Armour, Dodge, Parry

[In accordance with making the OSR a better place principles, this is an idea straight from the brain-noggin, there has been no play-testing for this what-so-ever.]

Here's a weird one, mostly from dark souls and such-like.

In dark souls combat scenarios, there are 3 main ways of reacting to damage:

- Tanking it with crazy armour, which reduces it down to manageable amounts
- Dodge roll through it which avoids all damage
- Parry the attack, which not only negates the attack, it also (usually) grants an opportunity to counter attack.

Amour is the most reliable method (as you don't need to actually do anything), though at higher levels it makes dodging attacks harder.
Dodging is the middle of the road in terms of skill, with relatively low risk for the chance to avoid all the damage of an attack.
Parrying is the hardest (and the riskiest) as you forfeit all chance to avoid damage, unless the parry is successful, which also gives you the chance to deal massive damage.

This trifecta of damage avoidance seems pretty cool to me, and is rife with interesting choices, without being over-complicated in the game.

If we wanted to port it over to our RPGs of choice, it isn't quite so simple unfortunately.

Parrying and dodging attacks require knowledge of enemy patterns and good timing on those actions, which obviously doesn't translate well at all.
Armour doesn't quite match DnD style games either, which is a shame.

I think we can make it work though.

We now have three numbers to track in combat in regards to defence (gasp, that's more than one! will it work? no idea).

You have your Dodge Rating, which is tied to reflex/dexterity. This functions like AC in DnD-likes. If an enemy attack roll is under your Dodge Rating, you take no damage.

You have your Armour Rating, which is tied strictly to your equipment. This is damage reduction; the better the armour, the more is subtracted from incoming damage, down to a minimum of 1. Your Armour Rating is also subtracted from your Dodge Rating, or something to that effect.

Finally, you have your Parry Rating, which is tied to your weapon skill. If the natural result of the enemy attack roll is equal to or less than your Parry Rating, they deal no damage, and your deal damage to them, as if you had hit them.

There is something to be said about having "active defence" rolls for things like dodging and parrying. There is also something to be said about keeping rolls down to a minimum, which is what I have gone for here. Hopefully its simple enough that its not going to be overly tricky in play.

It would probably also necessitate smaller numbers that regular DnD-likes, as anyone wearing armour takes less damage all the time if they are hit, but that'll come out in testing I think.

It also opens the door for more interesting "defensive actions". 5e's dodge is all fine and dandy, and LotFP and such's "defensive stance" or whatever it was called is also fine, but with 3 defence types, we can get more funky.

Withstand; forfeit all Dodge Rating, double your Armour Rating.

Dodge; forfeit all Parry Rating, enemy attacks have disadvantage.

Set-up Parry; forfeit all Dodge Rating, double your Parry Rating.

Its a shame I can't quite justify having a nice little defence triangle where each different action forfeited a different defence rating, but we live in an imperfect world, and that's why we can't have nice things.

I like that it seems that each action will be more or less useful depending on your set-up, and the situation, I suspect that much of the time, one will be better, but none will be terrible, and they'll all get their chance to shine.

Hopefully. We'll see I suppose.


  1. What are the "making the OSR a better place principles"?

  2. I can't for the life of me remember where it was, but there was a blog who said that we should be better about actually play-testing stuff, or at least saying its only a theory-craft thing.

    I thought it might be this but it wasn't. Still a good post though.

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