Sunday, 4 April 2021

Alternative Group Combat Rules for D&D BECMI/BX/AD&D and Basic Fantasy, OSR etc.

Although I don't often post on here, I still have a very active Tumblr blog with the same title: adventuresandshopping.tumblr.com It's mostly a reblogging pretty covers of games, miniatures and dice, but it's worth the occasional look.  The following post is longer than most so I felt that it would benefit from being in the blogspot blog here.

Solo-play, large adventuring parties and D&D pre-history

I'm a fan of simpler editions of Dungeons & Dragons, and even more so of some of the old school rules “clones”, such as Basic Fantasy and S&W White Box (Finch, Mythmere Games).  For all sorts of strange reasons I rarely get to play.  I am very much an armchair reader and collector of RPG rules.  With momentary fantasies of running a game at short notice, I'm drawn to systems which look like they would be quick to set up and play.  One example is Tunnels & Trolls, partly because the notation required for planning a game can be minimal (i.e. "Room 3: Orcs MR30 Roll for treasure ; Room 4: Fountain Trap LSR2 ...").  I have to mention T&T because you will see an clear influence here in the way those rules treat combat as collective - with handfuls of dice being thrown and totalled in a deadly face-off, not like in a wargame or many FRPGs where each die roll equals one success-or-fail strike.  In recent years, I've found myself reading the original Chainmail rules which was a precursor to, and part of, the earliest Dungeons & Dragons rules.  If you like Basic/Expert D&D or AD&D but have not looked at Chainmail or “original” D&D I recommend that you do, especially if you have an interest in the evolution of gaming systems.  It's my belief that just by focussing on specific constants like Hit Dice and the Morale Check in D&D old school systems, players can unlock simple and sometimes rewarding mechanics.  

For myself I was interested in running solo- DM-less- games against pre-written scenarios.  Some scenarios, especially "tournament" adventures, often recommend a large number of player characters. Running a party of 5 to 10 PCs through encounters with dozens of adversaries is a far cry from, what for me, was the ultimate model of solo-play, the Fighting Fantasy gamebook, where you controlled one survivable hero against individual monsters.  Suddenly solo-run party adventures in D&D become a rapid turn off.  I can imagine it's similar for a Dungeon Master with one or only a couple of players at the table.  This being said, controlling handfuls of 0-level characters in a "funnel game" in Dungeon Crawl Classics seems to acceptable.  The assumption being that you will lose most of the characters before the end of the session.  If you want to start at first level in a D&D game, there's some serious limits as to how far back a DM can “scale” down encounters, whether or not you want to control hired NPC fighters, and the fact that you have to kill a lot of rats to reach second level. ;)  The issue here is partly a record keeping one and keeping track of which character or monster is acting when in a combat round.  I don't want to change any stats in the rules of adventure, and I'd like to find easy ways to control a large party, especially in combat without x times the paper work (x being the multiplier derived from number of characters, NPCs or adversaries). 


Going back to D&D's roots, the specialism of Chainmail (and it's Fantasy' supplement) was that it was "1 to 1" scale  i.e. every miniature was represented uniquely and not just as a whole unit or troop (Playing At The World is good book for explaining this).  These rules evolve in D&D into one player controlling one miniature or character, hence role-playing as we know it today.  As with many wargames, a single die would be rolled for a standard "fighting man”.  Special characters, like a "hero" or "super-hero”, might get to roll more dice for more attacks.  Those "levels" of fighting force are tabled with the "Hit Dice".  I'm over simplifying here, but the hit dice were rolled with modifiers as the attack roll.  Like many players, when I started playing D&D in the 80s the term "Hit Dice" seemed abstract and too easily confused with the "To-Hit Roll", but these were legacy terms which you just got on with learning.  In D&D, "Hit Dice" to the player represent how many potential Hit Points they can have when rolled, but they the dice are rolled only in character generation and experience level gain.  For players "Level" is the universal phrase for measuring power and strength, especially in relation to the abilities of their class.  For the Dungeon Master, looking at monster stats, Hit Dice are implicitly the indicator of fighting power because they tie in with the To-Hit AC matrices.  In some of the cloned rules the HD number becomes the attack modifier, eliminating the need for attack matrices.  In all of the early systems and retroclones, if you remove all references to character levels, the hit dice (and total hit points) are still the simplest way to compare survivability in melee combat.  Okay, I know this sounds like "1+1=2", but hit dice only have a passive role in combat itself, which I wanted to turn that into an active roll (see what I did there?  role, roll?  I know, I know).

I'll probably be repeating some of this below, but I felt context is needed.  The following rules are being floated for opinion on the Basic Fantasy RPG forum. I feel these rules can work for several different editions of OSR clones and older D&D, but I'm not comfortable posting them in Facebook groups, because edition gatekeeping is very tight at the moment, understandably to stop those groups becoming overwhelmed with off-topic posts. The Basic Fantasy forum is a welcoming community without hang-ups, so I've posted it there for review and suggestions.  In light of the rules possibly becoming associated with Basic Fantasy and an Open Game License, it's good practice for me not to refer to alternative editions of rules.  Old school players will recognise the universality of what is being suggested.  Just now I remembered that in S&W White Box, all HD for monsters and PCs are d6, which would simplify even further the mixtures of polyhedrals suggested below.  

There's a single small reference to Armour Class as a type of saving throw.  Basic Fantasy uses an "ascending" system, so AC is often somewhere between 11 and 20, with 11 being no armour and Chain Mail being 15, for example.  Hence rolling under or equal to Armour Class with a d20 might be plausible as a type of Saving Throw.  Different maths would be required with the traditional "descending" system of AC.  Also, it's worth noting that Basic Fantasy is more flexible with race and class combinations than some rule systems.

I advocate the ungentlemanly use of dice rolling apps, but in recent tests, with a low level party of adventurers, the quantities of dice are not a challenge for average dice-hoarding math-juggling gamer.  Enjoy.




Simplified Group Combat  - Hit Dice as Attack Dice

(as posted to the Basic Fantasy RPG Forum Workshop here)


Introduction


There will be plenty of times in a Basic Fantasy campaign when a medium to large sized adventuring party will encounter a horde of attacking monsters.  The following rules are players who wish to resolve collective group combat simply and quickly with minimal book keeping.  The original intention for these rules was to benefit a small number of players, or one player, operating a large party (say 6-10 characters).  These rules may also aid a hard pressed Games Master who is suddenly faced with resolving a wandering monster encounter - i.e 20 kobolds rush into the chamber.  The rules are designed so that the players and GM can jump back to normal rules as and when required.  These rules may also provide an engaging way to run mass battles between units of allied NPCs and monsters, when the game plot requires it.  For speed, the rules are simplified and abstract and often favour the players.


The fundamental premise of what follows is that the Hit Dice of monsters and of characters represent raw fighting power.


Due to the large quantities of dice employed, a dice rolling and totalling program is recommended. 


Group Hit Points


Any collection of PCs or monsters can be combined in a Group.  Groups have Group Hit Points (gHP) which is equal to the total current Hit Points of all of the members of that Group.  


Attack Dice


For group melee, a Group's Attack Dice (AD) is equal to the total Hit Dice of the participants plus combined Strength Bonuses and bonuses from magic weapons or spells.

For group missile attacks, the AD will employ cumulative Dexterity bonuses instead of Strength.


Groups of monsters can be represented on paper as follows ...


20 Kobolds having Hit Dice 1d4; 3 hit points will be summarised as:


20 Kobolds  AD: 20d4 gHP: 60 


Ten goblins, HD1-1, 4 HP each, will become:


10 Goblins  AD: 10d8 -10  gHP: 40


Other monster groupings with average hit points could look like this:


2 Ogres  AD: 8d8 +2  gHP: 38

8 Gnomes  AD: 8d8 gHP: 38

3 Bears  AD: 5d8 gHP: 44


Combination groups are also possible. So an ogre (HD 4+1, 19 HP) with 10 kobold allies (HD1d4, 3 HP each) would be:


1 Ogre, 10 Kobolds  AD: 4d8 +10d4 +1  gHP: 49


6 Orcs with their Orc War Leader from a wilderness encounter in The Chaotic Caves (J.D.Neal 2009) can be summarised from their stats in the text Orcs HD 1, 4HP each; and Orc War Leader (HD 2, 10 HP) resulting in:


6 Orcs plus War Leader  AD: 8d8  gHP: 34


A monster on it's own can be represented as a “group of one”, for example:


1 Sabre-Tooth Cat   AD: 8d8  gHP: 36

1 Storm Giant  AD: 15d8 *  gHP: 68

1 Owlbear  AD: 5d8  gHP: 25


*House Rule: lightning bolts can treated as missile attack (AD: 15d8) if at a distance.


When generating monster HPs quickly use the amount of HP per Hit Dice as a measure of fighting competence.  A troop of averagely skilled orcs will have 4-5 hp each whereas veteran orcs might have 7-8 hp each.  It's totally possible to have a list of monsters of the same type who have differing HP, simply add the those values together to make the Group Hit Points.


Player Characters are treated in the same way as monsters but are more likely to have a variety of hit dice types depending upon class and race.  When we refer to HD for PCs we mean the number of dice listed in their character class descriptions next to level.


Here we have a large party, “The Wandering Company”, of 10 characters with a mixture of classes.



Character Name

Race

Class

Abilities

 S  I  W  D  C Ch

Level & Hit Die Type

Bonuses
STR &
DEX

Hit Points 

Rellen Feermyer

Human

Fighter

16  5 14 11  9  9

1 d8

STR +2

8

Aldan Farmson

Human

Fighter

13  9 12 12 11 13

1 d8

STR +1

8

“Brag” Braggadocio

Human

Fighter

12 10 12 15 13 12

1 d8

DEX +1

9

Shellivor Marian

Human

Fighter

10 14  7  8 11  7

1 d8


8

Dram Kairn

Dwarf

Fighter

12  6 10 14  9 13

1 d8

DEX +1

8

Olthrim Gallocks

Dwarf

Cleric

10 10 18 11 12  8

1 d6


6

Gregorin “The Devoted”

Human

Cleric

10  7 15 10  9  9

1 d6


6

Sylbar Nightglow

Elf

Magic-User

9 13 11  6 12 12

1 d4


4

Slim Nifter

Human

MU/Thief

6 13 12 13 15 11

1 d4

DEX +1

5

Minow Drabhill

Halfling

Thief

9 10 10 10  6 14

1 d4


3







Attack Dice (AD)





5d8 +

2d6 +

3d4

STR +3
or DEX +3


Group Hit Points (gHP)






65



 


The GM has house ruled that 1st level characters can start with their maximum HP adjusted by Constitution.


Strength is listed for a collective melee attack bonus (here it's “+3” when totalled).  A collective Dexterity bonus is for missile attacks and certain defensive situations or saves (“+3” when totalled).  Negative ability bonuses are ignored.    


Player Characters will often benefit from Strength and Dexterity bonuses, whereas in general monsters do not.  It can be argued that fighting strength and prowess of monsters is built into their 1d8 based Hit Dice.


Reminder summary:


Attack Dice = collective Hit Dice + collective Strength Bonus (for melee)

Group Hit Points = all of the Hit Points of the characters added together.



When listed as a Group, who fight collectively, these PCs will appear as:


The Wandering Company (10 PCs)   AD: 5d8 +2d6 +3d4 +3  gHP:  65


Below is an example of a slightly higher level party with less members, known as the “Bright Bringers”.  


This is relevant information extrapolated from the full character entries in Third Level Pregenerated Characters supplement  (Fredericks, 2015).


1 Thief Human Lv3(HD3d4) Dex 16 (+2)  15 HP  

2 Clerics Human (they are “brothers”) Lv3(HD3d6), Str 14 (+1); 18 HP each

1 Fighter Human Lv3 (HD3d8) Str 16 (+2), Dex 13 (+1);  27 HP

1 Magic User Human Lv3 (HD3d4) Dex 13 (+1)  15 HP

For spells and equipment refer to the supplement – not important for now.


This adventuring party here can be summarised like this:


Bright Bringers (5 PCs)    AD: 3d8 +6d6 +6d4 +4*  gHP:  93 


* +4 for melee combat.  For missiles it will be (attack dice) +2




Combat Fundamentals


This group combat system is designed to simplify group encounters, especially when an adventuring party engages with wandering monsters or with an encounter which isn't essential to the main goal of the scenario.  Technically, it's lethal for monsters, but players only become partially incapicited, i.e. they can no longer fight, cast spells or use a special ability. 


Combat is simultaneous, so the normal initiative stage can be ignored.  

However, if there is considerable distance between the opponents players may opt to have a missile or spell attack before engaging in melee. 


Melee and close combat


1. Both sides roll their Attack Dice, add their Strength bonuses, and compare results.

2. The highest result “wins”, the lower result “loses”.  The “Difference” between the results is recorded.  If the Difference is “0” then this round is a stand-off, with neither side taking damage, repeat step 1.

3. The Difference x 2 is then deducted from the losing side’s Group Hit Points.  

  • If a monsters’ group is reduced to zero or less Group Hit Points then they have all been killed.  If the players have said beforehand that they choose to take prisoners, then one or two monsters are left barely conscious and unable to fight.

  • If a PC Group is reduced to zero of less Group Hit Points, then they should be treated as badly wounded but with enough energy to be able to retreat to a safe distance*

4. If both sides are still able to fight, return to step 1.


* This is unless the GM has declared beforehand that this combat is going to be deadly, this is not recommended because of the lack of agency individual PCs have in group combat rules.  This partial-incapacitation-no-death rule is intended to help solo gamers to not have to keep generating whole new parties at short notice.


Missile Attacks


For groups with missile weapons, firing from a distance (not in close-combat melee), the attack is asymmetric. The firer's Attack Dice  are rolled with the Dexterity bonus (loosely modified for range, target size and cover), the defenders also roll Attack Dice (with Dex bonus if available).  If the firers’ roll is higher, the Difference (x2) damage is worked out as normal against the defending target Group and deducted from their gHP.  If the target group's Attack Dice result is highest or equal, (Difference=0), then the firers have missed or the missiles have bounced off the defender's shields, armour and/or protective cover.



Example of Melee Combat 


Our party of first level characters “The Wandering Company” are ambushed nearby in ruins in the wilderness by the 6 orcs and their orc war leader (see earlier).  The stats for both groups are as follows:


PCs Group - The Wandering Company (10 PCs)  

AD: 5d8+2d6+3d4 +3 ;  gHP:  65


Orcs Group - 6 Orcs plus War Leader  

AD: 8d8 ;  gHP: 34


Round 1

The PCs Group roll a total of “40”

The Orcs Group rolls “33”

The Difference is  “7” with the PCs winning the round.

Multiplied by 2, the damage taken by the Orcs is 14, reducing their Group Hit Points to 20.


Revised Group Hit Points: PCs gHP 65 ; Orc gHP 20  


Round 2

PCs Group rolls “45”

Orcs Group rolls “30”

Difference= 15

(x2) Orcs Group take 30 damage.  The orcs are defeated.


Revised Group Hit Points: PCs ghp 65 ; Orcs ghp -10 (incapicitated or dead)


The orcs and their leader are slaughtered in 2 rounds.  In this fight the PCs didn’t receive any damage.   


In another test this fight took 9 rounds to resolve and the barely victorious PCs were left with a mere 15 gHP (out of 65).  It is the intention of this group combat rules that play is fast with simpler bookkeeping.  If you are regularly finding it to be otherwise it might be worth switching back to normal combat as written in the core rulebook. 

 


Special Weapons (PCs and NPCs)


If a monster is resistant to normal weapons, combat is still possible if at least one character is fighting with a silver or a “+#” magic weapon.  The assumption here is that the whole group are working together to make sure that the special weapon strikes home.  Treat Attack Dice as normal.  Also in the case of weapons with a bonus, or spell effects which provide bonuses to hit rolls, simply add those bonuses to the Attack Dice.


Special Attacks and Spells


A special attack or spell can be employed by player characters during their attack.  Do not adjust the Attack Dice when casting a spell, you can still include the magic-user’s d4s in the attack.  If the players’ Group wins the round then the spell is successfully cast.  If the Group loses that round then the spell is miscast and fails.  Some improvisation and house ruling will be required here - so keep consistent in the way these situations are resolved.


Monsters cannot combine different types of attacks in the same round. If a shaman amidst the gang of goblins casts a spell, roll the total attack dice as normal.  If the shaman and goblins have the higher roll, the spell is successfully cast - its effects are applied, and not normal damage.  If there was a red dragon in the same group in place of the shaman, the monsters could opt for a normal melee weapons attack (damage derived as normal from Difference) or apply the effects of a breath weapon.  A tentacled worm would apply it’s paralysis attack instead of causing actual hit point damage, but it would still need to win the combat round first.  See also Saving Throws.


Alternative wild-card rule: In the case of fireballs, breath weapons and dice based magical damage, the DM might opt to replace the Attack Dice with the damage dice listed. 


Optional: In the cases of special missile attacks, as with giants hurling rocks, resolve these before melee combat occurs -but the Attack Dice can be based on the attack damage (and not the HD based AD).



Turning Undead - suggested rule


If the Cleric successfully turns a majority of undead enemies before or during combat, and the undead are in a confined area (a dungeon room), then for the next 1d6 rounds the group containing the undead will fight asymmetrically (like when defending in missile combat), rolling only to defend themselves and they will not cause damage to the PCs if they win in those rounds.

 


Saving Throws


In some situations a collective saving throw might be required (perhaps against spells and special attacks).  As a rough guide for players, Save as Fighter class with the highest character level in the group, and for monsters it will be Save as Fighter with either an average level in HD of the Group or the most powerful (choose one method and stick to it).  In the case of spells which will end combat due to a condition - like petrification or paralysis, randomly select which PC is hit and then save as that PC.  Continue combat as normal*, but combat must end if all of the characters fall foul of a special condition.  


*For simplicity, do not worry about adjusting the Group’s Attack Dice for the temporary loss of that character’s fighting ability, however, that character’s special abilities, spells or attacks can no longer be used.  Adjust Attack Dice once combat is ended.


Surprise


If using Surprise rules or in a case where initiative is won, an advantage for one side at the start of combat will result in the first round being fought asymmetrically. This means that the disadvantaged, surprised or slow side still roll their attack dice in defence, but inflict no damage if they win the round.


 

Leaving the Group, Group Hit Points and normal Hit Points


In combat, damage is distributed across the group so if a character needs to act outside the group their HP will have been reduced in proportion with Group HP (if at all).  


Example: 

One of the clerics in the Bright Bringers needs to leave the group to perform a ritual in a specific place.  In a recent battle the Group went from 93 (Max/starting) gHP down to 65 gHP (their current gHP).  The cleric's starting HP was 18, and their wounds are proportional to the groups, so now it is reduced to 13 HP.

This was found by dividing the current gHP by the starting gHP.  Thus:  65 / 93 = 0.69  

Then multiply that result by the PC's starting HP:  0.69 x 18 = 12.4 rounded up to 13 HP.

Without the cleric, the gHP of the Group will now drop to 47 (65 minus 18).  Here we must allow give and take due to rounding up.  The Group's maximum gHP will be the total of the all characters starting HP still in the group - if they are all suddenly magically healed.  All of the characters in this example will have roughly 70% of their original hit points if they return to being played individually using standard rules.


The maths doesn't have to be complicated or exact, as long as it doesn't go over individual maximum HPs or below 1 whilst the Group still has members.  All the PCs being down to "roughly a third of their original hit points" might be all you need to work with. 


Individually a character will always be treated as having 1 HP within the group unless killed in kill-shock (see Additional Advanced Rules below).  This system can be quirky, a gHP can have a value of 1, but characters in actuality might individually all still have 1HP.  This is an “as if” rule for when characters separate from the Group as a whole, it does not mean that 8 character Group reduced to 3 gHP from wounds has 8 gHP.


If the absconding character heals or loses more hit points whilst they are away from the main group, when they rejoin the group simply add their current HP to the gHP.

A leaving character will take their HD/Attack Dice with them (remove from the Group's Attack Dice total).


A Group can split into several groups.  This is done by adjusting all of the individual character hit points as above (everyone retains at least 1HP if the gHP is over zero) and reassembling as smaller groups with collective Attack Dice and adding together the HP of the characters in the new groups. 



Additional Advanced Rules for Simplified Group Combat


Morale


If a Group of monsters receives damage in one round equal to or more than half its current Group HP, that side must make a Morale Check (see normal rules, 2d6 equal or below the leader’s Morale Rating).  Failure results in a "Rout" - that side panics and flees the attackers. They effectively try to escape the field of combat and for the purposes of this system are as good as scattered or dead.  The GM can either refer to the original monster listings for a Morale Rating, or include it alongside the new notations. 


Optional morale rules in open battlefields


When the enemy is routing, and if the winning side are NPCs or monsters, they must also make a Morale Check.  Failure will mean they leave the battle area whilst chasing down the enemy. Either they disappear for a random number of rounds or vanish from play entirely.  A second check can be made in an attempt to "rally" the Group back to order.  If they succeed the first check they don't break ranks and stand firm.  Again these are simplified rules which are for NPCs and monsters in group-to-group combat, not PCs.  If relevant, looting at the end of the battle can be worked out by rolling on the Individual Treasures table as normal (there's always some dead bodies on the field even after a rout).  This rule is inspired by traditional wargaming rules.


Kill-Shock (Player Characters)


If the Group containing Player Characters loses 50% or more of it's gHP in one round, the PCs have received a proportionately devastating quantity of wound causing blows and will possibly have casualties. One character determined at random might have become incapacitated (similar to having 0 HP in the core rules) and if not seen to in the number of rounds equal to their level will become lifeless or dead to the Group. Kill Shock can happen even at very low levels of damage, such as a 1st level party on 2 Group Hit Points receives 1 point of damage. Choose one of the following methods and stay consistent.  Method A requires the least bookkeeping,


Method A

Use a Group Saving Throw (as Fighter/highest level PC in group)  vs. Death Ray / Poison plus the collective Constitution bonus.  

If the Save fails ...

Randomly determine which character is affected (die roll).  Treat that character as killed instantly or incapacitated (at 0 HP).


Method B

Randomly select a character.  That character gets to Save vs. Death Ray / Poison based on their own class and level including a Constitution bonus (if any).  Failure means they have become incapacitated or killed.


Method C 

Roll Saving Throws vs. Death Ray / Poison as above for every member of the group in turn.  The characters who fail have become incapacitated (similar to 0 HP in the original rules).  If all fail, see “Total Party Kill” (below).


Armour as a Save

As an alternative to, or in place of, the save rolls above:  Roll under a character's unique AC with a d20.


Do not adjust the Attack Dice of the PC Group until the combat ends.  This is for speed and simplicity.  However special attacks belonging to an incapacitated character can no longer be used.


After the battle is over, the incapacitated character can no longer lend their skills, abilities or HD to the group as a whole.  Attack Dice derived from their hit dice must be removed from the Group's total Attack Dice.  The Group retains its current gHP.  The maximum gHP of the group will have to be adjusted. The characters in the group might still have access to that character's equipment and special weapons, depending upon their class restrictions.  



Total Party Kill - TPK


The party will be "defeated"; if the gHP is reduced to 0 (or ALL the characters have fallen in Kill-Shock). This means they are all mortally wounded and vulnerable - in most cases the victors will finish them off and the adventure has come to an end.



Optional rule for solo play "Heroes never die!"


When playing solitaire, a player might wish to keep the party of characters alive.  Somehow the mortally injured retreat offstage or limp out of the dungeon on 1 HP each (even if the gHP is 0 or lower).  Basically the barely alive carry the severely injured to the next rest stop where the whole group can heal up.  Perhaps monsters will loot their weak bodies for gems and coins.  The adventure is lost for now but the player may wish to withdraw them to town and return a few weeks later.  This will save having to repeatedly generate a whole new party.  A generous GM may wish to employ this rule, especially if the group combats were not meant to be significant encounters in terms of the aims of the scenario. 



Group Combat - D6s Only


Sometimes when rolling a large amount of dice it's easier if the dice are of one type.  The most common spare dice are often six-siders or the d6, but in principle the following method can use any one type of dice.


All Attack Dice will be now be six-sided but still based on hit dice quantities as listed in the rulebook or adventure text.

A first level party of 8 PCs (mixed classes) could be represented as 8d6 plus their bonuses from Strength or Dexterity.  Unique Hit Points should be generated as normal, as written in the rules.  Group Hit Points are still the collective total of all characters' HP in the party (or "group")

Monsters HD (usually d8s) will convert directly to d6s.  

Examples:

HD1-1 will be 1d6 -1.  

HD4+2 will become 4d6 +2.

The exception here are monsters with low singular HD, such as kobolds and some smaller critters (i.e creatures with 1 to 4 hp and below).  Here I would house rule that a kobold at HD 1-4hp (or a 1d4) is technically "half" of a standard hit die, so two kobolds together would fight as 1HD or 1 Attack Dice.  When possible round up to the nearest HD.  Alternatively, a single kobold, or, an extra kobold amongst an even number of kobolds, would fight as 1d6-2, so that 11 kobolds have 6d6-2 attack dice, 12 kobolds will fight as 6d6, 13 as 7d6-2 and so on.


Battles are fought in the same way as in the rules above, using comparative totalling to establish a winning side and damage taken by a losing side.



Alternative d6: "5s and 6s"


Estimate Attack Dice from Hit Dice using only d6s like above.  When rolling in combat, do NOT add together the numbers on the faces of the dice.  Simply treat rolls of "5" or "6" as successes and discard the other dice.  Count up the number of successes for both sides of combat.  Successes on both sides cancel each other out.  The side with most success dice (5 and 6s) left on the table is the winning side.  The number of dice left is the Difference and this is used to work out damage inflicted on the loser.*  The Difference is multiplied by 5, add Strength, Dexterity or monster HD bonuses to find out the damage inflicted on the losing groups gHP.


*Alternatively add the face numbers on the dice left as damage.  These will be 5 or 6s so the result will often be close to multiplying by 5.


Example melee combat:


"The Wandering Company" 10 PCs at 1st Level.

Attack Dice 10d6   STR  +3  gHP 65

verses 

2 possessed Mountain Lions HD3+2  15hp each

Attack Dice 6d6   Bonus +4   gHP 30


Round 1

The PCs roll 10d6 resulting in 2 successes (6,6)

Mountain Lions roll 6d6 and they only have 1 success (a 6)

PCs win the round.

Difference = 2-1=1

The Mountain Lions will take 1 x5 damage +3 (PCs' STR bonus)

= 8 total damage points

These are deducted from the lion's 30 gHP leaving them with 25 gHP.


Revised Group Hit Points:  PCs 65 gHP ;  ML 25 ghp


Round 2

PCs roll.  2 successes (5,6)

MLs roll.  2 successes (6,6)

The round is a draw and stand off.  No damage is taken on either side.


Round 3

PCs roll.  2 successes (5,5)

MLs roll.  5 successes (5,6,6,6,6)

Mountain Lions win the round.

Difference = 5-2=3

PCs lose 3 x5 +4 = 19 damage , reducing their gHP to 46.


Revised Group Hit Points:  PCs 46 gHP ; ML  25 gHP


Round 5

PCs roll.  5 successes (5,5,6,6,6)

MLs roll.  3 successes (5,5,5)

PCs win the round.

Difference = 5-3 =2

The damage against Mountain Lions  is 2 x 5 +3 = 13 points damage, leaving them with 12 gHP.


Revised Group Hit Points:  PCs 46 gHP ; ML 12 gHP


Round 6

PCs roll. 3 successes (5,5,6)

MLs roll.  2 successes (5,5)

PCs win the round.

Difference = 3-2=1  

Damage taken by the Mountain Lions 1 x5 +3 = 8 points, leaving them with 4 gHP


Revised Group Hit Points:  PCs 46 gHP ;  ML 4 gHP


Round 7

PCs roll.  3 successes (6, 6, 5)

MLs roll.  2 success.  (5, 6)

PCs win the round

Difference = 3-2 =1

1 x5 +3 = 8 points damage, killing the mountain lions (they now have gHP -4).


The PCs have survived but with a loss of 19 points from their starting 65 gHP.  They now have 46 gHP.  Tis but a scratch!



Optional rule when negative adjustments are too high


Negative adjustments in a large group based on HD in their listing mustn't be higher than -4.  So 10 goblins with HD1 -1 can be represented as 10d6 Attack Dice with -4 on damage (as opposed to -10).  

(“5s and 6s” combat rules only)



Optional rule, minimum damage caused


The minimum damage caused by the winning side after adjustment must never be below 5.  

(“5s and 6s” combat rules only)



Last Man Standing - 5s & 6s variation - Update/edit 23rd April 2021

These rules might be best used for resolving a side-plot battle. For example, a local militia of NPCs defending a city from orcs. Dice with different colours for respective sides colours are recommended for fast play. Ignore hit points and concentrate only on converting HD to Attack Dice. Roll all the attack dice for both sides at once and remove any dice which are not 5s or 6s. Keep rolling until the only dice left on the table belong to one side - that side has won the battle.




End Notes


These are still very much armchair gaming rules, originally designed to help me take large numbers of PCs through low level pre-written adventures as solo-games.  I am still testing this.  It’s also a working theory whereby Basic Fantasy and similar FRPGs can be stripped back to the humble Hit Dice, resembling something of their roots in wargaming. The use of collective hit points is abstract and this will not please some players.  The rules favour the PCs’ player(s) but this is partly to do with limiting the amount of record keeping and the compression of multiple actions.  It should be easy to switch between these rules and those in the original rulebook.  The spirit is to keep things very simple and fun. If there are too many inconsistencies and players are unhappy, I would recommend returning to the original rules for combat.  Although ideal for wandering monster or commonplace encounters, I probably wouldn’t use these rules in a plot-significant encounter.  In those cases players will need full agency over their characters, and not to fail group saving rolls.  All opinions or suggestions are welcome!


- Billiam Babble, April ‘21





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