Friday, February 26, 2010

Simple Combat Maneuvers

I just stumbled on this elegant way to add flavor to combat. It was posted back in July by Joshua at Tales of the Rambling Bumblers.

Here is the system in a nutshell:

If your player wants to perform a maneuver, say disarm an opponent, they make a normal roll to hit. A critical hit results in the maneuver being successful. A normal hit means the opponent has to make a choice: be disarmed or take the damage from the hit as normal.

This is really a clever little rules hack. It allows for players to try to do things in combat that might be beneficial and interesting besides just whacking away at an opponent. It also allows me to have monsters try things like pushing players around or swarming over them, with the player having to make a decision about what happens.

I'm going to try it in play. I'm hoping this will add a little zest for people that consider fighters "boring." My one worry is that by codifying this it will limit players from a try-anything approach. On the other hand, they seemed to have been trained out of that open mindedness by later rule sets anyway, so maybe Joshua's system will act the opposite, as sort of training wheels.


  1. Dude, this is so swank, I'm totally gonna start using it.

    Lots of games have stunting rules, or room for them; when I run Castles & Crusades, I allow a SIEGE check for crazy stuff like putting your foot down on a guy's pike or throwing dirt in his eyes. That's an extra roll in combat, however. It doesn't take up TOO much time, luckily.

    The hack you present here is just a tad bit quicker and adds that choice thing. So I'm definitely adding it to my repertoire. Domo Origami, Mister Salami!

  2. Good luck with it! Joshua deserves any thanks, I'm just collecting rules that accomplish a lot by getting out of the way.

  3. I like this - from my martial arts studies, this scenario can actually come up in a real fight.

    If you have certain holds, and apply pressure, you're basically giving your opponent the choice between being thrown to the ground, or having their arm broken.

    In a different scenario, it might be the choice between dropping their sword or having their wrist broken.