Combat Rules Reminders and Basic Equipment

Basic Equipment     (Elements from the D&D Expert Rulebook.)

Garlic (vs vampires)
Holy Symbol (vs vampires)
*Holy Water Vial (vs undead and vs lycanthrope wounds in 2.6 rules)
Iron Spikes (12) and mallet (for opening or keeping closed doors, climbing etc).
Lantern (oil or candle)
Candles (for reading)
*Oil (for the lantern & monsters, including trolls. Throw it.)
Mirror, hand sized steel (to check around corners & vs gaze attack monsters).
Pole, wooden - 10' long. (to check everything possible at range).
Rations, Iron (dried) for 1 week. Weight 7 lbs
Rations, Standard for 1 week. Weight 20 lbs.
Rope + Grappling Hook.
Silver Dagger (for lycanthropes)
Herb, Belladonna (25% chance to cure lycanthropic curse within 1 hour of attack)
Twine (for lashing things together).
Tinder box
Torches 6+ (for fighting all manner of slimes & lighting oil)

*See Grenade-like missiles for damage. Note: Wizards using cantrips, or torch bearers, can light flasks of oil before they are thrown if an oily cloth is wrapped around the neck of the flask - lighting the oil when the flask breaks. Low level wizards should carry a lot of this oil on a bandolier.

Note: At low levels (1st-2nd) small Player Character parties of three to four should consider Hirelings or Henchmen to add to their numbers. The DM could run an NPC or two to round out the numbers.

Combat Rules Reminders (DMG)

The Combat Round

Each round of combat, from 6-10 seconds, a character can make full Move Action (that is either half or two thirds their normal rate: 120' and 60' feet become 60' and 40' respectively), can Attack Once, plus perform a Minor Action (such as calling out, drawing a weapon etc). If characters move at only half their full movement rate they may make their full number of attacks except for spellcasters.

Spellcasters that move in combat (at half their standard normal rate) can only move 1/3 of their combat distance and cast a spell of 1 round casting time. Spells of 6 segments or less allow 1/2 movement whilst spells of 1-2 segments allow 3/4 full movement.

Movement in Combat (p.58-59)

*Closing for melee: 1/2 or less movement rate then all melee attacks.
*Missile fire: moving up to 1/2 normal = 1/2 ROF.
*Withdrawing: 1/3 normal rate. (Version 2.6 withdrawals can be made at 1/2 the Combat Movement rate allowing full attacks. This is 30 feet in 6-10 seconds. Faster backwards movement means less attacks and the likelihood of falling.)
*Charging: Full movement plus 1/2 movement allowing one attack at the end of the charge (some weapons inflict double damage ie spear or lance). Penalties are -2 bonus to opponent's initiative, no Dexterity bonus for AC, a penalty -1 to AC and the danger of spear or polearm defenders setting to receive the charge (results in double damage upon the attacker).

Combat Round Sequence

1. Consider if surprise rolls are required (only at the start of the encounter).
2. DM determines monster actions (including spells).
3. Players decide PC actions.
4. Initiative is rolled.
5. Attacks are made in order of initiative.

Resolution. PC fighter may choose to attack Goblins but not be specific about which one. An Ogre may move in first and strike the fighter or block the attack thus the Ogre becomes the new PC target. Actions during the round may alter the course of the attacks. Pre-initiative declarations are handy for simultaneous actions of PCs & opponents.

Combat Modifiers (& are cumulative)

+1 attacker on higher ground
+2 defender is off balance
Automatic if defender is sleeping or held = death in non-combat environment.
+4 defender is stunned or prone.
+1 defender is surprised.
+2 defender is rear attacked.

Non-lethal Weapon Attacks (p.60)

If swords or axes are used with the flat of the blade the attacker is at -4 penalty to hit and the damage is 50% normal (or only 1d3 for swords & 1d4 for axes - Version 2.6 rule) and damage is 50% temporary. If hit points fall below 0 the victim is unconscious.

Overbearing Attacks (p.60)

Note: The rule for Armed opponents vs Unarmed (non-monster) Attackers: the Armed defender gains a +4 to hit and damage on closing opponents, it's 1 attack only before attackers roll to overbear.

Running Perpendicular to Missile Fire

The defender's AC gains a -4 AC bonus (+ their dexterity bonus, if unencumbered, for speed.)

Exposure Between Cover vs Missile Attacks (D&D Rules Cyclopedia)

Combat Round Segments in sight   0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  10
Penalty to attack rolls                   -10  -9  -8  -7  -6  -5  -4  -3  -2  -1  0

Taking Cover

                                      Cover (hard)           Concealment (soft)          
25% hidden                        -2 AC bonus            -1
50%                                    -4                             -2
75%                                    -7                             -3
90%                                   -10                            -4

Cover also grants saving throw bonuses versus spells that cause physical damage. 25% cover vs Fireball in front of wall (-2AC bonus) gains +2 saving throw bonus. characters with 90% cover only suffer 1/2 damage and none on a successful save (with a +10 bonus)

*Characters can also use their shields as cover against frontal missile fire (but not spells), the bonus for the area covered being: Small +3 AC, Medium + 5 AC, Large +8 to +10. Characters hiding behind their shields do not gain any bonuses for dexterity and can only move at 1/4 the normal movement rate. Characters may not use their shields to directly parry missile attacks (CFHB p.70).

Missile Weapons in Combat (Modified to version 2.6 from p.62)

Strength modifiers only apply to damage bonuses, and not to hit rolls, for thrown weapons, spears, axes, daggers etc.
Dexterity modifiers apply to the hit rolls for thrown weapons, spears, axes, daggers, etc.
Specialisation modifiers apply to the attack roll (plus ROF) while the damage bonus is only applicable within short range.
Specialisation bonuses are cumulative with Strength and Dexterity bonuses.

High quality bows will confer strength bonuses where characters have sought out tautly strung weapons. Only specially crafted bows can confer the exceptional strength damage bonus.

Non-specialised bow using characters can ready their weapon, with the arrow nocked and drawn, to fire at targets, before initiative is rolled, but this will count as an attack for the round - as opposed to being a bonus attack for specialised weapon users. Bows cannot be held drawn for more than a few moments, so the player must inform the DM of this action (such as before another character opens a door).

Grenade like Missiles (p.63)

If the attack missed, roll 1d10. See page 63 for random 10 point scatter effect of missed grenade-like items (falling at a point in a place somewhere around the intended target). When thrown at short range (10') the missed item falls 1d6 feet away, at medium range (20') the miss is 1d10 feet away, and at long range (30') the miss is 2d10 feet.

Note: Oil causes 2d6 damage then 1d6 on the subsequent round plus 1d3 splash damage in a 3 foot radius (the DMG lists this incorrectly? as diameter). Holy Water, cited in the DMG/MM, causes 1d6+1 or 2d4 damage (it's 2d6 in Version 2.6) and 2 hit points of splash damage (1d4 hp in Version 2.6) to those within a 1-2 foot radius of the target.

Boulders and Rocks as Missile Weapons (p.63)

A miss falls as per the grenade-like missile fire rules but bounces. The distance travelled, rolled separately, is calculated as twice the amount rolled on the grenade missile chart. ie a miss upon a target 10 feet away rolls 2d6 feet.

Bouncing rocks also lose 1hp of damage for every foot they bounce. ie a rock rolling 15 feet has -15 hp taken off the total. This may indicate no damage is sustained to the target.

Saving Throws (p.65-66)

*High constitution = bonus to poison saves. (Version 2.6 grants bonuses for scores of 15 or greater, rather than for 19 or greater. See Ability Scores in the main text.)
*High Wisdom = bonus to attacks versus the mind (14 Wisdom or greater).
*High intelligence = bonus immunity versus illusions (1st level illusions with 19 intelligence).
*Dexterity Defensive Adjustment is added to lightning bolt saves (p.20 PHB revised ed.) if the PC is aware of the danger. ie a score of 18 allows a +4 bonus to saving throws vs magic able to be dodged & Breath Weapons (p.65) but is not applicable to area spells. The bonus should also apply to rod, stave and wand attacks where the defender is directly facing their attacker and is acutely aware of their actions.

Magical Armour

Armour Bonuses apply to saves versus physical damage including magic. ie against fireballs, lightning, disintegrate, icestorm, acid attacks and falls but not against alteration (non-damaging) magic such as polymorph or gas or poison attacks.

Magical Items

Armour class bonuses for magical items, such as rings or bracers, are not cumulative, except when one of these items is used in conjunction with a Cloak of Protection (in Version 2.6). However, rings, anklets, cloaks of protection (etc) still confer their normal cumulative bonuses to saving throws.

Special Summary Notes on Saving Throws

Saves vs Breath Weapons gain Magical Armour Class bonus + Dexterity.
Saves vs Physical Damage vs spells/acid/falls/rock falls + any situation where a save vs physical damage is required gains the Magical Armour Bonus to the roll (+ Dexterity in most instances).

PLUS, added to the above, all saving throw bonuses conferred by Magical Protection from devices such as rings, cloaks, amulets etc, which are cumulative.

For example, a fighter with armour +3 and a protection ring +2 will gain a total +5 to saves versus fireballs.

Called Shots (p.58)

Imposes a -4 to THACO and hits a specific non-crippling target ie an object being held.

Parry (p.61)

Defenders who do not attack and only dodge are granted a -4 to AC as a flat rate (see PHB) or an AC bonus equal to 1/2 the PC's level with warriors gaining a +1 bonus (p.61). ie a 6th level mage gains a -3 AC bonus whereas a 6th level warrior gains a -4 bonus.

(DM Option: The DM can elect to have characters use one of their own attacks to parry. Various rules can be used to indicate a successful block. One is the PC must roll against a higher THACO score than their attacker. Shields confer a +2 bonus (plus any magical) to such parrying attempts- however, attack rolls are still forfeit and the AC bonus is lost against all other attackers.)

Mounted Combat (p.76)

Mounted characters gain +1 to hit creatures smaller than the mount. These opponents on foot have a -1 penalty to attack the rider (not the mount).

Mounted Combat and Missile Fire (p.76)

*Only Short Bows and light crossbows can be used. Long bows can be used but only if the archer is specialised. Heavy crossbows can be used once but not reloaded.
*If not moving full ROF is used.
*If moving ROF is reduced by 1 ie 2 per round becomes 3/2. 3/2 per round becomes 1 etc.
*THACO penalties apply if moving. Not = 0, less than 1/2 = -1, 1/2 to 3/4 = -3, 3/4+ = -5.

Natural Healing (p.74)

Hit points return at a rate of 1 per day of light activity (no combat allowed) or 3 hit points per day of bed rest (plus the character's constitution bonus per 7 days of recovery). Note: the healing proficiency can increase the natural rate adding 1 hp and 2 hit points respectively to these recovery times.

Dungeon Exploring Strategies

Be paranoid about everything, be patient, and then:

*Use a 10' pole (or long pole arm) to poke, tap, and inspect everything.
*Always look up.
*Use a mirror to look around corners.
*Roll out a weighted barrel, with ropes attached to the end to set off floor traps (although this will create a level of noise).
*Use scrying magic or other means to scout unknown areas.
*Send in Skeletons or Zombies first to set off traps.
*Include a Thief that can use the Find Traps skill.
*Include a Dwarf that can detect "stonework traps, pits and deadfalls".
*Use Detect Magic frequently.
*Use Charm Person, Change Self, Polymorph Self, or simple disguises (holy symbols/uniforms), to trick occupants of a Dungeon into aiding the party. Use subterfuge.
*Use trickery or magic to have Dungeon occupants fight each other.
*Go slowly if possible and stop if you run out of resources or useful spells.
*Stop or retreat from time to time.

Bonus suggestions:
*Extremely wise or experienced PCs might have low level Magic Using classes disguise themselves as spearmen, pages, rogues, or archers to stop them being specifically targeted by intelligent opposition in the first round of combat.
*Include Henchmen or Hirelings and have them equipped with missile fire weapons, with heavy Crossbows or Longbows and have PCs equipped similarly. Use spearmen to establish initiative winning pike walls or defensive barriers at low level. Safety, and more firepower, in numbers.

Dealing with Character Death!

Roll up two different player characters and primarily adventure with one. Provide backstories for both, either with connections or not, but have them in the same area or town. If the main PC is lost then activate the other one. As soon as the first PC is lost roll up new statistics and a backstory for a new back-up PC. Occasionally, run a side adventure with the non-active character.

If adventuring with NPCs have the player take control of an NPC in the event of their character's demise.

Also, don't be stingy with methods to Raise Dead characters or preserve their lives, but don't over do it.