Adding diversity to Melee Combat

Swashbuckler aims at adding more detail to melee combat, by introducing new concepts like Action Points (AP) and new skills like Parrying, Blocking and Dodging, while still staying in the confines of the normal rules.

Instead of Significant and Minor actions “Swashbuckler” uses action points (AP), where a Significant action costs 2 AP and a Standard Action 1 AP.

An average character has three AP, which would enable him to make one attack and one defense per turn. On the other hand there are characters with a very high dexterity or high intelligence which can act much faster than the average 777777 Joe Normal.

To find out how many AP a character has, add Dexterity and Intelligence and consult the following table.

01-06 AP=1
07-11 AP=2
12-16 AP=3
17-20 AP=4
21-25 AP=5
26+    AP=6

There is one exception, for the terminally stupid or slow: If a character has only 1 AP, he can make ONE action, regardless if it is a Significant or Standard, per turn.

In the first round of combat, add the effect of the initiative roll to the action point pool of the character that has the initiative. Then the character with the highest AP# acts first (throw a die in case of ties), followed by next lowest, and so on. Important: Performing no action also uses up one AP, e.g. you can’t wait until the others are out of AP’s and act then.

This continues until all combatants have acted once, and is then repeated until all combatants have run out of action points.

In the following rounds the character with the highest amount of AP’s acts first followed by the others, as above.


Some defensive actions that were used only as DM’s in the original rules, like Dodging and Parrying, are now skills. Their value is identical to the highest Melee oriented skill the character possesses. E.g. Melee (blade)-3 gives the automatic skills of Parry-3, Block-3 and Dodge-3.

Examples of Use:


Unarmed or with a weapon: Average (8+) Melee (weapon or unarmed) check (STR or DEX).

Action Point Cost : 2AP

The classic melee attack as covered in the rules.


Parrying an Attack (Difficult (10+) Melee (any) check (Instant, DEX).

Action Point Cost : 1AP

This is basically the classic fencing move, where the defendant counters the attack, by swordplay with his own weapon. Think Stuart Granger and James Mason in “Prisoner of Zenda”.

Disarm the enemy (Very Difficult (12+) Melee (any) check (Instant, DEX).

If successful, the opponent drops his weapon. He can recover it in the next turn for a cost of 2AP.


Blocking an Attack (Very Difficult (12+) Melee (any) check (Instant, STR).

Action Point Cost : 1AP

This is the brute force approach to defence, the defender tries to counter the attack by placing an object into harm’s way. Blocking can not be done with the weapon used to attack, but with an object in the off-hand, either a shield, or a weapon like the Main-Gauche, especially designed for blocking a weapon.

Using a Shield raises the chance of success drastically.

Buckler               DM+1
Small Shield       DM+2
Main Gauche     DM+3
Medium Shield  DM+3
Large Shield       DM+4

Action Point Cost : 1AP


Shield Bash (Very Difficult (12+) Melee (any) check (Instant, STR).

If successful, the opponent loses the rest of his AP for this turn and can neither defend himself, nor flee. This is a defensive (1 AP) action that, if successful, can be directly followed up by an attack.

Action Point Cost : 1AP


Dodging an Attack (Difficult (10+) Melee (any) check (Instant, END).

This is basic legwork. Trying to be somewhere where the attackers weapon isn’t. Endurance is the watchword, since only well trained legs can keep up running when the others are beating.

Action Point Cost : 1AP

Bullfight your opponent (Difficult (12+) Melee (any) check (Instant, END).

If successful, your opponent is surprised by your dodge and passes you while attacking. You have one free attack, without options to evade, parry or block it.

Action Point Cost : 1AP

The rules have been extensively play tested and while some rolls seem to be excessively high (10+ or even 12+), remember that it is easy to hit someone with a weapon, but difficult not to get hit at all. In addition a good fighter with good equipment will find that his chances are quite good. A fighter with STR 9 and Melee 3, using a large shield, will find that his chances of a block, 12 minus 1 for Strength, minus 3 for skill and minus 4 for the large shield = 4+, aren’t as bad as they look.