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Lets Make Parrying More Interesting


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Combat in RuneQuest often descends into a stale repetition of attack-parry-attack-parry.

Combat in movies is an ever-changing dynamic situation with feints, over-extended swings, shield bashes, kicks and throws.

Try as I might, I can't think of a reason to ever shield bash or kick someone in a RuneQuest combat, unless for some strange reason I have an unusually high skill in one of those two things.

Occasionally someone will get a really good parry result against a failed or mediocre attack, and then the attacker's weapon is damaged and possibly broken. Then the attacker has to do something different, but mostly this will be just taking a round or a strike rank delay to draw another weapon. The same routine resumes but with a second-choice weapon.

MRQ2 / RQ6 / Mythras "solve" this by giving special actions, but in my experience this was pretty much invariably "Headshot!"

My idea is this: give an occasional game mechanical push in the direction of doing something different. Here's a quick off-the-cuff starter.

One relatively simple way to do this would be to replace the fairly humdrum benefits of a really good parry with something more diverse like a Parry Results table.

"Roll parrying weapon’s normal damage, attacking weapon’s HP is reduced by 1 HP if damage over its current HP" remains as it is. It's a small effect, and I don't want to magnify it.

"Roll parrying weapon’s special damage, attacking weapon’s HP is reduced by any damage over its current HP" is replaced by "Roll once on the Parry Results table".

"Roll parrying weapon’s special damage, attacking weapon’s HP reduced by the damage rolled" is replaced by "Roll twice on the Parry Results table, reroll duplicate result".

So next up is the Parry Results table. What could go in that...

01-10 Attacking weapon HP reduced by normal parrying weapon damage over its current HP.
11-20 Attacking weapon HP reduced by normal parrying weapon damage.
21-30 Attacking weapon HP reduced by special parrying weapon damage over its current HP.
31-40 Attacking weapon HP reduced by special parrying weapon damage.
41-50 Defender may make an additional attack with their parrying weapon on the next SR.
51-60 Defender gains +30% to their parrying weapon skill for the remainder of the melee round plus 1D2 more rounds.
61-70 Attacking weapon cannot be used to attack for remainder of the melee round plus 1D2 more rounds.
71-80 Attacker is disarmed, weapon is thrown 1D3 meters, roll 1D8 for direction. For unarmed attacks, the attack cannot be used for the current plus 1D4 melee rounds (stunned, numb).
81-90 Attacker unbalanced, reduce all Agility and Manipulation skills by 20% for the remainder of and the next melee round.
91-00 Attacker knocked back. Roll defender's STR vs attacker's SIZ. If successful, knock back is 1D6 meters, otherwise 1 meter.

Some of those options force the attacker to do something different. Bash, kick, magic, flee.

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My more combat oriented PCs have often used the Disarm rules, for RQG we found them published as RQG Rune Fixes 3rd July.pdf. Attacking to Damage a weapon or shield is a cool and cinematic tactic against another skilled opponent, so is the traditional fancy swishy disarm or the brute strength smashy disarm. I would also allow someone to use their DEX if it were better in my Glorantha. 

 

Disarm
In a combat, an adventurer may at any time declare that they are striking at their opponent’s weapon instead of the opponent. If the opponent is parrying with the designated weapon, they will automatically parry if the attacker succeeds in the attack. The attacker has the normal chance of success if the target weapon is a Strike Rank 0 weapon. The chance is reduced by –10% if it is a SR 1 weapon, –20 percentiles if it is a SR 2 weapon, and by –30% if it is a SR 3 weapon. If the attacker hits the target weapon, they may attempt 
one of the following actions:


. Strike to damage the weapon. In this case, the weapon loses hit points equal to the amount by which the damage exceeds the hit points of the weapon. Such damage cannot be done with a weapon meant only for thrusting, such as a spear or dagger.


. Hit with the flat of the weapon and match the rolled damage against the STR of the target weap-on’s user (or STR×1.5 if the weapon is held with both hands) on the Resistance Table. If the attack succeeds, the target weapon is knocked from the user’s hand and flies away a distance in meters equal to the difference between the damage done and the STR of the user. If the STR is greater than the damage done, the weapon lands at the target’s feet. If the attack is unsuccessful, there is no effect on the struck weapon. This attack cannot be attempted with a short weapon meant only for thrusting (such as a dagger), but it can be used with spears, clubs, or quarterstaves to slap away an opponent’s weapon.

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3 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

91-00 Attacker knocked back. Roll defender's STR vs attacker's SIZ. If successful, knock back is 1D6 meters, otherwise 1 meter.

This was always my favorite part of playing RQ3 back in the day with my buddies. Even the burliest fighters would get knocked around a battlefield by trolls and larger enemies. Anything with big damage that needed big magic would run the risk of knocking you all over the place unless you were huge. My main PC was SIZ 11. 

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I like the idea I posted in another thread of encouraging players to consider using the Two Weapon Fighting rules if their characters are using a shield, including allowing a knockback attempt at SR 12 after a character's regular attack. Easy way to add a little dynamism and get past the attack-parry-attack-parry-etc treadmill. Perhaps also allow an "all-out attack" type option too: forgo your normal parry to get 1.5X your melee skill. More specifically to parries: maybe allow a grappling parry, whereby the defender (if successful) is able to grab on to (and possibly immobilize) the attacker's weapon arm. The Disarm maneuver that HrestIronBorne notes above, and which is included in the Starter Set rules, is a great idea. I'd even add a slight adjustment which said a special success, that nonetheless did not lead to a disarm, still acts as a "beat," whereby the attacker ends up with a penalty to their next strike (maybe -20% to skill and/or +1 SR) due to their weapon being knocked to the side and them having to recover a little. The same idea could be applied to a knockback attempt: special success leads to a target taking +1 or +2 SR to their next round despite not actually being knocked down or back.

 

 

 

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I like your idea @PhilHibbs however  some concerns:

 

1) i dislike the idea of another roll to determine the effect. From my perspective, if the character succeeds so well the parry, it may be luck, but it is probably skill.

So I would prefer the player to choose what could be the benefit. Then you may have two lists :

 

list 1: potentiel benefits from a special* or critical* success

list 2: benefits from a critical* success only

with a special*, player choose 1 benefit in the list 1

with a critical*, player choose 2 benefits in the list 1 OR 1 benefit in the list 2.

 

critical* special* may be the real critical/special roll OR the difference of success between attack and parry, don't know what is the more appropriate

 

2) I would like to see some advantage to the defender's attacks  :

you may imagine that with her parry the defender opens her attacker defense and gains, for example, +20% to her attack next round (or +10% her attack, -10% the opponent defense skills)

 

3) more an idea than a concern :

maybe these effects could be learnt in some combat schools / temples or studied. Young pc may have a limited choice but, with some loyalty, or as a reward for any reason, pc may be teached some "secret" technique ?

 

 

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You could steal and adapt the rules from stormbringer. If you are a weapon master you can riposte after a successful parry. You could make it more or less powerful by requiring a Special or Critical, or use it to replace the Over 100 Rule and if you "Outclass" your opponent instead of negating their skill you get ripostes or other special maneuvers, making combat awesome and cinematic. 

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

1) i dislike the idea of another roll to determine the effect. From my perspective, if the character succeeds so well the parry, it may be luck, but it is probably skill.

So I would prefer the player to choose what could be the benefit. Then you may have two lists :

I get that, but with a "choose" mechanic you have to make sure that the options are balanced. That's the problem with RQ6, people tend to gravitate to what they perceive as the best options and always pick those, and you're back on an only-slightly-more-varied treadmill.

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1 hour ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

You could steal and adapt the rules from stormbringer. If you are a weapon master you can riposte after a successful parry. You could make it more or less powerful by requiring a Special or Critical, or use it to replace the Over 100 Rule and if you "Outclass" your opponent instead of negating their skill you get ripostes or other special maneuvers, making combat awesome and cinematic. 

The rules for over 100% are, to put it mildly, 'Rubbish'. For something so difficult obtain, they really are boring and unexceptional.

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56 minutes ago, Orlanthatemyhamster said:

The rules for over 100% are, to put it mildly, 'Rubbish'. For something so difficult obtain, they really are boring and unexceptional.

I agree, and ignoring that rule and keeping higher special and critical chances would make my Parry Results table more commonly used so in my books that's a good thing.

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3 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

That's the problem with RQ6, people tend to gravitate to what they perceive as the best options and always pick those, and you're back on an only-slightly-more-varied treadmill.

so true 🙂

for me the range balance seems "easy":

a "special" benefit is like a 2pt  spirit spell (like bladesharp 2) but only for a round (+-10% and/or +2 dmg/ap , and some equivalence in meter if you want to push your opponent)

a "critical" benefit is like a 4pt spirit spell but only for a round (aka +-20% and/or +4 dmg/ap )

 

 

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Just use RQ3's combat rules and all your problems are solved ... if your players decide to read the rules and to use them. You will then have pushes, close in, attack to disarm or to destroy weapon or shield, knockback (intentional or not), moves interweaved with attacks to attack from side or back, etc.

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22 minutes ago, Kloster said:

Just use RQ3's combat rules and all your problems are solved ... if your players decide to read the rules and to use them. You will then have pushes, close in, attack to disarm or to destroy weapon or shield, knockback (intentional or not), moves interweaved with attacks to attack from side or back, etc.

This worked for us for a really long time. In fact, for our next RQG game I think we are going to be lifting the RQ3 combat rules entirely. 

Edited by HreshtIronBorne
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33 minutes ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

This worked for us for a really long time. In fact, for our next RQG game I think we are going to be lifting the RQ3 combat rules entirely. 

This is exactly what I did. Everything else is almost RQG RAW.

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12 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

You could steal and adapt the rules from stormbringer. If you are a weapon master you can riposte after a successful parry. You could make it more or less powerful by requiring a Special or Critical, or use it to replace the Over 100 Rule and if you "Outclass" your opponent instead of negating their skill you get ripostes or other special maneuvers, making combat awesome and cinematic. 

We adopted the riposte many years ago and it works well. In particular it helps emphasise the benefits of highly skilled characters (PC or NPC). 

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20 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

you may imagine that with her parry the defender opens her attacker defense and gains, for example, +20% to her attack next round (or +10% her attack, -10% the opponent defense skills)

At the sort of level we're talking about, merely adjusting by a few % isn't going to change much. There's still quite a good chance that the tedium will continue, and even if a blow is landed, once again a quick heal (via a spirit) is toing to make it null and void. (Although, as I mentioned previously, long 'tedious' combats should be expected at that level.

Now, an adjustment that adds a few % points to the Special/Critical range - that could be sweet. So, +10% to your next Critical chance, or +30% to the next special. (This is on top of the other options mentioned above).

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57 minutes ago, coffeemancer said:

I thought you couldnt cast spells while engaged with an opponent. or did I imagine that?

You can cast an offensive spell instead of attacking, and you can cast buff spells if you have the SR.

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I have not read all the answers, so sorry if already mentioned.

But something I do in my Harn games, is to have non-repetitive dodge/parry option. 
Eg, shield block once only in a round, then you have to use a different option. 
The same for attacks. As Harn has a tactical advantage mechanic, for multiple actions.

Weapon attack once, then pummel strike or kick or headbut etc.

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3 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

yes, I imagined that or yes you cant?

We allow it, it is Battle (sorry, Spirit) Magic after all.  I have no idea whether that's RQG RAW or not. NPC's get to do it too...

Edited by RandomNumber
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I would draw people's attention to the most recent iterations of the Warhammer Fantasy rules, which is one of RQ's children in many ways imo. I played it at a con before Covid and was pleasantly surprised. It is intrinsically a percentile system, but the percentiles are also kept low.  It introduces a system of ratios so that a higher skill has a distinct advantage over a lower one, and whoever hit last has an advantage, indicating that they have back-footed their opponent.

I could see a situation where we could incorporate free reactions on non-special rolls of sufficient quality. For example if one character rolls under half their skill, but not a special or a crit, while the other character doesn't, the character who rolls well is able to incorporate a terrain based reaction maneuver.  In flat bland territory this might be a shield push a kick or a head-butt, but in a forest it might involve using a branch in tension to spring at the opponent, or a push off slippery rocks, or dirt in the eyes etc.

Edited by Darius West
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7 hours ago, coffeemancer said:

I thought you couldnt cast spells while engaged with an opponent. or did I imagine that?

I find that silly. I think you should be able to - but it will come at a cost - time.

So, for me, someone can do 2 of 3 things - attack, parry, or cast non-Rune magic spells.

It's very silly to say that Rune magic takes  effect on SR 1, but then they can't do anything else except parry or dodge for the rest of the round.

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Actually I was wrong. p.195:

Quote

While an adventurer might throw a spell at an oncoming foe and then engage that foe in combat within the same round, an adventurer cannot, while engaged in combat, attack both physically and magically.
This means that an adventurer who starts a round physically engaged in melee may either:

  • Attack and defend normally; or
  • Defend normally and cast spells.

I read the first sentence as meaning literally what it said - you can't attack physically and magically, but you can attack physically and do other magic. But then the bullets clarify that you can't.

So you can cast magic whilst engaged, as long as you don't physically attack that round.

5 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

It's very silly to say that Rune magic takes  effect on SR 1, but then they can't do anything else except parry or dodge for the rest of the round.

SR are not seconds of time. You aren't spending time doing nothing else. Time is an illusion.

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