LCM – Combat

The LCM Combat section has been broken into two areas for easier reference. This page focuses on the question of “How do I hit, or avoid getting hit, and thus dealing damage?” The second section (the Death, Damage and Healing section referenced at the bottom of this page) will focus on the question of “Now that I’ve taken damage how serious is it, and what can I do about it?”

Attack rolls:

All attack rolls are modified by Dex. Melee Damage is modified by Strength for melee attacks. Ranged attacks use Dex for damage for bows and crossbows, composite bows also add Str modifiers to damage. Thrown weapons use Str (light thrown weapon such as a shuriken may use Dex instead). Weapon Finesse allows for Dex to modify damage for Small / Light / Finesse weapons.

  • A Natural 20 attack roll is an automatic hit which grants max damage from weapon. This rule allows the player to get something from a Natural 20 strike even if the crit is not confirmed.
  • Two Natural 20’s are as one would expect, max’d crit damage but with an additional +1 added to the crit multiplier.
  • Three Natural 20’s are an instant kill. (NOTE: This effect does not work on “Boss” level characters, but does add an additional + 1 to the crit multiplier.)
  • Natural 1 = Fumble All Natural 1’s must be declared as they are the property of the DM!

Class Defense Bonus and Armor as DR

  • Armor as DR was added as a Straight AC 5 armor (ie chainmail) would give a flat 5 DR.
  • The Class Defense Bonus is one of the primary sources for AC, the other being blocking & shields.
  • Some effects completely bypass the DR values of armor. Critical Hits, Magic, elemental attacks like fire, or smoke. Drowning, poison, disease, any attack which scores a Natural 20 and a spear which has been set vs charge (considered an automatic critical hit anyway). Likewise a Helpless Defender does not benefit from Armor DR nor Class Defense bonus, and a prone defender is reduced to 1/2 their normal values for both Defense bonus and Armor DR.

Class Defense Bonus

Level A1 B2 C3 D4
1st +2 +3 +4 +6
2nd +2 +3 +4 +6
3rd +3 +4 +5 +7
4th +3 +4 +5 +7
5th +3 +4 +5 +7
6th +4 +5 +6 +8
7th +4 +5 +6 +8
8th +4 +5 +6 +8
9th +5 +6 +7 +9
10th +5 +6 +7 +9
11th +5 +6 +7 +9
12th +6 +7 +8 +10
13th +6 +7 +8 +10

Use column A for monk, sorcerer, or wizard.
Use column B for bard, ranger or rogue.
Use column C for barbarian or druid.
Use column D for cleric, fighter or paladin.


Let’s face it; shields have always sucked under the D20 system (both old and new), so under the LCM ruleset this has finally been addressed. Bucklers add + 1 AC, Small Shields add + 1 AC, & + 1 to Ref Saves, medium shields add + 3/ + 3, and heavy shields add + 5/ + 5. Shield bonuses (a + 2 shield for example) applies its bonus to both categories (+ 3 / + 3 becomes + 5 / + 5). NOTE: the bonus to Ref Saves only applies to frontal attacks that the defender could have used the shield to block against. An explosion that goes off behind the defender would gain no such additional protection, nor would simply wearing the shield on your back. Shield use is an active defense, and only works against a frontal attack.


Under D20 RAW facing is an aspect of the game which has been phased out over the years as an overly complex mechanic, and in most cases I tend to agree with this ruling, with the use of shields however it becomes more relevant. As such the general rule of thumb follows whoever you attack with your primary attack (the first attack with the highest bonus) is considered to be “forward”. In the event that all attacks are sacrificed for a Full Defensive Round then simply pick your “primary foe” to defend against and all other rules for blocking apply normally from there. Because shields only apply their effect to forward facing foes (and the defender gets no bonus from foe at the rear) this designation is an important one for use with advanced shield / blocking considerations.


You can sacrifice – 1 BAB and convert it to a + 2 “dodge” bonus for AC. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every 4 points thereafter, the penalty increases by –1 and the bonus to defense increases by +2. When used with a shield this ability scales at – 1 BAB to + 3 dodge AC bonus, and is otherwise the same. This ability scales the same as power attack. This stacks with the normal bonuses gained from shields and fighting defensively. This ability replaces Combat Expertise

Blocking works against one target, if you have the dodge feat blocking works against two targets. The Dodge feat is stackable, but if you have more than one level of the feat it does not add additional targets that you can effectively block, but allows you get the full AC bonus against two targets.

Blocking with a shield allows the defender to add and additional target against whom they may effectively block when equipping a medium sized shield (3 with the dodge feat). With a large shield the protective arc of the shield at a full frontal 180*, thus allowing a defender with the Dodge feat to effectively block against four targets (without the dodge feat the defender is still limited to 3 medium sized targets).

EXAMPLE: a 10th level Paladin has the Dodge feat x2. He is fighting defensively and blocking with a + 2 heavy shield. He thus has a would be at – 7 attack roll penalty but an AC bonus of + 19 / + 5 Ref save against up to four targets.

NOTE: While the AC bonus in the example above is very high, it can be quickly offset by tactics such as having to defend against multiple attackers, being attacked from behind (no shield bonus), called shots, grappling and being knocked prone, critical hits, being doused in oil and set on fire, sunder attacks against the shield, etc. Such a paladin is carrying very expensive gear that amounts to a huge amount of weight and is moving slowly under its burden. This the reason such warriors were historically part of a heavy cavalry unit (their horses were carrying the gear) and not simply a common foot soldier.

multiple attackers / positional modifiers / flanking

An attacking creature gains a cumulative + 2 attack bonus equal to the number of other creatures that are within melee reach and Threaten the same enemy. Only melee combatants are considered when determining the bonus, however ranged attackers still gain this bonus. Should the target actually be Flanked the effects are cumulative.

EXAMPLE: two elves attack an orc from the front. Both the elves gain the + 2 bonus because of the other elf being within melee reach and thus Threatening the orc. The next round two more elves join the fight and attack the orc from behind. The new elves each adding an additional + 2 (+ 6 total) to the roll of any of the elven attackers, and also add the Flanked condition causing the orc to lose any Dex modifiers to AC and all attacker now gain the additional + 2 positional modifier from the flanking maneuver.

Next round the elven archer joins the fight, and while he does not add additional positional bonuses (he is neither melee nor in a threatened adjacent position), he does however still benefit from the +8 bonus / no Dex modifiers his friends flanking maneuver has already generated. The orc has the “Flanked Condition", and because he is “flanked” the archer may apply Sneak Attack / precision damage as a standard action. Like normal, when firing into melee it will still be advisable for the archer to have precise shot before attempting such a shot.

Shield wall / Phalanx Formations

If the target is wearing heavy armor and part of a formation of densely packed troops such as a phalanx formation where there is a shield wall and a second rank of troops, then the second rank can actually hold the first rank and prevent them from falling prone (add a + 2 vs bull rush per each row deep of the formation). Further Phalanx formations typically made use of spears in the front row and pikes (long spears) from the second and third rows. Thus charging a such a formation from the front would require the attacker to enter a kill zone of dozens of spear points before ever reaching the shield wall itself. Phalanx formations are extremely effective for this reason. As and added benefit, the phalanx also prevented the front line ranks from being surrounded or flanked. If it could be said that the phalanx had a major weakness it would be that while the frontal attack and defense were extremely strong, the sides and rear were much less so and the troops in the rear could find themselves very vulnerable to a sneak attack from the rear (no shield defense, no shield wall, no one behind them, etc). The other down side is one of maneuverability. With a densely packed formation of 100 + troops they do not maneuver or change facing easily.

Call Shots

Called Shot to Weak Point
Armour does not completely protect its wearer, though it does provide some measure of protection. By making a called shot, an attacker may choose to strike for areas left somewhat vulnerable, despite his or her target’s armour. The attack check suffers a penalty equal to the Damage Reduction provided by the armour, but if the attack is successful the target’s armour provides only half its normal protection (round up).

Called Shot to Vital Spot
A character attacking a living being can specify he or she is aiming for a vital spot (heart, groin, spine, etc.) rather than simply taking any opening as usual. He or she suffers a -8 attack check penalty, but, if successful, the weapon inflicts double damage (bonuses are calculated as normal). Additionally, a target’s MDT Fort Save is increased by + 2 against all successful vital shots. Should the attack result in a critical hit, simply add + 1 to the crit multiplier. If the opponent is wearing armor the hit penalty is twice their Armor DR value, or the – 8 whichever is greater. Example: Because chainmail provides + 5 Armor DR, the penalty for this attack would be – 10. This attack bypasses armor DR.

Extra Aim
A character making a ranged attack may deliberately take extra time to aim. If a character takes no other action he may aim a ranged weapon for up to 3 consecutive rounds gaining a + 2 attack bonus for each round he has done so. This action effectively negates a range increment per each round spent focusing on the shot.

Touch Attacks
Melee and Ranged Touch attacks gain a +6 bonus to hit on the attack roll.

Pulling the Punch: player may declare they do not wish to kill the foe, and only wound them. In this case they have two options: the target only takes stun damage, or the attacker attacker stops just short of death as the target falls unconscious (first aid is probably a good idea at this point).

Specific Weapons of Note

Heavy Crossbows are remarkably accurate (although slow) weapons get a + 2 bonus to hit, and + 2 bonus to bypass DR, Light Crossbows get + 1 bonuses.

Types of actions and maneuvers

The Types of Actions have been simplified to the following 5 types: Standard Action, Move Action, Full Round Attack w/ 5ft Step, Abort to Dodge and Free Actions. Typically 1 free action allowed per round w/ a few exceptions such as Combat Reflexes. For conversion purposes: Swift Actions, Free Actions, Immediate Actions, etc are all now classified as a “Free Action”. “Attack actions” not otherwise specified are standard actions. Abort to Dodge is a 1/2 move that can be taken at any point in the combat round and consumes your entire action for your next turn. If you have already acted in the current round, you may still Abort to dodge but are thrown to the ground prone at the end of your 1/2 move. This maneuver grants a + 4 Ref Save, and + 6 AC vs melee, ranged and AOE attacks. An acrobatics check can be made to regain a standing position as a free action, and thus “roll out of it”, but still consumes the player’s entire action for their next turn.

Combat Maneuvers Only provoke an Attack of Opportunity on a failed Combat Maneuver. Frankly this is to encourage them to be used more in order to create more dynamic battlefields.

Bushwhacking Rules

The bushwhack rule applies only when a target is flat-footed, completely unaware of an attack against him, and the attacker has 3 rounds to quietly prepare a single attack. If the attack is successful it is considered to be an automatic critical hit which bypasses armor DR. Due to the Massive Damage rules used in the campaign most low level NPCs would be instantly killed. Even mid-level characters could be seriously injured by such an attack. Creatures immune to critical hits or sneak attacks are immune to bushwhack attacks. NOTE: this attack can be used even at long range for tactical sniping from a rooftop, etc.

If the attacker has a class ability for sneak attack or precision damage determine the attack normally and then apply sneak / precision damage. This damage is still applied at long range for sniping. Bushwhacking can be surprisingly deadly with snipers or hidden rogues, especially when combined with the rules for Massive Damage, and adds a tremendous amount of combat realism. This is a good reason to level skills such as Perception, work as a team, have an Animal Companion or Familiar who can help you look for such things, etc.

(Optional) Pass Through Damage

Pass Through Damage is the concept of an exceptionally hard hit that converts some of its attack result into direct damage similar to how power attack works. In effect any time that your attack roll exceeds the AC of the target by more than 10 you apply the excess amount towards HP damage. IE: If the target has an AC of 20, and you hit with a 33. 33 Hit – 20 AC – 10 = 3 points of additional damage that has penetrated their defenses. This additional damage is also generated on attacks which score a natural 20 (ie it is stacks with those rules). This damage is treated like damage from a power attack and is subject to critical hit multipliers.

Massive Damage Threshold and Results
Massive damage: at 1/2 Con Score + (LvL x 2)
Fort Save: succeed on Fort Save with a DC 15 +1 / 3 pts dam taken or suffer the effects of massive damage
Fort Save Failure = unconscious and Bleeding Out at -1 HP for pcs. For generic (unnamed) NPCs however this results in instant death. Named “boss” NPCs are treated the same way that PCs are in this regard.
Fort Save Success = see above “Serious Injury”
Increase MDT by +10 for each size category larger than medium.
Toughness, Endurance and Die Hard feats modify the Massive Damage Threshold by +3 for each feat taken (see skills and feats)

Death, Damage and Healing


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