I created another topic asking a few things about Parry and Risposte. I got my answers but I'm not entirely convinced so I decided to create a topic with a few things that a friend and I have noticed after toying a bit with the combat system. I don't know if a topic like this has alreday been created or if it was up to date. If it has been, you can all "booo" me and I will go cry somewhere :P
We are not players/GMs that like to min/max things but we found some flaws and I wanted to share them, offer a different solution (hence the house rules tag) and see if more people have doubts/problems/solutions. In short, make a topic about the combat system that people can easily find in case they need it.
I'll write an example for every problem we found. I hate using numbers to explain things as I get the feeling I'm not paying attention to the roleplaying part but I'm forced to use them in order to explain them for practical reasons. Characters that are not duelists are okay so in all the problems and examples I'm going to write about, all are considered to have the duelist advantage but I'm not taking into consideration any of the school skills.
Problem 1: First blood duel (this problem applies only to these kind of duels)
The main problem is that if you duel someone to first blood and you have the same level of skill and the same amount of raises, the character that goes first wins. How so? Lunge, period.
Let's see it with numbers: Each player has 3 raises and weapony 3. The first to hit uses Lunge and he does 3+3 damage but if the other character tries to Parry, he uses 1 raise to Parry 3 wounds and 2 raises to avoid 2 more wounds. The final numbers are 6 damage and 5 stopped. Unless I misunderstood and Lunge was actually something like(in this case) 3 damage from weaponry, 1 raise to use Lunge and then the 2 remaining raises to improve damage. There is no way, never, to fully stop someone from damaging you if (and if is the keyword here) characters have at least the same rank in weaponry and the same amount of raises. If someone has more raises or more pips in weaponry, the enemy is doomed but that's not the point.
Solution? Like I said... Unless I misunderstood how Lunge works (if I did, what I said above is pointless), I think that spending 1 raise to activate the manoeuvre and the rest to boost damage would give an opportunity to someone who has the same degree of skill, at least, to defend themselves.
Problem 2: Feint (Practical reasons only, but practical nonetheless)
Feint does 1 damage and the enemy receives 1 more damage next time they are wounded. It does not sound great at first glance but it truly shines if you have the upper hand and can hit 2 times before they can act. The main problem is that when you reach 4 ranks in weaponry, this manoeuvre is not as useful as before. Why? Weaponry does not improve feint, I can accept that but think the other way around. Weaponry 4 means that you will probably face enemies that will hit you hard because you are experienced and challenges are expected. Bash is better for practical reasons even if you do one less damage.
If you have at least 2 actions before the enemy can act, you can do something like this:
Feint + slash(3 weaponry) = 1+4 damage. With bash would be 1+3 damage = 4 damage, but you are preventing 3 damage. Weaponry will help you prevent more damage where feint does not change even if you where able to reach 10 in weaponry.
Solution? Feint is the only manoeuvre that does not improve when the character improves. Feint could be improved with something like: Feint does 1 damage and next time the enemy is hit, they receive 1 damage for every odd pip you have in weaponry (1-2 weaponry = 1 damage, 3-4 weaponry = 2 damage, 5 weaponry = 3 damage). Or another solution (because I thought 3 damage was way too much): Feint does 1 damage and next time the enemy is hit, they receive your rank in weaponry rounded down (minimum 1) as damage.
Problem 3: Parry and Risposte
A character can avoid damage outside their turn spending 1 raise to negate 1 damage. Ok, sounds good. Duelists cannot do that with their manoeuvres because they have to way until they can act. I'm sorry to say this but it does not make any sense(to me at least). My friend and I tried to emulate different combat situations where allowing Parry and Risposte as reactions would cause unbalance problems and we couldn't find any.
Let's see: If you are left with less raises because of your poor planning or bad luck, it means the enemy has a chance to literally destroy you... (poor planning and bad luck shouldn't be punished... well, maybe poor planning should... a bit... only... :P)
Using the same example I used on the other topic: you have 3 raises and the villain has 5. As written, if the villain uses raises to hit you, you can still spend 3 raises to negate 3 damage or, like Salamanca said, you can hope you can take the attacks and then retaliate. I'm good with that but not convinced. In this case, the villain would attack you 3 times (slash + feint + slash or slash + bash + slash) and by the time you can Parry or Risposte the last slash, you are already with 1-2 dramatic wounds depending on the strength of the Villain. Even if the Villain could attack 2 times only, he would hit you pretty hard (a duelist villain is supossed to be competent).
If you follow the rules, you won't spend those 3 raises to negate 3 damage... The villain is going to hurt you a lot so it is pointless to do it.
Solution? Unless there is a secret explanation behind that rule of using Parry and Risposte only on your action that I was unable to see (hey, it can happen), I really think one solution would be to allow Parry and Risposte to be used immediately after you receive damage. You can still decide if you want to spend raises or take the hits. There may be situations where you think you will be ok if you don't negate damage.
One more thing on this (another example I used on the other topic): You are left with 2 raises and the rest of the group have between 3 and 5 and the Villain has 5. Villain slashes you and then waits (someone that wants to mock you and every time he hits you, he waits for you to try something instead of hitting you again before you can defend or attack), does not use the rest of his raises until you can act, and the rest of the group are fighting other people. When you can act you Parry... From a roleplaying perspective, it does not make sense either... he hit you and waited but you can Parry a hit that already wounded you? If you say yes, then first blood duels are explained with: the one with more raises win. If not, then... time freezes until you can Parry but not if they hit you again? ... weird.
On a final note, all of these problems can be ignored from a roleplaying perspective too.
- A duelist starting with a Lunge is not common. Unless you are desperate(that's the description for this manoeuvre), you will never use Lunge against other as it makes little sense to begin the duel, roar and jump, foaming, towards the enemy (it actually sounds hilarious now that I think about it.. I'll probably do it xd).
- The Feint problem was practical only. I would probably use it too for drama and roleplaying regardless of what the manoeuvre does.
- The Parry and Risposte problem may not be that big... Players are heroes and they can take a beating. They will be able to do the same and they still have raises to avoid damage as normal.
My group and I are all for roleplaying instead of numbers and we usually ignore things like these... still, practicality exists and everyone, unconsciously or not, are aware of it.