Monday, December 2, 2019

I Totally "Invented" My Own Archery Rules for AD&D and It Screws Up Everything

The other day, I had a game session that featured an awful lot of archery. Bow fire in this campaign turns out to be very deadly. It probably didn't help that between myself and the player characters, over a half dozen 20s were rolled in a single combat.

I decided to look back at my PHB and DMG for AD&D e1 to see what I was doing wrong.  According to the PHB, characters get two shots per round. On page 61 of the DMG, missile fire comes after evasion, parley and awaiting other party moves. Step 4 D covers all kinds of distance attacks. The old wargamer in me sees no problem with this.

Bow wielding characters can fire twice before the onset of melee in Step 4 E. But the question in my mind is: do you have to shoot twice? Since you have two shots, can you invoke 4 A, B, or C in lieu of your second shot? The extremes of this are "yes, what if you only have one arrow?" or "no, you missed your chance this round".

As a player, I have seen the "best" way of avoiding this is to have each character roll their own initiative. As a player, I like this choice, but as a DM, I think it's too much paper work and dice throwing. I am certain to goof this much dice action up. 

My house rules make clarify to the order of battle, without making too much of hash out of out. It does have the effect of making bows more deadly.

Here is how I handle initiative. If all parties are in one group, then they get one die roll modified by the best player's reaction. As a reward for that reaction bonus, the best player goes before all others on his team. Everyone else in each party is going at rough they same time.

Sometimes, I have a three or four way initiative if there a number of players not in the same general area. Note: I never allow separated members to roll for surprise on their own. Surprise is strictly an all or nothing affair. The curve on a six-sider makes an extra surprise opportunity too deadly.

Typically, in the first round of action missile fire is king and it is important to get off all missiles into the closest targets first. In the second round, spells are trump arrows, as they tend to hit harder and archers have to start selecting targets more carefully.

I don't really need to think about missile fire as fragmented actions until the second round.

I use a modified initiative system:

1. Roll for initiative. Win or lose, the player/npc that provided a bonus goes first for his team.
2. Side A proceeds down the sequence of combat.
3. Side B proceeds down the sequence of combat.
4. Side A performs any awaited actions. (Repeat 4 A-H from DMG)
5. Side B performs any awaited actions. (Repeat 4 A-H from DMG)
6. Last actions occur, such as slow monsters always striking last. If there is more than one, they are simultaneous. Do not repeat 4 A-H, it's a free-for-all.
7. Go back to one.

If a character decides to hold an arrow for some contingent event like a new opponent stepping into the battle, that is an awaited action and occurs at either 4 or 5 of the sequence above. It turns out that players who are used to the bow mechanics don't always shoot when they can. 

I have some other special rules.

  • Magic trumps missile fire. Either the spell was prepared last round* and is available first or is coming from a device with no prep time. 
  • Once you shoot, you can drop your bow and draw a weapon. You can't melee this round but are ready to do so in the next round. 
  • Missile fire can occur while advancing at a walk (or on a mount) with no penalty. 
  • An archer jogging fires at a -2. Running is a -4. Sprinting is right out. Mount speed is treated the same as character speed, so a running horse is just as bad for shooting as the player running.   
  • If an enemy charges AT someone with a ready missile weapon, their AC is reduced by 2 for thrown weapons and 4 for bows and crossbows. The target is only getting bigger. 
  • Shooting at a foe moving quickly across your field of view is done at a -1 for running and -2 for sprinting. This is ignored if charging a ready archer. I am pretty sure much of this is right out of Car Wars
Shooting into a melee is kind of interesting in my game. Instead of trying to figure out cover, size, and concealment, I merely note which guy has cover or concealment and which does not. The archer rolls two to hit dice for each arrow, because there are two targets. Typically, one will hit and one will miss and the damage is applied to the target hit. It's fun to shoot your friends in the back! 

If both dice indicate a hit, the first two points of damage are applied to the target which was providing cover or concealment. All remaining points are applied to the covered or concealed target as the completely stopped the arrow's motion. If there is nothing left to damage the second target, oh well. 20s are handled as per normal, doubling the damage to that target. 

In this method, I do not consider the flanking or back attack modifiers. It makes things too deadly and besides, the archer is at a disadvantage because he is trying to avoid one of the targets anyway. His ability to hit anyone is degraded. 

How do you handle missile fire in AD&D? 

*I do have a handful special rule for spells to make this system work. Once you prep a spell, you can hold it as long as the spell description says OR as long as you do nothing more than walk or turn, which every is MORE restrictive. Casters can step behind barriers and pop out later with a spell prepped, but can't go prone as that requires not holding your hands correctly. 

If combat ends before the moment of casting, the caster can pull back the power in a controlled fashion, so they don't lose a prepped spell for a lack of opportunity. It saves on rest and study time. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Well... that was different. Campaign update.

Alright, nothing went as I expected. For what I expected, see this post.

The mission was to escort the bodies of the dead to Nace. That part was initially unsuccessful due to a great number of injuries to the party but they got the job done in the end.

The dice went in the party's favor, especially the 6 siders. They were unsurprised by the raider's ambush, which was devastating to the raiders. The party lead on every roll of initiative for the whole combat.

(I was expecting a fun run back to the Villa, with the characters picking off raiders. Nope, didn't happen like that.)

Gurwinder and Cassia let off a volley of natural 20 arrows, which left 3 of 4 of the horse riding bandits dead. One poor guy was super dead as Cassia and Gurwinder rolled 20s and 6s, one time each. The fourth raider on horseback stopped in his tracks.

Our strategic map. The black marks in the middle are coffee
or the blood of dead raiders... not sure which. 
Jim and Jaime were riding on the right side of the wagons (left side of the map) and totally sidestepped the slingers first volley. Gurwinder, Felix and Megan were hit. Cassius took an a single arrow for double damage... and shrugged it off.

In the next round, things went nuts. Jaime was taken off his horse by a swipe from a two-handed sword as the two raiders stepped out the treeline. Ortaire, the only surviving thief turned tail and ran off with Jim in pursuit. The oxen were hit by sling stones, which caused the wagons to slam to a stop as the oxen tried to back up.

Into the next round, the raiders tried to get on the wagons. Guilbert hit Rona with a bastard sword, nearly killing her. Flortina and Jim, the zero level humans, fired arrows into everything except the targets. Cassius went hand to hand with one of the raiders, downing him immediately. Gurwinder took another down, while Megan and Matilda got kicked around. Interestingly, all of the action came from the right hand side of the map, but the melee type players were confused and thought the main action was to the left.

The theater of the trash heap, or when
you don't have minis for your players. 
In the fourth round, things weren't looking good for the raiders. Cassius and Jaime downed another raider each, while Cassia and Gurwinder pin cushioned three more. Guilbert decided he had enough and took Jaime's horse and booked it. Megan and Matilda got a piece of him, but not enough to stop him. Jim spotted Guilbert galloping up behind him and thought he was being set up. Ortaire got away, with Guilbert not far behind as Jim gave up the chase.

The fifth round was mop up time. Not much to clean up as two of the raiders made it off the map on horseback.

Megan, Rona, Felix, Gurwinder and Cassius were down to a single hit point each at the end of the fight, so the party returned to the Villa to recuperate. They planned to try again in the morning.

I had an encounter with the 3 elves planned, but everyone was so low on hit points, I replaced it with the surrender of the some of the raiders. It was supposed to be for humor, but it would have turned deadly quickly. The player of Gurwinder took control of Rona, while the other NPCs were divvied up between the other players.

By morning, Guilbert and Ortaire showed up at the Villa to surrender themselves. They traded information on the remaining raiders, and search parties are combing the area to the north of the Villa. The raider's information is not especially helpful. Guilbert doesn't know one raider has gone home and doesn't know any of the raiders made it to Nace. They had thought the information would be enough for a pardon, but Rona nixed that idea with a powerful speech. At least for Guilbert. Ortaire never got a chance to attack anyone, so he might escape with a slap on the wrist.

The second foray to Nace was successful and uneventful. The party attended the funeral but had to leave for the Villa to return the honor guard. On the way, they rounded up most of the raider's horses and did a bit of healing.

Briefly, using the horses, the party joined in the search for the missing raiders. They spotted the lone raider hoofing it home but didn't recognize him as anyone important. He'll probably go back to turnip farming. Ortaire and Gil are on their way north to the Capital, to face whatever justice they find. The Villa is still abuzz with changes and excitement. The party, after returning the honor guard to the Villa, started making their way back to Nace. They arrived by morning on horseback, but the wagons will be a bit behind.

The Eastern Gate of the City of Nace. 
Next adventure, Jim becomes a Ranger. This is a relief to the party, because he had a handful health and was riding point far too much. Megan's player will be taking Jim's character as a second. She doesn't like how swashbucklers work a low levels. She'll be playing two characters for now.

It should be no surprise...

A couple of months ago, Wendy's launched thier game Feast of Legends. And I wasn't totally surprised. Some lost memory tugged at me, but I wasn't able to put my finger on it until this morning. This little tug of memory had me categorizing a burger joint's RPG as "normal!".

While cleaning up for a game session this morning (already underway), a chance find refreshed my memory. I stumbled across a chapter book of the Spiderwick Chronicles. My daughter told me that it was part of set given away by Wendy's with their kids meals. 

Ah, innovation and creative has always been a part of the Wendy's brand. Those are strange attributes for a burger chain. But what better prize is there than reading? I love to read to my kids, and Wendy's was right there with me. My son tells me that McDonalds also jumped in on the bandwagon with Big Nate books. 

I feel funny singing the praises of fat food companies, but I do want to share that the things you give and read to your children have a massive impact on them. So read on to those kiddos. 

The TEK - November 2019 Stats

November 2019 Downloads via DriveThruRPG:
AD&D Character Sheet For Use with Unearthed Arcana - 2
Compass Rose Inn Minisetting - 5
Kobold Folly Minisetting - 4
Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners - 4
Swashbucklers Character Class - 3

Google Analytics Pageviews - 1,208
Google Analytics Sessions - 751
Pageviews per Session - 1.61

Pageviews were up by 29% over last month. That is cool.

Downloads from DriveThruRPG were weak this month at 18 total. This month, I launched a new character sheet and really anticipated more downloads. Nope. I suspect that the main draw to this group of files is the age and nostalgia, so I missed with an update.

November is typically a rough month for me, but this time I was pleasantly surprised.

I didn't meet any of my goals for last month. I did add a lot of images and such, but not to every post. I did wordsmith a lot of them, but again, not all of them. To be honest, I was wordsmithing like 4,000 words every few days, so I'm sure I hit 50,000 words edited. I didn't do the tabs for podcasts or the blog roll. I did try it, but didn't like how it worked. The blog roll remains unchanged in format, while the podcasts got images. That was neat.

UPDATE Jan. 12, 2020. I've decided to at some images of my Google Analytics to this post.

October 2019

November 2019

December 2019