me: i wanna make a cronchy combat game system me: ok so here’s how skills work now and you can use this system to run through a fight without having to do it blow by blow
the bonus is that it’s not much different from the Weaver’s Lesson system I wrote weeks ago but this time it’s written in Markdown
I have to write the easy version first because the first question of the Combat system is “Why is this not something that can be resolved with a single die roll”
oh no I need multiple combat systems because there’s lots of different kinds of combat
Settling into a mode of play that is distinctly “superheroes but make it fantasy” and realizing that this is where I’ve always been
This is actually a really helpful break-through because it points out that what I’ve always enjoyed about D&D and its look-alikes isn’t “go into a cave and loot it” but rather “challenge the dragon to a duel and win”
And that’s a very superhero kind of story
But also I don’t super want to be “superheroes in modern day America” I still want us to be running around with swords and stuff
but when I think about the kinds of things we do, the tone is Big Cartoon Action
Like I want ooh
I don’t want “miserable little pile of hit points” I want a progress track for the BBEG that goes from “Solid” to “Cracked” to “Broken” to “Shattered” etc
So when you use your “Cannon Fist” move, it doesn’t do 2d6+scwillion damage
It takes them from “Solid” to “Cracked”
And that has a much bigger impact
And so then the BBEG might have rules on their tracker that says something like
It takes 2 hits to take this enemy from Cracked to Broken
Only a “powerful hit” can take this enemy from Solid to Cracked
like what does the Stone Statue Warrior look like there? It looks like:
Solid: Impervious to anything but a Powerful Hit Cracked: Takes 2 hits to progress Broken: Attacks twice per turn Shattered: No attacks; one more hit will do them in, but they get one last speech first
And so okay okay okay
fuck I’m doing this on Twitter but okay
So each of these segments on the tracker has a table of possible traits that the enemy might have. You can roll or pick on each one to “generate” your boss fight.
and a trait might make them harder to hit, tougher to break down, or more dangerous.
Imagine a table of traits for Shattered from “Desperate” to “Resigned” and it says something about your enemy which of those traits they’ve got
And if you’re the GM, you can set those traits at the top of the fight, or you can roll them as you play. And the other players don’t know what the traits are, so they just have to kinda try things. Maybe this boss is immune to fire until you crack their armor.
And unless the boss’s traits say otherwise, it only takes one “hit” to push them to the next tick.
So if you get lucky, you can take a boss out in four hits.
Maybe it needs to be more than that. If there’s a group of six of you and one of them, that fight would be quick
Like I don’t want the duel of pistols where it’s over as soon as it starts, I want the Big Fight, I want the players to think “Okay shit what am I gonna do to make this next hit count”
oh okay that’s what it is
The boss is the deck
And when you hit them, they retreat further into the deck and you have to fight your way back to them so you can hit them again
So yeah you might take them down in four or five hits
but in between each of those hits is Pursuit.
So the first stage of the fight we’re not even in the deck, we’re out front, the boss is there taunting us, and we can’t even hit them.
Then one of us cracks their helmet. “What?! Of all the insolent grmblgrmbl” and they retreat behind their line of soldiers, into their keep.
So then we have to burn our way through the deck until we find the boss again. And then we have another skirmish with them until one of us hits them again, and we knock their helmet clean off. “No! I won’t let you disrupt my plans!” And they retreat farther in, to the lab.
And we keep pursuing them deeper into the deck, busting our way past enemies and obstacles. But the obstacles aren’t the fight; the boss is the fight, we’re just trying to get there, until we find them, Broken and angry. And they’ve laid traps for us, it’s dangerous and scary.
And we hit them AGAIN.
And they realize this might be the end. So they retreat one more time. To prepare themselves for that last hit. To lay one final trap. To find the thing that will bring clarity to their life.
And we’re in pursuit again.
All this time, and we’re also facing rivals and gates and meeting allies, because that’s what happens when you draw face cards, right?
But when we hit the bottom of the deck…that’s it. We find them, Shattered, ready for us. “Let’s end this, here and now.”
That could be a pretty cool boss fight. And it would actually take three hours. because it wouldn’t be all at once.
I think what this means is that the Boss would be repped by one of the face cards, like the King or the Ace. And you’d shuffle two of them into the deck, and then put the other two on the top and bottom of the deck. That way you’d ensure that you hit all four stages.