Tuesday, May 4, 2021

OSR: Martial Maneuvers


by Gonçalo Sousa
A while ago, one of my players asked me if it would be possible to make combat more crunchy, while keeping the smoothness and simplicity of OSR combat.  I also had a much less sophisticated system where players could teach each other their class abilities, which was just a terrible idea.  So I thought about it and after some effort, came up with this.  These are martial maneuvers, techniques intended to enhance the combat skills of any character or NPC in an easy and direct way.

While they are not as powerful as a Fighter's Secret Techniques, they can be learned by other classes.  The way you learn one of these maneuvers is you find a teacher.  The teacher then subtracts their COG modifier plus their martial skill (levels in Alice, Boxer, Carnivore or Fighting Man (max 5)) from 20.  That becomes the DC.  The student then rolls 1d20 and adds their COG bonus plus their martial skill.  If they equal or exceed the DC, the student learns the maneuver.  If not, they can attempt to learn the technique again tomorrow.

For example- a Level 3 Fighter with a COG of 15(+1) is attempting to teach his Level 3 Sage friend with a Cog of 16(+2) the Disarming Strike maneuver.  Subtracting 4 from 20 gives us a DC of 16.  If the Sage can roll 16 or higher, he learns the maneuver.  If he fails, he must wait until tomorrow to attempt to learn it again.  

These maneuvers are also good for the Referee, as they give the Referee the ability to spice up an enemy's combat repetoire without loading them down with class levels or having to include a bunch of complicated text to explain an ability. 

Martial Maneuvers:


1- Reckless Attack: You get advantage on your next attack, but the next attack against you has advantage.

2- Bull Rush: If you have space, you can charge an opponent.  On a hit, you do +1d6 damage, and this damage is included in your attack roll.  However, if the opponent wishes, instead of making a defense roll, he can instead attempt a DEX save.  On a  successful save, the opponent takes no damage.  On a failure, however, the opponent takes full damage.

3- Bloody Aura: As an action, you can release your bloodlust in a palpable aura around you as an action.  Any opponent who attacks you must save.  On a failed save, the opponent will abort his attack, as he believes you are trying to counterattack.  A successful save indicates that the opponent realizes you are just bluffing.

4- Wounded Feint: As an action, you do not attempt to avoid an attack, but to counter-attack.  By pretending to be wounded, you allow an opponent to automatically damage you.  Then roll damage and compare it to the opponent's damage roll.  If your damage roll exceeds your opponent's, you take no damage and the opponent takes the result that you rolled in damage.  If your damage roll is lower, you are damaged as normal.

5- Shield Bash: If you have a shield, you can attempt to make an attack with it.  Your opponent makes a defense roll as normal.  On a successful attack, your opponent takes 1d6 damage and is stunned for 1 minute (10 rounds).  Stunned creatures cannot attack or take actions except for movement.  Your opponent can attempt a save as an action on his turn.  On a successful save, he recovers and is no longer stunned.

6- Disarming Strike: You can make an attack as an action.  On a successful hit, you deal no damage, but instead knock your opponent's weapon out of his hands.  He must take an action to retrieve the weapon before he can use it again.

7- Pile Driver: If you have grappled a creature, as an action on your turn you can slam that creature into the ground, doing 1d8 damage to that creature and forcing it to save or be stunned.  Doing this breaks your grapple.

8- Mountain Hammer: You can make a bare-handed attack, unleashing a rippling blow that sends dangerous shockwaves through armor, damaging the creature inside, doing 1d4+AR damage.  So a creature with AR 1 takes 1d4+1 damage, a creature with AR 2 takes 1d4+2 damage and so on.  Creatures with Natural Armor can save at the start of the the battle and on a success, take only 1d4 damage from this attack.  On a failed save, however, they take damage as normal. 

9- Whirlwind Strike: As an action, you may target up to 4 creatures (Armies count as 4 creatures if surrounding you, Swarms may also count as four, depending on size) that are standing adjacent to you or each other if you're using a ranged weapon.  You then make an attack roll and roll damage a number of times equal to the number of creatures you are targeting.  Select the highest one, then divide the damage evenly among the creatures targeted.  If the amount of damage cannot be evenly divided, the Referee decides where the remainder goes.

10- Spear Dance: If you have a spear, polearm or staff you can twirl it into the air before you, spinning it in a circle.  If any creature would attack you while you are doing this, they must save.  On a failed save, the creature's attack fails and it is knocked prone.  On a success, the attack proceeds as normal.  You can stop spinning your weapon as a free action.

11- Throw Weapon: You can throw a melee weapon ordinarily not intended to be thrown.  On a hit, that weapon does normal damage, as if you made a normal melee attack.  You must then take an action to retrieve your weapon before it can be used again.

12- Impalement: If you have a sword, spear or other weapon that can be used to stab, you can make an attack and try to drive it into your opponent.  Your opponent can either make a defense roll or make a STR save.  On a successful STR save, they slam your weapon aside and send you staggering, leaving you open to a counter-attack with the next attack against you getting a +2 bonus to the attack roll.  On a failed STR save, the target is hit as normal.  On a successful hit, the target takes normal damage, plus you drive your weapon into them.  You can then inflict your base weapon die damage on them as an action next turn, or pull out your weapon.  If you choose the latter, this gives them a persistent wound that does 1d4 damage a round until someone makes a successful COG check to stop the bleeding. 

Ex: You impale a creature with your d6 sword, next round you can do d6 damage to that creature as an action on your turn, or you can pull out your sword and give that creature a persistent wound. 

13- Arm Break: If you are grappling a creature, you can force the creature to compete against you in a STR contest.  If you win, you snap one of the creature's arms, breaking it and rendering it unusable until it heals, either naturally or otherwise.  If he wins, however, he breaks your grapple and frees himself.

14- Crushing Blow: You hit a creature with a massive blow using all your strength.  That creature must either compete against you in a STR contest or make a DEX save.  On a failed STR contest, the creature takes no damage but is knocked prone.  Attacks against prone creatures have advantage if the attacker is non-prone.  If the target instead attempts a DEX save, on a successful save they take no damage but on a failure take normal damage from a successful attack plus the attacker's STR modifier (min +1).

15- Leaping Strike: You leap into the air and crash down on your opponent, the force of gravity dragging your weapon down into him.  Your opponent makes a defense roll.  If his roll beats your attack roll, you take the difference in damage.  If your opponent has a spear or polearm, he make his defense roll with advantage.  If your opponent has a shield, he also makes his save with advantage, but you take no damage if the defense roll is higher.  If your attack roll beats his defense roll however, you may roll your damage dice an additional time and add it to the damage you rolled as part of your attack roll. 

16- Counterpunch.  Once per round, as a reaction to being attacked and hit, you can make an attack roll of your own.  If your attack roll beats the one that hit you, that attack is countered and treated as if it did no damage.  Your opponent then takes the difference in damage between the two rolls.  Ex: If he rolled 4 damage and you rolled 6, he takes 2 damage.

17- Clashing: You can force a creature to compete in a STR contest against you.  If you win, you can push your opponent backwards.  A pushed creature must save- on a failed save they are pushed back 10*[STR modifier]', but on a failed save they are also spun and disoriented and are stunned.  Stunned creatures cannot attack or take actions except for movement.  Your opponent can attempt a save as an action on his turn.  On a successful save, he recovers and is no longer stunned.
18- Hip Throw: You force an opponent to make a DEX save.  On a failed save, you throw the opponent, pulling them across your body and slamming them onto the ground.  From this position you can make an attack with a Quick weapon with advantage, or make a grapple check with advantage.

19- Chokehold.  If you are grappling a creature, you can force that creature to compete against with you in a STR contest.  If you win the contest, you begin applying pressure to the creature's neck and throat, depriving them of oxygen.  This does 1d6 CON damage to the creature a round.  If this damage reduces a creature to 0, that creature passes out.  This technique only works on creatures that need oxygen- some creatures may not be affected by this, such as Outsiders possessing mortal bodies or Undead.  A creature being choked can make a STR check each round to try and break your hold.  If it beats your STR check in a contest, it stops being choked, but it needs to succeed in another STR contest to break free of your grapple.

20- Spoiling Attack.  You must take an action to ready this technique.  Then, when an opponent attempts to attack you, you make your defense roll in response.  If you beat your opponent's roll, the opponent's attack not only fails to hit, but he take a -1d4 penalty to hit for 1 minute, or until he succeeds on a CON save.  The opponent can attempt this CON save each round as an action.  If you fail to beat your opponent's attack roll, you take -1d4 damage.  Ex: If your opponent's attack did 6 damage, you take (6-1d4) damage.

from here

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