Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Land of Ice (The Encounter, Part 1)

[once again, the following only addresses changes to the standard Encounter rules found in the B/X system; unless a specific change is noted, all information in the Basic and Expert set books still applies]


Outdoor encounters in LAND OF ICE often occur in snowfall conditions due to the normal weather patterns of the continent. When this situation occurs, random distance is rolled as for indoor encounters instead of outdoor encounters (i.e. 20-120 feet instead of yards). In blizzard conditions, visibility conditions should be treated the same as underground “darkness.”


Characters wearing a full steel helm are surprised on a 1-3 instead of 1-2. In a party where some characters wear helms and others do not, the GM still rolls one die for the party: on a result of “3” the party rolls initiative as normal (assuming the monsters are not surprised) and combat conducted normally, except that characters with full steel helms are unable to act in the first round of combat.


Initiative is rolled normally to determine order of action; if a tie occurs, attacks occur simultaneously between two sides. The following exceptions apply to the normal initiative order:
Fighters: fighters receive a bonus to initiative equal to their level, but ONLY when fighting alone. See Chapter 2 regarding fighter advantages.

Pole Arms: in the outdoors, pole arms have a reach advantage and always strike first in the first round of melee combat. After the first round, initiative with a pole arm is standard. This bonus only occurs in the outdoors where there is sufficient space to use a pole arm; they are next to useless in cramped environments (like underground or indoors), always striking last.

Psychic Abilities: a non-psychic (fighter, huntsman, skald, thief) using a psychic talent as an action always acts last in the round. Talents used by multiple non-psychics occur simultaneously. Psychic talents used by magicians and alfar always occur in normal initiative order.

Two-Handed Weapons: there is no initiative penalty for using a weapon two-handed. Crossbows, however, can only be fired every other round of combat, requiring one round to load.


Player characters in LAND OF ICE are renowned for their deeds and accomplishments as skalds and locals tell their tales of adventure. Among the civilized peoples, there is a percentage chance that NPCs encountered will have heard of the PCs; this chance is called the PC’s reputation. Reputation is based on level as follows:

1st – 0%
2nd – 20%
3rd – 40%
4th – 60%
5th – 80%

Noteworthy ability scores (see Chapter 2) can also add to this percentage, and a character’s reputation is bolstered +2% for each major wound survived.

When the caller or party spokesman attempts to communicate, she may boast of her reputation, earning a +2 bonus to the reaction roll if the reputation check is successful, indicating a degree of awe or intimidation the character’s name carries. Non-humans (alfar and dvergar) should divide their reputation in half when interacting with anyone other than their own kind, and northmen should divide their reputation chance in half when dealing with any non-human species.


[I am not even going to try putting a table on blogger: folks will have to fill out their own PC combat matrix based on the following]

Character Level – THAC0
1st – 19
2nd – 18
3rd – 17
4th – 16
5th – 15

Remember that fighters receive a bonus to all attack rolls equal to their level. Huntsmen receive a bonus to missile attack rolls equal to their level. Thieves receive a bonus to attacks against an unaware opponent equal to their level.

NPCs and monsters use the normal monster attack matrix.

Melee Combat

Breaking Weapons: On any natural (i.e. un-modified) roll of “1” to attack in melee, there is a good chance the character’s weapon breaks becoming useless. For most melee weapons, this chance is automatic, for others there is a chance to mitigate the breakage:

Battle axe: Roll D6; 1-4 weapon is useless, 5-6 weapon is fine

Short sword: Roll D6; 1-3 weapon is useless, 4-6 weapon may still be used as a dagger

Sword: Roll D6; 1-2 weapon useless, 3-4 weapon may still be used as a dagger, 5-6 weapon may still be used as a short sword.

Enchanted weapons are normally unbreakable unless used in combat against weapons of equal or greater bonus, OR against monsters whose hit dice exceed three times the weapon bonus. For example, a +1 sword only has a chance of breaking when used in melee against monsters of 4 hit dice or greater or against opponents wielding weapons of +1 or greater enchantment.

Mounted Melee: Characters in LAND OF ICE do not use lances, but there is still an advantage to attacking while mounted (either on a horse or war sled): mounted characters enjoy a +2 bonus to attack rolls against non-mounted opponents. Mounted characters only enjoy this bonus when using a single, one-handed melee weapon.

Shield Defense: a character with a shield may forgo their normal attack in combat to gain a +2 bonus to armor class. This can only be used when a character could normally attack (for example, when advancing or performing a fighting withdrawal, not when running or retreating). Remember that in LAND OF ICE fighters receive an additional bonus to armor class when using a shield (see Chapter 2).

Two-Weapon Fighting: a character may use two one-handed weapons in melee combat (instead of a shield, for example). The character still only makes one attack roll, but on a successful hit the player rolls damage for each weapon separately (usually D6 for each) and keeps the better damage roll. If the attack roll is a natural 1, roll randomly to determine which weapon checks breakage (even chance of either).

[to be continued]


  1. I'm really enjoying the Land of Ice! I don't use pre-made settings. Ever. And I'm thinking about running this. The setting is great, and your small tweaks to the design of the game are, as ever brilliant. I'd make skalds NPCs though, because, ehhhhhh bards.

  2. @ Lum: Thanks for the compliment!
    : )

  3. major wounds and even exceptional stats have a basically insignificant effect on reputation, is there a deliberate reason for that? I like the idea in the setting, but I think that either more should be awarded for player achievements and things, and less just for basic level progression or it should be purely based on level progression.

  4. @ Graham: Reputation is MAINLY based on level; the small variations for exceptional abilities provides a few perks (from a design perspective):

    - some additional distinction between PCs ("Bjorn is known for being the strongest fighter in the hall. He's got a nasty scar from a fight with an ice warg.").

    - additional story (why is one 3rd level skald more well-known than his 3rd level peer?)

    - additional (minor) bonuses to players for things considered "flaws" ("You'll want to beware of Halfdan the Black...a mean sorcerer, you'll know him by his eye-patch, peg-leg, and nasty temperament.").