- How Combat Works
- Order of Attack
- Entering Combat
- Combat Actions
- Damage & Soak
How Combat Works
When your characters get into a fight, everything drops into combat time. The smallest division of combat time is one tick, equal to approximately one second. Combat time passes one tick at a time until the end of the fight. On some ticks, one or more characters act. You resolve those actions on the tick in which they are declared (by rolling dice, usually), then continue moving forward, tick by tick.
Every character defends himself on the battlefield unless he chooses to do otherwise. Taking actions penalizes one’s defense for the ability to stab someone, jump onto a flying horse or something else. Characters who can act on the current tick reset to their best possible Defense Value - clearing all defense penalties — until they choose to take another action.
Order of Attack
1) Declare Attack: The attacker’s player states that the character is attacking and what Boon or knacks (if any) he will use to enhance the attack. This is usually done in the form of a pose, but giving specifics to the ST is always good to avoid confusion. The Storyteller tells her the (Attribute + Ability) combination to use for the attack and awards any dice for stunts.
2) Declares Defense: The defender defends using best option of Parry or Dodge DV, unless he declares otherwise. The defender’s player must declare the use of any defensive Boons or knacks. The Storyteller awards any dice for stunts.
3) Attack Roll vs. Defense: The attacker’s player rolls the dice pool that governs the method of attack used at a difficulty of (base difficulty + target’s DV). Epic Dexterity successes add to this roll. An attacker may spend Legend for her player to reroll an attack roll in this step. A defender may also spend Legend for his player to make a defensive reroll.
4) Calculate Raw Damage: If the attack hits, it has a raw damage equal to (weapon’s Damage + attacker’s Strength + threshold successes + 1). Effects modifying the raw damage of an attack apply accordingly.
5) Apply Hardness: If the victim has a Hardness rating against the attack’s raw damage type, compare the Hardness with the raw damage. If Hardness is equal or greater, the defense absorbs the attack without effect. Otherwise, the damage ignores the defender’s Hardness.
6) Roll Damage, Apply Soak: Roll dice equal to the raw damage of the attack. Next, remove the target’s appropriate soak rating from the damage of the attack. Apply post-soak successes as health levels of the appropriate type of damage to the defender.
7) Apply Results: Any non-damage effects of an attack occur at this stage.
Your character has multiple Defense Values, usually abbreviated “DVs” (singular “DV”). These static calues are derived from the character’s Attributes and Abilities. When someone attacks your character, you get to apply one of your character’s DVs (usually her highest) as a penalty against the attack. Add the DV to the difficulty of the attack (usually standard difficulty). Effectively, you are subtracting your character’s DV from the number of successes the attacker’s player rolls. If you reduce that number to 0, your character escapes unscathed.
Dodge DV: A character has only one Dodge DV (DDV). This is the DV you use when your character defends herself by getting the hell out of the way. Dodge DV is equal to (Dexterity + Athletics + Legend) / 2. Remember that dots of Epic Dexterity increase DVs. (One dot: +1 DV, Two dots: +2 DV, Three dots: +4 DV) Some attacks might be ruled as undodgeable, making Dodge DV inapplicable. An example of an undodgeable attack might be a fired titanspawn quill that multiplies until it completely fills the air.
Parry DV: A character can have many Parry DVs (PDV). You use Parry DV when your character knocks an attack aside with a weapon or blocks one with his arms or legs. Characters automatically have an unarmed Parry DV, and most have additional Parry DVs based on their weapons. Calculate Parry DV by (Dexterity + Brawl or Melee + weapon’s Defense) / 2. Remember that dots of Epic Dexterity increase DVs. (One dot: +1 DV, Two dots: +2 DV, Three dots: +4 DV) Some attacks might be listed as unblockable, making the Parry DV inapplicable. An example of an unblockable attack might be a gust of hot steam from a broke pipe.
Without a stunt, unarmed defenses cannot parry attacks that inflict lethal damage. Bullets cannot be parried without some special ability.
Inapplicable DVs: When an attack is unblockable or undodgeable, it renders the relevant DV inapplicable. In the simplest terms, this means you can’t use that DV. In practice, you can choose to use an inapplicable DV, but the attacker treats it as 0 for all purposes. Some effects are undodgeable and unblockable. Without powerful magical defenses, they treat your character as if all his DVs were 0.
DV Bonuses: Stunts performed as a Guard action add their stunt dice directly to DVs on a one-for-one basis. Height advantage, from being higher on the hill or fighting from the back of a flying steed, adds some bonus to DV. Finally, shields and cover increase DVs. DV bonuses apply after inapplicability, meaning that a character with a shield, some cover and a good Guard-action stunt still gets some protection from that unblockable, undodgeable attack the Titan just unleashed.
DV Penalties: Penalties to DV are common. The foremost source is a defense penalty from an action. A character’s DV usually hover a point or two below maximum because of this.
Other sources of penalties come from attackers. Even Scions have limits. After a number of attacks equal to a character’s (Legend + 1), the character’s DV drops by one against all attacks until his DV refreshes as he takes his next action. This is called onslaught penalty. A person who makes two attacks at the same time against a single target who’s suffering an onslaught penalty either decreases that target’s DV against both attacks by one or decreases the target’s DV by two against only one attack.
Coordinated assaults can reduce DV against a small number of attacks. Armors have mobility penalties which reduce Dodge DC Directly. Unstable terrain of any sort can penalize both DVs. Being unable to move freely can restrict DV significantly, even to the point of dropping it automatically to 0.
When a character is unaware of an attack, he is unable to use and DV. Similarly, when a character is surrounded by five attacks in melee combat (the maximum number that may attack in melee at once), he cannot pay full attention to all of the attackers. His player chooses one of the five attackers against whom the character cannot defend. Whether unaware of the attack or surrounded, the character’s DVs are effectively 0 against this attack.
It is important to remember that DV penalties are either conditional, lasting, or instant. Conditional penalties affect the character constantly until the condition that caused the penalty is removed, like wound penalties and mobility penalties. Lasting penalties, like action DV penalties and onslaught penalties, remain until the character’s DV refreshes. Instant penalties apply against only a single attack, and include most other sources, from coordinated attacks to multiple attack penalties.
|30% Hard Cover (Using a Shield)||+1||Conditional|
|60% Hard Cover||+2||Conditional|
|90% Hard Cover||+3||Conditional|
|Higher Than Attacker||+ (1-3)||Conditional|
|Lower Than Attacker||- (1-3)||Conditional|
|Onslaught Penalty||-1/(Legend) attacks||Lasting|
|Prone||-1 melee/+1 ranged||Conditional|
|Suffer Multiple Attacks||- (1 or 2)||Instant|
|Taking Actions||- (Defense Penalty)||Lasting|
|Under Coordinated Assault||- (varies)||Instant|
|Unstable Terrain||- (1-3)||Conditional|
|Wound Penalties||- (1-4)||Conditional|
Which DV to Use: In general, you may use the highest of your character’s available DVs. Some characters have many to choose from. A character standing on the street with a sword in one hand has three: Dodge DV (almost always available), Parry DV with the sword and unarmed Parry DV.
Automatic Defense: When a character’s final DV is twice an attacker’s final dice pool or greater, the attack automatically misses without a roll. The attack still counts towards onslaught penalty, though.
Before you can kick ass, you have to be ready. When physical violence becomes imminent, the player of each character involved rolls to join battle. The Join Battle action is a (Wits + Awareness) roll, representing how quickly combatants react to the instant in which combat becomes inevitable. In brief, the more successes you roll, the better a drop your character gets on everyone else.
When all players involved in the battle have rolled for the relevant characters and applied any bonus successes from Epic Wits, take the largest single number of successes rolled. That number sets the reaction count. The first tick on which a participant can act is equal to the reaction count minus the number of successes the player rolled to join battle. The person who achieved the highest number of successes (i.e., the person who sets the reaction count) acts first on tick zero. No character can begin later than tick six, though, even if her player rolls six fewer successes than the player who set the reaction count. Botching the Join Battle roll indicates that a character begins on tick 6 as well, regardless of the reaction count.
To join a battle that’s already in progress, a character’s player rolls the same dice pool as normal. Subtract the successes rolled from the established reaction count or from six, whichever is greater, with a minimum result of zero. The result is the number of ticks the character must wait until he can take his first action.
Actions in Full
This section describes actions important to combat in full. Every action has a Speed and a defense penalty. The action’s Speed determines how long it takes a character to recover from performing that action. Reflexive actions are Speed 0. Taking many lower-Speed actions allows your character to act often in combat, while taking greater-Speed actions means your Scion acts less often. The average Speed is 5.
An action’s defense penalty is the amount by which taking that action reduces your character’s Defense Values. (Characters have multiple DVs, and all are affected identically by an action’s defense penalty.) Taking an action with a high defense penalty is a risk – the character is opening her guard in order to accomplish a goal. Your character takes actions with low DV penalties (or no defense penalty, such as the Guard action) when she is trying to protect herself.
Aim (Speed 3, DV -1)
When she really needs to hit Achilles’ heel, or when she just has the leisure, your character can take the Aim action. Aim is a Speed 3 action that can be interrupted. The player declares a target, which his character must be able to see. For each tick spend aiming, the player adds one die to the attack his character unleashes upon that target, to the maximum of three. This bonus applies to only the next attack on the declared target, not on more than one roll or on any other target.
A character may interrupt the Aim action to perform another action. If that action is an attack upon the target of the aim, the player gains a number of dice equal to the ticks spent aiming. A character may perform the Aim action again at the end of an Aim action; the player doesn’t gain more bonus dice or suffer greater defense penalty than -1 (at least from taking the action). This is equivalent to holding a bead on a target, just waiting for the perfect moment to strike. If the character loses sight of his target for three or more ticks, the bonus disappears and must be reestablished.
Attack (Speed varies, DV varies)
Your character tries to hurt somebody. Attack Speed varies by weapon. The normal defense penalty for attacking is -1.
A character may choose to make two attacks as a single action. Making two attacks is one action with a defense penalty of -2 and a Speed equal to the greater Speed of the two attacks. This incurs a four-die penalty on the one dice roll made, which is always the lesser of two dice pools if the character is making two different kinds of attacks. The character may attack two targets at one time or one target twice.
When the character levels both attack upon one target, he may choose to reduce the target’s DV against both attacks by one or to reduce the target’s DVs against only one attack by two. The former represents that two attacks are harder to evade than one, and the latter represents using one attack to make the other more likely to hit – like throwing a punch to open the opponent’s guard for the dagger. Each attack causes damage separately if it hits.
Coordinate Assault (Speed 5, DV -2)
A number of warriors can work together to better bring down their enemies. In fact, this tactic is often a necessary one against the mighty Scions or against the massive Titans. The player of the character who’s taking this action rolls (Charisma + Command). Each success on the roll allows her to coordinate two people (including herself) in an assault against a single individual. Her player designates all affected individuals immediately after the roll. Against all attacks in the coordinated assault, the target suffers a DV penalty equal to the number of coordinated attackers or the number of successes on the original roll (whichever is the lesser).
To contribute to and benefit from a coordinated assault, a person designated must attack the a target the target on the coordinating character’s next action. Only people declared by the coordinator may contribute to and benefit from a coordinated assault, and only coordinated individuals who actually attack the target contribute to the DV penalty. The coordinating character need not designate herself as a part of the attack.
Because actions generally take from four to six ticks, people designated for a coordinated assault generally find it beneficial to take Guard or Aim actions while waiting for the moment to all strike as one. Note that coordinating an assault typically requires lots of yelling and pointing unless the coordinated fighters have practiced their combat tactics. Also, some enemies make it a point to take out effective leaders – provided they survive said leaders’ coordinated assaults.
Dash (Speed 3, DV -2)
This is as fast as your character can run, a flat out sprint. Dash is a Speed 3 diceless action. At its standard, the character runs up to (Dexterity + 6) yards each tick until the end of the action. Remember that each dot of Epic Dexterity adds extra yards to the distance a character moves in a single tick (One dot: two yards, Two dots: four yards, Three dots: eight yards). A character may not take a Dash and Move action in the same tick. A character knocked prone cannot dash until she uses a miscellaneous action to stand.
As a diceless action, a character may perform a rolled action simultaneously with a Dash. As normal, doing so inflicts a -2 penalty on the rolled action.
Guard (Speed 3, DV -0)
Your character tries her best to avoid harm. Guard is a Speed 3 action that can be interrupted. This is a tactic for delaying, waiting or just holding off 100 titanspawn while your Band closes the portal.
Inactive (Speed 5, Special DV)
When your character is incapable of taking action, because he is unconscious, paralyzed, frozen in carbonite or whatever, he takes the “Inactive” action. Characters do not choose to be inactive, inactivity is thrust upon them. This is a necessary contrivance for Scion, enabling unconscious characters to be affected by effects that occur “every action” – such as taking damage from certain environmental effects. Some effects might keep a character unconscious for only a limited period of time, and that could also be measured by inactive actions. Inactive characters do not take notable actions and cannot defend themselves. Their DVs effectively drop to 0 against all attacks.
Not every possible action can be categorized here, so miscellaneous actions take up the slack. Anything not listed in this section is a miscellaneous action, including the few listed examples that follow. The most common use for a miscellaneous action is to perform non-combat actions during a combat – picking the lock while your friend holds off Grendel’s cousins, for example, or fixing the engine before the horde of androphagi eats through your line of defenders.
Most miscellaneous actions are DV -1. It depends on how strongly your character focuses. She might choose to focus completely on the action, in which case her DV drops to 0 as she ignores the raging battle. If she instead chooses to be wary while performing her task, she suffers a two-die penalty to the miscellaneous action. (Treat the character like she’s performing a diceless action while she performs the miscellaneous action.) Other miscellaneous actions may have higher DV penalties.
Boons are considered miscellaneous actions if they create their own action. Assume using a Boon incurs a -1 DV penalty and is Speed 5 unless the Boon notes otherwise. Some Boons affect existing actions, altering the nature of an attack, attempt to pick a lock, et cetera. Those Boons use the supplemented action’s Speed and defense penalty.
Sample Miscellaneous Actions
These actions are all Speed 5, DV -1 unless otherwise noted.
Driving: Normal driving is a diceless action. As long as the road is smooth and your character’s not trying anything crazy, you don’t have to roll. This means your character can also fire a gun, toss a grenade or maybe play a tune on his mystical panpipe. If you do have to do something difficult, such as swerving around an out-of-control baby stroller, driving requires a dice roll.
Get Object: Pulling a sword from a sheath, a gun from a holster or a training staff from the wall is a diceless action, as is lifting a shield or grabbing an idol. One use of this action is enough to draw as many objects as the character can hold – a sword and a shield, two guns or both bottles of precious, precious booze. Some situations make it a rolled action. It’s hard to pick up your gun after you dropped it in that olive oil. Likewise, wrestling the scroll out of the cultists’ hand is an action all by itself (and should probably be resolved as an attack).
Your character will often use this action for drawing or retrieving weapons. More, characters often draw and fire, or cut off an opponent’s head straight from the sheath. Remember that as a diceless action, you character can get an object simultaneously with performing a normal action. Drawing and attacking at the same time places the normal two-die penalty on the rolled action.
Get Up: You get knocked down, but you get up again. Standing is a diceless action unless circumstances make it merit a roll. Try standing up on the wing of a biplane in flight, sometime.
Hide: This is a (Dexterity + stealth) action to conceal the character from her opponents. Hiding usually precedes and escape attempt or an unexpected attack. In the middle of combat, this roll usually incurs a two-die penalty because of everyone’s heightened awareness. Players of the character’s opponents all reflexively participate in the contested roll (Perception + Awareness) to keep track of the character. Those who fail no longer know where the character is, and they might fall prey to an unexpected attack if not apprised of the character’s location.
Jumping: Jumping in combat is a diceless action (but it’s not reflexive). Jumping and performing a rolled action inflicts a -2 penalty on the action, as normal. Minor hops and jumps aren’t mechanically relevant (i.e., they don’t take the character over a chasm or allow the character to exceed normal movement) need not, at the Storyteller’s discretion, be considered jumps. They fall under then normal Move action and become little more than fun window dressing.
Move (Speed 0, DV -0)
This is the character’s normal running speed in combat. Move is a reflexive action that may be performed on every tick. This reflects that participants in battles are constantly moving, trying to get an advantage. The character moves up to a number of yards equal to her Dexterity on any tick in which she takes a move action. A character may not take a Dash and a Move action in the same tick. A character knocked prone cannot take a Move action until she uses a miscellaneous action to stand.
Some special attacks increase the difficulty of the attack, which stacks with the normal difficulty increase from the target’s DV. All special attacks must be declared by the player in Step One of attack resolution.
Some firearms have the capacity for extended fire with a single squeeze of the trigger. Such attacks increase the chance that the character will hit a target, though they significantly decrease accuracy and use more ammunition.
A short burst fires three bullets with a single squeeze of the trigger. It adds one die to the attack and cannot be part of a multiple attack action.
A long burst fires 10 or more bullets with a prolonged trigger pull. It adds two dice to the attack and can be part of a typical multiple attack action (two attacks on one or two individuals).
This special attack increases the attack’s difficulty by two. The character attacks to disable. In Step Six of attack resolution, the player rolls damage as normal. As in “Pulling a Blow”, she may choose how many levels of damage she actually inflicts, but if she rolls enough levels of damage to kill the target, she may choose to inflict a disabling wound instead. Doing so ranges from rendering limbs or hands useless to cutting out an eye or severing a toe.
This special maneuver increases the attack’s difficulty by two; when used with a ranged attack, the difficulty increases by four. As usual, the attack targets an individual and must overcome that individual’s DV. If the attack is successful no damage is done but the target is immediately disarmed. The additional effect of the attack is to send the target’s weapon one foot away for every die of damage the attack would inflict. If the attacker beat the total attack difficulty by five or more, he may dictate the direction of the weapon’s flight. Retrieving a weapon is a diceless miscellaneous action, though fighting on a ledge of Mount Olympus could make retrieval difficult.
This special attack increases the attack’s difficulty and DV penalty by one. The character attacks all-out, trying to inflict the most damage possible. The raw damage of the attack increases by +3B or +2L/A (based on the attack’s normal damage type).
Flat of the Blade
The character inflicts bashing damage with a lethal weapon, turning it or otherwise using it awkwardly to avoid dealing lasting wounds. Doing so increases the attack’s difficulty by one and decreases the raw damage of the attack by two, but the weapon inflicts bashing damage if it hits.
Pulling a Blow
This special attack increases the attack’s difficulty by one. The character controls her strike carefully. After his player rolls damage, the character may reduce levels of damage inflicted to a minimum of one. If she didn’t want to do at least a little damage, she shouldn’t be attacking.
The character pulls, kicks or knocks the feet out from under someone or otherwise knocks him down. The attack inflicts no damage but causes automatic knockdown if it hits.
This special attack increases the attack’s difficulty by two. The character pulls off some fantastic or very difficult attack. It does not harm the target, though. This maneuver is for when the character wants to shoot off his enemy’s waxed mustache or impose a custom scar on the target’s backside. If the attack hits, it inflicts no damage but accomplishes the desired effect. Very difficult tasks, such as pricking an opponent’s arm through very heavy armor, may have greater difficulty increases.
To grab hold of someone and hold him down, to throw him or to squeeze the life out of him is called a grapple and requires a clinch attack. A clinch attack is a (Dexterity or Strength) + Brawl roll against the target’s chosen DV. If it hits, the target character immediately becomes Inactive.
On the grappler’s next action, her player and her target’s player both roll contested grapple checks: (Dexterity or Strength) + Brawl. Whichever character wins that roll takes or keeps control of the clinch and chooses which of three maneuvers to execute.
The grappler has the following choices of maneuver:
Break Hold: The character separates from the other grappler. She may throw her victim in any direction over a number of yards equal to her Strength (which triggers a check against knockdown). She may also throw the victim straight down (making the victim automatically prone) or release the victim without further violence.
Crush: The character squeezes, twists and otherwise inflicts harm with wrestling maneuvers. Her player inflicts damage as per the clinch attack (see p. 202).
Hold: The character pins the victim without inflicting harm.
The other character remains (or becomes) Inactive until released. Once released from a clinch, a victim may defend herself immediately and may take a normal action once her current Inactive action ends.
Calculating Raw Damage
After a successful attack, the attacker’s player adds up (weapon’s Damage + threshold successes + 1). For brawl, melee, and thrown attacks also add (attacker’s Strength). This is the raw damage of the attack – i.e., the number of dice of damage the attacker’s player gets to roll.
Damage comes in three types: bashing, lethal and aggravated. Crushing and blunt-impact attacks cause bashing damage. Attacks that cut, pierce or shatter inflict lethal damage. Aggravated damage is reserved for attacks that rend the target’s soul or are somehow inimical to the target’s nature.
The attacker rolls a number of dice equal to the attack’s raw damage (and adds any bonus successes granted by his Epic Strength or Epic Perception depending on the type of attack). The target of the attack then compares the number of successes on that roll to his appropriate soak value (bashing, lethal or aggravated – whichever applies to the type of damage the attack inflicts).
All characters have some amount of soak, even it it’s just a little bit of bashing soak. Even naked, a character has bashing soak equal to his Stamina. Scions and other supernatural beings also have lethal soak equal to half their bashing soak (rounded up). Some tough or hardy animals have a limited lethal soak as well. Remember also that each dot of Epic Stamina adds to soak and adds limited aggravated soak. tick (One dot: one additional level of all soaks, Two dots: two additional levels of all soaks, Three dots: four additional levels of bashing and lethal soak with three additional levels of aggravated soak) Wearing armor (or protective thick clothing) also adds to soak. Aggravated damage cannot be soaked by a character’s natural Stamina. Any armor the character wears grants aggravated soak equal to its granted lethal soak.
Subtract the target’s soak from the number of successes on the attacker’s damage roll. The result is called post-soak damage - that’s how much damage the target suffers.
Note: These rules assume that the attack is inflicting raw damage dice, but some effects inflict raw damage directly to one’s health levels instead. In effect, the attacker’s player doesn’t roll for damage. When a target has to soak levels of raw damage, rather than dice, soak reduces the raw damage as normal.
Characters typically have ten health/wound levels, each represented on your character sheet. Each health/wound level belongs to one of six increasingly severe categories: 0, -0, -1, -2, -4 or Incapacitated. When all the categories are undamaged, your character is right as rain. For each level of damage your character suffers – whether a foul ball hits him at a baseball game or a kitsune bites him – one category is damaged. When your -0 category is damaged, this means your character is battered or lacerated, but still functioning at top capacity. From there things go downhill.
The character suffers wound penalties – a dice penalty to all actions – equal to the number associated with the highest damaged wound category. Having one or both of your “-1” categories damaged takes one die from all the character’s actions and reduces the character’s DVs by one. Each point of wound penalty reduces all actions by one die, reduces movement (Move and Dash actions) by one yard per tick and reduces DVs by one. Wound penalties do not go away when a character’s DV refreshes. They remain until the wounds heal.
Damage is applied from the least serious to the most serious wound categories. This means that the first point of damage you take is applied to your 0 category in Wounds. After all three of the 0 categories in wounds are applied, damage is then applied to the -0 category in health, then the -1 category and so on. Always apply damage to categories with the lowest associated wound penalty. The more damage you take, the greater the penalties you experience. Your character suffers a wound penalty equal to the greatest penalty associated with a damage category that has been applied; wound penalties are not cumulative.
The health system is not monitored by code, however, you must remember to tell the difference between bashing, lethal and aggravated wounds. Lethal wounds are always “on top” of bashing wounds. That is, if your character already has four levels of bashing damage then takes a level of lethal, you would apply the lethal damage to the first 0 category and “push” the bashing into the -1 category. Likewise, aggravated damage is always “on top” of both legal and bashing damage. It’s actually better this way, because characters heal faster.
Bashing Damage: Bashing is when something tenderizes your character a bit but doesn’t cut him up or inflict long term injuries. Normally people heal bashing damage at a rate of one level every 12 hours. A few days after a brawl, a guy will be fine. Luckily for you, Scions and other special individuals heal faster. Your character recovers one level of bashing damage every three hours. When a player applies damage to the Incapacitated level with bashing damage, her character is unconscious. She remains unconscious until she heals at least one level of damage (generally three hours).
Lethal damage: Serious cuts, bullet wounds and really pulverizing smashes cause lethal damage. It heals much more slowly than bashing, and that healing time depends on the severity of the wound. (See the chart.) It assumes the wounded character is taking it very easy – bed rest, for the most part. If the character moves around and acts as if he weren’t wounded, healing each level takes twice as long. Note that the characters can’t actually take actions as long as they’re at Incapacitated, so bed rest for that level is enforced.
When a character’s Incapacitated level is applied with lethal damage, she is dying.
|Health/Wound Level||Mortal Time||Scion Time|
|0||four hours||one hour|
|-0||one day||six hours|
|-1||one week||two days|
|-2||two weeks||four days|
|-4||one month||one week|
Aggravated Damage: When your character’s soul gets burned, she might just need to take some time off. Aggravated wounds are those that only time and nature can heal, not mortal medicine or any but the most powerful magic. Aggravated levels heal at the same rate as lethal levels but cannot be aided or sped by most any agency.
What happens when you fill your character’s Incapacitated level with damage? Well, he’s in trouble. If it’s bashing damage, he falls unconscious where he stands. He becomes Inactive until that level of damage heals and he wakes up. The player should feel free to have his character gasp out some last warning or challenge. Should the character take additional bashing damage, it instead upgrades one level of bashing damage to lethal. When the character takes additional lethal damage, it pushes the character’s bashing damage down (as usual), and every bashing wound that is pushed past Incapacitated turns an existing bashing wound to lethal. As usual, lethal is on top of bashing damage.
This means that a character who takes 20 levels of bashing damage ends up with 10 levels of bashing damage and then 10 upgrades to lethal damage. He is dying just as surely as the guy who takes 10 levels of straight lethal damage.
When you apply lethal damage to the character’s Incapacitated damage category, he is dying. The character remains Inactive, but this is much worse than being knocked unconscious from bashing damage. Dying characters won’t heal without help; they’ll die in 5 to 25 seconds. A character has a number of Dying health levels equal to his Stamina. These are not marked on your character sheet. He loses one such box every action (i.e., every five ticks) after his player first applies lethal damage to the Incapacitated category, and taking more lethal damage from other sources also eliminate these. (At this point, ignore bashing damage – the character is so far gone that a few bruises don’t make any difference.) When he loses his last Dying box, he dies.
To forestall this trip to the undiscovered country, a character needs help. This is one reason why it is great to have friends. Emergency surgery is the only way to save the character. With appropriate medical tools, a medic can stabilize a dying character. It requires a (Wits + Medicine) roll at difficulty equal to (4 + current Dying wounds). This means that a minimumof 5 successes are needed on the roll to stabilize a character with a single dying wound. Success heals all the wounded character’s Dying levels and brings him back to the brink at Incapacitated. Failure kills the character. Magic that heals any number of wounds automatically stabilizes the character – the first wound healed fixes all Dying levels, while other healing levels function as normal.
Suffering health levels isn’t the only result of getting hit. A few others include:
Bleeding: A character who takes a lethal or aggravated wound is bleeding. Over time, significant blood loss can be just as deadly as being stabbed another couple of times. Unless a character (or friend) binds the wound to stop the bleeding, the character loses another level of lethal damage every (Stamina) minutes. Stanching a wound requires a (Wits + Medicine) roll at difficulty equal to the number of lethal or aggravated levels associated with that wound. A player of a Scion may make a (Stamina + Fortitude) roll at difficulty 2 to stop his character’s own bleeding. Doing so is an involuntary, reflexive action a character performs on her normal action. Mortals, on the other hand, need attention, lest they bleed to death.
Infection: Any open wound is likely to become infected if not sterilized. A character who suffers an attack that opens a wound (any lethal damage, some aggravated wounds) runs the risk of infection. The ubiquity of antibiotics in the modern day makes it fairly easy to avoid infection: Any character treated with a regular first-aid kit or by trained medic with proper tools is safe. Also, any character with Epic Stamina is immune to infections from wounds.
Removed from such conveniences, however, a character could be less lucky. Infection from wounds inflicts a disease effect with Virulence 3 (4+ in conditions that encourage disease), Untreated Morbidity (1 + days since the wound was received), Treated Morbidity (equal to Untreated Morbidity) and Difficulty to Treat (equal to Untreated Morbidity). Wounds that are quickly treated require only one check against contracting the infection. Exposing a wound multiple times triggers multiple checks against infection.
Crippling Wounds: Most wounds cause bleeding, bruising and maybe some breakage but are ultimately temporary. These are the types of wounds that health levels are designed to model. Yet some wounds never heal properly, their effects lingering the rest of the person’s life.
Mortals who survive a single injury that inflicts four or more levels of lethal or aggravated damage suffer a crippling wound. Apply the worst wound penalty associated with that injury. Even after the health levels heal, the character retains that penalty on relevant actions – using the wounded arm or wounded leg, for example. Repairing this damage requires surgery, an (Intelligence + Medicine) roll with a difficulty equal to the number of health levels the crippling injury inflicted, and inflicts a like number of lethal wounds in the process. These lethal wounds, however, do not impose the crippling effect.
Scions and other magical beings do not suffer a crippling wound in most circumstances. They can be crippled by injury, but the handicap typically heals naturally with the wound levels that caused it. A character can inflict a crippling wound by choice by performing a crippling attack. Only aggravated wounds leave lasting marks on Scions, and even these fade over time. Only by actually losing a body part can a Scion be permanently inconvenienced.
Knockdown/Knockback: There are some heavy hitters out there. When a character suffers greater raw damage than her unmodified (Stamina + Fortitude) total, the attack knocks her to the ground prone. Her player may make a reflexive (Dexterity + Athletics) or (Stamina + Fortitude) roll at difficulty 2 to keep the character on her feet.
Knockback is an optional suplement to knockdown that emphasizes the cinematic nature of Scion combat. A character who would suffer knockdown instead flies in the direction of the attack one yard for every three dice of raw damage the attack inflicts. She falls prone at the end of the flight. Being knocked into walls, trashcans, crowds of people and other scenery halts her travel but does not cause damage – at least not to her. Knockback is often deleterious to the scenery, causing a great deal of property damage.
Additional Combat Information
When the target has no idea an attack is coming, both his Dodge and ParryDVs become inapplicable. They effectively drop to 0 against the attack. This usually happens when an assassin or opponent gets the drop on the character. The sneak’s player rolls (Dexterity + Stealth) in a contested roll against the (Perception + Awareness) of the target and any other characters who could notice. Characters who see the assassin may alert others if they choose.
Attacking a target who is unaware of you or the attack gains the benefits of an unexpected attack. Although it’s harder to hide from a foe in the middle of combat, it is possible.
Not every fight is a toe-to-toe slugfest on a featureless plain. In fact, most fights shouldn’t be. These guidelines should help you run truly wild combat scenes and come
up with your own situational modifiers.
Against Superior Mobility
Harpies can fly. Shinobi can strike out of any dark spot and disappear as quickly. Some titanspawn just move really, really fast. When your Scion is up against such enemies, he might not be able to reach them at his leisure. To effectively strike such entities, he must usually take the Guard action until the moment they attack, then interrupt his own action in order to counterattack.
Further, most flying creatures add a +2 DV bonus for their height advantage, and inflict a -2 DV penalty on their opponents. This advantage can decrease if a flyer chooses to drop altitude, but increasing it requires weapons with longer reach—such as a lance or a gun.
When all involved combatants are flying, assume that they naturally negate the height advantage.
Characters can be knocked prone after an attack, fall prone in slippery circumstances or intentionally hit the deck. Being prone does the following: A prone character cannot take Move or Dash actions until she spends an action to rise. Prone characters gain +1 DV against ranged attacks and explosives, this being the key reason for a character to throw herself prone. (This bonus does not apply to stupidity. Throwing oneself to the ground in the middle of the street doesn’t protect one from the sniper on the rooftop. Throwing oneself on a grenade offers no protection from it.) Prone characters suffer a -1 DV penalty to close-combat attacks and a two-die penalty to attacks and most other actions.
When the target has no idea an attack is coming, both his Dodge and Parry DVs become inapplicable. They effectively drop to 0 against the attack. This usually happens when an assassin or opponent gets the drop on the character. The sneak’s player rolls (Dexterity +
Stealth) in a contested roll against the (Perception + Awareness) of the target and any other characters who could notice. Characters who see the assassin may alert others if they choose.
Attacking a target who is unaware of you or the attack gains the benefits of an unexpected attack. Although it’s harder to hide from a foe in the middle of combat, it is possible.
If your characters are shooting at each other while running across girders at a construction site, if they’re dueling on the back of a charging elephant, or if they’re wrestling in a Jell-O pit, the footing is unstable. The Storyteller applies a difficulty from 1–3 to remain upright in the circumstances. This number also serves as the penalty to attacks and DVs for characters in that environment.
Characters also have a chance to fall once they make any action. If a character can automatically succeed at this difficulty with his (Dexterity + Athletics) dice pool he may attack with no fear of losing his balance.
Those who are not so lucky must try to remain standing if they take an action. Their players make a reflexive (Dexterity + Athletics) roll at the assigned difficulty after any action the character takes. Move actions at -2 yards per tick do not trigger the roll. Characters whose players fail a roll fall prone, which can sometimes be more deadly than the enemy they’re fighting. The effects of botches are left up to Storyteller discretion, but should always prove appropriately disastrous.
Water, Muck, Goo
Standing deep in quicksand or fighting against nemean stingrays in the surf is difficult. Apply a one-die penalty to actions based on Dexterity and movement for each foot of liquid in which the character stands while he fights. Some other actions can reasonably be penalized, as well. This penalty tops out at -5 once the character is submerged, regardless of the character’s height or the body of water’s depth. At that point, the character might also need to deal with visibility penalties and the risk of suffocation or drowning.
When a fight involves things that people ride—often with motors and wheels—use these extra rules. To begin with, most vehicles act as full or near-full cover for people inside. Obviously, motorbikes and horses offer only partial cover—60% from the front and 30% from the sides or back.
Second, a character may choose to attack with a vehicle. In that case, the player rolls (Dexterity + Control + Maneuverability) to attack. Vehicular attacks do not use the character’s Strength, they use the vehicle’s Mass and take into account its speed. Vehicle Mass is given in numeric ratings from 1 (motorcycle) or 2 (Geo Metro) all the way up to 10 (tank) and higher. (Feel like crashing an aircraft carrier, anyone?) For damage, roll the vehicle’s Mass once for every 10 miles per hour difference in speed between the vehicle and its target, and then roll dice for extra attack successes.
The attacking vehicle takes damage equal to the Mass of its target plus one for every 10 miles the attacking vehicle is moving different than its target. This means that a car can ram another car from behind for a few points of damage or step on the brakes to hurt a car behind it.
Speaking of which, replace the driver’s Dodge DV with ([Dexterity + Control + car’s Maneuverability] ÷ 2) while operating a vehicle (or riding a horse). Use this same DV for attacks against the vehicle. Running a car off the road or otherwise manipulating the target car’s movement is such an attack made at +2 difficulty.
Attacking Inanimate Objects
Objects are less vital than humans (and titanspawn and the like) but often tougher. Inanimate targets of attacks have soak depending on their structure and composition, and all inanimate objects have an equal Hardness. This means that attacks that do not surpass the object’s soak/Hardness inflict no damage. Damage against objects, on the other hand, is not rolled. Each die of raw damage in excess of the object’s soak becomes an automatic level of damage.
Inanimate objects can take a set number of health levels of damage before they are destroyed. When they have lost half of those health levels, they are considered “damaged,” which inhibits their natural functions. If a tool, it functions at a penalty. If a wall, it no longer keeps things out. The object is not a complete failure until it is destroyed—a damaged wall keeps the flow of intruders to a trickle, for example—but sometimes characters need do no more than damage an object.
Of course, inanimate objects do not heal (unless somehow enchanted to do so). They must be repaired with an extended Craft roll, which generally takes from an hour to a day per roll.
|Object||Soak (L/B)||Health Levels**|
|Chain Link Fence||2/4||6|