Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick and Dirty Disarm Rule

This came to me the other day and I nearly forgot it. Rather than risk losing it to the mists of Time again, I’ll make a note of it here. Mayhaps you can get some use out of it.
A Fighter or racial Fighter-type can attempt to disarm an opponent during melee combat provided his opponent’s weapon is wielded in one hand. To disarm, the Fighter must strike an Armor Class equal to half the weapon’s damage die (a dagger is AC 2, a mace is AC 3, and a long sword is AC 4, for example). If the attack is successful, his opponent must make a saving throw vs. wands or drop his weapon. The weapon falls to the ground 1d10 feet away from the combatants in a randomly determined direction. The opponent modifies his saving throw roll by his initiative modifier if applicable. If the opponent makes his saving throw, he retains hold of his weapon and is allowed to either make an immediate attack against the Fighter (even if he has already acted this round) or automatically wins initiative against the Fighter on the next round (referee’s choice).
Not perfect, but easy to remember and implement the next time somebody wants to play Zorro.

4 comments:

Stuart said...

I like it! What rules are you using for A) attacks vs unarmed opponents, and B) attacks vs fleeing opponents, and C) held actions.

eg. You disarm someone and tell them to surrender, they either try and attack you while unarmed or spend their turn trying to recover their weapon.

Michael Curtis said...

I'm using Labyrinth Lord so all those activities are already covered in the ruleset in the form of morale checks, fighing withdrawl, retreat, etc. No special rules needed.

1d30 said...

Me: roll to hit vs. his AC. If you hit he's disarmed. Weapon falls according to the grenade-like scatter rule (1d6-2 squares away, roll d8 for direction with 1 = toward referee counting clockwise).

If the target is a lot bigger than you (human vs. giant) or stronger (barmaid with 8 STR vs. hulking barbarian with 18 STR) or with a much larger weapon (dagger vs. greatsword) disarming is impossible except on a natural 20.

If you don't need the 20 and you get one, something cool happens like you catch the weapon or you choose where on the floor it lands. If you roll a 1 you not only missed but something bad happened like you ran yourself in on his weapon or you slipped and fell or dropped your own weapon.

I know it sounds vague, but the effect of critical success and failure falls within fairly strict bounds and it's how I narrate an exciting combat / whatever.

1d30 said...

It does seem like disarming is an easy way to disable a villain. My answer would be why is the villain so desperately dependent on that weapon? Secondly, if you have a lanyard you can be disarmed but the weapon stays with you (but you can't fight or cast with that hand until you pick up the weapon again or drop it totally). If you have a locked gauntlet or otherwise tie your weapon to your hand you can't be disarmed but you also can't do anything else with the hand until you untie and drop the weapon (several rounds at least). So if it's really important for a villain to keep his weapon, he can tie it down, but it's not something most people do. Plus, if it's easy to disarm NPCs, then it's easy to disarm the PCs too. Finally, yes I use the whole AC for disarming, but I also use the whole AC for grappling. I think it's not worth the effort of having separate ACs for dodging and armor in addition to saving throws that define dodging, etc. So grappling or disarming is not a shortcut to dealing with a tough opponent, it's a tactical decision trading some damage for immobilizing or knocking over or disarming.