Combat Options

Using the Modifiers

All modifiers are cumulative, though the gamemaster doesn’t need to include all of them. Modifiers may never adjust the total combat difficulty below 3.

The gamemaster rolls the indicated modifier and adds it to the combat situation. A standard modifier is included in parentheses after the die modifier, should the gamemaster prefer not to roll.

Fighting & Melee Combat Options

Acrobatic Tricks: Acrobatics can also enhance fighting and melee combat attacks. The character must perform the acrobatics trick and the attack on the same turn. The gamemaster determines the exact difficulty of the acrobatics attempt. The player may add one-half of the difference (rounded up) between the difficulty and the successful acrobatics roll to the amount of damage done (not to the combat skill roll). One acrobatics trick roll can affect one attack only.

All-out: The character attacks with no thought to the consequences. The target has a better chance of being hit, but, in that round, the attacker cannot actively defend — or perform any other action — at all!

Lunge: The character takes a step forward to jab at an opponent, usually with an edged weapon. This adds about a half-meter (more or less depending on the stride) to the range of the attack, but it lowers the effectiveness of the attack.

Knockdown/Push/Trip: Using fighting or a blunt melee weapon in the usual way, the attacker causes his target to stumble and, instead of taking damage, the opponent loses 2D from her next Agility or Agility-based skill roll. If this is a knockdown or trip attempt, she must also spend one action to stand up again. Generally, unless the character has special training, he may only knockdown or push a character whose Physique (including Special Abilities or Disadvantage modifiers) is equal to or less than his own.

Sweep: These attacks, usually foot sweeps or roundhouses, are used when the character wants to make certain she hits the target, regardless of how much injury is caused.

Tackle: Tackling is much like grabbing, except that the attacker seeks to overcome the target entirely. Characters may perform this with fighting only. If successful or the target chooses not to struggle, the character captures the target and may, if desired, do normal damage. The target, meanwhile, may make no actions other than attempt to escape (see the escape rules herein). On subsequent rounds, the attacker may choose to do her Strength Damage only (no modifiers).

Grab: The attacker physically grasps a target. Few melee weapons allow this option, so it is used generally only in fighting attacks. What effect this has on the target depends on the type of grab. (The ones listed here are choke, flip, hold, slam/throw, and arm pin.) See the escape rules in this chapter for details on getting out of grabs. On subsequent rounds of a grab, the attacker may do his Strength Damage only (no modifiers except those from Special Abilities or equipment) if he defeats the victim’s escape attempt or if the defender chooses not to resist. Some grab variations may offer other options.

Choke: Ropes and hands can cut off the target’s source of air. Damage on the first round equals the character’s Strength Damage plus any modifiers. See the general grab rules for damage on subsequent rounds.

Flip: The character reaches out, grabs his opponent’s wrist, arm, leg, or similar body part, and jerks violently, causing the opponent to fall to the ground. The opponent takes 3D in damage from slamming into the ground and must spend the next round getting to her feet (if she can).
Hold: The character does less damage (-3D or more, at the player’s option, to the damage total), but she has hold of the target with a successful attack.

Slam/Throw: The character grabs or picks up his opponent and hurls him into the ground, a wall, a bus, or another obstacle. Lifting the opponent up counts as an action (using the lifting skill), as does slamming or throwing the target (which uses the throwing skill). The character must be strong enough to pick his opponent up to use this maneuver.

Once slammed into an object, the target takes the damage score of the object (usually determined by its Toughness, but the gamemaster may adjust this) plus the attacker’s Strength Damage. The object being slammed into takes the Strength Damage of the opponent.

Arm Pin: The hero grabs his target’s arm and forces it around behind her, pinning it there. After the first round, the player has three choices as to what his character can do. Each option counts as a separate action.

Option 1. The character does his Strength Damage only for each round he has the arm pinned.

Option 2. The character tries to break the opponent’s arm. The attacker must make a successful Physique or lifting roll versus a breaking difficulty.

If the opponent does not resist, the difficulty equals 2 times the target’s Physique or lifting die code plus the pips plus any relevant protection. Failing to beat the breaking difficulty in this case means the target takes damage as in option 1.

If the target chooses to resist, she may make no other action in the round, but she may move her turn up. Instead, the player rolls her character’s Physique or lifting and adds 5 and any relevant protection to the total to generate the breaking difficulty. Failure by the attacker to beat the breaking difficulty in this case means that the target escapes and may freely take action on the next round.

Option 3. The character may attempt to force the target to the ground while maintaining his hold on the arm. The attacker rolls his fighting against a submission difficulty.

If the opponent does not resist, the submission difficulty equals 2 times her Agility die code, dropping the pips. Failing to beat the breaking difficulty in this case means the target takes damage as in option 1.

If the target chooses to resist, the opponent may make no other action in the round, though she may move her turn up. Instead, the player rolls her character’s Agility and adds 5 and any relevant modifiers to the total to generate the submission difficulty. Failure by the attacker to beat the difficulty in this case means that the target escapes and may freely take action on the next round.

Combat Difficulty Modifiers

Fighting, Melee Combat

Option Difficulty Modifier Damage Modifier
All-out -2D (-6) +1D
Grab +2D (+6) *
Lunge +1D (+3) -1D
Knockdown, trip +2D (+6) *
Push +1D (+3) *
Sweep -2D (-6) -3D
Tackle +1D (+3) *

Called Shot

Target is…
Option Difficulty Modifier Damage Modifier
10 to 50 centimeters long +1D (+3) *
1 to 10 centimeters long +4D (+12) *
Less than a centimeter long +8D (+24) *
* See text for options.

Other Modifiers

  • The attacker is blind or blinded: +4D (+12) to the combat difficulty.
  • The target is blind or blinded or attacked from behind: -4D (-12) to the combat difficulty.

Options for Various Combat Skills

Called Shot

The character chooses a specific target, like a dagger in a thief’s hand, and aims for that. This is represented by a called-shot modifier, which is added to the combat difficulty. On a successful attack, he knocks the item out of the target’s hand, grabs the limb, pins the target to a wall, or does +1D (or more, at the gamemaster’s discretion) to the damage. The exact result depends on the situation and the player’s intent.

Breaking Things

When a character specifically attempts to break something, compare the skill total with the object’s damage resistance total (its Toughness modified by size, thickness, flaws, supports, etc.). Items that take at least 10 points above their damage resistance total are severely damaged, if not destroyed. Items taking less than that are weakened, and another attempt may be made (with the object having a reduced damage resistance total and possibly other problems). The “Object Toughness” table lists some suggested durabilities.

Object Toughness

Object Construction Toughness
Flimsy (thin wooden door, thatch) 1D
Tough (hard wooden door, most swords) 2D
Sturdy (brick wall) 3D
Very sturdy (main castle gate) 4D
Reinforced (outer castle walls) 6D


If the disarm attempt is successful and the target character has not made an action yet, she may move up her action to try and keep a grip on the item she’s holding. The defending character makes a Physique or lifting roll against the amount of damage done. If the defender’s roll is greater than the damage, the target character retains the item. If it is less than or equal to the damage, she drops it.


A hero throws an entangling weapon at her opponent. On a successful marksmanship or throwing roll (as appropriate), the end of the weapon wraps itself around the target. Unless the weapon is spiked or enhanced in some other way, it does no damage, but it prevents the target from doing any action except for trying to break free. The target may escape by snapping the bonds or slipping free, each of which counts as an action. To break the weapon, he must make a Physique or lifting roll that meets or beats the damage total of the weapon. To slip free, he needs to roll an Agility or acrobatics total equal to or higher than the weapon’s damage total.


To break free from any hold, the character must make a successful opposed Physique or lifting roll versus the holder’s Physique or lifting. This counts as an action.

Group Attack

This is a coordinated action. See the description of the command skill in the “Example Skill Difficulties” chapter for details.

Hit Location

Hit locations are a special kind of called shot that allows a character to shoot or strike a specific point on his target’s body. The table is used to determine the modifiers for hitting a target of Human proportions in different areas of his body. Note that aiming at an arm or leg actually causes less damage — this is because the character took extra care to shoot an area that is “less vital.”

Hit Location Modifiers

Option Difficulty Modifier Damage Modifier
Head +1D (+5) +12
Heart +4D (+15) +12
Chest, abdomen 0 0
Left or right arm +1D (+5) -2
Left or right leg +1D (+5) -1
Left or right hand +4D (+15) -2

Hit Location Effects

At the gamemaster’s discretion, sufficient damage to a particular hit location can affect the target’s ability to use that part. Except for blows to the chest, the modifier lasts until the character heals that portion (which typically takes a few days, as Body Points or Wounds are recovered for the body as a whole, not just a specific part). When the medicine skill or a healing spell or miracle is applied, it can be specified to repair one particular location.

Hit location modifiers are in addition to Wound level modifiers. If you are using them instead of the Wound level modifiers, then all -1 modifiers increase to -1D modifiers.

Chest: The character can do no more than passively defend in the next round.

Foot or leg: -1 to all acrobatics, stealth, movement, and initiative totals.

Hand or arm: -1 to all acrobatics, fighting, climbing, melee combat, marksmanship, sleight of hand, throwing, lifting, and any other rolls involving the hand or arm.

Head: -1 to all Intellect, Acumen, and initiative totals.


This option does only half of the normal damage, but it can render the target immediately unconscious with a successful attack. It requires a successful called shot to the head. If, after the resistance total has been subtracted, the target sustains at least two Wound levels or 50% of his maximum Body Points in damage, then he falls unconscious for a number of hours equal to difference between the combat skill total and the combat difficulty or until he’s awoken by some external force, whichever comes first. The target receives only half the Wound levels or Body Point damage inflicted (round down).

Multiple Weapons

Weapons that characters can use with one hand and in either hand, such as daggers, may be employed at the same time in the same round. The character incurs a multi-action penalty.

Prone & Crouching

Attacking a target that is crouched on the ground adds 1D (3) to the combat difficulty. If the target is moving while crouching, then the combat difficulty increases by +2D (+6), but the defending character’s normal Move, free Move, or running roll is halved.

For prone targets, subtract 2D (6) from the combat difficulty when attacking at Point Blank or Short range, but add 2D (6) to combat difficulty when attacking at Medium or Long range.
Characters who willingly get low to the ground or make themselves small may get into and out of the position as a free action. However, character forced into that position, such as a result of being thrown, need to make an effort to stand, which counts as an action.

Quick Draw

This option allows the character to act rapidly or draw and shoot a weapon in the same round as one action. The character may use any combat skill or appropriate specialization. If she is also using a weapon, it must be suitable for quick drawing (a bow and arrow, a loaded musket, a dagger, a rock).

Before initiative is rolled, the player must announce that she intends for her character to draw her weapon quickly. The player may then take some of the skill dice and add them to the Acumen die code for purposes of increasing initiative for that round only. The player must leave at least 1D in her skill. If the character wants to make multiple attacks, she subtracts 1D for each attack beyond the first from the number of dice in the skill she’s using before the player moves dice around. She does not take a penalty for the draw.

All attacks by the hero in the same round must be made with the same skill, though the results are determined differently and they all occur at the same die code because the multi-action penalty was already figured in.

Example: A ranger wants to strike with his daggers at an evil sorceress before the villain can cast a spell. The ranger has 4D in Acumen and 8D in throwing. He may take up to 7D and add it to his Acumen die code to determine initiative. The ranger, however, wants to throw two daggers. After subtracting 1D for the extra attack, he now has 7D in the skill, which allows him to add up to 6D to the initiative roll. He decides to move only 3D. This gives him 7D in Acumen to determine initiative and 4D in throwing. Now both the hero and the villain make their initiative rolls.

Once initiative is determined, at the character’s turn in the round, he uses the remaining dice in the skill to determine his accuracy.

Ready a Weapon

It takes one action per item to unsheathe a knife, ready a bow for the first shot, or something similar. (Some weapons, such as a crossbow or a very long weapon, take longer.) Although this generally does not require a skill roll, the gamemaster may require one related to the weapon in question for particularly stressful situations. Additionally, drawing and using the weapon in the same round incurs a multi-action penalty. The gamemaster may add further modifiers for attempting to get out an item from a restrictive location or ready an unwieldy weapon.


Occasionally, objects of vastly different sizes get involved in fights. The scale modifier accounts for the fact that bigger items are easier to hit, and usually can take more damage, than smaller ones. Use the accompanying chart as a guide for determining the appropriate value for the two combat participants. Gamemasters may further subdivide between levels.

If both opponents are either larger than or equal to a Human or smaller than or equal to a Human, subtract the larger number from the smaller one to calculate the scale modifier. If one opponent is smaller than a Human while the other is larger, then add together the two values.

For most cases, use these rules: If the attacker is larger than the defender, then the scale modifier is added to the combat difficulty (the defender’s defense value) and the damage total. If the attacker is smaller than the defender, then the scale modifier is added to the attacker’s combat skill total and the defender’s damage resistance total.

Example: An adventuring Centaur wanders into a cave where several rats teasing … something. The rats have a scale value of 9, but are smaller than a Human. With the Centaur’s scale value of 3 larger than a Human, the scale modifier is 12 (3 + 9). Because the rat is smaller than the adventurer, each rat gets a +12 to its fighting roll, while the adventurer gets a +12 to his damage resistance total. When the Centaur attacks a rat, the scale modifier is added to his combat difficulty and to his damage total, if he manages to stab it.

In some cases, the object may be large but lightly constructed (such as a hot air balloon). At these times, the gamemaster should not add the scale modifier to the damage resistance total.
Typically, a weapon’s scale when determining how much damage it does is the same as the person holding it or the thing it’s mounted on. So, a sword has a scale value of 0, while an elephant’s tusk has a scale of 10. These would differ if someone targeted just the weapon.

Scale Table

Example Participant Size Value
Eight-story castle 24
War galley 21
Four-story building 20
Two-story building 14
Longship 12
One-story building 10
Elephant 8
Large carriage 6
Horse 3
Average Human 0
Human child -3
Small keg, house cat -6
Rat -9
Mouse -12
Coin -15
Ant -21


A hero who surprises her opponent may either act first in the round (if initiative hasn’t already been determined) or gain a +1D to her action. Attacks from behind, an ambush, or unexpected sources (such as a companion) make up the most common sources of surprise.

Unwieldy Weapon

Melee weapons longer than 60 centimeters, objects that are hard to throw or grasp, ones relying on technology with which the user is unfamiliar, or any weapons otherwise difficult to wield may incur a +5 or more modifier to the combat difficulty. Similarly, a character may use a two-handed weapon with one hand if she can lift the weapon with one hand, though she receives the unwieldy weapon modifier. The gamemaster may decide that such factors as experience, strength, and features of the weapon (such as a well-balanced sword) lower this modifier.

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