The Kickstarter project for Reclamation has been up for about 9 days, and slowly but surely we are creeping up to the project goal! Once again, a special thanks to all of you who have already backed Reclamation. For those of you still on the fence, my promise was to continually reveal additional aspects of the game so that you could make a more informed decision as to whether this is something you would want to see come to fruition. Based on comments and feedback that I have received from the community, the number one question is…… ::drum roll:: ……
HOW DOES COMBAT WORK?!
You ask. I answer. The first thing you have to know is how the Fate Deck is used. Once again, Reclamation is a dice-less RPG. Each player instead has a 52-card playing deck. Each card has its own value. 2-10 equals 2-10. Jacks are 12, Queens are 14, Kings are 16 and Aces are 20 (aces are always considered epic successes or failures). Black cards (clubs and spaces) add to the score of an action check and red cards (diamonds and hearts) subtract. So basically, each time you flip a card, you will add or subtract a modifier scaling from -20 to +20. This–in a nutshell–is how the Fate Deck is used.
Much like other RPGs, when a combat sequence begins, each player character and NPC is required to make an action check to determine Initiative; this is done by making a Speed (SPE) check using your talent for Alertness. (I will post another update to explain the “action check” system which is both intuitive and flexible.) Initiative determines the order each person gets to attack. Pretty standard stuff.
Here’s where it gets interesting. When it becomes a character’s turn in combat, he or she may choose to attack an enemy in range (and of course range is predicated on the type of weapon you’re using: a bat, a gun, a rocket launcher, etc.). The person in control of that character is highly encouraged to DESCRIBE the attack. For example:
“I swing my sword at the zombie.” (Acceptable Description)
“I side-step the zombie and slash my blade upwards with violent force to split him open from belly to throat!” (Awesome Description!)
Both of these descriptions are fine, but when we start talking about “dramatic actions,” you’ll find out that there are certain game-related advantages to actually providing a detailed description of the attack.
The other thing the “Striker” does is choose an Aggression Value for the strike. This is where we diverge from many other RPGs. In most games, you have a static “To Hit” value–either a certain calculated bonus number or a certain number of dice that you get to roll. Basically, this means that each and every round of combat, you always strike in the same general way, with the same general skill and with the same general fervor. In Reclamation, you decide just how much desperation and reckless abandon that you want to throw into each strike.
To choose your Aggression, pick a number between 1 and 20. Lower numbers equal higher levels of Aggression. So if your description was, “I close my eyes and swing my golf club as hard as I possibly can at the Magi’s head!” then perhaps you’d pick a low number–something between 1 and 5. If you announce a very defensive parry that accompanies a short thrust of your fencing sword, perhaps you choose a much higher number. The more aggression thrown into the attack, the more likely that SOMEONE is going to get hurt. High-aggression strikes make it easier for the Striker to hit his or her target (called a Victim), but it also makes it easier for the Victim to counter the attack and instead wound the Striker!
So the Striker has declared an attack and assigned an Aggression value (which is done very quickly in the game). Now the Victim of this attack reacts. The Victim has three options: Defend, Counter, or Respond.
Defend – The Victim adds his Defend Score to the Striker’s Aggression. Defend is based on the Victim’s Armor and ability to Dodge attacks. So if the Striker attacks with a 10 Aggression and the Victim defends with a +8 bonus, the Striker must now make a Dexterity-based action check that scores 18 or higher in order to hit. So if the Striker’s Dexterity score is a 12, he or she basically needs to reveal a +6 or better from the Fate Deck to injure the foe.
Counter – The best defense is a good offense, right?! The Victim puts it all on the line and lunges back at the Striker. The Victim adds his or her “Counter” score to the Striker’s Aggression and uses that to make an immediate attack against the Striker. So if the original Striker attacked with an Aggression of 10 and the Victim counters with a +10 Counter score, the Victim makes a DEX-based action check that needs to score 20 or better. If the Victim hits, the Striker is interrupted and gets to take no action. If the Victim misses, the Striker gets to attack as normal. However, since the Victim did not defend himself, the Striker makes a DEX-based action check with a difficulty only equal to his or her original Aggression value–10. In other words, the likelihood of success is much greater.
Response – Not going to delve into this right now. Basically, this means you want to do something more unique; perhaps you wish to use a special power in response to the attack, try to blind the Striker with a flood light, shoot the ice above the Striker to try and cause an avalanche, etc. Basically, anything exceptional or unique would fall into this category.
I hit! Now what?
Flip the top card off your Fate Deck. The suit (clubs, diamonds, spades, hearts) determines the amount of damage dealt. So for example, a dagger has the following scale: clubs = 1 diamonds = 2 spades = 3 heart = 5. So if you wound a zombie and flip a spade over for damage, you just dealt 3 damage to that zombie.
Now random unimportant enemies like zombies, henchmen, etc. basically have so many damage points that they can take before they die; special NPCs and all protagonist player characters actually have two types of health: pain points and injury points. Pain Points represent the amount of damage that you can shrug off because you are rough, tough, and generally BA. When you take damage in combat, you subtract from this score first. Once you reach 0 Pain Points, you start gaining Injury Points. These represent long-term injuries that take longer to heal. After you accrue so many Injury Points, you start having to make action checks to determine whether you remain conscious or die. Pain Points are recovered at the end of each event (like at the end of a fight). Whereas Injury Points are recovered slowly and only by rest, medicine, etc.
The last thing I wanted to mention in this post is the “dramatic action” thing that I mentioned earlier. Your character has so many Drive Points; these can be used periodically to add bonuses to your actions, re-flip cards, and bend the rules of the game. They can also be used to perform dramatic actions. Remember the description of splitting that zombie from belly to throat? Well, the description was cool and it makes the action scene come to life, but in game terms, it was no different from the basic description. However, if you had spent a drive point, that would have become a dramatic action. If you wounded the zombie, you really would have split him from belly to throat. This almost certainly would cause additional damage, Bleed effects, etc. The game result of a successful dramatic action is more art than science. There are rules to help guide what happens, but ultimately it’s up to the FD.
That is the summary description of combat in Reclamation. The book contains a lot more information: combat conditions (dazed, stunned, knocked down, etc.), when you can and can’t defend or counter, special rules for guns, wrestling, hidden strikes, blah blah blah.
What I find most exciting about this combat system is that it creates this sort of cat-and-mouse mentality in a fight. If you lower your Aggression too much (meaning that you pick higher numbers), your enemy will just Defend and you won’t have a real shot to wound your adversary. Go too low and he may just counterstrike you. It becomes important to figure out just how fast your opponent is (basically, is Speed trait) because that controls how quickly he can counter. Dexterity is important for melee weapons; Perception is used for aiming ranged weapons. Perhaps you know that you can’t possibly break through your opponent’s armor, so you goad into countering you so that when he misses, you can attack an exposed area and ignore his Defend bonus. It opens the door to taunting and intimidating your enemies; a “taunted” enemy always chooses a low aggression number which makes him easier to counter whereas a fearful enemy always chooses a high number and seldom breaks through your defenses.
As always, I am willing (scratch that… ANXIOUS!) to answer your questions about Reclamation. I can field your follow-up questions about the combat system, or if you have questions about other parts of the game, let me know!