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RPG Superstar 2015

Looking for maneuver intense combat system


Other RPGs


I was wondering if there is a rpg out there that is fighting maneuver heavy. I already have the Book of Nine Swords and I am looking for something along the same line. It can be any game system. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate any input.

Scarab Sages

GURPS has some awesome fighting stuff (as it was built off of Man-to-Man, a magic-less melee fighting game).

Called shots to arms, legs, vital organs, hands, feet, *eyes,* etc. Different effects for cutting, crushing and impaling damage types (and fire, electricity, acid, for when you get into magic or high-tech damage sources). All-out attacks for multiple attacks or higher damaging attacks are available to anyone, all-out defense for an increased chance to not die available to anyone. All characters have a low enough HT score / hit points that a single lucky hit, particularly to a vital area, or with the right weapon, can drop them in a single shot, making active defenses like weapon or unarmed parry, shield block or dodge (and armor!) far more important than just 'soaking' damage with tons of hit points.

Combat can be very tactical. Choosing to 'all-out attack' at the wrong moment could get you killed. Targetting a limb could utterly wreck a foe's utility. In various supplements, you can even find rules for obscure (and cinematic) combat tactics like stabbing someone's foot to pin them to the ground.

The downside is that certain D&D style combats are hard to run. A mob of 'mooks' may well murder a 'higher level' character, just through attrition and lucky shots. Between two highly skilled combatants, a single fight could last 20 combat rounds, as they parry, shield block and / or dodge each other's blows. (In 3rd edition, we 'sped things up' by just eliminating Passive Defense, making defense rolls less able to effectively stymie a single physical attacker. 4th edition did something like that, but then arbitrarily added +3 to all defense rolls, effectively countering the entire point, IMO.)

If you can find someone in the area with some familiarity with it, Man-to-Man and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of GURPS are relatively easy to learn (especially if you start with basic rules, and maybe have a few man-to-man style arena combats to get familiar with the basics). 4th edition starts to head into the ultra-fine-detail customization of Hero Games, and, IMO, seems to be headed for Star Fleet Battles levels of rules complexity...

I pretty much soundly loathe 'melee' classes in D&D (being, all-too-often, optimized for one attack sequence, and then spamming it for the rest of their lives), having been spoiled by all the buttons that I get to push and all the 'follow-up styles' and 'chain attacks' that my warrior types get in online games like Dark Ages of Camelot and Age of Conan, but I've played and enjoyed as many fighter-types as mage-types in GURPS, due to the sheer effectiveness and fast-paced and brutal nature of the melee combat. Playing a mage in GURPS means you'll be super-versatile, and, most likely, out of mana in the first few seconds of a fight. Playing a warrior-type, you can be inflicting killing blows every few seconds on foes who lack defenses on your level, and get into truly epic ten round or longer fights with those who are more balanced to face you, each one either waiting for that lucky hit (or unlucky defensive fail on their foes part), or gambling that an all-out attack (which will leave them defenseless against a counter-attack!) might smash through the foes defenses and take them down before they can take advantage of that gamble.

For 'maneuvers,' in the sense of PF's Combat Maneuvers, all of the stunts you can pull off, *anyone* can do. In addition to anyone being able to 'power attack' (all-out attack) or use 'combat expertise' (all-out defense), anyone can attempt to attack a weapon or stab someone in the foot or whatever, with your individual weapon skill taking whatever penalty for that action. GURPS Martial Arts introduced the concept of advancing a stunt as a 'secondary skill' based off of the core skill, so that one could attempt a Sweeping Kick at a penalty to one's Karate skill, and then buy off the penalties to that Sweeping Kick maneuver, rather than spend even more points attempting to increase the base Karate skill. Applying this to weapon combat was toyed with, but I'm not sure if it ever went anywhere...

The 'logical' progression would be PCs tricking out their characters by reducing their 'stab for the vitals' or 'stab for the eyes' penalties instead of raising their Spear to exorbitantly expensive levels, and I'm not sure anybody wanted that, so they may have shyed away from that.


Thanks for the advice. This will give me some sources to look at. I am essentially building a library of RPG's. Much of this is for research purposes. Myself and a few others have developed a rolling system and we are attempting to make a magic/melee matrix of a sort that allows you to make your own maneuvers on the fly. Be they magical or melee. We are trying to dissect systems and understand them. Much of this is in the intent of making this new system be simple and modular.


Off the top of my head a few systems that are heavy on maneuvers:

4E D&D with the melee combat power system for martial characters, as well as various combat stances (see Essentials for that).

Dragon Age: The stunt system in Dragon Age allows a character to generate stunt points, which can be spent to perform maneuvers such as, knocking targets prone, disarms, pushing opponents, dealing extra damage, and other things.

Cinematic Unisystem: As seen in games like Army of Darkness and Buff the Vampire slayer. I only have the Army of Darkness rpg, but it has all sorts of crazy maneuvers your character can perform with names like "chainsaw ballet."


Given that I would probably be sure to check out the Dragon Age stunt system, as I feel it is one of the most simple, effective and fun ways of having a combat stunt/maneuver system.

Tharialas wrote:

Thanks for the advice. This will give me some sources to look at. I am essentially building a library of RPG's. Much of this is for research purposes. Myself and a few others have developed a rolling system and we are attempting to make a magic/melee matrix of a sort that allows you to make your own maneuvers on the fly. Be they magical or melee. We are trying to dissect systems and understand them. Much of this is in the intent of making this new system be simple and modular.


The Exalted games from White Wolf are some of the best for maneuver heavy combat.


Battle Tech

. > Classic < . > board game version < .


Hero System has a variety of maneuvers available to everyone with additional maneuvers accessed through Martial Arts.

In addition, something many miss at first glance is the Powers allow you to build your own maneuvers similar to D&D 4e. I built an entire Martial Art style for using an umbrella using the Powers.


Excellent. Thanks for all the recommendations. I have so many gaming books I forget sometimes. I have the Hero System(6th Edition) & Exalted(1st Edition). I seem to remember that some of the Old World of Darkness Books have somethings too. No Battle Tech though. I never really got into 4ed. I will also have to look into that. I stayed away from it because of the massive library of 3.0 & 3.5 books I have that would have fell by the wayside had I changed systems. Yay for Pathfinder. I will have to look into it. If you can think of anymore please post them.


On kind of the same note are there any real world books that are very inclusive with martial arts styles and moves/names they incorporate? I.E. front kick, round house and the like.

Scarab Sages

Tharialas wrote:
I seem to remember that some of the Old World of Darkness Books have somethings too.

World of Darkness: Combat went *nuts* with the idea of fleshing out the Storyteller/d10 combat system with all sorts of maneuver-type stunts, but, IMO, it was kind of a mess.


Riddle Of Steel has a combat system so accurate and realistic that it is actually endorsed by the Association For Renissance Martial Arts.

It is complex and takes a while to master sue to the depth of attack and defense options but it has great new player resources available online to help get up the learning curve.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Tharialas wrote:
On kind of the same note are there any real world books that are very inclusive with martial arts styles and moves/names they incorporate? I.E. front kick, round house and the like.

The Heroes System Ultimate MA pretty much covers a tons of RW MA plus a few made up ones you seen in movies.

As to another system that has combat manuevers if you don't mind digging up PDfs or by use books online....7th Sea has a interesting combat system with the different swords schools and such.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

I created a complicated manouevres system for Shadowrun, but the idea of it could be ported to other system (I ported it to the James Bond RPG). I wrote it years ago though and it can only be found in the Wayback machine now here

You could use it in Pathfinder, the Technique would likely determine if it was against AC, Touch AC etc with maybe a modifier. OPtions would add or subtract to that, and then Special Effects could be bought based on how much your roll exceeded the difficulty.


Thanks DigitalMage. I will look through it. Thanks thus far for everyones suggestions. It seems I have a lot of reading to do.


Tharialas wrote:
I was wondering if there is a rpg out there that is fighting maneuver heavy. I already have the Book of Nine Swords and I am looking for something along the same line. It can be any game system. If anyone has any suggestions I would appreciate any input.

If you are looking for a purely tactical system, I recommend using AH's old Gladiator system.

In service,

Rich
The Original Dr Games


An excellent game for an RPG library is Burning Wheel Gold (the latest edition). Overall, the system isn't going to be what you're looking for, but it has some cool concepts which might impact your ideas, plus the author essentially has "author's notes" in the book for some sections. He talks about why he made a rule a certain way because it evokes the feel he was looking for and how changing that rule will change the feel.

The combat system is more abstract than everything else mentioned here, but it does use a matrix chart for combat actions. Each round, each side scripts three actions, but your action gets modifiers based on your opponents action. For example:

I might script Strike/Block/Great Strike
My opponent scripts Avoid/Feint/Strike

It's basically a series of rock-paper-scissors that doesn't determine the winner, but modifies the dice rolling immediately after.

Unrelated, BWG also has one of my favorite ideas ever in a game. Each player writes three Beliefs, which are to include actionable goals. They get the games equivalent of experience points when those Beliefs directly impact the story of the game (success or failure, just as long as you help push the story forward). Basically, the players are responsible for writing 3 plothooks for their character that tie into the game and are rewarded for pushing those forward.

I will second the Riddle of Steel. The author is well versed in Renaissance martial arts and the game is often considered the most realistic PnP rpg ever for hand-to-hand combat. Unfortunately the book is rare and expensive (usually around $100+), but the PDF can still be purchased, but it's not a true electronic document, just a scan of a book.

It's quite old, but the original Oriental Adventures has a simplistic martial arts system with some pretty common names for moves.

The SpecForce Handbook for WEG Star Wars (d6) has a martial arts system for that game.

Feng Shui is an older RPG about martial arts and action movies (particularly the Hong Kong style). It's gotten a fair bit of praise over it's life time.


Seconding GURPS. Seriously, just the basic combat options in that game are just insane (it even tracks facing, since it's played on a hex grid), and there are plenty of techniques available as skills that are similar to Pathfinder's combat maneuvers.


I'd like to throw the new HackMaster game into the ring. You can preorder it now (and get the PDF for free, but only for a couple days) and it should be off to the printers this week.

It has a very fluid combat system, very simple, and lots of optional crunchy bits to increase the realism.

1) There are no rounds. Combat movement works on a second by second basis. Medium creatures move 5ft per second, and you can make a move every second. Tactical planning and combat maneuvering.

2) There is no AC. No magical number to hit in order to do damage. Combat is opposing die rolls. Offense rolls 1d20 + Attack bonuses, Defender rolls 1d20-4 + Def bonuses. Tie goes to the defender. Even if you roll a total of 4 to attack, you can still do damage if the defender rolls lower.

3) Attack rolls (and most other rolls such as skills and such) penetrate (or explode) on the maximum roll. Your weapon does 2d6p? Every 6 that is rolled, you reroll and subtract 1. So you can roll 6+(6-1)+(4-1) and 6+(5-1) doing a total of 24 points on one attack.

3) Armor doesnt make you harder to hit, it reduces the amount of damage that gets through. Heavy armor and shields actually make you easier to hit, but you take less damage.

4) There are lots of optional combat rules to make combat as crunchy as you like. Things like Jab, Hold at bay, aggressive attack, charging, tactical moves, readying against a charge, fighting defensively, full parry, giving ground, scamper back, fighting withdrawal and fleeing combat. There are also rules ofr attacking multiple opponents, rear attacks, knockbacks, fatigue rules, mounted combat and unarmed combat, not to mention Threshold of Pain checks.

Playtesters have found that even with the full combat rules in place, combat scenarious that normally take 1-2 hours, only take 15-20 minutes, leaving plenty of time to loot the bodies and get on to the next encounter.


Keep the suggestions coming. I just purchased the newest edition of Hackmaster and I am moving onto Riddle of Steel next. I will probably go with the Unisytem after that. Thanks for all the input. I really appreciate it!

The Exchange

Ninjas and Superspies


Set wrote:
Tharialas wrote:
I seem to remember that some of the Old World of Darkness Books have somethings too.
World of Darkness: Combat went *nuts* with the idea of fleshing out the Storyteller/d10 combat system with all sorts of maneuver-type stunts, but, IMO, it was kind of a mess.

The best storyteller game for combat(if you set Exalted aside)was, quite surprisingly, STREET FIGHTER: THE STORYTELLING GAME


I haven't played it yet but the combat system in Anima: Beyond Fantasy looks fairly in-depth once you throw in Ki maneuvers. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to try it out some day.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Burning Wheel Gold has a really detailed system. Not battle mat required but literally blow by blow combat.

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