... now with 35% more arrogance!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Contests of Strength and Size

Recent discussions about grappling on Noism’s blog and about ability scores on the OD&D forums got me thinking about the relation between hit dice, size, and strength. Now, I don’t like the approach of setting very high Strength scores based on size. The way I use Strength is: it’s relative to other beings of the same size. Average Strength for a giant is 10, same as the average for a human, but giants are stronger than humans, period, because of their size.

So, for contests of Strength, you compare hit dice, or better yet melee damage, since it’s based on hit dice in OD&D. For a direct contest, like a tug of war or arm wrestling, each side rolls their damage dice and the higher total wins. For something like grappling that is broken into moves and counter-moves, roll damage dice for only one side at a time and take the best die result plus any damage bonus, rather than the total of all dice. A 5+ means success for this round.

Example: Ogre pinning a human on the ground makes an attack roll to grab, then rolls 1+2 for damage. Because of the +2, a roll of 3 or higher succeeds. A pinned human can attempt to break free on the next round by rolling 5+ on 1d6.

Now, you might be using the rule “damage rolls for fighters are 1d6 for every four hit dice.” Or you might only use this rule for non-lethal damage rolls, like the grappling rolls I’m talking about. Either way, I’m thinking of adding this rule:
You can use either your hit dice or half your Strength score, whichever is higher, to calculate non-lethal damage dice for grappling and other contests of strength.
So, a character with a Strength of 18 is equivalent to a 9 HD monster (2+1 damage.) That gives them a fighting chance when grappling some giants, although they will still probably lose when facing storm giants or titans.

Note: For PCs, damage modifiers like the "+1" in "2+1" should only be used when actually rolling damage, not when using the damage dice as if they were a dice pool, as we're doing here. A PC's hit dice and possibly even their Strength score will change over time, and a PC's grapple chances will go up, then down, then up again erratically if you try to use the modifiers. For monsters, whose damage dice remain fixed, using the modifier is OK and won't cause problems.

Creative Commons license
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0

(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) license.

No comments:

Post a Comment