AHL, Animal Encounters, and the Roman March Pace

June 5, 2011

Azhanti High Lightning (AHL) does not really account for Animal Encounters. I don’t really count the rules for blobs. They are pretty close to a Gelatinous Cube from D&D.

Using Animal Encounters in AHL requires some adaptation. We need to adapt the rules for

  • Variable Speed and Action Points
  • Damage
  • Melee Weapons
  • Morale

Variable Speed and Action Points (or things you never thought about the Roman March Pace)

The “double pace” was a unit of march distance for the Roman military. The Roman legions marched at a 120 paces/60 double pace per minute rate. A thousand (Latin: Mille) double paces make a mile.

Each AHL square represents 1.5 meters or approximately two .75m paces. Your Action Points in AHL represents the number of paces a Roman soldier could march in a turn (approximately). That speed is about 6kph or 3.6mph.

The more things change…the more they stay the same.

In the US Army, “double time” is 180 paces a minute or really one and a half time. When you trot at 3 squares for 2AP, you are moving at double time pace. Your pace is now up to 9kph or 5.4mph (or a bit more than an 11 minute mile.) AHL doesn’t have a flat out run, but one could reasonably double the trot speed to get a top speed of 18kph or 10.8mph (or about a 5.5 minute mile.)

So we might look at walk as x1, trot/double time as x1.5 and run as x3.

So far so good. When we get to animals though, things get a bit dicier. LBB3 World and Adventures (and subsequent editions too) refer to animals as Speed 0 (like trappers), 1, 2 or 3 meaning they move as fast as a man or two or three times that pace. If we use that Roman marching rate as the normal rate for a human walking that gives us a speed of about 6kph or 3.6mph. Speed 2 animals then would move 12kph and Speed 3 animals would move 18kph. If we extend out the speed rules as we did above then we get this table:

Speed

Walk (kph)

Trot (kph)

Run(kph)

0

0

0

0

1

6

9

18

2

12

18

36

3

18

27

54

I also do some websearching on animals speeds and I found these clocked high speeds. Let’s assume these creatures were running when clocked. Speeds are rounded to the nearest whole kph. I based the analysis on a tipping point halfway between the running speeds (so an animal clocked at 25kph would round down to speed 1 and one clocked at 29kph would round up to speed 2.) I added a non-canonical Speed 4. Even so, some creatures are still off the chart and require special handling

Animal

kph

Speed

Peregrine falcon

320

(18)

Cheetah

112

(6)

Pronghorn antelope

98

(5)

Lion

80

4

Thomson’s gazelle

80

4

Wildebeest

80

4

Quarter horse

76

4

Cape hunting dog

72

4

Elk

72

4

Coyote

69

4

Gray fox

67

4

Hyena

64

4

Ostrich

64

4

Zebra

64

4

Mongolian wild ass

64

4

Greyhound

63

3

Whippet

57

3

Jackal

56

3

Mule deer

56

3

Rabbit (domestic)

56

3

Giraffe

51

3

Reindeer

51

3

Cat (domestic)

48

3

Kangaroo

48

3

Grizzly bear

48

3

Wart hog

48

3

White-tailed deer

48

3

Human

45

2

Elephant

40

2

Black mamba snake

32

2

Six-lined race runner

29

2

Squirrel

19

1

Pig (domestic)

18

1

Chicken

14

1

House mouse

13

1

Spider (Tegenearia atrica)

2

0

Giant tortoise

0

0

Three-toed sloth

0

0

Garden snail

0

0

Animal Encounters adaptation #1:

Allow a Speed 4 for exceptionally fast animals. Consider pouncers or chasers as eligible for this higher speed, or adapt animals as appropriate for the world and the setting.

Truly unusual creatures can be assigned higher speeds at the referee’s discretion.

Animal Encounters adaptation #2:

Animals use the same action points table as humanoids do. Where a number of action points permits movement for a certain number of squares, multiply the number of squares by the animals speed to determine the permitted movement. All movement for the AP expended should be in the same direction.

For example, an animal with speed 3 could spend 2 AP to move three squares forward or 3 AP to move three squares diagonally.

(This adaptation makes animals move faster but in a manner that allows simple resolution of comparative speeds and actions. It does tend to force them to slow down a bit in a confined space.)

Damage

World and Adventures LBB3 determines damage points for animals. I use those damage limits as given without modification.

Converting wounds in AHL to these damage points is another matter. The Journal of the Traveller’s Aid Society (JTAS) published an article on merging the Traveller and the AHL/Striker combat systems. The article proposed that the wound table could be adapted to calculate Traveller wound points that reduce characteristics. Using the Traveller weapon damage rolls (like 2D+3) or better yet the simpler Snapshot values (like 3D), the damage table can be adapted to provide a modifier to the damage done on each die rolled.

Damage Roll Modified to each Damage Die
3- -6
4 -5
5 -4
6 -3
7 -2
8 -1
9+ -0

For example, suppose using the AHL wound table results in a hit with a net damage roll (after modifiers) of 6. Damage is rolled according to the weapon type. Most slug throwers roll 3D for damage points. We roll the 3D and get 3, 4, and 6. These rolls are reduced by 3 each to 0, 1 and 2 or 3 points total damage. These points are applied to the damage points the animal can sustain just like in Worlds and Adventures. We also use these rules for player characters and the regular damage rules for NPCs.

When determining damage from large animals, some get a damage bonus for their size expressed as an additional number of dice. If the animals natural weapon had a damage effect of 2D and a damage bonus of 1D, then player characters or animals using this system would suffer 3D modified by the wound roll result.

It is a bit trickier to convert the animal size-based damage bonus to the standard wound system. A workable rule is that damage bonuses work like HE effects and make wound categories worse. For every 3D  of bonus damage, escalate wounds one level (light becomes serious, serious becomes death.) Round number of dice to the nearest, so 1D gets no bonus and 2D, 3D and 4D all escalate one level. 5D or more escalate two levels making any wound at all death. No effect should remain no effect.

This points method is most useful when the animal encountered is a significant part of the adventure. As an alternative,  the No Effect/Light Wound/Serious Wound/Death results from AHL and Striker can be used. For wound capacity, take the number of dice for the animal based on the table in Worlds and Adventures and divide by 2. This gives the number of light wounds the animal can take. Treat Serious wounds and 2 Light wounds and Death as 3 Light Wounds. For example, if a animal has 6D/2D, it can take 3 Light wounds before becoming unconscious and 1 additional Light Wound before death. This method is better suited to where animals are less central to the story or where they are more numerous.

Melee Weapons

 

Characters and Combat makes provision for a number of melee weapons. Worlds and Adventures allows referees to assign these weapons to animals usually as an analogy to the way the animals use their natural weaponry. AHL treats all melee as brawling and effectively weaponless.

Striker provides a table of melee weapon factors in Book 3 Equipment. For animal encounters, ignore the AHL melee tables and resolve melee attacks as follows:

  1. Determine range of attack as a number of squares equal to one square less than the range column on the Melee Weapons Table on Striker Book 3 pg 41. Range 1 attacks require combatants to be in the same square. Attackers must have a clear LOS to targets. That is, a Pike can attack from 4 squares away but no obstacles can intervene. This method changes the game a lot as it creates a ranged attack for melee weapons.
  2. Range represents the optimal attack range. If the actual attack range is less than the optimal, the attacker suffers a DM of -1 to hit for each hex that the target is closer than optimal. Count targets in the same square as at range 1. For example, an attacker with a broadsword (range 3) with a target in the same square (range 1) suffers a -2 to hit penalty.
  3. Penetration is used as stated in the table. Size-based bonus damage can be treated as described above and do not affect penetration.

Animal Morale

Animal reactions to encounters should still be based on the attack and flee values in the design sequence in LBB3 Worlds and Adventures.

Once an animal is encountered and does not flee, each turn the animal may need to check morale under the following circumstances

  • when the animal is wounded (check when wounded)
  • when the animal becomes aware of reinforcements to the the animal’s opponents party (check in decision phase)
  • when elements of the animal’s party fail their morale checks (check in decision phase)
  • when the animal is defending its lair do NOT check morale

Generally, all failed morale checks should be considered equivalent to a routed result.

Comments and feedback especially welcome on these adaptations and modifications!

Advertisements

One Response to “AHL, Animal Encounters, and the Roman March Pace”

  1. TG Says:

    crocodile? It attacks from a submerged ambush position, and pushes off the bottom to do a lunge, and can leap/gallop at 17-30 km/h for the first 10m, then drags its pray back and underwater. Has a 98% success rate in hunting


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: