Copyright © 1998-2005 Ken St-Cyr. All rights reserved. This is a work in progress.
Absorption Value: Armor stat. Maximum impact before energy is transferred. In other words, blows with an impact less than this value is ignored. Subtract the Absorption Value from the Impact Value. The remaining impact is transferred to the target as damage.
Critical Range: Hit Location/Weapon stat. The chance for a penetrating blow to strike a vital organ or artery in a particular hit location.
Effective Impact: The amount of energy delivered by a blow after all adjustments have been made. This is the number used to determine the actual damage to the target.
Flurry: An indivisible but interruptible sequence of actions between one combatant against one or more opponents. The flurry represents very rapid action; during the game each flurry is resolved completely before moving on to the next one, except when an attempted interrupt has been declared. The amount of time taken by a flurry is indeterminate, but is assumed to fall within the 5-second round. The time between flurries is filled up by miscellaneous action, such as feinting motions, stare-downs, weapon flourishes, soliloquys, etc.
Impact: A measure of the energy delivered by a weapon strike.
Impact Cap: Weapon stat. The maximum impact generated by a weapon is determined by weapon construction and the strength and skill of its wielder.
Initiative: The order in which the individuals involved in a combat decide to act.
Penetration Threshold: Armor stat. Maximum impact before armor is penetrated. In other words, if the impact (after subtracting Absorption Value) exceeds this value then the blow is considered penetrating.
Penetration Value: Weapon stat. Subtract the weapon's Penetration Value from the Penetration Threshold when determining penetration.
Combat is resolved in units of time called rounds, each of which consists of three phases: movement, flurries, and adjustment. Each round is a five-second unit of action but the time taken by each phase varies and is not considered important.
The distance scale is two meters per hexagon face to face, (or center-to-center). Hexagons provide a balloon of space within which a fighter can move freely and where his exact position is irrelevant. They also remove the need to use rulers for measuring distances.
At the beginning of each round, after checking for shock, each participant rolls 3d6 and adds his Fighter rank. These numbers are the initiative values for each participant. The highest value goes first. Optional: the side with the higher tactics skill gets a high skew die for the roll.
Because we are dealing with general actions, relative aggressiveness, alertness, and experience levels determines who acts first. The first two factors are random, due to the pointlessness of formalizing the variables. Combining them with the third allows us to generate an initiative rating for each fighter.
Non-combat Initiative: Sometimes initiative is called for when using non-fighting skills. Simply replace the Fighter rank with the appropriate field as the initiative modifier for both sides.
Surprise occurs when one side takes action unexpected or unperceived by the other.
Characters in combat must face a hex side. The three hexes in front of the character is his front side. The hex directly behind him is his rear side. The other two hexes are his left and right flank. Moving into a front hex costs normal movement points. Moving into a flank or rear hex costs double. A character may pivot in the hex to face any direction at the cost of one movement point, but changing face costs nothing if done whilst stepping into a front hex.
Alternatively, characters may face either the side or the vertex of a hex. Facing a vertex places two opponents in front, for example.
A fighter has no defense against attacks from the rear, unless he pivots. Attacks from the flanks may be defended against at half skill level, but only if the defender forfeits his defenses from the front hexes.
The battlefield is a dangerous place. One cannot simply waltz across one and expect to get through unscathed without being careful. Fighters constantly shuffle about, weapons are being swung or whipped about or thrusted forth; enemies do not simply let you walk by them without challenge unless they choose to do so, or are unable to challenge you. This section present guidelines for determining how dangerous a particular path across a battlefield is, and rules for negotiating battlefield dangers.
General Zones of Danger(1) - zone of threat for range-1 weapons
(2) - zone of threat for range-2 weapons
(3) - zone of threat for range-3 weapons
M2 - marginal threat zone for range-2 weapons
M3 - marginal threat zone for range-3 weapons
F/L - left flank
F/R - right flank
R - rear
A zone of threat includes those hexes in front of a hostile fighter that are in range of his weapon. For polearms, the zone of threat leaves a gap between the polearm head and the wielder. The zone of threat includes three hexes: the target hex plus the hex to either side of the target hex closest to the fighter. Note that range-0 weapons have no zones of threat or danger.
A zone of danger is any hex that is in range of a weapon held by any fighter that is actively engaged. A zone of danger includes the six hexes surrounding a fighter wielding a one-hex range swung weapon. The zone of danger of a fighter wielding a polearm is the same as his zone of threat. The space between the zone of threat and the fighter is considered obstructed, but not impassible.
Zones of Danger
T - zones of threat
Entering either a zone of threat or a zone of danger is risky, and thus requires negotiation. Entering a zone of threat or causing another character to enter a your zone of threat engages the two figures. If the two engaged figures are not already facing each other, then they are turned to face each other (no cost in movement points) as soon as the flurry begins. In the case where multiple opponents attack a lone defender, the defender may choose which direction to face. A fighter who must turn to place the attacker into his zone of threat receives a -1 penalty to Defense for the entire flurry.
A marginal zone is any space that can be attacked by the wielder of a weapon, but probably not accidentally. Marginal zones are safe to pass through, but the weapon wielder may attack any character that ends movement there. The marginal zone includes the two hexes to either side of the zone of threat.
The marginal zone rule simulates the extra beat of time required to reposition the weapon (without a facing change). A character ending pre-flurry movement in a marginal zone doesn't actually stop there, but we rule that the timing is just right to be subjected to an attack.
A fighter's movement rate is the maximum number of points that may be spent on movement during a single round. Movement rate depends on the mode of locomotion. Individuals may walk, shuffle, run, crawl, swing, jump, dive, or tumble. Movement occurs in two phases — the initial phase before flurries, and the adjustment phase after flurries. During each phase, the fighter can spend up to half his movement points.
|- Rate for a human on foot in two-meter hexes per 5-sec round|
Movement costs for entering a hex is given on the terrain chart, below. If the character does not have enough movement points to negotiate an obstacle during a phase or round, then that movement action is carried over to the next phase or round. Some modes of locomotion and some types of terrain require the character to make a skill check.
|Slick||2||Walk or Slide|
* — If the maximum pace is exceeded, an agility roll (or
some applicable skill roll) must be made or the character stumbles.
The GM may decide on the difficulty of keeping balance.
** — as per dominant terrain, but note maximum pace. Also, treacherous terrain may collapse (according to GM's design).
*** — movement costs are double that of dominant terrain, and maximum pace is the same as dominant terrain.
In addition to terrain, some hexes are covered by various zones of danger, which put the character at risk of being struck accidentally or by opportunity. A character entering a zone of danger must stop upon entering a hex covered by the zone, and resolve the threat during the flurry phase. If the character is allowed to enter the hex, he may make a one hex adjustment the following phase, but must wait until the next round to continue normal movement. However, if the one hex adjustment puts him in another danger zone, he cannot move the next round until the new threat is resolved, and is again allowed a one hex adjustment at the end of that round. And so on. The character must get to a non-threatened hex before he is “in the clear” and can move normally.
An exception to this is a “pass through” maneuver, in which the character, under the risk of being hit accidentally, attempts to pass through a zone of danger (with one or more contiguous hexes) and reach a safety hex in one go. A pass through maneuver uses the tactics skill, modified by agility. A failed roll means the character was struck. Randomly roll for hit location and severity, but add a low skew die for impact, since the blow is unintentional.
Open: clear, uncluttered ground
Rough: rubble, fallen bodies, stairs
Treacherous: weak, collapsing stairs or floorboards
Slick: icy, greasy, or slick wet surface
Water/Mired/Sandy: stuff to wade or slosh through
Other obstacles include furniture, windows, pits, etc. Moving past these sometimes requires the character to move under, over, or through, in such a way as to preclude normal modes of locomotion. All such forms of movement, if successful, cost +1 movement point over and above normal costs of terrain; a failed action halts movement, and possibly causes injury.
|Climb a rope, ladder, or tree||Climbing||STR|
|Dive over a counter||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Dive through a window||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Dive under a table||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Jump across a gap||Acrobatics and Jumping||STR|
|Jump down a flight of stairs||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Jump from a balcony to the ground||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Jump on top of a table||Jumping||STR|
|Jump up a flight of stairs||Jumping||STR|
|Slide down a balustrade||Balance||AGL|
|Slide down a rope or ladder||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Swing across a gap||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Tumble down a flight of stairs||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Tumble over a table||Acrobatics||AGL|
|Tumble under a table||Acrobatics||AGL|
Actions of non-engaged combatants occur simultaneously with movement. These actions are divided into four types: Free Actions can be done with full movement; Quick Actions can be done with limited movement; Full Actions prohibit movement; Lengthy Actions are Full Actions that take more than one round to perform.
A character may perform one quick action during each movement phase, where a quick action takes less than 5 seconds to perform. These include opening/closing doors, picking up small objects, shoving objects, drawing weapons, etc.
|Free Actions:||Quick Actions:||Full Actions:||Lengthy Actions:|
- Draw Weapon
- Drop Item
- Kick Away Small Object
- Fall prone
- Free Attack
- Open/Close a door
- Pick Up Small Item
- Sit down
- Stand up
- Aim a Weapon|
- Engage Opponent
- Load Weapon
- Sheathe weapon
- Don/Shed Armor/Clothing|
- Heavy Lift
Movement rate penalizes actions that require skill rolls:
|Jump or Dive||-5|
Sometimes using a missile weapon can be a confrontational task, and sometimes not. Which of the two depends on the amount of delay between launching the weapon and hitting the target, and on the awareness of the target. At the closer range against an aware target, the task is confrontational just like a mêlée attack. At further ranges or against unaware targets, archery rules are used.
Archers fire once or twice a round. The first shot is made during the Movement Phase, and the second shot takes place during the Adjustment Phase.
The attacker rolls 3d6 + skill level with weapon + dexterity task modifier + movement modifiers (shooter and target) + range modifiers + other applicable modifiers described below.
Base ranges for missile weapons correspond to short range. At point blank range, the archer may aim at any general hit location (head, chest, belly, arm, leg) without penalty, but suffers a -3 to hit for a sub-location (hand, item carried, eye, etc). At short range, general hit locations are -2 to call, or -5 for sub-locations. Otherwise hit locations are random.
|Point Blank (× 1/10)||+0|
|Unaware and Unmoving||10 + Range Modifier|
|Unaware, Moving||15 + Range Mod.|
|Unaware, Moving Erratically||20 + Range Mod.|
|Aware, Evading||15 + Target's Defense + Range Mod.|
Firing Into a Mêlée: Add +5 to task target level if the target is obstructed by moving bodies.
Missed Shots: Treat accidental attacks against random targets in the missile's flight path as if the attacker had a skill level of -5.
Close combat occurs when two or more figures become engaged as a result of movement during the previous phase.
Two opponents become engaged when one or both enters the other's danger zones. At this point, movement stops and a flurry ensues. See combat flurries, below. Flurries are resolved during the second phase of the round, after movement.
Unengaged figures may interrupt flurries, or attempt to make a free attack (or swipe) at a fighter in a flurry without entering the flurry himself. The main issue to deal with is timing and danger. The unengaged fighter must negotiate the space around the combatants to avoid being hit. This is a task modified by the tactics skill and agility. A strike against an engaged fighter from someone outside the flurry can only be defended against if the target is (1) aware of the attack and not surprised; and (2) has not used up all of his actions.
At the beginning of each flurry, each participant rolls 3d6 and adds his Fighter rank. The flurry proceeds with each participant attacking in initiative order, highest first.
A fighter is the attacker if he has the initiative and chooses to take it. The attacker has the benefit of declaring his intention first, to which the defender must respond. The character with the initiative may hold it, but doing so allows another to go first, and thus be the attacker.
Wounded characters must make an Action Loss check. See Wound Severity descriptions, below.
An intention is the desired outcome of the flurry: e.g., kill, subdue, disarm, outmaneuver, etc. See Attack Options below.
A fighter's intentions in combat determine available attack types and selection of attack resolution table. Rather than specify detailed actions to perform, the player should only state the character's intentions.
A declaration of intention makes explicit what a game of the imagination might conceal: that when facing an opponent in real life, an intuitive sense of intention is usually pretty obvious.
Example: The character says, “We're going to kill that murderous bastard,” implying the use of deadly force. His target sees the look in his eyes, their cold intent, and a subtle change in how the weapon is held.
Example: The character says, “We're going to capture that traitorous bastard,” implying the use of subdual damage. His eyes are more searching, his movements less direct, his weapon held less threateningly.
Example: The character says, “We're going to corner that sneaky bastard and force him off the cliff,” implying the use of maneuver tactics and possibly deadly force. Now the character occasionally glances behind his target, moves menacingly and feints without striking, while slowly advancing upon his target.
Maneuver Tactics: In addition to an attack type, a fighter can also specify a movement tactic. This is one of Hold, Press, Retreat, or Circle. Maneuver tactics are simultaneous with the attacks made during a flurry; compare Charge and Flight, which occur outside a flurry.
During a flurry much movement occurs, consisting of various degrees of advances, retreats, and sidesteps. A maneuver tactic describes the general tendency of these movements, i.e., the net effect.
These net effect movements are made during the adjustment phase, after the flurry. The character winning the most and best successes determines the net movement, which could mean forcing the defender backwards or forwards (though the winner must also maintain relative position). If a character is forced to move in a direction that is blocked by an impassible obstacle, then the attacker receives one extra action (for that flurry only) and the defender is penalized -1 to defense due to limited ability to move.
Actions: A character may perform a limited number of actions in a flurry, equal to 2, +1 every fifth Fighter rank. Movement occurs between flurries. A flurry is considered an atomic entity. Attempts at breaking it with anything except an attack or defense versus another participant in the flurry results in the end of the flurry. (However, note that attacks and defense can include limited movement). In a one-versus-many situation, the lone fighter is outnumbered in available actions. He must avoid any flurry in which he can be attacked by more than one opponent, especially when the opponents number greater than his maximum number of actions (see below).
Running Out of Actions: A fighter may make as many attacks in a flurry as he has actions. When he runs out of actions, he must disengage. If he disengages whilst his opponent still has actions, he must retreat one step for every action his opponent wishes to press. Alternatively, the opponent may wish to withdraw as many steps as he has actions and the actionless fighter must hold. If the opponent has at least two actions left, he may make an indefensible attack on the actionless fighter.
Disarm: Attempt to remove a weapon from an opponent's hands or break the opponent's weapon. This is an offensive parry; another type of disarm can be accomplished with a grapple.
Grapple: Employ locks or holds on the opponent or against the opponent's weapons.
Strike: Attack the target with a weapon to cause damage to the target. A strike may also be made with the intention of doing reduced or no damage. A typical intention is to render the target unconscious for ease of capture or escape.
Tackle: Knock the opponent down with a collision. May be done with or without a shield. Tackles typically do little damage, but have the advantage of ignoring armour.
Throw: Use the hip or shoulder to toss the opponent to the ground.
If the attack roll succeeds, then determine impact and wound severity, and from that whether or not the defender gets to respond. If the attack roll fails, the defender becomes the attacker, choosing available options from his defense. This continues to the end of the flurry, at which point initiative is redetermined and new intentions are declared.
Realistically, the defender cannot know how to defend against an attack until it actually occurs, and at that point, only an instinctive reaction can respond quickly enough. However, a skilled fighter can control his response by observing patterns and waiting for an appropriate opportunity.
To simplify things, assume by default that the defense is a matter of timing and distance, but may include weapon contact in preparation for a response. If the attack roll is close to hitting (within three points or so), but not quite, then it indicates a parry, block, or dodge.
Fighting skills work like other skills. Roll 3d6, add the attacker's skill with the weapon, modified by Agility, and beat the target level (i.e., the defender's Defense, or Fighter rank plus Agility modifier plus 10).
If an attack with the intent to kill succeeds, determine the location struck so that the defender's armor can be considered. Sometimes a piece of armour has its own defense bonus. If this changes the to hit number to a miss, then that means the blow has slid off the armour.
In the case of arm or leg hits, the side (left or right) that is hit is a function of stance and weapon use. The GM should rule depending on the circumstances. The general rule of thumb is whichever limb is in front if the target is in a sideways stance, or else the opposite side for square-on stances (i.e., a sword blow from a right-hander hits the target's left leg), unless the attacker specifies a preference.
Once a hit has been made, use the following procedure to determine the results of the hit on the target:
If the strike was a critical hit, then effective impact equals impact rolled on dice and the strike is penetrating.
Critical Hits: If an attack roll exceed the required target (i.e., the DEF of the target) by 5 or more, it is a critical hit. Critical hits automatically penetrate armour and every 5 points over the target gives the attacker an additional die of impact.
Impact: The force from a blow ranges from a graze to a solid impact. The maximum force a fighter can apply with a given weapon is called Impact Cap. Impact Cap is equal to strength plus weapon impact modifier.
Actual impact will range from 1 to a number close to the Impact Cap and is determined by rolling dice according to the table below:
|Impact Cap||Damage Dice|
|-7 to -3||1 point|
|-2 to 2||1d3|
Impact Absorption: The target's impact absorption rating is a combination of armor and innate damage resistance (typically derived from Size). Armor absorbs as much of the impact of a blow as its Impact Modifier.
Penetration: Even if a blow delivers impact that is not completely absorbed by the target's impact absorption, it may not penetrate the target's armor. If the Effective Impact exceeds the penetration threshold, then the blow penetrates the armor. Otherwise, it is a non-penetrating impact. Penetration affects the nature of the wound, as described below.
Damage Results: To determine actual damage to the target, compare the Effective Impact with the target's Damage Thresholds. These thresholds indicate the amount of impact required to achieve a particular damage result. There are three thresholds for damage: Impaired, Disabled, and Destroyed.
Damage thresholds are based on the mass of the target:
Wounds are classified into one of four severities: light, serious, critical, and mortal. Light wounds don't exceed the Impaired threshold. Serious wounds exceed the Impaired threshold but not the Disabled threshold. Critical wounds exceed the Disabled threshold but not the Destroyed threshold. Mortal wounds exceed the Destroyed threshold.
When recording wounds, indicate the wound severity and shock check value, if any, under the appropriate column. For example, a serious blunt wound to the head could be written as B16 in the box under the Serious wounds column for the head. Make a note also whether the impact was non-penetrating (blunt) or penetrating (cutting or piercing).
Light wounds incur a -1 action penalty. Light blunt wounds cause bruising. Light cuts and punctures cause light bleeding.
Serious wounds incur a -3 action penalty. Serious blunt wounds produce contusions in the target area, but no broken bones. Serious cutting or puncturing wounds are cause moderate bleeding.
Critical wounds incur a -7 action penalty, if the victim can move at all. Critical blunt wounds indicate broken bones. Penetrating serious wounds mean life-threatening bleeding from deep cuts or punctures.
Mortal destroy the target in some way. Mortal blunt wounds shatter bones in the arms, legs or chest, shatter the skull, or disrupt the internal organs in the belly. Mortal punctures to the chest pierce the lungs or heart, to the neck or belly impale. Mortal punctures to the arms or legs hit major blood vessel and cause serious bleeding. Mortal cuts to the belly disembowel the victim; to the chest break ribs and hack internal organs; sever the arms or legs.
Wounds have three game effects: action penalty, body part malfunction, and action loss. Wounds to different hit locations have different effects, as summarized below:
|Action Penalty —>||-1||-3||-7|
Action penalties are applied against any task roll the character attempts. Injured characters receive an action penalty according to the worst wound suffered for each hit location. Multiple injuries to the same hit location do not accumulate penalties. Mortally wounded characters are incapable of performing any action.
Fumble?: Roll 3d6 + DEX modifier vs. 10. Failure means (1) any item carried is dropped 1d6-1 meters from the character, (2) one action is lost this round, and (3) the arm cannot be used to perform an action for the remainder of the round.
Stumble?: Roll 3d6 + AGL modifier vs. 10. Failure means the victim falls. A fallen character that can still move has a base Defense of 5, then adds Fighter rank. The character loses one action this round and may not stand on the leg for the rest of the round.
Stun: Attacks to the head, chest, or belly cause stun when the light threshold is exceeded. Stunned characters lose half their Defense (i.e., Base 5 + half Fighter rank) and can take no action for 1d6 rounds.
Fumble: Like the Fumble? check except any item carried is automatically dropped. The character's arm is now impaired, and he can no longer make attacks or defenses with the injured arm, but may still carry hand held items and perform light tasks.
Stumble: Like the Stumble? check, except the character automatically falls down. The character's leg is now impaired: reduce movement rate by 1/2 if one leg is so injured, or to a crawl if both legs are impaired. A crawling character has a base Defense of 5, plus Fighter rank.
Disabled: The limb is disabled and can no longer be used until healed. In the case of a belly wound, both legs are disabled. In the case of a chest wound, the character is conscious but immobile. A fallen, immobile character has a base Defense of 3, and gets no Fighter rank or Agility modifier.
Knockout: The character automatically falls unconscious. Unconscious characters have a base Defense of 3 and get no Fighter rank or Agility modifiers.
Most wounds do not kill the character outright. A character may die from blood loss, a mortal wound, or a coup-de-grace, but injuries do not accumulate to cause death.
Coup-de-Grâce: An automatic killing stroke may be delivered if the victim meets one of the following conditions: any three limbs disabled, all four limbs disabled, unconscious, or mortally wounded. Additionally, the deliverer of the coup-de-grâce must not be engaged with another opponent.
A fighter may also attempt to disarm, subdue, entangle, tackle, or perform other maneuvers. The maneuver table below determines the outcome for these attacks. Note that the normal weapon damage modifier is not used, though some weapons may have special features to give bonuses.
Break: A weapon break.
Broken: A bone break.
Fumble-XX: Roll 3d6 + Dexterity modifier vs. target. On a failure, drop whatever is carried.
|0||Item slips, but is caught. Lose 1 action this round.|
|1-3||Drop item at feet.|
|4+||Item goes flying 1d6 hexes away in random direction.|
Instant death: Death occurs instantaneously or within a few seconds.
Restrict: The victim rolls a strength task vs. stated target level before attempting any action. If he fails, he loses an action, otherwise he may act at -1.
Slow death: Death occurs within minutes.
Stumble-XX: Roll 3d6 + Agility modifier vs. target. On a failure, fall down.
|0||You slip, but catch yourself. Lose 1 action this round.|
|1-3||Fall to knees.|
|4-6||Fall to your hands and knees.|
|7+||Fall on back, side, or face.|
Coolness Under Fire: Number of actions represents this aspect of combat. The mechanic of losing actions from taking hits represents the loss of "cool" and the corresponding opportunities given to the attacker.
Death: Does not occur automatically. Make a Death Check.
Pressure Points: Primarily cause additional pain but no damage. Increase shock target.
Thanks to Jason Coplen and Nelson Rushton for pointing out some ambiguities. Thanks also to other members of the RPG Create mailing list for ideas, inspiration, and (endless) arguments!