Tuesday 2 January 2024

Assists as Combo Moves and other thoughts

Chatting in our discord the other week got me thinking of things like Chrono Trigger's Dual and Triple Techniques and the Fastball Special in the X-men comic books. For those unfamiliar, these are essentially attacks and maneuvers where multiple characters will team up and combine their abilities to make a single strike. This sort of thing is all over the media that inspired BREAK!! and after talking a bit with people about how I would implement them in our game, I thought it would be fun to write about here.

I will admit up front that I am cheating a little bit with this entry. Rather than post about a new system or procedure, I instead want to talk about how existing rules can be used to justify these things in-fiction, and tie it to a broader point as well.

In this case, I think BREAK!!'s mechanics for Assists in combat already represent these sort of combo attacks pretty well. To show what I mean, below are a few examples of combining these rules with your character's existing Abilities in a way that personalizes them and makes it seem like they were something the party came up with while they were socializing during downtime.

Attack Assists
It can be easy to underestimate Attack Assists, but sometimes if you want to make sure that a particularly important attack hits an enemy with a high defense, it can be a great way for you to contribute to that. Sometimes it can really be the thing that turns the tide.

While these just provide a pretty straightforward bonus to an allies attack, there is no reason you can't have a bit of fun describing them using skills you already have. Doing so may even open up other opportunities later on in the same conflict. 

Some Example Combo Techniques using Attack Assists
  • Startling Reveal: A Factotum or Sneak taking their affinity for staying unseen and using it to get a chance to startle a target and getting them to drop their defenses.
  • Dweomer Diversion: A Sage using a non-combat magic ability (such as Glowing Ink) to create a flashy distraction to catch the target's attention.
  • Harrowing Gesture: Heretics utilizing their Dreadful Ability to do something uniquely tailored to upset or unnerve a target and leave them open to an attack.

Tactical Assists
Unlike their more concrete cousins, Tactical Assists have this sort of fun fiction built in as you have to describe what you are doing to use them at all. It's even easier to think of them as well practiced maneuvers between allies.

Some Example Combo Techniques using Tactical Assists
  • Icarus Shot: One strong character with Supernatural Leaping grabbing another with a missile weapon of some kind and bounding into the air with them in tow so they can take a shot they wouldn't have been able to otherwise.
  • Cannon Brawl: Having one character use an Ability to Balloon or Petrify someone, then having another perform an Attack Stunt or Trick to bounce or hurl them into an enemy and topple them.
  • Stone Path Strike: A Dwarf using Stone Song to create a ramp or wall for a Raider with Free Runner to dash along it and attack a difficult to reach target, like a colossal creature's strike point.

Ultimately these are just a few simple examples, but my hope is that they might inspire you to come up with your own, or at least give you a chance to show how cool and fun your character is during actions you might normally let fade into the background.

The larger point I want to leave off on is this: 

BREAK!! has a few layers to it, but its a pretty simple game at its core with rules that I think can be stretched and squeezed quite a bit without messing things up. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking you need very specefic rules to emulate certain things. This works very well for many games but generally I don't think it's the best fit for BREAK!! a lot of the time. 

It's certainly good (and fun) to homebrew and customize, but sometimes what you need is built into the game already if you're willing to change up your angle here and again. When you think of something you want to add in, consider the existing options before jumping headlong into it. If you re-skin or re-flavor something to work for you, you'll save yourself a lot of time that you can use to come up with your next adventure, adversary, or even other house-rule instead.

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