Handling giant characters and creatures.

Pax Chi

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#1
How size tends to work in fiction fluctuates a lot, going from something that can make something invincible or simply a bigger target. In a lot of superhero fiction, giant characters aren't really that big a deal, while in other genres anything outside of human height is terrifying.

In general, I've tried to replicate the feel of giant characters in a few ways. Giant characters are more "robust", so that even if some giant were facing a human who somehow had strength equal to theirs (due to magic items, superpowers, etc.), the giant character would still have more "health" and take more damage to put down. Large enough characters treat their attacks like Area of Effect attacks that you need to be able to move out from under in order to dodge. Things like that.

One particular disconnect I've seen between games and fiction is how smaller but powerful characters need to attack giant characters. In Mutants and Masterminds, for instance, there's nothing really to stop Colossus from going up to Godzilla and just punching the Kaiju in the foot until the lizard fails a Toughness save by enough that it falls unconscious. In fiction, attacks to extremities against giant characters seem more to annoy them than anything, and you need to land a hit either on the central body mass or the head to inflict real injury to the creature.

For my own system, to simulate the advantage of longer weapons, I allow characters with longer limbs/weapons to take an "Hold At Bay" option, where anyone with a shorter range trying to close in has to make an opposed check to get past their limbs to attack. Otherwise they can't advance, and if they fail bad enough, take damage. I think that's something giant characters would benefit from as well.

Another thing I'm thinking is that maybe attacks to extremities can only inflict some kind of condition to the limb, but you aren't really going to inflict lasting/potential KO damage to a creature unless you hit their torso or head. Attacking a leg might make it stumble, attacking an arm might make it drop something, but you need to land a good shot in the torso or head to really have an impact. Unless the attack is just powerful enough to sever limbs or some such.

It just seems to reflect the fiction better, where even strong characters generally have to fly up or leap up and punch the giant in the face, or smaller characters have to do a "Shadow of the Colossus Climb" to get up to the torso or head to start inflicting real damage.

Thoughts? Complicating things too much? Maybe make them optional rules?
 

-orestes

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#2
'Giants' should behave differently - the way they interact with the world should be different due to their size, which changes how they see it, and how they are seen. For simplicity, many systems treat giants as they would anybody else, but giving them more health, more range, and making them occupy more space.

I think that being 'giant' should give giants feats and special abilities, but also special banes. For example, entering any small space might make a character automatically hidden from the perspective of a giant; giants might not suffer any damage from attacks that hit a non-vital area, forcing (as you outlined), characters to have to climb their backs. You want giants to feel like giants, so you should encourage giant-fighting scenes, for example:

* The one where the giant peers around all these tiny things looking for the tiny man who has hurt them.
* The one where the giant tries to reach into the small space to eat the tiny man, but he cannot quite reach.
* The one where the tiny man climbs the giant to cut out his eyes, and the giant flails around trying to throw him off.
* The one where the giant starts destroying smashing houses, etc.
 

kenco

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#3
How size tends to work in fiction fluctuates a lot, going from something that can make something invincible or simply a bigger target. In a lot of superhero fiction, giant characters aren't really that big a deal, while in other genres anything outside of human height is terrifying.
You didn't say where on this range you want your game to end up, or what genre your game is about. So it's hard to comment on what might work for you or not.
I've tried to replicate the feel of giant characters ... the giant character would still have more "health" ... treat their attacks like Area of Effect attacks
Those both sound reasonable. The questions I always end up asking myself about the latter are:
- WHEN is a character big enough for its fist to count as Area of Effect?
- HOW big is the Area of Effect?
- HOW hard should it be to dodge out of it?
- WHAT happens if the target/ victim of the attack is big, too?

The first question I find especially difficult to answer. But I think there's another important difference between the small and the large character. The reason you have to dodge out of the way of the giant fist is not JUST because it's bigger, but ALSO because it has too much energy/ momentum for you to be able block it without being badly hurt/ squished against the ground/ smacked across the room.

If you can block a sword blow, why can't you block a giant fist? You would have to be strong/big enough in either case. If you were not strong enough to block the sword blow, you could still dodge out of its 'Area of Effect': it's just that you might not have to move very far. If you were Superman, you might be able to block the giant fist easily: or it might knock you through the next building, without causing you any harm. It depends on how your superhero physics works...

My point is that it might be helpful to think about 'What makes it a special case? Why can't I just block it?'
...nothing... to stop Colossus from... just punching the ...foot until the lizard ...falls unconscious. In fiction, attacks to extremities...seem more to annoy them than anything... you need to land a hit either on the... body ...or the head to inflict real injury...
Yep. The scale difference draws attention to an abstraction in the combat system in a way that clashes with how we imagine things. Under the same rules the monster could knock Colossus out by punching him in the foot. It's just we don't imagine it happening that way.
... to simulate ... longer weapons... characters with longer... limbs ... an "Hold At Bay" option, ... anyone with a shorter range ... has to make an opposed check to get past their limbs to attack... if they fail bad enough, take damage. I think that's something giant characters would benefit from as well.
Sounds fair enough, if that fits with your fiction. How do you expect to see Colossus make an effective attack on Godzilla? How do you expect to see Colossus make an ineffective attack?

A more abstract option would be to give Godzilla an extra defence bonus or armour - something that makes it harder for Colossus to score decisive damage using a basic attack. Then, if Colossus' attack does no damage, you narrate how either a) Colossus punches Godzilla's foot to no effect; or b) Colossus is too busy dodging giant fists or digging himself out of a hole to really try a serious looking attack; or c) Godzilla shrugs off a more effective looking attack. But if Colossus attack roll does some useful damage, you narrate what that looked like, maybe a) he jumps up and whacks Godzilla in the nose; b) he belts Godzilla with a telephone pole; c) he throws Wolverine at him etc.

I.e. basically use the damage result to shape the description of the attack - so Colossus can never punch Godzilla out by belting him in the foot, because you would never describe it that way.
...attacks to extremities can... inflict some kind of [local] condition... but you [can't]... inflict lasting/potential KO damage ...unless you hit their torso or head.
This is another case of scale-heightened incongruence resulting from abstraction. For consistency you could apply the same idea at ordinary person to person scale. If you hit a foe somewhere non-vital, you can't do vital damage.

Your suggestion sounds fine. You could apply the same rule to all scales. The hard part is working out the hit location rules... little guy, snake, blob, mimic, giant guy, stingray, centipede, fighter jet, alien robot, four-armed woman with snake-hair riding taun-taun... :p

...and how they are affected by relative scale, and weapon types... I.e. with a pike you can stab a giant in the eye; with a stiletto you can't reach above her knee; with a pike you can't attack a grasshopper at all; with a mace you can squish it, but you can't target a wing.

If your game doesn't need to cover all the bases, it might be quite workable. You can combine it with the earlier rule (abstract or otherwise): attacks to the extremities are not subject to the penalty/ special rule that protects the giant's vitals.

The giant finds it easy to attack your vitals, but hard to target your extremities. Your extremities are most likely to get hit if you try to dive out of the way of its 'area of effect', but miss your roll by just a little bit.

...seems to reflect the fiction better... characters generally have to fly up or leap up and punch the giant in the face, or ...do a "Shadow of the Colossus Climb" to get up to the torso or head ...
I guess. Superheroes don't generally seem to have much trouble to fly- or leap- up whenever they need to, though. So does the game even need a special rule to make it harder? I suspect it might be part of the hero's attack roll. If you want giants to be harder to hurt, just give them better armour.
Thoughts? Complicating things too much? Maybe make them optional rules?
I am struggling with a similar scale problem (I'm more thinking about dungeon-crawls than superheroes). One of the parts I find hardest is working out exactly how big a creature has to be before the 'giant' rule kicks in. I already have a combat modifier for a bigger/ stronger human fighting a smaller/ weaker human. If I add a 'giant' rule, then there are two kinds of mechanics running in parallel. So it gets complicated.

For superheroes, I'd keep it simple and abstract. I love simulation; but the longer I play RPGs, the more I appreciate simple, fast-moving rules.

Your ideas sound fine to me and make intuitive sense, if that's the level of detail and bottom-up simulation you're after. Conditions by hit location has a lot of potential, but a world of painful complexity stalks the unwary. :p

I seem to recall a thread somewhere about customised multi-part monsters, where you have to target and 'kill' each body part (arm, leg, wings, torso, head) separately, and killing each part has a different effect on the overall beastie.

Cheers - kenco
 
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Gussick

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#4
It really comes down to skill. There's a difference between being very large and knowing how to use that size in a fight. If you're just big in a world of small people, there's rarely a need to prefect your fighting abilities. You just Hulk Smash them. But when you're closer to even ground, the game changes fast. So a giant used to smashing guys around in fist fights might not be able to deal with a master fighter who knows how to use a spear to incapacitate him. A giant who's actually trained to fight on equal terms and is fit, though, is an unabashedly terrifying concept. There's no chance of dodging beneath the weapons and gutting him--he'll know that trick well. Nor will he be stupid enough to wade through missile weapons to get to you.

To really picture the role of skill, imagine a 50' giant with a small brain vs. a 12' giant with an advanced brain and skills in combat. The 50' giant will be more dangerous in some ways, since his mere foot can smash you. But he'll also be easy to trick into range of a scorpion to have his heart or forehead pierced and that's it. The 12' one is more likely to sneak around, kill the crew of the scorpion and use it as a shoulder weapon against you as he charges in full harness.
 
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Xander

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#5
I wonder about hobbits, who are the size of an 8-year old human kid, say. Assume that your halfling is an adult in good health, but they still only weigh 50 lbs. The hobbits potential melee power would be so much less than LeBron James or Conan the Barbarian.

Size is a very hard concept!
 
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eeldip

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#6
i like treating giants like traps--- and by giants here i don't mean 10' tall, i mean 50'. there is really no hope in killing one with weapons on hand like your spear, so no need to fill with a stat block. just invent some "one time" rules. like say for X giant, a saving throw or dex roll to avoid getting stomped. some series of things you have to do to climb it. things to avoid while climbing (stealth roll?). then some sort of rule about getting the exploding gem inside the ear. some rules about blinding.

no reason a combat system should scale that well unless the game is about crazy scale mixing....
 
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kenco

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#7
i like treating giants like traps--- i mean 50'.
That makes sense for me.
...and by giants here i don't mean 10' tall...
They are the ones I have trouble with
no reason a combat system should scale that well unless the game is about crazy scale mixing....
You are right about that.

Of course, some games/ genres/ settings ARE crazy about scale mixing... Consider classic opponents for low-level D&D characters:

Rat/ Bat
Giant centipede
Stirge/ Killer Bee
Kobold
Giant Rat/ Bat
Goblin
Orc/ Human/ Skeleton/ Zombie
Hobgoblin
Gnoll
Bugbear
Giant Ant
Ogre
Gelatinous cube

The OP's superheroes case is another example.
 

Dagor

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#8
- WHAT happens if the target/ victim of the attack is big, too?
That's a pretty big one in its own right and one that even games that try to have comprehensive size rules don't always get quite right. Chances are that you don't want a game in which two dueling humans have (say) about a 50/50 chance of hitting each other while two dueling pixies barely ever manage to connect and two dueling giants having an equally hard time ever missing each other, all purely due to the simple difference in scale...
 

Pax Chi

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#9
To at least clear up some confusion about the intent of the system, it's meant to be a universal system, something that could be used for a fantasy game, superhero game, sci-fi, etc. So it's got to be fairly flexible, and giant creatures are something that appears in almost every genre. Superheroes fight giant robots, a party of fantasy adventurers fight dragons and giants, and science fiction has everything from giant ants to kaiju to Luke Skywalker almost being eaten by a Rancor.

One thing I'd say is that there are innate bonuses to being a giant creature, but the combat bonuses depend on how big you are in relation to your opponents. Lets say that on a "Size Scale" of 0-to-10, with 0 being 'average human' and 10 being 'Godzilla', that a character with a size of 8 will have all of the innate bonuses to strength, extra health, travel speed and the like, but the exact combat bonuses in terms of reach and the like will vary depending on the difference between the two creatures.
 

Knaight

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#10
One thing I'd say is that there are innate bonuses to being a giant creature, but the combat bonuses depend on how big you are in relation to your opponents. Lets say that on a "Size Scale" of 0-to-10, with 0 being 'average human' and 10 being 'Godzilla', that a character with a size of 8 will have all of the innate bonuses to strength, extra health, travel speed and the like, but the exact combat bonuses in terms of reach and the like will vary depending on the difference between the two creatures.
Relational bonuses are generally a good idea here, and it sounds like it could use more. Strength, extra health, etc. need to work with the relational scale or it will get out of hand. There's also the matter of making sure the scale works; the easiest way to do that is to just use a logarithmic scale and call it a day as those scale well.
 
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