Pulling Apart and Recombining

One of the things about my design cycle is that I'm always shooting off on tangents, then I try to pull those tangents back into other projects.

This recent Fen project has had an idea that I've pulled from certain LARPs. It relates to the way weapon and armour works.

In those LARPs, there are simp,y some types of armour that are too protective for lesser weapons to penetrate. Instead of giving extra hit points or adding toughness, these armours simply say that if you aren't using a high enough level of weapon, you don't do a thing. So heroic knights wade through throngs of poorly equipped peasants and cut bloody paths of destruction through the masses... it's the wet dream of many libertarians and supremacists (as long as they're the ones in the armour).

The version in The Fen is slightly more nuanced.

Basically, you get certain thresholds of power level.

Let's say 'unarmed fists' counts as offence level zero and 'bare skin' counts as defence level zero.

A basic weapon (for example a 'dagger', 'club', or 'staff') or basic armour ('padded' or 'leather') adds a level to the relevant score.

A decent weapon ('shortsword', 'axe', 'spear') or decent armour ('mail') adds two levels.

A good weapon ('longsword', 'polearm', 'trident') or good armour ('plate') adds three levels.

Enchanted items might add a level to their relevant scores. Being strong might increase offence level by one. Being tough might increase defence level by one.

Everyone gets 5 health levels (1 = healthy, 2 = bruised, 3 = battered, 4 = bloodied, 5 = broken... then dead.)

You're always rolling a d6. If you confront someone using an offence level equal to their defence level, a roll of 4-5 does a level of injury to them, and a roll of 6 does two levels of injury. This means a maximum of 4 hits knocks someone to 'broken' and takes them out of action, and any roll of a 6 knocks them down quicker. 

If your offence is one point higher than their defence, then every hit does as extra injury... 2 injuries on a 4-5, 3 injuries on a 6. That means 2 hits takes them down.

If your offence is two points higher, then every hit does two extra injuries... that's 3 injuries on a 4-5, and 4 injuries on a 6. Suddenly the chance of single shot takedowns become a possibility.

If your offence is three points higher, then we're looking at three extra injuries... so that's 4 injuries on a 4-5 (instant takedown), or 5 injuries on a 6 (instant death).

Things get wonky the other way.

If your offence is one point lower than their defence, you do one less injury with each successful strike... that means no injuries on a 4-5, and only a single injury on a 6. This means on average it'll take 24 hits (needing four successes at 1 in 6 chance) to take down someone who is only one point higher.

If your offence is two or more points less than their defence, you'll do nothing at all to them... ever.

I've been considering options for addressing this.

Perhaps rolling a 6 allows a character the extra damage, or an insight into their opponent, which lowers the effective defensive score by 1 for the remainder of the conflict. If they aren't going to cause damage anyway, a lower powered assailant might as well claim that bonus once or twice.

There's already the scope in The Fen for more skilled opponents, who roll extra dice and keep the higher die roll. Thus a better chance of getting that 6. I could follow the Blades in the Dark route where extra 6s gain extra benefits on the one roll. The other twist here might be an option for characters specialising in a certain weapon to deal two extra injuries on a 6 rather than one extra injury.

I've also got a basic initiative system in play. Basically different weapons have different attack speeds, simply resolve conflict in descending order of initiative values. Heavy weapons might inflict more injuries, but those wielding them act more slowly. Faster weapons go earlier, but tend to deal less damage. Perhaps a rule could be instituted where a character deliberately lowers their initiative score, acting slower while waiting for the opportunity to strike and potentially deal more damage.   

Maybe all of these options, maybe other options I haven't thought of.

Thinking about all of these ideas has got me thinking that there might be something here to add into The Law for players after a crunchier combat system. That's where tne recombining comes in.


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