Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Old School Damage and One-roll Combat

Related to my last post, I was reminiscing about the old damage notation, before they systematically used the XdN abbreviation. 2d6 was noted 2-12, d4+1 was 2-5, etc. I remember it being a bit of a math challenge when I was a kid. But I was thinking, this min-max damage notation could be used in a one-roll combat system (like in Macchiato Monsters, or if you wanted to make your D&D fights much shorter).
"One of us is dead. Maybe both of us."
Everyone loses HP

If you miss your attack, the monster hits you and you take damage equal to the higher value listed in their description. That orc bastard with the 2-7 (d6+1) scimitar wounds you for 7. Ouch. But you're a badass adventurer and you get to scratch him for 4 (your modified damage is d8+3, or 4-11). That actually has a good chance of killing him (assuming your referee has good taste and rolls for her monsters' HP). 

If you hit, your magic sword does kill the orc with its max damage of 11. But fighting subterranean cannibal warriors is exhausting and you still lose 2 HP.

Of course, it's a system that makes strong fighters stronger, but it might be worth a try. Think about it: your combat round would go from four rolls to just one. 75% less rolling and math, who wouldn't want that?

Side notes

How do you handle non reciprocal attacks, like missiles and traps? Well, player characters attacks are the same, except the PC doesn't lose hit points on a miss - maybe just 1 to account for fatigue. Monster attacks can be either rolled by the referee, or they can call for a save.

Critical hits could be a choice: either do more damage or take none from the opponent. Maybe throw a couple more options in the mix: break melee, trip your opponent, set up an ally for advantage next round, etc.

I'm thinking a system like this might need ablative armour... maybe? That would depend on what the odds of hitting are (do you use THAC0 or roll under?) and the overall hit points progression.
"I need you to start rolling better, okay?"
 In conclusion
It is really just an idea. I might try it if I was to run B/X or OD&D, but I'm too busy at the moment with Lunchtime Dungeons to pursue it further.  If you do, drop me a note!

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