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Working with defence

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  • Working with defence

    I just found out that I was accidently using a houserule from an old ST where defence did not return at the start of each round. It made sense in a way that as the fight was drawn out that itd be harder and harder to defend yourself so I didn't realize it wasn't the case even after I left their game.

    So, my question is, how do you deal with defence in fights? Especially when athletics adds to it.

    I understand that some manouvers like all out attack exist but I have to adjust how i set up combat as a story teller from the ground up and I would gladly welcome how all of you, as players or story tellers, have seen combat work best.

  • #2
    I've never had an issue with it as written. I've found that it pushes players to attempt actions other than simply attack. Plus, the easiest way to get past defence is to use willpower which is a limited resource, and gives the impression of the character being tired out by even successful fights.

    As for it dropping, it's not a bad idea for speeding the fight along, though I'd remember that a turn is only about 3 seconds. Even a long fight is probably under half a minute or so.

    In fact, I could see an argument that your defence would go up as the adrenaline starts working.


    • #3
      I've also had no issue with Defense RAW in 2e. It's generally easier to eke out a small offensive advantage so fight don't stall, and as Michael noted in fights that are even in a white room sort of way, players are encouraged to either spend WP or try to creatively come up with ways to swing things in their direction rather than continuing to attack a lot.

      The only place I think there's really an issue is how much the system devalues Brawl in the combat mechanics when Brawl is no more or less expensive than Weaponry. Without a significant Merit investment, or supernatural powers, a basic fist fight can drag the system because low final dice pools and no bonus damage means even with Beaten Down in play it can take more time to resolve than it feels necessary. However, that isn't a solely a matter of Defense, and reducing Defense would only adjust that slightly while messing up the math on the rest of combat.


      • #4
        Brawl does have the advantage of being the skill used for grappling, a subsytem that drastically limits an opponent's options by forcing them into a contested roll.


        • #5
          Grappling is Brawl's biggest plus, but limited by factors like numbers (if you grapple someone, their friends can easily wail on you to take you out first). And there are ways to grapple with Weaponry; and they're going to be a lesser investment than trying to use Merit to get Brawl on par with Weaponry.

          It also really doesn't address one of the issues with Brawl's value is that it's inherently slower by doing less damage.


          • #6
            Grappling can be incredibly OP unless specifically countered. It forces the opponent to use a specific dice pool and, when successful, prevents the opponent from taking instant actions. I.e. once a grapple is initiated, you have a fair chance of damaging your opponent every turn and they can't counterattack if they fail. It's basically an attack and a Dodge roll baked in one action.
            If a dedicated grappler manages to enter a grapple with someone who can't match their dice pool, they're a goner unless they have extraordinary luck with their rolls or there are some special circumstances involved.

            Being outnumbered is bad, yes, but not much worse than being outnumbered with a melee weapon in hand.

            Edit: You can't grapple with Weaponry unless there's a Merit I've missed. Weapons that adds bonuses to the grappling roll does not change the base grappling dice pool from Str+Brawl.
            Last edited by Tessie; 06-30-2020, 09:16 PM.

            Writer for Bloodlines: The Ageless on STV
            Some other stuff I've done: Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)


            • #7
              How does this change things for you? Or more specifically when you say
              Originally posted by Mr.F.I.X. View Post
              I have to adjust how i set up combat as a story teller from the ground up
              The leap for me here seems to me like you were relying on Defense to just make fights last longer? Like you could give a character 10 Defense believing that they would then use 10 turns to become definitely hittable? Which would always give the benefit to the players, providing they only encountered single individuals while being parties of 3-5?

              If you were using Defense as a buffer, it seems like you would just use a mix of Health and armor in exchange, depending on what the PCs are skilled in and using as weapons, if anything.

              But also it pays to really use the Intent rules from p86 in the core, which I believe got expanded in later books. Basically you establish what both sides want out of a combat. While an enforcer may want to silence the PCs, they probably aren't willing to give up their life to do it. So establishing a victory or loss situation beyond one side being entirely dead can go a long way to make combat run differently.


              • #8
                nofather much the oppisite, i was using standard defense scores but with me accidentally using a mistake another ST had started, it was actually that fights were faster. So, now I'm having the issue of fights being far slower than i thought they should be. So, I'm trying to adjust to "how combat should run"

                I will definitely look into exploring the importance of intent more. That is definitely a good starting point.


                • #9
                  You might not have to change anything unless you're doing something special (like having NPCs use tactics designed specifically for gradual loss of Defense) that we don't know about. The fights will be longer, yes, but I think that's a matter of expectations. If you still want the fights to go faster, intent as nofather brought up, as well as Down & Dirty could help you with less important fights.

                  Writer for Bloodlines: The Ageless on STV
                  Some other stuff I've done: Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)