Random idea for Hit Dice

(This is more of a thought experiment than something I’d actually try, but I enjoy the idea of taking a basic concept of the game and poking it to see what happens.)

The original D&D rules provide an “Alternative” combat system (in case you don’t want to use Chainmail!) and among other things they say that a shield takes one off the attackers hit dice.  Of course this is normally interpreted to mean “the attacker gets a minus one to hit,” but it got me thinking — what if “hit dice” were not just the number of dice a creature rolled for hit points, but actually the number of dice rolled to attack? So an orc rolls 1 die, a gnoll rolls two, a troll rolls six. Likewise a first level fighting man gets one roll but a superhero gets eight!

The immediate advantage to such a system would be that there would be no real need for attack matrices at all. The target number to hit would always be the same, based on the target’s AC. Modifiers would just add or subtract dice. Plus one sword? Add a die. 18 Strength? Add three dice.  And so on.

Without giving it much thought, there would be some obvious problems. Do all “hits” count? I’d imagine monsters with multiple attacks in the ordinary rules could score more than one hit (a seven headed hydra could hit with all seven heads, for example). Against minion-type foes with less than one HD, a fighter or monster could hit as many times as he has levels /base HD. How about those kobolds with 1/2 HD? I’d give a modifier, say -2 to hit for 1/2 HD, -1 for 1-1 HD like Goblins, +1 for 1+1 HD like Hobgoblins, and so on.

But what if a 1 HD orc attacks a character with a shield? This is where things break down a bit. The orc should have some chance to hit, but a flat -1 seems like a better deal for the orc than for the 2HD gnoll who loses a whole attack die. That will take some thought. Also, magic armor should probably add to AC, not reduce HD, but there is no compelling reason to go that way.

Obviously, this would add a lot more dice rolling, and I’m not sure this is better than using tables or math to arrive at “to hit” numbers, but it is an interesting idea to me nonetheless. Maybe it could work with the minimalist Searchers of the Unknown rules.

Combine this with all attacks doing d6 as per OD&D, and we could just say a creature can take one hit per HD, and HD lost by damage also are lost from the attack dice pool…

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Published in: on January 22, 2010 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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