Example of Melee



Party A (player characters) is composed of Aggro the Axe, a Hero (F4); Abner, a 5th level magic-user; Arkayn, a 4th level cleric; and
Arlanni, a 2nd level thief. They are hastening down a dungeon corridor in
order to avoid an encounter with a large group of goblins, whose territory
they are now leaving. It is a ten-foot wide corridor and they are moving
with the cleric, fighter, and thief in a line in front, followed closely by the
magic-user. Suddenly they round a bend and confront party 8, who are
earnestly engaged in squabbling over some treasure. Party B is composed
of Gutboy Barrelhouse, a 6th level dwarf fighter; Balto, a 1st level monk;
Blastum, a 4th level magic-user; and Barjin, a 4th/5th level half-elf

The first thing the DM must do is determine if either party is surprised.
He rolls a d6 for party B (where the players can see it, since there are no
secret modifiers) and a 2 comes up. The leader for the players rolls and
gets a 4 for party A. Party B is surprised (since they rolled a 2), and will be
inactive for 2 segments.

Next the DM checks distance, and finds that the parties are only 10 ' apart
-- sufficiently near to close and strike.

Party A immediately recognizes party B as a group of "evil marauders"
they were warned against and moves to attack. First, Arlanni the thief,
who had her sling ready (as the player had stated previous to the encounter),
fires a shot at Blastum, who is obviously a magic-user. A sling
bullet gains +3 "to hit" vs. no armor. Arlanni would usually need an 1 1 to
hit, but now needs only an 8. She rolls a 5, and misses.

Aggro the fighter rushes forward to attack the nearest opponent, who
happens to be Balto, the monk. Balto is wearing no armor, so Aggro needs
a base 8 to hit Balto. However, Aggro is using a + 1 hand axe, and furthermore
an axe is + 1 to hit vs. no armor, so Aggro's adjusted amount needed
to hit is only 6 (or, alternately, the cumulative +2 could be added to whatever
he rolls to improve his chances of rolling an 8 or better). Aggro rolls a
14 and hits Balto, but only 1 point of damage is rolled, plus a 1 point bonus
from the magic axe (2 points total), and Balto can take 4.

Meanwhile, Abner and Arkayn have been preparing short (first level)
spells. The cleric shouts a command of "surrender!" at Gutboy Barrelhouse,
but Gutboy is 6th level and thus gets a saving throw. Furthermore,
he is a dwarf with a constitution of 16, and thus saves at +4. He therefore
needs o 10 or better to save (instead of a 14). He rolls a 17 and saves
easily. Unfortunately, he is almost simultaneously hit by two magic
missiles from Abner, the magic-user. Against these there is no save, and
Gutboy suffers6 points of damage (from a possible 4-10).

As party B is surprised for 2 segments, party A has a chance to hit in each
segment as if they were full rounds (this does not apply to spell use, of
course). In the second segment, Arlanni chooses to set down her crossbow
and unsheathe her sword. Aggro would normally get another chance to hit
Balto, who would be inactive for another segment, but Balto's dexterity
allows him a + 1 reaction adjustment, which means that he personally will
be surprised for one less segment than the rest of his party. So this segment
he IS up and on his guard, and Aggro does not get another hit attempt this
round. Arkayn the cleric readies his mace as Abner steps back and begins
to unroll o scroll for use next round.

Now initiative dice are rolled, and party A's score is lower, so party B gets
to react to the assault. Balto attacks Aggro (who is in AC 2) with his staff.
He needs a base 18 to hit, and the -7 armor class adjustment for sword vs.
plate mail and shield makes this a 20. He (the DM) rolls a 19 ~ a l m o s tb,u t
not quite! Gutboy Barrelhouse and Barjin the fighter/magic-user both attack
Arkayn. That cleric's AC is only 5. Gutboy has +l to hit due to
strength, and his hammer's armor class adjustment vs. scale mail and
shield is + 1, so he needs a 9 or better to hit (1 1 before bonuses). He rolls a
12 and hits for 5 points of damage (including 1 point of bonus damage
from strength). Barjin, with a sword, needs a 13 or better to hit Arkayn. He
rolls a 13 exactly, and hits for 6 more points of damage. Arkayn is starting
to have second thoughts about this whole affoir.

Meanwhile, Blastum has been preparing a shocking grasp spell, and now
he steps forward and touches (rolls a successful "to hit" die score) Arlanni
the thief, delivering 10 points of damage (1-8 + 4). There is no saving
throw: Arlanni has only 8 hit points, and dies.

On the left, Aggro again attacks Balto with his axe. He rolls a 12 and hits
him for 5 points. Balto only had two points left, so he is dead.

Arkayn chooses to attempt to hit Gutboy Barrelhouse. The dwarf is clad in
splint mail, but he is carrying a +2 shield, sa his effective armor class is 1
(though his AC type is 3). Arkayn needs a base 17 to hit AC 1, but using a
mace vs. AC type 3 gives him a + 1 armor class adjustment, so he really
only needs a 16 or better. He rolls a 7 and misses.

During this time Abner has been reading a web spell from the scroll, and
now it takes effect. The web stretches from wall to wall and entangles
Gutboy, Barjin, Blastum (who was beginning spell preparations, though
now they're ruined and the spell is lost), and the unfortunote Arkayn, who
was too near not to get caught. All attempt saving throws, but only Gutboy
Barrelhouse makes his, and thus is only partially entangled. However,
even his 17 strength will not enable him to escape the web in time to avoid
being subsequently subdued or killed by Aggro. The melee is effectively
over: Arkayn can be helped out of the web by his friends, while Barjin and
Blastum are basically helpless to avoid whatever the player characters
have in mind concerning them.

As you can see, a large number of things can happen in each round of
melee, yet this whole fight took only two minutes of game time. Some
melees will last far longer. It may seem at first as if there is a tremendous
number of confusing variables that modify the action, but you'll be
surprised at how quickly you'll be able to conduct a complicated melee
and routinely cover every point. An experienced DM can do it with only an
occasional reference to the tables (though it is not recommended that you
try this -- wait until it comes naturally). The main thing to remember is to
do everything in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. Deal with your players'
actions and reoctions one by one instead of all at once, or you will never
be able to keep track of what round it is, and who’s doing what when.

In the original DMG (which I still have and use) it has a sample combat on page 71. In this, Arlanni the theif uses a crossbow, and Balto the monk uses a sword, both of which were prohibited to those classes at the time. The mistakes seem so egregious that I can't believe they were just an accident. Were you experimenting with different rules at the time? It was a good combat none the less. Was it based on an actual DnD event?


To the best of my knowledge and belief, that particular example was added by the editors, thus slipped past and never got corrected.

From my current standpoint I would allow the thief to use a hand crossbow, and with magic swords reduced in power, open the use of that weapon to clerics, no specialization, of course. However, that ain't OAD&D.


Originally Posted by eyebeams

By the way Gary: Was Gutboy Barrelhouse somebody's character, or just made up for the combat example in the OAD&D DMG?

Gutboy Barrelhouse was a name made up for the example