Non-Lethal and Weaponless Combat Procedures

The Variable
General Notes :
Multiple attacks
Monsters & unarmed attacks
Armed opponents
Weaponless Combat (UA)

It is not uncommon for players to be weaponless at some stage of a game
- or for better players to wish to attack on opponent bare-handed in order
to most effectively neutralize that opponent’s potential; whether to subdue
or slay when neutrolized i s another matter. Three basic attock modes are
recommended: PUMMEL, GRAPPLE, OVERBEAR. Each method of attack is
explained separately, and each his its own table and modifiers.

Variable Applicable To All Pummeling, Grappling, and Overbearing Attacks:
The attacker takes the number of the column he or she normally uses for weapon attacks,
1 being that for the lowest levels, 2 being that for the next group of levels, and so on.
To this number he or she adds the score of a secretly rolled d6, i.e. 1-6.
The defender does the same, but the die score is that of a d4. The attacker may use this variable for:

    1) a bonus to his or her base chance to pummel, grapple, or overbear,
    2) a bonus to the score rolled for a successful pummeling, grappling, or overbearing attack.

The defender may use the variable for:

    1) a penalty (subtraction) to the attacker‘s base chance to pummel, grapple, or overbear,
    2) a penalty (subtraction) to the attacker‘s pummeling, grappling, or overbearing attack which has succeeded.

The decision as to how to use the variable must be made prior to each attack.

Unconscious parties gain no such variable<.>


Pummel: This attack form is aimed at battering an opponent into unconsciousness.
It can be used with fists or dagger pommel (as in pummel) as weapons.
25% of damage sustained is actual; the remaining 75% is restored at the rate of 1 hit point per round.
Whenever an opponent reaches 0 hit points, unconsciousness occurs.
It lasts for 1 round, plus 1 round for every point of damage beyond 0 hit points which has been sustained,
i.e. 4 hit points equals 5 rounds of unconsciousness.
An unconscious opponent can be trussed || slain in 1 round. <compare to text on sleeping and held opponents>

Determination of First Attack Initiative: First attack initiative is determined by surprise,
charging to attack, higher DEX, or higher die roll -- in that order.
Whichever first occurs determines the first attack for the round,
so in most cases the pummeling attacker will go first in the first round.

Base Score to Hit: The base score on percentile dice is opponent AC value times 10 to arrive at a percentage chance to hit,
i.e. AC 10 = 100%. AC 9 = 90%. all the way to AC ratings of 0 and minus numbers which indicate no chance or a negative chance to score a hit.
The base chance to hit is modified as follows:

Attacker’s DEX, per point + 1%
Attacker’s STR, per point over 15 + 1%
Attacker’s AC, per point, with negative AC being treated as positive by type* + 1%
Opponent slowed +10%
Opponent stunned +20%
Opponent prone without shield or ready weapon and/or helpless AUTOMATIC HIT
Opponent base move over 12"** -5%
Opponent hasted -10%

    * Magical protections such as rings, bracers, cloaks, etc. do not count as AC, so ignore them; encumbrance = AC10.

    ** Do not count if able to move freely -- down, cornered, encumbered, etc.

In each round of weaponless melee, there will be two pummeling attacks, and possibly several blows per attack.
The attacker determines if a strike is successful, and then whether or not it does any damage and how much, if any.
Percentile dice are rolled, and the score is modified as shown below.
The PUMMELING TABLE is then consulted.

Attacker's strength --
    per point over 12 +1%
    per 10% over 18 +2%
Using wooden butt or mailed fist +5%
Using metal pommel +10%
Opponent slowed +10%
Opponent stunned +20%
Opponent helpless +30%
Active defender --
    per point of dexterity over 14 -2%
    employing shield -10%
Leather || padded armor -10%
Chain, ring, scale or studded mail -20%
Magical cloak or ring -30%
Banded, plate, or splint mail -40%
Helmet, open-faced -5%
Helmet, nasaled but otherwise open -10%
Helmet, visored || slitted -20%

Dice Score
Result Hit Points of 
Damage Scored
under 01 blow misses, opponent may counter none
01-20 ineffective blow, strike again none
21-40 glancing blow, off balance* 2 + strength bonus
41-60 glancing blow, strike again 4 + strength bonus
61-80 solid punch, off balance* 6 + strength bonus
81-00 solid punch, strike again 8 + strength bonus
over 00 crushing blow, opponent is stunned** 10 + strength bonus

    * Series ends, determination of next strike must be made.

    ** Opponent unable to attack for 1 full round.


This attack form is aimed at holding the opponent and rendering him or her helpless.
Damage sustained is 25% actual and 75% incidental which is restored at 1 HP per round.
As in pummeling attacks, a score of 0 equals unconsciousness, 1 round plus 1 round for each point of minus damage sustained.

Determination of First Attack Initiative: Surprise, charging to attack, higher dexterity, higher die roll -- in that order.

Base Score to Grapple: Multiply attacker’s AC by 10, ignoring magical devices (bracers, cloaks, rings, etc.),
but adding 1 for each + 1 of magical armor, to find a percentage chance from 100% to 0%.
Note: The attacker cannot grapple if either or both hands are holding anything. The base chance to grapple is modified as follows:

Attacker’s DEX, per point  +1%
Defender's armor protection is -- 
    leather || padded <studded not noted: 15%?> +10%
    chain, ring, scale +20%
    banded, plate, splint +30%
Opponent slowed or stunned  +20%
Opponent base movement 3” faster -10% per 3"
Opponent hasted (includes speed potion)  -20%

In each round of grappling combat there will be an attack and a counter.
Any existing hold automatically goes first until broken.
Once it is determined that a grappling attack succeeds, the percentile dice must be rolled again to find what hold is gained.
The dice roll is modified as follows:

Attacker's dexterity, per point +1%
Attacker's strength --
    per point +1%
    per 10% over 18 +1%
Opponent slowed +10%
Opponent stunned +20%
Opponent helpless +30%
Per 10% weight difference (attacker) (+ or -) 5%
Per 10% height difference* (attacker) (+ or -) 5%
Opponent dexterity, per point over 14 -2%
Opponent strength --
    per point over 12 -1%
    per 10% over 18 -1%
Opponent wearing banded or plate mail -10%
Opponent wearing gorget <1290s, plate, chain?, leather?> and helmet -10%
Opponent using shield -10%

    * Halved if prone.

<(+ or -) didn't have the symbol on board. this form. seems slightly clearly>

Bonuses and penalties are totalled and the result added to the result of the percentile dice roll. The GRAPPLING TABLE is then consulted for the result.

Dice Score
Result H.P. or 
Special Damage Scored
under 21 waist cinch, opponent may counter none
21-40 arm lock/ /forearm/elbow smash 1 + strength bonus
41-55 hand/finger lock/ /bite 2 + strength bonus
bear hug/ trip
3 + strength bonus
headlock/ /flip or throw
5 + strength bonus
strangle hold/ /head butt
6 + strength bonus
Over 95 kick/knee/gouge 8 + strength bonus, opponent stunned

Any hold shown remains in effect from round to round unless the opponent scores a higher percentage hold,
    i.e. arm lock breaks a waist clinch, a hand/finger lock breaks an arm lock, and so forth.
Damage accrues until a hold is broken or until the holder elects to try for a different hold.
The opponent may still inflict damage by lesser hold results shown after the double slashes (/ /).
These might result in both opponents falling to the ground and continuing their grappling there.
Note: If the opponent is stunned, a second attack may immediately be made,
and the stunned opponent cannot counter for 1 round.



This attack form aims at quickly taking the opponent to a prone position, incidentally inflicting damage,
and allowing either a pummel or grappling follow-up attack.
The attacker can have either or both hands otherwise employed -- carrying a shield, weapon, etc.
50% of damage inflicted is actual, the balance is restored ot the rate of 1 point per round.
Once an opponent is overborne, some other form of combat MUST take place.

Determination of First Attack Initiative: Surprise, charging to attack, higher dexterity, higher die roll -- in that order.
Attacker attempting to overbear need not go first to so attack.

Base Score to Hit: Same as grappling attack.
If overbearing attack succeeds, roll percentile dice again, and modify the resulting total by the following:

Attacker’s dexterity, per point  +1%
Defender's armor protection is -- 
    leather or padded +10%
    chain, ring, scale +20%
    banded, plate, splint +30%
Opponent slowed or stunned  +20%
Opponent base movement 3” faster  -10% per 3"
Opponent hasted (includes speed potion)  -20%
<table repeated>

Attacker's strength --
    per point +1%
    per 10% over 18 +2%
Opponent slowed or 1 foot held +10%
Rushing or leaping to attack +15%
Opponent stunned or both feet held +20%
Per 10% weight difference (+ or -) 10%
Per 10% height difference (+ or -) 5%
Opponent's strength
    per point over 14 -1%
    per 10% over 18 -2%
Opponent's dexterity, per point over 14* -2%
Opponent braced -10%

Dice Score
Result Hit Points of Damage Scored
under 21 bounce off or avoided, opp. may ctr. none
21-40 slip down and grab leg none
41-60 opponent staggered, attack again 1 + strength bonus
61-80 opponent knocked to knees 2 + strength bonus
81-00 opponent knocked to hands and knees 3 + strength bonus
over 00 opponent knocked flat, stunned for 1 round 4 + strength bonus

Originally Posted by T. Foster
Hi Gary,

Thanks again for taking time to answer all the questions and put up with all this fawning (I'm sure the latter is easier than the former  ). Anyway, I've got another OD&D (1974) related question (something of an obsession of mine because I was too young to play it when it was 'current'):

In issue #2 of The Strategic Review in the article on "The Questions Most Frequently Asked About Dungeons & Dragons" there's a combat example that includes hints of an unarmed combat system that AFAIK never saw print anywhere else. Here's the relevant quote (emphasis added by me):

Was this an actual system used in your games at that time or just something that was created ad-hoc for this example? If the former, why was this (seemingly quite simple and straightforward) system abandoned in favor of the much more complicated percentile-based system found in the AD&D DMG (which was so complex that at least in my games it served to effectively discourage anyone from ever attempting those maneuvers, at least until we got UA)?

Also, I can't help noticing that both this example combat and the combat example in the AD&D PH feature large numbers of orcs taking out superior PC opponents by grappling them rather than engaging in straight up melee (which the higher level PCs would almost certainly win). Was this pure coincidence or were these intended as subtle hints to DMs how such 'mook' monsters should be played -- making up by sheer numbers what they lack in skill and hit dice?

As always,
Happy to be of service!

We sometimes used the SR system in grappling melees, but most often the Dm simply weighed the situation and ajudicated without all that dice rolling. thus, eight orcs getting the jump on a 4th level fighter would be assumed to overpower him with some loss to themselves--d6 and another die rolll for each KOed in the struggle, a score of 6 indicating killed in action.

The more complex system in AD&D was my error, mainly that of listening to those who wanted combat to be very detailed.

You are on target in regards the examples of low-level monsters seeking to come to grips with a strong PC. Eight orcs will likely be slain by a well-armored 4th level fighter unless they use their sheer numbers to overwhelm him.

I now have that happen when pack animals attack characters.
Two wolves, dogs, or hyenas, for example, both successful in hitting the same target human (or humanoid), will knock him down and put him at a considerable disadvantage.


General Notes:

Multiple Opponent Attacks: It is possible for as many opponents as will
physically be able to attack a single adversary to engage in pummeling,
grappling, or overbearing attack modes. Attack order must first be determined.
Attack from behind negates the shield and dexterity components
of the defending creature. Hits are determined, then results, in order
of attack.

Monsters using these attack modes will choose the most effective if they
are human or humanoid and have above average intelligence, otherwise
they will use the modes in random fashion. Creotures will always ottock to
overbear if they do not use weopons, except bears and similar monsters
who seek to crush opponents by hugging attacks (these are grappling).

Opponents With Weapons Used Normally: If the opponent of a grappling,
pummeling or overbearing attack has a weapon, the opponent will always
strike first unless the attacker has surprise. Any weapon hit does NO
damage, but it does indicate that the attacker trying to grapple, pummel or
overbear hos been fended or driven off, and the attack is unsuccessful. The
weapon-wielder then has the opportunity to strike at the weaponless one
"for real", if he or she so chooses. Surprised opponents with weapons
have no chance for a fending-off strike, unless the attacker must use all
surprise segments to close to grapple, pummel, or overbear.

Monks: Even if grappled, pummeled, or overborne, monks are able to
conduct open hand combat normally until stunned or unconscious.