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Old 01-02-2018, 02:35 AM   #1
FF_Ninja
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Default Managing combat rounds...

...And all of the complications.

One of the biggest issues I've had with GURPS thus far is the 1-second combat round. In and of itself, it's not too problematic, but the clerical strain becomes pretty significant when you have multiple combatants pursuing multiple actions which require more than a round to complete.

I'm toying with a method to curtail this issue presently, but I wanted to query the veterancy here and see what you more experienced GURPS GMs have done to handle this sort of thing.

Generally, what are your thoughts on effectively dealing with this accountancy bloat in combat? Presently, my spreadsheet-fu is not great, and I don't have a clever, versatile method.

Specifically,
  • How do you like to assess/track actions that take multiple rounds?
  • How do you handle sustained actions and interrupts?
  • What method do you employ to keep combat running smoothly?

Thank you sincerely for any help you all may offer.
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:54 AM   #2
weby
 
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

We use a google sheet with seconds going down and people in initiative order sideways.

We have it on a monitor at one end of the table for easy viewing and one person in put in charge of updating it, but people can and do also look and edit it directly from their laptops.

So if there is a 3 second action it is put in the sheet in those 3 seconds and so on.

As for making things run smoothly, we have a few things/rules that each help in addition, some more others less:
-A quick action bonus: any action gets +1 if the description, rolling and any map movement for it is done within 10 seconds of their turn coming up.
-No taking back quick actions: 1 second is such a short time that you cannot cancel an action during it, you can stop a longer action at the next second though.
-No too long thinking on own turn, as there is no time to do too long analysis in one second, after 1-2 minutes there is a warning from the GM and then about one minute later if the action is not ready, their action was a "do nothing".
-Simplified movement: We use a simplified map movement and facing taking some of the fiddly bits of those things away.
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:03 AM   #3
FF_Ninja
 
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
-Simplified movement: We use a simplified map movement and facing taking some of the fiddly bits of those things away.
Does that choice detract from the inherently technical and tactical nuances of GURPS combat? Do you do away with detailed tactical aspects?
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Old 01-02-2018, 04:49 AM   #4
Tomsdad
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

If the players are doing longer than 1 second actions I tend to expect them to help me keep track of those action's progress. Similarly with player waits that might interrupt the ongoing action.

Don't get me wrong they tell me what they're doing and if there's a interpretation issue we address it (Although trying not to take too much time doing so). Now "addressing it" is usually me deciding how it shakes out but obviously if I've forgotten something or failed to take something into account the players will say "hang on what abut X".

If it gets hectic tend to use hex mapping (acetate overlay over quick drawing) and facing etc because I find that inherently records information as you go along, I.e you don't need to remember what facing you are if it right in front of you.

I don't uses an excel spreadsheet for initiative and turns simply because I can't type that fast, but I do use a sheet of paper to keep track.

I do use a excel spread sheet for working out grappling control and referred control when using TG though.

I'm a big fan of counters for tracking combat resources. I use different coloured ones for AP and FP and occasionally HP*.


*I have occasionally kept HP loss semi-hidden from players and kept track fo HP myself but obviously that's more work for me!
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Old 01-02-2018, 05:29 AM   #5
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

We haven't had long actions often to be a problem. When it does come up, I've sometimes used a die as a countdown timer and mnemonic. (Three seconds of X, announce the action, set a die in front of the player on "2"; next turn, it reminds you that you've got two more seconds to do. Maybe you keep at it, and turn the die to "1". Maybe you do something else.) But usually the players just remember; the table can back you up if you lose count.
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:29 AM   #6
sir_pudding
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

I can't think of seeing many more than two turn long actions in combat very often at all. Even in games with black powder muzzleloaders I either see the brace-of-pistols method, the fire-and-blade method, or the Fast-Draw plus Quick Reload method; nobody seems to be willing to do the take-the-entire-combat-to-maybe-shoot twice method.

When they do happen we use dice as counters (same thing for other countdowns like grenades).
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Old 01-02-2018, 12:59 PM   #7
johndallman
 
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

With black powder muzzle-loaders, I've always used fast-draw/shoot/drop tactics.

I have seen PCs reload assault rifles during combat, but they soon learned to cut down on full-auto, and make a magazine last for a combat. The only time I've seen a PC reload a handgun in combat was when combat had actually stopped, but would clearly restart as soon as he was seen.
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:03 PM   #8
sir_pudding
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I have seen PCs reload assault rifles during combat, but they soon learned to cut down on full-auto, and make a magazine last for a combat.
With Fast-Draw that is a one turn Ready anyway.
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:24 PM   #9
weby
 
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FF_Ninja View Post
Does that choice detract from the inherently technical and tactical nuances of GURPS combat? Do you do away with detailed tactical aspects?
Yes, as things like facing changes took too long to resolve with my players. But that is a problem that has not come up in other groups so..
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Old 01-02-2018, 02:25 PM   #10
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Managing combat rounds...

Quote:
Originally Posted by FF_Ninja View Post
Generally, what are your thoughts on effectively dealing with this accountancy bloat in combat? Presently, my spreadsheet-fu is not great, and I don't have a clever, versatile method.
It doesn't require a spreadsheet, just figuring out a pencil & paper notation system that works for you.

Depending on what the action is, how long it's going to take, and whether or not it can be re-started or delayed or anything, I either make a note of the turns of work done so far, or (if it's several turns away, and I assume it's likely the character will probably keep working on it every turn till it's done) a note about what turn number they will be done on (then I just need to keep track of what turn number it is, and remember to notice when they're done, and if I don't notice quite accurately, that's probably fine because almost no task takes exactly 7 seconds every time, distraction during combat, etc).

I'll invent some notation to handle any interrupt situation. If it's just something that takes a number of man-turns to do, I'll just have a tally written down of how many have been done so far. If it's a combination of the above, I might have both, e.g. if it takes 12 turns of work to unlock a vault door, and Joe starts working on it on turn 4, I'll scribble "vault lock: turn 16". If he gets interrupted and stops on turn 9, then I'll see he's worked on it for four turns, scratch through the 16, and write "8 left". Then if Joe gets back on it but looks like he might be attacked again, I might start tally marks next to the "8 left"... I, II, III... Then when Sally kills everyone around Joe, I figure he's got 5 turns left, and we're now on turn 21, so I might switch and write "turn 26" and stop thinking about Joe each turn.

I almost always have some form of easy-access combat notes about everyone in a situation, which is where I note every other change to their status during combat, and where I'll usually have notes about anything I can't remember about them. See the "GM Control Sheet" from the Basic Set (did they put one in 4e?), but I do my own free-hand style of what I actually want there.

When I first started running GURPS when it first came out, I already had many years' experience running TFT combat, and after 1-2 years running GURPS (and being used to wargames such as Squad Leader or Star Fleet Battles), my brain just developed automatic skills for tracking lots of things and a flow for doing things. I'm sure it seems really complicated and challenging to keep track of at first, or from many people, ever.

For running combat smoothly, I rely a lot on having played the system to death and being able to do most of the mechanics in my head myself without consulting anything (or if I can't remember a detail, I can judge something close enough). I don't have players do mechanics during play unless they can do it immediately. No rules questions. Minimal other questions. No time to think about different options. When it's a player's turn, they need to say what they do, and I or we resolve it immediately. No looking at books. These are one-second turns, so if it's your turn, you say what you do and if you can't figure it out, your character ends up taking a turn to look & think.

It doesn't matter if players don't fully get the system, or know the rules at all, because I can translate everything into and out of English language and point at the combat map and counter positions. If they don't get some rule, I ask what they want to try to do, filter it by their character and how skilled/aware/cautious/etc their character is, and translate it into an appropriate rule, checking for an instant if the player thinks that matches what they want or not, and resolve their action. (Though, I can do that quickly probably mainly because I have internalized the combat system from years and years of play.) Combat (unless it's a rule-teaching session) is not time to have a player try to remember the movement and facing rules and think about variations of whether they should sidestep or move and face, or maybe try to go around, etc. I'm not savage or cruel about it - I just keep the pace going myself and ask what they do and resolve it.

Character sheets should have everything needed for almost any combat move or situation pre-calculated and written down in super-easy-to-find format. And, the GM should have a GM Control Sheet in the style that works best for them, with everything they might need to know about a PC or enemy already written down in the form needed for use, such as:

Shortsword (12) cut 1d+1, imp 1d-1 parry 8

or for injuries:

- 1 cr, -2 imp arrow, -3 cut R. arm, STUN

And probably a blank sheet for each combat, with the character turn sequence, turn number, and any other notes about situations you might need help remembering (e.g. the darkness penalty)

Last edited by Skarg; 01-02-2018 at 02:34 PM.
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