Sunday, December 22, 2013

More on Skill Trees

In my previous rambling about tactical combat I talked about Brawl-based actions, but there's more than just punches and kicks-in-the-butt. Another skill tree that the player can explore is Melee-based combat actions. Let's have a look in closer detail.

  • Swing is the default melee attack since it requires level 0 (all characters can hit with their melee weapon). Although the icon shows a knife, this action obviously inclues all kinds of melee weapons, from baseball bats to katanas. Range 1 + weapon range. Note that most Brawl attacks were performed at the adjacent tiles (range 1) or in the same tile as the player (range 0). Most melee attacks, however, can be targeted against enemies in a longer range: 1 + the range of the weapon, which typically is 1 tile (maybe a spike or a very long staff can be considered weapons of range 2 tiles).  This is a great advantage in combat, since you can reach your enemy sooner than your enemy.The attack roll is Dexterity + Melee. As usual, all successes are added to the damage roll, which in this case is Strength + weapon damage. 
  • Stab. Level 1. Range 1. This attack is only available with blade weapons (there’s no point on stabbing with a blunt weapon). Roll Dexterity + Melee (difficulty +1) for an additional +1 to damage, while ignoring all enemy armor. Damage Strength + weapon damage + 1. 
  • Disarm. Level 1. Range 1 + weapon range. Dexterity + Melee (difficulty +1). A swing towards the enemy weapon hand. If successes rolled exceed the opponent’s Strength, the opponent takes no damage but is disarmed. A botch means the attacker drops his own weapon. A character without weapon has to lose 1 action picking up the weapon.
  • Knock out. Level 2. Range 1. A swing towards the base of the head. Strength + Melee (difficulty + 2). In this case, blunt weapons have advantage over blade weapons. Knocking out your enemy with a blunt weapon causes Strength + weapon damage + 2. Using a blade weapon handle casuses Strength + weapon damage / 2. If damage is greater than the victim’s Stamina, he suffers a knockdown, falling to the ground. 
  • Parry. Level 2. Targeted at any enemy. Parry allows the player to stop most close combat attacks with your melee weapon. Roll Dexterity + Melee, substracting all successes from the attacker roll. Of couse, only Brawl or Melee attacks can be avoided using parry (obviously bullets can't be stopped so Firearm attacks can't be parried).
  • Throw weapon. Level 2. You can throw your melee weapon at your enemies. Range: line of sight, distance Strength x 2 tiles. Dexterity + Melee. Strength + base weapon damage for blade weapons (or weight for other weapons).
  • Dash. Level 3. Range Dexterity x 2 + weapon range. This action consists on running and striking with the weapon in a samurai-like manner (consuming 1 action instead of 2). Dexterity + Melee (difficulty +2). Damage Strength + weapon damage + 1.
  • Two weapons. Level 3. Passive action that enables the player to use one melee weapon in each hand. The left hand suffers difficulty +1 (unless the character has the merit ambidextrous).
  • Slain (cut-throat). Level 4. Range 1. Only available with blade weapons (there’s no point on trying to cut a throat with a blunt weapon). Dexterity + Melee (difficulty +3). Damage Strength x 2 + weapon damage. 
A here's the Firearms skill tree.

  • Shoot is the default Firearms combat action, since it requires Firearms at level 0. Range: line of sight. Dexterity + Firearms. All Firearms attacks in 0 to 2 tiles range have difficulty 4 (it's -2 to difficulty since you're in a very close range). Attacks in 3 tiles to weapon range – 1 tile are at difficulty 5. Attacks in weapon range to 2 x weapon range are at difficulty 6. Attacks in 2 x weapon range + 1 to 3 x weapon range are at difficulty 8. This is the limit of the weapon attack, no further attacks are allowed. For instance, a light revolver has a weapon range of 6 tiles (VtM weapon range / 2). As usual, all successes are added up to the damage roll. Firearms cause constant damage since they only depend on the caliber of the bullet. For instance, a light revolver causes damage 4 (same as VtM weapon damage).
  • Burst fire. Level 1. Range: line of sight. Automatic weapons allow multiple shots in a single action (typically 3 shots). Dexterity + Firearms + 3 (difficulty +1). Weapon damage. This attack consumes 3 bullets even upon fail.
  • Aim. Level 1. No range required. Aiming just adds 1 dice to the dice pool of your next Firearm action. The limit to the number of dice added by aiming is the character Perception.
  • Strafing. Level 2. Range: line of sight. This attack is targeted towards one enemy, but affects all nearby enemies in a 2 tile radius. If there are no nearby enemies, the attack can’t be performed. Dexterity + Firearms + 10 (difficulty +2). All successes are evenly distributed among the targets. A damage roll is rolled for each target. This attack consumes as many bullets as enemies in the target area. Dodge rolls against strafing are at +1 difficulty.
  • Knee-wound. Level 2. Range: line of sight. A shot aimed at the knee, trying to hinder your enemy movement. Dexterity + Firearms (difficulty +2). Weapon damage + 2. If damage is done, the victim is immobilized (+3 to all actions against him, initiative -2 in the next turn).
  • Two weapons. Level 2. Passive action that enables the player to use one firearm in each hand. The left hand suffers difficulty +1 (unless the character has the optional merit ambidextrous).
  • Disarm. Level 3. A shoot in the hand that disarms the enemy.
  • Bleeding shot. Level 3. A shot that is destined to create a bleeding injury. Perception + Firearms (difficulty +2). Weapon damage is rolled. For each 3 successes, 1 blood point is subtracted per turn. 
  • Killer headshot. Level 4. Range: line of sight. Dexterity + Firearms (difficulty +3). Weapon damage x 2.
Again, these are just a skill tree proposals. All combat maneuvers have to be playtested, discarded or fine-tuned accordangly until the whole combat works appropriately. Sorry for the brevity of the descriptions. When designing the backbone of the combat mechanics any descriptive material seems a bit out of place. However, here's a bit of a preview of how combat may end up looking.

In the mockup, the Ventrue female character is targeting her ranged attack towards Smiling Jack. I haven't drawn the pistol or anything but you can imagine that the final version will feature attack animations and whatnot. The square tiles represent approximately 1 m x 1 m of game space. I'm not sure if firearms should attack in a single traight line (like towers in chess) or a more radius. I have to validate with playtesting to see which works better.

Meanwhile, I've reworked the character creation screen. Now there's a red light cutting out the silhoutte of the characters. I like how it separates the back and front layers of the screen.

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