Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Battlefield Mathematics

It takes a fair amount of brains to be able to compete in most LARP combat. And I'm not referring to developing strategy of sorts.

I'm referring to the ability for a combatant to comprehend everything they've been hit with to determine their current state.

In the heat of battle, it can be hard to tell if you should still be up or if you still had defenses for that spell you were just hit with. The following is a list of things that players should keep in mind in order to ease battlefield math as much as possible.

1. Add Instead of Subtracting
Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of how many hit points you have left. A lot of player will take their starting body and subtract hit points as they are damaged. Truth is, subtraction is a lot more difficult than addition, especially when you're not dealing with round numbers. So instead, count the damage you've taken with addition, and whenever you exceed your maximum hit points, then you know you're down.

2. Visual Representations of Protectives
We used to have protective rings, but let's be honest, those are hard to update or reference in a fight. Instead, use bracelets, rings, or any other simple identifier that can be seen on your hands to remind you what protective you might have. You can have your left hand represent inactive spells and have your right hand be active spells. If your blue bracelet is on your right hand, it means you still have a shield magic up. If your red bracelet is on your left hand, it means you do not have a magic armor up.

Obviously this doesn't need to be updated in the heat of combat. It's intended for remembering what you have between lulls instead of assuming you have all protectives.

3. Only Track Yourself
A lot of the excessive damage taken by players is due to the fact that they are trying to keep track of how much damage they're putting out. Both PCs and NPCs do that. When you and your opponent both track the hits they're dealing instead of the hits they're receiving, one of you two is definitely going to take too much damage. Trust that the other person is going to monitor the damage that they're taking.

Next post will be about the ways that game designers can make it easier for the players to perform Battlefield Mathematics.


  1. When I NPC monsters with a fair amount of hps vs a group of PCs I sometimes round their dmg to the nearest 5 if i am getting swarm beat. i.e. 3-6 = 5 7-12 =10. Then like you said add instead of subtract. When you have a breather think about your defenses and adjust your hps from your rounding.

  2. all NPCs should round..more over..depending on the encounter..DONT count HP..just go out and fight for X minutes. the goal with this is to just give the players a good fight.

    -Jeremie Collins

  3. You have to be careful about telling people to fight for X minutes though. If you do that, it doesn't matter how hard people fight, and can lead to players feeling ineffective (dropping 10 slays into a monster who just shrugs them off because it happened in the first 60 seconds).

    Additionally, untrained NPCs told to do that will fight aggressive to the point of suicidal, because they assume they're unkillable for x amount of time. This is extremely unfun for PCs.

    There is definitely a time and place for the X minute fight, but it should be relatively rare and only played by experienced PCs, or better yet, add a mechanic that lets the PCs know this is going to be a long encounter, so the PCs fight more for survival than to kill the bad.