Wednesday, March 13, 2024

New Salem: Renaissance - Armor Class and the V&V Combat Chart

Continuing the thoughts from yesterday - reiterating the idea of Armor Class as literally the class/type of armor that the number code indicated, which in AD&D was then cross referenced to the weapon to see how well the armor protected you from that kind of weapon so that crossbows could do comparatively little damage but gained significant bonuses to score a telling hit on lighter armored opponents and lances just eliminated the advantages of heavy armor - are what I'm calling Implied Physics Engines. 

In AD&D's case that was an attempt to get the combat in game to mirror the real world battlefield, but there were so many variables to the roll - character level is cross referenced with armor for base chance to hit, then weapon is cross referenced with armor for modifier to that chance, then Strength/Dexterity/Magic modifier are added - that the system was too cumbersome and the weapon to armor table got chucked 5 times out of 6. 

But in Villains & Vigilantes, the attack type to defense type is central to the game, and it really is a joy. All the attack types, from HTH combat to Disintegration Ray and everything in between, has a base attack number. If you roll that number or less, your attack intersects with where the opponents body is. HOWEVER, you also cross reference the attack type with the defense type for the number to see if that intersection DOES ANYTHING. Yes, you rolled well enough to hit, but you also hit a robot, and the robot can just shrug it off because robot. Or the target is non-corporeal and the attack just passes through them. 

As with D&D the stacking of bonuses starts to confuse things: "do modifiers for agility, abilities, and level vs level come before or after the defense?" was a common question. The rules clearly say before but this mean that Cyclops with his base 16 Power Blast attack has 0 chance to hit Ariel while she's phasing (Non-corporeality drops Power Blast from 16 to 0), a punk with a club will do so 15% of the time (club adds +2 to hit) and Shang Chi with his Natural Weaponry and Heightened Expertise stacked on his Heightened Agility does so probably 55% of the time. That's messed up, and its a place we will be tweaking V&V later. 

(The 1st Edition V&V rules were even more of a mess, where each power had a % chance listed, but could be reduced by up to 5 defenses. You added up the % for each of the up to 5 defenses, using the baseline for each time the person didn't have 5 defenses, to get the chance to hit. The math was intense, and this is a rare case where the second edition of a game made the rule _less_ granular... and thank heavens for that!)

While there have always been issues with these sorts of weapon vs armor or attack type vs defense class charts, I like them because of the implicit physics. Lances will tear through armor. Non-Corporality protects you from power blasts but not force fields. The game world has an inherent logic built into it at the combat level. The trick is finding a way to make it work that isn't too top-heavy. (And it's interesting that D&D does NONE of this for energy types, because spell had a totally different set of combat rules.)

Next time we see this for V&V I'll be going through several ways I have modified the rulebook, but the time time we see this at all it'll be looking at it in Gamma World. 

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