Friday, October 28, 2011

Arrow on String or Arrow in Hand: Complex Combat in T&T

I think pretty much everyone reading this blog knows the "stages of T&T combat" as per the book. But just in case you live in a cavern in Le Petit Mont (That's in France), here they are summarized:

1. Surprise Attack
2. Magic Casting
3. Missile Combat
4. Picking Melee Target(s)
5. Rolling of Massive Amounts of Dice.
6. Calculate Damage

Now while other Delvers will come up with other ways of handling determining damage besides massive amounts of dice, I don't really worry about that. Actually I kind of like dealing with tons of dice results. But the overall sequence isn't very "visual" in my mind. So I've developed some little "tweaks" to make the combat turn into a narrative scene that strives for a bit of graphic drama.

The biggest is that I just calculate the damage of each each sequence while it is occurring.
It has the by-product of sometimes reducing the number of dice. And this for the most part, it definitely reduces the bit of number crunching at the end of every Combat Turn. All this is on top of making a better tabletop story. Now while this might draw someone thinking that initiative needs to occur, I rarely need to do that. Magic and missiles are fired at stated targets, I let the PCs go first. Then the NPCs or monsters have their turn. Then both sides state their damage. Unless someone is killed or knocked down to a single hit point, I usually assume that the stricken stay around for the Hand-to-Hand coming up.

Also helpful is to increase, every so slightly, tactical situations with ranged weapons. The missile category during a non-static combat situation is a limited option. That translates as, if the archer, or whatnot, is not in a set and protected position, the missile weapon
user will have to move to a melee weapon after the first turn, or take the next turn moving to an area where he can fire again-- hopefully without a follower. The spell caster can continue to use spells as long as she, or he, is able, but will not be able to partake in the melee portion of the fisticuffs. It is assumed that he is doing the dodging and making spiffy quips bits so popular on TV, while the rest fight on around him.

Then there is my "After Turn Commentary," where after all the damage is tallied up, I go through and narrate how things occurred. I hope this adds a bit of thrill for the players at the table, because it is a task to be a "lyrical" GM outside of set story-points in a session. But even if it doesn't, it helps establish what the tactical situation is for the upcoming next Turn. Of course, I work in things like how hurt certain of my NPCs are and a few if not all will flee. May the Trollgod forgive me for working in a "morale" more into fray, but it really does reduce the number of dice required to roll, as well as add a level of drama that isn't just two sets of numbers clashing until o
ne is zero. You can probably tell that I tend to avoid gladiatorial events, liking the fracas of a brawl or a clash of armed gangs.

I have a pretty set houserule these days, that unless otherwise stated, creatures natural abilities, a specific T&T spell or projectile weapon, occurs at Wz cost, but doesn't affect their melee combat. But this doesn't count for an encounter with a Type, like a Wizard or Rogue, like say a "Dark Elf," or "Ash Gnome," or a 'Weird-beard Dwarf."

My experienced players at the table seem to appreciate the way I handle combats, which I think is the best sign of whether my system is working out or not.

1 comment:

  1. I will confess that the first time I played T&T (back at BASHcon 2009?), I really did not 'get' the combat...I just rolled a bunch of 6's and we added them together and so forth.

    The next time I played, it meshed a bit better and it made sense. Taking away the 'blow by blow', the narrative does help and transforms it into more than just rolling dice.