Sunday, 29 July 2012

Shooting Arrows and Breaking Flasks

And now, some more house rules from my slowly-accumulating 52 Pages. 

The rules for missile combat have evolved since the days of the Assayer's Guild; I'm particularly satisfied with rolling to miss intervening figures and carrying through after a miss.

The grenade-like missile rules link up with the breakage rules to make flaming oil and the like much harder to use than is typically allowed for in the Molotov hobo tradition of Advanced and Basic D&D play. I'm in the Delta camp that way, but even more harsh when it comes to realistic breakage. Will a bottle of wine really shatter when it's thrown against a furry owlbear or unarmored wizard? If the flask you're using is that fragile, it will also need to check for breakage constantly; if you so much as fall down in melee, or bump against a wall. 

The direct-hit burning grenade is a fantasy, even if you allow (as I do) a higher-octane, expensive, volatile alchemical "greek fire" to be bought. Far more likely is that it hits the target, drops to the ground, maybe breaks there, and then gets lit by the wick. Far more foolproof is the use of burning oil actually allowed for in OD&D, to create an instant barrier deterring pursuit. In some ways, too, it's more "old school" to run from fearsome foes than to flambe them. 


  1. How would you handle,

    - open level field, target aware of and facing archer who is 140 yds away

    - as soon as archer releases arrow target steps five yards to his left, something he has plenty of time to do

    1. Well, in the first place maximum feasible range for a bow in my system is 200' ... but that particular situation would seem to call either for an evasion rule, referee discretion, or effective ranges dependent on target awareness and distraction.

    2. 'That particular situation' is very common in games. Its no different for an axe being hurled 30yds, there is a couple of seconds delay.

      I think referee discretion is best. It is an overlooked problem with missile fire that at long range stepping away from where you were is a benefit *in proportion to how accurate the missile firer is*. Robin hood will land his arrow exactly where you were at the moment he fired but Guy of Gisburne's man at arms might hit you a few yards away by mistake.

      I think people forget (not you) that missiles were fired en masse in battle and targets were not individually selected, a little bit like how you manage grenades.

  2. Right, I had Delta's classic post on D&D rules and mass combat assumptions in mind when working up missile rules.

    Another thing to consider is that the situation you describe, tactically, would be very rare. If you are facing a foe at that range most of the time they are either running away (so can't see you shoot), trying to do something that you are shooting to stop (so attention's not with you), or advancing (in that case they might well be able to evade on the way, but a smart archer will hold the shot to "whites of eyes" range, and the logistics of my system mean that all but very slow runners will only be shot at once during such an advance.)

    1. I had forgotten about delta's post but looking back I still think his need, to make his system work, for a 12" move per 10 seconds for adventurers is absurd. He needs to allow a 12" move per 10 seconds to prevent the bow behaving like a machine gun.

      This is the only post of yours Ive read so I don't know if you use the same system, though from what you say above you may be shifting everything from yards to feet which will work for movement against a bow but you then either have spears limited to 30ft rather than 30yds or leaving them at a realistic 30yds have significantly increased their potency relative to the bow which you say has a 200ft limit.