Delineating tasks in Fight! and DoW...

Hey everyone. First post here, and to start I wanted to say I really like the elegance of this system.

I did want to ask/make an observation about the Fight! and DoW rules though. From what I’ve read, and researched online (here and in other places), both systems seem to be referenced as difficult to handle in game without expert practice, and it seems many have tried their hand at skinning them down to become easier to handle.

Looking at the rules they do appear daunting, but thinking about it…it really just seems to be a matter of delineating tasks and determining the type of roll required…something that can be handled with a only a little GM experience.

Using the State Your Intent, then Roll model, it really becomes simple Judgement on the GM’s part.

“I want to swing my mace down on his face and smash it to bits!”

Great, that sounds like a Strike or a Great Strike. Ob 1 plus modifiers. The opponent’s intent during the Volley was…

“I have to keep him from bringing that Mace down hard on my face, so I’m going to duck left…” i.e. Avoid.

Well, now it’s a VS (generally speaking)

It seems that knowing only a bare minimum of action types can allow a GM to dole out judgement on what type of roll is required for ANY described action/intent. There are only two types of roll: Standard VS Ob, or Versus.

Which is required for any given situation? That seems to be the only question. I feel that understanding the binary function of how rolls work, and being able to make decent snap judgements, alleviates the need to memorize the lengthy tables describing which actions counter which other actions. Granted, over time these tables will likely get memorized anyway, but as a simplified understanding of Fight! (and DoW by extension) this makes alot of sense to me.

Is it really this simple, or is there something I missed? I’m eager to make the rules of the game work for me, since it seems an interesting way of handling situations like combat. Any thoughts or input would be wonderful.

The difficulties usually come in with positioning, scripting in advance (you script Strike, but you can’t know in advance exactly how you’re striking), and just getting all the modifiers right for things like weapon length.

But yes, I think people get scared off by the appearance of complexity because it’s a very different system from the familiar initiative, take turns of D&D and its progeny. It’s not actually all that hard in practice.

People get honked off mostly about the “script a few moves in advance” nature because they can’t guarantee that they’ll get a correct response action or that they’ll waste their feint or something.

As for memorizing the interaction grid, I ran BW for a year and never bothered to memorize the interaction grid. I just used the Fight Action grid in the pdf download. The file is this one: BWG_FightAction_r13.pdf

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In my opinion The Scripting in advance part isn’t a deal breaker. While a bit unwieldly in a sense, it does create the sense of how chaotic fights are.

It does seem a bit off that a swordsman of skill would find himself missing battle cues to recognize openings in battle, or when to put up his shield. However, despite melee being a battle of Skill in reality, chance sometimes plays into it as well. Perhaps that’s the simulation aspect of Fight! Naturally the fighter will be ducking, dodging, deflecting, and swinging a great sword down on his foes at every opening. But sometimes luck plays into it, and the dodges fail, and the strike gets countered unexpectedly…

Well in any case, I appeciate the input so far.

The weapon proficiency part is handled through skills, the fighters intuitive grasp of combat is handled through the scripting skill of the players. At 10/10/10 (Burning Con 1) there was a Fight! challenge called “Beat Pete!” where Pete Tierney took on any and all comers after proclaiming himself unbeatable in Fight! I can’t remember if anyone actually beat him or not, but it was a masterful display of understanding how combat works in Burning Wheel.

But yeah, that’s the other off-putting part of BW - it’s not a game that’s only about character skills, there’s a real and important player mastery component that makes veteran players simply more effective than a less skilled player, even if the character they are using is “better.” You see this a lot in longer games with differing rates of practice and artha growth.

Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Bloody Versus, and straight up versus tests with weapons, have outcomes similar to what you mentioned in the original post. BV basically works like opposed Block and Strike actions, with bonuses to attack and defense based on certain factors (armor, weapon speed, etc). Versus tests with weapons work like normal vs. tests, only there’s injury on the side as well. Hurt a dude, get your intent, move on.

I’ve personally resolved to graduate the level of conflict as needed in games I run. I’m not a fan of combat mechanics to begin with, and some systems can be downright horrifying (2 hour long combats are a big no no IMHO). BW seems cool, but I’d rather reserve Fight! For Big Bads at the resolution of a quest/goal. For other conflicts, Bloody Versus sounds like a perfectly good option to use. Again, pointing to my research on thoughts geared to Fight!, this seems like a common agreement on how best to handle it.

Don’t get me wrong, the way the combat mechanics looks really neat…I especially like that combats discourage To The Death mentality.

My main interest in dredging up this discussion (I am certain there have been very similar ones before) is to settle in my own mind how to make the mechanics work smoothly…and knowing that there seems to be agreement from others that the functions of combat essentially boil down to a decision on whether X action compared to Y action equals a Versus test or a Standard Test…

Well, that is the hard part in my mind. I do see Scripting being a bit cumbersome, but an element of strategic guesswork and unknowns can be a good thing.

The Positioning and a few other small details are really just that…details.

Although for Positioning the charts given seem to be a bit complicated…I am tempted to house rule it to make it easier to remember, bit I sense doing so would mess with something in combat that shouldn’t be messed with. I’ll have to test run the house rule by s buddy to see if there would be any major consequences…

Even though Fight! obviously isn’t intended to simulate reality, I think the issue you’re talking about with a “swordsman of skill” is not exactly as you’ve described it. When you start with three or four lifepath humans, a 4 or 5 sword skill and 4 or 5 for Reflexes can be a force to be reckoned with, but try running through some fights with some truly skilled swordsmen and see what I mean. We’re talking 6+ Reflexes (and maybe gray skill exponents and/or huge Mortal Wound values) if you really want to see what’s possible. Even with mediocre skills, when you have high Reflexes, changing actions becomes a legitimate choice. And with high superficial and light wound values, you can make a lot more “mistakes” without getting turned to pulp.

Even though luck can certainly play into it, in the full scope of the system, if you find a combatant “missing battle cues” or having a strike get “countered unexpectedly” as large factors in the outcome, you’re either overestimating the swordsman’s skill or the opponent is actually a good match.

Just a note: We assume that players will engage with about two full-blown conflicts per (roughly four hour) session. That might be Fight, or Duel of Wits or Range & Cover. The artha economy is based on those assumptions, as these are the points in the game when people tend to burn through a lot of accumulated artha. When I GM, if players end a session with more than 4 or 5 points of Fate and/or 3 or 4 points of Persona, I know it’s time to start upping the pressure and hammering them with conflicts. When they start running low, I usually ease back a little, unless what’s happening in the fiction of the game demands otherwise.

It’s totally cool to play more conservatively with the blown-out conflicts, but I would suggest that you really raise the bar as to what it takes to earn Fate and Persona. Otherwise you’ll wind up in a position where players can trivially throw artha at any test they make, which will eventually undermine your game.

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Thanks for pointing that out Thor. It is important to understand the other interacting mechanics when setting the flow of a game. Being a long time player of other systems that use similar mechanics like Artha, I have seen how it impacts the game when such a reward mechanic is given too freely and also when its doled out too conservatively. So it definately helps to hear from someone in the know of how the mechanics work on the issue.