Thursday, January 18, 2018

Coshing, It Is All the Rage

I was reading through an adventure module from the olden days, The Mines of Keridav written by Kerry Lloyd for Phoenix Games back in 1979. I had hair back then. A lot of it.

While I was reading this relic I found a section on coshing.

Nope, wrong cosh. That's Kosh.

Ah no, that may be a cosh, but not correct one.

There we go, that beauty above was used by press gangs for the Royal Navy back in the day. That look vicious.

So coshing is basically bopping someone in the head and knocking them out. A non-lethal way to subdue someone without a lot of noise.

Umm, not the same thing. Close. Just put the metal baton in Spock's hand and have him club the guy over the head. That would be more accurate. But thank you Spock for the demonstration.

In the Mines of Keridav there is a small section about the mechanics of coshing someone. The adventure is written for Runequest I believe so it may reflect that, but the mechanics could be used universally. Instead of quoting from the adventure I scanned the section.

Click it to make it big. I find the mechanic good for back then, but today I am sure GMs would add a opposing contest of skills. Stealth vs. Perception kind of thing. And then the component for knocking someone out has a lot to do with the hear gear worn.

I like the idea of a non-lethal form of combat. In 1970s shows there was always a lot of coshing going on. Whap someone in the back of the head, they would catch them for some reason, probably to reduce the noise, lay them on the ground or stash them out of sight and then continue on.

Here's the problem I have with it, in my game, if the players can do it, so can the NPCs. Can you imagine a 5th level fight standing guard gets knocked out with one blow. The outrage. The cries of injustice. The throw of dice and tantrums. And that's just me. I would need to change it up if I planned to use coshing in my game.

Here's what I would do. The base of success would not be determined by the helmet, but by the character's saving throw. I think this is a mechanic that fits well with the use of a saving throw. I mainly play games were there is single save, but if you play a game with more than one type of save you can just pick the best fit. Then I would give bonuses to the save based on the helmet. Say +1 for a coif, +2 for leather helm, +3 for a metal helm. Keeping it simple. And if the head protection has magical bonus I would add that in also. So wearing a +1 coif would provide +2 to your save vs. coshing.

Let me know what you thing and if you know of any other 'knock out' mechanics in games, please let me know.