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Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture
Flow of combat
house rules

I've been thinking about something I read some time ago when people started reviewing the combat system of this edition. There was someone that was upset because there was no way for a player or a villain to alternate between weapon, brawling, improvised weapons, guns during the same combat without having to pay 2 Raises each time you wanted to change, claiming that a swashbuckling game should allow such things.

Now, there is this Advantage in the core rules, dynamic approach, where you spend 1 Hero Point to change approach during an action or dramatic sequence, but you can't go all out spending Hero Points every bar fight starts just because you want to make it spectacular.

I've checked the books but I haven't found anything about it. I toyed with the idea of creating an Advantage for combat only where a Character could change weapons without changing their approach just because it would be heroic. Wanted to share my idea and ask for help if someone is also interested or finds it useful

Combat flow Advantage (? points)

You are always improvising.

At the beginning of a combat turn, before you roll, decide if you activate this Advantage. If you do, you invest 1 Hero Point and receive 1 extra die (or 2, haven't decided yet). During this turn any action you take, even those out of your approach (as long as they are combat related e.g: inflicting violence) will cost only 1 Raise. The catch is that you cannot do the same action twice. You must describe different actions. If you throw a punch, you can't throw a second punch during this turn, regardles of how you describe it. If you do, you lose the invested Hero Point. At the end of turn, you can reclaim your invested Hero Point if it was not lost.


I'm not sure how many points would this Advantage cost. Perhaps 3 or 4 (Bruiser is 3 points for example). I wanted to reward players that like this kind of things during a combat instead of making them spend 2 Raises each time so that above is what I thought. Any ideas?



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Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I think the best solution is perhaps to not be too strict with the interpretations of what 'actions' fall outside the purview of the player's chosen Skill for the Risk during sequences.

Instead, allow them a bit of leeway within reason, especially if the primary difference between what's described and the Skill used is fluff-based.  For instance, if my Castillian Duelist chose Weaponry for the current round in an Action Sequence, and then uses the Bash Maneuver on an foe, just becuase I describe as him making a swift punch to the foe's face, leaving them briefly disorentated and off-balance, that doesn't mean I suddenly switched my approach to Brawl.  Now if in the same round, my Castillian Duelist wanted to leap on a chandelier to swing across the room and prevent a Villain from fleeing the scene, that would be justification for a change of approach from Weaponry to Athletics, because what I just described is well outside the realm of attacking with a weapon.

Or as another example, a Montaigne courtier goes into a dramatic sequence using Empathy to suss out the moods of folks at an event and perhaps get a lead on who might have reason to fear that a serial killer is going to target them next.  During the course of the sequence, the courtier needs to sweet-talk a debutante into answering a few of his questions.  Yes, you could say this is a change of approach to Convince, or you could just say that part of his sweet-talking involves getting a sense of the right things to say to get her to open up, and thus still fails under Empathy; I'd go with rolling it under Empathy.  Later during the scene, the courtier wants to slip past some guards to get into a fellow noble's personal chambers, at which point I'd say that's a change in approach as such a thing falls outside of the general realm of Empathy, with the new skill depending on how the courtier handles it (could be Convince to bluff their way past, could be Hide to sneak in, could be Tempt to bribe them).

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

To play devil's advocate a bit, one of the complaints we hear about experienced groups is too many raises for the GM to reasonably deal with. So maybe we should be stricter about shifting Approaches? By making it easier for players to switch actions at minimal cost, we might be setting ourselves up for headaches later on for a brief window of indulgence.

Carlo Lope
Carlo Lope's picture

Fair points. I agree with you both on what you said. Actually, this idea came to mind when I was watching Kingsman the other day, specially when I saw the church and the bar fight scenes.

At the beginning I thought among the lines of what you said, Donovan. That bash could very well be a kick to the groin and a lot of maneuvers can be described as something else than just slashing, but then I asked myself, why would a duelist want to change weapons when they would lose a lot of combat power?. Perhaps this would fit better for non duelists but, as BluSponge also said, too many Raises may be problematic.

I guess the idea was for players to be able to play with the environment quite a bit instead of just sticking to describe a hit with their sword in different ways and reward them for it but from what you guys stated, it can also be done the way it is now without risking unbalancing things.

Thanks for your examples.

BluSponge blusp...
BluSponge blusponge@verizon.net's picture

Well first I'd recommend a piece of advice that works so well for the Savage Worlds community: play by the rules first. It's hard to identify problems from reading the rules alone. Get a few sessions under your belt before you start changing things and adding advantages. What you think of as a problem may not be one in play.

But also, consider what Jonathan said. There is a lot you can do within an Approach. Your Approach is broad ("I attack with my sword") while the action you spend your raise on is more specific ("I bash him with the pommel of my sword"). But if you drop your (or lose) your sword and grab a cup, I'm not sure i'd call that a change in Approach. Now, if you dropped your sword and drew a pistol, that's different. In the end, as long as the action fits within the umbrella of the trait+skill, or even one of those, I'd probably be okay with it. It's when you shift from "I hit it with my sword" to "I intimidate him with my cunning wit" that you need to start ponying up an extra raise. But once you codify that flexibility into an advantage, you are locked in.

Salamanca's picture
The restrictions reward player creativity IF they can come up with new actions still in bounds of the selection. The player stabs with the sword, parries, bashes with the pommel, punches with the basket hilt, and trips with the sheath and all that can fall under Weaponry. As for brawl, I would probably let most any unarmed action taken place using it and maybe even let a tea cup in as well.
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