Unarmed Combat


It makes good sense that combat trained characters with weapons are going to inflict more damage than those who use only their hands, feet, knees, head and so on. Therefore the AD&D Version 2.6 Unarmed Combat rules follow the conservative, but well balanced, guidelines outlined in the Complete Fighter’s Handbook (or the 2nd Edition Player’s Handbook if the CFHB is unavailable).

Unarmed vs. Armed… from page 98 of the PHB:

It is important to note that individuals without a weapon who attempt to close upon armed characters automatically loose initiative. The individual with the weapon is then allowed to attack gaining a +4 to hit and damage. Unarmed characters who choose not to attack but only defend incur no such penalties.

Called Shots and Breaking Wrestling Locks ... from the CFHB

Characters using unarmed combat may elect to perform a specific maneuver using the rules for a called shot (+1 initiative penalty, -4 penalty to the THACO roll). Those trying to force wrestling holds against weapon carrying opponents should, aside from losing initiative, take double the normal damage (in addition to the +4 damage penalty). A suggested use of a called shot headlock is in stealthy non-combat attacks. DMs should note that holds may be broken via a throw, gouge, assistance, or a successful weapons strike - once wrestling combat is engaged - and only small weapons may be used according to the PHB. (Throw or gouge maneuvers for, those held in a lock, may be more easily attempted via a called shot.)

The CFHB also allows for strength checks (see Grab maneuver) to be made in order to break a hold, where opponents roll under their score and compare results. The character with the greatest difference wins. Exceptional strength scores should have +2 points afforded for each percentage group. Any draw is resolved in favour of the stronger character.
Example: Champo has a Strength of 18/65 and is being held by Rax with a Strength of 14. Champo rolls a 10 while Rax rolls a 3. Although Rax rolled very low, the difference between his strength score is 11, while Champo's difference is 14 and he breaks free. If Rax was a specialist wrestler his strength score would be calculated as if it were 16.

Martial Arts:

The Martial Arts system employed by Version 2.6 is the same as that appearing in the CFHB with two additions; A Martial Artist’s unarmed AC gains a +1 bonus (no shield allowed), and a Martial Arts Specialist (see CFHB) may choose to learn Martial Arts Proficiencies (modified from the Complete Ninja’s HB). If the DM elects to use the Advanced Martial Arts rules from the Complete Ninja’s Hand Book he or she is advised to adjust his or her campaign rules accordingly.

Martial Arts Proficiencies:

A Martial Arts Specialist may learn any or all of the following proficiencies. Unless otherwise noted these abilities function regardless of whether the Martial Artist is armed or unarmed. Furthermore the spell-like powers conferred through many of these proficiencies are “mystic” and non-magical in nature despite their similarities to certain spell effects. Each skill requires a teacher and 3 months of intensive training for each proficiency slot cost. Both weapon and non-weapon proficiency slots can be spent to gain proficiencies (see Table 1).

TABLE 1: Martial Arts Proficiencies
Skill:                     Cost                        Time spent in training with master
1.Meditation             1  slot                                   3 months
2.Weapon Use         1  slot                                    3 months
3.All Around sight     1  slot                                    3 months
4.Mental resistance   1  slot                                   3 months
5.Chi Power             2  slots                                  6 months
6.Blindfighting           2  slots                                  6 months
7.Missile Deflection   2 slots                                   6 months
8.Iron Skin               2  slots                                  6 months
9.Levitation              2   slots                                 6 months

1. Meditation – This ability allows the Martial Artist to enter a mental state in which he can focus and regain his energies. For each hour the character spends in uninterrupted meditation, he gets as much rest as two hours of sleep. While meditating, the character is oblivious to hunger, thirst, heat and cold (but he can still take damage from heat and cold based attacks). The meditating character also remains conscious and aware of his surroundings, and suffers no penalties on surprise or initiative rolls.
2. Weapon Use – This ability allows the Martial Artist to retain his martial arts +1 AC bonus when using a melee weapon or shield. This ability does not accumulate with other fighting styles that confer an AC bonus.
3. All Around Sight – The character’s training makes him more attuned to his immediate surroundings. He is able to detect opponents on all sides, provided they are not invisible. The character can never be struck from behind or suffer a penalty from a rear attack. This manoeuvre is constantly in effect.
4. Mental Resistance – The mental exercises and ordeals of the Martial Artist’s training have toughened and strengthened his will. He receives a +2 bonus on all saving throws vs. the mind. This includes charms, illusions and hold spells. This ability is constantly in effect.
5. Chi Power – With this ability the Martial Artist summons his Chi (the inner life-force energy) to make attacks upon monsters that could only be hit through magic and magical weapon use. However, no additional damage is conferred, only the ability to hit such opponents (see Table 2.) The Chi Power is effective through barehanded or non-magical weapon attacks. At levels 1-4 the character is able to damage fell creatures that can only be struck by silver, cold iron or those that enjoy a similar unique immunity

TABLE 2: Chi Attacks
Character Level                  Character Hits as a…
1-4                                magical weapon/silver/iron/etc.
5-9                                       +1 magical weapon
10-14                                   +2 magical weapon
15-19                                   +3 magical weapon
20                                        +4 magical weapon

6. Blindfighting – Under a master’s guidance the Martial Artist has trained for long periods wearing a blindfold or in darkened rooms, gaining the ability to detect foes with senses other than sight. The character suffers only a –1 (or –2) penalty when fighting in darkness, when blinded or when faced by invisible opponents. However, the presence of a silence spell renders the character effectively blind. This ability is constantly in effect.
7. Missile Deflection - A trained Martial Artist can instinctively dodge thrown weapons and missiles that would otherwise hit. Every 5 levels a trained Martial Artist may dodge an additional attack; levels 1-5: 1 attack, 6-10: 2 attacks, 11-15: 3 attacks, 16+ 4 attacks. A successful saving throw vs. breath weapon is required.
8. Iron Skin – Rigorous physical training has toughened the Martial Artist’s muscles to the strength of iron. The character’s armour class is improved by 2, but only while not wearing any type of armour.
9. Levitation – This is perhaps the rarest of all the Martial Arts skills because it requires the utmost concentration and mental discipline. Daily the Martial Artist practices to make his body feel lighter, using mental power to negate his own weight. Finally, the character succeeds and can levitate for a number of rounds equal to his level. This manoeuvre requires one turn of concentration before it takes effect. Thereafter the character can move up, down or sideways at the rate of 5 feet per round. He can take no actions while levitating and will fall to the ground if his concentration is broken. On completion of the levitation the character must rest for one round before taking any other action.

Martial Arts and Weapon Usage:

When attacking with a weapon a Martial Artist’s attacks per round are calculated by their class and not subject to their martial arts attacks per round.

Martial Arts & Weapon Specialisation, Expertise and Partial Specialisation:

At the DM’s discretion Martial Arts teachers (Masters) may teach weapon Specialisation, Expertise or Partial Specialisation to characters of any class provided they have had training in Martial Arts. The cost to learn these weapon skills should be 2 slots. Only in exceptional circumstances should this training be allowed. The process should be long and rigorous with a reasonable chance of failure. The specific weapon to be “mastered” must be one in which the teacher is already highly skilled. The recommended training time for characters not normally allowed these sorts of benefits (non-warriors) is between 3-6 months. The use of magical aids (a talisman), so that this type of training can eventually be removed or made temporary, is recommended.