Friday, May 17, 2013
Combat Systems -- Build-Based Systems
And then I get a slightly strange look, which I always take to mean that I have taken the conversation to a level of geekiness to which my conversation partner is unwilling to go...
So, let's talk about combat systems and their various flavors:
In these games, your powers, feats and stats are the key to combat. Position on the field of battle might be good for a modifier or two, but ultimately, the combatant with the better build will win the day. Builds are often elaborate, complex, and might take lots of work, or even lots of sessions of play (and experience points) to come to fruition. There is a lot of character differentiation, even among characters of the same type/class, because every character has a build that performs differently in combat.
What is great about build-based systems is... well... builds. It is awesome to see all the different character builds that players invent, and to see how they stack up against the opposition. You know that each of the builds will perform differently in combat. Each PC's build interacts with every other PC's build, and that of the enemies to create a cool, tactical experience.
In addition, as characters gain experience, the players tweak their builds, reacting to the needs of the campaign, and perfecting their ultimate combat machine. For most players, this is great fun and can lead to lots of off-table battle recaps and discussions about different combinations of powers, skills and feats.
Trip Build, or a Disarm Build, or a Two-Weapon Fighting Build.
These builds might take all of a character's feat selections for many levels -- meaning there isn't much room to branch out. So, you build to optimize this one trick, and you spend most of your character's resources doing that. When players optimize for a single trick, the combats become exercises in making sure they can perform that one trick over and over and over. As a GM, if you don't counter this, combats become somewhat boring as you watch the PCs do the same maneuvers every round. If you do counter it, then you are negating powers that the PCs have spent a great deal of time and resources on... depending on how often you make their one trick useless, this could be a jerk GM move.
That's all I have for now. Next post, we will talk about positional systems...