I decided to split this post into two parts, as I may have got a little carried away with setting the scene previously and got a little verbose. It also felt like a good, natural place to pause before, having introduced the arbitration system, for dicepools and difficulty, interpretation of ordinary and opposed rolls, as well as going through the character sheet and setting up a couple of proxies to beat seven shades of shi…omething from each other 😉
Just to refresh your memory, and to make a few tweaks, we have Adroald, an impoverished merchant freeman of middling years armed with a lance/spear and dressed in threadbare tunic and hose, while Banco son of Causeradi, is a one-eyed, nineteen years’ old, freeman with a sword in hand. For convenience, I’ve put their character sheets below, again. I’m going to tweak things a bit and retcon onto Banco a leather jerkin, a pair of stout leather boots, and carrying a shield in the other hand, so that we can explore the effects of armour as well. You probably guessed that I gamed the dice rolls in the previous post (yeah, I’m rail-roading my, um, self) so as to demonstrate the specific rules in question.
To calculate the outcome of a (successful) attack, determination of a number of things are required:
- Firstly, whether the blow fell, comprising one roll for the attack and another for the defence (the opposed roll discussed in part I),
- Secondly, where on the body the blow fell; while the mechanics for this are optional, this can be up to two dice rolls (discussed here), and
- Finally, the severity of injury caused, which takes into account the means of attack and any relevant armour.
In all, this could mean as many as four separate dice rolls for the attacker and a further two for the defender. I can hear the gears of the story and narrative flow crunching and grinding to a halt. The methods employed to counter this are obviously to get rid of as many dice rolls as possible. One approach taken was to make the basic assumption for location allow that if a player aims for a specific body part (head, chest, hips, arms, legs, hands or feet) then this bestows neither positive nor negative modifier. I forgot this when I wrote part I of this post, and gave Banco a -1d6 modifier for the ‘called shot’ when he fired his second to fourth arrows, and only Adroald’s head was showing. In practice, I feel that that was the right call, and will probably tweak the rules so that aiming at the chest, hips, arms or legs is neutrally weighted, while specifically aiming for the head, hands or feet requires a penalty.
Rather than having another set of rolls to be made to determine the extent of the injury inflicted (before armour), I want to make this related to the main skill roll. As the system currently stands we have four wounds of increasing severity, and I added a fifth level in which minimal ill-effect was caused, a ‘Minor Wound’ that includes temporary inconveniences such as being winded, knocked to the ground, a nosebleed, scratch or a bruise. Injuries that will heal of their own accord, and won’t cause any ill-effect to the character after a few moments.
The five levels of wound then are:
Minor Wound, an insignificant injury, that will heal of its own causes no lasting ill-effect beyond the moment it is inflicted
Ordinary Wound, that will most likely heal within a few weeks
Severe Wound that may heal within a few months
Permanent Wound, in which part of the body is cut off or paralysed, and may result in a specific Injury trait.
Fatal Wound, from which the character (almost certainly) dies soon after receiving.
Each weapon has a basic damage rating, for brawling this will be ‘Minor Wound’, while most other weapons will be set at ‘Ordinary Wound’ (or ‘Severe Wound’ for very heavy duty pieces). If the attacking player succeeds with a basic success, this is the type of wound that gets inflicted. However, the severity of the wound is increased by one level for each ‘6’ rolled in the player’s attack, but decreased by one level for each ‘6’ that the defending player rolled.
If the wound is to hit an area of the body that is covered by armour, then the defending player rolls the dicepool of that, and for a basic success (total of 6 or greater) reduces the damage by one severity level, and reduces it by a further severity level for each dice showing a ‘6’ as before. However, each flaw (that is each dice showing a ‘1’) indicates damage to the armour, which the player should keep track of. For every three (3) flaws accrued the effectivity of the armour gets reduced by one point, until it becomes broken an ineffective.
Adroald has only threadbare clothing, so gains no armour bonus. Conversely, Banco son of Causeradi is wearing leather boots and a leather jerkin, which means that the latter protects his chest and hips, the former his left foot and right foot. Each of these areas, then, has an armour rating, which for leather will be 1d6, so if the blow lands there he has extra defence, while his hands, arms, legs and head are undefended.
Banco is also carrying a shield, which means he can use the shield skill to defend himself. This is simply used as an ordinary skill, except that as the shield is fundamentally a thing to hide behind, hiding behind it should usually be relatively easy (unless game circumstances contradict this, an attack from behind, say) and the Host will normally add a +1d6 modifier to the roll. As with the armour, flaws will contribute to the shield.
There doesn’t seem to be anything else that needs to be outlined here, so, (finally), to battle!
Banco came swiftly down the slope towards the wagon, shield and sword in hand. His rage was growing, but his mind was clear enough to formulate a plan when Adroald stepped out from behind the wagon. The older man held the spear competently in both hands, its point levelled towards his assailant’s chest. Adroald used the back of the wagon to cover his flank, hoping for a chance to take advantage of Banco’s reduced field of vision.
With a sudden yell, Banco increased his pace, swinging the shield to drive the point of the spear away from him, seeking to get within its reach so he could swing the sword towards its former owner. At the same time, Adroald waited for the last moment, then crouched low against the wagon, lowered the spear point beneath the shield rim, below the hem of the leather jerkin aiming for a leg.
In rules terms then we have an opposed roll, in which each player is trying to use multiple skills simultaneously. Banco is using the shield (1 + 1d6 for the innate difficulty bonus) to knock away the spear, while making a duelling (1) attack with the sword, and using athletics (2) as he’s running and trying to manoeuvre himself within the range of Adroald’s spear. Adroald is using lance (1) to aim and attack with the spear and dodge (1) to evade the blow. The rules for using multiple skills are pretty straightforward: only one trait of each type can be used in a roll, so if two or more skills are being used simultaneously or are equally applicable, then use the one with the lowest value. The Host should also factor the complexity of performing multiple actions simultaneously into the difficulty rating. As both Adroald’s skills are at level one, his base roll is 1d6. and the Host decides the difficulty should be ‘tricky’, which bestows no further penalty or bonus to the dicepool. Banco has, in practice, one skill at level one and two at level two, so his base roll is also 1d6. The Host is tempted to say that as two further skills are being employed, the modifier should be ‘difficult’ (-1d6), but feels like the fact that Banco is moving should be taken as a part of the overall situation, especially as he is a ‘master’ of athletics. The Host decides to set the difficulty rating also at ‘tricky’. So each player rolls 1d6.
You know, I don’t actually need to rail road this now, I’m going to actually roll it… I got a ‘6’ or a good success for Adroald, and a ‘2’ or a failure for Banco.
Banco lunged in, swinging the shield at the spear tip even as it began to dip. The shield ploughed through the area where the shaft of the merchant’s spear had been a mere fraction of a second before. But there was nothing to resist his blow, and he almost lost his balance. The swing of his sword lost its timing and went wide long before he was even close enough to cut flesh, as a burst of pain flared in his right leg. The merchant had dropped to one knee, skilfully lowering the spear point, so his aim shifted from leather-clad chest to exposed ‘lagi’, the thigh. The spear point cut through flesh and muscle, causing a gout of blood to spray out and Banco to yell in pain. The horse, already spooked by the battle, startled, and tried to rear on tis hind legs against the weight of the yoke and wagon. Then, it began to move rapidly as it could, dragging the wagon away from the fighting pair.
Banco staggered backwards, testing the weight on his leg and hobbling, even as another surge of fury enlivened his body and drove the pain from his awareness. He lunged forward with a yell, closing the distance between them as he swung the shield like a club at his adversary. Adroald was already trying to dodge back out the way, to get distance enough to bring the spear point to bear once more.
The ‘6’ rolled for Banco’s attack, increases the severity of the damage inflicted from the default rating of an Ordinary Wound by one level to being a Severe Wound. That gets marked on the character sheet, by filling out the entirety of one of the wound slots in pencil. The Host concludes that the femoral artery hasn’t been severed nor have any of the muscles of tendons, but this wound will still be a significant hindrance, especially in the short run. Despite this, Banco’s next action is a shield roll, so 2d6 from the skill rating and the bonus 1d6 for the item itself, and with no further modifier as the Host decides that taking all circumstances into account (ill effects of the wound, being off balance, etc.) that the overall circumstances are ‘tricky’. Meanwhile Adroald is simply trying to dodge back and regain ground, though the now moving wagon is making this tricky, giving him a total dicepool of 1d6.
I rolled a good success for Banco (‘6’ and a ‘4’), and a failure for Adroald (a ‘3’).
Adroald tried to scramble back from his crouching position and regain his feet, even Banco lunged forward. The shield swung towards him, an inescapable bludgeon. He was too slow, and Banco roared with satisfaction and excitement, as the wood crunched forcibly into the flesh of Adroald’s shoulder. Adroald yelled, almost dropping the spear as his fingers went numb, but then just managing to keep his hold. He sought to raise the spear and to lunge once more at his attacker, even as Banco swung the sword down at him in a follow up strike.
Adroald has no armour and rolled no ‘6’s in his defence, while Banco rolled a success with a total of 10, and including one ‘6’. The normal severity of the wound for a blow from the shield, a Minor Wound, is raised by one level to an Ordinary Wound – severe bruising that should heal within a few weeks. It gets marked on Adroald’s character sheet by filling in half of a wound slot in pencil.
The next two attacks are duelling for Banco and lance for Adroald, again in an opposed roll. The Host judges each to be ‘fair’, and so 2d6 are rolled by each: a good success with a ‘6’ and a ‘4’ for Adroald, and a failure of a ‘4’ and a ‘1’ (a flaw) for Banco. The Host presupposes that Adroald’s successful attack strikes Banco in the chest, while Banco’s armour roll of 1d6 comes up a successful ‘6’.
The swing of Banco’s sword went wide, missing Adroald. His weight went heavily onto his injured leg, causing white pain to flare through him. At the same moment the lunge of Adroald’s spear caught into his side, the thick leather slowing the point and lessening the impact of the blow. Still, it was enough that a spasm pulsed through Banco’s hand right hand and the sword fell to the ground. Keeping the spear levelled at Banco’s chest, Adroald got to his feet, and pushed the injured youth firmly away from the fallen sword.
“Leave, boy” he growled, “you’re bested”.
Banco nodded, clutching at his wounded and bleeding thigh with his free hand, the other hand trying to edge the shield between the spear point and his chest. He took a step back, a little nervous, then another while Adroald watched him. When the distance between them was enough, Adroald glanced over his shoulder, and saw where the horse and wagon had drawn to a halt a few dozen paces away. He didn’t turn
“Go to your gastald, Banco son of Causeradi, and tell him what you’ve done”. Adroald called across the gap between them. Banco had paused, his face white from pain and blood loss, but he nodded again. Adroald shouted again, even as he climbed onto wagon and took up the reigns, never once taking his eye from his injured assailant. “I’ll go to mine too. And we’ll settle this soon before the judge”.
Overall, I would say that this rules test has been a success. A few things to be tweaked have arisen, of course, either for the mechanics or for how I’ve instinctively implemented the rules and arbitration system:
- I already emended the ‘called shots’ details in the progress of writing this post, making the hands, feet and head be a -1d6 called shot, while aiming for the chest, hips, legs and arms counts as a normal.
- I found that my tendency was to shift the normal assessment of difficulty to ‘tricky’, despite the underlying presumption that the most ordinarily introduced situation should have a +1d6 modifier. I may add ‘Ordinary’ in to the difficulty scale at the +1d6 level, raise ‘fair’ to +2d6 and make ‘easy’ +3d6.
- The arbitration system for armour itself seemed to work well. However, I chose the armour rating for the leather items of 1d6 almost at random: I had the assumption that leather would be 1d6, mail 3d6. Through the course of writing I felt this was too low for the leather, and that I should raise it to 2d6 instead. However, I think the 1d6 then could be given to thick clothing such as good quality linen, winter woolens, or furs. However, having mail have only a single d6 more than leather does not feel right to me, so I would likewise raise that to 4d6.
- The auto bonus for the shield worked well, certainly for a small or regular shield. A larger shield might be 2d6, but here, as with the specific details of the armour as inventory, I’m out of my sphere of knowledge, and I shall need to spend some time reading up on Lombard arms and armour.
- The need to keep track of where the injuries fall for lesser wounds as well as permanent ones is becoming apparent. Using the example from the play test, the severe wound to Banco’s leg might take a few months to heal. During that time, I think it should provide a temporary negative modifier to related skills so Banco trying to use say the athletics skill to run on that leg should be hindered. As such, tying the wounds explicitly to the body parts for recoverable injuries as well as permanent seems feasible. However, I’m not yet certain how to implement this.
I hope you’ve had a great winter, and this pair of posts have entertained, The Langobard RPG is definitely coming together, and the completion of the core rules (that is character and arbitration) draws ever nearer. See you soon.