This section provides an extended description of one of the most rules-intensive aspects of roleplaying: combat.
When resolving a situation calls for force, time becomes broken into rounds, which were discussed in the "Rounds and Initiative" section in the "Game Basics" page. Within these rounds, three steps occur: (1) generating initiative; (2) attacking and defending; (3) determining damage; (4) repeating the steps, if necessary. Discover herein what happens in each of those steps.
This is where the interesting stuff happens. The person whose turn it is gets to decide what type of action her character is going to do. Once she chooses, she makes a skill roll.
Note that a character need not attempt to engage in combat, but this chapter only discusses what to do if the player decides to attack, defend, or do both (typically with a multi-action penalty).
The target character can opt to use an "active defense," which affects all attacks that occur after the defender's turn in the current round but before the defender's turn the next round. Active defenses are defensive maneuvers that the target consciously exercises, such as dodging, blocking, or parrying. Each of these is represented by a skill and counts as an action.
A character may make an active defense only when his turn comes up in the initiative line, but the total for the roll is effective for all relevant attacks made against the character that occur after the character's current turn but before his turn in the next round.
Remember: If a character acts later in a round than the character attempting to hit him, he cannot take his turn sooner and use an active defense to replace the passive defense value — his reactions just weren't fast enough.
If the roll is lower than the passive defense value, the character has succeeded in making himself easier to hit — by miscalculating where the attack would be placed and actually getting in its way.
The active defense total is modified as the situation dictates.
Dodge: The character attempts to anticipate the final location of an attack from any source and be in another place when it comes. This is done by rolling the dodge skill.
Block/Parry: The character attempts to stop his opponent's attack by intercepting it and either stopping it with a block or deflecting it with a parry. The character may roll his fighting or melee combat (if he has something in his hands) to block it. If the character uses a sharp weapon (sword or dagger, for example) to parry an unarmed blow and is successful at the block, the attacker takes damage from the weapon. However, do not add the defender's Physique to the listed weapon damage score when determining injuries inflicted this way.
If the opponent strikes at the character with a bladed hand weapon and the character uses any part of his body to intercept the attack, the defender always takes the weapon's damage total. If the block was successful, then the attacker's Strength Damage is not added to the listed score. If the block was unsuccessful, then the target character takes damage as normal. The character may avoid this aspect by having armor, a special ability, or a suitable close combat specialization in melee combat.
A character who foregoes all of her actions for a round to completely protect herself from attacks makes a full defense. The total rolled by the skill plus 10 takes the place of the base combat difficulty from the time the character makes the full defense on her turn to her turn in the next round.
Full active defense value = any active defense skill roll + 10
A character who chooses to do something else in addition to guarding against attacks may take a partial defense. In this case, the active defense roll replaces the base combat difficulty from the time the character takes his turn in one round to his turn in the next round. This total replaces the base combat difficulty even if the result is less than 10.
Partial active defense value = any active defense skill roll
Since the character is taking multiple actions, the multi-action penalty applies.
The gamemaster may call for a partial defense roll (as a free action) if he decides that the character might have a little awareness of an impending attack, yet not enough foresight to prepare for it.
For every 2D in Agility or dodge above 4D (round up), a character receives a +1 to her passive defense value. This modifier does not affect the character's active defense total. Every six ranks in a Skill Bonus or Increased Attribute Special Ability that affects Agility or dodge provides a +1 bonus, as specified for the skill in question.
Example: A character with 4D in Agility gets no bonus, while a character with 7D in dodge has a +2 bonus.
Here are a few of the most frequently used modifiers to the combat difficulty. Others are discussed in "Combat Options" section. Regardless of the number of modifiers used, the total combat difficulty may never go below 3.
The gamemaster rolls the indicated modifier and adds it to the combat situation. A standard modifier is included in parentheses after the die modifier, should the gamemaster prefer not to roll.
Range: The effectiveness of a punch, weapon, Special Ability, or any other attack made at a distance depends on its range. All range modifiers are added or subtracted from the combat difficulty.
Note that, unless a special maneuver allows otherwise, characters may use unarmed close combat attacks at Point Blank range only. In most cases, this is true for using various melee weapons as well, though the distance can be increased to Short range if the weapon is longer than two meters. For instance, a character with a long wooden plank can whack an opponent at Point Blank or Short range.
Cover: When a target is protected by something — poor lighting, smoke, fog, a table — it makes her harder to hit. This is represented by a cover modifier, which is added to the combat difficulty.
Aiming: Aiming involves careful tracking of the target. Characters may perform it against moving targets, but they cannot themselves do anything else in the round in which they aim. Each consecutive round of uninterrupted aiming adds 1D to the character's marksmanship or throwing skill, up to a maximum bonus of +3D.
Once the combat difficulty has been determined, the attacker rolls the die code in his character's combat skill and compares the total to the combat difficulty. If it equals or exceeds the combat difficulty, the attack hits, probably doing damage or having another effect that the attacker intended. If it was less than the combat difficulty, then the attack misses.
If a character successfully hits his target, he may have done damage to it. To determine the amount of injury caused, roll the damage die code for the weapon, including any modifiers from a special combat action, such as a sweep attack or hit location. Some weapons list their score as a die code with a plus sign ("+") in front of it; in this case, add the damage die code to the attacker's Strength Damage die code, add modifiers, and roll. If the gamemaster chooses to use the optional damage bonus, this is added to the total at this time.
After the player or the gamemaster has figured out how much damage is done, go to the "Damage" chapter to determine how much of that damage the target sustained.
To figure the Strength Damage die code, drop the pips from the character's Physique or lifting die code (but include any relevant Disadvantages or Special Abilities), divide the number by 2, and round up. The Increased Attribute: Physique Special Ability affects the total.
The combat skill roll is supposed to reflect the accuracy of an attack. Therefore, gamemasters may reward high rolls for players' characters and significant gamemaster characters with a bonus to damage. Subtract the difficulty of the successful attack from the skill total and divide this number by 5, rounding up. Add this damage bonus to the damage total before comparing it to the resistance total. If the gamemaster uses the damage bonus in combination with a called-shot hit location, the bonus is in addition to the damage modifier except for attempts on an arm, leg, or hand. In those cases, ignore the damage bonus.
For Special Abilities and Extranormal skills that require a combat roll to target them, the gamemaster may allow the combat roll's damage bonus to apply to the ability's roll.
You can find a summary of the information in this section on the Reference Sheet included on this website.
To give you an idea of how all this works, here's a typical exchange between a player's character and one of her opponents.
Gamemaster: Okay, we're in combat rounds now. Everyone make an Acumen roll. (All players and the gamemaster roll their dice.) Anyone roll higher than 20?
Cian: Yeah, I rolled a 23!
Gamemaster: All right, what do you want to do?
Cian: Ah, that depends. What're the goblins doing?
Gamemaster: As one runs across the street towards you, another levels his crossbow at you, and a third grabs a villager.
Cian: I'm going to take two actions. First, I'll shoot at one of the goblins with my crossbow, and then I'm going to dodge out of the way.
Gamemaster: You nailed him! Roll damage.
Cian: (Rolls her crossbow's damage dice.) I rolled an 18.
Gamemaster: (Using the Wounds system, he rolls the goblin's Physique to resist the damage.) Whoops! I rolled a 1 on the Wild Die. That leaves a total of 2. Well, that's 16 points over the resistance total. The optional damage bonus adds +2 and brings the total to 18. This definitely puts him at the Dead level! Your crossbow bolt catches him right in the chest and he's thrown backward, landing with a fail of limbs in the dirt. Okay, now make your dodge roll. (Note that if the gamemaster had decided to use the Body Points system, the merc would not have made a resistance roll, instead taking the full 18 points of damage.)
Gamemaster: Okay, roll another die and add it.
Cian: (Rolls one more die.) I rolled a 5, so that's a total of 18. I'll stick with that.
Gamemaster: Okay, the goblins get to go now. The one readying his crossbow fires. (Checks range and then rolls the merc's marksmanship dice.) That's a 17.
Cian: I rolled an 18 for my dodge this round. Good thing I spent that Character Point!
Gamemaster: That's right, so the goblin's bolt lanced straight toward you and you just barely manage to jump out of the way. On to the next one ...