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Old 02-03-2023, 05:57 PM   #11
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: L.I., NY
Default Re: Eliminating attack rolls in melee combat - Is it a crazy idea?

Thanks for engaging in my weird little thought experiment, everyone. It's not really something I think would necessarily work, just a stray idea that I wanted to noodle with.

Seeing a tweet about removing the to hit roll started me thinking about some game designs that assume success if a character has the appropriate skill and can apply it. That led to me considering turning the idea of getting rid of active defense on its head. Like Farmer, years of playing GURPS has made me dislike playing games without regular defense options.

I think the main issue that I'm trying to consider is not really either the pace of combat or the whiff factor, exactly. Even if those are often the reasons given for wanting to eliminate active defense, or somehow make attack and defense rolls into a quick contest.

The primary thing I'm trying to think about is if it might increase fun for players, by reducing some of the frustration they seem to experience when they roll a successful attack roll, only to have it immediately negated by the opponent's successful defense. I think if the hit is automatic, it could feel less like they are being robbed of an 'earned' success.

I picked an effective skill of 12 to think about this because it's generally seen as the break-point to optimize deceptive attacks, and 74% odds seems like a reasonable cut off for assuming success, while still capturing the majority of attacks in a game.

On the All Out Attack issue, it certainly would make it a definitively dangerous move if there is an opponent who can potentially attack while a character is defenseless. But it's supposed to be either risky, or used when you are feeling safe. However, if you need an effective skill of 12 for an auto-hit, an unskilled character still won't be doing any eye-stabbing. At -9 for targeting the eye and +4 for a telegraphic attack, the attacker would need a 17 base skill. That's a well trained, deadly opponent taking advantage of being given a huge opening. It is a good argument for not allowing auto-hits for effective skill levels under 12, even with a defensive bonus.

Another possibility would be to take eye-stabbing, hit locations over a certain penalty level, or even all hit locations off the table for the auto-success option. It could be allowed only for attacks to the torso, or 'whatever target presents itself' with a random hit location roll. If you want to get fancy with targeting, make the roll.

One thing that occurs to me is that it would make telegraphic attacks more appealing for lower-skill characters fighting each other. But when fighting someone with good defenses, making an uncertain attack roll that could possibly find an opening, rather than going for the certain attack that will almost certainly be defended against would probably be a better strategy.
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Old 02-04-2023, 12:48 AM   #12
Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: Eliminating attack rolls in melee combat - Is it a crazy idea?

I've played around with integrating probabilities to hit vs. probability of a successful Active Defense. The results were unsatisfying because the probabilities of a hit vs. defense get very skewed if either dice roll is at one of the ends of the bell curve.

The best way to make combat happen quickly is for the GM to enforce player attention and use tricks to speed up play.

* Players have 30-60 seconds to act for their characters in combat or their characters are assumed to Wait, Evaluate, Do Nothing, or All-Out-Defend as the GM wishes. Reasonable exceptions allowed if somebody spills their drink or if needs to make a quick rules check.

* Roll multiple dice, in different colors, at once, for multiple combat steps. For example, roll 3d to hit & 1+ dice in a different color for damage. Choose the color for "to hit" dice in advance if both dice sets are 3d. Ignore the results of the damage roll if the "to hit" roll is a miss.

* Minor foes All-Out Attack & go down automatically at HP/2 damage.

* Mass attacks use probabilities of a hit rather than dice rolls. If you're facing 20 archers with adjusted skill 9 (37% chance of a hit), just assume that only ~6-8 of them hit on a given turn. If the PC has Dodge 10 (50% chance of defense), assume that just 3-4 actually get past defenses. If each arrow does 1d HP vs. DR 4 (~33% chance of 5-6 on 1d), assume that just 1 actually inflicts damage.
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