Friday, March 5, 2010

To Hit Rolls Really Arn't, the legacy of roleplaying's wargaming roots

I was reading Knights & Knaves Alehouse forum posts about how Arrows Contradict Abstract Combat . Why do bow shots seem to be at odds with D&D combat? Hand to hand combat in the game is often described as a series of fients, manuevers and counter attacks. So many blows would be struck but maybe only one would be a "telling blow" with a chance of wounding an oppoent. But with missile combat you only get one arrow. But what if missile combat was the same as hand to hand? So now you are letting lose a torrent of arrows in the hopes that one will strike true? That still doesn't seem right. I think the problem is the idea of hitting or missing in combat. In Melee your chance of wounding a target is based on its Armour Class. So you have already hit the target, you just have to penetrate the armour. Missile combat should be the same. You have hit the target with an arrow and maybe it gets through their armour. I am willing to go with that. Ok so know where did the idea that you don't roll to hit or miss come from? That an attack is not hit or miss? Chainmail, thats right Chainmail. The Chainmail rules are for bodies or groups of combatants fighting one another. The melee rules for D&D were created from the Chainmail mass combat rules. Some things make more sense when keeping in mind a large group combat. Like your defence against damage is based solely on your AC. Your skill at fighting never comes into it at all. That makes sense for a large group (were know each members skill level would be to combersome). And of course hit points work better for large group than just one person. The rules were scaled down for single combat. There are a lot of assumtions made for combat in D&D. Arrow shots are a trade off; limited ammo for safety from counterattack. So I don't think they contradict abstract combat. Hit points don't work well either but they are part of the rules. I think by changing the way we look at combat in D&D things can be made sense of. The ideal model of melee combat in D&D is two opponents bashing away on each other slowly wearing each other down. And thats how I will describe it to my players.

1 comment:

  1. AC and hitpoints are almost purely 'gamist', as opposed to narrativist or simulationist. They produce a fun game, but don't simulate or describe action very well at all.

    Better systems can be made to balance all three, but AC and HP will likely make the most stable game rules.