One of the opportunities for improvement in HOW are the rules for combat option Berserk. Having play tested it I did not run into the issues being raised now. So let's look at it.
First what the frak is a Berserk anyway?
The actual fit of madness the berserker experienced was referred to as berserkergang
("going berserk"). This condition has been described as follows:
This fury, which was called berserkergang,
occurred not only in the heat of battle, but also during laborious work.
Men who were thus seized performed things which otherwise seemed
impossible for human power. This condition is said to have begun with
shivering, chattering of the teeth, and chill in the body, and then the
face swelled and changed its colour. With this was connected a great
hot-headedness, which at last gave over into a great rage, under which
they howled as wild animals, bit the edge of their shields, and cut down
everything they met without discriminating between friend or foe. When
this condition ceased, a great dulling of the mind and feebleness
followed, which could last for one or several days.
So in combat you become a wild killer. Now my concept was to make this "berserk action" into a simple and clean basic option in combat. The issues that have arisen make it clear that its neither clear nor simple. So let's see if we can't tweak it a bit:
BERSERK you get two attacks on your turn, either two on one foe or one attack each on two adjacent foes, but you lose all
defense options and any armor protection (AR) while you are berserk.
Wait...the rules don't say (currently) I can't choose to defend, and you are correct. I assumed the idea of going Berserk spoke for itself...Berserkers did not attack and then parry or block or dodge..they just all out attacked! So its my fault for assuming the idea of going berserk spoke for itself. So to be clear...IF an attacker goes Berserk, he cannot choose ANY defending maneuvers/actions nor receive any AR protection while Berserk.
Next is the idea of Berserk rage. I was saving this as part of the advanced option in BBM, but what the hell, we are discussing Berserk here. The following are advanced options for using the Berserk combat option in your game. You can use them or not, but the Referee needs to be clear BEFORE the game begins if these advanced rules are in effect or not.
Going Berserk (Advanced option)
To use the Berserk combat option the attacker must spend 1 turn not moving and doing nothing but focusing on going berserk. If attacked or wounded during this turn of focus, the berserker adds +1 to any damage done while berserk.
After the turn of focus, the attacker goes berserk for 1d6+1 turns randomly. Each turn spent berserk the character can move up to 1/2 their normal move and may make 2 attacks on one target or one attack each on two adjacent targets. A Berserker loses all defense maneuver/action options and loses any armor protection (AR) while berserk. If there are no foes left alive in combat, the berserker will next attack its
own friends, starting with the closest ones, until they are dead or until the berserk rage is ended.
The berserk attacker spends 1 EN for each turn beserking. If no EN is available, 1 ST is spent for each turn berserk. After ending the berserk rage, the berserker collapses and is stunned for 1d6 turns. The collapsed berserker may make take no actions, no maneuvers, no speaking, nor any movements while stunned. After this collapse period the former beserker may move and act normally.
Remember HOW is the love child mash-up of of Moldvay Basic D&D, Melee, Wizard, and Dragons of Underearth. I saved a lot of the more advanced, optional or crunchy rules for a later volume Blades & Black Magic. So stay tuned fellow gamer, there is more to come.