OSR Alternative Combat Rules, final version

  • Each combatant rolls (Level)d6. 
  • Estimate the power of monsters and npcs: What Level equivalent do they have? 
  • If you’re a melee fighter, add 3d6 in melee.
  • If you’re ambushing someone, add 3d6 for your first round of combat.
  • If you’re a ranged fighter, add 3d6 in ranged combat.
  • If you’re using magic in melee, add 3d6 in melee.
  • If you’re using magic from a distance, add 3d6 in ranged combat.
  • Aggressive monsters do so, as well.
  • Add 1d6 for any other advantage you can directly use in combat.
Roll your dice against the opponent’s dice. Look for the single highest die. Compare with the opponent. If you’re higher, the opponent loses 1d6. If there’s a draw, look for the next higher die and follow the above steps. The GM might decide the loss is higher than one die if the opponent has rolled a lot of high numbers.
The side with zero dice left is defeated. The winner decided what happens to the loser.
Optional Critical Hit Rule: Add the highest die and multiples (e.g., if you roll 3 sixes, add them together). If your number is at least 3 times as high as your opponent’s, they lose 1d6 dice.
When two or more characters are fighting as a team, combine all of their dice and roll them. Huge piles of dice! Yay!

Standing at the Black Gates
When you’re dying you catch a glimpse of what lies beyond the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom (the DM will describe it). Then roll (just roll, +nothing—yeah, Death doesn’t care how tough or cool you are). On a 10+, you’ve cheated Death—you’re in a bad spot but you’re still alive. On a 7–9, Death himself will offer you a bargain. Take it and stabilize or refuse and pass beyond the Black Gates into whatever fate awaits you. On 6-, your fate is sealed. You’re marked as Death’s own and you’ll cross the threshold soon. The GM will tell you when.

Combat example:
Yasuo, a 4thlevel crabman barbarian, strong as an ox, charismatic but dull. In a seedy tavern in a backwater town, one of the local brawlers has challenged him to a fight. 
Yasuo: 4thlevel = 4d6; he’s a fighter, so +3d6 = 7d6. He is strong as an ox, that’s an advantage in combat, so he gets an additional d6 = 8d6. His shell is roughly the equivalent of plate armor, that’s another advantage, for a total of 9d6. Crab-men can only use their claws, but they’re enormously powerful: +1d6. Yasuo rolls 10d6.

The brawler: I give him the experience of a third-level being, so 3d6. This guy knows his way around a good tavern brawl, so he’ll get an additional d6, for a total of 4d6. He’s wielding a huge dagger, that’s worth another d6. The brawler rolls 5d6. Poor boy.

I decide to use the optional critical hit rule, as well.
Yasuo rolls: 2,2,2,3,3,3,5,6,6,6. Total of highest dice = 3×6 = 18.
Brawler rolls: 3,4,4,6,6. Total of highest dice = 2×6 = 12.
Brawler loses 1d6 and now has only 4d6 left.

Yasuo rolls: 1,1,2,3,3,3,4,4,5,5. Total of highest dice = 2×5 = 10.
Brawler rolls: 3,4,4,5. Total of highest dice = 2×5 = 10. 
A draw.

Yasuo rolls: 1,1,2,2,3,4,5,5,6,6. Total of highest dice = 2×6 = 12.
Brawler rolls: 3,4,4,5. Total of highest dice = 1×5 = 5.
Brawler loses 1d6 and now has 3d6 left. 

Yasuo rolls: 2,2,2,2,3,4,5,6,6. Total of highest dice = 2×6 = 12.
Brawler rolls: 1,2,2. Total of highest dice = 2×2 = 4.
Yasuo’s total is at least 3 times as high as Brawler’s, so Yasuo lands a critical hit. Yasuo rolls 1d6 to determine how many dice Brawler loses: 2. Brawler has only 1d6 left. I think it’s safe to say he surrenders before Yasuo might kill him.

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