The Mechanics 7. Tactical Contests & Armed Combat

All relevant conventions or mechanics having now been defined, one set of special circumstances that can occur regularly (and even frequently) needs to be addressed: tactical contests and clashes with foes in armed combat.

While all situations in which the characters engage in battle are tactical in nature, NOT all tactical situations necessarily involve combat. The tactical phase is referred to as combat only when one party (PC or GM’s NPC) or another makes an overtly aggressive move toward another with the intent of striking them and/or either restraining/capturing or rendering them unconscious, wounding them, or killing them outright.

In order to conduct these events or “scenes” with fairness and clarity, the progress of actions is slowed. the fineness of The standards of tactical events and actions are rendered quite fine. In the event that a character gets into trouble accidentally, slipping and landing in a bad situation, or their physical resources otherwise taxed while the rest of the party members try to get to them to render assistance – where the health and welfare of one or more characters hangs in the balance, time being of the essence – those situations all fall into the arena of tactical play. These types of situations are usually pivotal or critical to the plot of the story or adventure unfolding around the PC’s at the time.

To start with, the contest begins when one or the other party sights and identifies the opponent and makes some move to either engage or avoid the opponent, readying weapons, moving to close in, etc., or they sight and identify each other and make some similar move either towards or away from one another or towards a common goal (though very likely with opposing intentions when they reach it).

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Tactical Time & Tactical Situations

In this phase of play, time is slowed and measured much more finely to ensure that all who are involved get to act in accordance with their capabilities and resources, that their actions are integrated and implemented so as to influence the outcome fairly. It is handled cyclically. Every character involved in the situation, both player and NPC, humanoids and beasts alike, gets to act in turn in a regular cycle of repeating segments of time until the situation has been resolved one way or another.

This is referred to as Tactical Time.

Tactical time is counted by use of a continuous series of 10-second segments referred to as Combat Segments (CS’s), six CS’s making up a minute of time in the game world. This is based on a standard of the amount of time an average man needs to complete an action, derived from the fact that a skilled archer can nock and fire a bow with accuracy roughly 6 times per minute. Each character gets to make one action over the course of each CS. Some characters are allowed extra actions periodically due to exceptional speed, based on high AGL.

Optional rules are provided for dividing the CS’s up still further for the purposes of integrating more closely the movements of those involved across the Tactical Display (site of the battle). This is called Pulse Move, and is conducted in ten steps, one per second, before any other actions declared for the PC’s are resolved. 

Tactical time-keeping is engaged as soon as two or more parties (characters, foes and/or beasts, etc.) identify goals which are somehow opposed and which involve contests of ability and perhaps skill that must be carefully measured and judged against one another with an eye to representing each side fairly using the same standards for all in determining the outcome.

If only one party is aware of the other’s presence, whether or not a move was made in response towards or away from them, a check must be made to determine if the opponents become aware of the situation. It is up to the PC’s efforts to conceal their own presence and the acuity of the opponents’ Perception skills and/or AWA (GM’s discretion). This may, of course, be influenced by the use of Stealth skills, and result in an ambush with one party suffering the effects of “Surprise” (details to follow) or a complete avoidance of conflict, depending on the PCs’ intent.

Tactical contests and battle seem to unfold in slow motion, as hashing-out the particulars according to the rules may take an hour or more of time in the Real World, while the actual time elapsed in the gameworld may only amount to a few minutes.

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The Order of Play each CS

To avoid a free-for-all, before any character, PC or NPC or even beast, can make any move or take any overt action in pursuing the tactical contest – even within the same party (especially when the party members are not agreed on what needs doing first) – an agreement must be reached as to who gets to effectively act first, and the order in which those that follow get their turns must be determined.

The GM can really only fairly listen to and referee the actions of one player at a time.

The order of play is sorted around by means of an arbitrary variable number called “Initiative“. It is variable because not everyone is equally prepared to the greatest degree of their potential at all times.

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Initiative

Initiative is determined by rolling dice according to the following procedure.

Roll d10 to find the base Initiative for each participant in the contest.

Add the character’s Initiative Modifier (AWA att. mod. + HRT att. mod.). This puts those characters with higher scores, indicating they are inclined to have faster reactions, up in the higher Initiative results so they are regularly among the first to act.

All the creatures and/or beings participating in the contest are then jotted down together on the GM’s Initiative Roster, friend and foe alike, in order from the greatest to the least.

This way no one gets left out.

This provides the order of play for the duration of the CS at hand.

  • IF two or more characters end up with the same number, those characters act in order of AGL score, greatest to least.
  • IF those characters ALSO have the same AGL score, those characters act in order of HRT, greatest to least.
  • Beyond this, flip a coin, take them alphabetically, they are essentially simultaneous (GM’s discretion).

The two (or more) opposing sides do NOT take turns back and forth (Us then Them, Good Guys then Bad Guys), but each acts individually according to Initiative when their turns occur. In this way, the movements and actions of the PC’s and their foes are intermixed as realistically as they can be.

  • IF any of the participants have multiple actions in the CS at hand, those characters always get to take their additional actions first, counting down from those that get 3 (or more, as applicable) down to those that get 2, down to those that get only 1 in the CS at hand, always in order of Initiative as established by the roll for that CS.
  • When two or more characters have the same number of actions in the CS, the order of play in which the players take their turns is handled by comparing Initiative again between them. The entire point being stressed by those multiple actions is the fact that those characters are faster than the rest, so those actions must be made before the others can implement theirs.

When every participant who is eligible has completed his actions/taken his turn(s) for the CS, it is over.

The cycle begins anew for the next CS.

Players and GM return to the dice to roll a new Initiative, so the GM can draw up a new Roster. Dry erase boards are great for this, or magnet boards with tiles or markers the GM can write the PC and NPC names/designations on and rearrange quickly on the fly.

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Next we must determine which characters are aware of the situation and their opponents.

  • IF a character is unaware of his opponents when they suddenly spring out upon him, he is considered to be “Surprised” to some degree, or at least momentarily startled. Surprise can continue to affect the actions of the characters operating under its effects for a number of CS’s following the initial determination. The degree of Surprise is determined as follows.

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Surprise!!

Although hardy adventurers all, no character can cover or deny the momentary paralysis or the slack-jawed inability to immediately absorb the nature of a sudden change in situation and react in a timely fashion when Fate throws a completely unexpected curve-ball. Ambushes can rain sudden death down upon the PC’s heads when least expected, catching them completely off-guard, Surprising them into temporary confusion, indecision and inaction, just as the PC’s can use the same tactic to temporarily immobilize and sow confusion among their enemies, to deadly effect if desired.

Everyone is vulnerable to sudden changes in their circumstances, to being Surprised. The PC’s are no exception, nor are their foes when the PC’s take the time and care to arrange a Surprise for them.

Surprise provides the one wielding it with a powerful edge in resolving a conflict to his own advantage, just as it does in the Real World. Wearing armor robs one of the restorative power of sleep, so Surprising opponents around their home hearth while they are vulnerable turns creates an advantage most likely to yield a swift victory, whatever the goal – similarly getting the drop on them while they are asleep.

The conditions of Surprise can occur any time one party is unaware of the presence of a threat (generally due to the use of Stealth skills) when that threat is then revealed or launched at them by means of any sudden, dramatic or explosive force or timing. An exploding ball of Wizard’s fire suddenly appearing in the midst of a foe’s camp as they relax in their shirtsleeves before supper is certainly sufficient to create Surprise, as well as deadly mayhem, and just as much so a Blinding Flash or Thunderclap, or any magick of a similar sudden and explosive nature. A sudden Flock of flaming arrows or the beginning of a continuous Arrow Storm out of the sky would cause a similar stir, even though not quite so flashy (but almost). A handful of arrows striking suddenly from out of nowhere from the hands of those hidden all around is easily as effective, though perhaps not quite as deadly.

Surprise is not always assumed to have been achieved, however. When one party of beings plots to Surprise another, there is an organic element, and the need for a Contested roll between the Stealth skills of the aggressors and the Perception skills of the erstwhile victims. The more Savvy and in-tune the targets (the higher their Perception SL’s), the more difficult they are to get the drop on. This applies just as much to the predator in hiding waiting to spring down from above, or to snatch up the hindmost from the group as they make their way through the wilderness. The concept of “marching order” (the order in which the PC’s are walking, and how many abreast, when the path or road restricts them) has a definite impact and, when the environs are dark, who is holding the light and where in the marching order they are located.

This is not the case with set mechanical traps, as discussed in the passage “Dealing with Traps”. Because there is no organic element to potentially give anything away, Surprise is always assumed to have been achieved when mechanical traps are triggered. Even if the characters have recognized scattered clues to the fact of a trap’s presence doesn’t mean they have any idea of the manner in which the trap functions, where or how or in what manner it strikes or with how much force. Only upon having first identified a trap’s mechanism and determined its purpose might Surprise be mitigated when it gets tripped, and then likely only for the character who has located and identified the trap. Like getting hit from behind by a successfully Stealthy foe, there is no way for a character to anticipate where, how or how fast or hard the blow falls when there is no warning.

Where the Surprise hinges on some sort of ruse, however, as in the case of hidden foes lying in wait in the bushes to spring an ambush, or a prisoner who is secretly armed and using his Player skill to convince his captors of his meek compliance to lull them into a false sense of security before he strikes, the target must be determined to have fallen for the ruse by means of a Contested Player/CHM check vs. the captor’s Perception/AWA before he can be effectively Surprised.

The same is true of the plastered-over pit trap in the “Dealing with Traps” passage, except the roll is simple and not Contested. Where the trap relies on a Glamourie to catch the intrepid victims unawares, a Contested Perception/AWA check is allowed, normally (as explained in the rules on resisting Glamours) but, if failed, Surprise is guaranteed.

Establishing this condition usually depends on the target(s) of the ruse failing to make successful Savvy or Sentry Perception skill or AWA Contested Rolls vs. the Stealth or Player and/or Silver Tongue skills of those who would surprise them, or the skill of a craftsman responsible in the case of the pit trap example. Unable to pierce the illusion created for them, they cannot help but be taken in and fall for the trap.

It is also quite possible that by happenstance two parties may stumble upon one another completely by chance and the GM may determine that ALL on both sides are Surprised. In such an event, the degree of Surprise must be determined in order that the rate at which each recovers can be found, and the encountered pursued to whatever conclusion each side finds most beneficial. Perhaps BOTH sides end up beating a hasty retreat in order to regroup.

All practitioners of magick, regardless of trade are allowed to add their greatest Spirit Skill SL to their AV for making checks vs. Surprise. They are used to listening to the cues provided by their spiritual senses.

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The DV for this check starts with the DV for the AWA check prior, according to the Stealth skill of the perpetrators, and to it is added the greatest CHM att. mod. and HRT att, mod. among those springing the Surprise, the number of creatures or beings swooping down/springing out at them, plus one per point by which the (modified) STA of the largest is greater than 20ANDminus one per point by which the STA of the smallest is below 20.For concealed traps, the craftsman’s AV at doing so with his craft provides the DV for the check.

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When a Surprise is triggered, the GM should already be marking tactical time, counting that act as the COMPLETION of the action for the CS.

  • IF the aggressor(s) is allowed more than one action in the first CS, springing the Surprise counts as the conclusion of the first action(s) for the CS.

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Should a PC express reservations or suspicions about the situation and its true nature as he moves into it, but indicates a “wait and see” approach, a willingness to go forward come-what-may, the GM should allow a (trade SL) bonus to his side of the Contested roll, and for any other PC’s that actively and verbally state their agreement with that character.Despite their wariness, they cannot know what is in store for them even if they figure out an ambush of some kind awaits – not who, not what, not how many or how armed and armored.

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Surprise can create a mixed bag of temporary restrictions depending on the results of the dice for each member of the party being Surprised. Different characters may be Surprised to different degrees, or not really Surprised at all.

  • IF the target succeeds in winning the Contested roll and the aggressor fails his roll (or simple roll succeeds vs. a mechanical trap) OR both sides fail regardless of comparative degree, conflict is joined as if both parties just met normally on the field, as if no attempt were ever made at Surprise.
  • IF both make their rolls, but the target(s) makes his Surprise roll by a greater margin than the aggressors(s), he is NOT Surprised to any appreciable extent, and is free to respond without penalty as desired in the CS immediately following that in which the Surprise was launched or revealed, according to his Initiative roll and his resulting place on the GM’s Initiative Roster, normally.

In this case, the aggressor(s) springing the Surprise only gets that first CS’s action against the target(s). Because the target(s) is not overwhelmed by the Surprise he may defend normally, but may not initiate actions of his own until he receives the Initiative to do so in the following CS, normally.

  • IF both parties succeed in the Contested Roll, but the aggressors make their roll by a wider margin, the target is only temporarily Surprised, effectively Stunned and unable to initiate any constructive, original actions of his own, only able to defend and move in a defensive manner, as previously described, BUT only for one CS following that in which the Surprise was launched.

At the beginning of the second CS immediately following that in which the Surprise was launched or revealed, the target is allowed to act again normally, according to his Initiative roll and his resulting place on the GM’s Initiative Roster.

When the (Contested) Perception/AWA Roll is failed or beaten, the manner in which it is missed defines the degree to which they target(s) is Surprised.

  • IF the aggressors succeed in winning the Contested roll and the target fails his roll (or simple roll fails vs. a mechanical trap), the target is considered overwhelmed, to the point where he is effectively Stunned and unable to initiate any constructive, original actions of his own, only able to defend and move in a defensive manner, especially to back away directly opposite of the direction from which he is threatened and seek escape from the known enemies and threats with which he is confronted so suddenly.

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Add the amount by which the aggressor’s roll succeeded to the amount by which the target’s roll was failed Divide by 10 (round to the nearest whole number, minimum 1).The result is the number of CS’s for which this target suffers this state, following the CS in which the aggressors launched the actions resulting in Surprise.For example, if the aggressor beat his target number by 10 and the target missed his by 5, the total of 15, divided by 10 = 1.5, which rounds up to 2 CS’s in duration in Stun.

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The character’s ability to defend himself or to successfully perform any maneuver in his own defense or in pursuing what retreat he can muster, his AV’s to Dodge, Block, Parry or make any other sort of defensive maneuver, and the DV that AV provides his enemies for their Contested Rolls to hit him are penalize by the original sum of the differences in the rolls, i.e., 15 in the example above for the 2 CS’s indicated.

The character’s AV for any Perception/AWA checks required for the character to recognize any new danger approaching, especially from the Sides or the Rear Flanks, suffers the same penalty, i.e., 15 in the example previous. Should a threat approach a character that is Surprised to this degree from the Rear Flanks, a warning must be provided for him to be allowed a check to turn and recognize any threat(s) approaching from the Rear, but still ultimately requiring a Perception/AWA check under the same penalty.

  • IF the check is successful, the character that is so overwhelmed must turn in such a manner that he can keep both threats in his field of vision (effectively from within the arc of one Side to the other in his Fields of Approach).

After the CS’s of Stun have passed, each target so Surprised is allowed a HRT check to recover vs. [(DV against which the Surprise check was originally failed) ÷ 2] to recover fully and join the fray or retreat in earnest or, failing again, to be able to again make constructive original actions, but with the same Stunned penalties.

The Stunned state resulting from failing the HRT check lasts for [(DV against which the Surprise check was originally failed) ÷ 10] in CS’s, with the penalty to all action AV’s due to being Stunned waning by one (1) point every CS. After this time has passed, each Surprised character so affected recovers fully, able to rejoin the fray or retreat in earnest.

Against those who are truly bound by Surprise, the opposing party who is inclined to do so may make whatever actions against them they desire, taking the best advantage possible of the penalties under which the target(s) is laboring under while they last.

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Phases of Play:

Declaration, Movement & Resolution

The flow of time and events on the tactical display are divided between the “Declaration & Movement Phase” and “Resolution Phase” of play.

To begin the battle or tactical sequence, at the beginning of the first CS, the player representing the character at the top of the GM’s Initiative roster (or the character whose action creates a condition of Surprise, as applicable) begins the first part of the process of theDeclaration & Movement Phase”.

In this Phase, each player must announce his character’s intended action, if he has one, as the GM must do for the NPC’s, beasts, monsters, etc.

The players’ and GM’s statements indicate the course of action on which the character (PC, NPC, beast, as applicable) is embarking at that moment.

The Declaration marks the point at which an action only begins. This is why the Declaration is completed first.

Once a player or the GM announces the intended action of a PC or NPC and confirms it, that character is committed.

The action must be announced because all on the field of engagement are able to witness as he assays it, due to the fact that in most cases what he is trying to accomplish is likely to be readily apparent, at least in general terms (barring the use of subterfuge or Stealth).

This gives those who are moving and within close enough proximity of a foe a chance to change their course and take the opportunity to intercept if they can arrive before the Resolution Phase when the foe’s action is implemented and resolved, and perhaps prevent the foe’s action from being completed.

However, an action such as casting a High magick (cantrip) has no tell-tale action associated with it, allowing the PC to simply hand the GM a note in lieu of making a verbal statement.

  • IF such a character is making no physical action, it is the GM’s job to field any questions regarding that character’s action and respond that “it appears he is doing nothing at all”.
  • IF such a character is making a physical action in conjunction with the High magick, he is responsible for stating it out loud in the same manner as the rest of the characters’ players.

After the player announces his character’s desired action, his Declaration is complete and he may execute any Movement he wishes for his character, as desired. At this time the participants may move about on the tactical display, as desired, to bring them into an appropriate proximity to pursue the actions to which they have committed themselves.

The Declaration & Movement phases are conducted together for EACH character, in turn according to the Initiative Roster, until all have made their declarations and any desired movement, all participants on the Initiative roster who are eligible having taken their turns.

The Resolution Phase of play then begins.

In order according to the Initiative Roster again, the results of each stated action are addressed in the Resolution Phase, challenges are resolved (as applicable) by the rolling of dice, and the effects immediately implemented, especially any adjustments to the tactical display to reflect those effects, as needed.

ONLY those players whose characters have made actions concluded in the CS at hand that must be resolved one way or another may participate in the Resolution Phase.

A player should never be allowed to roll the dice to determine success or failure BEFORE he gets his turn according to Initiative in the Resolution Phase of play.

All actions having been dealt with, those allowed a second action in the same CS by their Rate of Action (RoA) are then handled in exactly the same fashion and order, from greatest to least using the same Initiative already established.

After those actions are resolved, those allowed a third action in the same CS are then handled. This proceeds until all actions (and movement) allowed in the CS have been announced, resolved and implemented.

A PC with multiple actions in a CS can move as desired – a little or a lot – following the Declaration for each action, as described above, normally, so long as he has not reached his maximum for the CS.

It is the player’s responsibility to keep track of the passage of time in the tactical situation and make sure that his character gets any extra actions to which the character is entitled as they come up. If he misses an opportunity, he has no one to blame but himself. The GM may aid in tracking extra actions, but the final burden rests with the player.

Once all actions allowed for the CS have been disposed of in this manner, the CS is ended.

Dice are rolled for Initiative again.

A new Initiative Roster is jotted down.

Play proceeds through the new CS again exactly as described above, then on to the next CS after that, and so on, until the objective of the conflict has been met, OR the PC’s have bested or been bested by their opponents, OR one side or the other breaks off and retreats.

The player and GM both must realize that in the case of characters that are slower than average, the “loss” of an action or the postponement of the actions allowed does NOT indicate that the character stands around in a daze doing nothing waiting to take each action. What it means is that the player must declare his character’s action in the first CS like everyone else and his character requires the length of time that must elapse until his action is allowed for him to COMPLETE it. That is what the character is occupied with during the time those around him are completing their own actions, howsoever long he must wait.

Movement and Actions are intended to be fluid and malleable tools for allowing inter-woven and simultaneous actions to mesh as easily as may be in a situation where only one can act at a time, each taking their turn.

Depending on the nature of the action to which a character is committed, full movement may be carried on through the duration of an Action (CS), or it may be restricted in extent (GM’s discretion). Some movements are only considered partial and are not counted against the total distance covered in a CS, and may be added to another movement or a smaller action. The Rise, Drop and Turn movements are good examples of these, and can be added on to the beginning of a normal move or used to conclude one. In the same vein, some actions are considered small enough they can be performed while pelting down the green at full speed, such as drawing a weapon, snatching or Grabbing up a readily available adjacent object in passing, or retrieving some small object from a convenient belt pouch.

The system of actions and movement are designed, however, to place constraints on slower characters so those that are quicker have a visible and noticeable advantage.

Because of a certain amount of disparity in the frequency of actions between some characters, some may seem to be effectively forced to a standstill while others continue to act. This merely reflects the differences in physical resources between them. Some are faster than others and able to accomplish more over the course of the same period of time, illustrating the ability of the quick to run circles around the slow. This effect may even be heightened by the use of magick to hasten a character’s movement.

This taking of turns in the Declaration & Movement phase, and again in the Resolution phase, is very important for the fact that using the RoA’s and Initiative of all combatants on both sides of a conflict together on the same Roster balances and intermixes the characters and their foes as fairly and realistically as possible, according to their relative scores and skills to keep conflicts that should otherwise be a relatively even match from being played out too biased in either side’s favor.

This practice, while more fair and realistic, may not allow the PC’s or their foes to engage or break away from one another as easily or cleanly as they might wish, should things go badly for either side.

The scores and skills of both PC’s and foes must be considered.

Breaking off from a foe when one has closed into the melée, and especially in close combat, may be a little more complicated than in ranged combat. It may be handled by turning and making a mad dash if one has a clear avenue of retreat, but doing so may allow the foe a parting shot as the character leaves, or provide an opportunity to pursue while still swinging on him, or allow one of his compatriots the same opportunity (as applicable). The character can always try and maneuver some sort of obstacle between himself and his foe to cover his retreat, preventing ready pursuit or reprisal, or throw some sort of obstacle over onto the foe to similarly retard pursuit or reprisal, eliminating the danger inherent in turning his back. Whether or not a character or party that has chosen to break away to retreat is then pursued is entirely up to the GM and his view of the opponents involved, their attitudes, dispositions and, of course, whether or not they think they are fast enough to catch up to the retreating PC’s and then beat them. A battle can hardly be renewed with the PC’s if their opponents cannot catch them, regardless of how badly those foes might want to take the battle to its ultimate final conclusion.

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Declarations:

Character Actions

Now that the order of play has been established and the characters are moving in on their foes, what is it that the characters can actually DO? What defines or comprises or makes an “action” in terms of tactical play and combat?

In order for the players to take advantage of the Declaration phase of play, they must have an idea of what they can accomplish with their actions and what might be advantageous to their character in the situation at hand. When facing off against an armed opponent, some sort of Attack Action becomes the most obvious choice, but there are a great number of other options.

In defining what a character can accomplish in the time allotted by a CS, it must be stressed that the character’s whole body must be considered – or at least those parts that can be moved independently at need.

What is going on below the character’s waist may not necessarily have any bearing on what the character is doing above the waist, with his hands. One hand may wield a weapon and the other a shield or another weapon, torch, lanthorn, fencing cape, etc. The character may wield some weapon in one hand while the other is used to fish about in a belt pouch, but in any case all this might be assayed while the character’s feet carry him across the field of engagement, all in the course of one action.

An “action” can simply be movement alone, if desired, getting from point A to point B within the limits of the character’s movement rates. This may include making some sort of Acrobatic move, jumping up onto or down from one of the fixtures or architectural features of the battle site in order to take advantage of elevation bonuses, or leaping across gaps, crevasses, or chasms, simply turning or turning completely around, getting up from or dropping down to the ground, drawing a weapon, even grabbing up an object sitting or lying out in the open or it may involve shucking off a backpack and opening it up, searching through a storage bag of some sort, a pack or a box. Of these actions, those that aren’t movement-based may generally be combined with some sort of movement, and some of them that are movement-based (such as dropping and rising) may be used to start or conclude point-to-point movement, and any one of these might be combined with an attack and/or defense if the character is equipped and has a weapon or other appropriate object in hand or immediately to hand and ready with which to respond to a threatening or attacking foe.

Where a character’s weapon sits immediately to hand in a scabbard or sheath worn at his waist or belted to a limb, or openly thrust through rings by a baldric or girdle, provided it is not secured by any flaps to protect it from the weather or Warriors’ knots for courtesy and security as may be required in town, hall, and castle, the GM should allow the drawing of a weapon to be combined with any number of other actions, including a “Hurl” or “Thrust” or “Slash”, or even beginning a “Charge” attack, but especially a Parry or Block defense should be allowed in conjunction with the Draw action. The same allowance should be made when there is a candlestick within reach or some similar suitable object for such a use.

 

 

Essentially, the GM should find out what it is the player wants his character to achieve, and then the GM must decide how much of it the character may accomplish with his action, whether all or only part, or perhaps allowing him to do a bit more in addition, too, and then inform the player. When necessary, the GM must explain to the player how the desired course of action(s) must be broken up in game terms to fit the actions his character’s RoA allows, within the flow of tactical time. Often times the player will have a specific goal in mind and simply needs to know the steps to take to achieve it.

The GM must take the character’s goal and the course of action required to accomplish it and break it down into its component actions to determine how long in tactical time it will take and the level of focus and concentration each step will require. Some are compound actions of the right-hand, left-hand sort that can be accomplished simultaneously because one is only an occasional and momentary distraction from pursuing the other task, as in using a weapon for attack or defense while dedicating the off hand to some other purpose.

 

 

With his Action, a PC may attempt anything the player can reasonably expect his character to be able to accomplish (GM’s discretion), including picking a lock, disarming a trap, or casting a magick, in the same manner as he might during common roleplaying adventure play, or attacking a foe (most importantly), but any dice check(s) required on d100 to determine the success or failure of those actions not guaranteed success, must wait until the Resolution Phase at the end of the CS when his action is completed.

For the purposes of the game, most common actions are considered equal, and the length of time required to complete them is dictated by the limits of a CS and a character’s RoA. The RoA essentially illustrates how fast a character is, outside of simply running from point A to point B. Not ALL actions are equal, however. Some are less complicated than others and, by virtue of that fact, take less time to complete, while others take longer. In adverse conditions a character always has the option of taking double the normal amount of time required to exercise a given skill or ability in order to reduce the DV by half.

A number of the more mundane tasks that characters may find themselves in need of accomplishing under pressure have been assessed for the purposes of play and compiled in table 4-1. Actions players wish their characters to make that do not appear on the table should be compared to those that ARE there, so the GM may make a fair evaluation and ruling as to how many actions they require to complete in tactical play, if they even require a whole action at all. With this as a reference, the GM can judge them according to a consistent standard and add them to this list, and the players are provided with a benchmark so they know what to expect.

Any number of actions can certainly be attempted in a tactical situation in addition to those few enumerated on table 4-1., especially those governed by the formal skills defined for use in all phases of game play, most notably casting cantrips and spells, picking locks, disarming traps, cutting purses/picking sleeves, and the like, and while scaling a wall or walking a tight-wire are movement-based skills, the character’s AV will govern how quickly the distance involved may be crossed (translated to Pulse Movement), and will also require d100 checks to determine the success or failure, the same as any of the previously mentioned skill-based actions. Almost all of these have directions in their notes for determining the time required to exercise/complete them, quoted in CS’s.

The GM must pay attention to how the exercise of some skills affects the Pulse-duration of the character’s action. When the task is particularly difficult, such as attempting to pick a very intricate lock or disarm a very cunning trap, or in the case of a practitioner of magick gathering more power to make a particularly powerful casting, the time required to complete the action is very likely to be greater than the character could normally complete in a CS, sometimes far in excess. The GM must take this into account when marking his record sheet for the contest or battle when highlighting the CS in which the Resolution Phase for that action occurs.

4-1. Time Requirements for

Common/Basic Character Actions

Action Time to Complete
Cut Purse, Pick Sleeve 1 action
Dismount Steed 1/4 action
Don/Doff Clothing or Armor †
Aketon/Coat 3 actions
Plate Armor (any type)

(per limb, must be performed by another)

8 actions Boot, shoe, each1 action Cloak or Mantle1/2 action Hat or Cap1/4 action Gaskins/Breeks3 actions Hose2 actions Glove, each hand1 action Robe2 actions Sleeve *, each2 actions Slippers or Sandals (pair)1 actionDraw missile from pouch or quiver (at hand)1/2 ActionDrop Object in Hand or

Grab Object Adjacent to Character

1/4 actionLight Torch with ready flame1/4 action with flint & fire iron3 actionsMount own Steed1/2 actionMount a strange Steed1 actionNock & draw or place and ready missile1/2 ActionReady Mount for Riding

with bit, bridle, blanket & : own saddle on own mount10 actions own saddle on stranger’s mount14 actions another’s saddle on own mount12 actions another’s saddle on a stranger’s mount16 actionsRetrieve item from belt pouch, shoulder sack/wallet worn, other adjacent easily accessed bag, box, pack, sack, basket, etc.

(variable) ††String Bow1/2 action **Tie Common Knot1 actionTurn (up to 1/4)1/4 actionTurn (up to 1/2 or 180°)1/2 actionUntie Knot(variable) †††

† The times quoted are for donning the clothing indicated. To pull the same article of clothing off will take half the time quoted, to a minimum of 1/4 action.

* For the sake of argument, it should always be assumed that a character keeps his sleeves always tied onto his Jerkin or other sleeveless base-garment, if he has them with him, so they can be donned together in the same manner and time as a coat. This should NOT be assumed if the character keeps and carries in his baggage more than one pair of sleeves of different types of armor, UNLESS the player has taken the time to specify to the GM, preferably in writing, which are kept tied to the base garment, and similar notice when the character changes them. Otherwise the GM should assume that the sleeves are removed, cleaned, and put away after each battle. The pairs of points require two hands to tie, and so the sleeves will either have to be tied on before the base garment is donned, or they will have to be tied on by another afterwards as the character stands and waits.

†† This will take a number of actions equal to the number of objects in the receptacle in which the character is rummaging, plus one (1).

** This time requirement does NOT take into account the possibility of a character trying to string a bow rated for a STR score greater than his own. When attempting to do so, a STR check vs. the STR of the bow is required, and each attempt will take 1 full action.

The DV for this check is Progressive in nature, based on the difference in points of STR, per point of difference.

††† This takes a number of CS’s equal to the (STR ÷ 10) of the one who tied it OR his [(trade SL) ÷ 10] as a Huntsman, Woodsman, Guide or Mariner (as applicable, whichever is greater), minus the untying character’s CRD att. mod. and the amount by which his STR is greater than the one who tied the knot (as applicable).

In terms of executing tasks as actions in game time during tactical play, many may take longer than the normal duration of one of the character’s actions. Those playing characters with magickal skills can calculate the Casting Times for their own magicks, no guesswork for them. For most other tasks, excepting the common actions recapped on table 4-1., the character has only a vague idea of how long they take.

Those skills or tasks for whom tactical time is not quoted, which can still conceivably be completed within the span of a battle (GM’s discretion) should be found described in units of time that can easily be converted to tactical time.

IF a player decides that his chosen action is taking too long, he can always choose to abort it and start a new course of action.

The actions the GM allows a PC to combine with movement should have a direct impact on the distance a character can move for the CS; a “1/4 action” should reduce movement capability by 1/4th, and “1/2 action” reduce it by half.

Depending on the nature of the action attempted while moving, the GM may even require the player to make an AGL or CRD check on d100 to determine success. While some actions may clearly and easily be made while moving, others may not (GM’s discretion).

While the character is occupied with trying to accomplish his declared action, the player can NOT use any part of the character already committed to that action for any other purpose, unless he states that he will abort the stated course of action and leave it uncompleted.

If a “passive” action such as defending should be called for out of turn (see “Acting Out of Turn”, as follows), the course of action in which the character defending has been committed to pursuing may very well limit the options available to him for defense. Being in the process of dropping the shield or buckler in hand in favor of rummaging around in a belt pouch with that hand, that shield or buckler cannot very well be used to defend against the foe who is suddenly upon him. The same is true of using a knife for his own Parry defense that he just stated was dropped in favor of offering a hand to help a damsel rise.

The actions a character can make in a tactical situation can greatly affect the outcome of that situation or battle. This chapter has been divided into two parts, the first encompassing the actions that most characters usein just about any tactical situation, and the second for those actions that facilitate the character in actually engaging in armed combat. Because certain of these actions are not complicated enough or timeconsuming enough to warrant their taking a full Combat Segment to complete, many moves are discussed as to their effects when combined with other actions. A roster of these combination actions is given at the conclusion of the chapter. Attacks don’t necessarily require a formal weapon – any object that the character can pick up and strike with is good enough, especially if he skilled as a Brawler. Brawler or not, the character can always have a go with his fists.

Acting Out of Turn“Wait” Actions

IF a player doesn’t know quite what to do with his character in any given tactical situation at the time he is supposed to state his character’s intended action, he can Pass or Wait (effectively the same for game purposes) and see what the other characters do.

This allows him to either state his intended action at any point in Initiative after his character has passed during the Declaration and Movement phase, inserting his statement between those of the others while they are still declaring their actions, OR immediately at the end of the Declaration Phase, after all of the others have stated their intentions, any time during the Movement Phase (assuming that optional rule is in use), but before the Resolution phase is begun. The player can also choose to Move in lieu of any other action and use it to time engaging an enemy on his own terms.

If the player Waits for the situation in the battle site to develop and moves his character into a position to intervene somewhere, that action should be Declared normally, so long as the character is put in a position to be able to act on the foe, normally. If the action the player wishes the character to make depends on the movement and current position of that foe, especially if that foe is moving across the battle site, the player must plot his character’s movement and end position so their paths cross so he may take an Opportunity Action (as follows) as that occurs.

The main purpose and most economical use of the Wait is tactical in nature, usually in combination with Movement, for putting the character in the best position to take advantage of his talents and maximize his contribution to the conflict at hand.

.

A Word about Defenses

The Block, Dodge, and Parry are not truly actions that the character is required to choose in order to exercise. They provide Defense DV’s for foes trying to hit them and cost the character nothing but END (where those optional rules are in use) to exercise.

On the other hand, if the character is sorely pressed he may exercise any of these defenses as his action for the CS. However, in so doing he surrenders any right to attempt any other action when his Initiative comes up to act.

Any accumulated penalties to exercise a given defense are disregarded when the character’s Action is dedicated to providing for his defense against a particular attack/foe for the CS.

For any Defense, however, the character must pay the END cost whether the DV it provided was sufficient to repel the attack or not. Much like a magick-wielder and a failed casting – successful or no, the character must put forth the effort in order to have a chance.

.

Movement

Although the Declaration is handled first in each CS, Movement is the most likely to see the greatest use in tactical contests or battle, at least until the participants close and begin to vie with arms against one another directly, then it comes down to the resolution of attacks BUT, even when trading blows, the judicious use of movement can be thrown in to shift from one foe to the next, or shift or Side-step to a different field of approach to redirect his attention, Advance to make the foe give ground or Back-step to draw the foe after, just to keep things interesting, perhaps to gain the upper hand tactically, to take advantage of features of the battle site.

For the GM’s and players’ convenience, the movement rates are converted to (25mm or “skirmishing”) scale movement on the table provided for the “Pulse Movement” optional rules. This table also converts mph movement to the other two scales designed for use in bringing larger distances down to a more practical size for tactical gaming.

The decimal figures in the conversion tables for Movement shouldn’t pose any great hardship to player or GM. All need merely remember that 1/10th of a centimeter is a millimeter, so 7.3 cm is the same as 7 centimeters + 3 mm.

A character may vary his direction (drifting and/or turning) while moving, change his rate of speed by any degree, start or stop moving in any CS desired when he receives his turn by Initiative. Character movement MAY be continuous from CS to CS once it is commenced IF the player desires, even through CS’s in which the character is completing some action, provided the amount and type of movement is compatible with the action the character is in the midst of completing and does not preclude that movement by its very nature (GM’s discretion).

Movement may also be conducted normally without any other action being declared, during a Pass and Wait break (see “Character Actions”, as follows). Indeed, this may be a desirable tactic to follow in order to bring the character into proximity to the other combatants that provide him with more choices or opportunities to participate more fully in the conflict.

The rate of the character’s speed affects the conditions (esp. damage bonuses) for Charge attack-actions, the portion of his Running Leap distance he can attain, and so on. While the character is free to choose any rate of speed that lies within the range to which he is limited, most players use the 1/4 rates and full speed figures already generated, especially considering they have already been translated into scale movement rates for use on the tactical display. While these are much easier to use, the PC is always free to choose any rate within his character’s abilities.

The rate of speed (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 or full) used in any given CS should be noted in or beneath the box on the GM’s time sheet as he marks it off to show each character has completed his movement for the Pulse. This practice eliminates any debates over which character moved how far on his previous turn.

In addition to being marked on the GM’s time sheet, each participant’s movement is reflected by the movement of each character’s marker or figure on the tactical display, in turn. This is measured under the GM’s view for accuracy to the scale being used.

Regardless of the circumstances and the presence of the GM as referee providing oversight, it is each player’s responsibility to make sure that his own character’s marker or miniature figure is moved on the tactical display to accurately reflect his character’s movements and actions from one CS to the next.

The NPC and beast markers are the responsibility of the GM to monitor and move.

.

Some Special Considerations

In tactical situations, the PC’s may well find them up against their foes in a race for some object. Similarly, the tide of battle may turn upon the successful deployment of some object or other, or the retrieving of some object from its resting place in belt-pouch, wallet, or box, perhaps even while the characters are pelting across the setting towards some goal, the perfect place or only place that object can be employed to the desired effect.

Objects can be snatched up from within a character’s own Zone without need of any CRD check if it is lying out easily accessible, although some fraction of an action might be used in the act, depending on the character’s position relative to the object. They can also be grabbed on the fly, in passing, with a successful CRD check vs. the speed the character is moving (in mph’s) plus the Size of the object.

A Leap or Running Leap can be launched to snatch an object at distance in a hurry, but requires an AGL check vs. the distance (in feet) to actually get to it and get it in hand.

If more than one character can lay their hands on the object in the same CS, a STR/CRD contest is immediately engaged between all for the following CS to determine who ends up with possession of it. Any jumping into the contest in the CS in which the struggle over it is being resolved automatically extends the struggle for an additional CS. No more than eight characters may participate with hands on the object in such a struggle, although in the case of smaller objects fewer may be able to actually get their hands on it (GM’s discretion).

Those who fail their checks for the contest are eliminated from it, those succeeding remaining hands-on for another CS, until there is a clear winner.

If all that have their hands on it fail their checks, the object flies from their hands in a random direction.

If the combined STR att. mod’s of the combatants equal the object’s STP’s a check must be made to determine if the object breaks in the midst of the struggle.

Pulling an object from a pouch or container is no big deal when the character takes the time for it, unless there are other things in the container to get in the way, then a CRD check vs. a Progressive DV per item in the container must be made. It is quite possible the character pulls the wrong thing out. When he is moving, the situation is compounded, his speed in mph’s must be added to the DV for the task.

Any object can be handed off between characters if they are within either close or common melée range of one another without any need for a CRD check, unless one or the other of the two characters is moving at the time.

If either is moving, the speed (in mph) provides the DV for a CRD check by the recipient, the sum of both speeds if both are moving.

In order to catch an object that has been thrown, the thrower must make a successful AGL check to get the object within arm’s reach of the recipient, and the recipient must make a successful CRD check to catch it. The farther the distance thrown, the more difficult to hit the target, in exactly the same manner as Hurling a weapon, using the Range parameters defined previously. The DV for both throwing and catching is the same, based on the distance. When present, wind and precipitation provide powerful modifiers.

Should the thrower miss or the receiver fumble, the object stands in danger of hitting the ground with the velocity with which it was thrown. That certainly places the object in danger of breaking (shattering) depending on the material from which it is made.

Falling objects are not much different but, when an object sits teetering on the edge of a drop, in danger of slipping off and falling to crash to the ground, perhaps to be smashed to bits by the fall, or a comrade’s life hangs similarly in the balance, timing and the movement capabilities of those in the immediate area are critical.

Only those characters within (Leap distance) of the point from which an object is dropped or falls, or within the same distance of the point at which it is to impact the ground/floor has any chance of intercepting the object – but the distance of the fall must be at least 16ft.

If the distance it is to fall is less than this, any who intends to snatch the object as it falls must be immediately adjacent (close melée range) to either the point from which it falls OR the destined point of impact, either common or close melée range works. In either case a CRD check is required vs. the Size/weight of the object plus a Progressive modifier based on the distance fallen, per foot.

IF the optional Pulse Move rules are in use (as follow) and the object in question is going to fall 64ft or farther, a character has two Pulses to get to the point of impact so they can catch it.

If it is to fall 144ft or farther, the characters have three Pulses of movement to get to the point of impact.

If it falls 256ft or farther, the characters have four Pulses of movement to get to the point of impact.

400ft. or more allows the characters five Pulses of movement.

580ft. or more allows six Pulses of movement.

760 ft or more allows seven Pulses.

940 ft or more allows eight Pulses.

1120ft or more allows nine Pulses.

1300ft. or more allows the characters an entire CS of movement to position themselves at the point of impact so they can catch it.

Naturally, the farther the distance an object (or creature or being) falls, the greater its momentum and impact, and the greater its chances of breaking, or shattering irretrievably if fragile, even if caught.

A character can absorb up to [(modified STA) + (STR att. mod.) + (CRD att. mod.)] in POT from a blow sustained due to falling/impact conveyed in trying to catch a falling object, creature or being, PLUS the DR of any armor worn, as it provides the protection it is designed for, normally.

Beyond this, the character takes one or more Wounds, according to his Wound threshold, normally.  

The weight of the object caught must be figured into this, adding (weight ÷ 10) to the 2 points per 3 feet fallen base.

This provides the DV for the CRD check needed to catch it successfully.

Failure indicates it has been dropped.

If the object should be fragile a CRD check (+ the object’s STP’s) must be made successfully vs. the POT inflicted due to falling/impact (+ weight modifier) or it breaks.

If dropped, whether fragile or not, a STP check vs. the falling/impact damage must be made to determine if it breaks. The greater the number by which the roll is failed, the more completely the object breaks.

.

Movement and Actions are intended to be fluid and malleable tools for allowing inter-woven and simultaneous actions to mesh as easily as may be in a situation where only one can act at a time, each taking their turn.

Depending on the nature of the action to which a character is committed, full movement may be carried on through the duration of an Action (CS), or it may be restricted in extent (GM’s discretion). Some movements are only considered partial and are not counted against the total distance covered in a CS, and may be added to another movement or a smaller action. The Rise, Drop and Turn movements are good examples of these, and can be added on to the beginning of a normal move or used to conclude one. In the same vein, some actions are considered small enough they can be performed while pelting down the green at full speed, such as drawing a weapon, snatching or Grabbing up a readily available adjacent object in passing, or retrieving some small object from a convenient belt pouch.

The system of actions and movement are designed, however, to place constraints on slower characters so those that are quicker have a visible and noticeable advantage.

Because of a certain amount of disparity in the frequency of actions between some characters, some may seem to be effectively forced to a standstill while others continue to act. This merely reflects the differences in physical resources between them. Some are faster than others and able to accomplish more over the course of the same period of time, illustrating the ability of the quick to run circles around the slow. This effect may even be heightened by the use of magicks to hasten character movement.

This taking of turns in the Declaration & Movement phase and then the Resolution phase is very important for the fact that using the RoA’s and Initiative of all combatants on both sides of a conflict together on the same Roster balances and intermixes the characters and their foes as fairly and realistically as possible, according to their relative scores and skills to keep conflicts that should otherwise be a relatively even match from being played out too biased in either side’s favor. This practice, while more fair and realistic, may not allow the PC’s or their foes to engage or break away from one another as easily or cleanly as they might wish, should things go badly for either side.

The scores and skills of both PC’s and foes must be considered.

Breaking off from a foe when one has closed into the melée, and especially in close combat, may be a little more complicated than in ranged combat. It may be handled by turning and making a mad dash if one has a clear avenue of retreat, but doing so may allow the foe a parting shot as the character leaves, or provide an opportunity to pursue while still swinging on him, or allow one of his compatriots the same opportunity (as applicable). The character can always try and maneuver some sort of obstacle between himself and his foe to cover his retreat, preventing ready pursuit or reprisal, or throw some sort of obstacle over onto the foe to similarly retard pursuit or reprisal, eliminating the danger inherent in turning his back. Whether or not a character or party that has chosen to break away to retreat is then pursued is entirely up to the GM and his view of the opponents involved, their attitudes, dispositions and, of course, whether or not they think they are fast enough to catch up to the retreating PC’s and then beat them. A battle can hardly be renewed with the PC’s if their opponents cannot catch them, regardless of how badly those foes might want to take the battle to its ultimate final conclusion.

.

Optional Rule: Pulse Movement

This rule breaks the Declaration and Movement Phases apart, to make integrating the movements of all the combatants more smooth and even. In practice, it facilitates such things as Opportunity Actions as it makes the crossing of paths of movement more true in timing. There is much less chance of anyone, player or GM, being able to fudge movement paths or rates in order to avoid Opportunity Actions.

For the purposes of the Pulse Move, each character’s movement is translated down into only what he can cross in a single Pulse (roughly one second).

Once the Declaration Phase is finished, Movement starts and each player who wishes his character to move does so, Pulse by Pulse, in order of Initiative.

All those who wish to move from point to point, or to adjust their position on the tactical display to compensate for the movement of others, in a start and stop fashion, may do so.

A PC or NPC (beast) combatant can move no more than his 1/2 rate in the first Pulse of his movement, only accelerating to 3/4th’s or Full (sprint) in the second Pulse of continuous movement.

This is conducted in order of Initiative, already established for the CS.

Where the paths of PC’s and their foes cross during this movement phase, an Opportunity Action might take place, if either party is interested in pursuing it.

The nature of the Opportunity Action may or may not negate or require the player to abort the action he may already have declared, depending on what the declared action is (GM’s discretion).

Each time the same Weapon skill is used in a given CS, regardless of whether for attack or defense, the effective AV for it, or Defense DV it provides, is cut in half. Using the same base Weapon skill for an Opportunity Attack as for the declared attack planned on another opponent leaves the character with a an AV half normal, provided he doesn’t have to use it for defense in the interim, before the declared attack is resolved. 

  • IF the character is equipped with a weapon in each hand, he can compensate for this by perhaps using one to execute each attack, or one to attack and one to defend.

When all 10 Pulses of the Movement Phase have been completed, This Phase is over.

 

7-2. Pulse Move Conversions,

MPH to Scale

MPH

Feet

25mm *

10mm **

5mm ***

0.25

0.4

2 mm

1 mm

0.5

0.7

4 mm

2 mm

1 mm

0.75

1

5 mm

2 mm

1 mm

1

2

7 mm

3 mm

2 mm

2

3

1.5 cm

6 mm

3 mm

3

4

2.2 cm

9 mm

4 mm

4

6

3 cm

1.2 cm

6 mm

5

7

3.7 cm

1.5 cm

7 mm

6

9

4.4 cm

1.8 cm

9 mm

7

10

5.1 cm

2.1 cm

1 cm

8

12

5.9 cm

2.3 cm

1.2 cm

9

13

6.6 cm

2.6 cm

1.3 cm

10

15

7.3 cm

2.9 cm

1.5 cm

11

16

8.1 cm

3.2 cm

1.6 cm

12

18

8.8 cm

3.5 cm

1.8 cm

13

19

9.6 cm

3.8 cm

1.9 cm

14

21

10.3 cm

4.1 cm

2.1 cm

15

22

11 cm

4.4 cm

2.2 cm

16

24

11.7 cm

4.7 cm

2.4 cm

17

25

12.5 cm

5 cm

2.5 cm

18

26

13.2 cm

5.3 cm

2.6 cm

19

28

13.9 cm

5.6 cm

2.8 cm

20

29

14.7 cm

5.9 cm

2.9 cm

21

31

15.4 cm

6.2 cm

3.1 cm

22

32

16.1 cm

6.5 cm

3.2 cm

23

34

16.9 cm

6.7

3.4 cm

24

35

17.6 cm

7 cm

3.5 cm

25

37

18.3 cm

7.3 cm

3.7 cm

26

38

19.1 cm

7.6 cm

3.8 cm

27

40

19.8 cm

7.9 cm

4 cm

28

41

20.5 cm

8.2 cm

4.1 cm

29

43

21.3 cm

8.5 cm

4.3 cm

30

44

22 cm

8.8 cm

4.4 cm

31

46

22.7 cm

9.1 cm

4.6 cm

32

47

23.5 cm

9.4 cm

4.7 cm

33

48

24.2 cm

9.7 cm

4.8 cm

34

50

24.9 cm

10 cm

5 cm

35

51

25.7 cm

10.3 cm

5.1 cm

36

53

26.4 cm

10.6 cm

5.3 cm

37

54

27.1 cm

10.9 cm

5.4 cm

38

56

27.9 cm

11.1 cm

5.6 cm

39

57

28.6 cm

11.4 cm

5.7 cm

40

59

29.3 cm

11.7 cm

5.9 cm

41

60

30.1 cm

12 cm

6 cm

42

62

30.8 cm

12.3 cm

6.2 cm

43

63

31.5 cm

12.6 cm

6.3 cm

44

65

32.3 cm

12.9 cm

6.5 cm

45

66

33 cm

13.2 cm

6.6 cm

46

68

33.7 cm

13.5 cm

6.8 cm

47

69

34.5 cm

13.8 cm

6.9 cm

48

70

35.2 cm

14.1 cm

7 cm

49

72

35.9 cm

14.4 cm

7.2 cm

50

73

36.7 cm

14.7 cm

7.3 cm

51

75

37.4 cm

15 cm

7.5 cm

52

76

38.1 cm

15.3 cm

7.6 cm

53

78

38.9 cm

15.5 cm

7.8 cm

54

79

39.6 cm

15.8 cm

7.9 cm

55

81

40.3 cm

16.1 cm

8.1 cm

56

82

41.1 cm

16.4 cm

8.2 cm

57

84

41.8 cm

16.7 cm

8.4 cm

58

85

42.5 cm

17 cm

8.5 cm

59

87

43.3 cm

17.3 cm

8.7 cm

60

88

44 cm

17.6 cm

8.8 cm

61

90

44.7 cm

17.9 cm

9 cm

62

91

45.5 cm

18.2 cm

9.1 cm

63

92

46.2 cm

18.5 cm

9.2 cm

64

94

46.9 cm

18.8 cm

9.4 cm

65

95

47.7 cm

19.1 cm

9.5 cm

66

97

48.4 cm

19.4 cm

9.7 cm

67

98

49.1 cm

19.7 cm

9.8 cm

68

100

49.9 cm

19.9 cm

10 cm

69

101

50.6 cm

20.2 cm

10.1 cm

70

103

51.3 cm

20.5 cm

10.3 cm

71

104

52.1 cm

20.8 cm

10.4 cm

72

106

52.8 cm

21.1 cm

10.6 cm

73

107

53.5 cm

21.4 cm

10.7 cm

74

109

54.3 cm

21.7 cm

10.9 cm

75

110

55 cm

22 cm

11 cm

76

112

55.7 cm

22.3 cm

11.2 cm

77

113

56.5 cm

22.6 cm

11.3 cm

78

114

57.2 cm

22.9 cm

11.4 cm

79

116

57.9 cm

23.2 cm

11.6 cm

80

117

58.7 cm

23.5 cm

11.7 cm

81

119

59.4 cm

23.8 cm

11.9 cm

82

120

60.1 cm

24.1 cm

12 cm

83

122

60.9 cm

24.3 cm

12.2 cm

84

123

61.6 cm

24.6 cm

12.3 cm

85

125

62.3 cm

24.9 cm

12.5 cm

86

126

63.1 cm

25.2 cm

12.6 cm

87

128

63.8 cm

25.5 cm

12.8 cm

88

129

64.5 cm

25.8 cm

12.9 cm

89

131

65.3 cm

26.1 cm

13.1 cm

90

132

66 cm

26.4 cm

13.2 cm

91

134

66.7 cm

26.7 cm

13.4 cm

92

135

67.5 cm

27 cm

13.5 cm

93

136

68.2 cm

27.3 cm

13.6 cm

94

138

68.9 cm

27.6 cm

13.8 cm

95

139

69.7 cm

27.9 cm

13.9 cm

96

141

70.4 cm

28.2 cm

14.1 cm

97

142

71.1 cm

28.5 cm

14.2 cm

98

144

71.9 cm

28.7 cm

14.4 cm

99

145

72.6 cm

29 cm

14.5 cm

100

147

73.3 cm

29.3 cm

14.7 cm

101

148

74.1 cm

29.6 cm

14.8 cm

102

150

74.8 cm

29.9 cm

15 cm

103

151

75.5 cm

30.2 cm

15.1 cm

104

153

76.3 cm

30.5 cm

15.3 cm

105

154

77 cm

30.8 cm

15.4 cm

106

156

77.7 cm

31.1 cm

15.6 cm

107

157

78.5 cm

31.4 cm

15.7 cm

108

158

79.2 cm

31.7 cm

15.8 cm

109

160

79.9 cm

32 cm

16 cm

110

161

80.7 cm

32.3 cm

16.1 cm

111

163

81.4 cm

32.6 cm

16.3 cm

112

164

82.1 cm

32.9 cm

16.4 cm

113

166

82.9 cm

33.1 cm

16.6 cm

114

167

83.6 cm

33.4 cm

16.7 cm

115

169

84.3 cm

33.7 cm

16.9 cm

116

170

85.1 cm

34 cm

17 cm

117

172

85.8 cm

34.3 cm

17.2 cm

118

173

86.5 cm

34.6 cm

17.3 cm

119

175

87.3 cm

34.9 cm

17.5 cm

120

176

88 cm

35.2 cm

17.6 cm

121

178

88.7 cm

35.5 cm

17.8 cm

122

179

89.5 cm

35.8 cm

17.9 cm

123

180

90.2 cm

36.1 cm

18 cm

124

182

90.9 cm

36.4 cm

18.2 cm

125

183

91.7 cm

36.7 cm

18.3 cm

126

185

92.4 cm

37 cm

18.5 cm

127

186

93.1 cm

37.3 cm

18.6 cm

128

188

93.9 cm

37.5 cm

18.8 cm

129

189

94.6 cm

37.8 cm

18.9 cm

130

191

95.3 cm

38.1 cm

19.1 cm

131

192

96.1 cm

38.4 cm

19.2 cm

132

194

96.8 cm

38.7 cm

19.4 cm

133

195

97.5 cm

39 cm

19.5 cm

134

197

98.3 cm

39.3 cm

19.7 cm

135

198

99 cm

39.6 cm

19.8 cm

136

200

99.7 cm

39.9 cm

20 cm

137

201

100.5 cm

40.2 cm

20.1 cm

138

202

101.2 cm

40.5 cm

20.2 cm

139

204

101.9 cm

40.8 cm

20.4 cm

140

205

102.7 cm

41.1 cm

20.5 cm

141

207

103.4 cm

41.4 cm

20.7 cm

142

208

104.1 cm

41.7 cm

20.8 cm

143

210

104.9 cm

41.9 cm

21 cm

144

211

105.6 cm

42.2 cm

21.1 cm

145

213

106.3 cm

42.5 cm

21.3 cm

146

214

107.1 cm

42.8 cm

21.4 cm

147

216

107.8 cm

43.1 cm

21.6 cm

148

217

108.5 cm

43.4 cm

21.7 cm

149

219

109.3 cm

43.7 cm

21.9 cm

* 5mm = 5ft. ** 2mm = 5ft. *** 1mm = 5ft.

.

Engaging the Enemy

Being able to determine how closely a foe has been engaged, or if he is close enough even to engage at all, is of critical importance in battle. At what point is the enemy engaged so a character can begin to try to overwhelm, capture, disable, or otherwise inconvenience him? There are three main types of engagement: ranged, close melée and common melée.

Modes of Combat

Armed combat, the actual launching of attacks and trading of blows between PC’s and their foes, is most often the major concern of those players using this portion of the rules rather than simple tactical contests and is conducted in two basic modes – “ranged” or “melée”.

Ranged Combat

Ranged combat is conducted between characters who are equipped with hurled or missile weapons when the combatants have a clear line of sight and fire (which will NOT be required to follow the lines of the Grid, should the GM be using one) and no less than five (5) feet of distance between the Zones of attacker and target.

Ranged combat can take place between any character equipped with a hurled or missile weapon in hand and any target that lies 5 feet (25mm in skirmishing scale) or more away, so long as a clear line of fire and sight exists between them.

Those weapons that may be hurled are marked “H” on the weapon rosters in Appendix D.3, and the character must have been equipped with the specific skill for Hurling when the player chose his weapon skills during character creation, as it is considered separate from the usual melée skills. If the player wishes his character to be able to Hurl attacks with his “off” hand, he must be equipped with the Hurling skill for the weapon in question for each hand, separately.

Ranged combat is generally the easiest to engage in and the easiest to break away from when there is sufficient distance between the combatants. At closer distances, ranged weapons make breaking away from the foe unscathed much more difficult.

Two foes armed with ranged weapons and located within each others’ ranges may simply draw and knock or load a missile and let fly at whatever rate their respective RoA’s allow, in order according to the GM’s Initiative Roster. Depending on their relative states of readiness when they discover one another, stringing bows, cocking and loading crossbows, and the like may slow the onset of hostilities momentarily, and in the case of the crossbow cocking and reloading will definitely slow the rate of fire, as it is much more difficult to do so than it is to simply draw, knock and fire an arrow from a common bow.

Character’s can NOT simply run about with their bows strung and their crossbows cocked at all times, regardless of the players’ wishes, as the characters themselves know all too well that doing so will ruin the weapon in short order, strain the string and wear the spring out much more quickly. Not too many characters will have the funds to continually keep buying new bows and strings all the time, at least not to start with, perhaps after a bit of wealth has been amassed from a successful run of adventures.

IF the players are savvy, they will have their characters stand or lay their missiles or weapons out within easy reach so they can simply be grabbed and Hurled or knocked/loaded and fired in one easy action.

Strikes in ranged combat are resolved much more easily than melée combat where the characters vie directly with one another.

The attacker’s AV is his Weapon skill AV with the ranged weapon used, and the DV is equal to the target’s Dodge DV. If the target is aware of his danger and using a shield to provide even partial cover to crouch down behind, his Dodge DV will have a modifier as described in the text of the Shield skill in Appendix C.3.

The Resolution for missile fire is handled with a simple roll, NOT a Contested Roll. Only the attacker gets to roll dice.

The Resolution for Hurled weapons is handled with a Contested roll, the same as any pass of arms in the melée.

Failure to hit in ranged combat results in stray fire, which may strike someone beyond the target but in the same direction (see text under “Stray Fire”, to follow). Success inflicts injury as described for missile weapons under the heading “Dishing Out Damage”, with any armor worn coming into play, normally.

Sudden sniper-style firing upon an enemy, whether singly or in groups, invokes the rules covering Surprise (see pg __). Once Surprise is recovered from, the target(s) still must successfully make AWA checks on d100 to locate the origins of attack so they can return fire (if applicable, the foe might not be so armed). These AWA checks must wait upon attacks being fired at them after they have recovered from Surprise. Only one AWA check is allowed each foe so attacked to determine the location of his assailant per attack launched at him. The longer the barrage continues, the more likely the target is to figure out the exact location of his assailant(s).

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Firing/Hurling Ranged Attacks

The Fire/Hurl attack is provided for those wishing to launch ranged attacks with either ‘draw and fire’ missiles from missile weapons such as bows, or to set slings spinning and loose their deadly shot, or for throwing either formal Hurled weapons or those weapons noted on the equipment lists as being suitable for Hurling.

A character must have a clear line of sight/fire on the tactical display in order to have any chance of hitting his target with a ranged weapon, unless wielding one that can “lob” an attack in an arc overhead to circumvent obstacles between.

The ranges for the common run of these weapons are defined in five categories: point-blank; short; medium; long and extreme. Each has a different set of modifiers for success to reflect the increasing difficulty at longer ranges.

What these ranges are specifically for each character depends on the weapon and the character’s STR. The bases are listed on the following table.

Base Range Limits for Ranged Weapons

Missile Weapons (in yards)

Range Category

Bows†

Scale

Short Bow

Scale

Point-Blank

15

22.5cm

11

15cm

Short

60

90cm

42

60cm

Medium

80

1m 20cm

56

82.5cm

Long

100

1m 50cm

70

1m 5cm

Extreme

101+

1m 50cm+

71+

1m 5cm+

† Bow, sling, fustibal

Hurled Weapons (in feet)

Range Category

Hilted

Scale

Hafted

Scale

Point-Blank

9

5cm

13

19cm

Short

36

10cm

50

75cm

Medium

48

20cm

67

1m 5mm

Long

60

30cm

84

1m 26cm

Extreme

61+

30cm+

85+

1m 26cm+

For Hurled Weapons, add or subtract 1 foot per point of character STR above or below 13, respectively.

For short bows, add or subtract 1 yard per point of character STR above or below 13, respectively.

For other bows, add or subtract 2 yards per point of character STR above or below 13, respectively.

The “Hafted” column of Hurled weapons is intended for spears, light lances, and all polearms rated for Hurling, as well as hafted weapons such as tridents, spades and the like also rated for Hurling. They do not apply to hafted melée weapons such as axes, or their ilk.

Naturally, character STR cannot modify crossbow ranges. They have defined maximum ranges of 200 yards (light) or 225 yards (heavy).

Point-blank range is equal to (short range ÷ 4).

Any distance attempted beyond the limit of “long” range is considered “extreme”.

The modifiers that apply to ranged combat are included with the other DV modifiers under the heading “Combat Modifiers”, to follow.

As stated previously, the skill for hurling a weapon is completely separate from that of wielding it in hand conventionally in melée combat. Even if a character is wielding a weapon that can be hurled, his chances of doing it with any success or accuracy are rather slight unless he also has the skill to hurl it.

While the ranges of hurled weapons are represented on the Base Range table above, those weapons are not likely to be the only things the characters may want to hurl about in battle. Not all objects are shaped like weapons, and the characters unlikely to be concerned with what face or part of an object arrives at its destination, as they are in the case of the “business” end of a hurled weapon thrown to wound.

How far a character is allowed to throw an object depends on its Size and weight; too light and it is slowed by air-resistance, and so on. To get the most advantageous range, objects tossed or hurled should be between roughly 0.25lb’s up to (Light ENC limit x 0.02) in weight. Such an object should fit in the hand or at least allow a reasonable stable or strong grip, and be roughly (character height x 0.05) in size or smaller. Those objects that fall within these guidelines might be hurled at the same ranges as Hafted weapons, above, with the same adjustments for character STR.

Any Hilted hurled weapon can be thrown the same range as any Hafted weapon, IF the PC just wants to get it there, rather than throwing with the intent to striking with the business end to inflict a wound.

The range limits for objects of greater Size/weight limits should be modified according to the following table.

Size Limit

Weight Limit

Range Mod.

Up to (0.21 character ht.) Up to (0.025 Light ENC)

3/4th’s

Up to (0.33 character ht.) Up to (0.05 Light ENC)

2/3rd’s

Up to (0.42 character ht.) Up to (0.075 Light ENC)

1/2

Up to (0.5 character ht.) Up to (1/10th Light ENC)

1/3rd

Up to (0.66 character ht.) Up to (1/4th’s Light ENC)

1/4th

(0.66 character height) + Up to (Light ENC)

1/10th

The GM should use whichever of the two aspects of the object in question, Size or weight, yields the shorter range result, and be prepared to fudge the results as he sees fit, according to his perception of the object being thrown.

The effective ranges of all ranged weapons drop by 1 yard (missile weapon) or 1 foot (hurled weapon) for every yard or foot, respectively, by which the target is above the elevation of the attacker’s position.

Range of Target

DV Mod.

Point-Blank Range

(none)

Up to Short Range limit

+1 per 5 yards

Up to Medium Range limit

+1 per 3 yards

Up to Long Range limit

+1 per 1 yard

Extreme Range

+2 per yard

The GM must remember that the DV mod’s due to range are cumulative. Counting from the attacker’s position, add up the modifiers for each range class up to the target’s position.

 For example, for an attacker of average STR (13) to fire a bow on a normal man-sized target at a range of 85 yards would have a DV modifier of +21 (60 yard limit of short range minus 15 yard point-blank limit = 45; 45 ÷ 5 = 9; 80 yard limit of medium range – 60 yard limit of short range = 20; 20 ÷ 3 = 6.66, or 7; the 5 remaining yards add 5 more; 9 + 7 + 5 = 21). This is added to the target’s Dodge DV if he is aware of being shot at, or taken alone as the DV by itself if the target is unaware of his peril.

The speed of a hurled weapon is reckoned at c. 50 ft/sec for the purposes of the game, c. 200 ft/sec for bows. Magicks producing projectiles are rated in their descriptions as flying with the speed of either a hurled weapon or that of an arrow.

There is no delay in hitting any target within 500 feet (assuming the weapon can be hurled that far with any accuracy) once the hit is confirmed during the Resolution, up to 2000ft. for bows (as applicable). Farther than this, the weapon or arrow impacts at the beginning of the next CS, after the Initiative roll, but before the action Declarations, between the Declarations and the Movement when the optional Pulse Move is being used.

.

Fields of Approach

There are 8 directions from which a character can be approached on the tactical display, sometimes referred to as Fields of Approach. These are known as the Front (the direction the character is currently facing), Right Front Flank and Left Front Flank, Right Side and Left Side, the Right Rear Flank and Left Rear Flank, and the Rear.

A character can offer attacks or defenses to the Front and the Front Flanks (Rt. and Lt.) regardless of the hand in which his weapon(s) or any shield is held, BUT attacks or defenses offered to each Side are limited according to whether the character is wielding a weapon or shield in the hand on a given Side.

IF he is aware of his foe’s presence or location at one of the Rear Flanks, the weapon or shield, cape, dagger, or the like held in hand on the appropriate Flank may likewise be used to defend it.

Against those approaching the Rear (from directly behind), the character may offer no defense without a compatriot’s timely warning OR without making a successful Sentry-Perception or AWA check to “feel” the danger.

The use of these tactics is a major reason for carrying both a longer and a smaller blade to fight “Florentine” style, so the character is equipped to deal with both close and common melée modes of battle interchangeably, at need.

While a character is understood to be in motion in his Zone, as opposed to standing stock-still as indicated by a fixed marker or miniature on the Display, he is basically Facing the direction marked F for Front in on his marker/figure base. His ability to easily keep track of the two Front Flanks are why he can respond to them with the same facility and versatility as the Front FoA, but he is considered to be focusing his attention primarily on those fields. His ability to scan allows him to address the two Sides and even the Rear Flanks, but a Turn is required before any action if the player wants the character to retain the same flexibility and facility in attack and defense, to bring the foe approaching from those Fields into a Side or Front Fields.

.

Melée Combat

The melée is the name given historically to the swirling confusion of bodies, limbs and weapons, and sometimes even battle-trained mounts (when knights and/or Beastmasters participate), when the characters come against their foes with hand-held weapons. The melée is itself divided between two modes – “close” and “common”.

When the characters come against their foes with weapons in hand, or even bare-handed, they can often find a swiftly changing swirling confusion of bodies. The more bodies, the more confusion, as the status between the combatants can change from one action to the next and even from one exchange of attacks and defenses to the next. Both the GM and players must pay close attention to the markers of the characters on the tactical display and faithfully move them to accurately reflect the proximity for the purposes of determining in what mode of combat they are operating currently.

Any foe bearing a weapon that is less than his (height ÷ 2) in Size may be attacked in the “close” mode of the melée, also referred to as “hand-to-hand” combat, freely engaged by means of Wrestling, Grappling, and Brawling (kicking, kneeing, elbowing, pummeling by fisticuffs, etc.).

The weapon he is keeping between them for his defense does not separate his body from his attacker(s) sufficiently to prevent it. The Size of the attacker’s weapon is irrelevant in this case, as larger weapons can be held to the side while another hand is used to Grapple or pummel, or the haft or hilt of the larger weapon used for an unconventional strike. A smaller weapon can be used alternately with Brawling, Grappling and Wrestling as desired.

On the tactical display, the bases on which the markers for the combatants are mounted should be adjusted so that they sit edge-to-edge.

The weapon of any foe that is greater than his (height ÷ 2) in Size limits how close his attackers can come, keeping the combatants in the “common” mode of the melée.

The amount by which the bearer’s weapon is greater than his (height ÷ 2) in Size dictates the distance reflexively maintained by attackers, between the bases on which their markers are mounted (x 5 and read in mm on the tactical display).

Any foe bearing a weapon that is 2 points or more in Size greater than the weapon used by his attacker cannot be attacked with any hope of making meaningful contact on his body, it must be maneuvered around, first.

In this mode, a special Dodge/Acrobat/AGL maneuver must be made vs. the foe’s weapon AV if the attacker wishes to successfully step past the defender’s weapon and get inside the opponent’s guard to enter close melée with him in order to use Wrestling, Grappling, and Brawling skills – or a smaller weapon (as above).

This maneuver may be coupled with an attack, but the Dodge check must be successful before the attack may be pursued.

Alternately, the opponent’s weapon hand might be attacked directly to make the foe drop the weapon, or the weapon itself attacked and Bound, allowing the character to step inside the foe’s guard so long as it is pinned down, without need of a Dodge check. In either case, the foe must resort to a smaller weapon that qualifies for use in the close melée, or retreat if he is able, or make a maneuver (Backstep, Sidestep, as applicable) of his own to restore the space between himself and his foe before he may avail himself of the larger weapon again.

While the melée is divided between close and common, that distinction can actually be fluid and swiftly changing, even from one Action to the next, from one CS to the next, and all involved must pay close attention.

The rules of engagement stated above apply only when a character with weapon ready in hand closes with a foe in such a way that at least one Field of Engagement, either Front, Right Front Flank, Left Front Flank or the Side on which the character is armed match up to one of the same Fields of the foe’s Zone. If the character approaches and engages any other Field of his foe’s Zone he may approach and engage the foe without restriction, the foe may not be able to engage him normally, but stands at a disadvantage, as the PC would were he engaged under the same circumstances.

The foe may already be beset by others who occupy all the other Fields to which he might fairly respond, or the attacker himself may just be a common dastard with no need of honor or other fine airs. The PC is just as likely to find himself similarly beset or taken advantage of by some dastardly NPC. These sorts of tactics are expected of Knaves and Rogues, Assassins and common folk. It is only forbidden to knights and then, in many cases, only when there are others about to bear testament to his behavior later and damage his reputation. While considered impolite to say so, or state the fact baldly before them (thus shaming them by reference to their lowly station), those beneath the knight in dignity aren’t actually considered to be entitled to being treated with Chivalric courtesy in battle in the eyes of most military (as opposed to holy) knights, and that applies to those of the rank of Squire or gentleman, as well.

There is certainly NO rule requiring the PC to always approach and engage a foe so he is aware and can respond. Participants in a battle can approach and close with a foe on any Field of their Zone with impunity, according to their own lights. How the foe is allowed to respond is determined by which Field is addressed and how they are equipped.

In the case of polearms, which generally keep foes at a greater distance, the border of the Front Field should be extended by use of a straight-edge of some kind under the view of the GM to see where it intersects with the Fields of the foe’s Zone to determine how the target may respond or defend.

.

Attacking

Character attacks, made with a formal weapon in hand with which the character is measurably skilled (rated in SL), commonly take the greater part of a character’s attention and desire in spending his actions, once an enemy has been engaged.

An attack is not often as simple as reaching out and taking a swing at a foe, hopefully hitting him, although sometimes it is, especially when striking with Surprise. When engaging a foe in battle, the process of attack includes testing his defenses, trying to assess style and habits, even making a few false starts before actually finding an opening or likely opportunity to make an attack.

A character may use any weapon, shield or other similarly battle-worthy object in hand (tankard, candlestick, dueling cape, fireplace poker, etc. especially in conjunction with a Brawling skill, GM’s discretion) one time to attack over the course of a single Action.

  • IF a character has a weapon or battle-worthy object like a shield, buckler, dueling cape or other similarly hardy object (as above) in both hands, EACH may be used once for attack, allowing the character a total of two attacks.
  • IF the CND Action Allowance rules are in play, each CS in which a character either attacks or defends (or both) costs him one (1) point from that allowance.

These attacks need not be both directed at the same foes, BUT attacks against different foes are limited to those that are immediately adjacent, in fields of approach to which the character can respond, unless he makes use of a Turn movement prior or after his attacks to keep track of the foes.

  •  The character only has normal chances of attacking or defending with the off-hand IF the player has specified during character creation that the time and trouble were taken to train in that off-hand, which can be certified by showing a separate skill entry and SL for it on the character record sheet – an entry for that weapon/shield, etc. designated for the off-hand.

An attack can also be modified according to the needs of the moment and the shifting tides of fortune, to allow a character to keep track of how his comrades are faring. A Turn prior to an attack or to conclude one can change the character’s view of the field of battle, a Sidestep or Back-step to lead a foe’s movements, or Advance to press an attack and make a foe give ground. Combatants can Advance in the Movement Phase to press an attack and Back-step to give ground again in the Movement Phase to maintain the distance necessary to keep a larger weapon in play, shift to higher ground, step into and back out of the close mode to punch, elbow jab, knee or kick when his opponent has Bound his weapon.

Weapons can be used to block and lock and check Advances, perhaps in preparation for launching a body-check to throw a foe back, if one has the advantage of STR and/or size (modified STA). An unarmed foe may make a successful Grab at the hilt or haft of a character’s weapon – or even the blade if wearing a mail or plate gauntlet to protect his hand – and try to wrest it away. The PC should expect to encounter such tactics, and is always free to employ the same tactics, of course.

Stepping past an enemy’s guard, past a larger weapon and into close combat eliminates the ability to use that weapon ONLY in the conventional sense of the manner in which it is intended to be used. It does NOTHING to stop the wielder from throwing a punch with the weapon hand holding the haft or hilt or hammering with the pommel, which then deals normal base damage instead of Brawling Damage (1/10th normal), and does not stop the butt of a hafted weapon from being used to Thrust in close quarters to knock a foe’s breath from him, or take a stab at pinning or crushing a foot, nor stop the haft from being gripped in both hands, cross-wise (if space permits) to crack the advancing foe in the face or pin a body or neck against an adjacent wall or other tall barrier (provided has sufficient size/weight advantage for this to work, GM’s discretion).

The weapons purchased for the character from Appendix G. are grouped on their rosters not merely for the sake of convenience and the definition of Weapon skills, but according to common characteristics they share that dictate the basic strategies and types of strokes generally required to use them effectively in combat.

Should the player find that the character is restricted to a particular type of attack due to the type of weapon he wields, he need not keep repeating the attack type when declaring his attacks. If the character’s weapon allows more than one type of attack, the player MUST state in every declaration how the weapon is to be used for that action when it is Declared.

While it is impossible to anticipate in these rules every single type or kind of attack a player might wish his character to make with a given weapon, a concerted effort is made here to provide enough of a variety of types of attacks to take advantage of all the basic differences in weapon types mentioned in their descriptions, to show both their strengths and weaknesses, but also to account for the various elements of “fighting style”.

The various attacks are found on the following roster, descriptions and rules for implementing them in play immediately following. Some of these are considered optional rules, the player should check with his GM to discover what is allowed and what is not in the game in which he is participating.

The players and GM are both advised to read all Attack Action descriptions thoroughly and check the weapon descriptions themselves for special properties, as many weapons are mentioned in the various attack descriptions along with notes on special uses and any special circumstances restricting those uses.

.

Attack, Defense & Mixed Combinations

The combat skills of those who follow trades other than those dedicated to battle (any Warrior any, Assassin, Huntsman) are considered a bit more rudimentary. In general terms, they can be very effective, especially when cultivated to high SL. While they may be trained in weapon skills for each hand, those outside the noted trades most generally use each in turn for attack and defense.

This is where the great difference occurs between the average adventurer and those of the trades trained to a life of battle. Those characters outside the Warrior/Assassin trades do not follow coherent styles of fighting, unless after being brought into play they seek out a master to teach them in this manner. Such training allows them access to the various special types of attacks, each of which must be learned separately, and all of the Combinations that truly represent fighting style, each of which must also be learned separately.

The Warrior (any) and Assassin characters learn styles of fighting that allow them to make more complex attacks from the start of play, as an alternative to a single-weapon attack or defense.

  • IF the character is equipped with a weapon in each hand, or objects which can be used as weapons, such as a shield that can be used to Bash or make Rim Strikes, or a dueling cloak to make an Entangling Attack, the character may use BOTH in concert, as one Combination Attack for his Action. A character’s primary weapon can be used to attack so as to occupy his opponent’s weapon while that character simultaneously also attacks with his off-hand weapon, or Advance past the defender’s guard so he can simultaneously attack with a smaller off-hand weapon that requires close melée range.

These tactics are commonly only used in one-on-one battles, where the uses of a second weapon do not have to be reserved for addressing the threat of another foe closing in to engage the character at the same time.

In the case of Combination Attacks, the player must state whether the attacks are to be considered separate but simultaneous or in concert, BEFORE the dice are rolled to determine whether the attack succeeds.

In concert Combination attacks are resolved with a single roll “to hit” and, when they hit, the Pot of the blows or BP’s of damage inflicted (where those optional rules are in play) are added together for the purposes of interacting with armor DR (as applicable) and determining whether a Wound is inflicted, or if more than one results.

The player chooses the “lead” AV for the Combination for any attack or defense offered, usually that which is the greater of the two being Combined, and adds the SL of the Combination skill that applies to it, to a maximum total equal to the sum of the two AV’s.

The same standard is used for Combination Defenses when both defenses are aimed at foiling a single attack.

Separate but simultaneous Combination attacks are rolled for independently to determine whether they strike true, and the POT of the blow or BP’s of damage (where those optional rules are in play) for each weapon that strikes true is/are also determined independently for the purposes of Wounding or inflicting damage.

The Weapon AV’s plus the Combination SL are used here, in turn, to a maximum equal to the sum of the two AV’s for each attack, in determining the results.

The same standard is used for Attack/Defense Combinations.

This standard is applied when the defender is facing two separate attacks, whether from different foes (should he be facing more than one at a time), or against a “separate but simultaneous” attack Combination.

  • IF the character is a Brawler and has closed with a foe into Close Melée, or the dual attack is launched to shove the foe’s weapon(s) out of the way to allow him to close, the character can stomp or kick or launch a knee at the foe in addition to the dual attack in the same manner that he might with a single-weapon attack

In using Attack/Defense Combinations, the attacker with the higher Init. can make his attack and have it resolved against the Defense DV part of the Combination normally, and the Attack half of the Combination resolved at the other combatant’s Init., THEN any reprisals made if the original attack for either party fails.

This pattern can be followed regardless of whether one or both are using Combinations.

Improvising a Weapon

Should a character find himself without a weapon, having been disarmed or otherwise caught flat-footed, the following restrictions must be observed when looking for an item to fill in as a weapon from the objects found on-site at the battle.

To use an object as a 1-handed weapon, it must weigh 1/4th the character’s STR or less, in pounds, AND it must be less than 3/4th’s the character’s height.

If it is heavier than this, its use carries a Progressive penalty to use, per pound of weight.

To be used as a 2-handed weapon, it may weigh 1/2 the character’s STR or less, in pounds, and must be larger than 3/4th’s the character’s height.

If it is heavier than this, its use carries a Progressive penalty to use, per pound of weight.

The object must have a general configuration similar to a weapon, like a spit for roasting meat, or an iron skillet, a tankard, a plank of wood or curtain rod, or the like. Suitability of the object for use as a weapon must be agreed upon between the player and the GM. The weapon type which the configuration of the object and its properties most closely resemble should determine the general rules for its use in battle (e.g., a 10-foot bargeman’s pole is subject to the limitations in use as any polearm; an iron spit is bound by the rules regarding rapiers or other thrusting swords, according to its length, etc.).

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Action Combinations

These combinations may be completed as a character’s action when he gains the Initiative in any given CS. This list is by no means intended to be completely definitive, and may be added to or have some entries deleted by the GM, according to his concept of the CS and actions allowable. Players should check with their GM’s regarding combination actions before use.

Block/Turn * Drop/Turn * Leap/Turn *
Block/Drop Fire/Rise * Move/Strike
Catch/Turn * Fire/Turn * Move/Turn *
Dodge/Turn * Grab/Pass Parry/Drop
Dodge/Drop Grab/Rise * Parry/Turn *
Draw/Leap Grab/Strike Pass/Turn *
Draw/Move Grab/Throw * Rise/Move
Draw/Pass Grab/Turn * Rise/Strike †
Draw/Throw Jump/Catch Rise/Turn †
Draw/Turn * Jump/Pass Throw/Turn *
Drop/Crawl Leap/Catch Turn/Charge
Drop/Draw Leap/Move Turn/Jump
Drop/Grab * Leap/Strike Turn/Strikes
Block/Turn * Drop/Turn * Leap/Turn *

† Only half rises are allowed in this combination, prone to kneeling or kneeling to standing.

* These actions can be performed in reverse order to that in which they are written, when applicable to the situation at hand.

Movement such as Turns and simple Advance, Side-step or Back-peddle Moves can be equally incorporated into any of the Combination Attacks, Combination Defenses or Attack/Defense Combinations.

The other action combinations may only be performed in the order given, by necessity. This list may be added to or edited by your GM, according to his concept of these action combinations and the possibilities of the CS.

The player is reminded of the restrictions on movement in conjunction with other actions, either 1/2 or 1/4, depending upon the intricacy of the Move and whether another action is intended (GM’s discretion).

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A Word about Crossbows

While crossbows are among the more deadly of the weapons in the game, they are rather cumbersome in the fray, especially in the melée – little better than a club, really, once fired. Crossbows are best for snipers who wish to stay hidden out of harm’s way so they have time to reload after firing, or for a deadly one-shot ranged attack before discarding the weapon to wade into the melée.

Any character who fears that danger may be afoot and that he and his comrades are in danger should keep his crossbow cocked and loaded, HOWEVER, for every full day that the bow is kept cocked (GM’s discretion) a minus one (-1) penalty will be applied to the amount of damage rolled for any attack with it.

Because of the difficulty involved in cocking and reloading these powerful engines, crossbows take much longer to load and fire than any common hand-bow. It can be a lengthy process to attempt in the heat of battle, especially if the crossbowman is anywhere near the heat of the fray. As explained in the notes for these machines, crossbows generally require some sort of tool to cock them, sometimes taking a number of actions (CS’s) to complete, either a goatsfoot or belt-hook (light crossbow) or a crannequin/windlass (heavy crossbow). If lying out within reach, the character requires a full action (CS) to grab up the tool and hook it to the crossbow, another action (or more) if he must retrieve the tool from elsewhere. Actually cocking the bow then requires another full action and a successful STR check vs. a DV of 13 (light).

IF the goatsfoot is actually built into the haft of the (light) crossbow, the bow can be positioned, the string hooked, and the bowman attempt to cock it all in the same action. This feature must have been stipulated when the bow was purchased.

A crannequin or windlass is guaranteed to work, no STR check required, BUT it takes a full action (CS) to attach, another to wind back and hook the string, and a third to disengage and drop. If it is built into the bow, this can be shortened to two actions.

A character can attempt to cock a light crossbow without a tool with a STR check vs. a DV of 20, or a heavy crossbow with a STR check vs. a DV of 30, but failure in either case may mean the string has bitten his hands (depending on the degree of the failure, GM’s discretion).

Once the tool is used it still must be dropped and a bolt grabbed and loaded into the weapon before it can be aimed and fired.

This is why they are usually reserved for the CS’s in which the foes are closing, before the melée is engaged and the danger of hitting a comrade in arms becomes a hindrance.

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Defenses & Defending

The Dodge defense in particular relies on the character’s own alertness and natural AGL and guile to deceive and/or just plain slip out of the way of a foe’s attack so it misses him completely. Dodging is usually performed while within the character’s own Zone, though there are some exceptions (Acrobatic Dodge, Dodge-Advance, Dodge-Sidestep, Dodge-Backstep).

The other Defenses the player needs to be conversant with are the Parry and Block. These can be performed with either a shield or weapons or other battle-worthy object(s). The Parry can be performed with a shield, the shield need not be used solely to Block. Indeed, using the shield to Block is usually the last resort because it is harder on the character. A Block can also be performed with a weapon, usually involving changing the grip momentarily to reinforce it to accept the force of the foe’s own weapon blow, or with a pair of weapons, crossing them so they reinforce one another and provide a “V” in which to catch the opponent’s weapon.

Due to the constraints of the flow of play, characters may be called on to perform certain actions at times which would otherwise be considered out-of-turn, especially defenses.

The only actions that may be made out of turn can either be planned actions (Opportunity Actions) for which a character has stood or lain in wait to make or re-actions such as the defenses offered against in-coming attacks, thrown up instinctively in direct response to a foe’s proximity or attack(s), or similar dangers. Defenses in battle are taken into consideration and the outcome of each attack resolved immediately when attacker gains the Initiative in the Resolution phase of his attack.

Defenses do NOT wait on the Initiative of the defender for the Resolution of the attack.

Because it takes time for a character to complete any given action, any third party that can move into adjacent acceptable FoA’s to a pair of combatants (GM’s discretion) by the end of the Movement Phase, even in the same CS just before the Resolution Phase in which the out-come of (an) attack(s) is(are) going to be decided, may participate in the exchange in defense either with primary weapon, shield, off-hand weapon, cape or net or even found object picked up on the scene, or in attack (creating a Combination if either or both are equipped with those skills), as desired, according to his abilities, skills and the manner in which he is equipped.

Any battle-worthy object equipped in hand can be used once for defense (as well as attack) over the course of each Action, as described previously.

This is one of the reasons for the popularity of cultivating a weapon skill for the off-hand or carrying some other combat-worthy object in the off-had to defend. Against a more skilled opponent, the player can expect more of the character’s uses of weapon, shield, etc. to be spent on defenses.  

Having committed himself to attack with a weapon in hand, the character is still free nonetheless to use that weapon to defend as well as complete the declared attack, as the situation requires. The same is true of a shield held in hand and committed to a shield-bashing or rim-strike attack. It can easily be momentarily diverted for use in defense as well as attack with no penalty to attack AV/DV or defense DV/AV, respectively.

Dodges are always available as a defense in addition to the defenses that may be offered with weapon or shield, etc., even combined together to make Block and Parry defenses that are much more effective, so long as the character is not restrained in such a way as to preclude them, or committed to executing some sort of action that involves the whole body, such as an Acrobatic maneuver.

Each character may attempt to Dodge the attacks directed at him over the course of any given Action, however, his AV to do so is cut in half after every use, until the AV is reduced to a number rounding to zero. This indicates the character has no more recourse to it for the remainder of the current Action.

A Warrior, Assassin, Huntsman or Acrobat and/or Dancer character may make up to [1 per 10 SL’s)] Dodges over the course of any single Action before the AV penalty described above is applied.

Any of the defenses can be modified in the same manner that an attack can be modified – by a Turn, Sidestep, Back-step, or Advance. Combatants can Advance in the Movement Phase to press an attack and Back-step to give ground again in the Movement Phase to maintain the distance necessary to keep a larger weapon in play, shift to higher ground, step into and back out of the close mode to punch, elbow jab, knee or kick when his opponent has Bound his weapon.

While it is the GM who tracks the passing of the CS’s, it is each player’s responsibility to make sure that his character takes advantage of the action(s) he is capable of performing.

The GM can help out and remind the players, BUT it is ultimately the player’s responsibility to pay attention to the flow of play and progression of game time and take any extra actions his character may be due when it is his turn.

Otherwise, the generous GM can assume a Wait action has been taken and allow an Opportunity Action if one comes up that interests the player.

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Attack, Defense & Mixed Combinations

The combat skills of those who follow trades other than those dedicated to battle (any Warrior any, Assassin, Huntsman) are considered a bit more rudimentary. In general terms, they can be very effective, especially when cultivated to high SL. While they may be trained in weapon skills for each hand, those outside the noted trades most generally use each in turn for attack and defense.

This is where the great difference occurs between the average adventurer and those of the trades trained to a life of battle. Those characters outside the Warrior/Assassin trades do not follow coherent styles of fighting, unless after being brought into play they seek out a master to teach them in this manner. Such training allows them access to the various special types of attacks, each of which must be learned separately, and all of the Combinations that truly represent fighting style, each of which must also be learned separately.

The Warrior (any) and Assassin characters learn styles of fighting that allow them to make more complex attacks from the start of play, as an alternative to a single-weapon attack or defense.

IF the character is equipped with a weapon in each hand, or objects which can be used as weapons, such as a shield that can be used to Bash or make Rim Strikes, or a dueling cloak to make an Entangling Attack, the character may use BOTH in concert, as one Combination Attack for his Action. A character’s primary weapon can be used to attack so as to occupy his opponent’s weapon while that character simultaneously also attacks with his off-hand weapon, or Advance past the defender’s guard so he can simultaneously attack with a smaller off-hand weapon that requires close melée range.

These tactics are commonly only used in one-on-one battles, where the uses of a second weapon do not have to be reserved for addressing the threat of another foe closing in to engage the character at the same time.

In the case of Combination Attacks, the player must state whether the attacks are to be considered separate but simultaneous or in concert, BEFORE the dice are rolled to determine whether the attack succeeds.

In concert Combination attacks are resolved with a single roll “to hit” and, when they hit, the Pot of the blows or BP’s of damage inflicted (where those optional rules are in play) are added together for the purposes of interacting with armor DR (as applicable) and determining whether a Wound is inflicted, or if more than one results.

The player chooses the “lead” AV for the Combination for any attack or defense offered, usually that which is the greater of the two being Combined, and adds the SL of the Combination skill that applies to it, to a maximum total equal to the sum of the two AV’s.

The same standard is used for Combination Defenses when both defenses are aimed at foiling a single attack.

Separate but simultaneous Combination attacks are rolled for independently to determine whether they strike true, and the POT of the blow or BP’s of damage (where those optional rules are in play) for each weapon that strikes true is/are also determined independently for the purposes of Wounding or inflicting damage.

The Weapon AV’s plus the Combination SL are used here, in turn, to a maximum equal to the sum of the two AV’s for each attack, in determining the results.

The same standard is used for Attack/Defense Combinations.

This standard is applied when the defender is facing two separate attacks, whether from different foes (should he be facing more than one at a time), or against a “separate but simultaneous” attack Combination.

  • IF the character is a Brawler and has closed with a foe into Close Melée, or the dual attack is launched to shove the foe’s weapon(s) out of the way to allow him to close, the character can stomp or kick or launch a knee at the foe in addition to the dual attack in the same manner that he might with a single-weapon attack

 

In using Attack/Defense Combinations, the attacker with the higher Init. can make his attack and have it resolved against the Defense DV part of the Combination normally, and the Attack half of the Combination resolved at the other combatant’s Init., THEN any reprisals made if the original attack for either party fails.

This pattern can be followed regardless of whether one or both are using Combinations.

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Opportunity Actions: 

Tripping, Clothes-lining, Body-Checks, Sidelong Shots, Move-by’s

When a player is still at a loss and nothing for him to do comes up by the end of the Pulse in which he chose to Pass and Wait, he can continue to Wait.

When an opportunity to influence events does come up, he can make what is called an Opportunity Action. Opportunity Actions are by their natures brief and generally simple in nature. Clotheslining, tripping, side-swipes and side-long shots are all quick, small actions and are perfect examples of the types of small movements that may be made using an Opportunity Action. Because a single swing or side-long shot or side-swipe does not involve the testing of defenses and the martial dancing about with forms and figures that a battle between to armed foes who formally engage one another does, such attacks do NOT count as full actions. They are actually considered incidental, allowed as the Opportunity presents itself even while the character is formally engaged in battling another opponent.

They can have an immense impact of the outcome of a battle, however.

  • IF they involve foes that are moving, whether a character is moving to intercept him or lying in wait for him to pass by, the occasion of contact only lasts a moment during the CS at hand.
  • IF a foe is stationary, the opportunity Action can be stated in the Declaration Phase, normally, but if it is to occur between characters that are moving, the Opportunity can be called during the Movement Phase when the point of contact is reached, interrupting the normal Order of Play.

A character may commit the Opportunity Action on any point of Initiative on or after his own, BEFORE the Resolution Phase begins.

A player planning an Opportunity Action may move his character around the battle site from CS to CS according to the normal Order of Play as necessary until he maneuvers his character into the position desired to make the most effective Opportunity Action he can. When he is in position, until the foe he is targeting for his Opportunity Action arrives within reach to launch it, the character Waits.

  • IF the action he wishes to interject into the flow of battle requires him to be stationary at a particular location, he must reach or pass that location on or after the Initiative on which he is to act.
  • IF he is to lie in wait and make an Opportunity Action with Surprise, he must get into position to act without being spotted by his target before his foe’s Initiative.

Opportunity Actions involving moving targets and/or attackers are commonly announced when the first one to reach the point at which the paths cross does so, thus interrupting his move.

This point in time is much easier to arrange and anticipate when the Pulse Move optional rules are in use.

The attacker is then brought into contact (out of turn). If more than one character is to converge during Movement and is within one CS’s movement of the point of contact, both/all should be moved to that point at this time.

The opportunity attack is Resolved immediately (out of turn), so any effect of the Opportunity Action upon the movements of the combatants can be shown on the tactical display immediately.

The Movement Phase then resumes, all characters in movement continuing to do so, with those having moved partially for the Opportunity Action finishing their movement, BUT all characters completing the movement in accordance with the results of the Opportunity Action, then acting again in order according to their declared action and their Initiative, normally.

Opportunity Actions are the ONLY ones that may be Declared and Resolved out of the normal Order of Play.

A foe might be spotted moving at speed to get across the battle site where a compatriot is in trouble but he must pass fairly close by, or a foe might stand open and unsuspecting on the side being passed by a character that is on his way to another area of the battle. These situations provide Opportunities for discrete Actions. The character might stick out a discrete foot, a walking stick or Wizard’s rod, a handy broomstick, a spear haft, or the like, to trip the foe, or whack him across the neck/shoulder area to clothesline him – especially if he has the help of a compatriot to bring it up and hold the other end securely all of a sudden with Surprise in his favor, or even launch a single swing of a weapon at the foe as he passes. The latter might have the same consequences if the lower legs or feet are hit, or a shoulder or the neck area, or may be more gruesome in result if done with a bladed weapon of some kind. Hopefully, the player gets rewarded with the sight of the foe suddenly tumbling arse-over-teakettle, flying through the air, or collapsing and rolling to a halt, incapacitated.

In any case, if the attack is successful, the foe’s own speed contributes to the amount of damage he suffers, his speed as measured in mph’s being added to the POT of the blow hitting him.

Tripping and Clotheslining may even be planned in advance as traps and a foe lured into running into them to be Surprised and laid low.

When the foe is stationary and the character is moving past him and briefly takes a poke in passing, it is called a “move-by”. It is used commonly by very fast characters on foot (especially those that are big, thick, strong) or by those who are mounted, and often against a foe arranged in a loose skirmishing line, where there is room to pass between them.

All that is required to launch one of these is that the foe come within (character’s weapon Size) of the character, or close enough for the character to incorporate a Step (character height ÷ 2) towards the foe as he passes so he may reach him with his hand/arm.

In resolving the laying of a clothes-lining trap, where the line is hidden on the ground or hanging up above, two characters must be concentrating on the timing (or one of one end of the clothesline has been secured to a solid anchor so it can be operated by one man alone) and simply raise it or drop it to the perfect height by eye as the foe arrives at the location.

This is a matter of Surprise, to be resolved according to those rules.

When physical contact is involved, Brawling and Wrestling/Grappling skills come directly into play, and STA, Build and STR become important factors. Trying to Step forth and clothesline a foe who is twice the character’s size and STR with an arm (as opposed to a full-STR weapon strike) isn’t likely to meet with much success, and even the use of the weapon in this case isn’t likely to do a whole lot, either. Tripping, on the other hand, might provide a much greater chance of success.

  • IF the character uses the Opportunity Action to engage the foe and somehow stop his movement and make him tarry to fight, the Opportunity Action itself should be followed by a Declaration of intent to engage and give battle in the following CS, bringing them both into the normal flow of play, bound by the normal rules of combat and weapon use.

Tripping or otherwise stopping a moving foe are common uses for Opportunity Actions because they allow the character to follow-up immediately with a normal (series of) attack(s) while having the foe at a distinct disadvantage.

The common feature of all of the Opportunity Actions discussed is that they are all attacks. As such, each requires a roll “to hit”. This is a simpler roll than that required between two combatants squaring off in a contest of arms.

These attacks are sometimes referred to as “cheap shots”, but usually only by those on the receiving end chewing on sour grapes as a result, and the upper-crust who do not consider them worthy of a follower of the code of Chivalry.

They require only a simple AV check vs. whatever Defense DV the foe offers or is constrained to offer according to the circumstances created by the Opportunity Action (GM’s discretion), with the normal AV and DV modifiers for the prevailing conditions and the physical states of the combatants.

Side-swipes are Body Checks, a bump of the hips or shoulder, or both, or even a Shield Bash, intended to take the foe unawares and knock him off-balance, and hopefully off his feet. This is accomplished by the usual Contested Roll by which any pass of arms is resolved, but using the [(AGL att. mod.) + (modified STA) + (STR att. mod.)] of the attacker as the AV, plus the Size of any shield the attacker bears, plus a Progressive bonus based on the layers of armor worn, per layer, and plus his speed in mph.

The only real defense against this maneuver is to try and stand against it using the [(AGL att. mod.) + (modified STA) + (STR att. mod.)] of the target, or his Dodge plus a bonus based on how many points the target’s (modified STA) is less than the attacker’s (as applicable).

If standing against the Body Check fails, the target is bounced off the attacker by (speed attacker is moving in mph’s) + (points of STA the attacker is greater, as applicable) in feet. The directions the characters are travelling when they make impact can be used to find the direction in which the target gets bounced (GM’s discretion).

  • IF standing against the Body Check is successful, but the target wins by the greater margin, the attacker is bounced off.
  • IF both combatants are moving when they impact, their speeds are added together to determine the distance one bounces off the other.
  • IF both fail, both come to a halt at close melée distance from one another.

When the Dodge is successful, the attacker must make a successful AGL check on d100 to keep his feet when his shifted weight suddenly meets with no resistance at all, or meets with barely a brush as the foe slips to the side, and he finds he must recover his equilibrium.

This attack puts the attacker at risk if the target is free to make an Opportunity Action himself, as he may opt not just to Dodge, but to Dodge and make a Side-long shot with a weapon in hand to strike back in return. He may do the same if he ends up being able to make a Reprisal in response to the attack. Having committed his body to the Body Check, the attacker cannot Dodge in response to such a return attack, but may only offer a weapon or shield skill Defense DV, depending on how he is equipped at the moment.

A successful Body Check requires the target to make a successful AGL check on d100 for the target to maintain his footing, for which a bonus is allowed based on the character’s SL as an Acrobat and/or Dancer (as applicable)

The DV for this check is equal top the speed of the moving party plus a Progressive modifier based on the number of points by which STR and (modified) STA are greater.

  • IF the combatants are within a point of each other, both must make their AGL checks to keep their feet. If the difference is greater than this, only the lesser of the two combatants must make the AGL check.

The damage is based upon the speed of the moving party (in mph’s) and the number of points by which STR and (modified) STA are larger. A shield interposed absorbs damage normally, as does any armor worn. Attempted with a bigger foe, the character could bounce off like hitting a wall, or be bounced off a moving foe.

This is not intended to be a devastating physical attack, but when successful it is demoralizing. It is really just an arrogant way of saying “I’m bigger than you” while making a foe pick themselves up from off the ground.

Tackling and Overbearing are closely related to the Body Check and makes use of the same set of V’s and DV’s. The point of Tackling is the bring the foe to the ground, and is an attack launched while moving at speed (maximum rate for no less than the preceding movement phase of the CS. If the target is moving quickly and the attacker is having trouble catching up, he can end the movement for the CS with a Leap if he can get within that distance of the target. Whether or not the Leap is used, a [(AGL att. mod.) + (modified STA) + (STR att. mod.)] check vs. the target’s own to actually get ahold of the target and bear him down, with the usual Contested Roll. If the attacker is moving faster than the target, the difference in speed in mph is added to the attacker’s AV. If the target is moving faster, that advantage in speed is added to the target’s AV.

It is possible for attackers to band together and coordinate such an attack, adding their AV’s together for the purposes of the Contested Roll, greatly improving their chances of success. Overbearing is the term applied to tackling and bearing down to the ground/floor any target that is not moving, or at least not moving terribly quickly.

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Resolving the Battle

Combat makes the most concentrated use of the task resolution system of any situation that can occur in the game, the Block and Parry aspects of the character’s Weapon skills, or the target’s Dodge DV, or even some combination of these in the case of the Warrior trades), being tested by their opponents’ attacks by means of their own Weapon skills.

ALL clashes of arms are resolved in the same manner as any other task in the game:

The attacking character’s AV with the weapon or tool chosen for the task and the DV provided by the defender according to the means he has chosen to use are compared on the Task Resolution Table to determine a percentage chance of success. 

The player or GM representing the attacker (as applicable) rolls d100.

  • IF the d100 roll for the attacker is less than or equal to the % chance determined by the GM, the attacker succeeds in striking his opponent.
  • IF using the optional END rules, one point is expended by both attacker and defender at this time.

OR

  • IF the d100 roll for the attacker is greater than the % chance determined, the attacker fails and misses his opponent.
  • IF using the optional END rules, one point is expended by both attacker and defender at this time.

In missing, the attacker ends up just off balance enough and with his guard just down enough to require a moment to recover, leaving him open. This allows the defender an Opportunity Action to either offer an immediate Reprisal (returning the attack) OR to disengage and Move away (as follows).

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Reprisal

When the attacker fails to hit his opponent, the defender is allowed to make an immediate Reprisal against him as an Opportunity Action, if desired.

A Reprisal is a normal Opportunity Attack in every respect.

It is resolved immediately, out of turn, interrupting the normal flow of play.

The Reprisal may be made using either a Common Strike or any of the specialty attacks of the Warrior/Assassin trades, EXCEPT an Aimed Strike, as desired.

  • IF the defender is looking for a way to disengage from his opponent and move away without being subject to a parting strike Opportunity Attack from him, the Reprisal may be traded for breaking off and Moving away without penalty or allowing his foe any sort of Opportunity action, providing he still has some Movement remaining for the CS.
  • IF he has no Movement allowance left for the CS, he may do no more than Back-step or Side-step away from his opponent up to the width of his own Zone, or even pass through his opponent’s Zone to end up behind him, again without penalty or any need for an AGL check or incurring any sort of Opportunity action from that foe, forcing his foe to decide whether to (turn and) follow him in order to engage him anew or move on to another foe.
  • IF the opponent who failed the attack attempts to defend against the Reprisal with the same weapon used for that failed attack, the Defense DV his Weapon AV provides is cut in half, regardless if he has yet to use it to defend in that CS or not. If he has, the diminished DV it would normally provide is cut in half , but only for purposes of resolving this Reprisal.
  • IF that opponent is called upon to defend himself later in the same CS and chooses to use that same weapon again, not having used it to defend except against the Reprisal, he is assumed to have recovered so he can avail himself of its full AV for that defense, as if it were his first. Additional uses cut his AV in half according to the rule for multiple uses of the same defense within a given CS, normally.

All contests of skill in pursuit of resolving a battle between two opponents are decided in this way, strike by strike.

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Resolving Ranged Attacks

Both Hurled and Missile (bow, sling, spear-thrower) ranged attacks provide the only exceptions to the normal (Contested Roll) procedure for resolving attacks. These attacks are made using their usual Weapon AV’s, but are resolved by using a simple roll against:

a) the target’s Dodge (including Shield or Cover bonus and/or Acrobat bonus, as applicable, NOT including any Player or Game Face skill bonus), BUT, only if the target is aware of his danger.

b) the target’s raw AGL att. mod. (including shield modifier, as applicable), BUT only if the target is unaware of his danger AND is engaged in some activity that indicates he must also be in motion.

In either case, if the target is actually moving from point to point on the display, his speed in mph’s is added to the DV. In addition, a shield provides a modifier based on the degree of coverage it provides relative to the (modified) STA of the one carrying it. This is explained in the description of the Dodge DV in character generation, “Tactical Attributes”. This is applied after the rate of speed modifier is added (as applicable).

c) a DV of one (1), BUT the target must be unaware of his danger AND relatively stationary (GM’s discretion)

This is due to the fact that hurled weapons travel roughly 50 feet per second and arrows roughly 200 feet per second. The target does not have time to assess the bowman’s intent as to specific target nor the moment the weapon is loosed at him, so he can time his movements and determine the best time and direction for a Dodge the same way he can when facing off against a foe with melée weapons.

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Demoralizing Attacks, Intimidating Foes

At the player’s option, those characters that have developed the Presence skills might combine an Intimidation-type Presence attack with an actual physical attack.

The roleplaying aspect of this cannot be over-looked and should NEVER be allowed to be “roll-played”, hand-waved by with a roll of the dice. The player making the intimidation attack MUST come up with something clever or just biting to say that might demoralize his character’s foe for this to work.

  • IF the physical half of the attack is successful, even if only partially, the attacker then gets to make the determination of the Presence attack’s effect, adding the POT of the physical blow that got through to the opponent to the AV for the Presence attack.
  • IF the roll for the physical attack is failed, the sting and/or threat of any Presence attack that might have been attempted is effectively snuffed out.

Targets of these sorts of attacks who also are accomplished in the Presence skills can add their highest SL in using their familiarity with those tactics to the DV they provide to withstand and resist them.

As morale has a lot to do with the results of such an attack, the number of fellows still standing on the target’s side at the time the Presence attack portion of this attack is resolved is added to the foe’s AV to resist for the Contested Roll. If any have fallen, that number should be subtracted from the number of any still standing.

  • IF the attacker succeeds in Intimidating his foe AND:

the DV provided by the target is greater than the attacker’s AV, the target backs away and seeks an opening to break and retreat.

OR

the attacker’s AV is greater than the DV provided by the target, the target breaks and surrenders utterly, perhaps even breaking down in tears if he has reason to fear for his life (HRT check vs. the POT of the blow that got through to him).

  • IF the roll is failed AND:

the DV provided by the target is greater than the attacker’s AV, the target is completely unaffected, he may even smile … or chuckle … in response. He also has the Opportunity to disengage and Move away (without penalty or any possible Opportunity strike from the foe) instead of offering a Reprisal, if desired, same as any other pass of arms.

OR

the attacker’s AV is greater than the DV provided by the target, the target almost imperceptibly drops his guard as he considers his plight and first starts to doubt himself, reducing the DV he provides by [(Intimidate SL) – (target’s HRT att. mod.)] to defend against the same attacker in the next CS, against both the physical and the mental aspects. The attacker should be made aware that he can see that he has this edge going into the next CS.

Otherwise, the battle continues normally into the following CS.

The aggressor making a Demoralizing Attack against a foe’s morale MUST successfully physically strike the foe to get this reaction. It must be a noteworthy blow of some sort, regardless of whether it actually inflicts much damage (at least one point of POT or point of damage must get through), it must carry the potential for having done serious damage, enhanced perhaps by having done some knock-back if the attacker is large enough relative to his opponent to do so.

If the attacker uses a Reprisal to make this kind of demoralizing attack, basically rubbing salt in the foe’s already wounded pride at having failed to hit previously, the bonus added due to POT getting through to deliver a Wound or the points of damage inflicted to the AV for resolving the Presence attack becomes Progressive in nature. The Reprisal MUST strike true physically for the increased benefit to the Intimidation attack AV to be added.

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Misses & Stray Fire

When a missile or hurled attack misses the mark, the attacker and the location of the target describe a line of fire. This is of immediate importance to those lying beyond the target who might be hit when the original target is missed. If, by stretching a string or thread or laying a straight-edge from the attacker to the target and beyond crosses the Zone of any other combatant, the GM should make a check to see if they are struck, as if they were the intended target, with the exception that a Progressive modifier is added to the DV to hit for every point by which the new target is smaller in (modified STA) than the original target, or subtracted from that DV if they are larger than the original target.

If the new target is missed as well, the line of fire is extended again to see if anything or one else lies beyond and checks made for each until that portion of the range at which the original target lay is exhausted. The original arc of the flight is only sufficient for that portion of range. Its arc will take it down to the ground when it passes the limit of the range at which it was originally fired.

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Getting Hit:

The POT of Blows

When a blow strikes true, the disposition of the opponent struck must be resolved. The puissance or magnitude of an attacker’s blow when it lands true in battle is called its Potence (POT), in a similar manner to poisons, alcohol, locks and traps, magicks, etc.

The base POT of a blow:

For a weapon wielded one-handed is equal to [(modified STA + STR) ÷ 2]

All Hurled weapons are assumed to be 1-handed.

For bastard swords and other hand-and-a-half weapons (GM’s discretion) it is equal to [(modified STA + STR) x 0.75].

For two-handed weapons it is (STR + modified STA).

The Damage Bonus (DB) of the weapon used is added to this.DB’s are the product of the Size and the Weight Class of each weapon, provided on the Weapon DB table 6-5

This includes Hurled weapons.

DB’s are the product of the Size and the Weight Class of each weapon, provided on the Weapon DB table 6-5.

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6-5. Weapon DB’s, by Size & Class

Damage Bonus by Weapon Size & Weight Class
Sz Lt M-Lt Med M-H Hvy
0 0 1 2 3 4 5
1-2 1 2 3 4 5 6
3-4 2 3 4 5 6 7
5-6 3 4 5 6 7 8
7-8 4 5 6 7 8 9
9-10 5 6 7 8 9 10
11-12 6 7 8 9 10 11
13-14 7 8 9 10 11 12
15-16 8 9 10 11 12 13
17-18 9 10 11 12 13 14
19-20 10 11 12 13 14 15

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IN addition, if the attacker moves at his maximum speed through the CS (for no less than 5 continuous Pulses of movement immediately prior to resolving a declared attack, if using the optional Pulse Move rules) before the attack (Charging), the speed in mph is added to the POT of the blow, excluding hurled or missile weapons.

For Missile Weapons:

The designations of “1-hand” and “2-hand” are irrelevant for missile weapons.

Missile weapons do NOT get the benefit of character STACertain types of arrows are awarded DB’s, according to the type of head affixed to it,as noted in their descriptions in Appendix G.

The character is allowed the full measure of his STR in the POT delivered, or the BP’s in damage done (where those optional rules are in play) and the DB based on the Size of the and Weight Class of the Bow (all Light).

Slings are equal to Short Bows in this respect. 

Crossbows are mechanical devices that inflict a fixed amount of damage. Hearty Blows may not be made with them (except in an unconventional, Brawling sort of use).

The damage inflicted by crossbows is fixed due to the fact that they are machines and have to be able to be cocked and reloaded by common foot soldiers in the field. The POT of the blows they inflict is noted in their descriptions in Appendix G.

 .

Optional Body Point Rules:

Where the GM is using the Body Point rules, the POT of a blow is actually the number of points of damage inflicted, in terms of BP’s.

 Damage Multipliers

These optional rules are designed to work alongside the use of the BP rules for tracking damage, providing the basis from which damage for combat is derived.

The main virtue of a weapon in combat is represented by its Damage Multiplier (DM). The DM governs the amount of damage inflicted by virtue of the properties of a weapon itself, its edge, point and/or weight. This depends directly on its Class, by Size and weight, as shown on the Weapon DM table.

When a blow is successfully landed upon an opponent, the base amount of damage inflicted is multiplied by the bonus noted for the weapon according to its Size and Class and the result is added to the original amount of damage (determined from the character’s STR and STA). Those weapons that have a zero (0) DM allow the character to inflict full damage based on STR and STA, but add nothing to it of their own. This is an advantage over normal Brawling Damage, of which only 1/10th is real.

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Weapon DM’s, by Size & Class

  Weight Class
Size Lt M-Lt Med M-H Hvy
0-1 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5
2-3 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 1.75
4-5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 1.75 2
6-7 1 1.25 1.5 1.75 2 2.25
8-9 1.25 1.5 1.75 2 2.25 2.5
10-11 1.5 1.75 2 2.25 2.5 2.75
12-13 1.75 2 2.25 2.5 2.75 3

 .

Getting Hit:

Knock-Back

When the POT or BP’s of damage of ANY blow successfully hitting a character (PC or NPC, equally) is greater than his (modified STA), he is automatically knocked back by one (1) foot per point by which it is greater. The force of the blow sends him staggering in a direction appropriate to that from which he was hit (GM’s discretion), regardless of whether any of the POT of the blow actually gets through the target’s armor to hurt him/inflict a Wound or not.

This refers to the full, original POT or BP’s in damage of the blow, as it lands on the character, with no subtractions.

This is not a tactic, it is a basic effect of hitting a foe with great force or POT, especially one that is smaller than one’s self and/or only lightly armored.

  • IF a combatant is knocked back, he must make a successful AGL check to keep his feet vs. a Progressive DV based on the number of feet he has been knocked back, per foot.

Failure means the opponent struck stumbles and falls when he reaches the end of the distance he has been knocked back.

Success allows him to keep his feet when he gets there.

  • IF a character is knocked back but some unyielding barrier of some sort stops him from being physically moved the distance that would otherwise be required by the POT of the blow, the number of feet remaining when he hits the barrier and is stopped is added to the POT of the blow for purposes of determining its effect, especially when doing so results in the need for a P-RES check. Such an event could result in the need for a P-RES check from the blow where on its own, without hitting the barrier, the POT of the blow would not have been sufficient. Hitting the barrier or impediment might Stun the character that has been knocked back.
  • IF a target is wearing only street clothes when struck, 1/2 the number of layers worn is subtracted from the POT of the blow, BUT only against the first blow against attacks from edged weapons.

Rule of thumb: the higher the social class, the greater the number of layers of clothing, starting with one for the landbound, two in winter, two for free commoners, three in winter, three for the wealthy or noble, four in winter, four for great nobles or royals, five in winter.

 .

Getting Hit:

The Virtue of Armor

When a target wearing armor is struck, the DR of the armor is subtracted from the POT of the blow.

  • IF more than one layer is worn, the sum of the DR’s of all layers is subtracted.
  • IF the Thrust/Lunge attack action is in use, the type of armor worn may modify the POT of the blow or the BP’s in damage that make/s it through the armor a great deal.

The Thrust or Lunge attack is made with narrow pointy-ended weapons that simply pass through padded or mail armors, the DR of each layer (as applicable) falls by one (1) point each time it is pierced. The POT of the blow or the damage in BP’s loses one (1) point per layer it passes through (as applicable) before Wounds are assessed. The target must face the balance of the POT or BP’s in damage remaining.

  • ONLY bodkin-headed arrows (the armor-piercing rounds of their day) or heavy crossbow bolts can be used for Piercing attacks by missile weapon, and they can be used against any and all types of armor equally, including field plate or cuerbully plate.
  • Bodkin-headed arrows and heavy bolts can ONLY Pierce metal or plate armors worn by targets within Short Range and only when they are only rated “Strong”, NOT against any kind of “Proof” armor (where those optional rules are in play).
  • Beyond Short range and against the tougher Proof armors (where those optional rules are in play), the bodkin-headed arrow interacts with the armors like any Common Strike.
  • IF there is still POT remaining after subtracting for armor, the target MAY suffer a wound – see “Wound Thresholds”, as follows.

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Armor/Shield DR Recap  

Armor Types DR
Padded, Simple 10
Studded Padding 12
Trellised Padding 14
Bezainted Padding 15
Ringed Padding 16
Singlemail 10
Banded Singlemail 14
Doublemail 20
Banded Doublemail 24
Jazeraint 28
Laminated 32
Brigandine 36
Field Plate 40
Cuerbully Plate 30
Shields DR
Wood (alder or poplar assumed) 25
Steel-Bound 30
Steel 40

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Optional Rule:

Armor Wear

As above, the DR of the armor is subtracted from the POT of the blow or the BP’s in damage (where those rules are in play).

  • IFmore than one layer is worn, the sum of the DR’s of all layers is subtracted.
  • The DB added by the weapon to the POT or the bonus BP’s of damage generated by the DM (where those optional rules are in play) added by the weapon is subtracted from the DR of the armor with each strike landed.
  • When more than one layer is worn, it this amount is subtracted from the outermost layer .

The damage the [outermost layer of] armor takes continues to reduce the protection it provides until the DR reaches zero (0). At that point it must either be discarded or patched/repaired by a qualified Smith (Tailor in the case of padded armors), and any underlying armor is brought into play.

Where two numbers are quoted in the Armor/Shield DR Recap below, the number to the left is the amount of the POT of the blows or BP’s in damage that is subtracted, while the DB or DM damage (as applicable) is subtracted from the number to the right.

The number on the left remains unaffected until the number on the right is reduced to match it.

When that point is reached, they are then treated as one number.

The damage taken continues to reduce the protection it provides until the DR reaches zero (0). At that point it must either be discarded or patched/repaired by a qualified Smith  (Tailor in the case of padded armors).

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Armor/Shield DR Recap (Optional Armor Wear Rules)  

Armor Types DR
Padded, Simple 10
Studded Padding 12
Trellised Padding 14
Bezainted Padding 15
Ringed Padding 16
Singlemail 10/40
Banded Singlemail 14/40
Doublemail 20/40
Banded Doublemail 24/40
Jazeraint 28/40
Laminated 32/40
Brigandine 36/40
Field Plate 40
Cuerbully Plate 30
Shields DR
Wood (alder or poplar assumed) 25
Steel-Bound 30
Steel 40

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The (optional rule) specialty attack known as a Slash is directed primarily at the destruction of the target’s armor.

In determining the POT of the blow or the BP’s of damage inflicted, CRD is substituted for STR.

The full POT or BP’s in damage of this type of blow (including the DB or DM damage) is subtracted from the DR, every time it is used, until the armor’s DR is exhausted and it is hanging in ribands (ribbons) – no wounds are inflicted until there is no more armor to provide protection.

  • Field plate armor is immune to this sort of attack, while cuerbully is affected by only half the POT or BP’s of damage inflicted when struck this way.

The (optional rule) specialty attack known as the Thrust or Lunge attack is made with narrow pointy-ended weapons that simply pass through padded or mail armors, the DR of each layer (as applicable) falls by one (1) point each time it is pierced. The POT of the blow loses one (1) point per layer it passes through (as applicable) before Wounds are assessed. The target must face the balance of the POT remaining.

  • ONLY bodkin-headed arrows (the armor-piercing rounds of their day) or heavy crossbow bolts can be used for Piercing attacks by missile weapon, and they can be used against any and all types of armor equally, including field plate or cuerbully plate.
  • Bodkin-headed arrows and heavy bolts can ONLY Pierce metal or plate armors worn by targets within Short Range and only when they are only rated “Strong”, NOT against any kind of “Proof” armor (where those optional rules are in play).
  • Beyond Short range and against the tougher Proof armors (where those optional rules are in play), the bodkin-headed arrow interacts with the armors like any Common Strike, subtracting only the DB bonus to POT or DM bonus to BP’s of damage from the DR, normally.

The armors subject to Slashing and Piercing attacks and the weapons they are vulnerable to are detailed in the descriptions of those Attack Actions, respectively.

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Getting Hit:

Wound Thresholds

Any character struck by a blow whose POT is greater than the subject’s [(modified STA) + (CND)] ÷ 8 AFTER subtracting the protective value of clothing/armor (DR) suffers a “Wound”.

Any blow with POT exceeding [(Wound Threshold) x 2] AFTER reductions for armor/clothing (as applicable) counts as two (2) wounds; exceeding [(Wound Threshold) x 3] counts as three, and so on.

The Threshold does NOT apply when the character is struck by point or edge, ONLY when hit by a blunt instrument like a mace, OR when the blow has passed through armor without breaching it.

 

Getting Hit:

Stunned by Pain

Getting knocked about in battle by one’s foes is not the only danger in battle.

When the POT remaining of any blow that makes it through a character’s armor is greater than his P-RES, a successful P-RES check must be made vs. a Progressive DV based on the number of points by which it is greater, per point, in order to maintain consciousness in the face of blinding sense-numbing pain.

Success allows him to remain conscious, however, a HRT check must be made vs. the same DV in order to marshal his faculties and fight through the pain.

Failing the HRT check leaves the character shrouded in a fog of pain, Stunned and a bit dazed to such an extent that he is subject to a Progressive penalty based on the points by which the POT exceeded his P-RES, per point, to be applied to his AV’s for all tasks attempted. This penalty applies to his Initiative, as well, and also added in determining the time required to complete any action (added to the DV which forms the basis for determining time requirements for skills, according to the applicable skill description). Characters Stunned in this way cannot make any fancy maneuvers like compound movements, especially anything from the Acrobat repertoire, constrained to making the least confrontational, most prudent response to their situations. Movement-based actions are favored. Acts made in self-defense, such as actual defenses offered with Weapon skills, Shield skill, Dodges and the like are only made if they cannot be avoided, as impaired as the character is.

The Stun penalty declines by half at the end of every CS following until it rounds to zero (0) and the character’s head is finally clear.

Success in the HRT check allows the character to manage the pain well enough to function relatively normally, at half the penalty noted above.

Unconsciousness, and penalties due to pain and Stun can be alleviated by the judicious application of magick or healing herbs.

 

Getting Hit:

Levels of Wounding

The more wounds suffered, the more damaged the character is and impaired his faculties become. This is further defined by aid of “Levels of Wounding”. These are: “Light”, “Serious”, “Grievous”, and “Mortal”. Light Wounds are also called by the familiar title: “Flesh-Wounds”.

The first wound taken is Light.

The second and third wounds are Serious.

The fourth, fifth and sixth wounds are Grievous.

The seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth are Mortal.

The effective STR of a character suffering Grievous Wounds falls to 1/2 normal, unless he can make a successful HRT check against a Progressive DV based on the number of Wounds he has taken, per Wound. This allows him to tap his full normal STR for that one Action/Attack only.

The effective STR of a character suffering Mortal Wounds falls to 1/4th normal.

Upon receiving the final Mortal Wound, the character collapses (STR between 1 and zero), and a P-RES check must be made successfully vs. a DV of 55 or the character dies on the spot.

Succeeding with this roll, the character lives on for (CND) minutes, BUT another P-RES check vs. the same DV must be made successfully in order to maintain consciousness during that time.

 

The character runs on an adrenalin high throughout any given battle or contest, unaffected by the extent of his wounds UNLESS he is knocked unconscious and roused again.

When knocked unconscious and roused again, OR after the battle is resolved and the characters have time to relax and breathe again, the character’s effective STR drops by 1/4th for every Level of Wounding he has suffered.

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Optional Body Point rules:

The first 1/4th of the character’s BP’s represent Light wounds;

from 1/4th to 1/2 are Serious wounds;

from 1/2 to 3/4th’s are Grievous wounds;

beyond 3/4th’s are Mortal wounds.

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Optional Rules:

Heroic Effects

Very carefully spelled out throughout the rules are all the limits placed on the characters for all practical purposes. This does NOT address impractical purposes, however, improbable moments of stress that test the limits of heart and spirit utterly.

Again and again tales of extraordinary feats performed by otherwise ordinary people are reported, as a heroic response to an utterly dire situation or threat. These are TRUE Heroics. Though the general concept of the development of the characters through the course of the game is also a heroic one, their scores do not take into account such heroic feats as these, only the defined limits of performance under normal (even competitive) circumstances. Yet, the opportunity for characters to accomplish such feats, insofar as they are all heroes in the making, should by all rights lie open to them when they face similarly dire threats or dangers. These are referred to as Heroic Effects.

It is recommended that the GM restrict the use of Heroic Effects only to PC’s, or the (rare) NPC of PC quality.

A Heroic Effect can include allowing a character to act despite having exhausted his CND allowance for taxing actions or allowing a pivotal magick to be resisted (providing the magick allows for its resistance). The areas to which it can be applied are effectively unlimited and up to the GM, but it must be understood that there is a common thread that he is responsible for seeing runs through all such Effects – the occasion or situation must be in some way absolutely critical to the character to whom the Effect is allowed, either physically or emotionally. It might perhaps be allowed to a character to aid him in saving his own life, but FAR more appropriate if he is the only one present able to save the life of a child, spouse, or other loved one, some highly respected and treasured mentor, god parent or other benefactor that stands in mortal peril, to enable the hero to open some barrier, or lift some enormous weight far beyond his normal capacity that keeps him from aiding the one threatened, breaking, bending or moving some great obstacle preventing him from pulling his charge to safety. This becomes even more appropriate and the situation even blacker when the one in need of a hero is themselves Stunned or, worse, lying unconscious in danger’s path or, worse yet, already injured and in danger of dying for want of tending to.

In the event the a character witnesses the death or, worse, murder, of one dearly beloved or otherwise treasured, the Heroic Effect might also be allowed, but only if the character witnesses it in person, in order that he might wreak vengeance on the spot. Perhaps he feels no pain and gains the strength provided by his burning spirit, the equivalent of going Berserk, until the foe is disposed of and he collapses, finally realizing and suffering the full and true extent of his condition.

The treasured one may be a prized guard dog or hunting dog, special hawk – but in these cases only if the character raised and tended the beast by his own hand, rather than through some agent like a servant, and assuming the character has kept the beast with him for a number of years, more than long enough to establish a VERY strong bond of the heart. This requires that the character be a Husbandman, but especially applies when the character is skilled as a Beastmaster also and has been through the intense bonding of having trained the beast in question. If raised in this way by the hand of a servant, perhaps the GM would apply the Heroic Effect to that servant under the same circumstances. Having fewer resources of body and spirit as most servants do, it would likely spell his end. There is little heroic adventure without at least a touch of tragedy.

In describing the actual Effect to be granted, the GM must decide if the benefit to the character is very temporary, perhaps even just to allow the character to complete one crucial, pivotal action that can change the outcome of the whole scene, or to allow the character some benefit that allows him the ability to make it through to the resolution of this dire and central scene. In some cases simply shifting a Grossly Heavy Object out of the way so innocents can make their escape is enough, or lifting an object holding the one threatened entrapped just long enough for them to get free or for them to be pulled free. On the other hand, it might be allowed until some tactical situation or actual battle is resolved, until the miscreants have been brought to justice, or the only ones still alive are those that somehow managed to flee.

To give the GM an idea of how to quantify the Heroic Effect bonus or bonuses, especially where the attribute scores are concerned, no more than the character’s (HRT) should be granted, the same in POT of blows, perhaps, instead of the STR in general, might be better. The possibilities inherent in the Heroic Effects that might be allowed are discussed under the heading “Lifting, Bending & Breaking” in “The GM’s Toolbox”. A bonus to a skill AV might be allowed, perhaps, especially in battle with the one provoking the character to a heroic Effect, but only until that vartlet is disposed of, a P-RES bonus to allow him to soldier on no matter the pain or damage suffered, perhaps to allow the character to reach into or through a fire, or some similar situation. Perhaps lives that are EXTREMELY precious to the character literally hang in the balance, and the Heroic Effect is the only means of saving them, strengthening his grip and allowing him to dig his heels in to slowly, inch-by-inch, pull them back to safety.

When all is said and done, however, and the Heroic Effect passes away with the hero victorious, the GM must evaluate the kind of damage the extraordinary stress on the hero’s body causes. It is likely taxing the body in that way could leave the character bed-ridden for months healing (provided no magick is available to speed the process). This aspect, too, is a common thread accompanying the reports of such heroics. Something to be seriously considered. The Heroic Effect should NOT be considered a “freebie” or a “gimme” instant solution to the party’s troubles. The player’s should weigh the importance of the situation carefully before asking, and consider what the cost may be afterwards. If the only character that could reasonably invoke a Heroic Effect is already in dire straits as far as his health is concerned, the aftermath of the Heroic Effect could be coma while he heals, or even death.

Is it worth it? Only the players can speak for their characters.

Integrating Heroic Effects into the Flow of Play

a couple different ways of implementing a less extreme or brain-teasing use of the concept revolve around relying on the dice rolls to indicate when a Heroic Effect has been achieved. This could be observed only in scenes that are pivotal to the story being moved forward, or may be observed at all times for simplicity’s sake.

In both methods, the Heroic Effect is indicated whenever the number rolled is equal to or less than 10% of the resolved chance of success.

For example, where the resolved chance of success is only 32%, 10% of which comes to 3.2, which rounds to 3, a heroic Effect is achieved with the roll of 03 or less. Where the chance is 55%, 10% of which comes to 5.5, which rounds to 6, the roll of 06 or less achieves a Heroic Effect.

On the flip side of these astonishing and impressive successes, are the failures, so that balance in the system is maintained. These are called “Bumbles”.

A Bumble occurs whenever the result of the dice is greater than or equal to (10% of the chance of failure) subtracted from 100, instead.

For example, when the chance of success is 32%, the chance of failure is 68%; 10% of 68 is 6.8, which rounds to 7; 100 – 7 = 93. Thus, on a roll of 93 or higher, the character would Bumble whatever action or task he was attempting. In the same vein, where the chance of success is 55%, the chance of failure is 45%; 10% of which comes to 4.5, which rounds to 5; 100 – 5 = 95. Thus, the roll of 95 or higher results in a Bumble.

Interpreting the Results

In battle, a Heroic Effect should allow the character somehow triumph over his foe, to achieve whatever his purpose was in crossing arms with him. If he was trying to break away, he somehow incapacitates the foe for long enough for him to do so and get far enough away fast enough that no parting shot may be taken. It might otherwise double the effective POT of that blow. If it were a roll for a defense, the successful defense may end with the character in a position to execute a Reprisal, whether the dice otherwise indicate one is due or not. In any other task, the Heroic Effect could cut the time required to complete the task in half. If it is a roll for a process that has some yield it could increase that yield, especially in situations where there is normally some percentage of material lost, such as is common with brewing alchemical concoctions. Here, the Heroic Effect could cut the % of loss in half. Alternately and also in the cast of casting magicks, the Heroic Effect could increase the effective POT of the resulting magick by up to (caster’s MGA) or double, whichever is less. The specific results are for the GM to determine at his own discretion. This is where his creativity comes in and he actually gets to play!

In the case of Bumbles, simple failure must be embellished – tools can break in hand, even inflict a wound (perhaps on the roll of 00), lock picks or trap tools can get jammed in the tumblers or plates or in the trap’s works, spills, smudges, scars, knicks, and so on can occur to goods being manufactured, materials, or a percentage of them, could be ruined. For the purposes of alchemy and the formal casting of magick, a specific procedure for determining the results are provided in the Grimoire. This is up to the GM’s discretion to use as is, to embellish or diminish, as desired, but provided as a template and guide deemed in balance with the rest of the system.

As an alternative to these splashy effects, the GM can interpret the Heroic Effects, whether for better or for worse, as opportunities to involve the players a little more tightly in the telling of the story being played. Using the same standard for the dice rolls, the GM can award the player of the character achieving the Heroic Effect with a white or a black marker which the player can opt to spend immediately or hang onto. The GM can offer the player a simple Heroic Effect such as are described above AND a token to save, or allow the token to be spent immediately on a more comprehensive Effect such as discussed at the beginning of the “Heroic Effects” passage. At the GM’s option, the token might be considered a “Fate” token, representing the hand of Fate in the game, allowing the player to change the result of any one critical dice roll, or the result of any one attempted action. He might also allow the player receiving the token to give the token to any other player in the party, BUT a token should only be allowed to be passed this way ONCE. These numbers are rolled fairly rarely, so these effects achieved with them are likely to have a strong impact when they enter play. t least, they SHOULD.

Whether the GM uses the Heroic Effects standard for everyday play or only in highly-charged, important scenes, and whether he uses Bumbles alongside “Fate” tokens, the entire point of these optional rules is to make the playing of the game more dramatic and entertaining. If the GM tries and is not satisfied with the results, he should either modify what he is doing, or scrap this aspect of the rules. In the end, “The play’s the thing!”

The Healing Process

Once the battle is over and it is time for the PC’s to take stock of themselves, all the little aches, pains, strains and bruises able at last to tell the characters just how badly they hurt. The physical shock the body goes into that protects the characters from feeling all those things (effective P-RES) finally wears off, along with the adrenaline high they were riding throughout the battle or tactical contest.

For every Level of Wounding a character has suffered (regardless of whether Wounds alone or BP’s are used), a character’s effective STR drops by 1/4th in the aftermath. The rate at which a character requires to recover END slows, also, doubling for every Level of Wounding under which he is laboring.

IF a character is suffering only Light Wounds, he can heal normally so long as he restricts himself to common everyday activities. This does NOT include anything that can be described as being in any way strenuous. The benefit lies in the fact that he is not restricted to quiet bed-rest.

Any Level of Wounding more severe than Light requires quiet bed rest (reading, knitting, etc.) and the attendance of a skilled healer of one sort or another to provide support therapy.

The total number of “wounds” taken (defining his Level of Wounding) determines how long it takes a character to heal a wound, in weeks. This can be reduced by (1 per 4 trade SL’s) of the ministrations of a healer of some sort, as described in the text of that trade.

IF the number of wounds is low enough or the skill applied in the patient’s care is great enough to reduce the weeks to one or less, the final week is broken down and diminished by the day, with a minimum healing time of one day per wound.

After this time has passed, one wound is healed. Since the total drops by one wound, the healing of the next wound takes one day less, and so on for the next, and the next, gradually accelerating on its own until the one (1) day per wound minimum is reached.

Optional Body Point rules:

The total number of points of damage suffered determines how long it takes a character to heal a wound, in days, minus the patient’s CND att. mod. and reduced by (1 per 4 trade SL’s) of the ministrations of a healer of some sort, as described in the text of that trade, with a minimum healing time of one day per point.

During this time, any single exercise or activity that can in any way be described as strenuous halts the healing process and turns the clock back to zero insofar as counting the number of days until the next wound is healed, starting it over again. In the case of a character suffer under Grievous Wounds, doing so can actually inflict another wound on the character (GM’s discretion). For a character on the threshold of the Mortal Level of Wounding, this could be crucial in a very dire way.

The “Mortal” Level of Wounding means just that. The wounds are severe and extensive enough that they can NOT heal without the ministrations of a very skilled healer of some sort. The character is simply going to die in the absence of such care. Again, hastening the rate of healing by means of a Swift Heal charm for one wounded to the Mortal level does no good whatsoever in the absence of a skilled healer, as those wounds cannot heal on their own in the first place.

IF the character Mortally wounded attempts to move on his own, he suffers another effective Wound every [(STR att. mod.) + (CND att. mod)] feet, pushing him closer to or possibly even over the brink of death (excepting the use of the Heroic Effects rules, GM’s discretion).

IF any other lay hands on a character Mortally wounded, the manner in which the character is moved determines how quickly additional wounds accumulate, the ideal being either levitated by magick so as to disturb the body as little as possible, or picked up suspended in a blanket or sheet by the hands of those either skilled as healers or being closely monitored and directed by healers.

A “Wound Channel” potent enough to shift enough of the wounds away to raise the character from the Mortal level to the Grievous level is an effective means for accelerating the speed of recovery but also for broadening the scope of effective treatments and diminishing the danger from moving the character.

The Tactical Display

In order to keep track of the movements of characters and their foes during tactical engagements where the PC’s are pitted against their foes in mortal combat, the GM must provide a bird’s-eye-view map of the site of the engagement with such details drawn as are useful to the players who want to get creative with the “props” available in the manner of a swashbuckling adventure film, AND each character and NPC involved (and in sight) will need to be represented by some sort of marker on that map which shows his position and movements as the situation progresses. The map is commonly referred to as the “tactical display”. The markers can take any number of forms but there are a couple requirements if they are to fulfill their more formal uses, all described in detail under the heading “Preparing for Battle”, to follow. The tactical display will consist of either one or more model set-pieces on a plain, featureless tablecloth, or as a map drawn out to scale on a large sheet of paper, or on some kind of large vinyl tablecloth made for use with water-based markers, easily wiped down and reused, according to the GM’s tastes (interest, time, & budget).

At the GM’s option, for the convenience of non-war gamers and those gamers who have accumulated such table-top equipment for roleplaying as the ubiquitous 1in. square grid sheet or tablecloth, combat movement, actions, and even magick have all been defined in such a way that these can easily be adapted to the use of a grid. The 1-inch grid will conform to the 25mm standard commonly used to track battles in roleplaying games, each 1in. square representing an area 5ft. on a side, 5mm to the foot.

If the GM himself does not have a Grid sheet and no one in the gaming group does either, he should in no way feel bound to find and use one. Small-scale battles are really more easily run without the grid. For those who have played tabletop war games already, no further explanation is likely needed.

The more involved the players get into gaming, the more elaborate the tactical display can become. If the GM and/or some of the players are also involved in tabletop wargaming, the display can include contour-cut styrofoam slabs stacked to show changes in elevation, scale shrubbery and trees, houses, fences, walls, colored felt cut-outs indicating water, sand, roads, mud, marsh, or other difficult terrain, and also collecting the 25mm metal figures discussed under the heading “Preparing for Battle”.

While it is nice when the players participate in helping to collect the props to use for tactical displays, it is the GM’s responsibility alone if he wishes to have them. It might not be too much to ask that the players each provide their own metal miniatures if the GM wants to use those as markers but, as they are not truly necessary, he may end up having to get miniatures for each of the PC’s in his game on his own.

The Scale of the Tactical Display

In RoM the 25mm scale used for the tactical display is referred to as “skirmishing scale”, the one most commonly used by the GM. Exceptions to the use of this scale may include ranged weapon conflicts (which may include magick) and larger battles where the sheer number of combatants makes the 1 figure: 1 character 25mm scale too difficult and/or expensive to set up and run on a Pulse by Pulse basis.

The skirmishing scale is designed to best handle conflicts between small bands wielding hand-hurled and hand-held weapons, usually in somewhat more confined areas, in building interiors, in ruins, crypts and tombs, in caverns, and so forth. When characters meet or sight their foes at long distances it is unlikely that the GM can make use of the normal skirmishing scale and still fit both the PC’s and their foes on the gaming table. Just 100ft. in 25mm scale is over 8ft. in real space and it is likely the PC’s may first spot their opponents from time to time at distances three times as great as that, or farther.

Under these circumstances the GM should be able to fit both the PC’s and their targets on the same table together either by cutting the scale in half or to 1/5th. Cutting the scale in half will yield a scale of 25mm = 10ft., or 5mm per 2 scale feet. Cutting the scale to 1/5th skirmishing will yield a scale of 25mm = 25ft., or 1mm per scale foot. In either of these cases it will probably be easiest to use one figure or marker to show the position of the entire party, unless and/or until any single characters depart or the party should split into smaller groups and move to a location an appreciable distance (more than 25mm) away, warranting the use of another marker

In the smaller 25mm = 10ft. scale, the GM can represent a distance of 400ft. in a space only 1 meter (39in’s) across. This will work well for the ranges of best accuracy for most bows and for the hand-hurled weapons of nearly all characters. At the even smaller 25mm = 25ft. scale the GM can represent a distance of 1,000ft. in the same amount of space, and that will encompass even the extreme ranges of most bows. Any greater distances, such as might be involved when first making sighting and recognition checks, should be handled on maps of a scale suitable for illustrating large swaths of countryside, as no mundane weapon will reach between them, except perhaps siege weaponry turned to use for anti-personnel, or magickal attacks, for which sight alone limits range.

The GM should adjust the scale used as the characters come within closer proximity to their foes. In this way, more detail of the area in which they are located may be shown, until normal 25mm = 5ft. skirmishing scale is reached, BUT the players MUST be duly informed as the GM makes these adjustments so they do not get confused. The GM should be prepared to provide a patient reminder or two after the fact when he changes the scale, as not everyone changes mental gears at the same speed.

The character’s movement rates rendered in all three scales and also in feet per Pulse and mph, and his jump, leap, and running leap distances are already be recorded on the Character Record Sheet to facilitate the changes in scale during tactical play.

Preparing for Battle

As noted previously, in preparing for tactical play and/or battle some sort of markers must be found and kept on hand or carried to each gaming session to be used on the GM’s tactical display to mark the approximate locations of all characters, PC’s and NPC’s and beasts and monsters (as applicable), especially when the GM is anticipating the occurrence of combat or a tactical situation.

At local hobby or gaming stores, usually the same places where the polyhedral dice used to play the game may be found, the players and GM will find a wide variety of 25mm metal miniatures or figurines designed for fantasy roleplay intended for use in this capacity. These metal miniatures are commonly collected and painted and used to mark the positions of PC’s and NPC’s, beasts and “monsters” in tactical situations and battles. They are made in a wide assortment of races and also dressed and equipped so as to suggest a great variety of trades and social classes. If the player or GM cannot find a specifically accurate metal miniature to match a particular character, he is likely to find something that is at least close.

While the scale used is 25mm, some of the companies making metal miniatures have seen fit to alter the standard and make their 25mm figures almost another scale foot taller than normal. This may disturb some of the purists, but considering the fact that they are simply markers, it makes little if any real difference in play.

While metal miniatures are very nice and a great deal of fun to collect and learn how to paint (a process and skill requiring a great deal of patience and hand-eye coordination), they are NOT necessary to get the players through a contest or bout with their foes. The players should NOT put off starting up a game because they haven’t gotten the figures (metal miniatures) they want for their characters yet, either.

The players and GM should be aware that any marker is acceptable for the tactical display, as long as the characters can be told apart from one another fairly easily.

Some board games provide little flat cardboard markers which fit into slots on plastic bases, or even a collection of buttons or little metal pieces like shoes, hats, and the like which can just as easily be scavenged to use here for combat. Some gaming companies actually provide medieval swords & sorcery-style printed characters on cardboard for use in such plastic bases, or digital files of the same that can be down-loaded and printed at home, folding at the center to provide both a Front and Back side.

These substitutes can just as easily be used as a stop-gap measure until the players find the metal figures they want, or mixed in with the other players’ figures until a given player has found the figure he wants to use, OR they can stand as they are indefinitely, as desired.

Regardless of the type of marker used to show the position of a combatant on the tactical display, it should be mounted on a base specifically prepared for it that will enable the players and GM alike to see it and easily take note of when it has moved from ranged combat into the melée. A simple disc (base) alone cut to the character’s specifications (according to his height, in scale), perhaps out of balsa wood, marked with the fields of approach, and marked with a symbol or initial on it to indicate the character’s identity will work very well as a marker on the tactical display. The metal miniatures or other objects of that nature are favored for the simple fact that they have a bit more weight and are a little harder to accidently dislodge or shift when deployed during play. Perhaps a balsa disc so prepared could be glued to a slug or coin to provide it with a more desirable weight.

The size of the base or disc cut for a character should be equal to his Zone of Control, which is equal to the character’s height in diameter, as translated into skirmishing scale: 1ft. in scale = 5mm; 2.4in’s in scale = 1mm.

If the Zone were measured in the other two smaller scales and used to make bases or indicators, they would be so small and light they would be nothing more than an exercise in frustration to try to use.

While the base for the marker or figure should be circular, circles are difficult to cut even with a circle template, unless the player has a blade adapter for a compass. With eight possible directions from which a character can be approached in battle, octagonal bases are also considered acceptable, and certainly easier to cut. Whether cutting a circular base or octagonal, the player should always make sure that the lines dividing each of the eight orientations or fields of approach from one another are clearly marked.

Due to the fact that a metal miniature figure is likely to be posed in a position in which the direction that faces Front is ambiguous, the Front field of approach should always be marked with a “F” on the base on which it is mounted, and the same always when any random object is mounted to use as a marker. The GM or player mounting a metal miniature should be sure to position it on the base so that either the shoulders are squared off facing Front or its face looks out centered over that same field of approach.

The GM and player are advised to black out the Rear field of approach as a reminder that the character is vulnerable when approached from that direction and must turn around one way or the other in order to be able to respond to attacks from that direction with anything other than a Dodge and then only after having been warned, making a successful Sentry-Perception skill or AWA check, or surviving a shot delivered blind from that quarter.

In addition to the mounted marker or figure and the ubiquitous paper and pencil or pen, the GM and the players (if they are so inclined) will need a small ruler (6in. or 12in. length) or a small tape measure of narrow width (4ft. to 6ft. length) that also has one side marked in millimeters for measuring out movement and ranged weapon attacks or marking the extents of AoE dweomers, and the like. Those players running characters who are practitioners of magick should also have extra dice or some sort of marker of a dedicated shape to be used to mark the centers of the AoE magicks they cast, from which to measure to check and see if those passing too close have inadvertently crossed within them. To represent the bounds of those AoE magicks that have obvious visual effects attached to them, a simple piece of chalk tied to a length of string can be used draw their perimeters if playing on a felt tablecloth. The same trick can be used with a water-based pen or marker on vinyl sheets or tablecloths designed to work with them.

The GM should warn the players far enough in advance of the date his game will commence so those players who have a mind to can get their own equipment together, or he can request that each player get their own equipment OR make arrangements to share with another player PRIOR to the start of play, so none get their noses out of joint over the extra expense or constantly being asked to share by one or another player.

A character’s Zone is assumed to encompass his reach while also accounting for his general size and the space needed for him to shift about and make simple maneuvers like sidesteps, advances or even lunges, and back steps while still remaining relatively in the same place for the purposes of battle. It may be restricted on the sides when the character fights in formation, shoulder-to-shoulder or back-to-back with his comrades to prevent his opponents from making flanking attacks.

It is very important that the GM and player both understand that the character is NOT the marker or figure used to represent his Zone on the tactical display. The character is no chess piece to sit idly in the middle of the space he controls, but is assumed to be constantly drifting and moving about in his Zone, shifting and looking about to keep track of his comrades and opponents. This is especially considered to be true when engaged in battle in the melée, dancing from side to side, shuffling forward and back in response to his opponents movements, always on the move himself, as anyone would be who is engaged in a contest of life or death consequences.

The Details of the Display

Regardless of the surface used for the tactical display, with or without a grid, and/or the quality and detail of any models employed, the display is intended to remind the GM and the players of the nature and extent of the confines in which the contest or battle is taking place. The GM should always strive to make sure that the players all understand that the display is only a basic indication of the setting of the contest or theater of the battle and the current situation and participants’ locations, and should NOT necessarily be taken literally as the model(s) appear or as the maps are drawn. The GM must have with him his notes on the location with the specific details of the physical features and make some attempt to loosely indicate them when drawing any maps out on the display, and be prepared to field questions regarding the details of the place. The GM certainly can’t be expected to draw or model every little candlestick or loose rock, pile of rushes or stick of furniture on the site before the battle, so he should be prepared to flesh out the specifics of the setting as the players work their way into and through it. The players would no doubt lose all interest in the contest or battle itself if the GM took the time to go into that kind of detail in his description in the midst of the game before allowing the action to start.

Being familiar with the period and the conditions of medieval life as spelled out elsewhere in this book will help the players and GM alike immensely in this respect. Knowing what to expect in the way of structures (pillars, vaults, corbels, flying buttresses, hammerbeams roof trussing, thatched roofs, etc.), and lighting (candles, candlelanthorns, banks of candles, candelabrum, candlesticks and stands, candoliers, flambeaux, torches and cressets, braziers, etc.), social customs (chamber pots in bedchambers emptied out the window every morning, urine buckets outside main outside doors, courtyard laundry troughs, mounting blocks to get up and down from horseback by stable doors and main entrances to buildings, heavily curtained windows and tester beds to protect from errant fingers of the cold in winter, draught screens in cold windy weather, fires in fireplaces for light in dimly lit rooms in midsummer despite the heat, displays of silver plate on great racks called aumbries in the main halls of the wealthy, crockery, pots & pans, and utensils hanging from racks over kitchen fireplaces and work tables, buckets of sand and water by fireplaces for emergency fire control, etc.) and the like will all help guide the player in questioning the display to find the little things that should be present that may be used creatively to gain the upper hand and turn the tide of battle, and will aid the GM in fielding those questions.

The GM should always be willing to give a little along these lines, as well. The players’ questions are likely to lead the GM to make the little embellishments in detail that make the settings more rich and real and colorful for the players and can result in far more interesting sorts of actions during play, breaking crockery or bottles over peoples’ heads, throwing buckets of noisome stuffs or hot soups or stews, or backing a foe into tripping into or over benches or fire pits in a great hall, pulling curtains or tapestries down to cover and entangle a foe or even a group of foes – all the sorts of things that they see in the Swords & Sorcery genre adventure movies at the theater, both old and new.

Making the Most of Combat

Also known as “The Art of Being a Hero”, the players and GM alike must be careful not to turn tactical play, and especially combat, into a very dry strategy-type board- or wargame. This is a very real danger when the process is hemmed around as it is with conventions and protocols of formal acts and actions required to define and run those sorts of situations fairly with a reasonable amount of verisimilitude.

The players especially must always be on the lookout for opportunities, aware of the wide variety of possibilities available, the many different ways in which the actions can be arranged and applied, with an eye to adapt them to the needs of the moment so as to put as much as possible into every volatile situation. This part of the game should be kept as exciting, as cliff-hanging, as sudden-death as these sorts of contests are in spirit. These are the scenes that in novels and movies alike keep the reader or viewer on the edge of his seat. The characters should look for ways to “make a splash” with flamboyant, swashbuckling actions, employing the smartest and most unexpected tactics. Teamwork can be amazingly effective, and the lone swashbuckler can swing through just in time to turn the tide of battle if he keeps his eyes open and his wits about him. Taking the unexpected tack or path is one good way to keep the GM on his toes and ensure a good time is had by all. Let the GM worry about how the actions stated must be implemented, that is what he is there for. Innovations in battle can be a delight to everyone around the table.

It is of prime importance that the players educate themselves about the setting as much as the situation allows them to before they become wrapped up in a melée, for the features of the environment must be utilized to the greatest advantage to achieve swift victory – before the GM has the foes do the same against them.

Medieval interiors, particularly those of great castle halls, manor halls, town halls, craft and guild halls, chapels, great churches and especially cathedrals, and other great buildings, and even common halls in inns and houses of call are all renowned for their scale, commonly roofed over with open-work beams and bracing for high “hammerbeam” vaulted roofs. These are great for getting around unseen and maneuvering for position in a contest or battle, if one can manage to up there. Fancy columns, beams and deep-carven bracing or corbels for the seating of support timbers are common architectural adornments, if the nature of the building indicates even a hint of wealth, perfect for clambering up to avoid capture, or get to another part of the conflict, or beat a hasty retreat to a high window embrasure for escape. The larger the chamber, the more likely there is a candolier or two or three hanging over head, suspended from the trusses and crossbeams holding the roof up, and/or candle banks standing against the walls, or large candle stands waiting to be dropped on the unwary or kicked or tipped over to block their foes’ movements or available fields of approach. Simple bowl-and-wick oil lamps are another useful and common method of lighting in the period, and a serious fire hazard. Candlesticks and rushlights are common sources for tabletop lighting and a source of fire in a fight. Green rushes and strewing herbs are common in great chambers and halls to sweeten a room and hide the filth that collects from the residents eating there, but by midwinter they are brown and dried up, just waiting to be lit in a desperate situation. desperate is the key word, indeed, for the people of the period of the game are nothing if not HIGHLY respectful, even fearful, of fire.

Acts that can be viewed as arson should be carefully considered beforehand, as most everything used in building and in the preparation and manufacture of most things burn readily, even the very mortar holding stone and/or brick buildings together. There are no such things as fire retardants much less fire proofing in the period – not without magick, and magick carries too high a price tag for most to afford. Cloth and clothing go up like torches in the blink of an eye (one CS of near exposure, immediately on direct contact), and for modesty’s sake all gowns and skirts are floor-length. A single lamp could start a fire that sweeps across half the town before it is contained.

That is why it is a capital crime to set a fire, worth the author’s life at the end of rope if he should be caught and brought before the law, providing the arson’s victims don’t get to him first and he survives to appear before a judge.

A pot of boiling stock or porridge on an iron swing-arm hook over the fire in the hearth is a great tool for hurling and dousing the foes to burn them, soaking into clothing that retains the eat and continues to inflict damage. The bucket of sand on the hearth for smothering fires that are in danger of getting out of control can be used to grab a handful to fling in a foe’s face to blind him. The bucket outside the courtyard door for collecting piss to ferment into lye for cleaning can be used to fling in their faces and blind them, too, perhaps burn them also if it has been there long enough. These elements are fairly universal in residential houses, or the residential (rear courtyard) sides of houses that are also used for craftsmen’s shops. Chamber pots that have not yet been emptied can become noisome tactical tools in the hands of shameless dastards.

Captain Blood would never have been so great a hero to behold if he had not cut the tie-rope and sent the candoliers hurtling down into the midst of his foes. Hollywood’s Sea Hawks would never have been so popular if in their boarding attacks they hadn’t swung out on rigging ropes to leap through the air into the thick of the fray. The Three Musketeers would never have been such a hit if they hadn’t pulled the tapestries down from the walls over the heads of the Cardinal’s men to give them a sound beating, finding them already long gone by the time they found their way out from underneath them again. Nothing pleases people more than a rascally hero tipping the hapless merchants cart full of fruit and vegetables over in the path of the enemy soldiers who are hot on his tail, sending them slipping and sprawling all over the narrow market isle as it squishes underfoot to eliminate any hope of sound footing.

It is up to the players to make the most of their characters skills, whether trade skills, Petty Skills, or Open skills, to find opportunities to use them creatively in these situations. The Climber skill can enable a character to retreat to safety or a place to Hide, or to get to a remote avenue of escape, to gain a height advantage for the melée or a platform from which to use Hurled or Missile (ranged) attacks. This is especially true in fancy buildings incorporating the intricate stonework of the High Gothic style. Ducking under cover and then leaping out to gain Surprise over a foe is just one application of the Padfoot/Skulker skill. using it to sneak around behind an opponent so as to attack from the Back field of approach, to which he can offer no defense is another (although he is allowed a Sentry/AWA check to sense or hear someone behind him first).

The Player/Silver Tongue skill is great for creating a ruse in using the Cutpurse skill on a foe to take from him a weapon or other object considered valuable or useful in the battle, especially if it should be what the battle is being fought over in the first place. This, followed by the use of the Cache/Conceal skill to quickly make the purloined object disappear, might be most effective on a NPC just arriving on the scene, ill-informed as to the facts of the situation and more susceptible to the ruse because of that fact.

One of the primary purposes behind the use of special heroic tactics in battle or tactical situations is to obtain a simple advantage. Gaining a height advantage isn’t just useful for gaining the upper hand in the melée, it can make an attempt at overbearing a foe more effective and take the place of the movement that must usually preface an attempt to tackle a foe. Jump down on a foe as a part of making an attack on him and add the “falling” damage to the POT of the blow to guarantee Stun and make inflicting multiple wounds more likely.

So, Leap up on that table, ledge or wall! Grab that anchor rope from the chandelier and swing across the hall, don’t risk running through the thick of the fray! The Acrobat skill can come in handy during these conflicts in any number of ways.

Equipping a character with a weapon skill for either hand is prudent and allows for greater flexibility in battle, as does giving him Shield and/or dueling cloak skills in both hands, so they can be used equally well in either.

Stepping into a smaller foe to press an attack can make him give ground and use turns at the beginning or end of attacks over and over to steer him until he is pinned to a wall or in position to be shoved over a parapet or precipice or down a well, or the like – unless he figures some other way to get free, or is a better swordsman. Hard-soled boots are formidable weapons to kick a foe in the shins or stomp on his feet when they are only thinly clad! A knee to a certain sensitive spot can bring him down, or he can be doubled over by a punch to the breadbasket with the heavy hilt or butt of a weapon. The importance of the Brawler skill here can NOT be overstated, especially against a foe whose skill lies only in the formal use of his weapon and not in Brawling for his life on the battlefield.

For those using the optional attacks, the Thrust can force a foe to start taking wounds immediately, and the Slash can destroy the armor of those only lightly protected so they, again, start taking wounds soonest.

Dodge into a foe’s Zone so he can’t use his melée weapon! Especially if it becomes clear he has no skill at Brawling! Work hard at building Brawling skills, they make a character much more adaptable and formidable in battle! The hilt, the haft, the butt of the shaft or pole, all should be second nature for the character to use, and they become that much more effective if he is a Brawler by habit. His SL is going to reflect that fact soon enough. Hands, feet, knees and elbows can be used to beat or shove a foe out of his Zone, if he is subjected to the same tactics, again emphasizing the importance of Brawling. Brawling can truly get the most mileage of all a character’s combat skills if the player is truly into having his character mix it up with his foes.

Acrobat is another equally important skill. From Leaping up upon a trestle table, ledge, embrasure or wall, the character can use his skill as an Acrobat to somersault over the foe now looking up at him (provided he has clearance overhead) and, adding a half-twist, land facing that foe’s back to strike him from behind.

When the PC’s wade into battle or engage in a tactical contest, each must be mindful of their responsibilities to each other. No man is an island – the party survives or dies on its collective merits. There was no mistake in the coining of the phrase “Divide et impera” (divide and rule or divide and conquer) which was used by Julius Caesar. Lining up shoulder to shoulder with one’s fellows against the foes allows the characters to help defend one another, provides handy back-up if Stunned by a blow, and prevents foes from isolating and ganging up on any one character. the party of PC’s engaged in battle should never appear as a string of individual duels. They should work as a team to defeat their rivals with a minimum of injury on their own part. At the very least, characters should pair up or break into trios to stand back to back, preventing any foe from attacking from behind. But how few players think or act this way in battle?

The Wait action can be used for the PC to time a concerted attack with his fellows against a single foe, at the same Initiative, forcing that foe to offer a different defense to each one, and having none to offer at all against the fourth or fifth (as applicable).

If there are enough bodies on the PC’s side, using a formation like a Roman square or a Scots circular or oval Shieltron is the perfect way to surround non-combatants and protect them, perfect for keeping Mystics and Wizards and other practitioners safe. With a safe haven and time to work, they can bring their power to bear to best effect on the battle. This tactic works even better when there are enough on their side to arrange a rank of mid-sized polearms behind still able to reach the foes, and another rank of pikes behind them also able to reach the foes.

When the party has a practitioner of magick or two whose talents might best be used against the foe or altering the conditions of the setting rather than swinging weapons side by side with the rest, some means should be found to protect them, some safe position from which they can best use their Arts whose approach can be protected. Some of these types of characters even expect such aid. If the party has a chance to scout this out and prepare the site with appropriate magicks ahead of time, the party might not have to worry about protecting them at all. It depends on the specific skills in their repertoires.

The bottom line is that there is strength in numbers.

And the PC’s must keep in mind the fact that the NPC foes are likely to be looking for opportunities along those lines in dealing with them in return. If the GM thinks it appropriate to deploy sufficient numbers against the PC’s, such things as pincer movements, separating out squads to make flanking attacks, reserving part of the force to entice the PC’s to engage and then send in once all the rest are engaged to effect a rear attack should all be expected. All of these tactics can serve to make combat more memorable for the players, and make the characters more formidable.

This discussion of the possibilities is by no means exhaustive either, only representative. The GM and players should both always be on the lookout for other elements that can similarly be turned into a tactical advantage. In the end, however, they are only tools, there for the benefit of PC and foe alike, if only they avail themselves of them. The creative the approach to these sorts of situations, the more fun and interesting this phase of play becomes. If the character is an aspiring and eager young Lancelot du Lac, merry Robin-in-the-Hood or fearless Beowulf , this portion of the game is his time to truly shine, to do what he does best. But the PCs’ goals must be identified and agreed upon before entering the fray in order for them to be effective as a team. The warrior-types being run as GM’s NPC’s are going to do the same to the best of their ability, and those groups of them led by accomplished and experienced knights and warriors are less likely to see focus or morale break down as there is only one person, the GM, responsible for running them. They are unlikely to break and run until they have taken heavy losses, unless they lose noticeable number in a particularly short period of time. Then the PC’s will see what sort of leadership their foes have at their disposal, just how tough a force they are up against.

Combat is also the phase of play where the concepts of Chivalry come directly into play for those that follow such philosophies. The value of arms and armor, especially those owned and employed by those of their foes that are noble, are discussed under the heading “Booty”. The nobility is one great fraternity where lives are valued as members of an extended family, and where lives are spared in return for ransom, and where valuable steeds armor and weapons are also ransomed or confiscated and sold off. This is also where the players and GM must keep in mind the law of the land and the nature of their deeds in combat, whether they were set upon or not. There are NPC’s in place to see justice done, and most skilled warriors and knights have (locally) powerful noble patrons. Murder is still murder, regardless if the foe was barring them from their freedom or seeking the end their own lives, or if he insulted the characters’ mothers, fathers, or whathaveyou. The usury of merchant moneylenders and pawnbroker bankers is properly punished by use of the Church courts, not by means of a sword in the hands of a private citizen. Beating up the thugs sent by such notorious penny-pinchers can get the PC’s arrested for assault against the duly appointed agents sent to collect a lawfully incurred debt. Fighting in city and town streets and alleys and on the High ways or King’s Roads is breaking the King’s Peace, a serious enough offense for the local garrison, bedel and bailiffs of the ward, or the Watch, or the Constable of the Hundred and his bailiffs to make the Hue & Cry to pursue.

Have fun! Keep it heroic! But by all means, be conscious of witnesses and the consequences of actions. Some mistakes are irrevocable. Then again, if escape can be made, life in the lamb with a price on one’s head can be exciting, too!!