Types of Combat

This chapter presents a number of systems for resolving different types of physical or social combat, from the quick to the detailed. Which system you use to resolve a combat is a matter of taste for your group. Perhaps you don't want to focus on combat a tall, and will use the Quick Combat system if it ever comes up. Perhaps you will always use the Detailed Combat system. Perhaps you will switch from one to another as time and focus dictates. There is no wrong way.

Quick Combat

The Quick Combat rules allow you to resolve an entire combat in a few (often one) rolls. The Quick Combat system reduces the whole fight to a contested roll.

Combat Strength

First calculate the Combat Strength for each combatant. This is a general summary of their combat ability. For a physical conflict, Combat Strength equals:

Combat Strength = Attack + Defence + Health + (Armour + MD * 2) + (Movement * 2) + Damage + (Level * 3)

For a social combat, Combat Strength equals:

Combat Strength = Presence + Spirit + Status + (Social Armour) + Damage + (Level * 3)

Where Attack and Defence are the base stats (don't include weapon skills, but add Stance), Health is current Health, Movement is the movement trait (not Move per round) and Damage is the maximum damage of the combatant's weapon (including Phys Bonus). Now roll a contest of To-Hit rolls (Attack + Skill). The combatant with the highest Combat Strength gains a bonus as shown in the next section, based on the ratio of Strengths.


Advantage Bonus
1.2 or less +0
1.2 to 1.4 +1
1.4 to 1.7 +2
1.7 to 2 +3
2+ to 3 +4
3+ to 5 +5
5+ to 7 +6
7+ to 10 +7
10+ +8
vs. =

Apply an extra +1 for each tactical advantage one combatant has (Magic, Higher Ground, Ranged Attacks, etc.).

Now, make a contested roll of Attack and Weapon Skill, noting the number of rolls, and the total degrees of success/failure incurred by each participant.

The length of the contest tells you how long the fight takes. If the fight is resolved on the first roll then it was quick (a round or two). If it requires two rolls then the fight is of moderate length (3-5 rounds). If it requires three or more rolls then it is a long and drawn fight. A contest that goes to five or more rounds is an epic battle that drags on for dozens of rounds.

The degree by which the winner winds the contest tells you how resounding a victory it was. A narrow margin of success (1 extra success) suggests that the victory is narrow. If the fight was to the death the winner is likely badly wounded. If it was for lesser stakes they will have still taken some serious blows. A greater number of successes suggests a more resounding win, the loser may be dead while the winner is only lightly scratched. A victory with 5 or more successes may leave the victor unscathed. You can gain more of a feel for the results of the fight by factoring in how each set of rolls went (mostly failures, mostly successful) and how well or badly the loser did on the final roll.

See the Battle Rules below for some pre-calculated Combat Strengths.


At the end of a combat, you, and your opponent may well be wounded. Total all of the failures you suffered over the length of the contest, and increase it by one for each roll after the first. If you lost the fight, increase the failure total by another one for each success in excess of yours that the winner scored on the final roll. This is your Wound Total. The Wound Total tells you how much damage you took, as follows:

Wound Total Effect
0 Unscatched
1 Lightly wounded, take 1d4 damage
2-3 Moderately wounded, take 1d4*10% of your Health in damage
4-5 Heavily wounded, take 1d4+1d6*10% of your Health in damage, and 1 Wound
6-7 Greviously wounded, reduced to 0 Health, 2 Wounds, make a death check
8+ Mortally wounded, reduced to -5 Health, 3 Wounds, death

Multiple Combatants

When multiple combatants are involved in a fight, each should roll their own dice. Thus one player can win, while another loses. Multiple monsters of the same type should just have their CS totaled. When deciding Advantage with more than two sides, give the highest CS participant a bonus based on the next highest enemy, and so forth. Alternatively use the Group Combat rules below to create groups, and the match their CS as normal.

Combat Strength

Shakari is a Level 1 Warrior with Attack 11, Defence 11, Agility 12, Physical 11, Health 15 and Weapon Skill 3, and she is facing a single Night Goblin with Attack 10, Defence 10, Agility 13, Physical 12 and Health 14. Shakari is armed with a Bronze Sword (d6+1 damage), while the night goblin carries a sabre (1d6+3). Shakhari is unarmoured. They both have Movement 1. Shakari's CS is (11+11+15+(0x2)+(1x2)+7+(1x3)) 49. The Night Goblin has a CS of 47.


The final results are 49 vs. 47, which is a 1 to 1 ratio, neither side has advantage. Shakari is rolling against her Attack + Weapon Skill of 14, the Night Goblin rolls against its attack total of 13.

On the first round, Shakhari and the goblin both roll a 13. This is 1 success for both sides, so the combat is tied. On the second round, Shakhari rolls a 15, and the goblin rolls a 14. This is 1 failure for each side — the combat continues. Finally, on the third round, Shakhari rolls a 9, while the goblin rolls a 13 again. The Goblin has 1 success, but Shakhari has two, she has won the combat.


The combat took three rounds, so it was hard fought, and the final result was a narrow victory. The goblin's Wound Total is 4 (1 failure rolled, +2 rounds, 1 failure on the loss), meaning that it is heavily wounded. Shakhari sufers a Wound Total of 3, and is moderately wounded. Shakhari's player rolls 1d4 and gets a 2, so she takes 20% of her Health (3) Lethal.

Detailed Combat

Basic Combat Rules

All forms of combat (ranged, armed, unarmed, magical, social) follow the same basic rules, summarised as follows:

The majority of combat is physical, using weapons and resulting in physical harm. The table below lists the key attributes, traits and skills used for this sort of combat.

Combat Value Attribute / Trait / Skill
Initiative Agility + Movement + Weapon Initiative + D20
Movement Agility + Movement
To-Hit Attack Attribute + Weapon Skill resisted by Defence
Damage Weapon Damage + Physical Bonus in Lethal or Stun Damage
Health Health Attribute
Traits Weaponry, Warfare
Weapons Swords, Bows, Axes, Spears etc.
Groups Limited by Presence + Command
Combat Strength Attack + Defence + Health + Armour + Movement + Damage
Create Advantage Roll skill vs. 12

Initiating Combat

When initiating any sort of Combat you should be clear about your intent. Are you trying to kill the opposition (with Physical Combat), subdue or capture them (with Stun damage), rough them up (Lethal damage short of death), win an argument (with Social Combat) or just protect yourself? Any character (players, non-players, monsters) faced with Combat has the chance to back down before it starts, based on what they think your intent is. A ruffian in a bar might happily take you on in a fist-fight but back down rapidly if they thought you were out to kill them. An NPC faced with Combat who does not have a strong reason to participate should make a Spirit + Faith / Bravery to fight, an animal might make Spirit + Viciousness roll instead. A commander with reluctant troops can make a Pre + Oratory / Command roll to order them to fight. If you want the opponent to surrender you could try a Pre + Oratory / Command resisted by Spirit + Bravery to intimidate them into backing down.

Of course you can still press on with combat even if your opponent does not want to fight. In this case they may offer surrender, either right away, or mid combat. You can always use your action to try and offer terms for surrender. This is especially important in Social Combat, where it is often a better strategy to offer a concession to your opponent than to stay the course of the fight. If you do not wish to surrender you can try to disengage. If you retreat (see moving below) enough to be out of combat and get away then combat has ended for you.


If the target of an attack is surprised then they will be caught at a significant disadvantage. To surprise someone from Ambush you must win a resisted roll of Int + Observation vs. Ag + Stealth, and be able to reach the target in one round of movement. You can pull the same trick even if the target can see you, so long as they have no expectation of attack (such as by suddenly stabbing a friend in the back) if you can win a Pre + Deception vs. Spirit + Observation roll.

If you succeed in launching a surprise attack then combat begins with a Surprise Round. In the Surprise round everyone who was aware of the ambush gets to act as normal. Everyone who was not aware automatically goes after the attackers in Initiative, and suffer a -4D penalty (such targets count as being in a neutral combat stance, and cannot Guard). In addition they may be unable to act at all, even when their turn is reached. Each defender must roll Spirit + Warfare. If they fail they are so shocked that they cannot act this round.

Once a target knows you are there, you cannot take them by surprise like this again, even if you drop briefly out of sight. However attacking someone from an unexpected angle (from behind, from below while walking, from above by dropping from the ceiling) gives them -4D. Attacking someone from behind and by surprise gives -8D.

Shakari, a warrior of Derzak, is wandering through the Twilight Jungles when she finds herself face to face with a Night Goblin. The Goblin rushes towards her, waving it's crude sabre and howling some sort of obscenity. Shakari could attempt to avoid the combat by running away (opposed rolls of Agility + Movement) but instead she draws her Bronze Sword and prepares to face the Goblin.

Initative and Turns

During each combat round each character gets one Turn.

Turns are taken in order of descending initiative. Initiative is determined once, at the start of each combat. Your initiative score is:

Initiative = Agility + Movement + Weapon Initiative + D20

Ties in Initiative are broken in that order, first compare Agility, then Move, then Weapon Initiative to break the tie. If all of these are equal then the tie is broken with a dice roll. You can use the Wait action to change your Initative.

Shakari is a Level 1 Warrior with Attack 11, Defence 11, Agility 12, Physical 11, Health 15 and Weapon Skill 3, and she is facing a single Night Goblin with Attack 10, Defence 10, Agility 13, Physical 12 and Health 14. They both have Movement 1. As combat begins they both roll for Initiative. Shakari rolls a 13 and gets an Initiative total of 26. The Goblin rolls a 11, also getting an Initiative total of 26 (the Bestiary entry for a Night Goblin lists their base Initiative of 15 when armed). Since the Goblin has a higher Agility it will act first.


During their Turn a character may make one Move, take one Action, and any number of Free Actions.

An Action allows you to perform one quick task, such as make an attack, cast a quick spell, run a short distance, take a defensive stance or reload a bow. Some activites — such as removing a potion from your bag and drinking it, casting a slow spell, or picking a lock — may take multiple actions and must be split over multiple rounds. Free Actions cover things much faster than this, such as shouting a warning, or activating some forms of magic.

There are an infinite number of things you could choose to do in a combat other than just attacking: shouting orders, swinging on chandeliers, knocking over lamps, hiding under tables, running into other rooms, throwing bottles and more. Use common sense to see how these fit into a combat, giving bonuses or penalties as needed.

The default actions are as follows:

Dash, Run or Charge
Make a special move.
Make an attack on another character.
Give up your attack to maximise your defence.
Hold your action and try and interrupt someone else.
Flee from combat.
Create an Advantage
Take an action to set up an attack or aid another.


During each combat round you may take a Move. The maximum distance your Move may take you is based on your Range:

Range = Agility + Movement Trait

As a Move you can do one of the following (and then take an action):

Free Step
You may freely move one step without any penalty. A step includes any amout of turning on the spot, and moving up to your Range Bonus -1 in Legats (one Legat = one pace). For most characters this means moving 1 Legat without penalty, but if your Range is greater than 15 your step will be longer.
You can move more than one step before you act if you wish. Each step after the first gives you a -1 penalty on whatever action you then choose to take. The maximum distance you can move like this is one half of your Range.

You can also take a special move, which uses your Move and your Action in one of the following ways:

You can choose to abbandon your action and spend your whole turn moving as fast as you can. In this case your can move up to your Range.
A run is like a Dash except that you throw caution (and defence) to the wind and try to move as fast as you can. In this case you may move up to your Range + twice your Run Skill. Your Defence is reduced by 4.
A charge is a special version of the Run action where you sprint straight into combat and then make an attack. You may move up to your Range and make an attack. You suffer a penalty to your Attack and Defence equal to half the distance you move.

Difficult Ground

If you are forced to move over difficult ground (jumping over benches, sliding under tables, pushing through razor grass) then you have two choices. You may reduce your move to a safe level (usually losing half your move) or attempt to move at full speed. If you move at full speed you must make an Ag / Acrobatics or Ag / Jump roll to clear the obstacle (or Phys / Movement if you must push through the difficult ground). If you fail you fall down.

Shakari and the Goblin have begun their combat about 4 paces apart. The Goblin could choose to approach cautiously, but instead it charges forward over the rough forest floor, wanting to land the first blow.

The Goblin has a Range of 14, and has two ways to move to Shakari and attack. It could choose to Move, closing the 4 paces and attacking at -3 (because it moved 4 times its step). Alternatively it could choose to Charge and take -2 (because it moved 4 paces) Attack and -2 Defence.


On your action you may make an attack against any target in reach (where reach depends on the length of your weapon). To attack make a Roll as follows:

To-hit = Attack + Weapon Skill resisted by Defence


Your Attack score is your Attack Stat plus the Weapon Skill for the weapon you are using, plus any Attack modifiers that the weapon has. Two Weapons: If you carry a second weapon in your off-hand your attack is increased by 2. If you hit, use the Damage of your best weapon.

If an attack succeeds you have hit and will cause damage (for more on damage see below). If you fail you have missed the attack, been parried, been blocked or otherwise failed to land any effective damage. Each attack roll generally represents more than one actual weapon swing, you roll to land an effective blow in the middle of an active to and fro of combat.


A fumble on your hit means that you have dropped your weapon, broken your weapon, tripped yourself up or injured the wrong person. The GM should pick or roll on the following table for fumbles.

Roll D20 Result
1 Hurt an ally (or yourself)
2-5 Weapon dropped
6-15 Unbalanced, -4A/-4D next round
16-19 Fall down
20 Weapon breaks

Multiple Attacks

If more than one target is in range during your action you may make more than one attack, but you must split your Attack total between each target. You choose how much Attack (and Weapon Skill) to allocate to each target if you do this, and must allocate at least 1 Attack per target. If you need to move more than one step to reach all of the targets you have chosen then you must take the movement penalty (-1 per step) on each attack you make in the turn. You may do the same to attack a single target multiple times, but this is rarely to your advantage. Occasionally a monster will have more than once separate attack. In this case they make multiple attacks using their full Attack score with each, and may make those attacks against the same, or different, targets. Such attacks still count the movement penalty if the monster must move.

A warrior with an Attack of 15 and a weapon skill of 7 faces two targets. He can split his attack total of 22 between the two as he likes, making two (or more) attacks. He chooses to attack both equally, and makes two attack rolls, each using an Attack of 11, one against each target.


Your Defence Score is your Defence Stat, plus any of the following that apply:

A character carrying a weapon is significantly harder to hit than one without.

If you are attacked more than once in a round then you then you have your full Defence against the first, but your defence is penalised against the subsequent attacks. Additional attacks from the same attacker apply a -2D penalty, while additional attackers apply a -3D penalty.

A warrior with Defence 20 faces off against two Lion Birds on the ground. Each Lion Bird attacks with two claw swipes. The Warrior has D20 against the first, D18 against the second (second attack from the same creature), D17 against the third (new attacker) and D15 against the fourth (2nd attacker, 2nd attack).

Damage and Armour

When an attack hits, it inflicts its damage. The equipment lists tell you how much damage each weapon inflicts (usually a single dice plus or minus a fixed value). Muscle powered weapons add your Phys Bonus to the damage inflicted, and you also do one additional damage for each degree of success on your attack roll. A critical hit may cripple a body part. (For more details on the effects of damage, see the rules on injury.)

If your target is wearing armour then reduce the damage done by the armour's Protection value. Unless you are taking penalties to try and hit an specific area (see below) then always use the body armour value. Wearing armour increases your Load, and may make you Encumbered. If you do not have at least 1 level of the Warfare / Armoury skill then heavy armour imposes increased Load.

The warrior fighting the Lion Birds is hit twice, for 5 and 7 points of damage. The warrior wears a Krakath Hide Jerkin (Protection 2) on her body, and a Bronze Kilt (Protection 3) on her groin and legs. Since neither attack was aimed at a particular body part, the body protection applies. The warrior takes 3 and 5 damage, for 8 damage total.

Light, Cover and Difficult Ground

Your full Attack and Defence scores apply when your are fighting in the clear with good lighting and footing, but this is often not the case. Whenever your view of the thing you are attacking is compromised you take a penalty to your Attack score, and whenever your ability to watch the things attacking you is compromised you take a penalty to your Defence score. Bad footing (or anything else that makes it hard to defend yourself effectively) similarly impacts your Defence score. The table below lists some common modifiers.

Situation Modifier Skill Notes
Poor Light (torchlight, twilight) -4A/-2D -2 Ag + Dance roll halves
Near Darkness -8A/-4D -4 Ag + Dance roll halves
Full Darkness -10A/-5D -8 Ag + Dance roll halves
Blidning Brightness -10A/-5D -8 Ag + Dance roll halves
Light Cover (leaves, bushes) -2A -2
Moderate Cover (half behind a wall) -4A -4
Heavy Cover (ducking from behind cover, hiding in window) -8A -8
Poor Footing (rough ground, on a ship) -2D -2 Ag + Acrobatics roll negates
Very Poor Footing (pool of oil) -6D -6 Ag + Acrobatics roll halves

Note that cover penalises attack, rather than raising defence, because it hinders multiple attackers as much as a single one.

Marsul the Bonded One tries to strike at a foe while assaulting a fortified camp in the Twilight Forest. The foe is defending a thick thorn hedge, and Marsul is on the other side of it. Marsul's attack suffers a -4 penalty for poor light and another -4 for the wall he is attacking over. Marsul has his work cut out to land a blow!

Combat Stance

Normally you make attacks with your full Attack score, and defend with your full Defence score, but if you have the Warrior Path you may choose to vary your combat stance, becoming more defensive or more aggressive for the rest of the round. On your Initiative you may declare your current of stance, and it will remain in effect till you next change Stance. A Warrior has a number of Stance Points equal to their level, and may add any number of them to Attack, and any number to Defence. If you have not yet acted in combat you are assumed to have all your Stance allocated to Defence.

Hit Location

Normally all hits will be to the body (or equivalent) of your target, and will do normal damage. Hits with one or more degrees of success do more damage, and can be assumed to have hit more vital areas. Sometimes you may want to deliberately aim for a more vulnerable area in the hopes of doing more damage, such as striking an unarmoured part. At other times you will be forced to aim at a small target for other reasons, to knock an item from someone's hand, strike a weak point in a creature's armour or slash at the rope tying a prisoner to the back of a galloping Krakath. In these situations the GM will apply a penalty to your To-hit to represent the difficulty of the attack. Here are some suggested penalties.

Penalty Reason
-1 Weapon arm, goblin sized opponent, mounted or higher target
-2 Non-weapon arm, legs, dog sized opponent
-4 Hands, feet, head, guts, bird sized opponent
-6 Face, items worn on the body, rat sized opponent
-8 Fingers, toes, belt buckles, toggles and buttons on clothes
-10 Eyes, teeth, whiskers, tiny lizards, butterflies
-1 Faster moving target
-2 For every multiple of your Move the target is moving

Even if you strike at an unarmoured (or less armoured) part of a target to do more damage, it is the target's whole body that is damaged, rather than just that area. The only exception is a Critical hit. A Critical hit to a particular body part will disable that body part, perhaps permanently — the target takes a Wound to that body part.

One of the Lion Birds tries to bite the warrior in her vulnerable head. It attacks with a -4 penalty: Attack 23 vs. Defence 20, needs a 13 or less, and rolls a 1. This is a critical hit! The Lion Bird rolls damage with a +3 bonus (margin of success is 18), and the warrior's head is mauled, stunning them, and filling their eyes with blood. The warrior gains Wound (head wound). They should have worn a helmet!

Knockout Blows

If you strike someone in a suitable location (head, vitals) you have a chance to knock them out rather than kill them, though this is always risky. When you strike someone in an unarmoured head, guts or face location with a crushing weapon (club, punch, hammer, staff) you deal Stun damage in addition to your normal damage equal to the damage you dealt (e.g. if you deal 5 Lethal to someone's head, you deal 5 Stun as well). While this gives you a great chance of knocking someone out, you can still kill them by mistake in the process. You can try to do the same with an edged weapon like an axe or a sword, striking with some non-lethal part of the weapon, at an additional -4A penalty (if you fumble such a blow, or fail to hit by 1, then you hit for the Lethal damage you were trying avoid).

Disarming and other Stunts

All sorts of stunts in combat can be handled by making an Attack roll resisted by an appropriate difficulty. To attempt to Disarm an opponent, for example, make an Attack + Weapon Skill roll resisted by the target's Defence + Weapon Skill. Add +2 for each hand you (or the target) has on their weapon after the first. You can use the same principle to roll any other special stunts. Choose a difficulty and make a resisted Weapon Skill roll using Attack (for blows), Agility (for flourishes and catching) or Physical (for contests of shoving or strength).

Shakari has been charged by the Night Goblin on the first round of Combat. Since the Goblin won Initiative it has the first Attack. A Night Goblin has a base attack of 13 with its sabre, but it has a -3 penalty because it charged into the fight. Shakari has a Defence of 11, is in a neutral combat stance (+1D), and has a Bronze Sword (+2D). Shakari also has the Parry skill, and her weapon has Parry (1), giving her a total Defence of 15. The Goblin must roll a 5 or less to hit with its first attack (10 vs. 15), but it rolls a 12 and misses.

Now it is Shakari's turn to strike back. First, since she is a Warrior, she gets to select a Combat Stance. She chooses to strike aggressively, raising her Attack to 12. Adding her weapon skill of 3 she has a total Attack of 15 against the Goblin's Defence of 10, and needs to roll a 14 or less to hit. She rolls a 12 and lands a solid blow, inflicting D6+3 damage (her Bronze Sword does D6+1 damage and she has a Physical Bonus of 2). The damage roll comes up as a 5. The Night Goblin has an Armour of 1, and so takes 4 Lethal, a survivable blow.

This is the end of the first combat round. The second round starts with both Shakari and the Goblin in close combat. The Goblin now uses its full Attack score of 13. The Goblin must roll a 13 or less to hit, and rolls a 3, a very solid hit! The Goblin's attack inflicts D6+5 damage (D6+3 and 2 extra successes). The damage roll comes up as an 8! Shakari has no armour on, so takes the full amount of damage. This is over half her Health, so she is now Shocked.


Instead of Moving or Attacking you may choose to Guard on your action. A Guarding character gives up all opportunity to attack and instead concentrates on defending themselves as much as they can. Guarding means attempting an active defence instead of a passive one. Make a simple roll against Shield (if you have a shield), Parry (if you have a weapon that can parry) or Movement (to dodge) and add the sucesses to your Defence for the round.

If you are attacked before your Initiative, and are not surprised, stunned, or otherwise unable to react, then you can choose to forgo your upcomming action and Guard. You make the Guarding roll and increase your Defence immediately, and then skip your action when it comes around.

Badly wounded and suffering from Shock (-4 on any roll), Shakari decides that defence is the right option for the next round. She changes her combat stance to defensive (Attack 10, Defence 11) and then Guards. Shakari is armed with a Bronze Sword, which has the Parry (1) Trait, so she Guards by parrying. She makes a simple roll of Agility + Warfare / Parry, needing a 10 (-4 shock penalty) and rolling a 5. She scores 2 successes, so she increases her Defence by a total of 5 (Defence 2, Parry 1, Successes 2) giving her a Defence of 16. Until her next action the Goblin needs a 4 or less to hit, and misses.


Sometimes you wish to act only if someone else does something first. Perhaps you want to wait for a target to appear before you fire an arrow, or you wish to attempt to interrupt a Mage when she casts a spell, or you want to strike the first person to attack your friend (or you). To do any of these things you can take a Wait action. You may move on the round that you Wait as usual, but in this case you apply the movement penalty to both your Reaction roll (see below) and the action you try and take.

When you take a Wait action you specify a trigger action, what it is you are waiting for. This must concern a specific something or someone you can see. Suitable triggers might be "When the Goblin Chief attacks" or "When the spearman moves" or "When the Mage casts a spell" or "When someone enters the door". General triggers like "When something happens" or "When a secret door opens" are not acceptable (although if you know about the secret door then that's okay). If you can't express your trigger with When or If it's probably not a good trigger.

When your trigger action happens, you act. Make a Reaction roll, which is a simple roll of :

Initiative Stat + Level + Agility Bonus - opponent's Initative Bonus

For example to interrupt a physical attack in melee roll Agility + Level + Agility Bonus - opponent's Agility Bonus. If you make the roll then you act an instant before the triggering act, just fast enough to interrupt it. If you fail then you act an instant after the trigger instead. Either way the trigger still happens (unless your action made it impossible). Afterwards your Initiative becomes 1 less than the Initative of the action you interrupted, or your original Initative, whichever is higher. If you reach your normal Initative without using your Wait then you can select a new action as usual.

Only quick actions can be taken with a Wait, such as a single melee attack, releasing an arrow, shouting a warning, pulling a lever, and so forth. You cannot move (even to use your normal step). Only spells with the Fast keyword can be used in this way, any other spell is too slow.

A Level 1 swordsman with Agility 12 is in cover beside a doorway. He wishes to strike at the first person to come through. By his normal Initative of 19 no one has done so, so he takes a Wait action with a trigger of "When someone comes through the door ...". On initative 9 a rival warrior ventures through the doorway. The swordsman makes an immediate reaction roll, needing to score less than or equal to a 13 (Agility 12 + Level 1 + Ag bonus 2 - Ag bonus 2). He rolls a 9 and acts first, making an attack roll before the rival can act.


Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. In other words your best option is to try and run away. Withdrawing is attempting to retreat from combat before you lose. You may Withdraw without penalty when no one is actually engaged in combat with you (no enemies are within reach, or all of them are occupied in fighting someone else). If this is not the case then when you Withdraw then your opponent gets a free attack on you as you break combat. You have -4D for this attack. If you survive this attack with your mobility intact then you can continue to Withdraw (though of course they can try and chase you) and the combat is over.

Instead of breaking in one go you can attempt a cautious Withdrawal. On your first round you move from fully engaged to partially engaged. You have -2A and -2D on this round (-1A/-1D with the Fighting Retreat Quality). On the next round you make the actual Withdrawal, but with only a -2D penalty on the parting blow (or -1D with Fighting Retreat). Your opponent may contest a cautious Withdrawal. Instead of striking at you on the round you try and become partially engaged they can declare that they are blocking you. If they make a successful attack then your Withdrawal is canceled, but you still suffer a -2D penalty on the following round.

As the next combat round begins Shakari hears a crashing in the trees, and realises that the rest of the Night Goblin's patrol is on it's way. Already wounded she realises she needs to Withdraw and find her own comrades. She figures that she does not have the time for a cautious retreat, she has to get out of the fight now! Instead she goes for a full Withdraw, allowing the Night Goblin a free hit against her.

The Night Goblin gets a single attack against her. Shakari's Defence for this blow is 7 (Defence 10, +1 Stance, -4 Withdrawing), so the Goblin needs a 16 or less to hit (Attack 16 vs. 9). The Goblin rolls a 13, just hitting her. The blow inflicts another 4 Lethal damage, not enough to take Shakari out of the fight, so she gets away. The Night Goblin can try to catch her, perhaps by winning an Agility + Running contest, but for now the fight is over.

Advantages and Other Actions

There are many other miscellaneous actions that you can take on your action, such as shouting instructions, drawing a weapon, standing up from prone, drawing an arrow, casting a combat spell, yanking a rope, kicking a table over, shutting a door and so on. Most such actions can be accomplished in a single round, and are done as normal on your action, replacing your chance to Move, Attack or Guard. Generally anything requiring a single Simple or Resisted roll can be done in one action, while Contested rolls usually take one action per roll. If you start something that takes more than one action you can generally abandon it mid-way and use your action for something else, but would need to re-start your interrupted action from the beginning.


In general one successful action during combat is enough to create an advantage that you can then exploit. This might be as simple as getting into the perfect position to launch an attack, or might be a trick like throwing sand into your opponent's eyes, or kicking over a chair to block their retreat. Similarly you can create an advantage that helps someone else, such as moving into a position to support their attacks, or providing them covering fire.

To create an advantage you must make a relevant skill or attribute check resisted by a 12. If successful you gain a +2 Attack, Defence or Movement bonus on your next action so long as the advantage is relevant. You don't have to take this bonus yourself, if it makes sense you can pass it to another character. This represents them taking advantage of the help that you are lending them. If you (or the person you are aiding) takes a different action then the advantage goes away, and it goes away if the situation changes.

Two warriors, Apsu and Gandu, are fighting a Shadow Lion together. Gandu is the better warrior, and Apsu's blows are failing to hit, but Gandu has taken a nasty blow and cannot take another. Instead of taking another swing at the Lion Apsu drops his sword and takes a position beside Gandu, holding his shield up to defend him. Apsu rolls Attack + Warfare / Shield vs. 12 to create an advantage and gives Gandu +2D on his next round. Thanks to his companion's help Gandu survives the Lion's next attack and is still in the fight.

Groups and Assistance

The default option for dealing with a combat involving multiple people on each side is to allow each person a full action per round, choosing a target and making an attack as above. An alternate option is to assemble each side into one or more Groups, and have the Groups fight each other. A Group must have a Leader (who controls where the Group goes, and is the basis for it's morale and leadership) and a Vanguard (who does the fighting). The Leader and Vanguard can be the same person.

Forming a Group

To form a Group a Leader must have a group of willing people ready to join him. A character's own Underling or Familiar always counts as willing. A group cannot be larger than the Leader's Presence + Command (although larger units can be assembled out of Groups, such as an Infantry battalion). One member of the Group must be nominated as the Vanguard. The Vanguard should be the best fighter in the Group, and somewhat representative of how the Group fights. If you cannot select a plausible Vanguard (e.g. your Group contains 3 melee fighters, 5 archers, a merchant and 3 social fighters) then you don't have a valid Group.

Groups may be Trained or Untrained. A Trained Group has practiced fighting together, or has some other close relationship that allows them to work together (Binding spells, family relationships, long comradeship). An Untrained Group is any ad-hoc group of people attempting to fight on the same side.

Each Group takes it's action on it's Leader's or Vanguard's initiative (whichever is better), and can attack another Group or individual. The Vanguard makes all attack and defence rolls required, while the Leader rolls for Morale and Command. A Group Vanguard gains bonuses to their Combat Attributes based on the rest of the Group as follows:

Trained Group
Attack +1/5th of group total Attack
Defence +1/5th of group total Defence
Damage Attribute +1/5th of group total Damage Attribute
Initiative +1 per additional member
Untrained Group
Attack +1/10th of group total Attack
Defence +1/10th of group total Defence
Damage Attribute +1/10th of group total Damage Attribute

Group Damage

When attacking a Group damage is dealt to the Vanguard. Damage is based on the attacking Vanguard's normal damage (weapon + attribute bonus + extra successes). Damage is calculated as follows:

When only the Vanguard is fighting
Use this option when the Groups on each side are there mostly for moral support, such a boxing match (with a crowd on each side), political debate (with groups of cronies), magical duel (with minor acolytes supporting the Mage) and the like, or when the Group is being attacked by an individual (or individuals). In this case normal damage (with Group bonuses) are dealt to the Vanguard.
When the whole Group is fighting
Use this option when the whole Group is fighting, such as a battle, skirmish, brawl, public shouting match and the like. When the attacking Vanguard deals damage multiply it by the size of their Group, then divide it by the size of the Defender's Group before dealing it to the defending Vanguard. Note that you should not use this option when a Group attacks an Individual, it's simply not possible for everyone to effectively gang up on the target.

Winning a Group Fight

A Group is taken out of combat when the defending Leader calls a retreat, or the Group fails it's Bravery test, or the Vanguard is taken out of Combat. To avoid being taken out by injury the Vanguard may assign any damage he takes to other Group members. However each time he does this one or more Group members is taken out of Combat. If the damage would not take the Vanguard out then one group member is lost. If the Damage would do so, then 1 additional member is taken out for each 5 Damage in excess of the Vanguard's Health (rounding up). This does not mean that the Group Member is dead (or otherwise reduced to 0 Health), they may have run away, been pushed out of formation, taken an inconveniencing flesh wound, dropped their weapon, etc. The Vanguard should generally take minor hits himself and shift the bigger ones to other people. When members are taken out the Group Bonus to the Vanguard drops immediately.

When a Group loses 1/4 of it's members in this way, and each time it loses a member subsequently, it may break and run away. Make a Spirit + Bravery roll for the unit based on the average skill of the members. If this fails the Leader must make a Presence + Command (or other social skill) check to prevent the Group members from routing and abandoning the fight.

When a group is taken out not every member will be equally wounded. Some will be as wounded as the Vanguard, some more wounded, and some less. If it is important to know how wounded a particular member is (for example they are a Player Character) then have the member make a Defence + Weapon Skill roll. On a success they are a little less wounded than the Vanguard was. For each extra Success they are 5 damage less wounded. If they fail they are as wounded as the Vanguard. For each extra Failure they are 5 damage more wounded. This may well mean that the character is in danger of death (especially if the Vanguard died), make survival rolls as normal in this case.

Quick Group Combat

You can combine the Group rules and the Quick Combat rules easily. Work out the Combat Strength of each unit (approximating this to the CS of the Vanguard times Group size will often work), and then make the contested rolls between Vanguards using the normal Quick rules for Combat Strength. Use the difference in successes on the final roll to tell you whether the losing Group fought to a man or fled the fight. Give an untrained Group a CS penalty equal to 5 per person.

A little after the rest of this example Shakari has met up with the rest of her patrol, and is facing the entire group of Night Goblins (including the one she fought earlier). Shakari's patrol has 5 other members, while the Night Goblin troop is 7 strong. While this fight could be run individually it makes equal sense to use the Group rules.

Shakari's patrol has trained together extensively, so it is a Trained Group. Shakari is both the Leader and the Vanguard, and gains 1/5th of her comrades' Attack, Defence, and Damage Attribute (in this case Physical). The other five members are Level 0, with 10 in every stat, so she gains +10A, +10D and +10Phys. Shakari's patrol has +5 Initiative. The Night Goblin pack are untrained, but more numerous. They give their leader 1/10th of their Attack, Defence and Damage totals. This works out as +7A, +7D and +8Phys. The Night Goblin pack does not get an initiative bonus, because it has not trained together.

Shakari's Patrol wins Initiative and attacks first. It uses Shakari's Attack total of 23 (Base 10, +3 Weapon Skill, +10 Group Bonus) against the Goblin's Defence of 19 (Base 12, +7 Group Bonus), needing a 14 or less to hit. Shakari rolls a 12. Her damage is her normal weapon damage (D6+1) increased by her modified Physical Bonus of 4 (she has Physical 22), for a total of D6+5. Shakari rolls a 4, for 9 damage. This is multiplied by 5 (size of her Group) and then divided by 7 (target group) for a total of 7. She inflicts 7 Lethal damage on the Goblin Vanguard, who takes 6 (Armour 1). The Vanguard chooses to just take that damage (the Vanguard now has Health 7).

The Night Goblin Vanguard now attacks back, needing a 9 or less to hit (20 vs. 21), but rolls a 12, missing. On Shakari's turn the Derzaki patrol needs a 14 to hit, and rolls a 3. She inflicts D6+7 damage (D6+1, Phys Bonus 4, 2 successes) and rolls a 6, inflicting 9 (12*5/7) Lethal. This will take the Night Goblin out (Health below 0) right away, so the Vanguard has no choice but to pass the damage on. Since the damage exceeds his remaining Health by 2, 2 Goblins are taken out, dropping the pack to 5. The Goblins have now lost more than a quarter of their number and must make a Bravery roll. With a Spirit of 9 the Goblins fail and break and run from the Derzaki warriors.

Melee Combat

Melee Combat, which is any sort of fight conducted at short range using hand weapons, is the default sort of combat in Termite, and uses the rules for actions, attack and defence as written above, with no exceptions.

In Melee Combat you have the following additional Action options:

Defend Another
Interpose yourself against attacks on someone else.
Wait for an opening.

Defending Others

It is possible for one combatant to defend another from attack. To do this you get in the way of the people who are fighting, or put yourself in the way of an attack directed at the person you are protecting.

As an action you can choose to defend another person who is adjacent to you (within 1 step). You give that person a bonus of 5 Defence and suffer an equal Defence loss yourself (although see the Defender Quality). If someone else is already in combat with the person you wish to defend then you must make a successful contested Agility + Movement roll against the attacker. You gain a +2 to this roll if the person you are defending is willing.

You can maintain your defence from round to round if you wish without using an action, but your defence fails if you move more than a step from the person you are protecting.

If an attacker targets the person you are guarding then you may choose to interpose yourself. The attack targets you instead. You may do this multiple times per round, but you suffer twice the normal Defence penalty from multiple attacks if you do so.

Note that you can defend someone much more passively using the Create an Advantage action.

Aksu, a 6th Level Warrior with a Defence of 11, wishes to defend Lissana, a Mage with Defence 10. Aksu has the Defender Quality, and Fighting Style : Defender. A Night Goblin is attacking Lissana and Aksu needs to get in the way. He uses his action to make a contested Agility + Movement roll with the Goblin. Lissana wants to be defended, so Aksu gets +2. He rolls 14 vs. 14, needing a 10 or less, and rolls an 8.

Now Aksu can give up to 11 (5+Level because of the Defender Quality) Defence to Lissana. He takes a +6 defensive stance and gives Lissana the full +11 Defence. Aksu's Defence is now 8 (11 + 6 (stance) + 1 (defender) + 1 (fighting style) - 11 (defending)), while Lissana's is 21. When the Night Goblin attacks Lissana Aksu may choose to have the blow target him instead.

The next round Aksu may Guard, increasing his Defence further, and maintain the +11 Defence on Lissana.


If you can remain unengaged and pick the perfect time to strike you may land a telling blow. You may pick a target and watch them, circling for your perfect opening. Each action you spend Evaluating your target gives you +1A when you finally choose to make your attack, up to a maximum bonus of +3. You can only claim this bonus if you go directly from Evaluating to making an attack on your chosen target. If you are forced to Move, Guard, defend yourself, or attack someone other than that target then you lose all of the Evaluation bonuses. The same applies if your target gets the jump on you and attacks you before you can attack them.

Obstacles and Cover

Often inanimate objects, or even other fighters, will get in the way of a combat. Fighters will overturn tables, jump behind rocks, duck around trees, overturn candlesticks and generally do anything they can to become a harder target. Mostly this is simply accounted for by the target's Defence (especially with Guarding and Stance bonuses) but sometimes a significant obstacle can clearly be used for safety. In this case the defending fighter gets a Defence bonus of 1-5 depending on the obstacle's size. The GM will normally require an Ag / Acrobatics or Ag / Jump roll to take advantage of such cover if you are moving while being attacked. If you fail then you lose 1D instead of gaining the cover bonus.


As every wise warrior knows, while armour can reduce the severity of a blow, the best is not to get hit in the first place. Shields offer massive defensive benefits to those trained to use them. Most Keldian shields are made of wicker or wood, with a facing of tough hide, or even metal. Bronze faced shields mark the Bonded Warriors of the Orders, while Iron Shields are the preserve of the richest and most favoured. Shields of solid metal are known but rare, their immense weight make them as much of a hindrance as an aide.

An equipped shield takes up one of your character's hands, meaning that two handed weapons cannot be used with a shield equipped. Dropping a shield to a equip a weapon requires a full action, since the shield is generally strapped on. If the shield has a strap to go over the shoulder then it is not lost when dropped, otherwise it falls to the ground. Bucklers are small and merely held in the hand. They can be dropped without using an action.

Shields have the followng benefits:

Damaging and Repairing Shields

All shields will become battered and dented as they are used, but such minor damage can be repaired by anyone with a Warfare / Armoury of at least 2 and a few hours of work. If you suffer a critical fumble while weilding a shield you may break the shield. Similarly when someone scores a critical hit against you your shield may be damaged. Finally any attack with a Mighty rating will damage your shield when you are attacked. If the Mighty rating is below the Shield's Defence bonus then it can withstand blows equal to it's Defence bonus before being destroyed. If the Mighty rating is equal to or greater than the Shield's Defence then the first blow blocked with the Shield (i.e. defended against while using the shield) will shatter it.

A shattered (or split or punctured) shield is usually discarded, but some warriors may wish to try and fix it. An Agility + Culture / Craft roll (Woodworking, Wickerworking, Leatherworking) resisted by 10 + the shield's base Defence can put a splintered wood or wicker shield back together at a cost equal to half the shield's cost in materials. An Agility + Mining / Armoury roll can do the same for a metal shield.

Weapon Length

Not all weapons are the same length, and it can be hard to make attacks on someone with a longer weapon than you, or to defend yourself from them. A knife is a great weapon, but it's hard to hold off a pike with one. The weapon lengths are as follows:

Length Class Examples
1 Small Knives, daggers, fists, claws
2 Medium Swords, axes, clubs, maces, javelins
3 Long Staves, spears, greatswords, polearms
4 Very Long Pikes, lances

When attacking a target with a longer weapon than your own, give the target a Defence bonus equal to the difference in lengths. When attacking a target with a shorter weapon than your own, gain an Attack bonus equal to the difference in lengths. For example a knifeman and a spearman face off. When the knifeman attacks the spearman has a +2D bonus. When the spearman attacks he has a +2A bonus. If you can get inside the reach of a weapon you can negate this bonus. To do this you must be using a weapon at least two classes shorter and beat the opponent in a contest of weapon skills first.

Unless otherwise stated the length of an animal's main attack (such as the bite of a Frian, or the claws of a Heat Flyer) are Medium. The unnarmed attacks of a Keldian, along with the secondary attacks of an animal, are generally Small instead.

Special Traits

Here are a few special traits for weapons. You can see the traits for weapons listed on the Equipment List.

Fragile weapons are made of poor materials. Any fumble will cause such a weapon to snap.
Keen weapons are especially sharp, or designed to pierce armour. Keen weapons ignore one half (rounding up) of a target's physical armour.
Weapons marked Long, Short or Very Long have unusual weapon lengths. Anything else is Medium Length.
Mighty weapons are massive, hard to avoid, or otherwise especially deadly. Even when such a weapon misses its target it can still inflict injury. This may be because the target has to throw themselves out of the way, or because even a blocked impact is enough to shake them. A Mighty weapon always inflicts it's mighty rating in damage each round, even if the Attack roll fails, or armour otherwise blocks all the damage. Ignore this rule if any of the following are true : the Attack roll fails with more than 1 failure, the target's Armour is more than twice the Mighty Rating, the target is Guarding (although a target guarding with a shield may have it destroyed by a Mighty attack, see above).
Parrying weapons are easier to defend with. If you have the Parry Skill then you gain a Defence Bonus, and can Guard with the Parry Skill using this weapon.
These weapons are made from sacred materials. They are capable of harming immaterial things such as wraiths.
Some weapons are unbalanced, once you attack with them it takes too long to get them back into position to defend with them as well. When you make an attack with an unbalanced weapon you lose it's Defence bonus until your next action. Unbalanced weapons start the fight ready (assuming they have been drawn) and so you will gain their Defence bonus before your first action.

Mounted Combat

If forced to fight from the back of an animal, use the worst of your Weapon or Riding Skill to calculate your Attack. If forced to fight from (or on) the back of a moving vehicle, use the worst of your Weapon or the drivers Driving skill to calculate your Attack. Opponents on the ground have -1 to hit targets on a mount, unless using a Long weapon. When hitting an opponent on the ground with an impact weapon, such as a Lance or Spear, add your mount's Phys bonus to your damage instead of your own. When calculating your Move, use your mount's Movement and Agility rather than your own.

Ranged Combat

Ranged Combat, which is any sort of fight conducted at long range using bows, javelins, throwing knives, slings and the like, follows most of the same rules as standard combat, but with different rules for Defence.

In Ranged Combat you have the following additional Action options:

Line up for the perfect shot.
Reload a weapon you are unskilled with, or which is slow to use.


All ranged weapons have an accuracy rating, which represents how well they can be aimed. Each turn you spend your action aiming at a target before attacking you get +1A. The maximum bonus you can get in this way is equal to the weapon's accuracy bonus. You can only claim this aiming bonus if you can keep your target in view constantly from when you start aiming till when you attack. If your target moves out of view you lose your aiming bonus and will have to start again.


When you make an attack with a ranged weapon you make a normal attack roll, your Attack + Weapon Skill resisted by the target's Defence. When using a fast weapon (bow, sling, etc.) you can ignore any bonus to the target's Defence from Parry, your projectiles travel too fast to be parried. Slower missile weapons, such as Javelins or Spears can be parried if the target is aware of you. A Shield may be used against any missile attack you are aware of, fast or slow.

You cannot Guard with most ranged weapons, nor parry with them. Spears, Javalins and Knives (which are also melee weapons) are exceptions. You also cannot vary your Combat Stance with a ranged weapon, unless you are in range of your enemies. i.e. you cannot sacrifice your Defence for bonus Attack when your Defence is not being used (such as when shooting from a distance at targets without ranged weapons). In this case use the Aiming rules to represent your advantage.


At point blank range you make range attacks using your full Attack Total, but your Attack is reduced as range increases. Each ranged weapon has a Base Range. For each whole multiple of Base Range between you and your target, your Attack Total is reduced by 1. So if you fire a bow with a Base Range of 10 Legats at a target 100 Legats away, you have -10A. Long range also reduces the damage that your ranged weapon inflicts. Every five increments of Base Range reduce the damage inflicted by 1. So the shot described above is also at -2 Damage due to long range.

Range Increments Attack Damage
less than 1 - -
1 -1 -
2 -2 -
3 -3 -
4 -4 -
5 -5 -1

Namshur shoots a Horn Bow at a target 61 Legats away. The Horn Bow has a Base Range of 12. The target is 1 legat into the 6th range increment, so Namshur makes his shot with a -5 Attack penalty and a -1 Damage penalty.

Difficult Targets / Cover

The modifiers for attacking described above apply to a clearly visible target, in the open, on the light side, moving slowly and of average size. If any of these things are now true then there are additional modifiers to your Attack. Note that cover penalizes a ranged attacker (rather than adding to the defence of the target), since it helps defence regardless of the number of attackers. The following table suggests some appropriate modifiers.

Situation Modifier Situation Modifier
Brilliance +2A Light Cover (leaves, bushes) -2A
Twilight -3A Moderate Cover (half behind a wall) -4A
Dark Lands -8A Heavy Cover (ducking from behind cover, hiding in window) -8A
Dust Storm -3A
Sprinting Target -1A
Galloping / Flying Target -3A
Large or Small Target +/- Size


Obviously if you throw your last spear you have no more ranged attacks, but the same is not true if you are carrying a quiver of arrows, a brace of daggers or a pouch of sling stones. In this case you will need to reload your weapon between attacks. If you have at least one level in the relevant weapon skill (Bow, Thrown or Dart), and reloads on hand (pouch on your belt, quiver at your side, arrows stuck into the ground) then you can reload fast enough to attack each round as normal. If you don't have the skill, or your reloads are harder to reach (grabbing stones from the ground, quiver on your mount) then you need to take an action to reload between each attack.

Bows in particular are slower to ready at the start of combat than many other weapons, since they are usually carried unstrung, or at least unloaded. If you need to get your bow ready in a hurry you need to take an action to make a Phys / Bow roll to string it, and then another action to load your first arrow.

Generally you will have a small but adequate amount of ammunition on hand, such as a pouch of 50 sling stones or a quiver of 24 arrows. This is enough to last most short combats without worrying about whether you have run out. In battles archers either shoot and retire after a short while, or are resupplied with more arrows by assistants. Again you don't really have to worry about running out. On the other hand if ammunition is short (or running out might be dramatic) then you may want to track shots fired to see if you run out, and use Search after the battle to try and recover intact arrows (generally about a third of the arrows + 1 per success).

Unarmed Combat

Unarmed Combat is any sort of fight using only natural weapons, such as fists, claws, feet, hooves, spines and teeth. Attacks in Unarmed Combat are made using the Warfare / Wrestle Skill, or base Attack if you don't have it. Unarmed combat has special rules for damage, grappling, number of attacks, and defending against weapons. Most of these rules apply to attacks made by wild animals as well as Keldians.

A Keldian with the Wrestle Skill has a number of options available during Unarmed Combat to control the amount of damage that they do, which are not available to those that do not. If you don't have the Skill ignore anything on the list below other than Standard Attack.

Attack Types

Any unarmed attacker can make one of the following attack types, depending on what sort of natural weapons they possess. Each attack type has different Attack and Defence modifiers, and inflicts some mixture of Stun and normal Damage (see rules on damage below for more details).

Standard Attack
An attack using hands, feet, hooves, tail swipes and general bodyweight. These attacks use base Attack and Defence. They inflict an amount of damage equal to your Phys Damage bonus. Half of this is inflicted as Damage, and half as Stun.
Lethal Attack
An attack using horns, teeth, claws, spines, and trained bare handed attacks. These attacks use base Attack and Defence. They inflict an amount of damage equal to your Phys Damage bonus + natural weapon damage as Damage. A Keldian can only make such an attack if they have at least Warfare / Wrestle 1. Natural weapon damage for a Keldian comes from the Fighting Spines Quality.
Power Attack
An attack using elbows, knee-strikes, tramples, joint wrenches and other high-impact attacks. These attacks use base Attack and -1D. The inflict damage like a Lethal Attack +1. A Keldian can only make such an attack if they have at least Warfare / Wrestle 1.
Stunning Attack
An attack using chokes, gut punches, slaps, joint strains and shoves designed to knock the wind from your opponent without killing them. Animals may inflict such damage with swipes, body-checks, crushes and throws (for riders). These attacks use base Attack and Defence. They inflict an amount of Stun damage equal to your Phys Damage bonus. A Keldian can only make such an attack if they have at least Warfare / Wrestle 1.
Grappling Attack
An attack using arms, tentacles, coils, webs or tongues, designed to immobilise a target or knock them down. The target gets an A and D penalty to twice your Wrestle Skill against other attackers, and you may make a Phys vs. Defence contest to knock the target down, disarm them, or otherwise control them. Constricting animals make Phys vs. Phys to crush you instead, inflicting Fatigue equal to Phys damage bonus instead. To break a grapple make a successful attack using Wrestle.
Sting Attack
An attack using a stinger to inject poison of some sort. Calculate base damage as for a Lethal Attack. If any damage penetrates armour they take only 1 damage, but are affected by the venom carried by the stinger.

Defending against Weapons

An unarmed Keldian will suffer if forced to defend against a weapon. If your opponent is attacking you with a weapon your Defence is reduced by 2. In addition you count as using a size 1 weapon, and may suffer weapon length penalties as well. The same applies to wild animals. It is generally best to use a spear if you need to face a Shadow Lion, for example. Some natural weapons (tentacles, stingers, snake strikes) may have a reach larger than 1, just like longer weapons.

Multiple Attacks

As normal you may split your Attack between multiple blows if you wish, up to one for each limb you can get into the fight (though you will rarely want to). The same applies to wild Animals with multiple natural attacks. However some animals can make more than one independent attack without penalty, for example biting one target while also clawing them. In this case multiple attack scores will be listed on it's profile, one for each natural attack.

Social Combat

Social Combat is any sort of intense conflict using words, politics, blackmail, insinuation, rhetoric and logic as weapons. Social Combat is rarely fatal, but can effect sweeping changes in Status and politics. Simple social conflict can just be resolved with a roll on a social skill (e.g. Charm), or an opposed roll, but when things escalate into a crucial debate, court case, or cutthroat public shaming, you can use these combat rules instead. When initiating a Social Combat it is important to outline your aims, what point, argument or issue you are in conflict over. Winning the Social Conflict allows you to force concessions on that issue, while an opponent may choose to concede or break combat to accept a lesser concession than loss would entail. Your choice of approach should be roleplayed, and will affect what sort of weapons you can use.

Social Combat differs from the default combat rules in terms of the stats it uses, and the type of damage done, but otherwise uses the same rules for actions, targets, multiple attacks and so forth. You cannot use the Combat Stance ability from the Warrior Path in Social Combat.


Social Combat uses the following attributes. This list differs substantially from the list given for physical combat above. The main roll for Social Combat is a To-hit based on Presence resisted by Spirit. High Spirit characters have strong will-power and self confidence, and can avoid or ignore the arguments of their opponents. Social Damage is taken against Status. High Status characters find it easy to shrug off social attacks from any source, while low Status ones are easily susceptible to any sort of public shame or official pressure. Status bonuses from Patrons, Reputations and other Qualities apply when using Status as Health.

Combat Value Attribute / Trait / Skill
Initiative Presence Attribute + Oratory + D20
Movement n/a
To-Hit Presence Attribute + Weapon Skill resisted by Spirit
Damage Weapon Damage + Intelligence Bonus in Social Damage
Health Status Attribute
Traits Oratory, Subterfuge, Law
Weapons Blackmail material, Law Codes, Proclamations etc.
Groups Limited by Presence + Charm


When you make a Social Attack you are delivering an insult, rhetorical argument, put-down, veiled threat, offer, promise, or well turned phrase designed to weaken your opponent's resistance, win over by-standers, or win an argument. A successful attack inflicts Social Damage on the target, which can force concessions or inflicts Flaws. You can make an attack with any social skill appropriate to the attack you are making.

Defence Options

When you land an attack you will inflict Social Damage equal to your Intelligence Bonus. If you have a weapon then add the weapon's damage. In general Social Combat hits inflict less damage than Physical ones, but combatants tend to have lower Status than Health also. As per the standard combat rules each additional success on your hit roll will inflict one additional damage.

It is possible to have Social Armour, occasionally such things as Laws, Proclamations and Titles can provide standard Social Armour. For example a Judge gains armour from his title. You can see a list of Social Armour values in the Equipment List.

There are a number of ways to increase your Social Defence.

When you Guard in Social Combat you attempt to redirect your opponent's attack to someone else. Normally you will deflect attacks to someone who is not present (blaming things on your superiors, inferiors, foreigners or what have you) but you can also target someone who is present. If you choose someone who is not present make a Simple Int + Subterfuge / Deception roll. If you succeed increase your Defence by your margin of success plus one half of the Status of the person (or group) you blamed. (Note that if you do this news may get back to the person you blamed). You may also target someone present, such as a flunky, ally, or enemy (so long as that enemy is not a member of the group that attacked you). If the person is unwilling to take the blame then your roll is resisted by their Presence. If you succeed gain a bonus equal to their full Status instead of half. A person blamed in this way has a Social Defence penalty of -4 until their next turn.

You may also choose to increase your Defence without taking an action by making some sort of concession to the opponent short of conceding the fight. You and the GM should agree a bonus, between 1 and 5, representing how much of a concession you have made. You gain a Defence bonus equal to the concession until your next action.

Ending Combat

A combatant (or group) is taken out when they are reduced to 0 Status by a social attack. When this happens they take a Social Wound, and are forced to concede your opponent's point. This does not mean that you cannot renew the argument or debate at a later date, but that you have been forced to publicly acknowledge their point, or that you have been unable to continue the argument. The Social Wound that you take should be related to the way in which you were taken out of combat.

Note that the type of attack is as important as the initial intent. If an opponent starts to Seduce you during the middle of a legal debate they may well take you out of the Combat (by ruining your composure) but this won't be taken as an admission of their legal point. If your opponent switches tactics like this in a formal setting then they may well forfeit the combat as well (this can be a valid tactic if you are losing as well).

An alternative to losing you can attempt to Withdraw in the same way as for normal combat. This represents you effectively ducking out of the contest, ending the conflict without actually being defeated (or admitting defeat). Of course in a Social Combat it's hard to be out of engagement range of the opponent (unless you can physically flee the situation) so you are generally stuck with a contested Withdrawal. Offering a concession on the round you Withdraw is a good idea.

Battle System

Sometimes player characters are going to get caught up in the midst of a battle. Usually this is just an opportunity for dramatic roleplaying, where the characters each get their own scene against the backdrop of a battle. Sometimes however the players are the commanders, or the outcome of the battle is in doubt, and you want to mechanically play it out. These rules help you do so.

The basic system is as follows: each side calculates a Combat Strength (as for the Quick Combat rules), each side's commander makes a contested Intelligence + Warfare + Battle roll (or Int + Level for Monsters), with victory in the battle going to the winner, casualties both sides being assesed by the difference in rolls. You can resolve a battle in a single contest if you wish, which is appropriate for background conflicts you wish to pass over relatively quickly, or in a series of contested rolls each representing one phase in the battle.

If you want to focus on a battle in even greater detail then calculate Combat Strength for each unit, and then pit them against each other in combat rounds. This is the advanced system, and is more time consuming by far (but also more tactical).

Calculating Combat Strength

To calculate the Combat Strength (CS) of a Unit, calculate the CS of an average unit member, and then multiply by the size of the unit. Since only relative CS matters you can round down after multiplying, or divide final CS by 10 to make calculating ratios easier. Here are some typical Combat Strengths to make this easier.

Unit Type CS Bravery Notes
Rabble 36 9 Untrained level 0 characters armed with improvised weapons.
Skirmishers 55 11 Trained Level 1 skirmisher in hide armour with hand weapon and javalins.
Peasantry 45 10 Untrained Level 0 farmers formed up in units with spears.
Light Infantry 55 12 Trained level 1 infantry with spears and leather armour.
Medium Infantry 62 13 Trained level 2 infantry in armour with shields and swords.
Heavy Infantry 72 13 Trained level 2 infantry in heavy armour with 2-handed weapons.
Bonded-Ones 80 15 Trained level 3 Red Order Bonded-Ones with heavy armour and weapons.
Light Cavalry 64 11 Trained level 1 krakath riders with maces and linen armour.
Heavy Cavalry 71 12 Trained level 2 crdlu riders with Atalchuk and heavy hide armour.
Slingers 42 10 Untrained level 1 characters with slings.
Archers 52 11 Trained level 1 archers with horn bows and arrows.
Wizards 55 12 Untrained level 1 wizards with combat spells and light armour.
Magi 73 15 Trained level 3 Red Order Battle Mages with combat spells.
Siege Troops 55 13 Trained level 1 infantry with heavy armour and siege ladders.

The Basic System

Calculate Combat Strengths

Advantage Bonus
1.2 or less +0
1.2 to 1.4 +1
1.4 to 1.7 +2
1.7 to 2 +3
2+ to 3 +4
3+ to 5 +5
5+ to 7 +6
7+ to 10 +7
10+ +8
vs. =

First calculate Combat Strengths for each unit in each army involved in the battle. CS scores are then totaled for each category on the table above (so you have one total for Skirmish, one for Infantry and so forth). Finally total the CS of all units involved in the current phase of the battle (if you are doing the entire battle in one phase then just total all units) and find the ratio of army strengths on the CS Advantage table. For each unit category (Skirmish, Ranged etc.) in which your army has a significantly greater CS total (20% or more), the commander gains a further +1. If the opposing army has none of the unit type at all, gain +2 instead.

Make Battle Rolls

Each army's commander now makes a contested Intelligence + Warfare + Strategy + Battle roll. As with the Quick Combat rules you can use the number of rolls required to arrive at a winner, and the degree of victory, to guage how the phase went. The commander gets a bonus to their roll from +0 to +5 based on an assessment of how good their battle plan is (this can be a reward for careful roleplaying by players, or a penalty for a heedless charge), and can gain further bonuses from Player Characters (see below). If one side has defensive works then add a further bonus based on their quality (again +0 to +5 is reasonable).

Resolve Damage

Once you know the winner of the phase you can assess the casualties on either side of the battle. Each side takes roughly 20% casualties at the end of a phase, +5% for each additional roll in the contest. Work out the degree of success or failure for each commander, and then calculate the difference in margins. The winning side has their damage reduced by a %age equal to the difference, while the losing side has it increased by the same amount. Both sides take 3% more casualties for each failure on their final roll, and 3% less for each success. If a side has defensive works reduce the base damage by the 0-5 bonus you added to the Battle Roll.

If the battle is to go to another phase, or you care about the fate of a particular unit, then calculate damage separately for each unit. The unit takes the base damage for the army +1d20-10% (so a unit can end up more or less wounded than the army as a whole). Front line infantry and heavy cavalry units take most of this damage as actual casulaties, while skirmish and light cavalry units are more likely to have routed than perished. If a unit takes more than 1/4 casualties then it may break. As in the Group rules make a Bravery roll for the unit to see if it flees.

Two armies fight. Both commanders are rolling against a 15. Side A rolls a 9, Side B rolls a 12, so Side A wins. Side A's degree of success is 6 (2 successes), while Side B's is 3 (1 success), so the difference is 3. Side A takes a base 10% casualties (20-6-4), while Side B takes 23% (20+6-3).

Decide the Outcome

If you are making one roll for the entire battle you are now done. The winner of the Battle Contest wins the battle. Winning with a difference of 1 success or less implies a marginal victory, 2 to 3 successes indicates a solid victory, while 4+ successes difference is an overwhelming victory. If you are running the battle with multiple phases first apply damage to each unit, then re-calculate the CS of each unit to arrive at the Battle Roll modifiers, and proceed with the next round.

Player Characters in Battle

Player characters are mere individuals, but their actions can have a significant scale. Each Player Character in a battle can be in one of four roles.

The PC is staying as far out of battle as possible. They do not contribute to victory (or loss) and do not get wounded just because their army loses.
The PC joins a unit and fights in the melee. Add the PC's CS to that of the unit. If the unit breaks then the PC can act as Leader and use Pre+Command to prevent the rout.
The PC is the battle Commander, and makes the Battle Roll to determine Victory. They are assumed to be in a headquarters unit of some sort.
Special Duty
The PC is attempting to do something special, such as scouting the enemy, assassinating a leader, casting spells, healing the wounded, sniping, manning the siege engines and so forth. Each PC doing something special makes a simple roll of a relevant skill. The Commander gains +1 on the Battle Roll for each success on such a roll.

Any PC on special Duty should choose a Risk, from -5 to +5, representing how much danger they are putting themselves in while performing their duty. Add the Risk to their simple roll. When calculating casualties each PC who is engaged or on special duty takes damage equal to their side's percentage damage + (D6+Risk) Lethal. i.e. if you take Risk +3 you get +3 on your roll and take D6+3 extra Lethal damage.

It is two cycles since our earlier example of Shakari vs. the Night Goblin. A full-scale Night Goblin raid has been met by a hastily assembled Derzaki force, with Shakari in command.

The Derzaki force comprises 2 units of 20 Light Infantry (CS 1100 each), and 1 unit of 30 Medium Infantry (CS 1860), along with a hastily formed unit of 20 Slingers (CS 840). The Night Goblin invasion force is made up of 6 units of 20 Goblins led by an Acolyte (CS 1088). Two of these units are led by a Master and have CS 1280 and Bravery 14. The Derzaki breakdown is Infantry 4060, Ranged 840, while the Goblins have Infantry 6912. The Derzaki force is led by a seasoned NPC commander (Int 11, Warfare 2, Battle 2), while the Night Goblins are under the command of a Champion (Int 10, Level 6).

Phase 1

As the battle begins one of the Night Goblin units has rushed forward, hoping to strike the Derzaki line while it is still forming up. Only the slingers and one Light Infantry unit are in place. The Derzaki defenders have Infantry 1100 and Ranged 840 in place, while the rushing Goblins have Infantry 1280. Rounding these numbers the relative army sizes are Derzaki 19 and Goblins 13. The Derzaki forces have a total advantage of 1.4 giving their commander +2. The Derzaki also have total superirity in Ranged troops, gaining +2. Shakari is at the front, trying to get the rest of the troops into the fight. She could choose to join one of the units (adding CS 47), but instead takes Speical Duty, trying to go after the Goblin Leader. This is quite risky, so she has a Risk of +4. She makes a simple roll of Attack + Weapon Skill + 4 (18) and gets a 9. This is 2 successes and adds +2 to her commander's roll. The Goblins get a +1 for tactics (breaking the formation is a good plan, but not enough troops are doing it.

The Derzaki commander rolls against a 21 (Int 11 + Warfare 2 + Battle 2 + Advantage 2 + Ranged 2 + Shakari 2), and gets a 17, while the Night Goblin Champion rolls against a 17 (Int 10 + Level 6 + Tactics 1) and gets a 15. Neither commander has won the contest so they roll again, as the troops struggle. This time the Derzaki commander rolls a 12 while the Goblin rolls a 15. The Derzaki's have 2 successes while the Goblins have 1, so the phase is won by the Derzaki.

The Goblin unit takes a base of 25% casualties. The Derzaki margin of success was 9, and the Goblins had 2, so the damage is increased by 7% to 32%, -3 for the one success they scored. The Goblin force takes 29% damage. The Derzaki force takes a base of 25% casualties, reduced by 7% to 18%, -6 for the two successes to 12%. Applying this to each unit the Light Infantry ends the phase on 15% casulaties (d20-10, rolls 13, +3% casulaties), the Slingers take 8% casualties (rolls 6 for -4%) and the Goblins take 35% (rolls 16, +6% casualties). The Goblin unit must roll to avoid routing, needing a 13 (Spirit 9 + Ferocity 4), but rolling a 16, so the unit breaks and streams away. Normally the unit leader could try to rally them, but Shakari already killed him.

Shakari doesn't come out unscathed. She took a +4 risk action, so she takes 12% + D6+4 Lethal. With a Health of 15 and a roll of 3 this comes out as 8 Lethal!

Phase 2

With the time they bought in the opening phase the Derzaki troops get the rest of their line in place, ready to face the advancing bulk of the Night Goblins. CS is calculated again at the start of the phase to reflect the injuries from before. The Derzaki forces are Infantry 3895 and Ranged 773, while the Goblins have Infantry 5632 (because one of their units is still fleeing). This gives a rounded strength of 47 vs. 56. Now the Night Goblins have a total advantage of 1.2 giving their commander +1, and another +1 for Infantry superiority, while the Derzaki's have +2 for their ranged superiority. Shakari decides not to put herself on the front line again, and joins one of the Infantry units.

The Derzaki commander rolls against a 17 (Int 11 + Warfare 2 + Battle 2 + Ranged 2), and gets an 8, while the Night Goblin Champion rolls against an 18 (Int 10 + Level 6 + Advantage 1 + Infantry 1) and gets a 19. The Derzaki commander has 2 successes, while the Night Goblins have 1 failure, so the Derzaki's win a solid victory.

The Goblin units take a base of 20% casualties. The Derzaki margin of success was 9, and the Goblins had a margin of failure of 1, so the Goblin damage is increased by 10% to 30%, +3 for the failure they scored. The Goblin force takes 33% damage. The Derzaki force takes a base of 20% casulaties, reduced by 10% to 10%, -6 for the two successes to 4%. This represents a huge victory for the Derzaki's, and breaks the back of the Night Goblin assault for now.

Shakari's unit takes 1% damage (the d20 roll was a 3), so Shakari takes no more damage during the main part of the battle.

Other Combat Types

The Combat rules can be easily applied to all sorts of conflicts. Choose a relevant Health pool to represent what is being fought over, an attack and defence attribute, and a type of damage and you are good to go. Here are some examples.

Trade Negotiations
A social combat with Health based on Wealth. Apply damage like fatigue. If you are taken out you must agree to the opponent's trade position, offer a concession to withdraw first.
Exhibition Fight
A normal armed or unarmed combat, but deal only damage as unarmed. Agility + Weapon Skill as Health.
Wrestling Match
An unarmed combat dealing only Stun and Fatigue damage (do not deal the Lethal portion of damage). You can choose to deal Lethal too but it can be picked up by judges / onlookers (Int + Observation vs. Agility + Warfare / Wrestling) who might declare the fight against you.
Court Cases
Court Cases are a good example of a Social Combat. In a Keldian Court it is really only the credibility and standing of the accused that matters, and the impression they can make on the Judge (or Judges). In general you should conduct a Social Combat between the accused and the accuser (or in the case of a lower court the accused and the Judge). Give each side a bonus Status pool for Health only based on the relative weight of Evidence. This is generally weighted against the accused. If the accused defeats the prosecution before being taken out then they can get a lesser sentence or go free.
Higher courts have advocates and multiple Judges, all of which usually have to be defeated, however it is also possible for a higher status character to aid the accused as a witness or advocate. If the case is important you can run this as a fight with multiple participants, where the prosecution advocate sheilds the Judges, otherwise you can use the Group Quick Combat rules to resolve the case.