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RosenMcStern

Strike Ranks: initiative order or action allowance?

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18 hours ago, Jason Durall said:

Spirit magic can  be cast multiple times per round. See Magical Attacks and Strike Ranks, page 194. 

Digression - This is one of the great "problems" with how people perceive strike ranks. They're in a weird place between being a determination of what happens in what order and an action point allowance. 

This is a theoretical subject, so it does not belong in the clarification/potential errata threads. Better open a new discussion.

As Jason said, there is an issue here. Not everyone will mind it, but someone will. And as I said in other threads, the good old Perrin&Turney Strike Rank System is still a solid, usable, fun-to-run combat system 40 years after its initial release. Yet it does show its age, as nothing is perfect.

The big deal is that there is one basic assumption in how RuneQuest handles [melee] combat:

  1. Your character will do what he or she planned to do at Statement of Intents time. No "deciding when your turn comes" in RuneQuest (as it happens in D&D initiative system). As a RuneQuest GM, I have learned that the best way to referee complex games is to enforce the simple-but-effective rule of "You stick to your plan, period" rule. Change of intents to "Heal eviscerated comrade" (or sometimes Dismiss Befuddle) was the only exception.
  2. Strike Rank is only an attempt to give an order to the pre-planned course of actions: missile attack comes first, then spear attacks, then swords, then daggers, then weapons that were still sheathed at the start of round, etc. etc - it does NOT represent the time it takes to swing that weapon, as in fact you are swinging more than once per round (moreover; swinging a longer blade takes more time, not less).

If you stick to the above principles, and only handle hand to hand combat in your battles, then RuneQuest combat is extremely easy and intuitive: strike when your SR comes, the opponent defends, if the attack connects and the defense does not, then OUCH! Drawing swords, moving into combat or buffing yourself with magic beforehand delays your action. Hard to find anything simpler and more intuitive in a simulation-oriented combat system.

The problem comes, as Jason remarked, when your main action is not melee combat, but something that can be attempted more than once per round, such as firing a missile or casting a spell (which happens quite frequently in a magic-rich environment like Glorantha). Then Strike Ranks become a measure of how long it takes to perform that action, with fast characters acting more frequently than slower ones. It is still quite intuitive, after all, but the different way Strike Ranks are treated in the two cases can generate some confusion. And the obvious question arises: if I can cast Befuddle more than once until I have Strike Ranks left, why can't the same apply to swinging my battleaxe? We are all human, and sometimes you cannot wrap your head around these details.

There is also another point, which is the one that nags me the most. Whenever you mix up melee combat and repeatable actions - for instance when you throw your javelin and then charge into combat, or cast non-offensive magic and then engage your enemy - then your SIZ and Weapon Length Strike Ranks are counted in determining how many actions you can perform. Take note: not in determining in what order you perform your single melee action, in which case it makes perfect sense, but in determining how many actions you perform. Bulky Bubba the Uzdo gets to do more "things" (spells, missiles, etc.) because he is big and wields a maul, whereas Quicky Quacko the Durulz can only fight in melee because his puny SIZ and short gladius give him a very high SR. Notwithstanding the fact that Quacko has possibly twice as much DEX as Bubba. Honestly, this completely destroys my personal suspension of disbelief.

Given that there are other non-trivial deviations from the RQ2 tradition in the rules, and that all (or almost all) variants of BRP published after RQ3, Chaosium or non-Chaosium,  managed to solve or circumvent these issues, I would have expected RQG to contain some sort of solution, too. Apparently, it does not.

Thoughts?

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Inside melee, you either attack once (or with split attacks twice), or you may do any repeatable actions like missile use, spell use at DEX SR (plus MP penalty for spells stronger than 1 intensity), etc. 

When entering melee, you can first cast a spell or throw a weapon before striking if you aren't too slow. And sure, puny little fighters have it hard to close to an opponent, as do fighters with very short weapons.

If Bubba's SIZ SR plays any roll, he has decided to attack with his maul, and unless he can split his attack, that is his one offensive action. No spells or missiles allowed after the first melee action. He might choose to cast a spell before engaging, once (or as often as he has taken down an isolated opponent and emerges disengaged from that melee).

Quicky has the same options. He might be pecked in the posterior when it comes to splitting attacks, but given his twice as high DEX and a 12 SR melee round, he should be able to attack twice with his empassioned Short Sword attack of 110%.

 

I can see the point in switching to a tact-driven melee system for climactical duels/showdowns with players relishing to play out their tactical options. The simulative equivalent of slow motion in action scenes. Not for each and every combat encounter, however.

 

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Quacky is penalised on the first rounds as he's closing, as a GM you could decide that once engaged and remains close his SIZ SR is ignored - 

"to attack twice with his empassioned Short Sword attack of 110%" note that multiple attacks are only allowed of your basic skill is 100+ augmented skills don't get the benefit, but the points is the still true, skilled warriors can get multiple attacks

I see engaged/non-engaged as being the key differentiator - those in melee are constrained, those outside are freer to act

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49 minutes ago, Joerg said:

No spells or missiles allowed after the first melee action. He might choose to cast a spell before engaging, once (or as often as he has taken down an isolated opponent and emerges disengaged from that melee).

 

 

You see? This contradicts the assumption that Strike Rank is not "the time it takes". If you allow extra actions when a foe is down (I don't, do the rules allow this?), then basically you are saying that Bubba did it faster because he is big and has a long weapon.

Quote

Quicky has the same options. He might be pecked in the posterior when it comes to splitting attacks, but given his twice as high DEX and a 12 SR melee round, he should be able to attack twice with his empassioned Short Sword attack of 110%.

Edit: ah, you mean splitting under the 100% rule. Yes, he might be able to do so with a SR of 7, but only if he has a huge skill. Which is better used lowering his opponent parry than making two attacks at a reduced %ile.

Edited by RosenMcStern

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24 minutes ago, RosenMcStern said:

You see? This contradicts the assumption that Strike Rank is not "the time it takes". If you allow extra actions when a foe is down (I don't, do the rules allow this?), then basically you are saying that Bubba did it faster because he is big and has a long weapon.

Bubba gets his shot first, yes. Do you want to tell me that he should only get to strike once Quicky has closed up enough to strike with his short pecker?

Extra actions when a foe is down - as I read the rules, allowable if that outcome basically ends the engagement in melee for the attacker, in the next melee round.

And anybody who voluntarily plays a duck is enough of a masochist to take rules disadvantages in stride.

24 minutes ago, RosenMcStern said:

Edit: ah, you mean splitting under the 100% rule. Yes, he might be able to do so with a SR of 7, but only if he has a huge skill. Which is better used lowering his opponent parry than making two attacks at a reduced %ile.

There is a sweet spot at not too high differences in skill where splitting puts the 96-100% automiss disadvantage to the other side if you are facing a single opponent, including the 20% penalty for subsequent parries. Facing multiple opponents creates yet other tactical and statistical situations.

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On 10/17/2018 at 12:07 PM, RosenMcStern said:

it does NOT represent the time it takes to swing that weapon, as in fact you are swinging more than once per round 

I know you're parroting the official line on this, but it's provably not true because combat results -even for melee- are applied in discrete, ordinal ways instead of holistically.

If there are 12 SR in a round, let's say that you swing on 6, I swing on 7.  

If you kill me on SR6, half the round has passed.

SR are merely the "order in which we resolve the combat results, representing the full span of cut & thrust time of the combat round...then I should still get to resolve my combat roll, perhaps proportionalized to 7/12 my damage or some other penalty to reflect my inability to spend the entire time cut & thrusting.

But that isn't how it works; if you kill me on 6, then I don't get ANY action/result, suggesting that SR really does represent an actual flow of linear time.

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

I know you're parroting the official line on this, but it's provably not true because combat results -even for melee- are applied in discrete, ordinal ways instead of holistically.

If there are 12 SR in a round, let's say that you swing on 6, I swing on 7.  

If you kill me on SR6, half the round has passed.

SR are merely the "order in which we resolve the combat results, representing the full span of cut & thrust time of the combat round...then I should still get to resolve my combat roll, perhaps proportionalized to 7/12 my damage or some other penalty to reflect my inability to spend the entire time cut & thrusting.

But that isn't how it works; if you kill me on 6, then I don't get ANY action/result, suggesting that SR really does represent an actual flow of linear time.

Come now, styopa!

Nobody here wants to kill you, not on SR6 or any other round!  You're being paranoid, man!

We plan to cut off your sword arm to prevent your action (your argument  is in all other ways perfectly valid).

Reattachment of styopa's arm is left as an exercise for the reader.

 

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

I know you're parroting the official line on this, but it's provably not true because combat results -even for melee- are applied in discrete, ordinal ways instead of holistically.

If there are 12 SR in a round, let's say that you swing on 6, I swing on 7.  

If you kill me on SR6, half the round has passed.

SR are merely the "order in which we resolve the combat results, representing the full span of cut & thrust time of the combat round...then I should still get to resolve my combat roll, perhaps proportionalized to 7/12 my damage or some other penalty to reflect my inability to spend the entire time cut & thrusting.

But that isn't how it works; if you kill me on 6, then I don't get ANY action/result, suggesting that SR really does represent an actual flow of linear time.

I thought the SR in melee was the order of the combatant's most effective strike. There are all sorts of bits of footwork, feints and stuff, but only one blow is going to be landed, and if I am quicker than you (in any number of ways that keep my SR low) then I can kill you before you land your effective blow on me.

I might be parroting the "official line." But that's simply how I saw the mechanics in play when I read the book.

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1 hour ago, styopa said:

But that isn't how it works; if you kill me on 6, then I don't get ANY action/result, suggesting that SR really does represent an actual flow of linear time.

Abstraction. It's a beyotch. Most of what goes on in the time leading up to SRs 6 and 7 in your example doesn't result in any damage. That one participant's damage happens in 6 and the other's in 7 just represents that the first gets their 'effective' swing in before the other's. It's a very rough approximation because keeping track of all the things that actually affect who hits whom first is an exercise in bookkeeping and ancillary stats and randomising factors (especially in a few-on-few situation) is way more than most gaming tables can stomach. It's utter crap, for example that a spear user gets to hit 'first' when fighting a sword-and-boarder (notionally of the same physical reach and reflexes), round after round. If the spear user hits and doesn't drop or drive back their target, they're probably not going to get another go without a radical disengagement to regain their range because the spear is totally out of the equation once the sword-and-boarder has closed and trapped/diverted the spear. I know, I've chased down my share of spears with my sword and shield and hammered charging tinnies onto their ass with a 'firm' bill thrust.

Sure you could make mechanics that represent the very fine increments of fighting distance and modify the opponents' actions/chances of success accordingly, but while you're at it, you'd probably better add balance/centre and fighting style familiarities, and really look at how the cumbersomeness of weapons affect how easy they are to parry/avoid (and on and on and on). But very few people have the desire to get that nitty into the gritty (how many games of Phoenix Command* do you see played?) so the approximation has to do. And the damage isn't approximated as accumulating from lots of tippy-tappy glancing blows, it's abstracting when the one significant blow achieved in a round is effective, so no 'pro rata Damage Per Strike Rank'.

* Phoenix Command was a combat system which took into account the flight time of a bullet, based on muzzle velocity and range (though it didn't, as far as I recall, go as far as getting integral on the reduction in projectile velocity due to atmospheric drag - that'd be silly; maybe it was an optional rule).

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3 hours ago, styopa said:

I know you're parroting the official line on this, but it's provably not true because combat results -even for melee- are applied in discrete, ordinal ways instead of holistically.

The game mechanics are not the reality. There is no such thing as a melee round or a strike rank in Glorantha. They are an abstraction in the RuneQuest rules to make the game simple and playable.

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9 hours ago, g33k said:

We plan to cut off your sword arm to prevent your action (your argument  is in all other ways perfectly valid).

My level of skill with an actual sword is so like unto negative such that any such act would likely be amplified into something lethal...

7 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

The game mechanics are not the reality. There is no such thing as a melee round or a strike rank in Glorantha. They are an abstraction in the RuneQuest rules to make the game simple and playable.

Well, obviously?

It seems then you're agreeing that - if my SR7 is not the "sequential" moment that I strike - if I'm killed (or, as g33k proposes) literally dis-armed by someone with a lower SR, then I should still get to resolve my attack in that round?

Obviously this is an abstraction, but I'd submit that even abstractions have logical consequences.  If our attack roll is merely representative of a host of dodges, feints, lures, attacks, etc over the course of 10-12 seconds, and not an actual ordering of events within that span, then one combatant's incapacitation within that span shouldn't preclude the resolution of that actor's (aborted) actions within the span up to that point.

Anything else seems logically inconsistent. 

Worse, the arbitrary "SR are the order of events, until 'melee' then they're just a resolution sequencer" are an even bigger transitional tangle.  Can one party be in melee, and another not?  Are you in 'melee' if you're being attacked unawares?  How far apart does one have to be from an opponent to "not be in melee" any longer?  Does, say, a giant with a 20' club put everyone within 25' in melee (would that deprive archers of their multiple shots, for example)?  Does any attack count as melee, i.e. a wasp? A gnat ?  I recognize that not every system can cover every circumstance, and some of my examples are deliberately absurd; I pose them only to illustrate that a combat-mechanics system has to be at least self-consistent in order to inform gms usefully how to  resolve (and to inform players what they can reasonably expect in) the sort of weird edge-cases that do come up in fantasy games particularly.

9 hours ago, womble said:

Phoenix Command was a combat system

I actually played a few combats out in PC, testing to see how usable it would be for my Traveller campaign.

I think it's telling about how subtle & complicated this is when we remember that EVEN PC had no real solution to melee combat.  Their mechanics for melee were astonishingly bad.

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2 hours ago, styopa said:

It seems then you're agreeing that - if my SR7 is not the "sequential" moment that I strike - if I'm killed (or, as g33k proposes) literally dis-armed by someone with a lower SR, then I should still get to resolve my attack in that round?

No, I'm not agreeing that. If someone faster or with a longer reach than you takes you out before you can hit them, then you're out.

2 hours ago, styopa said:

Obviously this is an abstraction, but I'd submit that even abstractions have logical consequences.

So a different abstraction would have different logical consequences? That makes no sense! The very word "abstraction" means that the game system is not modelling all the logical consequences of actual in-world events.

2 hours ago, styopa said:

If our attack roll is merely representative of a host of dodges, feints, lures, attacks, etc over the course of 10-12 seconds, and not an actual ordering of events within that span, then one combatant's incapacitation within that span shouldn't preclude the resolution of that actor's (aborted) actions within the span up to that point.

Then you might as well just get rid of SR outright and roll all actions simultaneously. If there's no advantage or even difference at all to having a lower SR, then what's the point?

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6 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

Then you might as well just get rid of SR outright and roll all actions simultaneously. If there's no advantage or even difference at all to having a lower SR, then what's the point?

Actually, no.  If toon A kills toon B on SR4 (ostensibly "earlier" in the round) obviating 2/3 of the round for B, then B would still resolve their attack but debuffed to reflect they only get to do 1/3 of their normal round's result - ie 1/3 of the damage, and maybe a hefty penalty considering all those ongoing seconds in which their damaging attacks COULD have landed that are functionally no longer available.

(For that matter, one could argue then that if B in return still kills A in their stunted debuffed action, that A's attack should have retroactively, recursively been debuffed by the SR-impact of B's action, which may have let B live, which then repeated may have let A live all the way down into a ridiculous Leibnitzian recursion...)

In any case, my point was honestly NOT to propose a total dismantling/replacement of the RQ combat system, merely to point out the logical inconsistencies in the current formulation.  The grunting effort to explain/justify/rationalize the now-it-sequential, now-it-isn't isn't worth it.  The rolling-strike ranks for people handwavingly and arbitrarily-defined "out of melee combat" (but oddly not applicable to people attacking with a melee weapon on someone unaware of them?), downshifting to a heavily-rationalized "somehow this all happens but you can only do X and Y no matter how fast you are because...reasons" is inconsistent.

Seems a LOT simpler to just say your DEX SR is when someone acts(or, if you wanted more granularity and less simultaneity, their DEX is their acting point, counting down from on high).  They may at that point do ONE thing: attack, cast a spell, release a shot or reload & shoot a bow.  The resolution of that action may be delayed until later because it takes time,  like casting a spell or reloading & shooting (or hell, even swinging a great unwieldy weapon like a poleax).  They get one offensive action, and dispense with rolling SR entirely as a mechanic that unreasonably benefits people outside of melee with no justification.

 

BTW I don't know if it was a new patch or something I somehow never noticed before but the little "QUOTE THIS?" option when you highlight text is pretty awesome.  Well done, to whomever.

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As a Strike Rank aside, the wording (p314) for casting Rune Magic says "Rune magic spells take effect at strike rank 1". Now does that mean SR 1 of the round, or that they only take 1 SR to cast? With the former, you'd have to cast it before moving, whereas with the second, you could move first, then cast it. It feels like it ought to be the second but the wording is odd. The example is not much help either way.

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It takes place on SR 1 of the round per the answer Jason gave in the RQG Core Rules Question thread above.

Does this mean they don't need to be prepared for 5 SR? Does this mean they don't go off later if boasted with Magic Points? I assume from the phrasing they don't need to prepared and there is no extra SR for boosted MPs. But I'm reaching a point of fatigue on sorting out these issues.

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8 minutes ago, creativehum said:

Does this mean they don't go off later if boasted with Magic Points? I assume from the phrasing they don't need to prepared and there is no extra SR for boosted MPs. But I'm reaching a point of fatigue on sorting out these issues.

I think the MP do take up SR.

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I guess?

But what then of the sentence d( quoted?

At what point do we know the intent and phrasing of these rules? I'm not saying you are wrong. I'm saying i have no idea which is right. (So... hello Pendragon! Good to see you again, you lovely and well written rulebook!)

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30 minutes ago, creativehum said:

It takes place on SR 1 of the round per the answer Jason gave in the RQG Core Rules Question thread above.

Correct, this is how it's always been played.

30 minutes ago, creativehum said:

Does this mean they don't need to be prepared for 5 SR?

No they do not.  That is one of the significant differences between Rune magic and spirit magic.  

22 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

I think the MP do take up SR.

Agree.

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16 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

I think the MP do take up SR.

I think it doesn't, for two reasons.

1. The description for rune magic states that "Rune magic spells always take effect at strike rank 1". That would be a  nearly pointless statement if Rune Magic had the same sequencing as Spirit Magic.

2. Some (most?) Rune Magic can be cast at variable point levels, yet that doesn't increase the casting time. For example, Shield 2 still goes off on SR1, not SR2. 

 

Now, I'll admit I'm using RQ2 rules as my source here, not RQG, but, unless there is something in RQG that specifically states otherwise, why assume differently?

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I agree with Atgxtg, given that Stackable Runes spells are also cast on SR1, and that Heal Would says: "The caster must simultaneously spend magic points" I'd go with Rune Spell happen at the begging of the round, and cannot be withheld even. You declare in your statement then roll the dice. 

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4 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

I think it doesn't, for two reasons.

1. The description for rune magic states that "Rune magic spells always take effect at strike rank 1". That would be a  nearly pointless statement if Rune Magic had the same sequencing as Spirit Magic.

Found it. Page 194:

Quote

Rune magic spells always take effect at strike rank 1. If
more than 1 magic point is used to boost a Rune magic spell,
or otherwise increase its effects, 1 strike rank is added for
each additional magical point after the first.

 

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On 10/20/2018 at 3:45 AM, styopa said:

My level of skill with an actual sword is so like unto negative such that any such act would likely be amplified into something lethal...

Well, obviously?

It seems then you're agreeing that - if my SR7 is not the "sequential" moment that I strike - if I'm killed (or, as g33k proposes) literally dis-armed by someone with a lower SR, then I should still get to resolve my attack in that round?

AD&D used to have the same problem with so-called simultaneous initiative, where everything supposedly happened at the same time, yet injured spellcasters had thier spells "blown" by being hit, and incapacitated characters would drop before getting a turn.

 

And to add fuel to your fire, there is also the fact that movement delays the resolution of actions, something that makes no sense at unless we are accounting for time. So it;s obvious that Strike Ranks represent  the passing of time in some way. Just not in a fixed, linear way. 

 

Edited by Atgxtg

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2 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Found it. Page 194:

 

Congrats. I wish it wasn't there, but it is. We have enough cans of worms now to open a bait shop.

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So if another PC needs a Heal Wound urgently I have to:

  • move to their position (round 1)
  • Cast Heal Wound, say with 10 MPs, on SR 11 of round 2?

Even if I can move there in (say) 6 strike ranks I can't cast the Heal Wound on Round 1?

Does the MP used on Heal Wound not count as "boosting"? The spell says "The caster must simultaneously spend magic points equal to the points to be healed" which sounds as though they don't count towards the casting time. (Psullie said this above).

The definition of boosting on p248 seems to read that "boosting" is only done to overcome Countermagic etc, similarly for sorcery p387, but the section on Strike Ranks p255 does say that the SR of a spell is DEX SR + additional points of spell + boosting magic points for Spirit Magic (although the Spirit Magic section doesn't mention boosting as the other two do).

EDIT: Just went back and read the discussion in the Rules thread and it does indeed say SR1

Edited by d(sqrt(-1))

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