Author Topic: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels  (Read 351 times)

complexmath

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Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« on: (18:09:56/02-16-17) »
We converted from SR5 to Anarchy a while back and have really been enjoying the new system, but I'm starting to wonder about combat balance as the game progresses. What really got me thinking was last night when we went against an opposing team of an equally high level, and our team was getting pummeled. Looking at the system as designed, there are a lot of ways to contribute to damage, but very few ways to contribute to mitigation. I'm still trying to solidify my ideas, and so an an exercise I took some mooks from the "Anarchy Threats" document and pitted them against themselves.

Corporate Security vs. himself. Go!

AGI 4, LOG 3, Firearms 8, Armor 9, 10P boxes, +1 attack reroll
That gives an average 2 defense hits, 4 attack hits. First round knocks the opponent to 1 armor, second round to 3P boxes, third round kills.


Corporate Security (Elite) vs. himself. Go!

AGI 5, LOG 4, Firearms 10, Armor 12, 11P boxes, +2 attack rerolls, +1 attack
That gives an average 3 defense hits, 5 attack hits. First round (2 attacks) wipes armor and leaves the defender with 4P remaining, first attack in the second round kills.


So at least if characters are leveled in a reasonable manner, things seem pretty linear in terms of the number of attacks required to kill someone. But Amps granting multiple attacks per round dramatically shortens time-to-kill. I'm wondering if part of this is because of the simplified armor model in Anarchy, where instead of acting as a form of DR applied to every attack, it simply increases the hit point pool. The impetus with this new system is to have combat be as short as possible, because armor is an incredibly limited resource, and spending a plot point to reclaim one armor point is really insignificant.

Has anyone else run into this issue? And if so, how did you address it? I'm wondering if something like hard armor with its own DR might help, or simply building out defense-releated amps a bit more would instead. Obviously, the trick is making players feel awesome while also making things feel challenging (mechanically as well as narratively). As soon as NPCs get multiple attacks per round, single target damage vs. PCs necessarily spikes, and I'm not sure how players should mitigate it. Spend the heck out of plot points to obtain narrative advantage?

Gingivitis

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Re: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« Reply #1 on: (20:43:22/02-16-17) »
If you are using the Anarchy Threats that I put together, I think you might have missed one of the notes.  Except where variable (like spirits and sprites), the skill lists the total dice (Attribute and Skill already summed).  When it says Firearms 8, that means 8 dice total, don't add AGI again.  So for Corporate Security, 8 dice plus a reroll will average 3 hits.  For Elite, 10 dice plus 2 rerolls will average 4 hits.

That being said, you have a point.  Defense does not scale well with offense in Anarchy.  Remember that skills can be advanced with Karma up to 12!  Attribute Only test will never get that high due to racial maximums.  There are some NPC Threats that are harder to kill, like the Soldier or Cop but for the most part, threats are more offensive than defensive.

A lot of people, not necessarily you, looked at Anarchy and its RP-heaviness and thought, "Oh, this is babyland frolicks!". It is not. Anarchy is lethal when your players go in without tactics (cover, concealment, stealth, target priority, etc), or come without resources (gear, Amps, Plot Points, Edge).  Maybe even more so than SR5.

In my opinion, Anarchy should remain lethal-ish.  There are lots of ways to go down, and fast.  Once players realize this, they tend to start making plans REALLY quickly. One of the issues is that most of the Contract Briefs in the book pit the players against Gangers and more Gangers.  When they run into a real, live Corporate Security though, they should be afraid.

There are a lot of ways to not die; like half a page on mitigating death on pg 44.  Enough that going down almost never means making a new runner.  Armor, being only ablative, is less helpful than DR and really only helps because it refreshes between scenes easily.  Other Shadow Amps that help survivability are Amps that force rerolls onto the attacker or reduce their dice.  Giving the attacker modifiers like concealment or cover helps too.  I allow Glitch Dice on defense rolls too; an exploit might mean half damage or temporary DR or armor.

complexmath

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Re: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« Reply #2 on: (11:53:01/02-17-17) »
Oops! Thanks for the clarification regarding that document. But yeah, as you say, the core issue is that attributes are more expensive to raise and cap far lower than skills, so the average number of net hits vs. a defender will only grow over time. Also, since we translated these characters from SR5, there's that as a point of comparison. One character in particular was built around the "I win" combat mechanic in SR5 with an insane initiative score and used active dodge constantly, and their invulnerability has taken a real hit with the move to Anarchy. Which I'm actually fine with since it felt kind of cheap in SR5, but the contrast was interesting.

Since Edge refreshes every session in Anarchy, it seems to be a fundamental part of not dying in challenging encounters. And cyberware/spells that grant DR certainly helps. But I'll admit I was surprised at how lethal this game can be given the fact that it's story-oriented. In a high level encounter, getting hit on an attack is almost guaranteed if you're just sitting there rolling dice. I suppose I was wondering if this was intended, or if high level PCs were likely to have defense-oriented amps of a sort that don't really exist in the core book (my Rigger, for example, had a bunch of cyberware that granted REA points, and I ended up creating an amp that provided a +1 dodge reroll to help compensate for the loss).

Overall, I like the way Anarchy streamlines combat. And your ideas for how to use glitch dice have been really interesting to read. I suppose I just think it's interesting that with the right character build in SR5 it's possible to play fairly mechanically, and that doesn't seem to be possible in Anarchy. The lethality forces people to actually think about what's going on. Go figure.

Gingivitis

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Re: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« Reply #3 on: (22:08:46/02-19-17) »
I am thinking about offering a choice in Defense for certain attacks to allow for scale-ability.  Defense Pools (such as AGI + LOG, STR + WIL, or LOG +LOG) will always have racial maximums that cap their dice pools well below the dice pools available for Offense Pools (such as Firearms, which caps at 12, plus specialty, + AGI).

What if you could swap your associated and relevant Skill for your Attribute when calculating Defense?  Such as:

- Close Combat + LOG (instead of AGI + LOG) to defend vs. melee attacks.
- Athletics + LOG (instead of AGI + LOG) to defend vs. Firearm attacks when you have room to maneuver.
- Stealth + LOG (instead of AGI + LOG) to defend vs. Firearm attacks when you are concealed or obscured.
- Pilot Ground + LOG (instead of AGI + LOG) to defend vs. Firearm attacks when driving evasively.
- Sorcery + WIL (instead of AGI + LOG or STR + WIL) to defend vs. Sorcery attacks when counterspelling a combat spell.
- Hacking + Firewall (instead of LOG + FW) to defend vs. cyber combat attacks when in VR.

Obviously, these would only come into play if your Skill rating was greater than your associated Attribute rating.  You should only swap out the associated Attribute, not the other one, so there would be no Acrobatics + AGI to defend.  Too much risk in dump-statting LOG then.

I think I would make this cost a Plot Point.  Using Plot Points to do something narratively extraordinary breaks up the flow of combat in Scenes (like Shake it up, A dish best served cold, or Take the hit).  The cost to break the flow of a Scene is a Plot Point, a finite resource.  Recalculating Defense Pools would definitely break the flow, so I think that should cost as well.

I haven't had a character in either of my two groups get that high in Skill yet, but I don't think this would break the game.  In fact, I use this concept for Counterspelling already; it is the  awakened equivalent to Take the hit .  Instead of the original target's Defense Pool, the counterspelling sorcerer's pays a Plot Point and uses their Sorcery + WIL to defend against the spell.

Plus the book says, "If you come up with another creative use for Plot Points, go for it!"  I think this is within the spirit of the game.

Vormaerin

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Re: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« Reply #4 on: (06:22:20/02-20-17) »
I think its overly harsh to charge a plot point for every use of what in SR5 is just an a minor initiative penalty (Parry/Dodge/Block).  Not to mention, its something that is probably necessary to do regularly at some point since players don't really have much in the way of options for adding Armor or other defenses as the offensive dice pools steadily increase.  And it does require them to invest in a skill.

Gingivitis

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Re: Attack vs. defense dice at various skill levels
« Reply #5 on: (21:22:03/02-20-17) »
All fair points.  I wouldn't want players spending Plot Points just to stay alive in the End-Game stage.  I would still want them pushing the story along with Plot Points too.

I suppose if there is the Karma investment, then applying a cost might be unnecessary as long as they are situational.  Like you can only use Athletics if you have used a Movement, you can only use Stealth if you are in concealment or haven't used a Movement, etc. That or if the cost was that they have to go last next Turn (like an initiative cost).  Or both.

The potential side-effect is that players dump AGI because they have a Skill that is easier to advance.  Like an AGI 3, Athletics 9 character that still cannot get shot because they are flipping and running all the time.  I cannot decide if that is A) unlikely, B) unbalanced, or C) super cool.