Writing Series

Writing Atlas: Combat Pillar 1.1?

So this is a quick summary of where the Combat Pillar has landed at the moment and how it will work in Atlas Spire. I just released an early draft of the Combat Pillar for my Patreon supporter(s) on Sunday, but already I’ve made some idea changes, and I thought I’d take a consensus to see what people thought of them.

Being honest, it’s nothing new. Roll a D20, add / subtract the appropriate attribute for your weapon, see if it exceeds the target defense. If so, deal damage. The basic concept is easy to grasp and if you’ve played practically anything before, it shouldn’t sound new to you.

BUT I want to use it. Because I think I have a couple of ways of making it interesting. For starters, there are nine attributes in game, four of which are used for determining your attack and damage bonuses with weapons. They are Agility, Endurance, Strength, and Perception and they govern Finesse, Recoil, Puissant, and Precision type weapons respectively. On top of this, Agility is used for adding to your defense in combat while unarmored or wearing light armor while Endurance is added to your defense in medium or heavy armor. Wisdom functions similarly, except it adds to your resistance which is sort of like “defense, but for magic.” So there’s a bit of a multi-attribute dispersion (MAD) needed to be well rounded in combat. While this alone doesn’t make combat more interesting, what it does is illicit a conscious decision in a player to pick a specialty and stick with it, knowing they’ll have at least one weakness of some kind. Not putting points in Wisdom as a front-line fighter to make for more Endurance is all good and dandy until a mage shows up to wreck your day. And not only knowing you have a kryptonite, but manually designing your own character that way, while nothing new, is something often missed by other RPGs where a “dump stat” is not uncommon.

Secondly, Critical Hits are (somewhat) replaced with a Momentum and Flourish statistic. Each weapon type (Axes, Daggers, Straight Swords, etc) has a distinct Momentum and Flourish stat shared by all the weapons in that type. Momentum is a “goal” of sorts and the Flourish is your reward for reaching that goal. Momentum will be something like “deal 15 damage” or “land 3 attacks.” Something that can reasonably be done in a single combat encounter, but might not be done more than once or twice. The Flourish is your “typical” critical effect like dealing double damage on the attack, or getting to combo a follow-up attack. But hitting your momentum and being allowed to designate when you use the flourish can totally tip the scales of combat with some careful, tactical thinking. Naturally your momentum is reset when you activate the flourish, unless you roll a Nat 20 (Critical Hit) in which case you get a free flourish, so it’s still pretty valuable.

Now not only does each weapon type have a Momentum and Flourish, but each weapon will have multiple attacks. By which I mean there is a standard “auto-attack” type of deal where you simply swing the axe or stab with the spear, but every weapon has at least one “alternate” attack. For example the Battle-axe gives you Chop (the standard attack) and Full Swing, an attack that deals more damage but also lowers your defense slightly until your next turn. Likewise a Parrying Dagger will have a typical Stab, but also a Parry option allowing you to trade your attack to assume a defensive stance and try to bait an attack out of your enemy so you can parry them and perform a devastating counter-attack.  While each weapon that shares a type will follow a similar theme (Axes trading DEF for DMG and Daggers setting up powerful Counter-Attacks) the individual weapons each will have their own unique alternate uses, some of them having more than one.*

*Firearms are a bit tricky at the moment and for the most part they all share an alternate action called “reload” where you just reload the firearm… I’m brainstorming this one.

For the most part, that’s the gist of it, however I also intend to one day include Weapon Proficiency which allow you to spend a level, not on your Class or Race benefits, but on your weapon of choice. So if your character uses Tomahawks, you could spend a level upgrading your Tomahawk proficiency allowing you to throw them further, deal more damage, or whatever. This part probably won’t be a thing upon the initial release, but it is a thing I plan to include down the line.

My question is, is this all too much? Will it be too much for people to track a weapon Momentum in combat? Will it be too much to fill out on a character sheet? Will it be too much to remember that you have more than one attack? Will homebrewers find it too difficult to write / introduce their favorite weapons when they have to come up with a new Momentum, Flourish, and Alternate Attack Action for it?

Seriously asking for feedback, so don’t be shy about letting me know.

Started posting bi-weekly updates in the Archfossil Patreon page. The next update is Feb – 5th, but you can still see what I have planned to drop before then by dropping the $1 support now. If your feedback about the Combat Pillar was positive, then you’ll like my style regarding the other aspects of the Triumvirate System and Atlas, right? Well the best way to get that stuff is from the Patreon. So what do you have to lose by showing your support?


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