Lorica – Swords and Wizardry with Big Shiny Machines

A couple years ago, I started working on a big machine (read mechs or hovertanks)  game based loosely on 2e. Since I have changed systems once again to S&W, I finally found the muse to finish the project.

I have lots of machines made and a good process to make them. Four of them, stated for S&W, are included in this post.

Tonight, I have a combat sequence.

It is short, sweet and based directly on Alternate Method No. 3 from Swords and Wizards Complete. The following text is entirely OGL. Sec 15 for the purposes of this post is:

Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules, Copyright 2010, Matthew J. Finch
Lorica - Swords and Wizardry with Big Shiny Machines, Copyright 2013, John Payne

Combat Sequence for Lorica

Note: this is a based on the Alternate Combat Sequence Method No. 3 in the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules.

The combat round is divided into 10 segments of 6 seconds each. Each individual machine rolls a d10 for initiative. The result represents which segment of the first round the machine moves or takes any other action. A roll of 0 (zero) represents the 10th segment, the last segment of a combat round.

Every subsequent round, the machine moves (or takes an action) at intervals of six segments. The machines base movement rate and/or hull points remaining modify the 6 segment interval. In general, faster and healthier machine can sometimes attack more than once in a combat round.

Base Modifier to the 6-segment interval

8 - Base Movement Rate

Other Modifiers to the 6-segment interval

At three-quarters hull points: +1

At one-half hull points: +3

At one-quarter hull points: +5

Add the modifiers to the base number of 6 segments to see how many segments it will be until the machine can take action again. For example, a light machine with a base movement rate of 10 at full hull points will take its next action in 4 segments. The standard 6 segments is adjusted down by 2 segments ( 8 – base movement rate of 10) . There is no adjustment for full hull points.

The overall result of this system is to allow lightly-armored and faster machines (or opponents) to make more attacks, over the course of the combat, than those who are heavily armored or wounded. To balance this out, very fast machines quickly lose their advantage when hit. For example, the fastest machines in these rules (STADES and STADES II) have a Base Movement Rate of 12, but only 50 hull points. One hit from a 125mm Mass Drive Cannon will likely change their interval rate from 2 segments to 5.

Standing Rules for Combat

  • Regardless of a machines interval rate, missiles can only be fired once per combat round.

  • On the first segment of every round, before any other action is taken, all anti-missile defense systems fire for machines equipped with them. The effects of anti-missile systems last for the entire combat round.


Normal Movement is Base Movement Rate * 300 yards per round or Base Movement Rate * 10 miles per hour.

Combat Movement is Base Movement Rate * 150 yards per round.

Using a Hexmap

This system makes each hex 150 yards. It's a bit of an odd size, but it works for me. Let me know what you think. I tend to avoid using a map and/or minis if I can help it. Still, it is useful to determine distances for some weapons and relieves the DM from having to mentally guesstimate those distances.

Stat Blocks for Machines

Scouts (fastest)


HP: 50; AC 4 [15]; Atk Long Range Missiles (1d6*4), Short Range Missiles  (1d8*6), Form II Laser (1d12); Move 12; Mass 104 tons; Cost  798,600 Kr ;Special: SAMD-1 (Missile Defense 14).


HP: 50; AC 4 [15]; Atk Long Range Missiles (1d6*4), Short Range Missiles  (1d8*6), 50mm Recoilless (2d6); Move 12; Mass 105 tons; Cost  782,400 Kr ;Special: SAMD-1 (Missile Defense 14).

Light Combat


HP: 60; AC 3 [16]; Atk Short Range Missiles  (1d12*6), 125 mm Railgun (4d10), Form III Laser (2d8); Move 8 ; Mass 152 tons; Cost  1,032,800 Kr ; Special: SAMD-2 (Missile Defense 24).

Medium Combat


HP: 90; AC 1 [18]; Atk Short Range Missiles  (1d12*6), 2 * Long Range Missiles (2d8 * 4), 100 mm Recoiless (4d6), Form VII Laser (4d8); Move 6 ; Mass 234 tons; Cost  1.277,800 Kr ; Special: SAMD-5 (Missile Defense 84).

Heavy Combat


HP: 90; AC 0 [19]; Atk 2 * Short Range Missiles  (1d20*6), 2 * Long Range Missiles (1d10 * 4), 275 mm Railgun (9d12), Form IV Laser (2d10); Move 4 ; Mass 354 tons; Cost  1,795,300 Kr ; Special: SAMD-4 (Missile Defense 60).


Lorica Combat Sketch

You've seen three mechs/tanks, now to talk about combat a little.

There are two ways to go about it; one way requires no mini, markers, counters, or anything else physical, the other way requires a battlemat, terrain, markers, minis and a lot of time to discuss the effects of facing on targets accessible my missile attacks.

It almost goes without saying that I'm going to talk about the former method.

When combat begins, it is assumed that the two opposing teams are 20 units apart. This means that only long range lasers can successfully hit from this range. Each mech/tank chooses a tactic and one or more targets (choosing a single target is easier.)

Combat with Lorica occurs in three stages. The first stage is the Tactical Stage. This is the time that players announce their intended action. Some choices include, but are not limited to: Maintaining Missile Range, Charging, Withdraw, Warning Shot and Melee Fighting. These actions provide a bonus of some kind to attack or defense and determine the distance between two individual mechs/tanks. If two mechs/tanks charge each other, add the two movement rates and subtract the total from 20. If other tactics or chosen, the tactic's description will detail how the new distance is calculated.

An opposed roll determines who succeeds. The lowest roll wins and distance will be determined by the winner's tactic.

The second stage is rolling a d12 for initiative. Again, lowest roll wins. The first stage may or may not modify the roll. If there are more than two teams fighting, initiative occurs in the order of initiative rolls from lowest to highest.

The third stage resolve combat. The winner of initiative goes first. Each weapon (if more than one) is resolved with a to hit roll in weapon speed order. Modifiers from the first stage may or may not affect the to hit roll. As is true in the fantasy rules of Andras, a d20 is rolled against a target number determined by AC + Modifiers. A roll equal to or below the target number is a success. On a successful hit, damage is rolled.

The next team does the same process, still in weapon speed order.

I am still working through details for the Tactical Stage. Many of the tactics will be similar to those used in naval combat, air combat, melee combat, etc. Once these are detailed, the rules will inform other forms of combat as well.

Just to provide a couple more mechs/tanks...

Here are Scout units. They are basically designed for speed and evasion.


Engine 1300 MASS 104 tons
HP 600

AC 4 AAC 15
MV 12

COST 798,600

Weapons Range Power Mass Damage
Form II 20 8 3 4+1d8
LR(6) 10 1 10 1d6 x 4
SR(8) 6 1 10 1d8 x 6
SAMD-1 0 5 6 14

They are not going to win in a fight, but they will move very, very fast.

Name Mard

Engine 1500 MASS 220 tons
HP 1080

AC 1 AAC 18
MV 6

COST 1,335,600

Weapons Range Power Mass Damage
Form IV 20 12 5 12+1d8
Form IV 20 12 5 12+1d8
Form VII 20 21 8 24+1d8
LR(10) 10 2 16 1d10 x 4
LR(10) 10 2 16 1d10 x 4
SR(12) 6 2 15 1d12 x 6
SR(12) 6 2 15 1d12 x 6
SAMD-5 0 21 20 84

The Mard succeeds with overwhelming fire power. It has capable weapons at every combat range, extreme (lasers), long range missiles and short-range missiles. The only thing it is missing is an axe.

A 2e Look at Shields

I say that this is 2e, it should be more accurately stated as a look at my 2e-inspired clone.

There is discussion going around the OSR blogosphere about shields. I happened upon the discussion at Jeff's site where he mentions J.D. Higgins elegant solution. Further comments discuss Trollsymth's shields shall be splintered rule and Stuart from Robertson Games' revision of the AC table.

THAC0 Forever brings up the fact that 2e lists four different kinds of shields and his solution reflects varying AC benefits based on the type of shield. The effect reflects shield benefits in the 2e PHB:

Bucklers are+1 AC, protected from one attack per round.
Small shields are+1 AC, protected from two frontal attacks per round.
Medium shields are+1 AC, protected from any frontal and flank attacks in a round.
Body shields are+1 AC melee and +2 against missiles, protected from any frontal, flank and side attacks in a round.

Since one the goals of my 2e-inspired clone is faster combat, I don't like these options as I am getting into facing issues and arguments about what is and isn't a flank attack. As such, I am thinking more along the lines of JD's solution.

In the 2e PHB, there are a lot more armors. A couple are dubious historically, namely ring mail and splint mail. There are also two extra versions of plate mail, field and full. Both are accurately described as very expensive and difficult to get into. For adventurers, an extra +1 or +2 AC for those that can afford these made-to-fit and hugely expensive armors makes them less practical. To add even more complexity, bronze plate is also listed.

So, the chart will reflect all the various kinds of armors except bronze plate mail. Field and full plate are included only for completeness, I really wouldn't allow any PC to use field and full because of the time required to put these suits on.

Type of Armor AC Rating
Unarmored 10
Leather or padded armor 9
Studded leather or ring mail 8
Brigandine, scale mail, hide armor or shield only 7
Leather, padded armor or ring mail + shield 6
Studded leather, hide armor, brigandine or scale mail + shield or Chain mail 5
Banded mail, splint mail 4
Splint, banded, or chain mail + shield, plate mail 3
Plate Mail + shield or Field Plate 2
Field Plate + Shield or Full Plate 1
Full Plate + shield 0

Much of the chart remains the same at the 2e PHB. The differences are that leather, padded, studded leather and hide armors got a +3 benefit from shields. Splint, Ring, Scale and Chain mail (along with Brigandine) only received a +2 AC benefit. Banded and all plate mails only recieved a +1 AC benefit.

Bucklers can only provide a +1 AC bonus maximum. They also are not subject to the shields must be splintered rule.
Small shields provide normal bonuses as listed above and can be used once to grant a saving throw against an Evocation spell or breath weapon. A shield can also absorb all damage from a non-magical attack. After granting the benefit, the shield is unusable and the AC bonus is lost.
Medium shields provide the normal bonuses listed above and can be used twice to grant a saving throw against an Evocation spell or breath weapon. It can also be used to absorb all non-magical damage as stated above twice. A medium shields can only provide two benefits (like saving throw versus fireball once and absorb all non-magical damage from an attack once). After granting two benefits, the shield is unusable and the AC bonus is lost.
Tower shields are like above, but grant four benefits.

Magic shields grant their plus in AC bonus and one addition benefit per plus under the shields shall be splintered rule.

My two cents. What do other folks, especially 2e players think?