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Old 10-26-2009, 06:04 PM   #11
Nymdok
 
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Originally Posted by The_Nightwatch View Post
That is definitely challenging. Our characters are by now all in the 700+ character point range.....
Thats also one of the things Im looking to get around, this is not point level dependant, its skill level/Active Defense/Strength/DR dependent. If you use Deceptive Attack, I cant see anyplace where the math breaks down. For example lets say, your charachters had Skill 30, then the monsters can have Active Defense of 17 and its the same as the 16-10 (53.7 %).

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Old 10-30-2009, 09:52 AM   #12
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

For a 1-on-1 fight, I guess one can try to analyze the numbers like this. But this is still built on one basic assumptions: The tactics of the combatants, and in your case that only seems to cover deceptive attack or not. The different melee maneuvers add a lot to the complexity, I would say. I guess one can easily crunch the numbers to get the "value" (for example, the expected damage to other minus expected damage to oneself) from each maneuver for the given skill/AD/dmg/DR/dmg. The analysis should cover the different hit locations and damage types as well.

Maximizing the expected damage difference each turn is not the best goal, but it's a reasonable first approach. Once you know these values, you can try to figure out the best overall strategy for both sides in a simple 1-on-1 (still without tactical hex maps, running away, disarming etc). This would simulate the case of two perfect fighters against each other.

But here's the real benefit: You can use your understanding of the system to adjust the difficulty on the fly: Your NPC is not tough enough using just default attacks? Then pick the most deadly maneuver (and maybe add some extra effort options, as well). The NPC is too good? Make a dumb move like an AoA (Double) to the Eyes at -15 for someone with skill 20, or do a thrust to the vitals even though it most likely doesn't pay off because it cannot penetrate DR. Sure, these things might end the battle, but the chances are slim, and you actually know how slim they are, unlike your players, unless they are number crunchers _and_ know the NPCs' precise stats, which they shouldn't! Obviously, one can also do "dumb" things without calculating the precise odds, but knowing the odds is always useful: "But there was only a one-in-a-million chance for you to die ... "

So ... I would not let NPCs do the smartest moves unless it turns out that they need it. That gives each encounter a wide range of difficulty levels, even without fudging rolls or suddenly arriving backup ... On the other hand, combat relying purely on stats is somewhat uninspiring, and adding the afore-mentioned slippery ice to the equation might make a huge difference.

On a final note, your analysis should hold for high skills and deceptive attack as well, as it brings down the skill values on both sides equally (2 attack = 1 defense, just like the skill values behave).

Regards
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:09 AM   #13
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

Multiple combatants are indeed a place where things get sticky, fast. Both your skill and your attacker's are mostly irrelevant if you get surrounded and he's behind you, because he can do a Telegraphic Attack for +4 to hit something vital, while you can't defend at all. Your damage doesn't matter much once it's big enough to take out weak fodder opponents in one shot; at that stage, you don't want bigger damage so much as additional attacks in order to take out more mooks per second. And of course one good defense isn't so cool when you have to defend against three orcs at once, or six zombies in a horde, or 12 evil pixies buzzing around your head.

Moreover, the answers change depending on whether the PCs decide to gang up on one foe, or one PC gets ganged up upon. I've seen very competent fighters destroyed in detail by inferior foes this way. I've seen the same fighters annihilate legions of identical foes coming at them one at a time. This has little to do with points or abilities, but much to do with player and GM decisions. These always matter, of course – GURPS offers tons of combat options, and bad choices tend to neutralize one's abilities – but they matter a great deal more in many-on-many fights.

Also, the nature of multiple-combatants fights tends to lead people to use area-effect and explosive weaponry. Your defenses won't matter very much if you can't leave the danger zone, even if you're a god of war and the attacker is using a merely so-so weapon with mediocre skill. And against one-shot-kill area effects, like modern explosives and incendiaries, this is even more pronounced, with any sensible amount of DR and HP going on the "largely irrelevant" list, and Luck and HT deciding the battle.

This is why I tend to think that a dry run is best for such battles. Put the character sheets in front of you, set everything up on a map, and think about what would happen if everybody gangs up on one guy, if one side's best warrior gets taken out by a critical hit, if one side bunches up and gets hit by the other side's area weapon, etc.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:17 AM   #14
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

I had a GM some time ago, running Iron Kingdoms (D20), who nearly got an embarrassing TPK with a Level-0 Whirlpool—that thing nearly got us all. It wasn't even the focus of the adventure, just something that needed to be crossed to get where we were going. How do you number-balance a situation like that?

(My solution is to breeze over something like this, if it's not important. Any time you ask players to roll for something, you have to be prepared catastrophic failure—if you can't have them failing, don't make them roll.)
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:44 AM   #15
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

While nothing substitutes for actually running the battle, and especially running the battle with the actual players involved, sometimes you need something to set themselves up in the right ballpark in the first place (and some people need it all the time).

The downside, demonstrated by D&D, is that any kind of quick and useful guideline tends to be taken as sacred gospel and a hard rule in practice by some people - but GURPS has never taken the lowest common denominator as their target in the past, and I don't see why we should fear it.

Yes, terrain, specific party composition attitude and play style, tactics used today etc radically changes the outcome of the fight. That's why you actually PLAY it - if everything is foregone, there's no point in rolling dice.

The same fight can be a cakewalk if the players organize themselves and use good tactics, and a massacre if they play like idiots. There's not a lot a GM can do about that, other than guessing where on the briliant-stupid axis the players will land, and possibly adjusting the monsters/encounter mid-game if his guestimate was off (depending on the GMs play style - some will fudge dice rolls, some will rewrite stats, some will have monsters flee or arrive for reinforcements, and some will play it as written and the PCs will just have to live with it or die with it as it may be).

All the dry runs in the world won't help if the GM has missed a tactic, or if the players are playing goofy, and angsting over that in advance tends to not be worth the time and stress, in my experience. The 10-20 minutes to eyeball the numbers has a high time-to-result payoff, plus perhaps another 5-10 minutes just casually thinking the fight through.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:59 PM   #16
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Originally Posted by Ts_ View Post
For a 1-on-1 fight, I guess one can try to analyze the numbers like this. But this is still built on one basic assumptions: The tactics of the combatants, and in your case that only seems to cover deceptive attack or not. ...
I take as a given that all the attack manuvers are balanced already. I have NO statistical proof of this, but I assume that any glaring errors would have come up by now.

I specifically use deceptive attack (Even though it has its peculiarites) because its the only manuver that can reduce the Active defense of an opponent on the SAME turn its applied.

NOTE: One fo the limitations of this model so far is that it assumes you dont Deceptive Attack your skill to below 16. I made this decision because below that, deceptive Attack can actually REDUCE your odds of landing a blow.

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Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Multiple combatants are indeed a place where things get sticky, fast....
.... GURPS offers tons of combat options, and bad choices tend to neutralize one's abilities – but they matter a great deal more in many-on-many fights.
...This is why I tend to think that a dry run is best for such battles. Put the character sheets in front of you, set everything up on a map, and think about what would happen ....
Although I have hopes that this fundamental analysis can still help lead to a vague gauge for multiple combatants, I understand that its a sticky problem and any model that represents it will need to be more well thought than what I have so far.

I agree that a Dry run is best, but not always the most practical approach. For pre-packacged scenarios, for example, you need something that you can reliably say 'This will be of about average challenge for charachteres of 14 combat skill and 1d of damage.'

Assigning it this difficulty, even to a vague +- 10% range is still alot closer and more useful than saying 'well i dont know, you kind of have to wing it.'

Putting some metric to that 'GM Experience Gut Feeling about balance' is really the final goal of what Im hoping for and To begin that journey, Im using what I belive to be the simplest case. Two foes trying to kill each other in melee combat.

This is why I dont consider WeaponryA/Spell or ability, only damage. It simplifies the model....and we love a well behaved function as much as we love well behaved children :)

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Originally Posted by Gigermann View Post
I had a GM some time ago, running Iron Kingdoms (D20), who nearly got an embarrassing TPK with a Level-0 Whirlpool—that thing nearly got us all. It wasn't even the focus of the adventure, just something that needed to be crossed to get where we were going. How do you number-balance a situation like that?

(My solution is to breeze over something like this, if it's not important. Any time you ask players to roll for something, you have to be prepared catastrophic failure—if you can't have them failing, don't make them roll.)
Im sorry Giger, I'm not familiar with the adventure, or even what a Whirlpool is (in the monster sense of course). I can tell you this though, If its not meant to be a challenge, then being able to scale it, and knowing how that scale works, could certainly help prevent that sort of thing from happening.

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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
While nothing substitutes for actually running the battle...sometimes you need something to set themselves up in the right ballpark in the first place (and some people need it all the time).

.. any kind of quick and useful guideline tends to be taken as sacred gospel and a hard rule in practice by some people....

That's why you actually PLAY it - if everything is foregone, there's no point in rolling dice.

The same fight can be a cakewalk if the players organize themselves and use good tactics, and a massacre if they play like idiots.

The 10-20 minutes to eyeball the numbers has a high time-to-result payoff, plus perhaps another 5-10 minutes just casually thinking the fight through.
Excellent points.

What Im working towards is something that could speed up, and maybe even slightly formalize, the process of building encounters, in this case combat encounters.

As much 'House Ruling' as Gurps has, I doubt many would take an Encounter Difficulty Range evaluation as 'Gospel Law' nor is it my goal to work towards it. If Im as close as +- 10% Thats a good place to start.

How the players play on a given day and the way the dice drop on a particualr roll are tough to predict. It may actually benefit by looking at large series of dice and large sets of play groups, which is in line with what Im trying to do.

The 10-20 minutes of eyeball time has wildly variable feedback, and Im attempting to keep that time short, but with more consistent results. I think these tables may be the start of something useful to those ends.

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Old 10-30-2009, 04:20 PM   #17
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
Im sorry Giger, I'm not familiar with the adventure, or even what a Whirlpool is (in the monster sense of course). I can tell you this though, If its not meant to be a challenge, then being able to scale it, and knowing how that scale works, could certainly help prevent that sort of thing from happening.
That's the punch line—it was no monster. It was a sewer drain. It had no stats, or point levels. ;D
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Old 10-30-2009, 04:39 PM   #18
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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That's the punch line—it was no monster. It was a sewer drain. It had no stats, or point levels. ;D
hehehe I totally missed it :)

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Old 10-30-2009, 07:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Originally Posted by Nymdok View Post
Thats also one of the things Im looking to get around, this is not point level dependant, its skill level/Active Defense/Strength/DR dependent. If you use Deceptive Attack, I cant see anyplace where the math breaks down. For example lets say, your charachters had Skill 30, then the monsters can have Active Defense of 17 and its the same as the 16-10 (53.7 %).

Nymdok
Well, what makes it really interesting for our GMs is that two of the characters have different forms of Insubstantiality, three have various forms of foreseeing, one fires explosive energy, another has 30d of Reflection...

Anymore I just throw something interesting at them and see how they handle it. They usually do just fine. For everything else, there's Extra Life. ;)
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:08 AM   #20
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Default Re: [GM] Individual Melee Combat Balance

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Well, what makes it really interesting for our GMs is that two of the characters have different forms of Insubstantiality, three have various forms of foreseeing, one fires explosive energy, another has 30d of Reflection...

Anymore I just throw something interesting at them and see how they handle it. They usually do just fine. For everything else, there's Extra Life. ;)
Well, I dont know your campaign of course, but ...

The Insubstantials don't really pose much of a problem in Melee combat unless the owners have pulled out the points to buy the enhancement that allow them to Affect Substantial or Carry Objects and Partially Change.

For those challenges, ghost weapons, psi and others allow them to enjoy the risk.

Explosive energy, like most damage is moderated by DR and Active Defenses.

Reflective DR is of course vulnerable to Indirect attacks (Splash damage) and afflictions that would incapacitate.

The trick is to make the combat challenging without making the PCs feel that they've wasted thier points on Advantages that have been rendered inneffective.

A common way to do this is allow the ability to work full force both for and against them.

For example:

Blinding the insubstantials still allows them the total freedom of movement that they paid for, as well as the immunity to melee combat, but it puts them in a very challenging position ans they wont be able to 'feel' thier way around.

Explosive Energy is risky in close quarters.

Reflective DR is one that Ive always thought would be great if the reflected energy carried momentum with it, like a photon. In other words, YES you can reflect the energy/Damage etc, but doing so catapults you backwards and if you then impact upon a wall, that of course will bounce you as well.

Again it boils down to the Fact that the DR does save the charachter, but just because he lives doesnt mean he isnt challenged :)

Just some Ideas
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