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Combat Changes

Page history last edited by harrissdg@... 11 years, 7 months ago


There are a number of major changes to combat. The MSRD combat section is pretty horrible, with a lot of redundancy, bad layout, and exclusive lists. This is shorter, clearer, and just as complete.

The following list are the sections that you need to read over to understand the big changes.

  1. No exclusivity. This section doesn't try to encompass all a character can do in a combat round. It just covers the most likely actions a player or GM will want to try. For things not covered, GMs must improvise rulings.
  2. Damage. Minimum damage is 0. If an attack says X{W} then roll the weapon dice X times, sum the damage, then add static modifiers once.
  3. Critical hits. They're easier to get but a lot less "swingy".
  4. Conditions. Many conditions have been deleted either because of redundancy or because they aren't fun. Others have been changed. Take a look at the conditions for a quick summary.
  5. Flat-Footed. It no longer exists. This particular condition is mentioned because it used to be in every combat. However, many conditions grant battle superiority.
  6. Charge. It's a lot different. More usable, with a smaller bonus and no penalty.
  7. Area attacks. This includes explosions and spraying an area.
  8. Covering fire. You can do it, it's useful, and it's under Autofire.
  9. Grapple. It's been sped up, simplified, and somewhat weakened.
  10. Attacks of Opportunity. They're less common, easier to determine, and you can always do them.
  11. Weapon Ranges. Weapon ranges have been redone, both the length of increments and how far weapons can shoot. Check out Alloy Equipment for the details.



Combat Basics

Combat is played out in rounds, and in each round everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle. Com­bat usually runs in the following way.

  1. The GM determines which characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle. If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants who are aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take one move or attack action. Combatants who were unaware are Surprised (see conditions below). If no one, or everyone starts, the battle aware then there is no surprise round.
  2. Combatants who have not yet rolled initiative do so. All combatants are now ready to begin their first regular round.
  3. Combatants act in initiative order.
  4. When everyone has had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 3 and 4 repeat until combat ends.



An attack roll represents a character’s attempts to strike an opponent on the character’s turn in a round. When a character makes an attack roll, he or she rolls 1d20 and adds his or her attack bonus. If the result equals or beats the target’s Defense, the character hits and deals damage. Many modifiers can affect the attack roll.


A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit; if the total attack would hit the target then it is also a critical hit.


If the character is not proficient in the weapon he or she is attacking with (the character doesn’t have the appropriate Weapon Proficiency feat), that character does not gain the weapon's proficiency bonus.


When rolling damage, the character usually adds the attack's key ability to the damage dice of the attack.


Attack Types

There are dozens of ways of attacking an enemy, but they all have some common descriptions. Swinging a bayonet at an enemy, shooting a sniper, using a flamethrower and hurling a grenade are all likely attacks and illustrate the four types of attacks.


Melee Attacks

Melee attacks are close-combat attacks usually using a weapon and targeting a single enemy.

  • Targeted: Melee attacks are always against a single target. If an ability allows multiple melee attacks then each attack and damage roll is different for each target.
  • Range: Unless noted otherwise, the range for melee attacks is your melee reach.
  • Reach: Small and Medium creatures have a reach of 5 ft. Certain equipment and abilities can increase this reach.

Note: Simply holding two weapons doesn't allow two attacks in a round. It allows the combatant to choose which weapon is being used but doesn't innately allow multiple attacks.


Ranged Attacks

Ranged attacks are strikes against distant targets. They generally target one creature within the attack's range and almost always use a weapon.

  • Targeted: Ranged attacks are always against a single target. If an ability allows multiple ranged attacks then each attack and damage roll is different for each target. Additionally, you must have enough ammunition, or throwing weapons, for each target in a multi-target attack.
  • Range: The range is determined by the attack used. Generally, this is limited by the weapon chosen.
    • Long Range: If the target is outside your short range but inside your long range then you take a -2 penalty on your attack.
  • Attack of Opportunity: Ranged attacks provoke attacks of opportunity.


Close Attacks

A close attack starts with you and spreads out. The fiery blast of a flame thrower, the explosion of a suicide bomber, and a single sweeping blow that strikes multiple enemies are examples of close attacks.

  • Area of Effect: A close attack creates an area of effect, usually either a blast or a burst. Some, or all, of the creatures within the area are targeted (see the ability for details).
  • Origin: A close attack always starts either in your space or in a part of your space. To affect a target, there must be both range and line of effect from the origin to the target.
  • Attack and Damage: Roll a separate attack roll for each target in the effect; however, roll damage only once and apply it appropriately to all targets.
  • Ammunition: You need at least one piece of ammunition, or one thrown weapon, for each target in the effect.


Area Attacks

Area attacks strike an area within their range. Common examples are grenades and explosive rockets.

  • Area of Effect: An area attack creates an area of effect within range, usually either a blast or a burst. Some, or all, of the creatures within the area are targeted (see the ability for details).
  • Origin: Choose a point within the attack's range as the origin. You must have line of effect to the origin space, though not necessarily line of sight. The origin space is used to determine line of effect and cover to the targets.
  • Attack and Damage: Roll a separate attack roll for each target in the effect; however, roll damage only once and apply it appropriately to all targets.
  • Ammunition: You need at least one piece of ammunition, or one thrown weapon, for each target in the effect.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Area attacks provoke attacks of opportunity.


Area Types

There are three types of areas that can be created by an effect.


Blast Areas

A blast fills an area adjacent to you that is a specified length on a side. For example, a flamethrower is a blast 25 ft, which means it affects a 25 feet-by-25 feet are adjacent to you. The blast must be adjacent to its origin space, which is the space you occupy. The origin space is not affected by the blast. A blast affects a target only if the target is in the blast's area and if there is line of effect from the origin to the target.


Burst Areas

A burst starts in an origin space and extends in all directions to a specified distance from the origin. For example, a fragmentation grenade is a burst 25 ft with a range of 60 ft, which means that the grenade lands in a space up to 60 feet from you and explodes out to effect every space within 25 feet of it. Unless noted otherwise, a close burst you create does not affect you. However, an area burst you create does affect you if you are in the area. A burst affects a target only if the target is in the burst's area and if there is line of effect from the origin to the target.


Wall Areas

A wall fills a specified length of contiguous spaces within range, starting from an origin. Each space must be fully adjacent to at least one other space (for battle mats, squares have to share a side, not just a corner). Generally, wall spaces only have two adjacent spaces occupied by the same wall.


Range Penalty

The range penalty for a ranged weapon depends on what weapon the character is using and how far away the target is. All ranged weapons and thrown weapons have a range increment (see Table: Ranged Weapons and Table: Melee Weapons). The first number is the Short Range, at which the character takes no penalty on the attack. The second number is the Long Range, which imposes a -2 penalty on the attack. Weapons can't accurately shoot past Long Range.



When a character hits with a weapon, he or she deals damage according to the type of weapon. Natural weapons such as fists, claws, and horns have their damage modified in the same way.

Damage is deducted from the target’s current hit points.


Note: The minimum damage an attack can deal is 0.


Ability Bonus

Whenever a character hits with an attack, add the ability bonus used in the attack to the damage. Some abilities are exceptions to this rule and will specify what to add.


Multiplying Damage

Sometimes damage is multiplied by some factor. Usually by a really powerful attack. This means to roll the weapon damage the indicated number of times before adding static modifiers.

An attack may say Str vs. Defense; 2{W}. This means that the attack is strength based against Defense. On a successful hit, roll weapon damage twice, then add any static modifiers.


Critical Hits

When a character makes an attack roll and gets a natural 20 (the d20 shows 20), the character hits regardless of the target’s defense. Add the total modifiers to the die and compare the total to the target defense; if the attack would hit mathematically then the character has scored a critical hit.


A critical hit maximizes the character’s damage. Determine the maximum damage the character could roll normally; that's how much damage is dealt.


Additionally, a character may get bonus dice of damage on a critical hit, due to feats, weapon properties, and other effects. These dice are not maximized, but are rolled normally and added to the total.



A character’s defenses represents how hard it is for opponents to land a solid, damaging blow on the character. It’s the attack roll result that an opponent needs to achieve to hit the character. For more on defenses, see the Level Dependant Benefits.


Other Modifiers

Other factors than level, class, and equipment can add to a character’s defenses.

  • Cover: Characters often dive for cover, gaining a bonus to defenses.
  • Concealment: Like cover, concealment grants a bonus to defenses.
  • Feats: Some feats give a bonus to a character’s defenses.
  • Magical Effects: Some campaigns may include magic. Some magical effects offer enhancement bonuses to armor (making it more effective) or deflection bonuses that ward off attacks.
  • Other Bonuses: Other defense bonuses may appear from time to time. Consult your GM for details.


Hit Points

A character’s hit points tell how much punishment he or she can take before dropping. This could be physical hardihood, agile dodging, or simple running out of random objects that can stop bullets or blows. Hit points are based on the character’s class, level, and Constitution score and are a very abstract mechanic used to keep the game fun.


When a character’s hit point total drops to 0 or fewer, he or she is dying. A character dies if his or her hit point total drops to a negative number equal to half their maximum.



A character’s speed tells how far he or she can move in a move action. Humans normally move 30 feet, but some creatures move faster or slower. Wearing armor can slow a character down.


Saving Throws

Saving throws are used to end effects that don't have a set duration. See saving throws for more details.



Every round, each combatant gets to do something. The combatants’ initiative checks, from highest to lowest, determine the order in which they act, from first to last.


Initiative Checks

At the start of a battle, each combatant makes a single initiative check. An initiative check is a Dexterity check. Some feats and other abilities give a bonus on this check. The GM finds out what order characters are acting in, counting down from highest result to lowest, and each character acts in turn. On all following rounds, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative changing; see Special Initiative Actions). If two or more combatants have the same initiative check result, the combatants who are tied go in order of total initiative modifier. If there is still a tie, roll a die.


Joining a Battle

If characters enter a battle after it has begun, they roll initiative at that time and act whenever their turn comes up in the existing order.



When a combat starts, if a character was not aware of his or her enemies and they were aware of the character, that character is surprised. Likewise, a character can surprise his or her enemies if the character knows about them before they’re aware of the character.


The Surprise Round

If some, but not all, of the combatants are aware of their opponents then a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants who are aware of the opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take an attack action or move action during the surprise round (see Action Types, below). If no one or everyone is surprised, a surprise round does not occur.


Unaware Combatants

Combatants who are unaware at the start of battle are Surprised (see Conditions, below).


Actions in Combat

The fundamental actions of moving and attacking cover most of what a character wants to do in a battle. They’re described here, though this list is far from exhaustive. Your character can attempt almost any action you can imagine. Other, more specialized options are touched on in Table: Actions in Combat.


The Combat Round

Each round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. A round is an opportunity for each character involved in a combat to take an action. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, a character can do in 1 round.


A character's individual round has three parts.

  1. Beginning of the Turn. Ongoing damage, regeneration, other effects, and end of some effects all happen, in that order, during the beginning of your turn.
  2. Actions on your Turn. During your turn you get three actions: a Standard, Move, and Swift action. You may also take as many free actions as your GM allows.
  3. End of the Turn. You make Saving Throws your character is entitled to, check that maintenance actions were taken, and end some effect, in that order, during the end of your turn.

A character can only take actions during the actions on your turn phase.


Actions on your Turn

Your character may take his or her actions in any order on his or her turn.

You may substitute a move action for a standard action and a swift action for a move action.

You may gain an extra standard action by spending an action point (this action can be substituted as normal).

Other combatants can take free actions, immediate actions, and make attacks of opportunity on your turn. These actions will generally be triggered by your actions.


Table: Actions in Combat

Standard Actions Attack of Opportunity1
Aid Another No
Attack held object No
Basic Attack, Melee No
Basic Attack, Ranged Yes
Bull Rush No
Charge No
Coup de Grace No
Feint (see the Bluff skill) No
Grapple No
Move Grappled Target Yes2
Special Autofire Attacks Yes
Trip No
Total Defense No
Use a skill that takes a standard action Yes


Move Actions Attack of Opportunity1
Adjust No
Crawl Yes
Escape No
Run Yes
Squeeze Yes
Stand Up No
Walk Yes
Use a skill that takes a move action Yes


Swift Actions Attack of Opportunity1
Consume Item No
Draw or Holster a weapon No
Drop Prone No
Manipulate Object No
Reload Weapon No
Retrieve Object No


Immediate Action Attack of Opportunity1
Readied Action, carry out No


Free Actions Attack of Opportunity1
Attack of Opportunity No
Drop an object No
End a Grab No
Speak No
Spend an Action Point No


No Action Attack of Opportunity1
Delay No


  1. Regardless of the action, if a character moves out of a threatened square, the character usually provokes an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself, not moving, provokes an attack of opportunity.
  2. If you pull the target, you and the target do not provoke opportunity attacks from each other, and the target doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from adjacent enemies. However, if you leave a square adjacent to an enemy, that enemy can make an opportunity attack against you.


Action Types

The five types of actions are standard actions, move actions, swift actions, immediate actions, and free actions. A character can perform as many free actions as the GM allows.


Standard Action

A standard action allows a character to do something. Usually a character makes an attack, though there are other options.


Move Action

A move action allows a character to move his or her speed or perform an action that takes a similar amount of time.


A character can take a move action in the place of a standard action.


Note that in action descriptions the terms space, square and 5 feet are all used. These terms are considered interchangeable for the purposes of movement.


Swift Action

A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action.


Immediate Action

An immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort than a free action. It is done in response to circumstances rather than as an action chosen on your turn. You may only take one immediate action each combat round.


Free Action

Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor that they are considered free. A character can perform as many free actions as the GM allows. For instance, dropping an object, dropping to a prone position, speaking a sentence or two, and ceasing to concentrate on a magic spell (if magic is available in the campaign) are all free actions.


Action Descriptions


Moving through a fierce battle is dangerous; you must be careful to avoid a misstep that gives your foe a chance to strike a telling blow. The way you move safely when enemies are nearby is to shift.

Adjust: Move Action

  • Movement: Move 5 feet (1 square).
  • No Attacks of Opportunity: If you adjust out of a space adjacent to an enemy, you don’t provoke an attack of opportunity.
  • Difficult Terrain: Because each space of difficult terrain costs 1 extra square to enter, you can’t normally adjust into a square of difficult terrain, unless you’re able to adjust multiple squares or you’re able to ignore the effects of difficult terrain.
  • Special Movement Modes: You can’t shift when using a form of movement that requires a skill check. For ex-ample, if you’re climbing or swimming, you can’t shift if you would need to make an Athletics check to use that kind of movement. You might find it useful to first adjust away from an adjacent enemy, then walk or run.


Aid Another

You use your action to aid another character. You can aid an ally’s attack roll against one enemy or grant an ally a bonus against an enemy’s next attack. You can also use this action to aid someone else’s skill check or ability check.

Aid Another: Standard Action

  • Attack Roll: Choose a valid target of a basic attack, and make a basic attack vs. Defense 10. If you succeed, deal no damage, but choose one ally. That ally gets a +2 bonus to his or her next attack roll against the target or to all defenses against the target’s next attack. This bonus ends if not used by the end of your next turn.
  • Skill or Ability Check: You can instead aid a skill check or an ability check made by an adjacent ally. Make a DC 10 skill check or ability check. If you succeed, you give a +2 bonus to your ally’s next check using the same skill or ability. This bonus ends if not used by the end of the ally’s next turn.
  • Special: A single character may not receive aid another benefits from more than four (4) allies, even under the best circumstances.


Attack Held Object

You use your skill to knock an object out of the target's grasp.

Attack Held Object: Standard Action

  • Target: Creature within line of effect.
  • Attack: Make a weapon attack vs. Fortitude.
  • Hit: The target drops the weapon in their space.
  • Miss: No effect.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Attacking a held object doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity in and of itself. However, using a ranged attack while threatened does provoke, as normal.
  • Special: If you use an unarmed attack you may choose to hold the object yourself.


Attack of Opportunity

Combatants are alert for any opening their enemies give them. When you're adjacent to an enemy, that enemy can't use a ranged or area attack without putting itself in danger. The most common attack of opportunity is a melee basic attack against the creature that provokes it.

Attack of Opportunity: Free Action

  • Once per Turn: You only make one attack of opportunity on any given combatant's turn. However, you can make one one every combatant's turn.
  • Not Your Turn: You may not make an attack of opportunity on your own turn.
  • Able to Attack: You can't make an attack of opportunity unless you threaten the target and are able to make a melee basic attack. If you are capable of flanking the target then you can threaten the target. You don't have to be flanking, just capable of it.
  • Provocations: Several actions can provoke attacks of opportunity.
    • Movement: If an enemy leaves a space adjacent to you, you can make an attack of opportunity against that enemy. However, you can't make one if the enemy adjusts, teleports, or is forced to move by a pull, push, or slide.
    • Ranged and Area attacks: If an enemy adjacent to you makes a ranged or area attack then you can make an attack of opportunity against that enemy.
  • Interrupts Target's Action: An attack of opportunity takes place before the target finishes its action. After the attack of opportunity, the creature resumes its action if it is still capable of it.
  • Threatening Reach: Generally, reach does not allow a character to threaten a target (see flanking). However, some creatures may have threatening reach, allowing them to make attacks of opportunity against creatures that aren't adjacent to them.


Basic Attacks

The most common attacks are basic attacks. These are simple attacks using melee or ranged weapons. Note that unarmed attacks are weapons, allowing even the untrained to try a quick headbutt. If it helps, think of them as powers that every character can use at any time.

Basic melee attacks are used when making attacks of opportunity, or charging. Additionally, some abilities allow characters to make basic attacks outside their turn.


Melee Basic Attack

You resort to the simplest attacks your equipment allows.

Standard Action; Melee; weapon

Target: One creature

Attack: Strength vs. Defense

Hit: 1{W} + Strength modifier damage.


Ranged Basic Attack

You resort to the simplest attacks your equipment allows.

Standard Action; Ranged' weapon

Target: One creature

Attack: Dexterity vs. Defense

Hit: 1{W} + Dexterity modifier damage.

Special: Like all ranged attacks, ranged basic attacks provoke attacks of opportunity.


Bull Rush

Shoving the enemy around. The utility depends upon the environment and circumstances; a vat of acid or a cliff edge is an excellent time to use bull rush, while an empty room is usually not.

Bull Rush: Standard Action

  • Target: Adjacent creature within one size category (one size larger, same size, one size smaller) as you.
  • Attack: Strength vs. Fortitude.
  • Hit: Push the target 5 feet and slip into the vacated space.
  • Special: If there is no adjacent area you can push the target then your Bull Rush has no effect.



A swift and violent rush at an opponent ending in a vicious attack.

Charge: Standard Action

  • Move and Strike: Move up to your speed as part of the charge and make a melee basic attack or a bull rush at the end of your move.
  • Attack Bonus: Charging gives a +1 bonus on the attack roll for the attack at the end of movement.
  • Movement Restrictions: You must move at least 10 feet from your starting point as part of a charge, and you must move directly to the nearest point from which you can attack the target. Movement across difficult terrain costs extra, as normal.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: If you leave an area adjacent to an enemy then that enemy can make an attack of opportunity against you, as normal.
  • Ends Actions: After you resolve the charge attack, the character can take no further actions this turn, unless he or she spends an action point. No matter how many actions you have unused, Charge ends the action taking phase of a turn.


Consume Item

Using combat drugs, drinking magic potions, swallowing small objects, or eating a sandwich. The darnedest things get consumed during combats.

Consume Item: Swift Action

  • Item In Hand: You must have the item in hand to consume it. This generally requires drawing it.


Coup de Grace

A helpless target is an easy target. Sometimes, a target may be so unaware of your character that he's treated as helpless. Either way, the target is in real trouble.

Coup de Grace: Standard Action

  • Helpless Target: You can deliver a coup de grace to a helpless target adjacent to you. You may use any attack you could normally use against the target.
  • Hit: You score a critical hit.
  • Death: If you deal damage greater than or equal to half the target's maximum total hit points, the target dies.



Crawling is the only actual movement available to a prone character.

Crawl: Move Action

  • Prone: You must be prone to crawl.
  • Move: Move up to half your speed.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Your movement can provoke attacks of opportunity as normal.



Waiting to see how the fight develops and changes before taking action. You choose to wait and take your turn later in the round, either to let your allies set up a tactic or see how your enemies respond.

Delay: No Action

  • Begin Turn: Your turn begins, and the effects dependent upon the beginning of your turn happen.
  • Delay Entire Turn: You must delay your entire turn. You can't delay if you've already taken actions on your turn. You also can't delay if you're denied actions due to being dazed, stunned, or otherwise incapable of actions.
  • Coming Back into Initiative: After any other combatant's turn has been completed, you can come back into the initiative. You may no perform actions as desired and your initiative changes to your no position in the order.
  • Losing the Turn: If you don't use your delayed turn before your initiative comes up again, your delayed turn is lost and your initiative remains where it was.
  • End Turn: Your turn doesn't end normally this round. Instead, the things you do happen at two separate times.
    • Effects that are beneficial to you or your allies that end at the end of your turn, end as soon as you delay.
    • You can't sustain effects when you delay.
    • Effects that are harmful to you or your allies that end at the end of your turn, end after you take your actions.
    • Saving throws are made after you act.


Draw or Holster

Pulling out, or putting up, a weapon, magazine, or object is pretty typical in a firefight. It's also not particularly distracting.

Draw or Holster: Swift Action

  • Item Accessible: The item in question must be accessibly stored on your person (or an adjacent, willing person). Most heroes automatically



You attempt to escape an enemy's grip. Other effects might also allow your character to escape.

Escape: Move Action

  • Acrobatics or Athletics: Make an Acrobatics check vs. Reflex or an Athletics check vs. Fortitude against the creature or effect that immobilized you.
  • Hit: You end the grapple and may adjust as part of this action.
  • Mis: You're still grappled.
  • Note: Objects such as rope, chains, or handcuffs have defenses determined by the GM. 20 is a typical number but you never know.



You clench an opponent to keep it from slipping away from you. The target can attempt to escape on its turn.

Grapple: Standard Action

  • Target: You can attempt to grapple a creature within unarmed melee reach. The target must be within one size category of you.
  • Attack: Make a Strength vs. Reflex attack using your unarmed attack. Generally, a hand must be free to initiate a grab.
  • Hit: The enemy is Grappled.
  • Sustaining: You can maintain a grapple as a swift action. You can end a grapple as a free action.
  • Effects ending a Grapple: Several different actions, by you or your opponents, can end a grapple.
    • If you are affected by conditions that prevent you from making attacks of opportunity then you immediately let go of a grappled enemy.
    • If you or the grappled target move or are moved so that the target is outside your unarmed melee reach then the grapple ends.


Manipulate an Object

Pulling a lever, pushing a button, closing or opening a door, picking up an object on the floor, and similar actions can become vital during a combat.

Manipulate an Object: Swift Action


Move Grappled Target

Dragging a grappled target to where they do the most good. Helpless allies are treated as objects; you simple pick them up and move them.

Move a Grappled Target: Standard Action

  • Target: Grappled creature.
  • Attack: Make an unarmed Strength vs. Fortitude attack.
  • Hit: Move up to half your speed and pull the grappled target with you.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: If you pull the target, you and the target do not provoke attacks o opportunity from each other and the target doesn't provoke from adjacent enemies. However, your movement provokes as normal.


Ready an Action

When you prepare to react to a specific action or event you have readied an action. Readying is how you say "As soon as X happens, I'll do Y." Readying is unusual among actions in that it can be used with any action type. The action required to ready depends upon the type of action being readied.

Ready an Action: Action Varies

  • Action: Readying is the same kind of action as the action you ready.
  • Choose Action to Ready: Choose the specific action you are readying, as well as your intended target. You can ready a standard action, move action, or swift action.
  • Choose Trigger: Choose the action or event that will trigger your readied action. When that action occurs, you can use your readied action. If the trigger doesn't occur, or you choose to ignore it, before your turn comes up again then the readied action is wasted.
  • Only Ready One Action: You may only ready one action on your turn.
  • Ready Ends Actions: Readying an action ends your character's actions for the turn.
  • Immediate Reaction: A readied action is an immediate reaction. It takes place immediately after the action that triggers it.
  • Interrupting an Enemy: Choose your triggers carefully if you want to respond before an enemy's attacks land. Note that you can't prevent an enemy from moving and attacking unless you ready a movement that puts you beyond the enemy's movement speed.
  • Reset Initiative: After you resolve your readied action, move your place in the initiative order to directly before the creature or event that triggered your readied action.



When you need to get there right now, you can always sprint.

Run: Move Action

  • Speed: Move up to your speed +10 feet. If your speed is normally 30 feet, you can move up to 40 feet.
  • Attack Penalty: You have a -5 penalty to attack rolls until the start of your next turn.
  • Battle Superiority: As soon as you begin running, you grant Battle Superiority to all enemies until the start of your next turn.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Your movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.


Second Wind

You reach into a heroic reserve to ignore your fatigue and injuries. Mechanically, you spend an action to use a heroic surge to regain some hit points and focus on defending yourself.

Second Wind: Standard Action

  • Spend Heroic Surge: Spend a heroic surge to regain hit points (see Heroic Surge).
  • Defense Bonuses: You gain a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of your next turn.
  • Once per Encounter: You can only use your second wind once per encounter and can use it again after a brief rest. There are other ways to use a heroic surge; these uses don't prevent the use of a second wind, nor are they prevented by using your second wind.


Special Autofire Attacks

You unleash a barrage of automatic fire, making your foes bleed or dive for cover.

Special Autofire Attacks: Standard Action; Area; weapon (firearm)

Other attacks exist. See the relevant feats and abilities.

  • Spray: Firing a short burst of automatic fire over multiple targets.
    • Automatic Weapon: You must be using a weapon with an automatic fire setting and enough ammunition to attack each target in the area.
    • Area: 5 ft burst
    • Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex for each target in the area.
    • Hit: 1{W} damage. Sacrificing precision for volume, you don't add ability bonuses to this damage.
  • Suppressing Fire: By laying down a steady stream of fire you force your foes to duck or be shot.
    • Automatic Weapon: You must be using a weapon with an automatic fire setting and enough ammunition for suppressing fire and all attacks.
    • Area: 30 ft burst
    • Effect: As an immediate action, you may make a basic ranged attack against any creature in the area that either takes a standard action or fails to take any action on its turn. You expend one round of ammunition per attack plus ten (10) rounds. Even if you make no attacks, you expend ten (10) rounds.




You can squeeze through a narrow passage. This can be especially useful in cave systems, ductwork, or when escaping from angry pursuit.

Squeeze: Move Action

  • Smaller Space: A creature larger than medium reduces its space by 1. When a medium or smaller creature squeezes, the GM decides how narrow a space the creature can occupy (though about half of a character's normal space is a good rule of thumb). If an effect prevents you from leaving a space in order to squeeze then you can't squeeze.
  • Half Speed: As part of the squeeze action, you can move up to half your speed.
  • Attack Penalty: You take a -5 penalty to all attack rolls until you return to your normal space.
  • Attack of Opportunity: Your movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.
  • Ending a Squeeze: You can end a squeeze as a free action, returning to your normal space. And yes, you do have to be in an area that has enough room for you to fill your normal space.


Stand Up

If you're prone, it takes a move action to get back on your feet.

Stand Up: Move Action

  • Unoccupied Space: If there is no one, or no thing, standing where you are then you stand up.
  • Occupied Space: If there is someone or something standing where you are then you can adjust 5 feet as part of standing up.



Knocking an opponent prone always messes with their actions. You can usually only knock down opponents you are next to but creative players, or villains, may come up with ways to trip distant foes.

Trip: Standard Action

  • Attack: Make an Unarmed attack vs. Reflex defense.
  • Hit: The target is knocked prone.


Total Defense

Sometimes staying alive is more important than anything else you could do, so you focus on defending yourself.

Total Defense: Standard Action

  • Defense Bonus: You gain a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of your next turn.


Use a Skill

Your skills are potent abilities that can alter any situation you find yourself in.

Use a Skill: Action Varies

  • Action: Each skill takes a different action, as mentioned in the individual skill descriptions.


Use a Special Ability

Talents, feats, and other abilities get used a lot during play. Many have obvious combat uses and many more have utility in a fight when used creatively.

Use a Special Ability: Action Varies

  • Action: Each special ability details the action it requires.



Walking, quickly, is how most characters move during a fight. It's not safe to walk through the middle of a close-quarters battle, since you leave yourself open to random attacks as you pass by. However, adjusting is too slow for most fire fights, so character still move at a fast crouch, mechanically identical to a walk.

Walk: Move Action

  • Movement: Move up to your speed.
  • Attacks of Opportunity: Your movement can provoke attacks of opportunity, as normal.


Movement and Position

During a fight, people move. Your character is constantly dodging, weaving, turning and trying not to die. During combat your character fills a five foot by five foot space.


You don't need any sort of battle mat to play out combats. However, if you do want to use such a mat, one space (or inch if you prefer to measure things out) should represent 5 feet.



The simplest of combat tactics is to flank the enemy, or hit him from two sides. In ranged combat, this generally gives excellent positions, fields of fire, and can destroy enemy morale. In melee combat it can give a more immediate bonus.

  • Battle Superiority: You have battle superiority against enemies you flank.
  • Opposite Sides: To flank an enemy, you and an ally must be adjacent to the enemy and on opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space. When in doubt about whether two characters

flank an enemy, trace an imaginary line between the centers of the characters’ squares. If the line passes through opposite sides or corners of the enemy’s space, the enemy is flanked.

  • Able to Attack: You and your ally must be able to attack the enemy. If there’s no line of effect between your enemy and either you or your ally, you don’t flank. If you’re affected by an effect that prevents you from taking opportunity actions, you don’t flank.
  • Big Opponents: If an opponent takes up an unusually large area, all the area it takes up counts for flanking.


Movement in Darkness

If a character moves when he or she can’t see, such as in total darkness, his or her speed is limited to one-half normal. The Blind-Fight feat reduces this penalty.


Occupied Spaces

Sometimes a character can pass through an area occupied by another character or creature.

Friendly Character: A character can move through a space occupied by a friendly character.

Unfriendly Character: You normally can’t move through an enemy’s space unless that enemy is helpless or two size categories larger or smaller than you.

Moving into a non-helpless enemy’s space provokes an opportunity attack from that enemy, because you left a square adjacent to the enemy. (Some abilities let you move through an enemy’s square without provoking an opportunity attack.)

Ending Movement: You can end your movement in an ally’s square only if the ally is prone. You can end your movement in an enemy’s square only if the enemy is helpless. However, Tiny creatures can end their movement in a larger creature’s square. If you don’t have enough movement remaining to reach a square you are allowed to be in, your move ends in the last square you could occupy.

Standing Up: If you’re prone and in the same space as another creature then see the “Stand Up" rules.


Combat Modifiers

This section covers offensive and defensive modifiers provided by position and circumstance.


Attack Modifiers

Circumstance Modifier
Attacker Prone -2
Attacker Snared -2
Target has Cover -2
Target has Improved Cover -5
Target has Concealment (melee and ranged only) -2
Target has Total Concealment (melee and ranged only) -5
Long Range -2
Charge attack (melee only) +1



Cover provides a penalty to attacks. The more cover a target has, the bigger the penalty. In a melee, if you have cover against an opponent, that opponent probably has cover against you too. With ranged weapons, however, it’s easy to have better cover than the opponent.


The GM may impose other penalties or restrictions on attacks depending on the details of the cover.


Degree of Cover

Cover is assessed in subjective measurements of how much protection it offers and where the attacker is striking from. The GM determines the value of cover. This measure is not a strict mathematical calculation, because a character gains more value from covering the parts of his or her body that are more likely to be struck.

  • Cover: If you have an obstructed line of effect then the target has cover. Some of the body is protected, or merely some of the really important parts, then the character has cover from attackers that have to worry about the obstacles.
  • Improved Cover: If you have a heavily obstructed line of effect then the target has improved cover. If most of the body is covered, or at least all the really important parts, then the character has improved cover from attackers that have to worry about the obstacles.
  • Total Cover: Line of effect is completely blocked. You can't attack the target from your current position.


Striking the Cover Instead of a Missed Target

If it ever becomes important to know whether the cover was actually struck.

  • Attack Missed the Target: If the attack hit the target then it didn't hit the cover.
  • Attack Missed due to Cover: If the attack the attack only missed because of the cover modifier then the cover was struck.
  • Cover is a Character: If the cover is a character then compare the attack to the covering character.
    • Attack Hits Covering Character: If the attack would strike the covering character's defense then he or shee suffers the effects of the attack.
    • Attack Misses Covering Character: If the attack would miss the covering character's defense then the original target is struck as he or she dodges out of the way. Note: The covering character can choose to take the hit.



Concealment includes all circumstances in which nothing physically blocks a blow or shot, but something interferes with an attacker’s accuracy. Darkness, dust, fog, smoke, and light foliage are the most common sources of concealment, but others can arise during the course of play.


Effects of Concealment

Like cover, concealment makes it more difficult to strike the target. Miss chances are more realistic but less fun than a simple attack penalty.


Degree of Concealment

Concealment: A target to which you have an obstructed line of sight has concealment from you. You can see enough to locate your target but not enough to pinpoint his location.

Total Concealment: A target to which you have no line of sight has total concealment from you. You can't see the target at all. You have to guess where they are, and even if you guess correctly you can still miss.



A number of adverse conditions can affect the way a character operates, as defined here. If more than one condition affects a character, apply all effects if possible. If not, apply the worst.

Battle Superiority

  • Attackers get a +2 bonus to attack.



  • Your character grants battle superiority.
  • Your hero can’t see at all, and thus everything has total concealment to him or her.
  • Your character takes a -5 penalty on Notice checks.
  • Your character can't flank.

Heroes who are blind long-term (from birth or early in life) grow accustomed to these drawbacks and can overcome some of them (at the GM’s discretion).



  • Your character grants battle superiority.
  • A dazed character is limited to a single action each round (Swift, Move, or Standard). He or she can't take immediate actions or make attacks of opportunity.
  • Your character can't flank.



  • Your character is dead. A source of loot, fertilizer, or less savory uses.



  • The hero can’t hear at all and takes a –5 penalty on Notice checks.

Heroes who are deafened long-term (from birth or early in life) grow accustomed to these drawbacks and can overcome some of them (at the GM’s discretion).



  • Your character is dazed.
  • The dominating character chooses your actions, though it is limited to your non-encounter and non-daily abilities.



  • The character is near death and unconscious. See Death and Dying for details.



  • Your hero is immobilized.
  • Your character takes a -2 on all attacks.



  • Your character grants battle superiority.
  • Your hero can be the target of coup de grace.
  • The character can't flank.



  • Your character can't move from their current space, although you can be forced to move by other characters.

Note: if the campaign includes teleportation effects, an immobilized character can teleport.



  • Your character is lying on the ground.
  • Your character grants battle superiority against melee attacks.
  • Your character gains a +2 bonus to all defenses against ranged attacks.
  • Your character takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls.
  • Your character can crawl or stand up but can't adjust.
  • Your hero can drop prone as a swift action.



  • The character's speed with all movement modes is reduced to 10 ft. You can't increase your speed above 10 ft (such as running), your speed doesn't increase to 10 ft if it was lower.
  • If slowed during movement, stop moving if you've already covered 10 ft.
  • This does not apply to forced movement or teleportation.



  • Your character is immobilized.
  • The character grants battle superiority.
  • Your character can't be forced to move by other characters.



  • Your character grants battle superiority.
  • A stunned character cannot take any actions.
  • A stunned character cannot flank.



  • The character grants battle superiority.
  • Cannot take any actions.
  • Cannot flank an enemy.



  • Unconscious characters are helpless.
  • The character takes a -5 to all defenses.
  • The character cannot take any actions.
  • The character falls prone, if possible.
  • Cannot flank an enemy.



  • Withered characters deal half damage.
  • Any ongoing damage is unaffected.


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