I ran my Diablo-themed hack of the AGE system a couple of weeks ago. It went well, but during a fight against the Butcher, the demon’s high armor rating posed a problem. While one warrior was able to consistently deal enough damage to make it through the armor rating, the rest of the group were lucky to manage just a point or two of damage. Since they felt their attacks were ineffective, they were looking for a way to participate in the fight without attacking and didn’t have many built-in options.
Since that encounter, I’ve been doing some thinking about how to add more support options to the AGE system. Currently, there are stunt options that can be used to help make an ally more effective rather than being just about hurting an enemy such as Disarm, Knock Prone, Taunt, and Threaten. The problem is that less than half of attacks will generate stunt points so they end up being pretty unreliable when the main goal is just the support portion. This is especially true with Taunt and Threaten since they require a second successful test in order to have any effect.
A first step in opening up more support options is creating a few action options that are specifically for aiding allies. While a GM can always come up with an appropriate test and results for an action suggested by a player, these new options are intended to serve as a baseline to allow players a reliable way to aid their allies during an encounter.
Advise (Major Action): You analyze the fighting style or biology of an opponent within 10 yards of you and advise an ally on how to exploit that information. You must make a TN 11 test of either your Cunning (Military Lore) or Cunning (Healing). If you succeed, one ally of your choice gains a +1 bonus on his or her next attack roll against the opponent.
Distract (Major Action): You attempt to draw the attention of an opponent within 10 yards of you. You must make an opposed test of your Communication (Deception) vs. the target’s Willpower (Self-Discipline). If you win, the target suffers a -2 penalty to Defense until the beginning of your next turn.
Protect (Major Action): You concentrate on defending an adjacent ally this round. Until the beginning of your next turn, the ally gains a +2 bonus to his or her Defense while adjacent to you.
Taunt (Major Action): As the stunt in Set 2, but it doesn’t require an attack or stunt points. Instead, it is a major action to attempt the Communication (Deception) test.
Threaten (Major Action): As the stunt in Set 2, but it doesn’t require an attack or stunt points. Instead, it is a major action to attempt the Strength (Intimidate) test.
In addition to non-attack actions, I think the system could benefit from a couple new stunts that are focused on aiding allies. These stunts could also be allowed on a missed attack roll if you are using the option for stunts that mitigate failure from the Kobold Press blog.
Unbalance (3 SP): You throw off your target’s stance and open it up to your ally’s attack. Until the beginning of your next turn, any ally attacking the target gains a +2 bonus on the attack roll.
Weak Spot (3 SP): Your attack exposes a weak spot in the target’s armor. The target’s armor rating is halved (rounded down) vs. the next attack that hits it as long as it occurs before the beginning of your next turn.