James Hutchings presents
An unofficial English translation of the first version of Das Schwarze Auge (known in English as The Dark Eye), the German role-playing game.
For random tables which can be used with these rules (or any other fantasy rules), visit Tables for Fables
For a randomly-generated idea for an adventure, click here
In combat each character, whether a player character or non-player character, has a chance to perform one action. The most common action is to attack an enemy character.
Normally the character with the highest Courage gets to attack first. If more than one character has the same Courage, they roll dice to see which of them attacks first.
Once every character has had a chance to act, this is the end of the Combat Round. A new combat round then begins, with the character with the highest Courage again taking the first action, and so on down the list.
Generally player characters can?t explore with sword in hand, bow drawn, shield at the ready etc.. This means that if an enemy suddenly appears close to them (say, within 10 metres or 30 feet), they will have to spend their first action readying their weapons. This means that the enemy will have an ?extra? attack, and that the player characters won?t be able to try and parry it if it hits. Obviously the same rules apply if the player characters ambush another group. Players can ready their weapons if they think they?re in a situation where combat might occur. For example, a player could tell the GM ?Before Alred kicks down the door, I?ll ready an arrow.? If they did so, and there was a hostile monster on the other side of the door, they?d have a chance to shoot as their first action. Player characters never do this unless their player specifically tells the GM that they are. That is, if there was a monster on the other side of the door and the player whose character was Alred didn?t say anything, they can?t say ?my character would have had his bow ready.?
In combats where one side outnumbers the other, the GM may also decide that the side with more characters can attack first, regardless of Courage.
Normally, the two sides will divide into groups which are as even as possible. For example, if three player characters are facing three goblins, each player character will fight against one goblin. If five player characters are facing two trolls, three characters will fight one troll and the other two characters will fight the other. If, on the other hand, two player characters are fighting seven orcs, one player character will fight four orcs and the other will fight three. If a player character or monster dies, the combatants will ?regroup?, again dividing themselves as evenly as possible. The GM always has the final say on which player character fights which enemy or enemies.
A Combat Round is considered to take roughly 2 seconds. Although each action must be dealt with one at a time, in terms of the world of the game they?re considered to take place at the same time. However when a character is killed before having had the chance to act that round, they don?t get a ?last attack? ? they?re considered to have been too slow.
Combat with Hand-to-Hand Weapons
Attacking with a hand-to-hand weapon involves up to three steps:
1) The attacker rolls a d20 to see if they hit their opponent.
2) If they do, the defender rolls a d20 to try to parry the blow.
3a) If the defender fails to parry, the attacker rolls a d6 to see how much damage is done.
3b) If the defender successfully parries, both combatants must roll 2d6 to see if their weapon breaks.
step 1: Attacking.
If the attacker has more than one opponent, they choose which one to attack. However, there is a restriction which only applies to one character fighting more than one opponent: they can?t attack an enemy they wounded in the last Combat Round. This reflects the fact that a character who is wounded will ?hang back? and fight more cautiously. They can attack a character if they tried to wound them last round, but failed (either because they missed, the enemy parried, or their armour reduced the wound to zero).
The attacker then rolls a d20. If the result is a 1 or 2, they?ve scored a ?master stroke?. This means that the defender has no chance to parry the blow: go straight to step 3. Otherwise, continue.
If their weapon has an Attack Penalty, they add that penalty to their roll.
If the resulting number is higher than their Attack score, they?ve missed. It?s now another character?s turn to attack (start again at step 1, with a different attacker).
If the number is lower than or equal to their Attack score, they?ve hit, and the defender must try to parry (step 2).
step 2: Parrying
A character may be attacked by more than one opponent in a Combat Round. However, they can only try to parry one opponent in a Combat Round. So if the defender has already tried to parry in this round (ie they?ve been attacked, and the attack has succeeded), this stage is skipped and combat goes straight to step 3, rolling for damage.
Otherwise, the defender rolls a d20. If their weapon has a Defence Penalty, they add that penalty to their roll.
If the resulting number is higher than their Defence score, they?ve failed to parry, and been hit. The attacker must now roll for damage (step 3a).
If the number is lower than or equal to their Defence score, they?ve successfully parried the blow. The combatants must now roll to see if either of their weapons break (step 3b).
step 3a: Rolling for damage
This step uses d6s rather than d20s.
The attacker rolls 1 dice ? unless they?re using an Executioner?s Axe, in which case they roll 2 dice.
They add their weapon?s Damage Add to the result.
If they have Strength of 8 or less, they take one from the result. If they have Strength of 13 or more, they add (their Strength ? 12) to the result. For example a character with Strength of 13 would add 1 to the result.
They subtract the defender?s Protection from the result, unless the attacker is a player character and they scored a master stroke (non-player characters who score a master stroke automatically hit, but the defender still has their normal Protection).
Keep in mind that normal clothing has a Protection of 1. In hot climates, or when doing heavy work, people may wear clothing which gives no Protection.
There is a small chance that the resulting number may be negative (for example: the target is wearing Knightly Armour, and is hit by a Shortsword. The attacker rolls 3, giving a damage of 5. Knightly Armour reduces this by 6, to -1). If so, the damage is changed to 0, and the target isn?t wounded (they?re hit, but their armour saved them).
The defender loses Vitality Points equal to the final number. If their Vitality Points are reduced to 0 or less, they?re dead.
If there are combatants left alive on both sides, another character now has a chance to attack (start again at step 1, with a different attacker).
step 3b: Weapons breaking.
This step also uses d6s.
The attacker rolls 2 dice, and looks at the total.
If their total is higher than their weapon?s Breakage Factor, the weapon is fine.
If their total is lower than, or equal to, their weapon?s Breakage Factor, their weapon has broken. They must draw another, fight with their bare hands, or run.
The defender does exactly the same thing; they roll 2 dice, and compare the total to their weapon?s Breakage Factor to see if their weapon breaks.
It?s possible for neither weapon to break, either one, or both.
Because weapons can break, characters may well decide to buy a spare weapon when they start.
Magicians? magic wands are unbreakable, and so a Magician who is using their wand as a weapon, either to attack or defend, can skip this step.
Combat with Ranged Weapons: Bows etc
The GM may rule that a player isn?t able to use a ranged weapon. For example, a player character who?s walking in the middle of a group of fellow adventurers wouldn?t have a clear shot on an enemy in front of them. The GM may rule that they can ?spend? one action to move to a position where they have a good shot.
The procedure for seeing whether a character hits with a ranged weapon is as follows:
1) The attacker rolls a d20 to see if they hit their opponent.
2) If they do, they then roll a d6 to see how much damage is done.
The target doesn?t have the chance to parry an attack from a ranged weapon.
Step 1: Rolling to Hit
A character?s chance of hitting their target depends on four factors:
i) their Attack score
ii) how big the target is iii) how far away the target is iv) what weapon they?re using
Targets are divided into one of five categories, based on their size. Examples of each category are:
very small: wildcat, dogs, and anything smaller such as a coin, mouse etc.
small: wolves, Dwarves, etc.
medium: humans, elves, orcs, and similar creatures.
large: horses, ogres, trolls, etc.
very large: dragons, elephants, and larger creatures.
Player characters will count as medium targets, except for Dwarves, who count as small.
If a target has some cover ? for example they?re hiding behind a wall and only their head is exposed ? the size of the target is based on the areas exposed to danger. In this case, the target would be counted as ?very small.? The GM makes the decision on this.
Range (the distance to the target) is likewise divided into five categories:
very close: 2-5 metres, or 6-15 feet
close: 6-10 metres, or 16-30 feet
medium: 11-20 metres, or 31-60 feet
far: 21-40 metres, or 61-120 feet
very far: 41-60 metres, or 121-180 feet
If the target is closer than 2 metres or 6 feet, long range weapons can?t be used.
All ranged weapons have a ?range? given ? if the target is further away than the weapon?s range, they can?t be used on that target.
The combatant should look at the table for the weapon they?re using, and find the number that relates to the size and range of the target:
Daggers and Spears
Target?s size
very smallsmallmediumlargevery large
rangevery close42100
(spears only)
Target?s size
very smallsmallmediumlargevery large
rangevery close53200
Shortbows and Longbows
Target?s size
very smallsmallmediumlargevery large
rangevery close21000
very far
(longbows only)
Target?s size
very smallsmallmediumlargevery large
rangevery close10000
very far86421
The attacker then rolls a d20, and adds the number they got from the table.
If the end result is higher than their Attack score, they?ve missed.
If the result is lower than or equal to their Attack score, they?ve hit, and they should then roll for damage (step 2).
There is no chance of scoring a ?master stroke? when attacking with a ranged weapon, nor any chance of the weapon breaking.
Step 2: Rolling for damage
This step works the same way as it does for hand-to-hand weapons: the attacker rolls a d6, adds the weapon?s Damage Add, and subtracts the target?s Protection. The defender loses that amount of Vitality Points, dying if their Vitality reaches 0 or less.
The adjustments to damage caused by Strength only apply to hand-to-hand combat, not to ranged weapons.
As with hand-to-hand combat, if the damage is reduced below 0, it?s treated as if it was 0.
Other Actions
These aren?t the only actions that players can take in combat. For example, they may try and negotiate with the enemy group (remembering that each Combat Round is 2 seconds long, meaning that they won?t have the chance to make a speech), run away etc. Magicians and Elves may choose to cast spells, which are dealt with in more detail in Part 3.