Author’s Diary for February 15, 2020

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

How do you perform battlefield maneuvers on a map that isn’t built for them? Find out below the fold.

I have to admit, I went with amorphous areas instead of the standard 5-foot-by-5-foot grid because it seemed like less of a headache. The players don’t have to map exactly where their characters are, and I wouldn’t have to worry about things like flanking and attacks of opportunity.

Except that, no, players would want at least some those things. I certainly would. So I had to try and spot-weld tactical maneuvers onto a tactical system that really doesn’t support them.

There are currently four maneuvers:

  • STOP: Stop another character from either leaving or entering an area
  • GANG UP: Surround a character with your buddies and beat xir down, similar to flanking in Dungeons and Dragons
  • CLOSE RANKS: Protect your buddies and let them protect you
  • LAST STAND: Find a wall or something solid to which you can put your back so that only 1 opponent can target you with close attacks

I’m happy with the results for the most part. However, I’m also worried that I’m losing sight of my original goal: make the combat mechanics shallow and the noncombat mechanics deep. Between thermal shock and a page and a-half of grappling rules, I feel like I’m making the combat mechanics, not only too deep, but much deeper than some other games. And these are just the playtest rules!

It looks like I’m going to have to take a hatchet to these rules when I’m done and pare them down to where I want them.

Here’s what I’ve written today.


  • Unlike other roleplaying games, scenes in Covenant do not take place on a grid. Instead, the map is broken up into areas.
  • Characters can still perform maneuvers against characters in the same area to gain a tactical advantage.
  • Unless otherwise noted, these maneuvers can only be used against 1 character.
  • A character must declare that xi is using a maneuver during her turn in a scene.
  • A character is affected by a maneuver’s effects and drawbacks as soon as xi declares that xi is using the maneuver.
  • A character does not have to make a bid or spend Discipline to use a maneuver.
  • The target of the maneuver can counter it by making a successful opposed tactics or agility bid on xir turn.
  • A character can use or be affected by more than 1 maneuver at a time.
  • If a character uses or is affected by more than 1 maneuver, then winning a single opp opposed tactics or agility bid counters all those maneuvers.
  • The available maneuvers are stopping, ganging up, closing ranks, and last stand.
    • Stop: 1 character prevents a target from entering or leaving an area without restraining xir.
      • Effects: 1 character either:
        • Can’t leave the maneuvering character’s area
        • Can’t enter the maneuvering character’s area from an adjacent area
      • Drawbacks: The maneuvering character cannot leave this area.
    • Gang Up: 2 or more characters all attack 1 target at once. 
      • Effects: The maneuvering characters all gain 1 advantage to their attack bids against this target.
      • Drawbacks:
        • The maneuvering characters cannot move from this area.
        • The maneuvering characters lose this 1 advantage if the target leaves the area.
    • Close Ranks: 2 or more characters take up a defensive position or formation and protect each other.
      • Effects: The maneuvering characters all gain 1 advantage to to their defense bids against all attacks.
      • Drawbacks: The maneuvering characters cannot move from this area.
    • Last Stand: 1 character gets xir back against something solid or otherwise maneuvers xirself to reduce the number of close attacks that can affect xir.
      • Effects: The maneuvering character can only be attacked with close attacks by 1 opponent per turn.
      • Drawbacks: The maneuvering character cannot move from this area.

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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