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I was in a combat last night, and I used my "Bash" skill:

This is a pummeling melee attack. Your attack inflicts 1 less point of damage than normal, but dazes your target for one round, during which time the difficulty of all tasks it performs is modified by one step to its detriment.

After all of the calculations, armour, effort, etc., I ended up dealing 0 damage. The DM ruled that the special effect, was therefore nullified as well (and then demonstrated his logic by poking me, and asking if I was dazed).

Is this the case? Do I need to actually inflict damage to trigger the dazed effect?

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If the attack roll hit, you should have dazed the enemy. You're using this power not to kill, but to control the battlefield. Your situation is the following: let's say you attacked with a light weapon (2 base damage), the enemy has 1 armor. An attack with Bash would do 0 damage. This can be a very common situation in the game. It's really harsh to rule that therefore every side effect of Bash is nullified in this case.

Page 91 in my PDF copy contains the paragraph Action:Attack. That paragraph repeatedly includes the wording "...if you hit or otherwise affect your target.", "...hurt or affect something..." Page 92, in the Damage paragraph, starts with "When an attack strikes a character, it usually means the character takes damage." It does not say "An attack only succeeds if the character takes damage." That "usually" is there for a reason.

That last bit bears repeating: your GM is basically introducing a new rule to the game: "attack rolls are successful only if they successively do damage". I think that's a terrible rule, especially for this game. The time and place for this decision is before you roll, by setting the difficulty of the action, or declaring it impossible, not after you rolled successfully.

An analogy can be made with how some games treat taunts: taunts certainly don't do damage, per se, but they can affect the enemy and render them less able to attack (by making them rage, or humiliating them, or whatever the flavor of the game says). Another example is with flash grenades. The light -or sound- bang does not do much damage, but it does harm your ability to fight (I think. I'm not really an expert on grenades).

But let's cut your GM some slack, and let's try to think of a closer analogy: Bash is a pummeling melée attack. So you're hitting the enemy with a blunt weapon. Let's say you use your hands, and slap them. Even a strong slap will not do much actual damage to a grown person, but it will hinder their reaction for a short while.

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This isn't quite as straightforward as that. If the attack would have caused 1 point of damage if you had used a standard attack, then the Bash should have it's intended effect. However, if the attack would not have caused damage, then the Bash should not work, either.

Let's look at edge cases:

You are using a simple club (nightstick, etc.), which is a Light Weapon (normally 2 points of damage).

Your opponent is wearing a leather jerkin (leather jacket, etc.), which is Light Armor (1 point of Armor). With a normal successful attack, you would inflict 1 point of damage. If you Bash him with your club, you do no damage, but dazes him for a round.

However, let's say he had on some brigandine armor (or an armored tactical vest); Medium Armor, protects him for 2 points. With your club, you won't be able to get through that armor (unless remarkably successful on the d20). Bashing him has just as little effect as smacking him with that club - that is, none. Unless you happen to roll high on your attack, he's just going to shrug off anything you do.

Take this one step further, and place the opponent in full Plate Armor; that's Heavy Armor, which provides 3 points of Armor protection. You, with your silly little club, won't be bothering THIS handsome knight in his shiny armor! :-)

(At least, that's how we play it...)

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I would have to disagree with you on that one... I once got hit in the head while playing paintball. I was wearing an appropriate mask, so the impact was minimal, however, due to an interesting outcome, two quick, successive shots, followed by me jerking my head in reaction, managed to hit me on either side of the head, effectively discombobulating me. I could not see, hear, or even stand, and was so out of it I actually removed the mask, but I was otherwise completely unharmed. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Apr 5 '17 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I also see no relation to damage and stun. But digging the book for an answer has proved useless. \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowKras Apr 5 '17 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are introducing a new rule to the game: "attack rolls are successful only if the successive damage roll is successful". I don't find this to be a good rule. The "proper" thing in this case would be not to let you roll, because your attack will be unsuccessful, which would be really weird in a game that has difficulty 10 rolls for doing amazing things. \$\endgroup\$ – Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 6 '17 at 10:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ I disagree, on two points. First, there is no "damage roll," so that part of your argument can be set aside. Secondly, an opponent will react differently if you did not attack, versus if you attacked but did not harm him. A well-armored defender may shrug off the attack, but be wary of you, lest you come up with a more meaningful means of inflicting harm. If you had not attacked at all, the defender would have less reason to consider you a potential threat. A good GM should recognize this difference, and play the game accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – RWL Apr 6 '17 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I amended the text about the damage roll in my answer. I cannot edit the comment. The calculation of damage in Numenera, for the part you do after the attack roll, is analogue to a damage roll, so don't be so quick to set that aside. What I'm trying to say is that the fact that you can't imagine a way to affect an enemy without damaging them is the problem, and it's not the mark of a good GM. I gave several examples. Bash is one example: you damage the enemy less but you inflict a "condition". \$\endgroup\$ – Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 8 '17 at 15:01

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