Monday, January 12, 2009

Faster than a Speeding Arrow

Darn it, I keep finding stuff I didn't finish before starting my Moldvay/Cook/Labyrinth Lord hack.

Last night, we rolled up our first two characters. One of them has throwing daggers in his equipment list. And I never said what I was doing about ranged weapons.

In raw Moldvay/Cook, you get one shot per round. With 10 second rounds, that means you get to shoot one arrow every ten seconds.

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that's a bit ridiculous. Even AD&D's two arrows per round is too slow.

On the other hand, I don't want to let people roll handfuls of dice every time they fire their bow. So here's what I'm doing:

Every ranged weapon has a rate-of-fire which basically says how many you can toss or shoot in a 10 second round. For every additional weapon launched at the enemy in a round, you add +1 to your to-hit roll. If you hit, you roll damage once, no matter how many missiles were used.

Here are the rates-of-fire for standard ranged weapons:

bows: 4 (damage is 2d4)
daggers: 5
hand-axes: 3
spears and javelins: 2
slings: 3 (damage is 1d6)

I'm not listing crossbows because I'm not sure if I'm allowing crossbows in the game in order to reinforce the early Iron Age feel I'm aiming for.

If this means Theophage needs to carry more throwing daggers in his bandoleer, that's just fine. Just don't go crazy (link so NSFW it's a thing of beauty).


Badelaire said...

Dear god, I forgot how great that Trailer is. It's better than the whole of Planet Terror.

As for this idea...I dunno. Unless there is some comparable rule for melee combat, no one will ever want to swing a sword - what would be the point? And by "+1 on the to-hit roll" I assume you mean the more knives/arrows you loose, the better your chances to hit? Now you're treating a bow or a bandolier of throwing knives like an MP-5 submachinegun, using some sort of autofire/burst rule.

I'd do the following...

1. RoF's are 1/round if you're moving and or taking any other action that round.

2. If you are doing nothing else, you can fire 2 arrows or slings, or throw 3 javelins or knives a round, but every roll after the first is penalized by -2 and you lose any armor class bonuses you might have from your dexterity.

I'd even consider cutting the range by half, but since most thrown weapons have ultra-short ranges to begin with, that might be a little much. However, it does make sense - your accuracy at medium and especially long ranges will go in the toilet if you're loosing missiles as fast as you can.

trollsmyth said...


You're absolutely right! That's what I get for posting at 2 AM. I guess I wasn't as awake as I'd thought. Lemme think about this, and I'll adjust the post as we figure this out.

- Brian

Theophage said...

See, I don't see one throw/shot per round as too slow. I would assume a certain amount of aiming goes into every shot, and that would take a few seconds anyway. But I'm certainly not going to argue with being able to throw all three knives in a single round. ;)

As for the autofire-type rule, I think it sounds just fine. Yes each individual throw would have less of a chance of hitting, but having more than one throw still makes the chance of a single hit greater. The autofire rule helps reflect this while not having to roll so many dice. It is also true with automatic gun fire that subsequent rounds are less well aimed, but the advantage is still in a greater number of shots.

trollsmyth said...

Yeah, but I really, really don't want one-shot-per-round. That's just horribly slow to my mind. Drives me crazy. But it does make things easy, and it was the solution of the time. What would you think of keeping the +1 to hit per missile, but lowering the damage? Maybe chopping it in half?

- Brian

Norman Harman said...

I've always been under the assumption that in melee the to-hit roll didn't represent a sword swing. One swing per 10sec that is slow! It represents the one swing they have opportunity for, that connects well, wasn't deflected, etc.

Same can apply to missile fire (and I've never understood why it doesn't). I might even make players expend two or more arrows/what have you per attack roll or take a penalty.

Keep the standard, simple mechanics and just redefine what the represent until you no longer go crazy with the slowness.

Daniel "Theophage" Clark said...

Alright, let's whip out the old calculatron:

We start by supposing that you can throw three daggers per round, and that each successive roll gets a -2 to hit after the first. We then assume that the thrower needs an 11 or better to hit as a base chance. This means that the chances to hit for each of the throws is 50%, 40%, and 30%.

This gives us a 79% chance to for at least one dagger to hit, and a 21% chance for all three to hit. (I'm having trouble calculating at leat two daggers hitting, anybody care to tackle that? I'm going to assume it is half way between 79% and 21% or 50%) So by throwing two more daggers, we get almost a +6 (30%) chance to hit with at least one, and a chance of hitting with two (50%) that was the same is the chance to hit if I only threw one. That's a huge increase even

A dagger does 1-4 points of damage per hit, for an average of 2.5 points. If we count missing as doing zero points of damage, then throwing one dagger would have a 50% of doing 2.5 points, and a 50% chance of doing 0 points, for a total expected average of 1.25 points of damage every round when throwing one dagger at a time.

Now if we expand that to three daggers each round, the damage becomes 21% x 0 (miss) + 29% x 2.5 (only one hit) + 31% x 5 (two daggers hit) + 21% x 7.5 (three daggers hit) for a total expected average of 3.85 points, a little over triple from throwing one (that's is as we'd expect)

So when we consider your original example of +1 to hit and +1 damage for every extra dagger thrown (and just making one hit roll and one damage roll) we see that is a very conservative option to say the least.

I personally like the idea of combining the rolls into one rather than rolling for each seperately, as it speeds up combat. Less rolling means more time to actually play.

trollsmyth said...

Theophage, mine is actually more conservative than you suppose. While yes, you do get +1 to hit for each dagger after the first that you throw, and daggers actually do 1d6 damage, you do not get a +1 to damage.

Which means I did a bad job writing that post. Another reason not to post that early in the morning. ;)

Here's how it was supposed to work: your character throws three daggers at a marauding orc. You roll a single d20 to hit, and add +2 for every dagger after the first. Assuming you hit, you then roll 1d6 for damage.

However, as Badelaire points out, the only real reason to stab with a sword is if you're out of daggers to throw. Any plus to hit is better than nothing, and the only cost to throwing rather than stabbing is the expenditure of ammunition. Which means that using this rule in its current form will lead to people lugging around as much ammo as they can carry and favoring ranged combat over hand-to-hand, which is actually the opposite of what I want.

For now, i think we'll go with one-shot-per-round until we come up with something better, even though it grates at my sense of verisimilitude.

- Brian