Player’s Option: Combat & Tactics (1995)

While the black and red 2E D&D core books are not a new edition, they form the foundation of the Option rulebooks. Those, like Unearthed Arcana and Oriental Adventures for 1E, do constitute a kind of option 2.5 ruleset (and like those rulebooks, these were likely rolled out in a desperate attempt to save the company; if that’s the case, they failed). This is the first of them, Player’s Option: Combat & Tactics.

What is it? A bunch of optional rules for combat. I loathe this book, because what D&D doesn’t need is more rules for combat, but what do I know? We have rules for grid maps and tactical, miniature based combat, we’ve got yet another broken-ass set of rules for unarmed combat, we’ve got siege rules (What, no BattleSystem? Is it finally dead? Seems so!), we’ve got new tiers of weapon specialization (non-proficient, familiar, proficient, expert, specialized and master) and, finally, we have what I believe are the first official rules for critical hits in D&D.

All this stuff is optional of course, and modular, which is nice, I guess. I never used it and the one time a group kicked around the idea of trying, it didn’t get off the drawing board. A lot of this stuff does turn up in 3E — those attacks of opportunity I hate so much were born right here.

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