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Zones, straddling

posted Mar 25, 2016 13:52:43 by Citizen-171
One edge-case of the combat Zones that we came across was this:

Two of the Zones of the combat area were two separate rooms connected by an open doorway. A bad guy had taken up position in cover in the middle of the room, and a player character with a pistol had taken up cover by the doorway. Now technically, the two characters were in different adjacent zones, so the bad guy would be at Medium range. However, we couldn't help but notice if the bad guy too had positioned himself at the doorway, the Zones would still have him at Medium range, even if the two characters in reality would be standing within arms reach of each other.

We decided to ignore the problem for that time (we were getting to learn the system), and later I've tried to avoid the issue by drawing combat zones to SURROUND features rather than have features define the BOUNDARIES. This isn't always feasible - e.g. a combat taking place in a building is best defined by having each room be a separate zone in my opinion. I need to figure out a good way to deal with grey-area situations like these.

-C171
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7 replies
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Ryan Smith said Mar 25, 2016 16:44:45
Another game I play uses a similar system to zones, except the float with whomever's turn it is. So, Range 1 is 'within arm's reach' of you, Range 2 is 'across the room' or so, Range 3 is 'across the street' or so, and Range 4 is anything further than that, out to wherever the GM thinks is plausible. Since they are relative to whomever's turn it is, and not hardcoded onto the map, it avoids that sort of issue.

Quite a bit different, but it seems like it's going for the same 'abstract distance' feeling the creators of this game are going for, without having the problem you described.
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Nathan.Dowdell said Mar 26, 2016 19:15:32
Broadly, zones are meant to be focussed around particular features (though "room = zone" is an useful convention to work with) - relative distance by character can be quite fiddly to track if you've got lots of combatants. Abstract distance by notable feature (so you can refer to each zone by whatever feature defines the zone) is easier to track quickly.

It's worth remembering that placement within a particular zone isn't massively important, unless you need to be within Reach of something in particular. I'd say that, with two opposing people on either side of a doorway between two zones, you should count both as being in one zone or the other. Alternately, you might want to create a distinct zone around the door (which would bottleneck movement and constrain ranged attacks, as a narrow doorway might, so I might well try it out in my own games).
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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JakeBernstein said Mar 26, 2016 20:17:07
Here's my current solution:

Combat Scale
Every combat encounter (or any encounter where distance and time may matter) can be assigned one of three Combat Scales: Close, Medium, or Long.
• In Close Scale, a zone is approximately a 10 meter (or yard) cube. A combat round is about 5-10 seconds.
• In Medium Scale, a zone is approximately a 50 meter (or yard) cube. A combat round is about 30-60 seconds.
• In Long Scale, a zone is approximately a 100 meter (or yard) cube. A combat round is about 1-2 minutes.
Implications of Scale
If using Combat Scales, you can use every rule in the MC3 books almost as written. There are two major differences, however: (1) Weapon/Attack ranges and (2) Bonus Actions.
For purposes of weapon, ability, communication and Observation tests, ranges are measured as follows.
In Close Scale, everything within your zone and 5 additional zones is in Close range. Beyond that is Medium range. There should not be Long range in a Close Scale combat. Close Scale should be used for the interiors of most human-built buildings, sewers, large vehicles, and very often works well for fights within big cities, like Luna or San Dorado.
In Medium Scale, everything within your zone is in Close range. Everything between your zone and 5 zones away is Medium range. Beyond 5 zones is Long range. This is an appropriate scale for fights in the streets, in Venusian jungles, or inside cavernous citadels or Mercury's caves. If you choose not to move at all in a round using Medium Scale, you gain a bonus Restricted Action, which can be combined with your other Restricted to make a second Standard Action.
In Long Scale, everything within your zone is in Medium range. Everything up to 5 zones away is in Long range. Beyond 5 zones is Extreme range. This Scale works well for battlefields, air-based chase or combat scenes, or running skirmishes in wide open spaces (like Mars deserts). If you choose not to move at all in a round using Long Scale, you gain a bonus Standard Action.

Movement using Scale
The beauty of this system is that you use the movement rules exactly as written. The Combat Scale adjusts the time and distance to create believable movement speeds. Because movement is largely what uses time in this system, if you choose not to move, you gain bonus actions as described above.

-Apoc527
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Ryan Smith said Mar 26, 2016 21:31:17
The zones have implied distances anyway...if you're fighting in a forest, you aren't going to create a thousand 2-foot zones around every tree. If you're fighting in a desert or a parking lot, you aren't going to have one 100-yard zone that suddenly allows sawed-off shotguns to shoot into the horizon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the rules specifically suggest inserting empty zones between objects that are really far apart if need be.

So the whole system implies the GM has some rational idea of what a 'short distance' is, and how far a person can run in a few seconds, and stuff like that. So a zone isn't purely abstract, it's a chunk of distance roughly 10 yards to a side, inevitably. I think there are situations where it's useful to center these chunks on objects, and situations where it's useful to be aware that each character in the fight has such a zone centered on them.


Every GM I've played with in the past many years has done distance by fiat and BS- they have a rough idea of which combatants are 'kinda close' to each other, which ones aren't, which ones are 'like really far away', and so on. They may make up a distance off the cuff if a PC pressures them to for some reason, but at least in my community the days of hex maps and tabletop war games are far behind us.

I think the zone thing is just an example of a game dev trying to make something explicit that they and many others do naturally in their games. "Write down your unwritten rules" is a good law of game design. To be perfectly honest, I've ignored the hard distance mechanics of practically every game I've ever run since the 90's, and Mutant Chronicles will be no exception, BUT, the zone rules are a hell of a lot closer to what I do in my head than most games are.
[Last edited Mar 26, 2016 21:37:05]
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JakeBernstein said Mar 26, 2016 23:57:37
The zones have been the hardest thing for my group to figure out. Our standard is hex by hex tactical combat, often using GURPS. That said, I'm excited to try something a little less intense.
-Apoc527
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Citizen-171 said Mar 28, 2016 12:28:07
@ND: Placing a zone at a doorway sounds like an interesting approach, particularly from the movement aspect, but I foresee a couple of gripes the players may have with that, mostly relating to how it (perhaps artificially?) increases the range between otherwise adjacent zones.

Would it perhaps be reasonable to treat them as "faux-zones" (needs a better name... Magic Circle?) that overlap two or more Zones? A character in a Magic Circle counts ranges as if he is in either of the overlapped Zones, except Reach: the character must be in the same Zone as a target to be within Reach, or the target must be in a different Zone but within the same Magic Circle.

Of course this doesn't affect movement ranges, though a character moving to or within a Zone must decide to end his movement either inside or outside any overlapping Magic Circle.

Hm. I think I'll try this out.

-C171
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Ryan Smith said Mar 29, 2016 00:55:13
Why not just rule that zones have a buffer region between them, and anybody in that buffer is treated as being in which ever zone is closer to their attacker/target?
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