Combat Rules

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Basic Mechanics


At the start of a combat encounter, each character makes a roll to determine their initiative for that encounter. To do determine initiate, a character rolls 1d20 and adds their Agility attribute score. A character decides and resolves his or her actions during combat in descending initiative order. So, characters with higher initiatives act before characters with lower initiatives.

Initiative = 1d20 + Dexterity modifier

Types of Actions

Complex Actions

Complex actions are those actions that require the most concentration to perform. Examples of these actions include attacking another character, attempting to dodge or parry an attack, casting a spell, and using certain other skills and abilities.

A character can take a single complex action during each round of combat. Certain talents allow characters to take additional complex actions. These talents usually specify a manner in which the additional complex action must be used.

Basic Actions

Basic actions require less focus and attention than complex actions, but still require some time to perform. Examples of basic actions include moving about the battlefield and using certain skills.

A character can take a single basic action during each round of combat. Certain talents allow characters to take additional basic actions.

Free Actions

Free actions are those actions that require an inconsequential amount of time and attention to perform. The best example of a free action is speaking (to a reasonable degree).
A character can take an unlimited amount of free actions during each round, within reason.

Bonus Actions

Certain circumstances and feats can allow characters to take additional complex or basic actions during their turns. Typically, the source of a bonus action will specify that it must be used to take a particular action such as an attack or dodge attempt.


Attack Roll

An attack roll represents a character’s attempt to strike an opponent during their turn. When making an attack roll, the attacker rolls 1d20 and adds his or her attack bonus to the result. If the total equals or exceeds the target’s Passive Defense TN, then the attack hits and deals damage.

“Natural 20” and “Natural 1”

When an attack roll results in either a 20 or a 1 on the actual die face without factoring in any bonuses, this is called either a “Natural” 20 or a “Natural” 1, respectively.
When a character rolls a Natural 20 on an attack roll, he is treated as if he had instead rolled a 30 on the die. When a character rolls a Natural 1 on an attack roll, he is treated as if he had instead rolled a -10 on the die.

Attack Bonus

A character’s attack bonus is determined by adding his or her rating in the relevant weapon skill to his Strength modifier (for melee attacks) or his Dexterity modifier (for ranged attacks).

Damage Roll

After a successful attack roll, the attacker rolls damage dice based upon the weapon used and then adds his Strength modifier to the result. The defender’s armor rating is then subtracted from this total. The final result is the damage that the defender suffers from the attack.

Critical Attacks

An attacker can choose to attempt to increase the damage caused by the attack by voluntarily decreasing his chances of successfully striking with the attack. Doing this is called making a critical attack. Prior to making an attack you, you can impose a penalty on your attack roll ranging from -1 to -5. If you attack connects, you gain a damage bonus based upon the weapon you’re using and the penalty you impose.


A character engaged in melee combat can expend a Complex Action to execute a feint, thereby creating an opening in his opponent’s defenses. A successful feint leaves the target unable to actively defend against the character’s next attack. A successful feint requires a contested roll of the attacker’s weapon skill plus his Intelligence modifier versus the defender’s defense skill plus Wisdom modifier.


Passive Defense

A character’s Passive Defense is equal to 10 + his Dexterity modifier.

Blocking and Dodging

A character being attacked can use a Complex action to attempt to negate the attack by attempting to either actively block or dodge the attack.

A block is an attempt to halt or deflect the incoming attack with either one’s own weapon or a shield. Blocking requires that the defender roll 1d20 and add their skill rating in the appropriate weapon skill plus their Strength modifier. If the result of this roll matches or exceeds the result of the attacker’s attack roll, then the defender successfully negates the attack.

A dodge is an attempt to actively avoid the attack entirely. Dodging requires that the defender roll 1d20 and add their Defense skill rating plus their Dexterity modifier to the result. If the result of this roll matches or exceeds the result of the attacker’s attack roll, then the defender successfully negates the attack.


A character can use a complex action that is being held in reserve to attempt to counter a spell being cast by another individual. The character attempting the counterspell must be within 60 feet of the spellcaster. In order to successfully counter the spell, the character must make a contested skill check against the spellcaster using the same skill that the spellcaster is using to cast the spell (thus, in order to counter a sorcery spell, the character must use the Sorcery skill and in order to counter an Illusion spell, the character must use the Illusion skill). If the character attempting the counterspell wins this contested roll, the spell has been successfully countered and it fizzles out without effect.

Since magical skills cannot be used without training, you can only counter spells originating in schools of magic with which you have received some level of training.

Reserve Actions

A character can choose to forgo making use of his allotment of Complex Actions during his own turn in order to use them to make block or dodge attempts when another character attacks him. During his turn, a character must determine how many actions he is holding in reserve. For the rest of the round, when another attacks him, he can choose to spend one of those reserve actions to make an active block or dodge attempt.

A character is considered to be holding all of his allotment of complex actions for a given round in reserve until the start of his turn during that round. Actions that are held in reserve cannot be spent on other actions if the character is not attacked and do not carry over into the following round.

Fighting with Two Weapons

If a character wields a weapon in both their main and off hand, they can gain a single bonus Complex action that must be used to make either an attack or a block attempt with the off hand weapon. You suffer a –6 penalty with your regular attack and block rolls with your primary hand and a –10 penalty to the attack and block rolls with your off hand when you fight this way. You can reduce these penalties in two ways. First, if your off-hand weapon is light, the penalties are reduced by 2 each. An unarmed strike is always considered light. Second, one of several talents can reduce these penalties further.

A character wielding a weapon in one hand and a shield in the other can make use of two weapon fighting to gain a bonus Complex action just as can a character wielding two weapons.

Table: Two-weapon Fighting Penalties summarizes the interaction of all these factors.

Table: Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties

Circumstances Primary Hand Off Hand
Normal penalties –6 –10
Off-hand weapon is light –4 –8
Dual Weapon Training talent –4 –4
Off-hand weapon is light and Dual Weapon Training talent –2 –2
Dual Weapon Mastery talent -2 -2
Off-hand weapon is light and Dual Weapon Mastery talent –0 –0
Shield Specialist talent -2 -6
Shield Specialist talent and off-hand is light -0 -4
Dual Weapon Training and Shield Specialist talents -0 -0

Double Weapons

You can use a double weapon to make an extra attack with the off-hand end of the weapon as if you were fighting with two weapons. The penalties apply as if the off-hand end of the weapon was a light weapons.

Thrown Weapons

The same rules apply when you throw a weapon from each hand. Treat a dart or shuriken as a light weapons when used in this manner, and treat a bolas, javelin, net, or sling as a one-handed weapon.

Ranged Combat

A character making use of a ranged weapon while being engaged in melee combat receives a -6 penalty on all attempts to actively dodge or block incoming attacks. Note, while many ranged weapons such as bows and crossbows can be used to block melee attacks, misusing them in this fashion will likely result in rendering them inoperable in short order.

Attacks of Opportunity

Sometimes a combatant in a melee lets her guard down. In this case, combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for free. These free attacks are called attacks of opportunity.

Threatened Squares

You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your action. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you.

Reach Weapons

Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.

Note: Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten all squares 10 feet (2 squares) away, even diagonally. (This is an exception to the rule that 2 squares of diagonal distance is measured as 15 feet.)

Provoking an Attack of Opportunity

Two kinds of actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened square and performing an action within a threatened square.


Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity from the threatening opponent. There are two common methods of avoiding such an attack—the 5-foot step and the withdraw action.

Performing a Distracting Act

Some actions, when performed in a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity as you divert your attention from the battle. The following are some actions that provoke attacks of opportunity:

  • Firing a ranged weapon
  • Casting a spell
  • Stand up from prone
  • Load a crossbow
  • Retrieve a stored item
  • Stabilize a dying ally
  • Light a torch
  • Move a heavy object

Remember that even actions that normally provoke attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.

Making an Attack of Opportunity

An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and you can only make one per round. You don’t have to make an attack of opportunity if you don’t want to.

An experienced character gets additional regular melee attacks (by using the full attack action), but at a lower attack bonus. You make your attack of opportunity, however, at your normal attack bonus—even if you’ve already attacked in the round.

An attack of opportunity “interrupts” the normal flow of actions in the round. If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity, then continue with the next character’s turn (or complete the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a character’s turn).

Combat Rules

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