Here is how I intend to use Dungeon Squad II by Jason Morningstar as a much simpler alternative to standard OSR combat.
In Dungeon Squad II, each monster (and each “problem” in general) has a 2-6 Challenge number. You roll a single D6:
“When you fight a monster, each point over the monster’s challenge number is equal to one Hit Point of damage against that monster. Each point under the monster’s challenge number is a point of damage for your guy – mark down your Hit Points by that amount. If you shoot a bow, rolling under the monster’s challenge number does not hurt you unless that makes sense [if the opponents also has a ranged attack, the shooting character might be shot back]. If you roll the challenge number exactly, choose one of your guy’s Specials and mark it as ready. Once you do use it, mark it as used”. You are announce that you are using a Special before you roll the die.
This is extremely simple: only the PCs take actions. If they succeed, the monster receives damage; if the PC fails, he receives damage. I will simplify this even more, not counting hit points and simply having a “Wounded” condition. So basically each character / monster has three possible conditions: “whole”, “wounded”, “out of action / dead”.
The advantages are:
- each monster is defined by a single number (the Challenge number)
- for each character / monster you only have to book-keep the current condition
- in an encounter, you roll a die for each PC and you always get a meaningful result
Each character has number of specials (6, according to the rules), that can be used to model OSR classes and races (spells for Magic Users and Clerics, special attacks for Fighters, trap stuff for Thieves….). I guess this could be fun to do (of course the results will not be accurate, but that’s the point of simplifying).
I will define a rough average level / average AC for the party (exemples below assume Level 2, AC 7). I will map OSR monsters / NPCs to a Dungeond Squad Challenge number as follows:
Challenge 2 – Hit Dice and/or AC worse than the party’s average (e.g. 1 HD AC 9);
Challenge 3 – Hit Dice and AC close to those of the party (a 1 HD, 2 AC difference is OK e.g. 1 HD AC 5 or 7);
Challenge 4 – 2 or 3 HD more than the average Level and / or significantly better AC (e.g. 3 HD, AC 5 or better; 4 HD, AC 5, 7 or 9);
Challenge 5 – “boss” encounters (these should be rare, maybe less than 10% of the encounters).
I can have 5 second Level PCs fighting against 3 Monsters (3 HD) and I should be able to resolve the encounter with maybe a dozen die rolls (vs maybe 50 die rolls with the standard combat system).
If I want to get some more detail, I can still differentiate one or two characters in the party:
- a particularly strong character rolls two dice and uses the highest
- a particularly weak character rolls two dice and uses the lowest
If I want to highlight a Monster leader, I will simply assign it a +1 Challenge number than the other Monsters.