I discussed combat briefly on the NaGaDeMon discord yesterday since it came up in my last post. And I concluded that I want combat to be simple, use the same system as everything else, that is d6 pool based on the four stats and any talents, and the same success tiers as everything else.
The Attack Roll
What I ended up within that discussion is that an attack roll would be rolling a number of d6 equal to your attack stat, Strength for a melee attack for example, and add bonus dice from talents. Like, maybe the character has some combat training that gives him +1 on melee attack rolls.
The attack roll would then need a number of successes equal to, or higher than, the target's defense stat. Against a normal melee attack, this would usually be Agility. Now, this would make a high-Agility character really hard to hit. So there need to be ways to add dice, and therefore potential successes, to your roll. This is where Stress comes in.
While my plan is that stress mainly gives the characters a condition based on their stress levels, I also love the idea of the players adding stress dice to their roll. Sort of like in the Alien RPG, or how Blades in the Dark lets you Push Yourself and take stress in trade for a bonus die. It even makes sense! If you struggle with taking out an enemy, you would be stressed, so I really like the idea of players adding stress dice to their rolls to make sure they can hit someone.
The stress dice would then give you more potential successes, but if any of them rolls a 1, you become stressed or panicked or traumatized!
Now, becoming stressed needs to have some sort of consequence. Not sure how to handle this yet, but I might draw some inspiration from the Alien RPG, Unknown Armies, and Blades in the Dark, cause I think they handle this sort of thing best. I'm thinking of a table to decide on the effect. With possibilities for trauma, panic, and conditions, perhaps tied to the stat used. So a Strength attack roll could make you fatigued, damage your Strength, or become frightened, or something.
A table could have a low-impact effect too like, you succeeded with your attack, but you gain 1 Stress or something. Rolling on the table could either be like in Alien where you roll a d6 and add your current Stress level, or just roll your current Stress as a d6 pool, adding them all together, or maybe even use the fail/complication/success system. Maybe every non-success counts higher in the table or something. Need to think about this some more.
When an attack roll succeeds, as in gets enough successes to hit a target, their weapon deals damage. Now, one thing I really don't like in most RPGs today is the fact that armor makes you harder to hit, with the subtext of something like "but AC represents both dodging and absorbing damage...". Not a fan!
So armor's role in the Mythos Engine will be to reduce damage. In a medieval setting, if you attack a knight in full plate, you will need to do some maneuvering to get past that damage reduction. Some weapons, like Estoc, could have a piercing property that ignores a set amount of damage reduction, making it more effective against heavier armor.
So now, if you succeed with your attack you deal damage. But if the opponent is wearing armor, you might end up dealing no damage... Firstly, I'm thinking that all attacks that hit need to deal at least 1 damage, unless the target has a talent or something stating otherwise. Secondly, any successes beyond those needed to hit the target could be used to add damage to the attack, representing the attacker hitting between the plates or similar.
In fact, any successes beyond those needed are critical successes and I love how Wrath & Glory does this with shifting to add damage, gain info, improve speed, etc. Or how Alien RPG gives you stunts based on the skill used.
So any successes beyond what is needed to complete a task, be it an attack or pick locking, or anything becomes a critical. I want these critical successes to be spendable to gain further advantages on the roll. So a picklock could get a morale boost and get a +1 on their next roll in the current scene. Or with more criticals, they could give the entire group a boost for the scene's duration.
Critical attacks would most obviously deal extra damage, but they could also have other possibilities. Maybe you could impair your opponent with a critical, giving them a -1 on their next attack roll. Or knock them prone with 2 criticals. Sometimes controlling a target is more valuable than damaging them.
Conclusion, or something like it
This obviously needs playtesting. I want to avoid drawn-out combat where both parties keep missing each other or hacking at huge pools of health or similar. So it shouldn't be too hard to hit someone. The ideal balance I picture in my head is that everyone is easy-ish to hit unless they use maneuvers to make themselves harder to hit. Maneuvers like Guarded Attack or Defensive Stance, or similar. The players should be the ones to strategically position themselves in combat, and since I plan to build the Mythos Engine around zones, there need to be maneuvers that handle the strategic part.
Anyway, done for now. As always: if you want to comment, shout at me, drop some ideas, or just chat. You can tweet us on Twitter, message us on our Patreon, or join our Discord. And do check out NaGaDeMon, it's a fantastic initiative to make more people finish their games!