Monday, March 28, 2011

On Binds and Disarms

Thomas had asked if there was a "Bind" maneuver in JAGS. I think what he's talking about is the convention when, as two people are sword fighting (or whatever) one blocks and their weapons "lock up" for a few moments removing them from play. Usually, at that point, one of them will kick.

I have no idea if this is a real thing or just a cinematic convention. Certainly in the fencing class I took in college this didn't really happen (although, to be fair, we could not kick). Similarly, in fiction, there is the "disarm" move where either armed or unarmed one party executes a move that takes the other's weapon away (usually sending it flying--but maybe the attacker winds up holding it?).

We currently don't have much by way of this in JAGS--but I've thought about it ... what's the deal?

The deal is this: in my experience these moves (moreso disarm) are favored by characters who are expert combatants without weapons. Thus, when they disarm (or Bind) they gain a huge advantage over their opponents (who are presumably okay with weapons but usually not well trained unarmed combatants).

How do you deal with this? There are a few ways that I think "clearly present themselves."

  1. Limit 'just how bad it is.' Suppose that the rule said "getting a Bind or Disarm Result" costs the victim 5 REA to get the weapon back. That's not too bad--but it's also not 'realistic' if the Disarm 'sent the weapon sailing off a cliff' or the attacker wound up with it in their hands. 
  2. Make it Hard To Do. Opponents usually don't get "Disarmed" until they are beaten (if they're a peer). Maybe make it so that you have to really dominate your opponent or maybe you can attack and gain "Disarm points" that have to add up to some number until it works? The higher the target's weapon skill the higher the Disarm Number? This is interesting but (a) nothing else in the game works that way and (b) if it's really hard to do then the question of how much it's worth is complex. How much you pay for attacks that work only really well on sub-peers is a complex question ... and one that I don't have a rock-solid answer to.
  3. Let It Rule. If the TKD Master excels with weapon-bind moves and can tie up a target's weapon and then kick the heck out of them ... let him. Maybe it'll result in everyone having to have some unarmed weapon skills or something?
I don't really like any of these too much and as a result I haven't put this in the game too much. I think there's a role for it--but I haven't really decided on it yet.

I will note that there are some ideas floating around (dealing with Success Points and the like) that kind of come close to some of these solutions (especially the second one: what if  you could make attacks that 'banked' Success Points for some tactical advantage later in the fight ... instead of doing damage?). However, right now I think that a Disarm Move--or a Bind move would have unintended side effects.

Another idea I kind of like is that of "Chance of Battle" positions that a character can wind up with but not anticipate. For example, what if any time you made a Block by 4+ and had rolled a 9 or under on your Initiative Roll you could effect a Bind move. This means it's only available for you about 40% of the time and you have to block really well to pull it off--but if you did? Hey? Bind!

In these cases you wouldn't easily be able to build a character around the strategy but having some points in Street Fighting so you could kick wouldn't be a bad idea. 

This is definitely in the "Optional/Advanced" Rule Category--but it's the type of thing that might be interesting to see. 


1 comment:

  1. Yeah, that's more or less what I was talking about (the bind, not the disarm). Its also useful for two weapon fighters against single weapon users (you bind up the weapon and then follow through with the second one).

    As far as I can tell, the deal with both binds and disarms is that they aren't easy to do, and in the case of binds, they don't last long (the easy thing to do once you realize you're bound up is to retreat briefly to disengage from it), but I can understand your concern. Its also one of those things that tends to be more of an issue with some types of weapons than others (both are _far_ easier to do with a lot of flexible weapons, for example).