the segmental system
Under standard rules, combat takes place based on the round (ten segments or one minute). The "Round" system allows a small dagger and a two handed greatsword to have the same number of attacks per round (excluding extra attacks due to level) - i.e. one attack. The segmental system adds some more complexity to combat but gives more "realism" by making real differences in the speed of attacks with different weapons. Light weapons will have more attacks but will do less damage than heavier, slower weapons. This system works best with six or fewer characters and is very difficult (but not impossible) to manage with over ten players.
All weapon combat is by segment. Weapon attacks are allowed once every so many segments, as given by the speed factor for the particular weapon (see the Weapons Capabilities table). This number assumes that the weapon is drawn and ready - to draw and ready a non-missile weapon takes one segment. The time required to normally replace a weapon is the same as that required to draw it; however, weapons may be "dropped" which is considered to expend no time.
Thus a fighter with a longsword (speed factor 5) takes a swing during the melee portion of segment five under normal circumstances and another every five segments throughout the melee. If the character must draw his longsword, the first attack would occur in segment six and one attack every five segments thereafter. Extra attacks occur as noted below.
Missile weapons with launchers (e.g., longbow and arrows) have composite speed factors: the speed factor given with the launcher is the time to ready the weapon for use, while the speed factor given for the missile is the time between shots. For example, a longbow (speed factor 2) and a normal arrow (speed factor 3) are used - it takes two segments to ready the bow for use and three more to pick an arrow, nock it and aim to fire, resulting in the first arrow being fired in segment 5 and another every 3 segments after that (8, 11, 14, etc.). (Of course, a bow can be made ready before opening a door and such actions, but all the time the bow is in use or at the ready, the Armor Class adjustment is in force.) Fully readied missiles under normal circumstances can go in segment 1 and every "speed factor" segments afterwards. The time required to normally replace a weapon is the same as that required to draw it; however, weapons may be "dropped" which is considered to expend no time. Once again, extra attacks occur as noted below.
Surprise rolls are made on percentile dice (d100). A roll of 33% or less indicates that the side rolling the dice is surprised for at least two segments. For every 5% under the percentage needed to surprise, add one segment to the time spent being surprised. Note that using percentile dice allows one roll to be made for the entire party with possibly different effects for different people. For example, out of a party of six characters, there are four characters with the normal surprise percentage of 33%, a ranger who has a surprise percentage of only 17%, and an eleventh level monk with a surprise percentage of 14%. On a surprise roll of 25%, the four "normal" characters are surprised for three segments (33% - 25% = 8%, more than five percentage points over the roll needed to surprise so one extra segment is added). Note that the monk and ranger are not surprised at all and can react normally. If the roll had been 16%, the "normal" members of the party would have been surprised for five segments (33% - 16% = 17%, so there are three extra surprise segments in addition to the mandatory two), the ranger would have been surprised for two segments (17% - 16% = 1%, not enough for penalty segments), and the monk would not have been surprised at all.
If surprise or some such event is indicated, extend the time until the first attack the appropriate number of segments - if a character with a longsword is surprised for a duration of four segments, his first attack would occur in segment 9 rather than 5, and every five segments thereafter (this usually means one or two "free" attacks for the surpriser).
Monsters' attacks have various speed factors depending on the monster type and the attack mode used. A good guide is that claw attacks take 3 to 4 segments each, bites are speed factor 5 to 7, and so on.
As for magic, the spell's conjuring time acts as the spell's speed factor. Non-offensive spells may be thrown consecutively, but as soon as an offensive spell is cast, the spell caster must pause ten segments before undertaking any other activity except for physically attacking, defending, retreating, or using the spell's effects (such as in the case of a Spiritual Hammer or Bigby's Crushing Hand). (You can experiment with shorter waiting times - these will tend to favor the spell using classes over fighter types. You can even use different waiting times for different classes in order to raise the effectiveness of one type of spell caster versus another - my favorite is to use only five segments waiting time for Clerics and Druids and ten segments waiting time for all other spell casters.) Spell using types may launch offensive "swings" after waiting for the appropriate number of Speed Factor segments.
The following table lists ToHit bonuses and reductions for each possible dexterity, superceding the chart on page 11 of the "Player's Handbook".
Notes for the Dexterity Effects table
1. The "Two Weapons" skill allows the character to shift to the next dexterity effects category of the TWO WEAPONS column. Thus a character with a 10 dexterity would normally be -6 to hit with the primary weapon and -8 to hit with the secondary weapon. Desiring to use two weapons in a somewhat more proficient manner, he takes the "Two Weapons" skill. Now the character is at -5 with the primary weapon and -7 with the secondary one.
2. All non-profient penalties are cumulative. If you are a fighter with a ten dexterity and you are using two weapons with which you are non-proficient, your adjustments are -8 with the primary weapon and -10 with the secondary.
3. Using two weapons at a time hurts your AC by one place. This is in addition to any inherent AC drawbacks that the weapon may have.
Example: Frito the Fighter (18/00 strength, 17 dexterity, 5 intelligence, 4 wisdom) finds a +3 mace and, upon being assured that it is a weapon (he has never seen one before), decides to swing it as well as his trusty +2 longsword (with which he is singly proficient), figuring he can't lose, what with all those bonuses. Maybe and maybe not:
Obviously, Frito better have a friend along to advise him to bag the mace and sword tricks for later. Now if Rocky the Ranger picks it up, he will be able to use both weapons effectively, since he is ambidextrous (dexterity of 18/95) and proficient with both longsword and mace, as well as equaling Frito's strength of 18/00. Let's see how he matches up:
SO! Rocky can fight with just one weapon, which would make him either
+7 ToHit with just his longsword
+8 ToHit with just the newly-found mace,
or he can fight with two weapons, a choice of either
+5 ToHit with his longsword as primary & +4 with the mace as secondary
+6 ToHit with the mace as primary & +3 with his longsword as secondary
Rocky (18 wisdom, 18 intelligence, the apple of his deity's eye) will quickly and expertly sum up the situation, balancing the need for frequent hitting, amount of damage per weapon, appropriate armor class benefits, speed factors adjustments, the approximate ToHit needed against a particular opponent, all kinds of things.
Any subclass of the Fighter (see Subclasses) uses a percentile system to determine multiple attacks, as opposed to the method in the "Player's Handbook". There is a 5% chance per level (with an additional 5% for true Fighters) of an extra attack in a round, and the player must roll for it at the beginning of the round or he forfeits his chance. If an extra attack is indicated, the player rolls a d10 to determine the segment in which it will occur — it is possible to have the extra attack go in the same segment as a regularly scheduled one.
The segmental system requires a modification for the open hand attack that a monk uses. The frequency of attack is greater, but the damage per hit is less, than in the Player's Handbook. See the Monk's Capabilities table in the Monk section of the CHARACTER chapter.
A slowed character (as in the spell) would have his weapon's speed effectively doubled; a speed factor of 3 becomes 6 for the duration of the effect. Conversely, a hasted character would have his weapon's speed effectively halved (rounded up); a speed factor of 5 becomes 3.
Parrying lowers the armor class by an amount equal to the number of proficiencies the character has in the weapon plus any ToHit bonuses the weapon may have. Note that you cannot parry with one weapon and attack with another (the exception is parrying weapons used with an attacking weapon, such as main gauche & rapier). However, the character has the speed factor of their next attack increased by 2 (i.e., he delays his next attack and may only defend during that segment) — this delay applies to the use of spells as well since the spellcaster is so busy defending against being splattered that he cannot reach for spell components, make hand passes, etc. Consecutive parries are possible with the delaying time being cumulative to a maximum of 10 segments, and the total delay will actually occur after the last parry. The parry may be used to defend against only one attacker — his armor class is normal against any other attacks (see the Weapons Capabilities table).
Example: Frito the Fighter is in a real pinch. He doesn't have many hit points left and he's facing a Minotaur that can do up to 16 points of damage on a single (normal) hit. Since Frito has a current AC of 0 (zero, and that's including all bonuses), he would feel better if he could improve his AC, so he forgoes attacking the monster (he wasn't accomplishing much anyway) and decides to parry. He has two proficiencies in longsword, and his is a +1/+1 weapon, therefore his new AC is -3: it drops two for the proficiencies and one for the magic ToHit bonus … no adjustment is made for the Damage bonus. The new speed factor is 7 (5 + 2) and is applied after the first parry. If he attacked in segment 2 and parried in segment three, he could not attack again until segment 10, as opposed to segment 7. If he makes a second parry in segment eight, he cannot attack until segment 7 of the next round (SF = 5 + (2*2 segment parry penalty)). If he does not parry again, instead waiting until segment 7 and attacking, his speed factor is back to normal. If he made five consecutive parries, his effective speed factor to attack would be 15 (5 + 5*2); a sixth or seventh parry would also make the speed factor 15.
If there is more than one minotaur, Frito might be guacamole.
Hits may be directed to disarm . If a character is holding/using a weapon capable of disarming (see the Weapons Capabilities table), and the opponent is holding/using a weapon appropriate to that method of disarming, a "Hit to Disarm" may be declared. The character must first make a hit on AC 0 (dexterity bonus and weapon plusses applies). If this is accomplished, the opponent is allowed a saving throw against petrification (strength, dexterity, and the better of the weapon ToHit or Damage bonuses apply), failure indicating disarmament.
Certain weapons (as indicated on the Weapons Capabilities table) may be used to entangle. Such weapons, if they hit, will entangle an appropriate portion of the opponent's body unless a saving throw against petrification is made (dexterity bonus applies).
critical hits and fumbles
If the character rolls a natural 20 on its ToHit, there is the chance of a particularly telling blow. This is applicable with either weapon attacks or with spell that simulate weapons and require a ToHit roll (such as a Spiritual Hammer). Roll the d20 again; if it is equal to or less than the average of the character's dexterity and level (in the case of multi-classed characters, use the higher of the levels), it is a critical hit. (In the case of a monster, use the average of its hit dice and dexterity. If the dexterity is not explicitly given, you can assume an average of 11.) If the roll is not critical, figure damage normally.
In the case of a critical hit, roll another d20 and consult the table below.
3rd Roll Damage
1-11 Maximum normal damage
12-15 Double maximum normal damage
16-17 Triple maximum normal damage
18 Quadruple maximum normal damage
19 Quintuple maximum normal damage
20 Use your imagination! (Or consult one of the fine critical tables found in various other games publications.)
Use of the parry option will lower the third roll by three (to a minimum of one). Thus a character who foregoes attacking in favor of the parry option will never suffer a critical hit worse than triple maximum damage (20 - 3 = 17 — triple maximum damage). All parrys must be declared before the ToHit roll is made.
NOTE that additional damage does not apply to multiplying the effects of energy or strength drains or the like. For example, a vampire scores a critical on a character and rolls a 17 on the 3rd roll. The character takes 30 points of damage (triple maximum damage) but loses only two levels, not six.