Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Alternate Combat System

So as I've been working on Twelve Parsecs, an alternate combat system has come to light for O.R.C.S. (the engine that powers ELG's games). A number of people have told me their one issue with S&S is that they dislike consulting attack matrices for every attack.

This is rather mind-boggling to me, as it really takes no longer than consulting your attack bonus and performing the calculations every time you attack, but I have heard the complaints.

As such, a new entirely optional combat system will be added to S&S in future releases. It brings combat in line with the ability check system from the rest of the game, and borrows heavily from the "Target 20" concept of A/OD&D combat (so it should still appeal to old-schoolers, I hope).

How it works is thus:

1. Instead of an attack matrix, players make a standard ability check to hit (usually Dexterity, though Strength is recommended for heavy, 2-handed weapons), attempting to get 11 as always. Characters still get any "attack bonus" listed on their level progression chart. Thus, a third-level warrior still gets 3 attacks with one at a +2 (or 2 at +1, as he sees fit).

2. Each weapon, instead of a unique matrix, has a flat attack bonus. A long sword, for example, attacks as +4.

3. The attack roll is then modified by subtracting the opponent's AC.

Example: A character who is a third level thief with a Dex of 16 attacking an opponent wearing Plate Armor (AC 8) would calculate his attack as follows:

2d6 + 2 (Dex) + 2 (Level 3 Ability Check) +1 (Level 3 attack bonus) + 4 (Long sword) - 8 (opponent AC).

The total, then, would be 2d6+1, as the -8 cancels out the rest of the bonus. It ain't easy to damage someone in plate armor with a long sword.

If the opponent was wearing studded leather armor (AC 3), the total attack roll would be 2d6 + 6 vs. TN 11 (a pretty fair chance to hit).

Keep in mind also that in most cases (Wizards excepting) a third level character will have at least two attacks.

Just a preview of something that's come up in design. Still needs a shake down and the bonuses tweaked for proper probabilities, but it seems solid on its core. Please note, also, that this will not replace the default combat system. The Attack Matrices will remain--this is presented as an option for those who prefer bonus calculation to table consultation.


  1. I like the attack matrices. And I like the way you have mined the early D&D materials to bring provide a different combat system, not based on the d20.

    It's good to give people choice though.

  2. But it isn't a straight conversion of the Matrix to a bonus, since this system washes out the effects of the various weapon/armour combinations. Which may be good or bad depending upon your preferences, of course.

  3. That was my thought too. The two systems would not produce the same results as you would lose the ability to reflect the relative effectiveness (or lack thereof) of certain weapons versus certain armour types. I love this aspect as it injects more variety and thought into the weapons you need to carry. For example, when my warriors come up against opponents in plate mail they sheathe the longswords and reach for the flails. In my book this is A Good Thing, but different strokes for different folks.

  4. On another note, just reading the combat example there, I do not apply the "level bonus" to rolls that already vary by level anyway (attack rolls, casting rolls, thief skills). This is not some piece of insight or intent on my behalf but just a (clearly) incorrect assumption I had made that this was built into the level variance anyway. Having run a weekly S&S campaign for virtually a year now, I can certainly say that if you do include the "level bonus" in attack rolls, middling level warriors would hardly ever miss.

    Just a thought. :-)

  5. Interesting comments, fellas. For the record I'm partial to the matrix myself. This alternate system is just that--an alternate one for people who like a straight up calculate bonuses system over a check-a-table one.


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