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SWADE - Using Athletics to interrupt actions

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  • #16
    When I picture training in Athletics, I envision someone practicing track and field, swimming, going to the climbing gym, etc. None of those skills requires particularly fast reflexes. Whereas, a lot of training for fighting and shooting (martial arts, for example) emphasizes fast reflexes.

    If there was a confrontation between an out-of-shape police officer who underwent self-defense training, and a competitive long-distance swimmer, then I'd put money on the cop reacting first in that situation.

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    • #17
      Deskepticon Being an accurate shot is only part of what's required to be a competitive speed shooter. You also need to be heavily trained in moving around, reacting to pop-ups in all direction, rapid target acquisition, and other athletic training.
      Someone that just has a high Shooting die is a great single target marksman. They may even be a great fixed-position machine gunner. But that doesn't make them a competitive speed shooter and the GM shouldn't be giving them that for free.

      Soulliard Nothing I say is going to change how you think. But I'll note that those examples include a lot of fast reaction training. Or have you never gotten smoked coming off a starting block?
      Last edited by ValhallaGH; 12-21-2018, 08:10 PM.
      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Augusto Antunes View Post
        I'm really sorry if I'm misunderstanding the point you're trying to make there, but how is it that being athletic will help you do that? Actually, a better question would be: how is it that being non-athletic should have any negative effect on the character in that scenario?
        I think it is the label "Athletics" that you are having a problem with. In most people's minds being athletic is exactly as you have described; someone who is good at wrestling, jumping, climbing, etc. In the way SWADE is using it I picture it as a much more mental training. How well do you react to a given, surprise, situation and how quickly can you devise the 'best' reaction to it. In many cases the common athletic skills use this more than physical ability. When climbing and your hand slips what do you do? When throwing how is the wind, which has a lot more effect on slower bulkier items, going to adjust the trajectory? When wrestling and the guy makes a sudden twist how do you adjust your grip or position?

        Athletics, as used in SW, is as much mental as it is physical. This is why, even if you are the best shot in the world, if you cannot react to changing situations you should be a hunter, not a cop. Animals are a lot more predictable than humans will ever be.
        I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

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        • Augusto Antunes
          Augusto Antunes commented
          Editing a comment
          I think you're right. The problem is that what you described there is what I think Agility is supposed to be. By SWADE, there's fundamentally no difference whatsoever between Agility and Athletics other than the fact that one's an attribute and one's a skill. That can be problematic in terms of mechanics and downright wrong in terms of definition. It's a very slippery slope to go down on. Even though I like Athletics as a skill, I think they might be overloading it a bit. As a skill, I think it needs to be a bit more focused.
          Last edited by Augusto Antunes; 12-27-2018, 06:36 PM.

      • #19
        ValhallaGH You do make some compelling arguments. For the record, I haven't decided one way or the other how I really feel about Athletics being used for interruptions. It'll probably be fine. But given how much PEG is stacking onto the skill, it's going to become a "must have" for everyone. You can't just decide to be bad at grappling* without also being a bad throw, slow to react, a crap swimmer, and a kid who grew up 100 miles from the nearest tree.

        For this reason, I'm wondering if it makes sense as a game mechanic to attach yet one more thing to the skill (even if it's rationally coherent).

        * I realize this can easily be addressed with Hindrances, but that opens up another discussion of using Hindrances merely to flesh out a simple concept. Before, a desert-dweller was simply untrained in Swimming; now it's a Hindrance, which means potential Bennies... it's a subtle shift. I'm not yet sure of the ramifications of it until I've actually had time with the new rules.

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        • #20
          Deskepticon Athletics (Agility) is a Core Skill, so everyone has a d4 automatically. There are hindrances (Can't Swim, Clumsy, One Arm, and Slow (Major) ) to be bad at it; either part of it (Can't Swim & One Arm) or all of it (Clumsy & Slow).

          It's a powerful skill, with lots of combat and non-combat uses (mobility, Tests, grappling, push, throwing attacks, etc.) that put it on a level with Fighting. Having had a few years to get used to Fighting being a single potent skill, I'm okay with Athletics joining the tier. I've been opposed to a number of aspects about Athletics's development, but now that it is fully arrived I am surprised by how okay with it I am.

          FYI: Can't Swim imposes -2 on Athletics (swimming) and reduces your swimming pace to 1/2" (one yard). Not only is the character a terrible swimmer, it takes them forever to get anywhere (one foot per second travel rate, or 60 feet per minute). It seems like a pretty good Hindrance for what it does.
          I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah, I'm generally okay with it's power level as well. I'm even over the fact that it isn't linked to Strength. It's just when it specifically comes to interrupting, I'm not really sure how I feel about Athletics taking on yet another role. I agree with the rationale behind why it should, but from a game balance perspective, it almost makes the skill too good.

            As I mentioned, it's probably fine. It's just first impressions tend to leave a mark. ::shrug::

            I suspect setting rules will exist to "split off" pieces of the skill. 50 Fathoms should probably make Swimming a separate skill. As would a Dune setting, where the Fremen are expert climbers but would shake in their stillsuits at the thought of entering water higher than knee-deep.

        • #21
          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          Deskepticon Being an accurate shot is only part of what's required to be a competitive speed shooter. You also need to be heavily trained in moving around, reacting to pop-ups in all direction, rapid target acquisition, and other athletic training.
          Well, for the sake of argument, I really don't see any of that as a separate skill at all. I see all of that training as part of the Shooting skill, and that's actually one of the reasons it's still linked to Agility. Most of the time in game, almost all of that would be handled by Shooting alone. Personally, I feel having a high Agility to support your high Shooting is already enough to justify the character having that kind of training.

          Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
          DeskepticonSomeone that just has a high Shooting die is a great single target marksman. They may even be a great fixed-position machine gunner. But that doesn't make them a competitive speed shooter and the GM shouldn't be giving them that for free.
          And I still don't see why that marksman should have a hard time interrupting someone with a single shot just because the other guy might have a higher Athletics.

          I know you're not replying to me specifically there (pardon the intrusion), but your arguments aren't doing much to turn me around on this. I'm afraid I must remain in strong, but friendly and respectful disagreement with you.

          On a more general note, I think the real problem I might be having here is that there's just too much overlap between Agility and Athletics when it comes to defining those traits. Even though one's an Attribute and one's a Skill, they're being treated as essentially the exact same thing. Athletics has become a secondary Agility attribute in skill form just so it can do all of the things that were done by Agility in the previous edition, and that's just too awkward for me. Personally, I really feel Athletics is a bit overloaded and poorly defined at the moment. As a skill, it needed to be just a bit more focused. Actually, now that I had some time to think about it, I'm starting to realize that using Athletics to interrupt actions isn't the whole issue, but just a symptom of a bigger problem (but of course, I'm aware that it might not be a problem to everyone else just as much as it is to me).

          And just a quick addendum for clarification: I really like Athletics as a skill. I think it's better than what we had before. I like that it combines Climbing, Throwing and Swimming into a single skill, and I like that it can be both a combat skill and a general "physicality" skill depending on the situation. I'm not against Athletics at all. I think it's a good idea. The problem is that I think it's a good idea that might have been just a bit haphazardly or overeagerly applied. I don't think it should be covering things like pure reflexes and dexterity. This is one of the very few small things in SWADE that I'm still not 100% on. Other than that, I think SWADE is a marvel of game design and system improvement. I don't want anybody to think that I'm hating on SWADE just because I'm currently so focused on nitpicking this one single aspect of it.
          Last edited by Augusto Antunes; 12-24-2018, 10:55 PM.
          "Did I fire six shots, or only five? Three? Seven. Whatever." - Unkempt Harold

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          • #22
            Originally posted by Augusto Antunes View Post
            Well, for the sake of argument, I really don't see any of that as a separate skill at all. I see all of that training as part of the Shooting skill, and that's actually one of the reasons it's still linked to Agility. Most of the time in game, almost all of that would be handled by Shooting alone. Personally, I feel having a high Agility to support your high Shooting is already enough to justify the character having that kind of training.
            A) Most marksmanship training focuses on being still, calm, and stationary. It focuses on getting into a stable position and staying in it until your shooting is done. It's only when considering the specialization of "shooting on the move" that techniques to pause movement long enough (and in a good enough pose) to take an accurate shot come into practice. They're related skills but the former does not include the latter.
            There should be some game mechanic to represent that additional training. But it's niche enough that it shouldn't be a separate Skill and is too boring to be a worthwhile Edge. Folding it into an existing game mechanic makes a lot of sense. And there stands Athletics, the "move yourself well" skill, ready to be that existing mechanic.

            B) Absolutely nothing in the Savage Worlds rules requires a high-Shooting character to have a high Agility. It's encouraged but it isn't required - the only Shooting related edges that require Agility are Two-Gun Kid and Ambidextrous, and those are for jumping around with two pistols like Chow Yun Fat.

            C) Agility should be the linked attribute because basic coordination is the fundamental governing talent behind learning to shoot. In Savage Worlds that kind of talent is part of the Agility attribute. That kind of talent isn't the only - or even most important - factor in learning to shoot, but it is the foundation.

            Originally posted by Augusto Antunes View Post
            And I still don't see why that marksman should have a hard time interrupting someone with a single shot just because the other guy might have a higher Athletics.

            I know you're not replying to me specifically there (pardon the intrusion), but your arguments aren't doing much to turn me around on this. I'm afraid I must remain in strong, but friendly and respectful disagreement with you.
            It's because the other guy reacted better. And we know he's got good reactions because he's highly Athletic (or at least rolled well enough to have a moment of great Athletics).

            Play the way you want to. As long as everyone is having fun, you're doing it correctly.
            I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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            • #23
              Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
              A) Most marksmanship training focuses on being still, calm, and stationary. It focuses on getting into a stable position and staying in it until your shooting is done. It's only when considering the specialization of "shooting on the move" that techniques to pause movement long enough (and in a good enough pose) to take an accurate shot come into practice. They're related skills but the former does not include the latter.
              There should be some game mechanic to represent that additional training. But it's niche enough that it shouldn't be a separate Skill and is too boring to be a worthwhile Edge. Folding it into an existing game mechanic makes a lot of sense. And there stands Athletics, the "move yourself well" skill, ready to be that existing mechanic.
              Except this distinction never existed before Athletics existed as a skill, and it still doesn't exist. If it did, there would be a rule like "In any turn in which you move (alternately, Run) and shoot, you must use the lower of your Shooting or Athletics to determine whether you hit."

              But we're talking about interrupting, not shooting on the move. In SWD, it was an Agility roll. In SWADE, it's Athletics (as are most things that were Agility rolls). I'm not sure I like it, but it is consistent and that's important for adjudicating the situations outside the published rules.

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              • ValhallaGH
                ValhallaGH commented
                Editing a comment
                It kind of existed in the Marksman edge - you could only use it when you didn't move. Having that Edge around masked why I always found Shooting vaguely bothersome. This discussion has helped me find it. Thanks folks!

                The consistency is a nice benefit, but not related to the point I was addressing - namely that there are two kinds of real world Shooting training being discussed but treated as if there was no difference.

            • #24
              Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
              Except this distinction never existed before Athletics existed as a skill, and it still doesn't exist. If it did, there would be a rule like "In any turn in which you move (alternately, Run) and shoot, you must use the lower of your Shooting or Athletics to determine whether you hit."
              No. Part of shooting training, the biggest part, is knowing how to establish a stable sight picture in the shortest period of time. A walk across a room should not effect that training. If I run across a room that is where the -2 comes in; I am trying to establish that picture while also trying to get someplace fast. If I have walked across a room or just hunkered down that sight picture training will have no effect on how quick I can react to someone popping out of cover to do something.

              If there was no distinction before it was because the rules in previous editions did a bad job of making that clear. There was the "Agility check to interrupt" but there is more than eye-hand coordination needed to interrupt properly. Having a specific skill represent that, an effort to make attributes passive and skills active, is a good step for exactly that reason. It takes more than raw talent to be able to react properly.
              I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

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              • #25
                Originally posted by Augusto Antunes View Post

                Well, for the sake of argument, I really don't see any of that as a separate skill at all. I see all of that training as part of the Shooting skill, and that's actually one of the reasons it's still linked to Agility. Most of the time in game, almost all of that would be handled by Shooting alone. Personally, I feel having a high Agility to support your high Shooting is already enough to justify the character having that kind of training.
                While I'm still on the fence on this topic, ^this is the clincher that is swaying me toward using Agility for interrupts. To me, training in a skill should inherently include the ability to use that skill in a reactionary way.

                And that leads into the second point... The design philosophy of "skills=active, attributes=reaction" still applies in this case. Interrupting is a grey area, where a character on Hold is 'acting' as a 'reaction' to their target's activity. In alignment with the philosophy, an argument can be made for both a skill or an attribute being used.

                Oddly enough, using Agility takes some finagling to explain how being physically fit helps with firing off a quick, witty Taunt. That's a good argument in favor of Athletics, if the skill also includes mental alacrity.

                To that end, I second ValhallaGH 's remark that as long as everyone is onboard and having fun, you are playing correctly.

                I know you're not replying to me specifically there (pardon the intrusion)...
                Not at all, man! This is an open discussion and I'd like to hear all perspectives on it.

                Athletics has become a secondary Agility attribute in skill form just so it can do all of the things that were done by Agility in the previous edition, and that's just too awkward for me. Personally, I really feel Athletics is a bit overloaded and poorly defined at the moment.
                I see it as: Agility is raw potential and Athletics involves applying that potential. Lumping together all the random (seldom-used) mechanics into one blanket skill is smart design. I'm fine with that; 100% on board. Where I get hung up is when that specifically gets applied to Interrupting. Applied reactions can easily be part of their respective skills, not requiring a separate skill to be effective at it.


                Originally posted by ValhallaGH
                Most marksmanship training focuses on being still, calm, and stationary. It focuses on getting into a stable position and staying in it until your shooting is done. It's only when considering the specialization of "shooting on the move" that techniques to pause movement long enough (and in a good enough pose) to take an accurate shot come into practice.
                But nothing about interrupting implies "shooting on the move". A character on Hold can very easily be hunkered down, training his rifle on a specific spot, waiting for his target to pop out so he can take that precise single shot. That's pretty much exactly how ambushes would play out.

                I agree with you're assessment, however, when it comes to inter-combat Interrupts (via Joker or some other means). And your insight on this is why I still on the fence. It seems this is one of those times where the narrative should drive the mechanic, rather than the other way around. When the chips fall, I see myself using either Agility or Athletics (or maybe even Smarts!) for various Interrupts.

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                • #26
                  I feel that I need to point out how "shooting on the move" came into this discussion.
                  Speed shooting, both competitive and combat, is one of the best examples of how interrupt and Shooting would interact. The Shooter is moving around the battlefield, and targets pop out suddenly to interrupt the Shooter. The Shooter has to react quickly to their sudden appearance, shifting onto the sudden target and firing before the pop-ups can do whatever they were planning. That rapid acquisition is a trained ability, one that requires moving the body. And the SWAE Trait for moving the body is Athletics.
                  That inherent narrative is why I brought it up - and then folks started questioning how the parts are applicable. That's the disadvantage of experience - many connections are obvious to you but not obvious to the audience.

                  This is why I'm good with Athletics as the Interrupt Trait. Foe takes cover, sighting down a hallway through two open doors to pick off the Shooter; the Shooter's athleticism might allow the Shooter to turn, sight on, and shoot the sniper before the foe can act. Might not - that's the danger of a readied foe.

                  Could you use a different Trait for that contest? Sure, but the default is (now) Athletics and I'm more in favor of that than I am of the previous rules, largely because Athletics is a) generally useful anyway, b) a Core Skill that every player character will have, c) easier and faster to increase than Agility, and d) is the game mechanic for "moving well", implying that interrupting people is a specialization of "moving well". I agree with that implication, as a gamer and as a former Military Operation in Urban Terrain Instructor.
                  I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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                  • #27
                    Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
                    The Shooter is moving around the battlefield, and targets pop out suddenly to interrupt the Shooter. The Shooter has to react quickly to their sudden appearance, shifting onto the sudden target and firing before the pop-ups can do whatever they were planning. That rapid acquisition is a trained ability, one that requires moving the body.

                    ... This is why I'm good with Athletics as the Interrupt Trait. Foe takes cover, sighting down a hallway through two open doors to pick off the Shooter; the Shooter's athleticism might allow the Shooter to turn, sight on, and shoot the sniper before the foe can act. Might not - that's the danger of a readied foe.
                    Right! That's a beautiful example of why Athletics makes a logical choice. But what about the sniper that already has an established sight picture and is just waiting for someone to enter it?

                    Normally, this would result in the Drop, but assuming the target was privy to sniper (glint of light off the lens, etc.), this now boils down to an Interrupt contest. The target would almost definately roll Athletics to get his butt out of the line of fire, but the sniper just needs to squeeze the trigger. That's not a full-body or "moves well" manuever... it might not even be Agility related, as Smarts or Notice makes sense as well; the sniper needs to know when to sieze his opportunity, recognizing from his target's body language that his position has been compromised.

                    I will concede that that may be my "civilian" mind and recreational (non-tactical) shooting experience talking. I'll not challenge your superior experience on the matter.

                    And Thank You for your service, by the way! I don't think I ever mentioned that to you before, but I mean it.

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                    • #28
                      Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
                      Right! That's a beautiful example of why Athletics makes a logical choice. But what about the sniper that already has an established sight picture and is just waiting for someone to enter it?
                      Depends on a lot of factors, and I agree that having the sniper make an Athletics roll to interrupt a target walking into that sight picture is odd, but if we're not going to give it to the sniper automatically (the target is aware of danger, the target is alert, the target has some special ability that allows it to react effectively, etc.) then we need a game mechanic to determine if the sniper reacts before the target.
                      The Interrupt rules work well enough for that.
                      Note that the GM can hand out a circumstance bonus at any time, per the Comprehensive Modifier sidebar on page 34, of -4 to +4. That's all The Drop really is, an extreme bonus for attacking (and damaging) a not-quite helpless target. The GM can grant a similar bonus to our hypothetical sniper when interrupting a target that walks into the established sight picture, and might grant an equal penalty to interrupt a foe appearing behind the sniper.

                      What? Me have issues with snipers? ... Maybe. Depends on whose side they're on.
                      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

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                      • #29
                        Originally posted by Deskepticon View Post
                        Right! That's a beautiful example of why Athletics makes a logical choice. But what about the sniper that already has an established sight picture and is just waiting for someone to enter it?

                        Normally, this would result in the Drop, but assuming the target was privy to sniper (glint of light off the lens, etc.), this now boils down to an Interrupt contest. The target would almost definately roll Athletics to get his butt out of the line of fire, but the sniper just needs to squeeze the trigger. That's not a full-body or "moves well" manuever... it might not even be Agility related, as Smarts or Notice makes sense as well; the sniper needs to know when to sieze his opportunity, recognizing from his target's body language that his position has been compromised.

                        But if the sniper has made all his calculations based on the target standing in one place, or walking from A to B, and suddenly the target starts to do something else it is more than just "squeeze the trigger". He has to see what the target is doing, understand that the situation has changed, calculate the new variable(s), and react properly. If all he does is squeeze the trigger he will miss, guaranteed. This is the difference between The Drop and interrupting/reacting to an action.
                        I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

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                        • #30
                          Originally posted by Erolat View Post

                          No. Part of shooting training, the biggest part, is knowing how to establish a stable sight picture in the shortest period of time. A walk across a room should not effect that training. If I run across a room that is where the -2 comes in; I am trying to establish that picture while also trying to get someplace fast.
                          In SWD, the penalty comes from trying to do two things at once, just as if you wanted to shoot two guns. I was talking about the skill required to re-focus one's breathing and control heart rate after exertion, something that intensely affects the ability to maintain a sight picture and not disturb it when firing. Hence, the idea of using the highest of Athletics or Shooting in such a situation. But SWADE didn't go that route and it's also not germain to the core discussion about interrupts.

                          Originally posted by ValhallaGM
                          I agree with that implication, as a...former Military Operation in Urban Terrain Instructor.
                          And, thank you, I now have to bow out of this discussion and ignore your arguments. A pity, since they were somewhat convincing.

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                          • ValhallaGH
                            ValhallaGH commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Now I'm confused. I cited a piece of real life experience that I find relevant and has shaped my opinions, and you take that as a reason to abandon the thread and ignore my words. Why?
                            Feel free to PM if you don't want to put your reasons in public.
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