Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Something for the Fighting Man

Hmm. This wasn't what I had planned to write about next, but there's a great discussion going on at ODD74 about something for the Fighting Man that's syncing with my thinking, as it were.

Snorri mentions the idea of the FM being able to attack one HD of foe/character level. So, for example, a 7th lvl FM could attack 7 orcs, or 3 bugbears, or a single troll, etc. I used to favor this approach, but after reading Chainmail with opened eyes, decided that any creature with more than a single HD should be considered "Fantastic" and needed more attention from the embattled hero, regardless of their level.

However, I'm all for the the "one attack/character level on any foes of one HD or less", as confusingly demonstrated in the second or third issue of the Strategic Review. I also like, from the thread mentioned, the idea that whenever a FM kills an opponent, he gets a second attack on someone else, until he runs out of foes. Nice and pulpy. Plus, it has the cache of being suggested by Dave Arneson himself!

There's a lot of other good ideas there, too; however, most of them have more crunch than I care to deal with. When it gets down to it, I just believe a higher-level FM should be able to plow through a crowd of goblins with no real problem...


  1. Castles & Crusades has a similar rule for Fighter's at 4th level and above. Unfortunately, it's not "1HD", but rather a creature with 1HD of d6 or less (C&C uses HDs other than d8's). In my own games I just make it 1HD or less of any type.

    There's also the "cleave" ability that a lot of people prefer to use, and I've waffled for a while as to whether or not this is a better rule - you'll be attacking fewer creatures on average, but it does give you the ability to finish off one bigger creature and start in on another one.

    In the end, as long as your group is comfortable with what gets decided, it's all good.

  2. This discussion came up around our game table, and while I like the relative simplicity of having the multiple attacks only take place against single HD monsters, it strikes me as odd that there are no subsequent character levels that grant the same multiple-attack ability against 2nd level or 3rd level monsters. Maybe 4th level for 2HD and 8th level for 3HD. This way characters don't increase their mob-mower status as quickly as they increase their ability in single combat.

    But I think I also like the idea of being able to take a "swing-through" attack on higher HP monsters if the original target is slain. It's a more subtle approach to expediting mob-combat and simpler to explain to new players I think.

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  4. Badelaire: I actually found the variety of HD used in C&C a little strange. Maybe it leaked over from 3e (with which I don't have much experience)? The cleave thing, I dunno, I think it always smacked of video games to me... (hey, that was almost a pun!)

    Spike: I view the multiple attacks only against 1HD or less foes as a direct connection to Chainmail's Fantasy Supplement---in that, most creatures who ended up as a single HD or less in ODD were hittable by anyone; most creatures that ended up at 2HD or more were considered "Fanastic", and were only hittable by Heros/Superheros/Wizards, and then only on a special table whose result was: "Whoever loses, dies." Talk about hardcore! :)

    So, that's why I favor keeping it to <=1HD. I tend to play up the abstract nature of the combat system, describing lots of maneuvering, etc. for the single hit/damage roll. That lets the FM wipe out a few lesser foes in the time that it would take to get in any sort of hit on someone tougher. In my mind, it accents the "fantastic" or "magical" or "otherworldly", whatever, nature of the tougher foes they fight.

    Which, really, I guess, also includes them as they rise in levels...

    It's cool that you guys hash it out as a group. I imagine that's what we'll end up doing, too.

  5. Kesher -

    I like the variable HD for two reasons:

    - You no longer have the "1HD-1" or "1/2HD" or "1HD+1"; you just nudge the die type up or down a notch.

    - With larger creatures, it allows you to give them more HP without raising HD through the roof. Yeah, a 20HD dinosaur is pretty badass, but that also means he's got a +20 to his attack roll, meaning he's ALWAYS going to hit anyone who isn't kitted with magical armor out the wazoo, and become almost invulnerable to magic requiring saves. You can then up the die type and use fewer dice, while keeping the HP totals similar.

    As for the mass combat/cleave...well it's all a matter of taste. I don't want super anime time, but it is a fun bit of "cinema" to have your experienced fighter (since in C&C, the multiple opponent rule doesn't kick in until 4th level) cut down one bad guy and then whack another on the backswing. A far cry from Flying Shaolin Ki Fist Superstun Whirlwind Death Blade.

  6. Well, you know, I hadn't thought about using variable HD that way; subtle!

    And sure, you're right, cleave or any other "feat" is certainly a taste thing. I guess if I had enough players clamoring for it, I wouldn't object. And really, when I think about it, it's not really different than what Dave described in the original thread...

  7. A far cry from Flying Shaolin Ki Fist Superstun Whirlwind Death Blade.

    And the beauty of ODD is that it could handle a campaign with that Fighting Man, too. :)