Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

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Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Tue Mar 16, 2021 3:50 pm

Simplified Group Combat Revision 3.3 23rdApril2021
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Simplified Group Combat Revision 3.3 23rdApril2021
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See revised file "Simplified Group Combat" (revision 3.3) - 23rd April 2021

I've been obsessively playing around with an idea which stems from wanting to solo adventure whole parties through prewritten adventures without a GM. I was anxious about sharing ideas in Facebook Groups which can be a bit toxic atm. Chris / Solomariah suggested that the Basic Fantasy forum was a safer place to swap ideas. My original notes on how to make this solo gaming and group combat easier were generalised for use with BECMI/BX D&D and BFRPG but they are now anchored specifically to Basic Fantasy (the BHB, ascending AC, the presentation of the classes, the access to resources, by far make the best base to expand from).

The basic idea is that combatants of any number roll their total Hit Dice as the attack roll (called Attack Dice), both sides compare the rolls and lowest side takes damage in the form of the Difference from a collective HP total. I'm pretty sure I'm not the first to do this. In fact part of this exploration is to prove that within level based fantasy RPGs are the bones of logical large battle game which can be extrapolated with a few home rules.

In short form a Group of monsters can be expressed:

6 Orcs plus Orc War Leader (Ml 8)
Attack Dice: 8d8
Group HP: 34

A party run by a player could be summarised like this:

5 3rd Level PCs (mixed classes)
Attack Dice: 3d8 +6d6 +6d4 +3
Group Hit Points: 93

Please read the PDF for explanation and examples.

Although I've haven't mentioned them in the PDF there are notional influences here from the original Chainmail rules and Tunnels & Trolls. My cat keeps trying to prevent me from properly proof this :D - so I apologise for typos and excessive wordiness.

What frustrates me was that I thought I was onto something really simple, but when it comes to explaining it, and I'm bad at keeping ideas concise, these alternative rules might appear too much effort for a player to take on. I am convinced that we might be onto a method or tool which may have at least several different applications, whilst always being interchangeable with the standard combat rules in Basic Fantasy.

Check out the PDF and let me know what you think.

Thanks in advance!
Initial very rough ideas (old)
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:50 pm

Hey Will!!! I just finished reading through this and I think you're really on to something. I tend to run groups with a large number of players so I think this is definitely something to test out.

For damage spells, would the caster just use the damage dice (if that total is greater than their hit dice)? For example, a 5th level magic user casts fireball (5d6) damage. Their normal AD would be 5d4. Thoughts on how to do that?

~ Jack
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Wed Mar 17, 2021 5:54 am

Hey Jack, :)
(I was going to message you the PDF at some point, thanks for asking the question here)

Good point, great idea.
I reckon that this is up to the GM. When writing all this I was picturing simplifying the game for a small number of players (or one player, me :D ) at a table running more characters than they can cope with and a GM running large mixed groups of adversaries in combat - as opposed to a large numbers of players at a table.

I've assumed that in melee a MU is fighting alongside tougher PCs - in those cases I'd stick to the MUs Hit Dice (the d4s) as being kept as part of the Attack Dice, and then if PC Group's attack succeeds, then the massive fireball damage (the d6s) is added to the damage received by the opponents. If the group attack fails the spell will also fail. Fireball goes fizz-puff.

However, if the MU is acting alone (as a group of one*), or in a small group of low level characters, it sounds feasible, as you suggest, to substitute the MUs HD-based dice (d4s) with the fireball dice (d6s). This would improve the chances of a Group's successful attack, but the final damage from fireball on the monsters may have been substantially reduced by the opposing Group's attack roll. This would need testing. :)

If you don't want to keep adjusting the Group's Attack Dice, round after round, the MU's HD d4s should be kept in the Group's Attack Dice (for minimal book keeping).

*When an MU splits from a Group, players might wish to return to normal rule book combat and casting rules. Acting as a "group of one" is my way of saying that they are still using this Attack Dice system.

Spells and Special Attacks: Just to recap, in the way I'm using it, I'm hoping this system favours the players - PCs can perform melee AND spells simultaneously, whereas monsters have to win the attack, then choose to apply melee damage OR one type of Special Attack (like a Spell, gaze) - this decision could be called before the roll. For simplicity, if any side fails in an Attack, Spells become miscast, and chosen Special Attacks fail.

If the fireball-wielding MU was an evil NPC with monster henchmen (a mixed group) and they fighting the PCs, the MU's HDs would be included, as normal, within the monsters' Group's Attack Dice. If their Attack Dice roll was higher than the PCs, they then have the choice to (a) apply difference damage as normal, or (b) select the Special Attack (the fireball spell) and apply it's effects - in this case it would be the 5d6 would be rolled as damage against the PC's Group Hit Points, but the raw power didn't effect the success of the Attack Dice in that round.

These Hit Dice mechanics are a "generalised emulation" of normal combat, but all games require consistency, so if damage based spells are used in place of Hit Dice (or as a bonus) in Attack Rolls, a GM might rule that this should happen with all damage-dealing Special Attacks (so a Dragon uses firebreath damage as its Attack Dice). u

In its intended, most simplified, form, the group Attack Dice don't change on each round even when characters are killed (Kill Shock). The only stat on paper which changes will be Group Hit Points. This lacks detail but favours, fast note taking.

If this system is used entirely by players to replace d20 vs AC and variable weapon damage, then it will probably need many exceptions and adjustments. For smaller combats, if the newer adjusted system starts to run slow, then it's probably a good idea to abandon it for the original rules. At least that's how I see it. (imho)

I hope some of this makes sense. :D

(Apologies for wordiness!)
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:38 am

I love it! I think it would be a blast to have everyone put their AD in a coffee tin or some such...then the players can take turns rolling the dice.

I think it would be a blast!!!

I like the idea of using the MU's HD for the party roll the adding the spell damage if they win the round!

When we all have our vaccines, we are going to get our group together. Im going to give this a go!
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:41 pm

(long post exploring abandoned approach - deleted)
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Thu Mar 18, 2021 11:54 am

Battle at Wetfields

I'm trying a new approach. The Difference in rolls, which leads to damage will now be doubled.
I'm going to apply this to the combat above, but keep the same die rolls.

Group A - Athrain and 13 farmhands (Ml 7)
Attack Dice: 13d6 + 3d4 Group Hit Points: 54 *

Group B - Bido and 14 farmhands (Ml 7)
Attack Dice: 14d6 + 3d4 Group Hit Points: 57 **

* Athrain's 15hp plus 13 x 3hp for the Farmhands. ** Bido's 15hp plus 14 x 3hp.

They are well matched. The fight is on.

Round 1
Results: A rolls 45; B rolls 66. The difference is 21.
New rule applied: 21 x 2 = 42
Group A loses the round and takes 42 points of damage from 54, reducing their gHP to 12, which is over 50% of their current gHP and therefore triggers a Kill Shock Morale check. They must roll 2d6 -1 (from Athrain +1 Cha bonus). Morale = 7. They roll "11" -1 = 10
Group A many of whom are knocked to the ground, the rest totally panic and scatter. This is a "Rout".

Group B needs to resist running after them by making a Morale check.
The must roll 2d6 -1 under 7 as . They roll 5 -1 = 4. They stand firm, bemused at the chaos.

Final Group Hit Points: Group A 12 gHP ; Group B 57 gHP
Group A have been knocked unconscious, disbanded, fled or surrendered.
Group B hold their ranks and can claim victory.

Group B is declared the winner and Bido, the halfling thief, is especially proud that his side showed discipline. The partially trampled Athrain is not amused!

Note: due the majority of the combatants being simplified NPCs without the free agency of control by a player, the Monster rules for Kill Shock Morale were applied.

That was faster. This needs testing with a Group of PCs versus some dungeon monsters.
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Thu Mar 18, 2021 1:00 pm

1st Level PCs - small all human party
This are pregens from The Chaotic Caves (Neal,2009)

Ola - Fighter HD1d8 ; 6 HP Str +1
Smitt - Cleric HD1d6 ; 4 HP Str +1
Katte - Magic-User HD1d4 ; 2 HP
Rebecca - Thief HD1d4 ; 2 HP
(all average Constitution)

PC Group
Attack Dice: 1d8 +1d6 +2d4 +2
Group Hit Points: 14

Goblins x 2 (3hp each)
AD: 2d8 -2
gHP: 6

Round 1
Goblins roll : 4
PC's roll : 17
Difference = 13
Damage to goblins is 23 points
Goblin gHP is reduced to -17

Both goblins are immediately killed in one round.

The PCs later face 6 kobolds (HD1-4, 2hp each)

6 Kobolds
AD: 6d4
gHP: 12

Round 1
Kobolds roll: 17
PCs roll: 20
Difference is 3
Kobolds take 6 damage. 6 gHP left.
They succeed their Kill Shock Morale Check.

Round 2
Kobolds roll: 17
PCs roll: 16
Difference = 1
PC group takes 2 damage. 12 gHP left.

Revised Group Hit Points: Kobolds 6 gHP; PCs 12 gHP.

Round 3
Kobolds roll: 12
PCs roll: 17
Difference = 5
Kobolds take 10 damage, reducing gHP to -4. They are all killed!

Final Group Hit Points for the PC's is 12 gHP (Their starting gHP was 14).

Generally when adventuring, to save time with making notes, keep the characters in a Group for as long as possible. If this PC Group decided to break up, the maths for finding their unique normal hit points goes like this:

Current gHP divided by the Starting or Max gHP.

In this case:
12/14 =0.86 apx

Then multiply the character starting HPs by this number, round up or down to nearest number but don't go above maximum HPs and don't go below 1 HP

Name/class // Starting HPs // multiplier // Current HPs
Ola/Ftr // 6 HP // x 0.86 // (5.16) 5 HP
Smitt/Cl // 4 HP // x 0.86 // (3.44) 3 HP
Katte/MU // 2 HP // x 0.86 // (1.72) 2 HP
Rebecca/Th // 2 HP //x 0.86 // (1.72) 2 HP
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Fri Mar 19, 2021 1:58 pm

Another test combat (but now using new x2 damage rule)

8 1st level Clerics (PCs) take on the Orcs at the Ruins (in the wilderness in The Chaotic Caves)
Summary of relevant stats:
8 x Hu L1 Cleric HD1d6 ; 4 HP each Str +1
6 Orcs and 1 Orc War Leader (see The Chaotic Caves for full stats)

AD: 8d6 +8
gHP: 32

6 Orcs with 1 Orc War Leader, Morale 8
AD: 8d8
gHP: 34

Round 1
Clerics roll 32
Orcs roll 38
Difference = 6
Clerics take 12 damage. ghp now 20

Revised gHP: Clerics 20 gHP; Orcs 34 gHP

Round 2
C. 36
O. 22
Difference =14
x 2
Orcs take 28 damage. gHP now 4
Triggers kill shock morale check. They roll 10. They fail and panic in a relatively enclosed area.

Revised gHP: Clerics 20 gHP; Orc 4 gHP and fleeing.

The Clerics are victorious!

On an open battlefield this would be a victory through a "rout" - when in a dungeon, building or "ruins" I would rule that it's an enclosed space and it's more difficult for the routers to escape. Rather than initiating a chase I would rule that the PCs kill the panicking stragglers.

Notes: Abandon Kill Shock Morale Checks?
For less note taking and look-up, perhaps the kill-shock morale rule (for PCs and monsters) can be optional or omitted for solo-players. - Especially if the double difference damage rule is resolving combat so quickly, and if the player is less concerned about determining which PCs become incapacitated. When a PC Group's gHP = 0 , this can represent TPK / "full party death" or ... force a battered withdrawal for the PC Group (PCs can escape, monsters can't). Everyone fights until one side reaches 0 gHP.

For easy play, a solo gamer may wish to momentarily "retire" a party from play when they hit zero Group Hit Points - the adventure ends here, but somehow the heroes have barely escaped with their lives and need to rest for a few weeks in a nearby town - perhaps they gain no XP as a penalty. Leaving the adventure is not played out. The same party can return to the adventure at a later date without the player having to generate a whole new party.
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Tue Mar 30, 2021 5:33 pm

I hope to have a revised, less tangenty, version of these group combat rules, posted as a document on here very soon.
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Re: Hit Dice as Attack Dice (easy-play group combat rules)

Post Sat Apr 03, 2021 10:52 am

Attached is my revised suggested rules for Simplified Group Combat.
All opinions welcome. :)
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