Dungeons of Olde

Trashing old-school dungeons, one tile at a time!

Hand-to-Hand Combat

WARNING: Outdated Rules

The rules in this section have become obsolete following the recent rules overhaul. The most current version of the rules are those included in the Core Rules section of this website.

Hand-to-hand combat, or armed combat, is very similar to unarmed combat, or Brawling. In each attack, there is an Attacker who makes an Opposed Attempt to hit a Defender. If the attack hits, an Effect roll determines how much damage is done—just as in a Brawl. In this section, we’ll focus on the ways armed Hand-to-Hand Combat differs from Brawling.

Hand-to-Hand Weapons Table

Weapon Check Category 1h Brawn
2h Brawn
Damage Size
Shortsword Brawn Sword 6 4 1d6 2
Broadsword Brawn Sword 8 6 1d8 3
Bastard Sword Brawn Sword 10 8 1d10 4
Greatsword Brawn Sword 12 10 1d12 4
Baton Brawn Mace 4 2 1d4 1
Club Brawn Mace 6 4 1d6 2
Mace Brawn Mace 8 6 1d8 3
Warhammer Brawn Mace 10 8 1d10 4
Morningstar Brawn Mace 12 10 1d12 4
Hatchet Brawn Axe 4 2 1d4 1
Battle Axe Brawn Axe 6 4 1d6 2
Broad Axe Brawn Axe 8 6 1d8 3
Sparth Axe Brawn Axe 10 8 1d10 4
Poleaxe Brawn Axe 12 10 1d12 4
Belt Knife Finesse Knife 2 n/a 1d3 1
Dagger Finesse Knife 4 n/a 1d4 1
Sax (or Saex) Finesse Knife 6 n/a 1d6 2
Dagger Finesse Fencing 4 n/a 1d4 1
Shortsword Finesse Fencing 6 n/a 1d6 2
Backsword Finesse Fencing 6 n/a 1d6 2
Rapier Finesse Fencing 8 n/a 1d8 3
Javelin Finesse Spear 6 4 1d6 3
Spear Finesse Spear 8 6 1d8 4
Pike Finesse Spear 10 8 1d10 5

Choosing a weapon

There are many factors a character must consider when choosing a weapon. The Hand-to-Hand Weapons Table shows a wide selection of the most common weapons used in armed combat, along with the details which will influence each character’s selection.

Check Dice

In unarmed combat, the Attacker rolls his Brawn Check Dice for his Attack roll. When a character uses a weapon to attack, though, whether his Attack roll is a Brawn Check or a Finesse Check depends upon the weapon he’s using to make the Attack.

Weapons which strike by hacking or smashing—fists, maces, axes, swords—require the Attacker to make a Brawn Check for his Attack roll. Weapons which do damage by thrusting or stabbing—daggers, rapiers, spears—call for a Finesse Check as the Attack roll. The only weapon that can be used either to hack (Brawn) or stab (Finesse) is the shortsword, because it’s just heavy enough to swing, but still light and pointy enough to thrust.

Naturally, heroes usually choose a weapon that utilizes their better Stat, Brawn or Finesse, when they go to battle. For example, Lunk has Brawn 9 and Finesse 7, so he’s probably going to choose a weapon that uses a Brawn Check to hit. As a barbarian, he’s partial to axes, so he picks up a Broad Axe (the largest axe he can wield one-handed), keeping the other hand free for a shield. Keen, on the other hand, has Finesse 9 and Brawn 6, so she’s going to want a Finesse Check weapon. She chooses a backsword—one of the largest Finesse Check blades her Brawn will allow.

Weapon Categories

Each weapon belongs to a category of related weapons, which rely upon similar maneuvers and tactics in combat. Although every hero is considered to have basic familiarity with all common hand-to-hand weapons, a character can take special abilities which represent advanced training with a particular category of weapon. These abilities provide the character with a positive Adjustment of 1, 2 or 3 on Attack rolls made with any weapon in the chosen category.

As mentioned previously, Lunk is particularly fond of axes. When he has the opportunity to add a special ability, he chooses the first level of advanced training with axes, Apprentice: Axes. This gives him a +1 on his Attack roll with any weapon in the Axe category, ranging from a tiny hatchet, right up through a 7-foot-long poleax. This ability has no effect on his skill with weapons in other categories, such as a broadsword, mace, or spear—superior skill with those weapons will require him to purchase separate special abilities.

Brawn Minimums

The Weapons Tables list a one-handed Brawn Min (1h Brawn Min) for every weapon; this is the minimum Brawn necessary to properly control the weapon in combat when wielding it with one hand. If the character’s Brawn is equal to or greater than the listed 1h Brawn Min, he can use it without penalty to his Attack roll.

The Weapons Tables also list a two-handed Brawn Min (2h Brawn Min) for some weapons. These weapons—generally Brawn Check weapons—can be wielded with two hands, which lowers the Brawn Min to use them without penalty. The 2h Brawn Min is two points less than the 1h Brawn Min for the same weapon. If no 2h Brawn Min is listed for the weapon, there is no way to effectively use it with two hands.

Adjustments to hit with less than the minimum Brawn

If a character’s Brawn is less than the minimum listed to wield the weapon, he takes a -1 to his Attack roll—whether it’s a Brawn Check or a Finesse Check—for each point by which the weapon’s Brawn Min exceeds his own Brawn stat. So, if Fustus (Brawn 5) tried to hit an opponent with a Mace (1h Brawn Min 8), he’d take a -3 Adjustment to his Brawn Check Attack roll. That’s a pretty steep penalty, so characters are well-advised to stick to weapons they have the Brawn to handle, except in very special circumstances.

If Fustus really needs to use that Mace—maybe it has special magic against this particular enemy—he can drop his shield and use the Mace two-handed. The 2h Brawn Min for a Mace is just 6, so Fustus’s Brawn of 5 is only one short; if he uses the Mace with two hands, he’ll only take a -1 Adjustment to his Attack roll.

Weapon damage

The main factor determining how much damage a weapon does when it hits is its size—larger weapons hit harder than smaller ones. The Hand-to-Hand Weapons Table shows the damage done by each weapon, which is the Effect die for a Brawn equal to the weapon’s 1h Brawn Min. The damage a weapon deals is the same whether it’s used with one hand or two, but using a weapon two-handed allows a character with a lower Brawn to use that weapon to do full damage, without any penalties. So if Lunk loses his shield and uses his Broad Axe two-handed, he still does the same 1d8 damage, even though is Brawn is now 3 higher than the weapon’s 2h Brawn Min of 6. His Brawn of 9 will let him use a larger axe—a Sparth axe (2h Brawn Min of 8)—at full damage and without penalty, though, provided he uses it with two hands.

Brawn Minimums and Adjustments to damage

There is no bonus to damage done if the character has a Brawn higher than the Brawn Min of the weapon he’s using; if he wants to hit harder, he needs to find a bigger weapon. There is, however, a penalty to damage if his Brawn is below the Brawn Min; for every point his Brawn is less than the weapon’s Brawn Min, the damage he does with the weapon is reduced by 1. This makes it entirely possible to hit with an Attack and still do no damage, due to a negative Adjustment to the damage Effect roll.

If Fustus does use the Mace in the example above with just one hand, he takes a -3 Adjustment to the damage he does when he hits (1h Brawn Min of 8, minus Fustus’s Brawn of 5, leaves a deficit of 3). If he manages to hit, and his 1d8 damage roll comes up a 2, he does 2 – 3 damage, which amounts to 0 (you can’t do negative damage with a weapon, no matter how low the Adjusted Check roll). So Fustus managed to tap his opponent with that big Mace, but the blow wasn’t hard enough or square enough to do any damage to the target.

Weapon Size

The Weapons Tables also show a Size rating for each weapon; this will be explained in the Gear section of these rules.