View Full Version : Forum Combat System

2008-04-18, 08:58 AM
My friend and I are starting up an old project and we're trying to revamp it for ease of use. Without getting into too many details we're trying to make a general combat system that you can use on a forum that doesn't rely on random elements to work.

The forum is mostly a RolePlay forum but its in a setting where combat does happen and it happens fairly often. Combat was decided with just freeform posting before but it caused a lot of problems between posters that just didn't want to lose and posters that just plain sucked. So we're looking for a simple system that will streamline the combat and prevent the never ending near misses and dramatic dodging that plagued the old forums.

A quick overview of what we need. The people create characters specifically for the board and they will be making up a set of "powers" or abilities with character creation. So a system that has some basic stat blocks and then uses them in some way with abilities, like offensive, defensive and passive abilities and some way to keep track of resources like HP and Stamina, or whatever.

Is there a system out there that can do this without a random element and do it as fairly as possible? We would like the most intelligent and creative poster to be the one to win the combat but we need a system that makes sure combat actually ends. On the old board almost every encounter was decided when a mod came into the thread and told the obvious losing poster that he was dead and he needed to stop magically evading attacks.

Lord Tataraus
2008-04-18, 10:23 AM
Actually, I'm designing just such a system stealing ideas from the TV-Trope RPG System and Risus. There is absolutely no randomness whatsoever unless the GM chooses to be random in his calls. Here is the rough draft (it is still under construction):

Freeform PbP Rules:

Each character consists of five defining roles of three types.
Each character must have one and only one racial role this grants minor abilities and generic attributes.
Elf – high dexterity, charisma, and appearance attributes, low constitution, strength, and xeno-social attributes, forest stealth ability
Dwarf – high strength, constitution, and underground senses, low dexterity, appearance, and charisma attributes, master smithy ability
Each character must have at least 1 training/talent role and up to 3. These grant many abilities and attributes.
Barbarian - ability to rage (thus in creasing martial attributes), high fighting and brawling attributes, tracking and wilderness survival abilities.
Wizard - ability to cast spells (confer with the GM to determine the limits of these spells), very poor fighting and brawling attributes, research ability, high knowledge attribute.
Each character must select at least 1 personality role and up to 3. These grant bonus plot points (PP) but always have a drawback and greatly effect roleplaying.
Paranoid - extremely fidgety and quick to make rash decisions based on suspicion, +1 PP/rank
Patient - collected and calm, yet hesitant under stressful situations that call for quick action, +1 PP/rank

Attributes: An attribute is an aspect of a character’s natural ability. These are things like strength, speed, insightfulness, etc. Attributes allow for many actions and have many different facets; they are very flexible and versatile, but not as powerful as abilities.

Abilities: An ability is a strictly defined (at least compared to attributes) action or inborn nature that the character has. This includes extreme luck, spell casting, fencing, etc. Attributes are strict and only applicable in certain circumstances, but are always more powerful than attributes.

Plot Points (PP): Plot points are a number of points that each character has that serve as an abstract value of how much the character means to the story. Plot points act as health, when you run out you die; however, they are also very useful in that they can severely increase your chances of success. You might spend PP to insure that you kill a villain or escape from certain death by some outstanding feat of acrobatics, something no normal person could ever do.

Basic Role Mechanics:
Ranks: Each role is very abstract and is hardly concrete in what they grant, you can only list examples and make broad statements. in game play you can effectively do anything as long as your GM agrees that your role allows that (no big stretches, when in doubt it isn't covered). However, to give one definitive level of strength to your characters, there is a role rating system. This system is a basic 3 point ranking for your roles. 1 is the lowest, 3 is the highest. You are given a set number of points to divide as you choose amongst your roles (6-8 is suggested). Rank 1 means you are a beginner, a novice, or it is not that strong of a quality. Rank 2 is average, or a mediocre level of personality. Rank 3 is an expert, or strong tendency. For example, with the Paranoid Personality role, a rank 1 would be someone who is naturally untrusting and slightly jumpy, just a bit more than a normal person. Rank 2 would be someone who is suspicious of everyone, convinced of people always looking at him and rank 3 would be paranoia to the extreme, trusting no one and responding violently to even minor suspicions. Only Training/Talent and Personality roles have ranks, Race roles are always considered rank 2.

Abstract Rating: In addition to the solid ranking system as described above, there is also a very abstract rating system for each individual attribute. The rating system is simply "low", "average", or "high". The players and GM my opt to expand this for more variation by adding "very low" and "very high". This abstract system determines what effect the ranks have on the attribute in question. For "normal" attributes, ranks have no effect, that attribute is effectively not covered by the role other than what is average for a person and thus not listed in the Role's descriptive outline. The "low" rating
means that that attribute is very low or below average, in other words, it is a drawback, thus a wizard with "low fighting" would be a worse fighter than the average commoner and the wizard rank would determine who bad it is, the higher the rank the worse the wizard is at fighting. The "high" attirbutes are exactly opposite the "low" ones, a high attribute marks something the role is very good at, a fighter is good at fighting and thus is an above average fighter, meaning that the higher the ranks, the higher his skill.

Combat and Conflict:
Variables: In combat in conflict there are three variables to take into account. First is description, the best you describe your actions and the "cooler" or most appropriate they are, the more likely they are to succeed. It is suggested that three levels be determined, poor description, average description, and elaborate description. Count a poor description as 2 ranks or a "low" attribute and an elaborate description as 2 ranks of a "high" attribute. The GM is solely responsible for determining the level of description and should base his decision so that the majority of descriptions fall into the average category. In some cases the GM might have to rate two different players on different scales if one proves to be a very exceptional writer to ensure a fair and fun game; elaborate descriptions should be the exception, not the rule. Second is the attribute and/or ability in question and the total ranks of the roles that grant them (abilities always count as having a "high" rating). For example, Jason is fighter rank 2 has well established fighting attribute and is a dwarf which is very strong. Jason describes swinging his axe with great ferocity and strength at the attacking orc, since this implies both the use of the fighting attribute and strength attribute, the total ranking is 4 and the abstract value of "high". The GM thinks that Jason made an average description (nothing too spectacular) and thus the attack succeeds and deals two PP to the orc, slaying it. The Third factor is Plot Points. Any character may choose to expend any number of PP to boost his action, each PP counts as adding 1 rank of a "high" attribute. An exception to this rule is when the player gives an unusually good, in this case the GM may allow each PP to grant 2 ranks of a "high" attribute instead of just 1.

Attacking and Defense: In all situations there is an attacker and defender, whether it is a battle, an argument in court, or trying to jump over a ravine. The attacker describes his actions first and then the defender, the GM totals their ranking and any PP they spent and determines the winner simply by adding all the "high" attributes and subtracting the "low" attributes and declaring who got the highest (in cases where the "defender" is an inanimate object such as the ravine, the GM determines a set difficulty for its defense). In the case of a draw, the defender wins unless the defender is inanimate such as the ravine example in which case the attacker wins. Once the attacker wins the defender takes damage or if it the defender was inanimate the attacker simply succeeds his task such as making the jump over the ravine, breaking down a door, etc.

Damage, Death, and Defeat: Now that you now you've beat your opponent in that round of conflict what happens? This system has no equivalent to the HP system with the exception of Plot Points. Each successful attempt in a conflict deals PP damage whether it is an actual battle or an argument. PP damage is simply forcing the defender to lose a number of PP. To determine the amount lost divide the total ranks of all "high" attributes (abilities count as high) by 1/2, all "normal" attributes by 1/3 and all "low" attributes by 1/4. If this damage would cause the defender's PP to fall to 0 or less the defender is "utterly defeated". An utterly defeated opponent is laughed out of the courtroom, beaten unconscious, or in some cases killed. Whatever the description, the opponent may not enter any more conflicts unless it is initiated against him in which case he is considered an inanimate obstacle until he has at least 1 PP again.

Regaining Plot Points: Regaining PP is not a set mechanic, like most of mechanics of this system it is almost entirely up to the GM's discretion with some guidelines. If a character has at least 1 PP (i.e. he has not been utterly defeated) he usually regains PP by completely above average tasks such as quests or exceptional success against an inanimate obsticle. Optionally, the GM may allow the characters to regain PP by passage of time and with rest. If a character has been utterly defeated regaining PP is more up in the air depending under what circumstances you were defeated and what that meant for the story. For more minor defeats such as being laughed out of the courtroom, merely leaving town to save face or waiting it out will allow you to regain at least 1PP, however, if you were killed in battle, you might have to be resurrected or fight your why out of the underworld or it might truly be the end of the road for that character.
Well, there you go, any comments?