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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Dragon Warriors II - part two

A further excerpt showing the direction that Tim Harford and I planned to take with the rules for DW II:

3 – Rolling Dice

In DW II there’s a single die rolling convention, and it’s “open-ended plus-minus”. Translated, that means roll two dice; one of them is added to the total and one subtracted from the total. (The basic total prior to applying the dice will usually be the character’s skill score with any modifiers.)

If one of the dice shows a six, add and re-roll. Keep doing this as long as sixes are rolled. If both of the dice show sixes, then something special happens. (Bear with me on this – probably something to do with humours.)

Active and Passive Contests of Skill
Most actions are resolved as contests of skill. If there are two characters/animate objects involved, both roll and add the relevant skill.

If there is only one character involved, either against the environment (climbing a cliff, for instance) or against some internal challenge (rolling to stay conscious when wounded), then only one roll is made.

4 – Combat

Combat turns last about 6 seconds, as in DW. Each turn, roll and add Reflexes. (For example, say you have Reflexes 10 and roll +3 and -1, that means your score is 12.)

Each combatant acts in order of the result; action can be delayed voluntarily if desired until later in the turn.

Roll to Hit
The attacker rolls and adds Attack. The defender rolls and adds Defence. If the attacker wins, he does damage equal to the margin of victory – this added to the victim’s total of wounds. Defender must roll vs Toughness to avoid ill effects (see below).

If the defender wins, he may elect to counter-attack, using his margin of victory as an Attack score. However, he will in turn be vulnerable to a counter-riposte from the attacker, and so on. Thus, each attack can descend into a frantic flurry of blows and counter-blows. This will not usually happen, however, since a defender with a narrow margin of victory will be ill-advised to launch a riposte.

Injury: Stun, Knock-Out, and Death
Keep a track of cumulative wounds. Each time an injury is suffered, roll Toughness vs (Wounds + 5). A failed roll means that the character is stunned and has Attack and Defence of 0, until this time next turn. A roll failed by more than five means that the character is knocked out.

A character whose cumulative wounds score is greater than his Toughness must roll Wounds vs Toughness every time a further wound is taken, or die.

Defensive Stances
The combat procedure described above assumes that both combatants are fighting normally – ie, giving some thought to defence but also attempting to make an attack of their own. Alternatively, a character may opt to be overtly defensive in combat in two ways. In both cases described below, he sacrifices his own attack.

Full Parry
This is the fully defensive stance. The defender adds his Attack score to his Defence score to work out his effective Defence for the turn. However, no riposte is possible.

Aggressive Parry
A less defensive stance – here, the defender bides his time and waits for the opportunity to counter-attack. Again, the defender sacrifices his own attack. His effective defence is equal to half his Attack (round down) plus his Defence score. He does not pass up the opportunity to make a riposte, but if the attacker makes a counter-riposte, then the bonus to defence does not carry.
Example of Combat
Sir Rolf and Squire Lennox are in battle.

Rolf has ATT: 14, DEF: 14, TOU: 13, REF: 10.
Lennox has ATT: 11, DEF: 10, TOU: 10, REF: 11.

Rolf rolls (-4) on Reflexes, total 6. Lennox rolls (-3), total 8. Both gentlemen clearly a little slow off the mark.

Lennox swings a blow at Rolf, rolls (-1), total 10. Rolf’s defence roll is (+1), total 15. Rolf wins by five and elects to riposte.

Rolf rolls (+6), added to his riposte attack of 5, total 11. Lennox rolls (-3), total seven. Rolf’s counter-attack wounds Lennox for four points.

Lennox needs to roll Toughess vs Wounds+5 or be stunned. He rolls Toughness (-1), total 9. He Wounds are 4, plus 5, total 9. It’s a draw, so he just keeps his wits about him in time to meet Rolf’s attack.

Rolf rolls (+2), total 16. Lennox rolls (+10!), total 21. Lennox, somewhat desperately, decides that he, too, will press his luck and riposte (with an effective attack of 5).

Lennox’s riposte is (-4), total 1. Rolf’s defence is (-1), total 13. Rolf wins by 12 and launches a counter-riposte.

Rolf’s counter-riposte is (-2), total 10. Lennox rolls (-3), total 7. Rolf has won by three and deals another three wound points to Lennox.

Now Lennox needs to roll Toughness vs Wounds+5 again, or be stunned (if he fails by five or more, he is knocked out). His total wounds are 7, and he rolls (-2); he has just missed fainting, but is stunned.

The combat round ends, and with a vicious grin, Rolf swings his mace at the dazed Lennox.

Rolf rolls (0), total 15. Lennox’s effective defence is 0. He rolls (+6), but still loses by 9 and takes another 9 wounds.

Now Lennox must roll against cumulative wounds of 16, +5 to avoid stun. He rolls (+8), with Toughness of 10, he is stunned again, but still on his feet. That said, he might be wise to go down at this point, since if he takes another wound and then fails a check on Toughness vs Wounds he’ll die of his injuries.

The die rolls in this combat were genuine. Notice that although Lennox was a bit unlucky, he hastened his own demise with a very unwise attempt at a riposte. It’s also interesting to see that Rolf struck Lennox twice in one round, and both times with a counter-attack. This is fairly typical when one reads accounts of real combat, although in most DW II combats ripostes would be less likely.

Missile Combat: Feet and Fathoms
Missile combat takes the same form as melee combat, with two main differences. First, in place of the Defence score is a difficulty rating, based on range plus other modifiers. For close-range weapons like rocks, axes, knives and javelins, the difficulty rating equals the range in feet. For long-range weapons like bows and crossbows, the difficulty rating equals the range in fathoms (ie divide the range in feet by six).

We presume that warriors are versatile, and can use any weapon with equal facility. (Distinctions come later, with special abilities that work only for favoured weapons.)

However, different weapons have different properties, summarised in terms of bonuses to Attack and Damage. (Obviously, a bonus to attack also leads to a bonus to damage – but it’s preferable, since it also leads to a reduced chance of a riposte.)

We have a simple classification of melee weapons:

- Two-handed heavy weapons (axes, maces, polearms): +1 Attack, +3 Damage
- Two-handed swords: +2 Attack, +1 Damage
- Two-handed light spears: +1 Attack; can be thrown
- One-handed heavy weapons (axes, maces, morningstars): +2 Damage
- One-handed swords: +1 Attack
- Small weapons (knives etc.): No bonus to attack, but can be concealed and thrown
- Unarmed, or improvised weapons: No bonus to attack, -1 damage

(In the combat example above, these modifiers were omitted for the sake of simplicity.)

Shields add two to defence (and two to the difficulty rating of missile attacks). This does carry through to a riposte, since a shield can enable an aggressive response to an attack.

Armour subtracts from damage and also from initiative rolls:

Leather or cloth armour: -1 from damage and initiative
Ring or scale armour: -2
Chain mail or plate: -3


  1. Fantastic stuff. Keep it coming.

  2. Thanks. Tim must take the credit for getting all this DWII stuff worked out. I just drank coffee and spouted off a few suggestions at the start.

  3. The die roll mechanic is similar to something I was considering using a while back. It used 2d6 also (one positive, one negative), and either added to or subtracted from the attribute or skill value being checked. However, to simplify the math and speed up calculation, rather than do some addition and subtraction to come up with a final value, the player used the die with the lowest value (or the highest value if they were 'taking a risk'). The die type would then determine if that value was added to or subtracted from their skill. Rolling doubles meant your skill was used 'as is' (1 out of 6 times).

    The default roll would therefore give a result of +5 to -5, clustering around the lower values, while 'taking a risk' would give values between +6 and -6, tending toward the extreme range.

  4. Like you, Wayne, I was dubious about a mechanic that requires people having to constantly do mental arithmetic. It fails to pass what our group calls the Oliver Test, namely can you still remember the system when drunk ;)

    I came up with a simpler system where you roll two dice against your skill, and if successful you use either the higher or lower die roll as the degree of success. That's probably nearer to what we'd actually use for DWII. I'm going to post up those alternative rules here in a few weeks.