Tag Archives: House Rules

Fantasy! OSG Weapons and Armors House Rules

Note: I own Fantasy! OSG 3.0 in Swedish. I write this article in English. I may use the wrong terms/translations in English.

I got the Fantasy! Old School Gaming roleplaying game. I have not tried it yet, but I can immediately see that there are things (about combat) that I don’t like: Armors and Shields are way too good!

Too good for what? I see Fantasy! as a simple, fast to play, fun game that does not attempt to be realistic but rather a simple framework for roleplaying. Thus, I think the rules should stay in the background. I think

  1. experience (the character) should matter more than the equipment
  2. equipment should rather be part of the story than subject to optimization

Suggested House Rules

Each champion has two pools of dice in combat:

  • Attack dice: Strength + Weapon Skills
  • Defence dice: Dexterity + Dodge Skill

Just as in the original rules Attack Dice can be used defensively (I think there are dedicated defensive dice, like the dodge skill, in the original rules).

These things reduce Defense dice (to a minimum of zero):

  • Armor Abs
  • Weapon Damage above +1

So, for example, with Abs=2, and Damage=2, number of defence dice are reduced by 3 (to a minimum of zero).

Armors gives Abs as:

  • 1: partial leather armor
  • 2: Partial metal armor
  • 2: Full leather armor and helmet
  • 3: Full metal armor and helmet

Weapons give damage as:

  • 1D : Unarmed
  • 1D+1: Small weapon (dagger)
  • 1D+2: One handed weapon
  • 1D+3: Two handed weapon

There is opportunity for weapon variants:

  • A long sword that can be used either with 1 or 2 hands
  • A monk may be agile with his staff and use it either as +1 or +2

A Shield gives extra 1D defence, to a minimum of 1D.

Two weapons (with the skill) gives the choice between +1 damage or 1D defence.

Analysis of Original Rules

How unbalanced are the original rules really? Assume we have two simple characters in a duel:

  • Strength: 4
  • Sword +2 (this is from Fantasy 3.0!)
  • Dice: 7
  • Damage: 1D+2
  • HP: 9
  • Armor Abs: 0

It can not get more normal or ordinary than this. I programmed a simple simulator (link) and found that in the above case:

  • 13% chance of ending in a draw (both dies / reaches 0 HP)
  • 43% for each champion to win

Lets equip one champion with armor (+2):

  • Armor: 77% win, 8% draw, 14% lose
  • Shield: 70% win, 13% draw, 17% lose
  • Armor + Shield: 89% win, 5% draw, 6% lose
  • Armor + Helmet + Shield: 93% win, 3% draw, 3% lose

The champion without armor and shield can have no use of his free hand or the fact that he is not encumbered by an armor.

I don’t know what it is like to fight in a real armor. But I know what this does to storytelling and roleplaying: if combat is fairly common in your campaign, everyone will look more or less like knights quite soon. Perhaps in a larger group a ranger with a bow can survive.

There is no room for agile monks, barbarians or rouges who avoid being hit (there is a skill Dodge, which can be used regardless of armor, and regardless of your Dexterity ability).

Reasoning behind house rules

I would rather see a combat system where

  • Skill of champion matters the most
  • Equipment is mostly a matter of risk/reward, not just better/worse
  • Light armor also works

So, I want to simplify and balance equipment (armor, shield, weapon) for Fantasy!. Let us go back to the case above, without any bonus. Our champions have:

  • Strength: 4
  • Dice: 5 (unarmed Boxer)
  • Damage: 1D
  • Armor: 0
  • HP: 9

This gives each champion a 46% chance of winning. Fair enough.

If one of the champions receive bonuses, how does that changes his chance of winning:

+1+2+3
Dice617179
Damage546164
Armor Abs586980
Dice + Damage688188
Dice + Armor Abs718694

The conclusion is that Dice and Armor ABS are more important than Damage. Armor is better than weapons, and armor diversity is larger than weapon diversity (0-4 vs 0-3). A shield is very good.

As a side note, if you equip one champion with +1/+2/+3 damage, and the other with +1/+2/+3 armor, they have the same chance of winning (!).

As another side note: if you have two (or three) opponents Armor Abs will protect against every attack, but your dice need to divided and you can only deal damage once per round.

This table shows what happens to our two sword fighters in the example above as we equip one of them better. Both of them have Dexterity 2 to 4.

Standard RulesHouse Rules
Dex 2
House Rules
Dex 3
House Rules
Dex 4
Armor 277/8/1447/12/2137/14/4938/10/51
Shield70/13/1755/12/3353/14/3253/13/33
Armor 2 + Shield89/5/661/11/2849/11/4050/12/38
Armor 3 + Shield93/3/371/7/2160/7/3348/8/44

With the standard rules, the better equipped champion could expect to win 77-93% of the fights, depending on equipment.

With the house rules, if both champions have a low Dexterity (2) armor and shield is quite helpful. However, Armor 2 completely negates all defensive dice for a champion with Dexterity 3 (the one handed sword negates the last die) and this becomes a particularly bad choice. For champions with high Dexterity (4) the benefit of armor is even less.

This is probably far from perfect, but there is a risk-reward element to it, which I like. Being agile (high Dexterity) is now very valuable (compared to the standard rules). If you are very agile you can kind of do without armor. However, if you are not agile an armor can compensate quite well.

Finally, I can say that my simulator is not perfect and there may be strategical choices to make. Perhaps with Armor Abs 3 you would choose to roll as few defensive dice as possible?

Conclusion

I am arrogant enough to conclude that I don’t even want to try the original Fantasy! combat rules with real players in a real game.

I know the rules of Fantasy! clearly says that the game is not balanced. Fair enough. It is a simple system. But not being balanced is one thing – being tilted and scewed, rigged, is another thing.

I can not imagine that my suggested house rules are worse than the original rules.

Todo

These house rules make some characters weaker (those wo relied on heavy armor and shield) and some stronger (those with high dexterity). Perhaps monsters, beasts and encounters need to be checked and balanced.

I think it is often quite unclear in the rules what happens if skills are raised belong level 1. I could imagine that skill levels above 1 in for example Fencing could give either 1D or +1 damage.

The rules for multiple opponents are dangerous for the lonely champion. In non-combat coooperation lets one character add half the dice from another character. But in combat each champion makes a full attack against the same target, who has to divide his defence dice in three pools.

The number of dice gets quite high for no particular purpose. Each champion rolling 5-6 dice just to see if he gets a better result than someone else rolling even more dice… it makes not so much sense. I could imagine that if both champions have many dice, the dice are distributed over several rounds. Instaead of 7vs9 twice, it could be 3vs4 and 4vs5. That could add a tactical element as well (spending dice fast for an all out attack, for example).

Perhaps my thoughts about multiple opponents and multiple rounds could be combined.