Friday, January 8, 2010

Rolemaster Thoughts for Swords & Wizardry

Zachary at RPG Blog II is creating a series of posts on Rolemaster for 2010. Rolemaster, specifically Arms Law, was first developed as an extension of D&D. His latest post got me thinking on how to apply some of that to Swords & Wizardry and other retro-clones.

The first thing, other than copyright issues, is that as fun the Rolemaster tables are using them or something similar probably not appealing to the majority of old school fans. But following simple rule can capture much of the deadliness that the open ended critical roll gives.

When a natural 20 is rolled the attacker add maximum damage to his normal damage result. If he rolls another 20 he adds double his maximum damage, another 20 triple and so on until he fails to roll a 20.

For example Stump the Dwarf see an elder demon, fearing for his life he throws his battle axe. Rolling to hit he gets a natural 20, he roll again getting another 20, then yet another 20, finally is last roll is a 11. Doing 1d8+1 with his battle axe he does 8+16+24+1d8+1 damage or 45+1d8. Taking a fearsome blow the demon flees.

Like my ritual rule this changes the tone of a D&D game so it may not be for all campaigns. It give a more gritty and deadlier feel to combat. It is considerably less complicated than the rolemaster charts while giving some of the same deadliness. I think it will work better for Swords & Wizardry, both the White Box and the Core edition, with it's lower hit points totals.


Gothridge Manor said...

This is a fun rule. A critical hit that means something. I always hated rolling a critical then rolling another die to determine how effective my critical was and have the result come up "normal damage only". That's a snooze, but having the potential of doing that much damage makes a player feel good. I love doing lots of damage.

Zachary Houghton said...

I like it. It feels good to at least have a fighting chance, however small.

Doug Easterly said...

There's always the original Empire of the Petal Throne rules: a natural 20 does double damage, and a second roll -- if that roll is a 19 or 20, the attack is an instant kill.

Personally, that seems a bit random, but I could see a game where that could just be part of the way things are.

Restless said...

If using this as your critical hit house rule, I could see giving fighting men bumps for this at higher levels (like, at 5th+ level the fighter can crit on 19-20, including subsequent rolls, and at 9th+ 18-20). It gives them a bump against the overwhelming power of magic users at higher levels.

Rusty said...

Back around 1979, my cousin used something very similar to great effect in his AD&D game. Of course, it worked both ways so my current batch of players (which includes my cousin) are not interested in adopting any sort of critical hit rule as we have spent more time on campaign setting and character development. It is a groovy thing, however.