Saturday, 26 December 2009

Saturday Night Fight Club - Aerial Combat!

Chocks away, Ginger! Bandits at twelve o’clock!

Ah yes, aerial combat. How we love to think about it, but how many of us actually do it?

Anyway, here are our contenders:


AC 3
HD 7 (average hp 31.5)
Move 30”
Manoeuvrability class C
No of atts 1-4/1-4/2-16
No special attacks or defences
THAC0 – 13, therefore needs a 12 to hit the sphinx and a 10 to hit the wyvern


AC 1
HD 9 (average hp 40.5)
Move 9”/36”
Manoeuvrability class D
3 atts 2-8/2-8/1-10
THAC0 - 12, therefore needs a 9 to hit the griffon and the same for the wyvern


HD 7+7 (average hp 38.5)
Move 24”
Manoeuvrability class E
2 atts 2-16 and 1-6 + poison sting.
THAC0 12, therefore needs an 11 to hit the sphinx and a 9 to hit the griffon.

What I’ll do is pit the first two against each other and the survivor can go up against the wyvern. Not too sure what to do about the manoeuvrability factors – perhaps the best class gives the monster first attack. Yeah – that should do.

Okay, here we go!

Griffon spots hieracosphinx and swoops to attack.

His attack rolls are 6,16 and 9. Hits with one claw attack, damage of 2

Sphinx turns and fights back. Nyeeeeeow! Dakka-dakka-dakka (sorry)

Attack rolls of 9, 18 and 3 – two claws hit, beak missed. Damage of 4 and 7

End of round 1, the griffon is down to 20, the sphinx is down to 38.

Round 2

The griffon, a nippier flier comes in for another pass

Rolls 12, 18 and 3 – two claws hit. Damage of 1 and 3.

The sphinx replies with 18,19 and 5 – two claws rip into the griffon. Damage of 4 and 6.

End of round 2, the griffon is taking a pasting, limping badly on 10, the sphinx is mildly perturbed by the fact it’s down to 34.

Round 3 – despite its wounds, the griffon swoops in again. Roll the attack dice:

8,13,and 2 – one claw rakes the sphinx. It takes 1 damage.

Sphinx fights back. It rolls 11,11 and finally a 15 to hit with that beak. Damage of 3,5 and 9 – the griffon goes sailing towards the ground with blood and feathers in its wake.

Pretty emphatic, that one.

Okay, so it’s time for the sphinx to go up against the wyvern. I’ll make it fairer and allow the sphinx to return to base before the call to scramble comes through.

The sphinx takes to the air. Soon, the black silhouette of the wyvern is spotted against the sky. Battle is joined. As unwieldy a kite as the sphinx is, it’s still more manoeuvrable than the wyvern, and it hurtles in to attack. Angels One Five and all that.

Attack rolls 9,19 and 3 – claws rake the slower monster. Damage of 5 and 5. The wyvern is rattled but fights back. His attack rolls are 12 and 16. He’s hit with both his weapons, damage of 13 from the bite and 2 from the stinger. Plus the sphinx has to save vs. poison. He’s a 9HD monster, so his save will be 8 or better. He rolls a 15.

So at the end of round 1, the wyvern is down to 28, the sphinx is down to 25.

Round 2, the sphinx attacks again. Attack rolls of 14,2 and 13. Claw and bite. Damage of 5 and 7.

The wyvern swings round to strike. He rolls 14 and 2. He bites home for 10 damage but his deadly stinger misses.

End of round 2 and the sphinx has 15 hp left, the wyvern is still there on 16. Even Stevens.

Round 3 – the sphinx is not going to let this one go. He goes in for the attack again.

Attack dice – 4,20,18 – claw and bite, with damage of 6 and 9. The wyvern is down to one hit point but let’s see if he can even the score.

He rolls an 18 and a 12 – hits with both weapons. 10 damage from the bite and 5 damage from the stinger. The sphinx makes his save vs. poison but unfortunately he’s run out of hit points. The ground beckons; (perhaps we can be indulgent on this gallant fighter, as it is Christmas and say that he manages to glide to a bumpy but soft landing and get picked up by androsphinx ground crew). But the wyvern is left on one hit point and may make a prime target for scavengers, out for a quick kill.

So, in summary, the griffon, although the most manoeuvrable of the three, just didn’t have the hit points or the THAC0 to land the blows required on the sphinx when it could have counted. The sphinx v wyvern contest was much more evenly matched with that stinger hitting a couple of times and only the sphinx’s high HD giving it the good saving throw that it needed. However, that ferocious bite that the wyvern used so effectively finally told the day – but by only 1 hp.

Until next Saturday Night - happy flying!


  1. Excellent. The second round was very evenly matched.

  2. Hello!

    I'm also raising the next gen of old-time gamers, and I have a question for you. We decided that PCs shouldn't have a ton of HP (they stopped fearing things) and made their HP more realistic. Now they are going to be fighting on dragonback, and my concern is: how do I conduct the battles without killing off the PCs? Help!

  3. Fighting on dragonback, eh? That's not something that I've done much of, so my best piece of advice is to see if you can seek out the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik. They're set in a version of our world where dragons live alongside humans and fight in the Napoleonic wars. There is plenty of good detail in there about the technicalities of harnesses, seating, crew specifics and a huge dollop of aerial combat involving our scaly friends. And it's a jolly good read.

    FWIW, I also agree with you about the HP situation; I know that some DMs start 1st level characters off on maximum hit points but this seems not quite right to me.

  4. Sorry about taking so long to check back! I'll check those books out for ideas. Thanks for the tip! The difficult thing for me is all the variables that come with different heights, speed factors, maneuvering, etc.

    After a couple of battles with orcs and trolls the whole gang petitioned to have their old HPs back, so..... it's about the socialization, right? Ha!

    Still, the kiddos and hubby want to get back to the dragon battle soon. I've been stalling them with an Underdark campaign with another set of characters, but the waiting won't last.

    Fun fun fun! BTW, I enjoy your blog.