Task driven combat

*** Please note I’m going back to the drawing board on this one. It’s cool to keep discussing but don’t just say “this is why this suck” more to the point, “how can we make it better”. I’m never interested in nay saying without constructive input. Thanks, -Don ***

I’m thinking of instituting a new rule.

Create dispositions for combat based on main combat ability plus an appropriate physical stat (usually Speed).
Write Statement of Intent if not just murder.
Anyone getting a hit on you may choose to lower disposition instead of deliver a wound.
Drive a disposition to zero andvyou get our Statement of Purpose.


Burning Empires Fight? Sounds interesting, would you still go through the whole Fight! system, or just test combat skills?

Whole Fight! system. Nothing would change other than you can choose to reduce disposition instead of deliver a wound.

Hmm, I like the idea of this, but it makes Fight! a lot less dangerous than what I think it’s meant to be.

I like that there is a pool that you can reduce, it also inspires other intents than murder in Fight! But the system is designed to be dangerous, bloody, dirty, like combat was. The wounds make it harder, and it means that, unless dice luck or scripting is fan-tucking-fastic, no one makes it out unscarred.

I also see why wounds make this mechanic difficult to implement, because your average character is a 4 across the board after burning. Meaning that too many wounds make this character pass out, and chances are good at skills are getting reduced to nothing. I can see this working if say, neither side wants to even injure each other, but at that point, you’re not going to Fight!

Maybe I’m misunderstanding, could you give a short example of when this would come to play and how it’d work?

Sure. I like the play between Task and Intent. While I do dig how dangerous combat is in BW sometimes the fight really isn’t about killing someone. I feel like BW base combat says “stop the story while we do this fight” because a fight makes sense or “aw, fuck it lets just do bloody versus.” This is a combo of the two: Let’s put three guards up against a PC. Let’s say the guards Statement of Intent is “Throw the rogue in jail” and the PC’s is “Get the Orb of Delsuion out of the Keep.”

Scripting ensues… I will only describe when someone succeeds on an attack that would otherwise deliver a wound.

The PC scores two successes on the guards. Instead of doing an incidental hit he drops disposition down two.

A guard does a power roll and slams the PC into the wall. While a disposition hit could be abstracted out of a successful roll for the PC a sock to the jaw seems more appropriate so he delivers a incidental punch to the face for a Superficial wound.

A guard gets five successes. Yeah, he could deliver a crippling wound but the Count said to bring them in beaten not killed so we’ll hit the disposition and narrate a solid flatblade on the back of the head that makes his head ring.

The PC rolls four successes against a guards block. Again, he’s no interest in killing these blokes. He just doesn’t want to get caught so his zeroes out their lower disposition.

The cool thing is that you can have a compromise negotiation where the winner may get what they want but takes an additional appropriate wound since his disposition was dropped, or maybe the Orb was damaged or maybe the PC got away but he was unmasked by the guards. Meanwhile several wounds may need to be tended to.

I wrote this out without much explanations to the specifics of scripting. is there anything here that was unclear?


  • Don

Okay, now that I see it, I like it a lot more. It makes sense, there is the option to wound, but it may or may not win you the fight, where the disposition is winning the fight. This I like a lot, and in those situations, it makes sense.

Thanks for the example, this actually sounds really fun. Good job

So, the thing that Fight! puts in the game is that you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes there isn’t a “Get the Orb out of the Keep” option, most often because you said “I want to steal the Orb” and then either failed the test or got handed a high-Ob test for a skill you don’t have and decided to fight instead.

When you change that, you make it so that any outcome in the game becomes negotiable using weapons. That’s a very, very substantial change: for one thing, it means you can escalate from the DoW to a fight without giving up the stakes. For another, it means you can force a conflict (I can refuse a DoW, just totally refuse to negotiate because my daughter ain’t marrying you, no way, nohow, and I don’t care what you say about it. I can’t refuse to get stabbed. If you can stab me into agreement, that’s a major big deal).

“But wait!” you say. “I only meant for, you know, physical outcomes to be Fight-able!” Okay. Why do you need a Spark for that? By RAW, your example is totally achievable. The guards will want to script a lot of Locks to grab the PC, then they’ll put him in jail. The PC will script Withdraws and Avoids.

So: Is there a class of outcomes you consider appropriate stakes for Fights that are not currently achievable in combat?

Also: there’s a problem where the side effects of Fight! (wounds and hesitation) could interfere with statements of purpose. Like, let’s say my SoP is to get the Orb out of the Keep, right? Yours is to murder my ass right here and now. We fight, and it’s rough, it’s really bad. I win, but in the same action you incapacitate me. What happens? Apparently the sight of my blood arouses such pity that you sneak me out of the castle and get me to a doctor?

This is a major problem, because you can’t just say “Don’t write SoPs that can’t be fulfilled if you’re wounded” (You can just as easily take a Mortal Wound on the last round, and if you’re ruling out SoPs that require a live PC… that’s pretty much any physically-realistic Fight SoP, leaving only ones like “I beat you so hard your daughter agrees to marry me” or “I beat you so hard that unicorns are real.”)

On the other hand, you can say “Fine, incapacitation or death mean you lose, no matter the dispo.” That mostly works, but there’s still a broad class of sensible SoPs that don’t make sense if you’re really badly hurt (especially if the other guy is unharmed). If I’m fighting the Life Guards outside the throne room, and I “beat” them on dispo without scratching them but they beat the shit out of me, to the tune of -4d and a superficial… How exactly do I then climb the wall (my B3 Climb skill is unusable due to wounds), swim the moat, and get back to town unseen? And what exactly happened to the guards? I mean, at the end of the Fight they were armed and unharmed and standing within swords’ reach of me, but then something happened? Yeah, sometimes this is explainable because I ran away or whatever, but if I haven’t been scripting Withdraw or at the very least Maintaining while they failed to Close, then what’s been happening in the Fight! must be different from what’s actually been happening? Or something?

Yup, it just add a level of abstraction and cinematic play to BW not every group would be happy with. I see it more like a dial BW is capable of (see every erstwhile abstraction discussion I’ve ever had here, lol) and if you don’t like that levelmof abstraction in your game then discuss and don’t use it. It gives options to folks that would rather play BW than, say, FATE but retain some of the mutability.

Most of what you question here is a normal part of intent discussions anyway. I don’t believe that would change from one roll to a subsystem. Yes, you “could” escalate from DoW and keep SoPs but I think the group would call bs or agree, “fuck yeah, the stakes just went up cause we’re stabbing one another in the argument.” I was thinking this very same thing for moments where I don’t care as much about the death of my opponent, rather the acceptance or opinion of the crowd. I see gladiator or duelist putting these things to good use.

You stop silliness in SoP like you do in any intent discussion, through group veto. Ie. The normal rules of the game apply (this isn’t mind control’ et al). Questioning as a discerning group whether the intent meets the fiction is par tof the game anyway. It’s up to the GM specifically to say “that intent is better covered by a roll or series of rolls instead of Fight!”

That being said, anyone bent on physical harm is always going to have an advantage to someone wanting something other.

As far as the guards in good shape, you all beat up, yet you succee: It’s all about managing the fiction in some meaningful way. If your breaking the lock when you describe your successes or shouting past them to get the kings attention, etc then that’s what happens. The goal is to match the fiction to what’s going on with the dice the best you can. If you succeeded in that want rolls clearly you were describing your successes as you went. It’s not like the end result happens in a fiction vacuum.

It’s a good point, however, to ask “Why do you need a Spark for that?” What will you achieve with the change? What can’t you do with combat moves and standard rules? I think you may be correct, it may add complexity where none is needed and be more a means to get around standard rules. That’s not the intention. As I think about it, physical actions may be a better way to manage those sorts of things.

So yeah, scrap the idea. I have to think about it a bit more.

Thanks, Devin.