One of my pet peeves with Pendragon is its use of reflexive modifiers on opposed checks.
If a mounted lance-wielder attacked a dagger-armed man on foot, the mounted man would receive a +5 modifier to his Lance skill for being mounted, while the man on foot would suffer a –5 modifier to his Dagger skill for the disadvantage of such a tiny weapon against a lance in this situation.
Rather than applying such modifiers (which stack things heavily in favor of one combatant) I’d like to use a modified form of 5th Edition D&D’s advantage rules:
Sometimes circumstances dictate that you are at an advantage when making a d20 check. When that happens, you roll a second d20 when you make the roll and use the more advantageous die roll. Examples of circumstances that grant advantage include:
- Hunting with hunting dogs
- Finding one’s way in local woodlands
- Attacking a foot soldier from horseback
- Attacking an unaware foe
- Sneaking up on a distracted guard
- Making a trait check when circumstances favor that trait heavily
Advantage can apply to both opposed and unopposed checks and, in instances where multiple variables are at play, consider if the overall circumstances are clearly favorable to the individual making the d20 check.
Inspired characters gain advantage on their chosen d20 check. In instances where both parties have some form of advantage (i.e. inspired Saxon berserker attacking a mounted knight), the advantages cancel each other out so that both parties make normal d20 rolls.
A combatant using the “uncontrolled attack” option (which used to be called “berserker attack” in older editions of Pendragon) gains advantage on their d20 weapon skill roll. Likewise, a combatant using the “defense” option gains advantage on their d20 weapon skill roll but cannot deal damage. As such, the advantage gained through an “uncontrolled attack” would be negated by an opponent choosing “defense”.
Disadvantage only applies to unopposed d20 checks when you are clearly at a disadvantage. In such situations, roll a second d20 when you make the roll and use the less advantageous die roll. Examples of circumstances that grant disadvantage include:
- Finding ones’ way in a mist-shrouded forest
- Attacking a heavily concealed foe with a ranged weapon
- Climbing a wall in chain or plate armor
Disadvantage does not apply to opposed checks because, in such instances that favored one individual over another, the favored individual would gain advantage on their d20 roll.
Examples: A bear being hunted by a drunken knight would have advantage on its avoidance roll against the knight’s hunting roll. Also, an alert guard would have advantage on his awareness skill check when rolling against a fully armored knight sneaking towards him. If that guard were distracted, however, neither roll would have the advantage.