April 20, 2012

Combat: Shifts

While I don’t like using miniatures for combat – I feel it makes players focus too much on the wargame aspect rather than play in what for me is the much more flexible ‘theatre of the mind’ – I do want to let my players have the positioning of their characters and their opponents matter in play.

Thus the idea of Shifting: to use your Victory Points to change your opponent’s position for the worse.  The classic example of course is the swordfight at the edge of a cliff, where instead of actually striking your opponent you force him off the edge.

A 1-point Shift gives you +1 die vs. that same opponent in the next round of combat.

A 2-point Shift gives you +2 dice vs. that same opponent in the next round of combat, or lets you take away the opponent’s weapon or shield.

A 3-point Shift gives you +3 dice vs. that same opponent in the next round of combat, or lets you end the combat in way that is not directly lethal – you render the opponent helpless, disarm him and hold your sword to his throat, or push him off the cliff (it’s not you who does the killing, it’s gravity! And he may survive!).

Shifts can be countered by Escaping them – that is, by tapping Assets denoting agility, perceptiveness or quick-wittedness, or fighting skill.  You can gamble on a battle-winning 3-point Shift, for example, when you think your opponent is likely to survive more wounds, but no longer has the speed to avoid your Shift.

This gives me some added ideas for martial arts Secrets in Hari Ragat.  There can be Secrets for being more effective in Shifting the opponent – very appropriate for a Corsair character, imagine the results of a nicely-timed Shift on board a narrow karakoa, with the waters beneath roiling with sharks – and Secrets for avoiding or countering Shifts.

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