We are rolling out an RPG system for the fun of it. However, recent tests have lead us to a rather unsolvable problem.

In order to make single combat interesting and hopefully realistic, close-combat range was introduced. Essentially, every weapon covers one or several ranges, and fighting at an unsupported one is heavily penalized. That is, when they pass the tip of your spear, the combat is probably over for you(the spear covers only long range).

Now, the failing test setup. Ten guys are protecting the summit of a hill, while 20 others are storming it. One part of the attackers pinned down the defenders (short sword and large shield), while the two handed sword guys attacked from behind. According to the range rules, the defenders couldn't just turn around and stab the large sword guys and that was pretty important and interesting part of the combat.

The rule is definitely fun at single combat (1 vs 1). It is interesting and important for larger combat (30 participants), but as it is introducing a new state of the system, that has to be tracked, it bogs down combat immensely.

Now to justify the heading of my question, this problem is recurrent, when trying to design a system, that is meant to work on very different scales. For example, if our system gets to handle several thousand men fighting, there will definitely need to be a rule for morale and routing, because this is such an important variable in war. But morale checks would be utterly boring in heroic or single combat scenario.

How do we make the rule for close-combat range work? How do we phase it out in larger conflicts, as a plug-in to the rules, that is being disabled?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I am voting to close this as too broad. There are an awful lot of ways to make close-combat range work, especially since this is your own design and you can do basically anything you want. The answers are many and varied. We also are not really deeply involved in your system or goals, and can't really accurately respond to your needs. This is probably a better fit for a discussion with a forum or your development team. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ ... where is the chat?!? @JonathanHobbs, the question is about how to phase rules in and out as the scale of the combat changes. Do you think that is a valid question and thus I should try to emphasize it? Or is it still a bad fit here? \$\endgroup\$
    – Vorac
    Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's just a bad fit. (a) It's a game development question for which there are a hundred good answers. (b) We don't know your system, so we cannot understand objectively what's best for it, only you can. (c) The level of knowledge required to have us understand it is way beyond what SE is there to deal with (we'd have to research an all new system in depth). (d) Really you should just have a more open form of dialogue (a discussion!) with RPG dev forums, and your dev team, about the possibilities (of which there are many; see a) and what you should do. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 14:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's off topic. However, I do think the question is incomplete. I know of at least two systems that manage a heavily-detailed duel/fight system with close or "inside reach" ranges, and they don't bog down at all. Since you've merely asserted that your rule does bog down the game, but you haven't provided the rule or its system context that would show why it is so, we have no way of pointing out why it happens or how to fix it. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 16:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Riddle of Steel and Burning Wheel. Both manage ranges as a given at all times instead of a special exception state, so they're integrated into the whole system. Perhaps that's the answer? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 16:23


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