I’ve always been on the fence when dealing with proposals for more realistic mechanics. On the one side, I want a kind of realism that could be called coherence: that is a matching of expectations between what the gaming group expects as a probable outcome from combat and the results produced by combat mechanics. On the other hand I want to stay faaaar away from GURPS like exactitude: I don’t want anything to do with the idea of simulating real combat with mechanics so that they, by themselves, would mimic whatever concept of reality.
I’ve been reading this livejournal post today and I must say that I’m intrigued. The writer has some good ideas (surprisingly I’ve thought about some of the same things while reading the Rules Cyclopedia, but I’m sure most of us have) on what are some of the things that just don’t feel right with the action as it is. I don’t agree with some of the solutions proposed, not because of any mathematical error (whatever that might be,) but because I feel it adds unnecessary fiddling with the system.
I do, however, want to recap on some of the points he makes and which I believe are issues that rub me the wrong way:
1- Shields should NOT just lower 1 AC. The shield was an essential part of medieval combat and certainly the element around which defense was built on most one handed weapon set ups. The fact that I can better lower my AC wearing a tough leather armor than I could do by wearing a good shield is simply amazing and, sadly, not very accurate.
Then again, I must still decide how to handle ‘hits’ in combat (and the idea of HP) and the whole AC concept. Regardless of that (and how it might influence the actual mechanic) I want to make sure that shields play an important role. Of course, a shield is not a magic barrier: they’re heavy, sometimes cumbersome, and being hit on the shield with certain weapons plain hurts (much less than being hit in the head with the same weapons though.) Once again, I’m not so sure I need a mechanic to reflect this, but I certainly do not want a mechanic that produces results that go against it.
2- As far as HP goes, I’ll probably go the abstract route. I especially want to avoid the idea that you can chop, stab and puncture someone (of high enough level) and they’ll just keep on fighting. Any significant wound inflicted in combat is probably going to take you out of the fight altogether. I’m thinking that HP will reflect a sort of stamina, or some kind of “narrative shield” if you’d like: wounds can maybe only be inflicted when the char has 25% or less of the HP or something like that. Still undecided about this one.
In any case I don’t think I’ll be aplying his rules here. What I’d probably like is to have HP directly tied to Constitution… so that it can be ‘trained’ just as someone could develop strenght or higher agility. Just a thought for now. Any ideas?
3- This point speaks for itself:
This is really the most interesting bit…it may also be stolen from somewhere (Pendragon?). The basic idea is that survival is achieved by not being hit, and in a normal combat, one maneuvers to an opponent’s disadvantage such that, when all is said and done, striking your opponent generally means that you are not struck back (…)
(…) you could argue that if you aren’t threatening your opponent, he will have an easier time striking you.
Oh I like that idea… the mechanics that come later, not so much. On that topic I’ve been trying to track down the episodes of “Conquest“, which was a History Channel show that dealt with usage of medieval weapons and such. I’ve already watched the one about axes and boy is it a fountain for ideas! Just by watching one episode (the one I talked about) you can see that what the writer proposes is pretty accurate on some cases. You can find most of them on Youtube.com although the weird thing is that I’ve only found Spanish dubs so far (no issue for me, but might be for you.)
Any thoughts my fellow gamers?