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Combat

Out in the Black it is cold, dark and full of scary people; Alliance troopers, ‘Ornery Feds, Ex-Independents, hard-bitten colonists, mercenaries, bounty hunters, and people you’ve just plain pissed off.

Even if you ain’t looking for trouble, it has a knack for finding you and yours, and when that happens you need to know how to defend yourself. This chapter describes how health & combat are simulated within the ‘Verse.

When it comes to some folks lookin’ for trouble and breathin’ ain’t too far apart.

Cinematic versus Realistic

The rules presented in this chapter provide a mechanism for players to have protracted cinematic fights. This does mean that following the rules to the letter results in things being a bit unrealistic. The number of hit points you have is the maximum damage that you can take and the damage calls represent the minimum damage that must be taken. Feel free to drop to -4 from a Pistol shot to the head at close range, and as with all things please apply a healthy dose of common sense.

Naturally players should also consider being creative with their injuries to allow players with medical skills to fully role-play their character’s abilities. At some events, there may be casualty makeup effects available to enhance this.

Another mechanism we use for cinematic effect is luck points, (previously called vitality, for those who have played before), which represent a shot missing. 

Taking Damage

The basic mechanic is that when you take damage, you lose points.

Your ability to take damage is represented by

1.      Your luck points

2.      Any armour you are wearing

3.      Your hit points

A standard character has 3 luck points and 3-5 hit points (depending on background) but this can be increased or reduced by skills, merits etc.

Luck points

Luck points represent a shot missing you, so you lose one luck point per shot aimed at you, whether that shot is a single, double or triple.

Any arrows, unarmed or melee attacks bypass luck points and take your hit points off directly, because in this case we don’t need to phys-rep the possibility of missing, if someone misses, or you have a shield of some sort, it’s missed. If the arrow, hand tap or melee weapon touches you, it’s hit you.

Hit points and death

The amount of hit points you lose is the damage call, so a pistol doing Single damage removes one hit point, and a rifle doing Double damage removes two points. If you have armour, you lose points from this first.

As you take damage to the body you should role-play being injured, so choose a location to have been hit - a leg shot may cause you to limp; a shot to the arm may cause you to drop anything you are holding; etc.

It is up to how you role-play your pain tolerance but characters with a high Build will generally handle being in pain better than characters with a low Build. Certain skills such as Moment of Clarity or Endure can help in this regard as well.

Above 0, you may be battered and bruised but you're otherwise good to go. You should still roleplay injuries and may seek medical attention to heal faster if you want. Below this and you're in danger of serious or even fatal injury.

At 0: you slow down and should act your more extensive wounds out. If taken to this level by Strike/Stun damage, you are knocked out or generally incapacitated and may take no further action for 1 minute (or until woken up by the Snap out of It! Virtuoso skill).

At -1 or below, you begin to bleed, losing a hit point every 2 minutes. First Aid and Paramedic can pause this process. You need someone who knows Medicine to stabilise and heal you.

At -4 you fall unconscious and begin your death count of 5 minutes. Certain skills may let you stay conscious; if they do, you may do nothing more than stagger and use one handed weapons inaccurately (call Bang every second shot). First Aid and Paramedic may pause your death count. You need a Surgeon to stabilise and heal you, and normal skills do not pause your count during this process, representing a risk of dying on the table.

Damage calls can take you all the way down to -4, but can’t take you to -5, so the only ways of dying once you’re at -4 are to bleed out, or to be executed with the execute call. This is to represent the cinematic nature of the game world - important characters don’t generally die from stray bullets, and death normally means something. It shouldn’t stop you dying dramatically if you feel it’s appropriate, fits with the situation, or tells an awesome story.

Doing Damage

Ranged

*If you can't see it, you can't shoot it* - if someone is in cover, or you don’t have line of sight, you can’t shoot’ em.

To fire a weapon, you point your phys-rep at your intended target and make the following call:

Target, Level, Type.

Target: A description, name or other method of identifying the intended target, e.g. ‘Captain Reynolds’, “Brown coat” or “guy with the huge great rocket-launcher thing”

Level: The amount of damage caused by the weapon, e.g. Single, Double, Triple.

Type: Any special properties of the shot, such as Stun or Global. If you aren't doing any kind of special damage, you leave this bit of the call out.

Let’s take a look at an example…

Someone has complained once too often about Skippy’s cooking and her usual level of bombastic verbal violence has gone unheeded so she decides to be more serious. She draws a shotgun from under the counter points it at the unlucky patron and makes the call:

“Dude with yellow Hawaiian shirt, Double, Knockdown”

Here “Dude with yellow Hawaiian shirt” is the Target and “Double” is the Level of damage caused by the shotgun with “Knockdown” as the Type.

It is best to avoid using out-of-character names as descriptors unless you are sure none of the characters or players share the same name. In addition, using common descriptors (woman in hat, person behind tree) that could apply to several targets is also best to avoid, but again, this is easier said than done in the heat of combat! Firing at ‘muzzle flash’ should also be avoided – if you want to roleplay just shooting wildly in the direction shots are coming from, just use the ‘bang’ call.

You need to leave a space of THREE SECONDS in between each firearms call (to phys-rep things like aiming, recoil, and just to make things less confusing in a fight). If someone has got over-excited and forgotten this when shooting you (it happens!) then just take their calls every three seconds.

You should roleplay reloading your weapon after a reasonable number of shots - magazine sizes are listed in the armoury section.

The calls made when firing a ranged weapon represent the sound of gunfire. If you hear the sound of people shouting damage calls, then you are assumed to have heard the sound of gunfire.

Pistols may be used in one hand but any larger weapons such as rifles or shotguns must be wielded with two hands unless you have the Strong as an Ox merit.

Projectile Combat - Bows always do Double damage and ignore Medium and Light Armour. You must physically hit the target before damage can take effect. Since all bows do the same damage, you don't need to make a call.

Melee Combat - All one-handed melee weapons do a single point of damage when they strike a target, so you don't need to call any damage. You should role-play swinging slow, cinematic hits, and leave a space of at least a second between each hit.

Two-handed weapons do double damage when in melee and require both hands to wield. You still need to use both hands for a two-handed weapon if you have the strong as an ox merit.

Swords

A sword is a melee weapon requiring grace and finesse. A character with the sword skill can opt to call for double when striking with a sword but may also call disarm up to three times per day, using the sword to tap the upper arm carrying the weapon.

Unarmed Combat

Unarmed combat is the most OOC potentially dangerous of the combat styles because it involves physical contact between players. To represent unarmed combat, you should gently tap someone on the upper arm with an open palm whilst making the damage call. Care should be taken at all times. ==== Grapple should involve open palms resting on upper arms. Break should involve gently pushing those hands away. Disarm, like Strike, should be against the upper arm holding the weapon you wish to take. Unless you have the ‘Lethal Weapon’ Virtuoso Skill, all unarmed damage you do is stun damage, and cannot take anyone down past 0 hit points

When using the unarmed skill, you can make the following calls:

Call Skill Effect
Strike/double strike Fist Fightin’ or Martial Arts A single or double point of stun damage, ignoring Luck. A target hitting 0 hit points is knocked out or generally incapacitated. They do not go any lower/bleed out.
Throw Fist Fightin’ or Martial Arts Upon contact the target is pushed back 5 paces in a designated direction
Grapple Martial Arts The target is held for 30 seconds, and cannot make any action other than using the 'break' call.
Break Martial Arts When grappled, you can call 'break' and the grappler must break contact.
Disarm Martial Arts The target must hand you whatever weapon or item is in the arm that you tapped.

Cover

Cover may be used to prevent damage during ranged combat. If 50% of your body is behind cover, such as a wall, tree or unfortunate stooge, then you are considered in partial cover and only take every other firearm shot targeted at you. This does not apply to sniper fire or those using the virtuoso skill Dead Shot. It’s also meant to be an approximation of how cover works, and should not be used to take the piss – roleplay over rules!

If you are wholly hunkered down behind cover that stands between you and your shooter you take no damage.

Explosives

There are three types of explosives available in the ‘Verse using differing levels of complexity and use. You must have the thrown weapon skill to use any grenade or thrown bomb.

Type Skills Damage Notes
Pipe Bomb Mechanic [Demolitions] and Thrown Weapons Quad Boom Triggered by flame, External Fuse
Grenade Thrown Weapons Quad Boom Internal Fuse, Works in Vacuum, Triggered by flame
Chem-Plast Knowledge [Demolitions] Special Triggered by electricity, Works in Vacuum, requires detonator

Explosive devices do Boom damage. This means that that they normally affect anyone within 5 feet of the phys rep when it detonates. 

Special Calls

Call Description
Covering Fire Made by anyone trained in Assault Weapons and using an Assault Rifle, or have Sinister Dexter and using dual Machine Pistols.

You yell the call ‘Covering Fire’ five times with a two second gap between calls. During this time anyone in a 90-degree arc to the front must take cover, or lie flat on the floor and take no action unless they have a skill or merit that allows them to do otherwise Players with Moment of Clarity or Endure can attempt to act but take Single damage per call, therefore up to 5 damage. This cannot soak on Luck. Taking damage or moving interrupts this skill and means you must stop making the call. Your rifle needs to be reloaded after this call, which should be roleplayed for a reasonable amount of time. You can only use Covering Fire three times per day.

Heavy Fire You yell the call ‘Heavy Fire’ five times with a two second gap between calls. During this time anyone in a 90-degree arc to the front must take cover, or lie on the floor and take no action. Players with Moment of Clarity or Endure can attempt to act but take Double damage per call.

Taking damage or moving interrupts this skill and means you must stop making the call. Your heavy machine gun or similar needs to be reloaded after making this call, which should be roleplayed for a reasonable amount of time.

You can only use Heavy Fire three times per day.

Execute You may approach a character on -4 and call Execute to kill them. This takes 30 seconds to carry out, and you must have either a weapon or the ability to do lethal damage. If you are intending to use this on a player character you are strongly encouraged to bring a ref.
Bang The shot has gone wide, either intentionally or unintentionally.

Damage Types

Call Description
Knockdown You fall to the ground. You may get back up and move again immediately after falling but must have both shoulders touch the ground if it is safe to do so.

Because this call represents force of a blow, you take the knockdown effect even if you have armour on, but you don’t take it if it’s soaked on luck points (because the shot missed).

If the target is unable to fall down or it is unsafe to do so the target instead holds their hands above their head, crossed at the wrist for 5 seconds to represent being on the floor.

Stun A stun effect is non-lethal damage: it may reduce you down to 0 hit points but no further. If taken to 0 by Stun, you fall unconscious for 1 minutes.

This is the equivalent to a ranged Strike call.

Boom A damage call with the boom type will hit the target and anyone within five feet.
EMP This damage will wreck electronic equipment such as computers, radios and energy weapons. If you take any EMP damage any electronic equipment is useless and a mechanic needs to fix the “short circuit” problem to fix it. This includes Advanced weaponry (see the armoury) and implanted devices such as cybernetics where the player may also take stun damage.
Paralyse If you take the Paralyse call you cannot move, and should freeze in place for ten seconds (unless otherwise specified). You cannot speak.
Disarm If struck by a ranged call of Disarm place the item in targeted hand on the floor. You may not attempt to retrieve it until after you have returned to your previous position for 3 seconds.
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