Alloy: Combat part 4
While Alloy is a tactical game, it is based on time, rather than position. The game doesn’t use a grid, it uses relative positioning instead. Rather than having every character represented on a map, the Game Master only worries about how far characters are apart from one another. Unless you have a ranged weapon or a reach weapon, you must move into engaged distance to physically attack. Reach weapons can attack enemies in Close range, but without the requirement of becoming engaged.
Ranged weapons have an effective range, which is treated as an abstract distance between the attacker and his target. The ranges are Close, Short, Medium and Long.
The way they are classified is as follows:
Close combat distances can be crossed in a single 3 AC action allowing fighters to move closer to nearby foes. Typically this is within 33 feet.
Short distances can only be crossed by a 10 AC action or more in a single round, indicating a tactical choice to make the move. Typically this is within 100 feet.
Medium distances require multiple rounds to cross in the midst of battle. Typically this is within 300 feet.
Long distances are not feasible to cross in open battle unless the element of surprise is unnecessary or there is no incoming ranged fire. It will still take long minutes of hard travel to cross such a distance at the highest rate of speed on foot. Typically this is within 1000 feet.
There is a special range called Engaged. It doesn’t apply to ranged attacks as a modifier, but rather is a status signifying when a character is in melee combat range with another character. Engaged characters cannot take any movement actions with a base Action Cost of 3 or more except to get up from prone. They also suffer a -1D cumulative penalty to attack anybody they can hit but are not engaged with. Their engaged opponents also gain a +1D bonus to hit such a character if they act before the attack against the unengaged opponent ends (based on phases)
Example, Sarien is aiming at the Ape-man war leader at Short range, but he was engaged by an ape-man warrior recently. This means that Sarien suffers a -1D penalty to hit the war leader and he cannot move unless he makes a Disengage maneuver first. If he chose to make a Measured Shot, he would mitigate the penalty and do extra damage. However, if the warrior attacks him during the phases his AC 6 attack requires, his opponent gets a +1D to hit him.
Weapons designed to reach these ranges make it possible, not easy, to hit targets within these range classifications. Short range is the optimal range to hit a target. Characters aiming at a target at Close (Engaged) distance or at Medium range suffer a -1D Penalty. Attacking a character at Long distance is a -2D Penalty.
Just because a map isn’t required, does not mean that environmental features are ignored. The Game Master can impose bonuses or penalties for relative height at any time, and cover is implemented because it is such a common facet of ranged combat.
Using the environment to defend against attacks is a smart plan. Cover is either considered half, full or total depending on how much of the character’s body is covered. Usually cover is useless against melee attacks, but much larger characters attacking a target often allow that target the benefit of cover.
Half cover hides between 40% and 60% of the body and increases the TN of incoming ranged attacks to 3.
Full cover hides between 75% and 90% of the body and increases the TN of incoming ranged attacks to 4.
Total cover is when the target is completely hidden. There is no die penalty as such as you need to completely destroy the cover to get to the target. It is the smartest strategy when faced with magical effects such as dragon breath or cone shaped blasts.
When attacking total cover the attacker’s pool is adjusted for range and other penalties, then the remaining number of dice is halved and that is considered the number of successes on the attack. This damage is compared to the structure rating of the cover, and if it significantly damages the structure, half the damage passes through to any targets hiding behind it. If the structure was obliterated, all of the damage minus 1 passes through to affect the target’s behind it.
Enemies & Minions
Alloy uses a two-tier character classification: minion, and full character. Full characters can be heroes, enemies, allies, etc. Usually, if they are important enough to have a name and backstory, they are a full character. Some characters don’t have stats, because they would fold under a single successful attack, and they don’t perform tasks in the same context as heroes and their adversaries. Minions are all of the characters who exist to add to the adventure, either as enemies or allies, but who aren’t important.
There are a few differences between full characters and minions. Most notably, minions have half as many Health points as a full character. The way their skills are rated and used is slightly different as well. Minions have skill lists, and some of those skills might be underlined. All rolls a minion makes which are skilled are made at goal 4, as if they had skill rank 3. All rolls a minion makes which are underlined skills, i.e. exceptional skills, are at goal 3, as if they had skill rank 6. There are no further gradations of skill for a minion.
If appropriate, Minions may have 1 Health in total, regardless of how much Resolve they possess. Again, this is usually a garden variety enemy, and not a leader or elite adversary. Particularly, this comes into play with a horde of lesser foes. Because of this, groups of such minions can be treated as a single minion. Each Wounds kills off or incapacitates a single member of such a group. It is treated as an Elite monster in terms of dice goals, as the group has a better chance to succeed than any single minion of that level does, and it is exempt from bonuses truly separate attackers might get for overwhelming a target.
Secondly, minions ignore Injuries when under attack. They can be Critical, which usually means they die or fall unconscious depending on the attacker’s intent, and they can be Wounded, but they can’t suffer Injuries. Likewise, they can be Blinded etc. but usually those statuses are far more crippling for minions than for heroes or enemies. To compensate for their general lack of bonuses to skill rolls, some minions, particularly skilled ones, have higher attributes than would seem normal. This is one way to measure caliber of opponent when creating adventures. Bandits with Str 3 are no challenge for a knight with hundreds of character points to his name.
Third, minions list their primary weapon (if multiple) with an italics name or line (depending on the format). They gain a +1D bonus to hit with a primary weapon. As they only have the one, this isn’t replicated for enemies or heroes. The only weapon listed is assumed to be primary for minions without multiple weapon entries.
Lastly, minions have static Dodge and Parry values rather than pools. Again, particularly skilled minions will have higher values than the average, which are a third of the minion’s base attribute.
Neither enemies nor minions are designed with points, although enemies could have their point values calculated. The reason for this is simple, enemies are meant to be very memorable. If they were held to strict point values, they would either not challenge the heroes, or they would overwhelm them because their point buys would be strictly confrontation based. If you had a limited pool of points, why would you make the archvillain’s right hand a fleshed out well rounded character with their own skills and contacts? The same goes for minions, which is a category which covers poisonous snakes all the way up to dragons and such. Minions exist as shorthand adversaries for the heroes to overcome, but also as templates for creating your own full characters.
An ogre is a fine example of a character you probably wouldn’t have a name for. He has no need for further background in most stories. Here is a writeup.
Ogre, Init 3, Dodge 2, Parry 3, Health 2
Str 6, Agi 3, Per 3, Res 4, Int 3, Cha 3; Skills: Brawling, Fitness, Survival, Weapons
Defense 8, Mind 6, Speed: 5D
Specials: Passive Talent: Energy Resistance, Enhanced Reflexes Rank 2
Great Club, AC +1, Damage 10, 2-H, Cruel 2, Reach, Vicious 2