Altercations in Kabalor

Combat will be optional for the game of Kabalor, but that doesn’t mean the game won’t have rules for it. My goal is to keep excitement and player choice, but maintain focus on the story and avoid combat bogging down the game.

We’ll soon be playtesting my draft rules. These limit altercations to three rounds, representing the beginning, middle, and end of the altercation.

Each character involved in the altercation decides what approach you will take in this round. You may not change this after you hear what the others are doing. Probably we will have cards everyone sets down at once to declare this.

Each round unfolds in initiative order, with players rolling and describing their actions as their turn comes up and the GM handling opposing forces.

Along with optionally moving and optionally interacting with an object (such as closing and locking a door), in each round you will be making a d10 roll, adjusting the result based on your approach, and then describing your actions in the story.

  • Defensive (add your Resilience to the roll and the result is pool of protective actions which reduce damage)
  • Offensive (name a target and add either Heft, Finesse, or your spellcasting Aspect to the roll and the result is pool of damaging actions applied to the target)
    Some foes, such as Elementals, only take Offensive actions during altercations. They go until they’re stopped.
  • Protective (name a target and add the Aspect players and GM agree is reasonable to your roll (e.g. “I’m using my Analysis to calculate the best moment to pull the town councilor out of the way of the rolling barrel the cursed brewer is aiming at her.”), and the result is pool of protective actions which reduce damage to the target; surplus damage is split between target and protecting character)
  • Evasive/Active (add Finesse or Heft and any Movement +/- to your roll, result is split between extra moves and protective actions to reduce damage; optionally, can instead declare at the start of the round that you will be using those protective actions as more movement)
  • Reactive (will become Defensive if you are the target of an attack, Protective if ally or bystander is attacked, or optionally Active to pursue someone taking Evasive action)

You can use a combination of different approaches or all the same approach for your three rolls over the three rounds.

Some Items may add a bonus (or a constraint) to Defensive, Offensive, Protective, or Evasive actions.

With three rounds of rolls, there should be enough uncertainty about the outcome for it to still feel risky. With player choice in each round, based on the unfolding knowledge the characters have, there should be enough agency for it to still feel skillful. And with the focus on the player and GM descriptions of what happens, combat can enhance rather than interrupt the characters’ story.

Author: Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

4 thoughts on “Altercations in Kabalor”

    1. Thanks! We’ll see how it plays. 😀

      I’m envisioning that the end of an altercation without a clear winner results in both parties pulling back to strategize their next move (which frankly seems more realistic to skirmish conflict).

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  1. I like this. In Black ICE\White Noise, we addressed this with a hidden “reputation” stat. If you used violence or combat in-game, your reputation went down, and the lower it went, the more people avoided you. You could play as a bad-ass, but it would get very lonely quickly, and a lot of problems really needed cooperation of others to solve.

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    1. I expect a lot of GMs will take a similar approach. Because of the collaborative spellcasting and the fact that no one can know all the types of magical knacks, cooperation will be a big part of the game. Sometimes the party is just going to have to find a non-player character who can bring the magical angle they need to solve a problem.

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