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.