Rules of the Damned Human Race (DHR)

I've been sculpting my set of home rules over the last 17 years keeping elements of game play that I liked from other systems, so I'm telling you up front: my rules are a patch work of what I like from other sets. My main goal is to keep things as simple as you want them to be, so there is a base mechanic and then if you want you can add in optional rules as you see fit. If you have questions or suggestions drop me an email to gabriel_landowski AT and I will gladly respond in kind.

Base Mechanics

There are endless methods for determining who goes when but the most important thing as a host is to make sure the person who is currently up in not being overly influenced or pressured by the other players - let that person do what they're going to do without others trying to control everything! Here are my top 3 favorite:

  • Convention - The focus here is making sure that everyone is getting to go on a regular basis and it works in conjunction with one of the two following methods. Once you have determined which side acts next and you know what unit or unit type activates (see below) the YOUNGEST player for that team will command fist, and the next time that same team is selected the next eldest goes and so on until everyone has gone at which time you start over with the youngest team member. Sometimes the teams lose track of who went last so perhaps consider passing a totem or such to help them keep track, or just start over from the beginning again (that'll teach the older players)!
  • By Type - Use cards, pokers chips, or colored marbles for each side and type of unit in play. By example: If red team has 10 infantry, 5 mounted, and 1 Champion on their side then I place 10 red poker chips marked "I" or "Infantry", 5 red pokers chips marked "M" or "Mounted", and 1 red poker chip marked "C" or "Champion" into a bag or bowl. If the blue team has 15 infantry then I would place 15 blue poker chips marked "I" or "Infantry" into that same bowl. Mix and pull a random poker chip - color denotes side, and type of unit that can activate is indicated. Once that unit has gone, mark it with the poker chip so that it does not get a double action for the round. I tend to use this for larger groups in convention play as it is "more fun".
  • By Unit - Similar to the method above, except each specific unit is given an identification number or letter and the corresponding unit miniatures is marked in a similar fashion (for example you can have flags with the identification on them and placed with units). So if I pull a blue poker chip and it has a reference id of "12" then whatever unit has a blue "12" flag would go. This game play can add a lot of suspense over the By Type method because you may have an infantry unit that you really, really, really want to use at some point, but you have to wait for that SPECIFIC unit id to come up. I tend to use this for local club or home play.

Whether you decide to track game play at the individual figure or unit level (I use unit level for convention play) you will need to know the Rating or overall effectiveness of your forces:

  • Rating 5 - Elite
  • Rating 4 - Veteran
  • Rating 3 - Seasoned
  • Rating 2 - Trained
  • Rating 1 - Untrained
So whenever you have to make a Rating check, this is the number you will need to know. The number of figures per unit is up to you to find a balance, but I generally use 10 per foot and 5 per mounted or artillery unit.

To Hex or not to Hex
You can choose to play DHR using free-form measuring in inches or you can use hexes which tends to be cleaner. If you play with free-form then try to keep any one unit grouped together for continuity, and if figures are getting too far from center mass then have them make a Rating check or do nothing that round. More recently I have found that playing on hexes is cleaner and easier for convention play, so I will favor that method for this write up. Just know what your hex size represents so that you weapon ranges and movement distances are reasonable for your scenario.

Base Movement Points for different types of troops (assuming 6 inch hexes):

  • Foot - 3D6 inches or 3 hexes
  • Mounted - 6D6 inches or 6 hexes
Feel free to assign your own values. For example:
  • Soldiers moving in formation - 2D6 inches or 2 hexes
  • Natives on home turf - 4D6 inches or 4 hexes
  • Crew moving a mounted weapon - 1D6 inches or 1 hex

Terrain can slow your figures or units down and a check is made BEFORE you attempt to enter or cross it. If you fail your check and still have sufficient Movement Points left then you can pay the required points again and automatically succeed in crossing (unless you have a piece of terrain that you really want to make a challenge to cross like fortress walls, barbed wire, etc. in which case the unit or figure has to keep making checks and spending points until they actually pass). You can only auto pass a terrain check in the same turn, so don't bother keeping track of failures if you have no Movement Points left.

  • Hex based - Spend a Movement Point to roll 1D6 and get a result HIGHER than the Defensive Value of the terrain in order to move in or across it. If you fail the check then you lose that Movement Point, but if you have another available you can spend it and automatically succeed. By example: Infantry have 3 Movement Points and want to cross a wall (DV 3). The spend a point to roll 1D6 and get a 3, so they fail to cross over the wall on the first check. Since they have 2 Movement Points left they can simply spend another point and automatically cross with 1 Movement Point left.
  • Free-form - Roll 1D6 and get a result HIGHER than the Defensive Value of the terrain. If you pass, spend movement inches equal to the DV of the terrain, and if you fail the amount paid is doubled. By example: Infantry have 3D6 movement and roll for a total of 14 Movement Points. They try to cross a wall (DV 3) and roll 1D6 and get a 3, so they have to pay twice as much for the DV, in this case 6 inches leaving them with 8 inches. You must have at least 1 movement point remaining to get over or in to the terrain, so if I had 6 inches of movement left and I tried to cross a wall and failed, I would need 7 inches to end up on the other side.

Be careful in laying out your terrain so that it compliments game play. It is far too easy to just toss stuff down only to have it cause issues later on. So make sure that the terrain encourages easy of placement and navigation and adjust unclear terrain situations where possible. Keep in mind that a road leading through woods allow units and figures traveling on it the benefit of the lesser terrain DV value, in this case 0 (open road) vs 4 (thick woods).

When you have the option for a unit to fire at a target the basic method is to roll a D6 for each figure firing and if their result is equal to or less than (this is a running theme) then they have scored a possible hit. So if I have 10 Seasoned (3) troops firing I roll 10D6, and for each 3 or less I have scored a possible hit on my enemy.

There are a few factors which can effect a firing die roll:

The weapon you are firing should have a range value (in inches or number of hexes) and you suffer no penalty out to this distance. For each additional range value the target is away you subtract 1 from your firing roll. So if I have a Seasoned (3) soldier firing a rifle with a Range of 6 hexes at a target I would need to roll on 1D6:

  • a 3 or less out to 6 hexes
  • a 2 or less from 7 to 12 hexes
  • a 1 or less from 13 to 18 hexes
  • cannot engage targets 19 hexes or more away

Rate of Fire
Some weapons allow you to increase your rate of fire which degrades your accuracy. For example RoF 1|1|1 means you can roll 1D6 per firer at no penalty, 2D6 at a -1 penalty, and 3D6 a -2 penalty. So a Seasoned (3) soldier firing three times with no Range penalty would roll 3D6 and score possible hits for any 1 or less. Rates of Fire can vary from weapon to weapon:

  • RoF 1 - Muzzle loaders etc where you can only get one shot off per figure
  • RoF 1|1 - Breech loaders which are generally single shot but faster loading
  • RoF 1|1|1 - Semi automatics with clip ammo capacity
  • RoF 1|1|1|1 - Semi automatics with magazine ammo capacity
  • RoF 1|1|1|1|1 - Full automatics with drum-fed ammo capacity
  • RoF 2|2|2|2|2 - Full automatics with belt-fed ammo capacity
Some examples would be:
  • Colt Revolver - 1|1|1
  • Colt Automatic Pistol 1911 - 1|1|1|1|1
  • AR15 - 2|2|2
  • Sub Machine Gun - 2|2|2|2
  • Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) - 2|2|2
  • M1 Garand 2|2
  • Bolt Action Rifle 1|1
  • Clip Fed Bolt Action Rifle 1|1|1
  • M60 Machine Gun - 3|3|3|3

Rather than come up with all weapon system Rates of Fire right here and right now, I'll just let you come up with them on your own. In general no Rate of Fire should be longer than #|#|#|#|# or a -4 to the firing roll. The amount of ammo the weapon has readily available can dictate the length of the RoF, so if I have a Thompson SMG my RoF might be 2|2|2 but a similar weapon with an endless magazine capacity would be 2|2|2|2|2. Some weapons might have more rounds up front but fewer as you keep firing such as 3|2|1. A general guideline I use for anything automatic like machine guns is to find the cyclic rate of fire and divide that number by 100. So a German MG 42 from WW2 might have a 1200 RPM cyclic rate of fire, and thus I would have 12D6 to work with and give it a RoF of 3|3|2|2|2 (first I gave all slots and equal die value then started from left to right with the remainder). So I could fire 6D6 and be at a -1 for all shots due to Rate of Fire. For multiple targets the machine gunner can either lay a Line of Sight and attack all figures within an inch of it up to max dice, or if traversing fire attack a number of figures equal to the firepower which are ALSO within the same distance of each other in inches (free-form) or same hex. Use what works best and seems to make the most sense - don't be afraid to test fire prior to a full game to see if something is not balanced correctly - it'll become obviously rather quickly.

Terrain Saves
As the target of being fired at you can attempt to eliminate possible hits. For every possible hit roll a D6 equal to or less than the Defensive Value for each terrain along the line of sight. For example, if I received 6 possible hits across a field of crops (DV 1) and I am hiding behind a wall (DV 3) then I simply roll 6D6 and any result of 1 or less negates the possible hit. Any surviving shots then roll vs 3 or less with any survivng shots hitting the target. If I am fired at across three separate walls, all of DV 3, then my target number is still 3 or less to negate the hits, I would just roll for each eliminating shots as they are absorbed by the terrain before moving on to the next. Ultimately you can get as fancy as you would like with this, but I like to keep it simple. If you are using hexes then trace line of sight from center-to-center of each hex. If your line of sight falls along a hex edge, then use the LESSER of the two Defensive values. So if I am firing at a target two hexes away across a hex spine (vs an edge) and the hex to my left is a tilled field (DV 1) and the hex to the right of the spine is heavy woods (DV 4) then I can choose the lesser DV value for my Line of sight.

  • DV 1 - Uneven ground, thin wood fences, saplings, crops
  • DV 2 - Young trees, split rail fences, clapboard siding, brush
  • DV 3 - Solid walls, trees, dense brush
  • DV 4 - Houses, field works, dense woods or brush
  • DV 5 - Bunkers or other similar protection

Armor Saves
Once you have determined how many possible hits remain a unit can still save if they have appropriate armor protection. Let's say that my unit of men-at-arms were fired upon with 8 possible hits due to arrows. My men are hiding behind a wall and are able to negate 3 hits leaving 5 possible hits. We decided that my men have chain armor giving them a DV 2 vs arrows, so I roll 5D6 and unfortunately 3 of my men still are eliminated. Don't make this too complicated. Typically I rule that modern body armor stops modern small arms and fragments with a DV 2. For my fantasy games I generally go with:

  • DV 1 - leather, studded leather, padded armor
  • DV 2 - splint, banded, light chain mail armor
  • DV 3 - heavy chain mail, chest plate, scale armor
  • DV 4 - field plate
  • DV +1 - for full helmet and shield

Melee works pretty much just like Firing except Rate of Fire is always 1 (unless you want to get creative or make special characters) and that you enemy gets to attack you AT THE SAME TIME. So just because you run into a group of pikes don't think that it can't go terribly wrong for you. Terrain and armor saves work the same as with firing except that only the defender of a melee gets the benefit of terrain saves.

Contrary to popular belief, most battles are primarily men hiding and running away as much as they are firing and taking ground. Whenever your unit is attacked they have to make a Morale check equal to or less than their Rating plus their DV minus any casualties just taken. If they fail, then they run away from the attacker equal to the 1D6 inches each for free-form or that # of hexes (max equal to the number of casualties taken that instant) ignoring terrain hindrance. For example, I have a unit of Veteran (4) WW2 infantry sneaking up along a wall (DV 3) and they receive machine gun fire from the other side but take no casualties, they would have to roll a (4+3-0=7) or less on a D6 which means they automatically save. If that same group then takes another round of fire and loses 2 men, they would then have to roll a (4+3-2=5) or less. If they happened to roll a 6 then they would have failed by 1, which means they would retreat 1D6 inches free-form or 1 hex away from the shooters. And finally, let's say I have a unit of 20 Napoleonic soldiers Rating 2 in the open (DV 0) and I take 3 casualties. I would need to roll a -1 but instead I rolled a 6. The math says I would retreat 7 hexes or 7D6 inches, but as I only took 3 casualties my 7 result becomes a 3 instead.

Morale checks for hand-to-hand or melee fights are only slightly more complicated. It is assumed that only the defender will use the DV # of the terrain in which they are being attacked or are currently behind such as a wall. So if a unit of my infantry charge your men hiding behind a wall, then your men would get the benefit of the wall DV and mine would not (the idea is I'm crawling over the thing to get at you). IF, however, the next round you melee me back, then I am considered the Defender and I get the DV bonus, not you (the same idea, you're trying to claw your way over the wall to me). I would still benefit from any terrain DV in which I was attacking from, but I would not get the DV value of the location I was attacking.

Your unit of swordsmen (Seasoned 3) is holed up in a farm house (DV 4) and is attacked by my infantry (Rating 4) from across an open yard (DV 0). We both roll our attacks and I eliminate 3 of your men and you get 2 of mine. So your Morale check would be a (Seasoned 3 + Farm House DV 4 - 3 Casualties) 4 or less to remain in the house. My check would be a (Veteran 4 + Open ground 0 - 2 Casualties) 2 or less to remain. If your unit does not flee and my does not as well, then my guys will remain just outside the house. If you happen to flee and I do not, then I can stay in the house.

Optional Rules

There are a bunch of optional rules I have used on and off over the years, but contact me with the genre you want to fight and I will update these here as they are discussed. gabriel_landowski AT

Area Effect
Explosives, shells, flame throwers, mines, or a sweeping attack from a giant with a club can hit a whole hex space. So the attacker fires or swings (1D6) to hit the target hex if at a distance, if melee it is automatic hit. Then every defending figure in that hex makes a terrain save based on DV # and if applicable an armored save (because only sci-fi save you from flame throwers). Treat morale checks the same as you would any other attack except if the terrain is untenable (on fire, poison gas) in which case you would not add the DV # to the roll. If the attack is area-effect but light in nature (like a 60mm mortar round) consider allowing an appropriate save due to a weaker charge. By example, if a modern infantry patrol is walking down the street and an IED goes off, I might decide that the whole squad is attacked, but there is only a 3 in 6 chance they are hit to begin with due to the nature of the bomb. It is up to you and decide it ahead of time with your opponents.

Armored Vehicles & Heavy Weapons
Mixing in vehicles can be a challenge. One option is to allow a D6 for every half inch or 12.5mm of armor. In general I use several armored categories, and different angles of attack or parts could have different ratings, but again keep it simple and let the dice decide the details:

  • 1D6 - Unarmored
  • 2D6 - Lightly armored
  • 3D6 - Moderately armored
  • 4D6 - Heavily armored
  • 5D6 - OMG armored
In general I give vehicles movement similar to mounted soldiers to prevent them from driving around the board 6 times on their turn. The caution drivers demonstrated avoiding pitfalls, ditches, mines, and traps reflects a much lower rate of movement they their maximum real world speed. It may make sense to force the tank crew to make morale checks for every movement they want to do into enemy territory if unsupported by friendly infantry. If you want to allow for "vehicle-overruns" then I'd say treat it like an area attack, and give it a kill value of 1. So a tank can dash through an infantry squad of 8 soldiers, which means roll 8D6 and trying to get 1s for possible hits. Terrain DV negation still applies although I'd think any type of small arms armor would not. Up to you.

In general I use several armament categories. You can increase or decrease these values based on your knowledge of the type of armor rating they should be able to reasonably defeat. Note the "anti-tank grenade" in the 1D6 column - I try to make infantry somewhat dangerous vs armor at close range to keep the armor guys from just over running the whole board in a single go. In reality most armored veterans were not too keen about advancing close to enemy dismounts which is why the combined arms infantry/tank coordination was so important.

  • 1D6 - .50 cal or 12.7mm or anti-tank grenade
  • 2D6 - 1 inch or 35mm or LAW
  • 3D6 - 2 inch or 57mm or RPG
  • 4D6 - 75mm or recoilless rifle
  • 5D6 - 88mm+ or missile
So if my Veteran (4) M5 Stewart Tank shoots at a Panther Tank with no modifiers and gets a hit (4 or less on a 1D6) I would then roll (57mm rated at 3D6) vs my opponent's armor (4D6 I'll say). Find the lowest defender die and any attacker results lower than that are critical rolls. Defender wins ties UNLESS attacker has more dice of equal value. So in the above example if attacker rolled 5, 3, and a 2 and the defender rolled 1, 2, 3, and a 6, the defender wins. If attacker rolled instead a 1, 1, and a 6 then my little tanker got in a lucky shot and the Panther takes damage. In another example the defender rolls a 5, 4, and a 3 while the attacker rolls a 3, 2, 1 - this means two critical hits get through. This pretty much works the same for any given scenario you'd find in sci-fi etc. Just determine the armament and armor ratings and roll of you dice to see who loses.

For convention play where I have 8 people and 35 plus units roaming the board I simply say a kill is a kill and leave it at that. The vehicle or walker becomes immobile cover, and I like to add smoke for effect (and a +1DV if you're shooting through it). You can make as detailed or complex a critical hits results table as you want, but I have been known to roll 1D6 for effect for each die which beat the defender to add flavor in private games:

  • 1 - Main weapon knocked out
  • 2 - Secondary weapons knocked out
  • 3 - Ammo explosion
  • 4 - Crew casualty/bails
  • 5 - Fuel explosion
  • 6 - Mobility kill

Special Figures
If you want to make things more interesting or reflective to your genre then individual special figures may be something to consider. In general I allow individual figures to stick (moves with them) with any unit to which they attached themselves and they cannot switch to another unit until it is their turn. That being said, individuals can drop out of a unit as it is moving at any point.

  • Leader - Unit uses the Rating of the Leader if it is higher when making checks.
  • RTO - This guy has a radio and can talk with off-board assets such as artillery and air strikes.
  • Medic - Before someone is eliminated the Doc can negate their casualty on a 1 of a D6.
  • Wizard - this guy is a walking tank and his special attacks can be ranged and area effect. Consider using some Magic the Gathering cards for his spell book, etc.
  • Champion - gets several attacks per round and can shrug of a few hits.
You get the idea - have fun with it.

Crew Served Weapons
Guns and artillery need crews to operate them and keep them fed so crew loss can mean loss of firing. If a crew is reduced then the player must make a Rating check for each crew member lost. So if I had a Veteran (4) MG-42 machine gun team of 5 and 2 were eliminated, the next time that gun would want to fire it would have to roll 2 dice and get a 4 or less on both or else lose that RoF.

© 2017, Gabriel Landowski