Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Hack and Slash! - Combat and INQ2

Tarot for the day:
Queen of Adeptio (Laurels) - the Sororitas
The luxury of certainty; the power of faith; a decision made from a point of strength.

No part of re-jigging the rules of Inquisitor have caused me so many headaches or occupied so much time as the combat rules.

I even went so far as to actively solicit not just input but completely independent suggestions and idea from players on the Conclave, so lost was I with what to do. I kept going back to the original rules and asking myself what it was I didn't like about them that meant anything had to change at all...

Well, there were two main things and they were related. First of all, I didn't like the fact that, as soon as two characters were locked in combat, 90% of any given turn would be spent on that combat (unless some ingrate fired on Full Auto, but we'll not go there right now). The second thing I didn't like was that combat felt far too "first I hit you, then you hit me": it didn't feel like a dialogue between two characters.

But the more I focused on improving the first area, so the second began to suffer and vice versa. If I made combat simpler and faster to resolve, so the sense of dialogue dwindled. And the more I wove it into a complex dialogue, the less other characters on the tabletop had to do in the turn.

One idea I worked on for some time was extracting a huge amount of information from a single dice roll, in the hope that this would cover both areas at once. For example, if a character needed 78 to hit and rolled a 62, then this would also give a hit location (26), a damage modifier (2, from the units of 62), a parry modifier (1, from the difference between the tens of the hit roll score and the tens of the hit roll itself) and the chance of the attacker taking a second hit (if the units number was less than or equal to the number of Actions the attacker had left).

I encourage you to give this a go, if you're so inclined, and let me know how it went. For my part, I found that - far from being simple - it became increasingly difficult to keep track of the multi-purpose roll and, perhaps more importantly, it was incredibly difficult to economically express in the rules the purpose of all the different modifiers and how to extract them.

This idea has, therefore, been temporarily shelved with a view to bringing it back as a possible "Advanced" modification to INQ2.

The new rules as they stand are much less radically-different from the originals than I had at first expected to write. The main difference is the addition of an "all out attack" that sacrifices all of a character's remaining Actions (and his next chance to parry) to make a single, nigh-unstoppable attack that may cause multiple hits. I've also given characters the ability to use any pistol or basic weapon in combat (albeit with penalties).

More subtly, but perhaps more importantly, there are now three ways to initiate combat instead of just two. To "charge" and "sneak" I've added a plain, old "attack". This is to allow characters to turn on allies or to engage opponents that just end up on their doorstep (perhaps being hurled there by an explosion, dropping off a ledge or being shoved their by knockback or a psychic power). Sneaking and charging have also been tweaked slightly, primarily to make the former a more attractive option. Always deadly, if carried off successfully, it is now far easier to sneak attack an opponent: because you don't have to actually "sneak" into combat with them; you just have to get into combat without them noticing you. This will mean that running into a sneak attack in noisy environments or against clanking or helmeted opponents will be far more possible, and just snagging an unwary opponent as he drifts blithely past you will also be an option.