More thoughts inspired by Iron Gauntlets combat…
So, IG combat involves a tactical resource management minigame. Sometimes, as mentioned in my last post, I approve of tactical minigames in combat. Thinking about it, though, I believe they should be somewhat optional. If I’m playing a character who is a competent warrior, my skill in combat shouldn’t be wholly dependent on my skill at (or interest in) the minigame. The easy and obvious way to do this is to have the minigame consist in a number of optional choices, but to have the default choices be good ones.
Let’s say we implement my suggestion with respect to a d20 variant. You roll to hit. Every X points by which you exceed the DC that you need to hit can be turned into a different sort of bonus/effect: you could (simplifying a lot) do extra damage, wound a particular body part, disarm your opponent, mock your opponent, knock your opponent to the ground, give yourself a defensive bonus, or whatever. If you don’t make a choice, it is assumed that you just do extra damage – which is what most people will do most of the time anyway. It is possible that someone really good at tactics will get better results with other options, but the competent fighter who just puts out a ton of damage will be very effective.
Now, it may be that the IG rules did this. I got the impression that in order to be effective in combat, you really needed to spend dice on reaction (initiative/speed). I might be wrong, but it seemed like the tactical choices were more necessary than I’d like. I suspect that a character with a high combat skill who didn’t engage in it wouldn’t be incredibly effective in combat. This bugs me, particularly because I didn’t find IG’s combat minigame to be particularly compelling.