Monday, April 6, 2020

Actions Per Round

One of the key changes to combat between the other iterations of the current game engine (The TSR engine is my nomenclature) and the Army Ants variation is the number of attacks per round. I decided that ants and other insects act often but don't do much damage; an ant can attack a number of times per round equal to his level; a level 5 ant gets off 5 shots per round, or can run, shoot, throw a grenade, run, and shoot some more. Or any combination like that.

I really, really like this. It makes gameplay fast, but also makes winning initiative at higher levels tremendously important. Your fighter 6 is swinging that sword 6 times per round. This means that damage probably needs to get scaled back to offset this.

  • Small weapons deal 1d4 damage
  • Medium weapons deal 1d6 damage (1d8 when two-handed)
  • Large weapons deal 1d8 damage (1d10 when two-handed)

A level 6 fighter with STR 18 (+6) and a good magic sword is attacking at 1s/+12/1d10+12. Against a foe with AC 16, he is hitting 5 out of 6 times, dealing an average total of 85 points of damage. Yeah. That's a LOT. But he's an endgame character with max abilities and gear. I might need to figure out how to mitigate this some.

In Army Ants, the difference between bugs and predators is that huge predators only attack once per round, but their damage is much higher. So, I was thinking of a variation on this that creates more strategy and variety to combat, but which might require more paperwork. Here it is...

  • You have a number of attack segments each round equal to your level. The default is that you make one attack/take one action with each segment.
  • Huge weapons (like a ballista) require more than one segment. A level 2 character can fire a ballista once per round, but a level 4 can fire it twice a round. 
  • Spells take a number of segments equal to their tier. A tier 1 spell requires 1 segment; a tier 6 spell requires 6 segments. So, a wizard 6 could cast one tier 6 spell on his action, two tier 3 spells, or a tier 2 spell, a tier 3 spell, and fire his sling. You have strategic options every round, and every spell 'feels' different in terms of how long it takes to cast.
  • A quick weapon grants +4 to initiative. Small weapons are quick. (or d4 damage?)
  • A slow weapon imposes -4 to initiative. Any weapon wielded 2-handed is slow. (or d12 damage?)
  • Monster attacks would be tiered in a similar way; a bear 4 might have a bite that has a rating of S2, while its claws have S1. It could bite twice in a round, attack with 4 claws, or do a classic claw/claw/bite. A huge dragon 6 could have a bite S4 and claws S1. Breath weapons work the same way; every die the creature uses is S1. A dragon 4 might have a breath weapon pool of 9d10, but can only use up to 4d10 at a time. If it uses a 1d10 breath weapon, it takes 1 sequence, but if it uses the full 4d10, it uses all 4 of its segments that round. 
  • Ghouls are level 2, but their claw attack is only S1, so they get to claw twice a round. The creature is coded so that its rate of attack and options are hard-wired into the system, and don't have to be explained.  
EDIT: I just thought of a permutation that solves a lot of problems. Your initiative is the order in which you act, but you only get one action per rotation, regardless of how many of your segments you use. So, a wizard 4 gets 4 segments per round. If on his first segment he casts a tier 1 spell, he still has 3 segments left, but has to wait until a full rotation (everyone else gets to act once) before acting again. This means you can layer in other options easily. You can always use a segment to defend, increasing your AC by +1 for the rest of the round, or to ready attacks, taking +1 to all remaining attacks the rest of the round. There are so many strategic options! If you have battle cry (for instance), you use 1 segment to activate your battle cry, but then all enemies within range suffer a penalty for the rest of the round. Nifty stuff. This means that level 1 sucks because you only get 1 action per round, so drinking a potion or moving a short distance is a killer, especially against a foe of higher level that gets multiple actions.

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