NON-LETHAL AND WEAPONLESS COMBAT PROCEDURES
I will freely admit; the first time (the first few times, actually) that I
looked at this section, I let out a hearty "What the F*#$??" At first
glance, this really looks like the definition of the chaotic mess that AD&D
has a rep for being.
It's really not, though. Once you dive in and read it, not only does it make
sense, but it's pretty damned elegant. I've even found myself wondering how
tough it'd be to directly convert the entire combat system to these rules.
This brings me to my one complaint about the weaponless combat sub-system.
...It's a sub-system.
What I mean is, AD&D already has a combat system in place; why design an
entirely different set of rules that have no connection whatsoever to normal
combat, just to handle grappling, pummeling, and overbearing? Was it needed?
That's probably why most of us just decided to use good old-fashioned attack
rolls with non-lethal damage applied to unarmed combat. While I can't speak
with any authority as to what went through Gygax's (or whoever invented this) mind
when this system was developed, I can say (speaking as a game designer) that
sometimes things seem like a good idea when you're hashing them out and later,
after they get published, you do a head-slap and realize there was a much.
easier. way. That could feasibly be what happened here. It's pretty clear,
as I discussed earlier, that AD&D was built on math and probability first
and systems second.
But I digress. We were talking about weaponless combat. All of the above being
said, this system is really neat, so it's worth a closer look.
There are three general types of unarmed combat in AD&D. The first is Pummeling,
which resembles any number of bare-handed or -footed attacks. Punches, kicks,
bitch slaps, whatever. The second is Grappling, which is essentially
wrestling. The third is Overbearing, which is pretty much knocking
someone's ass to the floor and then kicking them while they're down.
Each one of these situations is resolved in exactly the same manner, though the
situational modifiers differ for each.
Step One: The DM rolls a d6 for the attacker and a d4 for the defender.
The result of this roll is added to the column on the attack table that is
referenced for a character of this class and level. Thus, a first level fighter
gets a d6+2 to attack or a d4+2 to defend (the first column on the fighter
table is for 0-level critters). A fifth level fighter, who references column 4,
gets d6+4 or d4+4.
The resulting figure becomes a modifier that can be applied to either Step Two
or Step Four, at the attacker and defender's option, but this must be stated
before dice are rolled. Since all rolls are made by the attacker, the
attacker's modifier becomes a bonus; the defender's becomes a penalty.
Step Two: The DM determines the player's percentage chance to
successfully attack his opponent with the chosen attack type. The base chance
to hit is generally based upon the defender's AC times ten, ignoring magical
devices such as rings and cloaks, but adding bonuses for magical armor. This is
then modified by circumstances such as the defender's strength, dexterity,
condition (slowed, stunned, etc.), base movement, etc. The final total
represents a percentage chance to hit.
Step Three: This accomplished, the attacker rolls percentile dice
against the target, trying to roll under. If he fails, the turn passes to his
Step Four: If the attacker succeeds, he rolls percentile dice again for
the effects of his attack, this time modifying the roll rather than the target,
based on his own strength, dex, any weapons he has, his opponent's status,
armor, etc., then consults a table to discover the effects of his successful
attack, which could lead to another immediate attack, an unconscious or
helpless opponent, straight damage, or any number of other effects.
In short, the attacker makes two percentile checks, the first against a
modified target number, the second with the modified roll against a chart. Most
damage inflicted is temporary, returning per round, with a small percentage
"real" damage that's counted just like getting hit with a sword.
It gets into more detail, of course, with situational factors such as a
grappled opponent throwing an elbow at the attacker's face, or what happens
when you try to pummel, grapple, or overbear someone with a sword (hint: they
get to hit you with the sword, first), but the general procedure remains the
same for all three. I'm interested to run some kind of tavern-boxing or
-wrestling match in a game, just to see how this plays out. Seems like it'd be