House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Advanced Fighting Fantasy discussion
Post Reply
Posts: 350
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:20 pm

House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by HedgeWizard » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:41 am


Some rules I use to vary combat a bit.


One of the great things of AFF is its simplicity, but at times i get the nagging feeling that some things are missing. One of those was danger in combat, if you have an advantage of 2 in a combat you'll probably win and be none the worse for it. Any damage which you do sustain can be recovered with a sandwich and some time lying down in a dark room.

Yes this is high fantasy, yes stamina is an abstract measure of how you are feeling. But the rules for armour make t clear that they are actually blocking hits and when you get to zero you are dead. It's all rather binary 100% effective (unless you suffer a critical hit 1 in 36 chance) or dead.

I really enjoy using the visera document but this only gives more explanation to how you are hurting without fundamentally changing the rules beyond healing and being a bit more fatal.


So my changes are a table saying what has happened when you reach zero stamina. Extra critical hits and the ability to run away!

When you reach zero roll 2d6 on the following table (based upon one made for D&D):

2 - Instant death: Dead, very very dead
3 - Fatal wound: die in D6 rounds
4-5 - Severed limb and pass out: randomly pick one, die in 3d6 rounds unless someone stops the bleeding
6-7 - Broken bone (random): Out of the fight and will need 2d6+3 weeks to recover naturally
8-9 - Knocked out for 2d6 rounds
10-11 Stunned for d3 rounds
12 - "Now I'm Mad!" Regain D3 Stamina but then pass out for 2d6 rounds after the combat ends.

If a player has to roll multiple times on this chart in the same combat then add -1 for each previous roll.

If the target is incapacitated then feel free to deliver the coupé de grace, if you cannot focus because of being in combat then roll on the above table with a D6 only.

Extra critical hits: any combat which you win with a double causes a Critical Hit (Double damage and -1 to skill)

Run away!!! : to avoid the extra critical hits causing a downwards spiral then people can run away. This is done as an opposed test of your current skill level vs. The enemy skill level -2 (if a using a weapon) or at full level (if a creature). If you won the previous round of combat using a defensive posture (+2 to skill but cause no damage I'd won) then get +2 when trying to run away.

User avatar
Posts: 733
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:53 am

Re: House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by SkinnyOrc » Sat Jan 20, 2018 9:53 am

HedgeWizard wrote:When you reach zero roll 2d6 on the following table (based upon one made for D&D)
I really like the concept of different results when a character runs out of STAM. Something I've been thinking for a while is it'd be great to have some effects from combat that were more long term. Breaking a leg has an obvious effect on mobility while breaking an arm has a 50% chance of forcing the character to fight with their off hand or otherwise stops them using a shield or anything two handed, having a hand bitten/chopped off is the same but permanent, losing an eye reduces SKILL and probably more with ranged weapons with the loss of depth perception, and so on. Some would take weeks or months to heal naturally and even then leave a SKILL penalty, and others don't heal at all. More powerful magic than a normal Priest Heal would be needed to fix them completely. These are the sorts of things you wouldn't want happening often. I thought about making them critical hit effects but that seemed too harsh, but making it something that happens only when they get to 0 STAM might work!

By the way I'm not sure I'd have anything on the table which is instant death. By the book there's no immediate death until -4 and it doesn't seem very fair to the players to change that.
HedgeWizard wrote:Extra critical hits: any combat which you win with a double causes a Critical Hit (Double damage and -1 to skill)
The problem with crits on any double is if you do it to the players they won't be happy, it's just too often. I'd suggest you tie increased chance of a crit to a high Weapon Special Skill. I did that in this thread as part of my fix for PC attack strength being able to get too high. I had the best you could have is a crit on an 11 or 12 but that could be increased without causing a lot of problems doing it like this.
HedgeWizard wrote:Run away!!!
Making disengaging an opposed SKILL roll makes sense. What was the thinking behind the enemy being -2 if using a weapon and no penalty with natural weapons? The +2 for fighting defensively the previous round I like, they've spent a bit of time getting ready.

Posts: 350
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:20 pm

Re: House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by HedgeWizard » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:50 pm

You are right that you are only dead at -4 in the normal rules. But this removes the opportunity to meet your end gloriously being decapated by a Minotor or some such method. But of course that is perhaps more a thing of personal taste.

If the players complain you can always look into the distance while you chew your cigar and growl "We're fighting the denizens of chaos not running a playground pillow fight!" :-)

For the critical hits I was thinking about that over the weekend. The current rule has a 3% chance of a critical hit, don't know about you but being hit by an axe would probably be a life changing experience for me. Critical hits on all doubles is a 17% chance which I agree is quite an increase. So here is an alternative:

Potential Critical hit on any double, BUT it is only a normal hit and not critical if their armour or dodge roll saves them at all, a natural one is always a critical hit. This means the following chances:

someone without armour or dodge: 17%
Armour/Dodge saving on 6+: 14%
Armour/Dodge saving on 5+: 11%
Armour/Dodge saving on 4+: 8%
Armour/Dodge saving on 3+: 6%
Armour/Dodge saving on 1+/2+: 3%

For reference Critical hits on a 11/12 is 8% as well.

Posts: 350
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:20 pm

Re: House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by HedgeWizard » Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:54 pm

The thinking of the +2 when running away is to try and simulate the base skill of the enemy rather than the Skill + Weapon Skill which the monster skill level depicts. And to give more of a chance of legging it.

But it can be argued that the enemy will be as skilled at running as fighting so you could leave it un modified or have -2 penalty for all enemies or give the hero an automatic one round head start.

Just some ideas.

Posts: 61
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:47 pm
Location: Doncaster, more or less

Re: House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by drbargle » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:45 am

HedgeWizard wrote: I really enjoy using the visera document...
Cheers, I'm glad someone is actually using it in the wild (except for me). I've really got to get on with working on my other booklets, which include one with some extra combat options.

Re: danger and low SKILL opponents. One of the things that makes things dangerous for the Adventurers in my games is facing multiple opponents. They get to enjoy cutting through the rabble, and feel like real Heroes, but at the same time the number of 2d6 being rolled against them increases. Before you know it one of those Troglodytes as stuck them with a critical and they lose a point of SKILL and... as you say, a couple of points of effective SKILL make all the difference, and those +1s for outnumbering and those -1s for taking a critical all add up. 1in36 is actually pretty often - less a feature of the 'big' monster fights in which the Director is only roll 1x2d6 each round, and more a feature of the horde fights in which the Director is rolling many sets of 2d6.

It might just be that my players are unlucky!

One of the reasons I am wary of tying criticals to 'degree of success', which is essentially a proxy for SKILL is that SKILL already wins fights. I like the fact that the peasant with a pitchfork has a chance of causing a serious injury, *and* that even if an Adventurer cut chop through them one by one, taking on a mob is still a risky proposition.

I'm reminded that Troika really ups the potential damage for each weapon. It also lowers the starting SKILL for the PCs, and all advancement is by Special Skills, but that's by the by - what's important is that SKILL still wins fights, but PCs with high SKILL are always at risk of being skewered. As I think about it, this produces a dynamic that is similar to that of BRP/D100 based games, in which even high skill% PCs only have a small number of HP, and are always just one bad roll from defeat or worse. I'm not sure I'd go the 'Troika route' for standard AFF - one of the attractions for me (given who I game with and how often we get to game) is that the players start out with competent PCs (about the 'sweet spot' of Classic D&D - levels 4-6 or thereabouts) but are still vulnerable - I've had several Adventurer deaths.

Another thing you can do - and this I'm not very good at - is create interesting environments for combat, in which clever use of the terrain (or furniture) can produce the odd +1/-1 to effective SKILL (or to the Attack Roll, however you apply bonuses). One of my plans is to work out how to formalise/offer (myself) guidelines for *how* these advantages can be created/used. At the moment I'm thinking of borrowing for FATE and encouraging the creative use of non-combat skills in combat. How to tie this in to the dynamics of the 'single opposed roll' combat of FF is the question.

Oh, and there is a Death and Dismemberment table in Viscera! on pages 14-15.

Also: I'd glad to be back - I haven't blogged in over 6 months, and haven't posted on here in ages. Finally found that my password reset requests were going to my Spam Folder.

Posts: 350
Joined: Wed Dec 06, 2017 3:20 pm

Re: House rule: Varying the effects of combat

Post by HedgeWizard » Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:38 pm

I think this is also very similar to the discussion we are having elsewhere regarding the urge to formalise and the need to keep things simple.

If you have multiple combats then the chance of a critical hit obviously increases: it's roughly 3% with one, 8% with 2, 11% with three etc. So no your people are not unlucky, if you throw lots of little people against them (and I think that is a great idea) some of those hits are really going to hurt! I agree that if you are going with the style of these mass combats then keeping the original simple rule is the best.

Post Reply