Battle moves... without guns

  • 15 Replies
Battle moves... without guns
« on: October 08, 2011, 10:40:04 AM »
Has anyone written a version of the AW "battle moves" for hand-to-hand combat?

Like for gladiatorial fights, or maybe for a fantasy hack of AW?

How did you do it?

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2011, 03:59:51 PM »
It's not like hand-to-hand combat doesn't happen in AW proper, what with machetes and fistfights and everything else.

Hell, my character in my Tuesday night campaign uses her fists all the time. Usually against enemies with guns. (She wins.)



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2011, 05:08:49 PM »
Yeah, like with the basic moves, in the battle moves 'fire' means pressure, heat, problems, trauma, &c. not just 'machine gun fire.'



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2011, 05:58:01 PM »
I'm with Paul! If I were making a no-guns game, the optional battle rules would look really different. There may be a lot of abstract functional overlap, but no, the existing battle rules are solidly based on the idea of bullets in the air.

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 06:25:07 PM »
So how should they be altered for fights where there's melee combat? And how would they differ if some combatants are using guns and others are using melee, or when only melee is involved? What about non-gun ranged weapons, like thrown weapons or bows? What about differences between armed melee and unarmed melee, or, perish the thought, the difference between armed melee vs. guns and unarmed melee vs. guns?

I ask because those scenarios have actually come up in vanilla AW in my experience. Hell, in one of the campaigns I'm in, the MC declared an action not involving a weapon to be cover fire (the driver zipping through the middle of a battle in the mud to kick a curtain of mud into the air to make a distraction for friendlies to escape, though in fairness the pursuers were using primitive weaponry and not a hail of bullets). So of course I'm curious.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2011, 06:29:35 PM by Allison »



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2011, 07:31:22 PM »
So yeah, I get where Allison is coming from, but isn't like everything else? Start with the fiction? So if a situation comes up in play that obviously needs a move, but none of the basic moves 'fit', and 'Act under fire' just doesn't cut it as the go-to move...... Write a special move?

I guess its all in the narrative vision of the group as to melee violence. Is it abstracted, detailed, vicious or theatrical? Glorious or barbaric? In my games the basic moves have served quite well as fictional prompts, but Vx's suggestion has got me thinking....

Maybe a variation on hack and slash from Dungeon World?

When you are locked in deadly melee combat with an enemy Roll +Hard
On a 10+ you deal your harm (as established) to the enemy. You can choose to let the enemy inflict their Harm (as established) on you in order to take their life (NPC) or set their clock to midnight (PC).
On a 7-9, your exchange harm for harm with your enemy
On a Miss? Well, it is deadly hand-to-hand combat....

Note that this move assumes the conflict is close quarters, there is no stipulation on weaponry, movement, detailed blow by blow decriptions or such. It is simply the focused attempt to deal death in melee. This is when you are fighting tooth and nail for your life. Other moves could easily snowball in and out of this one, opening up the narrative potential.

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2011, 09:52:19 PM »
I'm not too concerned about just good old "fighting". Like, the basic moves do just fine if you have a knife and you attack someone, right?

But the "battle moves", in AW, do some interesting things about organizing larger-scale combat in a cinematic and tactical way.

Dungeon World does have some interesting options which AW doesn't have, like the "Defend" move. ("When you stand in defense of someone or something...") However, the way the Dungeon World moves are written are much more "game-like" than AW, I think. They read more like D&D moves than like "follow the fiction" moves, at least for my tastes.

So, this hasn't been done yet? I know there are a bunch of hacks out there, including at least two or three fantasy/medieval ones.

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2011, 10:02:14 PM »
idea of basically "kill any kind of dude with one 10+" is wrong. I remind you why PC can take 2 bullets for "free". and that even weapons as deadly as chainsaw or machete don't have 6-harm. Also, I remind you of armor, which makes kinda hard to kill a dude(short of neck-breaking which is not easy) even with a weapon and in deadly combat



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2011, 04:51:51 AM »
Sorry G&D, I guess we look at the game differently. The mechanical facts you are quite rightly focused on come second in our games to the fiction. Its just my take and a melee suggestion that was not in fact what Paul was worried about. :) Our game works with the moves as is just fine, and we have not needed any custom moves.

Don't forget though that I'm always looking at NPC's through crosshairs, and a 10+ is a strong hit. All the armour in our game has chinks. A PC-PC deadly duel that results in one character at death's door is an exciting moment of dramatic tension. "what do you do now?"

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2011, 07:13:55 AM »
I'm just trying to say, that killing a PC in one roll is sorta.. anticlimatic. Even a major NPCs in my opinion should take some time to kill just to, you know, give the feeling of importance.



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2011, 07:48:09 AM »
Oh Yes, for sure! I understand what you are saying. I just meant that NPC's are to be looked at through crosshairs, whereas PC's go right to the edge of their harm countdown: in need of medical / weird assistance or they will die soon. Bleeding out / in a coma, but not dead yet.

In our games, we like to incorporate a lot of fiction around just one roll, it sorta comes after playing a lot of burning wheel, where you only roll when it matters. It works for us, and seems to be the way we 'roll'. Pun intended!

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2011, 03:24:41 PM »
It doesn't feel like there's THAT much difference to me, Paul. They're pretty abstract to begin with, and if I just re-write, say, the "fire" and some of the "clock" elements, I get this:

When you stand in front of someone and defend them from enemies, roll+cool. On a 10+, you keep them from being attacked, for as long as you stand ready and able. On a 7-9, either their position or your position (or both, aren't you fucked?) is untenable, and you should ask yourself if they're really worth it after all. On a miss, your position is overrun, like, right about now.

(So taking direct fire means fighting the howling hordes all at once, incidental fire means only having to fight 1-on-1, and no fire is not having to fight at all.)

When you maintain an untenable position or course, roll+hard. On a 10+, you can hold it, and for 3 ticks it's 1-on-1, motherfuckers. On a 7-9, you can hold it and for 1 tick it's 1-on-1, but after that all bets are off. Either way you can abandon it before your time is up to get the fuck off the front lines. On a miss, you can either abandon it now or be overrun.

(Hey, you could pretty much use that one for a chase scene!)

When you stay the fuck down, roll+sharp. On a hit, you find a relatively safe spot for the rest of the battle. On a 10+, nobody finds you. On a 7-9, you either take something with you or leave something behind and stay hidden, or you can get a heads up when they do find you. On a miss, you either surf or you fight.

(So instead of incidental fire it's any old 7-9 consequence... like rolling Act Under Fire or Fuck this Shit with sharp.)

When you follow through on someone else's move, roll+Hx or if it's one of the MC's characters roll+sharp or if it's Dungeon World roll+bond. On a 10+, the MC chooses one of the following for you, as appropriate:
* you inflict +1harm
* you dominate someone's position
* you make an untenable course or position secure
* you avoid all accompanying dangers
* you create an opportunity and follow through to full effect
On a 7-9, you create an opportunity but haven't seized it or followed through on it yet. The MC will tell you what it is. On a miss the MC chooses one of the above for an appropriate character of her own.

(This one is so abstract you can just change fire to danger, voila.)

Is that about what you were thinking?



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Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2011, 09:44:41 PM »
Oooooh, I REALLY like those Johnstone! Stolen forthwith :)

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #13 on: October 10, 2011, 03:51:53 PM »

Not bad at all!

I wonder what other "typical" battlefield events or maneuvers might warrant a custom move?

"When you lead a charge..."?

Or is "seize by force" sufficient for that kind of action? "Impress or dismay your enemies" easily becomes, "rout your enemies". Heck, leading a charge could even be considered going aggro.

Interesting stuff to ponder, anyway.

Re: Battle moves... without guns
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2011, 05:19:10 PM »
If leading a charge is about you and all your dudes seizing an enemy position or whatever, then yeah, seize by force is sufficient. If you are leading cavalry through supply lines or a surprised enemy camp, you are going aggro.

But if leading a charge is about your effect on the men behind you, then you've got a custom move waiting to happen. Maybe you are leading a charge to raise the morale of the other troops, or to help another unit, or to escape a bad position. So it could be two moves in one, you help somebody, then you have to roll to see how well the men behind you acquitted themselves. I dunno exactly what that would look like but I can think of a few others...

What happens when troops are frightened, impressed, or dismayed? They rout! And when they rout, you gots to rally 'em:

When you rally the troops, roll+hot. On a 10+, all or as many as makes no difference hear you cry and rally to your position. The rout has stopped! On a 7-9, only a small cadre of the most determined troops rally around you, while the green boys and cowards take their leave. On a miss, your troops are broken, and the enemy is upon you.

When you fell an enemy leader, roll+hard (or, I dunno, roll+enemy's rank?). On a 10+, this devastating sight throws panic through the ranks. They break and run. On a 7-9, the enemy's leadership is broken. Individual units pursue their own impulses--not all of which will be to flee. On a miss, the enemy is possessed of a more-than-competent successor, and now they want revenge.

When you resupply the front...

When you set fire to the enemy (i.e. flaming arrows or burning oil)...

When you seize the enemy's supply train... (roll to see how much you get in the way of provisions and stuff)

When you scan the enemy ranks, looking for weaknesses, roll+sharp. On a hit, ask questions from either read a sitch or read a person, but ask them about enemy units or the army as a whole, not about individual people. On a miss, you maneuver yourself into a bad spot. Better roll that charge move, Light Brigade.

For moves in a gladiatorial arena, I can see stuff like the Quarantine move where you pick how much damage you can do and/or s-harm. Or...

Cat-and-Mouse: When you inflict deadly harm on an NPC, you can declare them still alive but helpless before you, instead of killing them. They will continue to stumble about, but will not go down until you give them the coup de grace.

Coup de Grace: When you kill someone, roll+cool. On a hit, they die gloriously. On a 10+, choose 2. On a 7-9, choose 1:
* It is sufficiently bloody; the crowd's love is yours.
* It is sufficiently distracting; take +1forward against the nearest enemy.
* It is sufficiently fearsome; your other enemies hesitate or stall and you retain the initiative.
* It is sufficiently skillful; the nobles' respect is yours.
On a miss, your weapon is stuck.
(or you could just use artful & gracious)

Can't think of anything else offhand...