Saturday, February 8

USR Sword & Sorcery Combat Rules Revised

The following combat rules have been further revised and can be found in my USR Sword & Sorcery rules located here


Fighting is handled in the same way as contested attribute tests but with a little extra added on.

All contested combat rolls use the Action attribute during combat.

Close Combat (Hand-to-Hand)

Most close combats are simultaneous, whether one on one, or one against many. All participants are considered both attacking and defending during the engagement. This does not preclude defensive actions being taking by one or more participants.

The attacker is considered the one who rolls highest.  The attacker has scored a hit and the defender's Hits are reduced by the difference between the winning and losing rolls.

For example, Dor is fighting an intruder. Dor rolls 6 on his Action attribute and the GM rolls a 4 for the intruder. The intruder then has his Hits reduced by 2 (6-4=2).

The defender’s damage can be reduced by armor worn, including the defensive value of a shield if brought to bear as well.

Note that armor defensive values reduce damage inflicted, but do not add or subtract from the combat roll while weapon values are added to the combat roll.

If the “attacker” is actually taking a defensive action; such as dodging a blow while leaping out the window, the defender wouldn’t receive any wounds, per se. Instead the attacker would have been successful with their intended action.

For Example; Skavos the Savage intends to defend against the harsh blows from three desert nomads, as he looks to leap upon his steed. Skavos has a Khazistan Swordplay specialism (+2 Action), and he is wielding scimitar (+2 to combat roll). Each of the desert nomads are armed with their own curving scimitars, and are intent on hewing Skavos down where he stands. Skavos rolls a 5 on his d10 Action die for a total of 9. The nomads, with an Action die of d8, each roll for their attacks getting (4+2)=6, (4+2)=6, and (6+2)=8. Skavos has scored a higher combat roll than all his antagonists successfully deflecting their desperate sword thrusts, and leaps onto his horse to affect his escape..

When Hits reach 0 the character is dead.

Alternatively the GM may rule that the character is merely unconscious.

Hits may be regained through healing, but may never go above the initial score.

Weapons and Armor

Weapons can give bonuses in combat, giving one side the edge over the other. Each weapon gives a bonus to the Action roll when brought to bear. Weapon types are as follows:

Light weapon +1 (e.g. short sword, club, javelin)
Medium weapon +2 (e.g. broadsword, battle axe)
Heavy weapon +3 (e.g. halberd, long bow, two handed sword)

Weapons listed as “First Strike” weapons can receive a reach bonus over an unarmed opponent, or armed with a smaller weapon. For the first round of the engagement the bearer of the first strike weapon cannot receive damage unless a significant hit is scored against him. This bonus capability can only be applied against one opponent. Any other attacker resolves the combat roll normally with both participants capable of receiving, and giving damage.

Armor can be used to negate the effects of being hurt. Each armor type reduces the number of Hits taken in combat.

Light armor -1 (e.g. jerkin, gauntlets, light studded armor)
Medium armor -2 (e.g. scale mail, chainmail)
Heavy armor -3 (e.g. plate mail, enchanted steel)

These examples are by no means the only weapons and armor that you can have in a game. The GM could create a spear that gives the character a +5 charging bonus or a suit of armor that's a -4. Just use the above examples as guidelines and have fun making up your own bad-ass creations.

How combat flows

It's up to you how you want combat to play out. You should give the players an indication of their adversaries’ obvious actions, and then give your players a chance to declare their intent. An attempt to achieve surprise may require a successful Attribute roll, or not, but the result of surprise generally means the attacker cannot receive an adverse effect, wounds or otherwise, from the attack roll.

Using specialisms in combat

Characters can use their specialisms in order to gain an edge in combat situations. For example, the greedy merchant wants to find a volatile potion on the lich king’s dusty shelves to protect himself. As his first action he uses his Evaluate Treasure specialism to try and find a substance which might be useful in combat. The GM says it's a hard difficulty roll and rolls a 7 and adds 2 for his specialism, giving a result of 9 – a success! The GM tells the desperate merchant a bottle of volatile dragon venom is among the normal inert ingredients on a sorcerer’s shelves. He picks up the dangerous venom and flings it at lurching undead horror. The doomed merchant will need to roll an Action die now to see if he hits!

Don’t forget, Characters may create specialisms to enhance the limited set of combat mechanics present.

Ranged Combat

Attacking at distance is done like close combat except for the following modifications.

A minimum Difficulty Rating needs to be achieved for the attack to be considered a hit. This difficulty number is based on the range of the attack. Once the difficulty number has been established any situational modifiers and/or specialism bonus can be applied to the attack.

The target of the attack does not get to apply any weapon bonuses or combat specialisms to their combat roll unless they are within Immediate range.

If both opponents are engaging with a ranged attack then who gets off the first shot needs to be established. This calls for an initiative roll based on rolling both their Action, and Wits die totaled. High roll shoots first. If the defender of the first attack is still standing they are now entitled to return fire, or take some other action. If there is a tie, both attackers get off their attacks, and both attacks will need to be resolved simultaneously.

Difficulty Rating based on Range

Immediate, Easy-02 (Attack is within close combat range)

Short, Medium-04 (Attack is within 10-40 feet)

Medium, Difficult-07 (Attack is within 41-70 feet)

Long, Hard-10 (Attack is within 71-200 feet)

Extreme, Impossible-14 (Attack is over 200 feet)

For example, Bert is a rogue who has the knife specialism. He's facing down a city guard who demands Bert to hold and receive the king’s justice. He chooses to hurl his knife at the guard, hoping to silence the cur with one blow. The GM rules that hurling the knife at the guard silhouetted in the street at short range is a medium difficulty roll. This means Bert would have to score a 4 or better on his combat roll for the attack to even be considered a hit. Bert rolls a total of 8 and on his action d10 attribute die and is successful. The guard rolls a 3, taking 4 (8-3-1 for armor protection) hits! The guardsman is seriously wounded and cries out for his comrades!

Magic in Combat
Magical attacks are Ego attribute based attacks, and therefore are rolled using the Ego die. If the target of the magical attack attempts to make a physical attack at the same time, then which attack goes first becomes important. Just like a contested ranged attack discussed above, initiative is determined by rolling Action die + Wits die. High roll goes first. If there is a tie, both attackers get off their attacks, and both attacks will need to be resolved simultaneously.

For example, the arch mage surprises intruders with his cloud of death spell. The cloud of death is a medium attack spell so the mage receives a +2 on his Ego roll. He also receives a +2 for his Arcane Arts specialism. He rolls a 5 and adds 4, resulting in a total of 9. The group of thieves each rolls their Ego die and apply the resulting damage.