As the rest of his friends blasted away at the guerillas in their trench, Xao skirted the battlefield until he came across an unused section of the guerillas' trench. He dropped into it and moved westward, colliding into the first guerilla he could find. He flipped the terrorist and grappled him. Unless these bad guys were completely nuts, they wouldn't fire at him for fear of hitting their comrade. Xao was right. Xao was usually right.

Unfortunately, the man next to him whipped out a lethal-looking Bowie knife. Sure it was an old design, but that just meant it worked really well. Xao tried to duck, but the blade found it's mark just the same...

Some GMs complain that melee combatant PCs squash their ranged combatant NPCs. This is especially a problem if the NPCs belong to a military or paramilitary organization, which almost always train their soldiers in the use of ranged combat rather than the less dangerous melee combat techniques. This contrasts with organized crime enforcers or police officers who are frequently well-trained in melee combat techniques.

In melee or close combat, a firearm-using character loses much of their advantage as they may draw AoOs and can no longer shoot at their foes without fear of injurious reprisal or just being disarmed or having their weapon smashed. They often have low Strength scores and few feats invested in melee combat beyond Simple Weapons Proficiency. Players who use melee combatants naturally take advantage of this weakness - it's part of their character concept, and should not be discouraged.

While running or charging across open terrain while being shot at is rarely a smart strategy in real life, many melee combatants have developed techniques to minimize the risks, such as using smoke grenades, stealth, cover, and so forth. Some rely on high hit points, DR or a high Defense score, instead. GMs sometimes accidentally encourage this by starting combat at fairly short ranges or by providing enough cover on the map which enables the charging without great fear of death, perhaps even leaving corridors near the end for the final charging rush. Using cover to get closer is a form of training is used in real world militaries, although the object is generally to get closer to the enemy in order to more accurately bring weapons fire onto them, rather than use Flying Kick.

A "Wild Bill" is an NPC who resembles the other NPCs, but is built to use melee weapons instead. Using a Wild Bill as a surprise works best if he looks just like another NPC, hiding his melee weapons under his coat or using martial arts, using the same Initiative value as some of the other NPCs and having the same miniature or symbol on the map. If that can't work, which could happen if every NPC is given a name and distinctive appearance, he should not be described as particularly different from any of the other NPCs.

Wild Bills should use the same tactics as the rest of the NPCs. As soldiers generally do not close to melee, a Wild Bill soldier should not do so either, for fear of being singled out and shot to death. Instead, he should use his rifle until someone gets close enough to get their clock cleaned. Of course, if none of your PCs have any melee capability, feel free to disregard the suggestion. Poorly-balanced PC parties frequently suffer this kind of thing.

Wild Bill (Strong Hero 3): CR 3; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 3d8+6, hp 23, Mas 14; Init +1, Spd 25 ft.; Def 18 (+1 Dex, +2 class, +5 light-duty vest); BAB +3, Grap +5; Atk automatic rifle +4 ranged (2d8) or machete +5 melee (1d6+4/19-20); S/R 5 ft./5 ft.; AL any; SV Fort +4, Ref +2, Will +2; AP 1, Rep +0; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8.

  • Occupation: Military (class skills: Hide, Knowledge [tactics]; bonus feat: Personal Firearms Proficiency)
  • Skills: Hide +1 (fatigues) +3*, Intimidate +1, Jump -1*, Knowledge (tactics) +3, Listen +2, Profession +3, Spot +2, Swim -1*, Treat Injury +2.
  • Feats: Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Armor Proficiency (light, medium), Personal Firearms Proficiency, Quick Draw.
  • Talents (Strong): Melee smash (improved)
  • Possessions: automatic rifle with illuminator and bayonet, 6-8 boxes of ammunition with tracers (30 rounds), 9 mm pistol with 2-3 magazines (15 rounds), 4 frag grenades, 2 flash grenades, six machetes, light-duty vest, kevlar helmet, mesh load-bearing vest, MOLLE backpack (with rain suit, chemical/biological suit, sleeping bag, MREs), fatigues and jacket, combat boots, gas mask, night vision goggles, squad-level radio, 2 canteens (1 quart), 2 white smoke grenades, first aid pouch.

This Wild Bill example is a soldier who has trained himself in melee techniques or is simply talented in that area. A Wild Bill in an army could have any number of explanations for why they are so skilled in melee combat, such as a martial arts guru who joined the Marine Corps out of patriotism to a street fighter who wanted a steadier paycheck or a soldier who really likes knives or machetes. Naturally, a Wild Bill could be used in any group of opponents that generally use ranged combat techniques. This example used a soldier, as soldier NPCs who use melee combat are very rare.

This Wild Bill is just an example, of course, and Wild Bills in other organizations will likely have wildly different stats. The only thing they will likely share in common are Strong levels and talent in the use of a weapon that is not particularly obvious. The best way to create another Wild Bill is probably to take an appropriate NPC and tweak them so they don't get trounced in a close encounter.

This article is related to
D20 Modern
D20 Modern NPCs
D20 Modern NPCs by Creature Type
D20 Modern NPCs by Primary Character Class

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