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This is a blog post because it is for everyone to look at. Recently there has been the suggestion that a new attribute, called Agility or something synoynmous, could be introduced to represent the ability to dodge in close combat, or get around a defender in attack. I do not want to go into the madness that would be grappling because no system to my knowledge has managed to produce a simple mechanic for it and HOTM has no movement system anyway.

I personally like HOTM as a narrative-driven system where the dice represent the effects of chance, since human minds aren't very good at true randomness and tend to put undue stress on improbable things. I don't want it to be like the mass of rolling and modifying that I am told Dungeons and Dragons is, or obsessed with every minute detail like the combat system in Dwarf Fortress. These decrease flexibility.

However, this does not mean I am against an overhaul of the melee system; I just do not want a prescriptive one. It would be possible to incorporate agility into quite a simple reconstruction.

Instead of rolling one die, with 1, 2, 3 being a failure and 4, 5, 6 being a hit, roll two dice.

  • An unmodified total of 2 would be a critical failure (rolls that are modified down to 2 are normal misses). The character trips on their weapon or a stone or some such and enemies attacking them gain a +2 (max 12) modifier to hit in their next turn. This can be modified up as normal.
  • A total of 3-5 would be a failure, encompassing misses, blocks, evasions etc.
  • A total of 6-11 would be a normal hit.
  • A total of 12 would be a critical hit. The character can choose whether to increase the damage dealt before armour, to lower the target's agility, or administer a condition the weapon could not otherwise provide.

Agility fits in as a simple modifier. For every two ranks of it, the attacker gets -1 on this roll (minimum 2). This means an attacker attacking a character with 10 AGI would receive -5 and only hit on an 11 or a 12. Having more than 12 AGI should be prohibited so that a roll of 12 is always a hit, representing that "one in a million chance" so beloved of fiction. Modifiers could potentially make even this impossible, though.

This could also mesh with a weapons proficiency mechanic. This mechanic would provide +1 (max 12, of course) for every rank in it; the character can choose a proficiency in one weapon type at the start and may gain others at the GM's discretion. There could be five levels:

  • Novice (+1)
  • Apprentice (+2)
  • Competent (+3)
  • Expert (+4)
  • Master (+5)

So a Master would (assuming the foe has 0-1 AGI) achieve a critical hit not just on a 12 but also on a 7-11, and would never miss. Against a target with 10 AGI the dice rolls would be the same as if they had no proficiency and the target had no agility.

This means maximum (12) AGI would outweigh maximum proficiency, which I think is how it should be. Critical hits are also very difficult.

In terms of choices, weapon types could have different forms of attack with different modifiers and effects. A sword might have lunge, which is very accurate and fast so provides a +1 modifier, but does not do much flesh damage so does -5 damage before armour. Certain types of attack might only be possible against a certain type of target or a target with a certain condition (3-stage combos, anyone?).

It would not require much overhaul of pages as abilities can be converted into providing modifiers.

Any thoughts, feedback, etc.? If we think this works, we can begin implementing it and adding AGI stats to pages on Saturday.

I will be away tomorrow and Friday, but when I return I will try and respond to any comments.

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