Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Do Declare!

A few weeks ago, someone asked on the OSE Discord how other referees handled changing weapons during combat. Do you make players use a turn to change weapons? Do you let them do it freely as many times as they want? Can they only swap weapons quickly if they drop the first, but it takes a full action the sheath it?

I don't use any of those approaches. Instead, I made swapping weapons a part of the "Declare Spells and Retreats" step. If you want to change your weapon for the next round, you have to declare it before rolling initiative for that round. That's it. It doesn't "use up" your turn. If you declare it, it happens. But you don't get to change your mind if the turn plays out differently than you expected.

A PC declaring that he has swapped out what he was holding for his axe

As my first foray into running OSE has progressed, I've added more things to the declaration step. I find it to be ideal for decisions that telegraph what you're doing next. These are the decisions that might inform your opponent's actions, should they win initiative. In addition to the normal Cast a Spell and Retreat from Melee, I have currently added:

Charging into Melee - Declare that you plan to charge toward an opponent. You must start the round at least 20' away. You gain a +2 bonus to attack, but incur a -1 AC penalty. 

This is the first decision point that I added to the declaration step. I placed it here to solve the problem of "when does an opponent get to brace against a charge?" The answer: if you declare that you're charging (meaning, you start running toward them), but they win initiative and brace their weapon.

Swapping Weapons - Declare before initiative that you're swapping held items. If you do this while in melee, opponents get a +2 bonus to all attacks against you this round.

It didn't make sense to allow changing your weapons when in melee combat without some sort of penalty. But, that rarely comes up. This is usually used to swap from a bow to a sword when the enemy nears, or to place a lantern on the ground and draw a weapon at the start of a fight.

Aiming - If you have a ranged weapon out at the start of the round, you can declare that you're foregoing your movement to take careful aim.
  • If you're firing into melee, reduce your chance to hit a friendly character from 3-in-6 (50%) to 1-in-6 (~17%)
  • If you're firing at a distant target, you can fire as if the target is one step closer (ex. a medium range target becomes short range)
This rule doesn't have to be in the declaration step ... it's not exactly telegraphing your actions in the same way the others do. But, since it depends on not having declared a weapon swap, I put it there for the sake of simplicity.

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