The Guard Sytem - Myth-Weavers


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The Guard Sytem

   
The Guard Sytem

The guard system is a significant component to Aelsif. I want to make sure it's simple and concise, because I'm bad at that.

Guarding is an action you can take in combat. Select one enemy to guard against, spend one action each round (by default you have two) to keep your guard up. This allows you to make response actions against that target should they do anything that requires two actions, such as power attacking or casting a spell. As actions that take multiple actions can usually be interrupted (though some can't be) this may allow you to make an opponent waste their turn and maybe even resources if what they were doing took them (ammunition, magic energies). You cannot, ever, perform a response action if you are not guarding against a given target.

Additionally, you receive bonus evasion against that target should you have an implement able to parry their attack. Your hands, ranged weapons and polearms can only stop natural weapons. Melee weapons can also stop melee weapons. Only shields can stop polearms and ranged weapons. Lastly, if you are wearing hand/wrist protection it will further increase evasion IF you have an appropriate implement, and it will provide damage reduction either way.

Alternate guard modes exist, but all require a feat and therefore are not part of this explanation.

Now, is that simple, easily understood, and its value adequately clear?

I understand it and it makes sense, but it's granular as heck. People are gonna complain about it being "Charts: The Game". It might bog down combat a bit if people have to check their to-parry vs. <weapon> every turn, but you've already lightened that load by giving blanket pairings (polearms=shield and such)

Contrary to what a lot of people are gonna tell you, I like the whole "can't parry an arrow with a sword" type stuff, as long as there are options for certain classes that enable them to expand their options for such things, like a feat or Monk-only (or the Aelsif equivalent) ability to parry light weapons with your hands. After all, grabbing an armed opponent's wrist or forearm is a thing that martial artists do. If my street boxer/mafia grunt can't use his brass knuckle-clad hands to at least attempt to bat away switchblades, he's not gonna last long at his job.

I do have two primary complaints, however. One real and one kinda minor:
Requiring the use of an action to have your guard up against a single opponent is really just a way of either implementing a universal feat tax to lighten that load or telling offense-oriented characters to enjoy bleeding out. Pathfinder 2nd Edition is trying this for shields while also having 3 (+1 reaction) actions each round and it is being very poorly received.
I recommend keying a "minimum guard" number off some metric that martial characters naturally have higher than non-martial ones. Using Base Attack Bonus as an example because it's a term we all understand, you'd divide it by some number and say the dividend is how many "free" guard designations you get per turn, and then you can spend additional actions to increase that number.

The second is more minutiae related and something that could start massive tangential arguments:
You can parry swords with spears and polearms. A hefty ranged weapon like a crossbow could probably defend against a small mace or club.
I think you have to spend a fairly long time looking at that one to determine realism vs. game balance.
I'm not looking to debate this one myself, I think a bit of proper research and contacting your local HEMA groups rather than fighting on a forum would be a better use of time.

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Originally Posted by Veradux View Post
I understand it and it makes sense, but it's granular as heck.
There's what I needed to know. Thank you.

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People are gonna complain about it being "Charts: The Game". It might bog down combat a bit if people have to check their to-parry vs. <weapon> every turn, but you've already lightened that load by giving blanket pairings (polearms=shield and such)
A lot of decisions were made to lighten that load, actually.

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Contrary to what a lot of people are gonna tell you, I like the whole "can't parry an arrow with a sword" type stuff, as long as there are options for certain classes that enable them to expand their options for such things, like a feat or Monk-only (or the Aelsif equivalent) ability to parry light weapons with your hands. After all, grabbing an armed opponent's wrist or forearm is a thing that martial artists do. If my street boxer/mafia grunt can't use his brass knuckle-clad hands to at least attempt to bat away switchblades, he's not gonna last long at his job.
Yes and no. There are no monks, but there are perks that let you retain 1/2 guard bonus in unfavourable match-ups.

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I do have two primary complaints, however. One real and one kinda minor:
Requiring the use of an action to have your guard up against a single opponent is really just a way of either implementing a universal feat tax to lighten that load or telling offense-oriented characters to enjoy bleeding out. Pathfinder 2nd Edition is trying this for shields while also having 3 (+1 reaction) actions each round and it is being very poorly received.
I recommend keying a "minimum guard" number off some metric that martial characters naturally have higher than non-martial ones. Using Base Attack Bonus as an example because it's a term we all understand, you'd divide it by some number and say the dividend is how many "free" guard designations you get per turn, and then you can spend additional actions to increase that number.
Nitpick: Classes, as they are, do not have differences outside of their abilities. Their class abilities are dramatically different, but there are no class-based stats.

And the reason why it takes an action to guard is for balance. Many abilities use a double action, but this alone does not balance them, so having to drop your guard to use them is a way of keeping you from using them all the time without making them weaker.

You also end up frequently getting your action back in the form of a response action, which is actually better than a normal action since it has a chance to waste your opponent's turn.

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The second is more minutiae related and something that could start massive tangential arguments:
You can parry swords with spears and polearms. A hefty ranged weapon like a crossbow could probably defend against a small mace or club.
I think you have to spend a fairly long time looking at that one to determine realism vs. game balance.
I'm not looking to debate this one myself, I think a bit of proper research and contacting your local HEMA groups rather than fighting on a forum would be a better use of time.
We did, actually. But we decided to make matchups all or nothing to keep it simple. Also, the same perks that were mentioned earlier, which let you retain 1/2 in an unfavourable matchup, will let you get some of that complexity back in a way that is advantageous enough to justify spending a perk.

I'm late to the party, @Avianmosquito but I'd suggest that you should reconsider what @Veradux wrote. Yes, it's clear and granular. Yes, needing to "open your guard" to use your more powerful attacks ain't gonna be well-received, especially coupled with a harsher-than-usual-for-d20 wounding system.

Don't take me wrong, I prefer similar rules. But you risk making too many concessions to ease-of-use and balance to attract the hardcore simulationists, and too "harsh" rules to attract the usual d20 crowd.
Which would be too bad, since I think you have some nice ideas.

While I lack strong views on the specific topic itself, am I that unusual in liking the principle that you have to take a defense penalty to use an especially powerful attack?

I always prefer, and this is from a sheer enjoyment point of view, combat that requires you to make choices. Otherwise, you end up doing the same optimal thing over and over again, and that gets boring.

Now, I might suggest different framing: instead of saying that this is to prevent people from using their abilities “too often,” reverse the emphasis and say that that if they drop their guard, they get to use one of their special abilities.

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Originally Posted by Voord 99 View Post
While I lack strong views on the specific topic itself, am I that unusual in liking the principle that you have to take a defense penalty to use an especially powerful attack?

I always prefer, and this is from a sheer enjoyment point of view, combat that requires you to make choices. Otherwise, you end up doing the same optimal thing over and over again, and that gets boring.
I like it as well. You're not that unusual, but I've found that such preferences put us into a minority, IME.

You end up having to ask yourself if it is worth it to lower your guard to possibly hit harder. In a game like Avian's where one errant hit can permanently drain a key stat, I think the issue can become exactly what Voord says:
"Otherwise, you end up doing the same optimal thing over and over again, and that gets boring."

It might accidentally change the optimal setting from late-game D&D rocket tag to "Metapod used Harden".

Basically, my concern is that it is accidentally not always letting you make those choices. Giving some of the more martial classes an auto-guard ability, coming online reasonably early for whatever the "Fighter" is and a bit later for second-line combatants like archers and rogues, and maybe only once or not at all for dedicated caster-types, would enable easier access to certain choices. I'd recommend being able to "harden" defenses more easily as a result.
Alternatively, you can make it cost less than an action, if you have things like Swift or Free actions, for those classes.

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Originally Posted by Veradux View Post
In a game like Avian's where one errant hit can permanently drain a key stat
I think you may have seriously misunderstood how wounding works. It's not permanent, and as it stands now wounds are only inflicted when incapacitated or killed. They do take a very long time to away without surgery, but only a couple days with it.

Ah, you must've changed it not too long ago, then. Last I heard of it was the distinct possibility of permanent, up to and including outright lost body parts.

Even so, it doesn't really change my statement.

Sorry for the late response, this week was awful. Work's always a pain, but there was also a trip to take my kids to visit their mother in prison. I had the time to respond, but I just didn't have it in me until it was over.

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Originally Posted by AsenRG View Post
I'm late to the party, @Avianmosquito but I'd suggest that you should reconsider what @Veradux wrote. Yes, it's clear and granular.
Good to hear it's clear, this is my first thread in a while that has succeeded in getting an answer to my main question.

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Yes, needing to "open your guard" to use your more powerful attacks ain't gonna be well-received, especially coupled with a harsher-than-usual-for-d20 wounding system.
The wounding system has been softened several times since the thread here was updated last. Wounds are only inflicted by incapacitation, death, and by a few special attacks that have rather niche applications. (Specifically, they're there to help you overcome enemies that heal relentlessly.)

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Don't take me wrong, I prefer similar rules. But you risk making too many concessions to ease-of-use and balance to attract the hardcore simulationists, and too "harsh" rules to attract the usual d20 crowd.
Which would be too bad, since I think you have some nice ideas.
I think you may be in my target demographic, actually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Voord 99 View Post
While I lack strong views on the specific topic itself, am I that unusual in liking the principle that you have to take a defense penalty to use an especially powerful attack?
No, not really. I think we're on the same page on that one.

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I always prefer, and this is from a sheer enjoyment point of view, combat that requires you to make choices. Otherwise, you end up doing the same optimal thing over and over again, and that gets boring.
Yes, quite. Which is also why in this game there is specific counter-play for every special attack, some counters being fairly hard and/or having catastrophic results. This means in combat you need to create openings to use your most powerful abilities, or at least find ways to mitigate their weaknesses.

If you're a lancer, you'll want to hit enemies whose guard isn't up or is focused on somebody else, or else attack in a corridor so they can't just get out of the way. If you're a power attacker, you'll want to hit opponents when they aren't guarding against you, or take a perk that makes you harder to interrupt. If you're a grenadier, you'll want to be sure the opponent's attention is elsewhere before tossing a bomb or toss it from behind cover. So on.

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Now, I might suggest different framing: instead of saying that this is to prevent people from using their abilities “too often,” reverse the emphasis and say that that if they drop their guard, they get to use one of their special abilities.
I'll think about finding a more positive wording for that, yes. Seems like a good move on my part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veradux View Post
You end up having to ask yourself if it is worth it to lower your guard to possibly hit harder. In a game like Avian's where one errant hit can permanently drain a key stat, I think the issue can become exactly what Voord says:
"Otherwise, you end up doing the same optimal thing over and over again, and that gets boring."

It might accidentally change the optimal setting from late-game D&D rocket tag to "Metapod used Harden".
While defensive combat is a focus of the system, I don't think it's likely we'll have to worry about people only defending because it's entirely possible for turtling to result in you taking more damage than ending a fight quickly. Knowing when to stop guarding and go on the offence is an important component of combat in a game where you frequently have to overcome the opponent's defences and where any time you're not taking an enemy down is time they're figuring out how to bypass your guard.

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Basically, my concern is that it is accidentally not always letting you make those choices. Giving some of the more martial classes an auto-guard ability, coming online reasonably early for whatever the "Fighter" is and a bit later for second-line combatants like archers and rogues, and maybe only once or not at all for dedicated caster-types, would enable easier access to certain choices. I'd recommend being able to "harden" defenses more easily as a result.
Alternatively, you can make it cost less than an action, if you have things like Swift or Free actions, for those classes.
There are no swift or free actions. Classes also are not any different from one another except in their abilities. Martial classes mostly get passives and free actives and their class perks tend to be a passive bonus and a special that builds fatigue with each use. Specialist classes tend to get more non-combat bonuses, mostly active abilities (though a lot are free) and their class perks tend to be a situational bonus and a very powerful but situational ability that has a set-up time. Caster classes get mostly active abilities that have costs with few (if any) free actives and passives, their class perks tend to be an improvement to an active that has a cost and a once daily power that's extremely powerful.

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Originally Posted by Veradux View Post
Ah, you must've changed it not too long ago, then. Last I heard of it was the distinct possibility of permanent, up to and including outright lost body parts.
Technically yes, but also no. Limb loss isn't always permanent. Lost limbs can be reattached, though this is not easy, and while it does take a lot of time, surgery and magic to regrow a lost limb, it can be done. Some characters even have innate abilities that let lost limbs regrow if severed. Some extremely nasty wounds capable of taking a character out of the game do exist, but only as an optional rule and those require extremely high damage to be delivered that's almost certain to one-shot your character anyway, and some of these subvert that pattern. One even has some permanent positives (with a trade off) if by some cruel miracle you live through it.

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Even so, it doesn't really change my statement.
I rather think it does. You can afford to take damage, just not to be incapacitated or killed, turtling up doesn't always result in you taking less damage, there's also the question of what your team is doing AND there's the question of what you're up against.

What if an ally has the opponent focused on them? Would it not be better to focus on offence exclusively, so your ally isn't at risk for as long?

What if you're on horseback? Guarding isn't as good there as your horse is a target rather fragile for its size, and you're losing your best ability guarding when you could be charging past an opponent and giving point en passant.

What of an enemy whose attacks you cannot defeat? If you have a sword and they have a musket, guarding won't do you much good and you should close and attack-move. Sure, it's likely they'll take your life, but you'll take theirs too. (They'll fire their musket, but you'll run them through.)

What of an enemy your attacks aren't working against? If their DR is too high for your attacks, would it not be better to power attack in hopes of overcoming it, or make an aimed attack and crit your way past that DR? If their evasion is too high, would it not be better to make an aimed attack to hit them, or to target a different defence?

What of an opponent that's effectively a steamroller, and you can't withstand their onslaught even if you're guarding? Would it not then be better to use positioning as your defence, keeping to places they can't bring their full firepower to bear?

What of enemies you must close distance on to offend? Would it not be better to avoid their fire entirely until you're in range to retaliate?

There are many reasons why guarding may be a downright terrible choice in the situation. Sure, most of the time at least one party member will want to guard, but you definitely don't want to have everybody guarding all the time, and sometimes it's best if nobody guards at all.

I'm not saying there won't be any perks or special ability that provide a (heavily nerfed) passive guard, there will be, and in fact there already are two perks that do so (under certain circumstances), but it's not something everybody needs to have.







 

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