House Rule - Lulls

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House Rule - Lulls

Post by Casey on Sat Sep 27, 2014 9:23 pm

Eric, Tom and I were talking about GURPS rules recently (yeah, surprising), and talked about how combat doesn't rage continually until it's over. We talked about how both fighters can pause for a few moments before resuming combat. This idea is represented fairly well by an optional rule found in 3rd Edition Compendium 2. I'll consider using it in the upcoming game, if people like it. Below are the rules taken from the book, with my commentary in red. Let me know what you think.


The Fight’s Over Already?
Optional Rules
for Pacing Combat
This article (by Chris McCubbin)
originally appeared in a slightly different
form in Roleplayer 29.



The GURPS convention of one exchange of blows each second is extremely accurate under normal conditions. However, in a real combat, the action is not as continuous as in most GURPS combats. Normally, there are a few seconds of furious action, followed by a lull of several seconds, during which the combatants catch their breath or maneuver for position, followed by another furious exchange of blows, and so on.

Most of the time, these lulls in combat can be safely ignored. But sometimes it’s important to know exactly how long a given combat lasts, particularly when reinforcements are on the way.

The following optional rules are designed for those who might wish to pace their combats a bit more realistically.

Exchanges and Lulls

The optional combat pacing rules divide combat up into two alternating modes, called “exchanges” and “lulls.” During exchanges, the combatants are going full out, throwing blows at maximum speed. During lulls, combat stops and the combatants basically wait around for the next exchange.

When combat starts, the GM should roll 2d in secret. This is the length, in seconds, of the first exchange. After that many turns, he rolls 1d. This is the length of the first lull. The lengths of all exchanges and lulls after the first are rolled on 1d.

Only the GM should know how long the dice dictate a lull or exchange will last.

Multiple Combatants


If there’s more than one combatant on each side, the GM should break up the fight into a number of one-on-one battles, and roll the duration of exchanges and lulls separately for each fight. If two or more combatants are ganging up on a single opponent, there are no lulls.

Example: If seven Jets ambushed five Sharks on the playground, the GM would allow the attackers to pick their opponents, and divide the fight up into three one-on-one fights (with lulls rolled normally), and two two-on-one fights (with no lulls). Alternately, there could be four one-on-one fights (with lulls) and one three-on-one fight (without).

Circling for Position

During a lull, the combatants are considered to be circling for position {roll randomly for movement?} – prowling warily around each other, looking for an opening and testing defenses. If both combatants are circling for position, then at the end of the lull they should roll a Quick Contest of weapon (or unarmed combat) skill. The winner of the contest receives a +1 which he can apply to any combat roll (attack, defense or damage) during the first round of the next exchange. This bonus must be taken before the dice are rolled. There is no bonus if the contest is a tie. {I’ll probably replace most of this with the Evaluate maneuver from Basic Set, and include some of the optional rules for it from Martial Arts.}

Note that if the combatant with the bonus chooses to save his +1 for a damage roll, but fails to land a blow, the bonus is lost. Likewise, if he saves the bonus for a defense roll, and his opponent falls or misses his attack, the bonus is lost.

If one combatant wins the contest of skill by 10 or more points, he gets the +1 bonus, and his opponent may not attack or All-Out Defend during the first second of the new exchange.

Pressing and Stalling


If the dice indicate it’s time for a lull, a combatant may attempt to press his opponent if he doesn’t want the battle to pause. If one of the combatants is trying to press, the players should roll a Quick Contest of Wills {Will-based weapon skill would probably be more appropriate}. If the person trying to press wins the contest, the lull never happens. Instead, the opponents immediately start another exchange, with a duration rolled normally by the GM. If the pressing opponent loses the contest, or if it’s a tie, the lull occurs normally. If the press attempt is successful, both opponents immediately lose 1 point of Fatigue. If both combatants wish to press the battle, success is automatic, but both still lose the point of fatigue.

An opponent can also attempt to stall for time, breaking off the exchange early and forcing a premature lull. If a combatant declares he’s trying to stall, then during the next second he can defend normally, but he cannot attack or All-Out Defend. At the end of the turn the combatants roll a Quick Contest of Wills {or that Will-based weapon skill}. If the opponent trying to stall wins the contest, the GM immediately rolls a lull, which begins on the next round. If he loses or ties, combat continues normally. If both combatants try to stall on the same turn, the lull occurs automatically; no Will rolls are necessary.

A combatant cannot attempt to press if his opponent successfully stalls. A combatant may also substitute a Tactics roll for his Will roll when pressing or stalling. {Or not, since Tactics will work differently in 4th Edition.}

Maneuvers During Lulls

During a lull, opponents may not Attack, All-Out Attack, All-Out Defend, Aim or Wait. During a lull, either opponent may Move, Change Position, Ready or Reload, but if he does, his opponent has the option of immediately beginning another exchange, regardless of how long the lull has gone on. If an exchange starts after a maneuver, the attacker does not receive any bonus from circling for position.

If one combatant is taking the Concentrate maneuver, his opponent must win a Quick Contest of IQ in order to perceive that his foe is concentrating. If the opponent wins the contest and notices that his enemy is concentrating, he may immediately initiate another exchange, as above. {Huh? Concentrating on what? This doesn’t make much sense.}

Either combatant may use the Feint maneuver to attempt to end the lull and provoke another exchange. The feint is rolled normally. If the attempt succeeds, a new exchange begins on the next turn (with the attacker gaining normal bonuses from his successful feint). If it fails, the defender has the option of beginning a new exchange, starting on the same turn as the feint attempt, or he may allow the lull to proceed normally. {I’ll probably rework this, but still have some way to end a lull prematurely.}

Interruptions


If a third combatant enters the fight during a lull, the lull immediately ends, and there will be no more lulls until the odds are again one-on-one. If the loner in a two-on-one battle removes one of his foes, there is an immediate lull while the combatants who are left adjust to the new situation.

If a character is fighting two opponents, and an ally comes to his aid, the fight immediately becomes two one-on-one battles, with lulls and exchanges rolled normally for each.

On a successful Vision roll, a combatant who sees a new enemy coming to the aid of his foe may initiate combat on the round before the second opponent arrives, giving him one extra round of even odds. {Or I think if he sees the other opponent coming more than a second off he can end the lull prematurely, as above.}

If a combatant is wounded, for any reason, during a lull, his opponent may begin a new exchange on the next round. There is no bonus for circling for position {or as determined by the Evaluate maneuver}, but the wounded character takes normal penalties for shock.

Ranged Combat and Snipers {Not particularly germane for this game, but might have its place with a bowman.}

Lulls only occur during ranged combat if all combatants are under cover or concealment. When a lull ends, two combatants are considered to be simultaneously exposed enough to exchange shots at one another. The duration of exchanges is not rolled randomly in ranged combat; instead the exchange continues until one or both of the combatants returns to full cover.

An unengaged character with a ready missile weapon may attempt “sniper fire” to aid an ally engaged in a melee. Before firing into a hand-to-hand battle, however, the shooter must roll 1d. On a 1-3, he has a clear shot, and may fire normally at his chosen target. However, on a 4-6 his ally is in the way, and he does not have a clear shot. If he does not have a clear shot, but chooses to fire anyway, his shot is at -5. Furthermore, if he fails his modified skill roll by more than 5, his missile strikes his ally (the ally may defend normally).

Example: Jak wishes to fire an arrow at the zombie attacking his friend Jil. Jak has a Bow skill of 15, and -2 for range, for a modified skill of 13. His bow is readied. He rolls 1d and gets a 5 – he does not have a clear shot. If he decides to shoot anyway, he must roll an 8 or less to hit. If he rolls between 9 and 13, his arrow will miss, and if he rolls 14 or higher, his arrow will hit Jil.

The chances for a clear shot are modified by 1 for each additional combatant in the fight. Whether the modifier is positive or negative depends on whether the extra combatants are on the firer’s side or not. The more potential targets available, the better the chance for a clear shot. For example, if the firer’s ally is being attacked by two foes, he will have a clear shot on a roll of 1-4 on 1d, but if three of his friends are attacking a single enemy, he will have a clear shot only on a roll of 1. No matter what the odds, however, chances for a clear shot are never worse than 1 in 6 or better than 5 in 6. {If using mapped combat, it should be clear whether there is a clear shot or not, although a random element could be introduced with the combatants circling each other and moving in a random way.}

Example


Ivan and Rodney are two 150-point swordsmen. One day in the woods they’re ambushed by three Minotaurs. Rodney and one of the Minotaurs pair off, while Ivan has to defend himself against the other two.

The GM rolls the duration of Rodney’s first exchange on 2d – a 5. Ivan’s first exchange will last until he falls or he loses one of his opponents. Ivan begins to All-Out Defend.

Five rounds later Rodney’s opponent is severely wounded, but still fighting. Ivan is slightly wounded, and still All-Out Defending. The GM declares a lull in Rodney’s fight, but Rodney, wishing to rush to the aid of his friend, decides to press the fight. He easily wins his Will roll against the stupid Minotaur, and the GM rolls for another exchange on 1d (it comes out to 4 seconds). Rodney and his opponent both take 1 point of Fatigue. Two rounds later, Rodney finishes off his foe and rushes to join Ivan.

Rodney attacks one of Ivan’s opponents. The GM rolls 1d for an exchange for Rodney (5), and 1d for a lull for Ivan (6). Five rounds later the GM rolls a lull for Rodney (4).

Ivan is wounded, and wants Rodney’s help again. When his lull ends, he sees Rodney is also at a lull in his fight, and tries to stall. He succeeds, and the GM rolls another lull for Ivan (5 seconds). Rodney finishes off his opponent on round 3 of Ivan’s lull, and rushes to his friend’s aid. The Minotaur, surprisingly, makes his Vision roll, and restarts the combat the round before Rodney arrives. He manages to hit Ivan before Rodney arrives, knocking him unconscious.

Rodney and the Minotaur pair off, and the GM rolls their first exchange on 2d. It comes to 6 seconds, but Rodney’s having a good day, and only needs 3. He finishes off the Minotaur and helps his injured friend back to safety.
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Re: House Rule - Lulls

Post by Agent Tash on Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:37 pm

I think this is a burdensome and unmanageable addition. I agree that lulls in combat are very realistic in real life, but are inappropriate in GURPS.

My first objection, albeit a minor one, is the compendium II rules as given do not take certain 4th edition rules into account that naturally encourage lulls. Namely the evaluate maneuver. This melee "aim" give to hit bonuses for every turn spent using a step and evaluate action. This can be more important for low skill combatants. High skill combatant then control the flow of combat and prevent lower skilled fighters from waiting too long.

My second and principle objection is to the idea of individual one on one fights happening concurrently during a battle being treated as separate combats with separate rolls for lull timing and duration. This is a very large book-keeping endeavor for already complex fights. If one pair lulls early, that may result in a player being effectively shut out of a long battle until the overall fight is decided. Complex fights often take a long time per round, and that leaves a player lounging around doing nothing at the table, loosing interest and browsing a smart phone waiting for the lull to end.

The gritty reality of combat should give way at some point to encouraging engagement at the table, and not overburdening the records-keeping beyond what adds to the excitement of the fight, and lulls are just not exciting.
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Re: House Rule - Lulls

Post by Casey on Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:23 am

I agree with much of what you say about the complexity. However, if the playing group were small, maybe one or two players, I think that even though the GM has one more thing he needs to keep track of, he could manage quite well by scribbling notes on a sheet of paper. If the group were larger though, he would have to come up with a good method to cope with the large amount of data. One would be to have an assistant GM take care of all the paperwork, which would speed things up tremendously, and give that player something to do during his lulls.  Wink Another possibility would be to create a lull flowsheet, and keep track of the rounds, the characters, who is in a lull and who is not.

As for the Evaluate maneuver, how many times in the decade that we have played 4th Edition has that been actually used by a PC? Once? Maybe? I think that by using the lull system that aspect of combat could be fleshed out. Instead of (essentially) taking the Do Nothing maneuver during lulls, combatants could instead be taking the Evaluate maneuver, each gaining perspective for the attack when the lull ends. That would be something I would like to address in the house rules to make it dovetail better with the Evaluate maneuver.

As for a player being shut out of a battle, I don’t think that that would happen. Combat rounds would go by quicker if there were fewer characters in active combat. Presuming a numerically equal fight, after the first exchange half of the party, on average, would be engaged and the other half would not at any given time. This would speed up the game time each combat round would take on average. Instead of a player taking his action and then waiting for everyone else to finish theirs, players would have part of the combat in the limelight, so to speak. Yes, the other half they would be waiting around, but in a combat that lasts, say, an hour, the total time that player is engaged will be about the same. As far as players losing interest mid-combat, I think that with a few exceptions (ahem, Marc, ahem), our players are fully emotionally engaged throughout the combats, even if their character is not doing much at the time (knocked out, still asleep, name rhymes with Schmal, etc).

And as far as promoting “fun” over “realism”, you’re wrong! We don’t play GURPS to have fun! We do it to demonstrate a reality based confrontation! If you’re not using calculus during your combats, you’re doing it wrong! I want a full PDOF analysis of your slam attack BEFORE you make that DX roll!!!  Razz

But like I said at the beginning of this post, I agree with what you say. The execution of lulls could be demanding, and it might detract from the enjoyment of the game. I’m not pressing for this though, and wouldn’t do it anyway unless it had been playtested to our satisfaction and players actually wanted to do it.
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Re: House Rule - Lulls

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:32 pm

I don't think I'll take Milamber's position of stating the rules are cumbersome and should therefore be chucked into the nearest bin. I do think these rules would add a certain level of realism to the fighting. Any good war movie or Samurai epic are full of scenes where the fighters in question circle each other like sharks attempting to draw and press their opponents into a position that will make them more vulnerable to a salvo or sword thrust. While I will admit these rules are lengthy and may take some time to learn, I am not afraid of the complexity. The heavier the complexity, the better, I say.

With that said, I do have a single reservation I'd like to address.

I'm not sure about the roll involved in determining the lull period. On a 2d roll, the average roll comes to 7-9. Having played in numerous GURPS combat scenarios, initial combat usually does not last that long. Granted, every once in a while we have a hard battle to be won, but I think most combat situations would not reach that primary lull stage. Perhaps shrinking the roll to 1d+3 or something would ensure lulls to occur more frequently. And the more the lulls occur, the easier it will be for us to absorb the rules for better gameplay in the future.


That's about all I have to say.

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Re: House Rule - Lulls

Post by Casey on Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:37 pm

Alright. One against and one for...

We'll playtest this, and see if we like it. If it slows down combat too much or we just don't like it, we're not going to use it.

I think that a couple of consequences of this might be to give the faster fighter (i.e. the one with the highest Basic Move) a tiny advantage. If the combat lasts long enough to include several lulls, he'll be the first one to attack each time. Also, it will make fatigue somewhat more important, if one fighter wishes to press through lulls and the other one does not.
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Re: House Rule - Lulls

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:50 pm

So let it be written. So let it be role-played. farao farao
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