Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Chink in the armour, or the merits of called shots

He had managed to get to his feet after his horse had been killed beneath him, but the goblin rabble quickly surrounded him. Despite the heavy tax they payed to his sword, the little devils could smell victory. Hands grabbed at him from all quarters, and blows from axes, spears, and clubs tested every inch of his armour. He bit his teeth and focussed all his will to live on his blood-drenched sword. Screaming in feral rage and frustration, he struck at their heads and arms and bodies. Again and again.

At last he lost his footing on the now slippery ground. His enemies screamed in triumph as they pulled him over. He tried to get up, but the vicious monsters threw themselves on top of him. Some - too many - clung to his arms and legs like insane children.  They tore and stabbed at every joint and gap in his armour. Finally his battered visor gave in. He never saw the spear as it penetrated his left cheekbone and entered his brain.

One of the merits of the rules for armour and defense in the 3.X hack I'm working on is that the Called Shot gets a new lease on life. A knight in full plate will have a Damage Reduction of 8. Though the weapons do twice the damage listed in the PHB, that means he'll be damn hard to bring down, even if he's lost all his Vitality Points, or if he's prone. Even a Critical Hit may not be enough to hurt him properly.

And this is where the Called Shot comes in. By taking a -4 to -6 penalty to the attack roll, the attacker may aim his strike at a specific location on the target, say the face, an armpit, the groin, or another unarmoured area. If the attack is successful, the damage is applied directly to the target's Wound Points.

Table 2.1: Called Shot modifiers
Unarmoured body part, i.e. arm, leg, etc
Held equipment, i.e. weapon, torch, etc.
Soft spot, i.e. unprotected face, hand, etc.
Held item, i.e. potion vial, scroll, etc.
Chink in the armour, i.e. armpit, groin, etc.
Worn item, i.e. amulet, belt, etc.

Note that Damage Reduction is not applied to Vitality Point damage. Further, while Critical Hits do not result in a damage multiplier, they deal Wound Point damage, and are thus affected by Damage Reduction.

Example: Sir Dorren, a lvl 5 Fighter, is wearing a full plate armour with an open-faced helmet (DR 8) and a large wooden shield (DB +4). His Defense is 18 (10 + 4 class + 4 shield). He's got 37 Vitality Points and 12 Wound Points. After a long battle, he's lost all his VP's. Rankar the Hobgoblin (attack bonus +8) aims a Called Shot with his spear at the knight's face. The GM needs to roll an 18 on 1d20 - 5. Rolling 16 + 8 - 5, he gets a result of 19, and hits. The GM rolls 2d6+3 for damage, and the attack does 13 points worth of damage, all applied directly to the Sir Dorren's WP's, and the knight falls.

If the attack had not been a Called shot, the armour's DR would have reduced the damage to 5.

[Picture source: Vintage Fine Art Prints]


  1. Hey it's Matt

    thought you;d find this interesting.!

  2. That's pretty neat. I've been aware of the Zocchi dice for a while, but never really looked into it. Btw, I have one of those rounded d20's that rolls more 20's than any other die I've owned. Coincidence? I think not.