One of my pet peeves is players forgetting their penalties. They may know them but not remember to apply them. They're at -2 for bad footing, but forget to apply it. They suffer a -3 for vision penalties, but figure out 5-6 turns later they critically hit something based on full skull, not modified. Ugh. It drives me nuts.
As the GM, it's much easier for me to remember penalties foes inflict, or flat bonuses that figure into NPC's "to hit rolls."
What might work, more or less, is this:
- Apply penalties that hurt PCs but not NPCs as a bonus to NPCs. Instead of -2 for the PCs to hit, it's a +1 for NPCs to defend against attackers on Bad Footing. Instead of a -1 to defend, it's a +2 to hit (which can convert back to Deceptive Attack -1, which is something players do not forget to factor in.)
- If the penalty applies both ways, either ignore it (simple) or apply the bonus and penalty to the NPCs. Bad Footing at -2/+1 would be +1 to defend, but -2 to hit for the NPCs. Broadsword-16 would be Parry 13, but 14 or less to hit. Weird, but it moves the penalty to the NPC only.
It's not an entirely fair swap. +1 to defend is nice, but -2 to the attacker's "to hit" can mean a foe not being able to target a given location and still max out skill. It can mean a +1 to defend against a Move and Attack (skill cap 9) or Wild Swing (also skill cap 9), which might otherwise absorb the penalty for a sufficiently high-skill attacker.
It's a tempting to try this out, as it moves to onus from the players ("Oh yeah, it was bad footing . . . ) to the GM (who can pencil in a new score and just use that, instead.)
Any holes in this I'm not seeing?
I don't believe it's optimal, but it could be a solution to the issue of forgotten penalties.