SPAR (System of Parry And Riposte)

Copyright Robin Johnson © 2008

Edited by Mario Butter for The Guild Companion

"I enjoy large, sprawling outdoor combats with lots of maneuvering, terrain, spellcasting, and fighting."

Introduction

When I bought my first Arms Law set a short lifetime ago, I was immediately enchanted with the parry system. The idea that attack and defense skill were intertwined is so intuitive and obvious, I was surprised that most systems that came later totally ignored the concept. And for many years I was perfectly happy taking a few moments or seconds or a couple of minutes to determine my character's optimal OB and DB for a particular round. Admittedly, I was bothered by the lack of a parry-riposte mechanism that would capture the flavor of real sword fighting. But the rounds were long and so I was relatively happy with the fact it was all an abstraction anyway -- which of course it is. Then again, the criticals were just so personal and vibrant -- it was disappointing that the mechanic of choosing attack and defense seemed so not personal nor vibrant -- just cold tactical probability management.

This is not a complaint about lack of realism. If I wanted realism, I would complain bitterly about rules allowing fire breathing dragons, wizards and vampires. My complaint is that I want the combat round choices to seem more natural and instinctive. If they were, I think it would add another element of vibrancy that would seem bound to increase the joy I feel from role-playing combat.

Let me delve a little deeper into what I mean by natural and instinctive. Just my own experiences in construction, competitive sports, semi-pro paintball, fencing, and even video arcades have taught me that most successful defensive reactions in real situations are reflexive and instinctive depending on the talent, strength and skill I could muster. Talking with other people, general observation, and reading others' experiences, I feel strongly that my experience is not unusual and that most people feel defensive reactions are very reflexive -- no thinking required. In fact, I think that it is safe to argue that successful defense hinges on the ability to read the situation and react instantly precisely because there is no time for prefrontal cortex intervention.

This has a few consequences. First, disguising the nature or timing of an aggressive action is often critical to beating defensive reactions. Second, a person out of position or unbalanced has difficulty reacting quickly. The most likely reasons for being out of position or unbalanced is that the person committed either an overly aggressive action or got faked out and committed to an action too early. This is why the riposte is so effective. Third, a number of actions are designed to achieve situation number two. Fourth, an effective aggressor can force the defender to expend all effort in defensive reactions precluding any chance of a riposte or counterattack. In military parlance, this would be called taking the initiative. In fencing and competitive sports, it is called pressing the attack.

Clearly, I purpose to present what I believe is a solution to my complaint. But instead of just presenting the System of Parry And Riposte (SPAR) Rules and trying to explain them with some designer notes, I'd like to beg the reader's indulgence and allow me to make some observations about combat in HARP and how the SPAR rules evolved.

One of the few quibbles I have with the HARP combat system is that Initiative is determined after actions (including allocation of OB/DB) have been chosen. It's a perfectly reasonable way of running a combat round -- it just shouldn't be called Initiative. If you don't know you have Initiative when choosing your action due to a high element of chance, it should be called Relatively Random Effectiveness Moment instead. But with a wink, I'll continue to call it Initiative.

Since Initiative (Relatively Random Effectiveness Moment) is determined after actions are chosen, players must choose the relative balance between offense and defense secretly without knowing when their attack chance will be. This has many beneficial aspects including the element of surprise and produces very reasonable outcomes. The problem is that it seems to effectively exclude instinctive and reflexive defensive choices. It also makes it difficult to represent the notion of "pressing the attack". Unless the defender is already in deep trouble, an aggressor can only rarely be certain of having much better than a 60% chance of actually having the initiative and so would be extremely foolish to actually "press the attack" by over allocating to offense. This obstacle will have to be overcome to achieve my goal of instinctive and reflexive defensive actions.

In the last year, I wanted to simplify the combat round. I enjoy large, sprawling outdoor combats with lots of maneuvering, terrain, spellcasting, and fighting. Rolling initiative and determining OB/DB allocations for 20+ combatants every round can be a bear to manage however. Naturally, there are shortcuts and game aid approaches using action cards, simplistic OB/DB allocation rules (full attack, attack, half attack, attack, full defense) and so forth to make things more manageable. But anything that made simplifying the selection of combat actions without making everything too abstract would be welcome.

For that reason, and that reason alone, I decided to come up with a faster and more natural way of choosing OB/DB. Characters declare actions as normal but not their OB/DB allocations. Then after normal Initiative determination, characters simply attack using however much of their unused OB they wished at the moment of attack. After the attack roll is made with all relevant bonuses and static defense fully applied (armor, quickness, shield and magical equivalents), then the defender can declare parry with as much unused OB as they wanted to devote to defense -- typically this would mean applying enough to avoid injury. Then when the defender's initiative moment arrived they could use any remaining OB to make their attack and the first attacker would apply any remaining OB to parry as well.

Initially, I was very surprised at how well this worked. Immediately, the rounds became more fast-paced and seemingly more "realistic". Choices became much more natural based on the "real" situation rather than complex probability estimation. Only the characters with the higher Initiative have to make a math decision and that decision is usually fairly easy -- press the advantage or hold back. The defender reacts instinctively. If faced with a strong attack, the defender throws everything into the parry to avoid an injury. If the attack is weak, the defender gets to make a strong attack after subtracting enough parry to blunt the attack.

Unintentionally, I had created a simple and natural way to represent a riposte. While pleased with myself, we quickly discovered that having a higher Initiative was often a bad thing. It most cases, it was better to attack last since no riposte to a weak attack or fumble would be forthcoming. This is not unrealistic. In fencing, ripostes score a lot of points, so fencers try to setup a chance to parry and riposte. The solution was to add the combat action, "Yield". A character may yield the first attack opportunity to the character's foe(s). The character parries as normal and then can attack after all foe(s) have attacked. It should be noted that those characters don't actually increase their Initiative score -- they just get first attack opportunity. But if the foe(s) all chose to Yield as well, then no attacks -- only intimidating stares, fakes, insults and foot stomps occur that round. This now becomes a natural combat action to choose and removes the potential disadvantage from the character with the higher potential Initiative.

This success inspired me to try and solve the "press the attack" notion I desired. So I dusted off two concepts I had thought up years ago in a different self-written game system without recognizing its value fully to represent this notion. The two concepts are "forcing the action" and "retreating". In fencing, a fencer faced with a strong attack will give ground and give up their chance to attack to avoid being touched. This is a natural defensive action in response to a strong attack. Roughly speaking, the rule works like this: the character must either have cover for missiles or be able to retreat 2 meters (5') for melee. The character then gets a decent +25 defensive bonus against all attacks on top of all other defense. Besides having to retreat, the retreating character is penalized by losing any chance to attack later in that round, more importantly in the following round cannot move other than to retreat again, suffers a major Initiative penalty and has a limited set of combat actions allowed. The attacker can either follow-up to stay engaged or take advantage of the space and time created next round to move in another direction, attack another character or do some other one round action without interference from the retreating character. Typically, characters would only retreat to avoid stun, a penalty, a serious amount of hits, bleeding damage, or more tactically to draw their foe out of position or withdraw from battle.

The ability to retreat would seem to upset the balance in the combat charts. To correct that, a character "forcing the action" gets a +25 attack bonus. Only a character with the higher Initiative and who chooses to use 50% or more of their offensive bonus can qualify for the bonus -- otherwise they aren't really pressing the attack. This exactly cancels the retreat bonus -- and so by pressing the attack a character is able to force another character back and limit the defender's options in the next round. This avoids the objection I raised earlier about pressing the attack, since the bonus gets applied automatically if the character has initiative and uses 50% or more of their offensive bonus. It does entail an element of calculated risk since a fumble or poor attack roll could leave the aggressor open to an effective riposte.

This also worked much better than I anticipated. Characters could really "press the attack" effectively in a natural way. At the same time, characters have additional, natural defensive options with natural consequences. One of the more interesting effects is the ability of a powerful warrior or creature to fight multiple foes in a way that produces vibrant outcomes. A powerful warrior or creature can force a foe to retreat without having to actually disable the foe and gain a momentary one round advantage to press the attack elsewhere or maneuver into a more favorable position. This results in a lot of movement in and out of melee contact in a very natural way.

These innovations have a number of obvious consequences that are good but create some additional mechanical problems that have to be addressed. It turns out, those problems can be elegantly handled by adding the aforementioned combat actions, modifying or discarding some others and slightly restructuring combat resolution. To my surprise and great pleasure, I feel the changes create an elegant, natural way to make the mechanic of choosing attack and defense fast, vibrant and personal.

SPAR Rules

These rules supplement the HARP combat rules. All the HARP combat system variations that use combat actions should be completely compatible with these rules since the changes are all encapsulated in the combat actions. Once a final modified attack roll has been determined, damage resolution is otherwise unchanged and hence dependent on the HARP combat system being used. The combat action changes presented in these rules should be largely compatible with all other combat actions in the Basic Rules and Martial Law except as noted.

The actions marked with asterisks may be declared at the appropriate moment in the round. The non-marked actions must be declared at the beginning of the round like a normal combat action. Actions like Subdual and Power Strike which modify a regular Melee action (see below) must be declared in advance as normal.

New Actions: Defensive Posture, Feint*, Follow-up*, Force the Action*, Retreat*, and Yield

Modified Actions: Melee, Dodge*, Parry*

Obsolete Actions: Full Parry, Multiple Parry, Sudden Dodge

Combat Resolution Procedure (for purposes of clarity):

1. Secretly declare actions

2. Determine Initiative

3. Characters execute actions in Initiative order.

3.1. For actions that result in a Melee attack...

3.2. Character with Initiative declares target and OB for the attack and may declare Force the Action if allowed.

3.3. Make the attack roll adding OB and subtracting attack modifiers. Then apply static defense (armor, quickness, spell, position, cover etc).

3.4. Declare, resolve and apply instantaneous spell defenses (e.g. Bladeturn and Deflections).

3.5. Elective defenses

3.5.1. Defending Character may Dodge (if allowed). Move Dodging character a square or hex (1 meter) in a direction away from the attack (left, right, back).

3.5.2. Defending Character may use a Shield or Parry Weapon (if allowed).

3.5.3. Defending Character may Parry (if allowed) with any unallocated OB.

3.5.4. Defending Character may Retreat (if allowed).

3.5.5. If Defending Character has Retreated during the round apply defensive bonus of +25.

3.6. Determine attack result and apply to defending character.

4. Retreat any characters that declared a retreat during the round. Characters in contact with retreating character may follow-up (if allowed).

5. Execute second attacks resulting from Feints.

Defensive Posture: The character is taking a "defensive" stance against all attacks. The character may not attack, dodge or retreat but gains a DB +25 against all attacks -- including missile and elemental attacks. The character may otherwise parry as normal.

This allows a character to hold a position defensively without retreating (and without the flexibility).

Dodge (aka Sidestep)*: Character rolls a normal dodge (2x Agility bonus or Acrobatics/Tumbling skill on maneuver table) +50. A character making a dodge may not retreat, parry, use a shield (including magic shields) or make an attack in the same round. A dodging character may use magic defenses. The Dodge bonus can only be used against attacks from a single foe. A character may only Dodge once per round. If the character that dodges is not injured by the attack they may still complete any standard non-melee action previously announced. The effect of this action is to deftly sidestep around the melee attack without breaking concentration.

The changes to Parry action and the addition of the Retreat action make the Sudden Dodge action totally obsolete and the old version of Dodge not particularly useful. The new version should be more properly called Sidestep. This allows a very agile character to avoid weak attacks while trying to do something important like open a door, cast a spell, pull out an item from a pack or pocket, et cetera.

Follow-up*: A character in melee contact with a foe that retreats may follow-up that foe without penalty provided the character did not retreat, suffer stun, fumble or is in contact with any foe that did not retreat. If the character does not follow-up, during the next round, the attacker may freely turn to engage other foes or take one round actions since the retreating character will be unable to advance back into combat that round. If the attacker did not follow up, to re-engage the retreating character they will need to Press and Melee with OB penalties applied as normal.

Force the Action*: A character with higher Initiative than all foes in melee contact with that character can declare Force the Action if that character makes a normal type attack using more than 50% of OB. Such a character receives a +25 bonus and the usual situational modifiers. A character may combine this action with other regular combat actions like Charge, Mounted Charge, Parry, Power Strike, Move and Attack or Subdual. A player may not first Yield and then Force the Action in the same round.

This is necessary to balance against the retreat bonus and to encourage aggressive behavior.

Melee: This indicates the character will attack when they have the opportunity. A character must have remaining unallocated OB and cannot be barred from making an attack due to having Retreated, Dodged, or having been stunned. When the character's turn comes to attack, the character chooses how much unused OB to allocate to the attack and the target if multiple foes are in contact and then make the attack roll applying all modifiers as appropriate.

The ability to select OB and target at resolution time is a critical aspect of the SPAR rules.

Parry*: Instead of deciding how much OB to apply as parry when declaring combat actions, the character waits until after the combat roll is made and static defense is applied. The character may then apply available, unused OB and shield/parry weapons. This is done individually for each successful attack.

This essentially discards the Multiple Parry and Full Parry combat actions by changing how and when parry defense is applied. Since multiple foes don't have to commit their OB/DB allocations when actions are declared, the defender is at a severe disadvantage already so allowing Multiple Parry without penalty seems very reasonable.

Retreat*: After all other defenses have been applied, a character may elect to "Retreat". This gives a further DB bonus of +25. To retreat, a character must be able to physically retreat two meters or step behind cover. A character may not retreat if they have Dodged (and vice-versa). A downed or charging character may not retreat -- but a stunned character may retreat. A character attacked from the rear may not retreat. For the next round, a retreating character suffers a major Initiative penalty of -20. A character that retreats counts as having retreated from all further attacks that round coming from the front or sides. A retreating character may not move next round except to retreat again. For the next round, a retreating character is limited to choosing Melee, Yield or Defensive Posture and may only use Parry, Retreat or Dodge. A character retreating may not attack later in the round. A character may retreat against missile attacks. Resolve all other attacks against the retreating character before doing the actual retreat and follow-ups. At a character's Initiative moment, a character may declare a Retreat even if not yet attacked.

Allowing a stunned character to Retreat might be a bit unrealistic, but if a character can still parry and stand up -- the character might be able to stagger backwards just from the momentum and dire need.

Yield: A character may yield the first attack opportunity to his/her foes. If all foes also yield or otherwise did not declare an attack against the character, then the yielding character cannot attack any of those foes this round -- the character is only allowed to make intimidating stares and threatening gestures. Otherwise, the yielding character then parries as normal and then if entitled may attack normally any foe, that declared an attack against the character, with remaining OB after all other attacks have been completed.

Unless a character wants to force the action, do something fancy or is in a rush, this is often a good choice especially against aggressive foes.

New Advanced Combat Action (Character must have 20+ ranks in weapon skill):

Feint*: If a character has higher Initiative than all foes in melee contact with that character, and if that character declared just a regular Melee attack with 50% or LESS of normal OB (it is a feint), after all other declared attacks are resolved that character will have the opportunity to declare a Feint if the character qualifies. The character is qualified if still in contact with the same foe attacked earlier in the round, has at least 50% of normal OB remaining and the character did not suffer an injury, fumble, use a defensive spell or retreat earlier in the round. Similar to Two Weapon Combo second attacks, the foe defends the second attack using all previously allocated defenses deployed against the first attack and may allocate unused OB for additional parry and may declare any additional undeclared defensive actions that would normally be allowed.

This isn't that impressive but can induce an otherwise weak foe to try an attack that gets parried aside for a potentially lethal riposte.

Revised Initiative Modifiers: (* - Denotes new modifier)

*Retreated previous round -20
*Fumbled previous round -20
*For each medium+ injury suffered previous round -10
*For each light injury suffered previous round -5
*One or more foes retreated previous round +5
*Forced the Action previous round +5
Wounded 50+% -25
Surprised -20
Stunned -20
*Each PP for a spell -1
*Each round spell readied without being cast +5
Shield -5
Unready Weapon -10
Two Handed Weapon -5
Two Weapon Combination +5
Pole Arm (outside melee range) +10
Pole Arm (within melee range) -10
Lightly Encumbered -5
Medium Encumbered -10
Heavily Encumbered -15

The purpose of the additional modifiers is to make Initiative "more certain" under most natural circumstances. This allows characters who "feel" the Initiative to make better choices and exploit the upper hand naturally. Using these modifiers creates a natural ebb and flow where a character "winning" the fight can keep the Initiative unless they stumble.

Example of Play

(In Two Parts: First using Basic Rules Combat and Second using Hack N Slash)

Bonecrusher Bart (Warrior Mage - Level 10, Broadsword +10 OB 125, Quickness +10, DB 20, Initiative 18, Hits 100, PP 90) and his trusty sidekick Dogface Dan (Ranger -- Level 4, Quarterstaff +10 OB 85, Quickness +6 DB 32, Initiative 14, Hits 80) are out in a meadow picking wildflowers for Bart's mother as a gift for her birthday. Suddenly, four crazed Goblins burst into the clearing and charge straight at them wielding battleaxes. While not particularly surprised, Bart and Dan weren't exactly expecting an encounter...

The Goblins have to cover 25 meters to actually reach them. So Bart and Dan have one or possibly two rounds to react before the Goblins reach them. These are common Buk Goblins, Initiative 15, Weapon 50, DB 40 (No shield). Hits 70.

Part One Using Basic Rules Combat

Round 1

Bart decides to cast Steel Skin +40 for 12 PP for 40 rounds. Dan grabs his Quarterstaff and moves closer to Bart. Bart's spell works. The Goblins move 12 meters closer and slow for a moment. Apparently, they weren't expecting Bart and Dan either.

Round 2

Bart draws his broadsword.

Dan casts Boost Quickness +5 for 7PP for 5 rounds/per rank for 35 rounds increasing his DB to 42 and Initiative to 19

Goblins move 6 meters closer arrayed abreast.

Round 3

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 18 + 10 = 28

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 8 + [2HW] = 22

Goblin Bofo declares Charge against Bart. Initiative 15 + 9 + [2HW] = 19

Goblin Cujul declares Charge against Bart. Initiative 15 + 10 + [2HW] = 20

Goblin Makur declares Charge against Dan. Initiative 15 + 2 + [2HW] = 12

Goblin Urkela declares Charge against Dan. Initiative 15 + 7 + [2HW] = 17

All Goblins will get a +21/-21 OB/DB adjustment for charging.

Goblin Cujul attacks using OB 40 + 21 = 61 (Bart has higher Initiative so Goblin Bofo cannot declare Force the Action). Bart has 60 static DB. Goblin rolls a 68 + 61 -- 60 = 69. Bart doesn't like shedding blood (his own anyway) and declares Parry + 69. So the Goblin misses.

Goblin Bofo attacks using OB 40 + 21 = 61. Goblin rolls a 18 + 61 -- 60 = 19. Bart declares Parry +19. So the Goblin misses.

Bart now has 37 OB remaining and takes a Melee attack versus Goblin Cujul. The Goblin has 40 -- 21 = 19 static defense. Bart rolls a 43 + 37 -- 19 = 71. The Goblin uses his remaining 10 OB to parry (Goblin cannot retreat since he was charging) -- giving a result of 61 - "The idiot used his arm to parry. Foe takes 18 Hits, is stunned 1 round, and is at -10". Ow. Goblin fails to resist stun. Goblin Cujul Weapon OB is now 40.

Goblin Urkela attacks using OB 40 + 21 = 61. Dan has 42 static DB. Goblin rolls a 83 + 61 -- 42 = 101. Uh-oh. Dan decides he's going to Parry +50 AND Retreat +25. Final roll 26 + [Large Weapon] = 36. "Mighty blow breaks a rib. 12 hits." Ouch.

Goblin Makur attacks using OB 50 (he knows Dan can't attack since he retreated) + 21 = 71. Goblin rolls a 68 + 71 -- 42 = 97. Dan decides to Parry +35 and applies the Retreat +25 bonus. So final roll is 97 -- 60 + [Large Weapon] = 47. "Foe takes 14 hits and is at -5".

Dan is retreated 2 meters and both Goblins decide to Follow-up. Dan is not happy. Due to the -5 his DB is now 37. Dan has taken 26 hits and his OB is now 80.

Round 4

Bart sees that Dan is hurting and decides to dispatch the Goblins as fast as possible. He declares Melee and Power Strike with intent to attack Goblin Bofo since Goblin Cujul is stunned. Initiative 18 + 6 = 24.

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 2 + [Injury] + [2HW] + [Retreated] = -14

Goblin Bofo declares Melee against Bart. Initiative 15 + 7 + [2HW] = 17

Goblin Cujul declares Parry due to stun. Initiative 15 + 6 + [Stunned] + [2HW] = -4

Goblin Makur declares Melee against Dan. Initiative 15 + 2 + [Foe retreated] + [2HW] = 17

Goblin Urkela declares Melee against Dan. Initiative 15 + 10 + [Foe retreated] + [2HW] = 25

Goblin Urkela goes first and attacks using OB 40 and has Initiative so Forces the Action for a total of 65. Goblin rolls a 14 + 65 -- 37 = 42. Dan parries for 42. Goblin misses.

Bart goes next. He attacks Goblin Bofo with the Initiative and uses full OB 125 + [Power Strike] + [Force the Action]= 130. Bart rolls a 82 + 130 -- 40 = 172. The Goblin parries for its life +50 and Retreats +25. Result 97 + [Power Strike] for 107. "You sever foe's leg muscles and tendons, and he's down and dying. Foe takes 34 Hits, is stunned 8 rounds, and bleeds 3 per round. Death comes in 8 rounds." Bonecrusher indeed.

Goblin Makur attacks Dan with the Initiative using OB 40 + [Force the Action]= 65. The Goblin rolls a 43 + 65 -- 37= 71. Dan parries for remaining 38 and decides to Retreat wishing he had done so on Goblin Urkela's attack. Final result 8 + [Large] = 18. "Nice rib slash. 7 hits". Dan has now taken 33 hits.

Dan retreats and both #3 and #4 follow-up. Bart doesn't bother to follow-up as Goblin Bofo falls face down at his feet. Goblin Cujul's 1 round of stun wears off.

Round 5

Bart declares Press and Melee against the flank of Goblin Makur. Initiative 18 + 3 + [Foe retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 31.

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 3 + [2HW] + [Injury] + [Retreated] = -8

Goblin Bofo is down and dying.

Goblin Cujul declares Melee to attack Bart's now exposed flank. Initiative 15 + 6 = 21

Goblin Makur declares Melee against Dan. Initiative 15 + 6 + [2HW]+ [Foe retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 26

Goblin Urkela declares Melee against Dan. Initiative 15 + 6 + [2HW]+ [Foe retreated] + [Forced the Action]= 26

Bart goes first and is wary of Goblin Cujul and so only attacks Goblin Makur with the Initiative OB 70 + [Flank] + [Force the Action] + [Press and Melee]= 105. Bart rolls a 25 + 105 -- 40 = 90. Goblin Makur parries +50 and retreats +25 for a result of 15 - "Nice rib slash. 7 hits."

Goblin Urkela attacks Dan now mindful that Goblin Makur won't and so goes with 40 + [Force the Action] = 65. Goblin Urkela rolls a 20 + 65 -- 37= 48. Dan parries for 48 and the Goblin misses.

Goblin Cujul attacks Bart. OB 40 plus flank minus move. Goblin rolls a 33 + 40 + 15 -- 5 -- 60= 23. Bart has 55 OB remaining so easily parries the attack. Goblin misses.

Dan now can make his first attack and goes for Goblin Urkela with OB 32. Dan rolls a 84 + 32 -- 40 = 76. The Goblin has 10 OB left and parries. And then decides to Retreat. Final Result 76 -- 35 + [Large] = 51. "You broke his collarbone. Foe takes 15 Hits, is stunned 1 round, and is at -10." Goblin fails to resist stun. Goblin Urkela has now taken 15 hits and his OB is 40.

Goblin Makur and Goblin Urkela both retreat. Dan follows up against Goblin Urkela. Bart turns to face Goblin Cujul.

Round 6

Bart declares Melee against Goblin Cujul. Initiative 18 + 4 + [Foe retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 32.

Dan declares Melee against Goblin Urkela. Initiative 19 + 10 + [2HW] + [Foe retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 34.

Goblin Cujul declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 6 + [2HW] = 16.

Goblin Makur yields and essentially does nothing.

Goblin Urkela declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 3 + [2HW] + [Injury] + [Retreated] + [Stunned] = -37.

Dan has the Initiative having finally gained the upper hand. Dan uses OB 80 + [Force the Action] + [Stunned] and rolls a 42 + 125 -- 40 = 127. Goblin Urkela parries for 20 and retreats. Final result is 127 -- 45 + [Large] = 92. "Snap, crackle, pop—that's 3 broken bones. Foe takes 25 Hits, is stunned 4 rounds, and bleeds 1 per round." Goblin Urkela fails to resist stun. Goblin Urkela has now taken 40 hits.

Bart has the Initiative and uses OB 100 (reserving 25 for defense should he fumble) and Forces the Action. Bart rolls a 67 + 125 -- 40 = 152. The Goblin Cujul parries with everything for 40 and retreats for 25. Final result is 87. "Foe takes 25 hits, is stunned 2 rounds, bleeds 1 per round and is at -20." Goblin Cujul has now taken 43 hits. Goblin fails to resist stun. Goblin Cujul OB is now 20.

Goblin Cujul and Goblin Urkela retreat. Bart turns to deal with Goblin Makur. Dan follows up Goblin Urkela.

Round 7

Bart declares Press and Melee against Goblin Makur. Initiative 18 + 6 + [Foe Retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 34.

Dan declares Melee/Power Strike against Goblin Urkela. Initiative 19 + 9 + [2HW] + [Forced the Action] + [Foe Retreated] = 33.

Goblin Cujul declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 8 + [2HW] + [Retreated] + [Stunned] = -22.

Goblin Makur declares Press and Melee against Bart. Initiative 15 + 5 + [2HW] = 15.

Goblin Urkela declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 9 + [2HW] + [Injury] + [Retreated] + [Stunned] = -26.

Bart takes a conservative OB 90 with the Initiative and Forces the Action. Bart rolls a 95 + 115 -- 40= 170. Goblin Makur parries with 50 and retreats for 25. Final result 95. "Your slash opens a vein. Not a pretty sight. Foe takes 27 Hits, is stunned 3 rounds, and bleeds 2 per round." Goblin Makur fails to resist stun and has now taken 34 hits.

Dan attacks OB 80 + [Force the Action] + [Stunned] + [Power Strike]= 105. Dan rolls a 75 + 105 -- 40 = 140. Goblin Urkela parries for 20 and retreats for 25. Final result is 95 + [Large] + [Power Strike] = 115. "Chest wound! Foe takes 33 Hits and bleeds 2 per round. He's also unconscious for 6 hours before he dies."

Goblin Cujul bleeds for 1 and has now taken 44 hits and 1 round of stun remaining.

Dan turns to face Goblin Makur. Bart turns back to face Goblin Cujul.

Round 8

Bart declares Melee/Power Strike against Goblin Cujul. Initiative 18 + 6 + [Foe Retreated] + [Forced the Action] = 34.

Dan declares Melee/Power Strike against Goblin Makur. Initiative 19 + 8 + [Foe Retreated] + [2HW] + [Forced the Action] = 32.

Goblin Cujul declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 1 + [2HW] + [Stunned] = -9.

Goblin Makur declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 4 + [2HW] + [Stunned] + [Retreated] + [Injury] = -31.

Bart goes first against Goblin Cujul. Full OB 125 + [Power Strike] + [Force the Action] + [Stunned] = 150. Bart rolls a 16 + 150 -- 40 = 126. Goblin Cujul can only half-parry for 10 and Retreats. Final result is 126 - 35 + [Power Strike] = 101. "Major head wound. Foe takes 31 Hits, is stunned 5 rounds, bleeds 2 per round, and is at -30." Goblin Cujul has now taken 75 hits and falls over unconscious.

Dan goes next against Goblin Makur. Full OB 80 + [Power Strike] + [Force the Action] + [Stunned] = 105

Dan rolls a 88 + 105 -- 40 = 153. Goblin Makur has no parry left but gets the retreat bonus. Final result is 153 - 25 + [Large] + [Power Strike] = 120 MAX. "Yuck— are those brains? You crushed his skull and he's dead. Foe takes 39 Hits."

Round 9

Bart finishes off Goblin Cujul.

Round 10

Bart finishes off Goblin Urkela

Part Two Using Hack N Slash

Round 11

Bart and Dan are startled by a loud roar coming from the same direction as the crazed Goblins arrived. A blood soaked, angry Jethro the Ogre (Ogre -- Level 8, Large War Club OB 110LK, DB 90, Initiative 15, Hits L240) strides into the meadow. Jethro is wielding a Large War Club and despite the blood doesn't appear to be hurting. Bart and Dan look at each other realizing why the Goblins were crazed. Apparently they were fleeing this guy.

Round 12

Bart casts a Hammerstrike 4x for 9 PP on his broadsword. Duration 26 rounds.

Dan backs up.

Jethro begins to advance swinging the club menacingly. They are now 20 meters apart.

Round 13

Bart orders Dan to stay behind and wait for an opportunity.

Jethro advances closer. They are now 16 meters apart.

Round 14

Surprised at the Ogre's slow advance, Bart takes the opportunity to cast a Boost Quickness + 10 for 11 PP. His DB is now 80. Initiative 28. Duration 30 rounds.

Dan frets.

Jethro finally realizes that Bart is casting spells and picks up pace. They are now 10 meters apart.

Round 15

Jethro declares charge against Bart. Initiative 15 + 5 = 20.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 9 = 37.

Dan cowers.

Bart waits.

Jethro charges up the 10 meters getting +30/-30. Jethro sees the dead Goblins and fearless Bart but is unimpressed and just goes all out. OB 140. Jethro does not have Initiative so can't claim force the action. Jethro rolls a 61 + 140 -- 80 = 121. Bart parries with 121 and the attack misses. Jethro is now impressed.

Bart has but 4 OB left but is allowed to attack. Bart rolls a 24 + 4 -- 60 = Miss.

Round 16

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 8 = 23.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 6 = 34.

Attacking first, Jethro is wary and so uses OB 70. Jethro rolls a 16 + 70 -- 80 = 6. Bart sniggers and parries for 6. Attack misses.

Bart ripostes for OB 119. Bart rolls a 49 + 119 -- 90 = 78. Jethro parries for 40. Final result is 38 yielding an 8D. Hammerstrike makes that a 32D. "Good blow, but this could take a while. He takes +10 hits." Jethro is puzzled that such a minor blow hurt so much.

Jethro has taken 42 hits.

Round 17

Jethro is now mad but cautious and declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 5 + [Injury] = 15.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 3 = 31.

Attacking first, Jethro decides to be more careful and uses OB 50. Jethro rolls a 10 + 50 -- 80 = Miss. Bart deftly avoids the club and laughs.

Bart ripostes using OB 125. Bart rolls a 05 + 125 -- 90 = 40. Jethro brushes off the attack with 60 parry. Attack misses.

Round 18

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 10 = 25.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 7 = 35.

Attacking first, Jethro decides to be more aggressive and uses OB 70. Jethro rolls a 07 + 70 -- 80 = Miss. Bart leans slightly as the club whooshes by and steps in for his attack.

Bart ripostes using OB 125. Bart rolls a 31 + 125 -- 90 = 66. Jethro parries for 40. Final result is 26 yielding a 6B (24B) "Foe doesn't even notice your attack. He takes +5 hits." Really? Bart thinks he did.

Jethro has taken 71 hits.

Round 19

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 1 + [Injury] = 11.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 9 = 37.

Attacking first, Jethro decides to back off a little and uses OB 60. Jethro rolls a 23 + 60 -- 80 = 3. Bart flicks his wrist and parries ever so slightly for 3. Attack misses.

Bart ripostes using OB 122. Bart rolls a 86 + 122 -- 90 = 118. That's more like it. Jethro parries for 50 and retreats sensing a stunning blow. Final result is 43 yielding a 8E (32E) "You need to be doing better than this if you want to take foe down. He takes +12 hits." A while? Yes. But Hammerstrike is your friend.

Jethro has taken 115 hits and is starting to worry. Jethro is retreated and Bart follows up.

Round 20

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 6 + [Injury] + [Retreated] = -4.

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 6 + [Foe Retreated] = 39.

Bart decides to Force the Action with OB 65. Bart rolls a 91 + 90 -- 90 = 91. Jethro parries for 91. Attack misses. Disappointing.

Jethro counters with OB 19. Jethro rolls a 59 + 19 -- 80 = Miss.

Round 21

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 3 = 18.

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 6 + [Forced the Action]= 39.

Bart decides to Force the Action with OB 75. Bart rolls a 45 + 100 -- 90 = 55. Jethro parries for 55. Attack misses.

Jethro counters with OB 55. Jethro rolls a 70 + 55 -- 80 = 45. Bart parries for 50. Attack misses.

Round 22

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 3 = 18.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 6 + [Forced the Action] = 39.

Dan continues to cower. Bart decides it's probably time for Dan to move up and attack though. Bart can always protect him with a Bladeturn should the Ogre turn on Dan.

Jethro attacks using OB 50. Jethro rolls a 11 + 50 -- 80 = Miss.

Bart doesn't attack and instead yells at Dan to move up.

Round 23

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 3 = 18.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 6 = 34.

Dan moves to his left circling in. Won't make contact until next round.

Jethro attacks using OB 50. Jethro rolls a 15 + 50 -- 80 = Miss.

Bart counters with OB 125. Bart rolls a 05 + 125 -- 90 = 40. Jethro easily parries for 60 and the attack misses.

Round 24

Jethro declares Melee. Initiative 15 + 5 = 20.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 5 = 33.

Dan declares Move and Attack -10. Initiative 19 + 9 = 28

Dan makes a token attack with OB 20 fearful of the counter strike. Dan rolls a 68 + 20 -- 10 -- 90 = Miss.

Jethro ignores Dan and attacks Bart with OB 50. Jethro rolls a 33 + 50 -- 80 = 3. Bart shrugs and parries for 3.

Bart counters with OB 122. Bart rolls a 26 + 122 -- 90 = 58. Jethro parries for 60 and the attack misses.

Round 25

Jethro is concerned and declares Yield. Initiative 15 + 7 = 22.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 4 = 32.

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 8 + [2HW] = 22.

Nothing happens. Everyone dances around a bit. A longer fight favors the Ogre since Bart and Dan's spells will wear off...

Round 26

Jethro declares Yield again. Initiative 15 + 5 = 20.

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 9 = 37.

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 9 + [2HW] = 23.

Bart decides to Force the Action and uses OB 80. Bart rolls a 63 + 105 -- 90 = 78. Jethro parries for 78 and the attack misses.

Dan waits having yielded.

Jethro decides to attack Dan sensing weakness with a token OB 22. Jethro rolls a 54 + 22 -- 42 = 24. Dan parries for 24. Attack misses.

Dan ripostes with OB 56. Dan rolls a 41 + 56 -- 90 = 7. Jethro parries for 10. Attack misses.

Round 27

Jethro declares Yield again. Initiative 15 + 2 = 17.

Bart declares Yield. Initiative 28 + 1 + [Force the Action] = 34.

Dan declares Yield. Initiative 19 + 5 + [2HW] = 19.

Bart decides its time to really force the action.

All characters yield so Bart yells to Dan that they need to start pressing the attack.

Round 28

Jethro declares Yield again. Initiative 15 + 2 = 17.

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 4 = 32.

Dan declares Melee. Initiative 19 + 6 + [2HW] = 20.

Bart goes first and decides to really press counting on a Bladeturn to protect him if his attack goes awry and Dan's attack is weak. OB 125 + [Force the Action] = 150. Bart rolls a 34 + 150 -- 90 = 94. Jethro decides to retreat and parries for 69. Attack misses.

Dan seeing the Ogre is retreating throws entire OB into attack. OB 80 + [Force the Action] = 105. Dan rolls a 67 + 105 -- 90 = 82. Jethro gets the retreat bonus and parries with his remaining OB of 41. Final result is 82 -- 66 = 16 yielding a 6B.

Jethro has now taken 126 hits and so is 50% wounded and now thinking he's made a serious mistake chasing those stupid Goblins. What was a master swordsman doing out in this stupid meadow anyway? Jethro needs to escape. If he can retreat to the woods, he can limit the number of attackers to one and use the trees to provide cover and run away.

Jethro is retreated 2 meters and both Dan and Bart follow up. Jethro is now about 20 meters away from the trees -- so its going to take 10 rounds of retreat to reach that point.

Round 29

Jethro declares Yield planning to Retreat no matter what his foes do. Initiative 15 + 10 + [Wounded] + [Injury] + [Retreated] = -25.

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 5 + [Forced the Action] + [Foe Retreated] = 43.

Dan declares Melee. Initiative 19 + 7 + [2HW] + [Forced the Action] + [Foe Retreated] = 31.

Bart continues to violently force the action. OB 125 + [Force the Action]. Bart rolls a 47 + 150 -- 90 = 107. Jethro retreats and parries for 82. Attack misses.

Dan forces the action. OB 80 + [Force the Action]. Dan rolls a 77 + 105 -- 90 = 92. Jethro receives the retreat bonus and parries for 28. Final result is 39 yielding 11F. "Foe has definitely noticed you, and he does not seem to be pleased. He takes +14 hits and is stunned 1 round." Jethro only rolls a 29 and so doesn't resist the stun. He is probably now doomed.

Jethro has now taken 151 hits and is in deep trouble. Jethro retreats. Bart and Dan follow-up.

Round 30

Jethro declares Yield planning to Retreat no matter what his foes do. Initiative 15 + 6 + [Wounded] + [Injury] + [Retreated] = [Stunned] = -49. Let's just say he doesn't have the Initiative...

Bart declares Melee. Initiative 28 + 9 + [Forced the Action] + [Foe Retreated] = 47.

Dan declares Melee. Initiative 19 + 8 + [2HW] + [Forced the Action] + [Foe Retreated] = 32.

Bart stays the course. OB 125 + [Force the Action] + [Power Strike] + [Stunned] = 150. Bart rolls a 77 + 150 -- 90 = 137. Jethro retreats and half parries for 55. Final result is 57 (upgraded to a L from a M) yielding a 15J [60J]. "Foe is starting to take you seriously now. Too bad for you. He takes +24 hits and is stunned 3 rounds, is bleeding 1 hit per round and is at -10." Jethro fails to resist the stun... Jethro has now sustained 235 hits. Too bad for him I would think.

Dan wades in with OB 80 + [Force the Action] + [Stunned] = 125. Dan rolls a 96! Woo-hoo! Dan follows with a 67 for a total of 163 + 125 -- 90 = 198. Jethro gets the retreat bonus but sadly has no more parry remaining. That's a max 150 yielding a 36Y. "Excellent strike surprises foe to no end. He is surprised that you hit him and surprised that he is going to die in just 3 painful, inactive rounds. Gain a +25 to your actions next round." Jethro falls over backward in a twitching heap.

Bart and Dan breathe a huge sigh of relief. A couple of Minor Healings later and its back to picking flowers...