be used to 'push back' opponents by causing them to retreat against phantom attacks. However I think that matches reality, and anything increases movement and reach interaction is good.


Negatives:

This might mess with the normal back and forth of GURPS combat that based on the RAW assumptions of when and why the choice to actively defend gets made.

Feints might be over powerful

Techniques that start with a successful parry (counter attack, beat etc) now no longer require a successful initial attack, just an attack. I think I would give such techniques a neg of half the margin of failure of the initial attack rounded down, as it is harder to beat/counter etc a weapon that's off target especially as such techniques are normally designed for use on a successful (on target) attack. I did half the margin rounded down for two reasons:

1). Block and parry are 'half skills'.
2). You can still use the miss by one = hesitation (which I wouldn't ask for a decision to defend against).

A lot of GURPS combat and options are based on the current back and forth (and choices that it's predicated on), so doing this might mess up something else I haven't thought of.


Finally I might allow a skill roll to allow a defender to realise if the incoming attack will be on target, with a bonus equal to any accumulated evaluation maneuvers (in the same way as it does for feints).

Last edited by Tomsdad; 04-21-2013 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:59 AM   #2
Jovus
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

In my experience, your first tactical choice - evaluation - isn't one. Players won't take it; they'll be too busy doing something to take the other guy out. (They might be slightly more likely to take an evaluate if they get that on top of the normal +1, but I haven't seen an evaluate maneuver in actual play yet when I didn't take it myself.)

Also, just to be clear, there's another con: remembering this rule and communicating it clearly to the players. The shift-over period may be a bit awkward.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:34 AM   #3
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

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Originally Posted by Jovus View Post
In my experience, your first tactical choice - evaluation - isn't one. Players won't take it; they'll be too busy doing something to take the other guy out. (They might be slightly more likely to take an evaluate if they get that on top of the normal +1, but I haven't seen an evaluate maneuver in actual play yet when I didn't take it myself.)
I was hoping these changes would encourage evaluate's use (but I'm not sure if it's actually enough to do so). I use the last gasp rules as well, which tend to encourage evaluate in longer combats, but again I couldn't tell you if it's by a significant amount. Or just its now occasional use stands out because it was so rare before!


Also that use of evaluate was just an extra option, it wasn't the positive in and off itself. I think the actual increase in tactical thinking would come from the removal of one area of certainty from the decision to actively defend. Right now RAW you choice to defend (or rather your choice to defend governed by your earlier actions) based on the knowledge that you'll only be called to do so when you definitely need to. With this option instead of definitely it becomes 'maybe', more uncertainty is introduced and has to be accounted for.

I probably wouldn't bother with all this with more incidental fights and opponents, and it wouldn't fit all campaigns.

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Originally Posted by Jovus View Post
Also, just to be clear, there's another con: remembering this rule and communicating it clearly to the players. The shift-over period may be a bit awkward.
Absolutely. Although I'm hoping it won't be to much, the extra rules are basically:

1). Asking them if they defend before telling them if the attack succeeded*.
1a). Maybe letting them have a skill roll first to see if they think it will.

*And I should have stated the attack has to be able to succeed in order to require an answer (i.e. you can only fake if you could succeed).

The rest was more tweaks to other options. i.e reactions to feints, parrying & countering off a missed attack

My main concern is am I doing something to get an effect that is already accounted for in GURPS (which has a tendency of happening with house rules)!


One thing I did think off with all this was maybe giving the player the option to wait and see before deciding (i.e RAW), but if he does so his active defence gets a penalty. Actually I would definitely do this for dodges against missile attacks were the concept of knowing the attack is on target is a bit weird. Where it's accepted you're dodging the end of the gun being pointed at you or anticipating the path of attack, and not actually waiting to assess weather or not the bullet, arrow etc will hit you while it's in motion!

There is also the issue of targeted attacks on locations, I'm slightly torn on this one. On one hand I love the idea of the defending player knowing (in some way) the attacker is going for his eye, and deciding weather or not to risk not defending and hoping the -9 to hit will mean a miss, but its a big gamble! And also I can't help think that an attack missing the eye by -5 is not the same as an attack that misses the torso by -5 in terms of how easy it would be to parry (or in reality collecting the opponents weapon) in preparation for a counter. On the other hand at this point I may be taking it all a bit far!

Last edited by Tomsdad; 04-21-2013 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 04-21-2013, 08:46 AM   #4
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomsdad View Post
Negatives:

This might mess with the normal back and forth of GURPS combat that based on the RAW assumptions of when and why the choice to actively defend gets made.
This mostly affects fights where a PC is defending against several attacks - either several opponents, or one who can attack several times during a turn.

Parry and Block are defences that degrade with repeated use during a turn. If you're going to keep that the same, they become less useful, because some of their uses will get wasted on attacks that miss. But Dodge retains full effectiveness, and becomes more useful.

Now, I'm guessing that your fights feature a fair amount of Parry and Block, or you wouldn't be noticing the problem. This change is likely to see your PCs trying to boost their Dodges and/or finding ways to have more DR, or stand up to injury better. If you're happy with that, fine.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:04 AM   #5
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

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This mostly affects fights where a PC is defending against several attacks - either several opponents, or one who can attack several times during a turn.

Parry and Block are defences that degrade with repeated use during a turn. If you're going to keep that the same, they become less useful, because some of their uses will get wasted on attacks that miss. But Dodge retains full effectiveness, and becomes more useful.

Now, I'm guessing that your fights feature a fair amount of Parry and Block, or you wouldn't be noticing the problem. This change is likely to see your PCs trying to boost their Dodges and/or finding ways to have more DR, or stand up to injury better. If you're happy with that, fine.
TBH in most of my campaigns parry and block tend to be the higher defences than dodge, this might be skewing my judgement, and I do tend to limit dodges anyway ala MA. When I do fantasy it's more the gritty dark end of the spectrum. The more DR and injury tolerance point is good one, and one that fits my reasoning, I do want to encourage more defensive fighting. Accordingly I definitely like the idea of my PC's fighting defensively (or tactically) when facing multiple opponents
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:10 AM   #6
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

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Originally Posted by Tomsdad View Post
in most of my campaigns parry and block tend to be the higher defences than dodge, this might be skewing my judgement
That's normal: in campaigns where Parry and Block are significant, they are much cheaper to get to high values than Dodge, and easier to rationalise.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:19 AM   #7
Pagan
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

I've been having my players call their defenses (whether an attack is successful or not) for years. It hasn't messed with the flow of combat and all of them (some of the them ex-military, some martial artist) believe it is more realistic. That being said (before a whole simulationist debate starts) I run a gritty sword & sorcery type campaign which at times is heavy on combat and it has worked out just fine.
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:37 AM   #8
malloyd
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

In addition to degrading defenses in combats with multiple foes, the other major downside is probably making combats slower - you are adding one more exchange with the player (to ask what defense they use or not) and one extra die roll (the outcomes of which don't matter much, since only critical failures will change anything) to each failed attack. If a lot of attacks fail, that could be quite a lot of time.
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Old 04-21-2013, 10:21 AM   #9
Jovus
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

It also negates the effect of criticals for your NPCs, unless you go ahead and roll anyway, at which point any time-savings on your part are absent.

That said, I like the idea in theory, and have tried a few times to get it into games I've run. It just never stuck; it made the GM's turn take a lot longer.
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Old 04-21-2013, 11:05 AM   #10
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: Knowing the outcome of an attack before choosing to actively defend

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
That's normal: in campaigns where Parry and Block are significant, they are much cheaper to get to high values than Dodge, and easier to rationalise.
Sorry I worded that badly what I meant to say is, high dodges are pretty rare in my campaigns so they are already limited in reliability.

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Originally Posted by Pagan View Post
I've been having my players call their defenses (whether an attack is successful or not) for years. It hasn't messed with the flow of combat and all of them (some of the them ex-military, some martial artist) believe it is more realistic. That being said (before a whole simulationist debate starts) I run a gritty sword & sorcery type campaign which at times is heavy on combat and it has worked out just fine.
Cool, good to know it can work.

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In addition to degrading defenses in combats with multiple foes, the other major downside is probably making combats slower - you are adding one more exchange with the player (to ask what defense they use or not) and one extra die roll (the outcomes of which don't matter much, since only critical failures will change anything) to each failed attack. If a lot of attacks fail, that could be quite a lot of time.
True, however I'd say any combat were there are a lot of misses is going to require a lot of rolls anyway.

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Originally Posted by Jovus View Post
It also negates the effect of criticals for your NPCs, unless you go ahead and roll anyway, at which point any time-savings on your part are absent.
Sorry which criticals do you mean? The NPC's would still be rolling to attacks with a chance of criticals? And thinking about it the same reasoning applies how would you know nit to defend against an attack because it was a 'critical attack' in the same way how would you know an attack won't hit you so wouldn't think about defending against it.

As to time savings yes if you roll all defences there will be none. However you could roll the defence first to find out of you need to roll the attack. The way I see it a successful defence roll removes the need to roll for attack, but a successful attack roll doesn't remove the need to roll to defend (but I haven't looked that properly, you would still have the issue with missing criticals above at the least)!

However I'm not really looking for time savings here, I looking to make defence less pre-cognative. However playability is always going to be factor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jovus View Post
That said, I like the idea in theory, and have tried a few times to get it into games I've run. It just never stuck; it made the GM's turn take a lot longer.
Cool, I reckon mine will impinge more on the PC's than the GM as they are making more decisions and making more rolls (but I'll be having to take into account the changes for feints etc though).
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