Getting more out of Combat

It’s funny, looking back over the last handful of RPGs I’ve played.  I really haven’t felt the need to tweak too much.  I spent a lot more time with world building or, at worst, adding a few modular rules along the edges.  I’m not really sure why Witch Hunter has been different.  It’s a good ruleset.  I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of fine tuning, tightening up things that get in the way when we are playing.  Like dropping the Attack Focus Talent requirement for specializing in a weapon.  It just felt like a superfluous requirement that did nothing more than make character creation and advancement that much more complicated.  That’s probably the biggest change we’ve made insofar as how we play the game.

These tweaks are of similar scale.

There are two nagging issues that haven’t sat well with me for a while now.  I think making these two corrections will have a real impact on play (not necessarily in a good way).  So when our campaign shifts gears in a few weeks, I think I’m going to try experimenting with these two changes and see what happens.

House Rule #1: Weapon Complexity

Rather than imposing a negative modifier to each and every attack roll, weapon complexity would be applied to the character’s initiative roll.  Thus, the player with the lighter, quicker weapon (dagger or rapier) will tend to go earlier in the combat turn than the character with the great sword.

Reason: This works out the wrinkle in the system where Complexity applies to lieutenants and villains, but not to minions.  That’s probably been more of a pain for us because we play online, but it still strikes me as a weird rule.  Also, it makes the PCs’ skills count for more.  It seems odd that the best duelist in the game will still suffer a penalty in combat.  The complexity penalty becomes a drag when you start figuring Wagers and that sort of thing.  Moving it to an initiative penalty seems to inspire the spirit of the rules (larger weapons are unwieldy) while also encouraging folks to try out weapon tricks and other stunts (which would compound the penalties).

House Rule #2: Weapon Damage

Each bonus success on an Attack roll add +1 POINT OF DAMAGE to the damage roll, instead of simply adding an extra dice to the damage pool.

Reason: I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve found there to be a very large “whiff factor” when it comes to damage rolls in Witch Hunter.  Consider, you roll a damage pool and count 7s or better.  Weapon specialization does not apply to damage rolls (that I know of anyway).  So you could roll an AMAZING Attack roll, but still flub your damage roll terribly.  This sort of thing may work in Savage Worlds, but it just falls flat for me in Witch Hunter.  Its very disheartening to watch, and even more frustrating…as a GM!  Dammit, I hate it when my critters whiff on damage!!  ARGH!!  What good are they?!  This fix would leave the damage roll intact (Ability+DM) but would dial down the double roll whiff potential.  It would also, by design, speed up combat a hair.

This is the one change I can see having the most negative impact. But since it would affect players and monsters alike, I don’t think anyone would complain about reeling it back in.  Alternatively, adding +1 or +2 to each Health Rank, based on a Talent or on Character Rank (or even Campaign Tier) could balance this out.

5 thoughts on “Getting more out of Combat

    1. blusponge Post author

      No, but I’ve considered it. I keep an “upgraded” PDF of the core rulebook with everything in it. Otherwise I’d forget half of what we’ve changed. Not like we’ve changed a lot, but there are some very slight tweaks here and there.


      1. Tobias Wolter

        I’d love a house rule section on your blog, especially since I could imagine more tweaks are neccessary once more talents, rites from the sourcebooks are used.



  1. Tobias Wolter

    By the way, I tried sending you a contact request over at the Paradigm Forums, but for whatever reason, the message seems stuck in my outbox:

    I follow your WH activities on these forums, your blog, and the google group, and wanted to know if there’s any way to contact you directly via email? I have an idea regarding Witch Hunter I wanted to share with you. My email is





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