Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thoughts on an alternate Chainmail-based combat.

Chainmail Man to Man combat functions off of 2d6, consulting a matrix cross-referencing the weapon with the armor type, and checking for a target number.

What if one could do away with the matrix? This thought has occurred from some design decisions made working on my current Sci Fi game for the O.R.C.S. rules (the system that powers Spellcraft & Swordplay.

The method for doing so is pretty basic.

Each weapon in Chainmail has a class rating (daggers are class 1, swords are class 4, etc.) Instead of consulting the chart, use this class rating as a bonus, with one caveat: weapons with a class rating higher than 6 gain a bonus equal to half their class rating (Round down) + 1. So a two-handed sword gets a +7 bonus, while a flail has a +4 bonus.

Next, convert armor types into a "hit" penalty.*

No Armor = 0
Leather/Padded = 1
Shield Only = 2
Leather + Shield = 3
Chain, Banded, Studded, Splint = 4
Chain + Shield = 5
Plate = 6
Plate + shield = 7

The basics: Roll 2d6, adding weapon bonus, subtracting opponent armor penalty, and attempt to score 11 (on average, a trained warrior swinging a sword at an unarmored opponent will hit).

Optionally, if using a one-handed weapon and Dexterity is 12 or higher, add +1 to attack. If Dexterity is below 9, subtract 1 to attack.

If using a two-handed weapon (battle axe, pole arms, spear, pike, etc.) and Strength is 12 or higher, add +1 to attack. If Strength is below 9, subtract 1 to attack.

Basic magic weapons (+1, +2, etc.), then, simply increase the bonus (as we are used to) while magic armor increases the penalty to opponents' attacks.

*If using this with OD&D, convert Armor Class to penalty by subtracting AC from 9.


  1. What I like about the old chainmail charts is that some weapons have the same chance of hitting, regardless of armor.

    I'd hate to lose that particular feature of the old charts.

    My central problem with those man-to-man charts is ... just how accurate are they in portraying the relative effectiveness of particular weapons vs. particular armor?

    That is the frustrating unknown for me...

  2. Certainly this idea isn't for everyone--many of us amongst the old school crowd enjoy the matrix references for all their quirks. But there are a lot of people out there who have told me, "I think I'd really dig the old versions of D&D if I didn't have to look at a chart every time I wanted to hit someone."

    This is kinda for them.

  3. I don't know if you've looked at the latest and greatest version of my rebuilt, S&S Combat Matrix on the blog, but I decided to go with Weapon Classes modifiers to the roll rather than target numbers. One of the things I was particularly pleased with was that I got pretty much every Weapon Class to have both strengths and weaknesses while still making each step up in Armour Class a true step up (unlike my previous try in which hitting someone in Plate with an axe was easier than hitting someone in Leather. Ugh.)

  4. No, I somehow missed that. I'll have to take a look!