### AWW: Wilder Combat

Jun. 3rd, 2013 09:59 amAny "roll once and try to beat a number" system is ultimately only going to work within a fairly narrow range of numbers. Some of the underlying system assumptions about AWW give this a bit more elasticity than usual, but there will always be a point where a character always hits or becomes untouchable, and efforts to get around this with a critical hit/fumble system simply add random swinginess to combat.

This is what I have in mind: the number of dice you get for an attack roll are based on your raw ability. So when you make a melee attack with a Prowess of 4, you roll 4 dice*. The dice are not added together. Instead, rolls of 5 or 6 are counted as successes. Rolls of 1 are discarded. Rolls of 2, 3, or 4 can be turned into successes by "spending" your attack bonuses to raise them to a 5 or more. So if you have +3 to attack and you rolled a 5, a 6, a 1, and a 3, you can turn that 3 into a 6. If the 1 were a 4, you could put one point of bonus with it and two points on the 3 to give you two more successes.

Each natural 6 is worth 2 points of damage or effect. Any other success (a natural 5 or one created through bonuses) is worth 1 point of damage or effect.

Defense rolls work the same way. If you can match the attacker's successes with your own, the attack is defeated. Otherwise, every natural 6 rolled subtracts 1 from the damage/effect of the attack.

Advantages:

- There is no point at which an attack automatically hits or a defense automatically succeeds. There are points at which it's statistically almost a foregone conclusion, but no point at which it's completely so.
- It preserves the notion that more skilled opponents have more deadly/effective attacks.
- The stakes always go up with skill. Equally matched attack and defense always results in a 50/50 chance of hitting or missing, but the consequences of a hit increases with ability instead of the most common result being a hit for little damage.
- The above means that damage resistance type abilities have a usefulness and flavor that's separate from hit-avoidance ones.
- There's a ceiling on damage that the random number generator can't break.
- Attack bonuses can proliferate higher with fewer consequences, and the point at which diminishing returns kicks in is higher for characters with higher relevant ability scores. That is, a character with Prowess of 1 won't normally benefit from having more than +3 to attack, but a character with a Prowess of 5 can potentially make use of a total of +15.

Disadvantages:

- Attack rolls--and particularly applying bonuses to them--become less straightforward. In particular, it becomes possible for an inexperienced/not-math-savvy player to apply their attack bonuses "wrong" and end up with a weaker hit than they would have had.
- The scale for attack bonuses, damage bonuses, and effect bonuses changes quite a bit.
- The effect system is going to need some re-working to suit the new scale.

Even with the disadvantages... and I consider the first one to be substantial... I think I'm going to go with this, because it really does redress what the weak points of the combat system have been. If it turns out to be totally unwieldy in play, I can revise or even scrap it.

*(Of course, abilities of less than 1 are possible in AWW. My initial idea was that you'd roll Prowess +3 dice, giving you 1 die for -2 and 3 dice for a score of 0. This results in far too many dice on the table and is one of the reasons I discarded this whole idea the first time around. So instead I'm going to have dice equal to ability with a minimum of 1, and have the "dead die" range increase for each point below 1. Characters with a score of 0 discard dice that show a 1 or 2, characters with a score of -1 discard dice that show a 3, and characters with a score of -2 discard all dice that are lower than 5... which means that attack bonuses do not ever apply for someone with a score of -2. I regard this as a feature, not a bug. No amount of training can overcome that profound a physical limitation.)