THE BASICS OF COMBAT
Obviously, the basic principle of a sword fight is to hit the other guy with your sword and not let him do the same to you. Combat in all RPGs follows this same basic format,determine who goes first somehow and then the guy getting attacked tries to make the other person miss and get in a shot of their own or two..
Many RPG systems get all mixed up with who goes first if they blindly follow the rules, and any good Gamesmaster knows – dice and charts alone should NEVER determine who goes first if the situation is otherwise pretty much cut and dried.
But it can all be resolved beautifully and easily in 3 simple steps.
STEP 1: Determine Awareness
If everyone can see everyone else and are aware that there is going to be a fight, skip this step. If an assassin sneaks up behind a sentry facing the other way, well – the fight starts when the assassin makes his attack – and assuming the guard survives, only then he can do something in return.
STEP 2: Trigger Action
A fight with the locals that breaks out in a wayside tavern somewhere starts when someone throws the first punch. They attack, the defender tries to block or otherwise deflect it, and can return fire immediately. Combat continues this way until the combatants break it off by using an action to withdraw from combat (to which, the other party may use a follow up action to give chase).
Parry – Riposte.
STEP 3: Interrupt Challenge
If all parties are aware an attack is coming, and the other party makes a trigger action that is possible to see happening somehow (i.e. a warrior with a helmet and crossbow can fire anytime and you cannot interrupt the attack because if he does without warning, there is literally no way to see it coming to try and stop it), THEN it is time to roll some dice to see who goes first. And then combat continues, round after round, until the situation changes at the beginning of a new round.
Whether it is a playful fight with wooden wasters, a cut, thrust, punch, flurry of kicks or ‘ending him rightly’ – when your turn comes up, and the opponent is within range, you can try to hit them. Roll 2d6 (both your dice) and add them together. Add this to your [SKILL] score and this is your base attack value (BAV).
To this you can add situational or magical bonuses. So a +1 sword adds +1 to every attack made with it.
Here are some of the attack types:
- Power Strike: reduce BAV by -3, Add 1d6 to damage roll.
- Rapid Attack: increase BAV by +3. Reduce Damage by -3.
- Disarm (opposed test)
- Overbear (opposed test)
- Frenzied Attack: lose next defense roll, increase BAV by +3 and Add 1d6 to damage roll (going all in).
And of course, just a ‘standard’ measured attack, which includes lots of feints.
Whether it is intercepted by a shield or buckler, forte of your sword, a dodge backwards or what have you, the basic concept is to stop or get out of the way of an incoming attack. To do this, roll 2d6 and add your (SKILL). This is your basic defense value (BDV).
DETERMINE IF THE HIT LANDS
If the BAV is higher than the BDV, the attack hits, and each point over delivers an extra point of damage to the damage roll that follows (DAMAGE BONUS).
FULL DEFENSE OPTION: When a characters turn to defend comes up, they can optionally lose their next attack and go into full defense mode. Frontal attacks against shields now DOUBLE their effectiveness and adds a +3 to the defense roll.
SHIELDS, OFF HAND WEAPONS AND BUCKLERS (LAST LINE OF DEFENSE).
A small shield, off hand weapon such as main gauche or a dagger, or a buckler can be used to stop an attack from a standard sized weapon on a roll of 1 on 1d6. A large shield will stop a standard attack on a roll of 1-2 on a d6, 1 on an oversized attack, but an oversized attack will shatter the shield and render it useless if it blocks in this way.
Take the base weapon damage (usually one point) and add the damage bonus.
The basic concept of taking damage is that each character can take a low number of ‘hits’ before they are, in one way or another, taken out of the combat.
Most humanoids start with 1 ‘hit’. If they are reduced to 0 hits, they can still fight on if they like, but can only roll 1d6 for attacks. If their hits go to below zero, they have lost the fight. If What this means, will be determined by the situation.
In a wrestling match or non lethal attack, it means the other guy taps or is choked out..
If it is a sword, then losing can have much more serious consequences.
-1: Character is still usually conscious but has either lost the ability to defend against further attacks or is overwhelmed by pain. They can make no further attacks, but may attempt to flee on their action. Mages can cast basic spells only in this state.
-2: Barely conscious and either laying on the ground, walking around in a daze or looking for a place to lie down and quietly die. Requires 10 mins of ‘first aid and bandaging’ to get to 0.
-3: Knocked out, gurgling, quite possibly slowly dying. Completely out of the combat and unable to react to anything for at least 3d6 minute to get to -1.
-4: Knocked out and fading fast. Need to be removed from the combat area within 3 rounds or they will progress to -4..
-5: Dying. Character will die in 1d6 minutes without magical intervention/healing.
-6: Instantly Killed – head, arm, leg, torso comes off or is otherwise instantly destroyed.
Of course, if you want to stand in the middle of people raining blows on you, wearing some kind of armor is highly recommended. Armor works by absorbing ‘hits’, but will lose one armor point if damage gets through and need to be repaired at a later time.
Heavy Clothing: 1
Leather or Gambeson: 2
Scale, Brigantine, Banded: 3
Maille Suit: 4
Armor can be layered is less than half of the highest armor value. So it is possible to wear clothing and leather armor, Maille and a Gambeson, etc.
Every creature and character has a Stamina value which is an abstraction of their physical fitness, endurance and ability to fight at peak performance.
Every round that a character is involved in an ongoing activity such as sprinting, fighting or holding their breathe underwater, their stamina score is temporarily depleted and may be restored at the rate of 1 point of stamina per round if the character rests or resumes ‘normal’ activity levels.
If a characters stamina falls to 0 or below, they can no longer sprint, hold their breath, or fight as effectively. In such a state of exhaustion, an exhausted character can still fight, but will lose -1 point of accuracy for every round they continue to act while in an exhausted state and will result in negative stamina up to a maximum of -10, at which point the character can no longer mount any kind of effective attack and must defend until their stamina reaches -9 or lower.
As most characters have reasonably high stamina, it tends to be used for prolonged encounters, fights that end up in a stalemate or if attempting combat after a prolonged period of extreme activity (such as sprinting, flying at full speed, etc).
It is possible to use the full defense option while recovering from over-excretion.
Example of Combat
A lone Orc faces off against a lone green Imperial legionnaire, armed with his trusty Aelutian Gladius, large shield and Banded Armor (AV3). He has a FIGHTING SKILL of 6. Hits: 1.
The Orc is armed with a spear, a shortsword in his belt and wears leather armor (AV2) and carries a small shield. FIGHTING SKILL of 4. Hits: 2.
The lone Orc stands there stunned for a second, and the Imperial soldier lowers his shield and rushes him (initiative stages 1 and 2). The Orc attempts to interrupt by throwing or attacking with his spear, depending on how quickly he can act.
Initiative is rolled, and the Imperial Legionnaire wins.
He is well trained, but feels he can take this Orc down so launches a standard attack by rolling 2d6 and gets a 7. To this he adds his skill of 6 and his +1 to hit bonus from the inherent magic of the Aelutian Gladius for a total attack value of 14..
The Orc attempts to raise his shield and turn the blow away. He rolls 2d6 for defense and gets a 6. Add to this his fighting skill of 4 for a total of 10 and the Imperials attack goes through with +4 damage..
But the Orc has a small shield, so he rolls for his last change to block on a d6 and gets a 1..! The blow glances of the Orcs shield.
Now it is the Orcs turn to attack. In too close to use his spear (GM judgement call) he drops it and draws his shortsword, slashing out from behind his shield and rolling – the best roll possible, a 12, plus his fighting skill of 4 for an attack value of 16..!
The Imperial could be in trouble, and he rolls 2d6 and gets a 7 (again) and again gets a total of 14, not quite enough to avoid the +2 damage coming his way. His large shield may save him here, but he rolls a 3 so it doesn’t and the blow gets through all his defenses..
The shortsword has a hit value of 1 and a damage bonus of 1, so the Imperial is facing (+2 +1 +1) 4 points of damage.. His Armor value is 3 so he takes 1 hit of damage and is reduced to 0.. If he had rolled an 8 on his defense roll instead of a 7 his armor would have absorbed all the damage, but it didn’t – and the blade whips across the side of his head, slicing him open and damaging his armor by 1 point..
Ouch.. And now it is his turn.
If he attacks, he has only 1d6 to do it with. So he says a prayer to the Paragon, uses his divine favor point (+1) and goes all out with a Frenzied attack, losing his next defense roll.
One way or another, the fight will be over in the next few seconds..
He rolls his d6 and gets a 5. Add to this the +1 from his shortsword, +1 from divine favor and +3 from the Frenzied attack and his skill of 6 and he gets a total attack value of 16.. In with a very good chance.
The Orc is furious and while the frenzied attack is dangerous, he feels it is not enough for him to sacrifice his attack and go into full defense mode, so he rolls 2d6 and gets.. A 3.. Add his skill and the total is 7. Perhaps he should have gone into full defense after all..
His shield may still save him however, so he rolls d6 and gets a 6.. The frenzied attack finds it mark and comes in with +9 damage with +2 for the shortsword for a total of 11 points of damage.
Because this is a frenzied attack though, it delivers an additional 2d6 damage.. The Imperial rolls and gets another 7 so the total damage is now a whopping 18 points..
The Orc should have taken the frenzied attack more seriously. His armor absorbs 3 points, so 15 get through. With 2 hits, he is down to -13 – an is more or less stabbed and hacked to death within a couple of seconds..
Breathing heavily and bleeding badly from a head wound, the Imperial staggers off to try and rejoin his Legion.