LCM – Combat

Combat under the LCM Ruleset can be less forgiving than a typical D20 combat round. This is the result of several cumulative factors such as the way armor works, massive damage, death / dying thresholds, and natural healing. Please look over this document closely, the assumption that it is “all just the same” will certainly get your characters killed.

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. Weapon Finesse allows for Dex to modify damage for light / finesse weapons.

The Maximum Dex Bonus for armor affects two Dexterity modifiers now. Not just your ability to avoid attacks, but also your ability to make them.

A Natural 20 attack roll automatically grants max damage from weapon (note: if a crit is confirmed roll damage normally, rerolling any 1’s, not automatically max damage). This rule allows the player to get something from a Natural 20 strike even if there is not crit confirmation.

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

Both have been added to the system for the level of realism they add without a major over haul to the game mechanics. Armor as DR was added as a Straight AC 5 armor (ie chainmail) would give a flat 5 DR. Shields are adjusted as noted below. The Class Defense Bonus is one of the primary sources for AC, the other being dodge AC from a high Dex bonus and Blocking & Parrying.


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. Shields add + 1 AC, 1DR/-, + 3/ + 3/ and + 3 to ref saves for a medium shield, + 5/ + 5/+ 5 for heavy shields. Shield bonuses (a medium + 2 shield for example) applies it’s bonus to all 3 categories (+ 5 / + 5 / + 5).

Blocking / Parrying

You can sacrifice 1 BAB and convert it to a + 2 “dodge” bonus for AC, unless you are using a shield. When your base attack reaches + 4 this advances to 2 BAB for a + 4 bonus to AC, and continues to scale at + 8 and + 12. With a medium shield you convert with a ratio 1 to 3, and a large shield at 1 to 4.


Being Flanked is a Condition under the LCM Ruleset. Thus if a target is flanked by any two opponents, the target is now treated as being flanked by anyone. For each additional person flanking the target add an additional + 2 to the flanking bonus. This is similar to the Aid Other action and Threatening a target due to position (ie: within melee striking distance). Up to eight opponents can flank a medium creature. Only melee combatants are counted when determining Flanking bonuses, however ranged attackers still benefit from the total bonus.

Two Weapon Fighting

TWF with two of the same weapon is treated as having a light weapon in your offhand as if you were using a double weapon.

Specific Weapons of Note

Crossbows are remarkably accurate (although slow) weapons get a + 4 bonus to hit, and + 4 bonus to bypass DR, Light Crossbows get + 2 bonuses. In medieval combat they were used to punch through heavy plate armor of the mounted cavalry by troops who frequently didn’t have the advanced training it took to master the English Long Bow.

Rapier is not a “light weapon”, yet is treated as such for determining the size of the weapon vs. its user. IE Halflings may use a standard Rapier at no penalty. Further the Rapier can be used with Weapon Finesse, & Two Weapon Fighting as if it were light. As per the Core D20 rules, the Rapier may be used with Power Attack.

Arrows / Bolts Impale – Critical hit = Impaled. If the target chooses to leave in the arrow/bolt they suffer a – 3 to hit, damage rolls and saves. If they take more than a standard action in 1 round they suffer an automatic hit from the arrow (at full bonus from the original archer) with no chance of it being a critical. If they remove the arrow they roll damage for the arrow as though fired by the original archer and take 1/2 damage. This hit will never be a critical. If the arrow has a barbed head, they take full damage upon removing it. If the original hit is a crit which does more than 1/2 hp in damage as a single hit, and the target is near a wall or solid surface they are nailed to the wall and considered pinned. Heal skill DC 15 + 1/5pt of crit can remove without further injury.

Arrow, barbed: These arrows have tiny barbs along the edges of the arrowhead. If the arrow impales a creature, removing it causes full damage instead of half.

Types of actions and maneuvers

For my campaign I’ve opted to simplify the Types of Actions available to the following 4 types:

Standard, Move, Full Round w/ 5ft Step, and Free Actions (typically 1 free action allowed per round w/ a few exceptions such as Combat Reflexes).

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.

Only one haste effect may be in effect at any given time, and does not stack with mundane effects that duplicate the same such as Rapid Shot, Flurry of Blows, etc. A Haste spell however could be used with Rapid Shot, or Flurry to grant the additional benefits of the spell such as movement bonus, AC bonus, etc. Haste and Expeditious Retreat however would not stack to grant additional movement.

Attack of Opportunity: There are tons of situations, feats, and special “one offs” which can in theory trigger an Attack of Opportunity, however for game balance purposes only one such attack (per character) may be applied to any single target per round.

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.

Games with a bushwhack rule can be surprisingly deadly especially with snipers or well hidden rogues & assassins, but any PC in the right circumstances can greatly benefit from these tactics as well. 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.

Death, Dying & Healing

Bleeding out at zero HP = At zero HP the character is Bleeding Out (dying). Make a Fort save to Stabilize (DC 15 + HP below zero). If the Fort save is successful the character has Stabilized and is unconscious but no longer Bleeding Out. For the character that fails their Fort save, they are unconscious and continue to Bleed Out until they reach their negative Con score. (NOTE: “unconscious” can also be interpreted as “too messed up to do anything” but still give a cool death speech, “Luke…you are my son…”

Once you are past the negative Con score (your Death Threshold) you are dead. At which point you still continue to lose 1 hp per minute. During this phase healing magic can still bring you back (but only magic can at this point) by healing enough damage with one spell to raise you to at least your negative Con score. A Heal check is enough for the healer in question to get a good feel for your condition and begin the triage process of determining whom they can help, and who is simply beyond their abilities. Don’t forget that out of combat healing is maximized.

NOTE: Because Raise Dead and similar magics are not allowed under the LCM Ruleset this final stage was added to the dying process to allow magical healers time to react if they are quick enough.

NOTE 2: Healing potions under the LCM are Alchemical, not magical.

Bleeding Out

Assisted Characters: A character who is Bleeding Out can be helped with a Heal check equal to the Fort Save stabilize check. On a success, the character stabilizes and stops losing HP, but does not regain any HP and is still unconscious.

Un-Assisted Characters: A character who is Bleeding Out without assistance is unconscious and has a 10% chance of stabilizing naturally plus an additional 5% for each point of Con Bonus they have. If they succeed they gain 1 HP per day until they have risen to at least 1 HP above their Con score. At which point they start to heal normally. At DM’s discretion feats like Die Hard, Endurance or Toughness may further modify this roll, although a minimum of + 10% for each feat seems reasonable.

Natural Healing

Natural healing under the D20 RAW is a little too good and allows characters with severed limbs to bounce back to full health after only a few days of rest. Under the LCM this has been curved somewhat.

Characters recover their Con Bonus, or 1/3 their character level, in HP per day (whichever is greater) to a minimum of 1 HP. This means that a “master” level character at 9th level would recover 3 HP/day unless he has a really high Con bonus such as a + 4 or + 5.

Further this will not heal damage from Critical Hits or Massive Damage, and without magic healing such a character can expect a permanent reduction in HP and stat damage from the grievous wounds they have suffered. While this is unlikely to have a direct impact on PC’s, it does explain why permanent injuries exist in a world with magic.

Magic Healing

So how far can magic healing go in a setting without spells like Regeneration? There are still spells like (Lesser) Restoration with allows for the recovery of stat damage, however it is generally assumed that such spells are being used at the time of the injury to avoid long term effects. When used after the fact a person’s life may be spared, but a severed limb or a blinded eye would still remain. Additional limitations may also be appropriate such as reduced movement rates, or ranged attack penalties for example. For such permanent injuries stat damage and reduced max HP would be expected.

Massive Damage Threshold and Results

  • Massive damage: at Con Score + (LvL x 2)
  • Fort Save: succeed on Fort Save with a DC 15 +1 / 5pts dam over threshold 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.
  • Increase MDT by +10 for each size catagory larger than medium.
  • Toughness, Endurance and Die Hard all modify the Massive Damage Threshold by +3 per each feat taken (see skills and feats)

The dying save result variant tends to create less deadly combat since a single save doesn’t spell automatic death. Still a failed save can be just as critical to the tide of battle as in the standard system—a dying character is every bit as useless as a dead one, and is likely to bleed off resources from one or more other characters who attempt to save him from death.

Finally, scaling the saving throw option makes high-level combat particularly dangerous to characters with poor Fortitude saves. Since these characters also tend to have low hit points, combat becomes doubly deadly, since they must now worry about individual attacks from powerful opponents as well as the normal attrition of hit points.


(RAW) If you are behind another creature (friend or foe) you may use them as “soft cover”, thus adding a +4 AC bonus vs ranged attacks (but not AOE effects). This also works in reverse as your enemies also get this same bonus. This can be offset with Precise Shot.


Lazlo COS Pathfinder lazlo_campaign