Thursday, December 8, 2016

Lighter Combat for a Test Run

So I have this GURPS stuff I want to try out in Actual Play, but I don't have a lot of time to do it. Nor do I want to toss the Felltower PC pool at the problem - they wouldn't fit.

My regular gamers and I are going to do a mini-session to try it out, and I expect combat. But I also know even with throwaway characters, there is a hard-coded tendency in many players to maximize their options. Make this this action on this turn is the best possible thing to do for now, for later, and for their friends around them.

That's not conducive to fast combats.

Here is what I'm going to do to keep things lightning fast:

Use my Simple Combat Rules with the exceptions below:

- No Retreats. As simple at that - none, not at all, never, you roll against the defenses on your sheet.

- No Reach. Either you're in melee, or you aren't, or you're in Close Combat, or you aren't. You can't Wait and strike and backpedal with your rapier to keep a foe at bay. If you can reach him, he can reach you, and yes, he can engage in close combat. You can leave close combat, but you're still in an abstract space where he can reach you if he wants.

- No Map. I might plunk down a map for visualizing the area, but it won't matter in combat. My players have a tendency to use their minis anyway to do grouping, then subtly start using range, then use Retreat, etc. Not here - no minis, just an abstract brawl. And thus:

- No Facing. You can't flank that guy, he's got no flank.

- Largely basic rules only. So no multiple Blocks, no Long Weapons in Close Combat. I'll probably allow Committed Attack and Defensive Attack, and allow trading in attacks to get a Feint (a typical Rapid Strike move) but that's it.

That seems workable - if you can't try to leverage the map, leverage reach, leverage Retreat for defenses and spacing, or worry about placement and facing due to worries about Close Combat, you really don't have anything to do on your turn except choose a foe and attack - or not. That and passing over people not ready to go should speed things up. I hope so - my goal is to try something not purely tied to combat, and thus slow, careful, tactical combat with minis and the fun that that is just would be an impediment not a help. We'd miss the forest for the trees.

We'll see how it goes. I suspect "No Retreat" is going to be cringebait for many people, but hey, you're never going to need to worry about when to use that +3 Dodge . . .


  1. Honestly, this is an excellent description of how my old group played for *years*. The idea of using minis, measuring reach, marking retreats etc was totally foreign to us - you'd just ask the GM if you were close enough to attack the NPC you wanted to attack, and if not, you'd use your turn to move there, and attack next turn instead.

    Looking forward to seeing the final version of whatever GURPS stuff is being playtested here!

    1. Same with my 1st edition GURPS group. They had no interest in the mapped combat that pulled me into GURPS in the first place, so we didn't use it. Combat (and everything else) was very fast and loose.

  2. There's no reason it shouldn't work.
    You could even do away with the melee/close combat distinction if you'd like. And weapons, for that matter: With DR2 medium armor and DR4 heavy armor, everyone does basic swing damage with no wounding modifiers, and drops at 0 HP, and you've got functional and reasonably interesting combat. GURPS scales incredibly well to varying detail levels.
    Of course, us gearheads wish we could use *all* the rules and *all* the options *all* the time, but it's really about taste more than functionality.

    1. That's more abstract than I'm willing to go, nevermind my players. Besides, it would actually abstract away useful details for what I'm testing.

  3. I plan on running a simple, light rules version of GURPS myself sometime in the near-ish future for a few non-GURPS people who do Roleplay; I'll still use a map for them, but I'll keep the rest of these in mind.


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