Shooting Into a Fight
Sometimes you want to shoot a missile weapon into a melee combat. The rulebook says that you CAN'T do it in one place and that you CAN do it in another place but with a chance you might hit a friendly character. Plus, friendlies between you and the enemy give cover to the enemy even though they don't mean to. Ivanhoe has a method that he uses at the Game Hoard where he does a lot of math to figure out the chance that a friendly character is hit. Hazard didn't like it because it takes too long. So he made up his own way to do it, which I'll explain.
When you want to shoot into a fight, Hazard calls out a number that does TWO things:
1.) You have to subtract the number from your missile attack roll to see if you hit the enemy.
2.) If you miss and the attack roll is the number or less without subtracting and no bonuses, then you hit a friendly.
We call it the Friendly Fire Number. Hazard estimates the number based on the size of the enemy, which is the target, and the friendlies in the way. The normal number is 4, and the maximum number is 8. You have to be in short range for your missile weapon.
So, when Beowulf "the Bully" was fighting hand-to-hand with Mangus Magne (evil champion), and Cypher tried to fire a crossbow, the number she subtracted was 4, and she rolled a 3, and she hit the Bully instead of Mangus. Then Danydain Scrubfoot joined the fight, and Hazard said if Cypher wanted to shoot again, the number would be 6, because Danydain was a halfling. If he was a human, it would have been 8.
If the enemy is a small monster, let's say a goblin, add 2 to the number. If it's big, like a troll, the number is 2 less, and if you're shooting at a giant, it's 4 less. A dragon is so big, there's no chance to hit a friendly.
When you're flanking an enemy with no friendly characters on the other side of it, the number is just 2. The size of friends and enemies doesn't matter. If your friends are on both sides and still no one is on the other side, the number is 4. And if at least one friend is also on the other side, like when you gang up on an ogre, the number is 6.
Now, if all your friends are only on the other side of the enemy from where you're shooting, they don't give cover. In fact, the enemy gives them cover, so you take the normal number for friendlies and subtract 2 from it, no matter the enemy’s size.
Hazard only ever counts 2 friendly characters. He does the calculation all in his head. He says you don't have to get it exactly right.
—L’avant garde #39 (June 1981)