I mean, let’s think about this for a moment. I’m 5’9” and about 155 at my optimal “fighting weight” (right now, I’m close to 15 pounds over that). I’ve no real military experience or “combat training” to speak of. I can probably jog a little more than a mile without being too winded.
Now give me a hand axe. Hell, make it a spiked or flanged mace, so I don’t need to worry about getting the edge on target. Put me within “melee range” of a dude NOT wearing armor, NOT carrying a shield, NOT wearing a helm. What’s my chance of hitting him hard enough that he’s hurt? Not killed, not incapacitated with pain but simply HURT…call it the equivalent of 1 point of damage. All I’m doing is swinging a heavy club and trying to connect. Assume he has the same (lack of) training that I have myself and he is unarmed. But I have him backed into a corner so he HAS TO fight me. What’s my D20 roll to hit? Personally, I think it would be pretty good. Given 10 seconds for a “go,” I figure I’d get at least three or four swings, at least one of which should give the guy a nasty bruise…at least if I was really trying to hurt the guy.
In D&D, my chance of doing ANY noteworthy damage would be 50%.
0 level character (a “normal human” in B/X) attacking AC 9 (unarmored) does damage on a D20 roll of 11-20 (one-half the time). If my opponent decides to run I’d get a +2 upping my total chance to 60% (12 chances in 20).
Now what if instead I was a stout fighter, trained to kill, a 1st level “veteran,” armed with a long blade and the guts (or Chaotic temperament) to slay an unarmed foe. A foe standing right there: in arm’s reach. Say, I’m wearing a suit of chain so I’m not even worried about a return attack. Given a 10 second combat round, what’s the percentage likelihood I’d be able to HURT this duck…just do 1 point of damage (or more)?
55%. I need to roll a 10 or better on the D20.
How about a 3rd level fighter…a “swordsman?” Still 55%.
That means I miss almost half the time…and my chance of wounding better protected folks simply decreases.
Man, I am waaay tired of ineffective attacks. Tired of missing.
Ended up playing Labyrinth Lord last night due to all my play-testers bailing for one reason or another (too short notice for Red, family and work obligations for two others). That was fine…I actually ended up calling it a night early due to the excruciating back pain that has once again reared its ugly head. But ANYway, I did play a bit more in Randy’s LL game where our low-level characters continued to get into scrape after scrape and whack-whack away, trying to hit giant schmucks of one sort or another. This session I was noticing more and more the high number of missed attack rolls…something that has been grating on me more and more the last couple sessions.
[have my posts been a bit negative this week? Sorry…the chronic pain does something nasty to my attitude]
Remember waaaay back in May of 2010 (wow...almost two years now), when I proposed this "grand idea" of cutting To Hit rolls out of the D&D combat sequence? Well, maybe you don't and that's totally forgivable since play-testing the idea showed it to be a silly one...mainly due to being proposed as a time-saving shortcut and ending up being overly complex.
But, hey...just because the idea was poor in execution doesn't mean my gripe from two years ago is less valid. In fact, I've just added more fuel to the old fire...before, I was trying to make combat quicker and more expedient and thought cutting out attack rolls would do that. Now, I'm wanting something else:
Fantasy realism, but something modeled a bit better on reality all the same. And the reality is this: when two people get to brawling, two people get hurt. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But even if one person is sooo skilled that he (or she) avoids taking a single scratch from an opponent, he still expends energy (fatigue, exertion) ducking or blocking or dodging to prevent that scratch from landing.
Once again, I find my attention drawn to the war game Chainmail, where the attack roll in man-to-man combat was simply a die roll to determine if one's opponent had been killed. Not a roll to attack plus a roll for damage...ONE roll...to KILL. Now, of course, this is too simplistic for an RPG...Chainmail is a WAR GAME, and one is dealing with many dozens or scores of miniatures on a side and a method of deciding the outcome of engagements quickly is imperative. But the simple concept has been percolating ideas in my brain...ideas that I'm not exactly sure just how to implement (let alone where and when).
Ugh...I'm extremely tired and my brain is shutting down for the night. More later (probably).