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The Forgotten Smugglers' Cave: Index of Posts

An index of posts describing the Forgotten Smugglers' Cave, an adventure for Holmes Basic characters levels 2-4.                    ...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Table: Number of Attacks and Damage Per Round

     4/4 Edit: I revised the table to change thrown weapons. In Holmes, it takes 1 round to draw a new weapon, so thrown weapons might be best represented as 1 per 2 rounds (but if the weapon is in the other hand or sheathed at the waist it could be thrown the next round).

     Above is a table aimed at reconciling the two rules in Holmes I discussed previously: 1d6 damage/weapon/round, and number of blows per round. Note that this is just one of many possible solutions to this problem. This system could also be used with pre-Greyhawk OD&D where all weapons do 1d6 per round.

     The table also lists the parrying rule from the Blue Book. What I've done here is allow two-handed weapons to parry on alternate rounds when they can't attack. This essentially gives them a -2 to AC every other round, mitigating the lack of using a shield.

    Using this table, attacks for light weapons are made by rolling two d20 simultaneously, and then a single d6 for damage, with a single hit giving 1d3 damage and two hits 1d6 damage. The reason I went with this as opposed to two separate attacks of 1d3 damage is (1) it's faster, (2) Holmes gives no guidance on how to integrate two separate blows with Dex-based initiative (so they might as well be rolled simultaneously) and (3) it brings the average damage/round for light weapons closer to standard weapons, as shown here:

     These average damage calculations are based on a normal man vs AC 9, who has a 50% chance of hitting (i.e., requires an 11 or higher on a d20). The last column to the right represents the system from the first table above. As you can see, standard and two-handed weapons do the same average damage per round. Light weapons are still favored in terms of average damage over the long run due to getting two chances of hitting per round, but it takes longer for this advantage to show since they have more chance of doing 1-3 per round than 1-6.

     A rule from the Holmes version of B2 can also be added to give longer weapons an advantage over shorter weapons; in Area 1 of the Keep (pg 8), Gygax states that a pole arm always gets first strike against a charging foe (this type of rule goes back to Chainmail). This could be generalized as longer weapons always getting first strike against a foe wielding a shorter weapon, in the round that foe moves to attack them.


  1. I feel that you will have to lower (1-3, or 1-4) the damage of "bow, sling, thrown dagger", and make the heavy crossbow do really great damage (2-12, or 3-18 even), or no one will ever want to use a crossbow.

    1. That's certainly true if you want PCs to use crossbows. Here, crossbows might only be used by those unskilled (e.g., NPC guards) with other missile weapons. Holmes rounds are only 10 secs long so I considered the rate of fire of crossbows to reflect the longer reloading time.

    2. Well, having shot light crossbows during wars in the SCA, and considering that the crossbows my unit uses are based upon simple 14th century designs, I would say that 1 shot per 10 seconds is reasonable.

      Also, I love crossbows!

      As for the rate of archery fire, have you seen this yet?:

      Amazing and wonderful at once!

    3. Thanks for the link. Awesome shooting!

      In AD&D, bows fire 2/rd, light crossbow 1/rd, heavy crossbow 1/2rd. This is actually the same ratio that Holmes used. I think it ultimately comes from the rate of fire in Chainmail.

      I realized the rate of fire for thrown weapons should actually be 1 per 2 rounds, as Holmes indicates that it takes a round to draw a new weapon.

    4. w.r.t. crossbows I would suggest rather than enhanced damage to have better odds against heavy armor (i.e. mail or plate; perhaps even dragon scale and the like). Specifically, give light crossbows a +1 to hit vs. such armor and +2 for heavy crossbows.

      Crossbows are not necessarily much more damaging than a regular bow and arrow (a little, maybe; you could have a heavy crossbow [only] do a D8 worth of damage, as an option), but have a lot of punch to get through armour.

    5. Thanks for the comment Angantyr. That's similar to how they are handled in the Greyhawk Supplement, where Heavy Crossbows have the largest bonus for hitting plate mail (+4 at short range) out of any of the missile weapons.

  2. It's typical for wizards in my own Basic-like games to start with one crossbow shot then switch to thrown daggers.

    This is a really nice job of balancing out the weapon choices and giving them each their unique flavor.

  3. I really like the innovation of having two-handed weapons automatically parry every other round. No reason why not!