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[InBetween] Balancing defence and offence

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
Here I come again, looking for answers ...

So, work continues on my mousey RPG InBetween and I could really use some help with a problem.

InBetween is a d6 dice pool system. You roll Stat + Skill, count successes (4+) and compare them to the roll of your opponent. If you have more successes than them, you get to spend the difference on effects (such as damage). Crucially, it doesn't matter who initiated the roll, you still get to win the roll and spend successes when you are the target of someone else's action. So long as the actions you take fit the combination of Stat + Skill you chose — so you can't hurt a rat who is biting you with a Charm + Knowing roll, even though you can defend with that if it makes sense.

The problem I am having is that it is proving too easy to focus on one Stat + Skill combo (e.g. Might + Fighting) and use that in both offence and defence. So long as you stay in your area of expertise you can rely on a single good score. (This is no doubt compounded by Hit Points being based on your best Stat, whatever it is).

Now, I had intended that in any one area, you would have some degree of MAD. Taking combat as an example: Initiative is based on speed, raw damage on might, and there are both Fighting and Dodging skills; I had hoped a rounded combatant would need all of those. What actually happens, is a player just needs to use Might+Fighting (say) for defence and offence. They don't care that they go second, or get attacked before they have an action, they just get to win that roll and fight back.

What I'd like is a way to make that less attractive. I don't want to change the symmetrical dice rolls, they work well in every other aspect of the system, and they work well when a character is not over-optimised, but I'd like a reason to want better Initiative if you are a pure-fighter, and a reason to defend with Dodging instead of Fighting.

Some ideas I had

Offensive Skills: mark some skills as offensive, they get worse when used on defence — works okay for combat, less for debate, right now that's just persuasion vs. persuasion

Defensive Skills: mark some skills as defensive, they get better when used on defence (e.g. Dodging cancels 1 damage). I'd probably have to add some more defensive skills

First Strike: give some bonus to the first attacked in a combat, like it inflicts an extra damage, or gets a free dice (to make better initiative more attractive)

But I'm feeling I've not hit a good answer yet. I'd rather keep the "use what makes sense in any roll" concept and have something structural that makes it bad to always choose the same thing.

Help!
 

John Out West

Registered User
Validated User
I think you can potentially still do it the way you are, but just make some skills weak to other skills. Might is weak to speed, speed is weak to intelligence, intelligence is weak to might. That way when you're super pumped up might guy comes up against a mousy mouse, they need to switch it up or lose the fight. When your mighty guy comes up to a nerd, he wont be able to think his way outa that beating. The mousing guy is fast, but the intelligent guy can predict his movements and might as well see the future. The Mighty guy can barely see the fast mouse, let alone hit him.

How could you implement this? A reduction in total dice thrown, forcing rerolls, halving the amount of "Difference" on a success, doubling the amount of "Difference" on a failure, a standard negative modifier, etc. I would include a list of each skill and their counterpart. I would probably also have some skills that have multiple counterparts.

With this kind of system, there will be some who go full force into one or two skill stats to try to get their enemies in a Catch 22, but others will go well wounded in order to be the best possible fighter in all situations.

This was just off the top of my head, so take it with a grain of salt. I do hope it helps.
 

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
J John Out West Thank you! Yes ... having some sort of rider

It might even be making explicit that you can't change position, or withdraw, with fighting, you need to be using dodging, or running, or whatever.
 

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
In case you are interested J John Out West , I think I am going with the idea of marking a couple of skills as "Defensive" and giving them an orthogonal bonus (Reduce damage taken when you use them), + emphasising what you can't do when you defend with fighting + a "First Strike" bonus for the thing with the Initiative on round 1.
 

Knaight

Registered User
Validated User
There's also the possibility of mandating defense when in a bad spot. Might+Fighting can work great against other mice, but it is the wrong move when a cat shows up. Social skills useful for aggression are probably just going to end poorly when used in situations that are less negotiation and more imploring for help from those with far more social clout than you. So on and so forth.
 

Max

A dapper chap without a doubt
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Maybe the attacker gets some freebie damage if successful.

And/or maybe you can only use each stat+skill combo once per round before starting to take cumulative penalties, say -1 die per repetition - sure you can stand back and defend with Might+Fighting, no problem, but then you'll want to use something else to attack and to defend against any other opponents. Gives a bit of an indirect boost to jacks-of-all-trades to encourage widening your repertoire, and also automatically makes multiple opponents a tricky situation in which hanging back and forgoing your attack might actually be a wise choice.
 

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
Max Max I like that. There's already a "multiple attacker" penalty, but you can still use the same roll on each of them. I might try that out.

Knaight Knaight Certain skills just being out of scope definitely makes sense. If a human treads on you, Fighting makes no sense as a defence. Even if you could hurt them, you get stood on?
 

tundra-desert

Registered User
Validated User
"Fighting" is too broad of a verb to use there, since it naturally encompasses both offense and defense. Change it to "Attacking" and see what happens.
 

Hituro

Eager Critmouse
Validated User
"Fighting" is too broad of a verb to use there, since it naturally encompasses both offense and defense. Change it to "Attacking" and see what happens.
That's ... that's a very good insight. I'm going to have to think about that!
 
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