Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Redefining Combat Styles

 Been going through a few old posts on the Livejournal, because folks have reminded me of stuff I've written. Thus, the reposts of old material (this is from 2009, but comes from some older ideas).

So, I was posting to RPG.net, on one of their many Palladium topics, and came up with an idea, based on my Weapon Proficiency idea.

For those who do not know it, my Weapon Proficiency idea is pretty simple:  At every level, you gain +1 to something.  This may be a +1 to strike, a +1 to Parry, or a +10% to range; the full list is in the pimp my skill monkey article.  If you spend 3 skills on a WP, you get the equivalent of 3rd level skill in the weapon, letting you add either 3 +1s or a +2 and a +1 (since you cannot have the same bonus on successive levels).

Now, for combat skills (and by these, I mean the Hand to Hand skills), I've got something similar, that obviously hasn't been playtested.  To gain Combat Training (so named because "Hand to Hand" leads to people asking why hand to hand skills help with shooting), you spend at least one skill; you can spend more, up to a limit set by your OCC Group.  For every skill you spent on Combat Training, you gain a +1 to one combat bonus at every level.

Thus, if you spent 1 skill on Combat training, you get a +1 to initiative, strike, parry, dodge, damage, or roll at 1st level, and another +1 at 2nd level.  If you spent 3 skills, you get  +3 to spend at 1st level, +3 at 2nd, etc.  Spending one skill gives you automatic parry, and 2 combat maneuvers (different kinds of kicks or special attacks).  Each additional skill adds 2 combat maneuvers.  This is in addition to a basic punch and snap kick.

The are two limitations on this.  First is that no one bonus can account for more than 2/3rds of your total, except if you've spent only 1 skill, and then only at 1st level.  The second is that each OCC is limited in how many skills it can spend on Combat Training, depending on its group. Men at Arms (e.g. Knights, Juicers, and Martial Artists) may spend up to 4 skills on Combat Training.  Scholars and Adventurers (such as PF's Squire class, the Wilderness Scout of Rifts, or Robotech's Civilian OCC) can spend up to 3 skills on Combat Training.  Men of Magic and Psychics can spend up to 2 skills on combat training.  RCCs limit at whatever they most closely resemble; a Lanotaur Hunter is Psychic, but they're really Men at Arms types at heart.  Dragons are Magic and Psychic, but they're also King of the Monsters... they get the maximum possible.

Now, this fails to account for a few different things currently integral to Palladium's system. 

The first is the Critical Strike; most Hand to Hand skills improve your chances of a critical strike at a certain level.  I'm not sure how to handle that; I think I may go with "Your critical strike improves by 1 at at levels 9, 14, and 19 - the number of skills you spent on Combat Training"... meaning a maxxed out Man at Arms will get a 19 CS at level 5, a 18 at level 10, and a 17 at level 15.  I'm not as thrilled with that option, since there are some characters whose concepts revolve around CS (like assassins).  While that can somewhat be addressed by them putting more of their bonus into damage bonuses, it's not quite a comfy fit for me.

The second is all of the special attacks... the Knockout/stuns, the Pin/Incapacitates, and the Death Blows.  My temptation is to simply make them available as skills, with a minimum level.  Knock-out/stun, for example, would be available at 1st level, but would require an additional skill to be spent.  Someone who doesn't want to learn it until later can put it off.  While it opens up the possibility of "My character, Mr. Uber-deathly-killing-machine, has spent 4 skills on combat, plus learned every special maneuver he can at 1st level", the hope is that said character will be so widely incompetent at anything that doesn't have an initiative roll attached that he won't be played.

Lastly (and only because I forgot it while writing other things in the article) is attacks per melee.  I'm personally in favor of their being fewer attacks per melee, and leaving everyone at 2 + their OCC bonuses does tend help with that.  It means that rounds take less real time, and gives low-action characters more influence on the combat.  For those who want more attacks in their game, I'd go with +1 at X level (perhaps, again, based on your class group, or total number of skills spent on Combat Training)

Just a thought that wandered across my brain.  It leads to more flexible and player-defined characters, while keeping the "Palladium-ness" of the game mostly intact.