Swords break. Warriors roll on the floor. Some are pushed in the precipice. Weapons fall from the hands. Spell books are torn. Torches are thrown in the face. Racks of arms are overthrown on enemies.
"Melee is fast and furious, baby !" as snorri (Nicolas Dessaux) would say.
A while ago, Ways-of-the-earth proposed an alternative to the OD&D combat tables. This house rule hits me : that's a very good improvement, but not for the reasons given by the author.
Before anything else, a short summary of this optional rule :
d20 + 1 + Target AC >= 20 : you hit.
Every odd HD, you have another attack.
Every hit will cause 1-6 hit points of damage (without exception). Special attacks (as poisoning, paralysis or swallowing) are delivered only if you roll an odd number.
Below is a clarification that I do :
Monsters and fighters fight as above, althought thieves and clerics have a -2 penalty* and magic-users a -3 penalty.
*Yes, it's a high penalty but these classes have better advancement tables.
Well, that's the basics. For now, the melee is fast, but not furious. So, what can we do with that mess to come up with furious melees ? We have LOTS of dices... Not to use them would be criminal !
When a PC (or NPC or intelligent monster) wants to do something cool a la Indiana Jones, (s)he must spend a number of attacks equal to the target HD. (S)he can't spend more attacks than (s)he has. (S)he normally rolls his/her attacks but do not throw the damage dices. Instead, if (s)he hit at least once (or more, according to the difficulty of the action), (s)he succeed his/her brilliant stroke. (S)he can set aside the attacks (in order to use them after) if (s)he does not have enough, but only consecutive rounds : they are lost as soon as a "standard" attack roll is done, the character breaks the fight, or change his/her target etc.
Some examples :
- Fafhrd (5th level fighter, 3 attacks) decides to project this bulky and massive tavern table on the mercenaries (3 first level fighters) hired by his treacherous rival, Barsoom. Fafhrd must spend 3 x 1 = 3 attacks. The DM decides, based on the Fafhrd's strength, that it's a fairly easy task which only requires one hit. *sounds of dices rolling* 1, 15 and 10. 15 is is enough to hit these scoundrels who wear leather armors. So, Fafhrd throws the table on these guys, who find themselves lying on the ground.
- Belkar and Black Dougal (5nd level thieves, each has 3 attacks and leather armors) are fighting the dreaded Count Dracula (a 12 HD vampire, 6 attacks, AC 2) on the edge of a cliff. The Count holds in his hand a bloody ruby that gives him magical powers. Belkar wants to wrest the gem out of the Dracula's hands. He must spend 12 attacks, and therefore he must wait four rounds (near the vampire) in order to prepare his strike. The DM decides, based on the Dracula's strength, that it's a difficult task which only requires two hits. *sounds of dices rolling* 1, 13, 14, 15, 14, 2, 11, 2, 10, 9, 1, 7. Belkar fails ! Furious, the Count tries to push Black Dougal from the top of cliff. He must spend 5 attacks (he still has an attack that he uses to scratch the face of Belkar). The DM decides, based on the Black Dougal's dexterity, that it's a difficult task which requires two hit. *sounds of dices rolling* 18, 8, 4, 8, 12 ! The Count suceed ! Black Dougal falls from the top of the cliff, and suffer 21 hit points of damage. He looks dead.
What do you think ?