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What is "Embattled", really?

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  • What is "Embattled", really?

    Originally posted by Exalted Third Edition Code, Page 197
    When a character is at close range, he is in an opponent’s face, close enough to easily attack with a hand-to-hand weapon such as a sword, spear, or his fists. This doesn’t mean that the characters are necessarily within arm’s reach of each other at all times, but rather that they are able to close such a distance in moments. If an opponent is within close range of a character, that character is embattled, and must use a disengage action if he wishes to move away from the opponent.

    Movement Actions
    A character can take only one of the following actions per round, unless otherwise noted. A character could not, for example, use a disengage action and a move action during the same turn. All movement actions may only be taken on the character’s turn, regardless of whether they are reflexive or a combat action.

    Characters may remain stationary in terms of range bands while stunting dramatic movement, if desired—circling an opponent at close range, stepping back from a powerful attack, or otherwise engaging in acrobatic stunts are all possible without changing relative positioning or using a movement action.

    Move (Reflexive Action): The character may move one range band toward any other character or landmark present in battle once. This action can only be taken on the character’s turn. It is the most commonly-used movement action.

    • Disengage (Combat Action): This action must be taken when a character at close range with one or more hostile opponents wishes to retreat to short range—the standard reflexive move action cannot be used to do so. Disengaging is an opposed roll of (Dexterity + Dodge) against the (Dexterity + Athletics) of all opponents who wish to contest the disengage action. If the character defeats all of his opponents, then he moves out to short range; furthermore, if one of the opponents he disengaged moves toward him on her next turn, the character immediately and reflexively retreats one further range band away from her, even if this means he would move outside of his turn. Like a rush action, this reflexive movement does not count as a movement action. It occurs only the first time after a disengage action that a disengaged opponent moves toward the character.

    If any opponent beats the character’s disengage roll, he is incapable of moving away—there’s simply no opportunity for the character to safely escape his enemies.

    Taking this action causes the character to lose 2 Initiative points regardless of its success.

    Despite being an extremely important concept for Third Edition's new, abstracted movement and positioning rules for combat, the term "embattled" never reappears in the entire book, making its very existence easy to forget. Which may be why some posters here have taken to calling this condition "engaged".

    Over in the Ask The Devs thread, some of us had some very interesting questions about what, exactly, being "embattled" meant, in terms of narrative and mechanical possibilities.

    Originally posted by Therian View Post
    The regular move action lets you move closer to another character or a landmark. If you are engaged with a opponent, do you have to disengage to move through the scenery or towards something? Was that the intent? I ask because many cinematic inspirations feature the combatants ranging all over the place while fighting.
    By the strict wording of the rules, Yes, you need to successfully Disengage from an opponent in order to leave your current range band. The rules make no allowance for using your Move action to travel into another range band by enabling your opponent to reflexively follow you into it.

    Yet this is how Robert answered:

    Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
    If you want to stage a cinematic fight in which, say, two swordsmen are running through a marketplace trading blows, you can simply declare that they're running through the marketplace as the fight goes on, without them needing to use their movement actions or change range bands to do so. In that context, a disengage would be attempting to put distance between yourself and your foe.
    Robert argues in favor of allowing the scenery to change, but doesn't actually address the problem. Indeed, assuming that a small variety of scenery can be contained within a single range band, the rules already make this clear: The opponents who embattle you do not prevent you from moving around inside of the range band you share with them, as that does not require a Move action.

    But Therian is asking about moving towards another character or landmark; the landscape is already divided into multiple range bands, each with different, pre-determined tactical values. Changing the scenery of the immediate duel isn't merely a matter of narrative and stunt-fodder, because if your opponent has any ability to prevent you from moving into another range band, he's going to want to prevent you from reaching your wife to administer the life-saving antidote, or to keep you from boarding the river-raft that will carry you away to safety.

    Thus we still need an answer to the real question; does the opponent who embattles you have the power to prevent you from leaving the range band, or does he only have the power to reflexively (and thus, outside of their turn) follow you into another range band unless you succeed at a Disengage action?


    Originally posted by ale137 View Post
    If you fail a disengage action, can you still move a range band even if the relative distance between you and the opponent remains the same?
    Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
    You can use your reflexive move action to reposition yourself, as long as you stay at close range to all your enemies, but if you try to disengage and fail, you've used up your move action for the turn and don't get to take another one.
    Again, Robert doesn't answer the real question. It's not a matter of "staying at close range to all your enemies", because the confusion is what THEY are able to do. They cannot prevent you from moving around inside the range band you share with them, but can they prevent you from leaving or do they merely have the power to reflexively follow you, if they wish?


    Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
    But could this movement take you one range band closer to another combatant or a tactically important feature of the environment?

    That is, does being Embattled mean that your opponents can always reflexively Move with you outside of their turn to keep you in close range, such that you can tactically reposition yourself across the battlefield, close ranks with an ally, or pursue an in-Embattled opponent?

    Because that is very different from the interpretation where Embattled characters cannot move around *at all* in a mechanically or tactically significant sense.
    Originally posted by Robert Vance View Post
    Embattled characters can still take reflexive move actions, just as long as they're staying in close range to everyone they're already at close range with.

    In a cinematic "running fight" where all parties involved are just assumed to be moving through the marketplace/town/rooftops/whatever, you aren't having the characters take movement actions to do the running, just to maneuver in relation to each other. You could think of it as the terrain being the one that's moving underneath them, for stylistic effect.
    Again, the answer focuses on the wrong character and doesn't solve the question.


    And of course, NONE of this addresses another question, which is whether your opponents can decide on their own -- or be convinced/forced, as by social influence or magic (particularly of the intimidating variety) -- to refrain from chasing after you, allowing you to move away from them with just a Move action instead of a Disengage.

    I mean, logically, no one should be forced to keep fighting you when it becomes in their best interest to stop attacking you, but the issue is never once addressed in the book.


    Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

    My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

  • #2
    This is what overthinking looks like.

    It's not that deep, man.

    Also, Vance has to do the dual job of interpreting text he didn't oversee and answering questions as a developer making decisions for the sake of the line. This is probably a good thing to keep in mind when engaging in kremlinology about rules which are explicitly abstracted and require common sense adjudication.


    Leetsepeak's Ex3 Homebrew Hub - Hub of homebrew for Exalted 3rd Edition that I've made.

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    • #3
      Yeah I'm gonna be honest the disengage doesn't strike me as "If you don't disengage you and your opponent are locked into fighting in a particular 5 feet of ground," unless that's what makes sense narratively. So Vance's saying that if you wanted to do the cinematic fighting through a marketplace disengage isn't needed makes sense to me. Essentially it becomes that scene in Princess Bride where Wesley and Inigo are fighting along the cliffs of insanity and all that. Disengage isn't used until you're trying to create actual space as opposed to just both of you taking a step to the left

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
        This is what overthinking looks like.

        It's not that deep, man.
        Then what's the simple answer?


        Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

        My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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        • #5
          I am personally not comfortable with the abstraction of the combat system in 3e. I would, however, say that an embattled character is one whose opponent is willing and capable of following if the character moves away (requiring a disengage if the character wants to leave battle). If a character attempts to move away, their opponent does not have to follow (which would be wise if the opponent possesses cover or has better ranged weapons than the character).

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
            Then what's the simple answer?
            The simple answer is that the purpose and function of the range band system is to enable ranged characters to sometimes have a tactical advantage over melee characters (by virtue of being able to attack while the melee characters are out of range) but give the melee characters the ability to, via rushes and the necessity of disengaging, nullify that advantage and actually reverse it (through the fact that most ranged attacks have much worse accuracy at close range).

            That's pretty much it. Most things consistent with that are fine.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by AtG View Post

              The simple answer is that the purpose and function of the range band system is to enable ranged characters to sometimes have a tactical advantage over melee characters (by virtue of being able to attack while the melee characters are out of range) but give the melee characters the ability to, via rushes and the necessity of disengaging, nullify that advantage and actually reverse it (through the fact that most ranged attacks have much worse accuracy at close range).

              That's pretty much it. Most things consistent with that are fine.
              More on this;

              My simple rules to adjudication are thus;

              Does moving towards a distant object or entity reflect an objective in the current scene?

              If yes, you need to disengage unless unopposed.

              If no, allow cinematic movement assuming everyone moves.

              The usual rules for 'chicanery no' apply. If a player wishes to 'cinematically move' to another rangeband in the hope of moving their embattled opponent away from some other objective, it doesn't work.


              My Homebrew: Architect of the Regal Puppet Style (WIP) || Monkey Style || Radiant Halo of Incandescent Might || Pale Driver, Ruination of the Edifice of Tyranny || Sublime Percussion, Just a Whole lot of Fun || Idris, The Graceful Heart of Purpose

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              • #8
                Embattled means you can't leave Close Range from the opponent(s) embattling you without succeeding on the opposed Disengage roll.

                It's not that they can follow you; it's that they are controlling the battle such that you can't escape.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mizzlfoshizzl View Post
                  Embattled means you can't leave Close Range from the opponent(s) embattling you without succeeding on the opposed Disengage roll.

                  It's not that they can follow you; it's that they are controlling the battle such that you can't escape.
                  Then the duel cannot change venues.


                  Formerly Inugami, formerly Tornado Wolf.

                  My RWBY Blog on Tumblr: Semblances, Kingdoms, Grimm, and more!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mizzlfoshizzl View Post
                    Embattled means you can't leave Close Range from the opponent(s) embattling you without succeeding on the opposed Disengage roll.

                    It's not that they can follow you; it's that they are controlling the battle such that you can't escape.
                    That is a confusing statement.

                    Why is not that you can't escape because they can follow you?

                    To really keep someone from moving, there is grapple and restrain.

                    ​IMO, disengage has to make sense narratively. A person can't move away from someone, not because they can't move at all, but because they can't get away. That implies that the party contesting the move is taking narrative action to do so.

                    It may be that they are interposing themselves between you and the only way out. It may be that they can keep up with you.

                    Like in one battle in the game I play: We were exploring some ruins and triggered a trap. A golem came to life and was headed to the center of the chamber 3 range bands away (it was a massive cave temple) to release whatever was contained in the misterious urn. While we dealt with scores of demons, the golem started moving. That is when one of the players started to argue that the golem couldn't move because it had to disengage and he would contest and win everytime, so we should deal with the demons and leave the golem paralyzed by his contesting of the disengage.

                    A kinda shitfest happened between me, the other player and the ST. But in the end we came to consensus that a disengage contest only comes into play if the moving party is trying to get away from someone, not if they are only moving. If they are only moving, anyone can choose to foolow, so relative range bands remain unchanged. If you are not willing to move, you are not "contesting the disengage", and therefore the moving party can just move.

                    In short, how we deal with it is disengage/rush work to regulate relative range bands between active participants in a battle. It does not work to regulate narrative scenario and movement. For that we use common sense, and if you really want to keep someone from moving we use grapple rules.

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                    • #11
                      Is this thread really happening?


                      Incentive is not permission or justification.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Leetsepeak View Post
                        This is what overthinking looks like.

                        It's not that deep, man.

                        Also, Vance has to do the dual job of interpreting text he didn't oversee and answering questions as a developer making decisions for the sake of the line. This is probably a good thing to keep in mind when engaging in kremlinology about rules which are explicitly abstracted and require common sense adjudication.
                        Vance's answers 100% line up with my intent when I wrote those rules, fwiw.

                        "Embattled" is, I think, a remnant of the old "engagement range" thing from the end of 2e (Christ what a suppurating nightmare that was to calculate) still rattling around in my head, and some vague notion at the time that we might eventually have stuff like really big opponents or enemies with huge long tentacles or whatever that could threaten characters clear out to short range who tried to get away from them. It ended up just not being important or coming up during the rest of the rules writing, and the natural language the rules ended up being written in didn't need the specialized term.


                        Former Exalted developer.
                        --
                        Holden Reads the entire classic World of Darkness
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                          Yeah I'm gonna be honest the disengage doesn't strike me as "If you don't disengage you and your opponent are locked into fighting in a particular 5 feet of ground," unless that's what makes sense narratively. So Vance's saying that if you wanted to do the cinematic fighting through a marketplace disengage isn't needed makes sense to me. Essentially it becomes that scene in Princess Bride where Wesley and Inigo are fighting along the cliffs of insanity and all that. Disengage isn't used until you're trying to create actual space as opposed to just both of you taking a step to the left
                          This, pretty much. Or the good old anime trope of the two swordsmen running in parallel to one another through a market or bamboo forest or whatever trading sword-blows. The scenery's changing around them but they're moving in lockstep with one another because the player and ST agreed that would be a cool way to conduct the fight. (That style of play doesn't tend to work too well if there's an archer trying to shoot one of them to death, mind, but it's nice for one-on-one duels.)


                          Former Exalted developer.
                          --
                          Holden Reads the entire classic World of Darkness
                          Follow my RPG ramblings on Twitter.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post
                            Then the duel cannot change venues.
                            Yes it can. You are this point being willfully obtuse by insisting on a literal physical interpretation of "close range" rather than a wholly abstract one that determines which attacks can hit you and (if they are ranged attacks) what their withering accuracy bonus is. Half a dozen people across two threads have told you that the literal physical interpretation is not correct.

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                            • #15
                              The simple answer is that the rules are an abstraction that make certain assumptions (in this case, that your opponent is trying to keep you from running and that you're trying to maintain a viable fighting position.) The two cases you seem to be talking about are:

                              1. You want to drop your weapon and run without regard for tactics or danger. There's a reason the rules don't allow this - the ability of someone like the Invincible Sword Princess to control the battlefield (and, yes, keep you from your dying wife or the escape raft or, maybe more importantly, her squishy sorcerer buddy) is fairly central to the combat system, so I'd be cautious about houseruling it. The default assumption, I think, is that the risk you're avoiding with a disengage action isn't "they follow you", it's "their sword is in the way and if you tried to move in that direction you'd die." Granted that for the Exalted, "fuck it I impale myself on that anyway, I can just walk it off later" is sometimes a viable option, but that can be written into the charms that do those things if necessary (and if someone somehow poses literally no threat to you at all, they're not a combatant and can't keep you from doing anything.)

                              2. Your opponent decides they're going to let you escape. I don't really think the rules need to spell out the fact that in that case, you don't have to disengage. Hell, if your entire circle is retreating and nobody's trying to stop you, the fight is over anyway.

                              Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
                              Is this thread really happening?
                              Would you say you feel embattled by it?
                              Last edited by Aquillion; 08-16-2017, 03:24 PM.

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