Monday, April 14, 2014

The Size of the Dog in the Fight

Hello everyone. Yes, I'm still here and posting from time to time. And this time, I'm actually going to talk about Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

I recently had a conversation over Facebook with a fan of the game who wanted a little clarification on some things. It led to an interesting discussion and I'm going to share some of these clarifications with you all.

The big question that led to the most discussion was "Exactly what is the impact of Size on combat?"

It seems simple, right? Bigger things are easier to hit, so relative Size should add a bonus to hit the bigger thing, or a penalty to hit the smaller thing. I say something exactly like that in the book itself (the example on page 25 of the print version).

But then this fan pointed out that, due to the way the system handles damage, attack and damage are functionally tied together. So when you roll to make a Painful Strike, the roll not only determines whether or not you hit, but if your hit was hard enough to inflict the point of Wits damage. And while it may be easier to hit something that's bigger than you, the Size difference also means that you're going to have a harder time making that impact meaningful.

So Painful Strikes and Knockdowns do not receive modifiers based on the Size difference, but Grapples and Injuring Strikes do receive Size modifiers.

But why?

Because both maneuvers separate the linkage between attack and damage. When you attack with an Injuring Strike, you then make another roll on the Injury Table on page 30, much like making a damage roll in other RPGs. Since the damage roll is separate from the attack roll, and the damage roll receives Size modifiers, it makes sense that Injuring Strike attack rolls receive Size modifiers the other way around. Big things are easier to hit, but harder to damage, while smaller things are harder to hit and easier to damage.

The way grapples work, I think it's also fair to allow Size modifiers to apply to them. The roll to grapple is primarily a "to hit" roll. The primary effect of a grapple is Size-based. The grapple follow-up actions (Pin and Throw) are the "damage" effects.

To make things a little clearer, let's throw in some examples. Let's say that Toto (a very cute Size 1 dog) has discovered a Nome scout (Size 3) sizing up Oz for invasion. The Size difference between the two combatants is 2 (3-1).

Toto attempts a Painful Strike, chomping at the Nome's heel. The Nome is bigger than Toto, but Toto's small jaws mean that he'll have a hard time biting hard enough to make the Nome yelp. The two factors cancel out and there is no Size modifier to Toto's attack roll.

The Nome sees that he's been spotted and whips out his diamond-edged sword to chop poor Toto in half with an Injuring Strike! The Nome's attack roll is at -2 because of the relative Size difference, but if he were to hit, he would get +4 on his roll on the Injury Table.

Toto then tries a Knockdown maneuver, running around and between the Nome's legs to try and trip him. Reaching the Nome's legs is not a problem, but upsetting his balance is fairly tricky. No Size modifier.

Worrying that all of this scuffling is going to draw unwanted attention, the Nome then attempts to pick up Toto and run away with him. This is resolved as a grapple. The Nome suffers a -2 penalty to the attack roll due to Size difference. Once successful, the Nome inflicts a -3 penalty (equal to his Size) to all of Toto's Athletics rolls.

Do you have any questions about the setting or the system used in Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road?

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