Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Archlyte

5 second default Combat Rounds?

Recommended Posts

I was toying with the idea of having a default round time, for personal combat, of 5 seconds. This would not be a hard rule and can be elastic to fit RAW, but I feel like being able to have everyone on the same sheet of music about how much time we are talking about on average for a Round to elapse. 

Pros: 

  • Beyond the Maneuver and Action type descriptions the players and GM will understand more or less what can get done
  • Ammo makes more sense
  • Helps combat You Go-I Go by having a shorter amount of time in which everyone is doing things. 

Cons:

  • May lead to issues when vehicles enter Personal Combat
  • People tend to think of their turn in a vacuum and the shortened time period might be ineffective at helping players to formulate reasonable descriptions of what they do in that time.
  • Other things like Prepare may be weird. 

 

Any ideas or thoughts about this possible house rule? If you like having the long, elastic rounds could you elaborate on why you like it? Also if anyone knows why they made the rounds elastic or thinks they may know why I would like to hear any thoughts on that too. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, Archlyte said:

People tend to think of their turn in a vacuum...

It seems to me this is the crux.  If they play the game with any regularity, and you are GM'ing it appropriately, this shouldn't happen.  Yes, it's kind of a default for people coming from other systems, but the narrative dice give everybody a reason to pay attention to everybody else's turn, either narratively because it's more fun, or even selfishly if it's just to make a case for receiving a benefit.

Without this concern, I don't see the point.  A danger is it feeds a different expectation, which is that a PCs turn doesn't overlap with others, but the rules are pretty clear that some overlap is accounted for.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's any different than the existing rules. A round can take up to a minute, however Joe Quickdraw might skin their smoke wagon, fire, and kill the one and only target is less than 5 seconds. I don't see how the RAW are broken, so this is a solution looking for a problem imo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I prefer the ambiguous nature of time. It fits with the narrative system. When you assign a set amount of time, it begets computations by players.

5 seconds: Only 5 seconds to fly how far? Only 5 seconds to hack into the computer and open the door?

Ok make it 30 seconds: 30 seconds to sprint down that hallway and open the door? It takes me 30 seconds to pull out my blaster and shoot one guy? I can't even put my blaster away without causing Strain? (player demonstrates pulling a blaster from a holster, shooting, re-holstering 10 times in 30 seconds). 

When this gets asked, I've just used RAW and said its a varying amount of time to be able to do one or two brief things and tell them not to dwell on it too much. The only time referred to in combat is a measurement called a, "round", which is in flux.

If you must know how much time the combat took to complete (there's a proverbial clock ticking) then I usually assign about a minute per round. But, I don't see a problem with making the time less depending on what actually happened during that combat session. If the party blasted it out for a while against several minion groups, then sure a minute per round. There was lost lots happening each round with several minions being blasted during each. If combat was only 2 rounds of the PCs opening fire on one enemy and downing him, then I might say it was over in a matter of seconds, not 2 minutes.

Varying round times makes it much easier to explain, not harder, in my opinion.

ETA: Having a set amount of time for a round is a hold over from other systems. Why can't we have it be varied? Why must it have a set amount of time? This isn't a detailed combat system of blow by blow, using action points to move, parry, thrust, change weapons, etc. It's narrative.

Edited by Sturn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, putting a cap, soft or otherwise, just ends up begging more questions than any answers it may provide.

RAW you can move from Medium to engaged and punch someone in a round.  Medium can be 200ish feet, so you'd have to be traveling at least 26 mph the entire 5 secs to cover that much ground to punch someone.  Moving to punch someone is hardly an odd circumstance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Archlyte

There are also numerous Talents whose use becomes nonsensical with a short, fixed round duration. Inspiring Rhetoric and Scathing Tirade come to mind. The character using one of these Talents have to actually give a speech that either inspires or demoralizes the targets. 5 seconds might be enough time to say five words, not an entire speech.

Medicine, Mechanics and Computers checks can all be performed during combat. 5 seconds is enough time to get out your tools or log in to a terminal, but not to actually do anything productive. 

And narratively, the single skill check in combat doesn't necessarily represent a single attack (nor does it have to represent multiple attacks, either). Using Ranged (Light) to throw a grenade could literally be that one attack, as you retrieve the grenade, plan your throw, and then toss it. Yet it might be a dozen shots with your blaster pistol, most of which miss, or whose purpose is to spoil your opponent's aim.

As someone who has been playing and GMing this system practically since it came out, I've never once had anyone have a problem with the narrative and flexible nature of the combat round.

I hope that helps! 😊

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A round is subjective, it could take 5 seconds it could take 1 minute. It depends on the actions that are being taken place. Just because you shoot a guy doesn't mean it takes 5 seconds to score that hit, its called a fire fight for a reason. If players are taking too long to act, talk to them about it and see if they need help with the rules or something else. Implementing a time limit with stress em out and may cause some very unwise decisions that may earn the ire of their fellow PCs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 1:06 PM, Sturn said:

I prefer the ambiguous nature of time. It fits with the narrative system. When you assign a set amount of time, it begets computations by players.

5 seconds: Only 5 seconds to fly how far? Only 5 seconds to hack into the computer and open the door?

Ok make it 30 seconds: 30 seconds to sprint down that hallway and open the door? It takes me 30 seconds to pull out my blaster and shoot one guy? I can't even put my blaster away without causing Strain? (player demonstrates pulling a blaster from a holster, shooting, re-holstering 10 times in 30 seconds). 

When this gets asked, I've just used RAW and said its a varying amount of time to be able to do one or two brief things and tell them not to dwell on it too much. The only time referred to in combat is a measurement called a, "round", which is in flux.

If you must know how much time the combat took to complete (there's a proverbial clock ticking) then I usually assign about a minute per round. But, I don't see a problem with making the time less depending on what actually happened during that combat session. If the party blasted it out for a while against several minion groups, then sure a minute per round. There was lost lots happening each round with several minions being blasted during each. If combat was only 2 rounds of the PCs opening fire on one enemy and downing him, then I might say it was over in a matter of seconds, not 2 minutes.

Varying round times makes it much easier to explain, not harder, in my opinion.

ETA: Having a set amount of time for a round is a hold over from other systems. Why can't we have it be varied? Why must it have a set amount of time? This isn't a detailed combat system of blow by blow, using action points to move, parry, thrust, change weapons, etc. It's narrative.

Great points Sturn. I think my thinking behind this is that I will often have a player who wants to do something very time consuming while the others are doing something fast. My thinking here is that by quantifying the round I can tell the character who is doing something more time-intensive how many rounds it will take while the other players are able to achieve what they want in one round. 

There are some talents that reduce the time required to do something by half, but in games I have played in and run in the past because time is so nebulous this is often just not something that has any effect. The GM isn't keeping time in anything other than a narrative sense so half of something undefined is what? That's an equation not an answer as it seems to me. 

Also a minute for one effective shot (I know this could be from many shots and only one hits) is a really long time, and needing strain to put your blaster away in a minute after moving and shooting seems counterintuitive. The minute-long round is problematic when you have characters doing things that time-wise should have different values in relation to each other. How many times can you pull a trigger in a minute versus how many times you can write an essay. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 10:32 AM, Samuel Richard said:

A round is subjective, it could take 5 seconds it could take 1 minute. It depends on the actions that are being taken place. Just because you shoot a guy doesn't mean it takes 5 seconds to score that hit, its called a fire fight for a reason. If players are taking too long to act, talk to them about it and see if they need help with the rules or something else. Implementing a time limit with stress em out and may cause some very unwise decisions that may earn the ire of their fellow PCs.

But isn't combat happening fast? I think that this is a good thing if they find combat to be frenetic. Not sure why that is a problem. Not trying to be a jerk I'm honestly just not understanding why they should not feel like fast time is fast time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎11‎/‎2019 at 5:16 AM, salamar_dree said:

@Archlyte

There are also numerous Talents whose use becomes nonsensical with a short, fixed round duration. Inspiring Rhetoric and Scathing Tirade come to mind. The character using one of these Talents have to actually give a speech that either inspires or demoralizes the targets. 5 seconds might be enough time to say five words, not an entire speech.

Medicine, Mechanics and Computers checks can all be performed during combat. 5 seconds is enough time to get out your tools or log in to a terminal, but not to actually do anything productive. 

And narratively, the single skill check in combat doesn't necessarily represent a single attack (nor does it have to represent multiple attacks, either). Using Ranged (Light) to throw a grenade could literally be that one attack, as you retrieve the grenade, plan your throw, and then toss it. Yet it might be a dozen shots with your blaster pistol, most of which miss, or whose purpose is to spoil your opponent's aim.

As someone who has been playing and GMing this system practically since it came out, I've never once had anyone have a problem with the narrative and flexible nature of the combat round.

I hope that helps! 😊

It does, and thanks for responding. :) 

I think the loose nature of it is ok for the most part but I have had situations where I get an appropriate stink eye form players who are doing something fast-paced while another is doing preventative maintenance on an Astromech in structured time. This is especially true for Slicing (especially if you do it by the FFG book) in which the wizards in the party will attempt to re-program the death star life support computer in one check. While that guy is easily dealt with by use of the word No, there are more reasonable but still problematic discrepancies. I guess the rulebook is to blame for insinuating that 1 Action in 1 Round is enough to do such things, and I see it as one of the mistakes they made in design. All actions and action types are not equal. 

I would use the 5 second combat round as a default, but it could be longer for appropriate instances of non-combat skills. Here is where I lose most of you, but I don't believe that a firefight is going to be affected by a conversation. When blaster bolts, fists, or explosives are flying a conversation is just a bridge too far for my suspension of disbelief. Adrenaline, survival instinct, and the need to focus on cover and effective fire mean that standing up in a gunfight and attempting to shame someone just isn't on the menu for me. 

Jyn Erso gives her rousing speech in the shuttle before the combat, not on the Scarif beach firefights. 

Life isn't fair, and I believe that is true also in the Galaxy Far Far Away. So if you make a character who can only do Social Combat then you are not going to be able to be as effective as a Character whose concept is devoted to Martial Combat. In the same way that Gunfighter Bob is not going to be great at State Dinners. This may seem like a problem for the non-combat characters but it's only a problem if you are running a D&D style combat-as-the-point-of-the-exercise style game. If it's a game largely made up of maps minis and combat rounds the social guy is shafted, but I don't really find that sort of game all that entertaining so I don't need to equalize my Social Characters for Martial Combat just so they won't be wallflowers. 

In Star Wars the main characters split up a lot, so I could see a concurrent scene where Scathing Tirade and Awesome Nagging is used to great effect while in another location other characters are shooting it out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎10‎/‎2019 at 2:48 PM, HappyDaze said:

Distances are not hard set (Short range might be 3m, might be 5m, might be whatever), so why hard set times? 

The distances are not set but they are probably similar in most shooting situations. Because of all the varied movement types and the narrative focus it made sense not to quantify the distances for range bands, but I feel like there has to be some reliable way for players to know what they can do in that time and some anchoring activity that describes it. Because combat is potentially the most decisive activity I chose to use it as the standard. My 5-second thing is only a starting point though, it's not a hard rule. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Archlyte said:

But isn't combat happening fast? I think that this is a good thing if they find combat to be frenetic. Not sure why that is a problem. Not trying to be a jerk I'm honestly just not understanding why they should not feel like fast time is fast time. 

depends on the combat, if its a quick duel in the streets heck yes would take five frenetic seconds. But stuff like healing a buddy with a med check or hacking a door takes longer especially in a firefight. As a rule of thumb I always say that combat checks include multiple "attacks" within the action, a hit with a few damage may mean the smuggler had to fire off a few shots before grazing a hutt with his blaster pistol but a heavy damage attack may mean that the stormtrooper had to wait a few seconds before he could pump 2-3 shots into a PCs chest. I do this to accommodate the longer actions of hacking and healing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, FFG keeps the combat rules very vague and do so on purpose.  If you wan't to call your combat rounds a "Five Second period," then no worries.  I think intuitively, once the blaster bolts start firing, that's about how long our combat rounds are lasting.

But it's intentionally vague.

Here's another perspective on "combat" that I think a lot of us miss at first.  When we think about combat, I think our instinct is to think about someone employing a weapon; aiming, pulling the trigger and then observing the results.

However, the reality is that combat is more about maneuver than it is about utilizing the weapon system (sword, knife, crossbow, .50 cal BMG Barrett M82, whatever).

So any real serious combat simulator is going to focus more on maneuver than the shooty aspects.  (For instance I was introduced to the game 'Darkstar' which is in very early Alpha design and THAT's a game all about maneuver in spite of its detailed combat system).

Also, people armed with guns and blasters don't tend to 'hit' quite as often as we'd like to assume.  I am reminded of an experience from Basic Training where I watched the range officer (RO) test out 100 meter pop up targets.  The RO was walking down taking shots at the targets to ensure that they would drop when hit by the tiny .223 bullets.  He was shooting from a standing position and walking the range and he averaged about five shots for every single hit.  There was little stress for him, but accuracy for the (otherwise) Expert shooter was a rather paultry 1 out of 5(?).

Add the stress of combat and the hit accuracy goes down considerably.

The other statistic that I love and is easy to remember, in WWI the US Army calculated that it took 10,000 bullets to inflict 1 casualty (on average).

And in an RPG when you ask, how granular and realistic do you want to get?  FFG Star Wars ranks very low on the granularity and realism, but it does so intentionally.  This game is designed for quick and easy resolutions.

And no big shock, but I'm still a big fan of GURPS where combat rounds are one second and the PC actions are very granular.  Realism for GURPS is pretty high but it's still not perfect.

But that leads to an opposite 'problem.'  In GURPS a crossbow is a very deadly weapon, but it has a reload speed of 40 seconds for a light crossbow.  I have heard players complain "What?  My character isn't going to be doing anything for 40 turns?  That's no fun!"

The obvious rejoinder is, "No your character will be wrestling with a crossbow's loading mechanism for 40 seconds, but with that bruiser charging with the axe, your character should probably DROP the crossbow and grab a different weapon!"

But most casual role players aren't interested in this level of granularity or realism.

Personally, I've changed about a dozen FFG rules for our current RPG campaign and I think those rule changes have been for the better.

If this time assumption works for you, then cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not trying to attack your players here but this really sounds to me like less of a  "game mechanics" issue, and more of a "player" issue. If I'm in a group and the GM let's me make a computer check to try and help the group out since my character is more support and less combat, and the combat player gives me and the GM the stink eye because in their hyper reality mind, what I'm doing takes longer than his bang bang with the pistol, I'm going to have a long talk with that player outside of the game about expectations and having fun. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Mark Caliber said:

Yeah, FFG keeps the combat rules very vague and do so on purpose.  If you wan't to call your combat rounds a "Five Second period," then no worries.  I think intuitively, once the blaster bolts start firing, that's about how long our combat rounds are lasting.

But it's intentionally vague.

Here's another perspective on "combat" that I think a lot of us miss at first.  When we think about combat, I think our instinct is to think about someone employing a weapon; aiming, pulling the trigger and then observing the results.

However, the reality is that combat is more about maneuver than it is about utilizing the weapon system (sword, knife, crossbow, .50 cal BMG Barrett M82, whatever).

So any real serious combat simulator is going to focus more on maneuver than the shooty aspects.  (For instance I was introduced to the game 'Darkstar' which is in very early Alpha design and THAT's a game all about maneuver in spite of its detailed combat system).

Also, people armed with guns and blasters don't tend to 'hit' quite as often as we'd like to assume.  I am reminded of an experience from Basic Training where I watched the range officer (RO) test out 100 meter pop up targets.  The RO was walking down taking shots at the targets to ensure that they would drop when hit by the tiny .223 bullets.  He was shooting from a standing position and walking the range and he averaged about five shots for every single hit.  There was little stress for him, but accuracy for the (otherwise) Expert shooter was a rather paultry 1 out of 5(?).

Add the stress of combat and the hit accuracy goes down considerably.

The other statistic that I love and is easy to remember, in WWI the US Army calculated that it took 10,000 bullets to inflict 1 casualty (on average).

And in an RPG when you ask, how granular and realistic do you want to get?  FFG Star Wars ranks very low on the granularity and realism, but it does so intentionally.  This game is designed for quick and easy resolutions.

And no big shock, but I'm still a big fan of GURPS where combat rounds are one second and the PC actions are very granular.  Realism for GURPS is pretty high but it's still not perfect.

But that leads to an opposite 'problem.'  In GURPS a crossbow is a very deadly weapon, but it has a reload speed of 40 seconds for a light crossbow.  I have heard players complain "What?  My character isn't going to be doing anything for 40 turns?  That's no fun!"

The obvious rejoinder is, "No your character will be wrestling with a crossbow's loading mechanism for 40 seconds, but with that bruiser charging with the axe, your character should probably DROP the crossbow and grab a different weapon!"

But most casual role players aren't interested in this level of granularity or realism.

Personally, I've changed about a dozen FFG rules for our current RPG campaign and I think those rule changes have been for the better.

If this time assumption works for you, then cool.

Great stuff Mark thanks, I really enjoyed this post. Yeah I am not looking to overdo it and I prefer an elegant system over one that has a lot of canned detail. I am aware of the combat studies and I agree (and also about how modern warfare is especially about maneuver, but that it's also an ancient essential element to warfare), and I also agree that it's Star Wars so realism is kind of out the window lol.

I also love that thing where the player feels like they should be able to use the same weapon for every situation, which outside of a lightsaber is gonna be hard to do. 

This default 5 second thing was basically just something that I came up with in response to players sometimes wanting to put an hour's worth of work into a round. So really my only goal was to have a communicated expectation of about what you can do in a round that seemed to make sense. 

Edited by Archlyte

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, unicornpuncher said:

I'm not trying to attack your players here but this really sounds to me like less of a  "game mechanics" issue, and more of a "player" issue. If I'm in a group and the GM let's me make a computer check to try and help the group out since my character is more support and less combat, and the combat player gives me and the GM the stink eye because in their hyper reality mind, what I'm doing takes longer than his bang bang with the pistol, I'm going to have a long talk with that player outside of the game about expectations and having fun. 

Hey Unicorn thanks for the response. Yeah I think there is some truth to what you are saying about it being a player issue but I think the offended party was more me than them. I think that the answer is to allow the computer check but if I felt it would take longer than the combat rounds I would just make the effort span the rounds. I don't know why that is so bad though because I don't know where the assumption comes from that everyone will always be acting in a 1:1 ration with each other. Well i take it back it comes form the rulebooks where they list an action without suggesting possible durations beyond 1 round. 

It's still helping the group if your efforts to make the computer check involves being covered while you have the time pressure of getting it done before X happens, which was what the support character set out to do in the first place. I just don't think it's particularly feasible to provide a never faltering equal spotlight for every character in the group. Also if combat characters are the only ones who seem to be doing anything then to me that's a sign the game is basically just a combat game. 

As for characters talking to each other about gaming and having fun I think that sounds awesome. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just make sure the computer check is a fight against some one (or AI etc) defending the system, so the Slicer is having a fight whilst others fight to defend them. Everyone is then doing one action a round and feeling involved.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Darzil said:

Just make sure the computer check is a fight against some one (or AI etc) defending the system, so the Slicer is having a fight whilst others fight to defend them. Everyone is then doing one action a round and feeling involved.

Do you have to have roughly the same amount of dice checks as everyone else to feel involved though? If you play the rounds as RAW suggests everyone will have the same amount of dice checks but I don't really feel this is necessary. It seems like the importance is given only to the actions that have a check while the other stuff is seemingly considered to be un-involved. Checks are used when there is something of significance at stake or if it is in doubt as to whether or not something can even be completed. 

But, I would certainly run a situation where someone might be engaging in things that consume time but are not of a nature that requires a check. This game has dice checks that can have a significant consequence good or bad so I have noticed that there is sometimes a tendency to over-use the dice in this game in my opinion. People taking strain for failing to take out the garbage or tie their shoes. 

Maybe I'm wrong, but really I don't care for this idea that if you are not making a check you are doing nothing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Do you have to have roughly the same amount of dice checks as everyone else to feel involved though?

No.

This seems like a forced issue.

I use the narrative dice for two reasons.

  1. To determine the resolution of a point of conflict
  2. To shape the outcome and determine the difficulty of the next issue.

The reason I ask a player to grab dice is because they are doing something in which their player is trying to do something for which the outcome is in doubt.

So as I'm GMing, what I'm doing to include players is that I'm establishing a situation and then I ask each player, in turn, "What is your character doing?"

Based on those answers, I determine the relative difficulty of their conflict and assign the dice pool based on that.

If a character does something inevitable, then they don't roll dice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Mark Caliber said:

No.

This seems like a forced issue.

I use the narrative dice for two reasons.

  1. To determine the resolution of a point of conflict
  2. To shape the outcome and determine the difficulty of the next issue.

The reason I ask a player to grab dice is because they are doing something in which their player is trying to do something for which the outcome is in doubt.

So as I'm GMing, what I'm doing to include players is that I'm establishing a situation and then I ask each player, in turn, "What is your character doing?"

Based on those answers, I determine the relative difficulty of their conflict and assign the dice pool based on that.

If a character does something inevitable, then they don't roll dice.

Thank you. I would also say that while combat is significant it is not the whole enchilada in my opinion. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah and after consideration I think you guys are right that it's just not needed. I appreciate your arguments and thoughts on the issue. In the end it's kind of a non-issue and because time isn't really being considered all that much most of the time it won't be a problem as long as people feel like they are contributing. I can hold them to a faster time signature without codifying it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...