Close Combat Maneuvers - suggestions



(intro - can jump to the suggestions)

I've been browsing the internets for some time searching for a simple, traveller rules-based, fantasy system. While I found a dozen, most of them suffered from one design flaw which follows from directly lending the standard rules, and applying them to those fantasy settings.

The problem comes to the variety of melee combat. While the vanilla ranged combat has a lot of factors in - ranges, firing modes, cover, distances, environments, aiming, blasts ranges, and combining those creates a satisfying variety for firefights, the melee combat is lacking it. Now, imagine a setting where many of the travellers will fight in melee. It might quickly get bland.

Now, I understand Traveller's strong points are in its simplicity (compared to other games), yet it still manages to provide a huge variety and options. I come from a lot of complex RPGs where calculating outcomes took enough effort to break the flow of the game. So here, I have musted some rules that will add variety to the close combat, hopefully, while being in the spirit of Traveller's simplicity.

Design principles, which I followed:

1. Consistent with existing rules and structure (faster to get, easier to use)
2. Provide choice - having a benefit and a drawback (a game is about choice)
3. Avoid redundancy (no need to add something that is already in, in some form)
4. Be concise and also provide room for interpretations (as Traveller's rules are)


Shields - shields (except the buckler) allow parrying weapons which have the SMASHER trait.
Some extremely powerful weapons might be able to bypass the shield as well (ref call).

The shield still provide the bonus to parry.

Design notes: it gives shields another utility role, while having a logical sense. Some bigger shields should provide minor armor bonus vs ranged attacks.

Daggers can't parry.

REACH trait - Only for very long weapons (like pikes). Allows the traveller to make attacks without actually being locked into close combat. However, if within the weapon range (4-5 meters), his opponent is being locked into close combat and any attempt to move away from that range (either in or out) allows for an immediate free attack with bonus +2 to hit (only one per round). However, if an opponent locks the traveller in close combat (by moving close), the REACH weapon can't make attacks.

Design notes: the REACH weapons are situational and benefit in organized combat, like several travellers wielding pikes, covering a location. Any attempts to go through that location will likely provoke a flurry of attacks from the pikes. This trait required a modification of an existing rule, which I hope, is simple enough. It simulates movement restriction by creating a threat rather than artificially restricting movement, similarly to how overwhelming a character with fire, making him dodge/dive simulates being suppressed.

POLE trait - Grants boon on the attack if the target is running towards the Traveller (moved 10+ meters).

Design notes: weapons which can be prepared to use the opponents' momentum against them. However, if too few weapons have this trait, it can be as part of their description.


Grappling - Travellers can use Athletics (dexterity) as an opposed check to escape grapple or avoid being caught in grapple.

Travellers can use Athletics (strength) to initiate grapple, but only to perform force opponent prone and dragging opponent actions, if they win the opposed check.

Design notes: providing a few options for some characters who might not have melee (unarmed) skill.

Parrying - a reaction. Instead of giving flat -DM to the attack, the parry makes the defender roll an opposite melee check versus the attack. Success means a successful parry. Success with 6+, allows an immediate riposte which is a single attack with +2 to hit. The attacker can also react vs the riposte, but it cannot trigger another riposte.

Design notes: It makes parry different than dodge. The opposite roll increases the range of the effect - make a low roll and receive extra damage; make a good roll and riposte. As a downside, it's an extra roll compared to the flat DM.

Feint - minor action. An opposed Deception (dex) vs Recon/Investigate (int) check. Winning grants boon on the next attack versus the same opponent if made in the same or next round.

Design notes: grants a minor boost to the attack, similarly to aiming (which is only reserved for ranged attacks). The boon is more luck based, but the traveller has to make the check. It gives a little combat advantage to some rogue-ish type of characters. The opposed check is deliberately not a melee check.

Trip - Some weapons allow for tripping an opponent from distance. This calls for the normal opposed grappling check (major action), but the winner can only force his opponent prone. Unlike normal grapple, this maneuver doesn't engage in grapple because of the distance between the combatants.

Design notes: Using long hooked weapons to trip mounted knights or someone sprinting without going too stray from the default rules.


Cosmic Mongoose
Looks good, i like the ideas.

Except the opposed rolls, it slows down play too much in my experience.

A parry roll to negate damage can lead to boring combat, if the characters are too good at parrying so they nearly always parry. Setting the difficulty of the parry roll based on the skill of the attacker might cure that?



AnotherDilbert said:
A parry roll to negate damage can lead to boring combat, if the characters are too good at parrying so they nearly always parry. Setting the difficulty of the parry roll based on the skill of the attacker might cure that?

Can you give an example? I think I have meant to describe something like this, but I have failed. When I see the example I will confirm.


Cosmic Mongoose
arcador said:
Can you give an example?
I was thinking something like: A Parry is a Average(8+) Melee, DEX, Mod: -Attacker skill & DEX, so you roll
2D + Skill + DEX - Enemy Skill - Enemy DEX ≥ 8 for success.
Still only one roll.

I would probably toss in a mod for fighting several opponents, say DM -1 for each opponent after the first on all Melee rolls.


Another approach is to treat parries like point defense, with the defenders skill determining the parry pool ( Minimum 1). The parry itself would increase the difficulty of the attackers task by the difference between the defenders and attackers skill level. ( Minimum 1.)


All good options.

I would really like to avoid another roll (especially if it can lead to further rolls). However, avoiding a roll makes the riposte idea difficult since in reduces the range of deviation.

Just counting the dice, an opposed roll can result in difference of 10. Single roll vs target 8 can result in differences to 6 and 4.

btw @AnotherDilbert my initial idea of parry was this: Attacker and Defender roll an opposed melee check. If the attacker wins, he hits. If the defender wins, he parries. The defender doesn't make a separate parry roll.


I like the idea of using a minor action for some of these maneuvers - makes combats a bit more than just rolling dice.

What about knocking an opponent off-balance - say, over the railing of a 300th-story balcony? Maybe use the target’s Strength modifier as a DM on the check. You could also consider a Bull Rush or Charge, providing a bonus to hit or on damage in return for greater vulnerability to an opponent.

I’d consider allowing a Trip against multiple opponents - like Parry but maybe with a DM-2 per additional opponent.

A Throw could be a follow-up to a successful Grapple; the effect could determine the distance traveled.


Throw or "drag" opponent on grapple check cover this ground, I think.

Of course, you can modify it a little to fit better.

Rikki Tikki Traveller

Cosmic Mongoose
I like these rules! Very simple and quick and fully in keeping with Traveller yet adding the variation that a Low Tech/Melee-Heavy game needs.

Very Nice.