This page provides a comprehensive list of rules that govern specific aspects of combat. For a more general walkthrough of the combat sequence, go to the gameplay page.

Starting the Fight


At the start of combat, each character involved rolls initiative and then take turns based on the results. To determine initiative, each character rolls a dice pool equal to their Wits plus their Dexterity at difficulty 6. They cannot spend a willpower for an automatic success, and Wound Penalty does not apply. Turn order in combat is determined by who has the greatest number of successes on their Initiative roll. Ties go to the character with the higher Dexterity, further ties look at their Wits, and a third tie is up to GM discretion, based on the specific positioning as combat begins.

Initiative = Dexterity + Wits, difficulty 6.

Initiative Modifiers

  • Ambush: A character who is ambushed or caught flat-footed automatically loses initiative. This is usually dictated by the tactical situation rather than by dice rolls. For example, if you round a corner to find guards waiting for you with rifles leveled, you've been ambushed.
  • Surprise: Surprise is a resisted skill check of the attacker's Stealth versus the defender's Alertness. The surprising characters gain a free attack which takes place before initiative. This attack is committed. A surprised target cannot take a defensive action. Effectively, the surprised character is unable to react to the first swing.
    • A sleeping character suffers +4 Difficulty to the Alertness roll to avoid surprise (normally a base Difficulty of 6, adjusted to 10). A meditating character suffers +2 Difficulty to the Alertness roll to avoid surprise.

Movement in Combat

See Movement page.

Engaging in Combat

Offensive Actions

There are four Primary Abilities which can be used to attack: Brawl (for unarmed combat), Melee (for handheld weapons that aren't guns), Firearms (for guns and other projectile weapons), and Athletics (for any thrown weapon). Generally speaking, the Attributes they are combined with for combat will be Dexterity or Strength. Additionally, any Secondary Abilities of Brawl, Melee, and Firearms, and some of the Secondaries of Athletics, can be used to attack. Characters using those receive -1 difficulty on their attack.

Attacking may be done on your turn, based on initiative rolls.

Defensive Actions

There are three Primary Abilities which can be used defensively: Dodge (to dodge), Melee (to parry), or Brawl, (to contest a grapple or to parry in some circumstances). Generally speaking, the Attribute they are paired with for defensive actions is Dexterity. Any Secondary abilities of Dodge and Melee, and some Secondaries of Brawl, can be used for defensive actions. They receive -1 difficulty when used.

Defensive actions contest attacks, with successes on a defensive action subtracting from the attack roll's successes on a 1 for 1 basis. A character may attempt a defensive action as long as they have dice remaining that round, regardless of whether or not it's their turn. Characters cannot dodge or parry attacks from firearms without a Power. Characters may attempt to Evade an assault by rolling Dexterity + Dodge, difficulty 7 on their turn. Successes from this roll subtract from all incoming attacks but are "used up" by each success they counteract. For example, if you roll 3 successes on your Evade roll, and two attackers get 2 successes on attacks against you, you will evade the first one but be hit by the second.

Multiple Actions

Characters may attempt to multitask some actions during combat. This is done by splitting your dice pool.

In order to split a dice pool, first you'll need to determine which actions you plan on taking or might possibly take, and determine the dice pool for each action. The total number of dice you have available to split between your actions is equal to the smallest of these dice pools. For example, a player with 4 Dexterity, 3 Dodge, and 1 Melee wishes to attack his enemy with a sword, and also attempt to dodge his enemy's punches. His Dex + Dodge is 7, but his Dex + Melee is only 5, so he will have to split the 5 dice pool.

Any action taken from a split dice pool must be allocated at least 2 dice. Therefore, if the total dice available is 3 or lower, the dice pool cannot be split and only one action may be taken, since you have to have at least two groups of two, or four dice total, in order to take two actions.

This cannot be done in order to attack a single target multiple times in one turn. You can, however, split your dice pool to attack two or more enemies one time each.

Committed Actions

Some actions may be labelled as "committed actions". This means that a character who takes this action cannot split their dice pool in that round. They must commit all available dice to taking that particular action. Much heavy weaponry and some rifles, such as sniper rifles, require a committed action to fire. This leaves the shooter vulnerable to attack, the price that is paid for these weapons' high damage.

Attack Rolls

When a character attacks a target, they make an attack roll. If they gain at least one success on this roll, they inflict an injury on the target with the severity equal to successes + weapon damage.

Melee Weapons

Weapon Attack Roll Additional Weapon Damage Other Notes
Hand-to-hand Strength + Brawl difficulty 5 0 Stamina acts as Armor against hand-to-hand attacks
Knife Dexterity + Melee difficulty 5 +0
Stabbing Sword (Rapier) Dexterity + Melee difficulty 6 +1
Chopping sword and Axes Strength + Melee difficulty 6 +1
Greatsword, Giant Axes Strength + Melee difficulty 7 +2
Club Strength + Melee difficulty 6 0 Most improvised weapons fall into this category

Ranged Weapons

Weapon Attack Roll Additional Weapon Damage Range
Handgun Dexterity + Firearms difficulty 7 +3 30 meters
Shotgun (slug) Dexterity + Firearms difficulty 8 +4 80 meters
Shotgun (shot) Dexterity + Firearms difficulty 7 +3 50 meters
Rifles Dexterity + Firearms difficulty 8 +4 150 meters
Sniper Rifles Dexterity + Firearms difficulty 9 +4 400 meters (700 with trained spotter)
Thrown Weapon Strength + Athletics difficulty 7 0 25 meters
Bow Dexterity + Athletics difficulty 7 +1 50 meters
Crossbow Dexterity + Athletics difficulty 7 +1 50 meters

However, many other factors besides your weapon may impact your odds of landing an attack. The following modifiers are our suggestions for how to address those factors; GM's may alter these at their discretion, but sticking fairly close to these values is advised for the sake of balance.

Attack Difficulty Modifiers

If you are…

  • Behind cover: +1 difficulty, can't use turns to Aim but can dodge as a free action
  • Using your off hand: +1 difficulty
  • Walking: +1 difficulty
  • Running: +2 difficulty
  • Encumbered: +1 difficulty per 25lbs of encumbrance (doesn't apply to firearms)
  • Lining up a shot: -1 difficulty per round spent aiming, capped at -3 in general and -2 for moving targets. Shooter must be standing still.
  • Using a Secondary Ability: -1 difficulty
  • Firing blind: +4 difficulty

If your target is…

  • Behind cover: +2 difficulty
  • Immobilized: -3 difficulty
  • Running: +1 difficulty
  • At point-blank range (within two meters): -2 difficulty (doesn't apply to melee weapons or sniper rifles)
  • At long range (beyond listed range for weapon): +1 difficulty, up to +2 at max range (which is weapon range x2)
  • Roughly the size of
    • A normal adult human: base difficulty
    • A child: +1 difficulty
    • A house cat: +2 difficulty
    • A small mouse: +3 difficulty
    • A horse: -1 difficulty
    • A truck: -2 difficulty
    • A house: -3 difficulty

If your surroundings are…

  • Dark: +2 difficulty, down to +1 with Perception at 5
  • Foggy: +3 difficulty, down to +1 within point blank range
  • Stormy (torrential rain, heavy snow, hail): +1 difficulty
  • Underwater, and you are using a…
    • Knife/your bare hands:+1 difficulty
    • Small melee weapon (short swords, hand axes, clubs): +2 difficulty
    • Large melee weapon (long swords, polearms, flails): +3 difficulty
    • Throwing weapon: doesn't work
    • Firearm: doesn't work, with the exception of harpoons and some specially designed pistols

Damage Rules

Severity of injury = Successes on attack roll - Successes on defense roll (if defensive action was taken) + Weapon Damage - Armor. If attack successes - defensive successes is less than or equal to 0, no damage is dealt.

When a character takes damage, they receive a new injury. Minor injuries, while still serious, heal relatively quickly and do not impair the target much. Severe injuries leave lasting scars, disable the bearer, and are much more difficult to treat. A character's Wound Level is equal to the highest injury level they have + the number of other injuries. See the Wound Levels page for more details.

The Equipment page has more detail about the specific damage values for various weapons.

Rate of Fire

A standard Offensive Action represents an all-out attack. This means that, for Firearms, you shoot a number of bullets equal to your Rate of Fire (listed on the Equipment page). Some single-action revolvers and rifles have a rate of 1 bullet per 3-second round, but the vast majority of modern guns are semi-automatic, meaning they can fire 2 or 3 bullets in a span of 3 seconds without losing too much effectiveness. The Difficulty and Base Damage for guns is based on using a semi-automatic rate of fire.

As a side note for Storytellers, be sure you narrate with this rule in mind, and keep your players abreast of this particular nuance of the system, especially if they are new. For example, if a player simply says "I attack!", you'll depict the scene with multiple shots being fired.


A character's Armor Rating is subtracted automatically from damage against them, should an attack hit. For instance, if your character is getting slashed for 6 damage (ouch!) but has a Kevlar vest on (which has an Armor Rating of 3), they receive a level 3 injury.

If a combatant can soak damage due to different abilities or items, the abilities or items usually do not stack. Typically, general categories don't stack. Items do not stack. Powers do not stack with the same type of bonus unless it provides an entirely different type of effect.


If you take damage greater than your Stamina from a single attack (not attack sequence), you are stunned. A stunned character loses any remaining actions for the current turn and is unable to act in the following turn.

Battle Scars

If you take 4 or more damage from a single attack (not attack sequence), you will gain a Battle Scar, as evidence of the mutilation you received.

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