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Tupper

Strike rank conundrum.

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I'm still trying to wrap my head around how strike ranks work.  I have a simple situation that's confusing me, and seems to be one that could easily come up in a game (I don't think it's perverse at all).  Suppose two characters, A and B, are facing off against each other.  They are 15 metres apart.  Character A has a strike rank in melee of 4, character B, on the other hand has a strike rank of 2 in melee.  He's bigger, faster, and/or has a longer weapon.

Character A declares her action as: cast a spell (3SR), draw her sword and close the distance (5SR), and then attack (4SR).

Character B, on the other hand, declares that he'll wait and then attack A when she comes to him (2SR).

My understanding is that in order to resolve the attacks, we'd figure that:

* Character A has two attacks: a spell at Strike Rank 3, and a melee attack at Strike Rank 12 (3+5+4).

* Character B has one attack: a melee attack at strike rank 2.

So, this suggests that the order of the attacks is:

Character B rolls his melee attack.

Character A rolls her spell attack.

Character A rolls her melee attack.

What's bugging me is that at the time that Character A casts her spell, she's 15 metres away from Character B, so how can he attack her before her spell goes off?  What am I doing wrong?  My gut says that the answer is that B should be forced to delay his action until Strike Rank 8 (when A engages him), but I'd like to hear what wiser heads than mine have to say about the matter.

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He can't attack her until she is in range. His statement of Intent is to wait until she is in range. So he had to wait to to attack until she had moved. So her spell happens prior to her moving while he is waiting. He is delaying his action. 

 

Should go spell then his attack then her attack

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Thanks for the fast answers!  So character B "begins" to act once his action is "triggered" by A engaging him.  Hence he starts counting from when melee is joined (action 8), and attacks at 10.  Nice: that all makes sense.

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Sorry ... now I'm confused again.  I follow your example, except for the "she doesn't ready her weapon until SR 3 + 5 + DEX SR".  Wouldn't her weapon be ready at SR 8 (3 + 5)?  Combatant A couldn't *attack* until SR 12 (3 + 5 + 4), but she could at least parry at SR8 (still too late if B is attacking at SR7).  Why does DEX SR affect A's readying of her weapon? 

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More examples of combat would be awesome.  I think that's something the core book is missing, so it's great if the community can furnish some to clear up tricky issues like this (or at least they seem tricky to me as someone who hasn't played RuneQuest before...).

Regarding the "when can you parry" issue: p197 (The Parry) says "Using a prepared weapon or shield, an adventurer can attempt to parry an attack on any strike rank of the melee round during which the parrying weapon is prepared (in hand and ready for use)." I would have thought that (in the example), character A would have her sword in hand and ready for use at Strike Rank 8 (it's "prepared" then).   My read of the earlier passage (p 193-194) is that's referring to strike rank for *attacks* (DEX + casting time for spells, DEX for missile weapons, DEX + SIZ + Reach for melee weapons).   Do correct me if I'm wrong ... I'm still muddling my way through this! :)

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7 hours ago, Tupper said:

Thanks for the fast answers!  So character B "begins" to act once his action is "triggered" by A engaging him.  Hence he starts counting from when melee is joined (action 8), and attacks at 10.  Nice: that all makes sense.

Nope. Character B begins to act at SR 0, as normal. On SR 2 he is ready to strike, and as soon as he has a target (SR 8) he can strike.

Having a Melee SR of X does not mean that you strike "X SR after someone is in range", but "on SR X at the earliest, provided the target is in range". If the target is there on your SR, you strike. If it is still approaching, you wait until it is there.

Again, this is a consequence of the problem of SR not being "the time needed to strike" when you attack in melee, which sometimes is not so intuitive, as Jason highlighted in another thread. This concept might be hard to grok, and requires some time to get accustomed to. Your doubts, as you can see, are understandable.

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Rosen is correct, SR is relative, its all about who goes first, second etc not when they go.

In your example above, both characters begin un-engaged which also offers more options. You also need to factor in the Statements of Intent - a common trip is that players think SR are like action points and skip the declaration. Your round begins with:

A: I cast Protection (or whatever) then charge drawing my sword and gripping my shield
B: I brace for the attack ready to swing my axe as soon as I can

You then use SR to calculate the order of events. Note that drawing a weapon takes 5SR as does crossing 15m, but these could be combined if declared as above. If A said I draw my sword THEN charge it would be Spell (3) + draw (5) + move (5) = 13 no attack and 3m shy of B - instead of arriving ready at SR8 with enough SR to attack 

B is readying himself, any time after SR2 he can strike (this is why charging armed opponents is dangerous) A arrives in range at SR8 and is met with B's axe

Edit: moving 15m is more than half for your Movement allowance, the maximum a character can move after casting a spell regardless of available SR. So unless A has a Movement of 10 she will only cover 12m by the end of the round.

Edited by Psullie
Correction

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Thanks for the further clarifications everyone.  I did wonder after reading James' explanation about whether it should be SR8 or SR10 that B's attack would come through at.  Also good to know that I'm not all-at-sea with the preparing of a weapon.  Certainly a flat cost of 5 Strike Ranks seems to make the arithmetic a bit simpler (which seems trivial when there are 2 combatants, but if you were a GM trying to keep track of 15 or so combatants, could be a big deal).

I'm not sure if breaking the round into an unengaged/engaged actions phase is a good idea.  If (say) character C was making a missile attack on character B at SR10, this attack would happen after B's attack, but before A's (melee) attack.  In the reasoning above, it would happen before both, because it's an "unengaged" action.   I think (from a previous question on this forum) that the intention of the sequencing of the round in the core rulebook page 192 is simply to recommend letting characters who are not "interacting" with others get all their movement out of the way before focusing attention on the interactions between the remaining characters.

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On 10/22/2018 at 4:43 AM, Psullie said:

Rosen is correct, SR is relative, its all about who goes first, second etc not when they go.

B is readying himself, any time after SR2 he can strike (this is why charging armed opponents is dangerous) A arrives in range at SR8 and is met with B's axe.

As much as I agree with this, I remember from my old RQ2 days where the way to avoid the issue in bold was to move right up to one's foe and then stop 2 yards away, and wait until the next round to move into melee -- thus allowing you to be able to attack. And your foe ends up doing nothing at all that round (since he was waiting for you to attack)!

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On 10/22/2018 at 5:43 AM, Psullie said:

B is readying himself, any time after SR2 he can strike (this is why charging armed opponents is dangerous) A arrives in range at SR8 and is met with B's axe

 

That's probably why RQ3 had the "attacking on the run option", where you ignored you SIZ SR modifer on a charge, but lost your parry/dodge.  Maybe that option, or something like it is forthcoming?

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37 minutes ago, thom said:

As much as I agree with this, I remember from my old RQ2 days where the way to avoid the issue in bold was to move right up to one's foe and then stop 2 yards away, and wait until the next round to move into melee -- thus allowing you to be able to attack. And your foe ends up doing nothing at all that round (since he was waiting for you to attack)!

No way would I allow that. Or... I don't know, I'd have to think about it.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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5 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

No way would I allow that. Or... I don't know, I'd have to think about it.

 Statement of Intent comes  before Strike Ranks. So to pull this off someone would have to hear that the opponent was going to stand his ground and prepare and attack on someone who moves up to him, before his statement. Even then it only really makes a difference if moving up increased your SR to worse than your opponent, or if it prevented you from attacking at all. 

Personally, I would think that if moving 2 yards is "free" then the opponent should be able to react to this and add a "five foot step" to his attack. It's not like people in melee actually stand still in the same spot.

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3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

 Statement of Intent comes  before Strike Ranks. So to pull this off someone would have to hear that the opponent was going to stand his ground and prepare and attack on someone who moves up to him, before his statement. Even then it only really makes a difference if moving up increased your SR to worse than your opponent, or if it prevented you from attacking at all. 

Personally, I would think that if moving 2 yards is "free" then the opponent should be able to react to this and add a "five foot step" to his attack. It's not like people in melee actually stand still in the same spot.

I'm surprised no one has yet queried in what order statements of intent are made, since it does make a huge difference.

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10 hours ago, thom said:

As much as I agree with this, I remember from my old RQ2 days where the way to avoid the issue in bold was to move right up to one's foe and then stop 2 yards away, and wait until the next round to move into melee -- thus allowing you to be able to attack. And your foe ends up doing nothing at all that round (since he was waiting for you to attack)!

I cast my spell, then close until just outside of melee range - sounds like a valid statement of intent. The opponent who was waiting for the character to close may leave his position and engage in melee, or may remain in formation and wait a little longer. Hurry up and wait...

Wearing the GM hat I have used something like this as an NPC tactic to let the first wave of protective/boosting spells wear off. With reasonable duration sorcery more readily available, this tactic has probably seen the zenith of its applicability. 

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4 hours ago, Russ Massey said:

I'm surprised no one has yet queried in what order statements of intent are made, since it does make a huge difference.

There are games that make this part of the mechanics, but RuneQuest is not one of them. I would not enforce any kind of order among the players, and I'd let them co-ordinate their statements if they want. Or are you referring to PvP?

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

I cast my spell, then close until just outside of melee range - sounds like a valid statement of intent.The opponent who was waiting for the character to close may leave his position and engage in melee, or may remain in formation and wait a little longer. Hurry up and wait...

It is a valid statement of intent. The difficulties lies in just who has to declare first ,and the inability to react to what's happening . The side that declares first is at a distinct disadvantage here. Especially if it's the same side (PCs or NPCS) all the time.

I much prefer RQ3 on this for two reasons. First, the statements of intent don't have to be as precise, the idea being that other people don't know exactly what you are doing. Secondly, you can alter your intent by paying a 3SR penalty. So in RQ3 the other guy might change his mind and close the distance. and attack, if he has enough SR left. 

 

Edited by Atgxtg

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The player-characters are "heroes" so I generally declare for the monsters first to give the players an edge.  If there is a major baddy present and something really turns on who goes first with their statement of intent, then I would go by inverse Dex SR (i.e. highest states first) and resolve any ties by a Battle skill roll off - but as that may slow things down, I would do it very rarely.  Original RQ had a +5 SR charge for changing your statement of intent and I tend to house rule that as an option too...

 

cheers

Mark

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13 minutes ago, Cawdorthane said:

The player-characters are "heroes" so I generally declare for the monsters first to give the players an edge.  If there is a major baddy present and something really turns on who goes first with their statement of intent, then I would go by inverse Dex SR (i.e. highest states first) and resolve any ties by a Battle skill roll off - but as that may slow things down, I would do it very rarely.  Original RQ had a +5 SR charge for changing your statement of intent and I tend to house rule that as an option too...

L5R uses the slowest-states-first mechanic. Although that gives a double advantage to the initiative winners, it leads to some interesting tactical situations where the player who rolled low sets the agenda for the round by declaring first.

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16 hours ago, thom said:

As much as I agree with this, I remember from my old RQ2 days where the way to avoid the issue in bold was to move right up to one's foe and then stop 2 yards away, and wait until the next round to move into melee -- thus allowing you to be able to attack. And your foe ends up doing nothing at all that round (since he was waiting for you to attack)!

16 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

No way would I allow that. Or... I don't know, I'd have to think about it.

Ok, I've had time to think about it, and maybe the best answer is simply to always do this. Split pre-melee movement into a separate round. If you aren't engaged at the start of the round, then you aren't engaged. At the point that you come to be engaged with an enemy, either because you moved up to them or they moved to intercept you as you came past, then for you the round is over and you both pick up afresh at the start of the next round.

There may be a need for a specific "charge into combat" option, for instance to interrupt an enemy spell caster or archer. It would certainly be frustrating to be only 3 meters away from someone, and having three arrows in you before you got to engage them. Or maybe not, you just end the round early and they have to carry over their action into the next round, at which point you might be able to hit them before the spell is cast.

Basically, I'm looking for some kind of mechanism to remove the artificiality of the situation. The characters, in the world, don't know that a melee round is about to finish, so making tactical decisions around the melee round structure is unsatisfying. On the other hand, they can see the world around them better than we can, and the melee round structure is only a poor analogy for "what is going on in the world". Since we cannot make fully informed choices based on the tactical situation in the world (we can't see every rock and tree branch and low doorway), maybe making tactical choices based on the RuneQuest mechanics is a stand-in for that.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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A couple of off-the-cuff options for deciding (if you feel it's necessary) who declares their intent first:

Use 'INT SR' (same table as DEX SR) to decide who declares first: lowest INT SR specifies first, raw INT breaking ties. You could get more complicated, having CHA, maybe (as 'force of personality' feeds into 'dynamic (right or wrong :) ) decision maker'), take the place of SIZ for a combined "Declaration SR". Or just use INT.

Use Battle (skill or a roll): worst result declares last.

 

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21 minutes ago, PhilHibbs said:

Basically, I'm looking for some kind of mechanism to remove the artificiality of the situation. The characters, in the world, don't know that a melee round is about to finish, so making tactical decisions around the melee round structure is unsatisfying. On the other hand, they can see the world around them better than we can, and the melee round structure is only a poor analogy for "what is going on in the world". Since we cannot make fully informed choices based on the tactical situation in the world (we can't see every rock and tree branch and low doorway), maybe making tactical choices based on the RuneQuest mechanics is a stand-in for that.

I hear you, man.  And what we finally ended up doing was to go Strike Rank by Strike Rank through the round, with unengaged characters moving 3 yards per SR until they were engaged, and then starting the "SR attack clock" from the point of engagement. This effectively put us back into the desired original state. Yes, it is the opposite of what the rules seemed to intend -- but it worked for us back then.

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On 10/22/2018 at 4:43 AM, Psullie said:

Rosen is correct, SR is relative, its all about who goes first, second etc not when they go.

Unless you're outside of melee using rolling SR, casting spells/firing missiles, then it pretty much IS a sequence of events.

7 hours ago, Russ Massey said:

I'm surprised no one has yet queried in what order statements of intent are made, since it does make a huge difference.

When we used SoI, we'd go from character with lowest INT to highest (you have to be strict about not allowing inter-round 'discussion/panning time'), giving the highest ones a significant advantage in planning.  

But frankly, we abandoned SoI years ago.  The whole "here's what I'm going to do with the next 12 seconds of my life" ended up being so kludgy, so rife with conditional statements, so full of special rules to allow changing of intent due to different conditions, etc we ultimately decided that RQ combat was slow enough, and just allow characters to act on their SR, much like 5e, with the condition that they cannot move THROUGH a ZoC.

Our system has boiled down to pretty-simple: people act on an SR based on their initiative roll modified by DEX SR.  Moving into combat, longest weapon hits first, otherwise SR sequence.  Acts (usually spellcasting) that cannot be completed in the round roll past the end of the round end up with a calculated SR for next round, instead of rolling.  That's pretty much it.  No statement of intent.  Missiles/spellcasting do not get rolling SRs; if you attack/spellcast in a round, that's your action.  It's not perfect, no, but it's quick.

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5 hours ago, PhilHibbs said:

There are games that make this part of the mechanics, but RuneQuest is not one of them. I would not enforce any kind of order among the players, and I'd let them co-ordinate their statements if they want. Or are you referring to PvP?

I was thinking more about the GM vs the PCs. In previous editions as GM I used to say, "Hang on a sec while I work out what the NPCs are going to do. Okay. Now give me your statements of intent."

I don't have any worries about the order the players go in, but the new rules state that the GM gives the NPC statements of intent aloud as well. Before the players? After the players? Some horrendous mixed mess based on SR or DEX? It's hard enough as GM to run RQ combats with a dozen NPC characters without havng to worry about that.

And if you tell the players what the NPCs are going to do and then allow the players to choose their actions it gives them a huge advantage. If you make the players speak first they'll accuse the NPCs of being game-beaking mind-readers even if you are simply using a prepared plan.

To my mind its much better to keep the GM intent hidden - as long as you trust the GM, at any rate.

Edited by Russ Massey
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1 hour ago, Russ Massey said:

the new rules state that the GM gives the NPC statements of intent aloud as well.

LOL what?  I didn't see that.  Why in heaven's name would the PCs know what the NPCs are doing before they do it?

The rule in question (bold mine)

1. Statement of Intent
The players and gamemaster declare the intentions of all participants in the melee round. These intentions do not need to be precise (“I’ll wait here for them to do something, and have my shield and sword at the ready if someone gets close” is enough detail). Enough should be said so that every participant has as much information about your intentions as could be expected from their adventurer’s involvement in the situation. The gamemaster, in particular, should provide as much information to the players as seems reasonable. Players may not know what exact spell a foe is going to cast, but they should know that the foe is readying a spell

 

As a rule, when we used SoI, yes, as GM I'd *declare* to myself what the enemies were going to do before I let the players tell me their plans.  But I certainly wouldn't say it aloud.

But I don't even see the point of this - wtf does "readying a spell" even mean in RQ?  There are no material components to grab out, and I'd presume any required gestures, concentration, chanting, doing a little dance...are already included in the SR for casting.  If they aren't continuing it over the round-end break, they wouldn't START doing it until the SR says so.  So what cues precisely would players be reading into "oh she's preparing to cast a spell"?

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3 minutes ago, styopa said:

But I don't even see the point of this - wtf does "readying a spell" even mean in RQ?  There are no material components to grab out, and I'd presume any required gestures, concentration, chanting, doing a little dance...are already included in the SR for casting.  If they aren't continuing it over the round-end break, they wouldn't START doing it until the SR says so.  So what cues precisely would players be reading into "oh she's preparing to cast a spell"?

Characters would be reading the cues, not players, and the melee round structure is an arbitrary imposition that the characters are not aware of. The people in the world are not all deciding simultaneously what they are going to do in the next 12 seconds and then doing it mindlessly. I see no problem with everybody knowing who is starting off the round casting magic, and acting accordingly.

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