Taunting (Alternative Reaction System)

"Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!"

[Here is a charming little sub-system to add flavor and a non-combat option for characters to attack foes.]

The reaction rule in B/X is based on the premise that a negotiating character or group wants to have a positive interaction with an encountered individual or group, not wasting time and effort and resources on the risk of battle.

This is not always true.

In fact, sometimes an individual or group wants to trigger an averse reaction. Angry foes make stupid mistakes. In a situation where the side that swings first is penalized by law, it’s helpful to have some fighting words. When a cautious foe might look for signs of an ambush or trap, focusing attention can be tactically helpful. And, sometimes, mockery is just fun.

Roll 2d6.Modifiers are assigned before the roll.

  • Surroundings. The DM can assign up to +2 or -2 for circumstances.
  • Peer Pressure. The DM can assign up to +2 or -2 for peers who are calming or goading response.
  • Playing. The DM can assign up to +2 or -2 for any role-played taunt the players share in-character.
  • Language barrier. The DM can assign up to -2 for language and culture barriers.




2 Humiliation. The taunt was so ineffective the targets find it cute, and can mock the taunters; immediately re-roll, subjecting the taunter to the result. (Getting a second 2 turns the taunting to camaraderie and mutual amusement.) Any bonus is eliminated for subsequent taunts.
3-6 Lame. The taunting is ineffective, and the target is mildly amused. The taunter appears rude and stupid to onlookers. Any bonus is eliminated for subsequent taunts.
7-9 Annoying. Schoolyard effort to needle target seems childish, but mildly clever and irritating. -1 morale, DM may allow a morale test.
10-11 Provocative.Fighting words. The target must save vs. spells to resist responding, verbally or otherwise. Or, -2 morale, DM may allow a morale test.
12 Infuriating.Hit the hot button, said precisely the very bestwrong thing. The target must save vs. spells not to immediately attack the taunter; on a successful save, must respond as provocative. If they attack, they are at -1 to hit—but +1 damage.
  • Abysmal. Results below 2 are noted—the “negative result” is a penalty on further rolls.
  • Hilarious. Results above 12 are noted—the “excess result” is a bonus on further rolls in that situation or against those targets in the future (if the player cares to track the bonus.)
  • Abusive.Results above 7 may, at the DM discretion, trigger a morale test. Successful morale allows the targets to do the smart thing, and not be goaded into unhelpful action by the taunters. Foes who fail may slink off, humiliated, or they may try to shout taunts back. Or they may attack.

Optional Modifiers

  • Thieves gain +1 on the Taunt when successfully hiding from the target.
  • Halflings are accustomed to being small and luring targets into ambush. They get a racial +1 on the Taunt.
  • Clerics confronted with worshipers or creatures of an opposing god get +1 to Taunt.
  • During combat, a character can choose to accept a -2 “to hit” penalty to get a +1 Taunt upon hitting that round. The penalty to hit can be up to -6, for a +3 Taunt bonus. This does not affect damage.
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