Biblyon the Great

This zine is dedicated to articles about the fantasy role-playing game Gods & Monsters, and other random musings.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

Advantage in the fog of war

Jerry Stratton, August 10, 2007

Battle of Resaca de la Palma

Zach rolls for initiative.

I think that Ben Robbins at Ars Ludi is right about initiative. I wrote earlier that one of the reasons that Gods & Monsters calls for an advantage roll every round is that we can’t remember from round to round what our advantage numbers are. I’ve been tinkering with it for a while; I added the announcement phase a while back to make advantage more useful. It worked, but not enough. While it adds a tactical level to advantage that it didn’t have before, it also adds a complexity that really ends up acting against group effort. During our last game we even ended up forgetting advantage rolls during the same round we rolled them.

Further, the more I think about it, the more I think initiative is counter-productive. An initiative-style advantage system puts an orderly structure on a round’s worth of combat that goes against the rest of the game’s rules. Actions in a round don’t happen at precise intervals.

I wish Ben had written this a week ago, because with vacation season starting I won’t get to try it out until October. However, in our next game I’m going to suggest a much simpler advantage system: none whatsoever.

In conflict, everyone chooses what they are going to do, and they do it. Even if they are disabled during the round. Combat is messy, and the fog of war cures all ills. Characters can attack anyone who has come within their movement in feet. First the Adventure Guide decides what the opponents are going to do, then the players decide what their characters are going to do, and then everyone does it.

Charles Marion Russell

Hold on. What was your initiative again?

This gets rid of all the crap about changing minds, announcements, and keeping track of advantage rolls.

There will be two major changes that result from this change:

First, a combatant can no longer avoid damage by gaining the advantage and disabling their opponent. Everyone does what they’re going to do. That one attack might really have been three attacks, with one opportunity (if I really were being strict, I’d rename actions to opportunities): a lunge, a damaging riposte, and a killing blow. In the fog of war, you don’t know. But you can make it up when you describe it.

Sorcerors no longer have to worry about spell disruption. We rarely remembered to use those rules anyway. Spells have a casting time of 1 round minimum, with a possible quick notation for slow fall or similar spells. If someone wants to disrupt a spell, they’ll have to do what they would do for any complex action: make a called shot to affect it.

An attacker can make a called shot against a complex action, such as casting a spell that requires gestures or ingredients, calling a spirit that requires gestures or a focus, playing an instrument, or reloading a crossbow. If successful, the target must make an Evasion roll or the action is delayed for one action.

What about battle knowledge? If a character wants to wait until one of their opponents betrays their actions, let the player do so. If the opponent wants to do the same thing, you’ve got a charisma contest, which warriors can apply combat pool points to.

  1. <- Improved Experience
  2. The Prophet ->