Jason Hobbs, of Hobbs and Friends of the OSR, linked me in to a grappling duel that he was going to run in an ongoing game he runs. You can see it here, from about the 5 minute mark to about 10 minutes, maybe a bit longer. He used concepts from my book, Dungeon Grappling, to execute the duel.
Check it out. I’ll wait.
A few things about it that struck me, or that I really liked:
- First, Jason looked at the rules ahead of time, trimmed them to his needs, and clarified the function with the other player in the duel
- He made them his own: dividing the HP of each fighter into a few bins of a size that made sense to him. There seemed to also be a “no effect” zone up to a certain level, too
- He eliminated modifiers to the damage roll: “just roll your Hit Die for control damage.”
- He made the contest one-way: no way to counter-grapple. The player asked about it, and was informed not to worry.
- It was fast, and especially in the duel, the “miss, miss, hit/damage, miss, hit/damage, etc” sequence was as fast as it should be, with no bizarre lookups.
That’s the point, really: everyone who plays any version of D&D knows the hit roll vs AC/damage roll paradigm. It’s basically in our blood. And with the relatively low number of HP in Old School games, using HP as Control Maximum is equally well understood.
The player was able to ask for things to do: “get in and take him down.” That was glossed over, but it could have been attempted as soon as the fight moved from “grabbed” to “grappled.” Make an attack roll, spend the CP to represent the effort of throwing him to the ground, and poof. He’s now prone (and presumably embarrassed) on the ground. Easier to hit, harder to hit you, and worse Dexterity-type saving throws.
I liked what I saw, and as the players and the GM get used to it, I can easily see adding some of the optional detail for more fun.
For what it’s worth: Dungeon Grappling is on sale until January 2, 2019!