...And The Darkness Spoke...
Skill based combat
While the Torg system’s mechanics are in many places innovative, clever and well unified, they do have some flaws as any system does. That said, the one glaring problem occurs in everyones favourite part of the system – butt kicking time.
The base mechanics of combat are: roll to hit your opponent, then apply damage against armour to see if damage occurs. the to hit roll uses the standard Torg mechanic of generating an action total on a D20, giving you a bonus to add to the skill or attribute being used to hit in combat. To make the process as streamlined as possible the designers had the bonus generated apply to the attacks damage as well and here is where the porblems start.
Take a high dexterity character (e.g. a Ninja), he is difficult as hell to hit. Eventually you generate that massive total, get a wopping bonus and smack – ya got ‘im. Okay, but now that wopping bonus is also appled to the attack’s damage and the ninja gets blown apart – hence the “glass jaw”.
The Rule is: the characters’ skill adds are summed to the damage and armour of each of the combatants’ respective values
Rationale and all that jazz…
Several methods were tried to fix the problem. Many of these changed the base mechanics, or added extra layers of new mechanics and calculations – not good. There is one player suggested “house rule” that seems to address all these issues neatly and this has become a defacto standard – Skill based combat.
The only apparent change to the “in play mechanics” is that the characters’ skill adds are summed to the damage and armour of each combatants values, and this can be done in advance in the same way that skill adds are summed with an attribute value to give a base capability score. So, a highly skilled (dextrous) ninja) subtracts his defensive skill adds from the damage done by the attack – no more glass jaw.
This rule has several beneficial and cinematic/realistic effects – Dexterity had become the munchkin statistic – pump it up and you were invulnerable, plus a variety of other side effects – all except the glass jaw. Skills were less important. Now though, skills buy you increased damage resistance; Dexterity doesn’t help.
Realistically skill now affects both damage and defense. This covers a skilled characters ability to avoid damage and also inflict more damage too.
Cinematically this rule also copes with the idea that ninjas and similar can kill with innocuous weapons – an aspect not addressed by the original rules. Now, with judicious skill application that bonus to damage allows the ninja to kill you with a biro! Just like in the movies.
While not doing away with all the problems, it certainly solves almost all of them with minimal rule and mechaninc changes, and that is better than most RPG systems can claim.
There are a few odd little rules that need to be tweaked to cope with this change, but these do not affect general game play and are unobtrusive – your GM will let you know when they apply.