This will make combat a little more complex, but much more intense. At the beginning of each round before any dice are rolled the DM will write down the actions of the opponents and any other DM characters. Players will then declare their actions which the DM will write down on the same sheet. When that is done the players and DM will roll dice without any combat results being declared. Combat rolls will be made without modifiers as the characters could become bloodied before their action takes place in the sequence.
At the end of the round the DM will explain what happened (from the player’s perspective). This is also when any morale checks are made (the decision to run or surrender can be written down for the next round, but the players won’t know the npcs’ intentions).
The next round goes the same as the first, initiative will be rolled each round along with attacks and saves (characters will make 1 save roll per round even if it isn’t needed just so they never know if it will be).
Rolls will be tracked on a combat tracking sheet so the DM can determine results as they come up.
Specialized fighters with 1/2 attacks will get them on all even rounds in which they move half their movement or less so no need to keep track of when the weapon was pulled out.
Sample Note Sheet:
Zombie 1) Attacking Othane
Zombie 2) Attacking Banion
Zombie 3) Attacking Beatriz
Zombie 4) Attacking Iso
Banion) Attacking Zombie 1
Othane) Attacking Zombie 2
Beatriz) Turning Undead
Iso) Casting Magic Missile
Round 1 Combat Sheet
|Character||Init||Save||Attack 1||Attack 2|
Round 1 Results
Beatriz raises her Holy symbol, but the zombies move on unflinching towards their targets. Othane thrusts her shortsword at the zombie but seems to cut through some soft material and the zombie continues on its way. Iso goes to cast her magic missile, but it is miscast and she is wracked with the pain of magic backlash. Banion steps forward thrusting with his longsword and feels it cut through bone as the rotted remains crumple to the floor. Zombie number one lies twitching on the floor. Zombie 2 swings a rotted fist at Banion clanging off his shield and knocking him back slightly, but he seems uninjured. Zombie 3 bashes Beatriz knocking the wind out of her and possibly breaking a rib as she reels backwards. Zombie 4 closes in on Iso making a swing, but she manages to only take a glancing blow doing less damage than her own magic mishap.
Since Zombies don’t check morale the DM skips that step writes down the zombies next set of attacks and asks the players for theirs (on round 2 Banion can attack twice if using the longsword).
Part of the reason for using the unmodified rolls is combat conditions. Also there are situations where some bonuses may be enhanced or negated and characters may not be aware of all those circumstances. The DM will track hit points only letting characters know they are injured, but will inform a player their character has been bloodied at the end of a round where it happens.
A concept of 4th edition the Bloodied state occurs when half a character’s hit points have been lost. All attributes and movement are treated as half (a 10 becomes 5, an 18 becomes 9, but round fractions up). This can be devastating to both combat and non-combat stats representing the character is bloody and beaten. (Characters pick up scars every time they are bloodied, but these don’t alter stats in the long run).
At 0 hit points the character is dying (loses 1 hp per round until they reach a negative count equal to their base constitution score at which point they die unless they are treated before then – A Wisdom check with a healing kit or any healing spell). A character cannot act in any way at 0 or fewer hit points.
A character who has a negative hit point total of their constitution score has died. If their body is recovered they may be able to be resurrected, but there is no guarantee. A cleric of high enough level must be willing to attempt the resurrection and the deity they serve must consider the character worthy of raising. If a character cannot be saved the player must make a new character.
Some things for a DM to keep in mind during attack resolution regarding initiatives. A round is a minute long, but includes dodging, parrying, and trying to find an opportunity to strike. An initiative roll could go as high as 20, so a 20 point count down makes sense. If multiple attacks are made with the same weapon the second attack should happen around 10 after the first (minimum 0). It takes 1 minute (20 initiative) to move the character’s full movement in combat unless charging which is a 150% speed movement, meaning a character moving to engage the enemy drops 1 point of initiative for ever 20th of their base movement rate; a human moves up to 120 ft in combat or 6 ft per point of initiative (9 ft per initiative if charging, 12 ft if just running). 3 seconds of conversation also take up 1 initiative point (characters discussing plans after combat is joined should be penalized appropriately). Stopping to examine something in combat generally takes that entire action, but if feeling generous the DM can make it a 5 to 10 point initiative slide (This should apply to monsters as well, meaning they will not automatically know who the spell casters are).
Only the most fanatical opponents will continue to fight when bloodied unless they feel cornered, or know that by reputation of their opponents they will be shot in the back if they flee. Most bloodied opponents will either withdraw at the first opportunity, surrender, or run (although once bloodied movement is halved, so running is difficult).
Morale can be checked before a fight for creatures of animal intelligence, chaotics, and any others depending on the situation. If the roll is above their morale they will usually flee, generally surrender only happens if it is called for before the morale check is failed or combat has already started. Unintelligent creatures should make a new morale check whenever wounded while intelligent creatures should make one if they are wounded or companions fall (especially if companions fall and none of the attackers seem injured). When half a group is dead treat the remaining half as half morale unless a professional military type or defending their home.
Other uses for save rolls
Having players roll a save roll every round gives the DM a d20 result which can then be used for other checks as well; resisting grapples or disarm attempts, spotting important details, moving over loose or slick surfaces, and racial abilities like stone cunning and detecting concealed doors.
|Attacker on Higher Ground||1|
|Defender sleeping or held||Automatic (see below)|
|Defender stunned or prone||4|
|Missile fire, long range||-5|
|Missile fire, medium range||-2|
If Sleeping or Held defender is attacked during the course of a normal melee, the attack automatically hits and causes normal damage. If no other fighting is going on (i.e., all others
have been slain or driven off), the defender can be slain automatically.
THAC0 is a number needed To Hit Armor Class Zero (0) and the character must roll that number or higher on 1d20 with modifiers to hit an opponent with a zero armor class. If the opponents armor class is positive the number needed to hit is lowered by the armor class, if the armor class is negative the number is increased by the amount of negative. All characters in this system have a THAC0 of 21 minus the character level (originally this was only for fighters, but fighters get a much more generous weapon specialization and maximum hit points in this system).
|Sample THAC0||AC 10||AC 5||AC 0||AC -5||AC -10|
|20 (1st level)||10||15||20||25||30|
|15 (6th level)||5||10||15||20||25|
|10 (11th level)||0||5||10||15||20|
|5 (16th level)||-5||0||5||10||15|
|1 (20th level)||-9||-4||1||6||11|
Even if the number is more than a character can roll they always hit on a roll of 20 on the D20 (before modifiers) and even if the needed roll is negative the character always misses on a roll of 1 on the D20 (before modifiers).
Hit bonus for Strength always applies to melee and hurled weapons. Dexterity hit bonus applies only to range combat (although it helps cancel the two weapon penalty). Hurled weapons and bows made to exceptional strength can benefit from both Dexterity and Strength bonuses.
Cover and Concealment
Cover generally stops an attack (a wall) while concealment only makes the target harder to see (bushes and smoke).
|Coverage||Cover Penalty||Concealment Penalty|
Cover also applies to saves vs damaging spells. 90% cover gives 1/2 damage on a failed save and no damage on a successful save.
A character can move 10 ft (indoors) or 10 yards (outdoors) per point of movement and make a standard melee attack. A character can move up to 1/2 their standard movement and still cast a spell, use a melee weapon, or get the enhanced attack rate for specialization. A character may charge, moving up to 1 1/2 their usual movement getting a bonus of 2 to hit but a 2 point penalty to armor class (charging opponents take double damage from spears and pikes set to receive charge, but do double damage if using a lance from a mount).
Damage has been upgraded on crossbows as follows;
|Light Crossbow||1/1||6/12/18||2d4/2d4||35 GP||1 SP/bolt||7 lb|
|Heavy Crossbow||1/2||8/16/24||2d6/2d6||50 GP||2 sp/bolt||14 lb|
Character make saves based on Constitution, Dexterity, and Wisdom (sometimes Strength or Intelligence), but monsters don’t have those scores listed. A DM can handle saves in a number of ways; assume about 50% (d20 with 10 or less succeeding), or HD or less on 1d20 (only very tough monsters consistently save) or 10 plus 1/2 the HD (monsters save much of the time), or even a 25/50/75% split (“low power” monster save on 5 or less on 1d20, “mid-range” monsters save on 10 or less on 1d20, and ’high-power" monsters save on 15 or less; low might be 1-4 HD, mid 5-8 HD, and high 9 plus hit dice). The DM should be consistent in whatever they choose and remember if spells rarely work spell casters are weakened while if they rarely fail spell casters are more powerful (I use the 25/50/75 split since higher HD creatures should be tough to ensorcel and really powerful monsters get Magic Resistance as well).