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Nine Cool Combat Tricks
in Tunnels and Trolls

Copyright 2001 Tori Bergquist, all rights reserved


When the combat round begins, a character who wants to contribute to the melee, but is afraid of taking too much damage, can declare a Parrying Action. Now, the character may roll his/her normal dice total for the HPT, and before adding that to the party total, takes all weapon and personal adds and adds them to his/her personal defense, instead. What this does is lower the overall total for the group, while protecting the individual with a greater range of hit protection.
Ex: The party rolls 48 points, but only 16 (10 for sax +6 personal adds) belongs to Shiv the Wizard. He calls for a parry, and, therefore, adds only 6 personal adds to the group, while adding 10 to his hits for defense. The new total is 38; the enemy gets 55, so 17 hits through. There are three delvers, so the hits re 6, 6, and 5 for each. The 5 hits go on Shiv, who absorbs it all in his Parry action. If Shiv hadn’t done this, then 7 hits would have gone through, and he’d have taken 2 hits after it was divided, but he wears no armor, so he’d have been wounded.

All Out Attack:

A reverse, of sorts, of the Parry, the character decides that he/she does not need to worry about protecting themselves as much, and so throws themselves into the melee with wild abandon. The character may now roll their full attack value and they may then increase their HPT by a total equal to their ST score minus 12 (so, a character with a Str 22 gets a special +10 add bonus for all out attack). All out attack is all offense, pure muscle and force, and so only adds from STR are doubled, effectively. However, the character's total armor Hits drop by that same number, down to a minimum of 1 (armor always offers at least a nominal amount of protection!). This reflects the fact that the armor the character is wearing is no longer being used to full effect. The all out attacker has compromised his armor effectiveness, so that he has left himself open to unblocked attacks; imagine the classic berserker running himself onto a pike as he charges, an you've got the sense of the all-out attack. This is useful when it seems reasonably likely that the attacker stands to gain more by throwing himself into the fraw all out than being cuatious.
Luck and the All out Attack: When a character elects the All-Out Attack, the GM should rule that a L1SR LK is in order under most circumstances to avoid secondary damage, even if the party HPT is higher than the opposing team. If the attacker loses the Save, he will take a number of damage points directly to his CON equal to the difference he failed the Save by. If the opponent is especially speedy or clever, the Luck SR could be higher than level 1 (kind of a reverse of the tragetted attack rule in the main rulebook).
Ex: Grond the Warrior wants to all-out attack. He has a STR of 40, so he gets to roll for his attack, gets 88, and adds 28 for STR for a total of 116. His armor is Lamellar for 11 hits x2, totalling 22, which goes to 1 (because he added the 28, and armor has a minimum of 1). The dragon he is fighting gets 148, and 32 points get through, which do 31 points of damage to him! Unlucky Grond.

The Called Shot

A common special maneuver used in the rulebook for characters facing hopeless situations is the called shot, where a saving roll is made on DX or LK to bypass the attack of the enemy entirely and deliver a clean strike with full hits and adds against the target. As a rule of thumb, I would suggest the following method of calculating the Saving Roll of the called shot: The attacker must make a L1SR DX if the opponent is weaker than or about as tough as the attacker making the called shot. The attacker makes aL2 SR DX if the opponent is tougher than, but not twice as tough, as the attacker. The attacker makes a L3SR DX if the opponent is twice as tough or better; for each multiple of toughness higher, add a level. How to figure toughness? Use adds as the rule of thumb. Ex: if Fiddlesticks the Hobbit has weapon and personal adds of +13, and he's charging an Ogre of MR 80 for a called shot (personal adds of 40), then divide the weaker Adds in to the tougher, and the result is the level of the SR (in this case, a Level 3 SR DX is in order). The GM may calculate special modifiers for SPD differences, CHA differences (intimidation factor!), etc, but those are situational. I find this is a good rule of thumb.

Blocking and Soaking Damage

A character in group combat can decide to take the brunt of an attack when damage is divided out. To do so, he/she may declare for whom they are soaking damage, and then make a L1 SR LK to see if they can block, or take the bulk of the damage. If they make the roll, they absorb an amount equal to the overgae of the save (how much over the target number they rolled).
Ex: Gronto the warrior steps in front of the blow meant for Cecilia the wizardess, and says he'll protect her in thebattle. During combat, the group takes 22 hits, which divided two ways is 11 each; Gronto's armor protects him from 10 hits, so he'll take 1, but Cecilia will be dead on 11 hits.Gronot makes a L1 SR LK, with his luck being 13, he needs to roll 7 or better. He rolls boxcars, then re-rolls for a 9, totalling 17. He rolled 10 more than he needed, so he soaks 10 points of damage against her, and Cecilia takes only 1.

Rolling With the Punch

You can roll with the punch if you want, to try and shave off some damage in the combat round. When your HPT is lower than the enemy, and you take damage, you can try to roll with the punch. Your base SR is a L1 SR CON, and you advance the level of the Save by 1 for every extra 5 points of damge over the first 5 points you took. If you make the roll, then you have rolled with the blow and taken less damage (equal to the difference you made the Save by) than you otherwise could have. Now you have compromised your effectiveness next turn, and must subtract the amount of damage you avoided from your next rounds' HPT. Ex: Rex is about to get pounded with 13 points and his armor only absorbs 4. That's not 10 or more, so the Save is L1, and his Dex is 19, so he needs to do a 5 or better. He rolls an 11, so he gets to reduce the damage by 6 points; he now takes only 7 hits, 3 getting through his armor. Next round, he rolls for his attack total, but must subtract 6 from the final score since he is off-balance from the last round's narrow miss!

Killing Blow

A character may attempt a killing blow, in which he/she tries to go for a critical vital area and do enough damage in one round to kill the target outright. Very hard to do, harder than a called shot, since the target is not going to comply. Make this attack as if you were doing the called shot, but the saving throw level is doubled from what it ordinarily is. If you get the blow through, you do double damage! If you fail your save, you take the Maximum hits your opponent can do to you (unless they were trying a killing blow on you, too.....!)

Mess With the Mage

The mage is casting a spell, and you want to thwart his efforts so the effect is cancelled before being brought to fruition. This is another variant on the called shot. What you want to do is make the attack as if you were doing a called shot, but using your SPD vs. the Mage's SPD as a reference. You must make a L1 SR SPD to pull this off; if you do it, you can deliver the called shot to the Mage before the spell is complete, and disrupt it. For every 5 points of SPD that the mage has over you, you must increase the difficulty of the SR by 1 Level. (Ex: you have SPD 13, the Mage is SPD 20, so to pull off a lightning strike on him to stop the spell requires a L2 SR SPD...good luck!) The wizard may still receive a Saving roll at the GM's discretion to see if he gets the spell off, anyway. This would be a L1 SR CON, increasing by 1Level for every 10 points of damage you did to him (assuming he didn't die from the attack). If the Mage makes the CON SR, then he still had the temerity to pull the spell off, and you are probably toast, anyway.

Hanging at Death’s Door

Here’s an optional rule you might like. If you’re character takes a killing blow, his actual definite state of death is equal to the negative of his Constitution score. From 1 CON to any negative number the character is unconscious, and unable to interact with the combat. Each round of combat, the character must make a L3 SR CON while his CON score is negative, but using his base, unmodified CON for the saving roll. If he makes the save (unlikely, usually) then he stabilizes and stops bleeding; his CON score is considered 0 (stable but critical). If he fails the saving roll, then he is getting worse and loses an additional negative number of CON points equal to the difference he failed the roll by. A character can fade pretty quick under these conditions.
If a friendly hand is lent to the PC, then the healer in question can attempt first aid. The level of difficulty of the saving roll on IQ is suggested as the number of negative CON points divided by 10 (so, a -13 CON wounded PC would need a L1SR IQ to affect some first aid). If successful, then the character is automatically brought to “0” CON and stabilizes until healing sets in. He will remain unconscious until he recovers enough CON.

Subdual Damage

You might find a time when you want to defeat your foe and take him captive. How would this work, without pulling your punches and hoping you don’t knock him below 0? I would suggest that you can opt for subdual damage, in which all hits delivered against your opponent are aimed at knocking him out. The damage in combat is resolved as normal, with hits going to the target as usual, but only 1/5th of the actual hits that get through your opponent’s armor actually go to his/her CON. Instead, for every 5 points of damage done, the target has to make a L1SR CON (or L2SR COn if 10 points get through, etc.) or be delivered a stunning blow that knocks the target unconscious for a number of rounds equal to the number of real points of damage that got through.
Ex: Wales is smashing away at the Iron Man Galagas, trying to take him out. Galagas decides to render Wales unconscious. He gets 16 hits through this round to Wales, who has only 6 hits of protection, so he takes 10 points of subdual damage. Only 2 points go to CON, the rest disappear, as Wales must make a L2SR CON to avoid being stunned. He has a CON of 12, and needs 13 or better. He rolls 7, so he falls unconscious for 5 rounds. Galagas bags him and hog ties the ornery elf.

Lady Venika says: "Remember these combat rules, chumps! A Good GM will kick your ever-lovin' arse with them!"