16 April 2013

N is for Non-Lethal Combat

And everybody was Kung Fu fighting....

Non-Lethal Combat. The more I look at rules in AD&D, the more I realize that figuring out how an attack of opportunity in 3.5 operates is really nothing! The adjudication by the guidelines in the AD&D DMG is a tad convoluted. True, a PC's base attack can be calculated ahead of time, but the use of the charts and tables to make the determination is still a bit much.
Appendix Q in Unearthed Arcana provides a quicker alternative. Method I is simpler and is good enough for those times when it happens out of the blue. Method II is a more streamlined version of the DMG system; again, it's quicker and easier to handle.
Of course, the question is, why use Non-Lethal Combat at all? What if the players want to capture someone? That's the obvious reason. Note also that humanoids can use NLC as well. That's not farfetched, either, nor is it not a mere cop-out to avoid killing characters. How do you think the hobgoblins in B2 captured the men-at-arms and the merchant? The bugbears in the same module have slaves as well. I'm pretty sure they didn't stab and slice them to unconsciousness!
I am reminded of some Star Fleet Battles players I ran into in the 1980s. (SFB was still in the Commander's Edition at this stage.) They argued that, until the General War breaks out, Federation players should always use Non-Lethal Combat. In SFB terms, this is a combat style that focus on engines and command centers of a ship, disabling its ability to fight while minimizing casualties to the crew. "This is in keeping with the highest standards of Star Fleet and the Federation!" 
And maybe it's in keeping with the highest standards of the Free Peoples of Goodness and Weal. I don't think we should be emulating "murder hobos" (who coined that term, anyway?). Watch Unforgiven sometime and think about the lifestyle of the average adventurer in the context of that movie.
Until tomorrow, gentle readers, when we detour from AD&D from SWORDS & WIZARDRY APPRECIATION DAY!
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