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Re: (TFT) Random thoughts on rpg combat systems.

On Fri, 31 May 2002 04:44:32 -0700 rsmith <rsmith@lightspeed.ca> wrote:

[many interesting things]

Okay, here's some random thoughts of my own in response.  I do have a nice, concise thought on the longbow situation, but I'll put that in another post, so it doesn't get lost in these musings:

Regarding what TFT is and should be, I'd like to say that TFT is many things to many people.  Me, I'm a wargamer at heart.  My players tend that way too.  To me, the storytelling is secondary.  It's not trivial, but it's secondary.  The genius of TFT is that it has tactical richness (compared to most RPG's) but with reasonable speed--which is why I prefer it to GURPS.  GURPS adds a lot of complexity, which may or may not mean added 'realism' or interesting game choices, but often doesn't.  (Speaking in general, not at GURPS specifically.)

> When I was a young whipper snapper of a 
> GM, I wanted more realism.  I used all of
> SJ's optional rules.

See, now, I feel that a lot of TFT's optional rules illustrate my previous statement.  There's no way that 'dagger marksmanship' with people throwing daggers through the eyeslits of helmets has anything to do with realism.  It does add a choice, but it's a silly one.

Any set of rules is going to be written at a certain level of abstraction.  Some people prefer more abstract, some less.  But in any case, when there's a rule that varies wildly from the mindset of the rules as a whole, it's a problem.  I don't use the hit location rules at all in TFT because they so afterthought-ish.  And I *like* hit location rules, and am glad to see them in systems (like Aftermath, or even GURPS) where they are more an organic part of the rules, and the system as a whole is at that level of detail.

> Most of the time combat boils down to:
> 1)	Players fight NPC's.
> 2)	Players win.

Well, most action in books boils down to that too.  Yes, it's not realistic that one side wins almost all the time, but it is a great narrative conveniece.  The alternative is new characters 50% of the time.  You can do that (and I don't find it nearly as outlandish as a "real" roleplayer would), but keeping the same characters around helps build ongoing interest.  

In any case, this has nothing to do with the system itself.  Two 32 pt warriors are evenly matched in melee, and they are in TFT.  If the 'adventures' never really present the PC's with a chance to lose, well, it's not the system's fault.  Either the GM is cheating in favor of the players, or not giving them an "even" fight every time.  Such means may not be ideal, but are generally thought superior to new characters 50% of the time.  

While you can have rules that outwardly aknowledge that the PC's can't lose (with Warhammer FRP's 'fate points' or whatever) I find that the more obvious it is to all concerned that the PC's can't lose, the worse things go for all concerned.  For one thing, if imbalance is embedded in the system, they can't lose when the GM really wants them to lose.  For another, IMO, knowing you're going to win whether you apply yourself or not is just detrimental to the player's interest in the game.  

> Fast is self explanatory.  We all strive (I 
> assume) to put more story telling in our games.
> Having a combat system where we can kill the 
> NPC's  and get on with it, has a certain 
> theoretical appeal.

Bad assumption. :)  Maybe everyone else wants to put more storytelling in their games, but I strive to put more game in my games.  To me, working things out with the rules is more the point--the story provides a framework for interesting fights, rather than the fights somehow being an impediment to 'getting on with the story'.

Please don't take any of this the wrong way, I'm not trying to be argumentative for the hell of it or say that "you're not having fun the right way", but I do want to say that the Sorcerer point of view is not the only point of view on these matters.

BTW, Rick if you like Sorcerer you may wish to check out the Dying Earth game.  It's much too rules lite for my taste, but I bought it as a fan of all things Jack Vance.  It's a good system.
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