June 6, 2013

[Let's Look At] Mutants & Machine-Guns: A Gonzo Post-Apocalyptic RPG, Part 4: Combat

Several weeks ago, I was delighted to find a couple friends of mine in my hometown have been up to something exciting, and I thought what better way than to launch a new series of posts to revive this long-dead blog. [Let's Look At] is where I try to read through and dissect every chapter and corner of a new RPG that I have yet to play, and explore it with all of my musings about its design, some notes, and experimental plays to better understand it. I don't really intend these examinations to be a review of the game, but rants and raves may seep through the seams at times.

Combat Roll
Before getting into the nitty and gritty rules for actual combat, it's obviously better to lay down the basics of its ruling stats. The Combat ability, if it hasn't made itself obvious enough, is the main stat that governs the combat capabilities of each character. A Combat Roll of 2d6 (plus the Combat ability) is used to determine the initiative order for each combatant and whether or not they hit with an opponent with their weapon, against a fixed Defense score. Pretty straightforward stuff.

There is a battlegrid in this game, which usually aren't my favourite things to see in a RPG. But in Experimental Playgroud fashion, the battlegrid is kept simple. To describe it simply; there are 6 'planes' of combat that are ordered from A to F. Melee attacks takes place when two combatant are in the same 'plane', while combatants with firearms may make ranged attacks from a distant 'plane', depending on the range of their weapon. It's not overly complicated but it might be just enough to allow some tactical play, which I plan to explore in future [Let's Look At] posts.

Combat Phases
At every combatant's turn, they first move their characters in the Move phase, before acting in the Action phase. Combatants may move up to one plane for their Move phase to be in the same plane as an opponent, though they may not move past the opponent, or move backwards.

During the Action phase, the combatant has the choice to Attack, use their Psionic Mutations (if any), Use An Item within range, Equip Weapon if they need to change their weapon of choice during combat, Reload if they have to, or perform Other Action as they see fit with the GM's permission such as picking a lock or operating a computer.

The last phase of combat is if any of the combatants wants to Flee. In order to leave the battlefield, the combatant must be standing on either ends of the battlegrid (area A or F) and make a Combat Roll against the enemy with the highest Combat ability score +5, in order to succeed.

For characters that are using ranged weapons, Mutants and Machine-Guns uses another clever method to determine when they need to reload. Every time when the character rolls a double, except for two 6s, they would have to reload. I think the rules can be worded a little better by explaining that this refers to the Combat roll, but it's an ingenious method without having the player to meticulously keep track how many ammo they have during combat.

At the end of combat, characters can recover any loss hitpoints from resting. They can take a few minutes (similar to D&D 4E's Short Rest) to regain 1d6 hitpoints or take a full day to regain all their hitpoints. The hitpoint amount recovered from a short rest should help to avoid the '15-minute day' conundrum, but I think there is potential for it to be expanded with the usage of special items.

On paper, the combat rules look pretty simple and easy to run, but I won't be delving into a sample encounter to demonstrate the combat rules in this post. Rest assured though that I intend to do just that in a future post of [Let's Look At].

For now, I'm moving on to look at the outside-of-combat rules of adventuring the apocalyptic wasteland in the next post about the Wasteland Economy.

See you in the next post!

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