[RPG] Melee Combat in Moldvay’s D&D Basic


I'm working on a CRPG, written in Python, that will hopefully re-create some of the fun from the original D&D Basic Set (Moldvay's 1981 red-box edition), and so I'm getting into some pretty nitty-gritty details on how the system works…

For the combat system, I'm designing the game engine to allow each character to move and fight within his or her game turn (in this case, one combat round). When I get into the numerous possibilities and player positions during combat, things are getting complicated, and I'm hoping to get some help from those on this site that know this system better than I do.

Right now, I'm following Moldvay's combat rules per the guidebook, using party-based initiative rules (so, if the character party wins initiative, all characters get a full combat round – ten seconds – to move, perhaps draw a sword or bow, get into position, and attack.) The monster group doesn't get to do anything until the party is done moving and attacking.

This seems simple enough until you get into the details of it. One instance, one possible combat scenario, I'm not sure how to handle the following:

  1. The party encounters a group of monsters that are 100' feet away. Some initial attempt is made to resolve this encounter peacefully, but it fails. Combat ensues. The Party wins initiative and gets to move first.

  2. One party member, call him Fighter A, moves into a better position to fire his bow and arrow at the most formidable opponent, an evil magic-user of unknown level or power. While getting into position, Fighter A moved within 5 feet of another monster. He chooses this spot as the best place to launch an arrow at the magic-user.

My question is, in this example, is Fighter A allowed to launch an arrow at the magic-user in the distance (still 45' away) EVEN THOUGH this Fighter A is within melee range of another enemy creature? To put it another way, if a character gets within melee range of a monster, is he (or she) locked into melee combat at that point and unable to launch a distance attack?

I LOVE Moldvay rules because they get the fun of the game up and running so quickly, but when you put a magnifying glass over it, there are a lot of questions as to how this should work.

I'm hoping there are some die-hard old school fans out there that may have the answer to this. Thanks for your help, in advanced!

Best Answer

While it could be written clearer, on page B24; Defensive Movement it seems clear to me that once a character is melee range, they are in melee and that their only option is to attack. Unless they want to do one of the defensive movements to get out of melee after which they can cast spells or fire missile weapons.

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