The Fantasy Traveller Part 6 – Dungeon Combat

Sticking with my Fantasy/Traveller conversion and walkthrough on the planet ‘Grond’, I’m going to run through a couple of encounters to see how Magroc and Tayllin get on and what conclusions I can draw from the results.

First Combat Example

In the previous posting, the two adventurers were approaching room number ‘1’ in the Dungeon of the Black Star. After some checks, they fail to find anything from the entrance, so they enter the room. However, a Tunnel-Serpent has been hiding in the room (undetectable from where the adventurers performed their checks) so I’ll roll for surprise. No one achieves this, so I’ll throw the two sides into combat, using the normal Traveller rules. A roll for the serpent’s attack roll (A3) is made by rolling a 7.

Tunnel Serpent

Weight Hits Armour Wounds & Weapons
200kg 12/10 None 12 Teeth A3 F9 S1

The Tunnel Serpent is very similar to the giant snake typically found frequenting dungeons, but much more agile. Its internal bone structure is made up of two ‘backbones’ that makes it very fast and maneuverable when moving. It has a very powerful mouth that can sink its teeth into prey and hold its grip.

First Combat Round
Magroc rolls to hit and with DM’s, gets 14 – he hits.
Tayllin rolls to hit and with DM’s, gets 6, he misses.
The tunnel-serpent achieves a to hit of 10 on its nominated target of Magroc.

Damage Resolution
Magroc achieves 9 hits against the tunnel serpent, leaving 3 remaining. The serpent rolls a maximum number of hits on Magroc, so points come off his STR of 14.

Second Combat Round
Magroc rolls 12 (including DM’s), but because he now has a weakened attack, I’m applying a -3 DM, so his hit still strikes with a 9.
Tayllin rolls a modified 8 and hits for the first time.
The Serpent decides to attack Tayllin this time and rolls a modified 12 and sinks its teeth into Tayllin.

Damage Resolution
Tayllin rolls a 9, 3 hits plus 6 from its ‘unconscious’ group of hits, leave it with 4 remaining and out of action.
The Serpent dishes out 12 hits – 9 come off Tayllin’s STR, 3 come off END and hes out of action.
Magroc rolls 5 hits, the Serpents remaining hits go to -1, the Serpent is killed.


Creature Toughness
The 12 wounds that the Serpent can apply in one attack seems excessive. In order to bring it more in line with the general principle of D&D / T&T where combats can go on a bit longer and are more evenly matched, the number of wounds it can inflict in one go needs to be lower. I’d suggest the number of wounds should be 4 or a maximum of 6, even for the really tough creatures.

Recovery and Wandering Monsters
According to Book 1, full recovery can only be gained with 3 days rest or with attention from someone with Medical-1 skill and a medical kit, otherwise Strength remains below normal level. I’m going to have to approach this with another solution, as in other games it is possible to recover full hit points after a reasonable amount of time. Traveller is more realistic in my opinion, but makes for progress in a dungeon crawl a lot harder due to the extended time to recover and limitations when a character is no longer unconscious.

Another Observation
Do I apply a modifier for fighting in tunnels/dungeons? In the Traveller rulebook, there is a modifier for fighting inside caves and dwellings, carrying a -5 DM. I haven’t applied the modifier in this example, as there isn’t a similar modifier in D&D / T&T. If I were to apply the DM, would it then become a permanent modifier, applied to all Traveller adventures in dungeons? My gut reaction is to leave it out, but I’m happy to receive comments!

Image by James Cridland, used under the Wikicommons license. Link here.

Second Combat Example

Magroc and Tayllin have recovered and decide to move out from room ‘1’, down the tunnel to room ‘2’. They decide to approach the entrance to room ‘2’ with caution, as any good adventurer should. The door is open, spy two underlings sat at a desk, playing a dice game. Our heroes decide to rush the creatures, so I’ll roll for surprise, which unfortunately they don’t achieve (Tayllin stumbles whilst rushing into the room).

Weight Hits Armour Wounds & Weapons
80kg 8/5 None 3 Claws A4 F8 S1

Underlings are a semi-humanoid creature not unlike a cross between Goblins and Orcs. They are bow-legged, roughly five feet in height. They have pale skin, with a greenish tinge and large canine teeth and sharp claws. They find it difficult to be out in daylight and can be found frequenting dungeons and the underground.

Each underling takes on an adventurer each;

First Combat Round
Underling #1 is fighting Magroc.
Magroc rolls and hits with a 13. The underling rolls and even with a DM, only gets a 7, so he misses his opponent.

Underling #2 is fighting Tayllin.
Tayllin rolls and just hits the underling with an 8. The underling easily rolls and hits Tayllin with an 11.

Damage Resolution
The burly barbarian rolls for his damage and inflicts 8 hits, the underling is immediately rendered unconscious.
The rogue rolls for damage and inflicts 4 hits against the green-skinned creature, whereas it creates 5 wounds in return. Tayllins STR is now 4.

Second Combat Round
Magroc joins the fight with Tayllin as his opponent is now incapacitated.
The barbarian rolls a 12 and hits with a well-placed strike, Tayllin also hits with a 13. The underling decides to inflict its strike against Tayllin and only just hits with a modified 8.

Damage Resolution
Magroc applies 7 hits, Tayllin deals out 6 hits. However, before it expires, Underling #2 dishes out 4 hits to Tayllin.

Result is that the combined 13 hits overwhelm Underling #2’s remaining 4/5 hits and is killed. Tayllin falls unconscious with a STR now dropping down to 0.

For a ‘1st level’ fight, this felt about right. The underlings were able to present enough of a challenge to the characters but the PCs were able to defeat them in a fair fight. I would however be ‘concerned’ at a level of overkill if the dungeon creatures were hugely more powerful. I think missile weapons would be needed to be used against the dungeon creature, in order to even up the fight.

Overall Conclusion
Traveller Fantasy combat can be pretty deadly, over-powerful creatures can soon squash a small adventuring party that are using hand weapons, rather than the selection of guns and high technology weaponry available for characters in the Traveller futuristic environment. However, if the opponents are pitched right, then reasonable combats can be enacted out.

In my next posting, I’ll be looking at the dungeon combat modifier and how it could affect combat, a potential solution to the healing issue and wandering monsters.

About AlegisDownport

Musings on the Traveller RPG world, technology, astronomy and digital art.
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5 Responses to The Fantasy Traveller Part 6 – Dungeon Combat

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  3. Dan Higdon says:

    Hey, very fun report. Makes me want to play some CT. 🙂

    It’s been so long that I forgot how the flow of combat went in CT. All that simultaneous attacking. So different from modern Travellers like MgT or T20.

    Two things – first off, I think there’s an easy way to handle healing that still keeps the dungeon crawling flavor while staying true to Classic Traveller conventions.

    If I remember correctly, if you don’t take enough damage to zero out a stat, then your stats fully recover after the combat. I’d suggest that the characters need to take a few minutes to catch their breath first, but that if nobody dropped, then all damage fades away.

    If you zero one stat (light wound), then once you regain consciousness, you get all damaged stats back at 1/2 way between their full and damaged values. So a 777 who was knocked down to a 730 would recover after combat as a 754 (rounded up, because I like to do that for light wounds).

    The rules say that you can recover a light wound with either 3 days rest OR a medic-1 with a medkit spending some unspecified length of time with you. In the fantasy sense, I suggest a “Cure Light Wounds” potion or spell would set you right. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of time.

    Heavy wounds are tougher to handle in a dungeon though, because those you don’t recover from without a medic-3 and a hospital. In the middle of a dungeon, you could either have a “Cure Heavy Wounds” potion/spell or use a cure-light to set yourself back to “half stats”. To keep things fair, I would not then allow you to Cure Light the heavy wounds away. The player would use the new half-stats as their effective starting stats until they get Cure Heavy or some medical attention.

    The other thing – the rules actually say that stat damage doesn’t affect the combat you are in. I guess adrenaline keeps you going until the action is over, at which point you notice how banged up you are. However, I always played that the damage had an immediate effect, and didn’t know about the “right way” until someone pointed it out to me. I always liked the graceful degradation of the character’s abilities, so I’d suggest keeping things the way you are doing them.

    • Dan Higdon says:

      Oops, I made the classic blunder of not reading all the background posts before making my own post. It looks like potions and spells don’t really mesh too well with your hard setting.

      I’d still suggest that a Medic-1 with a healer’s pouch of medicinal herbs should be able to recover light wounds with 10 minutes or so of work. I picked 10 minutes because that’s how long it takes an unconscious character to wake up by the rules. It will still slow the players down, but not force them to camp for the night.

      • techastro says:

        Hi Dan,
        thanks for the number of brilliant suggestions how to handle the wounding/recovery side of things, you’ve almost pre-empted my next posting with some suggestions how the CT recovery/medic side of things can be handled in the ‘fantasy’ / low tech environment! However there’s some really useful stuff there and I hope that anyone else reading these articles will find your suggestions helpful.

        I wasn’t aware of the ‘reduction in stats not affecting the combat you’re in’ rule, the way I’ve always played and refreshed my memory of the CT rules is that damage does affect your ability to deal damage to your opponent. I suppose there’s two schools of thought – do you want to keep things simple and let combat flow with the stats you started with (and apply the effects at the end of combat, as you described), or damage affecting your ability to deal out blows is a more ‘realistic’ way to manage combat. The downside being is you have to keep track of your stats and check checking those DM tables before the next combat round starts!

        Glad I’ve inspired you to want to play some CT!

        Really appreciate the comments and hope you enjoy the next article!

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