Tangle attacks are like Spiderman's web, a "glue gun" that wraps up opponents, and so on. Grappling (with intent to Hold) is what happens when you're doing Judo and you take someone down and basically contain them. Super-Grapples are like when you have tentacles, Telekinesis, or like Mr. Fantastic's stretching. These are all somewhat different but they all share some of the same problems.
There are, as I said, certain problems with Tangle/Grapple attacks. Let's enumerate:
- They can be boring. Having your super-martial artist encased in ice rather than beaten in a fair fight is pretty lousy in terms of a "way to lose."
- They're not fair. Some characters (Bricks, in Champions parlance--super strong characters) come with a built in way to break out of tangle attacks (and they can grapple real well too) other characters (like "energy projectors" or martial artists) might be the same points--but more screwed: they didn't luck into a free, easy, anti-tangle power.
- They're just plain not balanced. Right now the "strong character" dukes it out fairly with the sword, gun, and blaster character. All is right with the world--but let's say that we assume the strong character will use his (overwhelming) grapple attack in a fight instead of punching. None of the other characters have any kind of grapple defense in the strong/trained sense of the word--so he'll be better at that. If that lowers his STR by even a few points suddenly duking it out is not an option: He's under-gunned. He now has to grapple. That's not the dynamic we want. At all.
- They break the DP economy. Right now how many DP a character has is really important to how they perform in a fight (I'll include ADP in here as well). Sure, Armor is great--but staying power comes from DP. The grapple/tangle rules bypass all of that. You can be super tough in 90% of your (DP-based) battles but if you aren't a good grappler/get-out-of-Tangler character then when one is deployed against you, you're helpless (maybe).
- They Don't Roll For Damage. Right now part of the (satisfying) nature of combat has the attacker rolling for damage of some sort after a hit. Grapple attacks ought to do this--but what do they roll against? Traditionally the target's Grapple Defense--but is that really right? What if you're trapping the target in a Force Bubble? Does that still count? Maybe? Maybe not.
- They're Complex. Tangle Attacks and Grapples are complicated. Firstly many of them have two ways to break out: the Escape Hold grapple move and just blowing the thing up (like blasting through ice-bonds). That's a lot of stats to keep track of for some of these attacks and sometimes a confusing number of options (if I'm not good at math how do I know which approach to getting out is better? Especially if there are negative modifiers involved)?
- They Have To Be In There. There's a scenario we're calling Conan is Captured by Nets which we think is almost necessary: a (fairly powerful) PC must be able to be non-lethally captured by sufficient forces because it's better than Conan-Refuses-To-Surrender-And-Is-Killed. If you can't capture a villain and slap cuffs on him the PCs will execute them. There are reasons this has to work and work reasonably well.
What Are We Thinking?
As near as we can tell there are actually three basic varieties of Tangle Attacks. These are:
- Fire And Forget. This is the web-slinger or glue-gun style attack. It's fired from the character and once it hits it tangles the target leaving the attacker free to walk away or entangle someone else. This is pretty much all tangle weapons (bolas, nets, whips, etc.). It is the most expensive and needs to be the easiest to break out of.
- Grapple Attack. A Grapple Attack is a traditional Judo hold. You must hit the target with a grab or grapple, take them down, and then apply a Hold. This usually takes 2 Rounds to achieve but can be done in 1. We believe that in a lot of cases the attacker will be overwhelming due to the fact that being highly resistant to this takes either (a) super strength or (b) a specially designed character (wrestling, slick skin, liquid body, etc.). Conversely, characters with weapons (for example), will be especially screwed. This is the least expensive form of grapple/tangle. In fact, if you by super strength (or any AP STR) it comes for free (right now).
- Super Grapple. A super-grapple is an attack that grapples the opponent but does it quickly and, possibly, from range. Think characters with TK, tentacles, or stretching. These characters are like the above but more efficient and, as we said, ranged. Streaming Attacks such as Wind Blast can be used as a sort of Super Grapple since you can "pin characters" with the continuing stream. These have to be priced so that they are less expensive than, say, super strength which gives the ability to punch for damage.
The current state of affairs is NOT what we want. I'm not going to go into detail but shortly:
- We think the "Pinned State" is probably a bad idea. Right now you can be pinned which removes all ability to attack. This gives attackers an "end state" which ends the fight--but we think that most super strength guys could pin a target in a few Rounds making it too good.
- The modifiers for Hold need to be revisited.
There are some basic changes we are thinking of:
- No "Pin" Move. At least not one that stops all attacks. Probably "Pin" will become a 5 REA move that simply makes escape a little more difficult than it was (raises the bar for a Break Grapple move).
- Your average Hold will:
- Cost 5 REA each Round to Maintain if the character on the bottom is trying to escape.
- Grant +4 to Blocks against the character held
- Give the character on the bottom a -6 DM (with additional -1 per level, going up to -10 DM)
- Give the character on the bottom a -2 Initiative score
- Probably if you strike while performing a Hold the target gets some bonus to escape (unless you have extra arms or something). This is NOT true for super-grapples.
- Characters hit by a tangle attack will probably get an immediate (but not free--a 5 REA action) attempt to break out. This can use either their grapple score or an attack power.
What Do You Roll Against Question?
When you are hit with a tangle attack (webbing?) it usually has to win a grapple roll to "lock on" to you. That's how you distinguish between a /great/ hold and a weaker one. This is good in that it emulates a "damage roll" but it's also complex. If you are going to shoot your way out of a grapple you still have to go through the grapple phase.
I want to simply use the amount that the attacker hit the target by as the determinant as to how good a "lock" on you it has. This approach is workable but: if there is no /damage/ segment to the resolution it's unsatisfying: getting hit and then ... being held would suck. On the other hand, I don't want to make the attempt a grapple roll since the target will already get a grapple roll to escape if they choose.
Maybe I don't need a second phase--but I don't want to give up on it without thinking more about it.