Thursday, August 15, 2013

Weapon Mastery Redux (Basic)

Gave this a shot some time ago. As things go, I didn't get any further because there were some missing pieces and some more testing. Today I stumbled across this inspiring post about longswords over at Spell and Steel. It was enlightening and some of the missing pieces fell into place. I'll try and summarize how I plan to use this in our game.

Playing it Basic

I don't use it in campaigns, but it is useful for one-shots and to introduce new players to the way we handle combat. The "advanced" version we use will be part of another post. This is, of course, a combination of various house rules. Some are by me, some from around the OSR, some from Hackmaster or the Rules Cyclopedia itself. The first link above sheds further light on the subject. This rules assume medium sized characters, everything else is noted separately.


The HD of a class indicates the damage a character can do with one strike. Every 6 levels all classes get an additional die per combat round.

Weapons have up to 3 different damage types (hacking, piercing, clubbing). A weapon might be able to do one or a combination of those according to it's functionality (a longsword, for example, could do all of those, an arrow not). Every weapon might be used for clubbing.

Hacking allows for follow-through damage. If enough damage is dealt to cut an enemy to 0 hp, the rest of the damage might go to the next enemy close by (no additional to-hit needed).*

Piercing weapons impale a victim with a critical hit. A victim will need 1d4 rounds to get the weapon free, every round will deal 1d6 damage (the impaled does nothing else in this time, DEX does not apply when attacked). The attacker might try to keep the weapon longer in the victim (opposed STR-checks). Even when freed in the first round (by attacker or victim), the 1d6 damage apply for that round. If an arrow deals 4 points of damage or more, the victim is also impaled, same time is needed to pry it free, but it only deals 1 point of damage every round.**

Clubbing might push back or even trip a victim, if an attack misses the target, but hits the armor and would deal 6 points of damage or more (for small creatures 4 damage is the minimum). The victim is entitled to a saving throw against paralysation. If the save is successfull, the target is pushed back or the damage -5 in meters, if not, the target also falls down. More than 3 meters and they get falling damage, too (also if bashed against a wall).***

Dice Distribution

Ranged combat and melee are the categories relevant for this. Unarmed combat is resolved as the Rules Cyclopedia suggests. Here we go.

  • Two handed weapons deal two dice of damage. Until the second die is available (level 6) this means one attack every two rounds.
  • Long weapons also have the benefit of initiative. It keeps an enemy at bay. It means, if the two handed weapon only attacks every two rounds, so does the enemy with a smaller weapon (if the surrounding space allows for it, of course).
  • Wielding a one handed weapon with two hands allows two dice in one round, but only the highest result is taken for damage. It does not work for small weapons.
  • Small shield and buckler do not count for AC, but allow to deflect one attack per round every 3 levels (1 attack per round on levels 1-3, two per round on levels 4-6, etc.). Save vs. Death ray deflects an attack. Using a small second weapon with the off-hand has the same effect.

  • A character may aim for one round and attack in the next. His (first) damage die is then rolled as a to-hit-bonus.
  • Heavy range weapons do two dice of damage. The same rules apply those for two handed weapons (without the benefit of initiative, of course).

Fighters benefit
  • Fighters may use their STR bonus for damage reduction instead of additional weapon damage. But it has to be declared before the fight.****

Aimed hits

Just working with what a basic monster description is giving a DM, this needs to factor in level/hd and AC. Let's assume a limb can take around 40% of the hitpoints a creature has, before it's rendered useless (one may try and give different limbs different values, like Hackmaster or Runequest do, but I'd like to keep it simple and chose a more conservative estimation to cover all...). Just add the AC to that and it's good to go.

Result: 3 x hd (or level) + ac-value (take it all, magic, dex, protection, whatever)
= damage needed to dismember or cripple

Full explanation about how we handle aimed hits, for the interested, may be found here.

Echoing dice (my reasoning about this can be read here)
  • Roll the highest value of any dice and you might roll again with the next lower die.
  • If you keep rolling that high, repeat again with the next lower die.
  • There is no die lower than d4.
  • Dice in order: 1d20, 1d12, 1d10, 1d8, 1d6, 1d4
  • Not for initiative or hit die rolls.

This concludes all I'd use for a basic combat in our game*****. The advanced rules will be a hybrid between this system and the Weapon Mastery system from the Rules Cyclopedia. The focus will be more on the functionality of a weapon and the tactical advantages thereof. Most of the special effects listed in the RC will also be part of this (but watered down and streamlined, I guess).

*This saves lives if characters die when falling under 0 hp and it helps cutting down low-hp critters fast.
**Makes ranged weapons somewhat better and stabbing a victim a bit more effective.
***Makes people fly around if hit by a giant (or goblins, if hit by the fighter...).
****I'm pretty sure I read this on a blog somewhere, but can't remember where. Sorry.
*****Well, I'd go and use Endurance and some house rules for armor, too. But they are not that necessary for this to work...

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