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Author Topic: Preferred OSR initiative?  (Read 6689 times)

Steven Mitchell

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #75 on: May 16, 2020, 05:52:59 pm »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130187
I never particularly liked this way of handling actions in combat because it always seemed very punitive and gamey to me. IMO, it's at least partly (if not almost entirely) an artifice of round based action resolution and not entirely a reflection of reality--where people must declare their actions at the start of the "round" (which is purely a game construct that doesn't exist in the real world) then follow through like mindless automatons till the end of the "round", even if circumstances change. Like having eyes and adapting to the evolving circumstances transpiring around you is some type of transgression that must be curbed, least you gain some sort of unfair advantage.

It's supposed to represent the chaos of combat--especially in some dark, dank tunnel with low ceilings. It's a little much for what I prefer, too, though I see why they did it. My main point, though, is that "don't get to change to a different spell and simply don't do anything this action" isn't really much of a penalty, when one considers the range of possibilities.  It's a very mild penalty to encourage people to think a little.  Heck, even MMORPGs include timing issues like that.

nDervish

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #76 on: May 17, 2020, 09:00:50 am »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130187
I never particularly liked this way of handling actions in combat because it always seemed very punitive and gamey to me.


Interesting.  I see it pretty much entirely the opposite way around - Alice: "Attack orc #1".  Bob: "Attack orc #1".  Charlie: "Attack orc #1".  DM: "Orc #1 falls over dead".  Evan: "Attack orc #2"... with everyone distributing their attacks perfectly optimally because their characters are able to instantaneously respond to any change in the circumstances of the fight feels far more gamey to me than to require players to take the risk that some attacks may be wasted on beating an already-bloody corpse if everyone focus-fires a single foe.

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130187
Like having eyes and adapting to the evolving circumstances transpiring around you is some type of transgression that must be curbed, least you gain some sort of unfair advantage.


Sure, quantizing time in a series of rounds does introduce differences from the real world, but, even with eyes, it takes time to adapt to those evolving circumstances.  If you're ferociously raining blows down on orc #1 and your buddy takes its head off, you can't just redirect your next swing to orc #2 and continue raining the same ferocity upon the new target.  It interrupts your rhythm, you have to check and redirect your swing, you need a moment to adapt to the evolving circumstances.  Which, in game terms, is "new action in the next round", because rounds are the smallest division of time available.  (Obviously, this makes more sense with GURPS 1-second rounds or most current games' 5- or 6-second rounds.  In the 1-minute rounds of early D&D editions, there would be plenty of time to change your action, probably multiple times.)

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130187
But there's simply no way that you couldn't adapt your melee attacks and positioning to swing at an adjacent opponent if the one you were facing gets their head chopped off by someone else. It's not like melee combat involves making one single swing and that's it, but rather it's a series of thrust and parries, pivoting from side to side, trying to look for an opening, and all of that gets abstracted to an attack roll for rules purposes.


Yes, and you've made your series of thrusts and parries and been looking for an opening to attack your original target.  When you switch targets, you need to start that whole process over again (*cough*next round*cough*), you can't just say "orc #1 left his right knee open, but his head got lopped off, so I'll stab orc #2 in the right knee" and expect the second orc to have left the same opening.

Vidgrip

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #77 on: May 17, 2020, 01:50:40 pm »
If you're worried about focus-firing, you can avoid that without declaring actions.  In some skirmish games, that have no GM, everyone makes an attack role before damage is rolled on any of the hits.  If someone puts a hit on the enemy your were planning to target, you might change to a new target so as not to waste the attack.  Of course that first hit might not be enough, so you have an interesting tactical decision.  In an RPG with a GM, the GM simply doesn't tell players that a target is killed until that target's turn comes around.  "Orc #2 ... succumbs to his wounds and drops to the ground."  That orc may have been killed by the first player this round to attack it and the second player wasted their hit, but will never know.  Again, it forces players to think about their choice of targets but doesn't require anything to be declared at the start of the round.

VisionStorm

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« Reply #78 on: May 17, 2020, 03:08:39 pm »
Quote from: Zalman;1130214
I agree with all your reasoning for this, but why "switch"? I mean, if a player can switch actions freely, then what's the point of declaring them in the first place? It sounds like maybe you'd be fine with only certain actions being declared.


You'd still need to make some type of declaration in order to determine how the group will proceed when initiating combat. How actions are handled from that point (or even throughout the round) may vary widely depending on which type of initiative is used: Individual, Group or Phased (and which type of Phased initiative, which may also vary significantly). So it's hard to establish one method that will apply to all initiative styles, but generally speaking once you set a course of actions that decision may compromise your position even if "switching" actions after the fact is allowed.

If you opted to move to engage a target in melee several feet away, for example, but by the time you got there someone else in your group who was already engaged in melee at the start of the round defeated the specific opponent you intended to attack I might allow you to attack an adjacent opponent instead, since you're already there. But I would not allow you to attack a distant opponent that required you to move again, since you already moved that round, so your position would already be compromised by that point. You may either take another action from that spot, or lose your round if no other action is possible at the time.

Quote from: nDervish;1130278
Interesting.  I see it pretty much entirely the opposite way around - Alice: "Attack orc #1".  Bob: "Attack orc #1".  Charlie: "Attack orc #1".  DM: "Orc #1 falls over dead".  Evan: "Attack orc #2"... with everyone distributing their attacks perfectly optimally because their characters are able to instantaneously respond to any change in the circumstances of the fight feels far more gamey to me than to require players to take the risk that some attacks may be wasted on beating an already-bloody corpse if everyone focus-fires a single foe.
...
Sure, quantizing time in a series of rounds does introduce differences from the real world, but, even with eyes, it takes time to adapt to those evolving circumstances.  If you're ferociously raining blows down on orc #1 and your buddy takes its head off, you can't just redirect your next swing to orc #2 and continue raining the same ferocity upon the new target.  It interrupts your rhythm, you have to check and redirect your swing, you need a moment to adapt to the evolving circumstances.  Which, in game terms, is "new action in the next round", because rounds are the smallest division of time available.  (Obviously, this makes more sense with GURPS 1-second rounds or most current games' 5- or 6-second rounds.  In the 1-minute rounds of early D&D editions, there would be plenty of time to change your action, probably multiple times.)

Yes, and you've made your series of thrusts and parries and been looking for an opening to attack your original target.  When you switch targets, you need to start that whole process over again (*cough*next round*cough*), you can't just say "orc #1 left his right knee open, but his head got lopped off, so I'll stab orc #2 in the right knee" and expect the second orc to have left the same opening.


Yeah, but that "risk" taking factor assumes that battle decisions are something that must be entirely decided head of time and that once that course of action is taken no adjustments can be made on the way there till the following round, which would take place several seconds later (at least in almost all systems other than GURPS, AFAIK). But if that was the case I would crash my car every single time I'm trying to speed pass a slow line and someone randomly shifted lanes in front of me, rather than me being able to break and perhaps shift lanes as well or do other adjustments instead of instantly crashing my car cuz I have to wait till the next imaginary round to adjust my course while driving. And that may well turn out to be the case, since many people crash exactly that way, but I never have, because reacting to other people's bad driving and adjusting my course midway is also a possibility (albeit, at a risk, which may require an ability roll in terms of the game rules). And crashing a car as a result of someone throwing their car at you is an infinitely a more likely scenario that me beating a bloody corpse like a retard cuz I have to wait for the next round to tell that its already dead.

Taking a swing at someone beside you is not that difficult, and if anything the fact that you're not directly engaged yet may grant you an opening since they're not properly positioned to meet your attacks effectively. Its only once you've both had the chance to properly position yourselves and raise your guards that the whole song and dance of thrust and parries clashing against steel really starts, but a random attack may still find its way in that time and catch you unprepared. Granted, by the same token an adjacent enemy may also take the chance to take a swing at you (as they would in my games)  if it's one of your friends who takes the fall. And the case could also be made that since neither of you is properly positioned to face each other that your attacks should take a penalty, if allowed (which is something I have seen in games that explicitly allow you to switch actions mid-round in the rules). But generally speaking adapting to an enemy falling while others are still near by takes only a fraction of a second, which is more than enough time in most games, which use 6 second rounds (which is enough time to kill several people in a real life encounter, and many, many more if we're going by old D&D's absurdly long 1 minute rounds).

S'mon

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #79 on: May 18, 2020, 03:36:07 am »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130323
old D&D's absurdly long 1 minute rounds).

OD&D-1e-2e combat is more a squad-level wargame, I'm finding; it's not actually intended to emulate a single combatant duelling. If I remember my John Boyd OODA loop correctly, at individual level the decision loop (equivalent to a game round) is about 3-5 seconds, at squad level the decision loop is around 15 seconds, or 30 seconds for tanks/fighting vehicles. So 1 minute is still too long, but not so egregious.
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VisionStorm

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #80 on: May 18, 2020, 10:17:42 am »
Quote from: S'mon;1130430
OD&D-1e-2e combat is more a squad-level wargame, I'm finding; it's not actually intended to emulate a single combatant duelling. If I remember my John Boyd OODA loop correctly, at individual level the decision loop (equivalent to a game round) is about 3-5 seconds, at squad level the decision loop is around 15 seconds, or 30 seconds for tanks/fighting vehicles. So 1 minute is still too long, but not so egregious.


Yeah, that has always been my impression as well. I have even seen people bring up the time it takes to load a ballista when trying to justify the 1 minute round, like most characters are dragging around siege engines to raid a dungeon. Even in the case of actual sieges I don't think that the time it takes to engage in personal combat should be governed by the time it takes to mobilize and reload war machines. If those siege engineers don't want to be overwhelmed by individual troops then they better keep their siege weapons far away from the engagement where they belong. But foot troopers swinging a sword shouldn't be limited to making a single attack in an entire minute just because people loading up a catapult want to exercise their god given right to also participate in combat.

Zalman

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #81 on: May 18, 2020, 10:59:47 am »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130323
You'd still need to make some type of declaration in order to determine how the group will proceed when initiating combat.

Me? No, I don't. I just let players go during their side's initiative whenever they like. I don't try to track which actions are overlapping which others, I just assume that when a player "goes" is when their action resolves, rather than when an action is first initiated. I like my OSR initiative simple, fast, and cinematic, and this method works awesomely for me in gameplay.
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EOTB

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« Reply #82 on: May 18, 2020, 01:55:44 pm »
People tend to stop considering once they arrive at a single point that doesn't match their thinking process.

A round is a unit of time.  The author set the unit of time to equal a minute.  People consider one action type undertaken in that unit of time, and determine that more of that action type (exchanging blows) should be possible in a minute.  They now exit consideration mode and enter into complaining mode. They don't consider how assigning one minute to the unit actually serves to their benefit.

What else do you do over the course of a minute?  Consider movement.  If your buddy is in trouble on the other side of a field (let's say they've been jumped by 4 bogeys when they choose to go look at something - detail unimportant), how many rounds of attacks do you want them to endure before you can arrive to help them out?  If a round is 6 seconds long, they will endure many more exchanges than if the round is stretched to a minute with all exchanges abstractly considered ineffective but one of the possible exchanges in that minute.  In the 6 second round all those presumed ineffective exchanges now can cut him down while you're hightailing it over there six seconds at a time instead of them (through the effect of the rules) valiantly buying you time to get there.

While in a more normal (even) combat situation, whether 10 exchanges between is considered after it is over to have abstractly taken 60 seconds or 10 minutes is...nearly irrelevant?  "But verisimilitude!"

Verisimilitude is another word for confirmation bias.
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VisionStorm

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #83 on: May 18, 2020, 02:52:05 pm »
Quote from: Zalman;1130459
Me? No, I don't. I just let players go during their side's initiative whenever they like. I don't try to track which actions are overlapping which others, I just assume that when a player "goes" is when their action resolves, rather than when an action is first initiated. I like my OSR initiative simple, fast, and cinematic, and this method works awesomely for me in gameplay.


If you don't want to keep track of overlapping actions in your own game that's your prerogative. But that doesn't mean that overlapping actions don't exist or that certain actions can't cancel each other out or potentially limit your range of options--particularly if they involve multiple actions (such as moving into position; then attacking). It just means that you're willing ignore it and simplify the process for the sake of expediency, similar to how I allow characters to switch spells if their originally intended spell is no longer viable.

I know that spellcasting technically takes time and that if a PC no longer wants to cast fireball cuz their friends are now on the blast area they're supposed to lose their spell and wait till the next round to start casting another. But I'm willing to fudge it cuz it helps the combat move faster and I assume that the wizard might still be able to adapt to the changing circumstances they can see transpiring around them and notice their friends getting in the way well before it's too late to choose a more effective spell. But if you want to get technical they probably should at least have to wait for the next round (even if I'm generous and don't make them lose their spell), since spellcasting is supposed to take time with lots of ritual motions, incantations or even different material components (which would also have to be switched) depending on the spell.

Quote from: EOTB;1130476
Verisimilitude is another word for confirmation bias.


Says the guy trying to justify the failed notion of 1 minute rounds cuz he doesn't want their friend in the other side of the field to get slaughtered by a gang of four bad guys, as logic dictates they should, rather than accept that maybe their friend shouldn't have been so careless or that time shouldn't have to stop just cuz your friend is in trouble and you don't want the inevitable to happen.

Zalman

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« Reply #84 on: May 18, 2020, 03:10:21 pm »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130479
If you don't want to keep track of overlapping actions in your own game that's your prerogative. But that doesn't mean that overlapping actions don't exist or that certain actions can't cancel each other out or potentially limit your range of options--particularly if they involve multiple actions (such as moving into position; then attacking). It just means that you're willing ignore it and simplify the process for the sake of expediency, similar to how I allow characters to switch spells if their originally intended spell is no longer viable.
Sort of! Overlapping actions exist in the theoretical abstract, but in my preferred initiative there is no separation between declaration and action, so there is no interruption or switching that occurs in game. Sure, the player might change their mind 7 times before they go; if so that's a secret known only to them.

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130479
I know that spellcasting technically takes time and that if a PC no longer wants to cast fireball cuz their friends are now on the blast area they're supposed to lose their spell and wait till the next round to start casting another.
That may be a rule in the games you play, not in mine. I prefer a simpler initiative for OSR.
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« Reply #85 on: May 18, 2020, 04:15:16 pm »
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130479
Says the guy trying to justify the failed notion of 1 minute rounds cuz he doesn't want their friend in the other side of the field to get slaughtered by a gang of four bad guys, as logic dictates they should, rather than accept that maybe their friend shouldn't have been so careless or that time shouldn't have to stop just cuz your friend is in trouble and you don't want the inevitable to happen.

I'm the DM, I don't care how many characters you have to roll up?  I'm pointing out how it helps the player.  If they'd rather die for their verisimilitude, what is it to me?  People are strange.
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« Reply #86 on: May 19, 2020, 09:44:04 pm »
Quote from: EOTB;1130476
What else do you do over the course of a minute?  Consider movement.  If your buddy is in trouble on the other side of a field (let's say they've been jumped by 4 bogeys when they choose to go look at something - detail unimportant), how many rounds of attacks do you want them to endure before you can arrive to help them out?  If a round is 6 seconds long, they will endure many more exchanges than if the round is stretched to a minute with all exchanges abstractly considered ineffective but one of the possible exchanges in that minute.  In the 6 second round all those presumed ineffective exchanges now can cut him down while you're hightailing it over there six seconds at a time instead of them (through the effect of the rules) valiantly buying you time to get there.
You are comparing apples to oranges. The view of the one minute round is being described here is not the same as the view of the six second round. If they were it wouldn't matter as the odds of surviving five six seconds combat arounds versus four opponents would be the same a surviving a one minute combat around against four opponents.

The same to-hit mechanics odds are assigned to a smaller time period isn't the problem. The problem is that one's view of a combatant surviving one minute of combat rounds against four opponents.

Kyle Aaron

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #87 on: May 19, 2020, 11:14:02 pm »
Quote from: S'mon;1130430
If I remember my John Boyd OODA loop correctly, at individual level the decision loop (equivalent to a game round) is about 3-5 seconds, at squad level the decision loop is around 15 seconds, or 30 seconds for tanks/fighting vehicles. So 1 minute is still too long, but not so egregious.
If we're using the realism argument, then either every combat round in every rpg ever written is too short, or most combat rounds should be spent doing nothing. Think of a heavyweight boxing match - 18x 3 minute rounds. At 1 minute for a combat round, that's 54 combat rounds, which would be a dice-rolling snorefest. At GURPS' rate of 1 second per combat round, it'd be 3,240 rounds, it'd probably be a year-long campaign. Even a relatively textbook platoon assault on a section's prepared position can take an hour or more.

What I've long said is that combat rounds can generally be an indeterminate length. Unless there's a ticking bomb beneath the feet of the combatants (or some magical equivalent like a delayed-blast fireball), it doesn't actually matter whether a combat is one second or one hour - though I suppose if it were really long then it might eventually get too dark to fight.

What matters is how much movement the combatants get compared to attacks. If you have little movement, then all combats become duels at whatever range they were when they first saw each-other; if you have a lot of movement, then combatants can run in circles around each-other. Either would be absurd. And so we generally allow a certain amount of movement as well or instead of an attack, with some caveats like "if you turn away from melee he gets a free attack", etc.

Be careful of the realism argument, because in fact nobody believes or wants reality, like the fact that if the guy's less than 20 feet away you can't draw and fire at him before he closes with you and stabs repeatedly, or the fact that a cop shooting at a suspect less than 10 feet away will miss 5 times in 6. I'm sure the age of medieval battles had their own crazy shit nobody outside them could believe. Add in to that lengthy combats and everyone would be bored out of their brains.

The details of combats are lengthy, depressing and boring. That's why we abstract them with hit points and shit like that.
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Zalman

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Preferred OSR initiative?
« Reply #88 on: May 20, 2020, 11:21:36 am »
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130678
What I've long said is that combat rounds can generally be an indeterminate length. Unless there's a ticking bomb beneath the feet of the combatants (or some magical equivalent like a delayed-blast fireball), it doesn't actually matter whether a combat is one second or one hour.
This. Which I suppose is why trying to justify retrofitting every possible action into a specific fixed time period inevitably requires so much mental contortion.

Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130678
What matters is how much movement the combatants get compared to attacks. If you have little movement, then all combats become duels at whatever range they were when they first saw each-other; if you have a lot of movement, then combatants can run in circles around each-other. Either would be absurd. And so we generally allow a certain amount of movement as well or instead of an attack, with some caveats like "if you turn away from melee he gets a free attack", etc.
Or perhaps more generally, how much can you do in one round. How long is a round? It's "one attack and one movement" long.
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VisionStorm

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« Reply #89 on: May 20, 2020, 11:55:49 am »
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130678
Be careful of the realism argument, because in fact nobody believes or wants reality, like the fact that if the guy's less than 20 feet away you can't draw and fire at him before he closes with you and stabs repeatedly, or the fact that a cop shooting at a suspect less than 10 feet away will miss 5 times in 6.


Speak for yourself. That's precisely how I like melee vs ranged attacks working in my game. Melee weapons are for melee and ranged weapons are for range. Use ranged weapons within melee reach only at your peril. And charge a ranged attacker from a long distance with a melee weapon also at your peril. That's what melee and ranged weapons are for.

Obviously a degree of abstraction is inevitable because it's a game and we can't arbitrate every instant our characters are in action. But just because abstraction is necessary that doesn't mean we have to drop all semblance of sense, like the distance between melee and ranged attackers doesn't matter or plenty of game effects (whether originating from spells or technology) aren't going to have a duration.

The actual duration of rounds is a compromise between "realism" and playability. And the argument could be made that certain circumstances, such as vehicle combat or long shoot outs with lots of cover and waiting in between, may require different time intervals depending on what all participants are actually doing. But generally speaking if you have to run several minutes across a field to reach a friend who's getting pummeled by multiple attackers, those attackers are going to have a lot of time to do some serious damage before you get there.