One of my readers pointed out to me that TN 7 fights seem suicidal. And indeed -- they are, to some degree. A level 2 character that has faced down a hill giant will get splattered most of the time. I want to see how such an encounter might play out, though.
So, we have four heroes facing a tier +2 challenge (say, a Giant). We'll assume that there are really no tactics involved -- they're just hacking away at each other with their most effective blows, which have about a 50-70% chance of connecting. So let's just say its a 2/3 chance to connect. The giant will try and take out one hero at a time and then move on.
Hero A is a 1-die pool hero for resisting wounds. B has 2 dice, C has 3 dice, and D has 4 dice.
The giant swings at Hero A. If he connects (2/3), he forces the hero to make a save (0%) to pass. HERO A -1 Health Level (HL).
The heroes swing back at the giant. They have a 2/3 chance to hit, and if they do, the Giant needs to make a TN 3 save. Its only 3 because they're such lower level. He gets two dice because he's a tough mofo. That means that each attack has a 12% * 2/3 = 8% to knock one of the giant's health levels off.
HERO A: -.08
HERO B: -.08
HERO C: -.08
HERO D: -.08
We end round 1 with HERO A -2/3 of a HL, GIANT -0.32 HL.
ROUND 2: Repeat. HERO A is bloodied, down -1 and 1/3 HLs. The giant is now down -0.64 HLs.
ROUND 3: Repeat. HERO A is possibly disabled, down -6/3 HLs. The giant is most likely bloodied, though (-0.96).
ROUND 4: Repeat. HERO A is almost certainly disabled, on the verge of a KO, down -8/3 HLs. The giant is almost certianly bloodied (-1.28).
ROUND 5: Repeat. HERO A is probably out. He's down -10/3, which KOs him (-10/3 = -3.33). Let's say he gets in a parting shot, though, so the giant is -1.60 HLs now. From now on, only three heroes are fighting the giant, so he'll only lose 0.24 HLs each round.
ROUND 6: The giant moves on to smash HERO B now. Hero B is more resilient; if the giant connects (2/3 chance), then he'll lose a HL 97% of the time instead of 100% of the time. So, each swing from the giant removes 0.65 HLs. We end the round with HERO A KOd, HERO B at -0.65, and the GIANT at -1.84 HLs.
ROUND 7: Repeat. HERO B is likely bloodied at -1.3 and the giant is probably disabled at -2.08.
ROUND 8: Repeat. HERO B is flirting with being disabled at -1.95. The giant is seriously injured at -2.32 HLs.
ROUND 9: Repeat. HERO B is almost KOd, at -2.6. The giant is hurting too, at -2.56.
ROUND 10: Repeat. HERO B is likely KOd, at -3.25. He gets in his parting shot though and the giant is at -2.8 HLs.
ROUND 11: The giant now moves on to HERO C. HERO C is yet more resilient, and if he his hit (2/3 chance), he will lose a health level only 92.6% of the time; so every swing from the giant costs him 0.62 HLs. The heroes meanwhile are only inflicting -0.16 on the giant.
By the end of the round, HERO C is at -0.62, and the giant is just about KOd at -2.96.
ROUND 12: The giant takes one more swing! HERO C is dropped to -1.24, and then the two heroes polish off the fearsome giant.
HERO A: KOd
HERO B: KOd
HERO C: Bloodied
HERO D: Untouched
This seems grindsome, and it is to some degree intentional (it removes the whiff, whiff, splat of straight HP based combat). However, there are two important factors missing here:
1) Disabled characters will be less effective, i.e., more likely to miss. That means less dice rolling for potential wounds. It also means that characters are more likely to break off or back down.
2) Morale. Most creatures would check morale when they become disabled. That means the Giant might have fled or surrendered in Round 7, not Round 12. The PCs might have checked morale too and fled or used consumables to stay in the fight!
ADDENDUM: How would this have played out in AD&D?
In this case we have a party of level 2 characters facing a hill giant. Let's say 2 x fighters, a cleric, and a magic-user.
HERO A: Magic-User (HP 5, AC 8 from Dex or Spell)
HERO B: Fighter with chain mail and two-handed sword, 18/01 STR, 16 CON (HP 15, AC 5)
HERO C: Cleric with mace, chain mail, and shield (HP 9, AC 4)
HERO D: Fighter with long sword and shield and plate mail, 18/01 STR, 16 CON (HP 15, AC 2)
HILL GIANT: AC 4, HD 8+1, HP 37
I'm using the optional THAC0 rule that gives our fighters +1 at level 2.
ROUND 1: The giant -- as any good monster -- tries to kill the pointy-hat first. He chucks a rock which does 7.65 HP damage (0.85 * 9). The mage is splattered, but likely not before he unleashes his spell, magic missile for 3.5 HP to the giant. HERO B deals 4.725 (0.35 * 13.5) HP. HERO C deals 0.875 (0.25 * 3.5), and HERO D deals 3.325 (0.35 x 9.5).
Tally: HERO A squished, Giant - 12.425
ROUND 2: The giant turns his attention to HERO B, the next squishiest but highest damage producing character. He deals 6.3 HP (0.7 x 9) to the Fighter. Heroes B, C, and D then repeat their performance of the last round.
Tally: HERO B -6.3, Giant - 21.35
ROUND 3: Repeat. HERO B - 12.6, Giant - 30.275
Round 4: Repeat. HERO C - SLAIN. GIANT - SLAIN.
HERO A: Squished
HERO B: Squished
HERO C: Untouched
HERO D: Untouched
Running this with a 9 HD giant like a fire giant might be closer. Of interest, the final outcome was about the same. What was different was the speed of resolution. This took only 4 rounds instead of 12. Much of that is because AD&D characters are eggshells. That is, the giant either misses or it kills them outright in one or two hits.
ADDENDUM 2: How would this have played out in S&W WB?
HERO A: Magic-User (HP 4.5, AC 10)
HERO B: Fighter with chain mail and two-handed sword (house rule -- gives +2 damage) (HP 7, AC 14)
HERO C: Cleric with mace, chain mail, and shield (HP 7, AC 15)
HERO D: Fighter with long sword and shield and plate mail (HP 7, AC 17)
HILL GIANT: AC 15, HD 8+2, HP 30
ROUND 1: The giant goes for the pointy-hat. He deals 6.65 (0.95 * 7) HP to the wizard, squishing him instantly. The wizard gets off a Pro Chaos spell for HERO B. HEROES B, C, and D lay into the giant. B deals 1.925 (0.35 * 5.5), C deals 1.05 (0.3 * 3.5), and D deals 1.225 (0.35 * 3.5), dropping the Giant by -4.2 HP.
ROUND 2: The giant starts in our HERO B, now. He deals 4.9 (0.7 * 7). The three heroes drop the GIANT to -8.4.
ROUND 3: The giant kills off HERO B. The three heroes drop the giant to -12.6.
ROUND 4: The giant now starts in on HERO C, the cleric. He deals 4.9 (0.7 * 7). The two remaining heroes deal 2.275, dropping the giant to -14.875.
ROUND 5: The giant finishes off the cleric, and he is dropped himself to -17.15
ROUND 6: The remaining fighter gulps, steels himself, and continues his attack. The giant deals 4.2 HP (0.6 * 7), and the fighter dishes out another 1.225, bringing the giant down to 18.3775.
ROUND 7: The giant smushes the fighter, but not before the hero gets in one last blow, bringing the giant down to -19.6.
HERO A, B, C, & D: Smushed
GIANT 10/30 HP
Intesting. This, to me, points to the necessity of giving fighters some sort of bonus to hit and/or damage (whether it be their STR bonus or something) in OD&D if you want to maintain parity with other editions.
OD&D Experience Levels
8 hours ago