Game design - classes and warfare

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Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:24 pm

I think this is one of the big problems with their idea of a fighter, the whole CRPG / RPG concept of a 'tank' who can just absorb hits and doesn't actually do much more than absorb damage and dish out a little punishment back, and doesn't rely on situational awareness or stealth at all, let alone timing or tempo.

It would help game designers a lot I think to study how actual tanks worked in real life. Even trying out a relatively simple but realistic computer war game can be a real eye-opener. You can have the worlds best tank (T-34, Pz Kw V, whatever) but if you attack without regard for where the enemy forces are and how they are situated, blundering right into the open so that they definitely know where you are, you are doing to die real quick, no matter how good your armor is, no matter how good your gun is, how big your engine and so forth.

It's the same with air combat too. The most deadly component on a WW II fighter arguably was the radio. If you play a game like Il2 you can see how 3 or 4 guys using their radio's (through VIOP) can rip apart 12 or 15 guys who aren't.

Every kind of actual warfare is a chess game, and without situational awareness (reconnaissance, battlefield intelligence, communications) you are playing without knowing where the other pieces are. To call that a disadvantage is an understatement.

The more I read about the Mongols, the more critical it seems that it was THIS, the C3I as they call it today, which was their real battlefield advantage. People tend to try to make their recurve bow into an uberweapon; and it was a very good weapon, but it was not what made the real difference. It was the C3I which allowed the Mongols and other lightly armed forces in history to defeat much tougher (on a man for man level) opponents routinely. The C3I and the discipline which for example allowed entire Mongol cavalry troops to lay their horses down on their sides and hide ...

Rand Corporation wrote a really good article about this a few years back, including how the Mongols used special couriers called 'arrow riders' for battlefield intel here

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pu ... _RP223.pdf

Even the knightly heavy-cavalry of the European feudal warlords relied on timing and situational awareness to achieve their victories, just on a more tactical than operational or strategic level such as the Mongols used. In a full scale battle, they would ride by, attack, rearm; ride by, attack, rearm; over and over again until the enemy force started to weaken. Then and only then the decisive lance charge came which shattered the enemy formation. Vastly more wars were won by small ambushes, tricks to takeover castles, commando raids to destroy supplies, basic cavalry tactics used to achieve quick local numeric superiority, and so forth, than the actual toe to toe, football game style contests which tend to get all the press.

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby zarlor » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:09 am

Agreed, big time. Although arguably most RPG combats will be on a much smaller scale than those kinds of battles. Even so, reading accounts of duels or small melees still show that while certainly armor WORKS, it still takes tactics timing and skill to win the day. Relying on "tanking" I don't think was any kind of real tactic in the medieval or renaissance world. It's also something I think CM generally handles fairly well. A good choice of MFs will give the character tactics to win, when used in the right situations, so getting your character into those situations in a fight is tantamount. Armor helps, but without being able to use your MFs when your opponent has you in a situation where they can use theirs means that armor isn't going to save your rear for very long at all.
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"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:57 pm

Yeah CM does the fighting part pretty well, and you are right, larger unit combat isn't really a big part of most RPGs, but I'm interested in expanding a bit into the realm of stealth, reconnaissance, and communications, which can be an interesting game within the game, and I'm also really interested in how to use the backdrop of the context of a larger battle going on, for an adventure on the small scale. This is kind of part of my Baltic campaign but would I think provide a lot of the intrigue and adventure set in any historical setting.

One classic, obvious example is all the drama that can happen around siege warfare, capturing castles through subterfuge and so on.

Cavalry warfare is another example of this. You can make mechanics for chasing and jousting, and running through steeplechases, but the real essence of cavalry warfare is on the more... operational level. Seeing the other guy first, being able to evade his concentrations of power, and concentrate your own where he is weak. Splitting your forces and joining together again. The drama of the courier trying to get through an enemy gauntlet to get support from allies for that isolated outpost; the small cavalry squad raiding and picking apart a larger army through the clever use of ambushes and feigned retreats and camouflage; the crucial cavalry action which undermines the enemy army at the critical stage of the battle (or in the critical stage right before the big battle) ... these are the fodder for any number of Western TV shows and movies (and Samurai TV shows and movies which were made in imitation of the Westerns... which in turn were made again imitating the Samurai flicks and so on)

I'd like to figure out how to get some mechanics to support that kind of thing in the game, or at the very least identify some of the standard tropes and describe them for GM's and gamers to use in their campaigns.

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:18 pm

One good example of the above was during the rather epic siege of Malta by the Ottomans. During the siege there was a strong castle on the other side of the Island which was occupied by about 100 Knights-Hospitaler cavalry. The scale of the actual battle was enormous, tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides, but this small cavalry force kept causing major problems for the Ottomans, and actually turned the tide of the whole siege on a couple of occasions, most critically when they raided the Ottoman camp right at the exact time the Ottomans had breached the walls of the main town, thus unraveling their attack and allowing the defenders to persist. Later the Ottomans sent a force of Jannissaries and Sipahi cavalry to try to ambush these knights, but they failed.

There was also another interesting sideline to the whole main battle which was also of critical importance, the Christian forces had galleys which were running the blockade of the siege, interfering with Ottoman communications (and effectively neutralizing the Ottoman's own naval assets) and ended up landing crucial re-enforcements... the galleys themselves were of a very small number compared to the size of the overall battle but they played a really important role (and ... dramatic, exciting).

You also see all this on a smaller scale in all the wars of the Reconquista in Spain, the Condottiero in Italy, the free companies in France and all the battles in the German and Slavic speaking parts of Central Europe. Raids, ambushes, sudden sorties, battlefield duels. Some of the smaller scale stuff which Mount and Blade does pretty well. This is the stuff I'd like to bring into the game!

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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby zarlor » Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:09 pm

I like the idea, the question come on implementation... hmmm... I'd have to mull that over for a while to see if anything crops to mind, particularly while maintaining the flavor of CM.
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:34 pm

Well, the starting point may be to just examine the default rules for stealth and concealment (hide, move silently and so on) on the one hand and search / spot on the other. The default DnD rules for this are super simple, but ... seem kind of lacking. Not to mention the fact that fighters don't even get these skills as class skills normally.

Is there any obvious way to improve or enhance the basic skill check for this?


Another related skill maybe to add, is signaling, for base-level communications. Both with hand signals and with flags and so on. And the cliché (but I think, real) trick of making bird calls and so on like you see in all kinds of movies.



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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby zarlor » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:07 pm

I do like the idea of Signaling skill. The one time I played in a party recently where I had a Drow character and one other member of the party used up a language spot to learn Drow sign language is the one time were I constantly found really useful uses for it. Especially since my character was the thief stealthing away were he could scout and "break stealth" in the appropriate direction just to sign back to the one party member who would understand him. Among other uses, of course.

Maybe the better skill for battlefield tactical "stealth" would be like the Savage Worlds "Knowledge (Battle)" skill. It seems stealth is not just a bit simplistic, but it's also meant for hiding a person which is far, far different from covering maneuvering of a group, let alone something like a group on horseback. Some individual stealth skill are useful in that situation but it's more about discipline of the group and maintaining some level of intel on where their forces are so as to best position yourself where they won't know what you're doing. Including misdirection on a whole different scale from personal stealth. In some ways I think even the search/spot skill should probably be just rolled into a Battle skill like that, since both of those things really seem part and parcel to each other for this purpose. Understanding how to spot the enemy, to understand their signals, to appropriately send yours and understand those being sent to you and how to do those things with a level of stealthy discretion are probably all one skill, it seems to me. I do think it would need to be a completely new skill, though.
Lenny Zimmermann

"A soldier uses arms merely with skill, whereas a knight uses them with virtuous intention." - Pomponio Torelli, 1596.

- Systeme D'armes, New Orleans, Louisiana
http://www.sdanola.com
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Arkon » Sat Jul 20, 2013 2:15 am

Galloglaich wrote:I think this is one of the big problems with their idea of a fighter, the whole CRPG / RPG concept of a 'tank' who can just absorb hits and doesn't actually do much more than absorb damage and dish out a little punishment back, and doesn't rely on situational awareness or stealth at all, let alone timing or tempo.

It would help game designers a lot I think to study how actual tanks worked in real life. Even trying out a relatively simple but realistic computer war game can be a real eye-opener. You can have the worlds best tank (T-34, Pz Kw V, whatever) but if you attack without regard for where the enemy forces are and how they are situated, blundering right into the open so that they definitely know where you are, you are doing to die real quick, no matter how good your armor is, no matter how good your gun is, how big your engine and so forth.

Any suggestions directed at designers that design games with shit like tanking, DPS, etc. are pointless because they are irredeemable Klingons who aren't interested in anything remotely realistic. During the last decade they were very busy destroying any semblance of realism in cRPGs.
...
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby drkguy3107 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 4:11 pm

I still don't quite get what you mean by Klingon? Do you mean they are Star Trek fans?

Also I personally don't think you need new rules to cover this stuff, just make that the campaign. I had a campaign in which we were pirates, in charge of a ship, with a galley full of guys and we rammed another galley in a fog bank and boarded the boat, killed the deck crew, locked up the doors, and then rammed it into another boat, lit them both on fire, and then hopped back into our boat and ran away.

Also the gnome got his pants pulled off, and was nearly sucked down a manhole to be bludgeoned to death by 60 angry oarsmen trapped in a burning boat, but he got out of it fine.
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Re: Game design - classes and warfare

Postby Arkon » Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:13 am

drkguy3107 wrote:I still don't quite get what you mean by Klingon? Do you mean they are Star Trek fans?

People who like games with rules that don't represent anything real.
...
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