Combat Options and Modifiers
Combat is rarely as simple as just making attack totals and applying damage. There are different types of attacks, different types of weapons used, and all kinds of situational modifiers that might come into play and even dangers poised by the surroundings themselves.
Melee Weapon Damage
When a character attacks another character unarmed, the damage value is the attacker’s Strength value plus their unarmed skill adds. When the attacker uses a melee or strength-powered missile weapon, the weapon’s adds are added to the character’s Strength and skill adds to determine the base damage value. For example, a character with Strength 8 using a STR+6 sword and 3 adds in Melee weapons has a base damage value of 17. The maximum damage value listed for a weapon (as listed in Chapter Thirteen and in equipment lists in other Torg products) is the maximum base damage value possible for the weapon before skill adds are added in. It is not a limit on the damage total that can be caused with the weapon.
Example: Grod, an ogre with a Strength of 17, picks up a normal human broadsword. The broadsword does STR+6 damage and its maximum damage value is 20. Grod’s base damage value with the broadsword is thus 20, not (17 + 6) combat, his bonus numbers and skill adds are added to the base damage value of 20 normally, the limit does not apply to his damage total with the weapon.
Using Two Weapons
Adventure fiction is full of characters that fight with two weapons at the same time. Characters in Torg are no exception. When a character fights with two melee weapons, he has the option of using one for defense against other melee weapons or hand-to-hand attacks. Usually the smaller of the two weapons is used for this purpose. A character fighting this way receives the same benefits as if he were using a buckler shield (see Chapter Thirteen.) Attacks made with the other weapon are conducted normally with no modifiers. Normally characters using two ranged weapons will not want to use them to parry or block melee or hand-to-hand attacks. But if they do try it, the gamemaster will need to determine if the weapon is large enough to be of any use and also determine what might happen to the weapon if an attack hits it. If the character chooses to attack with both of his weapons he may choose to attack a single opponent with both weapons or split his attacks on two or more opponents. If he attacks a single opponent with both weapons, the attack is conducted normally. Damage is determined by using the weapon with the highest base damage value and receives a +2 bonus. This applies to both melee and ranged weapon use. If the character chooses to attack more than one opponent with his two weapons, this is considered a multi-action and uses the “Quick Multi-Attacks” rules found later in this chapter. His damage total will again be based on the weapon with the highest base damage value and receives a +2 bonus. The same damage total is applied against all of the opponents successfully hit. This also applies to both melee and ranged weapons use.
Non-lethal damage is caused by attacks intended or designed to injure and incapacitate rather than kill. Attacks made with unarmed combat are almost always non-lethal damage. Some weapons may also cause non-lethal damage, such as clubs. Some weapons may also be used in non-conventional ways to do non-lethal damage, such as striking with the flat of a blade instead of the sharp edge or slamming the hilt of the weapon into the target. Non-lethal attacks do shock, Knockdown and KO damage like regular attacks; however, they do not wound as frequently or severely. They can still wound and kill though. When determining damage from a non-lethal attack, if no wound damage is caused then the damage is applied normally. If wound damage does occur, the wound level is reduced by one step and the character suffers an extra K result.
Keeping exact track of every bullet, arrow and laser beam fired in combat is a bookkeeping chore we do not recommend, which is why ammunition is listed here as a combat options instead of being a normal rule. It may be accurate, but we don’t think it’s that much fun. But the decision on whether to count ammunition or not is left up to each gaming group, some may like doing it while others may not. If your gaming group is willing to play fast and loose with ammunition rules, let ammunition be a rare problem Characters can happily blast away without a care until it’s dramatically appropriate for them to be low on ammunition.
If a setback occurs, for example, it may indicate that the character loses some of the arrows from his quiver, and they have to start keeping track of their ammo usage from that point. Running short on ammunition should work as a dramatic element of the story, not as an exercise in bookkeeping. If your group wants to keep track of ammunition, the weapon write-ups in Chapter Thirteen and in other Torg products list the number of combat rounds of ammunition a weapon has when fully loaded. This is not necessarily the same thing as the number of crossbow bolts the character has in their quiver. Instead it indicates the number of times the weapon may be fired at its normal rate of fire before it has to be reloaded. A crossbow for example has an ammo rating of 1; it has to be reloaded every time it’s fired. Reloading most weapons counts as a simple action, though complicated and/or very large weapons may take several rounds to reload and may require a skill check as well. Each round that a character fires a weapon uses up one combat round’s worth of ammunition. If the character is firing at more than one target, he uses up a number of combat rounds equal to the number of shots taken; if the character uses the Single Fire as Multi combat option, that counts as three combat rounds worth of ammo. If firing a burst-fire weapon at full automatic, chalk off seven rounds worth of ammo. If the Burst Fire as Single-Shot combat option is used, mark off one combat round of ammo for every three shots taken.
A knockdown attack is an attempt to knock an opponent off its feet, forcing to waste its next action standing back up. Knockdown attacks can be done with almost any kind of normal attack. Often the only thing that has to be done is to direct the attack at the target’s legs and knock them out from underneath it. A knockdown attack applies a -2 penalty to the bonus number of the attack. If the action value achieves a Good success level or better, the attack causes an automatic Knockdown result in addition to any normal damage from the attack. If the action value only achieves aMinimal or Average success, only normal damage is applied.
Example: Magoth is fighting another giant and needs a moment to get some distance between him and his opponent so that he can start using his magic. Roger declares that Magoth is going to try a knockdown attack, he’s going to swing his sword at his opponent’s legs and hope it’ll make him fall. Then while the other giant is spending the next round getting up Magoth will have time to move away and start casting a spell.
Roger rolls a 10 and then a die total of 15 is a +3 bonus. Because he’s doing a knockdown attack this is modified by -2 for a final bonus of +1. This gives Magoth an action total of 11 with his melee weapons skill. His opponent’s melee weapons skill is 10 so he only has one result point, only an Average success, and does not get the automatic Knockdown result. His damage from the attack is figured normally using his modified bonus of +1. Roger tries again in the next round. This time he rolls a19 a +6 bonus, which gives him an action total of 14 after applying the modifier for a knockdown attack. Four result points is a Good success so he automatically scores a Knockdown result on his opponent in addition to the regular damage from his attack.
Ranged Weapon Modifiers
Hitting a target at a distance becomes more difficult the farther away the target is from the attacker. Most ranged weapons also experience a drop in damage the farther they have to travel before hitting a target. Projectile weapons, for example, slow down as they travel the farther they go. Write-ups for ranged weapons, such as the ones in Chapter Thirteen, will provide the range values for the weapons.
A character may spend one round aiming. In the next round, the aiming character gets a +3 bonus to his action value. Aiming does not increase the damage value. Aiming may only be done with missile weapons, and requires the attacker to remain motionless and be undisturbed for that round while he tracks his target. The character can perform simple actions while aiming at the gamemaster’s discretion. Speaking briefly to another character might not interrupt his concentration, but walking through a doorway might. Because the character is remaining motionless and concentrating on his target, any attack made against an aiming character has the bonus number increased by +3, but he gets to use his normal passive defense. If the character is successfully damaged by an attack while aiming, his aim is ruined and he will not get the aiming bonus on his next action.
A vital blow is an attack aimed at a specific spot with the intent of causing extra damage, such as punching someone in the kidneys, shooting them in the head or sliding a blade between their ribs and into their heart or a lung. The modifiers for a vital blow depend on how much more difficult of an attack the character wishes to perform and/or how much more damage he wants to cause. The lowest level of a vital blow applies a -2 penalty to the action value of an attack while increasing the damage value by +1. Players can choose increasingly difficult or damaging vital blows by applying the -2/+1 modifier multiple times, up to a maximum of -8/+4.
Example: Yukitada needs to eliminate a Yakuza bodyguard fast so that he doesn’t have time to make any noise. Barbara declares that Yukitada will attempt a vital blow with a -6 to the action value and a +3 to the damage value. She describes the attack as a sharp blow to the front of the bodyguard’s neck. If the player provides a clear description of what their character is hoping to do with a vital blow, the gamemaster should reward a successful attack by taking into consideration what the player wanted and, if necessary, create additional benefits and results if the vital blow is successful. These, characters may make a vital blow attack but the gamemaster does not apply the damage modifier, since the attack is not really hitting anything vital.
The vital block is the opposite of a vital blow. Instead of an attacker attempting a more difficult shot in hopes of causing more damage, a vital block is when a defender sacrifices some of his defensive value in exchange for reducing the likelihood of an attack doing serious damage. In essence the character is focusing his attention on protecting only part of his body from attack, saving him from serious injury but not from minor attacks that might hit non-vital areas. For example, a boxer who curls his arms up in front of his face and chest is protecting his head and body from his opponent’s punches by taking them instead on his gloves and forearms. While his opponent may hit him more often this way, the blows will not be landing on anything vital so the defending character won’t take as much damage as he might have otherwise. The modifiers for the vital block depend on how much of his non-vital defense the character is willing to sacrifice for additional protection to vital areas. The lowest level of a vital block applies a -2 penalty to the character’s defense value while increasing the character’s armor value by +1. Characters can choose the amount by which they protect themselves by applying the -2/+1 modifier multiple times, up to a maximum of -8/+4.
Vital block may be combined with an active defense; the player declares how much of a vital block the character will perform before rolling the die to generate the active defense value.
Example: Magoth is in a sword fight with a powerful evil knight, who’s been repeatedly hitting Magoth hard enough to cause wound damage. Magoth realizes that he needs to keep the knight from causing any more wounds so he’s going to concentrate on protecting his vital areas. In the next round Roger declares that
Magoth is going to actively defend with his melee weapons skill and he’s going to vital block on top of that, with a -4/+2 modifier. Roger rolls the die and generates a +4 bonus number. Magoth’s defense value remains unchanged (the +4 bonus number and -4 vital block modifier cancel out) but he receives a +2 bonus to his Toughness (i.e., a +2 armor value) when resisting any damage the evil knight causes that round.
All-out attack, sometimes called a sacrifice attack, is a furious, berserk attack that sacrifices defense to increase the chance of hitting and causing damage. An all-out attack may only be done in hand-to-hand combat; it cannot be done with ranged attacks. An all-out attack can be combined with other attack options, such as a knockdown attack or a vital blow, but it cannot be combined with any defensive actions such as an active defense or a vital block. An all-out attack gives the attacker a +3 bonus to his action value and a +1 bonus to his damage value. But by going all-out, the character leaves himself vulnerable to counterattacks; all blows aimed at the character doing the all-out attack receive a +3 bonus to the bonus number of the attack until the character‘s next action in the next round.
A sweep attack is an attempt to hit a target without any real concern for how much damage is done. Sweep attacks can be made in most hand-to-hand situations, such as throwing a roundhouse punch or swinging a sword in a huge arc in front of the character. A sweep attack gives the character a +5 bonus to his action value but penalizes damage with a -5 modifier. The character is sacrificing accuracy (more damage) for effect (hitting the target).
Suppressive fire is a variant of the sweep attack used with ranged weapons, usually only those capable of burst and full auto fire but it can be done somewhat less effectively with single-shot weapons too. Unlike a sweep attack, the goal of suppressive fire is not to improve the chances of hitting a target by throwing a lot of ammo in the air. Instead, the “field of fire” established by the suppressive fire is meant to intimidate the target, to scare him into thinking that if he tries anything he’s going to be met by a hailstorm of missiles. The goal of suppressive fire might be to convince someone to surrender or to keep him “pinned down” and unable to move from his current location. The attacker generates her action and damage totals normally. Whichever value is higher is treated as an intimidation skill value that is applied to anyone within the area being blanketed by the suppressive fire. The effects are determined according to the usual rules for character interactions. Multiple attackers may combine their fields of fire to increase the effect of their suppressive fire using the rules for combining actions as described later in this chapter.
A character taking an opportunity attack is waiting for a target to present itself later in the round. In effect, the character holds her action when it is her turn and waits to take it when the other side takes their actions.
As each target presents itself, she must either decide to attack then or wait for another target. If she waits, any target characters “passed over” may act as they normally would. attacks have a -3 bonus modifier for action and effect, representing the delay caused by having to make a split-second decision to attack or to continue holding her action.
A location attack is like an opportunity attack in which a character holds his action until a target presents itself. The difference is that character doesn’t make a choice about whether to attack or continue waiting; the first target that presents itself at a location is the one that gets attacked. The character must specify a single location, such as a doorway, for a location attack. The location attack occurs as soon as any target presents itself. There is no penalty for a location attack.
Holding an Action
Players will occasionally want their characters to take their actions after another character’s action. For example, one player character may be waiting for another player character to move out of the way so he has a clear shot at a bad guy. Or perhaps a player character is waiting to see what a nonplayer character decides to do and then will react to that. When it’s a case of waiting for a character on the same initiative side to take an action, it simply means that the first player lets the other player go before him. There are no penalties for waiting to act after someone on your side. Waiting to take an action during the other side’s initiative though is always considered either a location attack or an opportunity attack depending on the nature of what the character is waiting for before acting. Most of the time it will probably be considered an opportunity attack.
A grappling attack is used to physically grasp a target. It can be used to take possession of an item someone else is holding, such as grabbing a weapon out of someone else’s hand, or it can be used to restrict the target’s ability to move, such as wrestling someone to the ground and pinning them so that they can’t escape. Grappling can be combined with a number of other combat options, such as with a vital blow (choking someone) or even with a sweep attack (a big “bearhug”.) While most grappling attacks will be forms of unarmed combat some weapons may be used for grapplingattacks. A bullwhip for example can be used to wrap around a target and a net can be thrown on someone to bring them down. Grappling attacks impose a -4 modifier to the action total and a -2 modifier to the damage total. The result points of the action total are read on the General Success Table to determine if the character simply hits the target or successfully grapples with it. If the attacker gets at least a Good success level he has successfully grasped his target. If he only got a Minimal or Average success then he struck his target and will do damage, but fails to hold onto the target. If he was attempting to take an item away from another character, no damage will be done but gamemasters may want to consider if the attack instead disarms the opponent (see “Disarm”.)
A disarm is similar to using a grappling attack to take something out of another character’s hands except that the attacker isn’t trying to take possession of the item, she just wants to make the other person drop it. Unlike a grappling attack, a disarm can be attempted with almost any kind of attack or weapon since the goal is simply to strike the item itself or the target’s hand in such a way as to cause the target to lose his grip and drop the item. A disarm attack is made with a -2 modifier to the action total. If the attack is successful, the damage total is compared to the target’s Strength attribute to see if the disarm is successful. The result points are read on the General Success Table and on a Good or better success the target is disarmed. With a Minimal or Average result, the result points are instead read on the Combat Results Table and the damage is applied to the target.
A character attacking with either unarmed combat or melee weapons skill may use an aggressive defense. This is a particular type of multi-action where the character is making an attack while also actively defending. When using aggressive defense, the character rolls for an active defense, but she has a -2 modifier to her defense value. The minimum bonus on the active defense is still +1 though. The same roll is also used to generate an action and damage total for the attack, but has a -4 modifier to both. The attack does not get a minimum bonus number of +1 like the active defense.
Example: Yukitada is in a sword fight with a ronin. Yukitada decides to use an aggressive defense in hopes of improving her defensive value while continuing to press the attack. Yukitada can use her martial arts skill to fight with a sword so her base skill value is 16. Barbara rolls an bonus number of -2. For Yukitada’s active defense, a bonus number less than +1 is treated as +1 so her defense total goes up to 17. But then the -2 modifier for the aggressive defense is applied and she actually ends up with a 15. For Yukitada’s attack, she has to use the -2 bonus, the minimum +1 bonus only applies to the active defense. Combined with the -4 penalty for the aggressive defense, Yukitada ends up with only a 10 for her action total. An aggressive defense is a kind of last-ditch desperation maneuver since it only pays off if the player can generate a large bonus number. Many times the character will end up doing worse than if they had just attacked or just actively defended instead of trying to do both at the same time.
A blindside attack comes from a direction which is unexpected or which the defender cannot protect well. Hitting a character from behind is a blindside attack. The target does not have to be unaware of the attack, he may know its coming but isn’t able to see it coming so he cannot react to it as well. A blindside attack normally requires surprise or that the target is unable to turn and face the attacker for some reason. When two characters are facing each other in combat, a character can get behind his opponent and launch a blindside attack in the next round if he gets a setback result on amaneuver skill check. Attacks made on fleeing opponents (with their backs to the attackers) are also blindside attacks. Blindside attacks give the attacker a +3 to his bonus number. The modifiers for a blindside are cumulative with any other modifiers, including any gained from surprising a target (see below.)
There are two types of surprise: “complete” and “partial.” Complete surprise is only possible when the target is unaware of the attacker’s presence and is not expecting any attack at all. Characters that routinely operate in dangerous environments where conflict is expected, such as soldiers on combat duty or a policeman patrolling a rough neighborhood, cannot be caught completely by surprise. Partial surprise occurs when the defenders may be expecting something to happen, but do not know when, where or what is going to happen. A security guard patrolling a perimeter for example is ready for action but doesn’t know when, or if, he might be faced with a dangerous situation. Surprised characters, whether partially or completely surprised, are not able to react as quickly or as intelligently as usual. Partially surprised characters are still able to react fairly quickly, they’re startled but not caught flat-footed. Completely surprised characters though are caught totally unprepared and off-guard. Partially surprised characters may perform an active defense or a simple action but cannot attack or take a movement action in the round that they are surprised. Player characters who are partially surprised may not play any cards (see Chapter Five) in the round that they are surprised though they may still use Possibility Points (see below). Attacks made on a partially surprised character, including any character interaction skills like trick or intimidation, receive a +2 bonus to both the action and effect totals. Completely surprised characters may take no actions in the round that they are surprised, not even an active defense. Player characters that are completely surprised may not play any cards in the round that they are surprised. Attacks made on a completely surprised character, including character interactions, receive a +4 bonus to both the action and effect totals. Characters may still use a Hero Point to negate damage while completely surprised. In the next round after being surprised, partially surprised characters are able to act normally without any restrictions. Completely surprised characters though suffer the effects of being partially surprised in that second round and are not able to act normally until the round after that, two rounds after they were completely surprised.
Concealment and Cover
When a character hides behind an object, he becomes harder to hit and may receive some additional protection from damage. Concealment refers to how much of the character’s body is concealed from the attacker by whatever the character is hiding behind. “Complete plus” means that not only is the character completely hidden from view but there’s a lot of extra area, so the attacker can’t be sure exactly where the character is behind the object. An attack that overcomes the characters defensive skill after being modified by the defense modifier granted for concealment will miss the concealment and hit the character for full damage. An attack that falls between the defensive skill of the character and the modified defensive with the concealment, will hit whatever is concealing the character and do damage to the concealment. Any attack which destroys the concealment by at least two wounds more than is required to destroy it, will do full damage to the character being targeted. Any blow that destroys the concealment by less then that will do no damage to the character.
Concealment is: Defense Modifier:
One-Quarter Hidden +2
One-Half Hidden +4
Three-Quarters Hidden +5
Completely Hidden +7
Complete Plus +10
COMBAT OPTION CHART
|Option||Action Modifier||Damage Modifier||Other Effects|
|Non-Lethal Attack||wound levels reduced|
|Knockout Attack||extra non-wound damage|
|Knockdown Attack||-2||-2||automatic Knockdown result|
|Point-Blank Range||minimum+1 bonus number|
|Aiming||+3||attack made on the aiming character are +3/+3|
|Vital Blow||-2||+1||Up to a maximum of -8/+4|
|Vital Block||reduces defense value but raises armor value|
|All-Out Attack||+3||+1||attack made on this character are +3/+3|
|Suppressive Fire||acts as an intimidation|
|Location Attack||Must attack first target that presents itself at location|
|-4||-2||target may be restrained|
|Disarm||-2||target may lose grip on item|
|Aggressive Defense||-4||-4||-2 to-active defense total|
|Partial Surprise||+2||+2 surprised||target limited in possible actions|
|Complete surprise||+4||+4 surprised||target cannot take any actions|