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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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Hiya,

Unless character B does something while character A "casts a spell and closes the gap" then he reacts when character A engages in melee.

In your example, character A casts a spell (3 SR), then moves 15 meters to engage character B (5 SR); that's 8 SRs total that character B is "holding" for. Once character A is engaged in melee, you can simply add 8 SRs to both characters' melee SRs., or just use the two melee SRs as given to determine who acts first. It's going to be character B on SR 10 (8+2) who attacks first, while character A, if she survives, attacks on 12 (8+4).

Hope this helps!

Kind regards, James

Edited by Anunnaki
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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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Hiya,

Declared intent comes into this as well.

Unless character B has something better to do, or had declared some response to character A's action, then basically he's sitting tight and waiting for the fight to come to him. He could have declared something like this, for instance. "If character A casts a spell, I will close the distance between us and attack her, otherwise, I will wait for her to engage me."

Then, seeing character A casting a spell, character B could move 15 meters (5 SRs) while character is casting his spell (3 SRs). At SR 5, character A is struggling to arm herself (she doesn't ready her weapon until SR 3+5+DEX SR (I am guessing character A has a DEX SR of 1, so let's say SR 9 in total is when she gets her sword out). Character A attacks at SR 7 -- well before character A has a sword ready (9) -- so unless character A has a shield or an offhand weapon or is good at Dodge, this could get interesting fast. :)

Hope this helps!

Kind regards, James

Edited by Anunnaki

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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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Like preparing a spell (min DEX SR) or shooting a missile (DEX SR), technically you haven't prepared your weapon until 5+DEX SR (5 for preparing, but technically DEX is when you have it ready to "at least" defend). RQ:G rulebook, p. 193-194 notes that SIZ doesn't factor into determining missile or spell SRs. But DEX is always a factor for weapon/missile/spell (technically, weapon length could factor in as well, but I don't subscribe to that for "when" a weapon can be used to defend oneself).

Apologies, didn't mean to muddy the waters. This wouldn't be a problem in your example if character A had a shield or an offhand weapon; both are able to be used to Parry. However, if character A was wielding a two-handed sword, then character B, by their declaration and action while A casts a spell, could have caught character off-guard without a weapon to defend herself (at least until SR 9, though she still can't attack until SR 12).

Think of the +5 SR to prepare a weapon as what it takes to pull it out (or focus on a spell, or pull an arrow from a quiver), but DEX SR is the number of SRs needed to get it into at least a defensible position (or cast the spell, or nock the arrow and sight on the target).

Others will no doubt chime in with examples, but hope this makes sense!

 

Edited by Anunnaki

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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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Gotcha. So essentially, "engaged" is a redetermination of the SRs of all engaged combatants, based on their actions to that point.

So something like this?

UNENGAGED ACTIONS PHASE
Character A cast a spell (SR 3), then moves/prepares a weapon (+5 SR) and enters melee combat (becomes engaged). This ends the unengaged actions phase.

ENGAGED ACTIONS PHASE
Character B, having done nothing but wait patiently until now, acts on  SR 2. Character A acts on SR 12 (3+5 from unengaged actions phase, +4 SR).

Apologies for putting you wrong, @Tupper. Glad we are having these debates with more experienced players (thanks @RosenMcStern and @Psullie). And yes, I noticed the greater than half move thing as well, thanks @Psullie, but figured it didn't matter for the math. @Tupper, I think you are correct on the Prepared = Can Defend. Makes sense and easier math to boot. And more Maximum Game Fun-worthy. :)

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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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