"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Combat Modifiers

I have mentioned a number of times how much I enjoy the abstract combat system in B/X. To me each individual piece fits together like a puzzle to give a near perfect abstract/narrative combat system that also gives players important tactical options.

Part of this combat system is a distinct lack of modifiers for "to hit" rolls. Taking a quick look through the Character Classes and The Encounter sections of the Basic rulebook gives the following modifiers that can be applied to "to hit" rolls:

- Thieves Abilities (B10): The thieves' "backstab" ability which grants a +4 bonus
- Resting (B19) and Running (B24): if not rested a character will have a -1 or -2 penalty, respectively
- Retreat (B25): opponent can add a +2 bonus
- Range (B26): +1 to hit with missile weapons at short range and -1 to hit at long range
- Cover (B26): -1 to -4 based on how much cover

- And of course Ability score bonuses (Strength for melee and Dexterity for missile attacks) and magical bonuses.

The lack of a multitude of situational modifiers goes hand in hand with the abstract system where one "to hit" roll does not equal one swing of a sword.

It doesn't surprise me that most of the modifiers listed above are related to missile attacks. Missile fire just doesn't fit as nicely into the abstract combat system.


  1. THanks for posting those observations.

    I have been giving a great deal of thought to combat systems lately (beginning with some musings on the need for a player-skill based combat system).

    I think I will post a little more about the Magic Realm combat system, since that seems to be the closest to a player-skill based system that I know of.

  2. I am glad if you found it even a bit helpful.

    Did you swing past the meet-up last weekend?

  3. We had a forum discussion about the abstract combat system that included missile fire over at New York Red Box the other day:

    I thought the fumble/ammo ideas were pretty interesting.