Saturday, July 21, 2018

Combat Writ Larger

For foes of differing size, Kromm in “Combat Writ Large” (Pyramid #3/77, p. 4) says to use Combat at Different Levels (p. B402). For this, however, you need to translate everything first into feet. Furthermore, that table is assuming human height for one of the fighters. So, I’m trying to make this more generic to work for all sizes, and easier to remember in play.

Let’s assume a human (SM 0) is striking other humanoids of differing sizes, and rewrite the table. I’m only worrying about the human to sidestep arm length for the moment.
  • SM +2 (Hill giant) or bigger: The human can only strike at the giant’s Legs and Feet, with no special modifier (the Legs would be at -0 and Feet at -2 from normal math). The giant gets +3 to defend against all the human’s strikes.
  • SM +1 (Ogre): The human can try to strike anywhere on the ogre, but is at an extra -2 to hit the Head (after relative SM and normal Hit Location penalties, Face -6, Skull -8, Eyes -10). If he has a Reach 2 weapon, he can ignore the extra penalty to hit the Head. The human does get an extra +2 to hit the Legs and Feet (so, after relative SM and normal Hit Location penalties, he is +1 to hit the Legs and -2 to hit the Feet). The ogre is +1 to defend against all the human’s strikes.
  • SM -1 (Gnome): The human can try to hit the gnome anywhere, but is -2 to hit the Legs or Feet and +1 to hit the Head (thus, Legs -5, Feet -7, but same chance for the Head locations as against a human). The human may kick the gnome with no special bonus or penalty.
  • SM -2 (Halfling): The human can try to hit the halfling anywhere, but is -2 to hit the Legs or Feet and +1 to hit the Head (thus, Legs -6, Feet -8, Face -6, Skull -8, Eyes -10). With a Reach 2 weapon, the human may strike the Legs and Feet with no penalty. The human may kick the halfling with no special bonus or penalty. The halfling defends against the human’s strikes at -1.
  • SM -3 (Kobold): The human can try to hit the kobold anywhere but the Legs or Feet, and gets +1 to hit the Head (thus, Face -7, Skull -9, Eyes -11). With a Reach 2 weapon, the human may strike the Legs and Feet with no penalty. The human may kick the kobold with no special bonus or penalty. The kobold defends against the human’s strikes at -2.
  • SM -4 (Gremlin): The human can try to hit the gremlin anywhere but the Legs or Feet, and gets +1 to hit the Head (thus, Face -8, Skull -10, Eyes -12). With a Reach 2 weapon, the human may strike the Legs and Feet with no penalty. The human may kick the gremlin with no special bonus or penalty. The gremlin defends against the human’s strikes at -3.
  • SM -5 (Brownie): The human may only strike the brownie's Head, Neck, Arms, or Torso, with no special bonus. With a Reach 2 weapon, the human may strike the Legs and Feet with no penalty. The human may kick the brownie with no special bonus or penalty. The brownie defends against the human’s strikes at -3.
Got all that? That's according to Kromm. Where's the issue?

The issue is this. Striking down:
  • SM +2 (Hill giant): The hill giant may only strike the human's Head, Neck, Arms, or Torso, with no special bonus. With a Reach 3 weapon, the hill giant may strike the Legs and Feet at -2, or at no penalty with a Reach 4 weapon. The hill giant may kick the human with no special bonus or penalty. The human defends against the hill giant’s strikes at -3.
  • SM -2 (Halfling): The human can try to hit the halfling anywhere, but is -2 to hit the Legs or Feet and +1 to hit the Head (thus, Legs -6, Feet -8, Face -6, Skull -8, Eyes -10). With a Reach 2 weapon, the human may strike the Legs and Feet with no penalty. The human may kick the halfling with no special bonus or penalty. The halfling defends against the human’s strikes at -1.
And striking up:
  • SM +2 (Hill giant) or bigger: The human can only strike at the giant’s Legs and Feet, with no special modifier (the Legs would be at -0 and Feet at -2 from normal math). The giant gets +3 to defend against all the human’s strikes.
  • SM -2 (Halfling): The halfling may strike anywhere on the human, but is -2 to hit the Head (so, Face -5, Skull -7, Eyes -9, as the relative SM cancels this out) and is +2 to hit the Legs and Feet (so overall, Legs +2, Feet no modifier). The human is +1 to defend against the halfling's strikes.
They have the same relative sizes. Other than the reach of the weapon needing to be more for a hill giant to get a human's Legs, there really should be no difference. Humans get the short end of the stick—pun intended. They’re much weaker against hill giants than halflings are against them.

The problem arises from the fact that the original table on p. B402 uses feet, which makes sense for human-sized creatures fighting on stairs, but doesn't handle bigger or smaller creatures well. So, how do we resolve this? We need to adjust for Frodo's little arms without excess math in play and a messy character sheet, after all.

We do need to remember that those creatures that are Horizontal (including many metatraits, especially Quadruped and Vermiform) are effectively one SM lower for these purposes, and, if they have No Legs (Slithers or similar), they another SM lower. Obviously, even this doesn't handle everything; a catoblepas is a SM +2 Quadruped, having the body of a cape buffalo, but its head is so heavy that it will be at a human's level. Centaurs, another monster in my writing queue, are SM +1, but SM 0 for all height purposes, since their extra size comes from their asses. Yuk-yuk-yuk.

So, let’s make this generic, and ignore relative SM for the moment:
  • One SM of vertical difference (1-1/2 feet downward, 3 feet upward): The taller fighter gets +1 to defend against the shorter fighter, is +2 to hit the Head (so the Skull is -5, Face is -3, and Eyes are -7) and Neck (net -3), but is -2 to hit the Feet (net -6) and Legs (net -4). He can kick normally, using the normal Hit Location penalties, not the ones just listed. The shorter fighter has no defense modifier, is -2 to hit the Head (net -9 Skull, -7 Face, -11 Eyes) but gets +2 to hit the Feet (net -2) and Legs (net 0). 
  • Two SM of vertical difference (3 feet downward, 9 feet upward): The taller fighter gets +3 to defend against the shorter fighter, and is +2 to hit the Head (so the Skull is -5, Face is -3, and Eyes are -7) and Neck (net -3), but is -2 to hit the Feet (net -6) and Legs (net -4). He can kick normally, using the normal Hit Location penalties. He can kick normally, using the normal Hit Location penalties. The shorter fighter gets no special bonus to hit the Feet (-4) and Legs (-2), and cannot go for other Hit Locations. He is -1 to defend against normal blows from the taller fighter, including kicks.
  • Three SM of vertical difference (4 feet downward, 15 feet upward): The taller fighter gets +3 to defend against the shorter fighter, and is +2 to hit the Head (so the Skull is -5, Face is -3, and Eyes are -7) and Neck (net -3), but is -2 to hit the Feet (net -6) and Legs (net -4). He can kick normally, using the normal Hit Location penalties, not the ones just listed. The shorter fighter can only hit the bigger fighter’s Feet (-4) and Legs (-2). He is -2 to defend against normal blows, including kicks.
  • Four SM of vertical difference (4-1/2 feet downward, 24 feet upward): The taller fighter has the same modifiers to hit the Head and Torso, but cannot hit the Feet and Legs at all. The shorter fighter has the same Hit Location issues as for three SM of vertical difference (Feet and Legs only), and is -3 to defend against normal blows, including kicks.
  • Five SM of vertical difference (5 feet downward, 39 feet upward): Both fighters are the same in all respects as four SM of vertical difference.
  • Six or more SM of vertical difference (5-1/3 feet downward, 54 feet upward): Here things get a little interesting. The taller fighter uses the normal Hit Location penalties when striking the Head and Torso. He still cannot hit the Legs and Feet at all. (Like you care about a fly’s feet when you can squish his head, right?) He still defends at +3 against the shorter fighter. The shorter fighter defends at -3, as before, and strikes the Legs and Feet at normal hit location penalties.
That’s by the book. I’d give the taller fighter +2 to defend at two SM of difference to make things a little less jumpy, going +1/+2/+3 rather than +1/+3/+3. I'd also consider smoothing the bonus to hit the Head for the taller fighter to +1 at five SM of vertical difference to avoid the same jumpiness.

Thoughts about this? Did I goof on my math and rules reading anywhere?

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