This glossary simply covers some of the terms either hardly mentioned/covered in the current Song of Swords (SoS) manual or any other terms not directly related to it.
MP: Missile pool, ie. the amount of dice used to roll for missile attacks over a given TN (target number) when shooting or throwing a weapon during a skirmish outside of Melee Combat to determine hit or miss. This pool is different from CP (Combat Pool), which is used primarily during Melee Combat.
Ballad: A Sci-fi branch setting of Song of Swords with different rulesets to cater better to sci-fi/modern warfare themes, and include it’s own unique ship combat fighting systems and universe along with it. It can be considered a fully seperate game in it’s own right and not just a homebrew. Some of it’s rules can be easily adopted to SoS as well.
SoS had gone through many iterations (like 2 cycles of so-called “betas” from 0 to 2), and the current state of ranged combat rules is both rather confusing and weak for (neo) Beta 2.0 now, particularly with lower school proficiency levels. This is due to the recent changes to the skirmish system following Ballad’s system which was also a work-in-progress as far as fine-tuning it’s ranged combat aspects is concerned.
The main drawback with the latest neo Beta 2.0 now (compared to it’s previous version neo Beta 1.3), is the new addition of “Ease of Aim” feature and how it’s applied. It meant that ranged weapons without Ease of Aim (basically most of the ranged weapons in SoS except for most crossbows and firearms ), appears to have an implied hard limit of +2 MP (Missile Pool) maximum bonus with an Aim action (unlike the previous version, Beta 1.2, which didn’t enforce this limit). The unfortunate side effect to this rule meant that it would be completely impossible for a beginning Level 1 or 2 shooter (with a bow, or thrown weapon, for example) to even hit a full-sized target at all no matter how long he Aims at the range, and even at Level 3 onwards, his chances is extremely slim. This doesn’t make sense realistically as a beginning shooter (yes, shooting a bow/ throwing a javelin is much harder compared to shooting a gun), should not be bar the possibility to at least finally succeed in his first virgin shot..
Furthermore, Ballad, (unlike SoS), had modern weapons with automatic/rapid fire capability, Ease of Aim to allow aiming across all 3 phases, and automatic/rapid fire capability that could also provide an initial burst of bonus MP to mitigate low level shortcomings. SoS lacks that as far as ancient weapons are concerned.
In this guide, I hope to address this problems via some homebrew rulings (that also apply to Ballad as well), while at the same time allowing core ranged combat to still scale well towards the highest levels.
|20||Superior Maneuver, Mastery||24|
Your base MP is simply your
School Level of the ranged weapon you are profecient with, and thus ultimately determines your base profeciency level with that particular missile weapon type. If you are not profecient with a particular missile weapon type, or have no School at all to begin with, your base MP is basically zero.
(as copied from manual with some re-arrangings/re-wordings)
A character’s Missile Defense is the RS which must be overcome in order for a character to hit a target with
a missile attack. This RS is 4 by default, but can be altered by other factors as detailed below.
*This is cumulative with the bonus for being in Melee if the character entered Melee this Phase.
What's the rationale behind this? Shouldn't it one or the other?
**A missile attack against a target in a Melee Bout which misses has a 5/10 chance of hitting another random combatant in that Melee Bout - including allies! Roll for the new target, then roll ½ the Missile Pool rolled against the original target to determine BS. This hit is automatic but the shooter has no control over where the attack lands. All modifiers to original attack’s damage apply
This weapon’s effective range value used for making a particular shot by it’s operator (including any ammo modifiers that may affect it’s overall range), is known as the “range-band”.
Each multiple (or interval as you might call it) of the weapon’s Range-band that the Target is away after the first increases the Defense RS by 1.
Standard formula: Divide target range by weapon’s range-band, round up, then minus 1, to a minimum of +0 MP penalty.
Optional rule: If a target lies somewhere in-between the range band, (eg. 65 yards away over a 50yard range-band between 50 yards to 100 yards, a percentile roll can be done for each shooting attempt to determine whether to consider to round up or down in the considered range-band for just that shot. In which case, it’s a 70% chance to round down to consider it as 50 yards for +0 RS, or a 30% chance to round up to 100 yards to consider it as +1RS). Alternatively, the GM can determine his own biasing rules as to whether to round down or round up in certain cases.
(NOTE: different from SoS beta 2 rules!)
You focus in on one target, and increase your odds of hitting it. Your next Missile Attack against that target gains a + 2 bonus. You may Aim for multiple Phases in a row, each time gaining a cumulative + 2 bonus to your next attack, to a maximum of + 6 for 3 Phases of aiming. If you shift targets, lose sight of the target, or are otherwise disrupted, you lose the Aim Bonus.
Aiming at a general area is possible (i.e. covering a doorway, ready to fire at anyone who comes through), but this only counts as a single phase of Aim, no matter how long you hold on the location.
Change notice: Aim now follows the “latest” Ballad rules in 1.8.1, where there is no more magical PER bonus after 3 phases of Aim, but you can always Aim for all 3 phases without the “(lack of) Ease of Aim” restrictions enforced specificially in SoS Beta 2.0.
(as copied from manual)
You perform a missile attack Action. There are a few varieties of these. In the event that the target you were attempting to shoot at is incapacitated or becomes unavailable before you get to resolve your missile attack, you may pick a new target against which to make the attack, but only at ½ your base dice. Other modifiers apply as normal.
(NOTE: differences from SoS beta 2 rules below…)
Ease of Aim Single Shot - If making only a single shot with weapons of Ease of Aim (or basically all the modern firearm weapons in Ballad), you get a flat +2 bonus to your MP for that roll at the outset, on top of any Aim or other modifiers.
(Homebrew) Closer range handicap - At the time of making a single shot with a weapon considered within half of it’s effective range-band, (to a maximum of 50 yards in SoS/50 meters in Ballad), you also get a +2 bonus MP to that roll.
(as copied from manual with re-arrangings/re=phrasings)
When a character is hit by a Missile Attack, you need to determine which Hit Location he is hit on.
To determine the Hit Location of that Missile Attack, first roll 1d10 on the Missile Target Zones table, and then roll again on the indicated Thrusting Target Zone table that your result indicates to determine the final Hit Location of the missile attack. This only applies to missile attacks made outside of Bouts, within a Bout a missile attack is made at a specific Target Zone as-per any other melee attack, and rolled accordingly.
Damage is inflicted in the following manner: [Base Weapon Damage+Bonus Successes+Misc.] versus the target’s TOU+AV. Excess damage over the target’s total inflicts Wounds as with melee attacks. The one exception is missile attacks that hit with 0 BS (exactly matching the target’s Defense) which, unlike melee attacks, still inflict damage but can never inflict a Wound higher than Level 1. This is known as a “Grazing” wound.
(Note: There’s another paragraph under the
Shoot section in the SoS Beta 2.0 manual which contradicts the above statement, mentioning something like “grazing wound no higher than Level 0”. Ignore this…i think it’s rubbish! Imo, GM may even opt to ignore Level 0 wounds altogether if he wishes)
(as copied from manual with some alterations for Bows)
Rapid Shot lets you make multiple missile attacks against a target in view. These function the same as regular Shoot missile attacks, but declare beforehand how many attacks you intend to make. Each attack after the first reduces your Missile Pool for all of the attacks made in this way by 1. So, a character making 5 Rapid Shots suffers a -4 MP penalty to all five of his attacks. Not all weapons are capable of being used with Rapid Shot. Weapons that can only make a certain number of attacks “normally” may be able to exceed this limit with the appropriate Talents or weapon special rules.
STR Requiredof the bow you are operating in, you may reduce the penalty of rapid-firing that bow by 1 MP each, to a total minimum penalty of -1 MP.
If used with Aim, Rapid Shot reduces any Aim bonus you might have had by half.
(as copied from manual. added/re-phrasings in italics.)
Covering Fire lets you wait for an enemy to show himself, and then shoot him if he does. Covering Fire suffers an additional - 4 penalty if you’re Moving. If a character steps into your field of view or otherwise exposes himself ( you can choose another trigger, like waiting for the guy to draw his gun before shooting him, etc) you may immediately take a Regular Fire or Rapid Fire action. You cannot Suppress with Covering Fire. Covering Fire lasts until the next Action you take, but you can choose to simply sustain Covering Fire every Action until something happens. This can allow a character who cannot normally act in Phase 1 to act in Phase 1 if he Covered in Phase.
Be warned, these are my own interpretations and may not exactly reflect the actual intentions/official rules of SoS.
Sometimes, this is done to fill in some of the missing details inherant within the system.
Consider these “extras”…but it might help deal with some tricky issues with combat in SoS.
Note about possible use of MP during Melee bout:
In certain cases of Melee Combat, the Melee Shoot manuever is mentioned to use MP (from what I’ve read in Beta 2.0 manual), and not CP. Is this intended or a typo?
There are certain cases like Thrown weapons that use CP though (instead of MP outside of melee) (so Javelins and such still fall under CP when used in Melee context). I think this variation is good.
Perhaps, use of MP particularly for Melee shoot is intended (without the +4 CP school bonus), but does this means one use MP in place for his Combat Pool when using such a Ranged weapon in melee combat (ie. MP used across 2 Action exchanges during Melee)?
1 Critical Hit!
7 Upper Arm (1-5 left, 6-10 right)
8 Lower Arm (1-5 left, 6-10 right)
9 Upper Leg (1-5 left, 6-10 right)
10 Lower Leg (1-5 left, 6-10 right
(note: examples only as of below. GM can decide this accordingly..)
When resolving a hit against a target that is protected by environmental Cover, certain Hit Locations are removed from the possibility of being hit. When resolving a successful hit on a target and determining it’s hit location, any covered Hit Locations are perpetually being re-rolled repeatedly until it lands on an exposed hit location to determine which exposed part of the body gets hit.
Alternatively, the GM may formulate his own weighted distributed roll tables over exposed hit locations for that cover, and roll over that to determine which exposed body part gets hit when behind such cover.
For simplicity, you may have Cover simply block whole target hit zones (somewhere from 1-10) on the Missile Hit Table, rather than actual precise body part hit locations.
If the attack is coming from the character’s front arc, and the character has a shield, it is possible that the attack will resolve in a Hit Location covered by the shield. In this case its damage is reduced by the shield’s AV. Attacks from the sides and rear will not hit a shield being carried normally, but may hit a shield being carried on the character’s back.
Optionally, one may provide 2 tiers of initiative in resolving any combination of actions/movements between characters in a Skirmish as shown above, dividing a 2-second phase into 1-second intervals for resolving things in a more “real-time” manner.
In stage 1, “immediate actions” occur and are givne first priority. In ADR order, these refer to resolving the declared actions (if any), such as shooting, covering fire, etc. and such, including any initial spurt of movement to indicate whether you are “moving”, “moving slowly” “sprinting”, or not moving at the moment.
Any Phase action thay takes considerable time to resolve due to the extra movement you had to execute prior to resolving the action. Such actions may resolve in stage 2. instead.
You can, regardless of your MOB stat, when resolving your turn in the Phase during the Immediate action portion, only move up to a maximum of 3 yards multiplied by any movement modifiers, then execute your declared action. (so, if Moving Slowly, it’s 1.5 yards at half speed, if Sprinting, it’s 6 yards at double speed, etc.).
During Defered actions portion at stage 2, the cycle may repeat among all (not yet engaged) characters where they may then move whatever remaining movement allowance they have , minused off the movement allowance alloted for the initial window of Immediate actions. Also, any actions that may have circumstantially been altered somewhat at the last minute (or deliberately delayed), may still execute during this portion if the character so wishes. This is up to GM to abjucate accordingly.
Effectively, this breaks up the resolution of actions to two seperate 1-second intervals within the Phase for more granular and realistic turn interaction between characters and reduces the potency of “first-turn” actors/movers exploiting high ADR/MOB stats to conveniently avoid declared melee engagements (by moving large distances) and avoiding declared shots too easily (by moving overtly large distances) to get out of reach/sight before declared actions can be resolved.
In doing so, a difference in distance (eg. person A’s melee target is engagable within 7 yards away while person B’s melee target is engagable within 3 yards away) can also mean some characters have to resolve their action later because their targets are further and require more distance movement to contact. Certain ranged shots that are declared on the spot (without executing considerable movement beyond 3 yards..) may be released earlier compared to others.
I prefer a more lenient (and perhaps arguably more realistic) approach to the current SoS/Ballad rules with regards to Aim and Shoot actions.
Once a character adopts Aim action for the given phase on a given target, he can freely hold the Aim action on the same target for multiple phases in a row, regardless of his ADR tier allowing him to act in that phase or not.
Performing a Shoot on the same target he is already Aiming on can be done on any phase regardless of his ADR tier, unless, of course, that target is lost for whatever reason.
In summary, the difficulty of a character lacking in agility and wit (ie. his ADR; flexibility in both mind and body coordination), may occur when it involves promptly shifting his Aim to a different target at “odd” times, or attempting another shot on a different target.
Since the rules only give Missile Defense Cover RS bonuses to such characters moving in from an exposed area into cover for the next phase only, it is assumed that any Missile Attack already declared on them, should still always occur regardless on the current phase, so long as they are still alive, regardless of whether they moved into cover or “out-of-sight” on their given turn for that current phase.
Think of it conceptually as firing at a target “just before he got into cover.”, backtracking the target position to represent that moment of time where a shot would have occured. After all, in SoS combat, everything is actually happening near-simulatneously, even though the declared actions are resolved in a turn-based chronological order, they are snapshots in time within the same near-simultaneous timeframe.
(implied from existing rules)
In Beta 2.0, besides the Flee maneuver, a character can also Disengage. (See “Bout Conclusion” in page 251).
But what does Disengage mean and how does it differ from Flee?
Any characters with Initiative at the end of the bout, would basically have two modes of action:
But what does it mean to “stand down” vs “Lock”?
To Lock, means you’ll remain in the melee unless the Melee bout gets dissolved due to no more opposing combatants within it.
In a multi-combatant bout, to Disengage (ie. attempt to stand down) because you had Initiative, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll exit the bout immediately, because other opposing enemies might have had the Initiative and might have still adopted “Lock” on you. If this is so, your “Disengage” attempt automatically fails and you are still considered effectively “Locked” due to other opponents Locking on you. In this way, Flee is different, since successfully Fleeing away from all opponents, in that Action (or Threading the Needle all opponents except 1, then Fleeing from 1 opponent), allows you to exit melee combat unconditionally.
When concluding a bout, if you Disengage/Flee successfully from that bout, the bout effectively dissolves so long as there are no more existing engaged Locked opposing combatants within it. This allows any person making a subsequent Shoot action at a character in that resolved bout in the current Phase to no longer have +2RS penalty when firing (I think???). Or is the bout considered effectively dissolved only at the start of the next Phase?. Again, this is up to GM interpretation, whether they wish to favor ranged attackers in that situation. Perhaps, for Flee, this can favor the Ranged attackers within the current phase that have yet to make their shots? Again, not too sure…
At the start of the next Phase after Disengaging/Fleeing from a dissolved bout, the persons that initated the Disengage/Flee cannot re-engage any opponents within that dissolved bout again for that new phase. However, the other opponents in that dissolved bout not under this condition may still re-engage you with Melee Engage nevertheless within that phase. However, any Phase actions/movements of the character disengaging/fleeing must be done first before the other characters in the dissolved bout. This means any characters that would normally act first in a given Phase after the dissolved bout, may have to defer their action turn until after all relavant disengaging/fleeing characters have made their actions/movement for that phase.
Any character that got disengaged from a bout due to Disengage (ie. the stand down option), can only move up to their MOB stat in yards when resolving their skirmish turn for any given action (or without an action), but also at a maximum cap of 10 yards, regardless of high their MOB stat might be. Additionally, they also cannot conduct the Sprint action on the next phase after disengaging from a bout in such a manner. Technically, they aren’t in the bout anymore, but are still somewhat within close-engagement distance to their previous bout opponents as they move about during the skirmish phase and may end up with different opponents (or re-engage the same opponent if possible).
Any character that successfully executed Disengaged/Flee from a bout, cannot declare a Charge immediately on the next phase, as it generally contradicts their “disengaging/fleeing” intentions. However, for those that successfully executed Flee (unlike Disengage) they may Sprint when resolving their turn, in lieu of other actions as per standard rules.
Regardless of your MOB stat, your base allowance for resolving Melee Engage is maxed at 10 yards, and maxed at 15 yards for Charge.
If, however, your effective
MoB is 5 or below, the base allowance is adjusted to
MOBx2 - 2 for Melee Attack, and
MOBx3 - 2 for Charge to reflect slower than usual characters when attempting such actions.
If your effective
MOBx3 - 2 base allowance result for Charge is lower than 10 yards (effectively
MOB of 3 or less), you are basically considered too slow to Charge.
(implied from existing rules)
Initiative in melee is simply treated as a “token” that transfers back and forth between opposing pairs of combatants. In a 3 vs 1 fight, for example, there will be 3 initiative tokens between the 3 opposing pairs of characters.
In a multiple combatant fight, various combinations of characters from both sides may have this “so-called Initiative”, while some lack it. Thus, it’s possible for an outnumbered character to have Initiative, while some (ie. not all) characters on the outnumbering side have the Initiative. Thus, the nature of “initiative” in multiple-combatant fights is a bit more unclear, with “who goes first”/“who declares first” going to the ones with Initiative, in ADR forward/reverse order, and to the ones without Initiative in the same way likewise. If ADR values are tied for a given Action, roll them off by dice value to break the ties.
Anyone that adopted Defensive orientation at the start of the bout will not have initaitive for the first Action. If everyone adopted Defensive orientation within the bout, then it’s a standoff without any initiative tokens distributed at all, and thus requires another Orientation roll on the next round of melee combat, skipping both Actions for the current round. Also, if 2 Bout Actions transpire with both combatants not attacking at all, then it’s a standoff situation as well.
If 2 standoffs occur in a row, and both sides refuse to stand-down, the GM will have to conduct his own WIL/misc tests between the opposing characters to determine who is eligible to taunt the other character into having the initiative, forcing one of them to take initiative as a “Cautious” character, or at times, may even provoke an “Aggressive” orientation on the opposing side, depending on the narrative and dice results. No matter what, such a case would still require the losing side to always at least declare an Attack manuever regardless. Alternatively, the winning side can simply take the initiative instead of provoking the other side into attacking.
You need (at least) 1 Initaitive token, to be considered having the Initiative (i think), particularly in a multi-combatant fight. This has a side-effect of a lone combatant being able to effectively leech off Initaitive off someone within the bout, and may potentially have effective initiative priority to execute his moves first compared to the other characters within the bout with Initiative (depending on ADR, ie. if he has the highest ADR). This is a slight problem with the SoS combat system (and other similar games to it).
Stealing Initiative is an Immediate action that resolves immediately upon declaration to attempt to steal an initiative token on 1 (or more) opposing targets, so long as you can afford it per opponent, and can only be assumably done if you have zero initiative tokens at that given time of making your manuever declaration. If you do so successfully, you can then declare an accompanying attack manuever that will resolve first before the opponent that lost his initiative resolves his.
If you Sprint, you don’t move exactly at
MOB x 2 allowance wholesale. Instead, your total movement allowance for that given Phase is at
MOB + roll(MOB>=terrainTN). So, how much “additional” speed you get from “Sprinting”, is still subjected to the terrain conditions and a bit of “luck”.
(See “Terrain” section at pg.240-241)
On flat simple ground, that is simply a 4 TN. Higher TN terrain might give more unpredictable results.
For any “lenient-enough” terrain TN at 5 or below, your resulting movement allowance will still be kept to a minimum of
12 MOB (if your MOB is 6 or higher), or at a minimum of
MOB x 2 (if your MOB is 5 or lower). For such terrain, if you roll something lower than that minimum, you still get that minimum movement allowance regardless.
With these rules, during chases/races with both sides Sprinting, the slight differences in movement allowance rolls can be used to determine how much a character might progressively close in/or move further out relative to each other.
Since movement does not count as an Action, a player need not declare it. He may freely move (or even SPrint) when resolving his turns for the Phase, regardless of his ADR tier. The ADR tier is only meant to control whether a player is allowed to declare explicit Actions.
I treat Sprinting as something that doesn’t necessarily count as an Action in the sense (more like a form of movement in lieu of any Actions).
For Sprinting though, GM may often require explicit declaration of it regardless of whether a player, based on his ADR tier, can act in that given Phase or not.
But whether the character eventually follows through with actually successfully Sprinting with enough considerable movement when his turn arrives is unconfirmed.
It’s up to the GM to decide what movement velocity thresholds are used for both Sprinting/Moving states, as these affect the Missile Defense of a given target the moment a shot is released on that target.
Moving Slowly at 1.5 yards or below during that Immediate Action second, will not incur movement penalties while conducting certain actions, (eg. Moving While Shooting), but the GM might use slightly lower penalties instead for actions done while Moving Slowly instead of removing the penalties altogether.
In any case, the player must mention that he is Moving Slowly while resolving his turn.
Moving less than 1.5 yards may often not incur Missile Defense RS for “Moving target”. Roll percentile accordingly if unsure.
Target only receives Sprinting defense bonus if the target moves at least around 4 yards (maybe at least 3.5 yards would suffice) during the Immediate action second or Defered action second for that given Phase. Roll percentile accordingly if unsure.