Chapter 10: Combat

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Chapter 10: Combat

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Sun Nov 01, 2009 10:42 pm

Well, I expected this to be a fun chapter, and it is proving me right so far...

My layout is straightforward.

First a quick blurb about rounds, then the order of the three phases of a round (Statement of Intent, Initiative, Actions).

Then a description of each phase, including a list of actions that you can do.

Then more detail about attacks, with to-hit tables.

Then more detail about spells, with saving throw tables.

Sounds sensible enough, although there are a lot of undefined points in the rules that I'm having to clarify as I go along.

For example, there's the whole "Statement of Intent" business. The rules for things like spell casting and special attacks such as the Smash attack seem to have an assumption that there should be a statement of intent at the beginning of the round. And conversations with Frank Mentzer over at Dragonsfoot have resulted in him saying that there was supposed to be a "Statement of Intent" in the BECMI rules, but somehow it got missed.

So I've included it in the combat section for compatibility with the other parts of the rules that expect it to be there. I'm using rules for it based on my old house rules here (but simplified in that I've dropped the "allow a change of intent for a -2 initiative penalty" step).

Also, as usual, weapon mastery is ambiguous. Particularly when it comes to AC bonuses and deflection attempts. When exactly do you get them? I've made some decisions based on the list of actions that can be declared, trying to resolve the ambiguity while keeping things balanced.

Basically:
  • If you're attacking, parrying or making a fighting withdrawal; you get weapon mastery based AC bonuses and deflection attempts.
  • If you're running you don't get them.
  • If you're casting a spell or concentrating on a spell, you don't get them unless you voluntarily let your spell casting or concentration be disrupted; or unless your spell casting has finished.

I'm also clearing up ambiguity about how far you can move in different situations - again from a combination of places in other parts of the rules where assumptions are made and the questions that Frank Mentzer has answered over at Dragonsfoot:
  • When spellcasting, using a magic item, or making a smash attack, you can't move.
  • When concentrating, you can move half your per-round speed.
  • When attacking or making a fighting withdrawal, you can move your normal per-round speed.
  • When running, you can move three times your normal per-round speed.

Actually, the RC rules are rather confusing when it comes to the "Run" action. It's not clear whether it supposed to be your per-round movement (40' for an unencumbered character x 3 = 120') or your "encounter" movement (120' for an unencumbered character x 3 = 360') that is tripled. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation showed that in the latter case, even the clumsiest of characters would be breaking out into sub-10-second times for the 100m sprint every time they ran; even in the middle of a fight and when changing direction repeatedly. So I assumed that it actually meant three times the "per-round" movement.

I'm sure there will be many other ambiguities that will need clarifying before I've finished this chapter.
Last edited by Blacky the Blackball on Fri Apr 23, 2010 11:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:13 pm

A quick progress report!

I've almost finished this chapter now, and as I suspected there are indeed lots more places where I've needed to clarify things - not so much "house rules" as "house interpretations"...

  • There's the obvious conflict between using the table for attacks versus using THAC0. The table repeats the "20" and "2" entries in the table five times each, so if simply using THAC0 and adding armour class as the book tells you to do you won't reproduce the results on the table. Also THAC0 doesn't take into account the side of the to-hit table that indicates doing extra damage. I've resolved this by simply omitting any mention of THAC0 and only presenting the table.
  • The RC doesn't make it clear whether a +1 bonus to hit is equivalent to a +1 penalty to armour class. Does having a +1 to-hit bonus mean that your targets are treated as having a worse armour class, or are the two independent? If using THAC0 it wouldn't make a difference, but the presence of the plateaus on the to-hit table lead me to think that the latter is the intent; so I've made it clear that it works that way. This means that if your opponent has difficulty hitting you (i.e. needs a "20" or higher) then increasing your armour class doesn't help much to offset their to-hit bonuses. On the other hand, if your opponent is hitting you easily and doing extra damage, their getting extra to-hit bonuses doesn't increase the extra damage that they're doing but your armour class will usually help reduce it.
  • Speaking of which, the side of the table that indicates doing extra damage doesn't actually tell you what you need to roll to hit those armour classes. Does only a natural "1" miss regardless of penalties to the roll? Or if you have enough penalties to your to-hit roll can you miss in other situations? I've resolved this by assuming that in all such cases the attacker still needs to roll a modified "0" or above to hit.
  • The RC doesn't make it clear whether the +4 bonus to-hit for thieves backstabbing stacks with the +2 bonus to-hit for the attack from behind. I've assumed they do stack.
  • The RC contradicts itself about halflings' bonus to armour class against large creatures for being small. In the character chapter it says it's -2, but in the combat chapter it says it's -1. I've gone with the -2.
  • The RC rules for haste/slow seem inconsistent. It says that hastes or slows of the same type (e.g spell + spell) don't stack, but hastes/slows from different types (e.g. spell + potion) do stack to a maximum of double-hasted or double-slowed. So far so good. It then says that you get a +2 to hit per level of speed that you are above your opponent or a -2 to hit per level of speed that you are below your opponent, and that each level of speed above normal gives you double attacks but each level of speed below gives you half attacks. That's all rather sensible. However, it then gives no initiative bonus or penalty for speed - apparently being wired to the gills doesn't make you react any faster - and also gives a flat -2AC bonus when double-hasted (even if your attacker is also double-hasted to match) and a flat +2AC penalty when double-slowed (even if your attacker is also double-slowed). I've ignored the AC changes, and instead specified initiative changes ("auto win" for double-haste, +2 for haste, -2 for slow, "auto lose" for double-slow).
  • The RC helpfully points out that if using a magical missile weapon with magical ammunition (e.g. a bow +1 with arrows +1) the bonuses to damage stack - which balances the fact that you don't get strength bonuses to damage with missile weapons. However, it completely neglects to tell you whether the to-hit bonuses of those same items stack. I've assumed they have, for simplicities sake.

Anyway, I've finished as far as attacks are concerned, and all I have left to do is explain damage and what happens when you run out of hit points (I'm going to treat the optional "Make saves vs death with a cumulative -1 per round" rule as canon).

I'm not sure whether to include rules for aerial combat and underwater combat in this chapter, since they won't come up very often in a dungeoneering situation. I may save them for the "wilderness" chapter - and I'd like to expand the underwater section to include changes to individual spells when cast underwater. I remember those from AD&D. Is there an RC equivalent in one of the Gazeteers?
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:41 pm

It's done, and On the Wiki.

No more issues to report, really. I've left aerial and underwater combat for the wilderness chapter because I don't want to overwhelm people in this chapter with combat rules for situations they'll rarely get into until higher level.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 4:14 pm

- If you use the table, +1 to hit is not equivalent to +1 to AC (this was the case also in AD&D 1e). IIRC the Mentzer Expert says that bonuses should be applied to the "to hit" roll, whereas penalties are to be applied to AC (the same is written in the 1e DMG).

- The bonus for back attacks and thieves ability should not stack (IIRC I read it from an errata document)

- According to Mentzer Expert, natural 1 always misses, and natural 20 always hits (unless the table indicates that a number larger than 20 is needed, in which case you need a bonus).
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:56 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:- If you use the table, +1 to hit is not equivalent to +1 to AC (this was the case also in AD&D 1e). IIRC the Mentzer Expert says that bonuses should be applied to the "to hit" roll, whereas penalties are to be applied to AC (the same is written in the 1e DMG).


I've made sure that the difference between +1 to hit and +1 AC is made clear - but the "bonus are to to-hit/penalties are to AC" rule isn't necessary because all the bonuses and penalties are already explicitly either bonuses and penalties "to attack rolls" or bonuses and penalties "to armour class".

- The bonus for back attacks and thieves ability should not stack (IIRC I read it from an errata document)


<Removed due to complaint>

Personally, I think that thieves get the shaft in combat already, so need all the help they can get; particularly because backstab is their schtick, and for the thief to spend a round or two setting it up (including making Move Silently checks) only to then miss is rather disappointing. So I thought there's little harm letting them stack.

- According to Mentzer Expert, natural 1 always misses, and natural 20 always hits (unless the table indicates that a number larger than 20 is needed, in which case you need a bonus).


You remember correctly. The Mentzer Expert set does say that. But the Allston RC is explicit that a natural 20 always hits, even if table indicates a number larger than 20 is needed. This is one of the differences betwen Mentzer BECMI and the Allston RC.
Last edited by Blacky the Blackball on Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby rabindranath72 » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:10 pm

Personally, if given the choice between following RC or Mentzer, I prefer the latter; many modifications in the RC are clearly not well thought-out.
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Re: [Dark Dungeons] Chapter 10 - Combat

Postby Blacky the Blackball » Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:58 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:Personally, if given the choice between following RC or Mentzer, I prefer the latter; many modifications in the RC are clearly not well thought-out.


I'm kind of ploughing a path between the two.

On the one hand, I definitely prefer the WotI Immortals (which I count as being an RC expansion) to the Mentzer ones, and I prefer the RC-style high level demi-humans to the Mentzer-style ones. Also, Mentzer BECMI doesn't have skills (which I'm using, although slightly altered from the RC versions).

On the other hand, I've been reading the Mentzer threads over at Dragonsfoot, and in places where the RC is ambiguous (or in some cases simply contradictory) I'm generally - but not always - following what his "intent" was.

At the moment, I'd estimate that Dark Dungeons is about 20% Rules-from-RC-only, 10% Rules-from-Mentzer-only, 60% Rules-common-to-both and 10% My house rules.
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