Engage in Fight!

OK, I think I grok the Fight mechanics pretty well. I’ve run two fights so far, and I mostly get it now. Just a few questions about the rules for Engaging.

  1. In the first exchange of a big melee conflict with multiple combatants on either side (or no sides at all), what is the general order everybody should declare who they’re engaging? I’m looking for something like D&D initiative, or how you go in order of highest Perception in Reign. I mean, you could just go around the table, but in really big conflicts, sometimes timing can be a crucial element of strategy – and when that strategy is fun and relevant, it’s something I’d like to bring to the table.

  2. You can only engage one opponent at a time, correct? But, does that opponent have to engage with you as well? What if I want to engage someone else, but you engage me first? Do I have to engage with you, or can we have a big three-way brawl? This is the main question that arises from declaring engagements without order. It could be controversial, depending on the situation.

  3. I know the Fight rules are meant to be pretty abstracted, but what do we do when distance is a factor? How to handle the archer who is disengaged, firing into the melee from the other side of the broken bridge, 100 yards away? I love the way the abstraction handles tight, brutal melee, but it doesn’t mix well with melee + ranged. Is having a single roll to engage that archer the only rules choice we have? (ie. One fighter breaks away from the melee, rolls to engage, and somehow magically leaps across the chasm to bash the archer upside the head. That breaks my suspense of disbelief in a bad way.)

All in all, I love everything else about the Fight mechanics. Great stuff! So much more fun than boring old initiative. ^^

Good question. I suppose you could allow the archer to engage, but disallow any counter-attempts to engage him until the obstacle was addressed. Same as if you chain two guys a lance’s length apart, and give one a lance and one a knife. They’re stuck in a position where the lance guy has the advantage.

  1. Whatever makes sense. There’s really no need for initiative. Intent and task takes care of it all rather neatly.
  2. You can only engage one target at a time, but you can be fighting multiple opponents. So use the rules for two-on-one if you are engaged by another opponent while in the midst of a fight.
  3. The archer is disengaged. He’s out of the fight. He can’t see what’s going on. He can’t get a target. And he can’t be engaged because there’s no valid intent/task that’ll allow a fighter to accomplish the feat (without magic, maybe).
  1. Luke is the Master but I’m wondering if the following would be game breaking. Archer outside of melee scripts his actions according to the Fight rules so as to keep up with timing. He’s taking free shots until he’s dealt with.

You must win a disengage to free yourself and enter range and cover with archer. Does this break anything? For some reason this is how I’ve interpreted things.

Edit: This is Sparksy but I think I’d like to impose an Ob 1 disadvantage on the archer. Then roll a die of fate on misses, 1’s indicating he hit an ally.

Yeah, intent and task takes care of it, if it’s a case of being engaged by another opponent while in the midst of a fight. What I am talking about though is the initial free-for-all engaging scramble at the beginning of the fight. In some situations, the free-for-all can be incredibly unfair. Whoever declares their engagement first has the opportunity to force another player to commit to that engagement for at least one exchange.

Here’s an extreme example to illustrate: Four knights are tasked with protecting the princess at all costs. Charging toward them is a dragon, accompanied by a gaggle of toothless grannies. A Fight commences, and before the players have a chance to speak, the GM says, “The grannies engage with the knights. The dragon engages with the princess.”

Silly, I know, and that GM is a dick. But see what happens. The knights are forced to engage with the grannies – they have no choice in the matter, even though they really want to engage the dragon to protect the princess. For at least one entire exchange, the princess is forced to fight all by herself, with no backup whatsoever.

I do like how engagement forces you to react. Very cool! From a cinematic standpoint, “the dragon vs the lone princess while her defenders wrestle grannies” is just full of awesome. But it’s unfair, which could perhaps be remedied by adding a tad more structure.

Well, OK, that’s an applicable solution to that particular scenario. But it was a generic example scenario anyways. I can think of dozens of situations where disengaging and crossing distances to engage with another opponent could be applicable. I know it’s not something that will happen often, but as a GM, I wouldn’t want to say to my players, “No, you can’t do that”, when the situation suddenly crops up at the game-table.

Another example scenario to illustrate this point, less silly this time: Two orc warbands are fighting two dwarven hosts on either side of a dried-up riverbed. Two separate melees, two separate Fight!s running simultaneously. Suddenly, one orc warlord spies his hated rival across the river, in the other melee. He disengages and rushes across the river, intent on joining the second melee and slaying his enemy.

How long does it take for the orc warlord to reach the second melee?

I can see this problem cropping up quite easily when you have multiple teams in Range and Cover, and two teams clashing into Fight! melee before the other teams are in range. Eventually, somebody’s going to want to rush those archers!

I like that solution, as it’s the simplest, but it only works if there is a physical obstacle between the melee and the intended ranged target. What if it’s just distance? You don’t roll to run if you’re not racing against somebody.

I’d thought of that. Problem is the time differences between RaC and Fight!. A single Range and Cover volley seems to approximately equal about 4 whole Fight exchanges.

I’ve been toying with the idea of breaking down the ranges in Range and Cover to use with Fight. So, a fighter would disengage from the melee and then have to spend a certain number of exchanges to close with his target. His target might move too though. It’d have to be an expanded version of R&C, I guess, which might be crazy unwieldy.

This topic has obviously moved past asking about rules to discussing hacks and wishes. Probably more suited for the Sparks forum, I guess. Sorry!

Here’s an extreme example to illustrate: Four knights are tasked with protecting the princess at all costs. Charging toward them is a dragon, accompanied by a gaggle of toothless grannies. A Fight commences, and before the players have a chance to speak, the GM says, “The grannies engage with the knights. The dragon engages with the princess.”

Silly, I know, and that GM is a dick. But see what happens. The knights are forced to engage with the grannies – they have no choice in the matter, even though they really want to engage the dragon to protect the princess. For at least one entire exchange, the princess is forced to fight all by herself, with no backup whatsoever.

I may be misreading, but I think Engaging is actually asymmetric. Basically, everyone rolls their Engage dice, then you just keep track of the results to determine advantage/disadvantage modifiers. (This may result in a few combatants having to roll some extra dice on the side if there are a bunch of different weapon lengths at play.) You’re free to attack whomever you want. The grannies engaging your knights doesn’t actually force your knights to not engage the dragon. Remember, you can actually change your target action-for-action, you just simply have to make sure to apply the advantage correctly. Check out pages 460-461 of BWG for what I’m talking about.

slaps head Ah shit. Haha! I get it now. Thank you, really! The new Fight mechanics are absolutely brilliant, but I think they could perhaps use a bit of clarification concerning engagement and positioning. I’ve been puzzling over this for the past two weeks.

I’m still curious to see if the issues from my 3rd point can be addressed mechanically. But points 1 and 2 are apparently moot.

Hi Dean, Luke gave you the official answer on #3 and then you and I flirted with Sparks. If you wanna open a new thread in Sparks I’ll participate with you there.

You’re talking in theoreticals as well. The dragon situation you propose would never happen in the game.
As for the Orc crossing a distance in a fight, you need to think like a burner. What’s the player’s intent? Is there a conflict or risk of failure? What’s the character doing? Is that appropriate to the intent? If so either roll the dice or Say Yes.

In this case, I’d have the Orc test speed to cross the riverbed. If he fails, he fails to cross in time and he’s out of the fight.
“how long?” is a red herring. You want to ask “what’s at stake?”

I am fairly certain I talk about making Speed tests to go places during a Fight. Don’t have my book with me.

‘Going Places During a Fight’; BWG, pg. 455

Edit: Got the 501 error, rewrote my entire post, and then found the original post on the 2nd page. grumble

Whoah! Sorry if I offended. It was not my intent! I realize now how my previous post might sound rather off-putting, and for that I do apologize.*I’m just mighty confused, and am doing my best to absorb an awful lot of content all at once.*I do appreciate the feedback.

As for my talk of drift and occasional attempts at constructive criticism, I sincerely hope I am not coming across as an asshole. I am a journalist turned teacher, and my wife is a writer and editor; picking apart texts and collaborating on creative projects is just part of my nature. Yet, the Burning Wheel mechanics have very complex underpinnings – ya think you understand them, but later find the foundations are much deeper than you had anticipated. So, that’s all I am doing here. Digging, trying to come to a clearer understanding if the rules, and maybe build a little myself. I’m not trying to be a jerk, only enjoying this book a whole lot.

Yep, that’s the elusive rule Luke was talking about. I know I read that before, but I guess it didn’t sink in for me. I think I didn’t make the correlation between the Going Places rule and Engagement.

Thanks! All cleared up now!

Thanks, this is very useful. But thinking like a Burner is something that’s going to take some getting used to, I fear.

I guess what I’m after is what to do when “how long?” is what’s at stake, in situations where “how long?” could feasibly mean multiple actions/volleys/exchanges. This, I will move to Sparks once I mull it over some.*

Yep, will do! Reason I didn’t move to Sparks before was because, as I suspected, my Big Ideas were really all based on misunderstanding. Which I am glad to hear!

Ha! That’s not Luke’s offended voice. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure “How long?” is ever really meaningfully at stake. The only time when you care “how long?” is when something interesting is going on in the mean time. What’s actually at stake is “can he get there BEFORE . . . ?”

Like, “Can he get there before the other fight is over?” or “Can he get there before the archers fill him with arrows?” or “Can he get there before his rival is cut down?”

There’s no meaningful difference between “It takes three seconds to get there,” and “It takes three minutes to get there,” unless there’s some interesting deadline to beat. The deadline is what’s at stake.

I agree. It’s about intent. Time is abstracted in R&C and Fight! How long does it take him to cross the riverbed? If he fails the speed test, too long.

And if the orc is very far from the Fight just raise the obstacle.

And if he’s far enough away that him crossing the distance in the time available doesn’t make sense, the task is invalid and there’s no roll anyhow.

Hmmm … I was going to refrain from commenting in this thread again until I had something for Sparks (if ever). However, something about this is still bothering me. I’m really not sure if I’m on to something here or if I’m still terribly mistaken, so I’m going to continue this thread until I can say for certain, “I get it!”.

I agree with the above quote, and the other comments that followed. The movement rules as written work great for most things. However, I don’t understand how it can be applied to all situations in Fight. Help me out here…

Character A is disengaged from the melee, specifically “disengaged at a distance”. For whatever reason, it doesn’t matter. He’s not in the melee, and he is far away from it.

Character B is in the melee, but intends to rush Character A. He passes a Speed test, engages, and strikes Character A down dead, all in a single exchange, and now he intends to rejoin the melee. Should Character B be allowed to run back to rejoin the melee in the very next exchange? Furthermore, since his end intent was to rejoin the melee after defeating Character A, should he have been allowed to engage Character A in only one exchange?

What’s at stake there? It’s all about “can I catch him?” or “can I catch him before…?”, followed by “can I rejoin the melee before it finishes?” In both cases, the answer could feasibly be “yes, I can”, if given enough time to run around. If only given one positioning test’s worth of time to run around, the answer should almost definitely be “no, I can’t” for both, since the game fiction already made clear that there is a considerable distance between the two points. But the melee could rage on for multiple exchanges yet. Why shouldn’t he be able to run back, if given enough time? It seems to me, therefore, that the intent is forced to be “Can I get there and engage in one exchange?”, which might not be Character B’s intent at all.

The problem I am seeing with this is that this abstraction of time and distance can sometimes compete with the game fiction, in fight scenes where the game fiction makes time and distance important. Time does not appear to be very abstracted within the melee itself, each action taking a couple heartbeats or so. To expand this time abstraction considerably for an action outside of melee is fine, but when you have characters crossing back and forth into and out of melee, with time expanding and contracting all the while, things could get messy. In such cases, Intent and Task alone don’t really cut it, because the internal logic of the fiction itself is disturbed.

Thus, I would say that “How long?” should be at stake when the game fiction warrants it.

Again, I am probably mistaken, and would appreciate any and all help on this matter. Thanks.

All that said, I do understand why the rules are like this though. Players are meant to take risks in BW. They’re meant to engage the system, not run from it. The consequences of failure are meant to be dire. The game mechanics are meant to force players to make important decisions. I do get that. It’s all good. But, of course, players are an unpredictable lot.

Personally, when it comes to getting back, I don’t think there’s actually anything interesting at stake. I’d just Say Yes and make it take a few exchanges. Whatever length of time seems to follow naturally from the fiction.

Why do you need to randomize the amount of time it takes to get back? THAT seems to be what’s competing with the fiction in your example. If the game fiction suggests an answer, just go with that and round to the nearest exchange.

Because there could easily be an important reason at stake for both reaching Character A and getting back to the melee in time. Because there could be other situations where timing could be important. Because players should be given the benefit of the doubt, the ability to make decisions to change the game fiction. And because in all other cases that the GM pulls an arbitrary number out of his ass, the players have the ability to engage with this number to affect the outcome, by working carefully/patiently/slowly, spending Artha, FoRKing, etc. The precedent is set by the regular game mechanics.