Play the Game: Conflicts

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Combat takes place during ten-second rounds that give each character a chance to do something, whether it be attack with a weapon, run away, cast a spell, use a spirit, or use some other ability. In a conflict, each successful attack reduces the target’s survival by the amount of damage rolled by the player or Adventure Guide, according to the damage done by that weapon.

Conflicts: Surprise

A character may be surprised if they were unaware of an impending attack. If their characters were unaware of the attack, the players must make a perception roll. If the characters were aware of their attackers, there is a bonus of four to this roll. If the characters were sleeping, there is a penalty of six to this roll.

Surprised characters are unable to act during the first round of surprise. In subsequent rounds, they are at a penalty of two to defense and three to any success rolls. While surprised, characters may not initiate complex actions such as casting spells, calling spirits, using psychic powers, or any of the special conflict maneuvers.

Surprised combatants must make either a willpower or fortitude roll to ‘snap out’ of surprise. This roll is made at the beginning of each round after the first round, and applies to the round it is made in.

If surprised combatants are removed from the conflict for two or more rounds, they are no longer surprised.

Order of events

There is no order to what happens in conflict. Everything happens at once. To make things easier, however, the Adventure Guide will describe how all of the non-player characters are moving. Then the players will move their characters and perform their actions. Finally, the Adventure Guide will determine the actions of non-player characters (on both sides of the conflict). After both sides act, check for unconsciousness and death if any player or non-player characters lost all survival and/or were injured.

Note that in some cases, the Guide will need to apply non-player character actions to player character actions, such as when a non-player character casts a Sleepfall spell. In this case, resolve the non-player character’s action first, as for a called shot. If multiple characters are performing actions that will affect the other’s outcome, use an agility roll to determine which action(s) get resolved first. If the characters have any penalties to movement, apply those penalties to the agility roll as well.

Conflicts: Hitting

Each round, every character can attempt one action. Often this action is hitting an opponent with a weapon. A character can attack any target who comes within their movement, in feet, during the round. The attack roll is made against an 11: the roll must be 11 or less on d20 to successfully attack. The attacker’s Fighting Art bonus increases and the target’s defense reduces the number needed.

Close combat and ranged combat

Characters fighting within hand or extended weapon reach of their opponents are in close combat. If characters must fire or throw missiles to attack their opponents, they are in ranged combat.

Hitting: Damage

Each weapon does a different amount of damage: roll the dice listed for that weapon to determine the damage the weapon causes. Damage is subtracted from the target’s survival.

Firing into close combat

Firing into close combat gives the target strong cover if there are three to five combatants, and full cover if there are six or more.

If the target is in close combat with an individual or individuals, and if the attack would have hit one or more of those individuals, those individuals it would have hit must make an evasion roll or take the same amount of damage the target did. The attacker may choose to make a called shot to avoid this. On a successful called shot, only the target takes damage.

On a miss, a random adjacent opponent of the target must make an evasion roll, with their Defense as a bonus, to avoid being hit.

Number of actions

Some weapons or attacks require multiple actions. When an attack requires multiple actions, such as loading, arming, and firing an arquebus (three actions), the attack will normally require that many rounds to use. The actions need not immediately follow each other: a character might load their arquebus at the beginning of the day, fill the pan with powder when combat is imminent, and then only require one action to fire the weapon the first time. In later rounds, the character might load the weapon, use their sword to fight off a monster, then load the pan with powder and finally fire.

Attacks which require more than one action to perform gain one free action per use when outside of close combat. The arquebus above would require only two actions to use if the character using it were not engaged in close combat. Most of the time, if the character has no need to worry about being attacked or hit, the character is not engaged in close combat.

Number of attacks

Some creatures and archetypes may attack more than once per round. When a combatant attacks more than once per round, each attack must be rolled for.

Special conflict maneuvers

Any bonuses which a maneuver or situation gives to the attacker must be used only against the opponents the situation applies to.

Attacking unseen targets

Attackers who are aware of but unable to see their target have an attack penalty of three in close combat, and six in ranged combat.

Called shot

Called shots are made to a specific location on a target, with an attack penalty of 3 and a defense penalty of 2 for that round. The target’s defense includes armor even if isn’t worn on the called location. Called shots do damage as normal. A successful called shot does not mean the target is hit at the called location, it means this was the location that needed to be protected. The target may be required to make an evasion or fortitude roll to avoid special effects. For example, a called shot to the hand against a target carrying a potion will require an evasion roll or they drop the potion. Use evasion if the target tries to avoid the effect by dodging, fortitude if the target tries to avoid the effect by standing strong. The reaction against the disrupting effects of a called shot is at a penalty of the damage done by the attack. The target gains a bonus of their movement. Sorcerors and prophets use their reduced movement if casting spells and manifesting spirits.

Called shots are handled first in a round, and can affect other actions during that round. A called shot can disrupt complex actions such as casting spells, manifesting spirits, or reloading crossbows. The target must make an evasion roll to complete the action. If a spell or spirit manifestation is disrupted, verve is not lost, nor is the spell or spirit used up.

Called shots can distract an attacker using thrown or propelled weapons. The arrow or other missile automatically misses (as normal) unless the target of the called shot makes an evasion or fortitude roll, in which case it proceeds as normal.

A successful called shot also allows carried attacks, such as poisons, to take effect. Unless otherwise specified, all carried attacks require a called shot. Carried attacks have their own reaction roll instead of the above, usually an evasion roll or a health roll.

Special conflict maneuvers: Cover

Cover Warriors Non-Warriors
Weak Cover +1 Defense No bonus
Strong Cover +2 Defense +1 Defense
Full Cover +3 Defense +2 Defense

In ranged combat, combatants will often try to hide behind obstacles to avoid being hit by their opponents’ missiles. Cover can be weak, strong, and full. Weak cover protects a significant portion of the character but also leaves a significant portion open to attack. Strong cover protects most of the character, and full cover blocks all of the character from attack. Behind full cover, a non-combatant can usually hide with no possibility of getting hit, but if a character is trying to attack (especially with missile weapons of their own), or trying to move in a way that brings them partially in the open, even full cover will afford opponents the possibility of hitting.

Warriors use cover better than non-warriors. However, if a warrior does not engage in the conflict, but instead leads their comrades, they may grant the warrior cover bonus to up to level companions. The warrior’s player must make a perception roll to successfully do so.

High ground

If a character is attacking from the higher end of a reasonable slope, stairway, or while mounted on a horse-like animal (and fighting medium-sized opponents), or while attacking from above, the character gains a bonus of 1 to attack or defense.

Immobilizing an opponent

Immobilizing an opponent involves grabbing their arms and/or legs. The combatant trying to immobilize their opponent has a penalty of two to their defense.

A called shot is required to immobilize an opponent, and the opponent is allowed an evasion roll to avoid immobilization. The evasion roll is at a bonus of two for every general size level larger they are than the character trying to immobilize them. A large target would gain a bonus of 4 to the evasion roll if a small character is trying to immobilize it, for example.

If the evasion roll fails, the attacker has a hold on their target. They may attempt to hold the target immobile. Both the attacker and the target make fortitude rolls, once per round. The larger of the two gains a bonus of 4 to this roll for every general size difference.

• If both succeed or both fail, neither may do anything.

• If the target succeeds but the immobilizer fails, the target has broken the hold, and may attack their opponent once at +6.

• If the target fails and the immobilizer succeeds, the target is immobilized and may not attack with the immobilized limbs; the target is immobilized and can no longer break free. All physical actions and reactions by the target are now at a penalty of six.

Allies of the immobilizer may tie up or attack an immobilized target. The immobilizer may also attack, as attacking an immobilized target (although this removes the penalty of three for breaking the hold if the immobilizer attacks with a weapon).

Special conflict maneuvers: Quickdraw

Normally, it takes one action to draw a weapon. A character can also attempt to draw and use an available weapon in the same round. An evasion roll is required to do so successfully. On a successful roll, the character attacks as normal. On an unsuccessful roll, the character acts as if surprised, which must be thrown off as normal.

Size differences

The sizes used for rules such as immobilizing an opponent are fine, tiny, small, medium, large, huge, gigantic, and titanic.

Unaware and non-defending opponents

There are three kinds of non-defending opponents: covered, unaware, and immobilized. These bonuses do not combine with each other.

Unaware and non-defending opponents: Covered

If an attacker can take aim at a target or targets, and the target(s) are unprepared for combat, the attacker is said to have the target(s) covered. The attacker can get one free attack against the target or one of the targets at a bonus of four to attack and one to damage. If the target attacks before the covering combatant chooses to use their free attack, the covering combatant will still gain all bonuses. However, if the target beats the covering combatant in a Reaction contest the attack is not free. Each side can choose either perception or evasion as their reaction roll in this contest.

Only physical attacks with an attack roll can be used to cover a target. Spell, psychic, and spirit attacks cannot be used to cover a target.

Immobilized targets

There is an attack bonus of 10 against immobile targets, such as sleeping opponents, bound opponents or opponents who are otherwise unable to move.

Unaware and non-defending opponents

Opponents who are unaware of an attack are easier to hit. There is an attack bonus of four against a defender who is unaware of the attacker’s general location or simply not defending against attack. Warriors can use the bonus to gain an extra attack against the unaware/non-defending opponent, assuming the target is within combat reach and the warrior has space remaining in their combat pool.

Killing blow

Only immobile targets may be subject to a killing blow. If the attacker makes a successful called shot to kill, the target takes half the damage (round up) as injury points; the rest go to survival points as normal.

Knockout blow

Unaware, surprised, covered, or immobilized opponents may be subject to a knockout blow. The attacker must make a called shot. The target is allowed an evasion roll. If the target is wearing any sort of head protection, there is a bonus of one to this roll. If the head protection provides a bonus to the target’s defense (magical or non-magical), this bonus also applies to the reaction. Creatures whose defense is from tough skin will usually also gain this bonus to their roll.

If the reaction roll succeeds, the target takes damage as normal. If the reaction roll fails, the attack was a knockout blow: one point of the damage rolled goes to the target’s injury point total and the rest to the target’s survival points (as normal). The target runs the risk of unconsciousness and death as normal for gaining injury points.

Warriors may allot two combat bonus points to the knockout blow, so that two points of the damage rolled add to the victim’s injuries.

Combat example

There are four combatants in this example. Sam Stevens, a first level thief, first level warrior, played by Sarah Dent, is wearing leather armor and bears a long sword and a shield. Charlotte Kordé, a second level monk, played by John Greeley, is wearing leather armor and bears a dagger and a staff. Toromeen, a second level warrior, played by Tony Barlow, is wearing chain mail and bears a battle axe.

Combatant Survival Verve Perception Willpower Fortitude Fighting Art Attack Defense Player
Sam Stevens 6 15 6 5 5 +1 +4 Sarah Dent
Charlotte Kordé 5 14 9 9 5 +1 +1 John Greeley
Toromeen 7 17 4 7 11 +2 +2 +5 Tony Barlow
Yeti 20 6 6 6 +4 +3

Combat begins when a Yeti, a fourth-level creature, surprises them in the snowy mountains outside Hightown in West Highland.

Combat example: Surprise!

Everyone rolls surprise (d20). Surprise uses perception. Sarah rolls 2. Sam Stevens’ perception is 6, so Sam is not surprised. John rolls 18. Charlotte Kordé’s perception is 9. Charlotte is surprised. Tony rolls 4. Toromeen’s perception is 4, so Toromeen is not surprised.

The Yeti knowingly initiated combat. The Yeti is not surprised.

Combat example: Round 1

The Yeti has a defense of +3. An eight or lower (eleven minus three) is required to successfully hit it. Each of the players make their attacks.

Sam Stevens has an attack bonus of 1, so she needs a 9 or lower on d20 to hit. Sarah rolls 4. Sam is fighting with a long sword, which does d8 points of damage. Sarah rolls seven, a massive blow against the small hairy creature. The Yeti now only has 13 survival points.

Toromeen has a combined attack bonus of 4. He needs 12 or less to hit the Yeti (8 plus 4). Tony rolls 17 on d20, a pitiful score. He has no chance this round to sink his battle axe into the Yeti.

Charlotte is surprised, and unable to act.

The Yeti, pained by Sam’s attack, roars and claws at her. It has an attack bonus of 4. Sam has a defense of 4 due to her leather armor, shield, and agility. If the Guide rolls 11 or less on d20, the Yeti hits Sam. The Guide rolls 9. The Yeti’s claws do d6 damage and the Guide rolls 1. The Yeti roars and claws Sam but she rolls with the blow. Sam now has 14 verve. The Yeti claws a second time—Yeti get two attacks—and the Guide rolls 5. The Yeti hits Sam again, for 6 points. Sam felt that one, and now has 8 verve remaining.

Combat example: Round 2

Charlotte might still be surprised. She needs to make a fortitude or willpower roll to shake off the surprise completely. John rolls 6. This is lower than Charlotte’s willpower of 9. She is no longer surprised.

Tony rolls 13 on d20. Toromeen just barely fails to hit the Yeti.

Sarah rolls 14 on d20. Sam Stevens also fails to hit the Yeti.

John rolls 3 on d20. Charlotte Kordé needs a nine or lower, so Charlotte has successfully hit the Yeti with her dagger. Daggers do d4 points of damage. John rolls a 1. Charlotte Kordé pokes at the Yeti, and it now has 12 survival points.

The Guide rolls an 18 on d20. Sam Stevens successfully avoids the Yeti’s claws. The Guide gives the Yeti a fifty-fifty chance of attacking Charlotte Kordé with its second attack. It continues to attack Sam. The Guide rolls a 20 on d20 for the Yeti’s attack, so it fails anyway.

Combat example: Round 3

The Yeti is being attacked by three creatures. The Guide decides that the Yeti will continue to attack, but it will leave next round if things don’t go its way. The Yeti is a strong and fierce creature, but not stupid. It is a better fighter than any of the player characters individually, but three against one mitigates that advantage.

Tony rolls 16 on d20, and curses his dice. Toromeen fails to find an opening to hit the Yeti.

John rolls 10. Charlotte barely misses her opportunity to hurt the evil creature.

Sarah rolls 17 for Sam Stevens’ attack. Sam also fails to hit.

The Yeti roars at Sam Stevens and the Guide rolls 11. That’s exactly what the Yeti needs to hit Sam. The Guide rolls 4 on d6, so the Yeti claws Sam Stevens for 4 points. Sam now has 4 verve. She could be hurting soon. The Guide rolls 14 for the Yeti’s second attack. The second claw attack misses Sam Stevens as she deflects it with her shield.

Combat example: Round 4

The Yeti did well last round and its opponents seem unable to hit it. It continues its attack. Sam Stevens is tempted to withdraw, but doesn’t want to leave Toromeen fighting the creature alone (she doesn’t have faith in Charlotte’s fighting skill). So Sam remains in combat.

Tony rolls 6 for Toromeen’s attack. His battle axe does d8 points damage, and Tony rolls 8. The dwarf’s 18 strength gives a bonus of 4, for a total of 12 points damage. The dwarf’s battle axe sinks deep into the Yeti’s side. The Yeti only had 12 survival left. It now has zero.

John rolls 13 for Charlotte’s attack. Charlotte misses.

Sarah rolls 18 for Sam’s attack. Sam also misses.

The Guide rolls a 2 and 16 for the Yeti, which is attacking Sam again. The first attack hits; it does 5 points damage to Sam, who now has no verve left and is missing one survival. She’s down to 5 survival.

However, the Yeti dropped to zero survival this round, and must make a health roll to remain conscious. Both the Yeti’s fortitude and willpower are 6. The Guide must roll 6 or lower for the Yeti to remain conscious. The Guide rolls 3. The Yeti is conscious and decides to run away. The player characters choose to let it go.

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