Sunday, October 6, 2013

Combat in Wizards' Realm

In Wizards' Realm, “combat-turns are reckoned approximately 6 seconds' duration each.”  A character may only fight for a maximum number of consecutive turns equal to his or her Constitution before suffering Fatigue.  Fatigue is represented as one 'Survival Point' of damage per turn exceeded.

In a given turn of armed combat, a character is able to attack once and actively defend against a specific attack.  When faced with multiple attackers, a character may attack once and defend twice at the cost of “incurring Fatigue twice as fast as normal, and at twice the normal penalty.”

An armed attack consists of rolling 1d20, adding the character's Attack Number (the sum of Strength, Dexterity, and Agility), adding the weapon's Damage Rating (dependent on the character's skill with the weapon), and applying modifiers.  This final 'Attack Rating' is compared against the defender's 'Defense Rating.'

The defender determines his 'Defense Rating' against a particular attack by rolling 1d20, adding his Defense Number (the sum of Strength, Constitution, and Agility), adding the Defense Rating from either the character's weapon or his shield (again, depending on the defender's skill), adding the character's Armor Rating, and applying any modifiers.  “Additionally, small helms give an add of +1 to one's [defense] rating; full helmets, +2.”

Armor Rating is 'ascending,' with the absence of armor having a value of zero and “Faerie-fire full mail” having a value of 13.  If the Strength of a character wearing armor is less than the Armor Rating, then the difference is applied as a negative modifier to Agility (and thereby affects the character's Attack and Defense Numbers).

Anyway, if the total Attack Rating exceeds the total Defense Rating, the difference is amount of damage that the defending character suffers.

What if a character is subject to more than two attacks per turn?  This is a good question that the rules do not address directly.  If a character is unaware of an attack, he is entitled to a Luck saving throw roll.  If the roll is failed, only Constitution and Armor Rating are subtracted from the Attack Rating.  So, if a character is aware of a third attack, it seems reasonable that Armor Rating and the entire Defend Number (but neither shield/weapon defense nor 1d20) would be applied against the Attack Rating.

The Wizards' Realm armed combat system seems simple and intuitive; unfortunately, it is unbalanced.  C. D. Martin reviewed Wizards' Realm in issue 26 of Different Worlds (Jan '83).  In this review, C. D. recounts an experiment he performed to test the combat system.  He started with two identical characters – same equipment, same skills, all Attributes at 11.  “Combat was even,” writes C. D., “with a small advantage going to the first blow.”  He then raised one character to “second level.”  (I'm sure he meant to write second degree.)  This gave the character three additional Survival Points and four Skill Credits which were used to increase Strength by one and to provide a +2 bonus with his weapon.  C. D. then used his Apple II computer [!] to simulate “ten thousand combats to the death.”  The result?  “The second-level [sic] character died thirteen times and always took less than half damage from any single blow...Marginally weaker characters are doomed in single combat.”

Weaponless combat is handled similarly to armed combat.  “In a sluggling match,” the attacker rolls 1d20 and adds his or her Strength; the defender rolls 1d20 and adds Constitution.  If the defender result is smaller, the difference is the amount of damage the defender suffers.  However, a character can succeed with an Agility saving roll to avoid being hit.  (I suppose this is in lieu of defending with Constitution and forgoes the opportunity to attack.)  In wrestling, both characters compare Strength + 1d20 “and the better roll has thrown his opponent down.”

Ranged combat is handled differently.  The attacker makes a Dexterity saving roll modified by several factors (such as range and target size).  If successful, the attacker rolls 1d20 and adds the weapon's damage for the indicated range.  When “allowed under the circumstances,” a character may attempt an Agility saving roll to avoid being hit.  Otherwise, the defender subtracts Armor Rating and Constitution from the attacker's damage result; the difference – if positive – is the amount of damage the defender sustains.

“When reduced to 3 [Survival Points] or less,” according to page 24, “a character is in imminent danger of death, and, if reduced to 0, is a goner.”  When a character loses at least half of his Survival Points “at one time,” the character will lose his attack that turn (if he hasn't already attacked) and may suffer additional consequences.  The phrase “at one time” could easily be construed as meaning “from a single attack,” but the Gamemaster's Section suggests otherwise.  According to page 35, there may be additional consequences when a character loses at least 25% of his Survival Points in a single turn – not merely from a single attack.

There are two tables used to determine possible consequences; one table for a loss of 25% to 49% of Survival Points and another table for a loss of at least half of Survival Points.  Are these percentages derived from a character's normal, unwounded amount of Survival Points or is it based upon the number of Survival Points current as of when the damage was inflicted?  Regardless, the 25% to 49% table has “No effect” half of the time.  Possible consequences include being stunned for 1d6 turns, automatic 'initiation' loss, and/or dropping one's weapon.  There will always be a consequence with the 50%+ table; this table has consequences like the 25% to 49% table, but also the possibility of 'passing out' for as many as 1d20 turns.

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