Basic Mechanics Title Image

Back during character generation, there was a great deal of discussion about skill checks, combat, and roleplaying. These elements provide the basis for playing the game. It all starts with roleplaying – it’s where we act out the role, making decisions based on character attributes, advantages and disadvantages, background, and role. But it’s only part of the experience. Where roleplay determines intention, the use of skills provides action and resolution.

This section describes how these mechanics come together, providing rules for time, movement, and doing things. These rules follow a turn based methodology giving each player an opportunity to act and defining the scope of each type of action. The overall effect allows for well defined gameplay within set rules. Whether in a combat or roleplay scenarios, these rules provide a consistent basis for all actions.

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Time Mechanics

Concepts such as how long a day, week, month, or year lasts is based on the setting and exists primarily for roleplay purposes. While important to the setting and for overall game immersion, it means very little for the mechanics of the game. Time is, however, important for managing the flow of combat and the character’s well-being.

With this in mind, there are several time mechanics used primarily for actions related to combat, movement, and skill checks.

one round = 10 seconds
one segment = 2-4 seconds
one turn = 10 minutes

Within combat, the concept of a round brings order to chaos. It is a chronological construct that allows the GM to control the flow of combat and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to act. For game purposes, it lasts roughly 10 seconds and is broken into a number of segments within which characters take actions.

Segments are used for determining initiative order based on the type of activity character’s take. Much like the round itself, this is a fluid chronological concept used to control the flow of combat.

A turn is simply a convenient measure of a large number of rounds which is generally used as an estimate to allow the game time to flow more quickly and easily.

On-Panel vs. Off-Panel Time

When players are sitting at the table, that is On-Panel time. Here the group is most important, keeping everyone involved in the game. Although its not always possible to give every character an equal share of the spotlight over the course of a session, keeping every player engaged means concentrating more on group actions. This means limiting individual character building and exploring back stories, but for those who want to dig deeper, there are options away from the table.

As mentioned, how time works is based on the setting, and outside of combat, the passage of time is important to characters for a variety of reasons. Research, repairs, and healing all take time, and sometimes the lack of activity can be, in itself, a story factor.

Since most games revolve around action and the chances of exploring something new every single day is small, there will sometimes be downtime. During this downtime, the characters may want to patrol local woodlands, plan raids, investigate rumors, conduct repairs, research magic, etc; all of which takes time. Sure, some of this can be hand-waved at the table to keep the action moving, but between sessions individual players can engage in Off-Panel time.

These are the chunks of time that are usually skipped over to get back to the action. A character who goes out on their own wandering the streets could lead to adventure hooks, and bartering for repairs can provide contacts that can be useful to the party later. There are many things that players can choose to do during Off-Panel time, all of which revolves around their character being in the spotlight without having to share.

It is essentially one-on-one shared storytelling that can be a great deal of fun.

Doing Things

When characters want to do things, a mechanic is needed to provide a chronological structure of events, we call those Actions. Thus, any activity that a character performs during combat is referred to as an action. Because there are many types of characters out there doing a variety of things, there are several types of actions. As this is an active defense system, during a round, each character gets four standard actions and two free actions. Any actions not used during the round are forfeit, i.e. no actions are carried over from one round into the next.

Everything a character does during around, whether swinging a sword, casting a spell, talking, or simply moving around, has an action cost. In essence, actions are the events that occur during a round. The type of action is primarily dependent on the skill, with specific defining factors that separate them. These are most important during combat rounds when time is being tracked, though the type of action taken tends to be important for most in-game interactions.

Free Actions

Typically quick activities, these are, for the most part, instantaneous actions that are not used to directly affect a target. They include:

Speaking Cease an active spell
Open an unlocked door Ready an action
Combat step Concentrate on an action
Drop a held item Simple hand signals

Some of these are discussed in other sections, and a number of skills substitute a free action for a standard action, i.e. the Quick Draw skill. This allows characters to potentially save their standard actions for other activities during the round. As mentioned, every character gets two free actions in a round, if both are used, any of the above actions require an available action to complete.

These actions are often discarded at the end of a combat round.

Standard Actions

Impactful activities that have an effect on allies or opponents during combat. Outside of specific skill requirements, some common activities that take one standard action to complete include:

Attack or defend Lock/Unlock a door
Draw a weapon Pick up an item
Combat move Reload a weapon
• Stand from prone Don/Remove helm
Enter/Exit cover
Dismount

Common activities that require two standard actions to complete include:

Passive defend Mount a steed
Disengage from combat Retrieve item from pack
Break a grapple/pin Climb/Swim move

Common activities that require a full round or more to complete include:

Treat a wound Pick a lock
Run/Sprint move Disable a device
Don/Remove armor Lash an object down

As mentioned, each character is allowed four actions in a combat round. Within each skill and spell is a descriptor that identifies how long each takes to use. When put together as a whole, the actions a player chooses to take provide the chronological structure for the round.

Attack Actions

Whether swinging a sword or slinging a spell, this type of action is directed at an opponent. Generally speaking, the most defining characteristic of an attack action is a roll to hit. It is also the type of action that has the most limiting factors.

Speed factor for weapons and spells limits the number of times a character can attack. Additionally, attack actions must be successive, meaning that they cannot be split up over the course of a round. On their turn, each character can choose to spend remaining actions to attack, within speed factor limitations. Once their attack actions are completed and the next combatant in order begins, the character may not attack again that round.

Defend Actions

In this system, a character who is struck in combat can choose to take damage against their armor (passive) or spend actions to defend (active). A passive defend does not require the character to take any actions, and very often employs skills, spells, or armaments to enhance their ability to take damage. Sometimes, though, its just a matter of not having any actions remaining.

An active defend action is used to avoid the hit, and can take the form of a known skill or spell. This is the most straightforward method of defending and typically involves avoiding the hit altogether. Characters may take as many active defend actions as they have total standard actions, at any time after the Ambush segment, unless otherwise noted.

Move Actions

As the name implies, this is an action the character uses to move from point A to point B, and can take the form of a skill, a spell, or simply by walking. How far a character can move is determined by their move rate and mode or locomotion, e.g., Swimming and Climbing require two actions to move their per action move rate one time.

Beginning on their turn in the round, characters may take as many move actions as they have total standard actions, at any point in the round, unless otherwise noted.

Utility Actions

A catch-all category of non-combat actions used to accomplish a specific activity or as an enhancement. A variety of skill and spell effects fall into this category. While the actions need to be tracked as part of the chronological structure of the round, they do not necessarily have a direct effect on the combatants and/or procession of actions.

Beginning on their turn in the round, characters may take as many utility actions as they have total standard actions, at any point in the round, unless otherwise noted.

Roleplay Actions

These are interactive actions that require a degree of vocal or allegorical communication that is used to convince, dishearten, or trick. Unlike a normal free action that is used to simply speak, these are legitimate attempts to communicate that require at least an action and may be used with utility or a Influence based attack skills.

Beginning on their turn in the round, characters may take as many roleplay actions as they have total standard actions, at any point in the round, unless otherwise noted. When roleplay actions are employed in the round, the intention is typically to stop one or more combatant from taking offensive actions.

Basics

The mechanics of in-game movement are straightforward – characters can spend one or more actions to move, covering a distance equal to their move rate in yards. While this mechanic is consistent across the various ways to move, there are some specific rules that govern how and when move actions are taken in a round. In addition, the distance covered is subject to environmental modifiers, i.e. moving over rough terrain or around obstacles will reduce this rate.

Threat Zone

Each character has a threat zone of one yard in every direction, as indicated in the graphic below.

Threat zone image

Those within this threat zone are subject to melee attacks. To attack an opponent more than one yard outside a threat zone, characters must take a move action, use a reach weapon or ability, or increase their size. Moving out of or through a threat zone makes characters susceptible to attack, typically drawing an Attack of Opportunity. It is possible to retreat from an opponent’s threat zone by spending two actions to disengage – placing the character one yard out of melee range, or through the use of particular skills.

In essence, manipulating the use of threat zones to attack or defend is how tactics are used in the game.

Ground Movement

For the most part, characters take their move actions during the Movement segment of the initiative turn. When moving over smooth surfaces, each standard action spent allows them to cover a distance up to their per action move rate in yards. There are modifiers, however, when dealing with different terrain or obstacles.

TerrainMoveDescription
Smoothn/aPaved roads, maintained trails, manicured grounds, with no obstructions, etc.
Coarse-2Dry trails, grasslands, forest floors, foliage, and occasional obstructions, etc.
Rough-4Rolling lands, hillocks, sand, snow, mud, and common or large obstructions
Rugged-6Hills, wetlands, steppes, mountain passes, and clusters of obstructions
Jagged-8Mountainous, steep, swampy, broken, and dense obstructions

The descriptions are meant to provide guidance on common types of terrain or the number of obstacles while allowing for some mixing and matching to get accurate modifiers. For example, moving through a city with paved streets doesn’t typically affect move rates, however, moving through a dense crowd is a Jagged (-8) modifier to the per action move rate.

For the purposes of modifiers, unless the character is being held or otherwise physically impeded, the per action move rate should never move below 1.

Flighted Movement

In some campaign settings, movement through the air is possible. Specific factors such as speed, lift, and maneuvers are defined by the method of flight. Those with lift-producing appendages, for example, will have different factors than those with flight technologies. Along those same lines, insect-type wings will have different factors than bird-type wings, as a thruster pack will differ from rotor-lift.

Specific factors are included in racial abilities or gear, though there are some general rules. While technology or items default to their own factors, those with lift-producing appendages require two actions to take off and two actions to land, flighted speed is equal to the move rates x3, and a jump of up to 2x a single move action can be made as one action. Regardless of the method of flight, there is a -4 modifier to flighted attack, defend, or move actions in combat without the appropriate skills in the Mobile Combat skill tree.

Riding

Whether on the back of a steed, driving some type of vehicle, or going along as a passenger, movement is pretty standard until it becomes part of the action. Outside of combat, the method of conveyance carries characters from one point to another without the need for skill checks. When combat begins, all of that goes out the window.

Combat on moving vehicles where motion is a factor, has modifiers to attack, defend, and move skills based on the condition.

ConditionModDescription
Gentle-2Smooth terrains, calm waters, clear skies, etc.
Bumpy-4Coarse terrains, small waves, windy conditions, etc.
Turbulent-8Rough terrains, strong waves, jet streams, etc.
Violent-12Rugged terrains, stormy conditions, etc.

These conditions also apply to those engaging in Flighted combat.

Jumping

Whether it’s over an obstacle, off a vehicle, or across an expanse, characters are eventually going to want to make a jump. Knowing how far they can jump is critical to determining success or failure, but there’s more to it than that. Anyone can make a jump, knowing how to land is where skill checks are required.

Determining how far a character can jump is fairly simple. A character is able to make a horizontal leap that is equal to half (x.50) of their single action move rate from a standing position and a running jump equal to their single-action move rate, with a progressive -1 modifier to the jump distance per quarterly increase, i.e., ¼ carrying capacity = -1, ½ carrying capacity = -2, etc. Rough estimates can be used based on the number of filled UPs, type of armor worn, and fullness of packs. In addition, an average person can make a standing vertical leap of about two feet and an unencumbered running vertical leap of about four feet, with the same encumbrance modifiers.

When attempting to jump greater distances, skill checks are required to make the jump. Otherwise, making a jump is just an action. Whether or not the character lands on their feet or takes damage from the jump depends on situational factors and may require a skill check.

Climbing

There are going to be times when characters want or need to ascend or descend some degree of vertical surface. While skills are used to perform the action, there are a variety of factors that come into play over the course of this movement. For starters, unless otherwise noted in the skill, for every two actions spent climbing, the character moves the equivalent of their single action move rate. This move rate assumes minimum gear equal to roughly ¼ the carrying capacity, with a progressive -2 modifier to the move rate per quarterly increase, i.e., ½ carrying capacity = -2, ¾ carrying capacity = -4, etc. Rough estimates can be used based on number of filled UPs, type of armor worn and fullness of packs.

In addition, the type of surface can affect the difficulty of the climb.

SurfaceDifficultyDescription
Slick-8Greasy, icy, or otherwise slippery with no natural handholds
Flat-4Unbroken level surface with no natural handholds
ScarredN/AFlawed or blemished surface that has a few natural handholds
Ridged+4An irregular or broken surface with plenty of natural handholds

Those engaged in combat while climbing suffer a difficult (-4) modifier to all attack, defend, and move actions.

Falling

“It’s not the fall, it’s the sudden stop at the end.”

Over the course of an adventure, characters are bound to fall – over an edge, into a pit, off a steed – and there are consequences. Whenever anything falls, it suffers damage upon impact. The amount of damage is dependent upon the height of the fall, type of surface, the ability to land, etc. The Falling Damage chart below assumes just a general fall onto solid ground.

FactorDamage
< 5 yds1d20
6-10 yds2d20
> 10 yds+10/5 yds
Spikes+4 per spike

For the purposes of damage resistance, when a character falls they take Elemental damage that matches their current size scale.

Swimming

With the proper skill, characters can move at half their per action move rate through the water, assuming calm waters with no currents. Unlike climbing, which requires two actions to move a single per action move rate, characters can use a single action to swim – while the distance is the same, the required actions are different. This is especially important as characters are required to make a minimum of one swim action per round in the water to remain in place and/or avoid going under to potentially drown.

The move rate assumes minimum gear carried equal to roughly ¼ the carrying capacity, with a progressive -2 modifier to the skill check and move rate per quarterly increase, i.e., ½ carrying capacity = -2, ¾ carrying capacity = -4, etc. Rough estimates can be used based on number of filled UPs, type of armor worn and fullness of packs. Note that characters can swim in armor and in gear, but the modifiers apply to any swim action, including just keeping the head above the surface.

In addition to weight, there are other factors that can affect the move rate skill modifiers. Move modifiers include a positive for moving with and negative for moving against, while skill modifiers are a single number that will often stack with other factors.

FactorModDescription
Current+2/-3A mild gradient of flowing water in a particular direction
Rapids+4/-6Rough, fast moving flowing water in a particular direction
Snags-4Rough water or objects in the water that impede progress
Whitewater+6/-8Rough, fast moving water in a particular direction
Floes-8Large objects in the water that must be maneuvered around
Undertow+12/-16Rough, extremely strong and unpredictable flow of water

Combat while swimming has additional layers of complexity.

Difficulty Mechanics

Legacy of Adventure is a skill-based game. Each character who wants to perform a specific task must roll a D20 against a skill or attribute score to determine success or failure. The goal is to roll the target value or lower. Outside this target value, a roll of 19 or 20 always fails, and a roll of 1 always succeeds. These are the basic tenets of the game around which all mechanics revolve and encompass the heart of the action.

In addition to the character’s skill level, there are difficulty modifiers that can affect the target value of the skill, as listed below:

DifficultyModifier
Simple+4
Base0
Difficult-4
Very Difficult-8
Amazing-12

These situational modifiers are applied to skill checks based on the degree of complication that can be applied to the action. They can be applied to attack, defend, move, or utility actions, and stack with other modifiers.

The thing to remember with difficulty modifiers is that these are largely subjective. They are meant to allow the players to be creative and push the boundaries of their character’s skills and abilities while maintaining the integrity of the system. Most times the GM will assign the difficulty and allow the players to decide whether or not they want to try. But there’s nothing wrong with opening the degree of penalty up for discussion at times.

Combat Fatigue

Although it can be assumed that there there is a degree of athletic prowess associated with combat, when it comes down to it, wearing armor and using weapons takes a physical toll on the body. With that in mind, whether melee, ranged, or mounted, combatants are able to engage in continuous combat for a number of rounds equal to the Constitution attribute score before Fatigue sets in. Although similar to the difficulty mechanics in that a -4 modifier is applied to all attack, defend, move, and utility actions, it exists in addition to any situation complication modifiers described above.

Combat fatigue rounds reset one hour after the combat encounter ends. A combat encounter begins with any opening attack or defend actions, and ends after the combat has resolved. Without rest, the combat fatigue modifiers continue into the next encounter. There is a similar fatigue mechanic for casters and when taking damage.

Applying Difficulty Modifiers

The numerical value of the skill represents a Base difficulty when performing a task. This covers all the basic mechanics that are necessary to swing a sword, ride a horse, climb a hillside, etc. During the course of a game, most skill checks will have a base difficulty so long as the attempted actions conform to those described in the skill and there are minimal outside influences.

Typically, when a character is performing a Simple task, no roll is necessary. However, there are instances where Simple modifiers come up in combat or the GM may require a skill check in order to determine the level of success or some other such effect. In these instances, the character may be granted a bonus of four (4) points that are added to skills numerical value for that task.

Conversely, should a character want to perform a task made more challenging due to the use of the skill or outside influences on the situation, it might be assigned a difficult modifier. Things like bargaining with a fence who had been recently betrayed, running over an uneven surface, or targeting an opponent’s limb or weapon have factors that add a degree of hardship to the action. In these instances, a penalty of four (4) points that are taken away from the skill’s value for the difficult attempt.

Taking this concept to the next level, a character can find herself in situations where the odds are stacked heavily against them. Things like sneaking through the halls of a well-guarded dungeon, trying to bluff past the captain of the guard in a restricted area, or going for the head in combat have a significant hardship, but can still be attempted. In these situations, the GM may determine that the task is Very Difficult, which has a penalty of eight (8) points that are taken away from that skill’s value for that attempt.

There will be instances where players want to attempt something crazy complex that, on the surface, appears insane or impossible. Things such as leaping on to the back of a dragon to attack the area between the wings, flying through the infrastructure of a battle station, or targeting the ring finger in combat are theoretically possible. In these situations, the GM can determine that it’s an Amazing task rather than disallow it, which has a penalty of twelve (12) points, that are taken away from the skill’s value for that attempt.

Characters should most often be performing tasks that have a Base difficulty. Tasks that are Difficult or Very Difficult should be reserved for those times when the player wants to try something outside of the normal scope of the skills or in challenging situations. Amazing tasks should be exceedingly rare, used only in situations that are suitably dramatic, where the character doesn’t see another option and follow with some significant response whether from success or failure.

All Different Sizes

No matter what world or universe it is, there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. Whether we’re talking dragons, formless monsters from another dimension, giant galaxy invading insects, or any of a variety of other creatures, combat between beings of different sizes is likely, if not expected.

When this happens, there are two factors that come into play. The first is a basic hits modifier for Weight Class that’s built into the stats and can be applied to characters whose height or density is temporarily changed. As can be ascertained from the name, this modifier is based on weight and is applied to damage and armor in the same way as standard basic hits, per the chart below.

Weight Class
WeightBasic HitsMove
Delicate0-24 lbs-66
Slight25-124 lbs08
Average125-249 lbsweight/50n/a
Heavy250-49965
Hulking500-99984
Lumbering1000-1999104
Massive1-5 tons133
Gargantuan6-10 tons153
Colossal11-50 tons172
Titanic51+ tons202

Unless otherwise noted by race, player characters typically fall into the standard weight class. Magic, super science, or other such factors can increase weight, whether by increasing overall size, density, or material, thereby affecting basic hits and all relevant characteristics.

Because the Move Rate formula breaks down outside of the standard weight class, set numbers are used, modified by being type and height class. Also, for those that fall out of the standard range, the per round move rate is equal to the per action move rate x4. Advantages such as Swift or other such effects that offer bonus modifiers to per action move rate, still apply.

The other factor is Height Class. Also built into the stats or applied to characters whose height, width, or length has been temporarily changed, increases in height typically have corresponding increases in weight. This factor affects reach, skill modifiers, and move rates, per the chart below.

 Ht ClassHt/LgthReach
Skill ModMove Mod
 TinyUp to 1 ft0+4/-4/3
 Small1-3 ft1+2/-2/2
 Medium4-8 ft100
 Large11-18 ft2-2/+2x2
 Giant19-40 ft3-4/+4x3
 Monstrous41+ ft5-6/+6x5

As it should, Height Class affects several factors for combat, providing combat advantage and disadvantage based not only on this factor but also on engagements with beings of different heights.

Reach is the most basic of these modifiers. While tiny beings must occupy the same space as the target to make a melee attack, large beings can hit a target in melee up to two yards away, etc. This reach factor doesn’t account for weapons.

The skill modifier primarily affects the ability to hit in combat. Ultimately, this is a two-point modifier per difference in size scale, giving the larger opponent a negative modifier and the smaller opponent a bonus modifier. The chart assumes combat between the Height Class and a medium-sized opponent, with the first number applying to the Height Class, and the second applying to the opponent. In addition to combat, this modifier typically has an effect on the same skills that are affected by wearing armor.

Finally, the move modifier represents general stride length or other ambulatory movements, increasing the distance of the per action move rate. Beings of greater size will, by nature, move a greater distance with each movement. As such, the modifier represents the general distance in yards for each step.

Taking Up More Space

When it comes to using a battle map, defining the amount of occupied space is important not only for tactics such as defining threat zones, but also determining area of effect. For this reason, there are some general rules that cover sizing tokens and effect requirements based on height class.

For Tiny, Small, and Medium sized characters, tokens occupy a single space on the map, equal to a one yard square. While tiny characters must share a space with their target to engage in melee, the threat range for small and medium characters is a one yard area around them, as discussed in the Movement section. Any area of effect that crosses into this occupied square must be defended against.

As beings get bigger, the area they occupy, and thus their threat zone, increases proportionally. Thus a large being occupies four squares, a giant character occupies nine squares, and a monstrous being occupies a whopping 25 squares. Of course, some of this is going to be determined by the shape of the being – for example, a horse is considered a large animal but occupies a rectangular space of two squares, while a gelatinous cube is large and occupies four squares. The shape of the space, whether square, rectangular, lined, or a combination thereof will have an affect on threat zone and can fall anywhere within the general number of squares.

For beings of greater than a medium size, an area of effect must cover a minimum of half of their occupied space to affect them.

Vehicle Scale

Although vehicle combat is significantly different from character combat, the scale system is setup in much the same way. Each has a rating based on the size of the vehicle that is identified by height, and a modifier for attacking between scale levels. In addition, the rating system not only defines the size of the vehicle, it identifies its ability to absorb damage within the vehicle damage charts based on the scale of the weapon against which it is defending.

 RatingLengthSkill Mod
 PersonalUp to 6 ft (2 m) 0
 Passenger7-13 ft (2-4 m)+2/-2
 Hauler14-20ft (4-6 m)+4/-4
 Fighter21-49 ft (6-12 m)+6/-6
 Yacht50-149 ft (12-45 m)+8/-8
 Transport150-900 ft (45-275 m)+10/-10
 Liner900 ft+ (275 m+)+12/-12

Combat factors are determined by comparing the difference in size between attacker and defender. While most are vehicle and weapon dependent, the skill modifier universally applies to attack and defend actions. Thus a character (Personal) shooting a liner is always going to get a +12 to hit and the liner is going to have a -12 to any defend maneuver action.