When the going gets rough, the rough get going. Sometimes all that can be done in a situation is to throw down the gloves and beat the snot out of someone. In the world of combat, some practice an art, some just love a good fight, and still others turn tail and hide.
Combat in the Elysium game is a turn-based encounter where the players face a common foe or group of foes, or possibly even each other. Combat begins when a hostile force is presented to the characters and ends when all hostile threats have been in some way subdued. Combat is divided into rounds: five second intervals within which the characters' actions take place. Combat may last one round (a very brief, possibly brutal combat) or many rounds (a drawn-out, attritional beat-down). When a character can take action in a combat depends on the results of a Reaction Check. When the GM announces that a combat has begun, the first thing to do is establish the result of all the combatants' Reaction checks.
To determine the order in which players take turns, each player, NPC, and opponent will roll Reaction. This is done by performing the following roll (the GM makes the Reaction checks for the opponents and NPCs).
The higher the resultant number, the more on top of things the character is considered to be. The GM should make note of the result of everyone's Reaction roll.
Before the first round of combat begins, starting with the lowest number, the GM should call on each participant to announce what he or she intends to do for that round. This way, the participants higher up in the order can decide their actions based on the intended actions of combat participants lower in the order. In layman's terms you see what other folks are doing and you act just a fraction of time ahead of them. The GM then calls on each participant in descending order and has them act out their turn.
In subsequent rounds, players take their turns in descending order without announcing their intentions first.
| "You burst into the room. The evil sorceror Aelfin sits inside with an expression of shock on his face," Wes, the GM describes. "He picks up his wand from the table and aims in your direction. Roll Reaction."
Jon rolls a 16 for Akare, James rolls a 20 for Nox, and Sara rolls a 12 for Celeste. In secret, the GM has rolled a 13 for Aelfin the evil sorcerer.
"Celeste had the lowest Reaction," Wes states. "What's she doing?"
"I'm going to cast Bless on Nox," she replies.
"Sounds good," Wes says. "What is Akare doing?"
"I'm going to duck and hide under the table to try and catch him wide-eyed," Jon states.
"Okay. Aelfin's wand begins to glow, he's about to cast dark magic. And Nox?" Wes asks.
"I'm going to go on the defensive while I wait for Celeste to cast her spell," James says.
"Okay, James, you get +6 to Evasion until your next turn," Wes continues. "Now, Aelfin casts his spell."
Wes makes a casting roll for Aelfin. Wes groans as he critically fails (rolls a 1). The players cheer aloud.
"Aelfin loses his concentration, and the spell fizzles out." Wes grimaces as he marks on a piece of paper that the MP involved was wasted. "You're all so lucky."
Afterwards, Akare makes a Stealth check, and Celeste casts her spell.
Some GMs prefer that Reaction is rolled only at the beginning of the combat encounter and intentions are announced only then. Others enjoy a new Reaction roll and announced actions at the beginning of every round. Your results may vary, and we encourage you to explore which you find is more enjoyable.
Combat is divided into rounds, which are five second intervals of action. At the beginning of the first round, a player tells the GM what the character plans to do that round. Once all the players have announced their intended actions, the GM calls on the players to make rolls to determine whether or not their actions are successful, starting with the players who rolled highest for Reaction and working down. The GM narrates the success or failure of these actions as well as those of the NPCs. When all the combatants have attempted their action for the round, a new round starts.
Players should pay attention during combat. Your GM hates nothing more than to be asked "What do I see?" when it's your turn. Having players announce their actions at the beginning of the turn is also a good way of preventing lengthy decision making at the beginning of a player's turn. As soon as your turn is over, start thinking about what to do next turn so that when the next round of combat comes around, you can announce your decision with authority!
Actions in Combat
In the thick of things, the actions your character can perform are only limited by your imagination. Any offensive action is guaranteed to need a roll, as are activities which would require the use of a skill.
Action Points (AP) represent the number of activities you can perform in combat. Every action you perform costs a specified number of Action Points, from swinging a sword, to launching a spell, to grabbing a monkey out of your pocket. Characters start off with 6 AP, but more can be acquired through the Nimble Combatant trump. On your turn, you may perform actions until you run out of Action Points. When a new round starts, your Action Points are replenished.
Here is a brief list of things a character might want to do in combat.
- Attack another combatant
- Go on the defensive
- Move somewhere
- Aid an injured ally
- Talk your way out of the situation
- Cast a spell
- Use a Special Power
- Retrieve and use an item
- Run away from battle
- Charge at a combatant
- Disarm a combatant of a weapon
- Perform a Feint
- Grab another combatant
- Intimidate another combatant
- Taunt another combatant
- Trip another combatant
This is by no means a complete list. You will ultimately come up with far more creative things to do while in combat than we can list here.
A character can spend Action Points to move around the area in which the combat is taking place: to close with foes or to escape them. The starting base Speed for player characters is 10, meaning 10 feet per AP spent. For instance, if Brian's character Phineas, an ambassador, is ambushed by enemies, and Brian spends all 6 of Phineas' AP, Phineas can move up to 60 ft. on his turn.
As noted in the Gymnastics skill, characters can tumble, roll, cartwheel, and breakdance right by their foes. If an opponent is blocking your way, make a Gymnastics check at a DL of 20. You get a +2 bonus on the check for each point of difference in Size from the opponent. Upon success, you can move right past them. Failure will put you smack dab in front of a hostile with the equivalent of a neon "Hit Me" sign.
If an obstacle or difficult terrain is between you and where you need to be, you can try to tough through it, but you gain the hampered condition, which means you move at half speed. You can also attempt a Gymnastics check to jump over it.
A character who is using Stealth gains the hampered condition. You can take a −10 on the check to move at full speed.
There are a number of actions you can perform while moving. Essentially, the AP involved overlap. Here are a few examples.
- Draw a weapon
- Charge (see the Tactics section below)
- Retrieve an easily accessible item (e.g. from a belt pouch)
- Use a consumable item on yourself
- Take in the situation (e.g. Perception, Discern, Clairvoyance)
Anything quick that requires little or no concentration can be done while moving in combat. Talk to your GM about any other examples you have in mind.
Nothing ruins your day like running into a hungry monster three times your size. Sometimes you just have to turn tail and get lost. Aside from the personal shame you might feel, there are no penalties for running away from a fight, that is, if you have a clear exit. If you have a free avenue for retreating, you can choose to flee on your turn. If your way is blocked, you'll have to mow through any opponents in the way of your escape. As noted in the Movement section, you can make a Gymnastics check to roll around, under, or over your opponents preventing you from running away.
Note that any opponents higher than you in the Reaction order will be aware of your intent to run away and could possibly move to intercept and prevent you from doing so.
As simple as it sounds, there are actually several ways to martially attack another combatant.
Using a weapon
This is by far the simplest type of attack. To attack another combatant using a weapon, you must make an Attack Roll, which is composed of the following.
|+||CUN||+||Weapon skill||+||Accuracy||+||− Size|
Accuracy is a bonus added by the weapon itself. Certain modifications can be made to weapons to make them more accurate: expert craftsmanship, a magic spell, or a mounted scope, for example. Check the Equipment chapter for more details.
When creatures of different sizes engage in combat, the smaller one is harder to hit and inversely, the larger one is a bigger target. The Size gets subtracted from Attack Rolls. Therefore, a positive number is a penalty and a negative number is a bonus.
A straightforward Attack Roll is opposed by the opponent's Evasion Roll (see the next section on Defending). If the attacker's result is larger than the defender's, the attack hits, otherwise the defender evades.
Upon a successful hit, a second opposed roll occurs: the Damage Roll, which is composed of the following.
The harm bonus comes from the weapon itself. Check the Equipment chapter for the specific harm a weapon can deal.
* As mentioned in the Might skill, if the combatants have different Size scores, each should add its Size Muscle Bonus to Damage Rolls.
Ranged weapons which make use of a mechanism for firing ammunition (e.g. bows, crossbows, firearms) do not allow for the attacker's Muscle score, nor Might ranks, nor Muscle Modifier in the Damage Roll. Any ranged weapon which is thrown does not carry this limitation.
A Damage Roll is opposed by the opponent's Guard Roll (see the next section on Defending). The difference between the attacker's roll and the defender's (if positive) is the amount of Health Points lost.
|Jon's character Akare angrily swings his short sword at James' character Nox.|
|Nox takes 5 points of damage.|
Each weapon lists a different amount of AP that is needed to use it. Large weapons require lots of AP to use. Small weapons, like daggers and knives, take very few AP. Speed and damage are trade-offs when choosing a weapon style. Smaller weapons can be used more but incur less damage. Larger weapons deal out higher damage, but take much longer to use.
| You might find that two separate rolls for any attack slows down the game. You might not! Two separate rolls definitely lends a hand in increased instances of "You hit him. Roll damage," but then the defender aces the Guard Roll, and "Clang. No damage."
We performed numerous tests — thousands, actually — of what happened if the attacker added together the Attack and Damage Rolls and the defender added together the Evasion and Guard Rolls. We found that consistently, about 55% of the time, the result was exactly the same as when the Attack Roll was compared to the Evasion Roll, then the Damage Roll was compared to the Guard Roll. And about 20% of the time, the attack was still successful, but the amount of damage was different.
We're all for shortcuts, and if you find that an attacker mashing their rolls together and a defender mashing their rolls together actually saves time, and you like the results, then by all means, do it all the time. It's po-tay-to/po-tah-to and we do like mashed potatoes.
A Called Shot is a special type of Attack Roll in which you aim for a specific, usually small, target. For instance, you want to shoot the gun out of someone's hand, or use a whip to cut off a spellcaster's tongue.
Making a called shot imposes a −2 penalty to an Attack Roll if the target is slightly hard to hit (for instance, a leg or an arm). Anything more specific (the heart, an eye) imposes a −5 penalty.
Hand-to-hand (H2H) denotes when one or more combatants are not armed with a separate weapon. Instead, they opt to fight with their own fists, feet, head and body. Hand-to-hand works exactly the same as using a weapon, save that certain maneuvers are only possible when fighting hand-to-hand and some actions are only possible when armed with a weapon. When making a hand-to-hand attack, the character uses the Hand-to-hand weapon skill.
Also, hand-to-hand combat isn't literal: it's quite possible to square off against someone with an ax or other weapon in this manner. Your opponent does not need to be fighting hand-to-hand as well.
There's more to life than sticking an opponent with a sword; there's also sticking them with an arrow! Ranged combat is well-suited for those who don't like being in the thick of things, or have unnaturally good aim.
As stated in the Attack Roll section, ranged attacks that use manufactured force, such as from bows and crossbows, do not factor in the character's Muscle nor Might to the Damage Roll. In the Equipment chapter, each ranged weapon lists in its description its range of accuracy. For every 10 feet past that, an attacker takes a −1 to the Attack Roll.
Ranged attacks that are thrown, for example knives, javelins, and shurikens, allow for Muscle and Might to be added to the Damage Roll. All thrown weaponry uses the Thrown weapon skill. Unless otherwise noted in their descriptions in the Equipment chapter, thrown weapons are accurate to about 30 feet. For every 10 feet past that, an attacker takes a −1 to the Attack Roll.
Shields are the only weapon which can parry ranged attacks without the Missile Swat trump.
Some thrown weaponry is explosive (e.g. grenades, water balloons, Spellbombs). These weapons have an area of effect and aren't typically thrown at a specific target. You can drop an explosive up to 5 feet away with no roll, but good luck avoiding it. Tossing an explosive at a specific area more than 5 feet away takes a standard Attack Roll. The exact spot assumes a Dodge Roll of 10. If the attacker rolls a Critical Failure, that's often bad news (it's a dud, it falls at your feet). If the attack misses, the explosive lands 5 feet away from the target in a random direction per point of difference in the roll.
Some ranged weapons can be used to parry, but not while being fired. For example, the GM describes that an enemy soldier is attacking Deidre's character Cyrilla. She attempts to parry using her longbow by blocking the sword with the long, wooden part of the bow. Note that most ranged weapons incur a notable penalty to the parry roll since most of the character's training in the weapon is for accuracy, not for melee usage.
So you want to carry two swords, do you? It's not as easy as you might think, but it is rewarding. First off, you must pick your dominant hand: is your character right or left-handed? Whichever one you pick, the other hand is considered the nondominant hand.
Since it's so difficult to do anything complicated with your nondominant hand, any Attacks or Parries with a weapon in that hand take a −4 penalty. To eliminate this penalty, you can take the Ambidexterity Trump.
Even though you may be able to carry a weapon in each hand, you must still have the Action Points necessary to attack with each weapon individually. For instance, if you have a longsword in your right hand (which takes 4 AP) and a dagger in your left (which takes 2 AP), you need 6 AP to be able to attack with both. If you select the Dual Weapons Trump, you can attack once with the weapon in your nondominant hand without using any AP. In the case of the longsword–dagger scenario, a character with Dual Weapons would only need 4 AP to attack once with both weapons.
There are other concerns regarding two weapons. First, the character has to buy both weapons, which may present a challenge for the slightly impoverished. Second, for the most part, you can't use a two-handed weapon in one hand, so no characters who Dual Wield executioner axes. Finally, if your character is using two different types of weapons, you have to consider how to distribute ranks into the Weapon Skill of each.
Any offensive action taken against you in combat is countered by an Evasion Roll, which is either a Dodge or a Parry at your option, although some hazards in combat and the environment specifically require one or the other. However, any impending attack allows for an Evasion Roll unless your character is paralyzed or unconscious. If the attacker's Attack Roll is higher than the defender's Evasion Roll, the hit lands and then the attacker rolls for Damage (see the Guard section below).
When creatures of different sizes engage in combat, the smaller one is harder to hit and inversely, the larger one is a bigger target. The Size gets subtracted from Evasion Rolls. Therefore, a positive number is a penalty and a negative number is a bonus.
A character who is quick on her feet can try to remove their person from the path of an opponent's attack or hazard.
A character who may not be fleet of foot but is adept with a weapon can attempt to parry an attack or hazard out of the way.
|+||AGI||+||Weapon skill||+||Accuracy||+||Parry||+||− Size|
The parry bonus comes from the weapon itself. Some weapons grant a bonus when used to parry, and some weapons actually present a penalty. Check the Equipment chapter for the parry bonus or penalty a weapon provides.
These rolls usually occur outside of your turn and therefore they take no Action Points to perform; they are a free response to an incoming attack.
When an attack successfully lands, the attacker rolls for Damage and the defender attempts to Guard.
The difference between the Damage Roll and the Guard Roll (if positive) is the amount of Health Points lost.
If the defending character has Magic Defense and the weapon being used to attack is magical, the magic bonus the attacker receives is subtracted from the defender's MDEF. If the defender has more Magic Defense than the attack has bonus points, the bonus doesn't apply, but the bonus to the attack is never negative.
Shields are an ancient way of protecting your vital bits. They're also utilitarian: some people would beat on their shields to insult their opponents or raise morale of troops. Larger shields make a good impromptu resting place or sled.
Shields don't give any bonuses to your armor score. Instead, you can use a shield to perform a Parry. Shields provide a bonus to your Parry Roll. If you put ranks in the Weapon Skill for Shields, you can add these ranks into your Parry Roll. Shields are the only weapon which allow you to parry ranged attacks without the Missile Swat trump.
On your turn, you can also make an attack with a shield. Shields, their bonus to Parry, Harm, and AP to use are listed in the Equipment chapter.
When a weapon, shield, or suit of armor receives wear and tear in combat, it's considered degraded. Degradation occurs when a weapon or shield is used to parry and the player rolls a Critical Failure. Similarly, a suit of armor is degraded when the player rolls a Critical Failure on the Guard Roll.
When a piece of equipment becomes degraded, it takes a −1 penalty to its bonus (i.e. a weapon or shield will receive −1 to attack and parry, meanwhile armor will receive −1 to the Guard Roll). Equipment will continue to degrade in combat, incurring further stacked penalties. If the amount of degradation exceeds the bonus the equipment confers, it falls apart and is ruined.
Fortunately, a character can have any of their equipment repaired by a skilled artisan (perhaps even herself, given the facilities and resources). To repair one level of degradation, the cost is a fraction of the cost of the item. To calculate the repair cost, divide the purchase price by the equipment bonus. For example, as detailed in the Equipment chapter, leather armor costs 300𝕤 and it provides 3 points of armor bonus. The repair cost for each level of degradation on a suit of leather armor would therefore be 100𝕤.
Bows, crossbows, and firearms are special cases. These weapons only have a single point of degradation. If they're used to parry and the player rolls a Critical Failure, the bowstring is cut or the mechanism becomes jammed. Bows are easy and inexpensive to re-string, however crossbows and firearms are complex devices which require specialized repair. Repairing a degraded firearm or crossbow incurs a cost of 20% of the purchase price.
Going on the Defensive
At times, one's only option is to brace for impact. You can defend yourself in combat and gain a bonus to your Evasion Roll. You can resolve yourself to taking no offensive action if only to cover your behind. For every Action Point you spend buckling down and defending yourself, you can add 1 to your evasive rolls until your next turn. For instance, if on your turn you spend 4 AP defending, you can add +4.
Cover refers to overturned tables, piles of debris, rows of barrels, columns, trees, castle crenelations, and just about anything large enough to partially hide behind. Cover can protect you from incoming attacks and hazards. When behind cover, you receive a bonus to your Dodge Rolls. Small cover, such as a barrel or short wall, which might only cover part of your character, grants a +2 bonus to Dodge. Large cover, such as would cover most of your character, grants a +4 bonus to Dodge. Anything which completely obscures a character prevents him or her from being targeted by most attacks unless that character emerges from behind it.
If a defending character doesn't realize the attacking character is there (either from a failed Perception, or the attacker is completely invisible), the defending character is wide-eyed. A character who has the Sixth Sense trump cannot be caught wide-eyed.
There's more to the art of warfare than simply taking turns making each other bleed. This section details some alternate methods of attack and defense.
Throwing caution to the wind, you can take up arms and run full-speed at an opponent, using the additional momentum to deal extra damage. You must move a minimum of 10 feet; a character can't charge to attack an opponent that's directly adjacent. When you announce a charge, you move during your attack. You may only charge once per turn, and you may only use a melee weapon.
For example, Michelle's character Skorna wants to charge at her foe. Using her war axe takes 5 AP, so with a speed of 10, she can run up to 50 feet during her attack.
Instead of attacking at the end of the charge, a character can attempt to Slam or Trip the defender (see the Slamming and Tripping sections below). The +2 bonus normally granted to the Damage Roll can instead be applied to the Might check.
Defending Against a Charge
If a defending character wields a polearm, she can attempt to parry the charge and deal damage. Using other weapons to parry a charge can potentially ward off the attack, but they deal no damage to the attacker. If the parry is successful (i.e. the Attack Roll is smaller than the Parry Roll) the defender can make a Damage Roll as if she had successfully attacked. Note that dealing damage in this manner does not require the defender to have the Counterattack Trump.
If a defending character with the Sidestep Trump manages to completely Dodge out of the way of a charge, she can make a free Trip attempt against the attacker.
You can try to smack or grab the weapon out of someone's hand. This obviously only works on manufactured weapons, and not those that are part of an opponent's body. For instance, working a sword out of someone's grasp can be done, but relieving an angry bear of its claws is unlikely. The held object doesn't need to be a weapon, a character can be disarmed of any object they hold in hand.
Any weapon can be used to disarm a defender, even ranged weaponry or your bare hands. Some weapons are better at disarming than others. A whip or chain is well-suited to this task; weapons such as these list a bonus in the Equipment chapter. Some weapons, specifically those that are held with two hands, are better at resisting a Disarm and list a resistance bonus.
With Another Weapon
The attacking character must make a Called Shot against the held object, therefore taking a penalty of −2. Ranged weaponry incurs a penalty of −5 due to the extreme difficulty of hitting the held object at a distance. The defender makes an Evasion Roll as usual. If the attacker succeeds, he rolls a Disarm Attempt. This is a Thievery check plus any Disarm bonus granted by the weapon used. For example, a whip has a +3 bonus to Disarm.
|+||AGI||+||Thievery*||+||Weapon's disarm bonus|
The defender then tries to hold on. This is a Grip check plus any Disarm resistance bonus granted by the object held. For example, a scythe has a +2 resistance bonus because one holds it with two hands.
|+||MUS||+||Grip*||+||Weapon's disarm resistance bonus|
If the attacker's result is greater than the defender's result, the defender's weapon is dropped to the ground.
* As mentioned in the Grip skill, if the combatants have different Size scores, each should add its Size Muscle Bonus when attempting or defending against a Disarm.
|Josh's character Risp uses a whip to try to disarm an enemy who carries a scythe.|
|The enemy keeps his scythe (darn!)|
With Your Bare Hands
Disarming someone of an object without using a weapon works a little differently. As above, the attacking character makes a Called Shot against the held object, and the defender makes an Evasion Roll. If the attacker succeeds, he simply rolls a Grip check. Hand-to-hand does not grant any bonus to Disarm.
The defender makes their own Grip check plus any Disarm resistance bonus granted by the object held. If the attacker's result is greater than the defender's result, the attacker snatches the object away from the defender.
Using your bare hands also allows you to try to snatch objects worn by the defender instead of just held, such as something in a pocket or pouch.
Instead of a Disarm attempt, it may be easier to make a Called Shot to the hand (a −5 penalty), in the hopes that doing so will cause the defender to drop the weapon being held. Upon a successful Called Shot to the hand, the defending character must make a Grip check against a DL of 10 + any damage dealt or drop the weapon. Upon sufficient damage, the GM may rule that the defender's hand is severed clean at the wrist, and the weapon and hand fall in gruesome fashion.
Feinting (not to be confused with fainting) is a great way for sneaky characters to get the up on their opponent. A quick fake-out in combat allows you to catch your opponent off-guard.
It takes as many AP to make a feint attempt as it does to use the weapon normally.
|Jon's character Akare wants to feint against a well-defended Nox, Dusty's character.|
|Akare can add 12 to his next Attack Roll.|
Sometimes you just gotta put someone on hold. Those skilled at hand-to-hand fighting are predisposed to the wrestling arts. It can be beneficial to incapacitate an enemy or pry something from their fingers.
Starting a Grab
Attempting a Grab takes 3 AP, and an attacker must roll their normal Hand-to-hand Attack Roll. Defenders must roll an Evasion Roll as they normally would. If the attacker is successful, instead of rolling Damage, he instead rolls a Grip check. The defender must roll either a Might check (to shove his way out) or a Thievery check (to wriggle his way out) at his option. If the attacker's Grip is higher than the Defender's Might or Thievery, both combatants are considered grabbed. A grabbed creature cannot use its movement Speed and takes −4 on Evasion Rolls. An attacker must have a free hand to start a Grab. If you have two hands, you can have up to two opponents grabbed at once.
When creatures of different sizes roll opposed Grip checks, each should add its Size Muscle Bonus. As noted in the Size table in the Life and Death chapter, a creature's Muscle Bonus is its Size × 5. Thus, firnoy have a penalty of −5 and kulgeris have a bonus of +5. This modifier should only be included when those rolling have different Size scores.
|Tim's character Drinnin tries to get a hold of Michelle's character Skorna|
|Drinnin grabs Skorna. "You're goin' nowhere!"|
While you're participating in a Grab, you can do pretty much anything that doesn't require you to move around or use both hands. You're free to make Attack Rolls against the other participant (or against any other combatant), as well as any tactics like a Disarm, Slam, or Trip. You can even cast spells.
After the Grab has been established, the attacker can perform any of the following special actions (either on the same turn if there's enough AP left, or on later turns).
- Release – 0 AP. The attacker is free to release the Grab at any time.
- Move – You can pick up the defender and drag or carry her along with you. Make opposed Might checks. If the attacker wins, he picks up the defender and carries her along at his full Speed.
- Immobilize – 3 AP. The attacker can use both hands to further restrain the defender. Make another Grab attempt (the attacker rolls Grip, the defender rolls either Might or Thievery). If the defender wins, the Grab is broken. If the attacker wins, the defender gains the immobilized condition. An immobilized creature cannot use its movement Speed. It automatically fails Attack Rolls and Evasion Rolls. An immobilized spellcaster cannot perform gestures (see the Magic chapter).
Once a defender is immobilized, the attacker can't use either hand, but they can perform any of the following special actions in addition to those listed above.
- Human Shield – 0 AP. The attacker uses the defender as Cover and receives +4 to Dodge.
- Hush – 0 AP. The attacker can cover the defender's mouth and keep them from speaking. The defender is considered muted as long as the attacker wishes.
- Squeeze – 3 AP. The attacker deals crushing damage using a normal hand-to-hand Damage Roll opposed by the target's Guard Roll. No Attack/Evasion is necessary.
- Choke – 3 AP. The attacker constricts the defender's airway, making it impossible to breathe. Make opposed Might checks. If the attacker wins, the defender gains the suffocating condition. If the defender breaks free of the Grab before falling unconscious, the penalties accrued from being choked immediately vanish. If the defender falls unconscious, the attacker has two options: let the defender drop prone or finish strangling them.
Escaping a Grab
For 3 AP on her turn, a defender who is grabbed or immobilized can try to break free. Either a Might check or a Thievery check can be used for this purpose, rolled against the attacker's Grip. If the defending character inflicts damage against the attacker while in the Grab, she can add the amount of damage done to her next Might or Thievery check. Personal-area damage spells such as Dangerous Body work very nicely in this situation.
Any tactic that moves the attacker away from you breaks the Grab as well. For instance, you could Slam or Trip the attacker if you're not immobilized.
Cast a Net
Not to be confused with the percussion instrument. You may cast a net at an opponent instead of grabbing it directly. Any creature Size 4 and smaller can be ensnared in a typical net.
A combat net weighs about 15 pounds, with small weights around its perimeter, so it's challenging to just shove off. A net can be escaped in one of three ways:
- Cut it off – a slashing Damage Roll greater than 6.
- Tear it apart – a Might check of 15.
- Wriggle from beneath – a Thievery check of 15.
Whips and Chains
You can use chains, whips, flails, ropes, or similar improvised objects to entangle your opponents. You can only ensnare combatants adjacent to you regardless of the reach of the weapon.
The best way to incapacitate another combatant without causing them undue harm is to attempt a Grab, immobilize them, and then begin a choke (see above). However, that's a maneuver that takes some skill in hand-to-hand combat.
On the other hand, most creatures have sensitive organs. One good swing of a bludgeoning weapon to the liver or to the side of the head will drop most folks. This stunning weakness of anatomy can be exploited in combat to subdue your foes while keeping them alive… probably.
To attempt a knockout, make a Called Shot to the sensitive location in question (a −5 penalty) using any bludgeoning weapon, including hand-to-hand. If you hit and deal damage, the opponent must make a Stamina check at a DL of 10 + any damage dealt. If they fail, they move one step down the Knockout Track. On a Critical Failure, they move all the way down the Knockout Track and immediately gain the unconscious condition.
A character with the Haymaker Trump causes any foe who fails the Stamina check to drop immediately, instead of just those who critically fail.
In this case, Size matters. Opponents take −5 to the Stamina check for every point of difference in Size if you're bigger than them. However, this also means that they get +5 to the Stamina check for every point of difference in Size if you're smaller. If an opponent has a large enough bonus that they would pass the check even on a Critical Failure, you can't knock them out in one hit.
"Mom, he pushed me!" Even kids know how to push and shove their way through a fight. You can Slam your opponents (or allies, for that matter) to move them away from you. No damage is incurred by a Slam.
The attacker makes an Attack Roll using the Hand-to-hand Weapon Skill and the defender makes an Evasion Roll. If the attack is successful, the attacker and defender make opposed Might checks. As mentioned in the Might skill, if the combatants have different Size scores, each should add its Size Muscle Bonus when attempting or defending against a Slam.
If the attacker's result exceeds the defender's result, he pushes the defender 5 feet away. If the attacker’s result is more than 5 points higher than the defender’s, he pushes him 10 feet away. If the defender rolls a Critical Failure, he gains the prone condition as well.
Occasionally you want to pull the rug out from under an enemy. Tripping an opponent in combat is just an opposed roll. An attacker can trip with any melee weapon: you can yank his leg with a whip or chain, shove him down, or hit him in the ankle with a weapon in hand. In all cases, the attacker makes an Attack Roll and the defender makes an Evasion Roll as usual. If successful, the attacker rolls a Trip Attempt instead of a Damage Roll. The defender, in place of a Guard Roll, makes either a Might check or a Gymnastics check to stay balanced.
|+||MUS||+||Might*||+||Weapon's Trip Bonus|
If the attacker's result is higher than the defender's result, the defender is tripped. No damage is incurred by a trip.
When creatures are tripped, they're thrown to the ground and gain the prone condition. Prone creatures suffer a −4 penalty on Attack Rolls and Evasion Rolls until they stand up. It takes 2 AP to stand up from a prone position.
While you can't perform a Trip attempt with a ranged weapon, you can certainly make a Called Shot to a person's foot or ankle. If the attack hits and causes damage, the defender must roll Gymnastics against a DL of 10 + any damage incurred or fall to the ground writhing in pain.
While "sticks and stones" may break their bones, words are pretty good, too. This section details some actions in combat that aren't strictly physical in nature.
Sometimes words will work where swords cannot. If this is the case, a character can try to make a Skill check to enact a ceasefire. This tactic is popular among the martially-challenged and peace-minded: nobles, ambassadors, humble peasants, pacifists, and peacemakers. Using diplomacy to end a conflict doesn’t necessarily mean your character is nice, however. A commanding "Stop this madness!" or "Surrender! You are outnumbered!" works just as well as "Please don't hurt us!" or "We have gold to offer, if an arrangement can be reached…" However, it should be noted that if you offer terms, you ought to be prepared to back them up or the conflict could start all over again! Diplomacy is especially useful when you and your companions are outnumbered, outgunned, weak and weary from previous combats, or all of the above.
Seeking a diplomatic resolution takes 4 AP and targets one opponent at a time. If you're fighting multiple opponents, they will all lay down their arms if you successfully arrange an armistice with the leader of their group. Of course, if it's a free-for-all and no one's in charge, you'll have to target each one individually. You have the choice of several Skills which can be used to end hostilities.
- Negotiate – "Suggesting." With a bit of persuading, you can convince your opponent of the obvious advantages of not killing you. Maybe there's no problem with just letting you go. It's the only logical choice, really.
- Seduce – "Tempting." As long as you promise a reward, you can tempt your opponent into holding their fire. Perhaps a kiss, a bag of silver, or the artifact you just found are enough to get them to put away their weapons.
- Intimidate – "Coercing." By brandishing weapons or screaming in rage, you can threaten your opponent with dire consequences if they don't back off. Reinforce your threats with a hostage or two, ample firepower, and having nothing to lose.
- Leadership – "Taking Charge." Using an air of authority, you can command your opponent to pack it in. As long as the cessation of violence directly benefits their interests, you can make them understand that peace must be the only outcome.
With thoughtful role-playing, you may be able to stop a battle in its tracks without rolling any dice. For instance, if your opponent is battered, bloodied, and sees that you have his best friend on his knees staring at the business end of a sword, chances are the opponent will lay down his arms without you needing to roll an Intimidate check. The GM may decide that your plan is so solid that no checks are required.
Keep in mind that the GM may decide the opposite: that certain opponents are beyond negotiations. For instance, the villain who seeks revenge for the supposed murder of his brother, a vicious animal in the midst of a savage blood-lust, or a psychotic serial killer may be ruled immune to diplomacy, or at the very least gain a sizable bonus to their Skill check.
Characters with certain Trumps or Faults (Indomitable or Vengeful, for instance) may also be ruled immune or resistant to this tactic. Callous characters won't care if you have a hostage. Avaricious characters will always choose gold over their own blood.
As detailed in the Skills chapter, Intimidate can be used to instill fear into a single opponent. A target that fails its Guts check takes a −2 penalty to all rolls during an encounter. Intimidating another combatant takes 4 AP. If the target's Guts check is a Critical Failure, they'll flee the fight.
Taunting another combatant takes 4 AP. The Skills chapter details two usages of Taunt that can be used during combat.
- "Tormenting" – Taunt can be used to incite anger and make an opponent flustered. A target that fails its Virtue check incurs a −2 penalty to all rolls during an encounter.
- "Signaling" – Taunt can be used to draw an opponent's attention. You can choose whether a failed Virtue check either imposes the distracted condition or forces the opponent to turn its attacks toward you. If the target's Virtue check is a Critical Failure, they gain the wide-eyed condition against anyone but you. You could also do this before combat to help your buddy get the drop on them.
There are two kinds of spells: Attack Spells, those that deal damage, and Support Spells, those that cause effects (both beneficial and detrimental).
Attack Spells call for the mage to aim the spell, and for a defending character to attempt to get out of the way. Wielding an Attack Spell in combat is very similar to attacking with a weapon, in fact, a character buys ranks in the Weapon skill for Magic just like any other weapon. Support Spells do not require aiming or evasion.
See the Magic chapter for details on how to casts spells, both in and out of combat.
What's an adventurer without useful crap? Ammunition, magic salves and potions, enchanted objects, and adventuring gear are all things characters can have on their person and want to pull out and use during combat.
Retrieving an item from a handy location, such as a belt pouch or a bandoleer, takes 1 AP. An inconvenient location, such as a backpack, takes 3 AP. Having to take the pack off and dig through it would take 6 AP or more. Pulling arrows from a quiver takes no time at all and is figured into the AP required for using a bow. If, however, one had extra ammunition in a place that isn't immediately available, it would take AP to retrieve it.
Using a consumable item (quaffing an elixir, dropping a smoke grenade, etc.) will generally take 1 AP. Some items may take longer to use and it will be noted in their descriptions.
As a general rule, activating a supernatural or magic object takes 4 AP unless noted in the item's description.
Where would valiant knights be without their trusty steeds? It is undeniable that the use of cavalry charges results in some of the most destructive and terrifying warfare ever experienced.
Attacking from horseback (or any other something-back, for that matter) works very much like it would on foot.
If you ride a mount which has attacks of its own, you may use your AP to direct the mount to use its own attacks. The mount acts during the round on your turn; the mount has no Reaction or AP of its own while being ridden.
If you charge while mounted, instead of the usual +2 bonus to your Attack Roll, you receive +4 due to the momentum of the attack. This also applies to an overrun. Because of the force and velocity of the mounted charge, you may attack any opponents you pass within reach during the charge, if you have the AP to make more than one attack (you must still make an attack at the end of the charge). The bonus to the Attack Roll applies to these attacks as well. In order to charge while mounted, the mount must move at least 10 ft. and must charge in a straight line.
Using a ranged weapon while mounted is a feat in itself. Most ranged weapons require a steady hand and keen eye for accuracy, and it is hard to utilize these while bouncing on the back of a bounding animal. In order to use a ranged weapon accurately, you must steady your arm for the attack. Steadying your arm requires an Animal Control check against a DL of 12 and the expenditure of an Action Point. Failure means you take a −4 on the Attack Roll.
If an opponent attacks your mount, you may attempt to use the mount's Dodge or your Parry, whichever is higher. If an opponent attacks you, you may Dodge or Parry as normal. When defending against a trip, use the mount's statistics and add +4: it is very difficult for a humanoid creature to trip a large animal.
As long as you remain mounted, the beast and yourself exchange and share certain statistics. You use the beast's speed, but your AP. The beast retains its own HP, and so do you.
If you have trained your mount to be able to attack on its own, without your guidance, you can use the Animal Control Skill to have it act of its own accord in combat. Interacting with or issuing commands to a free mount (as noted in the Animal Control entry) during combat takes 4 AP. At this point the animal will use all of its own stats. You must have dismounted from the beast to command it.
If your mount is slain in combat, you must succeed at a DL 18 Animal Control check to roll from the saddle and land safely on the ground. If the check is failed, you suffer the difference as damage and have fallen prone.
If this roll is critically failed, the rider takes the difference as damage and is considered pinned under the dead mount. The pinned rider must succeed at a DL 20 Might or Thievery check to crawl from under the animal.