Thursday, June 23, 2022

Building Bhakashal - Example of Combat - Mercenaries and Critical Effects



I will go through an example of a PC Mercenary combat to show how Bhakashal treats the martial classes. Let’s take a 4th level Mercenary, Herak the Bold, 4th is right before mercenaries start to pick up followers, and in this case we will use an example with average stats. As a 4th level mercenary they will have one permanent magic item, and a few temporary ones. 


The idea will be to highlight the various rules that govern the mercenary class and general combat rules that apply to them. 


For some context, the vast majority of “mercenaries” in the setting are 0-level, most soldiers, guards, bandits, sailors, cavalry, thugs, militiamen, raiders, etc. are all 0-level. In AD&D a 4th level fighter gets 4 attacks per round against these guys. Bhakashal is different, but I believe, just as deadly. A 4th level fighter is supposed to be dominant in combat with a common soldier, but the circumstances, the numbers, bad planning, bad luck, anything can lead to disaster. Animals and monsters, on the other hand, are VERY deadly in Bhakashal, moreso I think than in 1e AD&D, as I wanted to give the tiger back its bite. 


A few other comments, first, criticals are supposed to happen more often in combat than they would with a “critical on a 20” system. Mercenaries get more weapon proficiencies than any other class, get new proficiencies more often, can use a proficiency slot to get +1/+1 with an existing weapon, they get the best attack bonuses, they are most likely to have stat bonuses in combat relevant stats, and their greater number of WP slots means they can access a greater range of weapons and take advantage of the WvrsAC rules. In short, they get the most bonuses and thus trigger criticals the most often. 


That is by design. Fighters in 1e AD&D become quite routine to play as all they can do is mete out more and more damage. It is a bit of a visceral thrill to see those damage numbers creep up, but I find that most players lose interest after a while. Bhakashal’s weapon and combat critical system opens up new possibilities in game, and the ability to declare your own criticals makes the system extremely flexible and fun.


Herak the Bold gets 4 Weapon Proficiency slots and another at 4th, 5 slots total, so he will take three slots for weapons, one for a bonus on his melee weapon, and one slot will be spent to get a Spider skill, specifically Hide in Shadows. All stats are rolled. Herak is a Saan (lizardfolk).


Herak the Bold 4th Level Saan Mercenary

AC: 5 (breastplate and greaves), MV: 12, HP: 19


S: 12 [+1/+1]

I: 9

W: 10 [+1/+1]

D: 14 [+2/+2]

C: 10 {+1/+1]

C: 12 [+1/+1]


Skills: Hide in Shadows - 35%


Weapons (Attack Bonus: +2)

Battle Axe [+4/+2] - 1-8/1-8, WS:4, WvrsAC: -2M/+1L/+2N, Critical: Cleave

Crossbow [+4] - 2-5/2-5, WS:4, WvrsAC: -1M/+2L/+3N, Critical: Remain

(2) Hand Axes [+3/+1] - 1-6/1-4, WS: 2, WvrsAC: -3M/+1N, Criticals: Dual Wield/Remain


Natural attack - three per round (Claw, Claw, bite), 1-2/1-2/1-6


Magic Items

+1 Samnite Armor

(4) +1 bolts


Herak is out to steal treasure from a bandit ring. He approaches a cave where he discovered recently that there are bandits hiding out. A raiding party leaves, and there are some bandits left behind to protect their hideout. It is dark out, and he climbs a tree and watches the cave from a distance, eventually, after a half hour, he views two guards at the entrance to the cave. They emerge with torches, survey the area by the cave entrance, and then walk around the clearing in front in a circle along the forest’s edge until they reach each other, looking for any possible intruders. They then return together to the cave. 


It is dark and Herak is in the trees so he is unseen. A half hour later they come back again and do the same thing. Herak now hides in the forest along the route of one of the guards . He waits in the shadows with his battle axe at the ready, and his crossbow loaded.


The guards come out and walk their route. Each is wearing leather armor (AC 8). When the first guard passes by Herak he needs to roll for surprise. In Bhakashal, if you have a Hide in Shadows % then the procedure is as follows:

  1. Roll for Surprise (2 in 6 chance)

  2. If that fails, roll your Hide In Shadows

  3. If that fails then the target has noticed you and you do not get surprise.


So first there is a surprise roll, the guard rolls a 4 so is not surprised. Herak rolls his Hide In Shadows, he has a 35% chance and rolls a 20%, so he was successful. This allows him to get surprise on the target, in Bhakashal that means one free attack before initiative is rolled. 


Herak attacks from behind as the guard passes him, what are his odds of attacking successfully? Herak gets his to hit bonus based on STR and proficiency (+4), a +2 as he is attacking from behind, a +1 WvrsAC adjustment for a battle axe against leather armor, and a +8 modifier as his target is AC 8.


Herak’s Battle Axe:

Weapon: +4

Situationals: +2 (behind)

WvrsAC: +1 (leather armor)

Armor Class: +8

Total: +15


So the minimum that Herak can get is a 16, which is a ½ damage hit, a full damage hit happens at a roll of 5, and a critical hit happens on a 10 or more.


Herak rolls a 14, for a total of 29, a critical hit.


Bhakashal has critical tables for combat, and critical tables for weapons, but in this case Herak wants the target to go down quietly. One of the best aspects of the critical system is that you can pick your critical if it isn’t listed on the tables. The idea is that the referee and the player have to agree that the critical you choose together is around the same effectiveness of the existing criticals.


Making your blow and the response silent is a fair critical effect. So Herak picks “a silent hit” as his critical. 


Damage is 1-8 + 2, he rolls a 5+2=7. 0-level bandits have 1-6 HP, so the first bandit dies silently. 


Referee - “When the guard passes you swing your axe at the bandit’s passing head, it sinks in before he has a chance to make a sound, and he slides to the ground, dead.”


Herak then positions himself to wait for the other guard to come around. As he appears Herak shoots the crossbow. We roll to see if the bandit spots Herak before he shoots. We roll for surprise and the bandit rolls a 4, so he is not surprised. When he see’s Herak with his crossbow pointed at him I roll to see if he calls out first or he tries to hide or tries to shoot (he has a crossbow as well). I weight it more heavily to some sort of aggressive response as he would be unlikely to ignore a crossbow pointed at him to shout a warning. I roll and he decides to try and hide, diving behind a tree. 


Since the cover provided by a tree would matter to the exchange, initiative is rolled. Ducking behind a tree is a fast action, so +1 on the initiative score, the guard rolls a 3 + 1 = 4. Herak rolls a 3 + 4 = 7, so the bandit gets behind the tree, giving him a 5 point AC bonus. So does Herak hit the bandit?


The range is 50’, med range for a light crossbow is 120’ so there are no distance penalties.


Herak’s Crossbow:

Weapon: +4

Situationals: -5 (cover)

WvrsAC: +2 (crossbow vrs leather armor)

Armor Class: +8

Total: +9


Herak rolls a 16 + 9 = 25, a critical hit! He opts for the same result as last time, a silent attack. He rolls 4 hp damage, the bandit has 3 hp and dies.


Referee - The bandit dove into the trees but you had him before he moved, you fire and nail him in the neck, he gurgles and drops dead.”


Herak knows that the guards will be missed soon, so he makes his way up to the cave entrance as soon as possible. He sprints to the cave and peers inside, there are torches on the walls, burning fitfully, and he sees a largely empty cave with an exit at the back that opens into darkness.


Herak enters the cave with his battle axe in hand and his crossbow loaded again. He creeps in, looking for tripwires or signs of some sort of deadfall. He sees nothing obvious and moves forward. Unfortunately one of the bandits has decided to come forward to talk to the guards. I roll for surprise and the bandit is not surprised, he sees Herak and shouts, “Intruders!” while taking out his longsword and charging the mercenary. 


Herak curses and hurls his axe at the bandit.


When two opponents are separated by more than 10’ (melee range) and one is using a missile while the other is using a melee weapon, the missile weapon goes first, no initiative necessary. The bandit is charging, so he gets +2 to hit but takes a 2 point AC penalty.


Herak’s Battle Axe:

Weapon: +4

Situationals: +2 (charging opponent) - 2 med range

WvrsAC: +1 (battle axe vrs leather armor)

Armor Class: +8

Total: +13


Herak rolls a 8, for 21 total, a hit. Damage from the battle axe is 1-8, he rolls a 4, +2 for STR, for a total of 6hp damage. That’s enough, and the bandit goes down. 


Referee - “After the bandit calls out you realize the jig is up, you hurl your axe and it lands square in the bandit’s chest, he lets out a wheeze, then falls.” 


Herak grabs his axe and moves back, takes out his crossbow and waits. He attempts to hide in the shadows against the cave wall, hoping the dead bandit on the floor will grab the attention of the emerging bandits. 


No surprise is indicated.


In Bhakashal spider skills are in addition to regular surprise rules, Herak rolls a 12 for Hide in Shadows, so he gets to make a surprise attack. He fires off a crossbow bolt at the lead bandit and then charges forth with axes in hand.


Herak’s Crossbow

Weapon: +4

Situationals: none

WvrsAC: +2 (crossbow vrs leather armor)

Armor Class: +8

Total: +14


Herak rolls a 6 for a 20, a regular hit. It does 2-5 damage, he rolls a 4, the bandit has 2 hp and goes down.


Referee - “Your crossbow bolt takes the lead bandit in the gut, he doubles over and collapses”


Note that, technically, a bandit at -2 hp isn’t dead, but I’m anticipating that they won’t get healed or patched up in the fight and will bleed out and die.


There are 8 more bandits arriving from deep within the cave, they run out two abreast. Herak wades in with his twin hand axes. His axes have a critical effect of dual wield:


Dual Wield – Weapon gives a 1 point AC bonus. On a miss or a 1/2 damage hit the weapon is assumed to be blocking, a regular damage hit does regular damage, a critical hit allows both weapons to hit that round and gives a single critical effect. 


Herak is charging, so he gets a +2 to hit, but his AC is two points worse. However, his hand axes give him a 1 point AC bonus, so the net penalty is 1 point. So for this round he is AC:6.


Since he is charging the longest weapon strikes first, giving both of his opponents first strike. The first one swings his longsword, his bonuses are:


Bandit’s Longswords

Weapon: +1

Situationals: +2 (charging)

WvrsAC: -1 (longsword vrs metal armor)

Armor Class: +6

Total: +8


First bandit rolls a 5 + 8 = 13, a miss


Second bandit rolls a 13 +8 = 21, a regular damage hit. 1-8 damage, he rolls a 3. Since this doesn’t bring Herak below 1/2 of his total HP (½ is 10 hp, he is now at 16 of 19 hp, it is described as minor. 


The referee takes out a suit of cards from 2 to 10 and  shuffles them.


 Table 2 - Location of Hit  

2 - Right Leg 

3 - Left Leg 

4 - Right arm 

5 - Left arm

6- Chest 

7 - Stomach 

8- Back 

9 - Neck

10 - Head


He draws a 5, left arm.


Referee - “The first bandit swings wildly and misses you completely, leaving himself off balance, but that moves you towards bandit number two, who thrusts forward and slices your upper left arm, a stinging blow”


Now it is Herak’s turn with his axes - Hand Axes [+3/+1] - 1-6/1-4, WS: 2, WvrsAC: -3M/+1N, Criticals: Dual Wield/Remain


Herak’s Hand Axes

Weapon: +3

Situationals: +2 (charging opponent)

WvrsAC: none

Armor Class: +8

Total: +13


He rolls a 13, +13 is 26, for a critical. That means both axes hit this round, and he gets a critical effect. He consults the combat criticals table and picks 19. Extra Attack. So he gets two attacks with the axes that both hit and an extra attack that may or may not hit.


He rolls for the next hit, and gets a 15, another critical, so he opts again for an extra attack. He rolls a 12, another critical, so he opts for the extra attack again. Now he rolls a 10, for 23, a regular hit.


So he gets a total of 5 hits this round. 


The first hit does 1-6+1, 4 hp of damage, his opponent has 6 hp, so he directs the second axe at him and hits again, this time for 3 hp damage, felling him. He swings at the next bandit and hits for 5 hp damage, this bandit has 4 hp and goes down. The next two bandits are immediately behind and in melee range. He hits the next for 6 hp damage, he goes down, and the last for 3 hp damage, he has 3 hp, and goes down. 


So a total of 5 bandits have gone down. 4 remain. They surround Herak, and while they are doing so he switches to his battle axe single handed.


Charging is over, so it is now regular initiative. 


In Bhakashal all initiative is individual.


The 4 remaining bandits attack with longswords, weapon speed 3, they roll individual initiative scores of 2,3, 3 and 5, modified to 5, 6, 6 and 8.


Herak has a battle axe with weapon speed 3, he rolls a 1 + 3 = 4. 


Herak strikes first.


Herak’s Battle Axe

Weapon: +4

Situationals: none

WvrsAC: +1 (leather armor)

Armor Class: +8

Total: +13


Herak rolls a 19, for 32 total, a critical hit, he chooses to use his weapon critical of cleave and does full dice damage on the hit, that’s 8 hp damage and a guaranteed kill. Referee takes out a card and its a 7 for stomach.


Referee - “You swing your axe around and disembowel the approaching bandit”


At this point, more than half the bandits are down, they have sustained more than twice as many hits than they have given, so it is time for a morale roll. Herak is outnumbered, but he has made short work of the bandits and continues to do so. I roll a regular morale check with a negative modifier for Herak’s CHA of -5%.


They roll and get a 35, -5% for a total of 30%, and their morale fails, the remaining 3 bandits bolt out of the cave. Herak decides to let them go and push further into the cave. 


After a short distance in the darkness Herak emerges into a large internal cavern. 


We roll for surprise. No surprise is indicated, and his infravision reveals a shimmering in the darkness, something stands up and circles him. It is small and muscular, and his eyes resolve it to be a mountain lion. He also sees  a small chest and a pile of coins in the back of the cave.


The mountain lion roars and moves forward, springing through the air at the mercenary.


On charge, the longest weapon strikes first, in this case Herak’s battle axe, a leap is like a charge, so the lion gets a +2 to hit but a 2 point AC penalty as well. 


Herak’s Battle Axe

Weapon: +4

Situationals: +2 (charging target)

WvrsAC: +2 (battle axe against no armor)

Armor Class: +6

Total: +14


Herak rolls a 3, + 14 for 17 and a half damage hit. He rolls a d8, gets a 6/2 = 3 + 2 = 5 hp of damage. 


In Bhakashal when you fight something with a lot of HP, your first successful hit bloods the target, and you roll for its total HP on the spot. So essentially your first successful hit allows you to gauge the power of your opponent. A mountain lion has 3 HD. That’s 3d8 HP, the referee rolls and gets 14 HP, 5 hp damage reduces this to 9 hp still above half, so no penalties. 


Referee - “You swing your axe across the lion’s path, hoping to knock it aside, but only manage to tag it on the side, leaving a crimson trail behind in the air”


Now the lion attacks. Monsters and animals get an attack bonus of +1 per HD, so +3 from that.


Mountain Lion

Weapon: +3

Situationals: +2 on leap

WvrsAC: -2 (metal armor)

Armor Class: +6

Total: +9


The lion gets a CCB routine, and rolls a 2, 15 and 10, the 2 is an 11, a miss, the 15 is a 24, a hit, and the 10 is a 19, a half damage hit. 


Since only one claw hit there are no back claw raking attacks. One claw attack does 1-3 hp, rolled a 1, and the bite does 1-6, rolled as a 3, halved to 2 hp damage. So 3 hp damage to Herak, who was at 16 hp, so he is down to 13 HP, still above half.


Referee - “Your battle axe blow does not redirect the beast, one of it’s claws slices your side and it attempts to sink its teeth into your neck, but manages only to tag your left arm near the shoulder”


The man and the lion circle each other, the lion snarls and attempts to maul the fighter.


Initiative time.


All monster attacks are weapon speed 1, so they are pretty fast. 


The lion rolls a 4 +1 = 5


Herak rolls a 2 +3 = 5. He decides that he wants to win this round as the beast could finish him off with one full attack routine. He spends a hp to reduce his initiative roll to a 1, giving him a 4 for initiative and 12 HP, still above half.


Note that the monster could also reduce its initiative roll. TO keep things fair I generally recommend rolling for this, in this case, the monster has been tagged but not too badly, so I weight it away from spending HP to go first, so in this case 1-2 spends HP to reduce initiative, 3-6 does not alter the initiative roll. I roll a 5, so no spending HP.


Herak goes first.


Herak’s Battle Axe

Weapon: +4

Situationals: none

WvrsAC: +2 (battle axe against no armor)

Armor Class: +6

Total: +12


He swings his battle axe and rolls a 16 + 12 = 28, a critical hit! He chooses to use his weapon critical of cleave, full HD damage from the axe swing, that’s 8 hp damage, +2 for 10 hp damage, the lion has 9 hp left, and goes down.


Referee - “The beast growls and pounces but you push hard and get your axe around before it closes the distance, you cleave the beast’s neck and it crashes, it’s head almost off”


Unbeknownst to Herak, although the bandits’ main caster, a 5th level warlock named Toglothen the Temmurite, was out on the raid, his apprentice, a 1st level Togmu (frog folk) warlock named Iumu Lage, has been cowering in the shadows, hoping the lion would do the job. When it goes down he will cast his spell. 


First we see if Herak notices the Togmu when the lion goes down, it’s not unreasonable, the Togmu would show with infravision. Conversely, Herak might see the caster before he casts and get the drop on him, in a chaotic, violent situation, you can get blindsided. So in Bhakashal, when someone tries to surprise someone else, both sides roll for possible surprise. While sneaking up on someone they could turn unexpectedly, etc.


So this is a surprise situation, unless Iumu wanted to cast while the lion and Herak were fighting, then he could have done that, sequenced with initiative.


So we roll for surprise. I give Iumu an increased chance of surprising Herak due to the distraction, so 3 in 6 for him, and I reduce Herak’s chances of surprising the warlock by 1 to 1 in 6.


Both sides roll, no surprise, so Herak sees the warlock and the warlock sees Herak finish off the beast. 


The Togmu is casting burning hands, it is a close up spell. So he will roll initiative and if he has to wait until the target is close enough to use it (let the target come to him) he will still have initiative when they are within range.


He rolls a d6 + 1 for the spell’s casting time, and , gets a 4+1 = 5


Herak doesn’t know how powerful the togmu is, but cowering in the corner has given him a hunch. He figures he needs to hit the warlock before he casts. So he pulls back and heaves his battle axe through the air. He rolls a 3+3 = 6. 


Now, the PC has a choice to make. If he lets the caster go first, who knows what he is casting? So he chooses to spend 2 hp to reduce his roll to a 1, and a score of 4. He now has 10 hp, half. If he takes any more damage he will take exhaustion penalties. The Togmu is 1st level with 3 hp, so he won’t spend any to alter a roll.


Herak goes first, throwing his axe 20’, medium range, so he takes a -2 distance penalty. 


Herak’s Battle Axe

Weapon: +4

Situationals: -2 (distance)

WvrsAC: +2 (battle axe against no armor)

Armor Class: +10

Total: +14


Herak rolls a 15 + 14 = 29, a critical hit. Herak chooses to double damage, which he hopes will slay the caster outright. So Herak rolls a d8 for the axe, he gets a 3, multiplied by two is a 6, +2 is 8 total, more than enough to finish the Togmu warlock.


Herak knows the other bandits could arrive back from their raid at any time. He runs to the cave mouth and looks out, the bandits that fled have not returned, and he can see nothing in the forest or on the road. He bolts back into the room and sees a chest with piles of coins around it. 


Herak has a gess (giant lizard) tethered in the forest nearby. He contemplates running to it to get it here so he can carry out more. He doesn’t want to meet the rest of the bandits on his own. He decides on a plan. He approaches the chest, it appears to have a padlock, nothing more.


He hopes they did not trap the chest, and he smashes the lock with his axe. He has to roll a critical to shatter it. 


Herak’s Battle Axe

Weapon: +4

Situationals: +2 (stationary target)

WvrsAC: -2 (battle axe against metal)

Armor Class: +3 (metal lock)

Total: +7


Herak needs to roll an 18 to get a critical and shatter the lock. He chooses to try three times, taking up three rounds of time. The referee decides to roll to see when the raiders will be back. Since they left 2 and a half hours have gone by. I figure that to get to the caravan route would take at least a few hours if their hideout was to make sense. Then waiting for a few hours for a caravan or travelers to come by. So I rolled 1-3 + 2 hours, and got 4. Harak has at least 2 hours but he doesn’t know that.


So he takes three quick cracks at the lock. He rolls a 15, a 7 and a 19, gaining a critical and shattering the lock. He lifts the chest top and it has gems, a ring, a book, an ornate dagger and two potions. He scoops up the items and a handful of gems and sprints out. He will go to his mount, come back and load up the remainder as well as the coins that are lying nearby.


He surveys the area before sprinting out. The referee rolls to see if the fleeing bandits from earlier encountered his mount, but they did not. He reaches the mount in 5 rounds. He rides back in 2. I decide to roll to see what the fleeing bandits would do. They knew that the raiders would be back eventually, and that they might be punished for failing, so I roll a d6, 1-4 they flee, 5-6 they stay hiding in the area.


They fled.


Herak takes the gess into the cave where it waits. He then runs in, fills up a pair of sacks, and drags them out to his mount and he fills a saddlebag and runs back for more. Each trip takes a turn, and it takes 4 turns to transfer all the coins, gems and jewelry to his saddlebags. When he is done, unbeknownst to him, Herak will have an hour and 20 min before the raiders return.


His mount is weighted down with 100 lbs of coins, 5 lbs of gems and jewelry, and the items, a Ring of Spell Storing with Fly in it, a book with maps of remote islands (potential hideouts), a +2 dagger, a potion of ESP and a potion of Clairvoyance. 


Between the 1000 gp in coins, the 3000 gp in gems and 700 gp in jewelry, plus the magic ring and dagger, Herak will likely level up and have enough gold to equip and provide mounts for all of the henchmen he picks up at 5th level. 


Discussion

This example has made clear some interesting aspects of combat in Bhakashal, and how mercenaries fit into the picture. 


First, criticals are relatively common for martial PCs. AC adds directly to the “to hit” roll, proficiency bonuses, STR/DEX bonuses, WvrsAC bonuses and magic bonuses accumulate for mercenaries to the point that combat criticals are a regular occurance. Bhakashal offers a wide range of criticals, weapon criticals and combat criticals cover a lot of ground. Through critical effects mercenaries can trigger different mechanics that can provide important situational advantages. Consider the combat criticals table:


Combat Effects Table

Combat Effects Table

1. Weapon Jammed/Stuck - one action to remove/fix, +2 to hit them while doing so

2. Numbing Blow - motive limb -3” to move, fighting limb, -2 to hit, 2-4 rounds

3. Disarmed - weapon knocked out of melee range, 1 action to retrieve

5. Snatch Weapon - mercenaries & spiders get a bonus attack with the weapon

6. Snatch Object  - object from opponent removed (purse, potion bottle, etc.)

7. Knock Down - opponent -2 to hit, 2 point AC, 1 action to get back on feet     

8. Dodge on Lunge - attack of opportunity at opponent’s back as they pass, +2 to hit

9. Knock Back - attacker may break off with no attack of opportunity against them        

10. Knock Back Into Surface / Object - 2-4 hp additional damage

11. Blow Exposes Weak Spot - Next attack against them ignores armor

12. Temporarily Blind - next two attacks are randomized btw all in melee range

13. Temporarily Wind - next two attacks do half damage if successful               

14. Disorient - opponent loses next attack                               

15. Stunned - Opponent is AC 10 against next attack                                      

16. KnocK Into a Combatant - both have 4 point initiative penalty on next attack

17. Extra Unarmed Attack - Opponent set up for free punch/kick/head butt attack            

18. Set-Up Ally - next attack against opponent from an ally is +4 to hit                        

19. Extra Attack - attacker gets one extra attack that round                                                

20. Extra Damage - attacker’s base damage doubled


There are options that allow you to impact foes without killing them (e.g. numbing blow to leg, blinding, disarming, knocking down), so the system is flexible. There are ‘teamwork’ options, like setting up an ally, or stunning that makes the target AC 10 against the next attack, giving an ally an advantage. 


Of course, this works both ways, the PCs frequently encounter 0-level opponents and handle them fairly easily, so when they encounter leveled NPC fighters who can score criticals on THEM, they stand out as more formidable. And that’s exactly the vibe I wanted. Fighters above first level SHOULD be impressive. 


Note also that AC is a bit different in Bhakashal. There are exhaustion and movement penalties associated with heavier armor due to the intensely hot tropical environment, in short, warriors in Bhakashal favor lightness and speed and hew to combat styles that favor lightness and speed over heavy, bulky, armor. 


Historically, there have been several cases of soldiers preferring lighter armor, despite its lesser protection, due to greater mobility and the tendency for heavy gear to lead to exhaustion. As a result, warriors in Bhakashal will, on the whole, have worse AC scores than their AD&D brethren, and this includes NPCs. This also makes criticals more likely.


Weapon choice also matters more in Bhakashal, as WvrsAC adjustments impact “to hit” rolls, and thus the likelihood of criticals. You don’t pick weapons solely for damage output, weight, speed and WvrsAC adjustments all figure into the value of a weapon. Of all the various aspects of combat, the versatility and variety of weapons is perhaps the most rewarding. Weapon choice matters, and mercenaries get the most weapon choices. 


Monsters and animals are also far more deadly, monsters have no “HP progression cap”, PCs stop rolling for HP at 6th level, only rerolling past results after that, monsters continue to get HP for all HD. Animal and monster attacks get an attack bonus of +1 per HD, mercenaries get +1 per 2 levels as comparison. Animal and monster attacks are “natural” and have the lowest possible weapon speed, 1. In addition, about 75% of monsters have multiple attack routines, e.g., Claw, Claw, Bite, and all of these attacks fall on the same segment. With the HP cap for PCs, this means that most animals/monsters can cut down a PC in one or two rounds. So the stakes for fighting monsters have gone up. 


Fighting monsters and animals is ALWAYS a risk in Bhakashal. 


Finally, Bhakashal draws from the elegant mechanics of Talislanta in having an open ended critical effect option. So when a PC/NPC/monster rolls a critical they can always come up with an effect rather than picking one from the list. At first my players did not bother with this option, they looked at the list or the weapon criticals and picked from those, usually picking either “extra attack” or “extra damage”. But eventually they encountered situations where they realized that their ability to determine a critical effect could be key to success in combat.


The example given here of Herak choosing “silent attack” as an option is perfect. It is also something that gets imitated, once a player has come up with a new critical impact, other players can choose it as well. All new critical impacts are ruled on by the table. Both the players and the ref have to agree that the impact is fair and comparable to other combat impacts. In practice this is a fun addition to regular play, it gives the PCs an opportunity to be involved with world building and creating something that will last beyond the session in question. 


But perhaps most of all it gives fighter options other than, “I hit it with my axe and do X damage” every round, which makes them much more fun to play. 








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Building Bhakashal - Example of Combat - Mercenaries and Critical Effects I will go through an example of a PC Mercenary combat to show how ...