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Old 07-11-2014, 11:21 AM   #11
Arith Winterfell
 
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

"This takes some getting used to. "


Indeed which is why I am so appreciative of all the detailed help.

I think especially helpful is the idea about what I can look forward to in terms of how combat plays out.

That I'm looking at a system in which tactics and environment are a big deal is good to hear.

I think I will take the suggestions of having players have decent HT and may even make luck an starting advantage for heroes, required as part of just how the campaign will work. In fact I hadn't really thought about luck in terms of combat at all, but now that its come up I can see how helpful it will be in game.

My major original concern was just making sure I didn't set up combat that was going to end up being a total party kill. I want my players to really invest themselves into the characters they make and don't want them to die too easily because I threw a fight at them that was too tough because I misunderstood the feel of the system.
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Old 07-11-2014, 11:24 AM   #12
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

Remember: if you're trying to avoid a TPK in early adventures, you can lie about the die rolls. That archer rolled a 3? Ehh, tell them it was only a 10.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:01 PM   #13
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
In GURPS, "hit" = "you succeed at your attack and your enemy fails at his active defense."
Sure, as a term of art, you're absolutely correct. But I've found that exactly zero of my players use "hit" as the GURPS term of art does, and all of them use it as "I rolled well enough to make him defend - does he?" Which is why I phrase it the way I did - you will roll good enough to hit, and you should expect that your opponent will defend. The interaction isn't over yet, which is what I like about GURPS.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:07 PM   #14
Nosforontu
 
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

One thing that I would point out to you is get very used to fighters especially high skilled ones taking penalties in combat to ajust their skill level down to 16. Usually this will either come from either targeting body parts (legs are very popular for high skill mid damage pcs since crippling a leg usually means an effectively dead NPC) or deceptive attacks which lower defense rolls.

A 15 Parry may look like its going to be impossible to ever miss a defense roll until a warrior with a flail (-4 to parry), does a run around attack (-2 to defense), and does a deceptive attack for -2 to defense rolls to the target in the round for -8 to the targets defense roll.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:09 PM   #15
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter V. Dell'Orto View Post
Sure, as a term of art, you're absolutely correct. But I've found that exactly zero of my players use "hit" as the GURPS term of art does, and all of them use it as "I rolled well enough to make him defend - does he?" Which is why I phrase it the way I did - you will roll good enough to hit, and you should expect that your opponent will defend. The interaction isn't over yet, which is what I like about GURPS.
Also, as a stylistic matter "whiff" is a sports metaphor and in those sports where it is relevant a "whiff" is a swing and a total miss bordering on (or perhaps over the border to) incompetence. Something like totally missing a golf ball perhaps.

If you told me that my Gurps character had "whiffed" I would interpret that as _not_ having swung well enough to hit and done something such as rolled in the low single digits in D20. That provokes remarks such as "Ha Ha! I wave my sword in your general direction!".

So, that word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means. :)
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:19 PM   #16
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arith Winterfell View Post
That I'm looking at a system in which tactics and environment are a big deal is good to hear.
I ran a very long-term martial arts game, and let me tell you, tactics really matter. It's a different sort of tactics than D&D. D&D is about using different strengths of different team members to sort of master a group-combat. GURPS tactics can do that, but in personal, one-on-one combat, it's just as much about finding a way to floor an opponent's defenses and setting up the ideal attack. Since a single hit is enough to eliminate an opponent, it feels much more like a fencing duel than a slug-fest.
Quote:
My major original concern was just making sure I didn't set up combat that was going to end up being a total party kill. I want my players to really invest themselves into the characters they make and don't want them to die too easily because I threw a fight at them that was too tough because I misunderstood the feel of the system.
If you're not afraid of doing a little paperwork, walk yourself through a few sample fights.

Take some templates from a useful book (For low-tech melee, I recommend, in descending order of usefulness, Dungeon Fantasy templates, Martial Arts templates, Fantasy templates), build out a sample character, and chuck him up against some threats you've designed. Look at what the odds are, what sort of options and choices tend to pop out of your fights, and poke through some of the optional rules to tweak the results more towards what you like.

If you're really worried, I recommend allowing some of the Buying Success options: Give the players a few "bonus points" (We called them "White Stones" in a reference to the fact that I handed out white and black go stones during my martial arts campaign, with the white stones reflecting the ability PCs had to manipulate the narrative). They can use these to reduce any successful strike to a single point of damage (a "Flesh Wound") or to turn a failure into a success. In practice, I find this helps keep dramatic moments dramatic, and it emphasizes the difficulties they face without actually forcing them to fail.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:28 PM   #17
Kromm
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

"Whiff factor" is itself a fairly established term of art in discussions of RPG philosophy. It has nothing to do with comically "whiffing" at the target. It describes the degree to which players' turns in combat can be "wasted" and have no effect on the enemy. The source – missed attacks, successful defenses, enemy immunity, or sequences that lead to large numbers of unexciting setup actions – is irrelevant. GURPS is generally seen as a game with high whiff factor because it's possible to miss attack rolls, have good attack rolls rendered worthless by defense rolls, have good attack rolls that get past defense rolls rendered worthless by DR, and invest time in actions like Ready and Aim that end up not changing those first three things. Whether this is good or bad depends on how you like your games.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:02 PM   #18
Peter V. Dell'Orto
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

I'll admit it - this is the first time I can recall see whiff as a term of art. To me, it's a total miss. Something good enough to hit barring the actions of your target isn't something I'd call a whiff in real life, and I was previously unaware it had other connotations in games besides the comic (to others) total miss.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:30 PM   #19
Kromm
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

The dorky game-designer-blog version you read about most often (e.g., Robin Laws' version) is that games with high whiff factor have many turns where the result of the player's actions is "nothing happens," while games with low whiff factor ensure that almost every turn, something (e.g., enemy HP loss) happens in response to the player's actions. I have no idea whether this interpretation has penetrated GURPS fandom. However, it's taken as read when Designer A and Designer B have a conversation.

The nuances reside in the definitions of "nothing" and "something." For instance, is getting a bow ready "nothing" or "something"? How about forcing a foe to use up a defense? There's a case to be made that these have tactical value despite not depleting enemy HP. Similarly, is there dramatic value to negative "somethings," like using up an arrow or a bullet, or spending FP, to no result? Some gamers would say so – lots of action stories build tension this way.

GURPS has a high whiff factor in the pure HP-depletion sense, but not in the nuanced sense. The challenge is getting players to understand that if their actions mean their side has more ammo, ready weapons, defenses, or whatever than the enemy, then those actions weren't "nothing happens." An even bigger challenge resides in getting players to accept that "something bad happens to me when I wanted something bad to happen to the enemy" isn't a whiff, but a way to build tension and drama.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:39 PM   #20
Arith Winterfell
 
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Default Re: New to GURPS and concerned about combat

Now that I've got a better general sense of combat feel in terms of comparison I wanted to ask some additional questions.

I very much want to run a cinematic fantasy campaign (yes in some ways like D&D in flavor). However being new to the combat rules I find myself overwhelmed by so many modifiers and options available even just in the core books. I feel unsure of where to start, especially in terms of keeping it simple both for myself as a new GM to GURPS and simple for my players to start out with me.

I've read that an important approach to take is to start simple then add on additional rules you want for your games as you go along. This way once your group gets the basics down, you can layer on complexity slowly. That's what I want to do. Trouble is I'm not always sure what is necessary for just starting out.

The general gist of the combat system I understand at the moment is:

1. Attacker uses relevant skill to make attack, if rolled under skill, continue
2. Defender rolls defense roll of (Dodge, Parry, or Shield), if failed, continue.
3. Roll damage, see how much damage and how much damage is "absorbed/taken" by DR to see how much gets through. Apply damage.

That's the bare bones I'm grasping right now, though I'm unsure if it is "enough" for running a game.

Also there was mention of Shield adding as a bonus to parry, which confused me as I thought using your Shield was its own sort of defense roll?

Lastly, the fantasy setting I'm working on uses a measure of psionics which replaces traditional D&D magic. So the feel is something closer to having wizards/sorcerers in having magic that functions more like "the Force" from Star Wars, but without the Jedi focus on combat. I don't know if that effects anything in terms of how combat will be handled.
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