Extended Example 1: Hand-to-Hand With KB3

Last Updated 4 May 2001.

Kenneth gives us an example of The KB3 Traveller Task System in fast and furious hand-to-hand combat action.

  1. Introduction
  2. Quick Hand-to-Hand Combat
  3. A More Complex Method of Hand-to-Hand Combat
    1. Combat Resolution Using Combat Pools
    2. Dealing With Combat Pools in a Game
    3. How to Read the Character Sheet Quickly
  4. Conclusion

1. Introduction

You can use KB3 for straight hand-to-hand combat, if you like, or you can get a little more detailed with it, making a bar brawl more than just a series of higher dice rolls.

KB3 is versatile, allowing for both styles of play, and I'll discuss them both below.

2. Quick Hand-to-Hand Combat

The quick method, if you're using KB3 , is to roll Opposed Throws using Brawling (or some other appropriate skill).

For example, Gvoudzon the Vargr uses his Infighting-1 skill, attacking a Vilani NPC who has Brawling-2.

Round 1: Gvoudzon rolls 2D, and then the Vilani defends himself with a difficulty roll using Brawling - the Vilani rolls 3D (a 2D vs 3D set of rolls).

Then, it's the Vilani's turn to attack. He rolls 3D to hit Gvoudzon, and the Vargr defends himself by rolling 2D.

After everybody's had a turn to act in the round, we move into round 2.

NOTE that Skill Options could be used on either throw (Gvoudzon's attack or the Vilani's defence roll - or vice versa).

ALSO NOTE that, typically, a Greater Success result means a die is added to damage, and a Marginal Success result means that a die is subtracted from damage. However, the GM is encouraged to get creative with Greater/Marginal Success results, describing a condition unique to the particular fight - maybe a Greater Success means that the defender is forced to make a DEX check or be forced off a cliff... or whatever fits the scenario or develops in the GM's imagination.

AND ANOTHER NOTE is that, when Difficulty Throws are rolled as Opposed Throws, they ARE measured. Thus, if the Vilani above rolled Greater Success when defending against a blow made by Gvoudzon, I'd say that the Vilani defended himself in such a way that the he damaged Gvoudzon with his block. In other words, if Gvoudzon attacks the Vilani, and the Vilani wins the toss with a Greater Success, I'd roll damage on Gvoudzon!

It's quick. It's easy. It's fun. And, using the "measuring" capability of KB3 allows you to throw some additional, creative "fun" into the quick pace of KB3 higher dice rolls.

3. A More Complex Method of Hand-to-Hand Combat

KB3 is a flexible system, you can play it straight and quick, as mentioned above, or you can detail the system to fit your tastes. If you want to add a "little more" to your hand-to-hand fights using KB3 , then consider using the T4 combat pools and the CT fatigue rules (which are based on END). I'm using these rules in my game.

Note that this is not the only way to add complexity - design KB3 to suit your own tastes.

Here's how I'm going to use KB3 for hand-to-hand fights.

A. Combat Resolution Using Combat Pools

  1. ATTACK IS MADE. The attacker rolls a normal attack Task Throw as per regular KB3 rules.

    For example, Gvoudzon has Infighting-1;
    Gvoudzon rolls 2D for his hand to hand attack;
    Gvoudzon rolls a total of "7".

  2. DEFENDING ROLL IS MADE. The attacker's opponent defends himself using an Opposed Throw, as per regular KB3 rules.

    Continuing our example, the Vilani NPC has Brawling-2;
    the Vilani NPC rolls 3D to defend himself;
    the Vilani NPC rolls a total of "5".

  3. DEFENSIVE (DEX) POOL. A defender is allowed to use their Dexterity (DEX) score to change the attack against him. This is known as the defensive pool. The maximum number of points in the defensive pool is equal to the character's DEX (and this pool diminishes with the DEX score if the character is wounded).

    Note that a like number of points is added to the character's fatigue pool (see below) for the extended effort it took to defend themselves in this manner.

    In our example, Gvoudzon wins the toss above (7 vs 5);
    the Vilani NPC has DEX 6, thus 6 points are available in his defensive pool;
    the Vilani NPC uses 3 points from his defensive pool to raise his defence roll;
    Gvoudzon's attack fails (7 vs 8);
    the Vilani NPC's fatigue pool increases by 3 points.

  4. DAMAGE IS THROWN. Normally, if the attacker did not hit, then no damage is thrown. But, the Vilani NPC was able to use his defensive pool to turn his Opposed Roll into a Greater Success. A Greater Success on a defensive roll allows the defender to roll damage on his attacker.

    The Vilani NPC in our example has STR 8;
    the Vilani NPC threw 8 on his defence roll above;
    the Vilani NPC threw Greater Success and damages Gvoudzon;
    "Hands" do 1D damage;
    the Vilani NPC rolls 1D, resulting in "1";
    1 point of damage is applied to Gvoudzon.

  5. OFFENSIVE (STR) POOL. Damage can be increased with greater effort, and this is reflected in KB3 using the character's offensive pool. A character can re-roll damage for a number of die equal to the character's Strength (STR) score, at the expense of gaining 1 point of combat fatigue for each die re-thrown. If the character's STR is reduced due to damage, their offensive pool is reduced too.

    The Vilani NPC has STR 8, thus 8 points are available in his offensive pool;
    the Vilani NPC wishes to re-roll the 1D damage indicated above;
    his offensive pool is reduced to 7 points;
    his fatigue pool increases by 1 point;
    the Vilani NPC re-rolls 1D, with a result of "5";
    5 points of damage are applied to Gvoudzon instead of the 1 point above.

  6. FATIGUE (END) POOL. As in CT, each combat swing applies 1 point to the character's fatigue pool. Use of the defensive and offensive pools can also increase the fatigue pool.

    When the character's fatigue pool is higher than their Endurance (END) score, then only "weakened blows" are allowed. Use CT DM's for "weakened blows" by adding them to the Difficulty Throw (in KB3 you modify the Difficulty Throw rather than the Task Throw; just remember to reverse the sign of the CT modifier!). When the fatigue pool passes END x 2, add another +1 DM to these modifiers. When the fatigue pool passes END x 3, add another +1 DM to these modifiers, and so on.

    If the character's END score is reduced through combat, reduce the fatigue pool as well and re-measure their fatigue. This can mean the character can tire quite suddenly!

    The Vilani NPC from above has END 5;
    his fatigue pool grew from 0 to 3 when he used his defensive pool (above);
    his fatigue pool grew from 3 to 4 when he used his offensive pool (also above);
    each hand-to-hand combat attack the Vilani NPC makes adds 1 to his fatigue pool.

    When the Vilani NPC's fatigue pool reaches 6+, a +2 DM is added to his difficulty (the +2 DM comes from the "weakened blow" column for "Hands" in CT).

    For example, the Vilani NPC started with END 5;
    his fatigue pool reaches 6;
    now he throws a "weakened blow" at Gvoudzon.

    The Vilani NPC has Brawling-2, Gvoudzon has Infighting-1;
    the Vilani NPC throws 3D;
    Gvoudzon throws 2D+2 to defend himself.

    When the Vilani NPC's fatigue pool reaches 11+ (ie. greater than END x 2), an additional +1 DM is added to difficulty.

    Now, the Vilani NPC rolls 3D for his attack;
    Gvoudzon throws 2D+3 to defend himself.

    When the Vilani NPC's fatigue pool reaches 16+ (ie. greater than END x 3), another +1 DM is added to difficulty.

    The Vilani NPC rolls 3D for his attack;
    Gvoudzon throws 2D+4 to defend himself.

    Now let's say that the Vilani NPC is damaged, and his END reduces to 2. His fatigue pool stands at 17.

    Compare the Vilani NPC's fatigue pool of 17 to their reduced END of 2;
    his fatigue pool is 15 points over his END;
    +9 is added to his Difficulty Throws.

    The Vilani NPC rolls 3D for another attack;
    Gvoudzon throws 2D+9 to defend himself.

B. Dealing With Combat Pools in a Game

The easiest way to deal with combat pools is through the design of your character sheets. Consider arranging the stats on your character sheets like this:

Gvoudzon's Stats
Stat Level Damage Pool
STR 7 -- 1
DEX 8 4 4
END 8 5 7

Notice the two columns next to the character's stats (for STR, DEX, and END only). The first column reflects the character's reduced stats due to damage. The second column is the pool total.

Whenever points are used from a pool, the player adds them to the appropriate column during play. When the offensive pool is used, the totals in both the STR and END rows go up. When the defensive pool is used, the totals in both the DEX and END rows go up. When the character makes a combat swing, the END row goes up.

c. How to Read the Character Sheet Quickly

At a glance, looking at the section of the character sheet above:

4. Conclusion

Keeping records like this does take a little work, and players do need to mark on their character sheets each combat round. This will slow down your game a bit, and gaming this way is not for everybody.

However, my group has a handle on the pools, and the extra steps needed to include these combat pools in my game are not super noticable. If you keep track of ammunition in a firefight, the amount of time required to keep track of these pools is about the same.

And they add a whole new dimension to the hand-to-hand fight. Players figure how best to maneuver their characters. They ask themselves questions like, "Do I use my offensive pool at the expense of raising fatigue? Or do I live with that crappy damage I just rolled?"

The people in my group like this sort of thing. It provides for a more fun, involving atmosphere than just, "OK, you rolled higher. Roll your damage."

Player input is required. They have to use strategy, logic.

And, for us, that makes for a much more fun game!

You may agree, or you may like the quicker pace involved with a pass/fail, damage-or-no-damage system - and for people who like it that way, I recommend the KB3 "Quick Hand-to-Hand Combat" system of Opposed Throws detailed at the top of this post.

Extended Example 1: Hand-to-Hand With KB3, copyright © 2001 Kenneth Bearden.
Compiled and edited by David "Hyphen" Jaques-Watson.
Used by permission.

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