Sunday, August 11, 2013

All or Nothing (or Head-to-Head) Combat Rolls

On my walk today, I started thinking about variations on Blood & Treasure (and all the games it is based on, of course) combat. The traditional form is for one entity to make an attack roll against a static defense score, followed by its opponent (or opponents) doing the same, each success causing damage until somebody is out of hit points.

It occurred to me that a different effect could be achieved by each entity in a combat rolling a d20 at the same time in an attempt to out-roll their opponent. Whoever rolls the highest in this little duel wins the round and deals damage. Again, repeat until somebody is out of hit points.

The first step to running this combat is to calculate the entity's total combat bonus (TCB, if you're an Elvis fan).

Character TCB = Attack bonus + Strength modifier + Dexterity modifier + Armor bonus + miscellaneous modifiers

Monster TCB = Hit Dice bonus + Size bonus (Large +2; Huge +4) + Speed bonus (Fast +2; Very Fast +4) + Armor bonus + miscellaneous modifiers

The miscellaneous modifiers would be from magic weapons, special abilities, fighting with two weapons, or in B&T any tactical advantages a character manages to have.

When it comes time to fight, each combatant rolls 1d20 and adds their TCB. Whoever rolls the highest wins the round and the loser suffers normal damage (or other effects) from the attack form being employed by the attacker.

When multiple entities are attacking a single entity, they can either pool their TCB's for a single roll, or each can take a tactical advantage and roll separately. If rolling separately, the defender must then roll against each of them, splitting his TCB as he sees fit.
Monsters with multiple attacks (including fighters or two-weapon wielding characters) can either direct each attack (with full TCB added to each) against multiple opponents, or concentrate attacks (combining damage) against single opponents.

This could be an interesting way to alter the generally accepted tactics of B&T-style combat. Things in this system could go badly very quickly, which might make things more "grim and gritty". Then again, since its totally untested, this system might just completely screw up your game!

If you try this out, let me know how it worked in the comments or via email.


  1. It could work. At first glance I thought factoring in AC wasn't a great idea but armor does let you take risks you wouldn't without the armor.

    What about sneak attacks whee target doesn't know and can't react? Use standard AC with no risk to attacker?

  2. Whatever bonus you would get for making a sneak attack, you would apply to your TCB. If the normal rules of the game disallowed some or all of an armor bonus due to a sneak attack (i.e. you can't use a shield bonus when sneak attacked) you would just adjust the defender's TCB accordingly.

  3. The opposed roll for combat is the way it's done in Big Eyes, Small Mouth. We played it for a while and found that opposed rolls are more fun. For one thing it keeps the players engaged even when it's not their turn. Also it makes defensive skills as important at offensive skills.

  4. This is also really similar to the Simultaneous Combat option for FUDGE. I've used this mechanism for a FUDGE cinematic Kung-Fu! type game. It worked out pretty well, but we only played that game a handful of times.

  5. A French clone, Epées & Sorcellerie, uses a similar system; the difference is that there attackers still need to overcome their opponent's AC (and of course their attack roll), too.

    Although it has been on my mind lately, I have yet to playtest it.

  6. Tunnels & Trolls and Fighting Fantasy use this kind of system.


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