Creating Vivid Combat Scenes

Since this isn't a combat game, the rules are not ultra-detailed, defining the exact effect of every blow, the subtle differences between obscure weapons, the location of every piece of armor on the body, or the horrifying results of an actual sword fight. Too many rules slow down play (taking away from the real adventure) and restrict imagination. How much fun is it when a character, ready to try an amazing and heroic deed, is told, "You can't do that because it's against the rules."

Players should be allowed to try whatever they want--especially if what they want will add to the spirit of adventure and excitement. Just remember that there is a difference between trying and succeeding.

To have the most fun playing the AD&D game, don't rely only on the rules. Like so much in a good role-playing adventure, combat is a drama, a staged play. The DM is both the playwright and the director, creating a theatrical combat. If a character wants to try wrestling a storm giant to the ground, let him. And a character who tries leaping from a second floor window onto the back of a passing orc is adding to everyone's fun.

The trick to making combat vivid is to be less concerned with the rules than with what is happening at each instant of play. If combat is only "I hit. I miss. I hit again," then something is missing. Combats should be more like, "One orc ducks under the table jabbing at your legs with his sword. The other tries to make a flying tackle, but misses and sprawls to the floor in the middle of the party!" This takes description, timing, strategy, humor, and--perhaps most important of all--knowing when to use the rules and when to bend them.

Table of Contents