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I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Charge Attacks

I've been trying to figure out how to handle charge attacks (i.e., a hybrid action involving running towards someone and attacking).  So, I decided to see what other systems do.  I had a bit of fun commenting on some of them but rest assured it is all good-natured.

This list isn't all-inclusive, so if you know of other approaches, let me know!

It's just two actions.  Move.  Attack.

Simple.  Fits with Phoenix's one-action approach, but maybe not fun enough as it doesn't give that cinematic charging feel.

AD&D 1e
Regular movement speed. Lose Dex bonus to AC. Longer reach weapon attacks first, charger gains +2 to-hit.  Can only charge once every 10 rounds.

Because your legs have to recharge?

AD&D 2e
+50% movement speed, Lose Dex bonus to AC and take an AC penalty of 1,  bonus of 2 to-hit, double damage with some weapons (i.e., lance), defender gets init bonus of 2 and can set versus charge for an attack at double damage.

Pop quiz: which bonuses are -2 and which are +2?

d20 (D&D 3e)
Must move at least 10 feet in a straight line, may move double speed, +2 to-hit, -2 to AC, double damage with a lance, if defender has readied an action to set, they can do double damage on the readied attack.

DM: "Goblin sets for a charge".  Player 2: "Fine, I don't charge".  In years of 3e with several groups I never saw a single set-for-charge action.  Why have a rule if almost noone uses it?

D&D 4e
Must move at least 10 feet, may move normal speed (although you can spend a move action first to equal d20's distance), +1 to-hit.

Booorrrrriiiiinnnnggggg.  But resolution is fast - since it doesn't really do anything except create arguments over terms like "nearest square".  Now that I think about it, resolution wasn't actually so fast...

RuneQuest SRD LE
If a character can move a minimum of five metres, he can make a charge. He may move a distance up to twice his Movement. This must be in a straight line and he must end up adjacent to an enemy. When the move is complete, a close combat attack may be made against the enemy. If the attack is successful, the character gains a bonus of +1D4 damage.

This makes sense and is easy but it doesn't seem like there is much of a reason not to charge whenever possible (i.e., no tradeoff - unless I missed something?).

Rolemaster Classic Arms Law:
  • The combatant must use a Pace of at least Run to close with their foe.
  • They may make turns while running, but only the distance in Final Approach is used to determine the bonus to OB.
  • Final Approach is the distance between the combatant’s last turn and their foe.
  • The bonus to OB is equal to the number of feet of the final approach; it cannot be greater than +50.
  • The charging combatant also receives a penalty to their DB equal to the OB bonus.
  • Some sort of penalty to intiative, and maybe some other things, but to be honest I've already lost track of how this works... holy crap, I thought 4e combat was slow.  I've seen video games with simpler internal resolution mechanics.
A simple picture describing the Rolemaster Charge-Attack.

Really?  So far I've found a few thousand words in various GURPS books on charges and I still can't figure it out.  I even found a post on SJGames's forums talking about it and from what I can tell it all makes Rolemaster look like a game of "go-fish".

With the simplicity of Phoenix and my desire to have fast moving cinematic combat, some of these approaches are more appealing than others.  I clearly desire a tradeoff for a charge - perhaps even giving active defenders a free attack.  But there should be a clear benefit to charging that makes the risk exciting.

Ah well, at least it was fun to put this list together!


  1. Could be best not to get too bogged down in rules, and if the player says they want to charge, just look at the situation, and make an call. Of course I might just be saying that because the two games I run a lot more than any other don't have any special rules for charging.

    And I like to make things up on the fly.

    1. I agree with that principle in many ways, but for things that come up regularly I like to have something consistent. Most combats in the last few years have involved at least one or two charge-attacks, so I figure I should be prepared.

      Even if I left it to run-time, I would have to come up with a consistent ruling anyways!

  2. Sounds like you need to go back to the way you redid the martialist.

    Charge = run fast to hit something?

    Wouldn't it be harder to hit something if you charge but you'd probably do more damage?

    Kind of like jousting, I reckon I'd hit all the time if my horse walked, but no-one would fall off.

    But Galloping that horse I'd have a hard time of hitting but when I did hit, Wham!

    Plus I can get up to run speed within 5 ft, check runner acceleration when the olympics start, I'm sure they get up there in the first 0.5 sec or so.

    1. This makes sense, of course, but is complicated by Phoenix having damage and accuracy as the same thing.

    2. Looks like you can't make an accuracy/damage tradeoff then like I was thinking.

      If you can't change damage/accuracy then I can only think the benefit will be from an increased range of attack (from the run), balanced by some AC penalty. But at that point I get stuck as I don't know if it would be fun or not.

  3. Charging in D&D is my favorite thing ever! In the previous build we played, there was an endurance cost to charging. I thought that balanced out pretty well, but what do I know.

    Here's hoping you get it right in Phoenix!

  4. I see two primary instances where charging could be used:

    Charging into battle - get there quickly to join/start combat

    Perhaps this could allow an adrenline bonus on first strike +2 only.

    Charging your opponent during battle - typically causing less damage but usually intended to knock/take your opponent to the ground

    I would charge someone during a fight to knock down an opponent. I may either go with him such as a takedown in wrestling or MMA, OR to knock my opponent off his feet allowing me to remain on my feet giving me a great advantage.

    So, how to translate that into game? I would suggest considering a charge as causing perhaps half damage, but great risk of knocking an opponenet down, which can result in increased bonuses against opponent on the ground and perhaps taking away on attack from the opponent on the ground as they need to get back on their feet for more swordlay. This results in the charging charcater having an attacke bonus (+2? for 1 or 2 rounds?) and takes away at least ne attack from his/her opponent.

    I doubt anyone would argue that knocking down an opponent is an advantage, but would any negatives be applied from a failed charging attempt? I have seen people charge people during fights and totally miss falling on their face, then get mounted and pummelled.


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