Though I have tried numerous times to create rules for charging in my campaign, I have never been satisfied with any of my attempts. Nevertheless, I have known since beginning to describe my combat system on my wiki that I would have to come up with something, eventually . . . and I knew it wasn't going to be easy to describe, because of the potential number of unique circumstances that could come up surrounding the manner in which charges would be resolved.
I have been patiently working at this problem, using back-work on the wiki as a resource that enables me to refer to other combat aspects without having to stop and explain them. The result is the charging page I have recently added.
Honestly, I'm unsure of two things: that I have explained the content adequately and clearly and that I have taken account of the likely circumstances to come up. No doubt, in game, something will arise that will need to be addressed at the time. I would like to reduce the chance of that happening by thinking through the matter in advance.
As such, if I've been unclear or incomplete, I would greatly appreciate a word urging me to better explain something or amend the content below as necessary.
I'm posting the wiki's charging page here - but it should be noted that I also worked out detailed overbearing rules, which are intended to support the charging rules (since the one automatically requires the other). Therefore, I recommend that the reader wade through that page as well before commenting on the charging rules below.
In game, I actually think this would play out very simply. The trouble is the difficulty in language, since there's no precedent I know in table-top taking account of these circumstances.
When combatants enter melee at normal pace, the approach is made cautiously. In charging, however, it is presumed that at least one of the combatants is approaching the other while running, with the intention of using momentum to increase the chance of hitting and the total amount of damage done. Because of this, charging takes into account some characteristics associated with crashes and collisions.
There are many considerations where charging is concerned. These I have broken down into charging movement, breaking and resolving charging attacks. This page will cover details regarding charging by combatants on foot. For charging with a mount, see Charging (mounted).
The act of charging presumes that the combatant will attempt to move into the hex of the intended target. Charging combatants must do this in order to receive charging bonuses. In a case where two combatants are charging simultaneously, an initiative die should be rolled, to determine who strikes first - the loser is thereafter designated as the defendant, the winner as the attacker.
Entering an enemy hex is called overbearing. See the link for details of how to resolve overbearing, which must be done before resolving the charging attack.
The best method of charging is to strike while in passing, avoiding overbearing altogether. In game terms, due to the charger's speed, it is perceived that the attacker has moved through or beyond the enemy's hex, avoiding the normal movement penalty for moving through combat hexes because actual melee has yet to be initiated:
In this example, Caitlyn is running/charging towards Abbro and Beren. She has chosen to attack Abbro, and in doing so she intends to either pass between the two men or move around Abbro's right. While either side will mean the same as regards to hit and damage done, which side she chooses to move past will determine her 'exit' hex, being either 402 or 403. In situations where there is sufficient movement to reach the destination hex indicated above, this is called a slashing charge (see charging combat, below).
While running, it will be well to remember that Caitlyn's expenditure of action points (AP) throughout this movement is very important. Caitlyn will need 1½ AP to move into the three hexes 203, 302 and either 402 or 403 (remembering that the -1 AP penalty for moving through a combat hex is ignored when charging). She will need 2 AP more to actually attack, meaning that before initiating this charge, she will need 3½ AP if she wants to reach a safe destination hex. Since maximum movement for most combatants in chain mail or heavier armor is 3 AP, the sort of maneuver described above will tend to be limited to combatants that are lightly armored or who have the ability to expend only 1 AP when attacking (such as higher level fighters or monks).
The more common form of charge occurs when the combatant lacks sufficient AP to reach the hex beyond their intended target, or when hexes behind the target are occupied (see below).
Consider the following example with that above:
Whereas formerly the hexes 402 and 403 were empty, now there are combatants in each. While this does not mean that Caitlyn cannot attack Abbro as before, it does mean that she will end her movement in Deirdre's hex, following the path shown (she could end in Edward's hex also if she intended). Unless she had sufficient ability to make multiple attacks, to perhaps slash at Abbro and then overbear (or perhaps grapple) Deirdra, Caitlyn would find herself at the end of her movement trapped in an opponent's hex (potentially between Abbro, Deirdra and Beren, with no free hexes around, unless Abbro was successfully stunned or killed).
To provide rules for this situation, it is judged that unless the attack against the first opponent (in this case, Abbro) succeeds in stunning or killing, the charging combatant cannot continue into a hex occupied by another defender, regardless of their remaining AP. In effect, unless the attack on Abbro succeeds, Caitlyn must stop in hex 203.
When charging, individuals facing a dense mass of enemies are in danger of pulling up before the impact in fear and failing to break upon the enemy's ranks; conversely, when a defender is faced with a mass of attackers, there is a similar chance of 'breaking,' or faltering from a strong position and scattering. In each case, the combatants on either side will make themselves more vulnerable than they would ordinarily be. Because of this, charging is dangerous. While a successful charge can be devastating, those who engage in this form of attack must be aware of the risks.
A roll to see if combatants break is made only if the attacker or defender is in a situation where the enemy faced numbers six or more, in a formation where the hexes occupied are adjacent to one another. In the example below, the six combatants on the left are in 'formation'; those on the right are not. A combatant attacking the group on the left would need to roll against breaking charge; attacking the group on the right would not require such a roll.
A roll against breaking charge is dependent upon two factors, depending on the role that a combatant has:
- Leaders, including player characters, must count upon their own bravery when charging an enemy. Therefore, they must make a wisdom check to succeed. This check is modified by a +1 bonus for each level that the leader possesses.
- for all other combatants, success in charging is dependent upon the individual's morale, which must be checked against. There is no level modifier for morale checks.
Character henchmen, who do not possess morale totals, should be considered leaders for breaking morale purposes.
When an individual breaks, the effect differs for attacker and defender.
- Attackers will stop in the hex immediately in front of their intended target and freeze, losing all further AP for the remainder of that move. At the same time, they will also suffer a loss of 2 armor class, in addition to the ineffectiveness of their shield (if they possess one). Therefore, an attacker with chain mail and shield would lose 3 AC, or the equivalent of giving the defender a +3 to hit the following round.
- Defenders will automatically fall back one hex when an attacker enters their hex, exactly as if overborne without the need of the attacker to spend AP in order to overbear; at the same time, the defender will also suffer a loss of 2 armor class and the ineffectiveness of their shield.
Resolving Charging Attacks
In addition to bonuses accrued through the enemy's loss of armor class due to breaking charge adjustments, an attack made while charging is done with +2 to hit. Slashing charges, described above, have the added advantage of adding 2 additional damage to successful hits, making this attack particularly effective when sufficient movement is available.
These bonuses are added whenever the attacker is able to make an attack during the same move in which they have charged an opponent. Remember that overbearing is considered an attack, so that when done during a charge it receives this bonus as well. Note, the attack bonus does NOT carry forward to the next round of the charger's move. Once the initial impact has been resolved, further combat will reflect normal hand-to-hand melee.
It can be seen from these rules how a charge can be devastating to an armed force, particularly in mass combat (skirmishes, such as parties usually experience, will not ordinarily include the potential for either side to break before a charge). A attacker using a slashing charge, moving past the edge of a formation that has simultaneously broken, will be +4/+5 to hit (depending on the enemy's use of a shield) and +2 damage, along with whatever other strength or magical weapon bonuses they possess. The bonus to hit can be even greater, if the enemy has been knocked back by the charge so that there are multiple defenders in one hex.
This is intentional, meant to reflect historical accounts of where this sort of thing has occurred.