Depending on your type of game, you may have many encounters with foes where peace is not an option (or at least not the option you choose). These battle rules help you simulate those intense contests of might, be it with swords, magic, superpowers, guns, or just a well-placed fist.
Combat only starts if there are at least two parties involved that truly wish to fight and have the capabilities to do so. Randomly punching rocks does not start combat. Neither does attacking innocent civilians that cannot fight back if there is nobody there willing to defend them. Players randomly brawling with the intention of triggering and using features that only work during combat does not start combat either.
Everybody that fights on your side counts as an ally. That includes yourself. Every other combatant on the battlefield counts as an enemy.
Rounds and Turns
Each combat is divided into multiple rounds. Each combatant gets one turn during one round. How much time passes during one round depends on what kind of game you are playing. A relatively normal game with epic heroes and villains might have rounds that roughly take 12 seconds. On the other hand, you may be playing a game more akin to shounen anime, or one with extremely superpowered individuals, where a round could take less than a second. You decide what amount of time makes the most sense for your setting. Regardless, any feature or Ability that lasts for five rounds should roughly last one minute outside of combat.
Each participant gets three Action Points (AP) during their turn. They can use their AP for all kinds of actions during combat. For a list of all common actions, see Basic Actions. They can also move by an amount equal to their Basic Movement (usually 3 m) without needing to use any AP. Each participant also gains two Reaction Points (RP) for the whole round. RP can be used to act outside of your turn but usually require specific features or Abilities to be used.
The order in which participants take their turns is determined by their Initiative. The creature with the highest Initiative goes first, then the one with the second highest, and so on. If two creatures have the same Initiative, the GM decides who goes first. Your Instinct Stat times two plus your Athletics, Quick Fingers, Analysis, Grace, and Improvisation Skill Levels determine your Initiative. The Initiative of objects is always 0.
Any Participant can hold their turn and take it later in a round. Should more than one creature hold their turn to the end of the round, they will take turns according to their Initiative. If any of those creatures refuse, they lose their turn for this round. Any effects that last until a creature’s next turn stop when their turn would normally start even if the creature decides to hold their turn. Any effects that last until the end of a creature’s turn keep being in effect until a creature ends their turn or they lose it.
Two or more allies can decide to act as a union at the start of a round. All creatures of a union have their turn at the same time and can alternate their actions and movement. The Initiative of a union is equal to the sum of the Initiative of all participating creatures divided by the number of those creatures. For example, a knight with an Initiative of 26 who decides to make a union with their horse that has an Initiative of 32 would have an Initiative of (26+32)/2=29. Any effect that allows a creature to act first in a round is ignored unless all creatures in a union have such an effect. If any creature in a union suffers from an effect that forces them to act last in a round, the entire union is forced to act last.
Initiative is determined at the beginning of a turn. Any effects that alter your Initiative value only change the turn order in the next round and not in the current one.
A creature can be surprised by combat. In such a case, they act at the end of the first round instead of using their normal initiative, and any enemy that is not surprised starts the combat hidden from them. This can be achieved, for example, if the attackers sneak up on them with a successful Stealth Check or if they walk into an ambush without noticing it through a Perception or Intuition Check.
Here is a list of the most basic actions that even a beginner should learn. It contains everything you need for a basic battle.
|Attack||2||You can make one weapon attack. It does not have to be during the same action, but it has to be on your turn. You can make attacks in any order you like if a feature or Ability (like Path of Attack or Multi-Wielder) allows you to make additional attacks with this action.|
|Defend||2||Attack rolls against you have disadvantage, and you have advantage on all your DR until your next turn.|
|Interact with Target||1||You make a simple and quick interaction with an object or creature, like pushing a button, picking up a weapon, opening a door, giving an ally an item, or trying to poke a creature. You can make one free Interact with Target action on your turn unless you have already used a free Switch Weapons action.|
|Move||1||You increase your movement by an amount equal to your Basic Movement.|
|Sprint||3||You increase your movement by an amount equal to four times your Basic Movement.|
|Stabilize||3||You can make a First Aid Check against 8. On a success, you can remove the Bleeding Status Effect from a creature within 1 m of you.|
|Switch Places||1||You can switch places with an ally that is standing next to you. They must use a reaction (1 RP), or this action fails.|
|Switch Weapons||1||You can change the weapons/shields and equipment that you are wielding. You can perform this action for free on your turn once if you are not holding anything in the hand that you want to use to draw a weapon or if you just want to sheathe a weapon without replacing it with another. You cannot make one free Switch Weapons action on your turn if you already used a free Interact with Target action.|
|Taking Cover||1||Your Evasion increases by 2 and your DR by 1, as long as you are in half cover.|
|Use Item||3||Use a non-ability consumable, such as a stimulant.|
Here is a list of actions for players and GMs that want to extend their options in combat. These are more advanced actions that are not necessary for beginners, but they allow you to get more out of combat and add tactical options.
|Blind||2||You can try to blind a target within 1 m of you until the end of their next turn. If you succeed on a Quick Fingers or Nimbleness Check against the target’s Improvisation or Endurance Check, you successfully blind them. The target cannot be larger than one size category above your own. If the target is larger than you are, they gain advantage on their check. If they are smaller, you gain an advantage on your check.|
|Climb||2||You try to climb onto a target that is within 1 m of you and is at least one size category larger than you. You need at least one free hand or the ability to climb without using your hands to attempt this. If you succeed on an Athletics or Nimbleness check against the target’s Athletics, Raw Force, Nimbleness, or Quick Fingers check, you successfully climb onto the target. You occupy a space that is also occupied by the target, and you move with it if it moves. The target gains disadvantage if it tries to attack you. It can try to shake you off by using an action (2 AP) repeating the Skill Checks and will shake you off successfully if you fail the Skill Check. Any attack that targets you and misses targets the creature you have climbed onto instead.|
|Command||1||You take direct control over all of your summons until your next turn as long as they are not affected by anything that makes them lose control.|
|Disarm||2||You try to force a target that is within 1 m of you to drop one item that it is holding in their hand. You and your target make an Athletics, Nimbleness, Raw Force, or Quick Finger Check. You succeed if you roll higher than your target. You can take the dropped item if you have at least one free hand.|
|Grab||2||You try to grab a target within 1 m of you with a free hand. If you succeed on an Athletics or Raw Force Check against the target’s Athletics, Raw Force, or Nimbleness Check, you successfully grab the creature. That creature cannot be larger than one size category above your own. If the target is larger than you are, they gain advantage on their check. If they are smaller, you gain advantage on your check.|
|Hide||2||You can try to hide from all enemies if none of them sees you. You successfully hide if you beat their Perception Check with your Stealth Check. While you are hidden, you have advantage on all of your attacks, and the enemies do not know where you are. You stop being hidden if an enemy sees you or you take any action that would clearly give away your location. You stay hidden until the end of the turn if this happens during your turn. You can stay hidden if you successfully take the Hide action after anything that would reveal you and before your turn ends.|
|Shove||1||You can try to move a target within 1 m of you up to 1 m. If you succeed on an Athletics or Raw Force Check against the target’s Athletics, Raw Force, or Nimbleness Check, you successfully move them. The target cannot be larger than one size category than you. If the target is larger than you are, they gain advantage on their check. If they are smaller, you gain advantage on your check.|
|Trip||2||You can try to knock a target within 1 m of you Prone. If you succeed on an Athletics or Raw Force check against the target’s Athletics or Nimbleness Check, you successfully knock them prone. The target cannot be larger than one size category above your own. If the target is larger than you are, they gain advantage on their check. If they are smaller, you gain advantage on your check.|
Cinematic Actions and Reactions
Sometimes you want to do something during combat that would lead to an epic moment, but the rules do not directly allow it, or at least they make it hard to perform. In such a case, you can use a Cinematic Action (3AP) or a Cinematic Reaction (2RP) and get creative.
Using a Cinematic Action or Reaction costs 3 Narrative Momentum. You tell the GM what you want to attempt before you start your Cinematic Action or Reaction. The GM determines if it is possible or not. Should the GM agree, you must then make a Skill Check determined by the GM. On a success, you perform your Cinematic Action and Reaction as intended. On a failure, you are unsuccessful, and the GM determines what happens.
A successful Cinematic Action or Reaction should be at least as powerful as a fully upcast Ability. The GM determines the exact effects, but they should use this as a guideline. A Cinematic Action can also be far more powerful, depending on the suggestion, but the difficulty of the Skill Check should scale appropriately.
Two or more characters can perform a Cooperative Cinematic Action. Each character beyond the first has to perform a reaction (2 RP) to participate. Each participant only needs to use 2 Narrative Momentum instead of the normal 3, and everyone has to make a Skill Check. It does not have to be the same Skill Check, and they make it with advantage. The participants succeed in their Cooperative Cinematic Action if everybody succeeds on their Skill Check. A failure on the Skill Check of one participant can be compensated by a critical success of another participant. The effectiveness of the Cooperative Cinematic Action should scale with the number of characters participating.
If you cannot use 3AP or 2RP for some reason, like when you are Restrained or Stunned, you can use a Cinematic Burst for 6 Narrative Momentum instead of 3 to still be able to use a Cinematic Action or Reaction. You can only use a Cinematic Burst if you have not used any AP on your turn if you are trying to do a Cinematic Action or no RP this round if you are trying to do a Cinematic Reaction. You can also use a Cinematic Burst to do a Cooperative Cinematic Action, in which case you need 4 Narrative Momentum.
Here are some examples of Cinematic Actions and Reactions:
A Level 3 Barbarian tries to pick up a Table, slam it into three enemies standing next to each other, and pin them against the wall. The Skill Check could be a Raw Force Check against 11. On a success, he deals 4d6 Physical damage to the enemies and restrains them as long as he is standing at the table and keeps using an action (2 AP) to continue pinning them down.
A Thief tries to sneak into a mansion through the back door, but they see a guard. They can attempt retroactively to have tried to bride the guard before to let them in when they try to sneak in later. They successfully bribed them before and are let in if they succeed on a Street Smarts Check against 10.
A level 5 Martial Artist sees a friend die in front of her. She is overcome with rage, potentially awakening an ancient power within herself to turn the tide of the battle, anime style. She could make a Presence check against 15. On a success, she regains all of her Vitality, Temporary Vitality, and WP, and her upcast limit increases by 4 WP until the battle ends.
A Level 9 Priest and her allies are confronted with an unholy demonic army storming out of a hell portal. She prays to her god, pleading for divine intervention. She could make a Perseverance check against 18. On a success, the demonic horde is cast back into the portal that is then closed as her god intervenes.
Using weapons or some selected Abilities against a target requires you to perform an attack. You must target them and (unless it is an object) make an attack roll to see if you hit them. If your target is an object, you hit it automatically. To make an attack roll, roll a d20 and add your weapon or Ability hit bonus. Your attack hits if you roll at least the same amount as the Evasion of your target. You can choose to miss with your own attack.
Every weapon has a Primary and Secondary Stat that determines, in combination with your Stats, how high their hit bonus is. The hit bonus is equal to the Primary Stat Bonus of the weapon plus half of its Secondary Stat Bonus. For example, let us assume that you are wielding an ax and have a Strength and Dexterity of 13. The Primary Stat of an ax is Strength, and the Secondary Stat is Dexterity. Should you try to attack with the ax, you add your Strength Bonus and half of your Dexterity Bonus to the attack roll, so 3 plus 1,5, which is rounded down to 1, for a total of 4. For more information about weapons, see the weapons chapter in the items rule.
You add your Ability hit bonus to the attack if you attack with an Ability instead. Your Ability hit bonus is calculated similarly to a weapon hit bonus, but it uses your Primary and Secondary Stat instead, which are determined by your Archetype.
An attack is either a weapon attack or an Ability attack. There is also a distinction between melee attacks and ranged attacks. Melee attacks have a base range of 1 m and ignore cover. Ranged attacks have a greater range than melee attacks that depend on the Ability or weapon, but you attack with disadvantage should an enemy be within 1 m of you.
If you roll a natural 20 when you attack, you perform a critical hit. Critical hits with weapons increase the damage by 6. Critical hits with Abilities increase the damage by 6 plus an additional 3 for every Tier of the used Ability. Critical hits with weapon attacks that have a Maneuver added to them deal additional damage of 6, and the Maneuver deals additional damage equal to 3 times the Tier of the used Maneuver Ability.
You can deal non-lethal damage with attacks. If you choose to do so and use a weapon, you must subtract a 1d4 from the damage. To deal non-lethal damage with an Ability attack, you need to reduce the damage by 1d4 plus an additional 1d4 for each Tier. A creature does not start bleeding if you reduce their Vitality below 1 with non-lethal damage, and you cannot kill them with it. You cannot drop the Vitality of a creature below an amount that would kill them with a non-lethal attack.
Evasion represents how good your character is at dodging, parrying, and blocking. It determines how hard it is to hit you with attacks. An attacker must roll at least as high as your Evasion with their attack roll to hit you with an attack. An attacker with a hit bonus of 4 would need to roll at least a 12 if they want to hit a target with an Evasion of 16. Any lower and the attack would miss.
Your base Evasion is equal to your Dexterity Stat plus the Stat Bonus of your Evasion Stat. Your Archetype determines your Evasion Stat. For example, let us presume that you have the War Archetype and a Dexterity of 13 and a Strength of 14. The Evasion Stat of the War Archetype is Strength. That means you would have a base Evasion of 13 + 4 = 17.
Armor and clothes you wear limit how high your base Evasion can get, but they can offer other advantages and be upgraded to loosen the restriction. For example, if you have a base Evasion of 17 but are wearing medium armor, then your base Evasion would be only 14 instead of 17 because of the Evasion Cap of the armor. The Evasion Cap does not affect any other source of additional Evasion like Buffs or features. For more information, see the chapter on armor in the item rules.
Your Armor is a value that helps you reduce almost any incoming damage. Your Armor is subtracted from any incoming damage. For example, if you have an Armor of 2 and are hit for 12 damage, you only receive 10 damage. Your Armor is only subtracted once if you are hit with multiple Damage Types simultaneously. A negative Armor value leads to taking increased damage if you receive any.
Armor does not protect you from Poison or Psychic damage. Instead, these types of damage take the Constitution DR value (Poison) or Will DR value (Psychic) into account as if it were Armor. A creature with a Constitution of 10 and an Endurance Skill Level of 3 (which leads to a Constitution DR of 3) that is hit by 12 Poison damage would receive 9 damage. Damage that deals multiple types of damage simultaneously, for which different defenses become relevant, takes the lowest defensive value into account. The attacker can choose from which damage type the Armor/DR value is subtracted. If you hit a target with an Armor of 4 and a Constitution DR value of 1 with an attack that deals 5 Physical and 5 Poison damage, you would deal a total of 9 damage, either 5 Physical and 4 Poison damage or 4 Physical and 5 Poison damage.
Effects that ignore Armor, like the Greater Talent Cursed Revenge, also ignore the DR values if you damage a target with Poison or Psychic damage. Such effects still deal increased damage if the target’s Armor or DR values are negative. Ignoring Armor does not allow you to reduce the effective Armor of a target below 0. For Example, attacking a target with 2 Armor with the Ability Armor Piercer, which allows you to ignore up to 4 Armor, allows you to deal damage as if the target had an Armor of 0 and not -2.
For more information on how much Armor you get from what kind of armor, see the chapter on armor in the Item Rules.
There are many Abilities and features for which the user does not have to aim actively. Instead, the target needs to defend themselves against the effects. The target must make a Defense Roll (DR) in such cases. A creature can choose to fail their own DR. Objects automatically fail all DR.
There are seven different kinds of DR. Each is based on one of the seven Stats in addition to one Skill. The target must roll a d20 and add the corresponding Stat Bonus and Skill Level. They succeed on their DR if they roll at least as high as the DR Power of the creature targeting them. The DR Power is equal to the Primary Stat of the creature. The seven kinds of DR are as follows:
- Strength (Raw Force): A Strength DR is used when the creature has to resist direct physical force and stand their ground. A Strength DR will determine your ability to withstand Physical damage, as well as restraining and moving effects.
- Dexterity (Nimbleness): A Dexterity DR is used when getting out of the way is the only or most efficient option to prevent the worst or if you need to keep your balance. You can often avoid Reality damage with it as well as line-based Abilities.
- Constitution (Endurance): A Constitution DR is used when your body needs to resist a natural force. Elemental damage and Status Effects are usually resisted by it, as are stun effects.
- Intelligence (Psychology): An Intelligence DR is used if somebody tries to trick you or messes with your senses or mind. You can see through illusions and attempts to distract you if you succeed with this DR.
- Charisma (Presence): A Charisma DR is relevant if the power of your personality and sense of self is needed to defend yourself. You usually use it to prevent effects that take direct control over you or that transform you.
- Instinct (Intuition): An Intuition DR is used when a quick reaction is the best way to prevent or lessen the effects. Something like looking away from a blinding effect or reacting before someone can manipulate something that you are holding can be achieved with it.
- Will (Perseverance): A Will DR is used when your mind and spirit have to resist supernatural and mental attacks. You can defend yourself against Mystic and Psychic damage with it, and it also helps to overcome fear and other Mental Status Effects.
There are many ways to deal damage to your foes. There are 11 damage types that can be categorized into four categories: Physical, Elemental, Mystic, and Other. Creatures can have resistance, immunity, or vulnerability against different types of damage. Resistance reduces all incoming damage of that type by half. Immunity nullifies any damage of that type. Vulnerability increases all damage of that type by half. Knowing or being good at guessing resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities can give you tactical advantages.
Physical damage is the most basic damage type that most weapons default to. It is so common that it has its own category. Physical damage is very reliable since it is very hard to be resistant or even immune against it, but finding vulnerability to it is also very rare. Examples of it are punching, bullets, slashing, high-pressure water, rocks, etc.
Elemental damage represents natural forces. Since these are usually rather common, it is easy to find creatures with resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities against them. This makes them less reliable than other damage types, but you can also often find weaknesses that you can exploit with them.
- Chemical: This damage type includes acidic and alkaline solutions, and the chemical burns that they cause, as well as substances that lead to damaging reactions. (Acid spit, throwing vials with alchemical mixtures, oxidizing substances, …)
- Cold: This type includes damage that is caused by very low temperatures. (Ice, cold wind, freezing water, endothermic reactions, …)
- Heat: This damage type includes anything that damages through high temperatures. (Fire, lasers, radiation, bright light, lava, …)
- Poison: This damage type includes anything that damages a creature on a biological level, like sickness or toxic substances. Poison damage ignores the Armor of its targets and instead takes the Constitution DR value into account when dealing damage as if it were Armor. (Plague, toxic gases, rotten food, drugs, …)
- Shock: Electricity causes Shock damage. (Lightning, Taser, …)
Mystic damage represents supernatural and spiritual forces. Resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities against them are rarer than those against elemental damage because of their intangible power sources, but they are not unheard of.
- Curse: Evil and corrupting forces that erode you fall under Curse damage. (Demonic magic, magical curse, life force extraction, necromantic spells, the touch of an unholy entity, …)
- Holy: Divine and cleansing energies define this damage type. Holy damage is non-lethal against biological creatures and does not cause bleeding if they reduce their Vitality below 1 unless the one dealing the damage wishes to do so. (Holy light, miracles, prayer, divine weapons, …)
- Spirit: This damage type encompasses more neutral aligned supernatural forces, usually powered by the spirit of the creature that uses it. (Ki blasts, chakra strikes, manifestations of one’s spirit, sprite magic, …)
Other contains all damage types that do not fit into any other category and are more exotic in nature.
- Psychic: Anything that attacks the mind directly falls under Psychic damage. Psychic damage ignores the Armor of its targets and instead takes the Will DR value into account when dealing damage as if it were Armor. (Psychic mind attacks, magical music, sick burns, …)
- Reality: This damage type represents any force that attacks you on a fundamental existential level, be it by manipulating the space-time continuum or even the fourth wall itself. Since this is such an exotic damage type, it is hard to defend oneself against it. Immunities are practically non-existent, and resistance is very rare. (Reality warping, time manipulation, opening a dimensional portal inside a creature, cartoon powers, …)
A creature or object can be affected by a Status Effect. Status Effects are negative effects that can be applied by all sorts of Abilities and features (not to be confused with Debuffs). There are three categories of Status Effects: Physical, Mental, and Elemental.
Physical Status Effects mainly affect the target’s body, limiting movement and representing injuries.
Mental Status Effects mainly affect the mind of the target, representing negative and uncontrolled emotions that hinder it.
Elemental Status Effects are connected with Elemental damage and represent a lingering form of them. Every Elemental damage type has exactly one Status Effect that is linked to it.
Dying does not remove Status effects. If a dead creature, which had a Status Effet when they died, is revived, they still have those Status Effects as if they had been alive the whole time.
You can find a list of all Status Effects here.
The terrain of the battlefield also affects the combat itself. You can either play it as a theater of the mind, where the GM and the players imagine everything in their heads or with battle maps with a grid, where every square is 1 m long and wide. 1 m of movement allows you to move to a square (also called a space) that is next to you, even if it is diagonal from you.
Sometimes the terrain can be an obstacle that hinders your movement, such as tall grass, uneven ground, or slippery ice. In such cases, you need 2 m of movement to move one 1 m square. This is called difficult terrain.
You can freely move through a space occupied by an ally, but you cannot stop there.
You can try to move through a space occupied by an enemy, but you have to succeed on a Raw Force, Athletics, or Nimbleness check against a Raw Force or Athletics check made by the enemy. Moving through a space occupied by an enemy counts as difficult terrain. You can be in a space occupied by a creature that is two size categories bigger or smaller than you.
Standing behind an object that covers at least half of your body gives you half cover. Half cover grants you +2 Evasion against all ranged attacks that come from the direction of the cover and increases all of your DR by 1 against all effects that come from that same direction. Standing behind a creature of the same size category or bigger also gives you half cover, but all attacks that miss you target the creature in front of you instead, possibly leading it to be hit.
Standing behind an object that covers your entire body gives you full cover and you can no longer be targeted by any effects that come from the direction of your full cover. While you are in full cover, you can lean towards a space next to you, allowing you to see and target anything as if you were standing in that space. You have half cover while leaning out of full cover.
Moving and Teleporting
Moving a target into a space that is already occupied forces the creature or object occupying that space to make a Strength DR. The creature or object has advantage on that DR if it is at least one size category bigger than the target that you are moving into their space. On a failure, you deal physical damage – equal to the full distance in meters that the target would have been moved – to both the moving target and whatever is occupying the space. On a success, you only deal half as much damage. The moving target is stopped one space before it. You can add the damage that you deal that way to any damage that you might have caused through an Ability or attack that caused the movement in the first place, instead of treating it as a separate damage source.
Teleporting a target into a space that is already occupied deals Reality damage equal to the teleported distance to both the teleported target and whatever is occupying the space. The damage ignores Armor. The teleported target returns to its original position afterward. This cannot deal more than 100 damage to a creature.
Next Chapter: Items