Monday, 18 August 2014

The Un-Published Game Designer's Blog: Opposed vs Non-Opposed Combat

Greetings friends!

Today I would like to talk about something I am struggling over regarding First Law: Override, and rather than write this out as a normal post I figured it would be great to bring back my discussion point from earlier in the year.


Now what I am struggling with is quite simple:

Opposed vs Non- Opposed Combat

The differences are simple.

Opposed combat is the usual stuff you see in a table top game, it can range from the heavy opponent involvement like Malifaux or Attack Wing; where all players involved are rolling about as many dice/flipping about as many cards as each other to resolve combat.

Non-Opposed combat is what you see in my previous project CRYPTS. You have a target number, if you roll the right number then you have succeeded, there is nothing the opponent can do about it.

There is of course Semi-Opposed Combat, the type we see in Games Workshop games; the attacker has a target number just like in Non-Opposed combat, and there is nothing the defender can do about that, but instead they have their own single defence that supersedes this with the armour save.

Now I have always hated the Armour Save Semi-Opposed Combat system for one reason; if armour was protecting you from harm it would come into effect BEFORE you roll to wound and not AFTER.
- I remember whenever I played 40k this was a really annoying thing for me, how you would roll to hit, then roll to wound, then the target would roll for armour. Surely the number of wounds you would be protecting against should be done AFTER armour saves as the attack would have to penetrate the armour before reaching the soft flesh below?


Anyway, the thing is all of these models of combat have their merits and issues, especially when it comes to planning for a game like First Law: Override.

If I was to go with an Opposed Model, maybe something simple; Roll 1d10 and add your combat stat (if you are shooting it would be maybe a ranged stat, if in melee then a melee stat) and you have your total, the defender would then do the same and add their 1d10 to their defence stat, if the attacker is higher then they hit, if the defender is higher then they miss.
- Or maybe it could be more complex than that, attacker has a stat, maybe somewhere between 1 and 10, they roll a number of d10 determined by the weapon, for every shot equal to or lower their combat stat equals a hit, meanwhile the defender rolls to defend, the number if dice rolled determined by the armour worn, for every number equal to or under their defence stat they score a defence, you then minus the number if defences against the number of hits to determine the number of wounds dealt.

You know, I like this idea! It's not entirely new or original, but it feels dynamic.

The problem however? It will be slow going and asks whoever is controlling the NPC to have an investment in their dice rolls due to the increased time.

This works great in either purely competitive games like your traditional wargames and semi competitive with games like D&D and Descent.

But this isn't a competitive game, or even semi competitive, it is supposed to be cooperative.

The other way around this is to do Non-Opposed combat like what we saw in CRYPTS; you roll a dice, if it's above (or below in some cases) your target number then you hit, so you roll to damage. This way there is minimal involvement from the person temporarily controlling the NPCs, and sadly there will always need to be someone controlling them, even if it's done in the form of 'the player to the left of the Player engaged in combat' like I have read is standard for non-DM games of D&D.

However one issue for this, while combat will be fast and uninvolved for the person controlling the NPC, the same could be said for the Player as well. Unlike CRYPTS, in First Law: Override you will be facing off against a lot less enemies, most of them being on a par with you rather than traditional 'dungeon fodder', combat needs to take this into account.

There is of course the Semi-Opposed system, but it see that as something that is the worst of both worlds, instead of the best.


Here comes an issue over the whole thing. It's a realisation that is clear in my mind, and I have no choice to acknowledge it for fear of it becoming the elephant in the room:

I could always make the game Semi-Cooperative and require a GM...

This is something that I am not happy about and it is not the result I want, but if I don't acknowledge this it runs the risk of sneaking up on me. I need to make sure that whatever rule set is picked, it is better than having a GM. That's right! Just as good will not be suitable and not as good will definitely not do as the players will just say "Why not just use a GM" and will probably house rule ways of doing so.

Now of course this could happen anyway, and I have no problem with players using a GM if they want to, but the intended rules should be inviting enough that players don't want to use a GM!


Part of the issue present in having a GMless game like this is deciding who controls the NPCs, but that's for discussion another time.


And that is the current dilemma I face right now. All options look viable, but picking the right one is crucial.

Something tells me picking the right one will heavily revolve around who controls the NPCs, but I'll leave that until another post.

Until next time; stay safe and I'll see you Fringeside!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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