Part 1 covered the fundamental status scores, had a bit of detail on what techniques a player character might use to initially prepare for combat, and gave some detail on the resolution process.  Continuing the output past the fold…

 Edited 11/16/06, added a section on types of combat techniques…

Concentration Bar

While there are several potential factors limiting the activity of the character and choices of the player, the Concentration Bar is probably the most obvious one.  This is simply a set of slots, the total number of which is loosely based on the Reasoning attribute, into which any technique activated must be able to be placed in order to fire.

In essence, it acts a little bit like a hand of cards.  If the character is allowed 9 slots on the Concentration Bar, he can essentially have up to 9 cards in his hand and at least potentially in play at any one time.  (Actually, it would be more like the cards set down in front of a player, than his/her hand… but let’s not get too far afield.)

ANYWAY, an active technique requires a concentration slot.  If there isn’t a completely open/unused one, a technique being activated will bump one not active at that moment in time.  If there are no slots that can be bumped, either from being active or being “locked”, the new technique simply won’t fire (which could be bad).

An additional consideration will be that each active technique (i.e. any technique just activated or “cooling down”) applies a “distraction” penalty to any other skill checks being performed.  This will be a 5-10 disadvantage penalty per active technique (leaning toward 10 per)… which could create a considerable challenge if a character is trying to pull off a half-dozen or so actions in very short order.

I want to tune this to create a decision making opportunity simply out of the timing of technique use.  Do you fire techniques to draw weapon, establish a grip, establish a stance, initiate a finesse technique, and possibly others as well all at once, or do you try to space them out slightly, allowing each to cool down before firing the next?  It should be possible to allow a player to establish a “rhythm” of sorts, with a variety of techniques auto-firing to refresh, followed by a few seconds in which the character might attack and/or perform other actions before the next refresh sequence.  Any failed checks potentially break that rhythm by extending the cooldown and/or forcing an “out-of-sequence” reactivation.

The exact length of time between “auto-refresh” firings on techniques that are structured to work that way is still up in the air.  I was originally thinking 10 seconds, but now I’m considering stretching that out a bit to 15, giving a little more room for other activity.  There will be a minimum of 2 such techniques (grip and stance) in play for a character at any one time, and potentially 4 or more.  If each has a cooldown of only 2 seconds, most of a 10-second “round” is gone before the character can act with no penalty from distraction.  Moving it to 15 (or 20?) allows a little more variation in cooldown rates (expand the range to at least 1-3 seconds) and opens it up a bit as well.

Technique Types

Crushing attacks 

Most weapons with any relatively flat or rounded face will have access to a Crushing style attack at some level of expertise.  The typically long, swinging nature of this style of attack makes them rather forceful (higher FF) and harder to avoid (additions to DV), but not quite as precise as other types of attacks (only moderate AE).  They are usually pretty easy to notice (lower attack detection and hit detection threshholds).

Crushing criticals are typified by muscle and bone injuries, significant daze and/or stun results, and more than the usual unbalancing and knockback/knockdown effects.

Slashing attacks

Any weapon with a sharpened edge will likely have access to many slashing style attacks through compatible Combat Styles.  Like Crushing attacks, the typically long, swinging nature of this style of attack makes them rather forceful (higher FF) and harder to avoid (additions to DV), but not quite as precise as other types of attacks (only moderate AE).  They are usually pretty easy to notice (lower attack detection and hit detection threshholds). 

Many Slashing attacks focus on using the sharp edge to the greatest advantage, adding some multiple of the weapon’s current Edge rating to the damage factors in some way.  Edge is a weapon property controlled and maintained by the character through various Weapon/Tool use techniques. 

Slashing criticals are typified by muscle and nerve injuries, significant external bleeding effects, and elevated Pain disability results.

Piercing attacks

Any weapon with a sharpened point will likely have access to many piercing style attacks through compatible Combat Styles.  Piercing attacks are usually quick and very precise (high AE), but less forceful (low to moderate FF) and a bit easier to avoid (reductions to DV).  They can be more difficult to notice and judge accurately (higher attack detection and hit detection threshholds). 

Many Piercing attacks focus on using the sharp point to the greatest advantage, adding some multiple of the weapon’s current Point rating to the damage factors in some way.  Point is a weapon property controlled and maintained by the character through various Weapon/Tool use techniques. 

Piercing criticals are typified by organ and nerve injuries, significant internal bleeding effects, and elevated Pain disability results.

Deflection Parries

This type of parrying technique focuses on deflecting an incoming attack, reducing the AE.  Deflection parries are usually a little more involved than the more straightforward Blocking style of parry, and often have a higher minimum Readiness requirement as a result.  However, they are also usually a little easier to recover from, and have a somewhat lower Readiness cost than a comparable Blocking parry might.

The Achilles’ Heel of the deflection parry is the FF: deflection parries have a maximum FF rating which, if exceeded, indicate that the attacker essentially overwhelmed the deflection attempt by sheer force, and the AE reduction of the parry is itself reduced, or even eliminated.

Blocking parries

Blocking parries are the sheer “force vs. force” type of parrying, reducing the FF of the incoming attack.  In comparison to deflection parries, Blocking parries have lower minimum Readiness scores, but higher Readiness costs.  Since the FF reduction is usually tied to the weapon’s base damage factor, larger weapons can be more advantageous when using blocking parries.

The Achilles’ Heel of the Blocking Parry is AE, similar to armor: blocking parries have a maximum AE rating which, if exceeded, indicate that the attacker essentially wove around the parry, and the FF reduction of the parry is itself reduced or eliminated as a result.

Dodging

Dodging is a defensive action which focuses mainly on reducing the character’s own DV.  Dodging can be fearsomely effective in avoiding damage, since it has no specific Achilles’ Heel and attackers generally have only limited influence on the basic DV score.  Another advantage of Dodge techniques over parries is that the DV adjustment of a dodge applies to most if not all attacks occurring at that moment, as opposed to only one.  The DV adjustment usually fades away over a second or two, as well, instead of dropping instantly.  Dodge techniques are generally far more effective against ranged attacks than parries as well, since such attacks usually have fearsomely high AE scores.

Dodging does have a few limitations, however.  Dodging techniques usually carry high costs in Balance, and have high minimum Balance ratings as well, meaning it can be extremely difficult to perform several dodges in quick succession.  Also, most dodging maneuvers require the character to be in a standing position (although there are exceptions).  Also, note that since there is little AE or FF mitigation from most dodges, critical effects on attacks that do manage to hit can be more severe, since they are often tied to the final AE and FF values.

Evasion

Evasion techniques are a “last resort” type of defensive technique, attempting to reduce damage while keeping health and status costs low, as opposed to avoiding damage entirely.  This can be useful if the character is very active in other ways, or is somehow being restricted to low Balance scores (under some kind of vertigo influence, or fighting on a oil-slick floor).  Evasion techniques generally apply small to moderate reductions to all 3 attack scores, AE, FF and DV, turning any and all “near misses” into complete misses, but having a relatively smaller impact on more solid blows. 

One upside to Evasion techniques is that they are very low cost and typically have no or low minimum Balance scores.  They can usually be used from any stance or position.  The DV reduction portion of an Evasion technique fades away over a couple seconds, similar to Dodging,  and there is no “Achilles’ Heel score” that can mitigate the protection provided.

Feints

Feints are low cost, fake “attacks” that try to trick an opponent into firing a defensive reaction (dodge, parry).  Feints typically have very low AE and FF scores and offer no DV adjustment per se, as well as very low attack detection threshholds, but a very high hit detection threshhold.  The defender is meant to know that an “attack” is incoming, but be unable to tell whether it will hit, and will (presumably) fire a reactive defense in response.

Feints are extremely low cost actions, both in Readiness and any health/energy scores.  However, more effective Feints can have relatively high minimum Readiness scores required.  Also, remember that it’s kind of silly to feint at someone from behind… where they simply can’t see you at all (zero effective awareness)…

Disarm, weapon bind, weapon break attacks

These are all attacks that are focused on the target’s weapon as opposed to the target themself.  The “damage” from a disarming attack is applied against the target’s Readiness in an attempt to force him to drop the weapon entirely.  Weapon binds attempt to “grapple” the weapon and prevent its use (usually at the cost of tying up one of the character’s own weapons/hands).  Weapon breaking attacks literally apply the “damage” of the attack to the weapon itself, attempting to render it damaged or useless.

More later…