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Old 04-17-2018, 07:06 PM   #1
jackcelso
 
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Default High defenses in 4th edition

Hi iam running several low tech games, and i felt that became much harder to hit the target in melee combat in 4th edition

If you take a 2 characters with sword skill -14, both equiped with a medium shield (DB 2).

They will have a Parry of 12 (74% sucess), if you retreat 13 (84% sucess), if take a all-out defense 15 (95% sucess).

Even if the attacker take a deceptice attack at -4 (the maximum the skill cant go below 10) the parry would be 10 (50% sucess)\ 11 (62% sucess) \ 13 (84% sucess). Meaning that at beast the chance of attack and defense are the same.

In this case i not even put the others several options that can enchant the Parry even higher: if has a fencing weapon, plus the bonus for combat reflexes and feverish defense the Parry would go to 17\ 18 \ 20!!

Even if the attacker would take a all out attack determined (modificad skill 18) and using deceptive attack at maxium (-8 to skill -4 to defense)

the parry would be at 13 \ 14\ 16!! the chance to attack fail is much highier than the parry fails.

Anyone having the same problems?
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:03 PM   #2
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

This is what I'd call a "white room" problem - that is, one that turns up more in theory, when you're assuming absolutely ideal conditions, than in real life (at least, real life games), where circumstances are rarely so ideal.

Looking at the conditions you've suggested, I'd note right off the bat that All-Out Defense is actually a rather poor tactical choice, because it puts the character who takes it entirely on the defensive. They can't attack with it, which means they'll just be taking attacks over and over. Eventually, the attacker will roll a critical hit which the defender won't be able to parry, no matter their skill, and then they're in trouble.

Then there's the retreat bonus. Getting this requires there to be space to retreat to, and nothing says that a retreat gets to ignore things like bad terrain either. A pair of fighters moving back and forth over tree roots, loose stones, on a slick floor, etc., etc.... well, eventually one of them is going to fail a DX roll and go down, and then the one who's still up has a big bonus.

And you're only assuming one parry per person. Most fights in a typical session aren't one-on-one, they're group-on-group. And even if those groups have equal numbers, the smarter tacticians are going to be focusing their attacks on the weakest link of the other side, using multiple attacks against one target to wear their defenses down, take them out, then move on to the next. Really good tacticians will arrange to surround one of their foes, so that at least a couple of attacks come in from the back spaces where they get no defense at all.

Bear in mind, all these situations I've described tend to require other skills besides just high melee weapon skill to really take advantage of - Acrobatics, Tactics, and so forth. This is a good thing, it means that being the best fighter is not just a matter of piling points into one skill, it's a matter of being a well-rounded, clever individual who's always looking for the next advantage. And if you really have two people who are equally matched at all elements of combat, well, I'd say it taking a long time for them to get anywhere in a fight actually makes perfect sense. With someone just as good as you, you've basically got to wait for lucky breaks (i.e., critical hits) to really succeed.
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Old 04-17-2018, 08:56 PM   #3
RyanW
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

It isn't usually realistic to be able to retreat forever, if the opponent doesn't obligingly retreat in kind. Not only are you probably going to run out of room eventually, but retreating is likely to push you out of position to support or be supported by your comrades.

On the other hand, in a fight between matched opponents, you winner is often the one that fights dirty. Attack from ambush. Blind him. Keep him occupied until an ally can flank him. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:23 PM   #4
mr beer
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

in GURPS, identical, well trained fighters will take a while to cut the other person down in a formal duelling situation. This is a feature, not a bug, since that models reality.

Adventurers, who are smart, will endeavour to solve the problem through a variety of tactical options. The most obvious being, bring some friends to overwhelm their defences.
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Old 04-17-2018, 09:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Kelly Pedersen's term "white room" is perfect here. I believe strongly that it's a good thing a feature, not a bug, as they say that GURPS can yield "unbeatable" defenses in "white room" scenarios.

jackcelso, you might find this short article of mine interesting.
http://www.gamesdiner.com/2006/09/gu...-be-good-thing
A player asked this forum pretty much the same question as yours: isn't it a big problem that a defense roll can get as high as 17 or more? (The question
was about 3e, but applies equally to 4e.) My take was that, no, it makes perfect sense - within that white room scenario. When you set up the perfect defense situation master swordsman, rested and ready, defending just once per turn, from the front only, with good parrying weapon and plenty of room to retreat, no negative factors whatsoever there's no reason why the swordsman should ever fail to parry!

The reason he does eventually fail is because the white room doesn't exist (or at least doesn't last). Multiple attacks, multiple foes, feints, rear attacks, Deceptive Attacks, shoves and grapples, any other trick the attacker can think of... The key for the attacker is simply to stop handing the defender a perfect defense situation.
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:41 PM   #6
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackcelso View Post
Hi iam running several low tech games, and i felt that became much harder to hit the target in melee combat in 4th edition
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Pedersen View Post
This is what I'd call a "white room" problem - that is, one that turns up more in theory, when you're assuming absolutely ideal conditions, than in real life (at least, real life games), where circumstances are rarely so ideal.
It seems though that it's not a theoretical question for the OP.
So what kind of issues has he been having in the game? Are the PCs defending too well? The enemies? Is combat dragging on?
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Old 04-18-2018, 01:15 AM   #7
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackcelso View Post
Hi iam running several low tech games, and i felt that became much harder to hit the target in melee combat in 4th edition

If you take a 2 characters with sword skill -14, both equiped with a medium shield (DB 2).

They will have a Parry of 12 (74% sucess), if you retreat 13 (84% sucess), if take a all-out defense 15 (95% sucess).

Even if the attacker take a deceptice attack at -4 (the maximum the skill cant go below 10) the parry would be 10 (50% sucess)\ 11 (62% sucess) \ 13 (84% sucess). Meaning that at beast the chance of attack and defense are the same.

In this case i not even put the others several options that can enchant the Parry even higher: if has a fencing weapon, plus the bonus for combat reflexes and feverish defense the Parry would go to 17\ 18 \ 20!!

Even if the attacker would take a all out attack determined (modificad skill 18) and using deceptive attack at maxium (-8 to skill -4 to defense)

the parry would be at 13 \ 14\ 16!! the chance to attack fail is much highier than the parry fails.

Anyone having the same problems?


Ok as others have said the system does allow some quite competent defence builds, especially with shields. That said the example in bold is a maxed out defence example!


So a couple of points, endless retreats may not only not be possible but also limit your options for winning the fight, as do All out defence. Feverish defence costs FP


Your options are going to come down to what rules you are using and what books you are using.




Flanking, if* you can flank to the sword side hex the shield won't give it's DB (pg287), if you can flank to the shield side, you can't parry with your sword at all (pg390). On top of which unless your target has some specific vision traits defending to the side hexes comes with an additional -2 penalty (pg390)


Get into CC range, shields are a potential liability in CC (pg392), and long weapons either can't be used at all so no parry (pg391) or at at a penalty (MApg117).

More importantly stay in CC as some of those effect only come in if you started the turn in CC, which brings us to Grappling. A sword and shield fighter who has been successfully grappled has issues (pg392).


Which grappling rules you are using will give you different options here, but suffice to say it will negatively effect them.


Martial arts brought in attacking the shield directly (MApg112) both striking and grabbing it.

If it's parrying you are having issues with bring in heavy weapons or flail weapons (especially the latter if they're fencing). Fencing and shield use can be problem for fencers who aren't very strong, as fencers take a penalty to hit and parry equal to their encumbrance level (pg208).

Martial Arts brings in couple of options for reducing defences:

Counter-attack technique (MApg79)

Riposte allows you to penalise your own Defence in order to put a penalty on your opponent's defence (MApg125). Of course this works for the high defence builds as well



Low tech Companion 2 has rules for extending the large Shield penalty to weapon skills to other shields (LTC2pg19). But this rule is also negated by the Shield wall perk in Martial Arts! (the best 1 point a shield user will ever spend IMO!)

There's more optional stuff out there as well. Ultimately though it's about tailoring encounters with this defensive strength in mind.


*a big if in a one on one "white room" situation (but not all fights should be that)

Last edited by Tomsdad; Yesterday at 12:26 AM.
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Old 04-18-2018, 01:58 AM   #8
weby
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackcelso View Post
Anyone having the same problems?
A basic problem is kind of that 14 is a bit low skill, there is a huge benefit for such things to getting skill up to 16, the crit chance makes any sort of waiting defense a bad idea at skill 16.

If you have two fairly low equally skilled fighters with high defense then feint is a huge benefit because of the huge spikes you can get in it. It is quite common to get a penalty up to 5-6 in feints with equal skill and at that point the defense is pretty low...
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Old 04-18-2018, 02:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Remember, a GURPS turn is a second. Even in the all-out defense case, average hits expected in a 6 second period (D&D turn) is about 0.5.
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Old 04-18-2018, 03:29 AM   #10
Tomsdad
 
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Default Re: High defenses in 4th edition

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
A basic problem is kind of that 14 is a bit low skill, there is a huge benefit for such things to getting skill up to 16, the crit chance makes any sort of waiting defense a bad idea at skill 16.
Yep this is a good point, at Skill 14 a 2DB shield or retreat bonus will have much greater proportional effect than at higher skills (and even more so if used in combination with each other). This is even more true when you factor in deceptive attacks at higher skill levels.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
If you have two fairly low equally skilled fighters with high defense then feint is a huge benefit because of the huge spikes you can get in it. It is quite common to get a penalty up to 5-6 in feints with equal skill and at that point the defense is pretty low...
That I'm not sure about though?

1). Any spikes can go in either direction with equal skill. Although this does not negatively affect the person initiating the fient if it goes against them, other than wasting their feint. I.e they can't do worse than get no effect

2). I'm not sure how common it is to get such high relative MoS with equal skills in the lower range. Take 14 vs. 14

I think the highest chance of getting 5+ relative MoS is if the person feinting rolls a 9 or less 37.5% and the target rolls 14+ 16.2%, which is a combined 6.1% chance I think?

EDIT: actually 8 or less and 13 or more would be: 25.9% and 25.9% = 6.7% that I think is the highest chance

Last edited by Tomsdad; 04-18-2018 at 05:13 AM.
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