Covenant Game Design: Areas and Tactical Movement

Covenant Game Design - Game Mechanics - Areas and Tactical Movement

(Don’t forget to tune in to the latest episode of the Radio Free Covenant podcast!)

Last week, we promised that we’d talk about how Covenant handles tactical movement during scenes. Let’s do that now.

Before we start, though, let’s narrow down our subject. When I say “tactical movement”, I mean the kind of character movement that needs a map or battle mat, including fights or any other scene where you need to know where your character is with some precision. Covenant handles this kind of movement with areas.

Areas are somewhat abstract, in terms of game mechanics. They occupy a space somewhere between theater-of-the-mind and map-based combat.

In Covenant, areas are generally 10 meters square, but they can be smaller or larger. In fact, during spaceship fights, the areas can measure thousands and even millions of kilometers on a side.

There are two types of areas, which can exist side-by-side on the same scene map:

  • Areas that are walled off and accessible to each other only by doors or windows (e.g., the rooms in a building or spaceship, etc.)
  • Arbitrary sections of a larger space (e.g., a long corridor, a hangar, an outside field, etc.)

Areas are important, not just to show where characters are in relation to each other, but who they can attack and who can in turn attack them. Characters can make three kinds of attacks in Covenant:

  • Close Attacks: Characters can generally make close attacks (e.g., attacks with fists, swords, spears, etc.) against any other character in the same area. This is because characters are assumed to be constantly maneuvering and jockeying for position during a fight.
  • Ranged Attacks: Character can make ranged attacks (e.g., with bows, guns, throw weapons, etc.) against characters in other areas. The number of areas separating attacker and defender during a ranged attack is the attack’s range.
  • Area Attacks: Characters can make area attacks (e.g., with grenades, machine guns, etc.) against every character in 1 area. These type of attacks can potentially damage every character in 1 area, be they friend or foe. Generally speaking, characters can make area attacks into any area where they can make ranged attacks. However, specific area attacks may break this guideline; the attack will specify if it does and when in its description.

Read on for two examples of how areas are used in Covenant.

Area Example 1:
Office (Area 1) and Meeting Room (Area 3) are across each other in a hallway (Area 2).
Area Example 1

Figure 1 is a 3-area map. It has an office (Area 1) connected by a door to a hallway (Area 2) and across the hallway from a meeting room (Area 3).

Characters on this map that want to move from the office to the meeting room would move 2 areas:

  1. Office to hallway
  2. Hallway to meeting room

The range from the office to the meeting room is thus 2 areas (often abbreviated to just the number – in this case, 2).

The doors on this map don’t block sight or attacks, as long as they’re open. However, the walls do block both sight and attacks.

To illustrate this, let’s assume there’s a character in the office. These are the kinds of attacks they can make during a fight:

  • Close Attacks: A character in the office can make close attacks against anyone else in the office (i.e., the same space as them).
  • Ranged Attacks: A character can attack characters in both the hallway and the meeting room from the office:
    • Office to Hallway: A character in the office can look through the door into the hallway and attack anyone in there. Therefore, their attacks will have a range of 1.
    • Office to Meeting Room: A character in the office look through both doors into the meeting room and attack anyone in the meeting room. Therefore, Their attacks will have a range of 2.
    • Cover: A character in the hallway or meeting room could tell the DM that they are staying away from the door. A character doing this would be both invisible and immune to ranged attacks from a character in the office. However, they also wouldn’t be able to attack characters in the office with ranged attacks.
  • Area Attacks: A character in the office can toss a grenade into either the hallway or meeting room (as long as the doors are open). This area attack affects everyone in the area the grenade landed, even ones the character can’t see.

Area Example 2:
An armory (Area 1) and escape pod (Area 5) are connected by doors to the opposite ends of a corridor (Areas 2, 3, and 4). Both the armory and escape pod are on the same side of the corridor.
Area 2 Example

Figure 2 is a 5-area map. It has an armory (Area 1) and an escape pod (Area 5) at opposite ends of a long corridor (Areas 2, 3, and 4). The dotted lines mark arbitrary boundaries between areas in the corridor, which is otherwise completely open.

A character in the armory has limited choices on what she can do during a fight.

  • Close Attacks: A character in the armory can make close attacks against anyone else in the armory. However, they can’t make close attacks against anyone in the escape pod or any section of the corridor.
  • Ranged Attacks: A character in the armory can only make ranged attacks against characters in Area 2. They can’t see or attack characters in the rest of the corridor (Areas 3 and 4) unless they hang outside the door. They also can’t make ranged attacks against characters in the escape pod.
  • Area Attacks: A character in the armory can only make area attacks against characters in area 2. Again, they can’t see or attack characters in the rest of the corridor (unless they hang out the door to toss a grenade) or in the escape pod.

On the other hand, a character at the left side of the corridor (Area 2) has more options.

  • Close Attacks: A character in area 2 can make close attacks against anyone else in area 2. They can’t, however, make close attacks against characters in other parts of the corridor, because they’re too far away. They also can’t make close attacks against anyone in the armory or escape pod.
  • Ranged Attacks: A character in Area 2 cannot fire into the escape pod (Area 5). However, they can fire into:
    • The armory (range of 1)
    • Area 3 of the corridor (range of 1)
    • Area 4 of the corridor (range of 2)
  • Area Attacks: A character in Area 2 still can’t make area attacks into to the escape pod (Area 5). However, they can make area attacks against everyone in:
    • The armory (range of 1)
    • Area 3 of the corridor (range of 1)
    • Area 4 of the corridor (range of 2)

That’s about it for now. Tune in tomorrow for a discussion of how Covenant handles weapon damage and the tech levels of gear.

Published by radiofreecovenant

A podcast about the science-fiction roleplaying game "Covenant" and the urban fantasy novel "Crossing the Line", soon to be published by Black Opal Books.

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