05 October, 2010

I'd Hit That

The combat rules in OD&D can be confusing. The idea presented in the 1974 Boxed Set is to use the Chainmail rules to run a typical round of fighting. This is a great indication that fighting really isn't intended to be a major integral part of DnD. As we all know though, you will end up meeting something that very much wants to kill you.

For my OD&D message board game, I wanted to distill the Chainmail combat turn down into an easily understood round of fighting for DnD, while keeping the written system. It had to be straightforward, since I'm not able to talk it over with the players in person. Here's what I came up with..

Firstly, two definitions:
Split-move & fire - Only certain units can do this, and usually only mounted units. It means being able to fire missile weapons while moving, and is simulated by moving half of one's move, firing, then moving the remainder of one's move.
Pass-through fire - This happens when someone moves into range of your missile weapons during their movement. If they are in range at the halfway point of their move, you can take a shot at them, as long as you're not moving this round.

1- Both sides roll a d6. The high roll gets to choose if they want to move first or wait to move.
2- Spellcasting begins.
3- The side moving first takes their move. If split-move&fire or pass-through applies to them, that missile fire is resolved at the halfway point of their movement.
4- The next side moves. If split-move&fire or pass-through applies to them, that missile fire is resolved at the halfway point of their movement.
5- All normal missile fire is resolved.
6- Any melee is resolved.
7- If an archer or longbowman has not moved, and isn't being meleed, they can take a 2nd shot now, unless they've already fired twice.
8- Spells go off.

- In steps 3 and 4 above, 'halfway point of their movement' does not mean half of their total possible movement rate. It means half of the distance they're actually moving. If the goblins are only 20 feet away, and headed toward you, your arrows hit them at 10 feet.
- Step 6, melee, has its own little order to follow. See below.

- In the Chainmail rules where it talks about one side being the attacker, that's going to be whichever side moved into melee. Another way of putting that is whichever side created the melee by moving into range on their movement turn. If you hold your movement, and your opponent advances into melee on you, they will be 'the attacker.'

- 1st Round: First blow is struck by
  • the attacker
  • the defender if they have a weapon two or more classes higher than the attacker (see melee notes)
  • the defender if they are physically above the attacker
- 2nd Round and afterward: First blow is struck by
  • the same side (attacker or defender) which struck first in round one, unless..
  • the opponent has a weapon which is two classes lower, or..
  • the opponent is physically above the side that struck first in round one
Melee Notes:
Here are the 'weapon classes' mentioned above.
Dagger, hand axe - 1
Mace, club - 3
Longsword - 4
Battle Axe (2 hand) - 5
Morning Star - 6
Flail - 7
Spear - 8
Pole arms - 9
Two Handed Sword - 10
Mounted Lance - 11
Pike 12

I love examples! Let's have one now!

Finnigan's red beard bristles as he locks eyes with a skeevy goblin named Gak, 30 feet away. Finnigan rolls a 5 for initiative, and Gak rolls a 2. Finnigan is standing in a doorway, though, so he stands his ground. Gak advances right at Finnigan with his mace, visions of dwarf brains dancing in his head!

When Gak is 15 feet away, Finnigan hurls his hand axe at the little rotter. Finnigan's aim isn't his strong point, and his hand axe spins over the goblin's head. Chin up Finn! The dwarf hefts his big two-handed axe.

Gak closes in and attacks, but with his smaller mace(3) he can't get past Finnigan's axe(5) before the dwarf has a chance to swing. Finnigan meets the goblin with whistling axe strokes (and rolls a 10) but only manages to score up Gak's shield a few times (abstract 1 minute rounds.)

Now Gak is inside the reach of Finnigan's big axe, and does his best to pummel the dwarf with his mace (rolling an 18 to attack and then a 3 for damage.) The goblin manages to batter Finnigan several times, wearing him down.

Ding! Round Two!

Finnigan ended up with first blow during round 1, but Gak's mace is still at least 2 sizes smaller than the battle axe, so now Gak, still inside the axe's advantage of reach, will get the first blow(s.) If Finnigan drops his axe and pulls out a longsword, he could keep his momentum and take first blow for this round as well. However, he has only his axe, and Gak gets to roll his attack.

Good luck Finnigan!
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