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  • Xerxes
    started a topic Fixing V20's Alpha Strike combat problem...

    Fixing V20's Alpha Strike combat problem...

    I may be missing something, but V20 combat feels almost entirely dependent on whether you get the first hit in, because there is no real way to effectively avoid being hit.

    Without environmental factors, each d10 rolled has a 60% chance of hitting. This means that an attacker with a dice pool of 5 (around average for a trained fighter) will on average have 2 threshold successes vs an opponent. Give them a weapon, and in melee that quickly becomes around 3 successes on a hit, without accounting for things like Potence.

    Combat characters are generally statted higher than this, to the point where a neonate was cut in two after 2 hits from average combat characters in a recent game, all before striking himself. However, had he forfeited an action to dodge, it's simply delaying the inevitable.

    Is it just me, or is this a little too deadly? A world renowned martial artist is as easy to hit as the average Joe in the street, unless they forgo ever attacking.

    Had anytime come up with ways to rectify this? My initial thought is having passive defenve values to overcome before the hit lands, a la Exalted. Eg, a Dex 3, Athletics 3 character has a Defence of 3 ( 3 + 3 / 2), and any successful attack has to get 3 successes or higher in order to land.

    Does this solve the problem I'm seeing? Is there another solution? Or am I doing something very wrong in how I'm running combats?

  • Trassel
    replied
    Never did actually play V20, so take this with a grain of salt. I did play a lot of second and revised edition, however, with the latter being more relevant.

    Initiative
    I do not agree that winning initiative is the most critical. In the lowest declares first, highest act first order, someone with lower imitative can put a lot of pressure on someone with higher, and dictate the flow of combat.
    It is not a poor tactic to use all out defense until enough blood has been used reach high dicepools, or a few splits or extra actions to force the higher acting characters to themselves care about defense. At least in revised, you would only get a single action each “rotation”. Being able to use celerity defensively helps immensely, but that might have been a house rule that they did not need to be declared as splits did.

    Blood
    The difference between using one and using more blood per round cannot be stressed. Getting dexterity to 6 - or even higher if the fight can be ended quickly - really changes how a fight goes. Stamina is not bad, it with so much to spend on, and so little blood, it is hard to justify. Strength works good too, if grappling.

    Grapple
    By far the most effective maneuver, with Potence this will lock anyone down. Aggravated bites makes protean feel a bit weak. If loosing initiative, just declaring grapple may force the winner to go defensive. Goes hand in hand with Potence.

    Potence, Celerity, Fortitude
    I think Potence is the most dangerous of the three. While it does require blood in v20, it is still effective. Celerity is powerful combined with Potence or as a defensive alternative, but is far to unreliable to use by itself offensively. Fortitude is the least relevant of them all, as it requires a failure of defense, and does little to help you win, except ignore things.

    Auspex
    This disciple is the difference between being surprised and already blood pumped. The inherent danger sense cannot be underestimated.

    Obfuscate
    At least revised pretty much made it impossible to land a surprise attack from it.

    Other disciplines
    There are a few disciples that are situationally powerful, and a few that fill their niche. Dread Gaze is very effective. Even though it can be resisted with a willpower roll, in revised a botched willpower roll resulted in loosing one permanently, so at difficulty 8, you would want to spend one more. That is two willpower per round, quickly ensuring that the fight won’t be long. I am not a fan of protean because of bite attacks always open up the venue, and aggravated damage always makes it about a fight to the death, which may have negative social consequences. Serpentis has a good aggravated attack (or did in revised) and a solid defensive power at third level, but having to use that, means expecting to fail at defense.

    Weapons
    Fangs. Knives for lethal damage and being able to hide. Guns at point blank for headshots at reasonable difficulty. For range weapon, throwing knives, which stacks nicely with Potence.

    Warm bodies
    Revised had a very odd multiple opponent rule, that added +1 difficulty for each extra attacker on all actions. Since this went up to max 10, which is a pretty dark zone mathematically, just swarming someone means you will win. Arms of the abyss, kindergartners or whatever you have available, even if whiffing with one dice will bring even antedeluvians to a botched halt. We always houseruled this away, being outnumbered was problem enough.

    How to fix it?
    It is.a broken mess, but there is also a 3D chess somewhere in it. Sadly the best solution is often grapple/bite, and the road there is ample blood spending and enough Potence to hold a grapple or get out of one.

    A non-combat character should approach combat with care and preparation. Springing attacks randomly will result in dead Kindred. Just like they might take point on a more cerebral or social challenge, staying out of harms way is often a good tactic.

    I see a lot of suggestions about defensive actions. I have run with house rules to that, but a bit more complex.
    Dodge: Dex+athletics (might have been dodge, was before v20) divided by two. Defended against ranged attacks, but gunfire required cover. Half again if used against brawl or melee.
    Block: stamina+brawl divided by two. Full against brawl attacks and thrown attacks, halved again against melee, and no defense otherwise.
    Parry: strength+melee divided by 2. Full against melee and brawl, requires a weapon. Half again against throwing and none otherwise.
    Or something like that.

    Celerity was just automatic success on all dexterity rolls, and Fortitude on all stamina (and aggravated soak). Only sunlight dealt aggravated damage, and fangs did strength
    -1 lethal damage.
    Removing extra actions from celerity made everything run smoother and not bog down sessions with combat so the story would get more focus. Adding automatic defenses made for more choices on how to use actions. And made it easier for new players to understand the system.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by adambeyoncelowe View Post

    This is similar to hardness in the V20DA Streamlined Combat rules. In the end, we just dropped hardness for V20 (using static soak). Instead, we ruled that bashing didn't get the ping damage, but that lethal and agg did. So that was enough, without adding another complication into the mix.

    Yeah, basically my inspiration was the V20DA Streamlined Combat and a Thread we had in this forum to solve the "way too many rolls problem" we have in the system that gets even worse when you add celerity and multiple actions into the mix. In my games I don't allow multiple actions and celerity "only" gives a bonus to dexterity, etc.
    Last edited by Herr Meister; 05-06-2022, 12:41 PM.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post


    My Solution is using passive defence that is half the total dicepool (i.e. Dexterity + Doge/Athletics, rounded down). I also use passive soak, so if the total damage of the attack was less than the total soak, but more than the "amor" (that is equal to half the soak pool to that kind of damage) the attack deals a minimum of 1 damage, etc. If you want I can send you the rules I use for balancing combat refined in my 20 years of experience as a ST.

    Cheers,
    Daniel.
    This is similar to hardness in the V20DA Streamlined Combat rules. In the end, we just dropped hardness for V20 (using static soak). Instead, we ruled that bashing didn't get the ping damage, but that lethal and agg did. So that was enough, without adding another complication into the mix.
    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 05-06-2022, 04:07 AM.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by Xerxes View Post
    I may be missing something, but V20 combat feels almost entirely dependent on whether you get the first hit in, because there is no real way to effectively avoid being hit.

    Without environmental factors, each d10 rolled has a 60% chance of hitting. This means that an attacker with a dice pool of 5 (around average for a trained fighter) will on average have 2 threshold successes vs an opponent. Give them a weapon, and in melee that quickly becomes around 3 successes on a hit, without accounting for things like Potence.

    Combat characters are generally statted higher than this, to the point where a neonate was cut in two after 2 hits from average combat characters in a recent game, all before striking himself. However, had he forfeited an action to dodge, it's simply delaying the inevitable.

    Is it just me, or is this a little too deadly? A world renowned martial artist is as easy to hit as the average Joe in the street, unless they forgo ever attacking.

    Had anytime come up with ways to rectify this? My initial thought is having passive defenve values to overcome before the hit lands, a la Exalted. Eg, a Dex 3, Athletics 3 character has a Defence of 3 ( 3 + 3 / 2), and any successful attack has to get 3 successes or higher in order to land.

    Does this solve the problem I'm seeing? Is there another solution? Or am I doing something very wrong in how I'm running combats?

    My Solution is using passive defence that is half the total dicepool (i.e. Dexterity + Doge/Athletics, rounded down). I also use passive soak, so if the total damage of the attack was less than the total soak, but more than the "amor" (that is equal to half the soak pool to that kind of damage) the attack deals a minimum of 1 damage, etc. If you want I can send you the rules I use for balancing combat refined in my 20 years of experience as a ST.

    Cheers,
    Daniel.

    Leave a comment:


  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    How frequently we use called shots really depends on which of the WoD games we're playing. VtM and WtO tend to make it not worth it (baring lenient house rules on head shots and guns for vamps). WtA, MtA, and CtD all tend to encourage it more. First enemies are more likely to have specialized weapons that make disarming and such more appealing (It's very easy to make attacking an arm to make sure you don't get shot at with silver bullets worth it). Second they have more complex weapon/armor systems mixed with more difficulty modification in combat. Low damage weapons tend to have lower difficulties to use, or bonuses for specific actions, make for great choices to stack with magic items that trigger on a hit. Finally, they also tend to have in-universe reasons to use "sub-optimal" combat options. For example a changeling might purposefully make a tactically silly but feels cool called shot as part of a high rated Bunk.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    I don't think we've actually rolled for a called shot in decades. Maybe when I was 14 or something (so Revised era)? It's just not a very efficient way to kill someone when you have so many other tools to increase lethality.

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  • MyWifeIsScary
    replied
    -Vampires need their brains, I'm not saying that they don't, but they can do without a lot of their brains. A vampire will likely survive a single 5.56mm round through the head, and that'll go right through a human skull and pull a good amount of brain out the other side. It'll probably stun the vampire, might send them into frenzy, but all vampires will survive a single perfect 5 success headshot if we assume half of the damage dice succeed and don't add any special rules. A .22, on the otherhand, won't do much to a vampire's brain. It'll penetrate, but it won't scramble the insides and send them out the back.


    Called shots are really unrealistically difficult most of the time, unless you're shooting at the head at point blank range (+2/-2 = difficulty 6)
    IRL, if I'm going to swing for your head, it's not going to be much more difficult with a melee weapon or my fists. Infact, it'll be easier/just as easy as targeting the body. My arms are basically level with your head, which is often forward in a fight. It's natural for me to target your face rather than your body. Ditto for me kicking your legs; it's easier than kicking the body.

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  • Mister_Dunpeal
    replied
    One thing to consider with the .22LR to the head (or in general) is that fairly inelastic tissue (and the brain is included in this, as well as the liver) is more susceptible to temporary cavitation than more elastic tissues (meat or muscle) and so shots to the head could potentially be more 'explosive' (assuming the youtube video was going for accuracy with that - youtube gun videos are notorious for being rather unscientific however.) .22LR is highly susceptible (And good) at ricocheting inside a body (glancing off bone) because of its low velocity (less chance of over-penetration) and that can greatly increase the wounding potential (low velocity shell fragments can be similarly devastating)

    How that relates to vampires taking damage likely differs compared to mortals or other supernaturals. The usual physical kill mechanisms (bleed-out since IIRC vitae permeates the entire body. Possibly shock and hydrostatic shock if you believe in that) likely would not apply but that doesn't mean they would be useless either. They have bones, they have organs and tendons and while it may not be fatal it can still be incapacitating. I don't think hit location would be the only factor. Penetration would as well, but also size of the hole... just like it does with living targets. Most bullets that expand or tumble probably won't be worse unless its a very large/long bullet or it expands more than twice its diameter. Fragmenting ammuntion (Like M-16/M4 5.56 NATO is meant to at high velocities) might be a different matter. The fragments lacerate tissues and exacerbate temporary cavitation meaning that wound channels will be larger (much the same way buckshot wound channels will). Furthermore, fragmenting ammo tends to be more common for rifles than pistols (since bullet mass and velocity are important, and pistols face more tradeoffs in those areas than long guns)

    For a vampire a called shot or 'vital hit' I suspect using fragmenting ammo would be a pre-requisite to inflict serious damage rather than just poking a relatively narrow hole through them. The goal will be to basically mulch whatever it hits to hinder their ability to act/move or to take out brain or heart if you can land the right kind of hit.

    As an aside re: adding hit successes to damage I feel it can be plausible (skill *can* translate into more damage - handling the weapon better to strike more effectively, being able to find/exploit weak points more skillfully, outmaneuvering the opponent in a duel to leave them exposed to a serious injury, etc.) but it should not reflect special training or knowledge to make fullest use of the weapon (either particular skill with the weapon, particular knowledge of a target or a class of targets, etc.) It might also make sense to limit the 'bonus' damage based on weapon type for certain *kinds* of knowledge/training (a small knife might have less mass or too short a blade to do serious damage compared to a sword or a much larger knife and thus less potential to augment damage via skill.)

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  • Hades
    replied
    Called Shots were play tested with my home rules above regarding modifying Fortitude, and giving a Defense stat.

    We found that Called Shots were only viable against opponents that were Defenseless (unaware of an incoming attack, or unable to defend themselves, as wound penalties subtract from Defense) or outclassed opponents.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Damage upgrading really isn't a problem bulk or balance-wise for how the WoD handles called shots. It's simple (as in there aren't a bunch of special case rules here, just take the called shot modifiers and then the damage type change), and since you still have to go through the damage track the balance between reducing your average damage output for harder to soak/heal damage outcomes tends to balance out (or at least fall in line with the purposefully imbalanced offensive bias of the game to keep combat moving).

    Staking is actually a much odder case; as is any attempt to make decapitations a special move: they circumvent Health and thus get really clunky and hard to balance.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
    Otherwise you have to change the default physiology of vampires as explained in the books. Which is fine, VtR and V5 both did that, but it's important to acknowledge that's what you're doing.
    Fair enough, but rules-wise it is bulky. This kind of Called Shot rule is hardly good even in games where the characters have all normal vital spots. It's always the same, a cool idea on paper but the execution is either too unbalanced, making combat repetitive and boring, too weak, so people rarely use the option, or too complicated and unwieldy in play.

    This one is no exception, combat bogs down even more when called shots are considered. Not to mention that they should be used for everything, as guns aren't the only attacks that are more dangerous if hitting a proper "weak spot". Not to mention that aiming for heads in the heat of battle isn't how an actual battle usually unfolds.

    But then I could go on, I find it equally stupid that blades cause Lethal to vampires, except for the Cool factor of having them prefer to settle things with blades. Going too much into this rabbit hole will just end up with scrapping the system.

    Yet, what really matters here, is that while I don't think that tweaking combat rules in WoD is too much worth it, this kind of change work towards the OP's goal: less lethal combat at the get go, so things aren't overwhelmingly decided by Initiative. Wanna keep called shots with anything? Use the staking rule, 5 successes cause an extra effect instead of a general Called Shot doing the trick by itself.

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  • Heavy Arms
    replied
    Simulationist or not, VtM has had a long standing definition of the vampire condition as one where the brain and heart are the only remaining vital organs. If you chop off a vampire's head, it dies. If you rip out its heart, it dies. That's been true of the way VtM (at least Cainite) vampires work for a long time.

    A called shot to the neck for decapitation is largely unnecessary (and even detrimental depending on how you model it), because you can just say that decapitations are an appropriate description for a sword/etc. that does enough post-soak damage to still kill a vampire in one hit, or the coup de grace on a torpored vampire, etc.

    But because guns default to bashing damage against vampires makes the "blowing a vampire's head off with a gun," with one shot in the context of the rest of the mechanics is so unlikely as to be safely assumed to be impossible. Hence using called shots to the head to allow parity with blades.

    Otherwise you have to change the default physiology of vampires as explained in the books. Which is fine, VtR and V5 both did that, but it's important to acknowledge that's what you're doing.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    I find the whole idea of upgrading damage type on vampires based on hitting "vital organs" silly and missing the point. It is, as I see it, an artifact of the simulationist basis on which the system was initially built. Either bullets do Lethal or they do Bashing, and roll with it. Brain shot shouldn't be a concern for a freaking walking corpse, it isn't really working as an actual brain regardless, the same way no other organ is working at all. Not even the heart, that remains only as a mystical seat for your lifeblood, not a meat pump for a circulatory system you don't have anymore.

    ​Other than that, I like adambeyoncelowe's changes, but wouldn't go further on this. I take WoD as being purposefully too lethal in combat and just accept that, because to tweak the system too much to really make it work it is better to just drop it and get an actually better system and tweak that into allowing WoD splats and style, it's easier if you pick the right system.

    Then Requiem is the obvious choice, where all those tweaks are already done, and if you really want something more suitable for combat I still think M&M 2nd E would do better.

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  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Revised and V20 had 'blunt' attacks aimed at vital organs as lethal damage (V20, p.285). I reckon that covers the brain, and probably shooting, too. Bullets aren't blunt, but it seems silly that a fist can cause lethal where a bullet can't, so I have to assume the RAI was that 'blunt' is supposed to indicate sources of bashing damage rather than being literally only blunt objects.

    To simplify dice rolling, V20DA has *both* damage and soak as static numbers rather than dice rolls, which I think works nicely and you should consider. So you could still speed things up by not rolling damage and making that a fixed number too. That results in a fixed soak of (Stamina + Fortitude, + armour if worn) versus fixed damage of (weapon damage + extra successes, + Potence if in close combat).

    It actually makes armour a bit more desirable, too, as otherwise you only have two factors going into your soak (Stamina + Fortitude) versus up to three from damage (when you factor in the extra successes and Potence).

    I'm also a fan of letting vamps soak non-bane aggravated with Stamina + Fortitude. It means lupine attacks and vampire bites are still devastating (teeth and claws take ages to heal and loads of vitae) but without so many TPKs. It's nice and simple.

    If Dex is too powerful, you can always make firearms attacks with Perception and base Initiative off Wits + Perception instead of Dexterity. That way, ranged attackers have more of a chance of going first over Brawl and Melee fighters, since shooters will focus on Perception. This is more like V5's manner of handling initiative order and makes guns a bit more appealing.
    Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 05-04-2022, 10:57 AM.

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