Combat Clock - Positioning Map for Brinkwood

I’ve been toying with an idea for Brinkwood I’ve been calling the “Combat Clock” or “Minuet”. Basically, it’s a grid-esque layout designed to visually display the positioning / facing of characters and enemies in an “ambush” set-up. The idea is that cards representing the opposition would be in the “middle square” and represent the facing of enemies, and the PCs would have figures / tokens / etc to represent themselves that move around the flanks of the enemy.

The design inspiration comes from Che Guevera’s “Guerrilla Warfare”, where he describes the action of an ambush as being similar to a “minuet dance”, with the goal of the ambusher being to attack from different points of the compass in sequence to keep the opponent off-balance and to have difficulty firing back.

I’ve been thinking about visual representation systems to try and cut down on the “dissonance” between how different players see the shared fictional space, ie the situation of “I shoot the bad guy” “he’s standing right next to you, so that’ll be desperate” “Oh, I thought he was fighting Dave”. I’m hoping to codify some rules for the GM, stuff like firing from the flank of an enemy is a Controlled position, the consequences for how an enemy reacts to getting shot at, etc.

I’m also thinking about adding a “Morale Meter” or something on the side that changes dynamically over the course of the battle that moves down when the players attack from the flanks / take out officers, and moves up if the enemy manages to close with the players, inflict damage, rallies, etc. Each “rank” on the meter would carry some mechanical weight to it, like affecting the Effect of players actions, but I’m not sure how much mechanics there are to vary. My goal is to represent a dynamic situation that uses mechanics to feel less “arbitrary” in representing how the battle is going.

Thoughts, feedback, and critique are very much appreciated!

Edit: I formalized the rules around the Combat Clock and Morale Tracker a bit, if anyone cares to have a look / provide feedback.

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So you want to give it mini and grid rules? If that’s the route you want to take I would look at Genesys and the zones that GM Hooly talks about on the Dice Pool podcast. That may be a good way to bridge the gap you are looking at.

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In my hack, the goal in a battle is usually to break the enemy, rather that eradicate them. So the morale meter is the clock players are trying to fill to ‘win’ the encounter, rather than a separate track. Might be worth considering that if your player objectives are similar.
I like the idea of representing flanking and positioning mechanically and explicitly. I did the same thing with range in my hack (since it is set before accurate long range fire arms were the norm) and I think it worked out well. I didn’t use minis or a grid though, since range is easier to handle as theater of the mind.
I think you’d also enable some fun reverse-ambush/defense possibilities if the mechanics were reversible. So players could be the ones in the middle being attacked from all sides.

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it!

I get your point about breaking the Morale being the goal rather than elimination, and I’m thinking of building it in as a slot on the track (essentially when Morale bottoms out, the enemy flees). I’m going for a monster-based combat, with different units having different abilities, so I thought keeping clocks for “eliminating” a unit would work best, but I might convert everything over to Morale, see if that works better.

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My hack also has monster hunting, so I just use a unified clock called “Fight” to represent how much the enemy is willing to keep fighting. For a beast, that might mean a lot of pain, blood loss, etc. For a squad of humans, it could be intimidation, casualties, or whatever else.
Here is the alpha doc, if you want to see how I have it! Deathwish Alpha

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