Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Playing With Packets

Using the What Price Glory packets together can create some combinations that players and referees might enjoy for their OD&D games. It also opens up opportunities for the referee to flesh out the rules to their taste. With certain Packets, some areas are left vague in order that a referee might fine tune or fill in the gaps to suit their campaign.

For example, when utilizing Packet 4, Combat Sequence and Packet 5, Initiative together, a few questions might arise during encounters. The encounter is divided into 5 second sequences or exchanges, each with four steps (the 4 M’s). Initiative covers attacking, but doesn’t go into detail in regard to the Movement or Magic steps of that 5 second exchange. What now?

A referee can handle this however he or she might so desire, but here are some specifics that I would consider. This level of detail begins to weigh down the Packets, some of which are already a bit text heavy.

All combatants receive 1 move and 1 action in 5 seconds, except when casting a spell, using a magic item, or retrieving a weapon (or as defined by the individual referee).

While these various undertakings are divided into four steps, it certainly does not mean that everyone stands around until missiles are fired, then everyone moves, then everyone trades blows, and then finally spell-casters get to do their magic. These are simply the order of resolution, each and every combatant is occupied with some task or purpose during those 5 seconds. There is a constant buzz of activity during an encounter, it’s not simply an orderly dance routine. Amidst the fog of war chaos often reigns supreme. Men screaming, steel clashing, Monsters growling, Mages chanting, Clerics exhorting their brethren, this is the rattle of battle.

The steps are performed nearly simultaneously, but are resolved in a specific order. So, how would I mesh the 4 M’s and Initiative?

I would use the 4 M’s, and allow each step to have it’s own minor notes to see exactly whom has Initiative within that particular step.

Missiles: This is already defined. Range then DEX then Weapon Speed. The winner may elect to Hold Initiative. All combatants with Missile Weapons have the option to ‘Hold Fire’, and wait to loose their missiles until either Movement, or Melee. Spells are declared in this step, and their casting requires the entire 5 second round to complete to resolution.

Movement: So, who moves first? The combatants with the highest Movement Rate may either move first, or Hold Initiative. There are five stages of Movement speed in combat, 15+, 12, 9, 6, 3. Anyone who held initiative must move, if they are going to do so, in that last stage of 3. Held missiles may be loosed at anytime during Movement.

Melee: This is already defined as well. Range then DEX then Weapon Speed. All melee is resolved now. Held missiles may be loosed at anytime during Melee. At this point, combatants who have neither begun casting a spell, fired a missile or attacked in melee may Move, even if they moved earlier during the Movement step.

Magic: Spells resolve now. Spells resolve in order of level. For example, Sleep (a Level 1 spell) will resolve before Hold Person (a Level 3 spell). The referee may decide to specify casting times, or allow the more experienced spell-casters to gain initiative. There is no firing of Missiles, Movement nor Melee in this last step. Combatants who have passed on all steps, and not even moved during the entire sequence, may now resolve magic item activations (this includes potions, scrolls, wands, staves, etc.).

This is simply too cumbersome and text filled for the modular approach to What Price Glory, but is an example of the type of further definition and house ruling that combining these packets might lead to.

Or you can just say to Hell with it, and start rolling dice. Let the gods sort it out. Whatever makes your combat fun for you and your players.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee

1 comment:

Sham aka Dave said...

I like the 4 M's style of combat sequence, and I might just use the standard d6 roll of Initiative, then both sides go through the 4 M's; All Missiles, All Movement, All Melee and then All Magic, in that order, with precedence given to the side holding initiative for each step.

Or maybe we'll just go around the table and resolve each round that way ;-)

This is why I enjoy tinkering with OD&D, the referee controls the Crunchy Meter.

Play-testing should be enjoyable.