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The Fantasy Trip - Melee

The Fantasy Trip - Melee


Revised Edition Edited by Guy W. McLimore, Jr. and Howard Thompson

Cover by Roger Stine

Illustrations by Pat Hidy, Liz Danforth and Trace Hallowell

Fifth Edition Copyright - 1981 by Metagaming

MELEE is the basic tactical combat system for Metagaming's THE FANTASY TRIP role-playing game. MELEE regularizes tactical movement and combat actions in a realistic and playable manner.

MELEE is a two-player game that stands alone. It may be played with no other game modules. It may be played solitaire or by several players. For more elaborate combats involving magic MELEE may be combined with Microgame no. 6, THE FANTASY TRIP: WIZARD.


Flavius Marcellus, youngest centurion of the Legion, was angry. They had been in this forest for three days. The German barbarians weren't showing themselves, except to pick off an occasional scout. And now Honorius was overdue from sentry duty. If that old fool was dozing off again, there'd be trouble.

As he stepped into the little glade, Flavius saw movement at the other end. Honorius? No! He sensed, rather than saw, the shaggy clothing - and the ready bow. His soldier's reflexes launched him into a charge. Burdened as he was by helmet and greaves, he could probably get that barbarian before...

An arrow snapped. Flavius felt pain, but not much; thank the Gods for his armor. He moved in, weaving to spoil the archer's aim. A second arrow missed. As Flavius neared, the barbarian moved to put his back to a tree. His third arrow went off as the Roman swung his sword. It struck, but the armor stopped it. Flavius' own swing went wild, but his opponent was forced to abandon his bow.

Now the German tribesman had come up with an enormous broadsword, and the two were trading hacks. Slowed by his armor and shield, Flavius despaired of striking his agile opponent. Nevertheless, he did, wounding the barbarian badly.

The bleeding German tried to sidestep, but Flavius cut him off. Somehow, the tribesman's desperate stroke hit home. Glancing off the shield and through armor, the broadsword bit into Flavius' side. Giddy from the shock, he abandoned the attack for a few seconds, content to parry and wait. The swords clashed and sparked.

Then, suddenly, it ended. Flavius' shortsword went under the German's wild slash and bit deeply. The unarmored savage staggered back; Flavius followed quickly and struck again. The barbarian collapsed, either dead or too badly wounded to stand. Flavius was hurt, but well able to walk. In the bushes he saw what was left of Honorius - but he was all right. He had revenge for his man ... and maybe a prisoner. He bent over the savage...

MELEE is a game of man-to-man combat with archaic weapons. It can be used to simulate combat between single opponents or small groups in any period.

Players create figures and send them into combat against a variety of opponents. Selection of weapons and armor, the strength and dexterity of the fighters, and the tactics the players choose will combine to tell which figures will survive. Successful fighters increase their strength and dexterity by gaining experience; losers die.

The narrative above was taken from art actual game. The combat example takes the same fight and shows, using the Melee rules and dice tells, how Flavius bested his adversary.



This MELEE game should contain the following components:

(1) This rule booklet.

(2) One 8" x 14" arena map, divided into hexagons ("hexes") to govern movement, and larger black-bordered "megahexes" to govern missile weapon fire.

(3) One counter sheet, which may be cut apart into 68 counters representing men, animals, monsters, and dropped weapons.

(4) One die.

You will also need pencils, scratch Paper, and a straightedge. Miniature figures are not necessary, but add interest.

Creating a figure

MELEE is a game of man-to-man combat, in which one of the most important factors is the ability of the individual fighters. Each counter in Melee represents a "figure" with its own capabilities, determined by the player before the game begins. A fighter's basic attributes are Strength (ST) and Dexterity (DX).

When a figure is first created, the player determines its ST and DX as follows: A human figure starts with 8 ST, 8 DX, and 8 extra points to be allotted as the player chooses. Thus, each figure begins with a total of 24 points - 13 to ST and 11 to DX, or any other combination adding to 24. Neither ST nor DX may begin at less than 8 for a human figure. (Animals and monsters go by other rules, which will be discussed later.)


Strength governs:

(1) how many hits a figure can take. "Hits" represent combat damage. The hits a figure takes are subtracted from its ST; when ST reaches 1 a figure collapses and cannot fight, and when ST reaches zero, that figure is dead.

(2) what weapons a figure can use. Each weapon (shown on the Weapons table has a ST number. Only a figure whose ST begins at or above that number can use that weapon. (The fact that ST is reduced during a fight does not affect weapon use.

(3) how well the figure does in unarmed combat (see Hand-to-hand combat.)


Dexterity governs:

(1) how likely a figure is to hit an enemy it attacks.

(2) how easily a figure can disengage from an enemy.

(3) how quickly a figure can strike.

Dexterity is ADJUSTED for several factors, such as armor, wounds, etc. When these rules refer to DX, the ADJUSTED DX is what is meant. A figure with a high basic DX may have a very small chance of hitting if its ADJUSTED DX is low - and a clumsy figure can improve its chances by getting a positive DX adjustment. A table of DX adjustments is given under Attacks.

Once a figure's 24 beginning points are divided between ST and DX, they cannot be shifted. However, a figure who gains experience by surviving combat may gain strength and dexterity, and in time become much more powerful - see Experience.

Once a figure's ST and DX has been determined, the player should decide what armor, if any, the figure will wear, and what weapons and/or shield he or she will carry. A figure may only carry two weapons (plus a dagger) at a time; a shield counts as a weapon. Armor and shields are covered. They offer a figure protection, but reduce its DX and movement allowance (MA). The weapons a figure chooses, of course, govern how much damage it can do. A figure's ST and DX must be considered carefully when weapons are chosen; a strong but clumsy fighter will use arms and tactics totally different from those of a dexterous but weak one.

A record sheet or card should be made up for each figure, as in the example below:

Ragnar is a Viking. He wears leather, which takes 2 hits per attack. He also carries a large shield, which takes 2 hits per attack, although it is usually slung on his back because he needs both hands for his spear. His card is complicated because he has two adjusted DX (in parentheses after his basic DX). The first is 11, which is his adjusted DX without the shield; the second is 10, which is his DX when he uses the shield. He can withstand 2 hits per attack without loss of ST due to his leather armor; when he uses the shield he can take 4 hits/attack. His ST is 11, which is just enough to let him carry the spear.

When Ragnar goes into combat, the hits he takes should be shown as tally marks next to his ST; if he survives, the hits he took can be erased, since he will take time to recover before another fight.

A figure may not put on or take off armor during a combat, but it may pick up or drop weapons as long as it never carries more than two (plus a dagger) at once. Between combats, a figure may freely change weapons and armor.

Giving each figure a name and background adds interest, especially when miniature figures are being used as counters.

Once each player's figures are ready, you may begin the combat.

Turn sequencing

MELEE is played out in a series of turns, each representing about five seconds of action. Each turn is divided into several phases. Generally, each figure may move only during the Movement Phase and perform Actions, including Attacks, only during the Action Phase.

The Actions a figure may take will depend on how far it moved, whether or not it is Engaged or Disengaged, or in hand-to-hand combat. An Engaged figure is one that is adjacent to in enemy figure and in one of that figure's front hexes (see Facing).

Nothing in MELEE happens simultaneously. Each Movement and Action may affect the next one. Each turn goes through the following phases.

  1. INITIATIVE ROLL. Each player rolls a die. The high roller may choose either to move his figure(s) first that turn, or to have the other player(s) move their figure(s) first.
  2. MOVEMENT. The first player to move executes MOVEMENT only for his figures. How far each figure moves depends upon its Movement Allowance (MA) and the Action that the figure intends to perform. (see Movement)
  3. SECOND PLAYER MOVEMENT. The second player may then move his figure(s) in the same manner. If there are more than two players competing on separate sides the third and fourth highest Initiative roller and so on will execute Movement until all players have moved.
  4. ACTION. All Actions, including Attacks, are carried out. Figures act in the order of their Adjusted Dexterity (adjDX), highest first to lowest last; Ties on adjDX are resolved each turn by die roll. When figures are firing two arrows per turn. They fire their second arrow in adjDX order after all figures have made their first Actions. If a figure is killed, or takes 8 or more hits and falls down before its time to act occurs it does not get to act that turn. A figure that is knocked down must wait until next turn's action phase to get up.
  5. FORCED RETREAT. If any figure inflicted hits, except by missile or thrown weapon, on an enemy figure add took no hits itself, it may retreat the hit enemy figure one hex in any direction and either advance to the hex vacated by the enemy or stand still, thus possibly becoming disengaged.
  6. COUNTER PLACEMENTS. Counters for thrown or dropped weapons are placed in the appropriate hexes and counters for slain or unconscious figures are flipped upside down. If there are still two competing sides with figures able to fight in the arena then begin a new turn of combat.


Actions take place during the Action phase of a turn, after all Movement is completed. Actions are performed in the order of Adjusted Dexterity (adjDX), the highest adjDX figure acting first and the lowest last, with adjDX ties resolved by die roll. A figure may perform only one Action per Action phase of a turn.

Actions a player may perform are constrained by how far the figure moved that turn and whether or not it is Engaged, Disengaged or in Hand-to-Hand/HTH Combat. A figure may select any Action in the turn's Action phase that would be allowed by his movement that turn and his Engaged or HTH status. Actions are listed below, organized by Engaged, Disengaged or HTH status and distance moved. A figure may move less than the maximum distance allowable for an Action and still be able to perform that Action.


Actions for disengaged figures

1. A Disengaged figure may move more than half its MA and:

a) Take no other action.

2. A Disengaged figure may move up to half its MA and:

b) CHARGE AND ATTACK with any weapon except a Missile Weapon. (See Attacks and Pole weapons)
c) DODGE (See Defending and dodging).
d) DROP to a prone or kneeling position.

3. Move two hexes and:

e) READY NEW WEAPON. The figure re-slings any ready weapon(s) and may ready a new weapon(s), or pick-up a dropped weapon(s) in the hex he occupies. The ready and re-sling process covers one weapon or shield for each hand.

4. Move only one hex and:

f) MISSILE WEAPON ATTACK. Fire a ready missile weapon at a target.

5. Stand still, not moving and:

g) STAND UP. Rise from prone, kneeling or knocked-down position during the Movement phase of the turn and take no other actions. This is all the figure may do for the turn.

Actions for engaged figures

1. Shift one hex while remaining engaged and:

h) ATTACK with any ready, non-missile weapon.
i) DEFEND. (See Defending and dodging)
j) CHANGE WEAPONS. Drop a ready weapon and ready a new non-missile weapon.
k) ATTEMPT HTH COMBAT. Move into the hex of any adjacent enemy and attempt to hit with bare hands or ready dagger. Any non-dagger ready weapons are dropped. (See Hand-to-hand combat)
l) DISENGAGE. Attempt to move away from an opponent's front hex. (See Disengaging)

2. Stand still and:

m) LAST MISSILE SHOT/ATTACK. A figure with a ready, loaded missile weapon may get off a last shot if it became Engaged during the Movement phase. The missile weapon MUST be dropped next turn. You can almost always release an arrow at a charging enemy.
n) STAND UP Same as (g) above.
o) PICK-UP WEAPON. Drop ready weapon(s) and/or shield and pick-up and ready a dropped weapon in the occupied hex

Actions for figures in hand-to-hand combat

p) HTH ATTACK. Attempt to hit an opponent IN THE SAME HEX ONLY with bare hands or ready dagger. (See Hand-to-hand combat)
q) ATTEMPT TO DRAW SLUNG DAGGER. (See Hand-to-hand combat)
r) ATTEMPT TO DISENGAGE. (See Hand-to-hand combat)

EXAMPLE: Ragnar the Impetuous is disengaged and has an MA of 8, and moves 4 hexes during the movement phase of the turn. He is not engaged at the start of the movement phase, so he may perform any of the actions (a) through (d). He may not perform any other actions because he has moved too far. If he had moved only two hexes, he could have performed any action (a) through (f). A figure may perform only ONE action per turn.


Figures begin the game in any of the 4 entrance hexes (starred) at opposite ends of the arena.

Each figure has a movement allowance (MA) of a certain number of hexes. An unarmored human has an MA of 10 - that is, he can move 10 hexes per turn. Armor reduces MA; leather armor = MA 8, chainmail = MA 6, and plate armor = MA 4. MAs for nonhumans are given under Nonhuman figures.


Only disengaged figures have options that let them move their full MA. An engaged figure may move only one hex during movement, and must stay adjacent to all figures to which it is engaged; this is called a "shift" in the list of options. Figures in HTH combat may not move at all until they successfully disengage.

Moving onto other figures. Normally, only one figure occupies a hex; a figure may never move through a standing or kneeling figure. A figure may move into a hex with a fallen (unconscious or dead) figure and stop, or move into another figure's hex for HTH combat and stop. A figure may "jump over" an unconscious, dead, or prone figure at a cost of 3 from its MA that turn. Whenever a figure jumps over another figure, or ends its move in a hex with a fallen figure, it immediately rolls one die. On a roll of 6, it stumbles and immediately falls down in the hex with the other figure.

A FIGURE MUST STOP ITS MOVEMENT when it enters any front hex of an enemy figure, thus becoming engaged. See Facing.



Each figure faces one side of his hex, as shown by the direction the counter is turned. A player may change the facing of a figure whenever it MOVES, and may always change its facing at the end of its movement turn, even if it stayed in the same hex.

A figure on the ground, or one bending over to pick up a weapon, is considered to face "rear" in all six directions; it has no front. However, a prone or kneeling archer has normal "front" hexes for purposes of determining where he/she may fire.

Example: Astrid is facing the hex directly "above" her in the diagram. The three hexes marked "f" are her front hexes; the "s" hexes are her side hexes; the "r" hex is her rear hex.

Facing determines which figures are engaged. A figure is ENGAGED if it is in an ENEMY's front hex. If a figure is behind an enemy, the front figure is engaged, but the rear one is not.

Facing also determines which figures may be attacked. ONLY AN ENEMY IN ONE OF YOUR THREE FRONT HEXES MAY BE ATTACKED. For missile and thrown weapons, only figures "in front" of you may be attacked; as shown below.

In this diagram, Tark is not engaged. Bjorn is engaged (he is in Rolf's front hex), but Rolf is not engaged (he is in Bjorn's rear hex). Karl and Astaroth are both engaged; each is in one of the other's front hexes. Jon and Grath are not engaged; they are not enemies.

sample combat map

The unshaded hexes are "in front of" Tark. He can fire missile weapons, or throw weapons, only at figures in these hexes. Attacking from an enemy's side hex adds +2 to your DX; attacking from his rear adds +4. See Attacks, below.


An "attack" is an attempt to hit an enemy. There are several types of attacks: regular, thrown-weapon, missile-weapon, and HTH.

In order to attack (except HTH), a figure must have a READY WEAPON. A figure has one weapon and/or shield (specified by the player) ready when it enters the arena. A weapon stays ready after an attack, unless it is thrown or dropped (except a crossbow, which takes time to reload). In order to change weapons, a figure chooses option (e) or (k) to ready a new weapon. This takes up a turn; the new weapon can be used on the NEXT turn. A shield, like a weapon, is "ready" or not. An unready shield is slung on the figure's back.

REMEMBER: A figure many not attack during a given turn unless it chose one of the actions whose title includes the word "attack." Figures that change weapons, stand up, move more than ½ their MA, disengage, etc., CANNOT attack that turn.

Only one figure may be attacked per turn (exception: a figure that fires two arrows can fire at two different targets).

Rolling for a hit

When an attack is made, the attacker rolls three dice to see whether he hit the enemy. To hit, a figure must roll its ADJUSTED DX or LESS on 3 dice. Thus, a figure with adjDX 8 must roll 8 or less.

Adjustments to DX are as follows:

Attacker's armor, shield, etc.


Leather armor -2

Chainmail -3

Plate armor -5

Large shield (when ready) -1

Main-gauche as shield only -2

Main-gauche as 2nd weapon -4


Attacking from enemy's side +2

Attacking from enemy's rear +4

NOTE: Missile weapon attacks don't get DX adds for facing!


A figure that took 5 or more hits last turn is DX -2.

A figure reduced to ST 3 or less is DX -3,

Thrown weapon range

-1 DX for every HEX distance to the target.

Missile weapon range

No penalty if target is in same megahex or 1 or 2 MH distant.

-1 if target is 3 or 4 MH distant,

-2 if target is 5 or 6 MH distant

... and so on, in bigger arenas.

Other adjustments

Crossbowman lying prone +1

Pole weapon user standing still, against charging enemy +2

Missile/thrown attack against figure sheltering behind body -4

Adjustments are figured before each attack. The adjDX represents the chance to hit the enemy, as stated above. Attacks come off in order of adjDX counting everything BUT missile and thrown weapon range; a distant target makes you less accurate but no slower.

The roll to hit is adjDX or less on 3 dice, as stated above. BUT:

  • A roll of 3 always hits, regardless of DX, and does triple damage.
  • A roll of 4 always hits, regardless of DX, and does double damage.
  • A roll of 5 always hits, regardless of DX.
  • A roll of 16 always misses, regardless of DX.
  • A roll of 17 always misses, and the attacker drops that weapon in his own hex. (A thrown weapon drops in the target hex instead.)
  • A roll of 18 always misses, and the attacker's weapon is broken.

Rolling for damage

When an attacker rolls his DX or less on 3 dice, he hits the enemy. How much damage he does is determined by another dice roll. How many dice are rolled depends on the attacker's weapon, as shown on the Weapons table. For instance, a broadsword gets 2 dice. If a figure attacks with a broadsword and hits, he then rolls 2 dice. The result is the number of hits the enemy takes (although his armor will take some of those hits for him). Some weapons have pluses and minuses. A small ax gets 1 + 2, which means you roll 1 die and add 2 to the result. If you hit with a small ax and roll 3, the enemy takes 5 hits. A dagger gets 1 - 1; if you roll a 3, the enemy only takes 2 hits.

Armor and shields

Armor and shields take hits for you, thus protecting you. For instance, plate armor takes 5 hits/attack. If your enemy attacks with a broadsword (2 dice) and rolls 7, you should take 7 hits - but your armor stops 5 of these, and you only check off 2 hits. If a figure in plate is hit by 3 different attacks in one turn, the armor takes 5 from each attack.

Shields work just the same way, except that if a shield is "ready" it protects against attacks from the 3 front hexes, and if it is not ready, it protects against attacks from the rear hex (and does not subtract from your DX).

A left-hand dagger, or main-gauche, acts as a shield to parry 1 hit/attack (non-missile weapons only) from your front hexes.

Pole weapons

A figure that charge attacks, Action b) for Disengaged figures, with a pole weapon does double damage if the target is hit. The figures last three hexes of movement must be in a straight line and without a facing change or the double damage bonus does not apply. If a figure with a pole weapon stays in the same hex, with or without a facing change, on the turn an enemy figure charge attacks him, then the pole weapon figure gets +2 DX against that enemy as well as the double damage bonus if he hits.

The left-hand dagger

A fighter may use a main-gauche, or left-hand dagger, with any other one-handed weapon. It may be used in two ways: (1) On any turn the fighter uses it only as a shield, it stops one hit from any non-missile attack, and adjusts his DX by -2. (2) On any turn he uses it as a shield AND weapon, it still stops one hit from any non-missile weapon. It also lets him make TWO attacks that turn (against the same enemy); one with the main-gauche and one with the other weapon. BOTH attacks are at DX -4. A main-gauche gets 1 - 1 in HTH combat. A fighter may NOT use two daggers, or a main-gauche and dagger, in HTH combat.

Shield-rush attacks

The "shield-rush" (slamming your shield into your foe in order to knock him over) is an important tactic in some kinds of combat.

The shield-rush is considered an attack for all purposes; that is, you can strike with the shield as a charge attack or regular attack. If you rush with the shield, you may not also strike with a weapon.

In order to make a shield-rush, you must have a shield (either large or small) ready. Make your attack by rolling as usual. If you fail to make your "to hit" roll, nothing happens. If you DO make your roll, your ENEMY must now make a saving roll to stay afoot.

To stay afoot after being hit with a shield rush, your foe must make a saving roll against his adjDX. If the figure who hit him is AS STRONG or STRONGER, this is a regular 3-die roll. However, if the figure who hit him is WEAKER, only TWO dice are rolled.

Since it is fairly easy to roll your adjDX or less on two dice, a shield rush by a weaker figure is not too dangerous. (A roll of 12, thought, is an automatic fall. On 3 dice, a 16, 17, or 18 is an automatic fall.) A figure that fails to roll its adjDX or less immediately falls down.

When comparing strengths for a shield-rush, use original ST, not wounded ST. Also, note that a rush against a figure more than twice your ST will have no effect. Shield-rushing a giant is pointless...

The Shield-rush NEVER puts hits on a foe; it ONLY floors him.

Thrown weapons

Some weapons may be thrown (see Weapons table). A thrown-weapon attack is treated exactly like a regular attack, but there is a DX adjustment of -1 for every hex of distance to the target. A target 3 hexes away is attacked at -3 DX.

It is possible for other figures to block the path of a thrown weapon. If a line drawn from the center of the attacker's hex to the center of the target hex passes through any hex containing a standing figure, that figure is "in the way." A line passing along the edge of a hex does NOT go through that hex. When a weapon is thrown, the attacker must FIRST "roll to miss" each figure between him and his target. The attacker makes his DX roll as usual, but if he rolls his adjDX or below, he MISSES, and the weapon flies past; otherwise, it hits. You may not "roll to miss" an enemy.

When you are "rolling to miss," a 14 becomes an automatic hit, a 15 is a double-damage hit, and a 16 is a triple-damage hit. 17 means the weapon drops in that hex; 18 means it breaks.

When a thrown weapon hits, it falls to the ground in that hex.

If a thrown weapon misses its intended target, it continues along the line drawn between the attacker's hex and the target hex for 10 hexes past the target hex. Roll for each standing figure whose hex the line passes through (rolling to hit or to miss, as appropriate), until the weapon hits, goes 10 hexes, or strikes a wall and stops.

Whether the attacker is trying to hit or to miss, his DX is always adjusted by -1 for each hex distance to the figure rolled for.

A may throw a weapon at B (DX -2) or C (DX -3). To throw at D, he must roll to miss B (DX -2) before rolling to hit D (DX -3). He may throw at E (DX -2), but if he misses, must then roll to hit (or miss) F (DX -3). If he misses F, he must roll for G (DX -4). If he wanted to hit G, he would have to roll and miss both E and F. He CANNOT throw at H, who is in the shaded area BEHIND him.

Missile weapons

Generally, only a disengaged figure may attack with a missile weapon. However, a figure with a missile weapon ready can get off one shot if suddenly engaged, but must then drop the missile weapon on the next turn.

Weapons table

Weapon Dice ST Notes
Dagger* 1 - 1 - 1 + 2 in HTH combat.
Main-Gauche 1 - 1 - See The left-hand dagger rules.
Rapier 1 9
Club* 1 9
Hammer* 1 + 1 10
Cutlass 2 - 2 10
Shortsword 2 - 1 11
Mace* 2 - 1 11
Small ax* 1 + 2 11
Broadsword 2 12
Morningstar 2 + 1 13
2-handed sword 3 - 1 14
Battleaxe 3 15
Pole Weapons
Javelin* 1 - 1 9 See Pole weapons rules.
Spear* 1 + 2 11
Halberd 2 - 1 13
Pike axe 2 + 2 15
Missile Weapons
Thrown rock 1 - 4 - A figure can always pick
Sling 1 - 2 - up a rock.
Small bow 1 - 1 9 2 shots/turn if adjDX = 15+
Horse bow 1 10 2 shots/turn if adjDX = 16+
Longbow 1 + 2 11 2 shots/turn if adjDX = 18+
Light crossbow 2 12 Fires every other turn, or every turn if adjDX = 14+
Heavy crossbow 3 15 Fires every 3rd turn, or every other turn if adjDX = 16+

*This weapon may be thrown - see Thrown weapons.

†This is a two-handed weapon. If the fighter has a shield, it must be slung on his/her back while the weapon is ready.


Plate armor takes 5 hits/attack; wearer's MA = 4; -6 to DX.

Chainmail takes 3 hits/attack; wearer's MA = 6; -4 to DX.

Leather armor takes 2 hits/attack; wearer's MA = 8; -2 to DX.

No armor: MA = 10, no hits stopped, no DX penalty.


Large shield takes 2 hits/attack (to front); -1 to DX.

Small shield takes 1 hit/attack (to front); no DX penalty.

Main-gauche parries 1 hit/attack; -2 DX, or -4 if used as weapon.

Missile weapon fire calls for a DX adjustment based on the number of MEGAHEXES (MH) distance to the target. If the target is in the same MH or is 1 or 2 MH distant, there is no DX adjustment. If the target is 3 or 4 MH distant, DX is -1. If the target is 5 or 6 MH distant, DX is -2.

Otherwise, missile weapons follow the same line-of-flight rules as do thrown weapons. The target must be in front of the attacker, and the attacker must roll to miss any standing figure in the way. A missile that misses its target continues until it hits a wall or a figure; roll as above to hit (or miss) each figure its line of flight passes through, making new DX adjustments as necessary. A roll of 17 or 18 on any target but the first breaks the ARROW but does not affect the bow.

Missile weapons never get adds for the target's facing.

The DX adjustments for missile and thrown weapon distance are NOT considered when determining which figure attacks first.

Crossbows normally fire every 2nd or 3rd turn (depending on user's DX and type of bow - seeWeapons table). Reloading a crossbow comes under the "ready a weapon" option for all purposes.

Prone and kneeling fire. Crossbows may be fired from a prone position. Any bow may be fired from a kneeling position. A crossbow may be reloaded by a prone or kneeling figure no other weapon may be readied by a prone or kneeling figure.

A crossbowman lying prone gets a +1 DX adjustment.

Sheltering directly behind fallen bodies.

Any figure may lie prone or kneel in a hex directly behind a sheltering body. A missile/thrown weapon attack then has a chance of hitting that body instead. If the attacker makes his DX roll to hit, he must then roll one die. If the target figure is prone, he needs a 1, 2, or 3 to hit it instead of the body in front. If the target is kneeling, he needs a 1, 2, 3, or 4 to hit it. Only crossbowmen and bowmen can attack while kneeling. Only crossbowmen can attack while prone.

Hitting your friends

An attacker must "roll to miss" when his missile or thrown weapon passes through the hex of a figure he does not want to hit (seeThrown weapons). In the same way, he must "roll to miss" a friendly figure when he strikes at an enemy in the friendly figure's hex and misses. This can happen when a standing figure tries to hit an enemy on the ground in HTH combat, and misses. He may then roll, one by one, to see if he hits other enemies in that hex. If he misses them all, he must roll, one by one to MISS each friendly figure in that hex. He stops rolling when he hits one figure or misses them all.

Figures in HTH combat never hit their friends in the same HTH combat. Only standing figures striking "into the pile" must roll.

Hand-to-hand combat

A figure may move onto an enemy figure's hex, initiating HTH combat, if the enemy has his back to a wall, is lying down, is prone, is kneeling, has a lower MA, agrees to HTH combat or is attacked through his side or rear hex. Initiating HTH combat is considered an attack.

A Disengaged figure picks action (a) to initiate HTH combat, moving onto the enemy's hex during movement and attacking during combat. An Engaged figure picks action (k), entering the enemy's hex AND attacking during combat.

If the attacker had his dagger ready already, he may use it in HTH combat. Otherwise, he drops his ready weapon and shield in the hex he started from and attacks bare-handed.

When a figure is attacked HTH, it immediately rolls one die to determine its defense against the HTH attack, as follows:

On a roll of 1 or 2, the defender drops his ready weapon and/or shield (unless ready weapon is a dagger) and fights bare-handed. Both figures fall to the ground in the defender's hex.

On a roll of 3 or 4, the defender drops his ready weapon and/or shield, but has time to ready his dagger if he has one. He will be able to use it in his next attack. Both figures fall to the ground in the defender's hex.

On a roll of 5, the defender does not drop his weapon, and the attacker immediately backs up to the hex from which he entered the defender's hex. HTH combat does not take place.

On a roll of 6, the defender does not drop his weapon, and AUTOMATICALLY gets a hit on the attacker even if the defender had already attacked that turn!) The attacker must retreat one hex as above. HTH combat does not take place. (If the attacker jumped the defender from behind, ignore a 6 and roll again.)

Since figures in HTH combat are on the ground and/or grappling with their foe(s), they always get the +4 "rear hex" DX adjustment.

During the combat phase, HTH combat is rolled for like any other combat. A dagger gets 1 + 2, a main-gauche gets 1 - 1, bare hands against a stronger enemy get 1 - 4, bare hands against an enemy of the same strength get 1 - 3, and bare hands against a weaker enemy get 1 - 2.

A figure engaged in HTH combat may try to draw and ready its dagger (if it has one) by picking action (q). On a roll of 1, 2, or 3, the dagger was drawn and readied; otherwise, nothing happened.

Multiple HTH combat

When two figures are rolling around fighting, any other figure can move onto that hex and join the brawl, using action (b) or (k), without rolling to see if the attempt is successful. If two or more figures are fighting one enemy, the lone fighter's strength is compared to the total enemy strengths to see how many dice he gets. If he is stronger than all put together, he gets 1 - 2, etc. When there are two or more figures on the same side in a HTH brawl, all figures on a side get 1 - 3.

Figures on the ground in HTH combat can ONLY attack the enemies they are in HTH combat with. They may attempt to disengage according to the disengagement rules.

If a standing figure attacks an enemy who is down in HTH combat with other figures, and misses, he then rolls for each other enemy in the HTH combat, and then for each friend, until he hits someone. Example: Two goblins have engaged Ragnar in HTH combat. He can only attack them (he must pick one or the other) and they can both only attack him. Bjorn comes up with his sword and hacks at one of the goblins. His DX for that attack will be +4 (because the goblin is on the ground, it counts as a rear attack), plus Bjorn's other DX adjustments, if any. If Bjorn misses the goblin, he rolls again - same DX adjustments - to see if he hit the other goblin. If he misses again, he rolls - same adjustments to see if he hit Ragnar. See Hitting your friends.

If a missile or thrown weapon is aimed at a pile of figures in HTH combat, FIRST roll to see if it hit, and then roll RANDOMLY to see WHO it hit. It is not a good idea to fire arrows into a brawl...


A figure selects the DISENGAGE action to move away from a figure that has him engaged. Instead of attacking, the disengaging figure moves one hex in any direction when its turn to attack comes. A kneeling, prone or fallen figure may not disengage; it must first stand up.

A figure engaged with more than one enemy figure may disengage from some while remaining engaged with others. A figure may never attack on the turn it disengages, except in Hand-to-hand combat.

Note that an enemy figure with an adjDX greater than your figure's adjDX will be able to strike at your figure during the turn in which you disengage. An enemy figure with an adjDX less than or equal to your figure's adjDX must add the difference between the figures' adjDXs (if any) to his "To Hit Roll" in order to hit your figure.

For example, if your engaging figure's adjDX is 13 and your opponent's adjDX is 10, then his To Hit Roll will be at -3DX to hit you.

Disengaging from HTH combat

A figure in HTH combat may not automatically disengage, but must pick action (r), the attempt to disengage. During the movement phase it does not move, since figures in HTH remain in the same hex. During its attack phase, it does not attack, but rolls 1 die instead. If its DX is superior to the enemy's, it needs a 1, 2 or 3; if its DX is the same or less, or if there are more than one enemies, it needs a 1. A figure that disengages from HTH combat immediately stands up and moves to any adjacent, empty hex.

Defending and dodging

The Defend action, for engaged figures, and Dodge action, for disengaged figures, have similar effects. Dodging is effective ONLY against thrown weapons, thrown spells, missile weapons, and missile spells. Defending is effective ONLY against non-missile or non-thrown spells and attacks. A figure must have a ready physical weapon for parrying in order to Defend.

To hit a dodging or defending figure, you must make you To Hit Roll on four dice, instead of three dice. Four and five are automatic hits. Twenty and above are automatic misses. Twenty-one and 22 are dropped weapon; and 23 and 24 are broken weapon.

Forcing retreat

A figure that hit an enemy figure (missile or thrown weapon hits, or hits taken by the enemy's armor, don't count) and is NOT hit itself, may force the enemy to retreat one hex at the end of the turn. The victorious player moves the enemy figure one hex in any direction, into any hex that is vacant or contains only a fallen figure. He may then choose EITHER to stay still OR to move into the hex, from which the enemy retreated. If the enemy has no adjacent, vacant hex to retreat to, it must make a saving roll (3 dice against DX) to avoid falling in its original hex.)

Reactions to injury

A figure that takes 5 or more hits in one turn has its DX adjusted -2 for the NEXT turn (only).

A figure that takes 8 or more hits in one turn IMMEDIATELY falls down. If it has not already attacked, it may not attack that turn. It may do nothing next turn except stand up (or stay down); if it is in HTH combat it may not do anything at all next turn.

Dropped weapons

A dropped weapon counter should be placed in a hex where (a) a thrown weapon lands, (b) a figure is standing when it drops its weapon to ready a new one (engaged figures MUST drop their ready weapon to ready a new one; disengaged figures may re-sling their ready weapon as they ready a new one), or (c) a figure drops its weapon when it rolls a 17 on the "to hit" roll.

The counter for a dead or unconscious figure is assumed to include a dropped weapon counter for each weapon it was carrying when it fell.

When a dropped weapon is picked up, the counter is removed.

Nonhuman figures

Monsters and beasts

A BEAR has a MA of 8. It normally does 2 + 2 damage, or 3 dice in HTH combat. Its fur acts as armor, taking 2 hits/attack. Suggested ST = 30 (this is a BIG bear). Suggested DX = 11.

A WOLF has a MA of 12. Its bite does 1 + 1 damage, and its fur stops 1 hit/attack. Suggested ST = 10 (more for dire wolves); suggested DX = 14.

A GIANT SNAKE has MA = 6. Its bite does 1 + 1 damage. It is very hard to hit; -3 off your DX for any attack on it. Suggested ST = 12; suggested DX = 12. Its side hexes are considered front hexes for all purposes, because it can strike so quickly.

Other animal figures can be set up along similar lines.

A GIANT (say, 9-12 feet tail) occupies 3 hexes; see sketch for which sides are "front." His MA is 10 unless he is in armor; count the number of hexes his FRONT moves. His ST will be AT LEAST 24; it might be 40 or 50 if he's a tough one. His DX will be low rarely more than 9, even without armor. A giant uses big weapons, like a spiked club worth (1 + 1) for every 10 ST he starts with. A giant gets 2 - 1 in HTH combat.

A GARGOYLE has DX 11, ST 20. Its stony flesh stops 3 hits/attack, and its rocklike hands do 2 dice damage in regular or HTH combat. It uses no weapons. Its MA is 8 on the ground, 16 if flying. It lands to attack, but may land ON you for HTH...

An ORC is just like a human figure - except evil.

A HOBGOBLIN fights like a man, but its ST and DX total to only 20, with a minimum of only 6 each.

A GOBLIN also fights like a man, but is even smaller; minimum ST and DX 4 each, totaling only 18.

Fantasy fighters

An ELF is like a man, except his MA without armor is 12. In leather, he moves 10. His movement in other armor is the same as a man's. Minimum ST = 6; minimum DX = 10; total = 24.

A DWARF is also like a man, except minimum DX = 6; minimum ST = 10; total = 24. Dwarves do an extra +1 damage when they hit with hammers or axes.

A HOBBIT has ST and DX adding to 20. Minimum ST = 4; minimum DX = 12. Hobbits get an extra +3 DX adjustment with missile or thrown weapons, and do an extra +1 damage when they hit with them.












2 hits







1 hit















by weapon






3 hits




Min. 8

Min. 8



by weapon

as human


Min. 6

Min. 6



by weapon

as human


Min. 4

Min. 4



by weapon

as human


Min. 6




by weapon

as human


Min. 10




by weapon

as human


Min. 4




by weapon

as human


Min. 8




by weapon

See Hand-to-hand combat



Figures that survive combat gain experience, which can increase their strength and dexterity. The experience a fighter gains depends on the type of combat, and whether the enemy was superior or inferior in total attributes (ST + DX). In multi-figure combats, the AVERAGE superiority is considered.

Combat to the death. Continues until all on one side are slain. 50 experience points (EP) to each survivor, or 70 if the enemy averaged more than 3 superior in ST + DX.

Arena combat. Continues until all on one side are dead OR escape from the "door" from which they entered. Unconscious figures may not be slain. Winners get 30 EP; defeated survivors get 20 EP (unless they ran away unhurt, in which case they lose 10 EP). If one side averaged 3 or more weaker in total attributes, survivors on that side get 10 extra EP each.

Practice combat. No missile weapons. All weapons are blunted and do ½ damage. A figure drops out when its ST goes to 3 or less. (It is possible to get killed in practice - but difficult.) Those still on their feet when one side is eliminated get 10 EP each. Others get nothing but bruises.

When a figure gets 100 EP, he/she may "trade them in" for one additional point added to EITHER basic ST OR basic DX. There is no limit to how high a fighter can raise his or her attributes, with enough experience.

Combat example

The combat described in the introduction actually took place in MELEE. Here's how it happened...


Both Flavius and Wulf are beginning figures, with ST and DX totaling 24 each. Flavius is a legionary; he carries a gladius (shortsword) and shield; his Roman armor counts as chainmail. The armor and large shield adjust his DX to 8, and stop 5 hits/attack. Wulf is a Germanic tribesman; he wears no armor, so his basic and adjusted DX are the same.

TURN 1. The two enter from opposite sides of the board. Flavius wins the initiative roll. Seeing that his enemy has a bow, he runs toward him his full MA - 6 hexes. Wulf moves up 1. Flavius cannot attack, but Wulf can fire, and does. He rolls 9 on 3 dice, which is less than his DX of 10, so he hits (Flavius was close enough that there was no DX adjustment for range). A longbow does 1 + 2 damage; Wulf rolls I die, getting a 4, so Flavius takes 6 hits. His armor and shield stop 5 - so only one hit is marked against Flavius.

TURN 2. Wulf wins the initiative roll, and tells Flavius to go first. Flavius decides to move ½ his MA (3 hexes) and dodge. Wulf backs up 1. Flavius cannot attack. Wulf can fire again. Since Flavius dodged, Wulf has to roll on FOUR DICE to see if he hits. He rolls a 14, so he missed.

TURN 3. Wulf wins the initiative roll again, and tells Flavius to move first. This lets Flavius run the 5 hexes to where Wulf is standing - so Wulf is engaged when his chance to move comes. Wulf shifts one hex so his back won't be to the wall. Flavius can't attack; he moved more than ½ his MA. Wulf can fire his bow one last time, since he wasn't engaged at the start of the turn. He rolls an 8 on 3 dice, which hits - but when he rolls for damage, he only rolls a 2, for 4 hits. Flavius' armor stops that much, so he is unhurt.

TURN 4. Wulf wins the initiative. He tells Flavius to go first. Flavius chooses not to move; Wulf shifts again, drops the bow (he has to) and readies his two-handed sword. This time Wulf cannot attack - but Flavius can. He needs an 8 or under on 3 dice. He rolls a 16, which misses. (A 17 would have meant he dropped his sword.)

TURN 5. The players agree to forget about initiative; they simply want to hack at each other. Since Wulf's adjusted DX is higher, he normally gets first hack. He rolls a 13, which misses. Flavius rolls an 8, which hits. His shortsword does 2 - 1 damage. He rolls 2 dice and gets a 7, so Wulf takes 6 hits. Since Wulf has no armor, all 6 hits count. Wulf is badly hurt. Flavius doesn't bother to force a retreat.

TURN 6. Wulf's DX is -2 this turn, because of the injury last turn, so his adjDX is 8 - the same as Flavius'. They roll to see who strikes first; Wulf wins. He rolls a 4, which is a hit with double damage. His sword is a 3 - 1 weapon; he rolls 3 dice, and gets a 6. 6 minus 1 is 5, which is doubled: 10 hits on Flavius. The armor and shield take 5; Flavius takes the other 5. Now he, too, is badly hurt.

TURN 7. The players don't bother with initiative. Wulf's DX is back up to 10, but Flavius' is -2... so it is only 6 this turn. Flavius knows his chance to hit is bad, so he picks action (i) and defends. This means Wulf must roll 10 or less on FOUR dice. He fails. Of course, Flavius has no chance to hit, since he is defending.

TURN 8. Both figures now have their DX back to normal. They ignore initiative and hack at each other. Wulf, with the better DX, hacks first; he rolls a 13, which misses. Flavius rolls a 6 to hit. He rolls two dice for his shortsword and gets a 7 - so he puts 6 more hits on Wulf. Wulf has now taken 12 hits. 13 will knock him out, and 14 will kill. Flavius retreats him one hex and follows.

TURN 9. The players ignore initiative. Wulf's injured DX is 8; Flavius' is also 8. Flavius wins the roll and hacks. He rolls a 7, which hits. Since his sword will do at least 1 damage, Wulf is a goner.

DX adjustments for physical attacks

Striking from enemy's side +2

Striking from enemy's rear +4

Crossbowman firing from prone position +1

Pole-weapon user standing still, against opponent who moved into him and/or charge-attacked +2

Hobbit using missile spell OR thrown or missile weapon +3

Wizard using any weapon except his staff or a dagger -4

Fighter using a weapon in each hand and striking with both in the same turn -4 on both attacks

DX adjustments due to type of target (for either casting of spells or physical attacks)

Target is invisible -6

Target is Blurred -4

Target is in a Shadow hex -4

Target is a one-hex figure in flight -4

Target is a Giant Snake -3

Target is a multi-hex figure in flight -1

DX adjustments for your armor & shield

Small shield 0

Large shield -1

Leather armor -2

Chainmail -3

Plate armor -5

Main-gauche used as defense only -2

DX adjustments for missile weapon range

If target is 0, 1, or 2 MEGAHEXES away no DX subtraction

If target is 3 or 4 MH away -1

If target is 5 or 6 MH away -2 and so on.

The Fantasy Trip

is vanquishing the foe, capturing the booty, braving dangers, casting mighty enchantments, joining in quests and exploring the unknown - the romance and mystery of your dreams! THE FANTASY TRIP frees your imagination for an evening of fun and adventure.

MELEE $3.95

Boxed MicroGame. Basic fantasy combat. Fierce arena duels among men, beasts and monsters with archaic weapons or tooth and nail.

WIZARD $3.95

Boxed MicroGame. Basic magical combat. Compatible with Melee. Adds the exciting dimension of magic to arena combat.


Game Masters' module. Hero Talents, adventure guide and play aids. Requires basic or ADVANCED WIZARD and MELEE for play.


Expanded combat system. New materials include aiming, aerial combat, Critical hits, mounts and some new options.


Expanded magic system. New materials include higher IQ spells, alchemy, magic items and a complete guide to adventure magic.


Ready-to-play labyrinth. Maps, notes, background and adventure instructions for Game Masters. Requires IN THE LABYRINTH and basic or ADVANCED WIZARD and MELEE.


Boxed Microquest. First of a line of programmed adventures, suitable for solo play. Requires MELEE and WIZARD.

DEATH TEST 2 $3.95

Boxed Microquest. Deadly sequel to DEATH TEST.


Boxed Microquest. Players join King Arthur's Round Table in their chivalrous search for the Grail.


Boxed Microquest. Adventure contains clues to the actual location of - SILVER DRAGON in the United States!

Melee Character Sheet



Melee Character Sheet



*Intelligence is used for characters from the MicroGame WIZARD. WIZARD, fully compatible with MELEE, adds the intriguing dimension of magic to arena combat.


MELEE is the fast action game of swords, bows, axes, halberds and other cold steel weapons. You create your own fantasy fighter by selecting his arms, armor and fighting attributes. In the arena you may face a skilled killer or ravening beast. Small teams can even be pitted against each other in this exciting simulation of man-to-man combat.

MELEE is the combat segment of THE FANTASY TRIP, Metagaming's fantasy role playing game system. MELEE is a stand alone game or it may be used as the combat system for any fantasy role game. So, choose your weapons, don your armor and enter the arena. The Melee is about to begin. (See also the companion games THE FANTASY TRIP: WIZARD and DEATH TEST.)

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