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Quasi-Playtest: OSR Fighter

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
If anyone feels like thinkin' 'bout stuff, I have a quasi-playtest for you. I'm tinkering with my OSR Fighter class, and want to give it 4 hit points per level. It, like all other characters, gets base hit points equal to CON score. Armor works normally (increasing AC), but to utilize it you must use one of your three actions per round. Otherwise, all damage gets through.

Also, damage dice are more or less capped at 1d12, and you can spend about 1d6 per level, per day, to regain hit points.

Does 4 HP per level make the fighter too squishy?

(Bonus) How do you see this affecting combat?

(Double bonus) How do you see this affecting adventures?
 

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MattW

Explorer
It seems a little odd that armour requires an action. I can see that using a SHIELD or a PARRY might need an action but something like chainmail should have an effect even if the wearer isn't expecting an attack. Could you explain the thinking behind that choice? Also, I can see Yora's point. How does this compare with all the other classes?
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
Armour question: If four opponents attack the fighter in the same round what happens? He blocks once with AC and gets hit three times for full damage?
 

Aelryinth

Explorer
If anyone feels like thinkin' 'bout stuff, I have a quasi-playtest for you. I'm tinkering with my OSR Fighter class, and want to give it 4 hit points per level. It, like all other characters, gets base hit points equal to CON score. Armor works normally (increasing AC), but to utilize it you must use one of your three actions per round. Otherwise, all damage gets through.

Also, damage dice are more or less capped at 1d12, and you can spend about 1d6 per level, per day, to regain hit points.

Does 4 HP per level make the fighter too squishy?

(Bonus) How do you see this affecting combat?

(Double bonus) How do you see this affecting adventures?
4 hp per level is equal to a d7 for Hit Dice. Fighters are supposed to be tough because they do get hit and take damage more, getting into melee. Thus, I think it is low. More hit points is the 'magic' of the fighting classes.
My rule of thumb is primary melee, secondary melee, partial Casters, full casters, in terms of descending HD. I.e. a pure Fighter with no Casting is either a d10 or d12; a Fighter with partial casting is one die lower; a secondary melee, like a Rogue/Thief, is one die lower, and full Casters sit at the bottom of the stack at a d4 or d6.

So, a primary no-magic Melee character should be a d10 or d12; a rogue or Casting Melee should be a d8; a Casting rogue (like a bard) should be a d6, and a full Caster should be either a d4 or d6.
Yes, this makes Casters squishy. As I said, Hit Points are the magic of the fighting Classes.
 

Yora

Hero
Armour question: If four opponents attack the fighter in the same round what happens? He blocks once with AC and gets hit three times for full damage?
I think the old Star Wars d6 system actually does something like this. The number of actions you take in a round affects the difficulty for all those actions, so if you decide to dodge more enemy attacks, you have a harder time succeeding on the other stuff you still want to do that round.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@Yora Clerics get 3, Thieves 2, and Magic-users 1.

@MattW Active defense is the standard rule from the base game. I wanted it to carry over because it makes combat (decisions) more interesting. To nitpick, the mail you mentioned does jack and squat against a mace, doesn't prevent your knee from getting kicked in, and doesn't much prevent someone from ringing your bell. My hope is that armor (and shield) bonuses will give defenders a good chance to negate attacks, but Fighters will still have a distinct advantage with a steady increase in THAKO.

@Marc_C If four (non-defending) opponents attack the fighter, the fighter wants to 1) use her three actions to defend against the heaviest hitter, or 2) use her three actions to disable the most opponents before they can attack. There are lots of options, but fighting four opponents at the same time is generally a bad idea. Also, spending a hero point for 1d6 healing is probably going to be a non-action.
So let me ask, how did the fighter get so badly outnumbered?

@Aelryinth You make a good point - but it's hard to say how many hit points per level are enough for a No-Magic-Melee. As you saw above, I have fighters at 4 (hit points per level), Casting Melee at 3, non-Casting Rogue at 2, and Full Caster at 1. The numbers are, currently, ad-hoc. I could say that the spectrum covers the types of damage dice and their half (or full) values, so maybe a fighter should have 6 hit points per level (half a d12). For reference, here's how the weapons are set up:
d4: tiny or non-weapons
d6: light weapons (easy to carry)
d8: standard weapons (one handers)
d10: heavy weapons (zwei handers)
d12: special
So should the hardiest warrior have (about) four times the hit points of the squishiest caster? Or some other amount?
 

Marc_C

Solo Role Playing
@Marc_C If four (non-defending) opponents attack the fighter, the fighter wants to 1) use her three actions to defend against the heaviest hitter, or 2) use her three actions to disable the most opponents before they can attack. There are lots of options, but fighting four opponents at the same time is generally a bad idea. Also, spending a hero point for 1d6 healing is probably going to be a non-action.
So let me ask, how did the fighter get so badly outnumbered?
4 kobolds maybe? They don't have to be life threatening opponents. It doesn't really matter. I wanted to know more about your system.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@Marc_C If four (non-defending) opponents attack the fighter, the fighter wants to 1) use her three actions to defend against the heaviest hitter, or 2) use her three actions to disable the most opponents before they can attack.
This is fine if the fighter reliably gets to act first, but potentially rather lethal if action order is random, or mixed, or (worst) if the opponents can reliably act first.

If nothing else, having to proactively use an action to get your armour going makes surprise a much bigger factor. Question: does using a shield require a second action to gain its effect? If yes, then sword-and-board becomes very sub-optimal.

In any case, my initial thought is that if armour is to be so much less reliable overall then unless you're specifically after a high-lethality (or very low-combat) game you'll want to jump up the hit point values for all classes. A lot.

A metric for fighters might be the number of hits it'll take for a given weapon to bring them down, and how this number changes as the levels go up, relative to the level. For example, if the average fighter starts at 12 h.p. and a longsword does an average of (I'll round this off for simplicity) 5 points per hit then it's going to take 2.4 hits to knock out a level 1 fighter: a 2.4:1 hit-to-level ratio.

Let's run that fighter up to 10th level. She's only gaining 4 points per level but the average weapon damage is 5 points. She's at 52 h.p. now as a 10th, meaning now it's going to take 10.2 hits to get her to 0, giving a hit/level ration of 10.2:10 - which when reduced means that 2.4:1 hit-to-level ratio has shrunk to close to 1:1. Put another way, the fighter is by this metric getting progressively easier to kill as she gains levels - are you sure that's what you want, when coupled with less-reliable armour? (note this decreasing ratio is a problem with any system where hit points are front-loaded at 1st level)

Compare this with standard D&D and its d10 per level for fighters. Here, the average point gain per level is slightly higher than the average weapon damage, meaning that while the fighter's hit-to-level ratio is much lower at 1st level (6:5, or 1.2:1) it stays there throughout and thus by 10th level outstrips your model above.
There are lots of options, but fighting four opponents at the same time is generally a bad idea. Also, spending a hero point for 1d6 healing is probably going to be a non-action.
So let me ask, how did the fighter get so badly outnumbered?
Bad luck, bad tactics, ambush, or intentionally (e.g. if fighting what appear to be mooks); and over the course of a fighter's career a situation like this is inevitably going to happen numerous times.
So should the hardiest warrior have (about) four times the hit points of the squishiest caster? Or some other amount?
I'm confused - elsewhere you talked about a no-magic system yet here you talk about casters. Which is it?

I ask because if there's casters and if those casters potentially have traditional area-effect damage spells then you might want to jump the casters up just a bit - even making it 1.5 / level instead of 1 / level could make a big difference.
 

Aelryinth

Explorer
@Yora Clerics get 3, Thieves 2, and Magic-users 1.

@MattW Active defense is the standard rule from the base game. I wanted it to carry over because it makes combat (decisions) more interesting. To nitpick, the mail you mentioned does jack and squat against a mace, doesn't prevent your knee from getting kicked in, and doesn't much prevent someone from ringing your bell. My hope is that armor (and shield) bonuses will give defenders a good chance to negate attacks, but Fighters will still have a distinct advantage with a steady increase in THAKO.

@Marc_C If four (non-defending) opponents attack the fighter, the fighter wants to 1) use her three actions to defend against the heaviest hitter, or 2) use her three actions to disable the most opponents before they can attack. There are lots of options, but fighting four opponents at the same time is generally a bad idea. Also, spending a hero point for 1d6 healing is probably going to be a non-action.
So let me ask, how did the fighter get so badly outnumbered?

@Aelryinth You make a good point - but it's hard to say how many hit points per level are enough for a No-Magic-Melee. As you saw above, I have fighters at 4 (hit points per level), Casting Melee at 3, non-Casting Rogue at 2, and Full Caster at 1. The numbers are, currently, ad-hoc. I could say that the spectrum covers the types of damage dice and their half (or full) values, so maybe a fighter should have 6 hit points per level (half a d12). For reference, here's how the weapons are set up:
d4: tiny or non-weapons
d6: light weapons (easy to carry)
d8: standard weapons (one handers)
d10: heavy weapons (zwei handers)
d12: special
So should the hardiest warrior have (about) four times the hit points of the squishiest caster? Or some other amount?
Are there no hit point bonuses for Constitution? Because that will instantly change the ratios.
A no-magic rogue should be as tough as a Casting Melee. Seriously, having no magic means you're tougher. That's why I made the difference between a casting rogue and a non-caster. A rogue with no magic should fight better than a bard who does have it.
1 hp/level is not a lot of difference, equivalent to 1 Feat (toughness). If you think all that magic is only worth one feat, okay then?...
 


GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@Lanefan The fighter can reliably act first A) with a high initiative score or B) on her turn. If A is too low, she can skip her turn, making all of her actions into reactions for the round, and then begin her new turn first in the next round, with the top initiative score.

Using a shield would be included in the defense/parry action, and probably at a bonus similar to, or greater than, the bonus provided by armor...

The hits/level ratio is interesting, but I think more useful for comparing classes than judging whether a fighter becomes harder to kill at higher levels. 52 hit points is objectively harder to kill than 12.

Wading into mooks may well be an OSR situation...but not at low levels. I seem to remember AD&D 2e characters being pretty fragile at low levels. Whether the fighter in question can demolish four mooks once he's achieved a higher level (5 or more?) is a little out of our scope. For now.

I don't think the "elsewhere" to which you refer pertains to this thread. There will definitely be casters in this OSR game, and they will have some nice tools for preventing death-by-goblin-arrows.


@Aelryinth Constitution forms the base of a character's hit points, so each point added to CON increases total HP by one. Currently, fighters are getting one point of both STR and DEX on odd levels, and one point in score-of-choice on even levels. If that score-of-choice is CON, then fighters are getting an extra HP every two levels (in addition to the per-level HP bonus we're discussing).

The non-casting thief is currently just squishy because his AD&D counterpart was. Another reason for that would be to encourage thieves to stay away from combat (meta, I know). A third reason is that I've got them slotted to cost 1/6 less XP per level than clerics. So you get what you pay for. Will the thief fight better than the bard-with-magic? Obviously. Bards suck 🤓 The real answer is I don't know - haven't drawn up a bard yet.


Thinking more about the hit points versus weapon damage - I wonder if it makes sense for HP gain to lag behind weapon damage. Doesn't that have an effect of capping the number of rounds in combat, despite fighting at higher levels? Using Lanefan's numbers... a level 1 fighter lasts one round - three unblocked attacks. The level 10 fighter, 52 HP, takes 10.2 hits, which is four rounds of (defense-lacking) fighting, or 11 actions. Up at 20th level, now 92 HP, is 18.4 hits, or seven rounds of hits / 19 actions... not a significant decline in combat length. For the fighter. The cleric, thief, and magic-user might beg to differ...

Also, I fully expect high level combat(ants) to recognize that fighting a fighter on her terms is a dumb idea...better to cause damage to a different attribute than CON.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@Lanefan The fighter can reliably act first A) with a high initiative score or B) on her turn. If A is too low, she can skip her turn, making all of her actions into reactions for the round, and then begin her new turn first in the next round, with the top initiative score.
The above assumes two things:

1. Cyclic initiative, as opposed to re-rolled or re-determined each round.
2. A delay-action set-up that allows someone to act whenever they want to provided it's after their usual place in the init. order.

Neither of these say "OSR" to me.
Using a shield would be included in the defense/parry action, and probably at a bonus similar to, or greater than, the bonus provided by armor...

The hits/level ratio is interesting, but I think more useful for comparing classes than judging whether a fighter becomes harder to kill at higher levels. 52 hit points is objectively harder to kill than 12.
Indeed, but objectively easier when compared against expectations for other levels.
Wading into mooks may well be an OSR situation...but not at low levels. I seem to remember AD&D 2e characters being pretty fragile at low levels. Whether the fighter in question can demolish four mooks once he's achieved a higher level (5 or more?) is a little out of our scope. For now.
Is it? Remember, whatever system you end up with is going to have to work at all levels, not just the very first few. :) Might as well future-proof it now.
I don't think the "elsewhere" to which you refer pertains to this thread. There will definitely be casters in this OSR game, and they will have some nice tools for preventing death-by-goblin-arrows.
You mention "no-magic melee" in post 7; I took this to mean your system has no magic in it. Mis-read on my part, I guess.
Thinking more about the hit points versus weapon damage - I wonder if it makes sense for HP gain to lag behind weapon damage. Doesn't that have an effect of capping the number of rounds in combat, despite fighting at higher levels?
In theory, yes; but keep in mind it'll also make higher-level melee combats considerably swingier (and thus potentially more lethal) than you might be expecting. In effect, by giving so many h.p. at 1st level and then slowing down the by-level gain you're simply moving some of the usual low-level lethality up to higher levels.

If that's what you want, all is good - but be aware of it. :)
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@Lanefan I'll be using an act-when-you-want initiative system that assigns priority in a cyclical way. That, probably, also does not say OSR :)

Good point about future-proofing. Just curious: did earlier D&D editions run smoothly at high level?

Digressing a bit here, but here's a look at higher-level melee:
Hit point gain happens at Fighter (highest) rate: 9 / 2 levels.
Fighters gain +1 THAKO per level - note that an unblocked attack is an auto-hit
Clerics gain +1 Parry (AC bonus) per level - note that a parry (armor usage) requires an action
STR provides THAKO bonus
DEX provides AC bonus
Each attack (including monsters and magic) tops off at 1d12, although magic might add a few bonus points
Armor and shield bonuses will probably be 1 through 5, so full plate + scutum MIGHT offer +10 to parry
Saving throws are attribute-based, cap at 19 attribute score, are reduced by caster proficiency
...
So a 10th level fighter, with about 55 hit points and an attack bonus of 15, uses plate armor and a large, enchanted shield for an armor bonus of 10 plus another 3 from Dexterity. Also, he gets two bonus actions by level 10, for 5 total. He's surrounded by four expert orc warriors, level 3, with 23 hit points each, great axes (two-handers) that do d12 (6.5) damage, armor bonuses of 4, and 12 actions among them.

One orc can attempt to block all of the fighter's attacks, but at 15 vs. 4, it's likely those defenses will mostly fail. The fighter's sword is at least a d10 (with a class feature that improves a d8 one-hander), so five attacks can probably kill one orc, even if she's defending. The other orcs get 9 unblocked attacks, causing 58 damage, defeating our unimaginative and almost-high-level fighter in one round.

Feel free to tinker with the above stats, but there's quite a bit of nuance left out (like hero points, environment, morale, positioning, etc.). If you see any red flags, let me know!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
@Lanefan I'll be using an act-when-you-want initiative system that assigns priority in a cyclical way. That, probably, also does not say OSR :)

Good point about future-proofing. Just curious: did earlier D&D editions run smoothly at high level?
1e starts to wobble at about 10th level (i.e. name level, which is high for 1e) and can really go off the rails by about 13th, particularly if one is using later add-ons such as UA. With enough kitbashing one can add a couple to those numbers, but diminishing returns rear their heads pretty quick after that.
Digressing a bit here, but here's a look at higher-level melee:
Hit point gain happens at Fighter (highest) rate: 9 / 2 levels.
Fighters gain +1 THAKO per level - note that an unblocked attack is an auto-hit
Clerics gain +1 Parry (AC bonus) per level - note that a parry (armor usage) requires an action
STR provides THAKO bonus
DEX provides AC bonus
Each attack (including monsters and magic) tops off at 1d12, although magic might add a few bonus points
Armor and shield bonuses will probably be 1 through 5, so full plate + scutum MIGHT offer +10 to parry
Saving throws are attribute-based, cap at 19 attribute score, are reduced by caster proficiency
...
So a 10th level fighter, with about 55 hit points and an attack bonus of 15, uses plate armor and a large, enchanted shield for an armor bonus of 10 plus another 3 from Dexterity. Also, he gets two bonus actions by level 10, for 5 total. He's surrounded by four expert orc warriors, level 3, with 23 hit points each, great axes (two-handers) that do d12 (6.5) damage, armor bonuses of 4, and 12 actions among them.

One orc can attempt to block all of the fighter's attacks, but at 15 vs. 4, it's likely those defenses will mostly fail. The fighter's sword is at least a d10 (with a class feature that improves a d8 one-hander), so five attacks can probably kill one orc, even if she's defending. The other orcs get 9 unblocked attacks, causing 58 damage, defeating our unimaginative and almost-high-level fighter in one round.

Feel free to tinker with the above stats, but there's quite a bit of nuance left out (like hero points, environment, morale, positioning, etc.). If you see any red flags, let me know!
The first and biggest red flag I see is that 4 3rd-level Fighters can on average knock over a 10th level Fighter in one round! :) And even if the 10th survives that first round, on average she's got another 6 unblocked attacks coming at her next round for - at a guess - mid-30's total damage.

Even if on average the 4 are going to beat the 1 it should take quite a bit longer than a single round on average, no matter what the system.

Looking a bit more closely (and hoping I understand what's going on) I think the 10th-level Fighter either needs better defense or more hit points...unless you're specifically going for a very flat power curve across the levels, which I admire if that's your intention.

Either that, or anyone who runs this system is going to have to pay close attention to numbers of combatants to avoid having one side significantly outnumber the other, because your example really hammers home that strength in numbers is a big deal here.

One option might be to split out attack actions and defense actions such that instead of just having 5 actions at 10th level you've got, say, three attack actions and three defense actions (or maybe two attack, two defense, and two do-what-you-want). Just spitballin'... :)

What does THAKO stand for in this system? Originally it meant To Hit Armour Class 0 but that doesn't seem to apply here.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Even if on average the 4 are going to beat the 1 it should take quite a bit longer than a single round on average, no matter what the system. . .
I think the 10th-level Fighter either needs better defense or more hit points...unless you're specifically going for a very flat power curve across the levels, which I admire if that's your intention.
A flattened power curve isn't my specific intention, but it would be nice. Numbers should matter: a unit of spearmen should be able to dissuade an attacking gorgon (oliphaunt?), even if there's a big level discrepancy.

Having played this base system before, I can tell you that a single round is much more involved than a D&D round of, "You hit. You miss. OK move. You hit. He hits you." So it's not like our theoretical fighter is dying in six seconds flat. It's closer to the AD&D round of 10 minutes, with more engagement. . .

That said, the 10th level fighter (currently) has more tools at her disposal that could push the battle into another round or two. First and foremost are her 10 daily hero points, which are good for d6-d10 healing each, although self-healing takes an action. Some perks that could make a difference: diehard (damage reduction with hero points), rage (cause more damage with hero points), and off the mark (more likely to get initiative priority). And the fighter gets certain bonuses and penalties depending on alignment.

Either that, or anyone who runs this system is going to have to pay close attention to numbers of combatants to avoid having one side significantly outnumber the other, because your example really hammers home that strength in numbers is a big deal here.
I have some ideas for managing numbers:

1) Morale rules. I don't want to get too crazy with these, but fighting-to-the-death and when-outnumbered are problems. Something simple would be: NPC flees at half health.
2) Henchmen. If you have fighting henchmen, you can use them to keep from being outnumbered. That does mean they will be in harm's way though...
One option might be to split out attack actions and defense actions such that instead of just having 5 actions at 10th level you've got, say, three attack actions and three defense actions (or maybe two attack, two defense, and two do-what-you-want). Just spitballin'... :)
Great minds... everyone gets three actions (which are supposed to be an attack, defense, and movement for smart NPCs). Your additional actions depend on your class, and obviously, the fighter's additional action choices are fight (attack) and parry.
What does THAKO stand for in this system? Originally it meant To Hit Armour Class 0 but that doesn't seem to apply here.
To Hit And Kill Others. Old-school sound, new-school usage.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
A flattened power curve isn't my specific intention, but it would be nice. Numbers should matter: a unit of spearmen should be able to dissuade an attacking gorgon (oliphaunt?), even if there's a big level discrepancy.

Having played this base system before, I can tell you that a single round is much more involved than a D&D round of, "You hit. You miss. OK move. You hit. He hits you." So it's not like our theoretical fighter is dying in six seconds flat. It's closer to the AD&D round of 10 minutes, with more engagement. . .
Er.....an AD&D combat round was one minute. An exploration turn was ten minutes. Both rounds and turns were used to define spell durations, depending on the spell.
That said, the 10th level fighter (currently) has more tools at her disposal that could push the battle into another round or two. First and foremost are her 10 daily hero points, which are good for d6-d10 healing each, although self-healing takes an action. Some perks that could make a difference: diehard (damage reduction with hero points), rage (cause more damage with hero points), and off the mark (more likely to get initiative priority).
Ah, OK. Helpful to know this. :)
And the fighter gets certain bonuses and penalties depending on alignment.
But I'm not so sure about this. If this ends up systematically favouring one alignment over another, whether it be for PCs or NPCs, count me out in a hurry.
I have some ideas for managing numbers:

1) Morale rules. I don't want to get too crazy with these, but fighting-to-the-death and when-outnumbered are problems. Something simple would be: NPC flees at half health.
But PCs don't get this, so the DM still has to be careful not to outnumber the PCs too badly.
2) Henchmen. If you have fighting henchmen, you can use them to keep from being outnumbered. That does mean they will be in harm's way though...
And it means players have to be aware that henches are useful. IME this is rare.
To Hit And Kill Others. Old-school sound, new-school usage.
Gotcha. :)
 

MattW

Explorer
How does this fighter survive against missile weapons? A moderately-intelligent opponent is going to throw darts, or axes, or daggers, etcetera.

Let's say the fighter encounters a squad of 5 kobolds. They throw 10 darts before he can close into melee range. Can he only defend against 3 darts?
 

Aelryinth

Explorer
LEt me point out something.
You are making combat involved, with a lot of dice rolling, with all these defense and parry and whatnot actions. That's not OSR. OSR was pretty plain, with only how to do initiative, and the optional weapon speed and vs. AC table slowing it down... and they were optional.

A fighter having more defense rolls is, mathematically, the same thing as the fighter having more hit points. The fighter having more attacks is the same thing as the fighter doing more damage per attack.

I understand that you want to make numbers important, and you probably like the concept of bounded accuracy, and little guys still able to hurt big guys.

But you are introducing a LOT of dice rolling, which slows down play. So you might want to think about that a bit harder, and have all these extra attacks a more 'hardcore' version of what you are trying to do.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Let's say the fighter encounters a squad of 5 kobolds. They throw 10 darts before he can close into melee range. Can he only defend against 3 darts?
Two things, before the technical answer:

  • Health/max Con damage is a form of defense. The act of taking damage, and not dying, can play out as "defending" if the PC wants it.
  • It's on the GM, but also the PC, to say "kobold darts are not any significant threat to you, so we're not rolling damage," like when the PC is in plate armor or behind a large shield. However, since damage includes stamina-damage, taking "damage" from darts still effectively reduces the fighter's life expectancy, even if none of them pierce any armor or skin.

So yes, if the fighter closes on the kobolds (who haven't used any actions in the round), all five can react to throw a dart, and the fighter takes damage from all five darts (because his current action is moving, not parrying). The fighter has two actions left (if level 4 or below, gaining a fourth action at level 5). He can go on the offensive and attack one or two kobolds up close with those actions, or if wanting to show off, can reserve those actions for parrying against two darts later in the round. Note that using hero points to heal might actually be a better choice than parrying, because a dart does d4 damage, and a heal action recovers d6 damage. Also note that readying a weapon costs one action, so the kobolds will do significantly less throwing if they don't already have two darts in hand, each.

How I would do it (attack five puny, yet mean, kobolds with darts): use one action to move to cover. With initiative, this would allow dart attacks, but the distance would reduce those attacks to minimum (1) damage. Use another action to hide near a choke point, so no more than one or two kobolds could reach me at a time. Use final action to wait until wandering kobolds reach sword-range and attack. Non-actions would include whistling to draw them in.

Approach 2: try to drain their ammo by inviting attacks. Use a parry action to attempt to evade -all- incoming darts for one action - a little song and dance? The difficulty of this parry is higher than that of a single dart, but with good armor, dex, or parry skill (for defensive classes), five kobolds could suddenly find their hands empty and an angry fighter charging at them.

Also, think about how this situation would play out in cinema, not typical RPG: fighter pops his head out from cover, 5 darts fly at him. Fighter ducks back behind cover and makes witty comment to nearby ally.
 

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