Brax Ironforge: “With modifiers I roll a 14!”
GM: “You miss by one. Next attacker…”
Not exactly inspiring stuff, but that’s where most GMs and players started and some even stayed. As a GM you set the tone for your world. Adding details of combat can make your world come alive, and you can encourage your players to add their own detail. Both players and the GM can combine creativity with game mechanics to make for more colorful combat.
Let’s rework the previous example above with a little more creativity on both sides:
Brax Ironforge: “I call on my god as I swing Moridan’s Fist with all my might; with mods I roll a 14!”
GM: “The orc’s eyes shine with fear as he covers his face with his wooden shield. His shield absorbed the blow. You missed by one.”
Sometimes, even when there’s a miss, the GM can make players actions count so they feel involved and engaged. This is especially effective if the dice seem to be against a particular player and they’re feeling frustrated. After all, part of GM’s job is to make sure everyone has fun or they may not fill seats at the gaming table.
Brax Ironforge: “I swing Moridan’s Fist with all my might; with mods I roll a 14!”
GM: “The orc’s eyes shine with fear as he covers his face with his wooden shield. His shield absorbed the blow since you missed by one, BUT, since you used the “Fist” roll for damage on the shield.”
Brax Ironforge: “With strength and magic bonuses, it’s a 13.”
GM: “The orc’s small wooden shield has a hardness of 5 and has 7 hit points, so it splinters and breaks down the middle. His armor class is now lower by one.”
The same could be reversed against a player, within reason of course. (It would be highly improbable for a kobold to break a knight’s tower shield for example.)
Other embellishing options might include a larger creature knocking someone over with a mighty blow or using a kick instead of a fist.
GM: “The hill giant rolls a 19; he raises his left foot and kicks you square in the chest with his heel. Your banded armor crunches under his foot, you feel like your ribs were rearranged as your breath is forced out, 11 points of damage. Roll a reflex save or fall backward, DC11 (from the eleven points of damage).
Kallon Trueheart: “I try to backpedal as fast as I can to absorb the shock, and roll a 13!”
It would be unwise to pack every round of combat full of extra rolls and asides, but sprinkled in judiciously can add some tasty flavor to an otherwise bland and crunchy game.