Officials in the Middle Kingdom confirmed today that selected, experienced fighters will soon be testing "probability-driven combat simulation" using equipment that departs radically from traditional SCA armour and weapon standards.
The Middle Kingdom has long been regarded as the very pinnacle of agile management, utterly free from bureaucracy and organizational inertia of any kind. With a structure of officers modeled after the Empire of Byzantium, the Midrealm often sets the pace for innovation. No one, therefore, was surprised when the kingdom announced the new combat system.
A Midrealm official, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the role physics plays in the new combat system. "Prior to battle, each fighter will use an authentically period mechanical random number generating device to determine his or her attributes, and will record those numbers onto a specially-designed chart. The numeric values will be cross-referenced against a series of complex tables to obtain combat adjustments that affect the outcome of the battle in near-realtime."
The official said that battles will use a randomizing device whose operating principles are similar to the one used for attribute assignment, but which offers more than three times as many random numbers per activation as the smaller device used in preparation. "In battles," said one official, "we use this more complex randomizing device in conjunction with the combat adjustment tables to determine the outcome of each weapon shot."
When asked about the authenticity of the new system, several Companions of the Laurel had mixed opinions. Said one, "The smaller device used in preparation for battle is approximately period, dating back to Roman times, but there is no evidence that the more complex device used during combat existed prior to the 20th century C.E. Also, the Marshallate's contention that plasticus was an authentic Roman material is...controversial, at best." Another Laurel was less skeptical, pointing out that a Judaic holiday toy dating back thousands of years operates on the same principle as the random number generating devices, but generates Hebrew letters rather than numbers. This Laurel said, "If they had two different complexities of the device, it is possible they had a third level that was even more complex. So while the evidence is sketchy, I think the Marshallate could reasonably assert the possibility of this more complex device in period."
In the new combat system, blow calibration -- with its inherent possibility of dispute -- is no longer needed. Instead, the randomizing devices are used to pre-determine the quantity of physical damage that each fighter can sustain before being incapacitated. When a blow is struck, a random number is compared against the quality level (also numeric) of the defender's simulated armour to determine whether the blow was "good". If so, damage is assessed according to yet another random number. "All these random numbers," claim one official, "make possible a vast number of possible outcomes from any given battle. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination!"
All of the inflicted damage is recorded on the fighters' charts, and after the battle Marshals will evaluate the scenario and assign points representing the experience gained by the fighters. At certain quantities of accrued experience, fighters are able to increase their combat adjustments in a way that simulates the acquisition of greater skill.
One advantage of the simulated combat environment is that opponents need not be actual human beings, and combat need not take place in an actual battlefield or woods. In fact, the Midrealm is considering allowing combatants to face simulated mythological creatures such as trolls, orcs, goblins, and zombies in simulated settings such as swamps, jungles, deserts, and even medieval castles. One Marshal hinted at the possibilities of this, saying that a fighter could "enter an underground labyrinth or dungeon and encounter a dragon" or other dangerous foe.
The SCA Board of Directors has allowed the experimental system to be tested by carefully-selected fighters in one kingdom, pending further review. The Legal Committee did, however, require a special waiver that releases the SCA Inc. from liability for injuries sustained as a result of "malfunction, chipping, or splintering of the plasticus randomizing devices, puncture wounds from graphite or wood writing instruments used during chart manipulation, neurological stress or depression resulting from or attributable to lack of success in simulated combat, post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from simulated damage," or any of 71 other highly-probable injuries and illnesses.
According to proponents of the new system, successful trial use in the Middle Kingdom will soon allow the system to be expanded to all kingdoms in the SCA. It is also rumoured that parallel simulation systems are being developed for archery and rapier combat, and that an optional variant may allow supernatural forces to play a part in the battle scenario.
Although only a few fighter practices under the new system have been held, SCAtoday.net has located a photograph from one such practice held on the quadrangle of the Midrealm Institute of Tactics (MIT).
This article is a work of fictional parody and does not represent actual statements by officials of the Middle Kingdom or the SCA.