Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

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Lemnoc
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Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 12, 2011 3:15 am

An opponent is crouched behind a stone wall with only his head showing. The only way I can strike him with my arrows is by rolling a lucky natural hit to his head OR, according to p. 136, by using the Choose Location CM. To get the CM, my attack has to gain one level over my opponent’s roll.

Question: What is my opponent—who's, y'know, just crouching there—rolling against? Evade?
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Dan True » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:48 am

Lemnoc wrote: Question: What is my opponent—who's, y'know, just crouching there—rolling against? Evade?
Yep. The evade roll in this case represents his efforts to get his head down before you hit it (and get it up again after the arrow has passed so he can still see where you are).

If he fails his evade, or simply doesn't bother evading, you do Choose Location(head), which represents you have carefully aimed for the head and he hasn't moved it -> which means he is hit (unless you botch the attack roll ofc). Or you can choose something else, like Impale which represents that you hope to hit the head but don't aim specifically for it - instead you draw back further to do more damage if you hit.

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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby AnaliseLameth » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:27 am

While evade is the mechanical approach for determining defense, necessary because combat is always an opposed roll, I think there are a few other things you could take into consideration.

1) Does the shooter notice the defender in the confusion of battle? If there are more immediately threatening targets, such as exposed or closer opponents, the shooter would most likely aim at them instead. If you are the shooter, this question still applies to you.
2) Did the attacker aim? This would make it more likely to score over the defenders evasion. And increase your chances for a critical hit, which assuming the defender fails, would let you get a head shot and impale.
3) If you don't want to take a combat manoeuvre to strike a target, how about using the rule for striking small targets (-10% per point of SIZ under 5). This one is a bit of a bend from the normal rules for attacking, and means you need to make a call as to what SIZ someones head is.
4) Does the target see his attacker? If not, you could argue the defender is treated has having rolled a failure for their defense. I would assume that unless the defender is engaged in some activity that requires their concentration (for example, disarming a trap or binding someone's wounds) they are not just sitting still in the middle of a battle. Even if hiding behind a wall, they will pop up and back down again fairly regularly.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Simulacrum » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:26 am

This is an area I have never thought was entirely satisfactory. Unless the guy on the parapet knows you are there and is doing something that gives him an opposing roll, Choose Location means he gets hit every time. The penalty for small targets (plus perhaps insistence that the first CM is used for Choose Loc) suggested above is one way. I have been toying with giving different types of cover a value that is used to oppose attacks even when the target is unaware and making no evade check himself. e.g. a waist-high parapet has a 30%, a crenellated battlement a 60%, an arrow slit or covered gallery a 90%. Does this work? The intention here is not to 'parry' but to (possibly) prevent CMs - i.e. the D20 location roll still determines if the shot hits an exposed location.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby AnaliseLameth » Mon Dec 12, 2011 12:02 pm

I'd thought about using penalties myself, as many other games have a cover penalty. However, imo Legend doesn't really need it.

If the guard is standing in the gap between two parts of a wall, doing nothing more than looking out over the battle, then they are not evading (automatic failure) allowing the attacker 1CM which should be Choose Location. However, if they are patrolling, back and forth then for some part of the combat turn they will be obscured, pop out, and then be obscured again (allowing them to use evade). Don't forget to figure in the height of that wall to the range!

You could still add a penalty to the attacker based on visibility, after all, an exposed head may be very visible during the day, if the backdrop is sky, but in poor lighting, or against a stone wall backdrop it may be less easy to see.

In effect, shooting at a partially exposed target without using the Choose Location CM, already has a penalty built into the hit location roll. (i.e. you hit the wall), so I would consider the only way to make a "called shot" without using a CM, the small target penalty.

Imagine a single defender being hunted through a room filled with barrels and chests. They know they are being hunted, and the attacker knows they are in the room... somewhere...
In this case, I'd count the defender as "evading", they are not going to just sit exposed, but trying to duck out to see if they can see their attacker and the attacker should have to make rolls to find their target.

Because of the way Legend works, I don't think you really need to add house rules. All of the tools are already there, they just need the right application.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 12, 2011 4:51 pm

Dan True wrote:Yep. The evade roll in this case represents his efforts to get his head down before you hit it (and get it up again after the arrow has passed so he can still see where you are).
See, this answer is not entirely satisfactory, for reasons explored in this earlier thread on Evade:

viewtopic.php?f=79&t=49443

Essentially, the guy is protected by the wall until he is out of CAs, in which case the wall no longer protects him (‘cause then every focus firer will gain the CM on his poor li’l head). This does not accurately reflect what happens in a siege combat against well protected opponents.
Simulacrum wrote:This is an area I have never thought was entirely satisfactory.... I have been toying with giving different types of cover a value that is used to oppose attacks even when the target is unaware and making no evade check himself. e.g. a waist-high parapet has a 30%, a crenellated battlement a 60%, an arrow slit or covered gallery a 90%. Does this work? The intention here is not to 'parry' but to (possibly) prevent CMs - i.e. the D20 location roll still determines if the shot hits an exposed location.
...And this is what I suspect is the solution. This is consistent with Original RQ/SRD/OQ, which considered how much of the target is covered and that is the % that the attack rolls to overcome. It’s true that it is probably going to take very nearly a CRIT to hit my opponent here, but I think that accurately reflects the difficulty of the attack on a passive defense by all focus firers.

(This is a lot like the earlier discussion on whether poisons get a roll).

EDIT: Plus an unmodified Evade (DEX x2) is a pretty inept roll against a skilled attacker given such a well protected opponent.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Dan True » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:07 pm

Lemnoc wrote: See, this answer is not entirely satisfactory, for reasons explored in this earlier thread on Evade:

viewtopic.php?f=79&t=49443
I am not sure what in that thread you refer to. Could you please enlighten me?
Lemnoc wrote: Essentially, the guy is protected by the wall until he is out of CAs, in which case the wall no longer protects him (‘cause then every focus firer will gain the CM on his poor li’l head). This does not accurately reflect what happens in a siege combat against well protected opponents.
I agree that it does not reflect situations in siege warfare, but in those cases I would make rules about the cover, stating that they give a penalty to hit targets behind them or some such. If a person is fully covered except a small slit where he can shoot out, I would simply give a substantial situational penalty to the shot - or rule that cover of this sort (i.e. cover that open up an area less than an ordinary hit location) requires crits to make choose location, or has a miss chance etc.) all depending on how the cover looks like and how it was used historically.

I think it reflects the situation where a guy is sticking his head up over something, say a low wall (i.e. all location except the head are totally covered, his head is totally uncovered. Different situation than say, an arrow slit). If there are more missiles that make their attack roll coming towards him than he has CAs to dodge, I find it pretty reasonable that some of them will likely hit his head.

But, I would properly also rule that the guy using his evade, can choose to duck his head back behind the wall as part of the evade (a free action).. (which would be a pretty realistic response).. thus the rest of the attacks will clink against the wall (if done simultanously for some reason, say some mass-fire situation) or the other archers will have to find another target and any turns used to aim at him is wasted.

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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:34 pm

Dan True wrote:I am not sure what in that thread you refer to. Could you please enlighten me?
The OP was lamenting what happens to his players when they're outnumbered and out of CAs. They're toast, essentially.

This case is a little different. The wall is what is providing the majority of the man's defense.
Dan True wrote:
Lemnoc wrote:Essentially, the guy is protected by the wall until he is out of CAs, in which case the wall no longer protects him (‘cause then every focus firer will gain the CM on his poor li’l head). This does not accurately reflect what happens in a siege combat against well protected opponents.
I agree that it does not reflect situations in siege warfare, but in those cases I would make rules about the cover, stating that they give a penalty to hit targets behind them or some such. If a person is fully covered except a small slit where he can shoot out, I would simply give a substantial situational penalty to the shot - or rule that cover of this sort (i.e. cover that open up an area less than an ordinary hit location) requires crits to make choose location, or has a miss chance etc.) all depending on how the cover looks like and how it was used historically.

I think it reflects the situation where a guy is sticking his head up over something, say a low wall (i.e. all location except the head are totally covered, his head is totally uncovered. Different situation than say, an arrow slit). If there are more missiles that make their attack roll coming towards him than he has CAs to dodge, I find it pretty reasonable that some of them will likely hit his head.
This seems reasonable. But in my proposal, attackers can burn multiple CAs carefully aiming (thereby improving their chances of a crit).

I guess what I'm chafing at here is Evade is only DEXx2, while the cover represents a much harder (and passive) obstacle to a very difficult attack. Seems like the lion's share of burden should be on the attacker.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Dan True » Mon Dec 12, 2011 5:45 pm

Lemnoc wrote: This seems reasonable. But in my proposal, attackers can burn multiple CAs carefully aiming (thereby improving their chances of a crit).

As is standard.
Lemnoc wrote: I guess what I'm chafing at here is Evade is only DEXx2, while the cover represents a much harder (and passive) obstacle to a very difficult attack. Seems like the lion's share of burden should be on the attacker.
I agree, but I think it already is. Remember that if both succeed on their rolls, no CM is gained even though the attack roll beats the evade roll -> most likely the arrow will clink against the wall.

The situation where a defender is out of CAs, is a situation where he for some reason have stopped actively defending... this can be because the sheer number of arrows is simply too large, or perhaps because he is simply covering behind a wall or stone not large enough to cover him. In those cases I find it reasonable that the attacker can hit him fairly easy, if he has the skill to succeed on the roll.

If one is not satisfied however, there is a way of handling this without houserules. There is a situational modifier for small targets, and since only the head is visible, only the head is the target. The head is properly around SIZ / 7 ~ SIZ 2 for an ordinary human. This would according to the rules for small targets give a -30% penalty to hit.. but, in the case he DOES hit, he has hit the head, not another body part.

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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby AnaliseLameth » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:01 pm

How about then, if the target is in partial cover, the attacker gets a -20% to attack, almost full cover a -40% to attack, (in keeping with existing difficulty modifier values). If you are in total cover (and I'd probably include eye slit's in this) then you can only be attacked using the rules on page 136. In other words, you have to penetrate the cover to hit a target that you know is there.

I suppose if you are a super-shot, you could conceivably get that arrow down the inside of the slit, on a critical result.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:20 pm

AnaliseLameth wrote:I suppose if you are a super-shot, you could conceivably get that arrow down the inside of the slit, on a critical result.
I think I'd allow just about anything amazing and unlikely thing on a crit. What I'm more dubious about is allowing any ol' average focused ranged fire to gain CMs just because the [concealed] target is out of actions.

I understand it. There's rules to adjudicate it. But still...
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby AnaliseLameth » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:29 pm

When I was thinking of evade I'd forgotten you actually needed CA's to fuel each attempt, which is fine when you are actively doing something to avoid being hit, but it doesn't really provide adequate rules coverage for when you are simply harder to hit because of your environmental cover. The closest rule we had was reading between the lines in the cover section, and the bit about visibility.

Passive cover has never been explicitly covered in MRQ, not coming out and saying outright, if you are behind X, your attacker gets a -Y penalty. Instead relying on the hit location table to do the work. I had a quick look in my BRP rules, and it's not much better there either. Haven't got the older AH RQ books handy to see what it did back then.

None of this would actually be an issue, except that the Choose Location CM relies on overcoming the opponent by a degree of success, making it mostly automatic as written to get a Choose Location result if the defender doesn't evade. I agree with the point you made and I don't think it was well worded in the manuscripts.
Last edited by AnaliseLameth on Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:40 pm

Older/other rules handled it pretty much as Simulacrum noted. If you're 90% covered, then that is the opposed roll. Hard to get a CM on that (but not impossible, plus you can always roll a hit to the head on a Natural).

I see what Dan is saying about hitting a small target, and that probably works out about the same. And is covered by existing rules.

What you don't want is your castle defenders with three CAs going down just because gimpy castle attackers fire four or more arrows at them.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby AnaliseLameth » Mon Dec 12, 2011 6:45 pm

Lemnoc wrote:What you don't want is your castle defenders with three CAs going down just because gimpy castle attackers fire four or more arrows at them.
Yes, I agree.... I've never had that situation come up, so I didn't quite get what you meant at the start of the thread.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby kurgan84 » Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:03 pm

My house rule is : "Choose loc." is a critical only CM for ranged attack, BUT if you spend an aiming action , "Choose loc." become a standard CM.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby sdavies2720 » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:18 am

I guess I'd handle it this way: the watcher on the wall can Evade against the first attack. If successful, the target can "...dive or roll clear of missiles or charging attacks." In this case, I'd allow it to just be "pull your head below the parapet, diving and rolling are optional."

Now, until the watcher sticks his head out again (which I wouldn't advise if he doesn't have any CAs left!) there is no target for anyone to hit.

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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:19 am

kurgan84 wrote:My house rule is : "Choose loc." is a critical only CM for ranged attack, BUT if you spend an aiming action , "Choose loc." become a standard CM.
Not a bad HR.

Dan's suggestion—applying the size penalty, which can then be offset and built back up by burning CAs aiming, all of which allow the small part aimed at to be the small part hit—that works for me and is totally inside the RAW. It makes sense that the only thing you can reasonably aim and shoot at is the area that can been seen. My guess is the probability to hit under Dan's suggestion is not terribly different than the one you outline, kurgan84, although yours might be a bit simpler to administrate.

I suppose if someone rolls a successful unmodified attack you might still allow a roll to the hit location to see if the arrows clink on stone or make a lucky strike.

Mostly I just want a rule that works, whether it's a shy shoemaker elf crouched behind an elm or a mighty lord on a castle parapet under strong siege.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Mixster » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:22 am

Simulacrum wrote:This is an area I have never thought was entirely satisfactory. Unless the guy on the parapet knows you are there and is doing something that gives him an opposing roll, Choose Location means he gets hit every time. The penalty for small targets (plus perhaps insistence that the first CM is used for Choose Loc) suggested above is one way. I have been toying with giving different types of cover a value that is used to oppose attacks even when the target is unaware and making no evade check himself. e.g. a waist-high parapet has a 30%, a crenellated battlement a 60%, an arrow slit or covered gallery a 90%. Does this work? The intention here is not to 'parry' but to (possibly) prevent CMs - i.e. the D20 location roll still determines if the shot hits an exposed location.
Did everyone miss how awesome an idea this was?
By giving you a roll on the "cover save" you make big covers better than small covers.
And you can even customize it further and simply go: the percentile part of the body that's in cover is your cover percentile. Whenever a ranged attacker shoots at you you get an opposed roll on a skill equal to this cover percentile if you choose not to evade. Attacks that hit cannot hit a location in cover.
And marvelously we've cleared almost any circumstance that will happen up and found an intuitive solution to the problem.

Gotta make a note of this for the RQ modern system.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Lemnoc » Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:30 am

Mixster wrote:Gotta make a note of this for the RQ modern system.
Unless I am completely mistaken, which is very possible because I do not have the book in front of me, Simalcrum's idea (which is gloriously simple) is the method advised in Chaosium's (gloriously simple) RQII. Check it.
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Re: Ranged Attacks vs. Cover

Postby Dan True » Tue Dec 13, 2011 9:30 am

Mixster wrote: Did everyone miss how awesome an idea this was?
By giving you a roll on the "cover save" you make big covers better than small covers.
And you can even customize it further and simply go: the percentile part of the body that's in cover is your cover percentile. Whenever a ranged attacker shoots at you you get an opposed roll on a skill equal to this cover percentile if you choose not to evade. Attacks that hit cannot hit a location in cover.
And marvelously we've cleared almost any circumstance that will happen up and found an intuitive solution to the problem.
Well, I am not that sure I like the idea of passive cover directly. It sorta all boils down to : do we want a passive modifier for being behind a wall, and if yes - to what limit?

We are talking a modifier against people that in no way defend themselves (as that will be handled by the evade check). So image if we hang up a scarecrow behind a wall covering its legs... If I am shooting at him with a bow or a rifle from, say, 20 meters... is he harder to hit because he is behind a wall? (if he had any CAs and using the wall actively, i.e. by evade, then sure he would be harder to hit) I wouldn't think so.. He is a smaller target, but only marginally so.. I think I would just naturally shoot against the part of him I could see, and don't bother with the legs being covered.

Now, image we hang him behind a wall that covers everything except his head. Is he harder to hit now? Certainly, I would think so. He is presenting a much smaller target and it will thus take me longer to aim specifically for his head.

That is why I like the idea of using the size penalties instead (you could streamline them to make them easier to calculate on the spot) - as they only take effect below SIZ 5 - i.e. when there are only 2 hit locations showing.
A person with his head, chest and 1 arm above a wall will then be just as easy to hit as a person in the open AS LONG as he does not actively defend (because then you always Choose Location). Of course, if he is defending actively, he will often not give you that CM and your arrows will clank against the wall.

Just to give one more example: Imagine a guy standing on a fort paraphet, having a talk with a girl he fancies. He is leaning against the palisade, his arms resting atop it - so his chest, abdomen and legs are covered. Now, a boy from the village who also fancies the girl wants to throw a stone at him, from the bush he is hiding in.
To me, it doesn't seem to make much sense that a penalty should be applied to the throw (it is on the edge, and one could discuss if the limit should be with 3 locations instead of 2...). It makes no sense to me that a thrower who succeeds on his attack roll (no penalties from cover), should not be able to hit him on the forehead (i.e. choose location). He is still presenting the same size as, say a targeting sack of potatoes - and we don't apply penalties to that attack as the target sack is not small enough.
Of course, if the guy sees the boy and makes an evade roll, most likely he will either dodge interely or at least deny him a CM -> which means that the stone most likely rattles against the palisade.

I find this makes more sense to me, than simply giving a penalty based on size of the cover. By introducing static penalties a guy standing behind a wall covering his legs will gain some sort of defense, in if he does not actively use it (evade). I find the idea of a guy standing behind a 3 foot wall and having 2/7 = 28% cover rather silly. Of what if he only has 1 leg behind a wall, will he then benefit from 14 % cover even though he still presents a nice juice body to target?
At least my experience, which is not that extensive, tells me that cover only takes an effect when the defender has limited his effective target area extensively.. as we do tend to aim for smaller part of the body anyway when we shoot.

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