Rising Storm Crow Damage Calculation
Since Steve Karstensen will never ever finish his page of house rules and left this incomplete, here it is:
The Rising Storm Crow’s damage is written somewhat ambiguously: "The target takes two damage tests: one at the fighter’s Strength-3 when the forced flip is initiated, and then another at twice the fighter’s Strength when the target lands." The system summary just says "-3/x2." There is no mention of the attacker’s Grab technique at all, and how if figures in.
The two most obvious misinterpretations are, "Damage is just Strength -3 and Strength x2," and "Double damage on the throw." The first idea leads to a horribly low-damage maneuver not even worth considering, and the second results in fighters doing 20 damage. Neither result is acceptable.
Here is the definition that makes sense:
On the forced flip, the damage modifier is -3. On the throw, the damage modifier is normal, but Strength is doubled for damage purposes.
Therefore, Jean LeMonte with Strength 4 and Grab 3 would do damage of 4 on the forced flip (Strength + Grab -3) and 11 on the throw (Strength x2 + Grab). Sang Shun with a Strength of 5 and a Grab of 4 would do 6 on the forced flip and 14 on the throw.
Looking at it ths way, one can see that one of the big drawbacks to this powerful maneuver (besides its snail-like speed) is the fact that you will usually be rolling 1 or 2 dice on the initial test, leaving you more open to a botch result.
In addition, it’s obvious that Strength matters even more to the Majestic Crow stylist than others. A strength of less than 4 means that you will almost always do less damage with the RSC than with a Hair Throw, while at Strength 5 your damage is a tiny bit better. The real advantage to the RSC over the Hair Throw is the fact that it’s a powerful knockdown throw maneuver that can be done at range, thus a fantastic choice for opening in a team fight, as well as for the aspiring Zen No-Minder who is lucky enough to practice the style.
The Flying Tackle Movement Issue
This also applies to moves like the Rising Storm Crow. If a fighter uses something like a Flying Tackle and has a move of 5 with it, and charges an enemy at 3 hexes who steps out to jab, the attacker may not then eat the jab and continue moving to attack the target in the new hex. Mister Jab has interrupted the tackler at the moment of his attack (a mean GM can require a player to say this :P). The tackle whiffs, and the tackler can now just sit there to eat the Jab or abort, since the maneuver was never completed.
Deflecting Punch Mechanics
The system for Deflecting Punch seems to have been thrown together with only the one-on-one scenario sans multiple hit maneuvers in mind. What happens versus a Hyper Fist, or two enemies trying to punch you at the same time? When do you stop Blocking?
First of all, I consider Blocking to be more than an interception of an attacker’s X foot-pounds of kinetic energy with a limb. If this was the only definition of a Block, it would run completely contrary to the tenets of many included martial arts styles including Aikido, Tai Chi Chuan, many forms of Silat and Baraqah, Boxing, etc. It has to be looked at as a combination of evasive techniques and redirection of attacking energy. If one looked at it as less than this, one could only assume that the difference between someone with Block 1 and Block 5 was that the Block 5′s forearms were much larger so he could absorb more damage.
With this in mind, let’s look at Boxing, a style associated strongly with the Deflecting Punch technique. The most common methods of avoiding the full brunt of an attack in Boxing include bobbing, weaving, and slipping (excluding techniques like dancing, which would be subsumed under maneuvers like Move and Esquives). Now assume a Street Fighter character is using a Boxing-type Deflecting Punch against someone using a flurrying attack like Hyper Fist. Assuming he has the defend/counterpunch idea in mind, it makes no sense for him to slip the first strike and counter, then standing there like an idiot to eat the rest of it. Therefore, a fighter who uses Deflecting Punch against a multiple-hit maneuver eats all the strikes with his Soak bonus vs. the punches, then counters.
Multiple opponents are a different story. Once the counter is landed, the defense for that turn can be considered over, as the fighter has changed his intent from evasion and defense to the equivalent of a Jab. If someone comes up after this exchange and cold cocks him, he is no longer evading and no longer gets his soak bonus. He can not opt to maintain his deflection versus both opponents and then counter after both have attacked, as that would be the equivalent of a Block-Jab combo, and not the reflexive action a Deflecting Punch is supposed to be. Against multiple punchers, he would be better off using Punch Defense.
Maka Wara Damage Calculation
The basic damage done by a Maka Wara fighter using Block against a punch or a kick is Stamina + Block -3. But what if a non-basic Block is used?
The use of Punch Defense and Kick Defense do not incur additional damage against an attacker based on the additional soak bonuses. However, it is not lowered in the case of a person attacking with the other form of attack. Therefore, Punch Defense, Kick Defense and Block all do the same damage.
San He is arguably different. The fighter is defined as making himself immobile and thus more resistant to damage. If the fighter is nigh-impossible to move, the kinetic energy has to go somewhere… right back into the attacker. Plus, San He effectively doubles Block technique, instead of providing additional Soak like Punch/Kick Defense. San He increases Maka Wara damage to Stamina + (Block x 2) -3. This can be a LOT of damage for high Stamina/Block fighters, but after it becomes known that a fighter can do this, opponents will see the interrupt with San He and choose not to execute a punch or kick, neutralizing both fighters for that round. Also consider that San He costs Chi and may not ever be useful during the round, and compare it to other 1 chi maneuvers like Improved Fireball or Acid Breath.
Toughskin’s description of hardening the body’s tissues seems right in line with the mechanics of Maka Wara, and is good for a +2 on the die pool. The use of Toughskin with a Block, Punch Defense or Kick Defense brings damage up to Stamina + Block -1, or for San He, Stamina + (Block x 2) -1.
Missile and Energy Deflection provide no soak versus punches and kicks, and their maneuver descriptions on 116 and 117 seem to convey the idea that they are not designed to intercept these mundane attack forms. A fighter with Maka Wara using Missile/Energy Reflection does no damage to an enemy puncher or kicker.
Also bear in mind that Maka Wara does no damage to someone attacking with a Grab, an Athletics maneuver, or a Focus attack.
Why Does Grappling Defense Have a Move Rating?
Grappling Defense: Speed +4, Move -1. Why would a technique designed to neutralize a sustained hold need a Move rating when you are generally immobile in the hold? The answer is in the way you define Grappling Defense.
Grappling Defense is, presumably, a technique primarily taught to wrestlers of all types for use in same-style practice. Neutralizing the effects of being in a sustained hold is a mixture of factors like minimizing the distance between you and the striking limb (if any), tying up the enemy’s arms to negate leverage, shifting body weight, etc. However, Grappling Defense can also be seen as a technique used by a wrestler to not be put into a hold in the first place, generally by splaying the legs, rapid backwards movement while maintaining a forward center of gravity, etc. Footwork is just as important in the defense of a wrestler as it is for a karateka. If you like, you can even say that Grappling Defense subsumes the ability to close a distance between youself and an enemy while maintaining this state of readiness, which is reflected in the high Speed of the maneuver, and the low movement as compared to Move.
Seen this way, Grappling Defense subsumes two techniques used by a master wrestler: the ability to shuffle around in a perpetual state of readiness against attack, and the ability to neutralize the effects of a hold. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t do both; it’s a very spendy maneuver with a Grab 4 prerequisite. Anyone who is that advanced in the techniques of a grappling science should logically be able to stutter-step around the ring, waiting for an opportunity, avoiding direct contact until the moment is right.
One more note about Grappling Defense: although it "… works similarly to a Block," do not allow a +2 speed bonus after its execution.
Why Is Hundred Hand Slap So Much Worse Than Hyper Fist?
One of my pet peeves with the normally super-balanced Street Fighter system is the glaring discrepancy between Hyper Fist and Hundred Hand Slap. Hyper Fist has cheaper prerequisites (Punch 4 and Power Uppercut vs. Punch 5) and is in all respects the same as Hundred Hand Slap except it’s faster by 3. Hyper Fist is definitely one of the best maneuvers you can get; Hundred Hand Slap is a pain in the ass to actually get off on a target before he calmly throws you. Why then is Hundred Hand Slap even there?
It’s actually not unbalanced, but not because of the maneuvers’ statistics, which are obviously grossly different. The balance comes from the approach taken by the different styles. Sure Kung Fu may not have Hyper Fist, but it does have things unavailable to Boxing and Western Kickboxing like the Dim Mak and Improved Fireball. Sumo has… well, Sumo is the lightest of the styles in terms of number of maneuvers, but the maneuvers they do have are cheaper than average, and sumotori tend to pump all their points into attributes and techniques and use crunchy "any" maneuvers to make up for it. (E. Honda: 6/5/7, Punch 6, Buffalo Punch.) In summary, Hundred Hand Slap is something you can get because you can’t get Hyper Fist. Deal.
Aborting, Knockdown, Dizzy, and Turn Punch
Does an abort, knockdown, or dizzy in the middle of a Turn Punch setup phase mean the Turn Punch is negated?
The Turn Punch setup can only be negated in between turns, as stated in its description on pages 166-167. If a player, while setting up a Turn Punch, finds himself needing to abort, he therefore must do it at the -1 penalty to Speed, Move and Damage; he cannot elect to stop concentrating on the Turn Punch to get his full modifiers. Considering that someone starting a Turn Punch has to spend a point of willpower just to get things rolling, and he has to make any aborts at reduced modifiers, it seems unnecessarily cruel to further penalize him by saying an abort means his setup is wasted, especially if the alternative is being knocked down and wasting the Turn Punch anyway. If he’s aborting to Block or Jump at reduced modifiers, obviously he is still thinking about the setup, and therefore the Turn Punch is still working.
Note that if a character aborts the actual execution of the Turn Punch, the maneuver is wasted and cannot be held for later execution.
Being knocked down or dizzied, however, negates the Turn Punch, as a fighter cannot be setting up an attack if he’s suddenly flat on his back or listening to little birdies tweet around his head.
Duration of the Turn Punch Setup
According to the rules on 166-167, a Turn Punch can only be held for four turns before being executed. If it was wasted after four turns of waiting because the enemy simply saw what was happening and ran out of range, the boxer has wasted his point of willpower for absolutely nothing, akin to penalizing a Zen No-Mind when all your targets have run 100 yards away. I say that a Turn Punch can be held for as long as the player wants to, at no additional benefit past 4 turns (Speed +1, Damage +7, Move two).
The Cartwheel Kick as presented in the Player’s Guide is the single most repulsive and vile idea within that whole misbegotten tome. I use the Steve Wieck version.
Psychic Rage Based on Chi
The maneuver Psychic Rage has the potential to be interesting from a storytelling point of view, but it just doesn’t work. This is because it’s based on Willpower. The most common use of Psychic Rage is by Revenants, who go into the contest of permanent Willpower with… one willpower. When Dehrik Savitch falls to Psychic Rage in the introduction to Secrets of Shadoloo, he shouldn’t have been so concerned afterwards… it was obviously a freak accident. Therefore, it makes more sense to base the contest on permanent Chi ratings.
It also fixes the problem of perceived effect… as it stands, a beginning student of Kabbadi (chi 5, will 2) is more likely to be thrown into an unreasoning rage than a beginning wrestler (chi 1, will 6). This doesn’t seem to fit well with the concept behind the maneuver.
Sustained Holds in Combos
This has been a topic on the SFSTG mailing list from time to time. Since a Sustained Hold is potentially a multi-round maneuver, how does it chain into a combo with other maneuvers? The basic answer is: Just like any other maneuver. The speed bonus applies to the act of applying the hold (if it comes after another maneuver) and to the maneuver that follows the end of the hold, whether the player voluntarily releases it, the enemy breaks free, or the turn limit based on Grab expires.
The bigger conundrum is the sustained hold in a Dizzy combo. Sustained holds like Stomach Pump have the potential to do TONS of damage over a period of time, and if it all counted for Dizzy, every smart wrestler would have a stupid combo like (Sustained Hold) to (Fast Followup) (Dizzy) so that every time he used the sustained hold, it would count for dizzy. Even worse (and probably more common) would be the inevitable Block to (Sustained Hold) (Dizzy) or Flying Tackle to (Sustained Hold) (Dizzy). A hold you can’t jump away from. Or how about Head Bite to Head Bite to Head Bite (Dizzy)? Three fast sustained holds in a row… a character with Grab 5 therefore could have a Dizzy combo 15 turns long!
If this bothers the GM too much, apply the following rules:
- If a dizzy combo begins with a Sustained Hold, only the last turn of the hold counts toward the Dizzy.
- If a dizzy combo ends with a Sustained Hold, only the first turn of the hold counts for Dizzy.
- If a dizzy combo has a Sustained Hold in the middle of it, count only the current turn’s damage for purposes of Dizzy. If the combo continues to its third maneuver, the last turn of the hold counts for Dizzy.
Here are some illustrative examples:
Wrestlemaniac has Bear Hug to Suplex to Buffalo Punch (Dizzy). He attacks a Stamina 4 target with it and succeeds in applying the hold. He maintains the hold for 3 turns, doing 2, 3, and 1 points of damage. The target was not dizzied by any one of these results, so he continues the combo, keeping the last turn’s damage (1) in mind for dizzying purposes. He successfully follows up with a Suplex for 2 (total Dizzying damage = 1 + 2 = 3), and manages to get off the Buffalo Punch for 4 damage. His target is now dizzied.
Judo Wolf has Flying Tackle to Claw to Head Bite (Dizzy). He attacks a Stamina 5 target. The tackle does 1 point of damage. The follow-up Claw does 3 points of damage. The Head Bite on its first turn does 1 point of damage… the target is not dizzied, as the total Dizzy damage (1 + 3 +1 = 5) does not exceed the target’s stamina. Judo Wolf can maintain the hold for as long as he is able if he wishes, but no further successes will add to dizzy the enemy.
Dakota has Jab to Brain Cracker to Elbow Smash (Dizzy). He moves in and attacks a Stamina 4 target. The Jab does 1 damage. He successfully gets in with the Brain Cracker and does 2 points with it. The second turn he does 2, but the target is not dizzied, as only the current turn’s damage is being counted for dizzying purposes. The third turn does 1, and the fourth turn does 3. If he had managed 4 during any one turn of the hold, his Dizzy total with the 1 point from the Jab would have dizzied his enemy. The Elbow Smash does 3, bringing the Dizzy total to (1 + 3 + 3 =) 7, dizzying the enemy.
Garrote has Neck Choke to Neck Choke to Neck Choke (Dizzy). He attacks a Stamina 6 target with this combo. His damage rolls are 1, 2, 2 (target breaks free), 2, 2, 1, 2 (hold expires), 1, 2, 1, 2 (hold expires). At no point during this sequence is the subject dizzied, and if he has 19 or 20 health, he may still be conscious. Here’s a table to illustrate the sequence of damage and how it applies for Dizzy in a 3-sustained hold dizzy combo:
Modifying Maneuvers In Combos
A generally accepted practice is that maneuvers which modify the stats of other maneuvers, when used in a combo, must be defined as being part of that combo. Therefore, if you have Block to Strong to Fierce (Psychokinetic Channeling), it must be written that way, and if you’re out of Chi, you can’t do that step of the combo.
Modifying maneuvers are defined as the following:
- Flaming Fist
- Ghost Form
- Light Feet (active use requiring willpower)
- Psychokinetic Channeling
- Rekka Ken
- Speed of the Mongoose
There are some omissions to this list, explained below:
- Balance: Balance is an automatic effect applied to any aerial maneuver. If a character had a combo Wall Spring to Jumping Roundhouse and learned Balance after the fact, it should not count against him, as it’s not something that has to be actively concentrated on.
- Extendible Limbs: This is also an automatic effect. A character who has learned Extendible Limbs and put in the time practicing it must be assumed to have done so to the point where it would work in previously learned combos.
- Leech: Leech is not actually a maneuver modifier, but a maneuver in itself. A target must be putinto a sustained hold before Leech can be utilized, however, so its use in a combo would have to be either in the first position, or immediately following a Sustained Hold, i.e. Head Bite to Leech to Dragon Punch. It should be noted that there is little benefit to gaining a speed bonus for Leech, but it’s marginally useful to place maneuvers after it for when the hold is broken, so Leech to Dragon Punch would work just as well as Head Bite to Leech to Dragon Punch.
- Light Feet (passive use): If no willpower is expended, Light Feet functions automatically and does not have to be defined within a combo.
- Musical Accompaniment: This one is debatable, but the way I look at it, the fact that your favorite training music isn’t available doesn’t mean that forget how to do a Jab to Strong to Fierce. It’s an automatic effect. Optionally, the GM may require a player to define in what way Musical Accompaniment affects each maneuver in a combo, i.e. Jab (MA=Move) to Backflip Kick (MA=Speed) to Rolling Attack (MA=Damage), but if the preferred music is unavailable, the character can still perform the combo normally.
- Turn Punch: Although the Turn Punch is a premeditated modifying maneuver, there’s no benefit to requiring a tag like Jab (Turn Punch) to Turn Punch. A Turn Punch played immediately is a -1/+4/Two maneuver that costs willpower, hardly worth consideration as an abusable move.
Multiple Hit Maneuvers in Dizzy Combos
Similar to the dilemma with Sustained Holds above, a multiple hit maneuver like Hyper Fist becomes exponentially more powerful when used as part of a Dizzy combo. In fact, one could argue that this is the intended use of a multiple hit maneuver, since they tend to do fairly low damage per hit.
Multiple hit maneuvers do combine for Dizzy when used in a Dizzy combo. They differ from a Sustained Hold in that all the damage is done in a single attack, as opposed to a sustained hold which can last for up to 8 turns, without retribution to the attacking character from his victim.
The abusable point to a multiple-hit dizzy combo is when the multiple hit maneuver comes first. Take the combo Hyper Fist to Roundhouse (Dizzy). A literal interpretation would have the owner of this combo combine for dizzy every time he used the Hyper Fist, since he could just say that it’s part of his dizzy combo.
The solution is to only allow the combining to dizzy if the combo is executed. This means at least the first 2 steaps of a combo must be performed. After all, if you didn’t do the roundhouse, you technically did not do the combo.
This also solves the perennial whining from players who wish to make a one-maneuver combo, i.e. Lightning Leg (Dizzy). This is illegal.
Countup vs. Maneuver Speed Announcement
Instead of everyone (including the GM) announcing the speeds of their maneuvers at the top of each round, the GM instead slowly counts upwards from the lowest speed possible (can be as low as -4 if you happen to have a dex 1 guy with a possible Widowmaker who was just knocked down). As the numbers move up, players can announce their maneuvers on the speed they wish to go on; other players announce interrupts, aborts, etc. Characters using poses/stunts go first; Zen No-Mind goes last. Players still use combat cards, turning them up when their maneuver goes off.
The advantages to using a countup vs. speed announcement are as follows:
- Keeps players from guessing what everyone is doing, so they know to avoid the blockers, whom to target, and the like;
- Doesn’t require characters using Zen No-Mind and the like to give away their play every round, inviting swift gangbanging.
Obviously the big advantage is reason 1, but it’s HUGE when dealing with smart players. How long will it take players to figure out that antagonist A has a 4 dex, and therefore on a speed on 8 he’s probably blocking? The guy with the speed 2 Buffalo Punch is going to be looking for a target with a lower speed than his to maximize his effectiveness, or else go for the speed demon to force him to blow his move early.
The only disadvantage to the countup is that addle-brained players who miss their maneuver speed have to forfeit or do something stupid like abort to Block when it’s unnecessary. This can also be viewed as a plus, since it forces characters to pay attention instead of relying on the beleagured GM to keep track of everything that goes on.
Example of a simple countup: Player characters Doofus and Goofus are having a match. Selected maneuvers are:
Doofus: Fierce Punch (speed 2)
Goofus: Lightning Leg (speed 4)
GM: Ready? 0, 1, 2…
Doofus: Fierce Punch on 2.
Goofus: I TAKE IT! (Goofus wants to eat the shot to get a chance at the Lightning Leg. Doofus rolls damage.)
GM: 3, 4…
Goofus: Lightning Leg on 4. Muahahaha…
Example of a complex countup: The GM is playing the NPC fighters Rocky (Dex 4), Bullwinkle (Dex 5), and Natasha (Dex 5). Tom is a Dex 3 NA wrestler; Huck is a Dex 5 Shotokan, and Becky is a Dex 4 Kung Fu. Maneuvers selected this round were:
Rocky: Backflip Kick (speed 4)
Bullwinkle: Roundhouse Kick (speed 3)
Natasha: Rekka Ken Jab (speed 10)
Tom: Buffalo Punch (speed 1)
Huck: Dragon Punch (speed 5)
Becky: Zen No-Mind (card choices are Monkey Grab Punch, Hair Throw, and Double Dread Kick)
GM: Ready? 0, 1…
Tom: Buffalo Punch Rocky on 1.
GM: Rocky interrupts with a Backflip Kick on 4.
Tom: Abort to Block…
Huck: Wait! Step and interrupt on 5 with Dragon Punch on Rocky!
GM: Okay… Rocky sees all this crap coming and will abort to Jump on 7 to escape the double teaming. (Rocky spends 1 willpower for the abort.)
Huck: Can I Dragon Punch Bullwinkle instead?
GM: Sigh… no. Target was announced. You don’t have to blow the willpower since you didn’t actually connect, but you can either abort or just not execute.
Huck: I’ll whiff.
Tom: Abort to Block. (Player 1 spends 1 willpower.)
GM: Okay… Player 1 is blocking, Player 2 doesn’t connect, Rocky has jumped away. 2, 3… on 3 Bullwinkle runs up and Roundhouses Huck.
GM: I’m feeling generous… you can abort since you didn’t execute your maneuver, which would have happened on 5.
Huck: Abort to Kick Defense on 9. (Huck spends 1 willpower.)
GM: Natasha interrupts on 10…
All Players: Groan…
GM: … with Rekka Ken Jab. (GM rolls damage for Natasha vs. Huck; even if Huck could Block at speed 10+, he already announced his abort. GM then rolls damage for Bullwinkle vs Huck with Kick Defense.) Okay, Becky is the only one left.
Becky: (turns up Zen No-Mind and her choices.) Double Dread Kick on Rocky. (Becky spends 1 willpower for the Zen No-Mind and 1 for the Double Dread Kick and rolls damage on Rocky.)
Willpower Expenditure Per Round
There’s a cryptic line in the rulebook about a limit of one willpower expenditure per combat round. This is plainly stupid if you read it as "1 willpower," as it would invalidate basic things like Whirlwind Kick (2 willpower per use). What it should say is that you can expend willpower once per round, but you can expend as much willpower as you need to. This means that if you want to Whirlwind Kick with a +3 move from Light Feet and try for extra damage on the first contest, go ahead… sure it will cost you 4 willpower, but that’s that. If you elect to, say, Hurricaine Kick someone and, noticing they’re not doing too badly after the first 2 hits, want to spend willpower on hit 3 for extra damage, too bad.
Certain abilities like Light Feet, Musical Accompaniment, and Speed of the Mongoose can act as a movement modifier, increasing the Move rating of other attacks. The problem with this is applying it to maneuvers which have a fixed movement value, such as Block (Move zero), most grabs (Move one), etc. Movement modifiers should not apply to these fixed-Move maneuvers, as this opens a huge can of worms. For instance, a guy with Muscial Accompaniment can decide to use his modifier for +1 Move, and Block his way across the ring. He is now able to get into position, continually Block, and get out of the hex in case someone tries to Grab him at +4 speed. It also allows insane stuff like executing a Hair Throw on someone 4 hexes away from you… sure it’s funny, but it’s also stupid and leads to long-term abuse by the players or against them.
Even seemingly benign applications like +1 Move to Buffalo Punch can be heinously unbalancing. Maneuvers with a fixed Move rating have inflexible ranges for good, mechanical reasons, and increasing their ranges removes the ability of fighters to use strategic positioning to foil enemies who are known for these techniques. If you really have to close to tag the guy shooting fireballs from a distance, you could just as easily apply your +1 Move to a Strong punch or a Spinning Backfist.
Definition of an Abortable Maneuver
The basic rulebook should have included this in one place to avoid confusion. According to the basic rulesbook pages 124, 137, and 139, the only mentioned abort actions are Jump (played alone, not with a basic maneuver) and Block. However, on 116 the descriptions for Punch Defense and Kick Defense start with, "This operates as a standard Block maneuver…" Therefore, it stands to reason that Block, Jump, Punch Defense and Kick Defense are abortable. But if special purpose blocks like Missile/Energy Reflection, Deflecting Punch, and San He are not abortable, then they become nigh-useless. Furthermore, on 119 Grappling Defense starts with, "… works similarly to a Block…" What to do?
First of all, rule out Missile Reflection and its evolution, Energy Reflection. The description on 116 includes, "… the fighter poises herself to intercept any objects thrown or fired at her." This indicates a premeditated strategy, not a panic reflex action when someone fires a gun at you. Missile and Energy Reflection are not aborts.
San He can be ruled out as well. It uses Chi, indicating concentration before execution. Furthermore, its description on 116 includes, "This rigid, immovable stance is part of the San He form of Kung Fu." A stance is very different from a reflexive evasion or guard technique.
Deflecting Punch is a little trickier. In its description on 115, it is analogued to Wing Chun countering techniques, which are traditionally trained to be reflexive and very fast. If it were not abortable, it would extremely risky to execute, as you would have to predict that (1) your opponent was going to punch, and (2) you would be able to beat him with +2 speed. Since the description is hazy, and the consequences of not having it abortable are significant, I would allow Deflecting Punch as an abort.
As for Grappling Defense, forget it. It’s a +4 speed maneuver with a move of -1. Allowing this as an abort would make it a nigh-unbeatable defense against almost anything except projectile attacks. Dragon Punch coming your way? Just use Grappling Defense and get out of the way! The description of Grappling Defense as being similar to a Block, I believe, was only to illustrate to the thick-witted that it was a way to increase your Soak in a hold.
This leaves the following as legal abort maneuvers:
- Punch Defense
- Kick Defense
- Deflecting Punch
The "Mister Jab" Solution for Slow Grapplers
I thought I was pretty damn smart when I figured out the "Mister Jab" technique to defeat grappling freaks. Keep choosing a relatively fast striking maneuver with movement, and when the slow guy enters your hex to grab you, just interrupt, step out of the hex, and land your attack. The grappler will be unable to execute his grab, and will most likely be forced to abort to a Block… and the +2 speed next turn still won’t get him inside your Jab. You can do this all day.
Taken a step further, it’s obvious that any fighter with a significantly high margin of Dexterity will always beat a slow grappler, barring things like Block combos and such. Chun Li will never be hit by Zangief if she doesn’t want to. All she has to do is pick Short over and over, keep pegging him in the head when the tries to clinch, and simply use the movement to get out of range if Zangief tries something like a Fierce.
The "Mister Jab" rule is a necessity, though… if it were impossible to slip out of a grab and counter, fighting a wrestler becomes literally impossible unless you have a Move to Backflip Kick combo and use it all night. However, the poor wrestler is doomed in a non-team fight, as a smart boxer can evade him forever. What to do?
Apparently, Steve Karstensen has an idea on this (this is secondhand though). If a fighter steps out of a grab and botches, he gets put back into the hex. He slipped, his swing went high and wide, whatever, and now the wrestler has his shot to get inside the reach. Assuming that Mister Jab is indeed using low damage high speed moves like the Jab, a botch is going to be more likely than usual… grapplers tend to have a lot of Stamina, and rolling 1 or 2 dice all night can be asking for trouble.
This rule’s advantage also becomes clear on "move after attack" maneuvers like the Backflip Kick and Rolling Attack. You botch a damage roll, you’re stuck there, eating the Widowmaker.
The "Mister Elbow Smash" Solution for Slow Grapplers
Of course, the question now becomes, "What about Mister Elbow Smash?" Elbow Smash is one of those troublesome maneuvers like the Buffalo Punch… everyone can get it, and it’s really really good. +2/+2/One good. Botching on a dice pool of 6 is much harder than botching on a dice pool of 1.
An alternate solution here is one which is logical, but requires a lot of GM discretion: You cannot move away from your target and do damage with a maneuver that relies on torque and momentum. These maneuvers tend to be things like the Elbow Smash, Roundhouse, Fierce, Foot Sweep, etc. If the GM wants to be obviously vindictive, he can just say it only applies to the Elbow Smash. Think of how the Elbow Smash is delivered. It makes sense… you don’t retreat and throw the elbow to block your retreat like you would a Jab or a paqua palm strike. An elbow strike is a powerful maneuver that (in the SFSTG context, at least) relies on a planted foot to deliver full-body torque through the hips. Go ahead and interrupt with the elbow if you want; you better just hope it dizzies the enemy before he ties you up.
Interrupting a Multiple-Hit Pushing Maneuver
This was a cool trick I got away with in my old play group: when someone comes in with a multiple-hit maneuver which pushes you back each hit (e.g. original Cartwheel Kick, Spinning Clothesline, Whirlwind Kick, Tumbling Attack, etc.), let them get the first hit in, then interrupt with something stupid like an Elbow Strike, using the movement to step to the side of the attack or behind the enemy, rendering the rest of his attacks useless. The advantage of this is that the enemy has executed his maneuver and gotten a damage test, so he can’t abort to a Block or something. And he’s spent willpower! This is legal, but expect smart NPC’s to do this too. If the GM sees abuse with this, he can require a roll to see if the character can pull off an interrupt in the middle of an enemy maneuver (something like Wits vs. Dex). You cannot do this vs. a maneuver which is multiple hit but stationary, like Double Hit Kick or Hyper Fist.
This rule is sorta pointless if you subscribe to the Steve Karstensen idea about when you expend willpower, as with all of these maneuvers the guy will have blown his willpower at the beginning of the move and will not be able to abort out anyway, so you could just stand to the side and jab if you planned for that. The problem with this hardline approach is that no one would ever use a low speed maneuver that costs willpower on execution, as it would never connect.
General Notes on Team Combat Strategies
As a GM, you will have to know as much as possible about the dynamics of team combat in order to present your players with an interesting fight. Smart teams will come up with tactics geared specifically to aid them, and will use them to the detriment of your player team (who hopefully will also learn some of these ideas). A dumb team will not act in a coordinated fashion and will just do whatever seems right to them as individuals. Dumb teams lose a lot. However, mix up the smart teams with the dumb teams, leaning toward the latter early in the players’ career; everyone else is learning too.
Some popular team strategies to become familiar with:
- The Block Opening: Assuming your teams start a considerable distance apart, the team may choose to all open with Block for the +2 speed bonus next turn, and to see what the enemy is doing. If one of them gets targeted with a long-distance block defeater like a Flying Tackle, they can always abort to Jump, leaving their attacker stuck in the middle of his teammates.
- The Long-Distance Opening: Another idea which works well in team fights is to open with maeuvers which close the distance and have considerable effect, like Flying Tackle, Double Dread Kick, Spinning Knuckle, Spinning Backfist, etc. The idea here is the same as with the "Slow Attack" idea below: you force an enemy to react somehow, which then hopefully leaves him open for your other teammates. This is especially good for countering a group of known Block Openers, as you can force one to abort to Jump with a Flying Tackle, and then let him get clobbered with a Cannon Drill. Dedicated team fighters will have combos based off a long distance opening maneuver (Double Dread Kick to Dragon Punch is evil).
- The Moving Opening: A very common opening in team fights where the arena is big. Everyone Moves, or Drunken Monkey Rolls, or Wall Springs, into range. Some wacky teams will have it worked out that they will all Move up close, then abort to Block, or else some of them may have a combo off Move. Move and aborting to Block is good at many phases of the fight for certain people, like grapplers and people who bought cheesy Block to Flying Thrust Kick combos.
- The Slow Attack: In singles matches, speed usually rules. In team fights, power rules. This is because (using the countup system) the slower fighter usually dictates when the faster fighter executes, not the other way around. Say you have 4 fighters who choose the maneuvers Buffalo Punch, Throw, Widowmaker, and Roundhouse. The slowest one of these will attack the fastest-looking enemy, who will then react, then get pummeled to death by the other slowpokes who can hopefully weather the storm of light jabs and short kicks from the remaining enemies.
- The Damage Sponge: This is a corollary to the Slow Attack. The guy doing the Slow Attack to draw out interrupts is generally the huge 20 health Sanbo stylist with Stamina 6 and Toughskin. Send him out with something sick like a Turbo Spinning Clothesline and watch everyone attack him, then send in the cavalry. You want the guy who eats the hits to be the guy who can take the hits. Keep your Wu Shu artists alive.
- The Decoy: This is related to the Damage Sponge. Say you have an attack which you feel you really need to succeed, like a powerful hold or strike. The problem is, this maneuver is slow, and will probably be interrupted by the target. Send in a damage sponge as a decoy using some maneuver which will force the target to react, then let the real attacker hit. A typical example of this is sending in a guy to Buffalo Punch; the target Blocks, and then gets hosed by the teammate who runs in with a Rising Storm Crow. The decoy in these cases should be ready to abort himself in case the interrupt happens to be a Flaming Dragon Punch or the like. If necessary, he could also execute his decoy maneuver slower than he has to, just to insure that he goes before the real attacker.
- The Guarded Artillery: If a team has a member who specializes in distance attacks (generally Focus based unless it’s a Duelist match), it usually behooves them to run interference for their partner, tying up the enemy with f lank attacks and such, while the Focus guy sits out of range and Acid Breathes away. Focus guys have generally spent less time developing their stand-up techniques than their teammates, so this protection is a good policy. The same protection idea could be applied to the team member who is using Zen No-Mind that turn: protect him at all costs. If he’s not standing by the end of the round, he can’t choose between his assortment of insanely high-damage slow maneuvers to unleash at that time.
Different Approaches to Rank
Rank is one of the most bothersome things to deal with in Street Fighter. In order to get past rank four or five, you have to consistently win almost all the time. One loss can mean the end of the road for a character with an eye on becoming a World Warrior. Furthermore, taking a look at the records of typical NPC’s, it seems that everybody wins more than they lose. This seems to imply that there are a nigh-infinite number of "jobbers" on the circuit who just lose time and time again, eventually slipping into obscurity and disgrace. It would also mean that some of these jobbers managed to get to rank six, seven and eight before they started losing constantly, for the sole purpose of giving the World Warriors enough wins to get to nine and ten.
In addition, this also places an unnecessary burden on the players to win all the time. It makes for an unsatisfactory series of chronicles if your players keep getting dropped by their managers for losing. This leads to placing all available experience into combat statistics, especially if the GM is particularly stingy *coughDerekcough*. It also leads to doing unscrupulous things like picking easy fights to maintain one’s record, something which is boring to play. How can we get around this?
- Lying. First of all, keep in mind that a fighter’s record in the circuit is not usually kept by a regulating body. It’s quite conceivable that many fighters simply lie about their records in order to get some respect and a shot at a decent match once in a while. In real life analogues like Vale Tudo and other combat sports, fighters tend to exaggerate their records, especially if they come from somewhere far away where the truth of their claims cannot be verified. Nobody really knows a fighter’s true record except maybe the fighter. Thus, even though you might have a real record of 20-15-2, a slick manager/promoter might be able to pass you off as 25-3-1. It’s all about perception. In a system like this, fighters can also just not count certain losses. People tend to talk more about their victories than their losses, and if nobody was around to see the match, who will know? The GM may rule that it is an accepted practice amongst fighters to "forget" about the losers of fights which are relatively low-key, such as a spontaneous back alley match between two fighters. It can also be used as a source of blackmail: the winner may agree to not tell tales about the loser getting his ass handed to him, but naturally he will count the win, and well people might get curious about who the loser was in this particular battle…
- Changing Identities. Fighters also tend to change identities, like professional wrestlers, in order to start clean. A fighter who dons a mask and uses a different name who is obviously very skilled will get attention as he cleans his way back up through the lower ranks, and may someday be forced to come clean about his earlier, lackluster career. It also means that other fighters will be trying the same tricks, and may prove to be a frustrating problem for players of low rank. Think of Dragon Rising’s Kallista… a rank 1 with Ice Blast, fantastic maneuvers, tons of health and super high stats? Yeah whatever.
- Changing Divisions or Taking Sabbaticals. A fighter who is wholly disgusted with his record can try the old "change your division" trick to start over. Usually these fighters will switch out between Freestyle and Traditionalist divisions. A GM may also rule that a fighter who abandons the circuit for an extended period of time (say, a long stretch with no sanctioned fights) may try to start over with a clean record. The period of inactivity would have to be substantial, like several years, in order for the fighter’s old record to fade from the minds of the public. Managers won’t like this, as they can’t be carrying dead weight around.
One possible solution to the hosing that fighters with a bad start get is to time-weight their records, much in the way standings for professional tennis players is done. In this system, fights lose importance as time passes, allowing a fighter to bounce back from an early losing streak. It requires a little extra bookeeping and careful time tracking.
Since fights will probably happen less often than tennis matches, the sample system presented here decays one’s record more slowly than the tennis system. You may adjust this system as you see fit.
Keep the fighter’s record, wins, losses and draws, as is for the purposes of… whatever people use those numbers for. However, in regards to rank calculation, calculate the win/loss record as follows, and determine rank based on total number of fights and the adjusted winning percentage:
- Fights within the past two years count full value (draw counts as 1/2 win).
- Fights between four and two years ago count half value.
- Fights between four and six years ago count one-quarter value.
- Fights more than six years ago count one-eighth value.
The percentages of wins to total number of adjusted fights by rank are as follows, taken directly from the existing system:
To keep things simple for the GM and players, it is suggested that all fights be adjusted for time at one annual point, such as the new year or the time of the World Warrior Grand Tournament.
Example: A fighter has been on the circuit for 6 years. His record is as follows:
Total Actual Fights = 54
Adjusted Winning Percentage = (25.25 / 34) 74%
Rank = Six
Jan. 1 2004 rolls around, and his record is adjusted as follows:
Total Actual Fights = 54
Adjusted Winning Percentage = (19.5 / 25.625) 76%
Rank = Seven
An Alternative Ranking System (Points System)
One could abolish the ranking system as is, and replace it with a more logical system based on challenges for rank and promotion in the circuit. Here is a proposal for such a system:
All new fighters start at Rank One, as usual. In order to progress in rank, fighters must meet certain challenges, which entail winning matches and gaining a certain score. The fighter’s "rank score" is increased by beating those of his own rank-3 or higher, and lost by losing to fighters of his own rank+3 or lower. The system for this score is as follows:
- For a win: Gain [ 2 + ( difference in ranks / 2 ) ] points, never less than zero. A fighter cannot gain points for winning over an opponent who is more than 3 ranks lower than he.
- For a loss: Lose [ 2 - ( difference in ranks / 2 ) ] points, never less than zero. A fighter cannot lose points for a loss to an opponent who is more than 3 ranks higher than he.
- For a draw: The lower ranked fighter gains ( difference in ranks / 4 ) points, and the higher ranked fighter loses the same amount. No score for fighters of equal rank.
("Difference in ranks" is the enemy’s rank vs. the player’s rank, so versus a lower-ranked fighter it is a negative number, and versus a higher ranked fighter it is positive.)
Under this system, fighters will not actively seek out fights against lower ranks, as they stand to lose more. Almost nobody will consider a fight versus someone 4 ranks lower than himself, as he stands to win nothing and lose much.
To advance one rank, a fighter must accumulate a number of points in this fashion equal to [ 5 + ( Current Rank x 2 ], at which point he advances one rank and his score is reset to zero. Thus a rank one fighter could get to rank two by winning 3 matches and drawing 1 against other rank one fighters, but a rank 8 fighter would have to win 10 matches and draw 1 against other rank 8′s to advance to rank 9. A rank 10 fighter can never go above rank 10, but may gain up to 25 points from wins in order to safeguard his position against future losses.
If a fighter reaches -5 points, he is lowered by one rank and must start over with a score of zero. Thus, a rank 5 fighter who is unlucky enough to get to a score of -5 points is now a rank 4 fighter with a score of 0. A rank 1 fighter can never go below rank 1, but may have a score of down to -5 from losses which may count against his ambitions to go to rank 2.
Under this system, a fighter will advance more slowly to higher and higher ranks. He will also find that he can lose his rank fairly quickly through a string of losses, but he will not be endangered by every single loss as he would under the original system. This keeps the higher ranks of fighters progressively smaller than the lower ranks, while not unfairly penalizing those of high rank for an understandable loss.
The number of points required to increase in rank are as follows:
Rank 1 to 2 = 7 points
Rank 2 to 3 = 9 points
Rank 3 to 4 = 11 points
Rank 4 to 5 = 13 points
Rank 5 to 6 = 15 points
Rank 6 to 7 = 17 points
Rank 7 to 8 = 19 points
Rank 8 to 9 = 21 points
FOR GROUP FIGHTS, EVEN TEAM SIZES: If the size of both teams are equal, the effective difference in ranks is calculated using the average ranks of each team. For example, team A consists of a rank 2, two rank 4′s, and a rank 5. Team B has two rank 3′s, a rank 5, and a rank 6. Team A’s effective rank is 3.75, while team B’s effective rank is 4.25. If team A wins, each member of team A will gain 2.25 points, and each member of team B loses a like amount. If team B wins, team B only wins 1.75 points, and team A loses the same. In the event of a draw, team A as the lower ranked team would gain .125 points, and team B would lose .125.
FOR GROUP FIGHTS, UNEVEN TEAM SIZES: If for some reason the size of the teams are unequal, there is a strong advantage to the larger team that supercedes the simple sum of ranks (i.e. 4 rank 3 fighters can usually beat 3 rank 4 fighters, and one rank 5 fighter will have trouble dealing with the multiple attacks of 5 rank 1 fighters). Unequal fights are avoided by promoters for this reason, but they can happen. In these cases, effective team ranks are calculated as follows:
Effective team rank = (sum of ranks) / (size of smaller team) + [(difference in size)/4]
"Difference in size" is expressed as a negative number for the smaller team and a positive number for the larger team.
For example, team A’s rank 2 guy is AWOL, but the fight must continue. Team A is the smaller team, with an effective rank of (4+4+5)/3 – 0.25 = 4.083, and team B has a rank of (3+3+5+6)/3 + 0.25 = 5.917, for a difference of about 1.833 ranks. If team A somehow manages to get the win, they stand to gain 2.917 points each, while team B would lose the same. A win for team B is worth 1.083 points to them and a similar loss to team A. A draw would result in points of 0.458 and -0.458 for teams A and B.
With this formula, it is possible to come up with some interesting uneven matches ("Balrog takes on all of Team Raven plus a mystery Rank 2 fighter, tonight at the Strip!"). Here are some possible matchups, assuming teams that have members of equal rank (Team B is the smaller team in all cases):
|2 fighters rank 1 each, effective team rank 2.25||1 fighter rank 3, effective team rank 2.75|
|5 fighters rank 2 each, effective team rank 3.83||3 fighters rank 4 each, effective team rank 3.5|
|4 fighters rank 3 each, effective team rank 6.5||2 fighters rank 6 each, effective team rank 6.5|
|3 fighters rank 4 each, effective team rank 6.25||2 fighters rank 7 each, effective team rank 6.75|
|7 fighters rank 1 each, effective team rank 8.5||1 fighter rank 10, effective team rank 8.5|
Another Alternative Ranking System (Elo System)
This is a far more complicated system, similar to the Elo rating system used for competitive chess and go. It may be more work for the GM, but since this work is only done occasionally, the rewards of a more accurate and fair system may be worth the hassle. One would have to subsume that there is a monitoring body that has information about matches in order to make this work, like a network of underground fighting journals, a central governing body, or even a federation of street fighters. A GM may wish to use a seperate Elo system for each division, or subdivision, or only apply it to a highly regulated division such as a traditionalist circuit.
A basic explanation of Arpad Elo’s system may be found here. The basic idea is that a fighter’s rating is used to predict the likelihood of his winning over another fighter, based on past performance. The win expectancy is approximated by using the difference between the fighter’s ratings. Using this system, a fighter who wins over a much stonger opponent stands to gain a lot of rating points, while a fighter who beats a much weaker opponent doesn’t gain too much, thus encouraging fighters to seek matches around their own level.
The winning chances for the stronger fighter are calculated with the following formula:
Chance to win = 1/[1+10^(-D/400)]
where D is the difference in ratings (posisitve if the fighter is higher rated, negative if lower rated). Sample chances to win by rating differences:
A fighter’s rating changes based on his results in a match, and the rating of his opponent, according to the Elo formula:
Rn = Ro + C x (S – Se)
where Rn=new rating, Ro=old rating, C=a constant modifier, S=score (1 for win, 0 for loss, .5 for draw), and Se=expected score, which is the chance to win.
The value of C is traditionally changed as the competitor’s rating changes. For fighters of under 2000, C=75. For fighters over 2400, C=25. From 2000 to 2400, C=325-(Rating/8). A higher C value allows more fluctuation in the fighter’s rating while he is young, while a C of 10 at the top levels prevents such wild fluctuations. Note that the values for C here are significantly higher than those used in chess (from 30 to 10), as street fighters have far fewer matches than chess players, and a great fighter may in fact rise to 2500+ with fewer than 100 matches, as opposed to the thousands required by the standard Elo system. Depending on the frequency of fights in your campaign, you may wish to adjust the values for C up or down.
Example 1: A fighter with a rating of 1700 defeats an opponent with a rating of 1750. He records the win, and his new rating is [1700 + 75 x (1-0.429)], or 1743. The opponent’s rating drops to [1750 - 75 x (0-0.571)], or 1707. If the 1750 fighter won, his new rating would be [1750 + 150 x (1-0.571)], or 1782, while the loser would drop to [1700 + 30 x (0-0.429)], or 1668. Since the odds were in favor of the 1750 fighter, he gains less rating than the 1700 fighter does if he wins.
Example 2: A fighter with a rating of 2100 defeats an opponent with a rating of 1980. The winner’s new rating is [2100 + 62.5 x (1-0.666)], or 2121, and the loser drops to [1980 - 75 x (0-0.334)], or 1955. In this case the 2100 fighter will gain fewer rating points than the 1980 fighter loses, since at 2000 and up the fighter’s rating becomes more stable to reflect his establishment. Still, if the 1980 fighter manages to win, his new rating leaps to [1980 + 75 x (1-0.334)], or 2029, and the loser drops to [2100 - 62.5 x (0-.666)], or 2058.
Example 3: A foolhardy fighter with a rating of 2290 decides to challenge a fighter with a rating of 2520; the odds are 79% in favor of the higher ranked fighter. A win for the 2290 fighter would give him a new rating of 2321, whereas the higher ranked fighter would drop to 2500. A win for the 2520 fighter would yield new ratings of 2525 and 2282. The high status of these fighters means that their ratings are more stable than most other fighters, and it will take a lot of wins for them to advance in rating, just as it would take many many humiliating losses for them to be dislodged from their legendary positions.
Example 4: A new fighter enters a 4-fight round robin tournament in order to get an initial rating. Everyone starts at 1200. He wins his first match, bringing his rating to 1237.5. In the second round, he is paired with another 1-0 fighter with the same rating, and wins again, bringing his rating to 1275. In the third round, he is paired against another 2-0 fighter, but draws this round, making no difference in his rating (as the change in ratings for a draw vs. the same rating is zero). He enters the last round as 2-0-1 and gets paired against someone who is 3-0 with a rating of 1212.5. He wins the match, and his rating after 4 matches with a result of 3-0-1 is 1316.53, which is rounded up in next’s week’s fight sheet as 1317. He is more than halfway to rank 2 after his first four matches. A writeup of his performance in a manager’s report might look like this:
Match 1: 1200 vs 1200
Match 2: 1238 vs 1238
Match 3: 1275 vs 1275
Match 4: 1275 vs 1313
All beginning fighters start with a rating of 1200.
A fighter’s rank is determined more or less by his rating A sample chart follows showing the relationship between rating and rank.
The GM may impose limitations on increasing rank, such as having had a certain number of total fights, etc. Players may also lose rank if they do not periodically defend their status in the ring every once in a while. Rank is not the same as rating, and may carry with it additional requirements. A white belt may be as good a match fighter as a black belt, but that doesn’t make him a black belt as soon as this is established (with exceptions like Kimo becoming an instant black belt in Joe Son’s school).
A major change in the way new Street Fighters are established under the rating system is that a fighter’s initial rating can be much higher than one would expect if he is naturally gifted. A new fighter may achieve a rating near 2000 in just a few fights if he wins consistently against strong opponents early on. This could help to explain the meteoric rise of many of the World Warriors as described in the rulebook, especially those who first become Street Fighters already in possession of master-level techniques like Fei Long, Blanka, Ryu, Zangief, etc.
Ratings can provide a quickly digestible "fight card summary" after the fight is done for publication in seedy underground journals, adding atmosphere to your campaign. For a sample summary sheet, click here.
FOR GROUP FIGHTS, EVEN TEAM SIZES: Any rating changes are applied individually for every fighter versus the average rating of the enemy team. For example, Team A has fighters with ratings of 1400, 1520, 1550, and 1700. They are Team B with ratings of 1130, 1510, 1600, and 1780. Team A wins. Every member of Team A calculates his new rating by counting a win against Team B’s average rating of 1505. Likewise, everyone on Team B calculates their new ratings based on a loss against Team A’s average rating of 1542.5. After the local eggheads who run the underground fight sheets have done their calculations, the fighters’ new ratings are published in their latest edition: team A has ratings of 1449, 1556, 1583, and 1718, while team B now has ratings of 1124, 1476, 1556 and 1720. This system tends to "average out" disparate ratings of team members over time as they fight together.
FOR GROUP FIGHTS, UNEVEN TEAM SIZES: A sanctioned event with different numbers of fighters per side is generally discouraged, and is a big headache for the ratings people (you), but they can happen. In this case, calculate the effective team rating as follows:
Effective team rating = ( average rating ) + [ ( difference in size ) x 125 ]
This is different from the previous system, since ratings and rank are not the same. A 2000 rated fighter should cream two 1000 rated fighters. Once again, calculate rating changes after the fight for each fighter based on the effective team rating of the enemy.
Example: Team A’s 1400 rated fighter is unable to compete. They have the match anyway. Team A’s effective team rating is [ ( 1520 + 1550 + 1700 ) / 3 ] + ( -1 x 125), or 1465. Team B’s effective rating is [ ( 1130 + 1510 + 1600 + 1780 ) / 4 ] + (1 x 125), or 1630. The odds are about 3 to 1 in favor of team B. If team A should win anyway, their new ratings will be 1569, 1596 and 1733, while the humiliated team B would drop to 1120, 1468, 1549, and 1716.
Some comparative notes for scheduling uneven group matches:
Team with F fighters with rating R is approximately equal to
Team with F+1 fighters with rating R-250, or
Team with F+2 fighters with rating R-500, or
Team with F+3 fighters with rating R-750, or
Team with F+4 fighters with rating R-1000
These values are not necessarily coincidental with the values given for uneven matches in the previous section… hey, I just made it up. You can get away with this too… if it is obvious that the system is flawed (this would become apparent only if your campaign is rife with lopsided team matches), simply say that the governing body is "working out the bugs" and change the multiplier per additional fighter on the larger team.
Experience Expenditure per Story
At the conclusion of a story, if a player wishes to spend experience on attributes/techniques/abilities, he may increase any ability by one dot. This encourages a gradual improvement in a fighter’s skills over time, rather than leaving experience dormant for several stories and suddenly spending it all to raise Kick from 0 to 4. Larger increases are possible if there is an extended game downtime before the next adventure, during which the character can practice intensely and receive instruction.
Buying Attribute Points
One of the major flaws in the Street Fighter system is the curve for experience expenditure for raising attributes. The system as is encourages fighters to place all available points into 1 or 2 attributes per category and take the rest at 1 or 2. The reason for this is the speed with which such a deficiency can be made up, as opposed to a gradual improvement of "average" attributes. For instance:
- A character starts with Strength 4, Dexterity 4, and Stamina 3. Raising himself to 5-5-5 would cost a total of (16+16+12+16)=60 experience points, exclusive of trainers.
- A character starts with Strength 5, Dexterity 1, and Stamina 5. Raising himself to 5-5-5 would cost a total of (4+8+12+16)=40 experience points, exclusive of trainers.
Looking at how the experience costs are structured, it becomes obvious that a character who starts with one attribute at 1 (or possibly 3 if all freebie points are spent on attributes) is at a great advantage over the character who opts to average his attributes out. The particular phenomenon of the Strength 5, Stamina 5, low Dexterity character is further encouraged by the fact that such characters tend to be better team fighters, as most fighters will be in their initial outings. In addition, attribute increases are almost always preferable to technique increases for similar cost, due to the mechanics of combat.
Tony Faber once proposed that in order to combat this, any attribute increase from 1 to 5 should cost a flat 20 experience points, switching to the (6 x attribute’s current level) system once you get beyond 5. This idea has merits in that a character’s concept, based on his attributes, will remain fairly constant through his early career, and the "Ryu target" of 5-5-5 will be a long time coming for anyone, encouraging more expenditure on things like maneuvers, techniques, and abilities. However, this system may seem unduly harsh to low rank characters who are scraping experience together so they don’t get their asses kicked all the time. The GM can thus take a more midline approach as follows:
Cost = (Total attribute points in that category) + (Attribute’s current rating)
Therefore, a character with physical attributes of 4-3-3 who wished to raise his Dexterity to 4 would pay [(4+3+3)+3]=13 points. A character with social attributes of 2-2-2 who wished to improve Appearance to 3 would pay [(2+2+2)+2]=8 points. A character with mental attributes of 5-3-5 who wishes to improve Intelligence to 4 would pay [(5+3+5)+3]=16 points.
Using this approach, the example above narrows in margin by a bit.
- A character starts with Strength 4, Dexterity 4, and Stamina 3. Raising himself to 5-5-5 would cost a total of (15+16+16+18)=65 experience points, exclusive of trainers.
- A character starts with Strength 5, Dexterity 1, and Stamina 5. Raising himself to 5-5-5 would cost a total of (12+14+16+18)=60 experience points, exclusive of trainers.
A successful physical trainer negates the cost for the Attribute’s current rating. This gives a slight advantage to the use of a trainer for higher attributes and, therefore, a more even playing field. In the cases above, a successful trainer roll on every check would lower the cost of the 4-4-3 to (11+12+13+14)=50 experience points, while the 5-1-5 would also pay (11+12+13+14)=50 experience points. Under this system, the advantage of starting as an extremist is minimalized to the point where it can be considered balanced by the flexibility of a non-extremist in the early phases of a fighting career.
For superhuman attributes over 5, you can keep using the (6 x current level) formula.
Time for Maneuver Learning
Learning maneuvers is a lengthy process, far more lengthy than one would expect when considering real world personal combat training. However, it should be taken into consideration that the techniques of Street Fighters are nigh-mythical, and learning a maneuver implies total mastery of it. They never miss. (Well, maybe if they get 0 damage or botch.)
A guideline in The Perfect Warrior gives a training time of one intensive month per 2 experience points required for the maneuver. Thus, someone learning a simple maneuver like Throw, requiring 4 experience points, must train for 2 months to the exclusion of other activities while doing so.
Senseis and Training Maneuvers
(Modified from Player’s Guide) A Sensei can reduce the experience cost (and thusly training time) of a new maneuver to 3 experience points per power point instead of 4, assuming he knows it himself. The Sensei must roll Charisma + Instruction and get a number of successes equal to or greater than the maneuver point cost of the maneuver, so a Shotokan sensei would need 4 successes to reduce the cost of learning Dragon Punch, but a Kung Fu sifu requires 5. As a general guideline, the Charisma + Instruction total for any Sensei is approximately the Sensei’s base value in Background points + 5, so a 3 dot Sensei generally gets a pool of 8 dice. This ignores the cost break for "hard to reach" masters, so a great master who is hard to reach (cost 4) effectively is a 5 dot Sensei once the character gets to him, giving him a pool of 10 dice, not 9. This is just a guideline; a merely "good" Sensei might be a dedicated teacher and have many dots in Instruction, and a Master may have Instruction and Charisma higher than 5 each.
Note that difficulty increases with Power Point costs, unlike the rules for teachers given in Player’s Guide. This is to balance out the incredible potential for abuse with super cheap 5-point maneuvers. However, the rule is still to the advantage of the player, considering that there was no rule for Sensei benefit in the basic book.
The maneuvers known by a Sensei depend on his competence, reflected by his Background cost. It’s difficult to generalize about maneuvers known by levels of Sensei by Background value vs. Power cost, since there are styles with a limited range of maneuvers and costs (i.e. Jiu Jitsu has 2 free maneuvers and no 5 point ones, and The Pankration has no maneuver costing over 3). The GM should make up full character sheets for each Sensei using the guidelines on page 59 of the Street Fighter rules to determine maneuvers known, maneuvers from outside the style, and the possibility of unique maneuvers created by the master.
Senseis and Combos
A Combo is a reflexive stringing of maneuvers and tends to be highly individual to the fighter who uses it. For this reason a Sensei may not reduce the point cost for a Combo he does not possess himself. A Sensei may try to teach a combo he does have, rolling Charisma + Instruction, number of successes = the number of Power Points in the combo.
For example, Bob’s Sensei knows the combinations Jab to Strong, Block to Backflip Kick to Rolling Attack, and Jumping Short to Forward Flip Knee to Head Bite (Dizzy), and Bob wants to learn them. Assume Bob already hass all of the prerequisite maneuvers (Backflip Kick, Rolling Attack, Jump, Forward Flip Knee, and Head Bite) and enough free experience to buy the combinations at their base cost (total 24 experience). The Sensei tries to teach the combinations. Jab to Strong is a 1 power point combo and requires one success on Charisma + Instruction; the Sensei succeeds (Bob pays 3 experience and spends 1.5 months in training). Next he tries Block to Backflip Kick to Rolling Attack, a 2 power point combination; the Sensei gets 2 successes and succeeds (Bob pays 6 character points and spends 3 months). Jumping Short to Forward Flip Knee to Head Bite (Dizzy) is a 3 power point combination; however, the Sensei only gets 2 successes this time, and Bob must pay the full cost for the combo: 12 experience and 6 months in training. Bob gets his 3 combos, with a total cost of 18 experience and 9 months in the dojo.
Although the chance for success in teaching a combo will generally be far better than for teaching a maneuver, this is balanced out by the fact that Street Fighters (even Senseis) will not usually have 50 combos to pick and choose from, and player characters will usually tend to want to formulate their own combos to give flavor and individuality to their fighting styles.
Any character who knows a maneuver can try to teach any other character the maneuver. There is no point or time break as with a Sensei, except in the unlikely event that the teaching character is also the player character’s Sensei. The maneuver is bought normally, and only an "any" maneuver or one in the character’s style can be learned, as usual.
Note that a maneuver common to two styles may be performed differently, and a traditional Kung Fu practicioner learning the Shotokan version of the Dragon Punch may be frowned on by his Sensei and peers. There may be associated penalties. For example, a Kung Fu character who learned Dragon Punch from his Shotokan teammate acquires a Sensei later in the chronicle, who then insists on taking some time in order to "fix" the character’s Dragon Punch technique.
Also note that a character learning a maneuver pays the point cost for his own style, not the style of the person teaching the maneuver, in this fashion. The Kung Fu character in the preceding example would pay 5 power points, although his Shotokan buddy paid 4.
Street Fighters without an accessible Sensei, as well as Street Fighters wishing to learn a maneuver in their style their Sensei doesn’t know (or an "any" maneuver), have the option of self-teaching. This is to allow the concept of completely self-taught fighters, and to allow players without benefit of instruction to grow. There is no experience cost break for self-teaching, and so the only thing to determine is whether or not the maneuver can be learned at all.
The GM must use common sense here. Obviously, even the most complex of maneuvers must be self-teachable to some degree, since somebody came up with it in the first place, unless your campaign subscribes to martial arts traiing through divine inspiration. The thing to keep in mind is that the more complex maneuvers like Dragon Punch, Whirlwind Kick, etc., should be assumed to have been formulated by true masters with a comprehensive knowledge of their fighting styles. At one time, Gouken was the only known master of the Dragon Punch, and only taught it to Ken Masters and Ryu, who are not known as teachers. However, judging from the hordes of NPC’s that litter Street Fighter supplements who also have this maneuver, it can be discerned that someone managed to pick it up through careful observation and deduction, and passed it on to students. Naturally, the student with a Sensei is better off, but there is no reason to disallow someone from learning the maneuver through observation. It’s just hard.
A suggested system is as follows:
- The character must meet the requirements for the maneuver, in terms of style, techniques, prerequisite maneuvers, free experience, etc.
- He must then be able to observe the maneuver he wishes to copy. This "conception" roll is made based on Perception + Style Lore (or other ability designated by the Gamemaster), difficulty 7 for quick observation (say by watching matches briefly), 6 for prolonged and close-up observation (having the technique used on him many times and/or watching many matches), 5 for careful scrutiny over a long period of time (i.e. a willing demonstrator, watching a fighter practice for a month, or peeking into the training hall a la Shaolin Temple). The number of successes required is equal to the power point cost of the maneuver to the observing character. For instance, a Special Forces fighter wants to try and pick up the Backflip Kick his Wu Shu opponent has beat him up with for the past few fights. He must roll Perception + Style Lore, difficulty 6, and must get 3 successes. If a character fails this roll, he may be allowed another at some later point by the GM. It is suggested that a character who botches the roll only thinks he has it down and can train fruitlessly, or alternatively just doesn’t get it at all, and cannot learn the maneuver without specific instruction from a Sensei.
- The character must then begin to practice the maneuver in earnest, training as for any other maneuver in terms of time, but must make a successful Intelligence roll every month in order to proceed. A failed roll just means that that month was wasted and the training time is extended. A botched Intelligence roll indicates a flawed concept has taken root and must be corrected, extending the training time by 2 months. GM’s may lower the difficulty of the Intelligence check for considerations like continued observation of the maneuver, etc. When the training time is completed, the maneuver has been learned.
An example: The aforementioned Special Forces fighter wishes to learn Backflip Kick, but has no one to teach him the maneuver. He wants to try and pick it up by observing a Wu Shu fighter in the ring. He has the prerequisites taken care of (Kick 2, Athletics 2, a compatible style and 12 free experience points). He carefully watches a Wu Shu fighter use the technique, both from the stands and in the ring against him, for a few months, after which he decides to try it. His Perception + Style Lore is 6, and because Backflip Kick would cost him 3 power points, he needs 3 successes at difficulty 6… not easy, as a 3 point maneuver is fairly complex. He manages 3 successes, however, and starts training in earnest. Backflip Kick would normally take him 6 months to learn. He succeeds his Intelligence check during the first 2 months, proceeding normally, then he botches his third roll, letting a bad habit creep into his routine. Fixing this adds another 2 months, which he thankfully succeeds his Intelligence checks for. He has now trained for an effective 3 months, even though 5 have gone by, thanks to his botch. His next month is a success, then a failure, then 2 more successes, and he has finally learned Backflip Kick, at a cost of 12 character points and 9 months in training.
Players Creating New Maneuvers
This is always a sticky point. A player will generally attempt to concoct a new maneuver for one of the following reasons:
- He wants to sneak by a godly maneuver that will make him dominant in the ring.
- He wants to make up for some perceived shortfall in his character or style.
There are a number of things the GM should keep in mind, including (1) Is the character qualified to make up a new maneuver, (2) Is the maneuver simply an existing maneuver with a new definition, (3) Is the maneuever unbalanced, and (4) Does the maneuver fit in with the concept and style of the character?
The first consideration, qualification of the character to make up new maneuvers, should be enough to quash many players right off the bat. New maneuvers are generally created by masters. This is especially true of the more powerful maneuvers: Blanka is identified as the originator of the Beast Roll, Guile is associated with the Flash Kick, and of course the Psycho Crusher is M. Bison’s pet technique. No player character who is not already a recognized master should be normally able to concoct something hyper-advanced, as he just doesn’t have the ability to do so. It’s like a 2nd-year Hung Gar student suddenly breaking off to form his own school, declaring himself a master, and inventing new techniques. Such occurrances are sadly common in today’s world of martial arts, but such neophyte "innovators" are typically proven inadequate in practice.
A character who wishes to create a simpler maneuver must still have some degree of mastery over their system, even for something as simple as a 2 point maneuver with low prerequisites. One must have a firm grasp of the fundamental concepts of movement, direction of force, breathing, etc. particular to one’s style before presuming to find new ways to apply them.
The second consideration can save a lot of time and trouble, and is applicable to most "new maneuvers." Let’s say for example a player wants to create the "Double Ox-Horn Punch," a bizarre kung fu maneuver in which both fists come in at the enemy at about shoulder level from a ridiculous position. It’s supposed to be slow, not very mobile, and hard hitting. Of course in real life practice the double ox-horn punch is generally an invitation to get your ass kicked, but then again so are lots of Street Fighter maneuvers. A little thought should reveal that the double ox-horn punch can be considered a different way of executing the Buffalo Punch. The player can simply train the Buffalo Punch as an "any" maneuver for 2 power points, and define its special effect any way he wishes. Many maneuvers can be modified in this way to give flavor to a style’s interpretations of the maneuver, as well as players who wish to stand out from the crowd.
The third consideration is the most troublesome. Street Fighter as a system is already riddled with stupid and unbalancing maneuvers like the original Cartwheel Kick (way too strong), the Ear Pop (way too weak), etc. More often than not, a new maneuver proposed by a player will probably be unbalanced in some way to the player’s advantage. Take a careful look at the character who is supposed to be designing the maneuver. If the technique is, for example, a high damage kick with a Move of +7, and the character in question has Athletics 1 and Kick 5, this is an obvious cheapo way out of that character’s deficiencies in mobility and should be disallowed. "Your Sensei tells you, ‘Just work on your footwork, you idiot.’"
The imbalance can be very subtle, too. One player in Steve Karstensen’s campaign came up with a "Deflecting Punch Versus Kicks," which worked exactly like a Deflecting Punch, but (you guessed it) versus kicks. Why is this bad? The character who would be using it was a very punch-heavy character who could not kick at all. How can you concoct a defense like this without knowing some fundamental kicking concepts? The definition of Deflecting Punch reveals that the simultaneous block and counter are both executed with the same arm. Versus a kick it makes no sense, like "Elbow Smash Versus the Arch of the Foot." Physically impossible. It was just a way for a character to get an abortable counterstriking Block versus all kick techniques that allowed him to continue to dump all his points into Punch. "Deflecting Kick" makes a little bit more sense, based on kick technique.
Also, look for imbalances in terms of special effects. Special effects like the Dim Mak’s reduction in attributes to the target are counterbalanced by high prerequisites, high power point costs, and lackluster Speed/Damage/Move values. Watch out for move effects like, "Renders the target unable to Block or move next turn." If you allow this in, you can bet the player will be comboing it into some insanely high damage strike or sustained hold as soon as possible. This cheapo shot is usually motivated by the considerations outlines in the previous paragraph. A master of grappling may try to slip something by you that says, "Decreases Soak vs. Sustained Holds by 2 for 3 turns." If a special effect is suspicious, simply say it’s a master-level technique, come back in 4000 experience points or so.
The fourth consideration is a little easier to deal with. A new technique should be an outgrowth of the character’s experience as a practicioner of a certain style. No multiple aerial kicking techniques for Sanbo. It should also be a reflection on the character’s fighting style in the chronicle. If a character is a passive/reactive fighter who relies on Blocks and complex setups, why would he suddenly come out with something like a Widowmaker?
If a new maneuver seems okay to develop, don’t let the player dictate the maneuver’s system to you. Let him describe how the maneuver works; you determine the mechanics, modifiers, prerequisites, and costs. Don’t even tell him what they are… let him go off and sequester himself for a while, and let him be surprised with what he comes out with.
Use of Insight Before the Fight
On page 52, there is a little paragraph under Insight, there is a rule about observing another fighter for 3 rounds and then making a Perception + Insight roll to determine style and possibly maneuvers. This is the defined system I go by:
A character can make a Perception + Insight roll after three rounds of observation, or by watching the target warm up. One success determines the enemy’s style (if the style is unfamiliar to the player, a basic description of it can be fudged). Each additional success will determine either a Special Maneuver or a Combo. Because players can quickly learn what maneuvers a fighter has just through mundane observation, an Insight maneuver result will give him the Speed, Damage, and Move modifiers, representing a thorough assessment of that fighter’s abilities with that maneuver. A Combo can only be learned if the player also knows about all of the special maneuvers that go into it, so if a player gets a result that would tell him the enemy has Flying Thrust Kick to Backflip Kick, but is unaware that the enemy has either of these maneuvers, the GM rerolls.
For example, a fighter watches her enemy warm up before a match, and get 3 successes on her Perception + Insight roll. The Gm tells the player that the enemy studies Wu Shu, and consults the enemy’s maneuvers and combos list. The enemy has the special maneuvers (1) Backflip Kick, (2) Double-Hit Kick, (3) Drunken Monkey Roll, (4) Jump, and (5) Wall Spring, and the combos (6) Block to Short to Roundhouse (Dizzy) and (7) Wall Spring to Double-Hit Kick to Backflip Kick… a total of 7 possible maneuvers or combos that can be gleaned by the attentive player. The GM generates a random number between 1 and 7 and gets a 5, so the player learns that the enemy has Wall Spring, with its Speed, Damage and Move ratings. He then gets a 7, but the player isn’t sure the enemy has Double-Hit Kick or Backflip Kick, so he rerolls, getting a 6. Since the combo Block to Short to Roundhouse (Dizzy) doesn’t contain any special maneuvers the player hasn’t learned about, he tells the player about the combo.
Warming up before the fight is usually mandated to avoid injury, and unless the fighters are all sequestered until the very start of the match, they will have an opportunity to observe and make Insight rolls on one opponent. Not warming up or doing something dumb like trying to warm up in a deceptive manner will not allow any Insight rolls on the character, but will also incur a penalty… I suggest the critical failure range being increased from a roll of 1 to 1-2. Enemies will also be making Insight rolls, and will plan accordingly (for example, planning to use a lot of Grabs versus a slow character, and keeping speed and mobility high if everyone on the players’ team has Dex 5 and a lot of Block combos).
An insight roll can only be made against a single target once in a while, say 6 months… enough time in the GM’s opinion for the target’s personal fighting style to change significantly.
Ring Doctors and Aggravated Damage
If the Players’ Guide description was adhered to, Ring Doctors could only heal aggravated damage between rounds of a fight. This is not only completely inaccurate as far as the role of a Ring Doctor goes, it makes Ring Doctors useless for anyone but a duelist. If you’ve taken aggravated damage in a standard fight, you’ve probably lost already.
Here is an alternate system: Between rounds, a Ring Doctor can temporarily heal non-aggravated damage using ice and compresses, etc., as standard (Wits+Medicine roll, successes = temporary healing). Keep track of the amount of temporary healing that takes place. After the fight is over, if the character would normally be unconscious without the Ring Doctor’s ministrations, damage below Health 1 is considered aggravated, as if the character had actually taken that much damage during the fight.
Example: A fighter has 12 Health. In round one, he takes 4 damage, and the Ring Doctor restores 2 temporarily, placing him at 10. In round two, he takes 7 damage, and the Ring Doctor heals 3, placing him at 6. In round 3 he barely wins, taking 4 more damage in the process, placing him at 2 health. Now that the fight is over, we see that without the Ring Doctor he would be at -3 health; the fighter has 3 points of aggravated damage which must be healed by resting and/or medical attention.
If a Ring Doctor botches a healing roll, one of the character’s damage points becomes aggravated.
Ring Doctors are also useful for things like popping dislocated limbs back into place and such, but should not be allowed to remedy the effects of Dim Mak (only Chi Kung Healing or Honor rolls should do this).