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kaydet

Weapon Damages

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For those who've played the quickstart, how do you find the ratio of weapon damage to typical HP? I'm hoping to run it this weekend, and looking through the sample characters, I have a couple of concerns.

On average, it seems that any successful hit from any weapon is either going to bring down a character or end their ability to fight -- without consideration of special or critical results. I know that Runequest is supposed to be a dangerous system, but that seems a little excessive, and not particularly heroic. Obviously armor and healing, as well as offensive and defensive magic, all have their part to play, but I feel like those should act as augments that require judicious tactical employment rather than blanket use.

My gut feeling for how the hit layout might work is as below (obviously to vary by weapon):

Regular: dangerous but survivable -- good armor proof against such blows

Special: possible fight ender -- definite without armor

Critical: immediate fight ender

Fight Enders:

  •  Full damage to weapon arm (3 pts -- weapon dropped, cannot parry unless w/offhand), chest (5 pts -- incapacitated), head (5 pts -- unconscious) or either leg (4 pts - character becomes prone)
  • Double or triple damage to any location (either incapacitated, unconscious, or dead)

 Battle Axe / Small Axe (1d8 + 2 + 1d4): 9 points of damage*

Broadsword / Kopis (1d8 + 1 + 1d4): 8 points of damage

Composite Bow (1d8 + 1): 5.5 points of damage

Dagger (1d4 + 2 + 1d4): 7 points of damage

Dagger-Axe (3d6 + 1d4): 13 points of damage

Javelin (1d10 + 2): 7.5 points of damage

Shield, Medium (1d6 + 1d4): 6 points of damage (!)

Short Spear (1d6 + 1 + 1d4): 7 points of damage

Sling (1d8): 5.5 points of damage

*All damages shown as averages

Some of the damage values seem to make little sense, too. Why does a medium shield do roughly the same damage as a short spear?

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Firstly, not sure how much RQ you've played; certainly it is simply more lethal than any other mass-market RPG.  This is a purposeful disincentive to get players to avoid combat to a degree that could be described as realistic: combat is pretty random, thus combat is unpredictably lethal even for heroes (& the characters in the QS are pretty wimp-brigadey 'heroes').

Secondly, without dropping too many spoilers, there's just not necessarily that much direct-combat in the QS.  Well, there doesn't HAVE to be.

Finally, I personally found this in running the QS to be more impactful for enemy creatures (who have little armor and don't have protective or healing magic, and are thus astonishingly easy to knock out of the fight).

 

That said, I think RQ2 (and thus the QS) makes this worse than necessary *a little* by capping worn armor at 6 points.  Maybe that's an acknowledgement of bronze age tech limitations, or an encouragement that everyone should be buffing with that Protection 1 or 2 before every fight, but considering that the most heavily physically-armored character in the game will be injured by even an AVERAGE hit by a battleaxe (assuming a 1d4 damage mod) seems shaded just a touch more lethal than realistic for me.  Even an average-damage arrowshot is nearly enough as well.

RQ3 upped max armor to 8, I believe, which made a LARGE difference when the damages of so many things are 1d6-1d8+1..

Ultimately, (the QS and RQ2 armor limit of 6) does* is it makes ranged damage more lethal - you can dodge or parry melee blows, after all, but there's nothing one can do vs missiles.  Yes, you can use your shield to block hit locations (at least IIRC that's in the QS) which protects them more-or-less utterly *BUT* if exceeding the hp in any location leads to incapacitation of the toon, how much value is blocking your chest & abdomen?  Sure, that shot didn't KILL you, but you're out of the fight anyway.

*coupled with all the other too-typical RPG disregard for the constraints on effectiveness of missile fire IRL (likely born of our Anglophone worship of the mythical power of the longbow from tales of Crecy and Agincourt, and then a reactionary semibuff to other missile weapons to keep everyone from always choosing the longbow...): the major effects of wind, the pernicious harm of omnipresent moisture on bowstrings and staves, far-too-charitable rules for firing into melee combat, and ultimately the trivialization of the crazy amount of time/skill it takes to learn to shoot the bloody thing.

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The new RQ uses much the same damage values as the original RQ and BRP-core. It is very hairy, and I'm pretty certain that was a design goal. There is very little in the BRP-core that doesn't work. 

This "problem" is adressed and fixed by The Design Mechanism in Mythras (and MRQII/Legend/RQ6). Combat is still dangerous and not something to be entered into lightly, but combat is more likely to end with a victor instead of a corpse or soon-to-be-corpse, and the outcomes rely as much on decisions made in battle as the roll of the dice. 

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

Firstly, not sure how much RQ you've played; certainly it is simply more lethal than any other mass-market RPG.  This is a purposeful disincentive to get players to avoid combat to a degree that could be described as realistic: combat is pretty random, thus combat is unpredictably lethal even for heroes (& the characters in the QS are pretty wimp-brigadey 'heroes').

And a important point is, you don't kill for XP here, if you get a serious wound it is time for "cry ransom" which most (chaos except) will honour/respect in anything but the most dire situations.

Heck, they may even heal you to keep alive. 

(It is slightly more complicated than this, of course, but it is a starting point)

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

This is a purposeful disincentive to get players to avoid combat to a degree that could be described as realistic: combat is pretty random, thus combat is unpredictably lethal even for heroes (& the characters in the QS are pretty wimp-brigadey 'heroes').

I'm very much in favor of lethal combat, but I think one has to draw a line between combat that is lethal and dangerous, and combat that is lethal to the degree that it is unsatisfying for the players. I know I wouldn't want to play a character who drops (or dies!) after a single hit from his opponent.

@Baragei I'm sure you're right that aping RQ2 was a design goal. But RQ2 is an old game. I know that we can't abandon the roots, but it seems like the new Runequest should be a synthesis of what is good of the old and what innovations have been made in the last forty years of RPG development. I hope that these design decisions are being made critically, based on what makes the best game rather than a hidebound determination to stick with RQ2's methods.

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21 minutes ago, kaydet said:

 I know I wouldn't want to play a character who drops (or dies!) after a single hit from his opponent.

Then I am sorry to say that RQ, along with most of the BRP-family, will disappoint. The entire schtick is that a single good hit will drop you, and even a glancing blow is potentially worrisome.

From my admittedly spotty memory of RQ3, there were magics to boost both survivability and badassedness. The new RQ might go the same way. Loz&Pete's tweaks to the system makes it less deadly, but you'll still drop real quick.

Edited by Baragei

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There is easy ways to do major changes in survivality. By using RQ3 armor values, and allowing to use soft leather paddings under metal, or by using smaller damage modifier, starting from d2 instead of d4. Change just dice in damage mod is a game changer.

I personally like, that a single strike with axe, sword, a real weapon  decapitates, as it is in real life. Combat situation is not necessarily heroic act, but surviving. By challenging somebody to duel leads to death most certainly. Sharp sword cuts arm off quite easily, that just is so. If hope not, use armor.

Other way around is to use inferior quality weapons opponents use, or smaller weapons. I like more just figuring out tactical elements.

 

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36 minutes ago, kaydet said:

I think one has to draw a line between combat that is lethal and dangerous, and combat that is lethal to the degree that it is unsatisfying for the players. I know I wouldn't want to play a character who drops (or dies!) after a single hit from his opponent.

I ran RQ2/3 games for 10 years - the potential lethality, which has been in the system since day 1, was never an issue for my players. Being aware of that fact, it was also rare to rush in without some magical support.

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

That said, I think RQ2 (and thus the QS) makes this worse than necessary *a little* by capping worn armor at 6 points.  Maybe that's an acknowledgement of bronze age tech limitations, or an encouragement that everyone should be buffing with that Protection 1 or 2 before every fight, but considering that the most heavily physically-armored character in the game will be injured by even an AVERAGE hit by a battleaxe (assuming a 1d4 damage mod) seems shaded just a touch more lethal than realistic for me.  Even an average-damage arrowshot is nearly enough as well.

RQ3 upped max armor to 8, I believe, which made a LARGE difference when the damages of so many things are 1d6-1d8+1..

Aren't you forgetting about spells like Shield or Protection?

But that's why Rune Levels like iron armor so much...

3 hours ago, styopa said:

Ultimately, (the QS and RQ2 armor limit of 6) does* is it makes ranged damage more lethal - you can dodge or parry melee blows, after all, but there's nothing one can do vs missiles.  

I'd allow dodge and parry against slow missiles if not yet in melee. Against faster missiles (slingshot, blowgun darts or arrows) you can increase the difficulty for the missiler.

3 hours ago, styopa said:

*coupled with all the other too-typical RPG disregard for the constraints on effectiveness of missile fire IRL (likely born of our Anglophone worship of the mythical power of the longbow from tales of Crecy and Agincourt,

Sorry, but the effectiveness of Paris as an archer before Troy was at least the level of the mythical longbow.

3 hours ago, styopa said:

and then a reactionary semibuff to other missile weapons to keep everyone from always choosing the longbow...): the major effects of wind, the pernicious harm of omnipresent moisture on bowstrings and staves, far-too-charitable rules for firing into melee combat, and ultimately the trivialization of the crazy amount of time/skill it takes to learn to shoot the bloody thing.

The good news - hardly anyone in Glorantha gets to shoot a Longbow of Steel Piercing. The self bow doesn't really differ from the longbow in any way, though, and self bows made from yew with 6 foot staves and a draw weight of more than 80 lbs were found in Viking digs, centuries before the English used the weapon as field artillery. Olav Tryggvason's Saga has Einar Tambarskjelve fire a bow that might put the bows of Agincourt to shame.

 

The crazy amount of time and skill is the same that makes the difference between a sword fighter who wouldn't amputate himself with the first dozen strikes and a sword master.

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51 minutes ago, Baragei said:

Then I am sorry to say that RQ, along with most of the BRP-family, will disappoint. The entire schtick is that a single good hit will drop you, and even a glancing blow is potentially worrisome.

My issue is not with the principle of that single deadly strike; I just think that that single strike should require a Critical or Special, rather than any regular hit.

42 minutes ago, Jusmak said:

I personally like, that a single strike with axe, sword, a real weapon  decapitates, as it is in real life. Combat situation is not necessarily heroic act, but surviving. By challenging somebody to duel leads to death most certainly. Sharp sword cuts arm off quite easily, that just is so. If hope not, use armor.

Is that true, though? I mean even with heavy, specialized two-handed swords and perfect conditions, execution by beheading was problematic. And why the need for bone saws to conduct an amputation if it is so easy to sever a limb?

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50 minutes ago, kaydet said:

My issue is not with the principle of that single deadly strike; I just think that that single strike should require a Critical or Special, rather than any regular hit.

If you score a solid hit (i.e. roll at/near max damage) with a tool specialty-made for killing people... I'd expect the person to be at least disabled (unless wearing armor).

Any *OTHER* result is... well, another genre.  Maybe "cinematic" or "pulp" or something like that.  But it's something less gritty and visceral ... and less-realistic.

Yes, it's true that RQ has more "limb comes off" result than is realistic, but the overall rate of combatants being disabled-or-killed turns out to be startlingly well-matched to our best understanding from archeology and history, and from historical-reenactment combats.

 

1 hour ago, kaydet said:

I mean even with heavy, specialized two-handed swords and perfect conditions, execution by beheading was problematic. And why the need for bone saws to conduct an amputation if it is so easy to sever a limb?

Just ask Nearly Headless Nick.  In combat, you don't need the head flying off cleanly; a mostly-severed neck is still "decapitated" enough to end THAT fight...  :blink:

Bone-saws are for when you're trying to be precise and careful and do little to no ancillary damage.  If I'm hacking away at you with my sword, I just want you down-and-out, and I don't much care if the cut is clean, or if it's a inches -- or even feet! -- away from where I had hoped to hit; primary damage or ancillary, it's all damage that helps me put you down... ideally before you can score any telling blows against me!

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37 minutes ago, g33k said:

If you score a solid hit (i.e. roll at/near max damage) with a tool specialty-made for killing people... I'd expect the person to be at least disabled (unless wearing armor).

Any *OTHER* result is... well, another genre.  Maybe "cinematic" or "pulp" or something like that.  But it's something less gritty and visceral ... and less-realistic.

Yes, it's true that RQ has more "limb comes off" result than is realistic, but the overall rate of combatants being disabled-or-killed turns out to be startlingly well-matched to our best understanding from archeology and history, and from historical-reenactment combats.

That's my point: should the game define "max damage" (as you put it) as a critical hit, or as just a regular hit? How you are calibrating your results makes a big difference. I've never disagreed with the idea that a "solid" hit should take someone out of the fight -- see my posts above; I just think that a solid, instantly fight-ending hit should be a special or a critical. Otherwise, what's the point of even having them in the game?

And, respectfully, I'd be interested to see the data backing up your statements about Runequest casualty rates matching historical records.

43 minutes ago, g33k said:

Just ask Nearly Headless Nick.  In combat, you don't need the head flying off cleanly; a mostly-severed neck is still "decapitated" enough to end THAT fight...  :blink:

Bone-saws are for when you're trying to be precise and careful and do little to no ancillary damage.  If I'm hacking away at you with my sword, I just want you down-and-out, and I don't much care if the cut is clean, or if it's a inches -- or even feet! -- away from where I had hoped to hit; primary damage or ancillary, it's all damage that helps me put you down... ideally before you can score any telling blows against me!

I'm very well aware of both of those things. My point was that dismembering a human body is not as clean and not as easy as I think the movies make it seem -- not that it cannot be accomplished, nor that heavy damage to the body is immaterial.

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the three main combatants on the QS all have armour around 5-6 and Parry skills of 90 - 100. Oddly none have Protection magic which was near ubiquitous in RQ2. So for the most part they avoid serious wounds, although when I ran the game Vasana took a special to the a leg forcing her to withdraw,

All have Healing magic and Harmast has three very potent Healing potions. Any combat should be quick, decisive but rarely fatal. 

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@Psullie That's good to hear. I guess my issues with the damage values are more about the principle of the thing and internal consistency. But if it works in practice then I suppose I shouldn't be too concerned.

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Just pointing out that although plate armour was 8AP in RQ3, and only is listed as 6AP in RQ2/RQG, this is not a big issue. It can be layered over 1AP and 2AP under garnments, so you can still get up to 8AP if need be.

Not that it protects all that mich more, as the system remains pretty lethal.

One of the most common RQ house rules is to treat Limb HP as thresholds rather than HP, which is how I tend to play. If the Limb thresholds are breached then it's RAW, but otherwise the Limb HP remains undepleted until breached. Overall it doesn't change things too much, as Total HP gets whittled down as usual. However treating Limb HP as thresholds just means there is,a little less dismemberment, and there's slightly less bookeeping until a major hit has occurred. Even with this rule you'll find that RQ still remains much more lethal than most games.

I find the PC vulnerability to be a feature rather than a flaw. If I want to play a pulpy cinematic genre, then these days I prefer FATE or HQ. If I want to go gritty and simulationist, then BRP really shines. RQ isn't RQ to me if it doesn't keep its sense of lethality.

Edited by Mankcam
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10 hours ago, Joerg said:

Aren't you forgetting about spells like Shield or Protection?

You mean, aside from saying "Maybe that's ... an encouragement that everyone should be buffing with that Protection 1 or 2 before every fight..."?

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

Sorry, but the effectiveness of Paris as an archer before Troy was at least the level of the mythical longbow.

Using Paris as presented in the Iliad is about the equivalent of using Batman as an example of real melee skill.  Not super persuasive, particularly compared to the actual documented performance of actual English longbow men in actual battles.

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

The good news - hardly anyone in Glorantha gets to shoot a Longbow of Steel Piercing. The self bow doesn't really differ from the longbow in any way, though, and self bows made from yew with 6 foot staves and a draw weight of more than 80 lbs were found in Viking digs, centuries before the English used the weapon as field artillery.

Not sure what you're talking about "long bow of steel piercing"...the d8+1 of a long bow write certainly will nearly pierce plate armor with merely an average roll.

The self bow pretty significantly differs from the longbow, Iirc d6+1 vs d8+1.

Not sure how it matters that they're found elsewhere?  No other culture mythologizes the longbow anywhere near the English, which is what i was referring to.  In none of those example cases are archers historically referenced as overwhelmingly dominant as English archers at the famous French battles.

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

Olav Tryggvason's Saga has Einar Tambarskjelve fire a bow that might put the bows of Agincourt to shame.

Again, you might as well reference Batman as your "authentic example of reality".  /silly

10 hours ago, Joerg said:

The crazy amount of time and skill is the same that makes the difference between a sword fighter who wouldn't amputate himself with the first dozen strikes and a sword master.

A sword master could be trained in a handful of years. It was generally regarded that a master Welsh longbow man really had to do it his whole life from a young age.

Edited by styopa
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19 hours ago, kaydet said:

My issue is not with the principle of that single deadly strike; I just think that that single strike should require a Critical or Special, rather than any regular hit.

Is that true, though? I mean even with heavy, specialized two-handed swords and perfect conditions, execution by beheading was problematic. And why the need for bone saws to conduct an amputation if it is so easy to sever a limb?

Dismembering and immobilising are a bit different. But, when doing short research in wikipedia about decapitation, it says that, if headsman was clumsy and axe blunt, decapitation may have required multiple blows. But for example in Japan, where swords were lighter such problems were not reported. Only, that headsman was usually skilled and trusted, expesially, when it was part of  seppuku. Skilled in way that single strike cleaves head off, but still leaves piece of skin attached, so that head would not roll away embarrassing way.

If head has 5 hp, it needs 10 points of damage to be decapitated. So, I think weapon damage is quite accurate here. In real life it does not take much to make person unconsciuss. A thrown rock to head may do that. Immobilisating limb needs only damage to tendon or nerve, or cut to major muscle. Also, when I shortly visited a club of historical long sword fighting, they told, that actual fights in tournaments are typically over in seconds. Every blow can be finisher simulates well chaotic combat situation. Severing a limb by bonesaw is much more accurate and better controlled tool. Axe makes bone splinter easily, saw doesn't.

Also 8 point of plate armor is simulated well against swords in youtube. 6 points is just not enough. Not all characters have damage mod d4, that changes much too. There are different, bit larger HP values used in RQ6/Mythras, but I came back to old. And started to play ducks, which usually have no more than 3 hp in arms. Just do not get hit, is also good boxer's philosophy.

My own concerns are special attacks, which are harder to explain by logic. If weapon has maximum damage of 8, but with special it is 16, that's only fantasy to me. Is it some kind of momentum, where also opponents movement meets blade...? I do not understand it, but I'm content with it anyway. It would be more realistic, if specials does maximum damage (8) of weapon was used instead. But because of heavily armored opponents it is more fun to have that double dice. I also like old knockback rules. That way I doubt I'll use new ruleset. I'll more probably stick with old.

Idea, that finisher should be special or critical... It comes to that, when there is enough armor and skill in parrying. Heavily armored and skilled characters die by specials and criticals, newbies with their shorts die also by regular attacks. Still realistic enough.

 

Edited by Jusmak

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3 hours ago, Jusmak said:

My own concerns are special attacks, which are harder to explain by logic. If weapon has maximum damage of 8, but with special it is 16, that's only fantasy to me. Is it some kind of momentum, where also opponents movement meets blade...?

I'd say that the 'special' roll (or the crit, for that matter) represents a strike that happens to hit a particularly vital bit of anatomy and/or a gap in the usual armor of the target, not some additional super-damage.

Approached realistically, when one was hit, one would roll for one's armor coverage and the failure of THAT roll would indicate if the hit was then a special/crit - but that's the sort of detail that slows everything down, when in fact the current mechanism represents it adequately well.

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Against a lightly armoured foe. a normal hit might be enough to take the foe down.

Against a heavily armoured foe, a special or critical is probably needed.

Historically, RQ combat against heavily armoured/spelled up characters relied on criticals to have an effect.

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2 hours ago, styopa said:

I'd say that the 'special' roll (or the crit, for that matter) represents a strike that happens to hit a particularly vital bit of anatomy and/or a gap in the usual armor of the target, not some additional super-damage.

Approached realistically, when one was hit, one would roll for one's armor coverage and the failure of THAT roll would indicate if the hit was then a special/crit - but that's the sort of detail that slows everything down, when in fact the current mechanism represents it adequately well.

Well, yes, that make sense. Instead of super damage, more like how vulnerable body parts weapon actually meet and shock effect... I would by it, if written in actual description of special attack.

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In reality it doesn't always take a great hit to take someone down, especially if a weapon is used. A lot comes down to what is being used to cause damage, just as much as the combatant's skill at fighting.

I think RQ models this well when you look at it. A fist strike needs to be a good hit to take someone completely out of a fight, yet only an average sword strike could potentially incapacitate or kill an opponent. The old 'blind man with a shotgun' sort of thing.

I tend to base RQ games around a regional or urban fantasy setting like Pavis, Jonstown, Notchet etc, where most combat is fist fights, or perhaps knives and cudgels. Guards with axes and swords are feared and respected. Then when I shift the campaign to a wilderness setting there is a real sense of vulnerability of being exposed to things which really can take a character down quite quickly, such as accident injury, wild beasts, bandits, etc. Storming a dungeon or an encampment becomes a big thing, with people ensuring they are well prepared as much as possible with armour and magic.  A caravan protection contract or perhaps a treasure-seeking venture into The Big Rubble holds alot of danger and risk, and it's very unclear if anyone will return. Likewise surviving a major battle is very unpredictable. I guess the brutal nature of the combat system really adds to that edge that you see in the Cromwell/Martin books, which I feel suits Glorantha quite well.

Edited by Mankcam
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5 hours ago, styopa said:

I'd say that the 'special' roll (or the crit, for that matter) represents a strike that happens to hit a particularly vital bit of anatomy and/or a gap in the usual armor of the target, not some additional super-damage.

Yes, this.

The same "amount" of damage, physically speaking, is much worse on a tendon than in the main meat of the muscle that tendon attaches.  Similarly, a blow that bruises or micro-fractures a leg-bone (leaving the character upright and functional, if in pain) might shatter the knee (putting the character down).   Etc for various other weak points -- veins and arteries, etc.  The blow that slips smoothly between the ribs -- to wreak havoc internally -- may be no harder-struck than the one that remained outside the chest-cavity.

I've long liked RQ's hit-location rule in place of the "sack of HP's" model from D&D.  The thing to remember is that each hit location is itself NOT a "sack of HP's" but has its own weak spots.

But rather than a larger hit-location table (d100 to-hit, d100 on hit-location?) with critical-locations having low-HP's we use the special/crit rules to scale-up the degree of incapacitation done.

As I think on it, such a "d100Xd100" attack-roll might make for an interesting game, sort of a blend of RQXRM ... :blink:  :D

 

 

:P

 

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

As I think on it, such a "d100Xd100" attack-roll might make for an interesting game, sort of a blend of RQXRM ... :blink:  :D

I hate to admit it, but I'd thought about it. :/

What I quickly realized is that any increase in some sense of realism is lost ANYWAY unless you have different hit loc tables for front, back, left side, right side, top, etc for each of the 30-some creature mythologies morphologies in RQ...so I didn't bother.

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You need to do 3x to decapitate in the new rules, not 2x. Which is a good thing, allows you to heal it back, especially with the unlimited healing changes.

A few things seem to be missing from the lethality of weapons arguments - in RQ2 protection spells were almost a must for a startup character, that adds 2 pts to your armour pretty quickly, and as soon as you have enough money it will be 4pts. 

The other is Healing, in RQ combat healing is an integrated part of combat. Especially now that they allow you to repeat the casting every round, unlike RQ2 where it was 10 rounds apart. Even a Heal 2 is sufficient to make a difference, considering you will be able to cast it as part of your attack (Heal2 DexSR+1, attack DexSR+SizeSR+WeapSR <12). Heals are self targeting so I always assume the focus is on the weapon or behind the shield and readily available (no 5SR to prepare), similar to a Bladesharp as is listed. Good reason for the archer to have a better Heal and sit in the second line.

If you are assuming your players are wearing plate armour, something very few if mine do because of cost or weight, then I am assuming they will have Prot4 and Heal 6 as well, because these are a pretty essential part of RQ combat. 

If they are new characters then perhaps you need to re-think your encounters, there is a reason Prootwaddles exist (very low power monsters). RQ is deadly and you need to scale your game to your players abilities very carefully. Your players also need to understand this and not only have Heals, but understand that each time they go into melee they are risking everything.

 

 

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

I hate to admit it, but I'd thought about it. :/

<snip>

...so I didn't bother.

slacker.

 

(I confess, too, that I had considered alternate hit-location rules for things like a left-forward vs right-forward stance, just shifting a point each of arm and leg hit-locations to the "forward side" from the "back side"; and a few other positions that might modify hit-locations)

Edited by g33k
confessional

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