Combat

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Combat is often an important of life for Tesseris characters. These rules outline how combat works, what actions are available, and additional information pertaining to combat in Tesseris. For quick reference during play, see the Combat Quick Reference.

Combat Overview

Ticks

  • Character Ticks per Round: 5 + Bonuses/Penalties + 1 Free Reaction

ADS combat is "tick" based and is somewhat similar to other systems which also use tick based combat. A "tick" is a loose measurement of time during combat. Exactly how much time doesn't really matter for the purposes of game play, though it can be estimated to be around one to two seconds per tick. Different actions in combat take a different number of ticks. All characters have five (5) ticks to use during each combat round on their turn, though different powers or abilities might grant a character more. Any ticks a character does not use during their turn can be used as Reactions during other players turns. All characters also have one free Reaction, which does not take any ticks, that they can use when it is not their turn.

Actions such as speaking, thinking, seeing, dropping an item, and Ducking take no (0) ticks.

Simple actions, such as opening an unlocked door, standing up, drawing a weapon, or making a standard move action take only one (1) tick.

Complex actions, such as attacking with a ranged or melee weapon, tossing an item, or a variety of other actions typically take two (2) ticks.

More complicated actions, such as reloading a weapon, or combined actions, such as charging an opponent, or a variety of other things can take three (3) or more ticks.

For a list of actions available in combat by the number of ticks they take, see Combat Actions by Ticks.

Overspending or Borrowing Ticks

It is possible to spend more ticks in a round than your character has available as part of an action that takes multiple ticks or as a defensive reaction when a character is out of ticks and normal reactions. When this happens, the character is assumed to be borrowing ticks from the next round. GMs should restrict which actions characters may use when overspending. Borrowing a tick to take a defensive reaction or to reload a weapon, for instance, should be entirely acceptable. Making an attack, however, generally should not be allowed except in certain circumstances.

Combat Order

  1. Surprise Round - Surprise rounds only happen when one side of a combat is hidden from the other, such as in the case of an ambush. In the event that some combatants might not be aware of some of the others, each unaware character rolls an Awareness against Stealth of their hidden foes.  If the Awareness test is passed then that character gets all of their ticks and may act normally during the surprise round.  If they fail the Awareness test they may only take reactions during the surprise round, up to three ticks worth. After determining which characters are able to fully act and which may not, move on to Rolling Initiative.
  2. Roll Initiative - All characters engaging in combat will roll initiative: 1d10 + Agility + Speed + Misc.  If there are any ties, the character with the higher Agility goes first, players go before NPCs next if their Agility scores are equal, then the GM makes a decision on any leftover ties if a player is still tied with another player, or if multiple NPCs are tied. Alternatively, tied players may opt to let one or the other go first between them.
  3. Take Actions - Player Characters and NPCs engaged in combat go in order of the initiative as above and may take an action.  Actions taken use a number of ticks and a character can take a number of different actions up to the amount of ticks they have available. Players should describe their character’s intended action to the GM, who will then determine what tests the character needs to take and how many ticks it will use.  Players are encouraged to be descriptive with actions to keep combat interesting.  GMs are encouraged to reward players for exceptionally interesting actions with Mayhem points.
  4. Reactions - Sometimes characters will need to react to another character's actions, either to defend themselves, take an opportunistic strike, or other similar action. Reactions can be taken when it is not the character's turn, but still use ticks as normal for taking actions.
  5. New Round - Once all characters have gone, move onto the next round, starting with rolling initiative. Repeat until all combatants on one side are defeated, retreating, or have surrendered.
  6. End Combat - Once all combatants on one side are defeated, retreating, or have surrendered, combat is over.  Opponents that have been knocked unconscious are assumed to remain such until they have received medical treatment or enough time has passed for them to have healed at least one Wound normally.

Action Types

  • Actions: Actions that may only be taken during a characters turn and cost a number of ticks to use per their description.
  • Reactions: Actions that may only be taken during another characters turn as a result of one of their actions.  Reactions are assumed to take place at the same time as the provoking action. Reactions still cost a number of ticks as normal and so may only be used if a character has ticks available for reactions.
  • Free Actions: Actions taken during a turn that do not have a tick cost. Free actions can typically only be taken during a characters turn.

Initiative

  • Initiative: 1d10 + Agility + Speed + Misc

All characters engaging in combat will roll initiative. If there are any ties, the character with the higher Agility goes first, players go before NPCs next if their Agility scores are equal, then the GM makes a decision on any leftover ties if a player is still tied with another player, or if multiple NPCs are tied. Alternatively, tied players may opt to let one or the other go first between them.

Rounds

Combats are grouped into rounds for the sake of easier tracking and understanding. A round is roughly 10 to 15 seconds or so; the exact length of time is usually irrelevant. When a round starts, all characters get a fresh set of ticks to spend in that round, less any they overspent from the previous round. The round ends when all characters in the combat have taken a turn to act.

Physical Combat Actions

Attack Actions

Melee

Melee Attack Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Melee Strike 2 Ticks - Standard Melee Attack.
Precision Strike 3 Ticks - Roll a single melee attack roll at a +1 bonus.
Off-hand Strike 2 Ticks -1 to attack roll Roll a single melee attack with a weapon held in an off-hand.
All-Out Attack 3 Ticks +2 to Attack Roll,

-2 to Defense

-2 Penalty to all defensive rolls until the start of the character’s next turn.
Reaction Strike 1 Tick (Reaction) - Attack against an opponent that has left themselves vulnerable in combat. Reaction Strikes are always Melee attacks and may only be taken by a character in melee attack range. Reaction Strikes are resolved after the provoking action.
Knockout Blow 3 Ticks -2 to Attack Roll Attack enemy with non-lethal part of weapon or fist.  The attack deals damage as normal, but does not deal Wounds.  Additionally, if the opponent fails a Resolve test with difficulty equal to damage dealt (after soak), opponent gains the “Dazed” status effect.  If already Dazed, then opponent gains “Staggered” status effect instead.  If already Staggered, then opponent falls Unconscious.
Pressure-point Strike 3 Ticks -2 to Attack Roll Attack an enemy’s weak spots to hamper their movement.  Opponent takes  normal damage from the attack, but also gains the “Dazed” status effect if they fail a Resolve test with difficulty equal to damage dealt (after accounting for Soak).  If already Dazed, opponent becomes Slowed instead.
Charge 4 Ticks +1 to Attack Roll Move up to 2x normal movement before attack, must move at least 2 squares (2 yards, 6 feet) before attacking
Guarded Attack 3 Ticks -2 to Attack Roll,

+1 to Defense

Cautious attack while keeping yourself ready to defend.  Take a -2 penalty on all attacks this round but gain a +1 bonus to Block or Dodge rolls until the start of your next turn.
Multi-Strike 3 Ticks** -1 to Attack Roll with Primary,

-3 to Attack roll with Secondary

Requires Multi-Weapon Fighting (Melee) Feat

Attack with both (or more) held weapons at a penalty.  Roll once for the attack roll at a -1 penalty for the primary weapon.  Secondary weapons will use this same roll, but at an additional -2 penalty (-3 total).

A character must be wielding at least two weapons.  If a character has more than two hands, all but the primary hand are considered secondary.  If attacking with more than one secondary hand, add one additional tick per additional hand.  The penalty for making a Multi-Strike does not stack with the normal penalty for attack with an off-hand.  These penalties do not stack with the normal penalties for wielding more than one weapon when making a Multi-Strike.  You need not attack the same opponent with both (or more) weapons when making a multi-strike.  The defender only rolls once to defend with the result applying to all attacks from the Multi-Strike.

Grapple 3 Ticks or Free - Initiate a grapple against an adjacent enemy with a Melee test.  Opponent may resist Grapple attempt with a successful Duck or Dodge test.  Once Grapple has been initiated, all combattants in the grapple gain the “Grappled” status effect.  If an opponent is already grappled, you may join the grapple as a free action.
Grapple Strike (Grapple) 3 Ticks - Attack your opponent with a Melee strike while grappled.  Only unarmed strikes and light weapons may be used while grappling.
Pin (Grapple) 3 Ticks - Pin a grappled opponent with a successful opposed Melee or Athletics test.  Opponent may oppose with either Melee or Athletics.
Break Pin (Grapple) 4 Ticks - Break an opponent’s Pin against yourself or an ally in the same Grapple with an opposed Melee or Acrobatics test.
Choke Out (Grapple) 4 Ticks - Take an opposed Athletics to choke out an opponent.  If opponent fails their Athletics test (free), they immediately fall Unconscious.  Note that this is not the same as strangling an opponent by crushing their windpipe, but instead involves applying pressure to the neck to cut off blood-flow to the brain.  Only usable against biological humanoid opponents.
Pummel (Grapple) 4 Ticks +3 to attack roll Pummel a pinned opponent with your fists or light weapon gaining a +3 bonus to your Melee skill roll.  Opponent defends with a Melee or Athletics test.  For every 2 successes beyond the first that an opponent loses by, an additional hit may be landed(2nd attack at 3 over, 3rd at 5 over, etc.).  A character is not obligated to deal damage for each hit they land, in the event they wish to stop for some reason such as to avoid killing their opponent.
Disarm

(Regular or Grapple)

3 Ticks -1 to attack roll Knock away an opponent’s weapon with a Melee test.  Opponent may resist having their weapon disarmed with a successful Duck, Dodge, or Athletics test.  If the attacker beats the opponent’s roll by 3 more more success, they may take immediate possession of the weapon.  May be taken during a grapple.
Trip 3 Ticks -2 to attack roll Trip an opponent with a successful Melee test.  Opponent may resist having their weapon taken with a successful Duck, Dodge, or Athletics test.  If the opponent fails their roll, they immediately fall Prone.

Ranged

Ranged Attack Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Straight Shot 2 Ticks - Single shot with a ranged weapon up to the weapon’s listed range.
Calculated Shot 3 Ticks +1 to ranged attack roll Roll a single ranged attack at a +1 bonus.
Off-hand Shot 2 Ticks -2 to ranged attack roll Attack with a ranged weapon held in an off hand at a -2 penalty.  If a character possesses the Ambidextrous talent, they may ignore this penalty.  Note that this penalty does not include
Disabling Shot 4 Ticks -3 to Attack Roll Attack a specific part of an opponent's anatomy or equipment.  In addition to dealing damage as normal, the item or area gains the “Disabled” status effect if opponent fails Resolve test with difficulty equal to damage dealt.  If the item or area already has the Disabled status effect, then an appropriate higher level status effect should be applied.
Called Shot 4 Ticks -3 to Attack Roll

+2 Armor Pen

Shoot an opponent in the head or similarly vital area.  This shot deals +3 additional damage, +1 additional wound and applies the “Dazed” status effect if opponent fails a Resolve test with difficulty equal to damage dealt.  If the opponent is already Dazed, then the opponent becomes “Stunned” instead.
Distracting Shot 3 Ticks -2 Penalty Fire a single shot past an opponent’s head or at an object or location that could reasonably draw their attention.  Roll a Melee skill test at a -2 penalty opposed by opponent’s Scrutiny.  If the opponent fails, they lose 2 Ticks on their next turn.
Burst Fire 3 Ticks -1 to Attack Roll, -2 cumulative to each bullet after the first Roll a single attack at a -1 penalty.  Your weapon fires a number of bullets/rounds equal to the the amount listed under the Burst (-1) descriptor.  Each bullet after the first incurs an additional -2 cumulative penalty.  See Rate of Fire section below for full details.
Hip Fire 4 Ticks -2 to attack roll,

-2 cumulative to each bullet after the first

Move up to 2x normal movement speed while firing weapon on Burst (see above).
Full-Auto 5 Ticks -2 cumulative to each bullet after the first Roll a single attack with your ranged weapon at a -2 penalty.  Your weapon fires a number of bullets/rounds equal to the the amount listed under the Full Auto descriptor.  Each bullet after the first incurs an additional -2 cumulative penalty. See the Rate of Fire section below for full details.
Multi-Strike (Ranged)

[Requires Multi-Weapon Fighting (Pistol) or (Ranged) Feat]

3 Ticks** -1 to Attack Roll with Primary,

-3 to Attack roll with Secondary

Attack with both (or more) held weapons at a penalty.  Roll once for the attack roll at a -1 penalty for the primary weapon.  Secondary weapons will use this same roll, but at an additional -2 penalty (-3 total).

A character must be wielding at least two weapons.  If a character has more than two hands, all but the primary hand are considered secondary.  If attacking with more than one secondary hand, add one additional action per additional hand.  The penalty for making a Multi-Strike does not stack with the normal penalty for attack with an off-hand.  These penalties do not stack with the normal penalties for wielding more than one weapon when making a Multi-Strike.  You need not attack the same opponent with both (or more) weapons when making a multi-strike.  The defender only rolls once to Block or Dodge with the result applying to all attacks from the Multi-Strike

Spray ‘n Pray 5 Ticks -3 to attack roll Fire a weapon on Full Auto at a -3 penalty against all opponents in a 45 degree arc out to half the weapon’s listed ranged.  Each opponent may only be hit once and a character may not hit more opponents than bullets expended by firing on Full Auto.
Overwatch 4 Ticks -1 to overwatch attacks Cover an area with a ranged weapon.  Until your character’s next action, one free Overwatch attack at a -1 penalty against any opponent that enters or exposes themselves in the covered area.  While in Overwatch, a character may also expend a Reaction to  make a second Overwatch attack.

Covered areas must be a finite, definable area such as a doorway, a hallway, or general area as defined by no more than a 45 degree angle from the firer out to half the normal range of the weapon.

Suppressing Fire 4 Ticks - Fire a weapon on Full Auto at a single enemy.  That enemy takes a -2 all attack actions and defensive actions while suppressed.  If the suppressed character moves or exposes themselves from cover, such as to fire, take a free Straight Shot at them.

Miscellaneous Attack Actions

Miscellaneous Attack Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Cast Offensive Spell 3 Ticks* - An offensive spell is defined as the casting of any spell against an opponent with the intent to hamper or harm them in some way.
Use Offensive Psychic Power 3 Ticks - An offensive power is defined as the using of any psychic ability against an opponent with the intent to hamper or harm them in some way.
* Varies.  Some spells may take longer to cast. ** Varies.  See notes.

Defensive Actions

Defensive Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Duck Free Action - Defend against an incoming attack using the Duck special skill.
Dodge 1 Tick (Reaction) - Dodge an incoming attack using the Acrobatics skill.
Block 1 Tick (Reaction) - Block an attack with a weapon, shield, or bracer using the Athletics skill.
Grapple Defense 1 Tick (Reaction) - Defend against Grapple Strikes and other grapple attacks with a Melee test or Athletics test.
Covering Fire 3 Ticks - Spray the area with indiscriminate fire forcing enemies to duck for cover and spoiling their aim.  Grants allies +1 to defense rolls until the start of character’s next turn.  May only be used with a weapon that has a Full Auto option and expends equivalent ammunition.
Dive for Cover 1 Tick or Reaction - Dive up to 3 squares/yards for cover or away from your enemy if in melee.  Diving for cover provokes a Reactive Attack from enemies that can hit your original location and any you pass through while diving, but interrupts (prevents) the regular Melee attack that provoked it (if any).  If you end your movement in cover, you gain the cover bonus against any Ranged attacks against you, but not against Reactive attacks provoked by this action.

Splash damage is assessed at the midpoint between the character’s starting and ending locations. Ranged attacks are assessed at the character’s ending location.

A character is automatically Prone after taking this action.

Defend Ally 1 Tick (Reaction) -2 to Block Roll Use your Block to defend an Ally from harm at a -2 penalty.  All effects of the attack still apply to your ally.  You may not attempt to Defend Ally unless they are not defending themselves.
Hunker Down 1 Tick +2 to Defense Hunker down behind cover to improve defense bonus provided by cover from +2 to +4. Hunkering down blocks line of sight with opponents on the opposite side of the cover they are behind. While hunkered down, a character may not make any offensive actions those opponents without first standing up (1 tick) losing their hunker down bonus. Opponents on the same side of cover as the hunkered down character treat the character as prone.
Total Defense 3 Ticks +2 to Defense This action may only be taken if the character has not previously taken an attack action during their current turn.  A character that takes this action may not take any attack actions this turn.  Gain +2 to defensive rolls and increase Armor Points to all locations by 2 until the start of your next turn. This bonus applies to Defend Ally actions and stacks with the bonuses for being in cover, but cannot be used while hunkered down.
* Varies depending on usage and spell.  See Spellcasting for details.  Use best judgement or GM’s discretion.

Movement Actions

Movement Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Move* 1 Tick - Standard Movement.  May move a number of squares (yards) equal to your Speed per Move action.  Human base speed is 3..
Quick Step Free - Move 1 sq/m/yd.  May only take one Quick Step per turn.  May not also move, run, or sprint in the same turn that a Quick step has been used.
Follow Step 1 Tick (Reaction) - When engaged in Melee combat, if your opponent uses a Quick Step action to break from melee, you may move into their now unoccupied square to maintain melee combat.
Run* 3 Ticks - Move a number of squares (yards) equal to 4 times your normal movement speed per Run action.  May make no Attack actions until the start of the character's next turn.
Sprint* 4 Ticks -3 to Defensive Rolls against Melee attacks,

+1 to Dodge Rolls against Ranged Attacks

All out Sprint.  Take a -3 penalty on all Defensive actions against Melee attacks until the start of the character’s next turn, but gain +1 defense against Ranged Attacks.

May move a number of squares (yards) equal to 6 times your movement speed per Sprint action.  May only turn once (up to 90°) per sprint action.

Enter or leave a vehicle 2 Ticks - -
Drop Prone* 1 Tick

or

1 Tick (Reaction)

+1 to Ballistics when using Firearms,

+1 to Defensive rolls against Ranged attacks,

-1 to Defensive rolls against Melee Attacks

Drop flat on your stomach and brace a firearm.  If you are already prone from being knocked down, rolling onto your stomach or back is a Free Action that may be taken during your turn.  Dropping prone provokes an Reactive Attack from melee opponents.
Stand Up* 1 Tick - Stand up from a prone or hunkered down position.  This provokes a reactive attack from melee opponents.
Take Cover Free Action or

1 Tick (Reaction)

- Receive benefits of cover from environment.  Taking Cover is a Free action during your turn, but a Reaction otherwise.  There must be a viable piece of terrain in your square or an adjacent square for you to take cover.  Standing up from cover is a Free action that provokes Reactive Attacks.  See Cover for additional information
*Provokes an Reactive Attack from foes adjacent to you or squares you move through.

Miscellaneous Actions

Miscellaneous Actions
Action Ticks Modifiers Description and Notes
Aim or Focus 1 Tick

or

1 Tick (Reaction)

+1 to next roll Gain a +1 bonus to relevant next roll after taking this action.  Must declare which action is being Focused at the time to taking the action. May only be taken once per round.
Aid Ally* 1 Tick (Reaction)* - Roll a relevant skill test.  Every 3 success achieved on the skill test may be added as +1 reroll to your ally’s action on their skill test.
Clear Jam 2 Ticks - Clear jam from a misfired weapon.
Delay Free - Reduce initiative to one (1) less than the next Characters initiative for the current round. Costs no ticks.
Draw Weapon or Item 1 Tick - Draw a weapon or item that is quickly accessible.  This action may be taken as part of a movement action.
Drop Weapon or Item Free Action - Drop a held weapon or item.
Initiate Sword/Gun- point 3 Ticks - See Swordpoint below.
Grapple Assist 2 Ticks or

2 ticks (reaction)

- Aid an ally in a Grapple Strike, Pin, or Break Pin action.  Roll Melee or Athletics.  Every 3 success achieved on the skill test may be added as +1 bonus success to your ally’s action on their skill test.
Use Non-Combat, Non-Verbal Skill* 3 Ticks* -
Verbal or Mental Only Non-Combat Action 1 Tick -
Other Non-Combat Actions* 3 Ticks* -
Recover from fear 2 Ticks - Resolve test to succeed, DC equals the DC of the original fear test -1 per round since Fear effect started.
*GM’s discretion as to what is allowable and how many actions it takes.  

Common Physical Combat Modifiers

Situation Modifier Description
Additional attack actions -1 cumulative penalty per additional attack action Each attack action beyond the first in a round incurs a cumulative -1 penalty.  For example, a second attack action is going to be at -1 penalty, a third attack action is going to be at a -2, a fourth is at a -3 and so on and so forth.
Attacking Unaware Opponent +2 to melee attack roll,

+1 to ranged attack roll

If you attack an opponent that is not aware of your presence, usually by beating their Awareness roll with your Stealth, your first attack roll against that opponent gains a +2 bonus if melee or +1 if ranged.  You may not charge while taking this attack and you are assumed to be noticed immediately if attacking melee.  If attacking at range, the defender gains a +4 bonus on their next awareness roll to notice you.
Cover (being in) +2 to defensive rolls vs

Attacks

While in cover, gain a +2 bonus to defensive rolls (see the cover section below).
Cover (Hunkered down) +4 to defensive rolls vs

Attacks

While hunkered down in cover, gain a +4 bonus to defensive rolls.  While
Defending against multiple attacks -1 cumulative  penalty to each defensive Roll after the 3rd When defending against multiple attacks in the same round, take a -1 cumulative penalty to each defensive roll after the 3rd. Eg: the 4th attack defended against in a round will be at a -1 penalty, the 5th at a -2 penalty and so on.
Outnumber Opponent +1 to Attack Rolls When you and one or more allies outnumber adjacent opponents by at at least 1, all allies gain a +1 bonus to Attack Rolls
Attacking from Horseback or other mount -2 to Ballistic Skill rolls, +1 to Melee Skill rolls
Firing Blind -3 to Ballistic Skill rolls Fire blind from cover.  While firing blind, you do not gain any bonuses to attack from Range, but do get penalties if beyond your weapon’s normal range.
Firing into Melee -2 to ranged attacks If the -2 penalty from this modifier causes the attack to miss, your attack is resolved against another character involved in the melee.  If more than 1 other character, choose randomly
Higher Ground +1 to Attack rolls

-1 to defense against ranged attacks

If on elevated ground relative to your opponent, gain +1 to your attack rolls, but -1 to defense rolls from ranged attacks unless also in cover.
Prone +2 to Ballistics when using Firearms,

+2 to Defensive rolls against Ranged attacks,

-2 to Defensive rolls against Melee Attacks

When lying flat against the ground or on a table or other flat surface you gain a +2 bonus to Ballistics when using Firearms, +2 bonus to Defensive rolls against Ranged attacks, and a -2 penalty to Defensive rolls against Melee Attacks
Range, Point Blank

(2 or fewer squares away)

+2 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is 2 or fewer squares (yards) away, gain a +2 bonus successes to the attack roll.
Range, Short

(4 or fewer squares away)

+1 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is 4 or fewer squares away, but more than 2 squares (yards) away, you gain +1 bonus success to the attack roll.
Range, Medium

(Weapon’s listed range)

+0 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is less than or equal your weapon’s normal range, but more than half the weapon’s listed range you roll the attack as normal and gain no bonuses or penalties.
Range, Long

(Up to 1.5x weapons listed range)

-1 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is more than your weapon’s normal range but less than one and a half times the weapon’s listed range you take a -1 penalty on the attack roll.
Range, Far

(2x weapons listed range)

-2 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is more than one and a half your weapon’s normal range but less than or equal to twice the weapons listed range you take a -2 penalty on the attack roll.
Ranged, Extreme

(3x weapons listed range)

-4 to Attack Roll When firing a ranged weapon at an opponent that is more than twice your weapons normal range but less than or equal to three times the weapons listed range you take a -4 penalty on the attack roll.
Wielding Two (or more) Weapons -1 to primary hand attack rolls,

-3 to offhand attack rolls

Using more than one weapon in a round with different hands.  This penalty stacks with the penalty for making more than one attack in a round.  The Ambidexterity talent can reduce the penalties for offhand attacks by 2.

Social Combat Actions

Social Combat Action Ticks Modifiers Notes
Bribe 2 - Offer payment in exchange for status effect.
Charm 2 - Use allure and charisma to apply status effect.
Inspire 2 +1 to an ally’s action Grant ally bonus on action.  Grants a +1 bonus to an ally’s action on their next turn.
Intimidate 2 - Use threats to apply status effect.
Manipulate 2 - Trick or beguile enemy into taking specified action.  Manipulated action cannot cause immediate, apparent harm to the individual or their allies.
Motivate 1 +1 ego per 3 successes Use positive reinforcement to grant ally ego.
Psych Up 1 +1 ego per 3 successes Give yourself boost of ego.
Rally 2 - Use positive language to reduce the level of a status effect on an ally, up to removing it completely.
Subvert 2 - Attempt to convince enemy to join your side by applying status effect.

Moving

Movement and positioning is a large part of combat. When taking a standard move action, a character may move a number of yards/meters/squares equal to their speed. Other move actions might allow a character to move farther, as noted in their description.

Diagonals

When moving diagonally, count each square moved through as one and a half times (1.5x) normal. In practice, this means that the first square moved through diagonally counts for one (1) square, then the next counts for two (2), then one (1) again, and so on and so forth.

Attacking

Melee Attack: Melee Skill + Agility (dT) + Modifiers

Ranged Attack: Appropriate Ranged Weapon Skill + Perception (dT) + Modifiers

Attackers roll to hit using the appropriate skill by taking one of the listed attack actions (see above). The defender rolls to defend if they wish to and are able (see Defending). If the attacker beats the defenders roll by at least one success, then damage is dealt. For how damage is allocated, see Damage, Stamina, and Wounds below.

Rate of Fire (RoF)

Many ranged weapons have multiple firing modes, or simply the ability for a character to fire off a shot fast enough to fire multiple shots in quick succession.  These are addressed in ADS by Rate of Fire. Each weapon will have its rate of fire listed with slash marks between the different fire rates.  The number listed in each rate denotes the number of bullets, rounds, or other ammo that is expended in that fire mode as well as the potential number of hits a character can make by firing in that mode.  The first fire rate is commonly referred to as “Single Shot” and takes 2 Ticks.  Most weapons typically only fire 1 round in this mode.  The second fire rate is referred to as “Burst”, takes 3 Ticks, and incurs a -1 penalty on the attack roll.  The third and final fire rate is referred to as “Auto” or “Full Auto”, takes 5 Ticks, and incurs a -2 penalty to the attack roll.

Only one attack roll is made when firing, no matter the fire rate selected.  Each shot beyond the first takes an additional penalty to hit (see below).

Ranged Weapons and Multiple Shots in a Round

Many ranged weapons have the ability to fire more than one shot in a round.  Doing so is generally less accurate than firing a single shot but has the potential to do much more damage.  As such, each shot fired after the first is assessed at a -2 cumulative penalty that applies against the same attack and defense rolls.  This attack penalty stacks with the penalty based on Rate of Fire (see above).  This means that an attacker will only roll once for firing multiple shots in a single round and the defender will only roll once to defend.  For example, if Jim fires his assault rifle on burst mode (3 Ticks), he takes a -1 penalty for firing the burst, and each bullet after the first will be assessed at a -2 cumulative penalty; -2 for the second bullet, and -4 for the third bullet.  Therefore, if Jim rolls a 6 on his attack roll, after all other bonuses and penalties have been applied (including the -1 for firing on burst), his effective attack rolls are: 6 for the first bullet, 4 for the second bullet, and 2 for the third.  If the opponent Jim is shooting at rolls a 3 for their defense (after all bonuses and penalties are applied), then the opponent would be hit by both the first and the second bullet, but not the third.

Weapon Jams

Weapons jam on a miss for an attack roll that is an even number (0 counts as even). Roll 1dT to quick-recover from a jam (free action); the roll succeeds on any success, explosions are ignored for this roll. Reliable weapons roll 2dT for quick-recover and succeed if either dT comes up a success. Unreliable weapons may not quick-recover.

When a weapon jams, the weapon may not be fired again until the jam is cleared (2 Ticks).  The round in the chamber (or appropriate position) is lost.

Unless otherwise stated, Melee weapons, Bows, and other primitive ranged weapons do not jam, nor do any other weapons for which jamming or misfiring would be physically impossible.

Defending

The defender may attempt to Duck, Parry, Block, or Dodge an attack if they choose to do so.  Ducking is a free action; all others require a Reaction to use. If the defender rolls as many or more successes as the attacker, the attack is negated (ties go to defender). Any successes less than what is needed to completely negate the attack still reduce the number of success of the attack.  For example, if the attacker originally rolled 3 successes on his attack and the defender rolled 2 successes on his defense, the number of success on the attack roll is reduced by 2 down to 1.  As long as the adjusted number of successes is 1 or more, then damage is dealt.  If the attacker gets 6 or more successes on the attack, they have scored a critical hit (see below).

  • (Free) Duck: Agility (dT) + Perception (dT), reroll a number of dice equal to Intelligence; subtract Bulk from the total
  • (1 Tick (Reaction)) Block: Strength (dT) + Athletics
  • (1 Tick (Reaction)) Dodge: Agility (dT) + Acrobatics - Bulk
  • (1 Tick (Reaction)) Parry (melee only): Agility (dT) + Melee Skill

Armor

Armor is an essential part of Combat.  Armor’s primary purpose is to absorb damage from blows that one is unable to defend against.  Armor is able to absorb a number of points of damage from each hit equal to the armor’s Armor Points.  Armor can be worn in one of two "slots", depending on it's type, listed in the Armor's description. The regular "Armor" slot is for armor that protects the whole body (head, body, arms, and legs). The "Cloak" slot stacks with the Armor slot, but does not cover the arms or head, meaning that attacks that hit those areas do not benefit from the additional protection provided by the cloak, unless stated otherwise. Also note that not all cloak slot armors are actually cloaks.  They may well be jackets, cloaks, additional body armor, hazardous materials suits, or other such outerwear items as well as coats.

Armor Penetration

Many weapons have Armor Penetration as noted in their entries.  These weapons ignore a number of Armor Points equal to their Armor Penetration and as such, those ignored Armor Points do not reduce damage from a hit. Where the defender would be hit and both their regular armor and cloak would both apply, stack the Armor Points provided by each first, then apply Armor Penetration. Armor Penetration does not apply separately to each armor item. Armor Penetration does apply separately to each hit however.

Bulk

Some armors are heavy or hard to move in and so have a Bulk rating, listed as a negative number. Armor's Bulk subtracts successes from the defender's defensive rolls, as well as from certain skill tests in certain situations. As such, wearing heavier armor is something of a trade-off; a character may be able to absorb more damage, but they may also be easier to hit or have trouble operating stealthily, or have other such hindrances.

Damage, Stamina, and Wounds

Once one or more hits have been resolved, then damage is dealt. Each hit deals damage equal to the weapon's base damage, plus damage from each success above the defender's defensive roll. Damage is calculated and reduced by the Armor Points of the struck character for each hit separately.  As noted above, a weapon’s Armor Penetration will reduce the amount of Armor Points the defender may apply to reduce the damage taken. Damage is dealt to a character's Stamina first until they are out of Stamina, and then to their Wounds. Additionally, for every five (5) points of Stamina damage a character takes from a single hit, they will also take one Wound. Players can think of this as "rolling with the blow", or other similar narrative that explains a character shrugging of some, or all of the real damage a hit might normally deal by exerting themselves.

Melee Damage: Melee damage dealt is equal to (the damage of the weapon) + the attacker's Strength + (the number of successes the attacker beat the opponent’s defense roll by)*

Ranged Damage: Ranged damage dealt is equal to (the damage of the weapon) + (the number of successes you beat your opponent’s defense roll by).  Thrown weapons also add the wielder's Strength to damage.*

Damage Soak: Armor + Misc
*Impact weapons typically only deal 1 additional damage per 2 successes a character beats their opponent’s defense by.

Stamina

Stamina is the numerical representation of how much of a battering a character has taken and how much effort they've expended.  Wounds are more serious damage however; see below.

A normal human has Stamina equal to 10+(STR x2)+WP plus any bonus Stamina from Talents or Feats.  Other Once a character is out of Stamina, they gain the Bloodied status effect. Furthermore, all future damage taken counts as Wounds (see below).

Regaining Stamina

After each combat, assuming they are still conscious, a character will regain an amount of Stamina equal to their current maximum (Full Max - Wounds; see below).

Wounds

Wounds represent more serious wounds than normal Stamina damage. In ‘real’ terms, Wounds are things like deep sword gashes, arrows embedded in the flesh, and bullet wounds. All characters can take up to 10 wounds before dying, though some veteran characters may be able to survive more.

Taking Wounds

For every five (5) Stamina damage a character takes from a single attack, after accounting for defense and soak, they receive one (1) Wound.  For every Wound a character has, temporarily reduce their maximum Stamina by one (1).  After a character is out of Stamina, every additional point of damage they take becomes a Wound.  Taking additional Wounds in this way incurs the risk of falling unconscious or dying (see below).

Wounds are also damaging to a person’s Ego.  Every time a character takes a Wound, reduce their current Ego by one (1).

Healing Wounds

Wounds are harder to heal than Stamina damage.  Wounds will heal slowly over time, but only if the character is able to get adequate rest.  A full 8 hrs of sleep will heal 1 wound.  A full day of rest (light activity - think lounging around the house) will restore 2 wounds.  Post-Combat Triage may heal up to 2 wounds after a battle; see the Medicine skill for more information.

Effects of Wounds

Each wound a character has effectively reduces their current maximum stamina.  This means that when a character recovers wounds after combat, they can only heal a number of wounds up to their Maximum Stamina minus their current Wounds.  A character with as many Wounds as their Maximum Stamina is dead; see Unconsciousness, Crippling, and Death, below.

Additionally, when a character runs out of Stamina, Wounds will begin to hamper their ability to continue fighting.  When out of Stamina, a character takes a -1 penalty to all skill test for every three (3) Wounds they have, minimum of -1.  Therefore, if a character has 0 Wounds left and 1-5 wounds, they will take a -1 penalty to all Skill Tests.  If they have 6-8 wounds, they will take a -2 penalty and so on and so forth.  This penalty does not apply to Resolve tests to remain conscious however; see below.

Status Effects

During the course of combat, social combat, or other encounters, characters and NPCs may become afflicted with a variety of status effects.  These represent lingering Physical, Social, or Technological impairments that have an effect on an a character’s effectiveness both in and outside of combat.

Status effects are broken down into three broad types; Social, Physical, and Technological; each of which have three different levels.   Level 1 status effects are the least detrimental, and are typically removed after the current combat or scene ends.  Level 2 status effects are moderately detrimental, and are typically reduced from a Level 2 effect to an appropriate Level 1 effect at the end of the combat or scene.  Level 3 status effects are the most detrimental, and will persist between scenes until they are addressed.

Gaining Status Effects

Status Effects are gained during the course of Combat or Social Combat.

Physical Status Effects

Status Effect Level Description
Bleeding 1 Character takes an additional point of damage every round until bleeding is staunched with a successful First Aid test.
Disabled 1 Item or area has been damaged or injured.  Take a -1 penalty to all relevant tests.
Dazed 1 Lose 1 Tick per round for the next 2 rounds and take a -1 penalty to all actions.  Remove Dazed effect afterwards.
Grappled 1 Take a -3 penalty to defensive rolls from non-Grappled opponents.  +1 to attack rolls against other Grappled opponents.  Any held two-handed weapons are immediately dropped upon gaining this effect.  May only take actions specific to grappling as denoted.  While Grappled, all attack rolls from outside sources target all opponents in grapple.
Blinded 2 The character becomes unable to see, usually temporarily until the effect is removed.  All sight-based awareness tests are automatically failed.  All melee attacks suffer a -4 penalty and ranged attacks suffer a -6 penalty.  Defensive skill tests against physical attacks also take a -2 penalty.  This form of blinding is assumed to be temporary unless somehow made permanent.
Bloodied 2 Bloodied characters become more cautious and desperate as they have taken a great deal of damage.  Gain +1 bonus to all defensive tests, but a -1 penalty to attack rolls.
Pinned 2 May take no actions except to Break Pinning and Grapple Defense.  May also be Pummeled (see Pummel action) by pinning opponent.
Stunned 2 Take a -2 penalty to all tests and lose one action for next 2 rounds.  Reduce down to Dazed afterwards.
Slowed 2 Reduce movement speed by 1 and take a -1 penalty to all physical defensive tests.
Suffocating 2 The character is suffocating due to a lack of oxygen. While a character is suffocating, they may only take actions to get their breath back and remove the Suffocating effect.  During each round a is Suffocating, take a Resolve test with a difficulty equal to 2 and increasing by 1 each round.
Unconscious 3 The character falls unconscious and may not take any actions until they are awakened.

Social Status Effects

Status Effect Level Description
Attracted 1 The character is physically or emotionally attracted to the individual that applied the status effect.  The affected character takes a -2 penalty to all future social combat defensive actions from that individual, but gains a +1 to all social combat defensive actions from other characters.  Attracted characters will generally avoid attacking characters to whom they are attracted.  Upgrades to Enticed with additional Charm actions from same individual.  Note that this status effect and it’s upgrades need not be in the form of romantic attraction, but perhaps merely a form of intense friendship or devotion.
Disheartened 1 The character begins to question themselves and their current actions.  All future social combat defensive actions and physical defensive actions take a -1 penalty.
Frightened 1 The character is afraid of their current situation or their opponent(s).  All physical attack actions and social combat defensive actions take a -1 penalty.  Upgrades to Terrified from additional Intimidate actions or fear.
Dejected 2 All actions take a -1 penalty, and a -2 penalty to all Willpower related tests.  Additionally, the character takes an additional 2 Ego damage from every failed Social Combat defense.
Enticed 2 The character becomes enticed by the individual that applies this status effect.  The affected character takes a -3 penalty to all future social combat defensive actions from that individual, but gains a +1 to all social combat defensive actions from other characters and +3 ego when they are near the individual to whom they are Enticed.  Upgrades to “Enthralled” from additional Charm actions from the same individual.
Terrified 2 The character is exceptionally afraid.  All social combat defensive actions take a -2 penalty and all physical attack actions take a -3 penalty.  Upgrades to Fleeing from additional Intimidate actions or fear.
Blabbermouth 3 The character’s will has been broken and they are unable to keep any secrets from their interrogator.  They give up any and all information that they have, and may even seek to tell their interrogator more than they actually know, if pressed, in the hopes that the information may spare their life.
Enthralled 3 The character is enthralled with the individual that applies this status effect.  They automatically fail all social combat defensive action against that individual, unless doing so would somehow result in bodily harm to the enthralled individual. In that instance, the enthralled takes a -3 penalty to any social combat defensive actions.
Fleeing 3 The character must immediately flee the source of their fear by any means necessary.  If the character is unable to flee, they instead become “Scared to Death.”
Scared to Death 3 The character is in total fear for their life.  They may take no actions except to find a way to escape or defend themselves.  Additionally, they take a -3 penalty to all social combat defensive actions.  If they are being interrogated by an individual that contributed to their current state of affairs, and are unable to get away within 3 rounds, they gain the “Blabbermouth” status effect.  If not being interrogated, they instead gain the “Surrendered” status effect, unless surrender would obviously result in their demise.
Surrendered 3 The character throws themselves upon the mercy of their opponents either out of fear or hopelessness at their current situation.  The character willingly gives themselves over and surrenders their weapons in the hopes of being spared.

Unconsciousness, Crippling, and Death

Once a character runs out of Stamina and is now taking Wounds for all damage, they run the risk of falling unconscious.  Each round a character spends without Stamina, they will be required to take a Resolve test at the start of their turn with a difficulty equal to their current number of Wounds.  Failing this Resolve test means that they fall immediately unconscious and begin dying.  Penalties for having no Stamina and excess Wounds do not apply to this Resolve test.

Bleeding Out

Every minute a character spends unconscious from failing their Resolve test without medical assistance, they will take an additional Wound.  Regaining even a single point of Stamina will allow the character to regain consciousness and prevent them taking additional damage.

Crippling and Death

Once a character has taken their maximum amount of Wounds, typically 10, they are Dead.  Generally speaking, there is no coming back from death, however if they have Fate Points available, they may choose to permanently “burn” one, removing it completely to stay alive in exchange for permanent, irrevocable Crippling. The exact nature of this Crippling is up to the GM’s discretion, but should be appropriate to the situation.  Appropriate examples of Crippling include the permanent loss of a limb, eye, or other appendage; the permanent loss of hearing, or the permanent loss of a number of Wounds or Characteristic ranks (generally 1-3 depending on level).  GMs should work with their players to craft an appropriate narrative around the Crippling and explain why they survived where a lesser character might have died.

Mayhem Points

Combat is chaotic, hectic, and dangerous. Sometimes characters will undertake actions which seem insane on the surface, but ultimately prove effective in contributing to their continued survival or in defeating their enemies. In ADS, these crazy actions are represented by Mayhem Points.

Whenever a character undertakes an interesting, crazy, reckless, or otherwise inspired action they should be granted a Mayhem Point. A character can spend their Mayhem Points at any point during the current combat to gain a bonus on their next roll equal to the number of Mayhem Points they spend. Unspent Mayhem Points at the end of a combat are lost. In general, NPCs should never be granted Mayhem Points.

Cover

Taking Cover

A character takes cover by moving to a piece of terrain that would provide cover and using the Take Cover action during their turn.  If done on their own turn, taking cover is a free action that does not provoke Attacks of Opportunity as long as the character is already next to a piece of terrain that can provide cover or moves next to one as part of their normal movement.  When taking cover on their turn, a character’s Legs and Torso will count as being in cover for the purposes of bonus Armor Points.  A character may remain in cover as long as they do not move away from the terrain piece providing them cover.

Taking cover after the character’s turn has passed is more resemblant of the character diving for cover as they come under fire and requires 2 ticks (reaction).  As part of this, the character may move up to their normal movement speed to get next to a terrain piece that can provide cover.  If there is no available terrain within that range, the character may not use the Take Cover action.  When taking cover when it is not their turn, a character’s Head and Arms count as being in cover for the purposes of bonus Armor Points for the remainder of the round. After the start of the next round, so long as they remain in cover, their Legs and Torso will count as being in cover for the purposes of bonus Armor Points.

Taking a Full Defense action while in cover will impart the benefits of both and all body locations will count as being in cover for the purpose of bonus Armor Points.

Cover is directional and if an opponent attacks from a direction that does not provide cover, from the side or rear usually, then the defender will not receive the benefit of cover.

Cover Bonuses

Being in cover increases your effective armor points (AP) for the body locations in cover and grants a +2 bonus to defense rolls while in cover.  Use the chart below to determine how much bonus AP your character will receive.

Destroying Cover

Cover can be destroyed by targeting it individually like any other unattended object or as a result of  it being hit while a character is taking cover behind it.  If a piece of cover is targeted directly and is hit, apply all damage in excess of AP to the Structure Points of the that section of cover.  If a character behind cover is targeted and the bonus to the defense roll provided by the cover (+2) results in the attacker missing, the attacker still rolls their normal damage and the section of cover takes all damage in excess of the cover’s AP to its Structure Points.  If the defending character is hit while behind cover in a body location that counts as being in cover, then the section of cover the defending character is in will take half the normal damage to its Structure Points after reducing for soak; the defending character will still take the full damage dealt minus their normal AP plus the AP provided by the section of cover.

If a section of cover accumulates more damage than the section of cover has Structure Points then that section of cover breaks, can no longer provide cover and counts as difficult terrain for characters moving through it.  A section of cover is loosely defined as one 1-yard/square/meter line segment.

Cover Materials Reference Chart

Material Armor Points Structure Points per Section
Wood, Thin (~1” thick) +2 10
Wood, Thick (2-3” thick) +3 15
Wood, Reinforced (4-6” thick) +4 20
Stone Wall (6-8” thick) +8 30
Sandbag Wall, (10” thick) +18 90
Concrete Bunker, (12-16” thick) +25 125

Swordpoint & Gunpoint

Being held at swordpoint or gunpoint is a rather dire situation that warrants some special consideration, assuming a character wants to come out of it alive that is. For the sake of not having to repeat every aspect for Swordpoint and Gunpoint, where they both follow the same rules,  they will be referred to simply as "Swordpoint."  Where differences exist, they will be noted individually.

Within this section, the character that initiates Swordpoint and is holding another character at swordpoint will be referred to as the “initiator."  The character being held at swordpoint will be referred to as the “defender."

Initiating Swordpoint or Gunpoint

In order to hold someone at swordpoint, a character must first be vulnerable to it.  An engaged and aware combatant is not going to provide an opportunity for an opponent to simply hold them at swordpoint if they're prepared to fight, therefore swordpoint may only be initiated under certain circumstances. Swordpoint may only be initiated if the initiator is physically adjacent to the defender, has a means of physically threatening them with a weapon (unarmed Martial Artists do not count), and one or more of the following conditions are met:

  • The defender is unaware of the initiator
  • The defender is helpless
  • The defender is unable to resist or defend themselves
  • The defender is sufficiently distracted
  • The defender has no weapon and does not possess the Martial Artist Feat

Once Swordpoint has been engaged, it may continue indefinitely, however, the initiator must maintain their focus on the defender visually and/or physically. If the initiator fails to do so for any reason, then swordpoint has been broken; see Breaking Swordpoint below.

Being Held at or Holding Someone at Swordpoint or Gunpoint

Holding someone at swordpoint confers a number of advantages to the person holding the weapon, and a number of disadvantages to the person who isn't. The initiator gains a +2 bonus to all Social Combat rolls against the person being held at Swordpoint. Additionally, while swordpoint is ongoing, bonus to Social Combat rolls from having a higher Dapper than your opponent are negated for all parties involved in the social combat with the characters currently engaged in swordpoint; who has the nicest pocket watch tends to be a lot less important once the blades come out and lives are at stake.  Characters may still expend Dapper on rerolls and bonuses as normal.

The initiator may at any time choose to attack the defender. Doing so is a regular attack action that the initiator may take at any time so long as Swordpoint is still in effect. The initiator gets a +2 bonus to this attack roll.  Should the attack hit, the weapon deals a critical hit (maximum damage for the weapon used plus an additional 1d10 damage) and the attack is resolved against the defenders head or neck, generally bypassing armor, unless specified otherwise previously.  This will generally prove fatal for many mortal beings.

Breaking Swordpoint or Gunpoint

Swordpoint may be broken in one of two ways. The first is to distract the initiator such that they lose focus on the defender. This can be accomplished in a number of different ways either by the defender or someone acting on their behalf. Some examples may include, but are not limited to, an auditory or visual distraction that would require the initiator to take a Resolve test to avoid being distracted, being directly wounded by a third party, being disarmed, or the defender taking some other action which would break swordpoint such as using the Swordpoint Break talent.

The second way Swordpoint may be broken is by defeating the initiator in Social Combat. If the initiator is holding the defender at swordpoint instead of attacking them, there exists the possibility that the defender can talk their way out. If the defender defeats the initiator in Social Combat, whether they initiate the Social Combat or not, then they have managed to break Swordpoint. In game terms, this could be resemblant of the initiator being talked down and convinced to let the defender go or the initiator being distracted or overly confused by the defender such that they let their guard down. In either case, the result is the same and Swordpoint ends.

Once swordpoint ends, play resumes as normal. Depending on how swordpoint ended however, regular combat may or may not begin.

Martial Artists and Swordpoint

Miscellaneous Combat Rules

Delaying

Characters should feel free to delay as many times as necessary during the combat round. However, there may be an instance where two characters keep delaying, one after the other, neither wanting to make the first move after all other characters have acted. As combat is chaotic and time waits for no one, if this happens, both characters forfeit their remaining actions (to reactions) and the next round starts. There is no hard and fast rule on when a GM should enforce this, but after both characters have delayed twice is a good rule of thumb.