Updated on August 18, 2000

3E Combat Examples

Ember vs. The Muggers | Tordek vs. Tyrantfog Zombies
Imsh vs. The Warlock

3E Combat Examples

The new combat rules are some of the best changes for the new D&D -- but also some of the most complicated. How does cyclical initiative work? When do attacks of opportunity occur? How far can you move in a round and still attack? The examples below should help you see how combat works in D&D.
  • Update (August 14, 2000): With the Player's Handbook out, this is the perfect time to go back and make sure all of the examples are correct. I deleted "Lidda and Mialee vs. the Digester," as there were a couple of things that would have changed the outcome of the fight (I should have started with a surprise round, given the Digester a Listen check when Mialee cast her spell, kept Lidda from making her first sneak attack due to the Digester's scent ability, etc.). I will likely come up with a new example in the next couple of weeks.

Ember vs. The Halfling Muggers

The Contestants

In this example, the monk Ember (3rd level) is ambushed by a trio of halfling rogues in a dark alley. Will she survive the attack?

EmberEmber, Female Human Monk 3: SZ Medium (Humanoid); HD 3d8+3; hp 20; Init +1 (Dex); Spd 40' (Fast Movement); AC 13 (14 with dodge; +1 DEX, +2 WIS); Atks: melee unarmed +4 (d6+2 / crit 20/x2, unarmed strike), or ranged +3 (d8/crit 19-20/x2, range 80', light crossbow); SA Unarmed Strike (deal normal damage unarmed; unarmed attacks to not draw attacks of opportunity; flurry of blows), Stunning Attack (3/day, declare before making attack, struck victim must make Fort save vs. DC 13 or be stunned for 1 round, stunned victim can't act and loses DX bonus to AC and attackers gain +2 to hit); SQ Mobility (+4 dodge bonus to AC when moving within or out of threatened areas, stacks with other dodge bonuses); Evasion (successful Reflex saves mean no damage); Still Mind (+2 save vs. Enchantment spells); Fast movement; Deflect Arrows (once per round as a free action, make DC 20 Reflex save to deflect a missile weapon); SV Fort +5, Reflex +5, Will +6; AL Lawful Neutral; Str 14/+2, Dex 13/+1, Con 12/+1, Int 10/+0, Wis 15/+2, Cha 8/-1.
Equipment: Light crossbow, 10 bolts, potion of bull's strength, potion of magic fang, cloak of resistance +1.
Skills: Tumble (+7), Balance (+7), Hide (+7), Jump (+8), Move Silently (+7).
Feats: Dodge, Skill Focus: Move Silently, Mobility.

Muggers (3), Male Halflings Rogue 1:
SZ S (humanoid); HD 1d6+1; hp 7; Init +7 (Dex and Improved Initiative); Spd 20'; AC 16 (+2 for leather armor, +3 DEX, +1 size); Atks: +1 melee (1d6/crit 19-20/x2 short sword); or +5 ranged (d4/crit 20/x2, range 20', dart); SA sneak attack for +1d6; SQ halfling racial features (+1 to hit, +1 AC, +4 Hide due to size; low-light vision; +1 to all saves; +2 morale vs. fear; +1 attack with thrown weapons; bonuses to certain skills); SV Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +1; AL NE; Str 10/+0, Dex 17/+3, Con 13/+1, Int 14/+2, Wis 10/+0, Cha 8/-1.
Equipment: Leather armor, 6 darts, short sword.
Skills: Disable Device +6, Hide +11, Listen +6, Move Silently +9, Climb +6, Open Locks +7, Search +6, Spot +4, Bluff +3, Jump +6.
Feats: Improved Initiative.

Setup: Ember is alone in a strange city. She is wandering the streets at night looking for a particular tavern where she is told she can find companions, when she takes a wrong turn into a dark alleyway.

Little does Ember know she's been marked for a mugging. Earlier, she was spotted by three halfling muggers who raced ahead of her to ambush her in the alley. They've already hidden (rolled a 12+11=23 for their hide roll).

As Ember enters the alley, the DM decides that there's just enough light coming from nearby buildings that Ember can basically see the entire alleyway. He secretly rolls her Spot check (she's untrained, so gets only her WIS bonus to the roll: DM rolls 15+2=17, not good enough to spot them). There's no chance that she surprises them, and since she failed her roll to spot them, it's time for a surprise round.

Surprise Round: The muggers roll for initiative. Their results: Rogue 1 (R1) gets a 15 (+7=22), Rogue 2 (R2) gets a 10 (+7=17), and Rogue 3 (R3) gets a 4 (+7=11). During the surprise round, each Rogue can take a partial action. Ember, because she is surprised, is flat footed (loses her DEX bonus to AC) and unable to act.

R1's Action: R1 had a dart ready and hurls it at Ember.

  • Ember is more than 20' away but less than 40'. Darts have a range increment of 20', and for each 20' beyond the first there is a -2 penalty to hit. R1 rolls a 9(+5-2=12), just barely good enough to hit Ember (she's AC 12 right now because she's flat footed). The dart deals out d4 damage -- plus d6 sneak attack damage (she's within 30' and flat footed) -- for a total of 5 points of damage.

R2's Action: R2 uses his partial action to draw his short sword and uses a free action to drop the dart he was holding.

R3's Action: R3 also launches a dart at the monk.

  • The DM estimates that R3 is about 50' from Ember. That puts him two range increments past the 20' dart range (so he'll take a -4 to hit her). He rolls a 10 (+5-4=11), not quite good enough to hit Ember.

It's the end of the surprise round. Ember now rolls for initiative and will join the battle next round depending on her roll. She rolls an 11 (+1=12), which puts her between R2 and R3 in the lineup. Until she acts next round, she's still flat footed.

Round 1:

R1's Action: The halfling can take normal actions this round. He first chucks a second dart, rolling a 13 (+5-2=16), a hit. Again, it's a sneak attack because Ember is still flat footed; the dart deals out d4+d6= 6 hp damage. Ember is already down to 9 hp! R1 can now move his normal rate, so he moves 20' to stand next to Ember.

R2's Action: This fellow chooses to take a double move, covering 40' of ground. He's still about 15' away from Ember at the end of the move. (R2 could only choose to "Run" at 4x normal rate if his destination was in a straight line from him. As it was, he had to maneuver around the bales of hay, and thus didn't have a straight shot at his destination.)

Ember's Action: Ember finally gets to act. She's no longer flat footed and her AC goes back up to normal; she can also attempt to block missile weapons with her Deflect Arrows ability. First, Ember announces that she will Dodge R1 (her AC will be 14 against him only). Next, Ember chooses to use a flurry of blows to attack R1, and she wants to use her Stunning Attack on him.

  • Flurry of blows means she can make one extra attack, with all attacks this round being at -2 to hit. She rolls her first attack roll: a 14 (+4-2=16). This first blow is a hit for 5 hp damage. R1 has to make a Fortitude save vs. DC 13 to avoid being stunned; he rolls a 9 (+2=11) -- a failure. R1 is stunned for the next round: he can't act, his AC drops to 13, and Ember will be at +2 to hit him until just before her turn next round. (An effect that lasts 1 round ends in the next round on the initiative count just before the effect started.) She has yet to make her second attack; she rolls 3 (+4-2+2=7, vs. the stunned halfling's new AC of 13), a miss.

R3's Action: Hunkered down safe behind the crates, R3 simply throws another dart. However, he's now "firing into melee." There's no one directly between him and his target, so the only effect is a -4 to hit her with no chance of striking his companions. He rolls an 18 (+5-4-4=15), a hit -- or is it? Ember attempts to deflect the dart -- she rolls a Reflex save, getting a 15 (+5=20), just barely enough to knock the dart out of the air!

Round 2:

    R1's Action: R1 is stunned from Ember's blows and so can't act.

    R2's Action: The little mugger finishes moving toward Ember. He is now in a flanking position (R2 and R1 are opposite each other). However, R1 is not "threatening" anyone right now because he's stunned, so R2 can't do a sneak attack or gain a flanking bonus this round. He hacks at Ember with his short sword, rolling an 8 (+1=9), a miss.

    Ember's Action: Just before Ember's turn, R1 stops being stunned, so his AC returns to normal and he can defend himself properly. Ember chooses to do a flurry of blows again. As with any multiple attack sequence, she doesn't have to announce her targets ahead of time; she can see how blow #1 does before deciding who blow #2 should strike. She strikes once again at R1, getting a 6 (+4-2=8), a miss. She decides to aim her second blow at the newly-arrived R2, getting a 15 (+4-2=17), a hit for 3 hp damage. Since she didn't declare the use of her Stunning Attack ability ahead of time, she can't use it this round.

    R3's Action: R3 chucks another dart, but misses (rolls a 1, a miss no matter how you slice it).

Round 3:

    R1's Action: R1 and R2 are now both threatening Ember, and they're in flanking position. That gives each rogue a +2 flanking bonus, and they can each use their Sneak Attack on her. R1 uses a move-equivalent action to draw his short sword (this action doesn't draw an attack of opportunity), and attacks. He rolls a 10 (+1+2=13), not quite good enough to hit (she's Dodging him still and is AC 14 against him).

    R2's Action: R2 stabs at the monk again, rolling a 10 (+1+2=13), a hit! He dishes out d6+d6 for 6 hp damage. Ember is hurting!

    Ember's Action: Ember decides to use flurry of blows again, and will try the Stunning Attack on the first strike R2. She rolls a 14 (+4-2=16), just barely enough to hit; she inflicts 3 hp damage; R2 fails his Fortitude save vs. DC 13 (rolls a 7+2=9), and so is stunned until just before Ember's action next round. That was Ember's first attack in the flurry of blows; she directs the second one at R2 as well, and now that he's stunned she has a much better chance to hit him (he's now AC 13 and she gains a +2 to hit him). She rolls a 10 (+4-2+2=14), a hit, dishing out 5 hp damage. R2 drops to the ground unconscious and dying.

    R3's Action: R3's no fool. He keeps tossing darts. He rolls a 16 (+5-4-4=13), just enough to hit Ember. She gets to try her Deflect Arrows ability again, but fails her DC 20 Reflex save (rolls a 6+5=11). She takes 1 hp damage from the dart. Ember has 2 hp left!

Round 4:

    R1's Action: R1 is no longer flanking Ember because his flanking partner is on the ground slowly dying. He attacks anyway, but misses (rolls a 7+1=8).

    R2's Action: He's dead, Jim! (Technically, he's dying. The DM could check each round to see whether he stabilizes but, really, who's gonna heal him up, right?)

    Ember's Action: Ember opts to have a more accurate attack this round and so gives up the flurry of blows. She makes a normal attack against R1, hits him (rolls a 19+4=23) for 6 hp damage -- he's down!

    R3's Action: R3, not the bravest of the bunch, has just seen his companions knocked out of the fight. He flees around the corner, using a double move. Ember lets him go.

Conclusion: Though severely wounded by the little rogues, Ember has triumphed. She leaves their bodies for the city watch to discover in the morning, and heads back out into the relative safety of the crowded main street.

Experience Points: Each rogue is a CR 1 creature. Using the chart on p. 2 of the "2000 Survival Kit" in the back of the PHB, we see that for 3rd-level Ember, each rogue is worth 300 XP, for a total of 900 XP. Given that she very nearly lost her life, this isn't unreasonable.

Imsh vs. The Warlock

The Contestants

This example finds the barbarian Imsh facing off against a multiclassed fighter/sorcerer. Imsh was revealed in June's Character Close-up, and The Warlock was created using the free Character Generator demo program.

ImshImsh, Male Half-Orc Barbarian 1: SZ Medium (Humanoid); HD 1d12+1; hp 13; Init +2 (Dex); Spd 40' (Fast Movement); AC 15 (+3 armor, +2 DEX); Atks: melee +5 (d12+4 / crit 20/x3, greataxe), or ranged +3 (d6/crit 20/x3, range 60', shortbow); SA Rage: 1/day gain +4 STR and +4 CON (incl. 2 bonus hp), +2 to Will saves, and -2 AC penalty for 6 rounds; SD Fast movement, darkvision; SW illiterate, fatigue after Raging, -1 Armor Check Penalty; SR None; SV Fort +3, Reflex +2, Will +1; AL Neutral Good; Str 17/+3, Dex 14/+2, Con 13/+1, Int 8/-1, Wis 12/+1, Cha 6/-2.
Equipment: studded leather armor, greataxe, shortbow, 20 arrows.
Skills: Climb +6, Listen +5, Wilderness Lore +5.
Feats: Weapon Focus (Greataxe).

The Warlock, Male Human Ftr1/Sor4:
SZ Medium (Humanoid); HD 1d10+4d4+10; hp 30; Init +0; Spd 30'; AC 14 plus Dodge (+3 armor, +1 shield); Atks: +5 melee (1d8+1 / crit 19-20/x2, masterwork longsword) or +3 ranged (has no ranged weapons on him but necessary for certain ranged spellcasting); SA Spells; SD Combat Casting feat (+4 to Concentration Checks while casting on the defensive); SW 20% Spell Failure due to armor; SR None; SV Fort +5, Reflex +1, Will +3; AL Lawful Evil; Str 13/+1, Dex 11/+0, Con 14/+2, Int 10/+0, Wis 9/-1, Cha 16/+3.
Equipment: masterwork studded leather armor, masterwork small shield, masterwork longsword, spell component pouch.
Skills: Alchemy +3, Concentration +10, Knowledge: arcana +5, Scry +1, Spellcraft +5.
Feats: Combat Casting, Dodge, Silent Spell, Still Spell.
Spells per Day: 6 x cantrips; 7 x 1st level; 4 x 2nd level.
Spells Known:


  • daze (range 35', target loses next action, Will negates)
  • detect magic (range 60', duration 4 minutes)
  • detect poison (range 35')
  • light (range touch, creates light as torch, duration 40 minutes)
  • mage hand (range 35', telekinesis 5 lb limit)
  • read magic (duration 40 minutes)

    1st Level:

  • identify (identifies a funciton of a magic item, 8 hour casting time)
  • magic missile (2 missiles, d4+1 damage each, automatic hit, range is 140')
  • ray of enfeeblement (range 35', requires successful ranged touch attack, drains d6+2 STR for 4 minutes, Fortitude negates)

    2nd Level:

  • ghoul touch (melee touch attack required, paralyzes victim for d6+2 rounds, Fortitude negates)

Setup: Imsh has visited an old soothsayer, who informs the half-orc that his long-dead father still walks the earth as a restless spirit. The ghost can't rest until his killer, a wicked sorcerer known as The Warlock, is slain. After spending days tracking down The Warlock, he has finally cornered him in an underground lair. The Warlock has retreated into a room and Imsh stands outside.

Imsh pushes at the door and discovers the Warlock has locked it. "Face me, coward!" he cries, as he attempts to break the door down with brute force.

  • The DM's notes indicate that the DC for breaking down the door is 20. There is no "breaking down doors" skill, so this is a pure STR check. Imsh rolls a 16 (+3=19), not good enough to break it. The DM rules he can try once each round. He tries two more times, rolling a 6 (+3=9) and a 14 (+3=17), again, failures. Imsh could decide to "Take 20" on these rolls, but he's concerned that the Warlock will get away.

Meanwhile, inside the room, The Warlock casts two light cantrips in key spots so that most of the room is illuminated. Then the villain climbs a ladder to a part of the room that is raised 10' above the floor. He pulls the ladder up behind him and hunkers down behind some barrels and crates.

Imsh's failure to open the door is making him angry. Very angry. Within a few moments, his body quivers with Rage.

  • His STR increases to 21/+5, his CON improves to 17/+3 (giving him 2 extra hit points for a total of 15), his Will save improves to +3, but his AC drops to 13. This will last for 6 rounds (this is the first round; round 1 of combat will be the 2nd round of Imsh's Rage).

With a mighty cry, he successfully bashes open the door (rolls a 15 + 5 = 20)!

The DM decides this is the time to roll initiative.

  • Imsh gets a 1 (+2=3) and The Warlock gets a 10 (+0=10). The Warlock goes first.

Round 1:

Warlock's Action: The sorcerer pops up from behind the crates and casts magic missile at Imsh.

    • Spell Failure: The Warlock must make a Spell Failure check every time he tries to cast a spell because of the armor he's wearing. He rolls percentile dice -- 42 -- a success; only on a roll of 20 or lower will he fail.
    • Magic Missile: Imsh is well within range, and there's no way for him to avoid the automatic damage of the two magic missiles. The Warlock rolls poorly on the damage rolls, so Imsh suffers 4 hp damage.

Imsh's Action: The angry barbarian rushes the full length of the room to the base of the raised area, a 10' high wall.

    • Imsh has a base movement rate of 40' per round. All characters can "Hustle," which doubles their movement rate. The wall is 70' away from the door, which is nearly the extent of Imsh's hustle.

Round 2:

    Warlock's Action: Because Imsh is at the base of the wall, The Warlock can no longer see him. He moves 25' to the edge of the platform so he can look down. All characters can make a Move and a Partial Action each round; he's already moved (his normal movement rate), and so he can still cast a spell, which he does -- another magic missile.

    • Spell Failure: This time The Warlock rolls a 13 -- his armor gets in the way of his spellcasting, so the magic missile is lost.

    Imsh's Action: Imsh attempts to scramble up the wall to the top of the platform.

    • The DM has set the difficulty at 18 for this particular dungeon -- this would be a fairly typical crumbly dungeon wall. Imsh's rage-improved STR increases his Climb skill to +8. He rolls an 11 (+8=19), a success. Climbing is normally at half your movement rate, and climbing that far is normally the only thing a character can do in a round, but he's only got a quarter of his normal movement rate to climb (10'), so that counts as a move-equivalent action, and he takes another move-equivalent action to unsheath his waraxe from the straps on his back. By the end of the round he's scrambled up to the top with axe in hand and lets forth a mighty yell!

Round 3:

    Warlock's Action: The Warlock's smug expression turns fearful as he sees the wrathful barbarian up close! He steps back 5' and casts daze in an attempt to distract Imsh for a moment.

    • 5' Step: You can always take a 5' step without drawing an attack of opportunity, even if you use it to move out of an enemy's threatened area, as the Warlock did. "Step back and cast" is a legit tactic for spellcasters to use during combat.
    • Spell Failure: The Warlock would like to use his Still Spell feat to eliminate the chance of his armor getting in the way. Because he is a sorcerer and casts "on the fly," doing so would increase the casting time to a full-round action, and the spell wouldn't take effect until just before his turn next round. By then, Imsh could step up and whack the Warlock, possibly disrupting the spell. So he casts normally, and fortunately passes his spell failure check (rolls a 57).
    • Opportunity Attack: Because he's not in Imsh's threatened area when he casts the spell, he doesn't have to worry about drawing an attack of opportunity.
    • Daze: Imsh must make a Will save to negate this effect. Despite his Rage bonus, Imsh rolls a 2 (+3=5), a failure against the spell's DC (10 + spell level + Warlock's CHA modifier = 13). Imsh loses his next action.

    Imsh's Action: Imsh, dazed by the Warlock's magic, cannot perform any actions.

Round 4:

    Warlock's Action: Whew! Dazing that half-orc bought the Warlock some time! He decides to back up 20' and cast ray of enfeeblement in an attempt to drain some of Imsh's strength.

    • Movement: The Warlock stepped out of Imsh's threatened area last round, so he can move freely without drawing an attack of opportunity. He backs up 20' and casts his spell.
    • Spell Failure: A roll of 74 -- success for The Warlock.
    • Ray of enfeeblement: First, The Warlock must make a successful "ranged touch attack" -- a ranged attack that ignores Imsh's armor. Without armor (and because he's Raging), Imsh is AC 10. The sorcerer has +3 ranged attack score. He rolls an 8 (+3=11), a hit! Now, Imsh must make a Fortitude save. Normally, he has a +5 Fort save, but with his increased CON it's now +7. The DC for The Warlock's ray is (10+spell's level+Warlock's CHA bonus) = 14. Imsh rolls a 7 (+7=14), just good enough to save. He is unaffected by the ray's strength-draining properties.

    Imsh's Action: The daze spell has now worn off (he lost one round's worth of actions), so Imsh, still enraged for this round (and next round), crosses the 25' between himself and the Warlock for a charge attack!

    • Imsh's attack bonus is +7 with his enhanced STR; with a charge it's +9. He rolls an 8 (+9=17) -- a hit against the Warlock's AC 15 (the Warlock is Dodging Imsh, the only opponent in the room, and so gains a +1 to his normal AC). Imsh deals out 8 (+6=14) points of damage. However, because of the charge, Imsh will suffer an additional -2 to AC (total AC 11) next round.

Round 5:

    Warlock's Action: Staggered by the mighty blow, the Warlock calls on his combat training. He draws his longsword (that's his move-equivalent action, doesn't draw an attack of opportunity) and attacks (that's his standard action).

    • Imsh is a pretty open target at this point. The Warlock rolls an 18 (+5=23) -- a hit. He deals out 8 hp damage.

    Imsh's Action: Imsh's Rage is nearing its end -- this is the last round of enhanced STR and extra hit points. With an undulating battle cry, Imsh brings down the waraxe!

    • Imsh rolls a 12 (+7=19), a hit! A fortunate roll allows him to deal out 11 (+6=17) hp damage. The Warlock crumples to the floor.

Conclusion: The rage is gone. Imsh is fatigued and gravely wounded, but his head is lifted in triumph. As The Warlock's life drains away, Imsh knows his father's spirit can finally find eternal rest.

Tordek vs. the Tyrantfog Zombies

The Contestants

This match-up flips the odds around, pitting the 4th-level version of the dwarven fighter, Tordek, against two tyrantfog zombies as he tries to recover a magical dwarven axe from an ancient crypt.

Tordek, male dwarf F4: SZ M (humanoid); HD 4d10+12; hp 38; Init +5 (Dex and Improved Initiative); Spd 15; AC 23 + Dodge (+1 Dex, +9 magical full plate, +3 magical large shield); Atks: +8 melee (2d4+5/crit 20/x3, dwarven waraxe); or +6 ranged (d6+3/crit x3, masterwork composite longbow); SA +1 attack vs. goblinoids and orcs; SD darkvision, +2 save vs. poison and spells; SV Fort +7, Ref +2, Will +2; AL LG; Str 16, Dex 13, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.
Equipment: Dwarven waraxe, masterwork composite longbow, 8 arrows, +1 full plate mail, +1 large shield, 2 potions of healing.
Skills: Climb +2 (-4 with armor), Jump +2 (-4 with armor), Listen +3.
Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency - dwarven waraxe, Weapon Focus - dwarven waraxe, Improved Initiative, Dodge, Specialization - dwarven waraxe.

Tyrantfog Zombies (2): SZ M (undead); HD 4d12+3; hp 25 each; Init +0; Spd 30; AC 15 (+5 Deflection1); Atks: 2 claws +3 melee (1d6+1 plus disease); Face 5'x5'; Reach 5'; SA sickening cloud (upon first encountering them, make a DC 13 Fort save or suffer 1 point of temporary CON damage), infective touch (at the end of the battle, character wounded by zombie must make a DC 13 Fort save or sicken over the next d4 days); SD damage reduction 15/+12, undead immunities3; SV Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +4; Str 13, Dex 10, Con --4, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 13; AL NE5. Skills: Climb +4, Listen +8, Search +5, Spot +5. Feats: Toughness.

1. We've seen deflection bonuses for things like
rings of protection. Unknown whether these zombies are magical in nature, or if there's a non-magical way to receive a deflection bonus.
2. As we've learned, damage reduction is the new 3E way of dealing with "monsters only hit by magic weapons." Rather than saying you can't hit them with normal weapons, each blow's damage is reduced by 15 points. Magical weapons and other magical sources of damage (spells, for instance) would do normal damage.
3. As the recent Vampire example indicates, undead have a number of immunities: mind-influencing effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, and disease, critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain, anything that requires a Fort save (unless it affects objects), and death from massive damage.
4. No CON score? This implies that this concept simply doesn't apply to the undead.
6. The monster write-up says "usually evil."

The Battle

Setup: Tordek has wandered far from home in search of a lost crypt. This tomb, legend has it, holds the body of a long-dead orcish chieftain. It is said that this vile orc's tomb contains a magical dwarven waraxe resting with the chieftain's body, as a trophy taken from some dwarf the orc defeated in battle. Tordek knows that such a fine weapon belongs in the hands of a true dwarven warrior such as himself, not buried in some dusty orc crypt.

Tordek has been injured as he faced tricks, traps and animated orc skeletons thus far on his adventure. As he approaches the tomb, he drinks down both of his healing potions, bringing him to full health. Tordek readies his weapon and leans into the door. As it swings open, it scrapes loudly on the floor.

Beyond is a room 60' long and 50' wide, with a pair of balconies on each side of the room, 10' above the floor. The ceiling is 20' above, and supported by several stone columns. At the far end of the room is a large stone sarcophagus. Though the room is completely unlit, Tordek's darkvision allows him to see the whole room, though he is unaware that two fearsome tyrantfog zombies lurk in the far alcoves. These corpses, the remains of orcish clerics, are enshrouded in a dark, wispy fog.

As Tordek starts to move into the room, the zombies start to creep from their alcoves toward the railings of their balconies.

  • With Tordek focused on the sarcophagus and the pillars and railings partially blocking the view, the DM decides that Tordek cannot attempt an untrained Spot skill check. He does decide to let Tordek attempt a Listen check. The zombies don't have the Move Silently skill, but they are only moving a few feet, so the DM rules that they will roll an unmodified d20 vs. Tordek's Listen check. The zombies roll a 7 (+0=7), while Tordek rolls a 20 (+3=23). Tordek hears the sounds of soft footsteps from the far balconies!

Tordek continues to move cautiously forward. As he does so, he easily spots the green glow from the eyes of the zombies. About halfway into the room, Tordek shouts, "Face my axe, ye minions of evil!" The zombies leap from the balconies to the floor below. Combat begins!

  • Initiative is rolled. The DM decides that there are few enough combatants that he can roll once for each of the zombies. Zombie #1 (Z1) rolls a 19 (+0=19), Zombie #2 rolls a 12 (+0=12), and Tordek rolls a 13 (+5=18). The order, then, is Z1, Tordek, Z2.
  • Tordek Dodges: Each round a character with the Dodge feat is in combat, he has to pick "a single opponent" to be dodging. Tordek picks Z2; against Z2 only, Tordek's AC will be 24 instead of 23. He can decide to change opponents any time on his turn (although he doesn't in this example).

Round 1:

Zombie #1's Action: Z1 has to move 25' feet to reach Tordek. In 3E combat, characters can move their full movement rate and still make a single attack in the same round, so Z1 swipes with a claw, rolling a 6 (+3=9), a miss. Also, as soon as it comes within 5' of Tordek, the zombie's sickening cloud of pestilence reaches Tordek.

  • Sickening Cloud: Tordek has to succeed at a Fortitude save vs. DC 13. He rolls a 14 (+7=21), easily withstanding the effect.

Tordek's Action: Tordek attempts a mighty blow against Z1. He rolls a 12 (+8=20), a hit. Damage rolled is 4 (+5=9); however, the zombie shrugs it off! Its damage resistance allows it to reduce each blow from a non-magical weapon by 15 points of damage. The mundane axe causes 0 points of damage, thus the zombie is unaffected.

Zombie #2's Action: Like its companion, Z2 can move up to its full movement rate and still get off a single attack. However, now that there are zombies on either side of him ("flanking" him), both zombies gain flanking attack bonuses of +2. Z2 rolls a 14 (+5=19), also a miss. Because Tordek only has to make only one Fortitude check per encounter to avoid the zombies' sickening cloud, the arrival of Z2 nearby doesn't have a chance to affect him.

Round 2:

Zombie #1's Action: Zombie #1, now in range to strike, attempts to do so with two claw attacks.

  • Z1 rolls once for each claw, and gets a 16 (+5= 21) and a 9 (+5=14), not good enough to penetrate the dwarf's impressive armor.

Tordek's Action: Tordek is in a spot -- he knows he's pretty well defended against their blows, but a critical hit from one would probably hurt. He also now suspects that he doesn't stand much of a chance to hurt them without a magic weapon. He decides to take a chance -- he throws down his waraxe and and bolts for the sarcophagus, in hopes that he can open it and retrieve the magical waraxe he seeks. As he hustles, he looses his large shield so he can have both hands free.

  • Movement and Loosing Shield: Tordek chooses to "double move," which is essentially a move and another move (and so takes the whole round to perform). Since he has a Base Attack Bonus of +1 or higher, he can combine "loose a shield" with his move, so it doesn't count as a move-equivalent action. His AC drops to 20 + Dodge.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Moving within or out of a threatened area can draw an attack of opportunity, depending on the circumstances. If he were able to move straight away from the threatening zombies, leaving their threatened areas, and if he only moves and performs no other actions this round, he would avoid the attacks of opportunity. But he has to pass through a square that is threatened by both zombies in order to get to the sarcophagus. In other words, they both get attacks of opportunity as he races by them. However, by the time he's leaving that second threatened square, he's no longer flanked. Z1 rolls a 19 (+3) = 21, a hit for 3 (+1=4) hp damage. Z2 rolls a 12 (+3=15), a miss. Tordek will have to make a Fortitude save at the end of combat because of the wound, but for now there is no special effect from the zombie's infective touch. Though he's injured, Tordek manages to make it all the way to the sarcophagus.

Zombie #2's Action: Z2 can cover the ground between its current position and a spot next to Tordek by the sarcophagus and still get in one strike. Because at the moment Z2 is the only opponent near Tordek, Z2 loses its flanking bonus. It rolls a 14 (+3=17), a miss.

Round 3:

Zombie #1's Action: Z1 moves to attack Tordek. It only needs to move 25' to reach a square adjacent to the dwarf. Tordek is not flanked because of the zombies aren't directly opposite each other with Tordek in the middle, and thus his attackers don't gain flanking bonuses. The zombie strikes once, rolling a 16 (+3=19), a narrow miss.

Tordek's Action:
Tordek, without a moment's hesitation, attempts to rip the cover from the sarcophagus.

  • Lifting the sarcophagus lid is "moving a heavy object," a move-equivalent action that draws an attack of opportunity. Z1 gets one attack, rolling a 5 (+3=8), a miss. Z2's attack of opportunity roll is an 18 (+3=21), a hit, for (6+1=) 7 hp damage. Tordek is down to 27 hp now.
  • The lid is heavy and is on fairly tight. The DM has already indicated in his notes that this is a DC 20 STR check. Tordek rolls a 19 (+3=22), a success! The lid slides off and crashes to the ground. Inside, resting atop a withered orc corpse, is a glowing dwarven waraxe!
  • Tordek can take another move-equivalent action, so he picks up the axe. "Picking up an item" is a move-equivalent action that draws an attack of opportunity. However, each zombie has already gotten one attack of opportunity against him this round, and so they can't do that again.

Zombie #2's Action: Z2 gets its full compliment of attacks and so attacks twice, rolling a 12 (+3=15) and a 2 (+3=5), both misses.

Round 4:

Zombie #1's Action: With a grunt of fear at seeing the magical axe, Z1 again lays into the dwarf. It rolls a 10 (+3=13) and an 8 (+3=11), both misses.

Tordek's Action: The brave dwarf whirls to face Zombie #2. His total attack bonus with the waraxe +1 is now +9, and his damage will be +6. He strikes, rolling a 6 (+9=15), a hit, for 8 (+6=14) hp damage. The zombie staggers back!

Zombie #2's Action: Z2 is now in trouble, because Tordek is facing him, ready to fight. Z2 desperately tries to slash the dwarf with its claws, rolling a 15 (+3=18) and a 14 (+3=17), both misses.

Round 5:

Zombie #1's Action: Z1 attacks, rolling a 15 (+3=18), a miss, and a natural 20 -- a hit (because a natural 20 is always a hit) and a potential critical! On the confirming roll, though, the zombie gets a 13 (+3=16), not good enough to confirm, so it's just a normal hit for 5 (+1=6) hp damage. Tordek is down to 21 hp.

Tordek's Action: The dwarf, energized that the magical axe is able to rend the flesh of the zombies, again hacks at Z2, rolling a 17 (+9=26), a hit, and dishes out 7 (+6=13) hp damage, enough to destroy the already-damaged Z2.

Zombie #2's Action: Z2 is dead and falls to the floor in a heap.

Round 6:

Zombie #1's Action: The remaining zombie again attacks. It rolls a 12 (+3=15) and a natural 1, two misses (a 1 always misses in combat).

Tordek's Action: Tordek hacks at the remaining zombie, rolling a natural 20, a hit and a potential critical. But ... undead are immune to the effects of critical hits! Tordek can only dish out normal damage; he rolls 5 (+6=11) hp damage.

Round 7:

Zombie #1's Action: This zombie is up the creek. Sure enough, both attacks -- a 16 (+3=19) and a 12 (+3=15) -- are misses.

Tordek's Action: With a final mighty blow (a roll of 12 [+9=21] hits, for 8 [+6=14] hp damage), Tordek destroys the remaining zombie. The combat is over!


Tordek's chest heaves as he catches his breath. He must now make a DC 13 Fortitude save to avoid being infected by the zombies' foul disease. He rolls a 6 (+7=13), just barely enough. Tordek will not contract the illness that the zombies spread.

As the evil green light dies in the eyes of the corpses he's defeated, Tordek smiles with satisfaction. He knows he can make it safely from the orc crypt back to his home, with a fine magical waraxe to show for his efforts.

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