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"Old School Game Mechanics" Topic

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1,109 hits since 5 Nov 2012
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
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Who asked this joker05 Nov 2012 10:39 a.m. PST


I'm back to writing some old school style rules for just about anything. I am flipping back and forth between the idea of rolling to hit for each eligible figure and rolling a number of D6 based on the amount of figures in contact.

Buckets of dice method
Roll a number of dice based on how many figures are in the unit. 1 die per figure fighting. Hit on a 4+. Save based on armor, terrain and so forth. Failed saves result in 1 casualty per failure.

Featherstone method.
Roll 1 D6 per 12 men (he uses 6 men and then takes a proportion) with the result being the amount of hits. Saving rolls as above.

There are advantages for both methods.
Buckets 'O Dice provide granularity. If you lose a figure you get 1 less die. You can halve the number of dice rolled for situational modifiers etc. The down side is that you may end up rolling an ungainly amount of dice. 24 man unit would get 24 dice! Of course you can roll 8 dice 3 times etc.

Featherstone method is much quicker resolution. You roll a limited amount of dice to get hits. Simple math really. you can still halve results for situations or halve figure totals to get a lesser amount of dice. On the downside, you have to account for if you don't have a full 6 or 12 figures. What if you have only 10 figures? I made a simple table to look up how many dice to roll.

So what is your preference and why?



Terrement Supporting Member of TMP05 Nov 2012 10:46 a.m. PST


napthyme Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Nov 2012 1:23 p.m. PST

how about option 1 with the corresponding dice rolled per stand of figures.

IE: stand of 10 figures roll D10 if they lose 2 figure make them roll the D8, lose two more roll the D6, lose two more roll the D4, loose 2 more and the stand retreats or surrenders.

normsmith Inactive Member05 Nov 2012 2:29 p.m. PST

Prefer Featherstone 1 dice per group / base or rank.

I just prefer rolling fewer rather than more dice and it seems that producing a lot of hits in 1 go requires a balancing mechanic (i.e a lot of saves) to avoid the 'overkill' effect.

I also don't like those situations that can arise when you roll 20 dice (refelcting a good attack) and get nothing I don't mind so much rolling 2 or 3 dice and getting nothing because the 'chances' of that are more obvious at the time of rolling i.e the die rolling of fewer dice broadly better matches expectation.

Paint Pig Inactive Member05 Nov 2012 4:43 p.m. PST

I work on 1d6 per base of 8 figures, the roll is modified by the number of casualties (empty slots) the base has suffered, this roll gives me the number of muskets on target. I then roll 1d6 again to determine the effectiveness, that is whether the roll is a kill, disorder or nicked the coat. This 2nd roll is modified by range.

eg base of 8 has 2 empty slots, the roll is 5 -2 for the two casualties for a result of 3 (ie 3 shots on taget).

Next roll 3d6, 1 or 2 no effect, 3 or 4 gives a disorder result and 5 or 6 a kill result. At close range no modifiers, medium range hit results are havled rounded up.

These two roll actions are pretty easily modified to suit tastes and speed of game, it is reasonably fast as is and has enough die rolling to keep the dedicated OS chap happy. You could even leave out the 2nd series of rolls if you want to go for gore and don't want the disorder effect.

Yes I use disorder in my OS rules grin

Odd Fellows

Who asked this joker05 Nov 2012 7:12 p.m. PST

Yes I use disorder in my OS rules

I do too. Call it "shaken" disrupted" or "disorder" it is that state of panic that causes a morale check. If the unit manages to stay around but does not remove the effect, it fights at half effectiveness.

Gonsalvo05 Nov 2012 7:49 p.m. PST

I must say that of all the old school mechanics, I loathe saving throws!

Personal logo Dale Hurtt Supporting Member of TMP05 Nov 2012 8:04 p.m. PST

I have no problem with throwing large buckets of dice. Three sets of eight dice is fine with me. The more dice thrown the less it seems to be luck based in my mind. You tend towards the average results rather than the extremes. I have always liked the Warhammer hit-wound-save mechanism. Four games with standardized weapons, like the horse and musket period, doing just a hit-save mechanism would be fine.

Removing single figures allows you to use a very granular step-reduction combat system. It is a very elegant way of modeling the gradual attritional effect on combat effectiveness. That said, it can produce quirks by allowing a unit to reduce its frontage, and leads players to think that the loss of a figure represents the figure actually being killed, as opposed to simply being rendered ineffective.

Martin Rapier06 Nov 2012 4:27 a.m. PST

I hate rolling load so of dice, really slows the game up, and as a design tool it is lousy as you just end up with an 'average' number of hits anyway. Why not just use the average as base and have a single variation dice?

Give me Featherstone every day.

Temporary like Achilles Inactive Member06 Nov 2012 8:19 a.m. PST

I'd tend to go with Featherstone as well if we're talking big battalions, but I don't mind buckets of dice so long as the approach is consistent.

What I don't like is mixing the two, as in Basic Impetus (and to a lesser extent FOG), where you roll plenty of dice to check hits but only one for the really important roll that decides what the effect of all the earlier rolling is.

The trick is to get the feel of the result graph right: 24 hits out of 24 is too many; 0 out of 24 is too few. You can get either of those results with BoD, but a single roll will allow you to limit the spread to what seems appropriate.

The standard table might be that for (say) 6 men, you roll 1 d6. 1 or 2 is 1 hit, 3 or 4 is 2 hits, 5 or 6, 3. So for a unit of 24 men engaged, you've got a range of 4 to 12 hits.

This to me seems preferable over the course of a game, but each to their own, of course!


Who asked this joker06 Nov 2012 9:37 a.m. PST

Some good thoughts here. Aaron pointed out another question…what is the correct hit rate?

Sticking with DF. It is 1D6 per 5 men. The score is the number of hits. That is a hit rate of 70%. (3.5/5=.7). If you assume the average save is about 5+ then the casualty rate is about 46%. (.67*.7=46.something) So nearly a 50% casualty rate in melee. That certainly will resolve a fight. It seems a bit much though.

BoD with a 4+ to hit you get .5*.67=33% chance to cause a casualty.

Doing 1D6 per 6 men brings the total down to 39% which is a bit better. I would think 33% is about right in melee for that situation. You get a significant amount of casualties without it being decided in one throw of the dice.

If I want with the DF method, I would want 1D6 per 7 men. That would give a hit rate of 50% multiplied by the chance to not save for casualties.

Paint Pig Inactive Member07 Nov 2012 12:48 a.m. PST

Ion has some ideas on this here link
He has obviously given this some thought and I like what he is thinking.


Who asked this joker07 Nov 2012 2:14 p.m. PST

Thanks for the link Paint Pig. He does have some interesting ideas for luck control. Unfortunately, they are not very straight forward.

I've been working on a chart to do the Featherstone method. You cross index the effective amount of figures with the amount of dice to roll. 1 to 4D6 with possible -1 to -3 to add even mroe granularity. You will halve the figures for modifiers. For instance, I estimate firing as being half as effective as melee. So half figures there. If shooting at long range, halve figures again. In melee, if a unit is disordered/disrupted, half figures. If disadvantaged by terrain, half figures again.

So 24 figures shooting at long range would be 24 halved for shooting is 12 and halved for long range is down to 6. 6 figures on the chart is 1D6-1. The result is the number of hits. Then, apply armor saving throws as normal for casualties. The chart is below.

1 to 3 D6-2
4 to 6 D6-1
7 to 10 D6
11 to 13 2D6-1
14 to 17 2D6
18 to 20 3D6-2
21 to 24 3D6
25 to 27 4D6-3
28 and up 4D6-1

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