Author’s Diary for February 14, 2020

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

It’s every Dungeon & Dragons player’s favorite part of the rule book: grappling! Well, we call it restraining, but you know what I mean. Click through for more.

Covenant has different-sized sapient species that can swarm larger species and aliens that catch their prey with tentacles or swallow it whole. Because of this, you want some kind of rules where one character can restrain another character.

Dungeons & Dragons players are already running for the door, because they rightfully hate D&D’s grappling rules. They separate grappling characters, in terms of game mechanics, from non-grappling characters, and they’re too complicated.

Most of my roleplaying experience is in Dungeons & Dragons, so the rules of Covenant are in large part my attempt to fix these two problems.

I may have fixed the first, but not the second.

Restrained and restraining characters can still interact with the rest of the game. However, they suffer a number of disadvantages to all physical bids, including movement bids and attack bids, equal to the size of their opponent. In other words, if I’m being restrained by an aco (size 3), I suffer three disadvantages to my physical bids while I’m restrained. If I’m being restrained by a valka Matriarch (size 6), I suffer six disadvantages. And so on.

However, the restraining rules cover are over a page and a half long. I managed to include a lot in that page and a half, including:

  • Two or more characters restraining one character
  • Pinning restrained characters
  • Performing power moves against pinned characters

Still, that’s too much and much too complicated. I wanted Covenant’s rules to be simple, but they’re quickly turning into anything but. I can only hope I can pare that down during editing and playtesting.


Here’s what I wrote today.

CONTROLLING OTHER CHARACTER’S MOVEMENT

  • A character can control an opponent’s movement by pushing, restraining, and pinning xir.
  • A character in the same area as xir opponent can push that opponent into an adjacent area.
    • The pushing character must first land a close attack on xir target, which may do damage.
    • After his, both characters must make an opposed strength bid.
    • The character that loses the bid can be pushed out of xir current area into an adjacent, accessible area.
    • Alternately, the losing character can be pushed into, out of, onto, or off of a feature in the current area (EXAMPLE: into a vat of acid, out of an airlock, or off of a ledge).
    • The winning character may move with the losing character. If xi does, xi must make a successful close attack against the losing character again to push xir again.
  • A character can slow an opponent by restraining xir.
    • The restraining character must first land a close attack on xir target, which may do damage.
    • After this, the restraining character must make an opposed restraining bid against the target’s escape bid.
    • If one character is smaller than the other, then the smaller character suffers a number of disadvantages to this opposed bid equal to the difference in size between the characters.
      • EXAMPLE:
        • If an aco of size 3 tries to restrain a human of size 5, then the aco (the restraining character) suffers 2 disadvantages to xir restraining bid.
        • If a valka Matriarch of size 6 tries to restrain a human of size 5, then the human (the target) suffers 1 disadvantage to xir escape bid.
    • If the target loses the opposed bid, then xi is restrained.
    • If the restraining character successfully restrains the target, then: 
      • Both characters suffer a number of disadvantages to xir physical bids, including movement bids and attack bids,  equal to xir opponent’s size.
        • EXAMPLE:
          • An aco of size 3 is restraining a human of size 6. The aco imposes 3 disadvantages on the human’s physical bids, while the human imposes 5 disadvantages on the aco’s physical bids.
          • A valka Matriarch of size 6 is restraining a human of size 5. The Matriarch imposes 6 disadvantages on the human’s physical bids, while the human imposes 5 disadvantages on the Matriarch’s 
      • Both characters can do unarmed damage without making an attack bid once to xir opponent.
    • The restrained character can try to escape the restraining character by making another escape bid on xir turn against the restraining character’s restraining bid.
    • The restraining character can end the restraining at any time.
    • More than 1 character can try to restrain the target.
      • Each restraining character must make a restraining bid against the target.
      • The target only has to make 1 escape bid, which xi compares against each restraining character’s restraining bid.
      • The target is only restrained by any restraining character whose restraining bid exceeds xir escape bid.
      • The target suffers a number of disadvantages to xir physical bids equal to sum of the restraining characters’ sizes.
        • EXAMPLE:
          • A human is restrained by an aco (size 3) and a valka male (size 4). The human suffers 3 + 4 = 7 disadvantages to physical bids while both the aco and valka restrain xir.
      • The target can only make 1 free unarmed attack against 1 of the restraining characters.
      • The target can try to escape the restraining character by making 1 escape bid. Xi escapes any restraining character whose restraining bid does not beat this 1 escape bid.
        • EXAMPLE:
          • A human is restrained by an aco and a valka male. The human makes an escape bid of 20 against the aco’s restraining bid of 25 and the valka’s restraining bid of 15. The human escapes the valka but is still restrained by the aco.
  • Restrained characters can be pinned by the restraining character.
    • The restraining character must make a second opposed restraining bid against the restraining character’s escape bid.
    • If the restraining character wins the bid, then the restrained character is pinned.
    • The restrained character can try to escape the pin by making another escape bid on xir turn against the restraining character’s restraining bid. If the restrained character’ wins the bid, then xi is no longer pinned, but is still restrained.
    • After pinning the target, the restraining character can perform a power move.
      • Power moves are unarmed attacks against the restrained character.
      • The restraining character can perform a power move instead of making an automatic unarmed attack against the restrained character.
      • The restraining character must make an opposed attack bid against the restrained character’s defense bid.
      • The restrained character suffers a number of disadvantages to their resistance bid against the power move equal to the restraining character’s size.
        • EXAMPLE: An valka male of size 4 performs a power move on a pinned human. The human suffers 4 disadvantages to xir resistance bid against the power move.
      • The restrained character is no longer pinned after a successful power move.

That’s it for now. See you tomorrow.

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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