Landshut Rules: Alternative combat rules, explained as Troika! combat

The 4th edition of my Landshut Rules have been available for free download for a couple of days now. One of the biggest changes were the “alternative combat rules”:

 This is free kriegsspiel in its purest form. Let’s take a closer look:

“Use common sense and do not roll dice to attack.”

For many roleplayers, this is heresy. After all, part of the fun is rolling dice, right? Yes, indeed. But still, playing free kriegsspiel-style is interesting because it forces players to act tactically in combat. All-out attacks are rarely a sensible thing to do, except when you find yourself in a vastly superior position.

“Damage is dealt without rolling against each other”

Now we’re talking. So, we have decided to not roll to hit – but we can, of course (if we want to) roll for damage. This brings back a degree of uncertainty, and I like that.

“(damage) happens simultaneously – the referee judges the players’ narration and interprets it accordingly and fairly.”

Now this is interesting. Instead of rolling initiative or drawing cards, narration decides who hits when, but all damage happens in one “round”. Last man standing.

Of course, if you want to keep initiative rolls, you can always do that.
For Troika! combat, keeping the initiative cards is key!

How do I incorporate this rule in my Troika! games?

Let’s say there is a Troika! Chaos Champion (Skill 6, Stamina 20, 3 Maul Fighting) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage)

Turn 1: I draw Chaos Champion’s card. He hits with damage 1 (rolled a 2 on the damage table, but Man-Beast’s armor reduces it to 1). Man-Beast’s STA is now 10.

Turn 2: It’s Man-Beast’s turn. It rolls a 2 on the damage table: 6. Chaos Champion now has STA 14.

Turn 3: End of Round.

Turn 4: Man-Beast hits with 4 points damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 10. Man-Beast has 10, as well.

Turn 5: End of Round

Turn 6: Chaos Champion hits with 3 damage. Man-Beast is down to STA 7.

Turn 7: Chaos Champion again, with 2 damage. Man-Beast is now at ST 5.

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits with 8 damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 2 left.

Turn 9: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 points damage. Chaos Champion is dead.

What would I do if the involved parties have a huge Skill disparity?

Simple enough. I’d roll the Luck Die, and adjust the rolls according to the skill gap between the combatants. For instance:

An unlucky Thaumaturge (Skill 4, Stamina 20, no fighting skill, with a sword) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage). My ruling would be: there’s a 4 in 6 chance that the Thaumaturge really hits when his initiative card is drawn.

Let’s shuffle the cards and go!

Turn 1: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge’s STA is now 12.

Turn 2: Thaumaturge’s card turns up, I roll a 3: yes, he hits! 4 damage. Man-Beast’s STA is down to 7.

Turn 3: Man-Beast hits with 8 again. Thaumaturge’s STA is 4.

Turn 4: End of Round.

Turn 5: Thaumaturge hits (rolled 3) with 6 damage. Man-Beast now has STA 1 left.

Turn 6: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge now has STA 4.

Turn 7: Thaumaturge MISSES (rolled a 5).

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 damage. Thaumaturge is dead.

Minipirates, MoldHammer version

So, minipirates. But for MoldHammer

Seamanship, Bragging, Intuitive Astrology (base 1 in 6 chance, +1 each for helpful attribute, relevant knowledge, GM feeling generous, using an appropriate tool, using the area to your advantage)

To-hit: 10
Armor: 10 (damn hard to hit)
Damage:   against very small opponents, 0 against opponents bigger than a hummingbird


Oh yes.
After all that philosophizing and meta-plane-drifting, I think it’s time for me to return to something… shall we say, tangible. Or, weirdly tangible. Walter Moers is a fellow countryman of mine, and his Zamonia books have been translated in dozens of languages.

Zamonia is weird, and funny, and interesting, and sometimes, bloodthirsty. Perfect for roleplaying!
And a good fit for GLOG.

…but an even better fit for Troika!.

Thank the mighty gods that TheLawfulNeutral has already posted some really good material for Zamonian roleplaying.

Today, I’d like to introduce the Minipirate race-as-class for my Troika!/Landshut hack.

On genre assumptions and the vagaries of fate, or: Hit points, shit points

I have a strange relationship with hit points.
For “science fiction” games, I’m perfectly fine with “hits” and fixed damage: 1 hit does X amount of damage (usually 1, but this can go up to 4 for really terrifyingly potent weapons).
For fantasy games, though, I’d like to have hit points and variable damage (= dice).

After thinking long and hard about the reasons, and asking on the Bastionland discord, I thought I had come to a conclusion: probably I like hp/variable damage because for old school fantasy games, it’s not that uncommon to fight against many opponents on any given day, while in scifi games, this is happening significantly less often (or not at all).


Not quite. What I’m thinking now is that I just like the uncertainty of variable damage; one blow might knock me down, or barely scratch me. THAT’S what I’m after. THAT’S what my more than 30 year-long experience as full-contact martial artist tells me.THAT’S also what I want, within limits, to have in my games.

Still, introducing damage rolls in my game is nothing I seriously consider. What I’m looking for is

  • The uncertainty of combat: My attack might miss or glance off the opponent. I don’t want autohits.
  • The uncertainty of resilience: One blow might be sufficient to knock me out good. I don’t want fixed damage, or better: I don’t want fixed damage all the way through.

Unknowingly, I already had the solution to this when I wrote the Into the Odd hack for my Landshut Rules.

Time to recap.

  1. Your character has X amount of hits. Usually, in the Landshut Rules, this is 4, but you can also roll a d6 if you’re feeling lucky (punk).
  2. Each successful attack reduces your hits by 1 or more points – this is something the referee and the players agree on before the game starts.
  3. If your character has run out of hits, any further damage might become critical: To avoid being critically injured (and unable to move, possibly dying), roll 2d6 vs the referee’s 2d6.The ref might grant you a bonus to the roll. If you roll higher, your character has avoided a critical injury: write down the damage, anyway. If you roll lower than the ref, your character is knocked down and is critically injured. The ref determines how long it will take to heal up. For heroic fantasy: If your character ever reaches Level+4 negative Hit Protection, s/he dies. For harsher games: reduce that number.
So there. I’ll be using this in my next game.
I’ll keep you posted.

Chaos Monk, Into the Odd style

I know. You’ve seen his cousin.
But today: the Chaos Monk, Into the Odd style, but keeping the original hp.

STR 10
DEX 11

HD: 1d5 = 2

Starting abilities:
– no armor allowed
– use only lame weapons 🙂
– are only surprised on a 1 in 8, and only if “spoken to by a member of the opposite gender”


  • Reaching 2nd level: “kung-fu kick” (d5 at level 2, d6 at level 3, d8 at level 5)
  • Reaching 3rd level: Speak with Fungi.
  • Reaching 4th level: Flip over the back of their opponent while making a high-pitched scream.
  • Reaching 6th level: cast Confusion once a day on not just themselves but others.
  • Reaching 8th level: Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. It is unclear whether this has any real mechanical effect however.

War Bear, freestyle D&D version

Again, Hill Cantons, man!

This time, Chris’s war bear class. Awesome!
I’m rolling the stats, 3d6 in order, and switch them around till I like them, and arrive at this:

STR 14
DEX 12
CON 14
INT 10
WIS 10

Saves: roll on or under the most appropriate stat

HD: 1d8+2 = 8

Now, I’m opening my post “Quick rules for playing D&D, any edition” in a new window.

The war bear’s starting abilities:
– no armor other than a helmet, instead they have a base armor class + DEX bonus (DEX/3–3, round down)
– bonus +1 to hit and damage when using polearms
– after 1 day without seeing a polearm, lose 1 hp per day till you get your fix
– unarmed damage: 2 attacks per round with 1d4 damage each

OK, Armor: DEX bonus = 1; base armor class (descending AC) is 6; this translates to 13 (ascending AC), or 3 points above “naked” —> Armor is 3.
To-hit: roll on or under (9+HD) = 10

For everything else, use MoldHammer.

Plus, this house rule to speed up combat, BUT still keep the tension of a good dice duel, is really good:

Chaos Monk, freestyle D&D version

I’ve been on a D&D trip, lately.
And Hill Cantons, Chris Kutalik’s brilliant creation, Hill Cantons, man! Anyway, I digress. Chris posted his tongue-in-cheek Cahos Monk class a few years ago. I’m still in love with it. Its sheer Napoleon Dynamite-ness is breathtaking. I want to play a chaos monk, right here and now!

…and all the D&D versions I have sitting on my shelves are way too complicated.

So, I’m rolling the six stats, 3d6 in order, and switch them around till I like them, and arrive at this:

STR 10
DEX 11
INT 12
WIS 11

Saves: roll on or under the most appropriate stat

HD: 1d5 = 2

Now, I’m opening my post “Quick rules for playing D&D, any edition” in a new window.

Then, I’m taking a look at the Chaos Monk’s starting abilities:
– no armor allowed
– add (DEX/3 –3, rounded down), and +1 per 2 levels to armor
– use only lame weapons 🙂
– are only surprised on a 1 in 8, and only if “spoken to by a member of the opposite gender”

OK, Armor: DEX bonus = 0
To-hit: roll on or under (9+HD) = 10

For everything else, use MoldHammer.

My good morning y’all character


red silk robe, ceremonial headdress, incense
ceremonial staff (d6)

Sway the gullible and hopeless: When someone stricken with grief or hopelessness or seeking spiritual guidance talks to you, you convert him to your belief system without a roll. Roll a crit, and his closest family is going with him. Interpret everything that goes your way as divine intervention and proof.

Start with one, gain one when you experience a contradiction between the teachings of your religion and what’s happening before your eyes.

  • Preacher: Calm down large groups of people or stir their emotions with a sermon. 
  • Skeptic: Negate a spell or work of magic directed against you, once per session. 
  • Zealot: Spend 1d6 hit points to bend reality to your will and cause something to happen – this is, without a doubt, your god’s will. 
  • Pop Religiosity: Spout some superficial eternal wisdom in someone’s face, and roll your next save with advantage if it is directed against that person.

 (created by

The Black Hack: alternative combat rules


Player-facing rolls are not my thing. The Black Hack 1e very much is my thing because it’s so immensely customizable. I could, of course, go the Landshut route and simply handle combat with opposing rolls.

Or I walk this way: Taking a piece of rules from my very own Fabulous Heart of Mekron:

This method keeps the strict roll-under approach of TBH, but lets players and referee roll against each other (which I like).