Samuel Bennett of Tales of the Lunar Lands wrote two neat blog posts about bar brawls in TTRPGs. I couldn’t agree more with “In a way, bar brawls could be considered a sort of mini-sandbox” – so here are some mechanics I personally use to spice up tavern-centered conflict! These rules are pretty generic, and can be bolted on to D&D 5e, B/X, Into the Odd without any issue.
These rules strive to capture the tone of wild barfight: the piano player stopping his tune the moment the first punch lands, pausing for a moment, and then continuing as everyone in the bar starts to air their grievances in a violent percussive manner.
Therefore, all blows are assumed to be non-lethal.
Anything is a weapon!
- Small items such as bottles deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
- Medium items such as chairs deal 1d8 bludgeoning damage.
- Large items such as benches deal 1d10 bludgeoning damage.
An improvised weapon breaks once it deals its max damage: A bottle breaks when rolling a 6 on its d6, a chair when rolling an 8, etc.
Throwing Improvised Weapons
Improvised weapons can also be thrown. You do not apply proficiency.
- Small items use DEX, deal 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and have a range of 20/30.
- Medium items use DEX or STR, deal 1d8 bludgeoning damage and have a range of 15/25.
- Large items use STR, deal 1d10 bludgeoning damage and have a range of 10/20.
Want to do something flashy and cool that’s not within the rules? The DM decides the relevant skill and DC. Roll twice; if you succeed twice, it goes as planned, if you succeed once, it succeeds partially, if you fail twice, it goes wrong in a horrible way and then some.