Twisted Tunnels RPG: Combat (Updated 2 Jul 2016)

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This post is part of the Twisted Tunnels RPG project. Jump to Index

These are rules from the earliest rendition of the game. I’ve done a lot of playtesting and I have a completely revised playtest draft. Contact me at “deeperdelvings” at Gmail if you’d like to check it out!

You can’t always evade the maniacs, malefactors, and monstrosities that lurk in the Twisted Tunnels. In this game, combat is a fast, furious, and fatal contest.

The Clash is the basic element of combat: Each side rolls dice, and some of the dice are totaled to determine who wins, and who suffers damage. A fight may be resolved after a single Clash, or a battle may involve multiple Clashes and other wild antics—anything the players and referee can contrive!

These activities may take place either simultaneously, or over a series of rounds. The round isn’t a fixed length of time; it just represents everyone trying to do one main thing: Casting a spell, firing a missile, or skewering an enemy are all examples. If exact timing is needed, assume that a round is about one minute.

How to host a combat

Each round, go around the table and let everyone describe what they want to do. The referee will describe what they can see the monsters doing. The actions, tactics, spells, and stunts that players narrate will have a huge impact on how the events play out, so it’s worth getting the situation clear for everyone before any dice hit the table. “What do you want to do?” is a powerful question.

After that, the referee takes the role of director, choosing one action after another to resolve in whatever order makes sense. Resolving each action might involve anything from an exchange of narration, one or more Saving Rolls, or rolling a Clash against an enemy. Tactical movement, stunts, spells, or damage from ranged attacks might take some enemies out of the action before they even have a chance to fight.

At the end of the round, everyone takes stock of the results. Get everyone involved in picturing and describing the action. If there are survivors, then it’s time to go around the table again to find out what everyone wants to do next.

Some common shenanigans

Using armor
Armor has a rating, showing how much damage it can absorb before it becomes useless. Given time, a skilled warrior can repair armor.
When you take damage on your armor, every hit reduces your armor rating by 1, until it offers no further protection.
When you block an attack with your shield, you can completely ignore it. Make a Saving Roll. On a miss, the shield is destroyed.
Ranged attacks
When you fire into a crowd, including melee, roll your Combat dice. If your Dexterity is higher than the number of people in the bunch, your can choose which enemy is hit. Otherwise, the referee will determine the target randomly.
When you and your allies fire at the same target, roll your Combat dice together as a single Clash.
If your Dexterity is higher than 1, a bow lets you fire more arrows quickly, up to your Dexterity rating. When you let fly a volley of missiles, add 1 die to your Combat dice for each extra arrow.
When two groups of enemies swarm together in battle, it’s melee. Roll all the dice for each side together as a single Clash.
If you are surrounded by enemies, you can use a buster weapon mow them down. When you wade into melee using a buster weapon, add 1 die to your roll for each enemy. Remove the same number of dice after you roll, before counting your score or hits.

Vying for the upper hand

It’s up to the referee whether someone gets +1 to their Combat dice for having the upper hand. You might have the upper hand when…

  • …you use light weapons in a face-to-face duel with a single opponent.
  • …you and an ally flank an enemy to attack from 2 or more sides.
  • …you are using two light weapons, one in each hand. You can equip two light weapons if your Dexterity is 2 or higher.

Sometimes the situation suggests you will be nearly defenseless, but you describe a daring maneuver and the referee gives you a Saving Roll.

If you make it, you can roll your Combat dice to mount a counterattack. On a miss, only dumb luck can save you. You are probably flat-footed if…

  • …you are under fire from someone using a ranged attack.
  • …you are facing an enemy with a weapon, and you have nothing but your bare hands.
  • …your enemy is using a reach weapon to keep you at bay, and your weapon can’t strike.
  • …someone strikes you with a surprise attack.

Players will come up with all kinds of crazy stunts when the pressure is on. Use your imagination. Depending on the situation, some schemes will just succeed, while others might require a Saving Roll, a Clash, or a feat that drains Power from the delver.

It’s up to the referee to hear the players out with an open mind, and adjudicate the situation fairly. If you want to encourage lively and creative tactics, take what the players offer and build on it!

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