Sunday, July 16, 2017

Schedule of Combat and Combat Cards

Someone on Dragonsfoot, I don't remember who, used to say that Initiative and Morale are the Kobayashi Maru test of D&D.  In other words, no amount of player skill or PC stats can "win" these tests consistently, but you can learn to endure them with dignity and minimize the damage they can do to you and your party.

Here's how we do combat Rounds in Mythical Journeys.  They are one minute long and intended to be quite abstract.

The key steps here are 2 and 3: we declare our actions before we know who is going first!  This is makes it so combat feels chaotic and keeps people from "cheating" in some ways - gaming the system.  It's fun and kind of swingy.  There's something akin to rock-paper-scissors going on at the start of every combat Round.  You have to guess what is going to happen.

Mike Mornard said that he had done it like that some in the old days too, and it made sense to him.  I remember reading about something similar on the Lord of the Bling thread on Big Purple years ago.  I don't know whether I read it right but it seemed like they declared before initiative.

What else might jump out at you is there are very few categories of things to do during combat: move, missile fire, magic spells, melee attacks, and other things (overturning a table, drinking a potion, binding wounds.)  That is, there are only five categories of actions to take.

Combat Cards

What I tried a while ago, and it didn't work perfectly, is to write out Combat Cards, each of which has one category of action written on it: Full Move, Melee, Spell, Missile, Other.  

Each player would the select his card and hide it;
I would secretly choose what the monsters would do; 
The players "lock in" their action by revealing their cards;
Then we roll for initiative, 1d6, by sides.

When combat actually happens, the several combatants choose their targets or where they are running to or whatever, but within those action categories.  It didn't really work the way I wanted it to because the players were not as enthusiastic about it as I had hoped.  (I love the old game shows Match Game and Price Is Right; in my brain, this mini game would be fun like those games, oh well.)

I want to try the Combat Cards again.  Do you see any issues with this that I can clean up before I roll it out at the table?  Or do you think I should just try it and hope for players willing to work with me?

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