I do not like the -4 penalty on attack rolls for trying to inflict subdual damage in the 2e (and 3e) rules. I find not much sense in restricting the use of non-lethal attacks. There is, I found out, no penalty in S&W and OSRIC, which makes me feel better. Still, subdual damage means half the inflicted damage is real. So, what about a successful attack that does no damage?
While day-dreaming I watched, and analysed some role-playing game combat scenes before my inner eye, and came up with a simple rule. (And remember, when I talk about role-playing game combat it means fantasy, which is, as the name implies, un-realistic.)
The "I don't have to miss" rule
"I don't have to miss." was what Fezzik said to the man in black, who found himself in the lucky position of being missed by a huge flying rock. Read William Goldman's The Princess Bride, or watch the movie.
The rule integrates smoothly into standard rules, can be ignored entirely most of the time, but comes in handy, if a PC, NPC or monster wants to convey a message to an opponent rather than physically harm him.
The rule is generic and can be used with most game systems, since it essentially says, that a player after rolling a successful attack, instead of inflicting damage may have his PC do something else.
When to use it
Use it in bar-brawls, in arguments with that naughty wizard in your group, or in staged fights. Game masters may want to use it on that tiresome occasion when an armor-clad sword-wielding fighter charges a dragon who couldn't care less for the feeble attempts of wanna-be knights courting ladies, and trying to prove their manhood by hunting huge scaly predators.
Note: The rules for Subdual Damage still apply.
How it works
- Roll to Hit
- On hit, EITHER declare damage (roll for damage, and resolve combat round normally) OR restraint from inflicting any damage. In the latter case go on with step 3.
- Roll for damage but do not subtract from opponent's hit points. Take it as some kind of measurement as to what degree the defender is impressed, and glad to be spared the damage. Play the roles on this one.
- Attacker may decide to inflict a small (but humiliating?) wound, cut a strap or girdle, trim a dwarf's beard, tickle an elf's ear, or whatever, and say their one-liner: "I could have killed you, you know...", or something to that effect.
- NPCs and Monsters must perform a Morale Check (maybe at -2), and will retreat (back off) or flee on a failed test. Their next attack (if any) will be at -2 (this counts for PCs, as well.)
- I suggest that Players whose PCs are treated this way should keep in mind that, if a NPC or monster spares them, they may want to acknowledge this gesture, and have their PCs retreat. Else, they better be lucky on their attack rolls, because the NPCs or monsters might really get cross with them afterwards.
- It can be used to to create comical situations, which is fine.
If attacker decides to inflict damage during next attack he rolls to Hit +1 for that attack only (no damage modifier.)
*Eine deutsche Übersetzung erfolgt auf Wunsch.