If a single, significant battle occurs in a session, I'm fine with it taking 30+ minutes to resolve. But when several combats occur in a single session, they can start to drag. Thus, my search for ideas to speed things up.
I recently posted an idea for a simplified D&D combat system, based on Chainmail (via the semi-clone Platemail). This was, really, just a step on the way, though. My ideal would be a single-round combat system. A complete battle resolved in one step. After some fermentation time, the following rough system has emerged:
Super Abstract D&D Combat
When an encounter occurs and it leads to combat, the procedure is as follows:
- Both sides determine their Combat Strength (CS) -- a simple number.
- The leader of each side makes a battle roll: 1d6 plus the CS.
- The results are compared. The side with the lower result is defeated.
- Based on the difference between the two battle rolls, damage is applied to the victorious side.
- The results of defeat are determined.
The force is divided into combatants and non-combatants. My inclination, inspired by LotFP, is to say that only fighters, monsters, or trained 0-level soldiers count as combatants. Adventurers of other classes count as non-combatants. (Games using clerics or other half-fighting classes may say that they count as half-combatants.)
(Note that by declaring non-fighters as non-combatants, I'm assuming that spell casting has little impact on battle. This assumption varies significantly with the D&D standard, but I'm happy to go with it. I actually like the idea of this being an area where fighters can excel, while spell casting is useful in a different arena.)
Combatants add their Hit Dice to their side's CS. Non-combatants add 1 to the CS.
Many other modifiers may apply (to be fully elaborated... just some basic ideas for now):
- Character below half hit points? HD counts as half, for the purposes of calculating CS.
- Character AC 6 or 7? +1 CS.
- Character AC 4 or 5? +2 CS.
- Character AC 3? +3 CS.
- Character better than AC 3? +4 CS.
- Character armed with a magic weapon. +1 CS.
- Tactical advantages (this is an area ripe for elaboration). Varies.
- Surprise +4 CS.
- Missile weapons which can be fired before melee begins. +4 CS.
Just roll 1d6 and add to the side's total CS.
3. Compare Battle Rolls
The side with the higher roll is victorious. The other side is defeated.
4. Apply Damage to Victorious Side
Of course, entering into battle is a dangerous business and even the victor may suffer losses. The losses suffered are determined by the victory margin (i.e. the difference between the two battle rolls):
- Narrow victory. Less than 5 difference: 75% damage.
- Sound victory. Difference 5 - 10: 50% damage.
- Triumphant victory. Difference 11 - 15: 25% damage.
- Rout. Difference 16+: negligible damage.
- The total Hit Dice of the defeated force is calculated (without any of the modifiers mentioned above). This is the number of d6 damage suffered by the victor.
- The number of d6s is reduced by the percentage noted above. Fractions are rounded down.
- Each combatant may declare how many damage dice they will take -- at least one die and up to their HD. The damage dice are rolled and the combatants' hit point totals adjusted. If damage takes a character below 1 hp, they are treated the same as an ignored, defeated character (see below).
- Remaining damage dice are applied evenly to non-combatants.
5. Determine Results of Defeat
Characters on the defeated side may attempt to flee the battle, realising it is lost:
- Attempting to flee incurs automatic damage: 1d6 if a narrow victory occurred, 2d6 for a sound victory, 3d6 for a triumphant victory, and 4d6 for a rout.
- A DEX check determines whether a character manages to escape, with non-combatants gaining a +2 bonus to the roll. If the roll is successful, the character escapes and is not counted in subsequent defeat resolution. (The victorious side may decide to pursue escapees, however, which should be dealt with separately.)
- Killed: eaten, finished off, dismembered, sacrificed.
- Ignored. (This may occur if the victorious side immediately leaves the battlefield, for example in pursuit of fleeing characters.)
Characters who are lucky enough to be ignored or forgotten after being defeated in battle may make a saving throw versus death to determine their fate. If the save fails, the character is dead. If it succeeds, he is alive with 1hp and an injury which permanently reduces a random ability score by one. (A "death & dismemberment" table may be used at this stage, instead.)
As before: this is completely untested. Thoughts welcome!