Thursday, May 16, 2019

House Rules on Hand to Hand

First I had an idea. A question, rather. Why can't a trained fighter (Brawling-1) knock out an 'average' NPC [UPP 777777] in one round? Hands do 1D damage per hit, so the maximum is 6. This is one short of reducing a stat to zero via the First Blood rule and getting a knockout. For Rule of Cool reasons, I want my PCs to be able to do this.

Then I shared the idea on the Citizens of the Imperium forum, and Classic TravellerFacebook group.

Then I sat back and listened.

I came away with this, which will now be the Way We Do It in my games.
Any skilled character engaging in hand-to-hand combat, either armed or unarmed, has two possible DMs. The first is the Advantageous Strength DM, found in the combat charts, and the second is the character's skill level with the weapon chosen.

In the past I have taken both of these and applied them to the throw To Hit. The New Rule is this: the player (or referee) can choose to apply these DMs to either the To Hit throw, or the Damage throw on a successful hit. So now my trained fighter can roll 1D+1 for damage, and has at least a chance of getting a knockout blow. If the fighter has STR 9+, there is an additional +1 that can be added to the damage throw. If the fighter has STR 13+, it is +2.

This represents a sacrifice of accuracy to put more power behind the blow.

+1 Damage. Sparkle optional.

This new rule does not change the existing rule that a skilled fighter can apply his skill level as a Defensive DM, to make it harder for his opponent to hit.

All Brawling and Blade weapons are muscle powered, so these also can adjust the damage when wielded by a strong character. Picture an Ursa with STR of 16 or 18 carrying a Broadsword (4D+2)!

Example: two characters both armed with Swords and wearing Mesh armor.

I need some rules to govern use of shields, too.

The fighter on the left has Sword-1 and STR 9. The fighter on the right has Sword-2 and STR 10 (+1). Fighter L can add +1 to his To Hit throw, or make his sword Damage throw 2D+1+1; and put a -1 DM on Fighter R's attacks. Fighter R can add +2 To Hit and +1 to damage, or +3 To Hit, or throw 2D+1+3 for damage, as well as put a -2 DM on Fighter L's attacks. Sword versus Mesh has a DM of -3, so Fighter R may want to put all his bonus into overcoming Fighter L's armor.

Advantage: Fighter R.

Now let us suppose that Fighter R (having dispatched Fighter L) is faced by two men-at-arms (Sword-0) and three conscript militia men (untrained). How will Fighter R fare? All are wearing Mesh (chain mail) armor.

The men-at-arms are trained enough to avoid penalties, but have NO DM either for attack or defense. The militia men fare even less well. On the attack, they face a DM of -5 for lack of skill, and when defending, they give their attacker a DM of +3. Ouch.

I had not realized that Traveller had a “Mook rule”.

The two men-at-arms have STR: 10, 7 so the first gets a +1 DM to hit or damage. Assume all other stats are 7.

The militia men have STR 7, 12, 5 so the second gets a +1, and the third gets an additional -2. Poor guy. Assume all other stats are 7.

Fighter R dives into the melee, attacking a man-at-arms. He throws 2D [3] and adds: +2 to hit (skill), -3 (armor) +1 (Short range), -0 (defense) =3. A miss.

MAA#1 attacks. He throws 2D[5] and adds +1 (STR), -3 (armor), +1 (Range), -2 (defense)= 2 a miss.

Fighter R tries again, putting it all into getting a hit. 2D[5] +3 +(0)= 8, a hit. Damage is 2D+1, he throws 7, which puts #1 out.

MAA#1 attacks simultaneously, and throws [7] +1(STR), -3 (armor), +1 (range), -2 (defense)=4  and misses as he goes down.

Militia man A comes at him next. He throws 2D[12] -5 (no skill), -3 (armor) +1 (range), -2 (defense)= 3. Even his best shot is a miss. Training is essential!

Fighter R fights back. He puts skill To Hit, and STR to damage.  He throws 2D[10], +3 (no defense), -3 (armor), +2 (skill), +1 (range)=13. A definite hit. Damage is 2D+1[9+1] +1 (STR)= 11. Militia mook A never stood a chance.

Militia mook B, the strong guy, is next.
Fighter R throws it all to damage, hoping to take out the Big Guy with one blow. He throws [8] -3 (armor)+1 (range), +3 (no defense)= 9. A hit! Damage is 2D+1, +3 (skill, STR) [8]+1+3=12. That's enough to take B out of the fight. 

Militia mook B gets one attack. He throws [8] -5 (no skill), +1 (range), -3 (armor), -2 (defense), +1 (STR)= 0. His lack of skill renders him ineffective.

This is 3 out of five NPCs down, so it’s time or a morale check. Referee throws 5, a failure, and the surviving mooks run for it. Fighter R wins!

The flexibility with the skill & STR DMs is nice chrome for PCs, and perhaps a few important NPCs. It will not alter the circs for mooks/cannon fodder/red shirts/stormtroopers. I have not used the Unskilled rule with the opponents my players usually face; the NPC opposition has always been about as skilled as they are. With the Unskilled rule thugs, flunkies and startown riff-raff are much less of a threat. Maybe that's a better situation. More fights are possible when the threat level is lower, which gets the players more skill in handling combats.

Image credit (knights): from Pixabay
Image credit (boxer): from Pixabay

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