What is Heroes & Other Worlds?

Heroes & Other Worlds is a game of adventure inspired by Metagaming's classic Melee/Wizard/TFT system combined with inspiration from the Moldvay edited basic game. The rules are easy to learn and use standard six sided dice. The system is simple, sensible and flexible in the spirit of classic role playing games from the early 80's. Become a Hero, Other Worlds await!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Weapon Speed and Initiative, play test

One of the "twists" to combat we have experimented with in my home game is adding a weapon speed to the initiate roll for each character/enemy and then running action in order of initiative die roll+ weapon speed from highest total acting first to lowest total acting last.

So far reaction is mixed. It's made combat a bit slower which some do not like. The added time comes from organizing player sequence each turn. (die roll+ weapons speed modifier, then comparing and ordering, then actions from Highest total to the lowest total).

The ones who do enjoy it though feel the added time each turn is worth it because the active player sequence is "more real" based on the type of weapon being used.  In other words the dagger tossing thief should have an advantage to acting faster than the battle axe wielding barbarian.

Want to try it yourself? Below is a very simply chart to experiment with on your own! Let me know what you think.
Weapon Initiative MOD
Dagger +4
Sword +3
Clubs & Hammers +2
Axes +2
Pole Arms (2h) -1
Unique +1
X-Bows +4
Bows +3
Thrown +1
Two Handed -1
Sling +2

Note, spell casting has a +0 MOD


  1. Why are 2h polearms "slower"? They are wielded so the blade is in front of them. You don't attack with a halberd by swinging it back over your head. The blade stays in front of you. If anything they should get an initiative bonus.

    1. Hi PHF we had internal disagreements on this issue. So I think we will revise Sith a positive modifier and try that as well. Thanks for the feedback.

  2. I like its simplicity, but look forward to hearing of your further playtests as not convinced HOW requires this level of "realism".

    And what about unarmed combatants, monsters attacking with teeth and claws?

    1. Hi Tim the mod is +0 for claws or empty handed melee. Also I agree I do not believe this is a necessary addition to the system, but I lime to provide these things as options to show what's possible.

  3. initiative die roll is 1d6, right? sorry, i'm rusty. are there any other modifiers? beside the weapon wielded? if not, this doesn't seem like realism to me. it could be a good way to power-balance weapons. however, don't the existing rules already specify that archers attack first, then throwers, then melee weapons? again, sorry i'm rusty. if the current rules don't specify that, this is a very good idea but it seems to need some tweaking so that thrown weapons have a higher bonus than most melee weapons. you may want to break the weapons down like this: xbows, bows, thrown, thrusting, swinging - or at least keep those factors in mind. still, for added realism, it seems like DX or IQ should factor in there somewhere.

    1. ...but i could definitely forgo the DX or IQ factors in favor of simplicity - if the bonuses are ranked as described above.

    2. 2-Handed Melee.....-1
      1-Handed Melee.....+0
      Pole Arms.............+1
      Thown and Slings...+2

    3. Hi Ada, first thanks for the feed back and yes in the HOW rules initiative is handled as a 1d6 per side. What I am experimenting with is alternative Initiative option for Blades & Black Magic. One alternative is each individual rolls a d6 + weapons speed and then active character is run from high to low.

      Another option is your Adjusted DX+1d6 or your MV+1d6. Again I want to show that they system is flexible/robust enough to offer crunchier/detailed options for those who want/need this extra kind of detail in their system. B&BM will feature a lot of options like this for those who want to experiment or want more detail/crunch.

      Your suggested mods are clean and simple, just the way I like it! Thanks again Adam!

  4. no problemo! you can call me Mr. Clean/Simpleton :)

    in the mods above, i was lumping 2-handed pole arms into pole arms (as well as 1-handed? pole arms) and all other 2-handed melee weapons into, uh, 2-handed melee weapons. sound good or wth?

    1. HI Adam, I think ultimately if I pursue this to its logical end, each individual weapon will have its own weapon speed, once I have that done, then I can create an average by type. It will take more play testing...

  5. this thought probably won't be as welcome. i've always thought it odd that most systems use DX to influence initiative. who responds first? the quick-witted or the slow-witted? initiative has always seemed to be more of an alertness/quick-thinking check to me, which leads me to think IQ is the most logical attribute. DX already has a major role in combat. the IQ for initiative case is present in all forms of media and in real life, in my experience. when the explosion occurs, the dummies scratch their heads and go "Huh?" while the quick-witted are dashing for fire-extinquishers and water-hoses.

    1. in combat, everything is more physical and reactionary on a physical scale, so DX makes sense there...

      in the fleeting moments before the first thrust is made,
      when you stumble upon those orcs in the forest glade,
      quickly scan the enemy's number and might of arms,
      assess in a breath his size, strengths, and flaws,
      pick your target and attack at-will -
      quick wit rewards those sure to kill.

    2. Alternative idea or thoughts are always welcome, just take play testing to prove it out! Thanks Adam for the ideas, if you play test let me know how it goes!

  6. What often happens with systems like this is that they only look at one angle of the issue of initiative. Speed is affected by both the weight of the weapon and it's reach. So, as mentioned by others, missile weapons should get a substantial bonus prior to finding themselves in melee distances. When an enemy is closing into melee range, longer weapons such as polearms should get a substantial bonus over shorter weapons. Once a person is in close quarters, the bonus should go to the lighter weapons such as daggers and short swords, which could realistically make multiple strikes while a heavier weapon like a polearm is still being maneuvered or dropped in favor of a lighter one.

    Obviously, this could only be practical if you roll initiative each round of combat. If you only roll initiative once for the entire combat, you can't make these finer distinctions.

    1. Thanks DD for the very well reasoned and detailed critique, you have really laid out a number of good points here to think about further, much appreciated.

    2. Very well reasoned, indeed. This was the reasoning behind the bonuses and penalties I gave. It draws my attention to the dilemma I was having about how to classify 2-handed pole arms: as pole arms or 2-handed melee. Generally, I have decided to classify 2-handed pole arms as 2-handed melee weapons. However, I'm open to letting them count as pole arms on the first initiative check.

    3. In the original Chainmail miniatures rules there is a section on man-to-man. The way initiative is handled is determined by who attacked whom and by the "class" of the weapon. Each weapon is given a class number. It is a simple but effective method of taking weapon length and weight into consideration. Missile fire takes place prior to melee, so those weapons are not figured into the matrix and they are no longer a factor once melee starts because missiles cannot be fired into melee according to Chainmail.

      Quote for clarity:
      "First blow is struck by- a) the attacker, unless b) the defender has a weapon which is two classes higher, or c) the defender is fighting from above."

      "2nd round and thereafter: first blow is struck by- a) the side which struck the first blow previously, unless b) the opponent has a weapon which is two classes lower, or c) the opponent is fighting from above."

      There are further elaborations on a figures ability to parry based on the class of the weapon that also come into effect.

      Just thought I'd plug that in since that is really what shaped my earlier comment. It's worth taking a look at if you can get ahold of the rules or already have a copy.

    4. That is great to see the additional details around your earlier comment DD. I will have to dig out my copy and re-read it. Thanks again!

  7. This is a great idea. I'm one of those guys that only rolls initiative once at the beginning of combat. Even then, the roll is not for individuals but for each party. These modifications entice me to roll initiative for each round and handle initiative on an individual basis.

  8. Thank I.L, there is still work to be done, but as an optional tool to play with, I think this might work for some folks. The work continues!