Author Topic: Detailed questions about how combat works in MotW  (Read 271 times)

StormKnight

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Detailed questions about how combat works in MotW
« on: June 16, 2017, 06:23:01 AM »
I feel like the overall goal of the combat rules in MotW is fairly clear; to provide a mechanism for characters to hurt each other, defend others from harm, and escape from or otherwise end combat if desired.

1) How do PCs declare actions in combat? Should:
* All the PCs declare what they are doing, and then start rolling/resolving in a logical order?
* Pick a logical PC to go "first", have them declare what they are doing, roll and resolve it, then move to the next logical person?

2) How often should NPCs "act" or make a move? In between every PC move? When a PC move fails? When every PC has had a chance to do something?

3) Should every PC generally get a chance to do something, or will situations sometimes have one PC taking several "turns" in a row?

4) When multiple PCs are attacking a single foe, how many should have to "Kick Some Ass" and take damage in return, and how many should just get to inflict damage as the monster is unable to fight back?

5) How do you handle highly unconventional "attacks", such as collapsing the roof on a foe? How much damage should something like that do?

6) What if a character that is attacking from a safe position (Ie, shooting from a distance at a foe with no ranged weapon) really wants to be able to get benefits that you could get from a 10+ on a roll? For example, let's say a monster has Armor 3 and the PC has a gun that does 3 damage. If you just allow the PC to deal damage, the shot bounces off the armor. But if they got to make a roll, they could get a 10+ and choose to do one extra point of damage and bypass the armor.

7) What if a PC attacks a foe who is capable of defending themselves, but the GM feels they'd rather do something other than hurting the PC right now. Should you substitute another effect for the foe dealing damage back? Handle that as a separate set of moves?

Munin

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Re: Detailed questions about how combat works in MotW
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2017, 02:38:22 AM »
1. I know this might not be helpful, but it really depends on your style and the situation. But here are some handy rules of thumb I use:
  • Whoever speaks first goes first
  • If more than one person wants to do something at the same time and those things don't conflict, have them all declare their intended actions before resolving anything
  • If someone wants to wait to see the outcome of another player's action, that's totally cool, but waiting can have its own risks - look to the fiction for ideas for ways to complicate things for them
  • If someone hasn't already spoken, ask them what they're doing - this can happen before or after other rolls have happened, but it's important to keep everyone involved
  • The more chaotic the situation is, the more I'll jump around between people
  • If two PCs are going head-to-head, always give the one who didn't speak first the chance to interfere, and once the first player's move is resolved, always give them the chance to respond with an action or move of their own as the very next thing that happens

2. Again, this is going to depend largely on the fiction. In general, the more dangerous the foe, the more often I'm going to have them act. A particularly fast or vicious foe might very well do something between every PC action. A slower, less dangerous foe might take actions more slowly, letting several PCs "go" before it takes action.

That said, making a move on a PC miss is always an option - just be aware that it might be the monster doing something (lashing out with a damaging attack, etc) or it could simply be the Keeper complicating the situation (you realize your gun is hopelessly jammed and won't be of any more use to you in this fight).

One thing that will help here is simply experience; you'll start to get a feel for how lethal your PCs are and know how often to have the monster act in order to convey the relative "difficulty" of a particular encounter. If your PCs are mowing through the opposition without breaking a sweat, kick up the frequency with which you take actions on behalf of the monsters.

Finally, monsters aren't stupid. Even if they're not intelligent, they probably exhibit some kind of low, animal cunning. Nobody is going to stand there like a dope while everyone attacks them. As such, you should always be looking for good ways the monsters can limit how many people are attacking them at once. Launching a vicious ambush and then fading away before more than one or two PCs have a chance to respond is totally cool and super unnerving. Likewise, using the terrain to limit the PCs is fun (narrow sewer tunnels being a perpetual fave).

3. There are some situations in which a PC might take multiple actions in quick succession (for instance, doing something under pressure to slip, dodge, duck, and weave in past the mass of flailing tentacles before whipping out your enchanted sword and kicking some ass against the monster's actual body). But generally speaking, if it's reasonable to assume that a particular action is going to take some time to accomplish, then it's cool to give other PCs (or even the monster!) an opportunity to do stuff in between the "multiple steps" of another PC's actions.

But for the most part, I like to do things more or less one at a time because I feel like it makes for better narrative flow and leaves "mini-cliffhangers" in the fight (you're past the tentacles and ready to go to town with your enchanted sword; salivating to finally kick some ass, the anticipation as Davis tries to free the virgin from the sacrificial altar before the cultists finish the ritual is killing you!).

4. Everything depends on the monster. If it's slow or weak, then sure, it might get easily overwhelmed; other PCs might simply get to inflict harm on it, no roll necessary. But if that monster is fast or tricksy or has multiple methods of lashing out at the PCs, then everyone is at risk and everyone had better be putting their dice on the line.

5. In general, I gauge it the same way as other harm; is it like getting shot by a handgun? then 2 harm is appropriate. A shotgun or assault rifle? Maybe 3 is appropriate. Being in the blast of a grenade or getting hit by a moving vehicle? 4 harm is not out of the question. Having a roof collapse on you is pretty fucking bad, so I'd probably go 3 or 4 harm. I don't know if MotW has guidelines for falling damage, but those are usually a pretty good gauge for unconventional harm too.

6. As mentioned in the other thread, everything depends on the move's trigger. Look at the trigger condition for kick some ass - if what the player is doing sounds like the trigger, make the roll. If not, don't. Yes, the player may want to get the 10+ result, but if they don't trigger the move then no dice ("Yeah, you hit it with your rifle, but damn, the hide on that thing is tough. You're not even sure you drew blood. You're going to have to try something else to kill this thing.")

Also, for what it's worth, a one-sided application of harm (i.e. shooting at someone who can't shoot back) in AW is NOT the equivalent of kicking some ass, but rather going aggro, a completely separate move with a different trigger and different effects. MotW may make a similar distinction.

7. See above. I'd be surprised if MotW didn't have an analog for go aggro.

Mike Sands

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Re: Detailed questions about how combat works in MotW
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2017, 11:17:00 AM »
7. See above. I'd be surprised if MotW didn't have an analog for go aggro.

For the Apocalypse World 2 "sucker someone" - i.e. "go aggro" when the target can't do anything - the target just has to suck it up. Monster of the Week doesn't have a player move for that exactly, but the Keeper move "inflict harm as established" does the job.

So yeah, if a target doesn't defend themselves... they just take harm. (And it does not trigger "kick some ass").

Paul T.

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Re: Detailed questions about how combat works in MotW
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 07:39:19 PM »
Some more details/answers, attempting this from a more practical angle:

1) How do PCs declare actions in combat? Should:
* All the PCs declare what they are doing, and then start rolling/resolving in a logical order?
* Pick a logical PC to go "first", have them declare what they are doing, roll and resolve it, then move to the next logical person?

The second way is the more "standard" way to run PbtA games, and presumably Monster of the Week is no exception. You don't run a combat any differently than you do an investigation scene. ("Hey, Bob, we haven't heard from you in a while. What do you want to do?")

Your job as the MC is to pass the spotlight around; use both successes and failures to do this. For instance, one character failing to do something might put another PC in a tough spot, or - on the other hand - give them an opportunity. ("You shot the sheriff dead? Ok, he slumps over, and his men are totally at a loss for a moment, unsure what to do. Bob, for a moment they're no longer paying attention to you. What do you do?")

However - just like in regular talking or investigation scenes - sometimes it becomes tough to track everything, or people's action declarations depend on what others are doing. Or you're just having trouble (as a group) making sure everyone gets a chance to do something. In those circumstances, it's OK to stop play for a second and ask everyone what they're doing all at once, then resolve in the order which seems natural and/or logical.

The Dungeon World fan guide (http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=4996.0) explains this really well, with examples.

2) How often should NPCs "act" or make a move? In between every PC move? When a PC move fails? When every PC has had a chance to do something?

It's somewhat up to you. Again, no different than any other kind of scene - generally, they will do so when a PC fails a move, or when everyone's looking at you to see what happens next. Just like how you would handle when an NPC speaks or does something in a non-combat scene.

3) Should every PC generally get a chance to do something, or will situations sometimes have one PC taking several "turns" in a row?

Generally I would lean towards everyone having a chance to do something, but follow what feels natural first and foremost - sometimes that could mean a player "acting" several times in a row.

4) When multiple PCs are attacking a single foe, how many should have to "Kick Some Ass" and take damage in return, and how many should just get to inflict damage as the monster is unable to fight back?

It depends on the fictional setup and the foe. How many people can it realistically fight back against? Those are the ones who will have to roll. Make sure you communicate this to the players early ("the thing's got tentacles lashing everywhere! You get close and they can get you..."), and let them change their action if you didn't.

6) What if a character that is attacking from a safe position (Ie, shooting from a distance at a foe with no ranged weapon) really wants to be able to get benefits that you could get from a 10+ on a roll? For example, let's say a monster has Armor 3 and the PC has a gun that does 3 damage. If you just allow the PC to deal damage, the shot bounces off the armor. But if they got to make a roll, they could get a 10+ and choose to do one extra point of damage and bypass the armor.

A bit of a funny spot in the rules, admittedly. I like to justify this kind of thing in fictional terms. ("The thing is tough; you can't see a weak spot anywhere. Maybe if you could draw its attention into a one-on-one confrontation with you, you might be able to create an opening for yourself. Do you want to?")

When you can't hurt something, that's a cue for the player to approach it as a puzzle - "How can I turn this situation to my advantage? What else can I try?". That's much more fun than trying to roll for a +1.

(The others have been answered already.)