Demonwars #3 – 3,2,1 FIGHT!

Greetings and welcome back to my column on the upcomming Demonwars:Reformations playtest pdf package. In my two previous articles Demonwars#1Monks, Demonwars#2Magic i took a look at how monks and the magic system appears and now it is time to take a look at how the fighting functions.

So let us get started, because this one is abit lengthy.

Get ready!

Dice n slice
The Demonwars RPG uses d100 primarily.

Roll for initiative
A good ol’ friend of the family, this uncle has managed to sneak into the barbeque party in the backyard. There is not much to say about it except that in Demonwars:Reformation low intiative result is faster than a high one. There’s modifiers and techniques to lower your initiative and weapons also affect your speed in combat. You roll 1d10 and add intiative stat (base stat modified by various bonusses).

Balance
Before i continue i want to bring up the mechanic called Balance. It is a pool of points characters can use to affect the outcome of checks. Not just in combat, but in combat it is used typically for two things: using a technique or defending against attacks (more on defending later).

You’re gonna do what!?
During a round you can do two things during combat in Demonwars, Move and Act in that order! No acting and then moving around.

Actions

ACT is defined as choosing one of the following options:
attack, charge ringstone, cast spell, retreat, refocus, fast move, blitz, activate item.

Some of these are selfexplanatory so i will skip over the first three and start with

Retreat: You can move out of an opponents zone of control without provoking a parting shot and forego your action.

Zone of control
Characters have a 5′ raidus zone of control, on a battlegrid consider it a 3×3 area around them in the center of it. When opponents move more than 5′ through this zone you get a free attack called a parting shot, but only if you are able to do a melee action. You only get one parting shot pr round.

Shooting into melee
We have all been there, we have all had that fellow adventurer along that wants to help out from afar. Dealing with these situations, where one of your allies shoots into melee with other allies, have always felt like a situation nobody really wants to deal with in the rules. In Demonwars:Reformation Shooting into an opponents zone that has friends in it, will cost you 1 balance point to avoid the risk of hitting your friends. If you do not have the balance to spare and still take the shot, there is a chance you will hit a friend!
If your attack is NOT ON TARGET you roll your attack again, but this time against an ally and it is the GM’s choice who, if there is more than one. Magic spells that are not area of effect spells ALSO counts as shooting into melee unless they state otherwise.

Refocus
You can spend your action on refocusing, this will recover one balance point, but not above your maximum or those lost due to wounds (see wounds later).

Fast Move
Incase you need to move fast you can forego your action and do another full move instead.

Blitz
An agressive move where you can move normally, then use blitz and move again and then attack. However this will cost you one balance point.

Attack!
When you attack you roll equal to or higher than the targets defense rating. Attack rolls can be modified by items and techiniques or variables the GM enforces. When you are the target of an attack, you can choose to defend. You defend by spending any number of Balance points and raise your defense rating by 20 pr point spent. If your new defense rating is higher than the attack roll you have blocked or dodged the attack!
Sidenote: If an attack is dodged og blocked it is still considered ON TARGET which is important for some techniques which can be triggered by being ON TARGET regardless of successful defense.

Health issues

OUCH! critical hits
When you attack, you roll d100 and if your result is 98,99,100 it is a critical hit. Some techniques and weapons can increase the critical hit range. Critical hits rolls damage dice twice and does not double up bonusses.

Dead or Dying
You have two kinds of health pools to consider in Demonwars.
First there is the hitpoints, these are the damage recieved by being attacked with weapons and spells, if you reach 0 hitpoints you suffer a wound. Hitpoints are for bruises, cuts and minor injuries that does not affect your performance in a battle.

Wounds however is the pool that you begin to draw on when you are disabled, wounds is the major injuries that can lead to death. Death is a major injury or so i’ve been told.
When you are disabled you begin to do wound checks and there are modifiers both good and bad for your check. Not only do you begin your wound checks, but you loose one point of balance pr wound lost along with lowering your maximum balance by one. If your maximum balance reaches zero.. you are gone, ded, kaput, pushing up daisy and the kittens.

Character Stats

Now lets take a look at how your character stats affect the various elements of combat.

Strength can grant you a penalty or bonus to your melee attack rolls, your stat value will range between 1 – 12 where 1 gives you a penalty of -10 and 12 a bonus of +10. It also grants you a small damage modifier, 1 gives you – 2 and 12 +3.

Agility is properly the one stat that affects the most values in a combat.
Ranged attack bonus
Ranged damage bonus
Defense bonus
initiative bonus

Endurance affects your hitpoints and your hitpoints recovery.

Intellect affects combat indirectly with its determination of how many technique points your character gets and thus are able to purchase. Your range of techniques to select from to use in combat is thus affected by your intellect.

Affinity affects your magic attack bonus and your power which is used for spell damage.

Will affects your Balance and focus pool as well as your magic recovery (resting).

Then there is you monk level, each level has a set of bonusses to various values. Lets do an example!

Creating a Monk

Griffin De’laude
a level 1 Abellican Monk of St. Bruce
lets give him 5 in will and 8 in all the rest, using stat method III, assign a pool of 60 points.
When you assign a pool of 60 points, each attribute value you want, has their own cost i.e. Attribue value 5 costs 5 points and attribue value 8 costs 11 points.

so his stats will look like so:
str 8: +4 melee attack, +1 melee damage
agility 8: +4 ranged attack, +1 ranged damage, +3 defense bonus, -1 initiative
endurance 8: +3 bonus hit points
intellect 8: +1 starting technique point
affinity 8: 4 magic attack bonus, 1 power
will 5: 0 bonus balance, +1 focus

Now being a monk he gets some additional bonusses.
(lvl 1 bonusses)

Base hit points: 8 + endurance bonus
Balance: 2 + will bonus
Focus: 2+ will bonus
Base defense rating: 50 +agility bonus
attack rating: +0
Technique points: 2 +intellect bonus

So before we choose any techniques lets see his stats.

Melee attack: +4
Melee damage: +1
Ranged attack: +4
Ranged damage: +1
Defense rating: 53
Initiative:5 -2 (player characters have a base intiative of 5 minus agility bonus and monk strike bonus)
hitpoints: 11
Maximum balance: 2
Wounds: 2 (it is not specified anywhere excep that you die if your maximum balance reaches 0 and you loose 1 maximum balance when you suffer 1 wound.)

Adding Techniques

Griffin has 3 technique points to spend at level 1, so lets see the Tier 1 St. Bruce techniques. There is no point in listing Tier 2 because Griffin needs 2xTier 1 before he can train 1xTier2 and Tier2 techniques costs 2 Technique points.

Accuracy: +5 melee attack rating, you can also perform unarmed attacks while holding a weapon, as if you were not holding anything.

Flurry of blows: cost 1 point of balance, make up to two melee attack at -10 penalty to hit for each. You may strike two different targets, but Flurry of blows must be declared before resolving any attack.

Martial training: +1 step for melee damage dice, including unarmed.

Griffin has been training his accuracy, because his master repeatedly told him “if you can not hit anything you can not damage anything!” and Griffin is a hefty guy, his meaty hands can knock the wind out of a horse so Martial training came naturally to him.

Griffin sought out another master who was renowed for his fast striking and learned the Flurry of blows from him, spending his last technique point.

So now Griffin does 1d8 (martial training raises the dice from 1d6 to 1d8 with 1 step) and has +9 to his attack rating.

Fight!

Let us see how Griffin fares in mortal combat with his newly aquired techniques.

Initiative!

The nasty goblin rolls 9+5 (base initiative stat) +3 short sword = 17
Griffin rolls 8 +3 (his modified initiative stat) -1 for monks strike = 10

Griffin is the faster of the two he takes a few fast steps towards the goblin and makes a straight forward strike towards the goblins arm. He rolls his attack d100, 30 +9 melee attack (+5 of these is due to his passive technique Accuracy +0 monk strike= 39, but the goblin has a defense rating of 50 so his attack is NOT ON TARGET, he misses and punches a nice hole in the air.

The goblin screams and charges straight at him lunging its croocked sword in from the side in a reckless swipe. He rolls his attack dice d100, 66 + 3 short sword attack rating + 0 race = 69!

Griffin does not know the exact number, but he is told that the goblins attack is ON TARGET. Griffin has a defense rating of 53, he tries to dodge the swipe he spends 1 balance point adding +20 to his defense rating = 73 the goblins attack is no longer ON TARGET, Griffin successfully dodges the attack!

NEW ROUND

Griffin launches a strike to the other side hoping to catch the goblin with a cross, his attack d100 rolls 49 +9 melee attack = 58! His attack is ON TARGET and the goblin is so surprised it forgets to try and defend against the attack (for the sake of getting on with it) and takes 1d8+1 damage (normally monk strikes is just 1d6 but his technique Martial training gives him 1 step on damage dice), 6+1 =7! the goblin only had 5 hitpoints and is now lying dying on the dirt road.

Add to this simple example the magic ringstones and their complex combinations and you have your plate full of choices during combat. Abellican Monks usually have a fair amount of stones to use, they are so fortunate that the church hands them out to them.

Conclusion

While at first glance it appears to be a complex fight system, it is not much different from many other established systems. As a RPGamer I am used to finding various bonusses from talents, feats, skills, weapons, potions, spells and adding them up. Much of the character stat structure reminds me of good ol’ dungeons and dragons, 6 stats and tables with bonusses for each stat and stat value. It does not feel so different except that you have a stat that is completely dedicated to magic (affinity), where your intellect in other game systems usually were the one that affected your magic along with your languages and such.

Disclaimer: there is one thing with regards to stats that i have completely skipped over here, each stat has a skill modifier and a group of skills associated with it. E.g. Intellect has Alertness, Diplomacy, History, Medicine, Sailing associated with it. The modifiers range from -20 to +35 and checks are made with a d100.

However combat wise, it does feel abit more sleek than im used to with my regular 3rd edition DnD with an additional easy and lightweight optional defense mechanic. I do fear that the bigger you balance pool gets the more a fight could drag out with all the dodging and blocking. You don’t have alot of hitpoints, so combat is lethal it seems and in that regard dodging and blocking are very essential. Having a limited amount of dodges and blocks also makes it abit strategical when to use your balance or not.

Like any RPG system once you get through a few fights you will usually get the hang of it and it will become second nature. The question is if a system scares you off with its first fight.

Now the monk Griffins creation and the goblin fight was my first test of the rules, made while writing this. It did not take me long to put together and the fight could have dragged on for one or two more rounds with dodges and blocks but that would be about it i think.

While it is not one of the most lightweight systems out there, it is by far not one of the more cumbersome either. Add in the complex use of gemstones which gives you many more choices to make during a combat, i bet you can get some pretty interresting battles.

Mr. Salvatore is well known for his high explosive fight descriptions, not in the least a famous Drow who have been having some of the most memorable sword fight scenes in fantasy history. But the novels that take place in Corona also have great fight scenes and where the magic system manifests the conceptual idea created in my mind as i read the books. So too does the fight system appear on the surface (i have yet to playtest for real) to manifest the dynamic flow of explosive fight scenes which he created in my mind with his novels.

Right, that was this was 3 out of 3 review parts, so this concludes my review of the playtest pdf package.

Special Announcement!

Now I promised you a special treat, so lets get to it! While i still don’t have a date set for the article, I am very excited to inform you that i will be wrapping up this 3 pieces review with a “Salvatore Interview” where i ask both Bob and Bryan questions about Corona and Demonwars RPG. So Stay tuned!

Gork ya later!

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