Strikes and Guards Rules
Melee combat under these rules differs significantly from standard D&D/Basic Fantasy RPG. In normal D&D you make an attack roll either against your enemy’s AC (d20 rules) against your Attack Value/THAC0, adding your foe’s AC as a bonus to hit. This is true for both melée and missile combat. This isn’t a bad system, just a limited and overly simple system. So I’m adding a bit more depth to the melée portion of combat.
Under the strikes and guards rules melée combat consists of, well strikes and guards. Strikes are your basic melée attacks, while guards are the counters to them. There are three main kinds of strikes and three corresponding guards. Over head strikes or high attacks, which are automatically countered by high guards, in other words head level parries. Then there are low attacks, which are underhanded swings, or more likely upward thrusts to the center, with low guards intercepting them. Finally you have side attacks which are swings or stabs from one side or the other, which can be countered with side guards for the corresponding side. A corresponding guard automatically defeats a corresponding attack. Otherwise make a standard attack roll.
Combatants may make a number of strikes and a number of guards each attack action equal to the number of attacks he or she could normally make. All players involved in melée, plus the DM, secretly decide what strikes their characters will use, in order of use, along with the secret feint rolls for each. Then all characters have their guards and feinting strike selected secretly by those playing them, for which ever order of use they deem fit. A character has a minimum of two potential guards, but can only execute one guard per attack.
Feinting: Bluffing in combat, also known as feinting is an attempt to misdirect an opponent into failing to guard against your attack. Make a Deception check, using the highest of your Charisma, Intelligence or Dexterity, against the higher of your opponent’s Wisdom or Intelligence plus character level, which is that character’s Bluff Defense. If your feint succeeds you may feint with your chosen false strike and then attack with your true strike.
Example Battle 1: Steffan Rackham faces of off against his foe Sir Desmond Birch and three of his soldiers. So to determine order of battle both Steffan’s player and the DM make initiative rolls. Steffan’s player rolls a 2, adds his initiative bonus of -1 for a total of 1. Damn good starting place for a fight like this. The DM then makes Sir Desmond’s initiative roll and gets a 9, then adds his initiative bonus of -2 for a total of 7. Things aren’t looking good for Desmond right about now; Steffan has the drop on him. Finally the DM makes one initiative roll for Sir Desmond’s goons and get a 7.
Steffan starts at about 20 feet away before charging towards the ruthless knight and his brutish men. Since Steffan’s base speed is 40 feet and his long sword is a speed 5 weapon it only takes him five ticks to move and then attack. Because he’s attacking before his enemies can act Steffan’s foes can only guard themselves, not attack. Sir Desmond is a clever man; he has an Intelligence of 15 and Wisdom of 16. Both pretty good for a warrior. His men on the other hand, while by no means stupid, are less cunning and canny than he is. His three foot soldiers have Intelligence scores of 12 and Wisdom scores of 8-11. This gives Birch a Feint Defense of 17 (+1 for 1st character level) and his men a Feint Defense of 13 (+1 for 1st character level).
Steffan’s opts for a cleaving left strike against two of Sir Desmond’s men, so he chooses side attack – left for his true strike. For his feinting strike he decides on a downward high attack. His player makes two Deception rolls, one a 9 and the other a 6 six, for a total of 21 and 18. Steffan briefly assumes a top stance, drawing the two soldiers into a high guard, before swiftly lowering his sword and going for a left to right side swipe with the Crushing Blow maneuver and the Cleave combat option, making a single attack roll of 12+7, for a total of 19, just enough to score a hit for 16 points of slashing damage. These soldiers being lightly armored minions have 17 hit points, 13 from Constitution, with their armor only protecting them from 2 points of damage each, causing them each one wound and dropping them down to one hit point.
Strikes and Guards cards.