View Full Version : The ultimate balanced game world

2007-04-14, 05:13 AM
(This thread is going to sound a little home-brewish, but nothing I write here is set in stone and most of the content is sparse and sketchy. Its more of a conuundrum, a riddle that I've been working on, and everything below are my findings and attempts to solve that riddle.

I've been thinking, most fantasy games have a problem with balancing weapons with magic (see the never-ending fighter/wizard debate). But in Magepunk, Shadowrun, Warcraft, and recent Final Fantasy games, there is another thing to content with: Guns. Now, I've become convinced that if have a world where a Martial artist whose mastered many kinds of weapons, an expert sharpshooter, and a Mage with a library of spellbooks are equally powerful (at least in combat) and have different weakpoints the other two characters can exploit (but not too easily. I'm a bit of a fan of the idea of changing Save-or-Lose spells being more like the caster and the target grappling with their minds until the caster "pins" the mind of his Dominate Person victim.) would be a world where most archetypes across genres where assured.

Before I start talking about a hypothetical system that can balance such attack types, so ground assumptions need to be made:

-The goal of this excersice is to balance magic, martial arts that include Eastern and Western styles and the weapons used in those styles, and technological weapons like Bombs and Guns
-This system could ideally be a point-buy system, where you don't level up in a specific class, but rather exchange experience points for stats, skills, spells, and special abilities
-One of the barriers to balancing the last two subjects is that technology marched on and most gunpowder weapons were developed after a great reduction in viable melee weapons and have replaced all other projectile weapons on the battlefield
-Some weapons that have been used in fantasy and pulp and other genres were never even meant to be used as weapons, but were designed entirely to be cool or scary looking, or they were really tools that maybe, *maybe* could be improvised as weapons. "Ceremonial weapons" they are called and in some cases perfectly good weapons become Ceremonial weapons simply because they are produced in an age they are no longer used, like a sabre owned by a United States Marine. (see Musashi's Design Theory rant: weapons chapter (http://www.mu.ranter.net/theory/weapons.html) for my details)
-Shadowrun has some futuristic versions of melee weapons and pre-industrial projectiles weapons, in addition to magic. It also has armor and penalizes
-As for the attack type we listed first (magic), that we wish to balance, I'll let someone else do the talking:

]Another problem is the way that magic is approached by a typical RPG designer. Having resigned himself to the idea that magic just makes things happen for no good reason, he cannot stop himself from turning magic into an all-inclusive overwhelming technological advantage. Magic becomes air superiority, rifled barrels, and force fields, all in one package. Small wonder then that almost every character in any MMORPG is considered gimped unless he is a mage to some extent. Btw, read his magic section (http://www.mu.ranter.net/theory/magic.html), too. (or not, This is a long post with too many links, so I understand.) Anyway, the point is, magic ends up doing to many things, but they have largely counter balanced in the history of RPGs by considerations like: requiring Verbal and Somatic components, limited use of spells, and preventing magic users from wearing armor. The problem is, however, magic, threatens technology, including the development of melee weapons, so if mages become to common, or the mages that exist are able to spread their powers around so that enough peoples' lives are positively affected by their magic, certain things won't be developed. Before guns there was archery, before archery there were slings, before slings there were javelins, and before javelins there were thrown rocks. And theres the fact that weapons were made from progressively better material from the Stone age to the Bronze age to the Iron age. If you just make your entire tribe of cavemen Sorcerers, this threatens the later developments they could make. Make thier magic sufficently diverse and powerful and they will invent *nothing*. So is magic that diverse and powerful from how we understand it? The only thing no 20th level Wizard, Druid, or Cleric can do is change the past or grant immortality.
-Therefore, limited the scope of magic is important, and making attacks and other actions that require skill in the martial arts, technology, and magic balanced will require dictating that each categories is sufficently different so that they can play critical roles in the right situation.
-Also, within the three categories, its worth balancing all attack types, just because not only might someone bring a sword to a gunfight, but possibly *nothing* but their hands to a swordfight.
-Its worth deciding before hand the setting's technological standards, and factoring in magic after you are done figuring out what weapons are like.

Any way, here is how I've attempted to deal with the problem (The following rules allude to some poorly-established stats. This system is far from complete, so much so that most of what you see is):

Martial Arts
You're the best, arooound, nothin' ever gonna keep you down...
-The term "Martial Arts" brings to mind an image of flying kicks, aerial flips, the touch of death, and Austin Powers shouting out "Judo-CHOP!" whilst actually Judo chopping a minion:smallannoyed:. But Martial arts include really, every fighting style that ever existed in history, including european swordplay and horseback fighting (http://www.aemma.org/), boxing, wrestling, special forces training, French Savate, and basically any training with non-trigger weapons counts as martial arts.
-Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game is an out-of-print RPG by White Wolf that was actually quite good with its combat system. You bought special maneuvers (a lot, but not all, of which came from Street Fighter 2. They did a good job of translating those moves into a balanced RPG.) Sadly, the supplement books to Street Fighter break the game. Anyway, copying SF:STG lets assume that you buy special maneuvers based off of one of six techniques (skills that are wholly related to how much you've practiced in one form of fighting or another: Punch (hand techniques including headbutts and elbows), Kick (leg techniques, Block (Generic defensive techniques. You cannot move when you block, no matter what the nature of that block is. SF: STG had most blocks give a bonus to speed on your next maneuver.), Acrobatics (which improves aerial movement and allows you to learn various skills like Wall-jumping and evading projectiles. This technique did not exist in Street Fighter, but many of its coresponding maneuvers existed under the Athletics line), Athletics (Determines the damage for body slams, teaches you how to use certain maneuvers when climbing, prone on the ground, or underwater, and how fast you move on ground and in water) Grab (Grappling and Throwing techniques. Defeats Blocks, but has restricted movement, you have to enter you're opponents hex, and -typically-low speed. Sustained holds keep you in place and deals damage, but you have a chance to break free if you're strong enough, and these holds are limited to a maximum determined by the Grab technique. Click this link to learn about the Mr. Jab counter-measure and Musashi's house rule which allows Mr. Jab but gives the archetypically slow-moving wrestler a fair shake so he isn't totally screwed! (http://www.mu.ranter.net/rpg/rulescombat.html#misterjab))
-I wrote house rules for weapons in that system (even though I never really completed the attacks you could do with those weapons). Anyway, I've broken down melee weapons into four different categories by themselves. (Club weaponss include axes, hammers, and maces, Blades include Fans, knives and swords, Polearms include reach weapons like spears and quarterstaffs, and Rope weapons include nunchucks, whips, Ball-and-chains, and whatever that thing is that comes out of Scorpion's hand)
-Throwing technique allows you to throw small melee weapons and specially-designed projectiles like shurikens. Shurikens and darts can be thrown in quick succession in one turn with little reload time.
-Archery attacks are slow, and leave you vulnerable, and bows are weak to sundering, but you have a long range, can poison/set aflame arrows, and using Zen Archery can hit oppoents in heavy concealment.
-Projectile weapons from Martial arts are usually quite silent, even the crossbow (a tech weapon) goes "Twang!" when you pull the trigger.
-There used to be a Focus technique in the STG, but I left it out because the things that aren't too much like magic can be emulated by using chakra (detailed near the bottom of this post).
-I've decided to split the Athletics technique (which dictated many factors like how much damage body slam-like maneuvers did and how far your character can move in one turn) into two. Athletics evil twin is called Acrobatics. There's not much reason to do this, I just want aerial attacks to be their own seperate school. Also, some things that were in the Focus technique list of maneuvers, like Balance and Musical accompainment (which boosts your power if a particular music is playing. Kinda like Bardic music, only you buff yourself if outside music is present.)
-In addition to points you have in the a fighting technique, your prowess in martial arts is also improved by Strength, and the Dexterity/Agility stat is likely to help in some facets too. More than any other grouping, Physical stats are highly important.
-Every character is likely to invest in Athletics sometime, just to move faster.

She blinded me with science!
-Tech uses skills more than attributes, being a tech-heavy character means knowing how to create, use, and carefully disable certain machines, but if you are without your tools or out of ammo, you are just hosed.
-Tech includes the ability to set and disarm traps, and pick locks, so if you were looking for a rogue character, spend a few points in tech.
-Crossbows, Bombs, and Guns do a set amount of damage, kind of like Shadowrun weapons (but then again, shadowrunners had a set amount of Hit points, too)
-Firearms in a pre-industrial setting are a bit innaccurate and take a long time to load. By the time of a western setting, theres a six-shooter. 1920s-WWII has the first machine guns. Present day guns are ridiculously numberous.
-In a modern game (or similar), a techie might be able to build and control Robots.
-Tech includes different gadgets, not just weapons, like climbing gloves, cybernetic enhancements, tools that aid skills, and anything you can create with the Engineering skill in World of Warcraft.
-For a medieval game, all one has to do to justify explosives is point to the bombs in the legend of Zelda games (Actually a lot of Link's tools can be counted as tech items, including: the clawshot, Zora flippers, that cannon that shot bombs in the Wind Waker, the mole mitts, and the Roc's cape from the minish cap could be said to be a type of hang glider, couldn't it? Also you could coat your armor with a reflective substance to create something like the mirror shield, so you can stand up to casters! For balancing this mirror substance, simply say the substance is as fragile as it is expensive to produce -which it is- and that while a shield has less ability protect you from magic and other energy attacks, reflective armor has no control and you might simply deflect the attack towards something or someone you don't want to get destroyed.)
-Trigger weapons (crossbows and guns) cannot arc like martial weapons projectiles (although the same is true of shurikens), so they cannot be shot over a shield or piece of covering (the same is true of shurikens, but you can pin a guy with shurikens)
-Tech may actually be the hardest to keep balanced when we transfer medieval

Let the bodies hit the flo'! Let the bodies hit the flo'!
-Actually, I just remembered that I wanted to get balance bewteen tech and martial arts fixed first before adding magic, so how about I come back to this later, ok? I'll still leave all that other stuff down below.
-Balancing magic is going to be tricky, because hypothetically, unless you want to say that magic scales up just like a technology, spells will be exactly the same in a medieval or modern setting, which we are trying to make rules for both types of games.

Hit points
-Loss of hit points represent damage to your body meats, via being shot, stabbed, Getting caught up in a free-for-all fight between Mr. T, Chris Rock, Chuck Norris, and a Ressurected Bruce Lee, or being scroched by a magical fireball. I might also add a relation between Hit Points and Strength (or a secondary strength attribute called natural Strength or permanent Strength-its a rather obscure and poorly documented attribute in the game world that characters with a certain merit might be able to get a discount on when buying more points for this Strength). Something without a solid body has no hit points, and also cannot manipulate solid objects (Ghosts can, however, attack a living creature that has an aura.). Ghosts can be attacked by simply dousing yourself (or your weapon if you want to fight armed) in holy water or attaching a suntra/charm or some holy symbol to the ghost (most charms are solid, but they will stick to the Ghost) and the ghost will become solid, complete with the hit points it had in life, and Mages that manifested on the ethereal plane can be hit by any martial arts weapon, including a thrown weapon or an arrow shot from a bow, but they require a roll based off of your Mental Power (or Chakra) to succeed (but an ethereal mage can leviate at will and move through solid objects, he cannot cast spells that would affect your hit points, though). A techie can also hit a ghost by lacing or crafting his bullets/crossbow bolts with silver, crafting a trap with a suntra/charm thrown in the mix before the bomb goes off works well two. Without a charm, a Ghost has 0 hit points, and any hit is an insta-kill, but Ghost just regerates until you either seal it or satisfy the need that keeps it from resting peacefully. There is a maximum number of hitpoints a character can reach, but physical damage is likewise capped off early.

Your Aura and Life Force

-Every living thing has an aura, even if it is ethereal and has no hit points(this would be an extraplanar life form that happens to have evolved on the Ethereal plane and not a Ghost, because a ghost is undead.) This aura exists in Astral Space, which connects the ethereal plane to the material plane (which explains why you can punch an ethereal living creature in the face, but not a ghost) this aura produces life energy. Death Magic, employed by Necromancers and certain undead creatures, can drain Life force away, and sometimes can add it to its own (undead that absorb life energy do not gain life force points, but put it to some other use, usually feeding on it). Life force is basically a secondary set of hit points that is damaged by negative energy, but it serves another purpose: a fraction of your remaining life force determines how many hit points you naturally heal over the course of an hour. Also, some mages drain trade their own life force for Mental Power in a process called "Blood magic." Undead of all types and Constructs do not have Life Force, for they are not alive. One fluffy thing to keep in mind is that undead have souls (thats all a ghost is) and life energy in this world does not equal a soul. After you die, you slowly start to lose life force over the course of a few days. A low-level ressurection spell can re-animate your body, but it needs your soul to be carrying life force. If you have no life force, odds are the worms are already on their way and you'll need stronger magic to resurrect. Those that become intelligent undead use up life force in the ritual that created them. Martial artists can merge Life force with Mental Power into Chakra, which has the result of increasing your pool of Life force.

Force of Will: Mental Power (Why Mind shuffling when dueling Pegasus in the Shadow Realm is a bad idea, and why 4Kids won't censor it. (http://www.dailymotion.com/LittleKuriboh/video/x1gs2f_ygo-the-abridged-series-episode-18/1)...sorry, the joke I want you to see is 7 minutes into the video, but the video's good enough to make up for it.)

Also known as Magic points. If your body exudes abstract energy called life force, this is the energy your conscious mind exudes. Your current Mental Power score also represents your ability to discern illusions, strike an ethereal opponent, and resist magical manipulation of your mind. You can also take mental damage, which reduces your MP from certain Psychonic spells that specifically target your mind, staying up to late (I think its happening to me right now), not getting enough to eat, or when you see something thats too gruesome/C'thulu-esque/maddening/disturbing that you can't stand it (don't worry, its just a little mental damage, nothing permanent-UNLESS YOU COUNT THE ENDLESS HORRIFYING NIGHTMARES!!:smalleek: ) You heal MP at 1/3 the rate you heal HP via Life Force. There is no penalty to losing all your MP (but if you are lossing it to loss of sleep, you'll collapse due to said loss of sleep-DAMN, I'M TIRED). Ghosts have nothing but MP and cannot convert that into chakra. Constructs and other mindless creatures have no MP, but cannot be affected by illusions or psychonics.

-Chakra is a unique disposable that some highly insular, religious, or just suicidal fighters have access to. After learning how to go into deep meditation, the years of study after joining the paladin's guilds, or even just going through a traumatic-enough event, a fighter can merge his or her Mental Power and Life Force into one value, called Chakra. After learning how to do it the first time, you can do it at will (but seperating them back up is the hard thing). You cannot use magic when you have converted your Mental Power into chakra, but certain abilities require Chakra to use (similar to Raging like a Barbarian, various Ninja tricks, Laying on hands like a paladin, or Infusing a weapon with raw chakra so that it can phase through any substance and cut down magic barriers. That kind of thing:smallbiggrin: ). Also, if you run out of Chakra, you die, just like you would had you run out of Life Force, but you also heal based on your remaining Chakra, would should be quite high if you haven't gotten into too difficult or too dangerous a fight. You can split your Life force and mental power back up once you've called down a bit (you split your LF and MP even, adding an odd point out to LF.). Martial Artists and that have learned to mold Chakra do not get a bonus to Discerning Illusions or fighting off mental control, that is to say, the bonuses for a high Mental Power do not increase, however, they also do not decrease until your chakra starts falling down to the number where a bonuses to those Anti-magic abilities would start to fall if the drained Chakra was the mental score. For example:

Lets say a chakra user has 20 LF and 20 MP. If he ever gets down to 10 MP, he starts to slip up and miss things like that assasin that drank a potion of invisibility.... Anyway, he merges them for 40 Chakra. After using up/lossing to damage 20 Chakra, if he splits his chakra, he will have 10 LP and 10 MP, and start slipping up, but not if he keeps his 20 chakra. If he gets down to 10 Chakra, he will suffer those penalties, however.

2007-04-14, 04:29 PM
Tech Vs. Martial Arts or "Bringing a Sword to a Gunfight"

This is the only fight that can ever happen in RL, so lets look at what that historically looks like. Lets look at historically musket, because right up to the civil war, people used sabres when they were only competing with muskets:

Primitive guns on the Battlefield: Throught history, groups of soldiers armed with a ranged weapon did not aim, they shot off volleys all at one time (so instead of Ready-Aim-Fire, it was simply, Ready-Fire.) In a one-on-one fight, or a chaotic one where you're worried about hitting your friends, this philosphy of ranged weapon fighting sucks, in formation-on-formation fighting, the idea is that ALL those projectiles have to hit SOMEONE (and they did, so much so that armies had lightly armored troops they could afford to lose next to heavy infantry that was more valuable-and a prime target for archers, by the way.) The thing was, the archer/slinger/whathaveyou was defensively weak when melee troops reached him and he couldn't shoot over his shoulder while running away (Horseback archers could do stuff like that, since the horse was doing all the running. But regular archery is hard enough to learn, many cultures didn't want to know nothing about learning no Horseback archery.) Muskets were no better, and since you had to clean your musket after ever shot but before you pour in the new pouch of gunpowder they had a long reloading time (but boy, did they pack a punch). Still, hey, these were the weapons the American Revelutionary war was fought on.

Primitive guns on a small-team mission (aka an adventuring party): Lets take a look at a crossbow user in D&D, which is a perfect example of a strength-less, tech-oriented weapon, just like the gun (which we are getting to). The crossbow is a weapon anyone can use, it has a higher damage die than the longbow, and its independant of strength. To the newbie, the question becomes "why would anyone dump the heavy crossbow for the longbow?" We could simply tell him that manyshot is simply sexier than Rapid reload, but we could also say that a 1d8 +2 from a mighty composite longbow is better than a 1d10, there is no such thing as an Oathcrossbow, AND manyshot is simply sexier than Rapid reload. And that is why the crossbow eventually takes a backseat to the longbow in D20. The historical crossbow, however, has a few advantages over the longbow, as covered by shadwolf (http://www.mu.ranter.net/theory/weapons.html#archer2):

There is an important concept known as the military crest of a hill. If you place missile troops atop a hill, they can kill enemies at range, but anyone coming up the hill is sheltered from their fire. The modern response is to place your troops slightly down the slope of the hill. In the case of archers, this is often difficult to accomplish with any sort of discipline. Gunmen can crouch or go prone with ease, but an archer has to stand on this uneven ground in some attempt at a formation. When defending himself, he gains less advantage from the higher ground than a melee fighter would.

An archer as a solo character had additional problems. A bow cannot be carried strung for any length of time. Doing so weakens the arms of the bow. Stringing one is a difficult process and cannot be accomplished in a crisis situation. It is doubtful the enemy would stop and wait for a minute while you string your bow. Additionally you can only fight targets that are at a significant range. The common historical response for an archer to close combat was to throw your bow at the enemy to give you an extra second to draw a knife. There are also several historical stories of archers attempting to use an arrow as a dagger. Most of these stories end with a dead archer.

You have a longer reload time, but a gun/crossbow has none of these problems (except perhaps the significant range part). Also martial arts include throwing weapons, but those have short range and using shurikens as a melee weapon has a reach problem as well (but hey, you can shank an unarmed, unsuspecting guy.) Now keep in mind that if you have a safe position to fight from, and fight in a group, a historically accurate ranged weapon won't be totally useless.

Primitive armor and guns: The medieval handgun was grossly inaccurate, which is why guns didn't immediately threaten the conventional knight in plate armor. The crossbow was more popular due to this better accuracy. Fully articulaculated plate armor was made of tougher stuff to counteract the first improvements in gun accuracy, but by the time the cannon rolled until the battlefield, plate armor started covering less and less of the body and the knight in shining armor disappeared due to a lack of battlefield demand for expensive armor that just didn't protect you as well thanks to technological advancement. But the time musket-like arms and accurate single-shot pistols were in stock, only a very few plate armor users wore more than an open-faced helmet and a breastplate. Modern armor is more like bullet-proof vests and armored vehicles, like tanks.

Now on, to the fight:

Lets create a diverse team of four trained warriors to take on our machines before we continue.

1) An assasian that specializes in Archery with poison arrows
2) A master of multiple unarmed fighting styles
3) A heavily armoured Knight that fights with a Ball-and-chain
4) A Ninja weapons master


1) a Musket user
2) A hang-gliding man who drops bombs from the sky
3) a cannon manned, operated, and cleaned by four men
4) a prototype machine gun (like what was seen in the last Samurai or Ruroni Kenshin)

In what arena:

1) tech side gets high ground
2) Martial side gets high ground
3) rough terrain with lets of cover
4) an open field

Lets roll a d4 of each chart and see who fights whom:

Fist fighter vs. Cannon (which is mounted on top of a rocky cliff)
Knight (running downhill) vs. Prototype machine gun
Ninja vs. Musketeer in a crowded space
Archer vs. Bomb thrower in an open field

hmm... these fights deserve their own post.

BTW, I'm sorry for all editing I've done since I first created this thread.

2007-04-17, 12:09 AM
Round 1: Karateka vs. Cannon

Time period: Modern
Setting: A gritty campaign in the near-future United States where a certain political party loss their ability to pass legislation to further their malevolent agenda due to media exposure and significant loss of power in Congress. The party's response was to create groups of para-military vigilantes to terrorize opposing voters in hopes of making elections unfair and decidely undemocratic. The party is part of a self-defense group (lets call them something like, "the True Patriots") that fights back against these clowns.
The Characters: The lone fist fighter is going to be our hero in this case, one of the "True Patriots." The cannoneers are part of this criminal paramilitary organization that have a hobby of reinacting the Civil war (I have nothing against Civil War reinactors, btw, I just need some craaazy situation where a Ryu or a Ken would face down a cannon. A cannon!) and they got it in their head they were going to use a cannon they normally use for reenactment and load it with live ammunition and shoot a cannonball through the window of the Karateka's bedroom.

-The set up of this fight is actually a deal more interesting than the fight itself. They either hit or they don't. Lets assume these distant cousins of the Klu Klux Klan (they are based off of that particular group of violent outlaws who tried to terrorist certain elements of the populace, in that case, African Americans) attack in the early morning, when they think the karateka is sleeping. Now, in truth the martial artist gets up early in the morning and goes on a jog (he has to do this or else this fight is going to be very short. That or we're going to have to say something lame like they missed or that a sleeping martial artist can shrug off a cannon ball.) and all the bad guys have done is attract the attention of one pissed-off martial arts badass.

So the karateka sees smoke billowing out of a nearby wood and has formed a plan like so:

---------step incline cannon
| foilage foilage foilage foilage foilage
| Wreckage that used to be his house
| Wreckage
| Wreckage
Start Wreckage

After patting their drunken selves on the back (because nobody would do something like this if they were somber) they suddenly see the karateka turning the corner at an alarming rate, they suddenly rush back in place, they only have one chance, and despite shaking profusely, they get it. But the Karateka has enough since to leap into the foilage the cannoners were using as cover when they tore up his house, as opposed to charging in a straight line and getting his side-scrolling beat 'em up ass plugged with a half-ton iron ball. The cannoneers fire into foilage: BOOM! ....silence.

One of the cannoneers wanders towards the foilage, bends over, and he's seized by the collar. The foilage was growing on top of a cliff and the karateka slipped down just enough so he could hop back on top. The noise is enough to get the other three cannon operators moving, but missing one man, they have to hurry. They also need to turn the heavy cannon so it hits the nearby enemy. Its useless. The Karateka is on top of them and none of them had the foresight to even bring their guns (even western-era six-shooters would have helped them to fight back, no matter how good a game-world martial artist is at dodging/shugging off bullets.) Hmm....

Why does this fight end this way? Mostly because one man is too small a target for a weapon like a cannon. Now, if they had a grenade launcher or something more modern they could have taken more than one shot at him, but they'd still be hosed when he got right in their face. They could have shot at point blank range with a gun. Or even with the cannon if the Karateka was *right* in front of a loaded cannon, but reloading and turning the cannon is hard to do. The cannon is useful in bringing down a wall or firing into a clump of men, but a fight like this was doomed the second it started. Unless they successfully ninja'd the karateka with a cannon.

Let this be a lesson to you kids, never, under any circumstances, try to assasainate someone with an ancient cannon.

Lol, cannon ninja'd.

Actually, if this fight happened on different terrain, the cannon might have had a better chance. Standing on higher ground is actually more of a liability than a bonus, because it can't aim downwards (it can get more airtime from a high position, and therefore more range perhap, but if something is lower than it AND too close, forget about it. The martial artist couldn't even be shot at until he politely ran up the hill and was level to the cannon. Therefore, lets look at other choices. An open field would've given the cannoneers earlier warning of the enemy and there would be little to no cover. If the martial artist started higher than the cannon, the cannon might have been able to be cranked upwards, but it couldn't go any lower than hitting something level to it. Also rougher terrain, in particular terrain that slows down the charging martial artist would have the doubled benefit of giving the cannoneers more time to get off more shots while decreasing the fighter's ability to get out of the way of the cannon before it fires, and then it should be too late. gunfire in particular should be impossible to avoid, you could be moving, throwing something in the way of the weapon, hitting the dirt, firing your own gun blindly at full-auto entirely for the purposes of pinning the enemy down because he doesn't have quite the cajolnes to pop up and take a shot at you until the noise dies down, or jumping towards cover at the moment of the gunshot; and all of this things would make the to-hit roll more and more difficult, but standing motionless and side-steping at the last second should be impossible and anyone who gets themselves stuck in a position where they are either charging right in the path of a lateral-firing gun or alterially weapon or standing still should find a bit of ammution where his liver should be. The problem is, most RPG systems have you taking your turn and then you just freeze in your little 5-foot square taking everything that comes your way. It requires a bit of planning, at best.

BTW, is "cannoneer" even a word?

Round 2: Knight vs. proto Machine gun

Set-up: Sir Not Showing In This Picture, after recovering from the depression of not being in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, goes off to fight a mad gnomish scientist that developing some strange secret weapon. He ironically finds the secret weapon at the base of a hill he just climbed from the other side so he could get a better glimpse of the surronding country side. Gazing at the big shining barrel, and the amount of what looks like cloth that the gnome's hirelings are carrying, he figures this has good to be the secret weapon, and he starts charging down the mountain, spinning the top most part of his weapon in a tight, controlled circle over his head.

The gnome and his minions have little time to act, but the knight is charging in a straight line (partially because he can't stop himself on the steep downward slope with all the weight of his armor pulling him down. If he can keep from falling over from all the force, hes doing everything you can reasonably expect from a professional in this situation) so if the machine gun can swivel upwards, it could get the knight (if it can't, then this fight's pretty much over). If it can, then its a battle of attrition, can they get the machine gun tilted upwards and load it with the cloth-like sheets (they are belts of ammo, if you didn't know) before the knight reaches and destroys the weapon. Its too close to call, but only in this terrain. Relative to where the knight is in relation to the proto-turret, I'd have to say that the knight is likely to loss against this weapon in any other setting, even if we replace the ammunition with potatoes. Potatoes flying at you at such speeds in such rapid succession will nail you to the floor, broken game world physics or no broken game world physics.

I'll do the other fights later.