Streamlined Ars Magica hack combat for Tartary
I’ve been re-reading Ars Magica 4e (available for free download! Thanks to Jeremy Duncan for telling me this) and it’s cool but too complicated (incompatible with gin, which is a deal breaker for me).
So here’s a simpler hack. This is a draft, stuff will change.
All combat is done with d10. You and the opponent roll, you want to beat their result. You do damage equal to the margin by which you beat them.
Roll of 1 = fumble. Reroll – if you get another 1 a BAD THING happened. Reroll: another 1 and it’s WORSE.
Roll of 10 = awesome! Reroll and add results together. Lather, rinse, repeat.
You and the opponent get to add modifiers to your roll: your skill (called “fight”) + any situational things you can persuade me of (surprise, range, smoke, gigantism etc).
After you’ve decided who hits, damage gets modifiers from the kind of weapon you’re using. Like a dagger has no mod but a sword gives +1 damage. In Tartary people often play with explosives, which add a whole +d10 to damage.
Sequence of combat and modifiers
1. initiative: d10 + fight. Lowest result declares their actions first. Anyone with higher initiative can interrupt that action with their own action.
1a. exception: SURPRISE. To get surprise you (a) set up a surprising situation, (b) roll d10 + sneaky skills. The person (perhaps) being surprised has to beat your total with their d10 + Wis or Per. THIS OBVIOUSLY FAVOURS PEOPLE WITH SNEAKY SKILLS GO FIGURE.
1b. exception: missiles go after melee (if you want to hit anything – to interrupt meleers you have to suck up a -3 mod)
2. Attack! Roll off with opponent, see who wins and therefore gets to cause damage. You CAN defend against multiple attacks in one round but each extra defense is at cumulative -3. If you are not defending then the target number to hit you is 2.
Missile weapons are a bit different
1. they go after melee (see above)
2. Roll D10 + shoot skill to hit. The basic target number to hit someone at cop show handgun range is 9 – this is in lieu of them getting a defense roll.
3. If applicable, apply the following mods:
partial cover -3 (includes a big shield)
target thinks they have full cover but doesn’t quite -6
long range for your weapon -2
spend an extra round aiming +3
target not moving (and not behind cover) +3
shooter takes damage in round of shooting: -total amount of damage taken.
4. Damage = the amount the attack exceeded defense + damage mod of weapon -armour
Melee weapon damage mods
bottle, spanner: +0
one-handed weapon like a sword +1
2-handed weapon like an Enoch hammer +2
special pleading for your badass weapon +d10, though I can’t right now think of a single melee weapon to give this to, lightsabers and chainsaws included.
Missile weapon damage mods
thrown knife/axe/spear +0
fancy bow/rifle/jezzail +2
basass blunderbuss, elephant gun, radium rifle or grenade launcher +d10 (but generally these weapons takes multiple rounds to reload).
Armour damage mods
improvised shield (rolled cloak, bit of siding) -1
actual purpose-built Roman or Viking type shield -2
Holtzman shield generator out of Dune -7
These can stack with actual Armor:
man-portable metal -2
improvised tank plate -3
battleship siding -6
overworld hypercrystal alloystuff -10 (basically counts as cover
What damage means
Hit points are the old Errol Flynn DnD “luck and grit and ability to avoid serious injury” until you get to 0, when suddenly it’s slow healing time (unless you have a talented/ultratech medic or grease monkeys nearby, in which case good on you and don’t come crying to me about the strange things that happened).
At 0 hp you roll on The Death and Dismemberment Table (via Trollsmyth and Carjacked Seraphim).
Roll 1d10. If you’re in negative HP territory, that negative is applied to the roll.
1 confirmed by rerolling 1: Instant death (decapitated or other grievous wound).
1 but unconfirmed: Incapacitated/maimed. Die in 1d6 minutes unless medics beat difficulty target 9. Medics will be working on you for hours. Weak for 2d6 weeks, some lasting impairment.
2: Severed limb (DM’s choice or roll randomly) will die in 3d6 minutes unless tourniquet applied, cauterized etc. Then will die in 3d6 hours unless medics beat difficulty 6. Out for min. 1 hour.
3: lose something fragile – an eye, an ear, a finger, your memory/sense of self-identity. You’ll die in 3d10 hours unless medics beat difficulty 6. Beat 6 on d10+Wis or be stunned for rest of combat
4-5: broken bones, punctured lungs: roll over blow-through damage to stay conscious. You need medical aid or you will never be the same again. Also will die in d10 hours if you don’t stop the bleeding. With proper care you can recover completely. Meanwhile beat 6 on D10+Wis every time you try to do something strenuous or you’ll black out. And if you do, then beat 6 on d10+CHA or roll again on this table.
6: Knocked out and concussed. At -3 to do everything for 2d12 hours. Also you’re still on 0 hp. Beat 6 on D10 or you’ll black out. And if you do, then beat 6 on d10+Cha or roll again on this table.
7: Beat 6 on d10+Wis of be knocked out for d10 minutes.
8: Stunned and confused until someone snaps you out of it.
9: drop weapon, stunned for 1 round.
10: Adrenaline Surge. get back 1d3 HP. These go away again at the end of combat, at which point reroll. Another 10? permanently get +1 hp.
Dealing with vehicles etc.
Most hand weapons just do 1 damage to vehicles. hand-holdable explosives still do d10.
Vehicle-type cannons do +d10 damage to people, but only get some numerical +1 or similar against other vehicles.
PPCs, giant cannons or earthquake guns might do +d10 or even +2d10 to vehicles.
Special fightin’ nonsense
“Double wielding” (using 2 weapons) means you still only attack once but you get to roll to attack twice and use the higher result.
You can use Zak’s “called shots” mechanic to say that you are increasing the chance of an exploding result on the die. IE: usually you would only reroll a 10 but you can take extra risk and say you want to also reroll a 9, 8, 7 or 6. BUT then your chance of a fumble goes up equally – so if you go all out for a called shot (shot works/explodes on 6-10) and roll a 6 then you get to reroll and add as per usual exploding damage. After that first reroll you only reroll again if you get a 10 as usual. BUT if you roll a 5 in the same situation then it’s a fumble AND when you reroll a 5 or below confirms the fumble.
Climbing on things: smaller things may be able to climb up bigger things to do more damage to their vulnerable bits. Zak’s hack of Scrap’s rule works directly here: “for every round spent climbing on (not attacking) a big monster without falling or being thrown off you get +2 to hit and damage for when you do attack while on it. You are also protected from many of the creature’s usual attacks depending on where you’re climbing and what part of it you’re on.” NB this can also be done to PCs.
Small rolls D10 + climb vs. a target number (6 for a Bollymech, 9 for an organic creature, 12 for a smooth-sided supertanker or similar) to improve their hold/location. If Big is resisting they roll d10 + fight to try to throw Small off – if Big beats Small’s climb roll then Small can’t advance/get more bonus. If Big beats Small by 5 they shake/scrape/fling Small off. Whether Small can use their 2-handed sword from atop Big should be obvious from the specific situation.
A note about encumbrance
I mostly don’t bother tracking it unless you’re carrying a piano/fallen companion/statue etc. If you are, and you refuse to drop that heavy thing for combat, then you get minuses to all actions. Although maybe partial cover in recompense.