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Re: (TFT) Scale

On 11/5/07, Craig W. Barber <craigwbar@comcast.net> wrote:
> Hmm... true what you say Jay, at 5 seconds per turn, people are either
> fighting on downers ("Like, wow dude, I'm like, swinging here...") or the
> turn
> represents more than enough time for merely a single blow and PCs are
> being
> subsumed into statistics.

I don't think it has anything to do with fighting on downers (although I
like the metaphor). I think Mr. Jackson sought to abstract and compromise
for playability and simplicity. Here's my interpretation of 5-second turns:

I listen to the quartz clock on my wall tick off 5 seconds. I imagine a
combat between armored warriors wielding maces, broadswords, battle-axes,
rapiers and unarmed combat. I can easily imagine the movements, the attacks,
the reactions, etc. combined together filling up 5 seconds. If you throw
into that missile weapon actions, spell-casting, etc., it's pretty clear
that 5-second turns is a not-so-arbitrary compromise for a time interval of
a turn.

A couple of peculiarities:

Hi-dex figures get multiple bow attacks within that interval; I suspect
missiles are a special-case that can't be combined, because arrows follow a
line and might hit intervening targets, etc. On the other hand, Melee combat
is possibly combined attacks yielding total damage as an abstraction for
simplified playability. Perhaps a rapier-wielding guy gets a few swipes in
his turn that yield damage if he hits, perhaps a battle-axe wielder only
gets one big swipe. Fencing talent allows one to do double-damage more
easily, but it doesn't mean one has a sharper blade or hits harder. I take
it to mean there is more agile use of a blade within a 5-second turn
yielding greater potential for damage. Two-weapons skill also holds up under
this assumption. It allows you to use multiple weapons with less of a
penalty, or potentially to attack different targets in the same 5-second

Double/triple damage, in general, does not mean necessarily a single blow is
more damaging. I take it as an abstraction of more damage done in the
5-second turn, abstracted to a single "decision roll". Even attacking a
figure that's engaged with another in HTH makes sense under 5-second turns
(one must roll to miss the others, if I recall correctly, but everyone's in
the same hex so multiple sub-attacks make sense still). Sure it could be
tweaked to be more precise, but at a cost of playability.

So, if you're looking at weapon damages, it should be considered how much
damage a weapon can do in the turn-time it's used. The studies of how much
newtons of energy a particular weapon musters on a single blow is
interesting, how much is "1 point of damage", etc., may not apply in a
5-second/turn model. One has to consider how much time it takes to
coordinate a blow, whether such a blow is typical of the weapon's use, etc.
It's hard to validate all these assumptions, but as long as they're
ball-park, I'm ok with it. I think this reasonable accuracy with reasonable
simplicity is the beauty of TFT. My assumption of damage being a combination
of what takes place during the whole turn may not make sense with respect to
DX-order attacks, but compromises are not perfect. In this case it's a
balance of accuracy to playability. To get perfection, you approach time
slices that get to be very small and thus harder to manage. I think PVK
pointed out how this can be done, and the disadvantages of it.

This discussion reminds me of "Drawing of the Dark" by Tim Powers. It's an
Arthurian legend, where Arthur is resurrected in post-gunpowder era.
Fighting with an Excalibur-like broadsword has its disadvantages if nobody
is wearing armor. Someone wielding a lighter sword that's quicker can
actually do more damage, or so goes the assumptions of the author. I'm not
sure that TFT takes this into consideration as it should. One imagines thus
that a broadsword can deal out much more damage than a rapier to armored
figures, but that a rapier might be able to be swung multiple times in one
5-second turn causing as much if not more combined damage to an unarmored

Despite my reluctance to change the 5-second turns in TFT, I still find all
this discussion of alternatives very interesting!

What is it about post-Halloween activity on this list? :-)
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