## Sunday, February 28, 2016

### Critical Hits, Fumbles & Friendly Fire

If someone would like to read my official rules on critical hits, fumbles and friendly fire, see this page.

There's always something unaccounted for.  It occurs to me that some sort of rule should be made regarding the final location of thrown weapons - I've never had good rules for this and I should make some.  It's not an easy fix, however.  Usually, I just play that the missed weapons are "somewhere" in the line of fire, typically thrown past the target.  Hmf.  I've not had a player complain, but a good rule for it would be better.

1. You could use a chart similar to the one for "dropped weapons" but with more hexes to allow for a greater range. There are two main problems, though: 1) the further you are from your target, the longer the range for a missed throw, and 2) the likelihood of a miss going to one side or the other should be smaller than falling short or going long.

To the first problem - which appears in the AD&D and 3rd Edition manuals - I suggest that the argument is flawed. Having played few sports myself, I still find that I am capable of getting a baseball, football or frisbee reasonably close to my target, regardless of how far away it is. My distance to my target should have no impact on the design of the miss table.

To the second, you might use 2d10 instead of 1d8 and assign the most likely occurring numbers to the hexes that fall in line between the attacker and the target. For example, on an 11 the missile attack (which misses the target) lands in the same hex, while on a 10 it falls one hex short and on a 9 it falls two hexes short. 12 is one hex long, 13 is two hexes long. The other numbers are assigned to the hexes to the left or right, according to the chance of those numbers occurring, thus making it more likely that a missed throw will fall in line with the target, or one hex to the left or right.

2. Thinking on kicked soccer balls and golf balls, Ozymandias, I don't think the issue is how much the object is 'missed by' - I think most of the misses would be quite narrow - but by how hard the throw is made. When you're throwing a football or a baseball to another player, you're creating a sort of lob that is designed to fall lightly - or in the case of the latter, the hard throw is grabbed by the glove's pocket. Whipping a dagger is a different thing and is not meant to be caught, so the velocity is intended to be at maximum at the point of impact.

The problem in the game only ever comes up with daggers, hammers, axes and other hurled objects; people don't care where their arrows go when fired at medium and long range. As such, we're usually talking about a distance of l8 hexes or less; maximum range with a dagger is 12 and with a hand axe is 13.

It is tempting to just say that the instrument thrown ends up at maximum range (or perhaps a random number accorded to maximum range, 10-12 hexes for a dagger), more or less in line with the target. After all, like I said, throwing as hard as possible would seem to be probable.

3. Two questions on "friendly fire."
1) If I throw an axe into a melee, and roll a 2, I have hit my armored companion, no additional roll to hit him is required, correct?

2) What about if I throw an axe into the middle of a line of three advancing orcs? I aim for the middle one and roll a 2.
By the rules, nothing happens. But the logic behind the rule says one of the orcs on either side is hit (because the 2 indicates a veer from target).

I kinda like that, because I'm not going to take as much time to aim if I throw into a larger mass of opponents, knowing I'll probably hit someone who needs to be hit anyways. Getting and effective +1 to hit feels reasonable. But I'm not sure that was the intent.

4. The natural 2 has to be treated as a sort of FUMBLE; so it can't be beneficial to the attacker, no matter how many orcs are rushing forward. As far as any additional roll "to hit," consider:

Imagine that a natural 2 is a natural 20 that goes the other way. In effect, it automatically hits the best AC the attacker can hit; better, in fact, for since the friendly fire is sort of equivalent to a perfect flanking throw, it gains an additional +2 - so effectively, a 1st level mage with a THACO of 21 is treated as hitting AC -1 with friendly fire (and shields/dexterity are discounted in back attacks). I suppose that an argument could be made that a character is better than AC -1 from the back - but none of the characters right now in my campaign are that well defended.

I've realized the rules are missing two points: 1) that if the attacker needs a minimum roll of a natural 19 to hit at all, then a 20 isn't treated as critical; and 2) if the character is using a heavy weapon that requires a lot of space in a cramped area, then once again a 2 is treated as friendly fire against an adjacent opponent.

5. No worries, just trying to put my best lawyerly hat on to help.

The fumble rules seem straightforward to me.

6. One thing about throwing axes and daggers is that, according to my friend who practice throwing such things, your primary objective when throwing is to make sure the blade will actually hit the target - throwing too hard will make the rotation spin too fast to actually cause damage at the target, even if you hit. Now, he is merely throwing at stationary targets, but I think the same idea would apply here, as well. The most common 'misses' are simply that the rotation is off, the hilt hits the target and bounces off.

All that to say there are credible reasons for a 'miss' with regards to hit points that would still hit the target and then land between the thrower and target. Perhaps a 1d6-1, where a result of 0 indicates the weapon has dropped in the hex immediately in front of the target?

7. I am always happy to explain, Doug.

8. Daniel,

There's always a danger in accepting any individual's testimony with respect to weapons that are used regularly in situations that don't include battle and risking one's life. While I don't discount the argument of rotation vs. "throwing it hard," that doesn't refute the logic that the 17th century steel knife or the axe must be thrown hard enough to reach its target and penetrate through armor and padding, else it is worthless. That means that if the target is 15 feet away, said tool must be thrown hard enough that when it reaches that distance, it isn't skidding along the ground: it is at level height with the target and can presumably continue well past the target before stopping. I certainly did not mean that the weapon would be thrown so hard that it was like a desperate wild effort. When I refer to maximum velocity in the above, I am describing "the hardest possible throw that can be made without compromising the attacker's skill in successfully hitting the target."

As an aside, I simply discount any person's experience at describing the use of weapons in any situation where their opponent is not actively trying to kill them. This definitely includes war games where people mock fighting without the intention to finish the job. This is because, while things can be learned from mock fighting, the knowledge that one is facing an enemy who is not trying to kill greatly reduces the amount of terror/tunnelling that would be going on around the combatants.

In a real fight, all attacks are, to some degree, WILD; this is a result of human biology. Training is intended to overcome this so that in the midst of a wild action, pattern recognition and the development of good habits takes over without needing to consult the conscious brain (since consciousness at that point is generally on stand-by). Thus, if the rotation of the weapon works, it isn't because the attacker is "making sure" of anything; it is because having thrown the knife a million times at a target with the right rotation, it gets thrown properly regardless.

Arguing that a "most misses" occur because of bad rotation of the blade is like arguing that my being knocked off my feet by a hurricane is the result of not spending enough time on the track. There are a million reasons for a miss during actual combat - the participants, like me trying to make my way to shelter against 76 mph winds, are just doing the best they can.

9. I think there is an argument for falling short.
I don't think it's necessary to account for it, but it is a real possibility.

Instead of rolling a D8 for front back and sides, consider it from attacker to defender point of view. (Your Y axis shifts to up and down, your X being left and right, if using global coords based on the top down perspective we may refer to this as X or Y, Z cords)

Should the weapon go too high with low ceilings, it could bounce off said ceiling.
Or should the weapon go too low, off the ground.

There is also the failing to penetrate armor arguments.
In one case this could result in a weapon bouncing forwards (unlikely perhaps as your main goal is probably deflecting)
In another case the weapon might as well stick to no effect.

It may also be possible that should an untrained combatant be throwing the weapon, they are just plain inept and the weapon might as well show up ANYWHERE.

This gets more compelling when facing large and armored targets commonly encountered in fantasy campaigns, consider dragons and such.

I think your most common true misses would be beyond the target, but those deflected or particularly wide throws might actually end up somewhere else.

Perhaps trigonometry may not be the ideal solution, but you may determine the 1d8, then base distance, then increase or decrease distance based on high or low, then maybe determine the arc of miss and check for intervening barriers.

As for hit misses, I think a simple stick, deflect or bounce might be the way to determine final destination. Deflect basically being the first result.

All the rolling might bog things down, but I think it might be easier to trim from max accuracy to find the minimal viable product and amp up if more is desired.

10. I have updated those two rules, mentioned in the comments above, into the wiki.

I can see reason for agreeing with those possibilities, Oddbit; I'm just not certain they are likely enough to give equal weight a weapon ending up at the feet of the hurler as the chance of it turning up beyond the target, or equal weight to the weapon ending up twenty feet to the left or right of the target rather than in a more direct line of fire. I do feel that any table that would address such possibilities in a measured, calculated frame of likelihood would probably slow the game down inconveniently every time such a table had to be consulted (since it would take many, many consultations to begin memorizing it, if at all).

But I will continue to consider such.

11. My comment that "most misses" would result from a rotation problem was completely inane and ridiculous in an actual combat situation. I apologize.

What if, for thrown missile weapons, you do as Oddbit suggests but with a slight change: roll a 1d6. On a 1-2, the attack travels past the target to the end of the range. On a 3, 4, 5, or 6, the attack has veered to the right, to the floor, to the left, or to the ceiling. For the veers to the right, left, and ceiling, let the weapon continue until it would hit something solid or reaches maximum range. For the veers to the floor, randomly determine how far the item went before it hit the floor - using percentile dice or a conveniently-faced polyhedral one.

Hopefully this is straight-forward enough to be easily implemented while still giving you the granularity you are seeking.

12. LOL, Daniel.

It's not like I was pissed or anything.

13. This is turning into a long list of combat suggestions which aren't by any means necessary or simple to implement without a physics simulator, but, for the sake of science, jumping off Oddbit's idea, you could cut down on some rolls by using two dice and a cone: one die for height of the cone (i.e. distance) and another for points along the circumference of the circular base (i.e. angle with respect to the radius of the base). This assumes a static angle for the tangent of the base radius over the distance. With just two 1d8 rolls you can get 64 different configurations. Once an object reaches an extremity of the cone you can calculate its next location based on the arrangement of the room (stuck in a chair, bounces off wall, flies over foe's head...)

Of course, beyond the occasionally amusing situation where the weapon goes flying off somewhere, this doesn't necessarily "improve" gameplay any more than your original style of resolving this.

14. I tend to agree, Tim.

All I really need is a place the player has to go to if they want to retrieve the weapon. The less rolls and calculating I have to do to get to that place, the better.