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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Signature Moves

As you may know, some versions of Basic D&D have 6-second combat rounds. In contrast, OD&D (usually) and AD&D have 1-minute combat rounds. In a forum thread, it was pointed out that the shorter round encourages blow-by-blow description of combat, while the longer round encourages broader details ("You strike at your foe several times, and each time he blocks with his shield, until finally you make it past his guard.")

This may seem like pure fluff, but I would say that the shorter style also encourages dice rolls for other actions designed to gain a combat advantage, like flipping a table, throwing sand in the opponent's eyes, dropping and rolling out of the way. Players -- and occasionally GMs -- who think that way sometimes try to do the same thing in 1-minute combat rounds, but this feels out of place; you wind up making a DEX roll and possibly losing your attack that round, depending on how the GM rules this.

After thinking about this for a while, I've decided that the best way to handle it with 1-minute combat rounds is to treat it as a standard attack. Pick an ability score that fits; STR for flipping a table, INT for throwing sand, DEX for acrobatics, CHA for verbal quips, and so on. If your score is higher than the appropriate score of the opponent, you get a +1 on the attack roll. Otherwise, it's a straight attack roll and your opponent didn't fall for the trick.

This seems like it would feel more fluid than a separate ability roll. It would also encourage more creative actions.


  1. It works well, and is daftly simple. And the fact that it doesn't potentially lose the combat round for a character is greatly important. One minute is more than enough time to recover from a blunder that would disadvantage the same character in six seconds.

  2. What about monsters? In most legacy D&D they don't have ability scores to compare against.