View Full Version : Game Mechanic: Attack Areas

2011-06-26, 11:03 PM
This is something that I have not really heard much about. Granted, implemening such a system would really add a level of complexity to the system, would is something that most casual gamers tend to keep away from.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to explain what it is I'm even talking about:
I was playing some good ol' D&D when something like the following happened.

Player: "He's still swinging his spear above his head, right?"
DM: "Yup."
Player: "And he's not wearing armor?"
DM: "Just fur leggings and a loin cloth. His bare chest is sticking out, a sign of great courage in his tribe "
Player: *rolls* Alright, success! I stick my dagger right in his heart and kill him!"
DM: "WHAT?! You can't just kill him like that!"
Player: "But you just said he's still swinging his spear up above his head! I'm a highly-trained assassin with my dagger already in my hand! There's no way he'd be able to dodge a point-blank attack like that when he's pinned in the corner, let alone have time to bring down his spear for a block!"
DM: "I...I guess you have a point there, but that's really bending the rules. The book says nothing about the position of the weapon having any effect on the creature's ability to block attacks."
Player: "Well, they should!"

Now, I think we'll all agree that letting the player kill the trial warrior outright like that would be a tad ridiculous, especially considering that he still had a ton of hit points left, but the bit about his stance and the position of his weapon does raise a valid point.

I think that the best way to do something like this would be something like a fighting game: melee attacks are either high, medium, or low. However, this would suggest adapting a guard stance after each attack. The obvious drawback to this is that enemies would simply attack the areas that you are not guarding, thus making the entire mechanic more or less useless.

A better approach would be to use a power system like 4e's "at-will" attacks, but give each character at least one high, medium, and low attack, each putting the character in a position to guard a certain ytpe of attack. For example, a rogue might spring up from a crouch with a slash at the thighs, which would be a low attack, but it would leave him in a good position to block medium attacks, since he is now standing perfectly upright. However, this again turns into an odd rock-paper-scissors game, though one slightly more enjoyable than the previous exmple.

Have any of you ever given any thought to something like this? Is there a way to use this effectively, and in a way that doesn't turn into a game of being forced to attack wherever the opponent's atack left him open?
Unless...your stance or whatever only granted [I]bonuses[I] to defence against attacks to that area. Instead of "Hey, he's open here!", it would be more like "****, he can easily block an attack to there, so I'll have to take my chances with an attack to either here or here..."

Alright, I think I just answered my own question, but anyway, what do you think about all of this?

2011-06-27, 12:17 AM
Personally, if I were to implement something like this, (and I have before) your route is probably the farthest from what I would take. In the past, I just used a AC-mod based 'call shot' system.

Players would say, "I'm going to try to cut his achilles tendon and cripple him."

That would add an arbitrary number to the AC of their enemy, with additional situational modifiers up to DM discretion. It is a fairly simple system, that allows the DM to modify the stats for extremely difficult situations, or easy ones, and if absolutely necessary, fudge results to avoid one-shotting a BBEG. I just created a list of target areas and their respective bonuses to AC. So saying, "I'm going to try to shoot the dragon in they eye from 500 ft. away while he is flying," would have a very large modifier. It isn't for everyone, but it more-or-less does what you're asking without a huge and complex change to the combat system like you're suggesting.

When I used it, I essentially allowed players to choose the effect they were reaching for. So when an enemy had his achilles cut, he was crippled and couldn't move more than 5 ft. per round. I just handed out the penalties as I saw fit, which worked for my players. If it doesn't work for yours, then you may need to write out a table of which areas specifically you can target and what the result is.

2011-06-27, 01:57 AM
Go look into Burning Wheel. Specifically the Fight! (http://www.burningwheel.org/wiki/index.php?title=Downloads#Fight.21_Action_Matrix) system in Burning Wheel.

It is, in essence, a simultaneous combat system with a multitude of different combat actions and combat interactions. If both people script attack at the same time, bad things happen. If one scrips great strike and the other scrips lock, odds are good the great striker is in serious trouble.

To use your example, what would have happened* is essentially the spear wielder scripting great strike, countered by the assassin's get inside. What this means, mechanically, is that the assassin has a pretty solid chance of having slipped inside spear reach and at dagger reach when the spear was lifted, which means that the spear guy is in serious trouble. Sure, its not an instant heart shot -there are ways to defend against the dagger lunge even when cornered, the easiest of which is probably to shift downward and quickly spread your stance to interpose the spear quickly, or possibly to simply bring the shaft down for a block- but it takes the way the fighting is going into account, and gives the advantage where it is needed.

*I am going by memory, and simplifying some, so this is likely wrong in several places.

2011-06-27, 09:28 AM
Even if he's swinging his spear above his head (which may still provoke an AoO), he should be able to dodge to some extent to make it miss his heart. (If he can't, then it would of course be a sneak attack, with all that implies.)

In D&D, it's rare that your main approach to countering an attack is blocking with a weapon; when it is, it's usually because you're using a defensive style which wouldn't allow that sort of opening. So unless you use it as shield against weapon, it's not likely to be relevant.

Zeta Kai
2011-06-27, 12:19 PM
Regardless of the vagarities of the situation, the palyer was trying to gain an insane advantage when the rules do not support it. The player was pretending that his opponent was helpless, & that coup de gras was being performed, which is like trying to do a forensic autopsie on a man high on PCP. Called shots need to be agreed upon previously, or they just plain don't count.