Over on Dungeon Fantastic, +Peter V. Dell’Orto has a rules thought about doing the Feint maneuver a bit differently. Go read it. I’ll wait.

His overall thought boils down to that the Feint is an enabling roll, that all you have to do is win the quick contest. High skill just makes winning that much more sure, but it is a quick contest, so not entirely sure.

Then, the next attack you throw, whatever penalties you throw at him via the usual mechanism of Deceptive Attack (usually -2 to hit for -1 to defend) are doubled, effectively making it -1 to hit for every -1 to defend.

Overall, I like this. It preserves the power of the Feint (-1 to hit for -1) but doesn’t require additional book-keeping from turn to turn. You just know that you get double-plus good deceptive attacks. All the usual caveats apply for hit location, target size, etc. So that’s business as usual, and right there, in the moment, you can just figure your attack.

Setup Attacks

Back in Pyramid #3/52, I published an article called Delayed Gratification, which introduces the concept of the Setup Attack. Basically, if you throw a deceptive attack – a real honest-to-goodness attack, that can hit and do damage – you can either take your penalty to hit this turn (which is how Deceptives usually work), or you can delay the impact, and take it next turn. And this stacks with any Deceptive Attack you might throw that turn too. This is the classic “I lead with a jab to the face, and when he raises his guard to parry the blow, I kick him in the stomach!” type stuff. The key bit here is that a Setup Attack is an actual attack. It could conceivably hit, impale, and kill your foe if you get lucky with that rapier thrust to the face. 

So, on the negative side, book-keeping. You need to remember that you deceptive-attacked last turn on that guy for -2 to defend, because it stacks with whatever you do this turn. So Peter’s option is superior from that perspective from a mechanics perspective. In a wild melee with 30 guys on the GM’s side of the screen, that’s not nothing.

Peter’s method turns the swinginess of the Quick Contest into a win/lose switch. We briefly discussed making it a Regular Contest, which he responded to (mostly) correctly as “Regular Contests suck.” Mostly because the fundamental conceit of the Regular Contest – that you must win and your foe must fail – is solid. But the best way to do it is to normalize the lower score to 10, and let the higher score float, and icky math in play, so forget it. Also, there’s a legit point that the Quick Contest is simply the right tool for the job here – you just need to be better than the other guy, and margin of success does that quite well.

The advantage of the Setup Attack is not one with Game Design logic, but rather emergent behavior in play. It’s a real attack. It’s easy to envision, easy to play, your foe has to potentially spend a defense, or expend a retreat, to deal with it. It’s not a position shift or a fake-out – it’s an honest to God punch to the face, leg, or whatever. Plus, it preserves the net power of the Feint by allowing the two deceptive attacks to stack, which can give the same -1 to defend for every -1 you take impact of a feint if you can stack deceptive attacks on each other. It also allows you to do things like take a -6 deceptive attack THIS turn, and then if that’s successful, to use thatat -6 to attack (say) the neck at -5 and be at a net +1 to skill. It lets you do more with your skill more reliably, but at a slower pace, than if you had to deceptive attack and attack on the same turn, or trading zero damage for the feint with a single strike the following turn. 

Downside? You can only do this with Defensive Attacks if you want to preserve your defenses turn-to-turn with U-Parry weapons.

Parting Shot

Ultimately, both Setup Attack and Peter’s Alternate Feint can easily co-exist in the same game. They work differently, represent different things, and don’t step on each other’s toes. 

I have previously seen griping about Feints, both from a “they suck!” and a “they’re too awesome!” perspective. Plus Peter’s note that “they’re too swingy!”

Both his and my options address this somehow, by tying them ultimately to the attack roll. I tend to prefer the attack/defense mechanic for most things, and both Peter and I have discussed a “No Contest” variant of GURPS where we try and eliminate contests in favor of attack/defense rolls everywhere. That never got off the ground (busy, and uncertain gain for a lot of work).

But I like the Alternate Feint mechanic he’s proposed. It gets the swingy out of it by making it a binary yes/no, but preserves the effects of the option by doubling down on the Deceptive Attack bonus. It’s a form of Delayed Gratification that I can get behind, and I think it coexists well with the Setup Attack option I wrote a ways back.

A quick note, and perhaps a question.

Last game three PCs charged into combat (well, snuck into combat) and went head to head at 1st level into the face of 4:1 odds. The results were predictable.

One commenter on Twitter noted “they should have run away.”

Now, there are two ways to take this. One is that they never should have entered combat to begin with. +Tim Shorts noted that yes, this was the right call, but he’d never had a combat in the game and so wanted to see what it was like. In short, he provoked a losing battle to see what would happen.

Well, he found out. 

Edit: They found out and got dismantled with grace and graciousness. They rolled poorly, and did not complain when the orc horde came screaming down on them. So this “well, he found out” sounds way, way more pejorative than it is meant. He wanted to find out what combat was like, did find out, and we all learned about tactics and emergent behavior in the process. Even me. Or perhaps especially me.

The other way to take it was that once things started to go poorly, they should have withdrawn. I’m wondering how viable that is. I think that as long as each PC decides to run the heck away while their foes are about two moves (usually about 60′, but not always) away this might have worked. But I see no way, really, for a bunch of fighters to extract themselves from melee in the face of a determined foe, unless they have a speed advantage.

I’m not saying this is wrong. In fact, I believe that the typical battlefield archaeology reports will tell you that yeah, the majority of the casualties were taken when one side turned tail and ran. 

But it seems to me that’s darn hard to actually run away in D&D-style games unless you really plan on it beforehand. Once things are already going badly, you’re basically in it unless the foe lets you out.

Does this match your experience? Who’s been chased, killed, and eaten?

I’m tired. so this will be a quick summary. I was joined by +Erik Tenkar , +Tim Shorts , and +Rob Conley in the first session for “Group 3,” one of the playtest campaigns I’m running for the Heretical RPG.

The characters were two rangers with chain shirts and longbows, both with one or two short swords, plus a dwarven cleric with the life domain. Light crossbow, scale mail, and a warhammer.

We chatted for a long, long time, and then finished up characters.

They started in one of the main cities as a jumping-off point, and investigated. They found two primary leads. The merchant guild reported that one of their caravans went missing; similarly, a cleric visiting from the majority-dwarven settlement up the coast reported the same deal – a missing caravan, no traces.

At the end of the dwarven plot fork was the same ogre as last time, but this time, two of them, with two ogrillions for backup. I was planning on having one ogre and an ogrillion come at the team from the cave mouth, and then if they investigated, the second pair would try and nab them.

That’s not the fork they took, though. And the other one led to a troop of about a dozen orc bandits. Now, my ambush was laid out for a group of 4-6 characters, and the team only showed up with 3, though two rangers and a cleric might be a reasonable force.

Turned out . . . nope.

They did some investigating and found that the orc band had scaled the protective wall that led between two major population centers, laid an ambush, and nabbed a caravan, taking the goods but not the carts back over the wall with them.

The team tracked them back to their lair, and they did some recon, and lo, there were 12 of them, widely dispersed around a campsite. One very sleepy guard.

They decided to attack, after briefly considering the fact that by locating the fate of the caravan, they’d earned their 130gp reward.

They fired at the guard from surprise, but two terrible rolls and one good one left the orc hurt but not impaired, but he made his morale and constitution checks, and was still up.

Technically, I biffed this one; mooks like the orc automatically fail the constitution checks, and so he should have been injured, and thus impaired, rather than feeling frisky.

His shout roused the rest of the camp. 

The second round had our heroes firing again, but this time, the target was able to bring his shield to bear.

Holy crap, if I wanted to improve the value of shields in the Heretical game, it worked. It may have worked too well. Our orc guard was able to basically hide behind the shield, brushing arrows out of the air with near impunity. His friends and neighbors got closer and closer. The horde approached.

Ultimately, the bowmen were too stymied by the shields to do much good, and there were too many orcs. At least one of our heroes was reduced to no defensive ability, and had to take on a level of exhaustion to top up. Armor is working nicely and making potentially fight-ending blows into threats, but not game-enders. So that’s still good.

We called it with one player surrounded (or nearly so) by orcs, two nearby but withdrawing, and one orc KO’d, and that’s about it.

Lessons learned.

  • +Peter V. Dell’Orto was right. Many weak foes is way, way nastier than one tough foe. 
  • Shields are ridiculously good. +Rob Conley has re-enactor experience, and he was not in disbelief that that was, in fact, exactly right. We did talk about tweaking the stats, though. The benefits given to shields are large, and very much nullify ranged weapon attacks from the front arc.
  • Prior playtesting showed that pelting foes with no shields with ranged weapons was dreadfully and totally effective, though.
  • The shield was good, but not great, in melee. It would probably turn a few blows from a decent fighter, and then shatter. Arrows? Not enough damage to cause that effect. Again, not unrealistic, but was a surprise.
  • We decided to add an “Aim” action option, which will give advantage when attacking. 

Ultimately, I think what happened here was “there are 12 of them, and three of us. Let’s attack!” and that worked out about as well as it should.

In D&D5, the bows would likely have been more telling. Orcs only have AC 13, and my guys were shooting at 1d20+5 or 1d20+6, so would hit about 2/3 of the time for 4-12 points per hit. Should have felled one orc per round. There were still a whole lotta orcs, though. 

I dunno. I set up a very lopsided encounter, and the result was what you would expect. They tried main strength, and were losing badly. They got dogpiled, had no escape route, and probably would have all been killed.

We’re going to reset the board next time, and see if their original plan, which was to pick off one or two of them at a time, from stealth, might work. Also, maybe we can add the fourth (or fifth?) player who was supposed to be present. Having a defender for the archers would make a huge difference. Hell, I dangled the option of hiring a pair of fighters in front of the team early on, but they didn’t bite.

Again – unfair encounter went unfairly. I can’t help the feeling that I might have learned more with fewer bandits. Attacking into 4:1 odds with first level characters is probably not a high-percentage plan.

+Jeffro Johnson loves him some d4 Thieves. He’s pretty emphatic about it, as is his right.

In my Heretical DnD project, he recently quipped that when I asked a question about rolling a pile of d4s he thought, for a brief, glorious instant, that I was returning the Thief (now the, sigh, Rogue with a Thief subclass) to its glorious roots.

That got me thinking, though. How different is the d4 Thief from BECMI to the d8 Thief from Fifth Edition?

The BECMI Thief and Fighter

Let’s say that our thief has attempted – unsuccessfully – to pick the pocket of a lonely neighborhood fighter. Both are first level. 

I’m going to first assume that we roll 3d6, but can assign stats. Based on my work with the Standard Array, those stats for both fighters, at the median roll (50th percentile in luck) are 14, 12, 11, 10, 9, 7.


What does that mean? It means that there is precisely one score that will get a bonus: a +1 for the 14. 

The Thief has a prime requisite of Dexterity, so that’s where his +1 will go. Leather armor, no shield. So basically, he’ll have an AC of 6, or a roll of 13+ will hit him.

Our fighter will have Strength as his choice, so he’ll roll 1d20+1 to hit, and thus will hit on a 12 or higher – 45% of the time. He’ll do 1d8+1 damage with his sword, or 5.5 points on the average. Each turn, he’ll deal an average of 2.48 points of damage.

In short, he’ll kill the thief on the average in about 1.01 attacks.

The 5e Thief and Fighter

Let’s look at the 5e fighter, using the 50% percentile instead of the standard array. They’re not that different, but the Standard Array actually represents the 45% percentile of die rolls. 

The important thing for our human fighter is still his Strength, and his standard array gives 16, 14, 13, 12, 10, 9 – actually one better than the standard array in both the highest and lowest score. With the right selection of race – Dwarves, I’m looking at you, Mountain Dwarf – you can start with STR 18. This is impossible with the standard array.

Swinging a battle axe, then, he’ll roll 1d20+2 (proficiency)+4 (STR) for 1d20+6, doing 1d10+4 damage on a hit.

Our Thief also gets to play the min/max game, and we can cut right to the chase. If our fighter can start with STR 18, our Thief can as well – Wood-Elf Thief for the win.

With DEX 18 and CON 13, this gives him 9 HP. Studded Leather and no shield, but a +4 DEX bonus for armor class, and he’s AC 16.

So our fighter has to roll 10+ on 1d20, and will hit 55% of the time. He will do 5-14 damage, plus a bit more for a critical hit – an average on a hit of 9.78 damage. Or 5.38 per round.

This means our 5e Thief will, in general, withstand 1.67 blows from our fighter. A 1d8 battleaxe will increase this a touch. to 1.88 attacks to drop the thief to 0 HP.

Parting Shot

I had thought that with the higher damage values of the weapons due to STR bonuses and whatnot, that a d4 Thief would, in fact, be perhaps as robust as a d8 thief. But no. By and large he takes another swat to put him down – a bit less.

What would equality be? You’d need to have the typical HP of the thief equal the typical damage done in one turn by one swing of the sword. That’s 4.8 to 5.4 HP. Call it 5, and . . . you need to get back to the d4 Thief in order for the classes to be as fragile as they were in BECMI.

Why? Armor classes are higher due to higher bonuses, which offsets weapon damages. Higher bonuses from STR are offset by higher DEX bonuses, though average damage is higher. The real boost comes from giving 1st level characters maximum HP per Hit Die at 1st level. If 1st level 5e characters rolled dice instead of getting the max, a 1st level thief would need an average of 4.8 to 5.4 HP to be as robust as BECMI. That’s basically a d9 rather than a d8!

So yes! The d8 5e thief is actually less robust than the d4 Thief from BECMI if you roll the first level HP, but if you don’t, well, obviously he’s more robust.

It’s the lack of randomness for rolling hit points that makes the difference. If you gave all 1st level BECMI thieves 4 HP to start, then they’d wind up with almost exactly the longevity of a 5e Thief.

It’s like the designers thought about this or something. 

Thursday is GURPSDay, and it’s time to think ahead.

We had a fun situation in this past Monday’s Aeon supers game.

We decided to use the 4-As framework to make a plan. We gathered intel, we actually guessed at what was going to happen, and we were even right.

Then we completely biffed it by exposing ourselves, which drew fire and brought down the wrath of at least a dozen, if not more, grenade-armed guards. Had it not been for a “flesh wound” Karma point, The Commander would have been killed when a limpet grendade with 20d(2) damage blew up on his back.

But we saw that coming, and I was frustrated that all of our gathering and recon did basically nothing.

This needs to be automated and mechanized – but here’s an idea that I think has been treated before in Pyramid, but maybe not like this.

Retroactive Planning

” . . . this is battle! And battle is a highly fluid situation. You . . . you plan on your contingencies, and I have. You keep your initiative, and I will. But what you don’t do is share command! It’s Never. A Good. Idea.”  – Vic Deacons, Broken Arrow

If you’ve done your homework in advance, you can engage in a bit of a “we thought of that!” retcon.

But that requires homework in advance. Planning for contingencies, as it were.

Assess, Analyze

During the Assess and Analyze phases of the mission, after you make your skill rolls to gather data and complimentary skill rolls as appropriate, you may end the session by making an Intelligence Analysis roll.

Look up the margin of success on the size (and speed range) table, with a minimum of zero. Yes, you can walk out of the planning session with nada . . . but the number you get is how many “foreseen contingencies” you can declare.

So if you make the Intel Analysis roll by 7, you get 3 foreseen contingencies. A “foreseen contingency” can be converted to a single “bonus roll” that acts just like a Tactics roll, or it can be a legit contingency as below. This choice is made during the planning phase, and is binding. No matter what, cap the number of contingencies at 3 – more is unwieldly. So if you make your roll by 10, you get up to three foreseen contingencies, plus one reroll in addition to whatever happens with the on-site Tactics roll.

Contingency Plans

Each “contingency” is a combination of people, places, and things/actions, and must be phrased that way, in the same way that a Wait is fairly well defined, but there’s wiggle room here.

People: This can be as broad as “the bad guys,” but if there’s more than one bad guy faction present, you’ll need to be specific. So “the Red team of bad guys” would be legit, as would “any one not obviously on our side.” But for the Aeon S1E9 eventuality, if we didn’t anticipate that two factions would show up (but we did!) that would not be an actionable contingency. 

Places: Where’s the thing going down. This needs to be recognizeable, but can be somewhat vague (because player/character knowledge can be fuzzy). “The ambush site” might be good enough if you’re expecting an ambush. “The black ops warehouse” from Aeon S1E9 would certainly qualify. “New York City?” Nuh-uh.

Things/Actions: This is the trigger that tells you that you’re falling into a contingency. You see the macguffin (and if you know there’s going to be a macguffin, but not precisely what it is, that’s probably good enough). Again, in S1E9 it was when the two black ops teams started fighting.

These combinations of people, places, and things must be defined in advance, and they are limited in number to the number of foreseen contingencies above – that is, one to three of them.

Saw that one coming . . . 

If one of your triggering incidents occurs, immediately make and resolve an appropriate contest of Tactics, and bank your rerolls as usual. 

You may spend them to retroactively get the following benefits, assuming you haven’t been able to explicitly get such intel already. 

If the GM wants to request an appropriate skill roll (modified by BAD if you’re using it!) that’s fair – but remember this entire concept is based around the characters having had time to develop good plans, enough that the players were able to come up with people, places, and a triggering event.

  • Local geography: Burn a reroll and you pulled searches for blueprints, got satellite data, or otherwise were able to determine what the map looks like. This needn’t be perfect information, but what there is, you have. This is one of those that will often be obtained in advance, but if the team didn’t, this lets you do it retroactively.
  • Enemy placement: Any foes not actively hiding are either located on the map, or at least given “there’s probably one or more bad guys here” markers several hexes om area. This allows some measure of avoidance to be done with careful movement.
  • Positioning: Make a new tactics roll, and again get margin of success from the size and speed/range table (size column). Minimum one, but that number is the number of unique positioning moves you can make. So if you made your roll by 5, you can locate two elements. That certainly might be “an infantry platoon at location X, and a special forces fire team at location Y” just as easly as “The Commander is here by those boxes, while Eamon is on the roof.” This does not imply that you’re undetectable in any way – just that you can “jump” your guys to an appropriate accessible location as if you’d planned it all along.
  • Stealth: With advance knowledge and planning you can force a failed Perception roll where you’re contesting it with Stealth or Camouflage. Each forced failure costs a roll (so wandering through a target zone loaded with bad guys and security cameras will deplete your re-rolls very fast). A forced failure is obvious to the person who’s bestowing or consuming the tactics reroll – you know that, save for excellent intel and tactics, you would have been spotted. This does not preclude future Perception checks by the bad guys, either . . . you get a moment’s reprieve, that’s all. You can use that to make a new Camouflage or Stealth roll to achieve a better hiding spot, or you can burst into action. Go, Leroy, go.
  • Gear: A reroll can be burned to request – with GM’s permission – a single item or group of items (a sniper rifle, or a handful of magazines of armor piercing ammo, or an electronic lockpick kit) that would help. Both the players and GM should be reasonable here. If there’s no gear to be had, you don’t consume the roll.
  • Backup: If it would be available, and reasonable, reinforcements should be allowed. These NPCs will be of an appropriate level given the quality of the requesting group. Assistance rolls or Reaction rolls are good mechanics to invoke here. Failure would mean that none are available; if that’s the case you don’t lose the tactics roll.
  • Normal Use: You don’t have to burn the tactics rolls based on foreseen contingencies. You can save them for dynamic eventualities (and you probably will want to do that).
Parting Shot

This sort of thing wouldn’t have completely saved us yesterday. We did hit on the #1 option, though – two factions would duke it out in front of us, and I had seven re-rolls that we wound up not using, or maybe we used one – but none in the furious and almost-lethal battle on the first floor.

We did, actually, do some of the above – The Commander was allowed to retroactively put suppressors on his own weapons for some initial combat volleys that came and went. 

The biggest opportunity for us was instead of being forced into action with the first failed Stealth roll (or first successful Perception check), we might have been able to choose the time and place of action

The re-roll concept for Tactics is a good one. But they very frequently go unused, either due to heat-of-the-moment, or resource hoarding. Having some things like the above to explicitly spend rerolls on – provided some contingency planning is done – is a good way to bridge the gap between player and character expertise.

Thursday is GURPSDay, and a conversation on the Forums about modeling on-the-range use of Guns got me thinking about something. I suspect that it will cause a few issues when the rubber meets the road, but I also kind of like the general concepts.

Right now, there are three flavors of fighting skills. The Combat version, which might be things like Karate, Judo, and Guns. This is the stuff you use in an actual fight.

But then there are the Combat Art and Combat Sport skills for exhibition (Art) or competition (Sport). These are mostly geared to hand-to-hand combat skills, so they’re not entirely great fits. Guns Art might be trick shooting, while Guns Sport might be IPSC or IDPA (defensive and practical pistol competitions), Paintball or Airsoft, or other formalized shooting events. Guns (Combat) is basically infantry training with simunitions or live ammo, shoot-house, formation fighting, plus a lot of range time.

The thing about range time is that it’s range time. Even when it’s timed or otherwise restricted, the Drill Instructor is unlikely to toss a grenade into your firing lane, or your next-door neighbor to either try and punch you in the face or shoot you in the head.

That’s the kind of thing that is simulated by Combat skills in GURPS.

Target Difficulties

One big help was provided in GURPS Tactical Shooting by listing the kinds of modifiers that can accrue when not shooting in a real combat environment. These include

  • Up to +3 for risk factors to self, others, and stake in the outcome
  • Up to +4 for the environment. Low end is a designated but unimproved outdoor range, high end is a perfectly-lit indoor facility with lanes, seating, etc.
  • Up to +3 for knowing precisely the range and speed (usually constant and zero, respectively) of the target
This is a pretty good list, though some of these things are hard to adjudicate in play. Back before Tactical Shooting came out, I’d posited a pretty similar list. I wouldn’t endorse all of my choices from back then, but I would consider looking at those pesky ‘environment’ variables and seeing if they can be made more explicit. Because +4 is being able to shoot basically 5x farther or in a 5x tighter group relative to without that bonus. It’s the difference between a crappy snubnose and a carbine with aim. It’s huge.
But for the sake of completeness and precision, let’s see if we can break down some of the more clumpy bits. The risk factors are already in +1 increments, so moving on, starting with the Range/Speed factor.
Hitting a target is more or less knowing hold-over – where do you put the sights relative to where you want the bullet to go at a given distance. That’s given a +3 in the rules for rangefinder, and it’s a flat-out yes/no bonus. Hrm. Let’s actually leave that as-is. 
I’m tempted to broaden it a bit, and allow giving that “rangefinder” bonus for ranges where it just doesn’t matter what the range is – that is, very close range. 
What’s very close? Well, that depends on the “zero” for the gun. Ugh – that’s problematical in play, because who really wants to figure that out? But if we take a look at some ballistic trajectories, you’ll find that with iron sights zeroed at 25yds, a 9mm will rise up about a quarter inch, and then drop by that much at about 30yds. Beyond that, it’s all downhill. The 9mm has a 1/2D range of about 150yds in GURPS. 1/4 of that distance is between 35-40yds.
If we look at a .223 sighted in at 25 yds from a flat-top receiver with iron sights, with the sights about 3/4 over the bore (OK, lots of assumptions on a rifle), the bullet rises from -0.75″ at the muzzle, peaks at about +0.75″ high, and returns to -0.75″ low at between 150 and 200 yds. The 1/2D for this rifle is 600yds, and 1/4 of that is 150yds. 
So to first approximation, at distances of less than about 1/4 the 1/2D range (yeesh), you basically don’t need to know the range. If you aim directly at the target, you will hit within one inch of it. Rangefinding and bullet-drop compensation only matters past this distance.
And only while actually using the Aim maneuver or using sighted shooting. Snap shooting doesn’t benefit from this knowledge at all.
That means that aimed fire on most shooting ranges – less than about 25yds for a pistol, less than 150-250yds for a rifle (depends on caliber, config, etc), you just point at the target, carefully, and you don’t have to know anything about ballistics. 
So, we’ve got an adjustable +3 for risk factors (+1 each for three factors), a binary +3 for either knowing the range and ballistic information for your weapon/ammo combination or being at lower than 1/4 of the 1/2D range and taking an Aim maneuver . . . and up to +4 from environment. 

In short, another way to phrase this: The bonus for All-Out Attack (Determined) might be considered as +4 up to 1/4 of 1/2D range, but +1 beyond that. If you are within the 1/4 of 1/2D (I hate typing that!), then you’ve already eaten the rangefinder bonus; if you’re past that range, you may still claim it if you actually do know the range.

This is where I’m going to deviate from the very big bonus for being on an outdoor range vs a perfectly lit indoor range with air conditioning, etc. That’s because a lot of this stuff is factored in to other penalties: good lighting is assumed. Wind isn’t explicitly, but is only usually figured in when using optional rules like Time of Flight from Tactical Shooting, but again, lack of wind (or at least no severe winds) is probably assumed.
So I’m going to break that usual +4 allocated to environment a bit differently:
  • +1 for a high-contrast “shoot me here” target, including bulls-eyes and concentric rings
  • +1 for an isolated and comfortable shooting position. At a table, your own lane, etc.
  • +1 for target moving predictably or not at all.
  • +1 for no target movement at all (so that stacks with the above); you only get this if the target is stationary, unmoving, and there’s zero chance of any moving air disturbing the shot
This lumps in “moving target” with “wind,” which is sorta true if you wave your fingers at it a bit.
The net result of this is that plinking at garbage at 20yds on an outdoor range with a pistol will definitely get you:
  • +3 for no risks
  • +3 because you don’t even need to know the range
  • +1 for no movement of the target at all but being outdoors.
You might be able to claim isolated and comfortable if you have pre-built or pre-prepared shooting positions, but shooting at junk is probably not worth the “screams I’m a target at you” bonus. So definitely +7, maybe +8, not +9 or +10.
Known ranges, brightly contrasting targets, prepared positions, unmoving, but outside. +9.
Going through a one person shoot-house with live ammo? I’d give +2 for no risk to self or others, but dock the final +1 because of the time pressure, which gives a stake in the outcome. A proper shoot-house will be close range, so you’d probably claim the +3 for known or irrelevant range . . . but by and large you’re not going to be taking Aim maneuvers in these. If you did, you’ll nail it. Indoor shoot-houses with unmoving targets will qualify for the +2, but manikins in clothing aren’t high-visibility targets and there are often “decoy” no-shoot targets too. 
Net benefit +4 for most situations, +7 if you get to aim, though you may run out of time. Probably TDM of +4. If the situation is made purposefully stressful – people shouting at you, setting off firecrackers, or whatever, that might drop down to +2 (for unmoving targets) because you’ve tricked yourself into believing that there’s a risk to both yourself (though not a risk of harm, but a risk of failure) and to others (you can’t shoot the good-guy dummies!).

Note that this doesn’t account for time taken for target discrimination and Identify-Friend-or-Foe activity. If you don’t have to make that choice and pick from targets, you can probably go very quickly and very accurately. Proper realistic training tries to get down as low as possible here.

Wow, that’s a lot of bonuses available, even for somewhat stressful activity! Surely that will produce hit rates that are far, far too high!
Yes. But . . . 
Combat is a Very Hard skill

The second half of this is to recognize that combat skills are very hard. Oh, sure . . . shooting is fairly easy. It’s mechanical, it doesn’t involve gross body movements for the act itself, and pointing a weapon and pulling the trigger are extensions of each other.

But what would happen if we just made  Guns into a DX/VH skill and assumed that the “sport” or “art” versions simply benefit from the Task Difficulty Modifiers above?
Firstly, the relative change between 1 point in a DX/E skill and 1 point in a DX/H skill is -3, since 1 point gives you the skill at DX+0 for DX/E and DX-3 for DX/VH.
Hey, that’s already the difference between Sport and Combat skills. So no real change there, other than you never have to buy the skills separately. If you want to judge yourself on following the rules of a particular shooting sport? Buy Games skill for that competition style’s rules.
All of a sudden, that first point in Guns for Joe Average gives you Guns-7 rather than Guns-10 . . . but thanks to the TDMs for shooting carefully on an indoor range, the base skill there will likely be Guns-17 for a start, +2 for Acc, +1 for more aim, and another +2 for All-Out Attack with two hands on the pistol. So one shot ever few seconds has total “positive” modifiers starting at Guns-22, and at -4 for 10 yards and -1 for “torso to head” on the paper will be “on paper” basically every time with a net skill of Guns-17.
Head shots at 10 yds is -4 for range, -5 for head for 22-9, or Guns-11, or about 2 in 3 in the head area. Skull would be 1 in 3.
What if you’re putting – as I have with an XDM in .40S&W – 15 rounds into less than 2″ at 5yds? -2 for range, -8 for a 2″ hole. Net skill needs to be on the order of 16 to do this reliably. Bonuses for that gun was Acc3, +2 more for careful aim. AoA(Determined, Braced) for another +2. +10 for TDM. 
Skill +7 (Aim and Brace) +10 (TDM) – 10 (Range and size) = 16 implies I have a minimum of Guns-9, which is DX-1 or 4 points in Guns at the DX/VH level.

Edited to Add: A comment over on Google+ by the esteemed (well, by me at least) +Luke Campbell notes that the +3 that you get for “inside a certain fraction of the 1/2D range” is already included in the Acc stats of line-of-sight beam weapons. This is precisely true, and it’s true at all ranges, not just at “point blank.” A useful addition.

Parting Shot

In practice, it means world-class Guns skills are going to be harder to achieve. Getting to Guns-18, “exceptional” hostage rescue operators and snipers, can be pretty trivial when you’re sporting DX 12 to DX 14 for an athletic combatant and only need DX+4 or DX+6 on an Easy skill to get there. DX is its own reward, but even DX 10 and Guns-18 is 28 points.
Granted, the switch-over to DX/VH only adds 12 points to that calculus, so Guns-18 and DX 10 would be 40 points, and DX 13 (SEAL template) and Guns-18 is a 60+28 = 88 point investment. It does mean that you will be spending 8 points to get to DX level in a combat skill instead of 1 point, which makes it cooler to be a high-skill guns guy.
It means that with lower skills, you need more bonuses. Aim, brace, and any TDMs you can eke out. Less frantic gunfights, with more time for move and cover. You’ll need to do it, because otherwise you’ll just miss.
It also means that “no TDM for combat” can be relaxed a bit. A sniper might . . . might . . . claim the +1 for “no risk to self,” but I doubt it. At short range, though, you will often get the benefit of the “point blank” bonus (also the range-finding bonus) of +3 when you Aim above and beyond the firearm’s accuracy. 
That range might be a tetch high, though. Having the +3 be available with almost any Aim maneuver with a pistol means that the Aim gives most modern guns +5 or +6 at close range . . . and the net result of that is simply to return skills to where they were before the switch to DX/VH.
But it also means that you don’t have to invoke crazy penalties to get hit rates in tune with actual observed gunfights. A point or two in Guns (Pistol) with a DX 10 or DX 11 police officer (or a point in Guns (Rifle) and a DX 10 recruit) is Guns-7 to maybe Guns -9. At five or seven yards with unaimed fire you’re down to a net skill of Guns-5 or Guns-6, and not much more than that with sighted shooting for AoA(Determined, Braced), hitting maybe 25% of the time even when the lighting and footing is good!
You start to use your sights and take an Aim, and your natural Acc combines with point-blank for about +5, with AoA(Determined/Braced) for +7 total, on top of Guns-5 or Guns-7, and your net skill for the torso is Guns-12 to Guns-14. Vitals? Guns-9 to Guns-11.
Again, for street-level shooting, that’s quite good.

Now, this sort of thing is only going to please the crowd that really wants their low-level PCs to be kinda bad – the kinda bad that you see in real-world even report stats. And moving Guns to DX/VH when freakin’ Judo and Karate are DX/H? Maybe that’s just crazy-talk.
The thing that offsets the two is that you can make an All-Out Telegraphic Attack for +8 to skill when you’ve got melee. When push comes to shove, you can add huge values to your skill in a pinch. Both guns and fists suffer the same level of target penalties – shooting and punching the face are both -5.  And more importantly, range penalties are dreadfully high, and occur on every shot greater than 3yds.
So why make guns harder then they already are? It’s a valid question. I’m not sure I have an answer.
What I’ve tried to do here is two-fold
  1. Make explicit the Task Difficulty Modifiers for guns, which is really breaking down the environmental bonuses to the same level the already-explicit rangefinding and risk bonuses are.
  2. Get rid of the need for Guns Sport (or even Guns Art) as a thing by making the provision of sport/art use simply part of the TDM assignment.
That second piece gets rid of the usual argument (well, it’s an argument I’ve seen before) that many or even most shooters are using Guns Sport because they only train on the range. And so when they get into combat, they’re really operating at a -3 to their skill all the time anyway because the conditions are so unlike range shooting.
I think that may all well be true, but the usual operating GURPS mantra is that the skill represents adventuring usage. The hardest part about shooting in combat is the combat itself. The risk to life and limb. 
I’m sure that I and lots of other people that can put 15 shots of 9mm into a 1.5-2″ hole at 10yds would see huge degradations in accuracy in an actual combat situation. Badly. I think the modifiers above do a credible job of unifying the presence/absence of stress and the assuredness with which you can blaze away at a target range.
I don’t know, however, if my players would stand for it. I suspect not. Eh . . . a lot of what I do on the blog is just a design exercise anyway. This one probably achieves its goals, but I’m not sure it fits well within the larger GURPS framework.

I should also add that this kind of thing will make hash out of cinematic shoot-em-up games, as it’s designed to detract from the “Everything is Awesome!” nature of easy-high guns skill (see what I did there, Bad Cop?). As a design exercise, then, we’d need to see what would be required – and that might just be “tons more points” to make cinematic shooters properly affordable. 

On the other hand, with the relative ease of instant death (or at least instant incapacitation) available slinging around 3d to 7d pi damage with a large ammo capacity available, making heroes work for hits a bit more (and thus distinguishing even more from mooks, who really won’t be able to hit squat) might not be awful.

It also means that using suppressive fire even for low RoF weapons may well be the default usage . . . and that’s not wrong, is it?

There are times to All-Out Attack in melee, and even Telegraphic All-Out Attack. They are few and limited, but they exist.

Tactical Shooting would have you using AoA(Determined) every time you want to use your sights or claim an Aim bonus. +Hans-Christian Vortisch does impeccable research and he’s right – if you’re aiming, you’re not defending.

Still, the spectacular negative for not being able to avoid suddenly being cuisinarted or Swiss-cheesed means that even when people should be taking that option, they don’t, for purely game-mechanical reasons.

So, some options to tone that down. These haven’t been playtested, but I’m tossing out ideas that will make AoA a slightly more attractive option without it displacing things like Committed Attack, which sees constant use. It’s just AoA that doesn’t.
Continue reading “Alternate Defenses for All-Out Attack”

I had an unexpected surprise when Greg Porter himself responded to my post about scaling in GURPS and EABA. His comments and the back-and-forth he had with David Pulver are not to be missed.

What? You missed them? Hie thee to the comments section of that thread. Read. I’ll wait. Good? OK, we continue.

But his original reply deserves more than to be buried in a comment section, so I pulled it out and replied point-by-point. There are places where we agree, and places where we don’t. My posts are indented (because I’m responding). His are in purple/bold, in the main text.

The concept [logarithmic scaling] is not new, even if not fully chart-ified in the past. Hero System is a “doubling every +3” system for things like Strength, and I think Bill Willingham’s Underground (Mayfair Games) also had a progression-based chart.

Definitely not new, but also definitely one of the best, I think, ways to approach a universal scaling for a generic system. I had wondered if setting the “number of divisions per x10” equal to the sides on the dice while rolling 3d6 would work out as generic (I was hoping that 3d10 would work out well with a 10-step per x10 scaling), but it didn’t. At least, it didn’t with the elegance of the GURPS 3d6 and 6-steps-per-x10.

There’s good/bad, optimum/non-optimum to all of these, and it often depends on what you are looking for and what the system is trying to do. DC Hero’s “doubling per +1” is indeed brutal, but probably necessary if you are going to put Batman and Superman in the same scene and not have to fill Superman’s sheet with 12-digit Strength values.

Superman is always tough, because his powers fluctuate with the writers’ needs. Being able to push planets around is going to challenge pretty much any quantifiable system. Even description-based games such as Fate will probably have some issue with that, though “as strong as the scene needs him to be” is much more tractable with a game like Fate than GURPS, with its bias towards the quantifiable.

GURPS works pretty good at the human level, but is human-oriented enough that going to superheroic levels is often a problem.

I think the log scaling that I am trying to wrap my head around (and that +Sean Punch looked at in the most recent Pyramid) fixes that somewhat – actually, I think it has the potential to fix it entirely. EABA with it’s inherently log-based chart also scales from fleas to kaiju. I haven’t internalized the system yet – still reading through it – but I have gathered that already.

And EABA has its quirks, too. It doubles every +3 for Strength and every +2 for everything else (and as designer I can tell you that took a -lot- of tweaking). And you don’t have to memorize 20 levels. If you know that each +2 is x2 and each +1 is x1.4 (or for most purposes, x1.5), then if you know a particular value it is pretty easy to scale up or down. For instance, 25 meters is a ranged difficulty of 12. What’s the difficulty at 50 meters (x2 distance), 100 meters (x4 distance) or 12 meters (x1/2 distance)? You didn’t have to memorize 20 levels or even look at the table to figure it out. The same could be said for -any- of the other games with regular progressions.

Where I think that this runs into issues is what if you approach it as “the range is 2900m?” In GURPS, for example, if I know that 20m is +6, then 30m is +7 and x100 for that is 12 more, making it +19. For EABA, each +20 is x1000, so that makes it harder. Though if I happen to know what 3m is, then I can just put that and add 20 to it. I’m sure it gets easier with practice, but “oh, it doubles each time” isn’t easy at the table, but adding or taking away zeros is, since we’re used to base10 placeholders.

GURPS’ scale is very nearly the same as yours, of course. You have +20 per 1000x, repeating, while GURPS is +6 per 10x.

It’s a small point, but I’ll stick to it: a smaller number of values until a progression repeats exactly makes it easier to play without resorting the The Chart, A Chart, or Any Chart. This is true enough for the fan base for which I write that it pretty much gets pounded into my style. And you’re talking to the guy who put transcentental equations into GURPS for the purposes of bow design, and whips out any convienient math function at the drop of a hat – since I love systems with underlying mathematical rigor because they scale well and can be tested for extremes easily.

All of that is trumped by the players and GM being able to instantly get to the “roll the dice” part. If you as designer didn’t feel that the x1000 per +20 wasn’t important, you wouldn’t have put it in – so people (and the game rules) are making differentiations based on that progression, and a lot of things seem to happen at breakpoints. You have to know that 25 is one of the points on the chart.

Actually, looking, it’s not on the chart. 23 is on the chart, which is sensible (it’s 2^4.5 power, rounded to no digits). But you need to know that it’s 23, and whether you round up, down, or nearest (EABA is not unique here) and that 23 is a unique level, but 230 is not – that’s 250. 500 is on the chart exactly, but 50 isn’t. So I’ll stick to my point here and say that people are going to want to memorize the progression, and that 6 or 7 levels per x10 is a more natural fit than 20 levels per x1000. It’s not a game-making point, but I think it’s a legitimate one.

I will disagree and say you can’t actually set x1.0 to zero and have things work out if you want to do “table math” -and- have the values be useful in game terms in relation to things like Strength rolls and the particular game’s dice conventions.

This may well be true. It really depends on how often one will do manipulation with the log of the actual value and have it matter, as opposed to just working with modifiers. If is all you ever need to know is the ratio of two lifting forces (200 lbs force is fighting 150 lbs force, that’s always 1 step away on The Chart or the GURPS progression. That will be a +/-1 bonus or penalty in either system.

If you’re going to be asking for the actual force (or distance, time, or whatever) values frequently, then setting the zero to 1.0 is going to be more important. As a game designer, one will have to pick. It should be relatively straight-forward to do one or the other.

I -think- that values are usually set to minimize the number range and math for the normal expectation of play. So, a GURPS default target size of +0 means no math operation is needed for the default target size. Which happens to be a unit of measure that is not 1.0. Setting default human size to “1” (for a +0 modifier) would means the game’s measurement scale has to go from being in yards to being in “person heights”.

As David noted, the basic scale for GURPS probably should have been 1 yard, which is the unit of hexes used (so attacking at 1-yard adjacency – melee combat – is at no penalty naturally), and a human torso is roughly one yard tall. That would probably have avoided some gymnastics. But you’ll always run into this, since (for example) the default amount of lifting power for Joe Average is not 1 lb., or even 10 lbs. It’s 20 lbs (for the basic increment of lift for ST 10), and from there, it’s ratios – where a lot scaling would work rather perfectly!

One of the reasons I’m so interested in the log scale for GURPS and ST is that so many of the quantities that GURPS relates to the ST score have ratios as the most important point. Multiples of Basic Lift define encumbrance, and HP are derived from ST, and thresholds for wounding are defined as things like HP/3, HP/2, -2xHP, and -5xHP. All of those are easily picked from a logarithmic list.

Thanks again for your considered reply. Having you, +David Pulver, and +Sean Punch discuss this stuff on my blog is ridiculous fun for me!

I promise I’ll let this go at some point. But not today.

In my little mishap from this past Tuesday, I estimate that I got tossed about 6-8 feet. 

Well. That’s enough to calculate a trajectory!

If we assume that I was launched at the most effective and efficient launch angle of 45 degrees for simplicity, that means that my initial velocity imparted by the explosion was something like 4.3m/s.

If we treat the Gaming Ballistic author as a spherical frictionless brainless cow massing 81 kg, we can see that the blast imparted to me roughly 350 kg-m/s of momentum and 750J of energy. That’s about the same energy as in a 10mmAuto, for comparison, but far more momentum.

Let’s assume that the combustion/explosion took place over a roughly 0.005 second period (5 milliseconds). That seems to be on the order of what some brief searching shows is on the upper end of how long it takes for the fuel-air mixture in an automobile cylinder to combust.

If that’s the case, it means that since Impulse = Momentum (F x delta t) = MV, that I was thrown with roughly 70,000 N of force! Roughly seven tons.

Is that reasonable? If half my body was exposed to the blast, that’s about 0.8 square meters. So a pressure requirement of 70,000N per 0.8 square meters, or 87,500 Pascals – 0.85 atmospheres.

According to the Wiki page on blast overpressure, 85 kPa is more than enough to cause severe heart and lung damage, and rip off limbs. Since that didn’t happen, my estimate is off somewhere. 

I suspect that the real problem is my estimation of initial velocity, since my mass is what it is. But I did travel that far (I measured!), so we’ll leave it as is.

It could also be that the velocity was fine, but if the overpressure effect lasted for much longer than 5ms. The force would drop by at least an order of magnitude, and the overpressure is lower and more in the “not turned to instant pulp” zone. Since I’m sitting here typing, that seems much more reasonable, and a discussion here of typical results and levels of overpressure suggest that since my house did not suffer any major damage (nor did I, really), that I was probably subjected to 0.04 to 0.4 psi of overpressure – let’s assume 0.3, giving me more credit for robustness and getting lucky a bit.

So that’s more like 2.1kPa rather than a ridiculous 87kPa. That implies about 1700N of force, which is about a 200ms pressure wave duration.

I don’t know if it’s real or valid, but that’s what the math suggests!

Edit: My wife thinks she’s funny (she’s right)

  • She complained that I hadn’t replaced the drawing of the circle with a little stick figure going “aaaaahhhhh!”
  • Also, today when she was helping me get dressed, she says “Hmm. What should you wear? How about a T-shirt?” And she tosses me this one –>

This one can’t be quite as complete as the prior builds, but it will at least put all the characters on the same scale, using the Orc-o-Matic v2. 

This will either look at melee attacks or cantrip-based Orcpower, the basic “what can I do every round, forever, until they kill me?” question. We can look at spells uniquely, and other special abilities like Hunter’s Mark, Colossus Slayer, and the Rogue’s sneak attack with a bit of fiddling with the program. I’ll round to an approximate number.

So, here we go. Consider these a base from which clever play and builds can start.

Barbarian Pirate

While raging, his high HP and resistance to mundane attacks give him ridiculous staying power. The undisputed orcpower melee champion of the bunch (well, until we maybe get to Ranger).

Orcpower: 32-33
Rounds before slain: 37
Attacks per kill: 2.65
Effective Attacks per round: 2.4

Bard of Valor

This guy is a full-power spellcaster and can bestow buffing dice (bardic inspiration) to his fellows. His basic damage output is with a rapier, a finesse weapon doing 1d8+3. With spells like Shatter and Thunderwave, he can do ridiculous things to clustered foes, but the spells aren’t quite powerful enough to kill orcs outright, so multiple castings will probably be required to finish off wounded.

Orcpower: 7-8
Rounds before slain: 13
Attacks per kill: 3.4
Effective Attacks per round: 2

Cleric of the Tempest

Another full caster, and this one has some strange benefits. The Wrath of the Storm feature hits for 2d8 radiant damage four times per long rest; this will probably account for an average of an extra two orcs before he’s slain.

His melee strikes are limited due to the number of attacks (one), which cuts his orcpower down. His AC and decent HP (51) keep him standing for 16 turns. His cantrip (Sacred Flame) is 2d8 on a DEX save, which will strike home 65% of the time, but is zero damage (like a regular attack) on a save. 2d8 is like 1d8+4.5, but hits a bit less often and doesn’t benefit from a critical hit. So basically a wash.

The Cleric of the Tempest has some very powerful spells in his arsenal, and one of the interesting ones is Spirit Guardians. Whenever a fresh foe steps into range, you can nail him for 3d8 radiant damage. That makes the next melee hit a near-certain kill for an orc.

Orcpower: 4-5 + 2 (Wrath of the Storm)
Rounds before slain: 16
Attacks per kill: 3.4
Effective Attacks per round: 1

Add Spirit Guardians

Orcpower: 11-12 + 2 (Wrath of the Storm)
Rounds before slain: 16
Attacks per kill: 1.4
Effective Attacks per round: 1

So long as you can maintain concentration while fighting and getting hit, you are going to be more effective than the Bard. Reality will probably fall in between, so figure a baseline Orcpower of about 10.

Druid with Bear Fetish

The Druid is like several dudes in one. The rules (shapeshifting gives full HP) mean I can probably just add the orcpower of the following phases in place:

1. Man phase
2. Polar bear phase
3. Two brown bears summoned

This, of course, does not account for spells, and the two of note are Thunderwave and Erupting Earth.

Man phase (2d12 vs CON save or 1d20+3/1d10+3 vs AC 13)

The Poison Spray cantrip is nice, but the CON 16 of the orc makes it a tough one. Still better than the battleaxe.

Orcpower: 3-4
Rounds before slain: 11
Attacks per kill: 3
Effective Attacks per round: 1

Polar Bear phase

Orcpower: 2-3 (bite) + 3 (claws) = 5-6
Rounds before slain: 7
Effective Attacks per round: 2

Two friendly brown bears

Orcpower: 3.4 each = 6-7 total
Rounds before slain: 6
Effective Attacks per round: 2

So the total Orcpower of the Druid is in the neighborhood of:

Total Package
Orcpower: 14-17
Rounds before slain: 18 (the brown bears will last 6 rounds each)

Again, the spells are the force multiplier, and you can probably eke out a few more by hitting dense formations with Erupting Earth or Thunderwave.

Champion Fighter

Here’s the basic Dwarvish badass, in two versions.

Melee Dual-Weapon Attack Option

The dual-weapon attack is pretty good at 6th level because you’re hitting with 1d8+5 weapons three times per round. The Great Weapon fighter, though, gets that -5/+10 damage if you can sneak in Great Weapon Master, and I believe part of that feat is an extra attack if you crit or kill someone – that tends to work out to be pretty good. Still, the original build I worked out was a dual-weapon guy in plate.

Nothing to see here: three whacks per turn, 10% chance of crit, and Second Wind to effectively give an average of 12 HP more for a total of 70. 

Orcpower: 25
Rounds before slain: 22
Attacks per kill: 2.5
Effective Attacks per round: 3

Melee Great Weapon Master Option

Orcpower: 26
Rounds before slain: 19
Attacks per kill: 1.8
Effective Attacks per round: 3

Archery with Sharpshooter Option

Orcpower: 21-22
Rounds before slain: 17
Attacks per kill: 1.55
Effective Attacks per round: 2

The really interesting thing here is that the most lethal of the bunch is actually the Archer. The extra +2 he gets for hitting means he’ll finish off an orc more frequently than the great weapon master . . . and if you can keep your archer in the back row, the “rounds before slain” drop from 19 down to 17 won’t impact much. 

The Battle Master plugs into the Orc-o-Matic basically the same as the Champion, with a few extra bonus d8s for damage tossed in (four, in fact). Maybe an extra orc or two.

Monk of the Four Elements

Another mixed-damage class like the Druid. The two primary strikes are going to be with the quarterstaff, for 1d8+4 each; the unarmed strike is treated as adding an average of 2.8 points of damage to each blow, as well as as a whole separate additive stream.

Orcpower: 10-12
Rounds before slain: 13
Attacks per kill: 2-3
Effective Attacks per round: 2-3

He’s got some special abilities too, which might be worth a few more orcs. He’s a particularly dangerous foe to shoot or chuck weapons at, since he can catch them and fling ’em back at you.


With AC 20 and a sword-and-board style, the paladin is a solid fighter.

Orcpower: 13 + 6 for Divine Smite = ~19
Rounds before slain: 19
Attacks per kill: 2.9
Effective Attacks per round: 2

The addition of Divine Smite, twice at 3d8 and four times at 2d8 extra damage is probably enough to kill six extra orcs, if you choose your smite timing right. 

Parting Shot

More later. Tired now. Right now, the classes shake out how you’d expect. The Barbarian rules, the Champion is next, and the Druid and Paladin and Cleric are the second-line guys. The Monk and the Bard are to be kept off the primary field. 

Wild cards are the spells, with the Bard and Cleric especially being able to hit large clusters of bad guys at once for a powerful force multiplier.