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any systems that reward/encourage unpredictability in combat?

chromeharlequin

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I've been watching some martial arts films, and (I think because it looks great), fighters are forever grabbing things from their environment, jumping on things, changing up weapons, and generally trying all the time to surprise their opponent, with new ways of attacking.

Are there any systems out there that encourage this sort of thing in combat? I'm aware of plenty that do some kind of stunt bonus for narrating actions in combat. but are there any that reward doing something mechnically different each time - I was thinking perhaps something where your opponents start to get a bonus to defence if you keep using the same attacking maneuver. Any thing to disrupt just taking the same optimal decision each round/attack?
 

Raleel

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Mythras offers prepare counter as a special effect. You score a win on defense or attack and you choose prepare counter against a specific special effect. If the target uses that, they don’t get it and you get one of your choice instead. This is handy for removing the optimal choose location (head) special effect from being overused. Prepare counter itself is only a single thing, but can be used pretty flexibly.

Marvel can do something similar with asset creation and an sfx, but it is pretty narrative comparatively.

I think the trick here is that if you want to be able to counter it mechanically, you are going to need it to exist mechanically. This leads to a crunchier system which enumerates a lot of these.

I might argue that the martial artists are perpetually looking for an advantage, not just surprise. Objects in the environment are harder than fists or have edges or both, weapons may have strengths against other weapons, height has an advantage in that it is harder to defend against (Anakin agrees). So interplay of advantage might be more accurate and might get you what you want.

I’ll still go with Mythras on this via special effects. Weapons get a variety of traits like being able to cause bleeding or impaling or stunning locations or entangling. Fighters can trip and pin weapons and overextend opponents as well as many others. Each gives a specific advantage that is more than just more damage - even impale doesn’t actually give you more damage, it just allows for you to roll twice for damage and pick the best, as well as cause a penalty by leaving your sword stuck in someone.
 

Mister Gridlock

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I don't think you necessarily have to have a crunchy system to pull this off. Fate/Accelerated and Cortex both have the ability to inflict ad hoc conditions on your opponents with ease. I don't know how you'd do it in D20 (which most people think is crunchier than Fate). But these conditions allow you to be unpredictable in an entirely improvised way as long as you're good with a blend of the narrative and the mechanics. When you inflict a condition on your opponent (it's just another way of thinking of a Fate Aspect) you get a certain number of free uses (depending on how well you rolled) and the condition gives you a +2 bonus. So if grab a bowl of peanuts from the bar and throw it in your opponent's face which gets a bunch of Grit In Yer Eye! you get to use that to make your rolls better. So let's say they attack and you roll better on your defense (you parried their attack). You inflict a condition of On Yer Ass! and you've done a beautiful counter-throw.

Cortex can do the same thing (called a Complication). The opponent can spend their action to try to rid themselves of their affliction which gives you a second bite at the apple. Personally, Cortex is truly great at this because at no time will it cost you meta-points to activate the condition (you only get so many free invocations in Fate, then you have to spend points to claim the bonus). As long as your opponent is stuck with the Complication in Cortex, you can use it against them (their damage (stress), too).

Icons, a superhero game--a cousin to Fate--is not considered a crunch SHRPG, but I've always felt I could have more granular fights (and more easily, with less cost to me) in Icons than I could in Mutants & Masterminds (where you have to pay to stunt explicit effects, dust in your eye requires a separate power to inflict the mechanical penalty).

Anyway, tl;dr. My point is this: don't judge a game on a surface-level detail like few mechanics or lack of overall granularity. It's not what you have, but what you [can] do with it.
 

Raleel

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I don't think you necessarily have to have a crunchy system to pull this off. Fate/Accelerated and Cortex both have the ability to inflict ad hoc conditions on your opponents with ease. I don't know how you'd do it in D20 (which most people think is crunchier than Fate). But these conditions allow you to be unpredictable in an entirely improvised way as long as you're good with a blend of the narrative and the mechanics. When you inflict a condition on your opponent (it's just another way of thinking of a Fate Aspect) you get a certain number of free uses (depending on how well you rolled) and the condition gives you a +2 bonus. So if grab a bowl of peanuts from the bar and throw it in your opponent's face which gets a bunch of Grit In Yer Eye! you get to use that to make your rolls better. So let's say they attack and you roll better on your defense (you parried their attack). You inflict a condition of On Yer Ass! and you've done a beautiful counter-throw.

Cortex can do the same thing (called a Complication). The opponent can spend their action to try to rid themselves of their affliction which gives you a second bite at the apple. Personally, Cortex is truly great at this because at no time will it cost you meta-points to activate the condition (you only get so many free invocations in Fate, then you have to spend points to claim the bonus). As long as your opponent is stuck with the Complication in Cortex, you can use it against them (their damage (stress), too).

Icons, a superhero game--a cousin to Fate--is not considered a crunch SHRPG, but I've always felt I could have more granular fights (and more easily, with less cost to me) in Icons than I could in Mutants & Masterminds (where you have to pay to stunt explicit effects, dust in your eye requires a separate power to inflict the mechanical penalty).

Anyway, tl;dr. My point is this: don't judge a game on a surface-level detail like few mechanics or lack of overall granularity. It's not what you have, but what you [can] do with it.
Mostly I was trying to interpret the meaning of

I'm aware of plenty that do some kind of stunt bonus for narrating actions in combat. but are there any that reward doing something mechnically different each time
And felt that Cortex might be off. I like it just fine :)
 

LordofArcana

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Legends of the Wulin has your martial arts styles have things they "laugh at" and "fear" which give you or your opponent a bonus to your rolls. However switching between styles was extremely simple. The result is constant oneupmanship on the part of both fighters.

Since styles also have an effect on your combat stats, the optimal choice of action can easily change round to round. Additionally, through progression you will likely get several types of chi points that could be used for neat effects but you only get one of each back each turn, encouraging you to switch between which type you are spending.
 

mitchw

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There is a very minimalist system that gives you bonus dice for uniquely describing your actions and you have to unique every time to get a bonus. I just can't remember which one 🙄
 

BlackSpike

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Burning Wheel has you write down your 3 Combat manoeuvres for each round, and then everyone reveals, and results are matched up, with a Rock/Paper/Scissors-style effect.
If you consistently use the same moves in the same order, your foe will likely notice, and easily counter your moves.

"Aha! My foe always uses Attack, Parry, Attack! I shall prepare Parry, Feint, Counter-Attack!"
 

Jade Bells Ringing

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well, basically, The Riddle of Steel punished repetition, so you might use the same two manuevers alternatively, but the people I played with had 3-5 moves they preffered. At the time I had an ad for some Drizzt book where they showed a paint-by-numbers ad of Drizzt surrounded by orcs. The numbers were not colors, but were listed on a chart as how that particular opponent was killed! I went down that list in order, worried about the boot-to-the-head number, but we had snuck up on some sleepers ....

EDIT: Almost forgot that TORG version 1.0 had a list of Approved Actions for the round on the card used for initiative. If you succeeded at the AA you got another card (usually a small bennie). So you were rewarded for not being a one-trick-pony. Masterbook, a later but similar system had this also. I do not know if the current verson of TORG still has the Approved Actions benefit.
 
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videopete

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Torg Eternity has the drama deck made up of 3 sub decks Drama, Destiny and Cosm Cards. They make each encounter interesting. The Drama deck has approved actions, initiative and field efffectd and if a dramatic skill resolution what steps are available. The Destiny Cards are played by the players and most of the time have possitive effects of boosts and a few plot effects. Cosm Cards do genre and themed things.
 
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