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Rules Problem -- Zombies and Close Combat


Scelous

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I'm new to BRP, but I'm looking at using the system for a zombie post-apocalypse game. I'm excited about the prospect, but I've encountered one part of the rules that really confuses and frustrates me.

"Close Combat," Page 219 of the BRP book:

A short weapon-user being kept at bay may have to make a successful Dodge or parry roll to get into close combat with a long-weapon-user. If the attempt succeeds, he or she slips past the guard of the long weaponuser and is able to attack normally. If the Dodge or parry attempt fails, the short weapon-user is kept away from close combat for the remainder of the combat round and cannot attack.

"Zombie," Page 351 of the book:

Zombies never attempt to Dodge or Parry.

And mind you, pg. 219 says, "If the long-weapon-user wishes, he or she can keep one or more short weapon-users at bay."

So I'm envisioning the victory to zombie survival is walking out with a pole into a mob of 100 zombies and just spinning it around and suddenly you're a walking god.

Thoughts from people more familiar with BRP than me?

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I'm of the school that zombies are slow and dumb. (Maybe a leader type here and there that are faster)

So killing zombies should be relatively easy. However, swarm tactics would prevail.

Why not have a penalty that accrues for every zombie the character is engaged with?

Or simply ignore the "or more" part and only allow one?

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Two points:

First off there probably should be a limit to how many people someone can keep at bay with a long weapon. While I can see someone fending off one, two, four, or even six opponents this way, I can see them fending off 10, 20, 40 or 60! What's the multiple attack penalty for ripostes these days -20%, or -30%? I'd probably let someone fend off one opponent per multiple of that.

Secondly, the keeping at bay thing sort of presume that the opponent would rather give up their own attack rather than get skewered. However, zombies might not have much of a self preservation instinct, and could just walk right up the spear. So I'd say someone (i.e. a zombie) could attack if they are willing to take a hit. Maybe let the long weapon use roll a hit to bump up the success level a step.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I think the Dodge roll, when a long sized weapon is used, is just for sliping inside range, not a "real" dodge so I would roll Dodge or Dex x1 for the zombies. Also, the reason a long weapon can keep distance is because the opponent doesn't want to get wounded while closing (thats what the dodge or parry roll is for). I believe zombies wouldn't care so let them get in close combat anyway, unless they die first!

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I think the Dodge roll, when a long sized weapon is used, is just for sliping inside range, not a "real" dodge so I would roll Dodge or Dex x1 for the zombies. Also, the reason a long weapon can keep distance is because the opponent doesn't want to get wounded while closing (thats what the dodge or parry roll is for). I believe zombies wouldn't care so let them get in close combat anyway, unless they die first!

I recently did a walking dead game using what El -octo said and it was great fun. Good luck!

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Still learning the rules myself, but some thoughts:

1) The environment may trump the rule. On a tennis court, sure, you might be a whirling spear-dervish, but when you're in a narrow hallway and they're on both sides, not so much. Can't fend off people behind you. Heck, in a densely wooded area trying to use a long weapon can kind of suck unless you can funnel opponents directly in front of you.

2) Zombies can Grapple. That long pole makes an excellent handle for reeling a character in....

3) Presume the rules expect the attackers don't want to get hit. If the zombies don't care if they get hit or not -- they're not trying to stay back until they find/create an opening -- then say every zombie over the first will get an attack after your staff-user gets a free attack. Inverting the "Disengaging" rule, if you will. (In short: what they said ^ )

4) You're not moving very fast if you're just standing there, and if you're trying to hold back, oh, five zombies you're only moving as they herd you. Trying to leave at all would invoke the "Disengage" attack.

5) ...well, they are just zombies. If you're prepared ("naginatas for everyone!") and get the drop on them, maybe they should be a non-issue, more of a pile-of-trash-with-teeth blocking the doorway. It's when you're not ready for them they're a problem. "Oh, did you miss the Spot roll? Whups. Pavement wasn't as sturdy as it looked and you half-slide, half-fall into the sewer. Fortunately you land on something soft... unfortunately there's six of them and they're hungry."

Edited by SokMunki
trying to get it close to something coherent
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Yes! Zombies should be a fairly easy kill. If you're using the contagious bite spin (ala walking dead) just one lucky bite ends it all. Let'em take on the hoards if they think rolling up new characters is fun. LOL. Once one or two PCs drop from a single bite everyone will be more careful.

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I'm new to BRP, but I'm looking at using the system for a zombie post-apocalypse game. I'm excited about the prospect, but I've encountered one part of the rules that really confuses and frustrates me.

"Close Combat," Page 219 of the BRP book:

"Zombie," Page 351 of the book:

And mind you, pg. 219 says, "If the long-weapon-user wishes, he or she can keep one or more short weapon-users at bay."

So I'm envisioning the victory to zombie survival is walking out with a pole into a mob of 100 zombies and just spinning it around and suddenly you're a walking god.

Thoughts from people more familiar with BRP than me?

The easiest way to deal with that rule is to ignore it. I never use it in my games and they haven't suffered. BGB is a tool box and you are supposed to pick and choose the rules that you want in your game.

Besides, I think the rule only applies to living creatures that feel pain and are frightened of being killed. Not numb, mindless zombies that don't care about being stabbed by a long spear if they close. Remember that zombies must be hacked apart to kill.

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As I read it el_octogono is correct with his suggestion that only intelligent beings trying to avoid harm are outlined in the rule.

Simply let the player have a free attack at one Zombie, then swarm & grapple him afterwards. Works just fine :)

If you want it a bit more pulpy (pun intended) feel free to use my updated Minion rules from below.

Also, have a look how all the firearms in BRP work. I have uploaded an explanation with examples here.

Edited by pansophy
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Quoting the info from the BGB, page 219 (emphasis mine):

For weapons like spears and polearms, the short weapon-user must first close (move into the 5' space) on their opponent to get within striking range. {...} If the long weapon-user wishes he or she can keep one or more short weapon-users at bay. This means that in place of an attack, the long-weapon-user can attempt a normal weapon skill roll to prevent the short-weapon-user(s) from closing and being able to engage in an attack in that combat round. This roll must be made each combat round, and if successful, the short weapon-user(s) do not take any damage but cannot close during that combat round. {...} A short weapon-user being kept at bay may have to make a successful Dodge or Parry roll to get into close combat. If the attempt succeeds, s/he slips past the guard of the long weapon-user and is able to attack normally. If the Dodge or parry attempt fails, the short weapon user is kept away {...}

Sounds to me like like you can fend off as many as you like as long as you make the roll. Flipping to "Superior Numbers" on page 233 there's not a lot more there, just comments about how many people can attack. However, the long weapon-user still has to roll, opening up the possibility of a failure/fumble. Also, if the zombies do manage to close in, there's some fun penalties for the long weapon user listed under "Closing", page 219.

I also like el_octogono's suggestion for a house rule there: for purposes of Closing, creatures that normally do not Dodge get a DEX x1 Dodge roll to reflect the shifting positions that take place during combat.

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I don't think you can fend off as many as you'd like. The rule says "in place of an attack". Most folks only get one attack per round. If your skill is over 100% I think there is an optional rule that you can split your attacks. I guess I'd say you can keep a zombie at bay pretty easily with a long weapon and room to move. Problem with zombies is there is always a lot of them:)

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I don't think you can fend off as many as you'd like. The rule says "in place of an attack". Most folks only get one attack per round.

I keep tripping up on the plurals: "If the long-weapon-user wishes, s/he can keep one or more short weapon-users at bay. This means that in place of an attack, the long-weapon-user can attempt a normal weapon skill roll to prevent the short-weapon-user(s) from closing {...} This roll must be made each combat round, and if successful, the short weapon-user or users do not take any damage, but cannot close during that combat round."

If the author means "...can attempt a normal weapon skill roll to prevent a short-weapon user from closing", must split skill to target more than one, etc. then I suggest a bit of editing.

Offhand I think my reading seems pretty reasonable. You still make a skill roll and each of your foes has a chance to Dodge or Parry to get past the pointy end of your stick. Once one or more short-weapon-users manage to Close you have to get them to back away before you can try and keep them at bay again.

When your foes don't Dodge or Parry, though, it gets a little weird.

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Make your own clarification, write it down and have eveybody read it. Done. The rule should suit the setting, though.

Remember BRP is a toolbox and you have to tinker it a bit to your needs.

Personally I would judge only beings with a minimum of intelligence and sense of harm can be kept at bay with a pole arm. Also only beings in front of the pole arm user can be kept at bay. You need space to maneuver to do so.

So yes, you can keep some at bay, but not all if you are being swarmed.

In the case of Zombies, you cannot use this maneuver as the zombies will just swarm you. This might give you a free attack on one, but then you are in close combat with the rest.

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The way I'd do it is to have the zombies just walk in and ignore the weapon - they don't parry/dodge for a reason - they don't see the danger involved.

Ah, like many of the previous posters.

I'd also allow a successful knockback/barge/grapple to get past the weapon in the same way as dodge.

On the point of keeping multiple opponents at bay, that seems fine, but every opponent would be able to make a dodge roll to duck under the weapon and once one does then the weapon cannot be used to keep the rest at bay. It seems very powerful, but is limited in practice.

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Especially as impaling weapons used to do minimum damage against undead! They stick in, get stuck and barely do any damage.

You see this on The Walking Dead all the time. Zombies still "alive" but impaled on spiked barricades that they simply walked into. Imagine the players reaction when the zombie gets impaled by the spear, and simply walks down the length of shaft to start grabbing for the player's character. Fun.

When in doubt, WWWDD. What Would Walking Dead Do. ;D

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Especially as impaling weapons used to do minimum damage against undead! They stick in, get stuck and barely do any damage.

Not minimum Damage, but only half of it:

"Most slashing, crushing, and impaling weapons do only half damage to zombies" p.351 BGB

Funny: In Germany the BGB is the book of law for the common man. I like the similarity. ;)

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