Friday, 27 January 2017

The Hive Mind 3: copying combat

So, having carefully stolen the the skill spheres system and the serious injury model how can I steal Necromunda's combat system and make it my own?

To recap, the melée combat system works like this:

  • You each have a Weapon Skill stat
  • You each have an Attacks stat
  • You roll dice equal to your Attacks and pick the highest
  • Opponents with a parry (mostly due to a sword) can make you reroll one die
  • You subtract 1s
  • You add +1 for any additional 6s
  • You add your WS to this number
  • You compare totals
  • On a tie, the highest Initiative stat wins
  • You can roll to wound once for each point of difference (minimum 1)

I'm actually wondering whether you couldn't extrapolate this to other resolution mechanics, given a different statline. And there will definitely be a different statline.

Off the top of my head, for purposes of experimenting, I'm going to propose something like this:

  • Might - governs physical brawn and toughness
  • Agility - governs nimbleness, dexterity and reaction
  • Intellect - governs memory, logic, reason and knowledge
  • Charisma - governs social graces, plausibility, charm, leadership
  • Weaponry - weapon use
  • Stealth - sneaking, disguise, camouflage and sleight-of-hand
  • Persuasion - influencing others
  • Athletics - physical feats
  • Lore - all learning

Lore could be broken down further, but I'm not convinced it needs to be. There's certainly some characters (and real-life people) who are experts in science but not history, or history but not politics, or whatever. But given there's one skill for using all weapons, and one skill for all interpersonal interactions, I'm not sure we need more. Obviously this will depend on the kind of game - in a magical system you might not want learning and magic to be all tied up together, even though that's the most common model.

The first four are stats, the remainder are skills (and I'm going to use the "skill" term here even though that means something different in Necromunda). Basically, all opposed tasks would be resolving using a Stat Dicepool + Skill Modifier roll. The stat determines how many dice you roll, both making a higher stat more reliable and slightly increasing its maximum potential, but you're all human and there aren't vast differences in your raw potential. That difference comes from skills, which represent actual experience and training in a particular task. Someone with a lot of training in weapon use can still get reliable results, even if they're physically outclassed. On the other hand, that burly thug might just overwhelm you with brute force and luck, because the range possible on a die is similar to the range of possible skill levels.

These will usually be combined in particular ways, but occasionally something different crops up. For example, you might easily use Intellect + W for forensics on a murder scene, or Charisma + W when regaling people with exploits of derring-do. Persuasion can be readily used with Might (physical intimidation or showing off), Agility (ditto), Intellect (reasoned discourse and argumentation, whether true or not) or Charisma (charming, beguiling and befuddling). Intellect + Stealth would help plan ways to disguise or hide an object, as well as tracking down what's hidden already. Stealth + Charisma is used for impersonation.

Having an argument? Roll Intellect + Persuasion if you're debating, or Charisma + Persuasion if you're relying on force of personality. The low-Persuasion mook might just flummox you with a killer question you just can't quite formulate the answer to by rolling a 6. Or you might land a series of lethal QEDs that shut her down completely, because you roll 3, 4, 5=best and you're adding a 4 and she only rolled a 3+2.

Parries could be generalised to a set of equipment or abilities that let you gain a similar benefit. A particular debating trick might allow you to "parry" a Charisma roll by undermining the other party or throwing them off balance with unexpected gambits. In a high-tech setting, a piece of cyberware might allow hackers to parry intrusion attempts and the efforts of security systems. Wizards might "parry" in a magical duel by expending a specific spell component, while specific charms might allow anyone to parry magical attacks.


  1. Your list suggests to me that an adventurer might choose one or two skills in which to specialise, and this could end up looking quite like a class. Not that all combinations would be readily playable.

    1. Yes, I think the 'class equivalent' would be a lot like the roles in Necromunda: you get access to a limited subset of the pools (previous post), and incentives to specialise in particular skills. I should probably try to do a post pulling this together into a pseudogame.