Tuesday, June 04, 2013

The Perrin Conventions

The place where OD&D and Runequest merge and overlap are in the Perrin Conventions. Originally a set of house rules for the play of D&D in his games, Steve Perrin wrote up what became known as the Perrin Conventions. The house rules became popular in many California-based campaigns and also lead to inspire the creation of the Runequest system (of which Perrin was also an original designer). You can also see how these inspired the Holmes revision of D&D as well.

It is interesting, also, to see an era thought of as preferring rulings over rules as generating house rules that add quite a bit of complexity to the D&D system. Like anything, there was a lot of variance among gamers and no real standard of play. While some have always liked lighter approaches to the rules, there have also always been those who are interested in heavier, more detailed rules for play. A part of the reason that I decided to post these houserules is because I periodically think about the use of them (or more likely portions of them) in my own Demon Codex game, or at least rules inspired by them. I really like the idea of Perrin's Dexterity roll, but that is probably because I have liked the idea of it in various BRP games over the years as well.

Anyway, posting them can start discussion, so perhaps something will shake loose that will inspire me and my design.

After this point are the Conventions, enjoy!

Per the introduction to Chaosium's All the World's Monsters, vol. II: "Steve Perrin's CONVENTIONS have been used entirely or in part by fantasy role-players in the San Francisco bay area and beyond since they debuted at DUNDRACON I in March 1976. They are revised and expanded here for all those who want to know how people fight these monsters. While the ideas start from D&D, much of the material can be used with any system."

Many thanks to Steve Henderson. Clint Bigglestone, Nioolai Shapero, Jerry Jacks, Michael McNeil, Owen and Hilda Hannifen, Dave Harqrave, Dan Pierson, and the many contributors to Alarum & Excursions: may your characters have close shaves and your dungeons be hairy.

In a melee round, (which takes up 10 seconds), each character can perform one or more of the functions below, unless he is busy bleeding his life away and is no longer interested. The functions below are listed in the order to be followed, even if some of them can be thought to be simultaneous. For those wishing to subdivide movement into seconds, the approximate seconds within the round during which the action may occur are shown in italics after the description of the action.

Anyone attempting to use missile or spell when melee cannot use them, and will strike last in that melee round (see the description of combat for the usual strike order) if he manages (via a dexterity roll) to get a hand weapon free. Otherwise, he will have no strike at all for that round, and must take the punishment if his armor fails.

(1). Monster Motivation. The DM determines what his monster will do in the coming round. No melee time (MT) spent

(2). Declaration of Intent. Players declare their character(s)'s intentions for the coming round, including specific target and the nature of missile or spell. Target can be ''first one to come through the door," "the last one in line," etc. Once declared, the character may follow through or abort, but not change his target or objective. But alternate targets can be chosen as a contingency plan. No melee time (MT) spent

(3). Preparation. The undertaking of something to be completed by the next round or of the end of the current one. Involves complicated procedures such as finding a special item in a full pack, changing dissimilar weapons, pouring oil in front of the character to make a barricade, etc. It should be an activity which will last the whole turn. A DM can vary the speed of completion because of various characteristics. MT: 10 seconds base.

(4). Missile Fire from Prepared Weapons. This refers to crossbows, guns, bows, wands, spells, etc., which already have been aimed. Missile weapons can be fire at this time only if the same target was fired at previously or if the character has prepared (see 3. above) opportunity fire for a specific area, such as a doorway or corner. MT: 2nd second

(5). Movement Up To 30'. If characters meet within this space, missile fire or spells at one of them after this phase may hit the other, unless their sizes are disparate. MT: 2nd-5th second.

(6). "At Hand" Missile Fire. At-hand missile weapons which were not already aimed may be fired at an obvious target. The intention to fire at an obvious target must have been declared during the Declaration of Intent. MT: 6th second.

(7). Movement Up To 30'. More movement available for those not already engaged in melee. MT: 6th-9th seconds

(8). Melee Resolution. Fought out for all who came next to an enemy after the first movement (see 5.). Those who came next to an enemy during the second movement (see 7.) do not have time to strike a blow for this turn, must take any fire from at-hand missiles (see 6.), but prevent even a prepared missile (see 4.) from being used on them next turn. MT: 4th-9th seconds.

(9.) Spells and New Missile Fire. This can be done by unengaged characters who have not moved more than one 30' movement phase. MT: 7th-10th seconds.

(10). Bookkeeping. Take this time to add points regenerated, subtract spell points, updating the cheracter for the next round.

MOVEMENT - from the basic ''armored man moves 60 feet." The phases of a character who can move 120' (12") can be done as two movement phases of 60' (6") each. The derivations and possibilities are obvious.

PREPARATION TIME - time required for complex tasks can be based on a dexterity roll. For every 10% of a roll better than the needed dexterity, a character completes the task one second earlier. Example: a character with a dexterity of 12 rolls a 23. He needed 60, bettering the roll be 37%, or three increments of 10%. His task could be done within 7 seconds instead of 10, leaving him free to meet an attack. If he was spreading oil of Slipperiness in front of himself and an enemy came next to him on the second move phase, that's one enemy down. The dexterity roll would not work on anything which takes a set period of time, like gathering energies for a spell. If the character had rolled an 83, that would put him 2 increments of 10% over what he needed The task goes 2 seconds into the next round.

MISSILE FIRE - a wand or stave takes a certain time to be ready for another burst, so only one charga could be expended a melee round. Missile weapons have other limits, which follow.

Heavy Crossbow: one shot per two melee rounds, always to be fired in the same missile phase the first one was, unless purposefully delayed. Cannot move.

Longbow, Composite Bow, Light Crossbow: two shots per melee round. First either at Prepared or Ready phase (assuming either applies), and then at the New Missile Fire phase. If moving, forsake one shot for every 30' or fraction thereof moved.

Short Bow, Modern Guns: three shots per melee round if Prepared for the first one and there is no movement. Lose one shot per round for every 30' or fraction thereof moved. Thus a user of such a weapon could fire a Prepared shot, then run 60' in that round. The same applies to the user of a wand or staff or a Prepared spell or device.

Early Gunpowder Gun: one shot per three to six melee rounds, depending on just how ancient the piece is. No movement allowed by firer in a round in which the piece fires.

DEXTERITY - the term "dexterity roll" appears throughout these conventions. The ability to do many things, especially combat and magic, as well as complex actions such as changing weapons, turning and firing, opening a box and jumping back, closing a door quickly, etc., depends on a combination of dexterity and experience. Success in the percentile dice roll depends on the following: the basic dexterity roll is a simple roll of 5% per point of dexterity, A dexterity of 3 always has a 15% chance of succeeding; a dexterity of 18 always has a 10% chance (91-00) of muffing it.

The type of armor worn can decrease the effectiveness of dexterity. For plate, subtract 2 from the dexterity bonus; for mail, subtract 1 from the dexterity bonus; for bare skin, add 1 to the dexterity bonus. This could be offset by experience.

(1). First strike in any sltuation, whether melee combat, spell casting, or whatever depends on who has the highest dexterity. This does not apply to surprise situations, unless it is mutual surprise. Hasted or sped conditions do count. Haste doubles dexterity in this connection. (Wayne Shaw Option: once the first strike dexterity is determined, all haste bonuses, etc., are figured, roll 2D6 for each character and add the result to the dexterity. This will give a little variety to just who gets to strike first.) (Further Modification: a character with a long weapon or a long reach and a dexterity of at least half of his opponent's will have first strike.

(2). When a character takes more than 10% damage, and each time he takes damage thereafter, the percentage of hit points he has left shall be found and precentile dice rolled. If the percentage or less is not rolled, the character is knocked back(if less than 50% down) or knocked down (if 50% or more damaged). If not knocked down, roll again to see if the character is knocked back.

Knocked Back: a character must make his dexterity roll in order to get in a blow if he has the lesser dexterity and therefore must strike after being hit, or retain his place of first strike on the next round if he has the higher dexterity.

Knocked Down: a character gets no strike on that turn (if he has the lesser dexterity) and must make his percentage to get a strike on the next turn. If he does get a strike, it will be the last one of the turn. If left alone, he can regain his feet on making a percentage roll, but if pressed he will stay down, defending himself as best he can, continuing to get in the last shot.

Remember: a character must make his percentage every time he takes damage, after the initial 10% damage is taken.

(3). One-to-one combat cannot be broken off unless an opponent has been knocked back or down, or the higher dexterity fighter makes a dexterity roll. If the higher dexterity fighter makes his roll, the lower dexterity fighter may pursue, getting first shot, if he makes his own dexterity roll.

(4). A combined strength, dexterity, end level score of 30 is necessary to allow a character the use of two weapons in melee combat (and strength and dexterity must each at least be 11). Anyone useing two weapons without the necessary total will add the difference between the necessary total and his total to the number needed to hit his opponent. A dexterity roll must be achieved to use the second weapon in any melee round.

(5). When using two weapons, the first weapon strikes according to the wielder's dexterity, and the second weapon as if his dexterity were halved. EXAMPLE: a character with a dexterity of 16 is fighting someone with dexterity 12. The 16-man will get his first weapon in first, then the 12-man will strike with his, and then the 16-man will get in with his second weapon as if his dexterity were 8.

(6). A two-weapon man may up his armor class by one by using one weapon as a shield in man-to-man combat. Despite any pluses on the waapon, it acts as a simple shield. Of course, if used as a shield, the second weapon cannot be used to strike.

- Steve Perrin
Oakland, California

November, 1977

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