Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why not

This survey took a lot longer than I thought it would

Neutral Good Human Ranger/Sorcerer (3rd/3rd Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 16
Dexterity- 15
Constitution- 14
Intelligence- 17
Wisdom- 18
Charisma- 14

Neutral Good- A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers- Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers- Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Chance of Discovery

In the original rules, travel through the wilderness calls for a check for wandering monsters once “at the end of each day”, with the odd caveat that seaborne encounters will occur in the middle of the day.   
So you roll the dice.  If you get a monster you check the % in Lair to see if our intrepid adventurers have stumbled on a lair or encountered some non lair or out of lair troublemakers.
That’s a workable method.  The trouble is that it lacks any granularity with regards to the map.  What I mean is that characters may be traveling 3, 4 or more hexes in a day.  So where does this encounter take place?
If it is truly at the end of the day, presumably as characters prepare to camp or lodge for the night, then it will obviously be in the last hex traveled in.  If on the other hand the encounter occurs at midday, then one of the other hexes must be picked and travel halted at that point.
Referee’s can do this.  They can pick a hex, either randomly or deliberately for the encounter, and again this is a workable method; But it is not a very sharp method.
When I first started to work on the “evasion” table, it was less than clear to me what exactly it was intended to do.  One description of it – I think it was in AiF – said it was “the chance to avoid an encounter”.  This set me to thinking, as they say.  While I think the major intent of the evasion table was originally for hexcrawl chases in the Wilderness, there was a flexibility there (as with almost everything in OD&D) to apply it to other “surprise” situations.
Now if the chance of party A to avoid party B is 70%, then conversely, the chance of Party B to find party A is 30%.
Viola! The Chance of Discovery.  Rather than rolling once a day regardless of how far a group has traveled and backtracking to figure out where an encounter may be, Champions of ZED gives the Referee the option of checking each hex as the PC’s pass through.  For each new hex entered, a roll is first made to check for lair encounters using % in Lair, followed by roll(s) on the Chance of Discovery column made for all “wandering” groups in the area.  If an encounter is indicated, the Referee then check surprise.
Using the method is optional, of course, but it is an example of how the original rules can be stretched a bit when needed to cover more than the obvious situation and give a little more granularity to hex travel.   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Designers and Dragons - only $49.95!

Note: Since I take the subject very seriously, I've decided to replace my original post with a fuller and expanded review.  The contenets are much the same however and the original can be viewed as my post on enworld.

Earlier today on the OD&D forum, and then again on Enworld here

was posted an exciting announcement from Mongoose.  A new history of the RPG industry has been published.  Immediately I wondered if Dr. Rob Macdougall had finally published.  Of course, that wasn't a very logical thought given the publisher in question.  But honestly I've always thought pretty well of Mongoose; at least they seem to be an aggressive success story in the industry and while I only have two of thier Conan books (Betrayer of Asgard and the Stygia sourcebook) I think they are pretty cool.  Unfortunetly it's dead obvious they are out of their depth with this attemp at history.

The book, Designers and Dragons, has available a 7 page preview. I am actually only discussing the prieview here, it was enough for me to see the character of the book.

A history book, in the modern sense, will contain the fruits of carefull scholarship. It will have many references and footnotes in an appendix discussing sources and details. In other words the author will "show the work", behind it. It will also be fact checked. This is when a publisher sends the book to credible readers who will double check, to the extent that they can, the assertions of the book.

Mr. Appelcline and Mongoose Publishing have very obviously done none of these things.

The preview contains several pages discussing the Origin of the Dungeons & Dragons game. As it happens, I'm an archaeologist with an avid interest in that subject and have researched it extensively, including talking with a number of the people involved. So I'm pretty well versed.

There's no question that RPG history owes a great deal to a man named David Wesely, and Appelcline does indeed mention him, or I think it must be him, but Wesely's name is repeatedly misspelled (something a fact checker would have noticead right off)

Imagine a History of the United States starting with Georg Washingtown.

Wesely ran - and still runs from time to time - a game set in a fictional town of Braunstein. Appelcline labels Braunstein as Napoleonic, but then says Dave Arneson - Co Creator of D&D - started running Braunstein and changed it to many types of settings. While Dave did run a Braunstien - he called it Blackmoor - it was Wesely himself who started changing the setting to different locals and set most of his games in a fictional, modern day Banana Republic, not the Napoleonic period.

This may seem like a minor fauxpaux but since nothing is referenced, the reader is left to assume that Appelcline is relaying accurate information.

It gets worse, much worse.

"Various sources describe Arneson visiting Gygax, Gygax visiting Arneson, or the two meeting at GenCon IV (1971)."

This is pure non-sense. All the people directly involved who have said anything about it have told exactly the same story - including, Gygax, Arneson, Kuntz, and Megarry. Megarry and Arneson went to Lake Geneva in late fall of 1972. (November, according to Mr. Kuntz). Megarry went to showcase his Dungeon boardgame and Mr. Arneson went to help him and run "a Blackmoor" for Mr. Gygax. "Other sources", meaning fan speculation and half forgotten comments from third parties, have no credibility in the matter.

This is really basic reasearch 101 stuff. The correct information can be gotten directly by asking the surviving participants or can be found without much trouble using a search engine.

Next we have this lovely sttement:

"Whatever the case, in that 1971 meeting Gygax and Arneson decided to jointly design a game that incorporated their ideas of fantasy realms and individual player characters. They called it ... `The Fantasy Game'."

There is exactly nothing true in any of the above. Gygax asked Arneson for his rules so they could "jointly design" Dungeons and Dragons in the tail end of 1972 after experiencing a delve into Blackmoor Dungeon as a player. They did not put their head together and decide to jointly design a fantasy game in 1971. Far from it, Arneson had been running his RPG for nearly two years before Gygax got involved with the game.

Further - in an interview on the very website that Mr. Appelcline founded and manages - Gygax emphatically denied that "The Fantasy Game" was ever an actual name for the game. Here's the quote "As an aside, I must laugh at some comment I saw about the name for the game being "The Fantasy Game" until someone "wised me up". Having been employed as an Editor-in-Chief, selecting what game rules and games would be published by Guidon Games since the beginning of 1971, I was well aware of the need to use a working title, the need for some caution in regards using the actual name for a a projected game release. So that's the reason for that bland one on the draft works."

Appelcline seems to cavalierly ignore the information on his own website! "They" never called it "The Fantasy Game" Gygax merely put that on an early draft as a placeholder. Arneson, as it happens, had an entirely different title in mind, but that is another story.

Here's yet another unchecked and unsited "fact": We all know - at least those who have seen the circa 90 page reformatted versions of the 3 LBB's - that Gygax's figure of 150 typewritten pages (or 300 !! as claimed in his Dragon #7 article) for the final playtest manuscript of D&D is an um... overestimate - yet Appelcline states it as simple fact without citing any source or giving any hint it might be otherwise.

That nearly ends the preview and its enough for me to shake my head in wonder at what can be published as history with a straight face and a less than inexpensive pricetag. This book doesn't even meet the most basic standards of journalism, let alone historical inquiry.

I imagine there might be a lot of good information in the book, particularly as it gets closer to the present, but with such sloppy scholarship and lack of decent references, who's to know what parts can be trusted?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Baskets of Notes

Was just looking at some old post and thinking about how far we've come in getting a better handle on those early days of D&D. 

For a very long time, just about everyone, myself included, bought into the message to varying degrees that Arneson was a hack who got more than he deserved.   Twas said he couldn’t write, didn’t write and was just some sloppy idea guy guilty of sour grapes.

Of course, old Dave really was a decent and kind gentleman and actually a pretty good writer, and his writings, if somewhat obscure, are clear and cogent.  Check out Trapman, DNA/DOA or Longtooth Lounge, for examples.

A lot of hay has been made over Tim Kask talking about the difficult task he faced when handed a “basketful of notes” that contained an apparently haphazard collection of materials for Supplement II.

Dave likely was a bit haphazard with his notes but the whole thing with Supplement II "basket of notes" is misleading.

Baskets holding project materials were standard operating proceedure at TSR in the early days, so the Supplement II notes were no different from any other project in that regard.  Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, the basket in question had been collected and futzed over for some time by Brian Blume as the original editor on the project.  Indeed, it was Blume who tossed in the monk character.  Its likely that the material Arneson had mailed in contained a manuscript and table of monsters (the Giant creatures), the Hit location section, the TotF, The disease section, and a character class manuscript with Assasin and Sage, and a few things Kask cut out.  Among the cut material was probably the "Special Interests" and "Investments" sections Arneson included in The First Fantasy Campaign.  The rest of the material likely was a jumble of notes from Brian Blum and disparate materials written by Steve Marsh.  Its not fair to blame Arneson for that.  Tim Kask has made no secret of his feelings towards Arneson, so it is not surprising that his readers infer the basket of notes to be a defect peculiar to DA.  In any case it is to Tims credit that he pulled it all together into a fascinating little book.

For anyone interested in exploring the make -up of SII further, I have a post on the authorship of various sections HERE. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Secrets of Monster Manual

The AD&D Monster Manual occupies an interesting space in D&D history.  Interesting because it was published years before the rules for the “Advanced” game itself.  Mike Carr’s 1977 introduction – only 3 years after D&D was published and roughly contemporary with Arnesons publication of the FFC – mentions D&D 13 times to AD&D’s 4 times.
Its been observed that the MM falls somewhere between OD&D and AD&D in conformity to the rules, and many regard it as an OD&D supplement with a few extras and indeed, for several years until the publication of the AD&D players handbook, it effectively was.
Mostly, that’s just an artifact of curiosity, but there exists on page five and the top of page 6 a mostly forgotten and rarely sited section called “Explanatory Notes” by Gary Gygax.  This little section has information not found in other OD&D or AD&D books (excepting Dieties and Demigods, where it is largely repeated verbatim), that goes a long way to clarifying the intentions behind a number of the OD&D monster stats that directly relate to in game play choices.  In Particular:
FREQUENCY:  Now this is an interesting stat.  For example, we are told a rare creature has an 11% chance of appearing in an “area or region”.   This seems to be unused information.  I suppose you could look at the tables of all the creatures that might be in a given kind of area – mountains lets say – roll percentiles repeatedly until you had narrowed the creatures to one “frequency” type - Rare lets say - and then roll against the list of rare creatures to find the one encountered.  I don’t think anybody really did this nor do I get the sense that the random encounter tables in the DMG are really keyed with this stat in mind (although they could be, I dunno).
NUMBER APPEARING:  Not explained.  We are told it is an “average” “guideline””to be altered … as the need arises”.  We are also told “It is not generally recommended for use in establishing the population of Dungeon Levels.”
So, what does it represent?  Well, looking back to Frequency, we could safely assume the number appearing is the population in “a region or area where it might be an inhabitant”.  This could mean a “region” of a dungeon level, presumably but not usually an entire level.
The alternative meaning is that Number Appearing is how many monsters would be randomly encountered if PCs stumbled onto them as wandering monsters.  This is how many have understood it.
Hmm, lets look a little further and see if there are more clues.
% IN LAIR:  We’ve looked at this one back in August, but here is something else interesting “…where it domiciles and stores its Treasure.  If a monster encountered is not in its lair it will not have any treasure unless it carries “individual” treasure…”
Which ties in to:
TREASURE:  these are the types listed on a table which can appear with a monster listing.  About these types Gygax writes that they “… are only found in lairs of monsters as found above.”; and “The use of treasure type to determine the treasure guarded by a creature in a dungeon is not generally recommended.”
Frequency covers “an area or region”
Treasure Types are meant for the domicile (Lair) in an area or region, not an individual creature and not as an isolated dungeon treasure of the sort used when placing a monster in a room.
Number Appearing should represent the creatures who will have the assigned treasure type in an area or region.  Otherwise, there is a guide given for region, a lair, and treasure to be found, but none for how many inhabitants may be found there.  If somehow the Number Appearing was not meant to function in harmony with the other stats but referred to wandering, out of lair encounters it would make more sense to list individual treasures for the wanderers, not lair treasures for the unknown number of the “domicile” population.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Book of Elder Magic

is now available here

and in print on Lulu.

So, what's this thing Boggs?  Well, it started as a fairly obvious idea: convert all the spells from Dragons at Dawn and Supplement into use for OD&D and then collect them (the non redundant ones anyway) together with all the OD&D spells prepared for Champions of ZED.  Create a nice little booklet for use at the table.  This was something I wanted for my games.  So that's what I started to do.  Then I thought, "Hey, the Dave Arneson Blackmoor books have OGL spells and some of them are kinda cool, why not convert them to OD&D so they get some use in the OSR?"  So I went through the Blackmoor books and started picking cherries.

Then I thought "Hmm, what about Dave's players creations - Fred Funks Freds World, Richard Sniders Powers and Perils, and Dave Megarry's Pentantastar?  And there's still a bit left to mine out of Adventures in Fantasy too...."  For Freds World I got permission to use a few spells; the others, being very different systems and being non OGL material could not be direct sources, but could serve as sources of inspiration in a few instances.

I ended up with a whoping lot of spells.  There's some 57 pages worth.

For good measure, I also threw in some of D@D supplement I magic notes, adapted to OD&D play; the reworked and expanded section on Spell Books from Holmes to Level 12, and the Dragons at Dawn spell magic redone as an Alchemist class, matching Arneson's brief notes on the class.

It's good stuff, and directly portable into any of the Classic or OD&D retroclones.  I'll be getting a lot of use out of this one, and maybe some of you will too.

I's in standard (US) 8.5 * 11 paper size, because that seemed the most practical.  I'll be converting my pdf to booklet when I print, so I left the font big enough (11 point) so as to still be legible, for those who may wish to do the same.

Monday, October 17, 2011

HE - Spaceship Combat

Okeydoke, the last adjustment I mentioned for Humanspace Empires that I thought should be addressed in the playtest rules, is a short section on space ship combat (the “aerial” rules).   I whipped up something short and sweet pretty easily a while back, mostly by using free stuff (Fokker) that’s already out there as a model.  But I hit a snag and left it sit for a bit.  The snag is that given space ships are fighting in 3D space, some maneuver rules are in order, but its been a long time since I played Star Fleet Battles or anything like it and don’t feel I have the proper experience to gauge the maneuver rules without a good bit of research and playtesting.

So..  I let it sit.  But then it occurred to me to just put up the rules I wrote and see if any of you out ther have ideas for the maneuvers.  So here goes:

Aerial/space rules for Humanspace Empires
Conduct aerial/space combat on a printed hexagonal grid.  Each combatant must have a figure and small marker next to it indicating altitude. 
Each turn roll 1d6 for each aerial combatant on both sides.  Add to this any piloting bonuses or other bonuses that may apply.  The combatant with the lowest score must move first, the next lowest second, and so on. If two or more combatants have the same score, roll again between them to decide their place in the move order.


Movement is alternate, and includes maneuvers.  A flyer may move any amount of their movement allowance in all possible directions, or none if they are able to hover/remain stationary.

Maneuvers are “trick” movements and can be specific to the aerial combatant, some having better looping or turning ability, for example.  However, for a simpler game the combatants may be treated as the same and use the default maneuver information given below.  Each maneuver has a movement factor and a direction factor, and may entail an altitude change.  For example, to perform a loop the flyer may have to move ¼ movement allowance forward and ½ backward, rising to a distance of 100 meters before returning to 0 or less.  Some well know maneuvers are:

1)      Immelman turn
2)      Loop
3)      Halt


Marksmanship: Characters who have received intensive training may have a Marksmanship bonus, but all others will start at 0.  For each confirmed kill in game, the victor will receive a +1 to Marksmanship.  There is no limit.

All combat takes place when all movement of all participants is completed. 

Aerial combatants with projectile or distance weapons may fire at the end of everyone's movement.  Each at a single target 30° either side of forward.

Rear gunners may also fire at 90° either side of backward (this may be a different target).

To calculate number of hits roll 1d6 and consult the following table:

Use the table appropriate to the targets Armor Class and roll 1d6.  Check attackers Marksmanship column, against the column giving the results of the die roll to determine hits.  For each hit indicated, roll appropriate damage. 
Apply any + or – attack modifiers, such as that for magic weapons, to the Marksmanship of the attacker.  Further, it is recommended that a +3(Point Blank), +2(Short), +1(Medium), 0(Long) and -3(Extreme) be applied to the attackers Marksmanship.    Subtract any defensive bonus from the number of damage dice to be rolled, meaning, for example, a shot fired against a +1 shield would require 1 six sided die be removed from the number of dice thrown for damage.

Armor Class 9
Armor Class 8-5

Armor Class 4-2







            The number of hits shown in the table represents individual strikes (missles, bullets, destructo rays, etc.) and may be divided among the possible targets in range or directed against a single target as the player desires.  If more than one target is chosen, the shooter must have a sufficient number of the projectiles, of course.
If the player targets opponents of varying AC types, they may take away one or more successful hit(s) from one armor class group for a hit against the other group or an attempt to roll against the second group if a miss is possible, but if the second hit is also successful it will only count as one hit, regardless of the numbers in the table.


Aerial combatants may also attack with projectile or distance weapons.  This is called strafing and is accomplished as against a flying target above.  

The above is a mash-up of the “Fokker” WWI combat rules, the OD&D Aerial combat rules, and the Champions of ZED projectile rules.  Marksmanship replaces CoZ Fighting Capability. – D.H. Boggs

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rescue Lotsa!

I hope everyone had as great a holiday weekend as I did.  This weekend was the annual Council of Five Nations – the worlds second oldest gaming convention after Gencon, so they say – held by the Schenectady Wargamers Association, and it was a blast.  I ran two events and participated in another – a playtest of Adventurer, Conqueror, King run by Tavis Allison.
I’m not much for after action reports for game sessions.  My eyes tend to glaze over when I try to read them and I write them even less often.  But such a great weekend deserves a little tale telling.
The First game I ran was a Dragons at Dawn event recreating one of the earliest Blackmoor adventures.  In 1971 Dave Wesely was home on leave from the army and joined Dave Arneson and the Boys on an expedition into the dungeons of Blackmoor.  Orcs had recently driven out Baron Fant and taken over the place.  Somehow they had also managed to kidnap Lotsa, daughter of the Elven king.  The elves promptly surrounded the place with an army and offered 10,000 GP and marriage to Lotsa (temporarily) to any rescuer.
For players I had only one of my usual D@D crowd, but once we had all our characters rolled up and the stragglers all setteled we got off to a great start.  SWA’s resident grognard (played D&D since 74) led the gang as Atroz the hedge knight and wasted little time with all the obvious passages and quickly discovered the elevators in the basement pillars.
I won’t do a step by step, but its fascinating to watch an experienced group of players make all the right moves and use the right tools to get the job done.  I guessed finding Lotsa in a 20 level dungeon might be a bit challenging, but the wizard used a location spell to discover an object known to have been in Lotsa’s possession when she disappeared.  A captured orc in the general area and use of a ward on a passageway to block the chasing hordes, and a tranqulize spell on a unruly Lotsa are some of the highlights.  In short, mission accomplished and a great time had by all.  Oh, and twas the lady wizard who won the bride….
Mention should also be made of the next game I ran.  Dave Arneson’s Haunted Lighthouse using OD&D, CoZ rules.  That was interesting in that I had 11 players at the table, 4 of whom were youngsters with their parents.  Again, efficient play ruled the day with the group sussing out and destroying the baddie (Atroz pushed him off a ledge into the nethervoid) with only one fatality.
And to round out the Blackmoor goodness of the con, Travis, unbeknownst to me, set his ACKS playtest in Blackmoor dungeon.  I might be proud to say that the humble Mage I played was one of only two characters to survive, escaping unscathed, except that was mostly due to hiding in the back and running like heck.  At least I wasn’t the player who managed to get killed twice by the same monster…..    Good Times.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Zac's combat challenge

So I tried posting this as a comment on Zacs blog for this post

But for reasons unknown to me it just won't post.  What the heck, I'll just put it here.

Fun Challenge

Dragons at Dawn (Dave Arneson tribute game)
Luke is a Hero level Priest , Monk subclass, Order of the Jedi
Level 4, HD 2+1, HPV 8.  He is unarmored, therefore AC1,  Scores: Appearance 6; Brains 8; Cunning 8; Dexterity 9; Health 8; Strength 7; 

Rancor is apparently a non regenerative variety of true troll or something like it with the ability to swallow victims, so well give him (her?) an AC 6, HD12, HPV 46, Dexterity 5.

Gammoriean – why bother. 1 HD AC4 (leather).
Note: because the Rancor is a stupid beast, the Referee does not apply any level adjustment benefits that might otherwise be due to a 12 HD combatant facing a 4 HD combatant.

Round 1

The gammorrean falls into the pit.  The Referee decides to begin the Gamorrean at “disrupted” morale state – Rolls a failure and the Gamorean is now “routed” for 18 rounds.

Luke falls into the pit.  He is not hurt but is surprised for one round and the Referee applies a penalty to his Morale roll.  He fails, and drops one step to “shaken” for 2 rounds (minutes). (at Luke’s level, Morale rolls are optional for players, but we will assume the Ref likes to use them.)

The Rancor easily passes his morale roll and attacks the Gamorean.  Size is the only modifier that applies (12/10 = 1.2 rounded to +1) in the Gammorean’s favor, but being routed, receives only ¼ of Fighting Strength (1HD +1)/(4)  - Resulting in “Less than 1 FS” or  12 FS vs  >1 on the matrix.  This means the Rancor only needs an 11 or less on 2d6 to hit.  The roll is good; the Gammorean is hit.  Being generous, the Ref allows an Armor Class Saving throw for the Gamorean (AC4), but rolls a 5.  The Gammorean is knocked down, scooped up  and quickly eaten.

Meanwhile, The Priest (Luke), picks up a bone , retreats,  and surveys the room for details.

Round 2

Rancor: The Rancor, still possessing the Morale advantage, attempts to grab Luke.  The Referee, considers the situation and asks the Priests player to make a 2d6 dex roll at -4.  Despite Luke’s excellent dexterity (9), the roll fails and the Rancor has him and gives a good squeeze (lets say 1d6 damage – about 3 HPV) to soften him up before devouring.

Luke:  the Priest/Monk however, decides  not to attack with the bone, realizing the most he could possibly do – assuming a successful hit and 6’s on all damage die – would be 14 points of damage.  Instead he decides to jam it in the Rancor’s mouth to prevent being eaten.  The Referee considers the action and requests a Dex roll at -1.  A 6 is rolled and the move is declared successful.

Luke is dropped. The Referee allows a saving throw vs. Health (just to mix it up), but Luke’s player rolls high (a 10) and fails the roll.  Since the drop isn’t very far, the Referee rolls 1d4 for damage and gets 2 -  bringing Luke’s total down to 3 HPV.

Round 3

Luke’s Moral has now returned to normal.  The Referee decides a new Morale Throw should be made.  Both the Rancor and the Priest pass, but Luke’s roll is much higher.  The Referee decides a momentum shift has occurred and grants Luke the initiative.

Luke: Luke throws a rock at the Rancor, an activity at which he is quite skilled (+4),  requiring a combat roll.  Luke gains a +1 for size modifier, +4 for Dexterity (9-5 = 4), giving a total adjustment of +5 to FS.  Added to his 2 + 1  HD, Luke gets an FS of 7 vs. the Rancor’s FS of 12.  On the matrix, 7 vs. 12 requires a 3 or better to hit.  Adding Luke’s skill bonus, that become a 7 or better.  Lukes’ player rolls a 6, hitting the Rancor. Using the split move allowed to shooters, Luke now backs away from the Rancor, opening a door and moving into the next room.

Rancor: as Luke backs away, the beast attempts another grab.  Luke’s player makes a successful save vs. dexterity.

Round  4

Luke:  the Priest attempts to open a barred doorway – the Referee looks at the Priest’s strength score and declares an automatic failure.   Instead the player opts to use a projectile “split move” again (move and shoot), and declares Luke will pick up a rock throw it at the Portcullis controls as the Rancor passes under.  Throwing against a nearby stationary object would normally require a Dexterity Throw, but given Luke’s throwing skill and his high dexterity, he cannot miss.

Rancor:   The Rancor is slowed by the confined space but begins to enter the second room just as Luke throws the rock.  The Referee does not bother to calculate the damage as portcullis through the brain is fatal even to Rancor kind.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Humanspace Empires: Personal Combat houserules

The text below is meant to replace the text on Page 46, beginning with combat movement and ending on page 47 at Automatic Failure.  Italics indicate new text.
Following the order indicated in the initiative roll (highest first, lowest last, ties simultaneaous or reroll) each player separately and in turn announces their character’s planned movement during a fight.   A combatant may move up to the entire movement allowance and still attack, but if a greater distance is traversed, no attack will normally be possible.  Note that higher level Warriors, hasted characters or beings, and some monsters (such as creatures with multiple arms) are allowed multiple attacks per round. 


A fighting retreat allows a character or monster to move backwards at ½ normal encounter movement.  However, there must be a clear path for this movement.  A full retreat occurs when a combatant disengages from combat at a rate greater than 1/2 of encounter movement.  The combatant making the movement forfeits any attack and opponent s attack with a +2 to hit.


Each combat round consists of two parts: an attacker action and a defender reaction   An attacker may move, take some action, attack, or retreat.  A defender may move if not engaged melee, take some action if not engaged in melee, counterattack, parry if engaged in melee, or retreat.  Both attacker and defender get their chance to choose one of the above actions regardless of how much damage they may have sustained.  Thus a defender, even one who was just killed by an attack, always gets an opportunity to counter attack in a round, unless they are in full retreat.

A player or the Referee will roll 1d20 to determine if most types of attack or counterattacks are successful.  Only 1 d20 will be rolled per attack, counter attack or parry, and this will usually mean one roll per individual per round, except where multiple attacks are possible.  The modified result is then compared to the attack table for either characters or monsters, as appropriate.  A result that is equal to or above the attack value that corresponds to the character’s level or the monster’s hit dice and the opponent’s armor class results in a hit.  Damage is then rolled by weapon type or monster attack, taking into account any bonuses or penalties. See the attack tables later in this section.

Melee and and-unarmed attacks are possible when opponents are within 5 feet of one another. Ranged, or energy and projectile weapon, attacks are usually possible only when opponents are greater than 5 feet from one another.

Melee attacks are made by hand-held weapons such as swords or axes.  The ability to hit and the amount damage done is affected by several of the Basic Attributes in addition to any bonus for magic weapons and the like.


A defender in melee combat may opt to try to parry an opponent's blow instead of attempting a damaging counterattack themselves.   To parry, the defender makes an “attack”, that is rolls a 1d20 and adds bonuses and penalties as normal, and compares the result to the appropriate to-hit number from the combat tables.  If the number or higher is rolled, then any hits or damage scored by the opponent in that combat round is negated and the parry is successful.


Beings with two or more hands may hold and use a weapon in each, and will get one attack for each weapon held.  If more than half of the total hands a being has are holding weapons, each attack will have a -1 to hit penalty.  For example, a human can only attack with one weapon at a time with no penalty, whereas a four armed pe choi could attack with two weapons at a time with no penalty or attack with three or four at the penalty of -1 to each attack.  Note that regardles of the amount of weapons a being can weild, they may only take one type of combat action during a round; and thus cannot parry with one hand and attack with another.


Each group of five beings must have a light source of torch strength or better in order to fight normally unless they have other means of seeing in darkness.  A person fighting without proper light must fight at a -3 to hit. 

A person fighting with a hand held light source in one hand is at -2 to hit unless the light source itself is being used as a weapon.

If a natural 1 is rolled on the 1d20 attack roll, ….. (continue as written)