SurpriseIn an encounter where one side has quite definitely 'got the drop' on the other surprise is automatic and lasts one round.
Unsuspecting party in a boat floating through apparently uninhabited marsh gets volley of arrows from a prepared ambush, a round of 'wtf, argh, where's my musket?' kerfuffle is fair enough.
In situations where one or both sides don't know what is going on, but are expecting something the whole party are surprised on a 1-2.
Party A sploshes through the swamps, party B knows they are out there thanks to successful listen rolls but don't know where. When they meet party A may be surprised, B won't be.
InitiativePCs make an individual roll with Dex bonus, monsters get a roll per group. If there is a tie PCs get the benefit of the doubt for being protagonists and go first (they get precious few other breaks and saves time faffing with on the fly Dex rolls).
If you use a special action like Press or Parry the AC penalty or bonus lasts until your initiative tick next round.
Fumbles and CriticalsOn a natural 1 you fumble and on a natural 20 you crit. I use the Compleat Arduin fumble and critical tables, except for firearms where I have my own table. Crits do normal weapon damage, but the special effects add further penalties and may kill outright.
Fancy combat movesI am a great fan of the DCC feat dice and RQ6 combat effects, gets the players thinking about more than just the thud, bang, wallop of melee and how to get the upper hand. For LotFP any character may try this - roll a second d20 add your combat bonus, subtract the enemies and if you get 17+ you have pulled some fancy manouvre; blinding, tripping, pushing back, blocking etc. Opponents may get a save or characteristic roll to avoid it, if appropriate.
Damage and Death
Not been very consistent about this but will follow this procedure...
If you are down to below 0 HP you are not automatically dead, but you roll on the Crit Table to see what horrible injury has happened to you to put you down; this may be terminal, like being shot in the head, and may leave you with a permanent disability like missing fingers, limbs, ears, face mashed in and scarred etc. .
If you are not dead yet, your friends may save you. Save vs Paralysis with a modifier of how many HP you are below 0; make it, you live, fail, well, that's it...
Roll your Con or under; if you fail you permanently lose 1d3 points on STR, DEX or CON rolled randomly due to scarring.
You remain on negative HP, and if not outright unconscious, you will able to do nothing until healing has brought you back to positive HP; if by some miracle you survive a boulder being dropped on you from a great height, expect to spend a week in bed getting over it.
PCs will become increasingly battered and scarred, limping, eye-patched and hook-handed. If they wish to quit this adventuring malarkey as too much like hard work, they are free to.
Being beaten to a pulp and living to tell the tale in this way earns a +d100 XP bonus, for what it is worth. The experience isn't fun, but it will teach you what not to do next time.
HealingEffects like broken arms, sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders etc, are healed when you reach full HP again.
A Cure Serious Wounds will remove such effects even if it does not restore the recipient to full HP, and can be used to reattach missing limbs and digits (if they have been recovered from the site of the carnage) and restore damaged eyes and ears if cast within a week.
Heal will induce the regrowth of lost limbs at a rate of 1d10% of lost part per week.
The various churches and denominations are more than willing to provide healing magic to those who make donations, and may possibly be persuaded to do it for free for co-religionists who are obviously fighting the good fight. Basic costs are below, though these are subject to a wide variety of circumstantial modifiers, and the higher level ones will only be available from a very few preachers who will require a long journey to find. The Archbishop of Canterbury is himself only 11th level, most typical parish priests and Puritan preachers are level 1-5 (roll 2d4-3, min 1).
(using the 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = 1 pound system of pre-decimal England)
Bless - 1s plus 6d per level of cleric
Cure Light Wounds - £1
Detect Evil - £1
Augury - £3
Delay Poison - £2
Cure Disease - £10
Remove Curse - £50
Cure Serious Wounds - £3 10s
Divination - £10 + £1 per caster level
Neutralize Poison - £10
Commune - £150
Cure Critical Wounds - £6
Heal - £100
For the devout Clerical scrolls may be sold. These may also take the from of specially blessed holy symbols which will provide one use of a spell when a specific prayer or verse from the Bible is spoken, rosaries or candles (for Catholics), blessed printed tracts with woodcuts (for Puritans) or other form of religious paraphenalia. The cost is level of spell x £30, far from cheap!
Witches, alchemists and other such dubious riff-raff can be found all over the place, though the devout frown on their odious practices and it may take a bit of careful inquiry to locate them and persuade them to help. Astrologers practice openly, and there are 'scholars' who will offer advice and opinions on magical matters.Some common services on offer are below, but any given magic user will only know some of the spells and have some of the equipment.
Spells may be bought from a few magicians. A magic users livelihood and reputation rests on his unique stock of arcane knowledge and most like to keep what they know secret for fear of setting up rivals. Basic cost is £25 per level of spell, including the cost of transcription into the recipients spell book. It is often cheaper to research it yourself.
Potion of Charm Person - a perennial favourite, these 'love potions' may also take the form of charms or rituals to be used to attract the target. Cost £20.
Identify - £10 if the magic user has a suitable lab, usually only available to wealthy apothecaries and scholars.
Detect Magic - £1 10s
Light, Continual - 5s (note that these only last one day from time of purchase)
Magic Mouth - £10
Dispel Magic - £10 plus expenses if travel required to magical site