Posts Tagged ‘combat


strahd gangbang

Neisseria, the Medusa navigator by Scott LeMien

With the help of my Medusa navigator, I crashed the spaceship into to the mouth of the enormous ghost-robot that hovered over Swamp Town, and we disembarked to rob the spoiled teenage were-tiger picnickers…

Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

we killed strahd, you missed it

Well actually, it looks like Beedo’s gang did it too, but they had more people involved.

In our game of I6: Ravenloft, the four remaining PC’s had found all these curiously specific items of Strahd-slaying, but the best weapon was, of course, a mule to the face.

Our Normal Magic-User negotiated with Strahd to return a painting of the vampire’s little girlfriend–and threw a mule (from a robe of many things) through the painting right as Strahd was examining it.  “A mule to the face would at least be distracting,” so our Kryptonian Assassin got a backstab  with the Sun Sword.  I ended up facing the vampire lord for a round or two of single combat, and then Sensible Half-Orc blasted him with a mystic amulet or something.

The Ravenloft module was entertainingly and ably run by “Naked Sam” on the Red Box site, and it was a nice change of pace.  I think the four players that night all agreed that while we had a fun time, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1e was a laughably pretentious game with little to recommend it over LBB, B/X, or BECMI.  I practically cried reading the “Gaining Experience Levels” section on page 86 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.

Forget Strahd: somebody needs to run a stake through Gary Gygax for sucking blood out of gamers with that nonsense.  Ugh.

the necromancer is dead, so what else is new?

A couple days later, I swung by Tavis’s game, where we had the aforementioned Medusa-navigated spaceship crashing into the ghost-colossus to rob teenage lycanthropes having a picnic on pickled robo-dwarf.  You know: Tavis’s game.

we are here for the picnic (art by Jedo)

One of our off-screen enemies, going back to the days when I was a regular player, was a necromancer named Ashur-Ram, who keeps Wraiths and Spectres imprisoned inside crystal phials which he throws as grenades.  We never have enough priests to turn back these level-draining undead, so we usually gave Ashur-Ram a lot of latitude.

But it turns out he was on board the ghost-colossus when we smashed into it.  This precipitated a panic when long-serving members of the party realized the danger we were in, especially after Ashur-Ram’s Dragon killed all of our meat-shields. “Quick,” said the other party members, “the necromancer appears willing to pay us to leave him alone!  We want to leave him alone!  We want to get paid!  Let’s take the offer!”


Now, it may be my -2 Wisdom modifier talking, or the fact that I was playing a brand-spanking-new character in contrast to guys who had invested for 40 sessions in their toon.  But when you have an insanely wealthy necromancer by the throat and you outnumber him 8:1, and he’s already spent some of his best spells, you strangle that fool.  And so for once I exploited our consensus-driven process by refusing to give in until everyone else got sick of arguing with me.

We killed the necromancer, who had filled us with dread for like 30 sessions, in like 3 rounds.  Nobody took damage except for one guy who got drained two levels and who had been staunchly opposed to fighting this guy.  (Sorry, dude.)  But we are now even more ridiculously wealthy than we had been, and I’m sure fixing the level-drain will be fairly easy.

Plus I think some dude got it on with a Sphinx.

big bad encounter design in old-skool D&D

Both of these episodes are related.

What surprised me about the big fight with Strahd is that there was, in fact, no big fight with Strahd.  We encountered him three times, and it was no biggie each time:

  • Our scout teleported away without any lasting harm thanks to a magic item
  • Our Assassin decapitated him with a single attack (no lasting harm to Strahd)
  • Mule to the face!  And then super-death.
  • Before we got to Strahd the last time, we fought a Nightmare.  The Nightmare put up a better fight.

My impression of this fight, and the hit on Ashur-Ram the necromancer, is that the Many versus One fight is really hard to get right in D&D.  Either the adversary is going to be way out of your league, in which case you need to run like hell, or it’s a plausible foe at your level in which case the group of you will crush it easily.

Furthermore, in order to be taken seriously as a fictional adversary in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, you need to cast spells–which means that you can’t get punched in the face even once if you want to cast, but now there are like 4-8 people surrounding you.

The Nightmare alluded to above was pretty much Many versus One (there were some Hellhound minion-types), but the Nightmare had the advantage of an insanely low Armor Class (like -4 or -5) plus an aura of nausea that made it even harder to hit.  As a result, the Nightmare could afford to stick around for a while and dish out damage.  I realized after leaping onto its back to attempt to tame it that it could run away to some Hell-Plane any time it wished and simply ditch me there, so in trying to avoid its weaker attack I accidentally opened up its special killer move.

But Strahd, and the poor Necromancer, didn’t have great defenses (anti-magic would have worked as well) or an infallible yet deadly escape plan.  Run like hell.

So how do you make the Many versus One fight work?

My advice would be: you don’t.  Give the Boss Bad Guy a retinue of henchmen, maybe appropriate to the Charisma score, and have them follow the Boss around at all times.  (Works for world leaders!)  And failing that, no enemy of any brains will stick around to fight on someone else’s terms: if you’re caught at a disadvantage–like, say, eight adventurers crash a spaceship into your bunker and polymorph your Dragon into a flounder–then you retreat, regroup, and get revenge at a time of your choosing.  As someone said at the end of the Necromancer caper, by the time the adventurers reach your throne room, you’ve already lost.

Extremely intelligent NPC’s should probably auto-fail their morale checks in such circumstances, and should think twice before attempting to negotiate with murder hobo’s for safe passage.

But eventually that confrontation is gonna happen, at which point your Boss NPC has to do several things very quickly:

  1. Protect against melee combatants blitzing you
  2. Knock out enemy casters
  3. Cancel any on-going status effects the party’s got going
  4. Take out as many targets of opportunity as possible

It’s hard to say which of those four is the most urgent, though taking care of #1 early hopefully will buy you some time.  My thought is that debuffs can wait a bit since players may try to keep tossing them on as the fight progresses.  You probably shouldn’t waste time buffing yourself, because (a) it takes up time that you need to spend taking care of other things, and (b) the players will just hit you with a dispel anyway.

One helpful trick, though it is sort of unfair: design your throne room in a way that takes care of at least one of these problems for you: maybe you get to drive around in an armor-plated Pope-Mobile or your throne levitates 20 feet off the ground so melee guys can’t reach you.  Or there’s 3 feet of sucking mud all over the place which basically cancels out any haste spell, or a constant rain of cinders that inflicts steady damage so casters can’t rely on getting a spell off.

Relatedly: divert attention with a MacGuffin, hostage, dead-man switch, or some other strategic necessity so that the players can’t get away with killing you immediately.  The problem here is that your distraction probably won’t keep everybody occupied, and things will likely escalate into a very non-standard combat encounter, which favors the players’ hive-mind.

I’m uncertain as to the best timing of summoning help, such as from demons or conjuration spells.  It’s good to have somebody running around taking the heat off you, but they’re mainly just meat-shields.  (I think we summoned 8 Goblins to help us fight the Nightmare.  All they did was get in the way, though we did propose a variation on our beloved Baby Armor, namely Goblin Sponge Armor, to ablate the vampire’s attacks.  Alas they faded from view before we could get our armorer on the case.)  Summoning help costs at least one round, and it’s probably only going to buy you two at best, unless the enemy absolutely must put down your helper.  Bringing two Wraiths into the fight sure didn’t help the Necromancer.

(Related question: why is Animate Dead such a high-level spell?)

My short prescription would be something like slow (surprisingly, does not exist in the B/X version of the game!), confusion, growth of plants, or wall of ice to keep attackers at bay, followed by (say) hold person, darkness, silence, or feeblemind on enemy casters.  Cause Fear is a nice spell for either purpose, though it only affects one target.  I also like casting a charm person on a Cleric: it not only saves you from a melee attacker, it also steals the players’ buffs for your own use.  My general thought is that while invisibility is a pretty good spell, it’s a pain in the neck to run because you’re always sweating whether your next action will blow it.

Any other thoughts on the Many versus One spellcaster thing?  What am I missing?


The Incredible Indestructible Halfling

In B/X, halflings are much like fighters, but with a slew of minor changes that seem geared to make them good ranged combatants. On the one hand, they get a bonus to hit with missile weapons, an initiative bonus and an Armor Class bonus against larger than man-sized creatures. On the other hand, they can only use weapons “cut down to their size” (limiting their offense in melee) and they use six-sided Hit Dice instead of the fighter’s eight-sided dice, making them more fragile than their human and dwarven counterparts.

But in actual play? It’s all frontline halflings in plate mail, all the time.

Your typical halfling warrior in plate mail, ready for action.

The reason for this is an emergent property of the B/X rules for ability score adjustment (p. B6). Characters can drop points from some stats to raise a prime requisite on a 2-for-1 basis. And who has Dexterity as a prime requisite? Halflings. So everyone who plays a halfling trades away Intelligence and Wisdom to get an 18 Dexterity, which is impressive when a natural Dexterity score is rarely higher than 15. Combine that with plate mail and shield and you’ve got a base Armor Class of -1, which goes up to -3 against larger than man-sized creatures. The resulting survivability boost more than makes up for having one less hit point per level than the fighter.

The first question here isn’t what’s to be done, but whether anything should be done at all. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with a party with a bunch of plate-armored hobbits anchoring the front line? If the players seem happy enough with the situation, it may be best to let them keep doing what they’re doing.

On the other hand, if the DM’s dissatisfied with the resulting flavor, there are a number of approaches to be taken:

1) Disallow ability score adjustment, so halfling PCs are stuck with their initial dexterity roll. The downsides here are that this may be a case of taking out a housefly with a hand grenade if it’s the only problematic situation caused by ability score adjustment, and that a player who rolled a high dexterity can still choose to play a plate-armored halfling anyway; this makes the situation rarer but does not abolish it.
2) Put a limit on how much of a dexterity bonus a PC can get from heavy armor, like in later editions of D&D. So plate mail might cap the wearer at a +2 (or even +1) AC bonus from dexterity. This meshes well with the movement rules; if metal armor slows you down, it’s reasonable to think that it also makes you less agile in combat.
3) Remove plate mail from the halfling’s list of allowed armor types. This may have an overly negative effect on the halfling’s survivability, and unlike some other solutions, it requires grandfathering in exceptions to the rule for existing characters if you want to let them keep playing as they have been playing. But it has the advantage of matching the race’s original Tolkienian flavor; they’re not the sort to dress up like knights in full armor.


non-violence (and slime gods)

As convention season approaches, New York Red Box Charter Member E.T. Smith made an intriguing remark while musing about convention games:

I barely even notice game descriptions [at conventions] anymore. They nearly always, to me, read like a variation of “Some dudes are doing something you don’t like. Stop them with violence,” so they don’t tell me anything about what might make the game interesting.

(emphasis added).

And he’s right.  It would be pretty neat to play some games where the primary conflicts couldn’t be solved through violence, if only as a change of pace.

Figuring out how to do a “non-violence” session of D&D:

  • Maybe violence is just a strategically dumb move, like if every monster in the dungeon is way tougher than you.  This becomes more of a stealth mission, either trying to creep into a place, or trying to escape.  For several years now I’ve wanted to run an adventure where PC’s are accidentally teleported into a much deeper level of the dungeon than they anticipated . . .
  • Maybe violence isn’t the focus of the adventure, though this begins to get into areas of play that aren’t well-supported.
    • A cross-country or oceanic race, for example, would offer the chance to overcome a lot of wilderness hazards.  (In D&D, most wilderness hazards take the form of monsters you have to kill; I much prefer Mouse Guard‘s approach to wilderness and weather hazards.  But I suppose with old-school “imagine-the-hell-out-of-it” principles players could try to cope with travel emergencies.)
    • An attempt to solve a particularly vexing problem by means of researching a new spell or magic item.  Spell research is one of those cool things that tends to happen away from the table, but trying to acquire super-bizarre metaphorical ingredients, like “the tears of the moon” or something, might require a lot of creative thinking from the players.
    • An attempt to build a stronghold.  I can imagine all sorts of stuff going wrong here: incompetent architectural design, labor trouble, low-key interference from neighboring powers who want to test the new guy on the block.  And of course the peasants are watching to determine if this new guy really deserves their respect.  Again this gets into social-style adventuring that isn’t always handled well by D&D rules, but would probably be an interesting change of pace.
  • Maybe violence is morally problematic – like, the whole scenario is caused by horribly wrong violence and its tragic after-effects can’t really be remedied by more of the same.

Some of this stuff, like magical research and stronghold-building, skirt pretty close to the carousing mechanisms that the New York Red Box uses between sessions.  (The workings of the carousing system has been pretty opaque to me as a player: Tavis uses some kind of Apocalypse World -derived 2d6 + Ability Mod system, where 10 is an unqualified success, 7-9 is a compromise somehow, and 6- is a bad failure; Eric I think is using something like a saving throw system.)

Anyway: as an RPG player I’d like to play in the occasional game that wasn’t predicated on solving conflicts by the application of superior force, that’s all.  (I am not saying that violence in gaming is bad; just that it’s boring sometimes.)

tax: 2e Slime Cult Specialty Priest

Been mucking around with 2e lately.  The 2e Cleric is ridiculously powerful.  Perhaps as an acknowledgement of this, the 2e Players Handbook introduces Specialty Priests, which are sort of like themed mini-Clerics.  The 2e Druid is arguably one example of this though they don’t explicitly say so in the text IIRC.

Anyway, specialty priest who worships primordial subterranean slime gods:

Restrictions: Constitution 15, Charisma 12.  Followers of the Slime God must be hardy to endure filth and ordure, yet they remain mysteriously compelling.  Alignment: any non-good and non-lawful.  The Slime God is indifferent to human welfare and scorns efforts at systematizing.

Weapons Allowed: Non-metal armor and weapons that are mostly wood.  Flasks of burning oil, acid, and poison are permitted.  The idea is to be immune from most Ooze attacks, while mimicking them in return.

Spheres: Major access to: All, Charm, Creation, Divination, Elemental, and Necromantic.  Minor access to Animal, Healing, Plant.  According to the cult, slime exists at the juncture between insensate matter and all living things–the protoplasmic goo is a link between plants, animals, and the raw elements, and the quintessence of life itself.  I’m throwing in Divination and Charm just because I like the idea of extremely charismatic priests driven mad by unspeakable insights.

Granted Powers: command Oozes, Otyughs and Fungi (as evil Cleric commands Undead).  At Level 7, transform into Ooze (as Druid’s shape-changing ability).

Ethos: To the anti-priests of the cult, we weren’t created by any gods in the service of a divine purpose.  We crawled into the sunlight after countless eons of muck for no discernible reason.  If you’re puzzled and confused by the world you live in, that’s perfectly understandable: it’s not supposed to make sense.   We’re just globs of muck, doing what globs of muck do: eat, shit, puke, ejaculate, and die.  There’s no relief from that: it’s the bedrock of our existence.  And if the social institutions of the surface world appear corrupt, hypocritical, and historically contingent–almost as if there was no divine plan at all–well, that shouldn’t come as a surprise .  If you’re expecing our society to be pure and wholesome, you’re misunderstanding who and what we are.  There’s no destiny.  There’s just the continuous consumption of rotting flesh to shit out nightsoil to keep the thing going.

Amid all that mindless biological twitching, there’s a lesson to be learned.  Don’t let people tell you to do stuff on the basis of some goofball ideology.  Here and now is what matters.  Being left alone, and leaving others alone even if it means they’ll drink their own piss, is a cardinal virtue: you don’t have authority to tell others what to do.  And that applies to yourself too.  You have to reconcile yourself to the fact that your life and its attendant suffering is pointless.  Don’t have hopes, or daydreams, or wishes for anything other.  Just this: over and over, just this.


Red Box Armory: Pikes

No, not that kind.

The pike is a very long spear, typically 15 feet in length, intended for use in mass combat. Pikemen gather in large ‘hedgehog’ formations, so called because they bristle with spearheads like a hedgehog’s spines.

Pikes may be used to attack opponents 10 feet away (or farther, for especially long pikes) and always gain initiative against an attacker who’s closing to melee range while using a shorter weapon. However, they may not be used at closer range, nor may they be thrown. A successful pike attack inflicts 1d6 damage.

The unwieldiness of the pike makes it impossible to casually swing it about in melee. Instead, its wielder must specify in which direction he or she is pointing it. If there are other characters within 10 feet, it takes a full round to maneuver the pike around them in order to change facing. (A group of untrained peasant levies must make a successful morale check each round in order to accomplish this task.) The wielder may only attack opponents within a 90 degree forward arc.

It is rarely possible to bring a pike into a dungeon, as it’s hard to fit around corners in narrow passageways.

Treat pikes as spears for purposes of weapon proficiency.

Cost: 5gp.


the Doom Quest of Nightfang

The latest issue (#11) of Fight On! contains Doom Quest, a micro version of Rune Quest by Friend-of-the-Mule Scott LeMien.  (Scott resisted my suggestion to name it Quest Quest, but otherwise it’s a great little game.)

In case, like me, you are too poor to spring for every OSR magazine, let me sing the praises of Doom Quest a little bit.

Scott’s a fanatic for the whole microlite tradition of game design, where you squeeze one hundred pages of rules and advice into a concentrated, one-page version.  Doom Quest sets out to do that for Rune Quest, and succeeds beautifully.  I used Doom Quest to run a published RQ adventure without understanding the first thing goldang thing about Rune Quest.  It was beautiful and flawless.  If you’re a Rune Quest maniac, but your gaming group is afraid of investing the time to learn a complex new system, Doom Quest is your new best friend.

But speaking as someone who doesn’t know Rune Quest, I was astonished at how elegantly Doom Quest operates.  This past summer, when some of the New York Red Box began dallying with RQ, Scott came away raving about the combat mechanics–and his approach to combat in Doom Quest is exceedingly impressive.

I’m very accustomed to D&D combat: I roll a d20 and a d6, and use the results as a cue for my imagination: “Hmm, I rolled a good strike but lousy damage.  The monster must have left itself wide open to the attack, but I couldn’t quite get a good footing, so my sword-thrust was weaker than expected.”  In Doom Quest, you don’t have to engage in some kind of oracular justification of weird random results: a surprisingly thorough outcome is generated entirely by the dice.  “I rolled a 7, and you rolled a 18, so therefore I blocked your blow, but my sword is badly notched . . . and then I rolled a 13, so I strike you in the leg, hamstringing you, so you fall to the ground, and you’ll be dead in 10 minutes.”  There’s a full table of embarrassing fumbles too, although my favorite outcome comes when you take massive head or torso wounds: given the gore inherent in the system already, the laconic “Horrible death!” makes me shudder because of what it doesn’t describe.

Doom Quest’s combat system takes a simple 1d20 input from each player, and spits out a vivid, plausible, and sometimes very distressing story of men maiming each other with steel.  If you’re bored with the Rock’em Sock’em Robots quality of D&D combat, but are too much of a neckbeard to play 4e, Doom Quest presents a cruel arena built from the bones of Rune Quest.  The rules are worth stealing.

The rest of Doom Quest is less crunchy, but well considered.  The version of the game I played had rules for building customized weapons, thieving skills, and hirelings.  The magic rules are a little anemic for reasons of space, but presumably if you’re reading Doom Quest you’re comfortable making up new spells.

In our game, I ran Scott’s Rune-Priest, his two zealots, and a child squire through Paul Jaquays’s small masterpiece, The Hellpits of Nightfang.  Some weird-ass mutated snakes set upon the crusaders as they descended a dried-up creekbed into the caverns.  The group managed to kill most of the snakes – but not before one of the beasts propelled itself like a javelin through the thigh of the child squire.  (Uncharacteristically, Scott did not then slaughter the child and bathe in its blood.)

Helping the squire along as best they could, the group explored a sinkhole and tried to loot some corpses, before they remembered they were on a holy quest to kill Nightfang the Vampire.  Venturing into the caverns, the Rune-Priest slaughtered Doomlost, Nightfang’s wolf sidekick, with a single well-placed javelin.  As the Rune-Priest and Nightfang fought a pitched hand-to-hand battle–leading to grotesque mutilations–the two zealots bravely tried to hold back a small army of Skeletons.  Even as the Rune-Priest drove Nightfang to retreat, a sinister Ghost took possession of the Rune-Priest and forced him to commit suicide by plunging into an frigid subterranean lake.  The zealots tried to rescue him, but the Skeletons provided stiff resistance, and ultimately cut the men down as they were just a few feet from escaping.

The only survivor was the lamed child, carrying news of unholy carnage back to his village, telling the tale of the Doom Quest.


Revised Simple Grappling Rules

Cyclopeatron has a post about simple grappling rules, which originally come from a K&K Alehouse post by Austin Jimm of the Contemptible Cube of Quazar blog and are themselves based on an example of combat by Gary Gygax in The Strategic Review Vol. 1, No. 2, Summer 1975.  Here are Austin Jimm’s rules:

Any character, or group of characters, may attempt to grapple and subdue an opponent. This is accomplished by having the attacking character, or characters, roll a normal “to hit” roll against the target. The hit dice of all attackers who successfully hit the target is totaled, and a number of d6 equal to this total is rolled. The target must then roll a number of d6 equal to his own hit dice. If the attackers’ roll is greater than that of the defender, the target is considered pinned and may be disarmed, shackled, bound, knocked-out, or otherwise subdued. If the defender’s roll prevails, he has thrown off all of his attackers and they must spend one combat round recovering as if from a fumble. If the dice are tied, they are struggling, with the defender still on his feet, and another set of grappling rolls will be made on the next round. Any additional attackers who score a hit may add their dice to the roll.

My problem with this is that requiring a to-hit roll to start a grapple doesn’t make sense for my understandings of what armor class means. Wearing a lot of metal strapped to your body doesn’t make it harder for someone to get an arm bar on you. I don’t use Dex modifiers to AC (they give a saving throw vs. damage instead, and I don’t want to introduce that extra step of die rolling into this grappling procedure), and although “touch AC” seems like a reasonable idea and one which you can extract from various texts in AD&D pretty directly, I have seen the madness to which this leads.

I think that the rightful place of armor in a grapple is that, if you have lots of metal strapped to your own body, you don’t have to worry as much about getting cut while you’re trying to move inside your enemy’s reach and take away his sword. And, in a game where combatants are normally assumed to be able to deal potentially lethal blows at more than arm’s length, it seems to me that starting a grapple is better expressed as whether your foe can use his weapon to drive you back, not whether you can grab them.

Here, then, are my revised combat rules:

Any combatant, or group of combatants, may attempt to grapple and subdue an opponent. This is accomplished by having the defender roll a normal “to hit” roll against each of the attacking grapplers. The hit dice of all attackers who were not hit by the defender is totaled, and a number of d6 equal to this total is rolled. The target must then roll a number of d6 equal to his own hit dice. Strength bonuses or penalties, if any, are added to each d6 roll. If the attackers’ total is greater than that of the defender, the target is considered pinned and may be disarmed, shackled, bound, knocked-out, or otherwise subdued. If the defender’s total prevails, he throws off the grapple attempt and may roll damage against one of the attackers who were hit by his attack rolls in the initial step (or more than one, if he has the ability to damage multiple opponents in a normal round of attacks). If the attacker’s and defender’s dice are tied, they are struggling, with the defender still on his feet but unable to make normal melee attacks; another set of grappling rolls will be made on the next round, in which the defender does not have the ability to make to-hit rolls to prevent attackers from adding their hit dice to the grapple pool.

The consequence of failing a grapple here is that the defender gets to score a hit with his weapon (or more than one, if he has multiple attacks) on you as he throws you back. I like this better than the idea of being stunned for a round, which doesn’t have much precedent otherwise (can you throw someone to stun them in other situations?) and is hard to make sense of if a round subsumes many different events, esp. a minute-long round. If you succeed on the grapple, some of your allies may be held at bay by the defender’s weapon, but you manage to grab him before he can follow up on these feints and threats and make them actually damaging.

Here, for completeness, is the original example of combat from the Strategic Review:

Example: Ten Orcs surprise a lone Hero wandering lost in the dungeons, but the die check reveals they are 30‘ distant at the time of surprise, so they use their initiative to close to melee distance. lnitiative is now checked. The Hero scores a 3, plus 1 for his high dexterity, so it is counted 4. The Orcs score 6, and even a minus 1 for their lack of dexterity (optional) still allows them first attack.As they outnumber their opponent so heavily it is likely that they will try to overpower him rather than kill, so each hit they score will be counted asattempts to grapple the Hero:
– Armor of the Hero: Chainmail & Shield — AC 4.
– Score required to hit AC 4 — 15 (by monsters with 1 hit
– Only 5 Orcs can attack, as they haven‘t had time to
Assume the following dice scores for the Orcs attacks:
Orc #1 – 06; #2 – 10; #3 – 18; #4 – 20; #5 – 03.

Two of the Orcs have grappled the Hero, and if his score with 4 dice is less than their score with 2 dice (one each) he has been pinned helplessly. If it is a tie they are struggling, with the Hero still on his feet, but he will be unable to defend himself with his weapon. If the Hero scores higher than the Orcs use the positive difference to throw off his attackers, i.e. the Hero scores 15 and the Orcs scored but 8, so the Hero has tossed both aside, stunning them for 7 turns between them.


Red Box Armory: Bolas

Git along little birdies!

Bolas are an exotic weapon from faraway lands. They consist of a cord or chain with weights at the ends, meant to wrap around a target’s legs to entangle them.

When attacking, treat bolas as a thrown weapon with the same range increments as flaming oil or holy water. A successful hit inflicts no damage but binds the target’s legs together. An entangled target can only move 3’/round and must save vs. paralysis each round or fall prone. Removing the bolas takes a full round of action and requires at least one free hand. (If a character is in no position to unwrap the bolas manually, he may attempt to snap the cord or chain with an Open Doors check.)

As a rule, only classes that can use all weapons, such as fighters, halflings, dwarves and thieves, may use bolas, and even then they require some training in their use.

Past Adventures of the Mule

February 2017
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