The world is a scary place, full of monsters, enemies, and dire challenges, and the combat system is designed to be tough. Few can walk away unharmed after being blasted with magic, hit with an axe, or struck with arrows. Does this mean that the characters should stay home and avoid combat whenever possible? Nah, dodging hurled boulders and standing up to bands of ogres are some the best parts of the game. Of course, this means that characters can be captured, maimed, or even die, but that’s the risk that comes with a life of adventure and excitement.

So does this mean that a player will need an army of characters to get through an adventure? Well, that depends on the player. Rushing into combat with a group of ogres can be fun, but most often, those who attempt this find themselves very dead. That’s the difference between playing smart and having fun and going back through the character creation process again. This section provides all the rules and general information for running through combat a combat round, with guidelines for dealing with most situations that come up in battle.

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Determining when and how to act in combat is more than just deciding who goes first in the round. It’s about selecting a fighting posture based on position, capabilities, environment, opponents, and more. Many factors can affect how a character chooses to fight, and it all starts with Initiative.

At the start of the round, the GM will announce the first applicable Segment, giving players the opportunity to select a Stance. After all actions in the first Segment are resolved, combat moves to the next. After the last Segment is complete, the next round begins again with the first applicable Segment, and so forth.

Attack Segment

Per the Time Mechanics, each round takes approximately 10 seconds. The round is broken into 5 segments ordered by the general speed of the attack-type, providing a chronological order to the initiative. Each segment allows for a type of action as defined below:

 1  AmbushSurprise-type attacks made from a set ranged or melee position
 2  MeleeHand-to-hand, ranged, or magic-type skill attacks made while engaged in melee range
 3  RangedRanged, magic, or mental skill attacks made outside of melee range
 4  MovementEither move-type skills or simple per-action move rates
 5  MultiformThe use of any type of skill that requires 3 or more actions to complete

Players may choose to act on the segment that defines their attack-type or later. All attack actions must be resolved in the selected segment and may not be carried over into later segments, except in cases where skills allow for attack actions to be carried over.

Ultimately, how the character chooses to attack and their proximity to the defender will determine the earliest segment in which the character can act in the round. Those outside of melee range who wish to engage in melee combat, for instance, must wait until the move segment to enter melee combat to attack. However, any type of action can be held to act on a later segment.

Segment Notes

For the sake of clarity, each segment is further broken down in this section to enhance the descriptions above and provide more specific guidelines for each. Players may choose to act during any segment as allowed by the action-type.

Ambush: as noted, this includes any surprise-type attack action made from a set position. A set position is defined as a concealed placement from which a sudden or unexpected act can be made without the need for movement beyond a combat step with the use of a skill or weapon that allows for surprise actions as part of its function. Magic or mental attacks must have a maximum usage time of 1 action, and ranged, magic, or mental attacks made while in melee combat may be subject to an attack of opportunity. Only defenders capable of reacting to the surprise scenario may act in this round, all others must wait for the next round.

Melee: the primary requirement to act in this segment is that the combatants be within the melee range of an opponent as defined by reach or size or within an available combat step. Magic or mental attacks must have a maximum usage time of 1 action, and ranged, magic, or mental attacks made while engaged in melee combat may be subject to an attack of opportunity.

Ranged: those not engaged in melee combat range during the segment, may take shooting, hurled, thrown, or other types of ranged attacks or make magic or mental attacks with a maximum usage time of 2 actions during this segment. Melee attack actions, per above, may also be taken during this segment if they are not taken in the previous segment.

Movement: during this segment, all single or multi-action moves, move attacks, and maneuvers are resolved. Melee or ranged attack actions, per above, may also be taken during this segment if they are not taken in the previous segment(s) so long as they have a maximum usage time of 2 actions.

Multiform: any melee, ranged, magic, or mental attacks that require 3 or more actions to complete, and any utility action that requires two or more actions to complete are resolved in this segment.

Attack Stance

Where the type of action taken primarily determines the segment in which the character acts, it is the Stance adopted in the round that determines the order of actions in the segment, as below:

AggressiveOffensive first attack actions
ReadyBalanced offensive and defensive actions
DefensiveDefend first on-guard actions
HoldWait for a later segment to attack

As implied by the ordering, those who take an aggressive stance act first in the segment. Opponents taking an aggressive stance in the same segment cannot defend against one another, trading attacks 1:1 during the segment, but may defend normally against other stances. Characters in a ready stance may choose to trade attack actions 1:1, or allow the opponent to make all their attack actions before attacking. Those who take a hold stance, may choose to act in any subsequent segment. On-Guard actions are defined below.

On-Guard Defend Skill Option

Typically used when outnumbered or facing assertive opponents with multiple attacks, this allows the character to take multiple defend actions without using up all their actions in the round. In addition to selecting a Defensive stance at the start of the round, the characters spends two actions to go On-Guard, initiating the following sequence:

  • Announce the On-Guard intent at the beginning of the round
  • When hit, an On-Guard defend skill check is made against an attack
  • If successful, a successive On-Guard defend check may be made against the next attack
  • If unsuccessful, a progessive -2 modifier is applied to successive On-Guard defend skill checks in the segment
  • After 3 unsuccessful defends, the On-Guard ends

In addition to taking a Defensive stance, those who go On-Guard cannot take an aggressive stance during any segment of the round. This stance can be used with any of the following defend skills: Dodge, Evade, Block, Parry, Deflect, Thwart, Sidestep, Elude, Repel, Evasive Action, Aegis, Buffer, and Screen. However, the same defend skill must be used for all skill checks.

Skills that Effect Initiative

Among the various skills available in the game, some have the ability to affect how and when characters can attack during the round. These skills are either move related or speed related, affecting the potential attack segment, as listed within the description of each.

A full list of these skills is listed below:

Charge(M) Acrobatic
Diligent Path(M) Aerobatics
Hopping(M) Backstab
Pounce(M) Colliding Strike
Rush Moves(M) Diving Strike
Swoop(M) Drag
 (M) Great Leap
(E) Bounding(M) Rapid Cast
(E) Mobile Shot(M) Skipping
(E) Mobile Strike 
(E) Ram 
(E) Rapidity 
(E) Ride-By Strike 
(E) Rolling Strike 
(E) Running Cast 
(E) Running Shot 
(E) Trample 

Once combat begins, players choose a course of action to advance the story, typically by fighting, fleeing, or surrendering. In a combat round, when a character attacks, they first determine which skill will be used, a difficulty modifier (if any) is assigned, and if the roll is at or below the target score, the attack is successful; if not, the attack fails. The formula is the same whether the character uses a sword, bow, magic spell, gun, psionics, etc.

All attack actions happen in Melee or at Range. The attack skill and weapon typically dictate which attack type is used. Determining which type of attack a character takes, allows for additional options to attack.

Within combat mechanics, attacks are vaguely assumed to hit the torso area. It is a method of simplifying combat to keep things moving quickly rather than focusing on minutia that, while more realistic, tends to slow everything down. But sometimes, players want to shoot an enemy in the face, stab them in the leg, or knock a weapon away. The rules in this section provide guidance for these options and more.

Armed Melee Attacks

Whether with a sword, dagger, bat, or another such weapon, this combat is up close and personal. It requires the character to enter an opponent’s threat zone and be subject to attack even as they are attacking. Weapons are listed with various statistics that affect the hit and damage scores, allowing players to customize the amount, class, and type of damage their characters cause.

Beyond this is the option to strike a particular area of the body, typically to exploit a weakness or disarm an attacker. Referred to as a Called Shot, these specialty attacks affect the type of damage caused and carry a modifier to hit. The Melee Hit Location Table below is a quick reference guide for making called shots.

TorsoBase (-)Damage
LimbDifficult (-4)Disable
AppendageVery Difficult (-8)Disable
JointVery Difficult (-8)Disable
HeadVery Difficult (-8)Knockout
VitalsAmazing (-12)Kill Shot
VulnerabilityDifficult (-4)Damage
WeaponDifficult (-4)Structural

Damage Effects are detailed in Damage and Healing section. These difficulty modifiers stack with other modifiers such as fatigued, damaged, blindness, environmental conditions, scale, etc.

Unarmed Melee Attacks

If attacking with a sword is considered up close and personal, an unarmed attack is practically intimate. Engaging in this type of combat similarly requires attackers to enter an opponent’s threat zone and be subject to attacks as they are attacking, but with a very different strategy. This can include punches, kicks, or combinations depending on the style and skill, which tend to be more targeted.

No one with any training will punch an armored opponent in the chest; those who pick up unarmed skills focus on striking unarmored or less armored areas of the body. This is reflected in unarmed attacks causing physical damage rather than impact damage and is why armors offering greater coverage have better physical protection ratings.

With that said, it is possible to attack a particular area of the body to exploit a weakness or disarm an opponent by taking a Called Shot. The Unarmed Combat Hit Location Table is a quick reference guide for making these specific attacks.

VulnerabilityBase (-)Damage
LimbBase (-)Disable
AppendageDifficult (-4)Disable
JointDifficult (-4)Disable
HeadDifficult (-4)Knockout
WeaponBase (-)Structural

Damage Effects are detailed in Damage and Healing section. These difficulty modifiers stack with other modifiers such as fatigue, blindness, environmental conditions, scale, etc.

Ranged Weapon Attacks

Covering weapons used with Shooting or Thrown skills, this section essentially includes any weapon propelled away from the character in some way. In combat, these attacks are typically used from a distance, as using them in melee carries a difficult (-4) modifier and leaves the attacker open to an attack of opportunity. Some weapons are unable to be used while engaged in melee, per the individual description. As such, each is listed with a range representing the nominal distance from which it can be used without incurring a penalty modifier before environmental or other modifiers are applied.

Because this is a nominal range and not a maximum range, those who wish to use the weapons at a longer range multiply the weapon’s base range by 1.5 yards and add a -2 modifier. An additional -2 modifier is applied with each .5 yard multiplier, i.e., range x2 is a -4 modifier, range x2.5 is a -6 modifier, etc. Likewise, a difficult (-4) modifier is applied when a ranged combatant fires into melee without having a clear shot at the opponent (see Combat Tactics – Attack Tactics – Ranged Tactics for more information).

Additionally, there is an option to strike a particular target area while in ranged combat. These are referred to as called shots, affecting the type of damage caused and carrying a modifier to hit. The Ranged Called Shot table is a quick reference guide for making these attacks.

TorsoBase (-)Damage
LimbDifficult (-4)Disable
AppendageVery Difficult (-8)Disable
JointVery Difficult (-8)Disable
HeadVery Difficult (-8)Knockout
VitalsAmazing (-12)
Kill Shot
VulnerabilityDifficult (-4)Damage
WeaponDifficult (-4)Structural

Damage Effects are detailed in Damage and Healing section. These difficulty modifiers stack with other modifiers such as fatigue, blindness, environmental conditions, scale, etc.

Other Melee Attacks

When mages, psionicists, priests, and other such combatants who don’t use weapons engage in melee combat, the effects may be different, but the general mechanics are pretty much the same. Melee skills for these combatants require attackers to enter an opponent’s threat zone and be subject to attack. Any effect that is not instant, i.e., an active spell, multi-round abilities, etc., requires a Concentration skill check to maintain; if the skill check fails, the effect must be reactivated.

Whether or not a melee skill is used, attack segment rules apply, i.e., effects that require three or more actions to complete cannot be taken until the multiform segment. In addition, unless otherwise stated in the skill, there are no Hit Location options for these types of attacks.

Other Ranged Attacks

Though different in general mechanics and effects, mages, psionicists, priests, and other such combatants who don’t use weapons with their skills can still engage in ranged combat. For the most part, these skills work the same as Ranged Weapon Attacks, with a few exceptions. Some skills may require multiple actions to complete, pushing the attack into the multiform segment, there are no Hit Location options, and typically there are no modifiers for attacking into melee from a ranged position.

Hit Location Notes

Regardless of type, hit locations are generically based on a basic humanoid physique for simple reference. When facing monsters, hit locations can be substituted by general comparison, i.e., treat a tentacle as a limb, antennae as an appendage, web spinner as a joint, etc. Discussed further in the Damage Effects of the Damage and Healing section, disabling attacks cannot be used to make Kill Shots.

Vitals are exposed, accessible, or unprotected bodily organs necessary to life, typically requiring some type of modified Search skill to find. Outside of the Damaged condition or character level requirements, a called shot at a vital location carries the same factors for Kill Shots apply. Likewise, Vulnerabilities require some type of modified Search skill, though these called shots are made at weaknesses in impact armor that are exploited to change the damage type from Impact to Physical.

Attacking a weapon does not cause damage to the target, rather the opponent may have to make a proficient weapon skill check to hold onto the weapon. Depending on the attack weapon and type of material of the target weapon, a structural strength save may be required that may result in the target weapon breaking.

The ability to survive combat depends on how well characters can blend skills, armor, and tactics to defend themselves. While there’s one basic formula for calculating an attack roll, there are numerous ways to defend.

Active Defense

Quite simply, the best way to avoid taking damage is to not get hit. As an active defense system, this means spending actions to defend. Whether that is using a defend skill, tactics, or a combination thereof, the character is actively avoiding getting hit.

In this system, there are essentially three ways to actively defend: avoid, avert, and retreat.

Avoiding an attack with the use of a skill is the most straightforward example of an active defense. The choice of defend skill to use typically relies on the type of attack to avoid, e.g., Dodge to avoid a ranged attack, Evade to avoid a melee attack, etc., but the goal is to make the attack miss.

Averting an attack works on the same basic principal, except that rather than making the attack miss, the goal is to stop the attack from hitting. While this might seem like a nuanced difference, this action requires the use of either a weapon or shield with the skill, i.e., Parry, Block, Deflect, etc. But, trying to avert a battle sword with a dagger is going to be a heck of a lot more difficult than using an arming sword or a shield.

Which brings us to Aversion Modifier Chart, a quick reference guide for averting an attack with weapons of a different size.


The modifier applies to the combatant trying to avert an attack, and stacks with other modifiers. Small and medium shields do not have modifiers to block, regardless of the weapon size. Though both weapons and shields may be subject to a structural strength save, depending on the attack.

Regardless of whether the character is avoiding or averting an attack, the mechanics work the same as any other skill in the game. The player chooses the skill to use, adds modifiers (if any), and rolls a D20. If the result is below the target score, the action succeeds and the attack fails, otherwise, the attack hits.

Retreating from combat requires a combination of skills and move actions in what is generally considered a strategic withdrawal. It could be used to escape, regroup, find cover, etc., and outside of simply running away, typically involves the use of tactics in some way. For those engaged in melee, retreating does requires the character to first disengage.

Passive Defense

As noted, the best way to avoid taking damage is not to get hit, but eventually everyone gets hit. Fortunately, when it happens, characters have a chance to mitigate that damage based on their armor rating. The problem is that while wearing armor is a great way to mitigate damage, its effectiveness rarely matches the amount that weapons, monsters, and magic can cause.

Damage Mitigation

Let’s start with what happens when a combatant doesn’t get an opportunity to defend or the defend skill check fails. When a character gets hit, and it will happen, the amount of damage the character takes is reduced by type of protection offered by the armor. Depending on the setting used, damage can be Physical, Impact, Magic, Energy, or Elemental. Resisting this damage is dependent upon factors such as Constitution, Basic Hits, and the type of armor worn, with the total value found on the character sheet under the heading, Armor.

Physical Rating

Mitigation for bludgeoning-type attacks that include blunt weapons, unarmed strikes, and falls, this rating is subtracted from the total physical damage dealt.

Calculating the Physical rating begins with the character’s Constitution attribute score, which reflects their natural resilience. Natural armor modifiers from the character’s species, such as scales, feathers, or a thick pelt, are included in this base score. If the character wears armor, the Physical Armor Rating is added, however, this does not stack with other natural or magical armor ratings – the higher value between them is used.

Impact Rating

Reducing damage from trauma-causing attacks, such as those from edged weapons, deadly talons, and vicious bites, is essential to surviving combat. Starting with the character’s Basic Hits score, which reflects their overall durability, add the Impact Rating from any armor the character wears. If a character has more than one source of Impact Rating, only the highest rating is used.

Armor that provides a high Impact Rating is highly protective but often comes with drawbacks; it typically slows the character’s move rate and may impose penalties on move-related skills, indicating the restrictive nature of such heavy or bulky armor.

Magic Rating

The ability to resist magical damage starts with the character’s Basic Hits score. To this, add the Magic Rating provided by any armor the character is wearing. Because armor ratings do not stack, if the character has multiple sources of Magic Rating protection, only the highest rating is used.

Elemental Rating



Attack of Opportunity


Weapon Speed

Two Weapon Fighting

Shield Punch





Blind/Deaf Fighting

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AoE Damage

Dodge and Move

Taking Cover

Damage over Time

Washing Off Effects

Stop, Drop, and Roll