Friday, January 20, 2012


What I'm Working On Now
I am digging into the Innate Powers list. It's complex. I am now on Iteration ... 3.5 let's say. What's in Have-Not is 1.0. What's in JArch 1.7 is v2. I have an unpublished file that is good--that's version 3.0--but it was done before the most recent batch of simulation and the Big List of Attacks--which taught us a lot. So I'm using that to update it.

What's Interesting?
What's notable is that the file is interesting to me. Enough time has passed that it's fresh to me--so I can see all the errors. But there were interesting decisions made that I'd forgotten about--like how I handled water-movement. I'd looked up the speeds of various sharks and things and used them to calibrate my swim-speeds. That's always nice (Extreme swimming is, like, as fast as a submarine--super swimming is faster than anything we see on earth).

Balance Issues
The Extreme Body Types (Animated Material, Energy Body) have the biggest changes--since I actually simulated their components (or close to it) I can have a far more scientific cost mechanism than before.

Thomas' Questions
Thomas asked a few questions in his post. Let me follow up.

1. JAGS REA Economy
Thomas notes that JAGS's mania for charging for movement may result in stationary battles. What do I think?

We'll have to do a detailed deconstruction of the rules for me to be sure of this--but here's my intended position:

(a) Moves that give tactical advantage need to cost REA. If you close with a guy who has a ranged weapon--or even a longer reach one? That needs to cost you--he paid for his range/reach in damage.
(b) The rules do allow for more movement than it sounds like. Any strike may or may not involve a yard or two of movement of both parties--including moves to the left or right. If you are playing with a hex map, anyone taking a block or dodge action can move back in any direction and the attacker can follow. If you move two spaces that would require extra REA (a Retreating Block) and gets you a better block. This 'incidental movement' is in the rules, I'm pretty sure.
(c) There are some rules for Circling which you can invoke. That gives some fairly unstructured--but not exactly static movement that can be used.
(d) Let's face it: most of JAGS combat is going to be, unless strategy is in play, two people standing toe-to-toe and duking it out. This is because in many situations that's optimal--if people are not playing with a battle map and are just doing some D&D-style combat we don't want the rules to get in the way of that. It's still exciting and making tactical decision making required would be heavier weight than we want.

That said, the GM can go a long way towards making combat more dynamic by setting up situations where movement is interesting / required.

(e) In the Fast Company PDF there are some rules for "Stunts"--basically you can either "spend a stunt point" or make an Acrobatics / AGI roll to get some kind of advantage. Usually that "comes with" a movement effect. These rules are, to my read, not bad--but not heavily playtested. I'd advise taking a look at them. If you are going to play a free-wheeling swashbuckling style 3-musketeers game give everyone 8 CP in Acrobatics and have a go.

Finally: There are a number of things in the rules that can really encourage types of movement and strategic movement. Range-Mods for weapons (SMGs vs. Assault Rifles came up long ago in a game we played). So can the use of cover. In the more recent rules, having the PCs have SP Pools can further encourage defensive play since the SPs can negate or mitigate the "one good roll means I'm hit badly" effect. This may be useful in convincing players NOT to just go for broke.

2. 1 REA Moves vs. 0 REA Moves
Yes--we changed things that used to cost 0 REA to 1 REA. Why? Basically two reasons. (a) to make "weird" REA numbers useful and (b) because having some "skin in the game" playtested to be a good thing. Having a 0 REA Strike meant you always did it--and if you didn't you were really leaving money on the table. Having it cost 1 REA meant sometimes it wasn't worth it. Sometimes it was. This was very positive in our playtests. YMMV, of course.

3. Guns OR Melee Weapons At Close Range
One of the biggest things we worked on was giving people in close or HTH combat cover from each other vs. Ranged Weapons. Right now in our Have-Not game, my gunslinger often has cover-issues from the other 3 HTH characters running up and attacking a boss. I have to move around to a vantage point I can shoot from that doesn't risk hitting my team.

The flip side of this is what about guns in HTH Combat.

(a) You should be able to block a gun at HTH range--treat it as a Sharp / PEN weapon (so for most character's it's hard but not impossible).
(b) We are going to hamstring rifles in close combat--and make them a little harder to deploy than pistols if not already "ready" using two hands. We do have rules for this (I think they may even be referenced in the basic book somewhere). These are optional rules. In our Have-Not game there are definitely "slots" for handed weapons (I can carry two pistols--but would need to move to one two-handed weapon). The simulator doesn't really track that--but okay. In a grapple or grab a rifle would be pretty shut down.
(c) In a Grapple or, especially, a Hold situation you can block a weapon (gun or knife) at some bonus. A gun, probably at a bigger bonus than a good knife. These rules are not published yet--but they're not hard to figure out.

In the movie Equilibrium the main character uses Gun-Kata to deflect the barrel of a gun by slapping it away continuously during the fight. In Wanted the characters (Fast Company of some sort, for sure) can "hit a bullet with a bullet" to block during gun combat. How do you do that in JAGS?

Well, for just slapping it, as I said above, treat it as a Sharp Weapon--and, maybe you get pluses with some kind of Gun-Kata training package.

Blocking Bullets is a 1 REA power that enhances a Block you already have (if you wish to simply use Kung Fu to block bullets). There are some CP-only abilities that could be used too (these are less well defined right now) but would make blocking a bullet (or catching it in the teeth) much riskier. This is good for drama but not good for gaming since a PC who pays for that is taking a huge risk in getting shot every time they try to get value for their points. But, again, it's not hard to figure out.

On the other hand, having a reliable block against bullets based on your Skill Block is pretty cheap.

But Fire Arms doesn't give a Block. Does it?

The solution to the Wanted issue is to just give Fire Arms a block (probably "at skill level") for 1 AP and then Enhance it for 1 AP to work against Range.

These are all extrapolations of the rules and that's easy for me to do in a blog-entry as the game designer but harder for a reader to just do. I understand that--but it's the best answer I have right now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your responses, Marco.

    1. Movement: Truth is, I didn't realize that those free small movements existed. It can be read in the melee range steps, but I thought those simply assumed back and forth movement in the context of attacking, leaving the character in essentially the same spot. Reading your response, it sounds like as long as it doesn't transition those steps, there's effectively a free one yard movement in most combat actions (would this apply to shooting to? That has some implications for the ability to, for example, snap off a shot and then duck around a corner you're standing near (though if you only get one yard worth, you're not going to do step-out-shoot-and-duck-back which probably makes it sort-of okay).

    2. 0 REA/1 REA: I can see some argument there. Among other things, as written there are some REA numbers that are pointless barring their initiative roll values; 14 for example, doesn't drop neatly into any combination of 8, 5 and 3 REA actions.

    3. That's kind of where my thinking was on this, but the rules were, far as I can tell, mum on the subject, which kind of surprised me given the extent of the grappling rules.
    Regarding something you mentioned in passing, one thing the current rules don't distinguish is how many hands it takes to use a weapon. This came up originally back when we were discussing some weapon values, when I didn't realize it was assumed that the battleaxe in the rules was a two handed weapon. Now, you can often make a good guess if the weapon has a Long reach, but there's a few cases where this isn't the defining distinction (fortunately its obvious to anyone who's ever seen one that a baseball bat would be a pretty clumsy one handed weapon). The guns are a little better, but there's muddy cases (a lot of modern submachine guns can be used to some degree or another one handed, but there's some control issues).

    I was going to make some comments/questions about my first run of the game, but I think I'll save those for another session or two to get my thoughts in order.