Monday, August 8, 2011

Yet Another Scale

Sometimes we have reasonable debates on whether the "inches" scale in Chainmail Man-to-Man and OD&D really should have been 1"=10 ft (per official Vol-3 text), 1"=5 ft (as 25mm scale height), 1"=3⅓ ft (as per DMG miniature rules), or the like. Here's another OD&D source passage with something yet again totally different.

OD&D Sup-III, Eldritch Wizardry, has an interesting "Alternative Combat System (Addition)" (p. 5). Basically, the intent is to turn all movement and attacks during the round into always-continuous and simultaneous action; it introduces the concept of six "segments" to each round. Fairly large tables are presented for missile fire and movement by segment; missile fire and spell sequence is based on Dexterity, modified by a large number of factors (the source for Holmes' initiative mechanic?). For example, if your modified Dex is within 5-9, then your shot will take place on the 2nd segment of the round. If you have a move of 9", then your character should be moved 1½" in each of the 6 separate segments per round.

I can't imagine anyone using such a burdensome mechanic. It kind of boggles the mind, really. I'd say it's an easy bet that the authors never actually used this system in play. But anyway, the unique note on scale is at the end of the segmented movement table (Sup-III, p. 7):
Suggested Scale: 1":2'. Movements should be made simultaneously.


  1. I've often wondered about this. It appears from Rythlander that 1" to 3.5' was used, and i've attempted to use 1" to 10' in my games but it always broke down when people forgot and counted them as 5' squares (an artifact of 3e. What scale was used most often in the olden days with miniatures.

    And more importantly, did they have any rules about zones of control. or could that umberhulk charge right to the mage past the fighters?

  2. @ -C
    If you hold over a rule from Chainmail, models would control 1" on either side of themselves to prevent "infiltration" (i think thats the term used). I'm not sure if any of the LBBs mention this.

  3. Yes, the "stop infiltration" rule is on Chainmail p. 16. It's in the mass-combat section, so it could be argued whether it applies to Man-to-Man or not. As usual, no mention in the LBBs because they rely on CM as the foundation for all mechanics on movement, initiative, combat, etc. (And Gygax also claimed in practice that he dropped use of minis once D&D play began, which explains to me why a lot of these suggestions are inconsistent.)

  4. Good find.

    The system was not for melee. Melee attacks, I assume went on the segment of the round rolled by your opponent. This system was for spells and missile fire only.

    An easier way of understanding it was this: spells and missile fire takes place on segment 3, modified by 1 segment for every 5 points of dexterity above 10.

    The main difference between this and ad&d's initiative is that it was increased to 10 segments and spells were no longer modified. So its obvious to me at least that it actually got a lot of play.

  5. It does say this -- "Attacks by combatants are made whenever the respective parties come within range, but movement need not cease until bodies are actually in contact." [p. 6].

    So my best reading is that this whole system supersedes the more familiar initiative mechanic.

  6. Correct if you're talking about an opening charge, but once the bodies are in contact (round #2) either you go with what chainmail recommends (shorter weapons go first) or you default to initiative.

    Round 1) charge for 3 segments (therefore attack takes place on segment 3)

    Round 2) initiative determines "telling blow". I roll a 4 you roll a 3. I attack on the 3rd segment and an archer with a 10 dex arrow also arrives on the 3rd segment.

    I mean the EW alternate combat system specifically states its for use with spells and missile fire and i believe the adjudication of charging.

  7. Maybe. The other reading would be to emphasize -- "All melee activities, including missile fire, spell casting, movement, and combat then are assigned to some - possibly all - part of the melee turn... Thereafter, the same pattern is maintained for successive melee
    rounds." [p. 5]

    i.e., If I charged and struck on melee turn 1, segment 3, then I'll keep hitting on subsequent segment 3's. Keeping in mind that the whole "I go on what you rolled for initiative" rule won't appear until the later AD&D DMG.