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D&D 3E
11th-Jul-2005 12:47 pm
Lately the combat system in D&D v.3.5 has been bugging my friends and I, mainly the hp system, it's so freekin' abstract. For example, the fighter wants to hit the goblin, but not just anywhere with an all encompassing d20 attack roll, no, he wants to hit the goblin in the throat, ending the fight immediately. Now, I know the combat system is supposed to model an ongoing combat that goes on around the singular d20 roll, and that a successful roll amounts to a hit and hp loss, but anyone with levels in anything other than legless-and-armless-peasant should be able to at least try for a specific part of the body. So, I was wondering if any of you folks know of a better, more detailed combat system; I also realize that I will probably recieve suggestions to consider looking into another system besides D&D 3.5, one that would meet my needs. However, I don't really want to do that as I already have a firm understanding and attachment to D&D 3.5.

So now for my idea.

It's only a start, but I was thinking, I could just modify the current system of hit point reduction as follows (It might sound a bit like sundering worn objects):
1. Each body part recieves its own AC based off the traditional AC; however, each body part recieves a bonus to AC based on its size, using exactly the bonuses given to individual characters based on their sizes. So, aiming for the head of a medium sized character would start with an AC based on armor and dexterity, X, with an addition of the head's diminutive size (an estimate), making the total X + 4. The resulting hp damage would be multiplied by a factor of something (haven't worked this out yet).
2. Should a player fail to break the AC of the targeted body part, it is determined (secretly, by the DM) if the base AC was beaten by the player's roll. If this is so, then there will be a d% roll or something to determine which is damaged (details, details), with multiplied or reduced damage depending on the body part struck. I'm thinking about having added effects based on the damage done and by how much the player beat a roll; things like decapitation, dismemberment, impending but slow death (as with a grievous neck wound).

I still have many things to work out, and although it'd probably take way longer to figure things out, it might just speed combat, making it more realistic and deadly. I also realize the players must be subject to the same rules, which is why I'd present the idea to them and then offer a test run. Anyways, thoughts, suggestions, descriptions of previous experience with this sort of thing are all welcome.
11th-Jul-2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
That sounds feasible, though there are called shot feats already for the reason of targeting. The only real drawback is that as you demonstrate yourself in your plans, the combat round itself gets much more complex and could easily become more time consuming as a side effect. However it's your game and if you and your players are up for it it certainly sounds feasible.
11th-Jul-2005 08:37 pm (UTC)
As far as I knew, making a called shot to a body part lowers your attack roll based on the difficulty to hit. Not sure of the actual difficulty, but that's what has happened when I played. In a sence, there should already be something set up.. I should find it out from my DMs.
11th-Jul-2005 08:44 pm (UTC)
The advantage of a abstract system is that it is simple and straightforward. The down side is you can't do everything you want.

I know you don't want this answer, but if you want a more realistic system, you're going to need to find one and import it. A system where my defense is static, and your ability to hit always has a 5% chance of failure and 5% chaince of ssccess, no matter my skill and abilities , is going to be flawed.

With the current system, your Fighter could be targetting the neck all the time. It just is that goblin is twisting out of the way and expending energy ( one of several abstract interpretations of HPs) avoiding the blow. THe killing blow is the only one of the fighter's hits that land.

Or some other interpretation.

You could also look at the called shot rules from 2nd Ed Complete Warriors Handbook. penalties to hit offsetting with bonuses to damage for locations (or disabling arms and such). however, any modifications to the base system is mostlikely goingto make combat a lot longer. DnD may not be the fastest combat system out there, but it is pretty quick.
11th-Jul-2005 08:58 pm (UTC)
We had a wound-based system, where if you get hit in the leg you get slowed movement and so on (the more damage the hit, the greater the penality). On every hit we rolled a die to see where that hit landed. We also allowed called shots at various penalty rates to be able to adjust the location roll: so if you take a -4 to hit, you can change the value of the die by 1. Random locations were also nice because they gave a bit more detail to combat with only requiring one extra die roll.

Basically more specific combat could allow for more detail and "realistic" battles, but this will come at the expense of lucidity and definately time spent. We designed a new combat system for a 3 player game, so the time wasn't really an issue. I don't think I would implement the system in my current 6-player game.
11th-Jul-2005 09:01 pm (UTC)
I think about this quite a bit, but have yet been able to come up with anything great. A few things:

- Check out Torn Assunder by Bastion Press (http://www.bastionpress.com/Products/torn.htm) There are some good rules in there for called shots, by-location critical hit results, etc.
- Check out Unearthed Arcana (WOTC). They have some variants on combat, HP, etc. I've considered using the "Armor as damage reduction".
- I always liked Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing (not the minis) combat system. All hits had a location. Something like 75% were "torso", which is somewhat realistic. I think you could do called shots. It has been a while since I've looked at it.

Speaking of Warhammer, I've not checked out the new release of the rules. I'm quite curious about them.
12th-Jul-2005 07:50 am (UTC)
In Warhammer you used a percentile to determine whether you hit. Then you flipped the numbers around to see where you hit. So a roll of 72 would result in a 27 for location determination. I cannot remember the table, though.
11th-Jul-2005 09:48 pm (UTC)

Use the combat system from Conan D20. It allows for decapitating attacks, called shots, etc etc. It's designed to be much more violent than AD&D.

12th-Jul-2005 12:53 am (UTC)
Conan, as in Conan the Barbarian? If so, I think I should look at that anyways, since Conan rocks.
11th-Jul-2005 09:51 pm (UTC)
The correct answer to a player that says "I try and cut him in the throat and kill him" is "what have you been trying to do, tickle him?"

The problem with your system is that, essentailly, it lowers everyone's HP pool. Why waste time on someone's arm when you just want to skewer their neck?

Much better, IMO, is a random die roll to determine hit location. I use a d12 IMC, and while I wish I could get the locations noted on the dice, it adds a solid RP factor to combat that wasn't there before, without slowing down the combat round any more than it already is.
12th-Jul-2005 01:45 am (UTC)
Yup. It's combat, every roll represents your character doing his utmost to kill his opponent. If the neck is the best target, then your 10th level warrior is swinging his sword at it already. Anything else is just looking for a special "PC only" attack that makes it easier to kill a monster than that monster rates.

If players want to swing at the neck, that's fine. Resolve it within the D&D combat system.
Player1: I swing at his neck. roll is 9, but I have a +7 attack bonus, so, 16. That good enough?
DM: (hmm, monster has AC 13) Yup. You hit, roll me some damage.
Player1: I hit the neck?
DM: Roll damage.
Player1: grumble. umm, 2d8+uhh 9 for my feats and stuff, uh, 15 damage.
DM: Cool. You swing at his neck, but he brings his armored shoulder up to block your blow. The force of it rocks him, and you can see he is momentarily stunned by the force of the blow.
Player1: I swung at his neck! He should be dead. *whine* *whine*
DM: Get over it. Player2? Your up, I believe.
Player2: Awesome. I'll take a big wind up and smash his toes with my Maul. Umm, total is 16, hit right?
DM: Yup.
Player2: Check this out, 15 damage for me too!
DM: You take a mighty swing for his toes. He leaps backwards to avoid the blow, and falls off the ledge behind him. As he falls he smashes his head into the ledge on his way down. He sprawls in a heap at the bottom of the short drop, dead as a stone.
Player2: Killed by a toe shot! Woo!
11th-Jul-2005 10:07 pm (UTC)
You can make a called shot with a -4 penalty, I thought.
12th-Jul-2005 12:36 am (UTC)
I think a blanket -4 isn't "realistic". If you're going for more realism, different locations should have different penalties. It is hard to hit a head, partly because it is small, but partly because the target is *really* trying to avoid you from hitting it. They very well may sacrifice an arm to block a fatal head shot. Now I'm not saying there need to be rules for things like that, but I do think different locations should have different penalties. This includes different levels of accuracy. An "arm" is easier to hit than a "hand". A "leg" is easier to hit than a "foot" or "knee".

Just MHO.
11th-Jul-2005 10:08 pm (UTC)
What I would do in this situation is assign a -4 to the attack roll. If the fighter's attack hits with the -4 then he deals damage normally*. The goblin would then make a fort save equal to 10 + damage dealt to avoid becoming disabled (or something similar where he can take no combat actions and move at half-movement until healed or killed).
If the fighter misses this with the penalty but would have hit normally without the penalty then the attack is resolved normally.

*=During this called shot the attacker may apply things such as Power Attack normally.

This here keeps it simple, which is the standard for 3.5 nowadays anyway, and it makes sure that the physically tougher opponents outlast these called shots more frequently. The -4 penalty isn't too hard to overcome as the rise in BAB represents practice in hitting his spots in combat.

How's that?
12th-Jul-2005 02:38 am (UTC)
Replace the Fort save with a reflex save and assign a bigger "to hit" penalty and it looks like you're in business.

12th-Jul-2005 12:27 am (UTC)
check out the complete fighter by mongoose publishing. good called shot in there. has the negs to yr attack, and BAB prereqs (you need a +4 to hit this, a +8 to hit that, etc) and outcome of a sucessful hit to each area.

I haven't found rules for like, how much damage would you have to do to someone's shoulder to cut off their arm, neck to decapitate, etc...
12th-Jul-2005 01:07 am (UTC)
Thanks folks. I just want to give my players a way to call shots. I'll definately check out complete fighter, and Conan d20 for that matter.
13th-Jul-2005 01:31 am (UTC)
The Dragon Lords of Melnibone d20 from Chaosium has a table in it called Hand-to-Hand fumbles that could add some more character to fights also. It isn't exactly what you were talking about and some of the effects are maiming but it's along the lines of the Conan book.
12th-Jul-2005 01:52 am (UTC)
Calling shots doesn't necessarily have to mean that the system is affected. If your players wants to flesh out the combat scene, and detail where he/she is aiming, great, but, just because the shot is aimed for the head or throat doesn't mean that any hit is an insta-kill. The opponent is still fighting back and ducking, and the hit can still be a knick, or you can miss the neck and hit the shoulder. If he does manage to insta-kill, it's a critial hit, same as before. If you're looking for more realism, I like the Vitality/Wound system in Unearthed Arcana. You have your Vitality points (same number as you would normally have hit points, and with the same effect), and a separate collection of Wound points (equal to your Constitution score). Normal hits are taken out of Vitality points, critical hits (or anything after your Vitality points are gone) are taken from Wound. The benefit, I think, is that it does make a clear distinction between "you've been pelted with small stones for an hour, and it's starting to get to you" and "You just got a lance through the spleen."
12th-Jul-2005 02:55 am (UTC)
I'm not convinced of the idea, but regardless...
Things to consider possibly:
would you then do something for different armour on different locations too? Eg the guy you're trying to hit has decided a helmet seems like a good idea even though he can only afford leathers for the rest of his body.
How would mixing and matching armour affect spell and skill penalties?
Seeing as you're now carefully aiming rather than bouncing about just trying to get a blow through, would a penalty to AC be reasonable as well as one to "to hit".
Do different locations need different damage affects.
What about creatures with alternate body types.

Just some thoughts; don't know if they'll be useful or not.
12th-Jul-2005 04:00 am (UTC)
Dungeons and Dragons approaches combat with the consideration that most monsters met are very experienced with rough trade. The common goblin may not be a hero, but usually that goblin is wary to the simple tricks of battle. Let us also state on outset, citing game rules since the very early days of D&D, that hitpoints do not equal potential to take physical damage but can be equated with luck, skill, divine favor, magical prowess, etc.

Let us say your first level fighter is engaged in battle with a normal goblin. If that fighter does sufficient damage to kill the goblin on a first strike, that fighter can be said to do exactly what you wanted your character to do: end the fight immediately.

However, let us say that the goblin wasn't dealt sufficient damage to slay it: this could mean even that no physical damage was done -- the goblin blocked the blow to his throat, but staggered back and is nervous. This is an intentionally ambiguous system, easy to employ and easy to approach.

We can confront the issue of hitpoints as the confidence of a combatant as much as fortune and fate. As hitpoints deplete, this represents the ferocity of the battle. However, no single interpetation of hitpoints holds true: one must consider that hitpoints are a representation that allows for many interpetations of a situation that isn't fatal even though many plausible, mundane considerations would falter to rationalise survival.

Next time your character falls five hundred feet without any magical protection and survives the fall, remember: there are a thousand possible explanations that make sense in context of a fantasy game, two explanations for every foot fallen.
12th-Jul-2005 07:55 am (UTC)
Ha ha! Indeed! I am pretty sure the average life of a goblin child is going to be a little tougher than that of the average adventurer.
(Deleted comment)
12th-Jul-2005 09:22 am (UTC)
Maybe an AoO would be in order, along the lines of a Sunder attempt
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