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Old 04-24-2017, 10:53 PM   #41
Otaku
 
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
At our table, Dodge with Retreat is always the most used defense. That's because generally there's no need to "hold a line" or something. Parrying is only ever use as an alternative when there's no room to retreat.
Two thoughts occurred to me as I read this.

First, did you catch Maz's point that you cannot Retreat and Dodge against ranged attacks? Even if the PC's rely on it when dealing with enemy melee attacks, it is an illegal defense for NPC's against your archer's shots.

Second, I am wondering what kind of scores were dealing with for your PCs and typical NPCs. The short version is thinking of the numbers I find typical for 4e (all my practical gaming experience is 3e), seems like Maz is right and the Parry would be as good or better than the Dodge... except (of course) against Ranged attacks.
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Old 04-24-2017, 11:47 PM   #42
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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First, did you catch Maz's point that you cannot Retreat and Dodge against ranged attacks?
Yes, sorry, I was talking about defense against melee attacks.

But it shows that it's a problem of my game that most NPCs have been melee fighters so far. I haven't yet thrown many NPCs with ranged weapons at them, so I need to do that more in the future.

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Second, I am wondering what kind of scores were dealing with for your PCs and typical NPCs.
Weapon scores for the PCs and NPCs are between 12 and 14 at this point. More than half of the PCs have Move 6 though, so that makes Dodge and Parry tied at 9, except for the odd character with a weapon skill at 14, which gives slightly better Parry at 10.
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Old 04-25-2017, 01:38 AM   #43
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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Yes, sorry, I was talking about defense against melee attacks.

But it shows that it's a problem of my game that most NPCs have been melee fighters so far. I haven't yet thrown many NPCs with ranged weapons at them, so I need to do that more in the future.
Perhaps... but I was more concerned about PC archers versus NPCs. This ties into how the damage modifiers for torso versus limbs meant that (barring good torso armor), your archers could just go for torso shots and still have a good chance at incapacitating enemy combatants with an arrow or two, and that whole tactics discussion.

So if I unintentionally helped you realize something else, happy accident. ;)


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Weapon scores for the PCs and NPCs are between 12 and 14 at this point. More than half of the PCs have Move 6 though, so that makes Dodge and Parry tied at 9, except for the odd character with a weapon skill at 14, which gives slightly better Parry at 10.
I'm actually still learning 4e myself, so a lot of what I am going to ask are mistakes I made with 4e, 3e, or both. I also have only the most superficial understanding of the setting, so let me know if I get that wrong... but despite these limitations, I think I have some more useful observations.

Encumbrance affects Dodge. I used to mess this up back in Third Edition, but I know that with the right characters, it can be a non-issue because players almost never get their character beyond "None" or "Light" Encumbrance, meaning a 0 or -1 penalty to Dodging (respectively). I am guessing you did remember it, but just in case, I mentioned it.

Does the setting (either by default or how you've chosen to run it) limit either DX scores or Combat/Weapon Skills? This could be another reason your mileage has varied, with respect to Active Defenses. Based on suggestions while experimenting with character building on this board, the primary Combat/Weapon Skill on a 150 CP character should be more like 12 to 18, with 12 being for someone who is practically a non-combatant while 18 is for someone who makes a living based chiefly on combat. Skill 16-18 allows one to use Deceptive Attack fairly well, and also means (before Weapon specific modifiers) a Parry of 11 or 12.

If firearms are rare, then you might consider introducing shields into this setting. I mean, unless materials to make even a crude one are hard to come by. Instead of speeding up your archers, this could slow down melee combat as your up close fighters have to batter away an enemy's shield... or wait for an assist so that two attacks are made against the same foe (who has only one Block).

Finally, something simple that I've heard for similar circumstances is to keep the archer feeling involved by emphasizing it is doing something on those turns it isn't rolling to attack.

Turn 1 "Draw Arrow!".
Turn 2 "Notching Arrow!".
Turn 3 "Aiming One.".
Turn 4 "Aiming Two.".
Turn 5 "Aiming Three.".
Turn 6 "Fire!".

Unless it goes against the goal of the setting, I would also be generous when it comes to a player wanting to spend earned CP to up those Combat/Weapon Skills.

Sorry this is kind of scatterbrained; I'm up a bit late for other reasons. ^^'
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Old 04-25-2017, 01:53 AM   #44
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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. . .
4) Note that I _don't_ want to make archers more powerful or anything. I want to make them _interesting_. Again, the main problem so far is in relation to the _players_ who, when they play archers, spend half their turns (at best) not doing anything interesting besides maybe a Fast-Draw roll.
. . .
I think you've come across a real issue.

For better or worse, it's a casualty of the one second turn mechanic and the simulation nature of GURPS.

The approach some other games take to deciding a turn mechanic is to abstract it so that a turn is more significant and relevant from a player's standpoint. In that case, the abstraction has to be designed so that it makes realistic sense for the extra time in a turn.

I prefer more realistic games myself so that I can compare my characters to real people.

The problem with the one second turn is that we keep trying to justify it with unrealistic techniques to make it more playable.

The breaking point for me was the Heroic Archer advantage in Dungeon Fantasy 1. I'm still trying to figure out what to replace it with in my Scouts. It was just so integral to that template.

Now this is CGI and Hollywood, but I recently watched the Hobbit. I was trying to time Legolas's attacks on the orcs or goblins in the barrels and river scene. He was popping arrows off pretty fast. It could have been close to every second. But many times he was near melee range.

In grappling with the GURPS turn structure myself, I had found some old posts.

I think this is the best philosophical answer you will get about your question from Kromm himself (although he seems a bit defensive here.)
http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.p...7&postcount=29

In case you're interested, I had also found this old thread where the short turn was discussed.
http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=38525
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:04 AM   #45
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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Great tactical suggestions there, thank you!

....
no worries


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...


Weapon scores for the PCs and NPCs are between 12 and 14 at this point. More than half of the PCs have Move 6 though, so that makes Dodge and Parry tied at 9, except for the odd character with a weapon skill at 14, which gives slightly better Parry at 10.
Right OK, you are going gritty/low powered (not a criticism, I started and run my C11th/12th campaign about here a lot of the time). So am I right in thinking your melee fighters, fight defensively a lot of the time?

If they don't you may want to put them in situations that encourage them to do so, This will mean missile characters who aren't locked in melee can be comparatively a bit freer in their actions. I.e. at this kind of power level it's not like your melee characters are slaying an opponent every round)

The corollary of this is if their opponents also fight defensively getting missiles going against them is a better option.

Also if you are playing at this kind of power level and want to mix things up a bit, I suggest rather than having your players go up against lots of weaker threats, have them go up against less numerical, smart threats. Smart threats that require clever use of melee and missile in combination to defeat.

An example of what I mean, say you have 3x Stat 11 / skill 13 melee fighters and 3x Stat 11 and Skill 14 archers. Now you could outnumber and rush them them with bunch of Stat 10 / Skill 11 opponents. And the party will slowly grind them down with basic defences and attacks (and your missile PCs will help, but will be doing less quickly than your melee PCs),

But put them up against a smaller number of better opponents and that becomes more dangerous, forcing a change up in tactics. Thing is at this power level fights are dangerous, but they're dangerous for both sides if they roughly equal. So don't play their opponents as road blocks to be defeated, play them as people who also want to survive*.

The thing is the melee characters want their opponent within melee reach, if you have every encounter be at this distance you favour melee as the defining feature of the encounter (and so melee fighter will be the defining combatants).

If you make it harder to pin their opponents into melee (part of which is them not wanting to be pinned), you will:

a). increases the value of missile attacks
b). make the encounter less "I defend, I attack" once every second of the encounter for melee characters, while the archers fire a shot off every 2-3 rounds


One way to do this is is as you say throw more missile troops against them.


*obviously they may not be people, and/or may not have self preservation first and foremost in their mind. But this can also be adapted. Lets take the classic example zombies. These what to get into melee and traditionally outnumber and/or can outlast your players in melee. So don't play their game, don't engage directly, ambush, fall back, harry, retreat, funnel, goad and run etc. All things missile character** can do. You might not be using impaling arrows here, but for me a big genre troupe in Post apoc is adapted tech, so incendiary arrows, petrol bombs etc.


**not just missile characters of course, but the point is tactics that don't rely on a steady one attack every second to win though (which favours melee characters and not missile ones)

Last edited by Tomsdad; 04-26-2017 at 12:27 AM.
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Old 04-25-2017, 11:40 AM   #46
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Default Re: Balanced games for archers

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Encumbrance affects Dodge.
Yep, all players are religiously sticking to "None" encumbrance because they're afraid of what a reduced Dodge or Move would do to their survival :)

(eventually, as they amass more loot, I imagine they will start making trade offs... but they're fresh out of their bunker so they don't have much yet)


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Does the setting (either by default or how you've chosen to run it) limit either DX scores or Combat/Weapon Skills?
Not really. I think the reason they have relatively low scores for 150pts characters is because they didn't want to be too specialized... this being a post-apocalyptic setting, they still want some extra HP/HT/FP, Per, Scrounging, Stealth, Survival, etc... they also get a few cool powers with a couple mutations.... and each character has some non-combat specializations for mechanical repairs (vehicles/weapons/etc.), medical support, social skills (Merchant, Fast-Talk, Diplomacy, etc.). There's not much overlap between characters in those non-combat specializations, but all of this actually adds up quickly and getting higher combat skills means being less useful for other things (and I don't want combat to be the main focus of the campaign anyway). So I think they went for "reasonable" combat skills, with the perspective of increasing them with their first batches of XP.


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If firearms are rare, then you might consider introducing shields into this setting.
Oh yeah, I really need to make NPCs with shields, too! Good point.

I'm really bad at low tech GURPS: I've used GURPS for more than 10 years, but it was almost exclusively 1930s, modern day, and near fututre... which means guns, with only the occasional fist fight every now and then. I really don't know what I'm doing with melee weapons and shields and stuff :)


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I think you've come across a real issue.
I think this is the best philosophical answer you will get about your question from Kromm himself (although he seems a bit defensive here.)
http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.p...7&postcount=29
Yep, this matches what I would like my combats to be like... but part of the problem is how to design NPCs and environments so that you get that. Maybe I should ping Mook and tell him to write a follow up to "How to be a GURPS GM" about designing combat encounters :)

(and to be clear, a lot of the advice shared so far on this thread has been super helpful for me... I'm pretty sure my next encounters will be better already)


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So am I right in thinking your melee fighters, fight defensively a lot of the time?
They are indeed quite conservative about keeping their active defense options and stuff like that... but I don't imagine they fight particularly defensively. They're just careful.


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Also if you are playing at this kind of power level and want to mix things up a bit, I suggest rather than having your players go up against lots of weaker threats, have them go up against less numerical, smart threats.
Yes, that I'm doing already. I think I just need to be better at (1) environment design (I need to offer covers, interrupted sight lines, elevation changes, etc.) and (2) designing NPCs (I need more varied weapons, I need shields, I need incendiary arrows and other more original gear, etc... and I need to make them use more advanced tactics).

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So don't play their opponents as road blocks to be defeated, play them as people who also want to survive*.
That I'm doing too. NPCs will All-Out Defense when it makes sense, regroup, flank, and roll against Will every now and then to figure out if they want to flee or otherwise change their attitude towards the situation (that roll is modified for the usual mental disadvantages, relative group sizes, etc.).


Thanks to everyone so far, this is super helpful!
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Old 04-25-2017, 11:34 PM   #47
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no worries
. . .
Hey Dad!

. . . I'm still not ready to join the Dark Side.
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Old 04-26-2017, 12:49 AM   #48
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...


Oh yeah, I really need to make NPCs with shields, too! Good point.

I'm really bad at low tech GURPS: I've used GURPS for more than 10 years, but it was almost exclusively 1930s, modern day, and near fututre... which means guns, with only the occasional fist fight every now and then. I really don't know what I'm doing with melee weapons and shields and stuff :)
what are you thinking off here, stuff like reach tactics?



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Originally Posted by lordabdul View Post
They are indeed quite conservative about keeping their active defense options and stuff like that... but I don't imagine they fight particularly defensively. They're just careful.



Yes, that I'm doing already. I think I just need to be better at (1) environment design (I need to offer covers, interrupted sight lines, elevation changes, etc.) and (2) designing NPCs (I need more varied weapons, I need shields, I need incendiary arrows and other more original gear, etc... and I need to make them use more advanced tactics).


That I'm doing too. NPCs will All-Out Defense when it makes sense, regroup, flank, and roll against Will every now and then to figure out if they want to flee or otherwise change their attitude towards the situation (that roll is modified for the usual mental disadvantages, relative group sizes, etc.).


Thanks to everyone so far, this is super helpful!

Sounds like you're already well on your way, one thing about shields they can be very useful in melee, but they also pretty damn good against arrows! (I do a lot of shield walls in my campaign)

One thing about shield and keeping to 0 encumbrance. Shields can be quite heavy. Although in a post apoc setting you might have some material options to help here. (of course the DB of shields to dodge* more than compensates for any encumbrance penalty they might inflict)


*I have my own house rule for this, varies DB by defence type and limits the bonus by relative shield skill

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Hey Dad!

. . . I'm still not ready to join the Dark Side.
You sure, we have great healthcare... just look at me
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Old 04-26-2017, 10:45 PM   #49
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...
You sure, we have great healthcare... just look at me

Hmmm . . . but what about the Emperor's wrinkles?
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Old 04-26-2017, 11:54 PM   #50
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Hmmm . . . but what about the Emperor's wrinkles?
Too much time under a sun bed in his youth, man loved his tan
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