Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

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Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:28 am

Legend has a realistic combat system in which armour and shields are important. The Evade skill isn't terribly useful except as an absolute last resort - in most cases adventurers are better off parrying with a weapon or blocking with a shield rather than attempting to dodge an attack.

So how do you create a lightly-armoured swashbuckling rogue in the system who depends upon speed and agility rather than armour? Such a character is cinematic rather than realistic, but it's a common fantasy archetype (grey mouser et al). I know a few heroic abilities such as Duellist from the Core Rulebook and Devil's Luck from Pirates of Legend can help a bit. I also realise that handing out some extra Hero Points can give the game a bit more of a cinematic feel. But is the swashbuckling rogue an archetype that can work in Legend? And what about the traditional spellcaster who wears nothing but robes....
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby SnowDog » Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:19 am

In my mind this depends on the setting. If opponents are also without shields and heavy armor then this should work just fine. If the setting is a mixed bag of rapier wielding rogues and plate mail clad heavy men-at-arms then the swashbuckler is quite not so easy to leave a fight alive.

What could work to his advantage is to act first since heavy armor doesn't impact on his strike rank. Then, hopefully, he can use a maneuver to gain an advantage or simply bypass the armor. Or you could allow the use of acrobatics to let him gain an advantage that is not in the rules. In any case a straight stand-up fight is probably going to end badly for the swashbuckler.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:57 pm

I have never had problems with the swashbuckling heroes, but then again in my setting most people don't have money for full plate and besides in most cases walking around in full war gear is unusual behaviour (that will get you into trouble), unless you're serving in the military or town watch.

Normal thugs usually have only leather armours at best. Wealthier and more skilled opponents might have acquired partial or full metal armour. Then there are such enemies as almost naked tribesmen or nomads in their lamellar. In my opinion variation is the key and some of the highly skilled duellist opponents have had no other protection but their blades and silk clothes.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:00 pm

I suppose that reducing the availability of heavy weapons and armour is one way of solving the problem and it may work well in a Renaissance-era setting, but I'm not sure that it is a viable solution to the swashbuckling rogue problem in more traditional settings.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Wed Aug 27, 2014 2:44 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:I suppose that reducing the availability of heavy weapons and armour is one way of solving the problem and it may work well in a Renaissance-era setting, but I'm not sure that it is a viable solution to the swashbuckling rogue problem in more traditional settings.
It works fine with Elric and Glorantha and both are rather traditional d100 settings.

Heavy armour and huge weapons give some advantage, but Legend's combat system gives options to overcome those advantages. In my games characters without an armour or light armour have used combat manoeuvres and range to their advantage. Tripping, blinding and disarming are popular moves.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Aug 28, 2014 2:22 am

So you're suggesting that lightly-armoured characters can use smart combat tactics to overcome the advantages that heavily-armoured fighters possess?

My concern is that heavily-armoured combatants can use most of these combat manoeuvres just as well as lightly armoured combatants, so in most cases it is better to trip or disarm opponents while clad in full plate that it is when clad in leather armour!

Also, remember that a character's Armour Penalty doesn't apply to their Evade skill - a character who is carrying more than STR + SIZ does suffer a -20% penalty to all tests that require physical actions, but this is rare.

I wonder if it is worth applying the character's current Armour Penalty and ENC to all opposed tests in combat manoeuvres involving complex physical movement (such as Trip Opponent). I would also allow those characters whose combined ENC and Armour Penalty are less than half of their STR to add the critical range for their Acrobatics skill as a bonus to Evade Skill Tests using the rules for Augmenting Skills with Other Skills (rulebook p.42).

An example might make this clearer. Imagine a swashbuckling rogue with an Evade of 64% and an Acrobatics of 58% who is wearing a leather jerkin (Armour Penalty of 1) and carrying additional equipment with a combined ENC of 2. Imagine that this rogue is being pursued by a town guard wearing a chainmail hauberk and a helmet (Armour Penalty of 3) and armed with a short spear and medium shield (ENC 4). For the sake of argument, let's assume that the guard's weapon skill is the same as that of the rogue's Evade skill (64%).

Under the rules as written, if the pursuing guard attempts to use the Trip Opponent combat manoeuvre against the rogue, the swashbuckler must win an Opposed Test of Evade vs.
the attack roll of the guard or fall prone. This means that the guard is rolling against a skill of 64% and so is the rogue - the swashbuckling rogue receives no advantage when attempting to avoid the guard's attack, even though she is wearing light armour and carrying very little.

If you allow the rogue to add the critical range for her Acrobatics skill as a bonus to her Evade Skill in this situation, her effective skill becomes 70%. And if you then apply the ENC and Armour Penalty of both parties to the skill test, the rogue is rolling an effective Evade skill of 67% against the guard's effective weapon skill of 57%. This shifts the odds in the swashbuckling rogue's favour, making it more likely that she will avoid the town guard's clumsy attempt to knock her prone.

Does this seem reasonable?
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:08 am

In your example the mistake has already happened. Lightly armoured person has smaller penalties to strike rank and movement. With luck she should be able to act first and sprint faster than her opponent, so the heavily armoured person might not be able to get into striking distance at all.

I wouldn't give too much penalties to the heavily armoured guy if the fight/pursuit happens on a flat field without any obstacles, but if it happens on sloping roof tops with loose roof tiles and there's jumping over the gaps from one roof to another, then the guy in the heavy armour has a serious disadvantage.

I really haven't noticed much difference in the survival rate between heavily armoured characters and lightly armoured characters. There's however difference in style how people play. Most heavily armoured characters are more likely to enter melee without thinking it twice, while most lightly armoured characters often prefer to keep their distance and use ranged weapons (bow, sling, throwing daggers etc) or sneaking behind their opponent and use element of surprise to eliminate their opponent before he has opportunity to strike back.

In Legend's combat system one strike can be lethal, even if you have full plate armour. In melee lightly armoured player characters usually try to make sure that they are the ones who manage to get their strike through while their enemy is wasting his combat actions to something else. Sure armour gives you protection, but it makes you slower and gives your enemy chance to act first.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby soltakss » Thu Aug 28, 2014 5:02 pm

If you want a swashbuckling game, then make wearing armour difficult. Increase the armour penalties, make them slower and so on.

You could also add extra abilities to do with movement, agility, jumping and so on.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Carew » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:30 pm

soltakss wrote:If you want a swashbuckling game, then make wearing armour difficult. Increase the armour penalties, make them slower and so on.

You could also add extra abilities to do with movement, agility, jumping and so on.
I diasagree that you should make wearing armour difficult. Instead you should make swashbuckling moves easier to do and encourage folks to use them. Swashbuckling is an attitude - its swinging from chandeliers, sliding down a mainsail with your dagger as a brake, laughing at insurmountable odds, taking-on dozens of goons with just a baguette and stealing a kiss from the icy beauty at just the right time. Instead of penalizing armour preferences, reward and encourage the attitude. Award hero points for acting heroically. Make Athletics rolls Easy. Use mook rules to prevent character getting hosed when outnumbered.

You also want the game fast-moving so that means keeping fights fast and furious: this means less fighting to the death and more fleeing when the opportunity arises: it's about getting away and looking good rather than always having to skewer the bad guy. Fight for a couple of rounds, leave the opponent embarrased and then leap to safety (preferably from the top of a flight of stairs, a parapet, yard arm or balcony) with a cunning quip and a flourish of your impressive hat. More wit, more charm, more cajones and less bodies and limbs lopped.

Legend can do all this but you need to encourage such actions by making this stuff easier (and fun) to do than rather setting limits. Make certain kinds of behavior appealing rather than making other kinds of behavior unappealing.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Tue Sep 02, 2014 1:12 pm

The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to provide characters who play swashbuckling rogues with bonuses that reflect their specialty rather than hitting characters with penalties if they don't conform to that particular fictional archetype. The first approach places greater freedom of choice in the hands of the players, while the second restricts their choices. And I want to ensure that the swashbuckling rogue is a viable choice, without restricting alternative options.

I've even considered creating a Swashbuckling advanced skill based upon DEX + INT that can be used for feats of derring-do. The critical range for the swashbuckling skill can be added to the rogue's Acrobatics, Athletics, Evade when performing feats such as leaping between galloping horses, swinging from chandeliers, etc. This bonus can only be applied when the adventurer is unencumbered and has an armour penalty no greater than STR / 5. It might also allow the character to apply this bonus to Influence when engaging in witty repartee and Seduction when romancing a target in an appropriate manner.

Is this a workable approach?
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:27 pm

Prime_Evil wrote:The more I think about it, the more I'm inclined to provide characters who play swashbuckling rogues with bonuses that reflect their specialty rather than hitting characters with penalties if they don't conform to that particular fictional archetype. The first approach places greater freedom of choice in the hands of the players, while the second restricts their choices. And I want to ensure that the swashbuckling rogue is a viable choice, without restricting alternative options.

I've even considered creating a Swashbuckling advanced skill based upon DEX + INT that can be used for feats of derring-do. The critical range for the swashbuckling skill can be added to the rogue's Acrobatics, Athletics, Evade when performing feats such as leaping between galloping horses, swinging from chandeliers, etc. This bonus can only be applied when the adventurer is unencumbered and has an armour penalty no greater than STR / 5. It might also allow the character to apply this bonus to Influence when engaging in witty repartee and Seduction when romancing a target in an appropriate manner.

Is this a workable approach?
I fail to see what this skill does besides giving more bonus. Athletics/Acrobatics already covers most of that stuff. Wouldn't it be easier just to give them bonus to their existing skills?

I mean that Athletics + Evade + Acrobatics already require whole lot of experience investments if you want to make a swashbuckling character. If they also have to invest to separate swashbuckling skill, then it's away from other skills.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby mte-aaron » Wed Sep 03, 2014 2:02 am

Pirates & Dragons makes swashbuckling interesting and cinematic by adding Talents which are akin to Heroic Abilities that are easier to acquire and add to that cinematic appeal.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:11 am

Oh...I'd forgotten about Pirates & Dragons!

Although it was written for OpenQuest, the Talents could easily be adapted for use with Legend. They could be used as an alternative to the Heroic Abilities of Legend...
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Wed Sep 03, 2014 5:49 am

Olaus Petrus wrote:I fail to see what this skill does besides giving more bonus. Athletics/Acrobatics already covers most of that stuff. Wouldn't it be easier just to give them bonus to their existing skills?
Hmmm...my aim was to provide a way of offsetting the situational penalties associated with the kind of cinematic feats that a swashbuckler performs. Maybe a better approach would be to reduce the difficulty of the associated skill test by one step? This approach allows a swashbuckler to pull off risky moves with seeming ease. The cost is that they must develop an additional advanced skill and can't wear much armour.

Another option might be to allow adventurers to roll against the Swashbuckling skill to 'refund' Hero Points spent performing cinematic acrobatic or athletic stunts in risky situations. This reflects the way that fortune often smiles on swashbucklers who take wild chances in the heat of the moment. The swashbuckling skill can only be used in this way when the character is attempting to perform a cool stunt under pressure - it can't be invoked any time that the character attempts any physical action and can't be used to enhance Opposed Skill Tests in combat.
Olaus Petrus wrote:I mean that Athletics + Evade + Acrobatics already require whole lot of experience investments if you want to make a swashbuckling character. If they also have to invest to separate swashbuckling skill, then it's away from other skills.
That's the cost of building a character who specializes in swashbuckling - the adventurer can pull off awesome stunts occasionally, but they need to develop an additional advanced skill for the privilege.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:12 am

Prime_Evil wrote:
Olaus Petrus wrote:I fail to see what this skill does besides giving more bonus. Athletics/Acrobatics already covers most of that stuff. Wouldn't it be easier just to give them bonus to their existing skills?
Hmmm...my aim was to provide a way of offsetting the situational penalties associated with the kind of cinematic feats that a swashbuckler performs. Maybe a better approach would be to reduce the difficulty of the associated skill test by one step? This approach allows a swashbuckler to pull off risky moves with seeming ease. The cost is that they must develop an additional advanced skill and can't wear much armour.

Another option might be to allow adventurers to roll against the Swashbuckling skill to 'refund' Hero Points spent performing cinematic acrobatic or athletic stunts in risky situations. This reflects the way that fortune often smiles on swashbucklers who take wild chances in the heat of the moment. The swashbuckling skill can only be used in this way when the character is attempting to perform a cool stunt under pressure - it can't be invoked any time that the character attempts any physical action and can't be used to enhance Opposed Skill Tests in combat.
Olaus Petrus wrote:I mean that Athletics + Evade + Acrobatics already require whole lot of experience investments if you want to make a swashbuckling character. If they also have to invest to separate swashbuckling skill, then it's away from other skills.
That's the cost of building a character who specializes in swashbuckling - the adventurer can pull off awesome stunts occasionally, but they need to develop an additional advanced skill for the privilege.
My own rule when inventing new skills is: does some other skill already cover these actions? To me it seems that this new swashbuckling skill makes acrobatics even more trivial skill than it already is. What else is leaping from one horseback to another or swinging from a chandelier than acrobatics? For most characters athletics is enough and acrobatics is the advanced skill which covers the stunts performed by swashbuckling heroes. It can discourage people if they start to think that in order to leap they have to be good at athletics, acrobatics and swashbuckling and it may encourage them to create non-swashbuckling character.

I would personally solve the situation with situational modifiers for unarmoured characters when making acrobatics test and heroic abilities (it's easy to create ones which suit to your purposes).
Last edited by Olaus Petrus on Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Lord High Munchkin » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:39 am

I'd go for situational modifiers myself.

I used to play a an RQ2 Dark Troll (eventually a Zorak Zoran Death Lord after many years of actual play) that always jumped into combat to gain an advantage as he smashed down with his maul. Not quite "swashbuckling", but that leaping, overhead wallop certainly helped.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Prime_Evil » Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:29 am

Actually, looking over Pirates & Dragons I think that Cakebread & Walton have solved this problem nicely. The Talent system works well and the rules for Doubloons are absolutely brilliant...
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby DamonJynx » Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:10 pm

Pirates of Legend has a heroic ability, Swashbuckler, unfortunately it isn't detailed in the book. My thoughts for that ability were that it makes the next Dexterity based skill check to perform some form of 'swashbuckling' move Easy. As an example, an Acrobatics check to swing from a chandelier across a room, knocking a burning brazier into an opponent and setting him on fire; using Outmanouevre - remember you can get creative with uses for skills, Evade doesn't necessarily have to be used just to Evade; even making a trick shot with a missile weapon.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby Olaus Petrus » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:42 pm

DamonJynx wrote:Pirates of Legend has a heroic ability, Swashbuckler, unfortunately it isn't detailed in the book. My thoughts for that ability were that it makes the next Dexterity based skill check to perform some form of 'swashbuckling' move Easy. As an example, an Acrobatics check to swing from a chandelier across a room, knocking a burning brazier into an opponent and setting him on fire; using Outmanouevre - remember you can get creative with uses for skills, Evade doesn't necessarily have to be used just to Evade; even making a trick shot with a missile weapon.
I find it bit weird that Mongoose hasn't bothered to fix that in errata or something. If I understand correctly the issues that the book has have been there since the RuneQuest Pirates.*

*Although I can't be 100% because my knowledge about this campaign setting is based on what I have read from various RPG forums and I don't actually have the books.
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Re: Swashbuckling Adventurers - Are they Viable?

Postby DamonJynx » Thu Sep 11, 2014 10:56 pm

Olaus Petrus wrote: If I understand correctly the issues that the book has have been there since the RuneQuest Pirates.*

*Although I can't be 100% because my knowledge about this campaign setting is based on what I have read from various RPG forums and I don't actually have the books.
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