Alternative Systems for AD & DTM

Combat #3

Unarmed Combat

Again, without wanting to get bogged down in complex and atmosphere-destroying rules, I feel that it's useful to have a believable system for various kinds of unarmed combat. I also wanted to be able to simulate the fact that a man using only his fists is probably in big trouble if his opponent has a sword - see Defending Against Unarmed Combat, below.

Punching, pummelling and kicking

Roll to Hit as usual (although see below for notes on defending against punches, etc.).

A normal punch does 1d2 + Str Bonus non-lethal damage. Using a mailed gauntlet, a fistful of coins, or the like gives +1 damage and makes the damage of the lethal type. Using the pommel of a dagger, etc, does 1d2+2 lethal damage.

If the target is the same size or smaller than the attacker, any roll to hit 4 or more over the required number has a 5% chance per point of damage caused of Stunning the target. A Stunned target will attack at -3 To Hit and loses 2 AC for 1d2 rounds.

Wrestling and holds

Roll to Hit as if attacking vs AC10, modified by defender's Dex and shield bonuses to AC (and see below for notes on defending against wrestling).

A successful hit inflicts 1pt + Str Bonus non-lethal damage.

Any roll to hit 4 or more over the required number is a hold; 1pt + Str Bonus non-lethal damage may be automatically applied every round from then on, until the hold is broken. Holds are broken with an opposed Str vs. Str roll between the two opponents each round; the defender will get a -1 cumulative penalty for each round after the first that the hold is maintained. Note that if the defender has natural weapons, rather than try and escape they may instead make a Dex roll - if they succeed, they can use their natural attacks on the person who has them in a hold.

Overbearing, shield bashes and knockdowns

Overbearing always takes place at the end of a combat round, and several creatures may combine their efforts against one target. Roll to Hit as if attacking vs AC10, modified by defender's Dex Bonus to AC, and also the following, applied to the attacker(s) To Hit roll:

A success on the To Hit roll knocks the defender to the ground; the attacker(s) will fall too, unless the To Hit roll succeeded by 4 or more. Successes by 4 or more will also move the defender backwards, by 5' per point over, after the first 3.

See also Mounted Combat, below.

Defending Against Unarmed Combat

Any attack with a ready weapon against a target using Unarmed Combat that round is at +2 To Hit and +3 damage. Punches and attempts to Wrestle an armed defender always act after the defender has made their attack. If the weapon is Medium sized or larger, a successful hit will disallow the attempt to Punch or Wrestle that round.

Weapon Parries

Everyone can be assumed to be trying to avoid injury when appropriate in a round, but here's a system to use when combatants want to make that extra effort not to be hit.

Any attempt to parry with a weapon held in the defender's on-hand takes up an attack - for most non-warriors, this will mean they do not get to make any attacks that round. A parry may be declared at any time when the defender has an attack to spare and before their opponent has made their To Hit roll. The result is a bonus to the Defender's AC equal to:

STR bonus To Hit + Specialisation bonus + Magic Weapon bonus

A weapon in a defender's off-hand can be used to parry as a free action, but this will impose a -3 To Hit on other attacks made by the defender that round. If using a polearm, parries may be made on behalf of other people, as long as they're within reach. See notes on polearms.


2nd Edition gives shields very little reason to exist. By default, they add a mere 1 to the user's AC... which is why very few fighters bother to carry one. Here's some rules on making them more effective:

Shields come in three sizes; buckler, medium and tower. There are also entirely improvised shields, such as a stool, thick cloak or fallen branch snatched up in the heat of combat. Their basic stats are as follows:

Shield Type: AC bonus*: Overbear bonus^: Shield HP (wooden)*: Shield HP (metal)*: Notes:
Improvised 0 0 3 4 Needs to be used to actively parry to be effective - see below
Buckler +1 0 4 6 User can use a small weapon or other object in the same hand.
Medium +2 ±1 7 12
Tower +3 ±2 10 18 Cannot be carried on horseback or while running

Active Shield Parries

Shields can be used as kind of last-ditch defense. A defender can choose to interpose the shield strongly between themselves and an incoming attack, at the risk of the shield being weakened or destroyed. This takes up the defender's entire round (disallowing any other attacks or movement), and counts only against one attack each round.

The result is that the shield absorbs a portion of incoming damage equal to its Shield HP from the table above. If the damage exceeds its HP the shield is destroyed and any leftover damage passes through to the defender. Shield damage can be repaired later, with a successful Armourer NWP roll (it may be impossible to mundanely repair a magic shield).

With the DM's permission, it might also be possible to parry certain special attacks with a shield, such as an incoming Burning Hands spell, collapsing wall or the like. Perhaps a tower shield could help protect against dragonbreath, for example.

Mounted Combat

Perhaps because of an emphasis on dungeon-delving, mounted combat in 2nd Ed is also somewhat ineffective, and so often gets overlooked. Here I try and redress the issue, paying attention specifically to horses rather than exotica, like gryphons and so on:

Melee While Mounted

The following rules assume that a mounted rider will have a substantial height advantage over those on foot (e.g. knight vs footman). Odd combinations like goblins on wolf-back may need their own rulings.

Essentially the advantage is with the mount and rider. The rider can attack targets on foot at +2 To Hit and +2 damage. Warhorses and similar militant mounts can also make their own natural attacks (warhorse hooves do 2d6 damage) against a target within reach.

Incoming attacks against the mount are at normal modifiers. Attacks against the rider are at -2 To Hit, unless the weapon in use is a particularly long one (e.g. a spear, but not a longsword).

Mounted Charges

The assumption here is that a well-trained mount can be highly effective in a charge against defenders on foot. The deciding factor is a pair of morale rolls; one for the mount and one for the defender(s) - the results have profound effects on the combat. Note that PCs never have to make a morale roll to defend against a charge, although if they're the attacker their mount does have to make a roll.

If there are multiple ranks of charging mounts, roll only for the first rank - each other rank of mounts follows those ahead, whether they succeed or fail.

Here I also assume relatively mundane combatants (e.g. a mounted charge into an Orcish formation); a knight-on-warhorse charging a dragon shouldn't use these rules.

The base morale roll is on 2d10. Defenders roll as a group vs. their averaged Wisdom, while horses have an 'Morale' equivalent, as given below, depending on their training. There are several modifiers, both for defenders and attacker:

NB: Gryphon, pegasi and other exotic mounts will need to have their Morale determined by the DM.

Base Morale of Horses:
Pack horse
Riding horse
Paladin's warhorse
Automatic success; no roll needed
Modifiers to mount's morale:
Rider succeeds at Riding NWP roll
Defender(s) are obscured, e.g. smoke
Defender(s) have suitable weapons*
Charge is over very bad footing
Charge is through flames
Modifiers to defender's morale:
Leader succeeds at Leadership NWP
Defenders in ranks
Untrained peasants
Unsuitable weapons*

* Suitable weapons for defenders are anything that can be set against a charge

Effects of morale:

The result of the two rolls have a profound effect on the outcome, as follows:

Both sides fail
The mount refuses the charge and veers away, and the defenders retreat in order; no combat takes place
Mount fails and defenders succeed
The mount rears up, just short. Its rider needs to make a Riding NWP roll not to fall off. If the defenders have suitable weapons, they can choose to attack horse or rider (this may be multiple defenders, if their weapons are long enough).
Mount succeeds and defenders fail
The defense breaks and begins to flee, just before the mount crashes into them. The mount makes Overbearing attacks on the front rank of defenders - successful Overbearing means the mount carries on through and can try to Overbear the next rank, and so on. The rider can choose to attack one target at +2 To Hit. If the rider has a lance or long spear they will do double damage on a hit - other weapons will gain +4 damage instead.
Both sides succeed
Both sides hold steady. Whichever has the longest weapon will attack first; again this may involve multiple ranks of defenders if they have suitable weapons. Defenders can choose to attack mount or rider. If a mount is killed by a weapon set against charge, it falls. Otherwise the mount crashes into the defenders (even if otherwise killed). Overbearing attacks may be made on the first rank of defenders, and the rider may attack, as in Melee While Mounted, above.

Mounts charging over defenders who have already been knocked down will do trampling damage.