Tuesday, 30 June 1981

Ringing Steel — a Man-to-Man combat system part I

Basic Concepts

Required Information

Each combatant's abilities are dependent on pre-determined characteristics listed below. The assignment of these numbers is dealt with in the Appendices. The scales are defined as linear, so that a combatant with Strength 12 is twice as strong as one with Strength 6. The upper limits are guidelines only, but strange results may occur if these are exceeded.

Strength — Measure of combatant's ability to apply force, affects ability to hurt opponents. (1–20)

Dexterity — Measure of combatant's co-ordination, affects ability to use a weapon. (1–20)

Constitution — Measure of combatant's physical fitness, affects stamina in a fight. (1–20)

Willpower — Measure of combatant's mental self-control, affects ability to fight when wounded. (1–20)

Training — Measure of a combatant's knowledge of the use of a particular weapon. (1–10)

Each combatant's equipment is also pre-determined. One or more weapons and possibly a shield are selected from the Weapons Table, and an armour type selected from the Armour Table. Limitations are again discussed in the appendices.

Calculation Of Abilities

The pre-determined characteristics are used with data from the tables to calculate the figures required for combat.

Skill-Factor: Calculated for each weapon, including shield if carried; measures ability to use weapon.

Skill = (Dexterity/4) x ln(Training + 1) x Armour Factor 4

Armour Factor is read from Armour Table. ln is natural logarithm. Measure to one decimal place.

Anti-Parry:Calculated for each weapon, measures likelihood of weapon hitting an opponent.

AP = Skill x A

A is read from Weapons Table.

Parry-Stab: Calculated for each weapon, measures defensive potential against stabbing attack.

PS = Skill x DS + 12

DS is read from Weapons Table.

Parry-Cut: Calculated for each weapon, measures defensive potential against cutting attack.

PC = SKill x DC + 16

DC read from Weapons Table.

Blow Strength: Calculated for each weapon, measures how much damage will be inflicted when an opponent is hit.

BS = Strength + B

B read from Weapons Table.

Base Speed: Calculated for each weapon, gives time required to make a blow including back-swing and follow-through.

Speed = 20 — Skill + Armour Modifier + Weapon Modifier

Armour and weapon modifiers are read from the tables.

Move Rates: Time taken to move one metre at walk and run speeds. Read from Armour table.

Fatigue Limit:Measurement of stamina and ability to take blows.

FL = Strength + Constitution + 6

Dodge Factor: Measures defensive potential when dodging. Depends on best skill in a weapon. Active Dodge Factor is the potential used when a combatant deliberately dodges. Passive Dodge Factor is the potential used when the dodge is due to usual movement.

ADF = Best Skill x 2 + 16

PDF = Best Skill + 8

Note: all attack and defence figures are rounded down to integer values.


Each type of weapon is given a set of data in the Weapons Table which define its use in combat. The figures A, B, DS, DC and Weapon Modifier have already been specified above. Weapons also have a range, short, medium or long, which defines the distances over which it can be used.

Weapons Table
Weapon Type Range A B DS DC Modifier
Sword Cut Medium 2.0 4 2.8 3.0 0
Dagger Stab Short 2.0 0 3.4 2.6 -3
Spear S Long 1.8 4 2.4 3.6 -1
Club C M 1.8 2 3.0 2.2 0
Javelin S M 1.8 2 2.8 2.8 -1
Short sword S M 2.0 2 2.8 2.8 -1
Quarterstaff C M+L 2.2 1 4.0 4.0 -2
Greatsword C L 1.6 7 2.8 2.8 4
Hand axe C S 2.0 3 2.2 2.8 -1
Battleaxe C L 1.6 5 1.4 2.8 2
Shield S Close quarters 1.0 -4 3.4 3.0 1

Each type of armour is given a protection factor for each area of a combatant's body. This is how effective it is at reducing injury when that area is hit by an opponent's weapon. In addition to these, the Armour Table also gives Move Rates, Armour Factor and Armour Modifier specified above. An armour type not given in the table can be created by specifying protection factors and deriving the other data by taking the closest giver armour type.

Armour Table
Type Walk Run Mod ifi er Factor Head Shou lder Arm Chest Abd omen Leg
None 5 3 -3 1.3 0 0 0 0 0 0
Protection 6 3 -2 1.2 4 3 0 3 3 0
Light 6 3 -1 1.1 5 4 3 4 4 0
Standard 6 3 0 1.0 8 8 8 8 8 0
Heavy 7 4 1 0.9 8 8 8 8 8 8
Heavy Plus 7 4 2 0.85 10 8 8 8 8 8
Extra Heavy 8 4 3 0.8 12 12 8 12 10 8
Super Heavy 9 5 4 0.75 15 15 10 15 15 12
Full 10 5 5 0.7 15 15 15 15 15 15

Protection — leather jerkin and iron cap

Light — scale or brigandine, coif and helm

Standard — scale over padding, coif and helm

Heavy — hauberk, mail arms and legs, coif and helm

Heavy plus — with full helm

Extra heavy — more plate over heavy

Super heavy — plate head and body, full chain and padding for limbs

Full — full plate

Procedure and timing
Time Clock And Actions

All events take place on a time scale measured in nominal tenth of a second. Combatants make actions: moving, making a blow etc… Each action requires a given number of tenths to complete and is considered to have taken place at the end of this time. A clock is kept, marking the current time, and each combatant has a current action specified. Defensive actions — parrying and dodging — take place when required, but delay the completion of the current action. All actions apart from these take a minimum time of one tenth.


When a combatant requires or is forced to make two or more actions at one time, usually making a defensive action while making a blow the total time is specified as that for the major action plus a modifier for each extra action. The major action is making a blow, moving or an action from the Special Situations in Section Two. If two such actions are being made at,once then the times are added. Modifiers for other actions are listed in the Timings Table.

Timings Table
Code Action Time Notes
1) Movement actions
WF Walk Front Walk Given in armour table
RF Run Front Run ditto
WB Walk Back 2*WF
RB Run Back 2*RF
T* Turn L or R Run * is L or R
FA Fall 10 FH/20 from horse
RI Rise 3*WF See text
MT Mount 20-skill +5 if horse moving
DM Dismount 20-skill ditto
CP Change Position 10-skill
CL Climb one step + *F * is W or R, see text
2) Preparatory Actions
RW Ready Weapon Base Speed
CH Control Horse 10-skill options in text
DT Designate Target d10-skill use best skill
BK Block Base Speed - 5
MB Move Block Base Speed -10
DN Disentangle * + Attack Excess * = 5 whip, =10 net
RL Reload 10/Cartridge See Text
3) Closing Actions
ST Set 1
WT Wait 1 +2 defense
AT Attack Base speed +WF-3
DF Defend WF +2 defense
CG Charge Base speed +WF-3 -3 defense, +3 attack
AV Avoid *F or *B * is W or R
DV Dive Base+RF-5 +5 Attack, -6 blow strength, passive defense only
4) Martial Actions
SK Strike Base speed
LO Load Load Time
AI Aim Aim Time
AF Aim Fast 1 -10 accuracy
FI Fire Fire Time
DG Dodge +WF
PY Parry + * * = 2 or 4 — see text
FE Feint 2*WF see text
HS Hand switch 10-skill +2 attack, see text
GR Grapple Base speed See text
DE Disengage ditto ditto
TH Throw ditto ditto
RT Retreat WB Passivedefense only
5) Involuntary Actions
RE Reaction d10-skill use best skill
DA Disadvantage 2
LW Light Wound +2 to all actions
WO Wound +4 all actions, -1 attack, -2 defense
SW Serious Wound +8 all actions, -2 attack, -4 defense
HR Horse Response 10-skill
DB Dud Bullet *+RE *=5 or 20 see text
EN Entanglement +* * = 1 or 5 see text
OB Obstruction * See text
Reaction Times

When an event occurs which a combatant is aware of — in front and in sight or a noise from anywhere — his current action may be altered to allow for this. The time for the new action will be modified by a reaction time of d10 - Best Skill, minimum one. If the event forces a reaction, usually an attack from a new opponent, then a reaction time is added to the current action.


All events take place on a hex grid with a scale of one hex to the metre. 12 mm hexes with combatants represented by 25mm figures is usual. Each combatant is oriented by being given a facing, and the hex ahead of him and the two to the sides are defined as front. The other three hexes are defined as back.

To move into a front hex takes a time given by the appropriate move rate. To move into a back hex takes twice this time. In order to run it is necessary to first move at the walk rate, walking front to run front and similarily to move back. Stopping running occurs when some other action is made. To change facing and turn through 60 degrees takes the same time as the run move rate. Turning can be done while continuing to run. If a hex is obstructed by a fallen combatant or other obstacle, it must be entered and left at a walk, and turns take twice the usual time.

Mechanics of Attack and Defense
Making An Attack

When a combatant has an opponent, in range, he may make a.n attack, or blow, the time required being the base steed. In range hexes are show below for weapons held in the right hand. The triangle symbolises the combatant and his facing. Left handed weapons take the mirror image. For two-handed weapons, the controlling hand determines the pattern of in-range hexes.

The defender chooses to Active Dodge or to Parry, or else makes no active defence — Passive Dodge. Whether the parry is against a stab or a cut depends on the attacker's weapon. A Parry cannot be made if the attacker is not in a covered hex. Covered hexes are shown below for left hand shield or weapon on the left, and right hand on the right — all hexes ahead, and all whole hexes ahead of the 90 degree line.

A Dodge can be made if the attacker is in a covered hex for either hand. An active defence cannot be made if the attacker is behind the defender or if the attacker is not the defender's target. In such cases a Passive Dodge is automatically made, unless the defender is making no action when a defence potential of zero is used.

The attack is resolved by adding a d20 roll to the attacker's Anti-Parry and comparing this with the appropriate defence potential. If the Anti-Parry is equal to or greater than the defence potential the attacker has hit his opponent. If not then the attack has been parried or dodged. However, if the die roll is 20, the attack always hits, and if the roll is 1 it always fails. These are called critical rolls and are treated slightly differently to other attacks.

Note that an attack that hits is one that injures an opponent. A parried or dodged attack may have glanced off, but this is not important.

Hit locations and damage factor

When a blow hits, a further d10 is rolled to determine the part of the defender's body that has been hit, by cross-referencing the roll with the weapon type on the hit location table.

Hit location
D10 short/stab med/stab long/stab short/cut med/cut long/cut
1 Head Head Head Head Head Head
2 R Arm Head R Arm Head Head Head
3 L Arm R Arm L Arm R Arm Shoulder L Shoulder
4 R Shoulder L Arm R Shoulder L Arm R Arm L Shoulder
5 L Shoulder Shoulder L Shoulder R Shoulder L Arm R Shoulder
6 Chest Chest Chest L Shoulder Chest R Shoulder
7 Chest Abdoment Chest Chest Chest L Arm
8 Abdomen Abdomen Chest Abdomen Abdomen R Arm
9 Abdomen R Leg Abdomen Abdomen Abdomen Chest
10 Leg L Leg Abdomen Leg Leg Abdomen

The injury inflicted is found by taking the attacker's Blow Strength, subtracting the armour protection factor for that part of the defender's body to give an effective blow strength and cross-referencing it with the attack excess, the amount by which the Anti-Parry plus die roll exceeded the defence potential. on the Damage Factor Table. [Table omitted. A good approximation is to take a value equal to blow strength plus excess, divide by 4 and round to the nearest integer (but not below 1)] This gives the damage factor for the blow which is further cross-referenced with the hit location on the Wounds Table to give the injury received by the defender.

Wounds Table
Damage Factor Head Arm Shoulder Chest Abdomen Leg
1 Bruise Bruise Bruise Bruise Bruise Bruise
2 Bruise L Wound Bruise Bruise Bruise Bruise
3 L Wound Wound Bruise L Wound Bruise L Wound
4 L Wound Wound L Wound L Wound L Wound L Wound
5 Wound S Wound L Wound Wound L Wound Wound
6 Wound S Wound Wound Wound Wound Wound
7 S Wound Disable Wound S Wound Wound Wound
8 S Wound Disable Wound S Wound S Wound S Wound
9 Disable Disable S Wound Disable S Wound S Wound
10 Disable Sever S Wound Disable Disable Disable
11 Death Disable Death Disable Disable
12 Death Sever
Critical Rolls

When an attacker makes a critical hit by rolling 20, the attack excess is calculated differently. A d10 is rolled and added to excess as calculated normally to give the critical excess. If this is less than five, including if it is negative, it is counted as five. If the dl0 roll is ten, hit location is not rolled but is chosen by the attacker. The remainder of the injury determination then proceeds as above.

When an attacker misses critically by rolling 1, he is unable to start a new action or defend actively for a short time. This time is found by rolling a d10 and adding two. This is instead of the afterblow procedure for the attacker given below, but that procedure still applies for the defender.

Movement Due To Dodging

When a defender dodges, he moves one hex to the back, the time for this being the dodging modifier added to his current action. The direction moved is determined by rolling a d6 and using the table below. The defender chooses which side is used to bias the direction obtained (column) and rolls for the result (row).

Dodge table
Left Back Right
Left 1–3 1 1
Right 4–5 2–5 2–3
Back 6 6 4–6

If the hex obtained is blocked, either by a wall or by an opponent in a blocking position or is occupied by another combatant, the dodge cannot be made and the defence is treated as a Passive Dodge. If the hex obtained is obstructed by such as a fallen body, or if the hex initially occupied by the defender is obstructed, then a Saving Throw against Dexterity is made. If this is succesful the Dodge is made, but if it fails it is treated as for the case of a blocked hex.

After A Blow

Immediately after a blow is made, one combatant (the one who made the hit) has an advantage. He is allowed to make a move simultaneously with some other action ignoring modifiers. The combatant without the advantage has a two tenths “dead time” added to the time for his current or newly staring action.

Injuries and Stamina
Types of injury

Bruise: Self-explanatory. Has no effect on attack and defence. Affects stamina by adding one to fatigue noint total. Two Bruises in the same area consititute a Light Wound.

Light Wound: A gash upto 7cm in length and 2 cm deep or a bruise covering more than 12 cm2. Has no affect on AntiParries or defence potentials. Adds a modifier of two tenths to the current action. Adds two fatigue points. Two Light Wound in the same area constitute a Wound.

Wound: Considerable damage without affecting any major organs. Examples — 15 cm long, 5cm deep cut, or fracturing of a minor bone. Subtracts one from all Anti-Parries and two from all defence potentials. Adds a modifier of four tenths to the current action. Adds four fatigue points. Two Wounds in one area count as a Serious Wound, three as a Disablement.

Serious Wound: Damage to, organs, breaking of bones. If not treated will cause death. After receiving one a combatant must make a Saving Throw against Will Power. If this fails the combatant will pass out falling to the ground. If successful the effects are as follows. Subtracts two from all Anti-Parries and four from all defence potentials. Adds eight tenths to the current action. Adds eight fatigue points. A Serious Wound plus a Wound in the same area counts as a Disablement, two Serious Wounds will Sever a limb or cause Death elsewhere.

Disablement: A mortal injury unless rapidly treated. Means damage to vital organ, destruction of a non-vital one, multiple fracturing or severe mangling of a limb. A combatant passes out on receiving one.

Sever: Loss of limb or sufficient damage to render it useless. A combatant passes out on receiving one.

Death: Injury causing death instantly.


All injuries have a fatiguing effect, counting a number of fatigue points detailed above. Fatigue points are also accumulated for other activities as follows, one point for each. Starting to run; Running for 50 tenths; Making an attack; Dodging; Charging (in addition to running).

When not performing any of the above, fatigue points are recovered at a rate of one per twenty tenths. Recovered points are recorded serarately as a maximum equal to a combatant's Constitution can be recovered on this timescale. Fatigue has no effect until the total taken exceeds half a combatant's Fatigue Limit. Then the times for all actions are increased by one and all Anti-Parries, defence potentials and blow Strengths are decreased by one. Blow Strengths are decreased by one for every fatigue point over this level. Times are increased by one for every two fatigue points, and Anti-Parries and defence potentials decreased by one for every three fatigue points. These effects are removed if the fatigue points are recovered. If a combatant takes fatigue points equalling or exceeding his Fatigue Limit then he must make a Saving Throw against Will Power, the latter being reduced by one for every point taken over the Limit. If he fails then he passes out. A further Saving Throw is made whenever further fatigue points are taken.

Saving Throws

A Saving throw is made whenever a combatant is involved in a difficult or unusual situation and indicates how he fares. Three d6 are rolled and the total score added. This is then compared to an appropriate characteristic — usually Will Power or Dexterity, sometimes slightly modified — and if it is less than or equal to the characteristic the Saving Throw is successful.

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