Combat Test-Drive

Talk about Green Ronin's A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, based on George R.R. Martin's best-selling fantasy series. Winter is here!

Combat Test-Drive

Postby Matt H » Mon Jul 14, 2008 11:36 am

Being between campaign at the moment, I put together a little test of the SIF combat system for my gaming group this weekend. Basically, I dummied up 6 characters with a variety of fighting styles and see how they did against each other.

The combatants:

Martyn Hill (plate and mail, longsword, large shield)
Agility 3 (Quickness 1B), Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Endurance 3, Fighting 4 (Long Blade 2B, Shield 1B)

Dagmar Pyke (ring mail, battle axe, dirk)
Agility 3, Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Endurance 4, Fighting 4 (Axes 2B)

Ser Kevan Rivers (full plate, bastard sword)
Agility 3, Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Endurance 4, Fighting 4 (Long Blade 2B)

Oberon Sand (soft leather, Braavosi blade, dagger)
Agility 4 (Quickness 1B), Athletics 3, Awareness 3, Endurance 3, Fighting 4 (Fencing 3B)

Rikard Snow (mail, warhammer)
Agility 3, Athletics 4 (Strength 2B), Awareness 2, Endurance 5, Fighting 3 (Bludgeon 1B, Brawling 1B)

Jonah Stone (hard leather, longsword, buckler)
Agility 4, Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Endurance 4, Fighting 3 (Brawling 1B, Long Blades 1B)

Quite the group of bastards.

One thing I should not in advance -- I forgot to apply the armor penalty to the Agility tests for Initiative. I don't think it would have made a huge difference, but I suppose it might have. Also, nobody used any Destiny points.

To warm up, everyone fought a pair of mook-types (all relevant abilities at 3, equipped with soft leather and spear). Snow was the only person to even take damage from the spearmen, and that was only one point. Hill and Rivers were, in fact, impossible for them to injure using standard attacks. It was universally found that the Divided Attack option was not nearly as effective as attacking each mook in turn.

On to the main event. The first duel was between Sand and Pyke, and it wasn't pretty. Against an inferior opponent, Sand's skill might have saved him, but Pyke was skilled enough to hit, strong enough to inflict major damage when he did hit, and had a good enough combination of mobility and armor to avoid taking major damage. Lessons learned: if you are going to be the lightly armored type, you better be sure your Fighting is much higher than your opponent's.

Next up was Hill vs. Stone. Hill, with his large shield an heavy-ish armor, was tied for the second highest combat defense and had the second highest armor rating of all the characters, plus he had enough skill to make relatively short work of his more lightly armored foe. Lessons learned: Being faster and hardier isn't as important as having more experience with your weapon. And better armor.

Then we had Rivers vs. Snow in a toe-totoe slugfest. Snow got in several good shots that sent bits of armor flying (the warhammer's sunder ability is a bit scary). In the end though, he wasn't able to wear down Rivers' defenses before falling victim to his own low combat defense and lighter armor. Lessons learned: Being bigger and stronger isn't a good substitute for skill (and heavy armor), either.

With three combatants now eliminated, the next fight featured Hill against Rivers. The two fighters with the heaviest armor went back and forth for quite some time without any decisive advantage. Rivers scored a couple of minor hits early, but eventually the defensive advantage provided by Hill's shield proved ot be the difference maker. This was a tight one that really could have gone either way, though. Lessons learned: Shields good.

Hill advanced on to face Pyke in the finals. Just to be a prick, though, I ruled that the Injury and Wound Hill had suffered in his previous fight were going to carried over. Pyke, ended up winning, but it was closer than we expected. Pyke was down in Health and close to having to take a wound when he finally forced Hill to take a second wound, at which point his player threw in the towel. Lessons learned: Shields and heavy armor good, but they can only do so much against a raving berserker when you are already injured.

Overall, I think my group got a good feel for the combat system even though they only used the most basic options. It is certainly adequate, quick and satisfyingly bloody, but I don't think you are going to want to have many sessions that are really combat-heavy. It's just a bit too repetitive for that to be interesting for too long.

To answer some concerns that have been raised in other threads, it really does seem like the characters with the heavier armor had a significant advantage. The only duel where the more lightly-armored fighter won was the very last one, and in that one his opponent came in already wounded. If he hadn't been wounded, even with his relatively low Endurance score, I think the combination of heavy armor an dshield would have carried him through.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jul 15, 2008 1:53 am

Thank you for sharing.

Can I ask you which games you usually play? That would give me an indication from where you come when you say SIFRP is repetitive...?

Cheers :)
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Postby _x_ » Tue Jul 15, 2008 5:40 am

When he says repetitive, I think he means that there are no options in combat, such as techniques, maenuvers, etc. And thats a good point; I hope the full rules have a goodly amount of sweet moves. (the one the red viper pulled on the mountain for instance, where he vaulted over him)
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Postby Matt H » Tue Jul 15, 2008 8:22 am

The game seems to have a pretty simple combat system. When you have two heavily-armored opponents going toe-to-toe, it can pretty much be broken down to the math. "I need to roll X on Y number of dice to multiply my damage to Z, or I can't even hurt this guy." Over and over, until someone drops. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing as long as: a) combat can be resolved quickly and easily (SIF seems to pass the test here), and b) there is something other than combat to do (which in this case, by design, there wasn't). In an actual game, I wouldn't be too concerned about the repetitive factor unless there were a particularly combat-heavy session (and I'm hoping the mass combat rules may alleviate that, somewhat). Combat manuevers and the like may add spice to one-on-one fights, but I would worry about them adding fussyness to what looks to be a pretty clean system.

As to experiece, we've run the gamut. Over the last couple of years we've played Lord of the Rings (CODA), Mutants & Masterminds (2e), Pendragon (4e), Star Wars (d6), Unisystem (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, etc.) Warhammer (2e) and various flavors of d20. To name the ones I can think of off the top of head.
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Postby Zapp » Tue Jul 15, 2008 2:38 pm

To clarify my question, I notice you've played WFRP. Let's use that as an example.

WFRP is a game with rather few combat options. I guess this could lead to somebody calling it "repetitive" (because you don't have seven feats, eight powers and six special moves you can choose between each round)

But the flip side of this is simplicity - allowing you to move on and concentrate on the story.

Not making combat into a tactical simulation or a board game can be a good thing...!

Note I'm not saying you believe any of this.

(But if you were, that's OK, that is one kind of repetitiveness I can live with if it keeps things way from D&D levels of complexity... :))
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Postby Parzival » Fri Jul 18, 2008 9:07 am

I am pleased to see, that according to the account above combat is “Quick” , although the repetitive nature of two heavily armored combatants fighting worries me, I suppose a GM’s narration + Imaginative (I.e. “Good”) players can liven that up.

I just hope (And Assume it is not the case) that by repetitive, it means 5 to 20 rounds of nothing really happening...

“Quick” Combat / task resolution is what sells me on games these days. I have grown tired of overly complex systems (Complexity does not = realism/believability, as far as I am concerned), and do not care for overly simple systems (where the GM is suppose to make it up as he goes) either.

This looks like, it might be a potential Happy rules, “Medium” compromise . And while I like what little G.R.R Martin I have read, I am far more interested in the rules then the setting...
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Postby _x_ » Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:14 am

Zapp wrote:To clarify my question, I notice you've played WFRP. Let's use that as an example.

WFRP is a game with rather few combat options.


Where are you getting this from??

WFRP has PLENTY of combat options. Strike to Stun, defensive weapons, Impact weapons, rapid shot, dodge, parry, multiple attacks, spells, etc.

Options in combat is a good thing, otherwise (as I mentioed before) Obeyn vs Mountain would not have played out the way it did, and Bronn would not have been able to fight with a blade in each hand.
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Postby Tharen the Damned » Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:58 am

The Quick Start rules show only the basic Combat Options.
The Full Rule Set (as from the playtest material) will include some "advanced" combat actions that will allow for a whole slew of Combat Tactics. Generelly I would say that all actions that are possible in D&D 3.5 or 4th are also possible in SIFRPG.
But these advanced rules are otional and modular. You can but don't need to use them.
Also wait for the Qualities that you can buy with Destiny points. There are some combat focused ones that really give you an edge with your chosen weapon or combat style.
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