House Rules for missiles into Melee

So I’ve really been digging into the core rulebook as I consider the possibility of transitioning my 4E group over to ACKS. I know, without a shadow of a doubt that certain characters are going to want to fire missiles into melee regardless of whether or not they have the Precise shooting proficiency. Basically, we play a game where if its something their character could conceivably try, we allow the attempt and adjudicate it best as we can. In this case, there’s no physical reason an arrow or slingstone could not be loosed into the midst of melee, so saying “it’s not allowed” would feel very jarring for us. So this is what I’m thinking (totally in the rough phase), please give feedback.

First, missile fire into melee is allowed with no restrictions when all participants in the melee are enemy combatants. A random roll based on the number of participants will decide who is the target and an attack throw will then be made as normal. (my players are notorious for inciting violence between two enemy groups)

Second, assuming a one on one melee between an enemy combatant and an ally, the missile attack may be made with a -4 to hit modifier as with precise shooting. However, a miss against the enemy combatant means an automatic hit against the ally (I want this to be a very risky maneuver with somewhat predictable negative results). Damage is rolled as normal for the weapon. The ally combatant is then allowed a saving throw vs. breath for half the rolled damage (rounded down). Any allies with the acrobatic proficiency gain a +2 to this saving throw.

These rules would also exist in the reverse, such that monsters could fire into melee while risking their allies to take a hit. Monsters of 4HD+ or higher whose main attacks were missile attacks would be assumed to have the precise shooter proficiency.

Sounds quite workable. Since the hit’s automatic, maybe allow the unintended target to add his AC to the save?

That might be a good idea. Was also thinking to add dex modifier to the save. Maybe I’ll do AC instead. :slight_smile:

The hit doesn’t really HAVE to be automatic, but I like the idea of telling the player something along the lines of “You can shoot into melee without precise shooting, but you better not miss, or you buddies gonna take the hit.”

Then it kind of makes it a team thing. Is the ally willing to take that risk, to trust his compatriot with perhaps his life? It makes for a lot of tension if you leave the decision up to the player. If it’s not auto hit, then they can make the decision hoping for a miss to miss both combatants and that feels like less tension and shooting into melee seems like it should be fraught with tension.

Either way, but AC seems more like it to me. He’s probably facing away from the shooter, in the ‘classic’ case where this occurs, so if there’s going to be a miss its because the armor stops it rather than that he dodged it.

But you can argue that one either way. In any case I like the idea of the auto-hit for just the reason you give.

I like the rule for this from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. If I recall, if firing into a melee, you have an equal chance of hitting anyone in the melee (so with two individuals in the melee, you have 50% chance of hitting the one you want.) But for each round spent aiming, whoever you’re aiming at counts double. So with two individuals, you’d have a 66% chance of hitting the right one after a round spent aiming. Two rounds spent aiming, and it increases to a 75% chance, etc.

That’s an interesting way to do it. Can’t say I like it but it’s interesting. I like the binary nature of the Precise Shooting proficiency in ACKS. Basically, you’re either good enough to pick a melee target or you’re not. Standing there with a bow drawn for a long period of time would actually serve to worsen your aim, not improve it, specially with the recurve bows of the era. Compound bows like have today mitigate that somewhat by decreased the draw weight near the end of the draw. I could see a workable tweak though. Perhaps if a shooter was willing to delay his initiative in the round, in order to give him just a few extra seconds of aiming, you could do something like this.

I am using a different house rule for shooting into melee. When you shoot into a melee, it is likely that you are going to hit someone, so you roll one d20 for each combatant in the melee. Then, take the highest roll, apply your modifiers, and compare the result to the AC of the target of that die. I find it simple, and it creates some tension with the rolls.
With feats like precise shooting, you gain a -4 to the attacks on your allies.

I like this. Rolling for each and taking the highest kind of simulates how different combatants might enter into your aim. It also does as you say and creates some great tension. I like it!

And, as I’m thinking about it, I may actually allow someone with precise shooting proficiency play it this way as well. That would simulate the difficulty of hitting a specific target but if you CHOOSE not to aim at a specific target, you may have a better chance of hitting SOMETHING, and maybe that something will be an enemy. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

I actually got out my old compound bow from when I was in archery as a teen and based on what I expect to be a typical distance 20-40 feet, I feel it would be very realistic to take a shot at an enemy combatant in melee. Certainly it would be difficult and the risk would exist to hit an ally, but to make it “not allowed” doesn’t seem justified.