Fewer Combat Cards?

The GURPS Combat Cards (PDF download: free!) are designed to make the combat rules simpler for new players and to help them understand what is going on. I agree it’s often easier to pick from a menu of options (cards — each representing a valid maneuver).

But I think the official combat cards are still very intimidating for brand-new players. Yet they do want some sort of list of options to choose from.

For the Deeps of Lyrae campaign I was experimenting with the idea of using fewer combat cards. The goal would be to offer them a smaller set of choices to make the game more accessible.

Note that I want to offer them a smaller number of cards, not a smaller number of maneuvers — I already pared down the maneuvers I will use in my last post. So basically I want to trick them to make things seem simpler.

My idea: Maybe maneuvers could be nested somehow. (Or: Perhaps cards aren’t the right idea and the thing to do is a kind of cheat sheet.)

It seems to me that if you offer a new player four choices, that makes things seem very manageable. I think I can fit the important maneuvers into a hierarchy with four choices: Do Nothing, Move, Attack, Defend. Then each of the four can have a kind of follow-up question. I added the “free” maneuver crouch because my players always forget to crouch.

So maybe the ESSENTIAL maneuvers in the rules I’m using would look like this?

  • DO NOTHING
    • DO NOTHING
      (By choice.)
    • STUNNED
      (-4 Defense. Cannot retreat. Cannot move. Counts as “Do Nothing.” Roll vs. HT [Physical Stun] or IQ [Mental Stun, Surprise] to recover at the end of the turn.)
  • MOVEMENT
    • MOVE
      (Travel up to your max move.)
    • CHANGE POSTURE
      (Change between: stand, sit, kneel, crawl, lying down.)
    • FREE ACTION: CROUCH
      (Attack at -2, to hit -2, movement at 2/3.)
  • ATTACK
    • READY
      (One step of movement is allowed.)
    • AIM/EVALUATE
      (Requires ready weapon. Using an active defense spoils aim but not evaluate [Melee].)
    • ATTACK
      (Requires ready weapon. One step of movement is allowed.)
    • ALL-OUT ATTACK
      (Requires ready weapon. No active defense. Ranged +1 to hit, Melee +4 to hit.)
  • DEFENSE
    • ALL-OUT DEFENSE
      (+2 to one active defense of your choice.)
    • FREE ACTION: CROUCH
      (Attack at -2, to hit -2, movement at 2/3.)

Rather than offering them a card for each maneuver a choice between four things with some additional options for each thing seems friendlier to me somehow. Not sure how to get these onto cards in a way that makes sense, though.

I’m still thinking about how this might work.

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