Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gnoll Raid Rules

For the gnoll raid on the halfling settlement of Duckweed described in my previous post I used a combination of rules. Probably cobbled together more like Frankenstein than like a good robust hybrid.

For starters I found a set of rules online called Very Simple Generic Miniatures Rules. You can probably find them by using a search engine or you can go to and scroll down to the rules in question. Mostly I used the combat rules from this set. For movement, I borrowed some ideas from The Song of Blades and Heroes series of rules sets. Additionally, I made up some "house rules" for the scenario I devised.

I decided all of the halflings had some sort of missile weapons (whether bows and arrows, slings, slingshots, thrown rocks, guns, thrown flagons or steins, whatever) and treated them all the same. 5 or 6 on 1D6 to hit. The only effect they would have on the gnolls would be to discombobulate them temporarily. For each gnoll thus affected in any given turn another halfling would appear on the halfling's baseline. In addition, if many gnolls were knocked down/back, distracted, etc., I would roll to see if the gnolls called off their attack, thus ending the game. For this I would roll 1D6, if the result was less than or equal to the number of gnolls still active at that point the attack would continue. So, with 9 gnolls in the raiding party the halflings would have to hit at least 4 of them to have any chance of driving them off.

The gnolls were only armed with hand to hand weapons, but they were fiercer in hand-to-hand fighting. For hand-to-hand fighting I rolled 1D6 for the halflings and the dog and donkey, and 2D6 for the gnolls, with an additional D6 for the gnoll chieftan. I then took the highest roll for each participant in each hand-to-hand combat. If a gnoll won they captured their opponent. If a halfling or animal won they only fended off their opponent, same as hitting them with a missile.

So, the halflings couldn't ever kill or knock any gnolls completely out of the fight, but the gnolls could take halflings and animals out. The halflings only chance was to discomfort enough gnolls to drive them off.

For movement, and for missile ranges, I used some measuring sticks I had created. I made a few lengths, short (3 inches), medium (5 inches), long (8 inches), and extra long (13 inches). Halflings and animals could move 2 short; gnolls, 1 long. Missile range was 1 extra long. Movement had to be in a straight line and could not pass through any obstacles or features (like trees, walls, hedges, barrels, etc.). That meant the halflings and animals were more maneuverable through areas with lots of obstacles, but gnolls could move quickly across open areas. A halfling could dodge around and evade a gnoll in amongst some trees or other obstacles, but a gnoll could outrun a halfling on open ground. I also made the opening in the hedge at the upper right of the cow pasture too small for a gnoll, but large enough for a halfling. A halfling could duck through there if need be; or defend across it, but gnolls had to go around to the larger opening near the halfling baseline.

I didn't set any victory conditions. This scenario was not so much about winning or losing, but rather about setting things up for another scenario after the raid. More on that later (once I work it out and play more games).

I ruled that the gnolls would always have initiative and the halflings couldn't move or fire missiles until contacted, unless they had been alerted. They would be alerted the first time any halfling got a hit on a gnoll, which would have to be in hand-to-hand combat by the above conditions. Luckily, the woodsman got a hit in the very first combat. That horn came in handy!

I tried to keep things pretty simple for this game. of course, it's always easy to make things more complicated, adding variations, exceptions, etc. For example, I could've rated different missile weapons differently; maybe some should have shorter ranges, for example, or do more permanent damage. But KISS is a good motto, in my opinion.

In the actual game there were some good and unexpected moments. Like when the dog rushed to attacked the gnoll chieftan after the dog's master was captured, and manged to beat the chieftan, rolling one 6 to the chieftain's 3 dice with lower scores.


  1. Thank you for your "background" on the rules for the Gnoll raid.

    -- Jeff

  2. I downloaded the rules and will give them a try when I can.I enjoyed reading them on the train this evening on the way home from work.
    I too am becoming ever more convinced of the KISS principle being at the centre of things gamingwise.