I know there's been a lot of discussion recently about hit points and the duration of combat between characters of various levels, but it seems to me that if you were interested in preserving the combat dynamics of Chainmail in the context of D&D's more granular HD/HP system, you'd want to have a corollary to the Fighter's ability to engage multiple 1HD targets. It might look something like this:
"When a Fighter is engaged in melee or missile combat with a single other creature, a successful attack by the Fighter deals a number of dice of damage equal to his or her level."
This solves two problems: first, the one-minute combat round can now use more realistic movement rates without diminishing the efficacy of missile weapons; and second, it's now possible to simulate those Conan moments where he impales the giant serpent on a spear or cuts off his opponent's head in the first exchange, rather than thrashing around with the dude for fifteen minutes.
If you wanted to be generous to the non-Fighters (and, true to Chainmail, allow Wizards the ability to beat up on legendary creatures alongside Heroes and Superheroes), you could phrase it thusly instead:
"When a combatant is engaged in melee or missile combat with a single other creature, a successful attack deals damage equal to the combatant's Fighting Capability (e.g. a 6th-level Magic-User deals three dice plus one point of damage to the creature's hit points)."
Tuesday, 17 September 2013
Swords and Arrows, and Dragonslaying
I'll shut up about universal d6 damage eventually, but there is MORE THAT MUST BE SAID.
In the comments to Sunday's post, two interesting issues are raised, by Ynas Midgard and Picador respectively. In respect of bows, Ynas Midgard makes the excellent point that bows are "harmonically bound" by slings in a d6-for-damage system (no, I hadn't heard of that phrase either); what this means is that, since bows and slings are effectively equal (they both do d6 damage), but slings have side benefits (infinite reloads, probably also concealability and other fringe advantages) you should always choose a sling over a bow in that system.
The same is true of more or less any melee weapon vis-a-vis swords. Spears can be used for poking and measuring, and for attacking from a rear rank. Axes can smash down doors. Daggers are concealable. Clubs are free and ready-made. Swords are "harmonically bound" by everything else.
I'm not sure, but it seems Ynas Midgard sees this as a downside to the system. I'm partially inclined to disagree, for two reasons.
1) I like the idea of professional dungeoneers making hard-nosed choices about equipment. I view adventurers as being more like bandeirantes than anything else - tough, bloody-minded types whose decision-making is all about substance over style: the efficiency of a weapon which is also a tool would appeal to such folk. But that also means that the selection of a sword or bow as your weapon of choice is a statement. It may be sub-optimal, but it says to the world, specifically, "My character cares about style over substance". Maybe he has delusions of grandeur and wants to be a knight, or a hero. Maybe he envisions himself as a woodsman or Robin Hood-type with a yew hunting bow. Maybe he wants to impress people by gadding about with a poncey rapier. Whatever - it makes a sword or bow a luxury and an extension of the character, rather than just a default.
2) Wherever swords are found in a culture, they are a sign of privilege, because they are difficulty and costly to make in comparison to other weapons. A large part of the reason why swords are so prominent in the mythology of late-middle-ages Europe and Edo period Japan is that only the rich could afford them: they are about power, wealth, and, for want of a better word, bling. Making them a somewhat rare and sub-optimal choice for PCs enhances their status as a statement rather than a mere weapon or tool.
Picador, on the other hand, writes some excellent comments going back to the early days of D&D:
I like this a lot. It turns Fighters into genuine combat monsters at higher levels, able, as Picador puts it, to impale a giant serpent on a spear - or, perhaps more to the point, slay a dragon with a single mighty and well-placed blow, a la Turin and Glaurung, or Bard and Smaug.
Two possible tweaks to consider:
1) Allowing Fighters to 'spread' damage and attacks across opponents. So, picture a Level 6 Fighting Man engaging 3 orcs. He has potentially 6d6 of damage to deal out. He decides (when declaring actions for the round) to try to make three attacks, one on each orc, using 2d6 for damage on each one. He rolls 'to attrit' separately for each orc.
2) Whats good for the goose is good for the gander, and allowing monsters to do d6 damage per HD only seems fair. No more endless back-and-forth, trading blows with that ancient red dragon. It's you or him, and it won't be long before one or the other is dead.