Combat is an integral part of most role-playing games, and in many of them the most IMPORTANT part. Lots of RPGs have game systems almost entirely devoted to rules used for adjudicating fights – whether between individuals, vehicles, or massed armies. Many of these conflict resolution mechanics are complicated, and can take a long time to resolve at the table. This can lead to lots of downtime, as well as boredom and frustration, for players who aren't immediately involved in the action.
But even in games where combat is a relatively short and/or simple affair, it might still be a terribly dry one. A bunch of players sitting around a table calling out numbers, die roll results, and damage values – RPG as a Bingo game – with no context, flair, or narrative excitement to frame the action; can kill a game faster than a bullet to the head.
While there are certainly players who are fine with this style of game ("Roll your attack." "I rolled a 16." "You hit, roll for damage." "An 8." "He's wounded, but still standing. He attacks you. Roll your defense."), many more would rather have combat be more interesting and dynamic. After all, fights (whether in the real world, or a fictional one) should function to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline going, and should be ABOUT SOMETHING other than killing the next roomful of nameless orcs.
With all of that in mind, this Avalon Games How To Book is intended to give gamers a variety of tools, suggestions and examples (many of them illustrated by popular fiction) in order to make their combats more enjoyable and more meaningful; hopefully leading to a better playing experience and more fun for everyone at the table.
"It makes no difference what men think of war . . . war endures. As well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him."
― Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Written by Mark Solino