Friday, April 24, 2009

Judge's Guidelines

I've just completed a seriously houseruled resolution system for the Otherness campaign. It can be found here:  Judge's Guidelines

It's adapted from The Games of War by John Bobek. This excellent wargaming book includes a short account, which I can't imagine has been published anywhere else, of the time in '71 or '72 when Bobek, who was friends with Ernie Gygax, got to play in a proto-D&D dungeon adventure run, of course, by Gary. His character died, but he went on to develop these Guidelines as a way to recreate the dungeon experience for up to 30 8th grade students at a time(!)

I'll be premiering this houserule on Sunday, and would love to field any comments or questions.


  1. By going from 5+ to 7+ needed to hit the difference between Ac 9 and 8 is pretty dang large. Why aren't 6+, 8+, and 10+ representated on the chart?

  2. I'm not sure I get it.

    Is the dice roll for Type of Wound the "damage" roll? If I hit, I roll 2d6 to see what type of wound I inflicted (and thus what my opponent has to save against)?

    Other than that confusion (which indeed may only be me...), it looks simple and sane. Not sure if it will work when applied to actual gamers, but I'm looking forward to trying it.

  3. @Jeff: Honestly, it's simply because I wasn't interested in making it that fine-grained. Using the mindset of "light/medium/heavy" armor, the two point jump between no armor and light armor doesn't really bother me. Of course, this still needs to be tested in realtime; I fully anticipate some tweaking.

    @Will: Yeah, that's actually the biggest mind-shift. This is how it works: Melvin gets in a fight with an orc. The orc wins initiative. I roll a 2d6 to see if the orc hits, and indeed he does. Then you roll a wound save to see what kind of wound, if any, you take. So yes, the wound save is the damage roll, but you roll if for your own character, much as you roll a "normal" saving throw to avoid damage or death by poison, etc.

    Does that make sense?

  4. Okay, um, no. Not really.

    At least, I'm not sure. So, the orc hits me. And I roll a 5, which gives me a serious wound.

    Are you saying that I then roll again, trying for a 7 or better to avoid even that damage? Sounds like I need to make (up to) two rolls. (But on the plus side, you only need d6's...)

  5. Next question: How does this affect magic? I realize we haven't dealt with direct-damage magic, and I can see a (Greyhawk-style) Magic Missile being rolled as a normal wound, but how about a Fireball?

  6. There are some useful nuggets here. I'm very interested to see how it plays out in combat and what sort of changes you may make.

  7. @Will: Hmm, apparently I'm not explaining myself very well...not the first time! I'll try again.

    You only roll once per combat round: either to see if you hit or, if you're hit, to see if you take damage. If Melvin hit the orc, then I would roll a damage save for the orc. If I rolled a hit on Melvin, then you would roll a wound save---one roll each per combat round.

    As for magic, off the top of my head I think it'd work like this: Say a 6th level mage casts a fireball, which would usually do 6d6 damage. With this system, someone hit by the fireball would make a save vs. Spells as normal---whoever made their save vs. Spells would suffer a -3 penalty on their wound save; anyone who missed their save vs. Spells would be at a -6 penalty on their wound save.

  8. Interesting. I look forward to trying this out. (Unless my character dies, in which case these rules are BOGUS AND NERFED!)

    Keep in mind that 2d6-based Chainmail is actually the default combat system in the original rules. I tried to figure out how that would actually play. It looked... maddening. (I found somebody's work-in-progress attempt to summarize such rules. Let me know if you want a copy; the source eludes Google at the moment.) This looks to much in the same spirit, but saner.

    Are you familiar with Spellcraft & Swordplay? I don't have a copy, but it apparently takes the 2d6 proto-D&D and runs with it.

  9. @Larry: Yeah, the Chainmail combat rules baffled me until I read a few clarifying threads on the ODD74 board. I've actually been working off and on on something I'm calling PRIMORDIAL_ODD, which is my attempt to build Chainmail into an RPG. It uses the Combat Tables and the Fantasy Combat Table from the Appendix (NOT the Man to Man table). It's close to done, actually. I should probably finish it up and post it...

    I've gathered a number of Chainmail variations from off the IntraWeb in the last few years; I'll send them to you and if the one you found's not there, we can hunt it down.

    I hope these rules are in the same spirit! I'm really interested in getting away from HP and the Combat Matrix. We'll see tomorrow, I guess...

    I am indeed familiar with S&S, as well as Swords and Wizardry, which is an actual "Retro Clone", in that it uses WotC System Doc to recreate the White Box. I haven't read the S&S rules, but it has it's own forum on the ODD74 site:

    Jason's a nice guy, and has actually created a boxed set of the game, which is just too cool!

  10. So, any comments now that you've tried them? I didn't roll well enough to like them, but I could see where they might be useful (especially the task resolution system.) But maybe not the combat system, anyway.

  11. Oh, yes, I have comments! I'm actually going to write a post about it in the next day or two, but the short version is: I needed to try it, but I wasn't thrilled by the results. I don't need to try it again.