Freedom Amongst The Countless Stars
When resolving a situation calls for force, time becomes broken into rounds. Within these rounds, four steps occur: (1) generating initiative; (2) attacking and defending; (3) determining damage; (4) repeating the steps, if necessary. Discover herein what happens in each of those steps.
Generally, time in a roleplaying game doesn’t matter too much. A character may spend several hours searching a library, though only a minute passes as far as the players and gamemaster are concerned. To keep the story line moving, sometimes it’s necessary to skip the tedious parts.
More intense scenes require more detail. In these cases, time slows to units of ﬁve seconds called rounds. Each character may take one action in the round with no penalty. Unless the character has special skills or abilities, additional actions increase the diﬃculty of performing each task; this concept is dealt with later, in the “Multiple Actions” section. Once a round ends, the next one begins, continuing until the scene ends (with the task completed, the opponent subdued, and so on). Since all characters in a scene are making actions in the same ﬁve-second round, the actual length of game time taken up by an action is usually less than ﬁve seconds. This is obviously the case when a single character is performing multiple actions, but it is also true when one character reacts to what another character is doing. Actions in rounds are not simultaneous (actions out of rounds sometimes are). Determining initiative does not count as an action. Once rounds have been declared and depending on the situation, the gamemaster applies one of three methods to determine in what order everyone goes.
Step 1: Initiative
The characters involved in a round make Perception rolls to generate initiative totals. The gamemaster will usually roll once for all groups of a specific foe. The character with the highest roll takes her action ﬁrst. The character with the second highest roll then takes his action, and so on. After the last character performs her action, the round ends and a new one begins. Ties indicate simulations actions. Note that characters rendered unconscious, immobile, or otherwise unable to act lose their action until they wake up or get free, even if they haven’t taken it already. Initiative is then rerolled a the start of a new round.
The gamemaster and players may use Character Points, but not Fate Points, to increase their initiative rolls if they want. Spending one Character Point, for example, allows the player or gamemaster to add the result of one extra Wild Die roll to the initiative roll.
For every 2D over the base attribute in search (round down) or 4D in Agility (round down), a character receives +1 to his initiative roll.
Step 2: Attacking and Defending
Though an action on a character’s turn does not have to be an attack or defense, most situations determined by rounds revolve around these actions.
Performing Actions in Rounds
A character does not need to declare what she intends to do until her turn comes up in the round. Once the character decides to take her turn, she may use as many actions as she wants, but her player must determine the multi-action penalty for the total number of actions that the character wishes to take in that round. The character does not need to declare when ﬁguring the multi-action penalty what she intends to do with all of her actions. Note that waiting counts as an action (once per each time the character wishes to wait). The character may take no additional actions once the multi-action penalty is ﬁgured. Any actions calculated into the multi-action penalty but that the character did not use by the end of the round are lost. A character may take a few actions, wait, take a few more, wait again, and so on, as long as the player has declared a suﬃcient number of actions in which to do everything she wants her character to do (including waiting).
A character may only interrupt another character’s action if she has waited and after that character has made the skill roll and spent any points but before the gamemaster declares the result.
Example: A character surprises a thug. Because she got the jump on him, the gamemaster decides the character may act ﬁrst in this round. The character decides to wait and see what the thug will do, choosing to take one other action this turn. The thug takes a swing at her, so the character decides to dodge. If the character has no ability that gives her extra actions, she may take only one action without penalty. She used that one action on waiting. When she makes her dodge roll, it’s at -1D, because it’s the second action she’s taking this round.
Only a few instances exist in which the gamemaster may permit a character to “move up” her turn and react to another character’s actions. These include catching a thrown object, resisting certain mental attempts, and other situations that the gamemaster deems appropriate. These do take the character’s action, though the player can declare that her character will perform multiple actions in the round. For the most part, having a turn later in the round than another’s simply means that another character could take advantage of the situation faster.
Characters may attempt to perform several tasks in a single round, or, if the action takes longer than one round to complete, in the same minimum time period. The more they try to do, however, the less care and concentration they can apply to each action. It becomes more diﬃcult to succeed at all of the tasks. Thus, for most characters, for each action taken beyond the ﬁrst, the player must subtract 1D from all skill or attribute rolls (but not damage, damage resistance, or initiative rolls).
Thus, trying to do four actions in one round gives the character a -3D modiﬁer to each roll. Only equipment and weapons suited for quick multiple actions may be used several times (up to the limit of their capabilities) in a round. Some examples include semi-automatic guns or items with little or no reload time, like hands or small melee weapons.
A character may not rely on any skill or attribute reduced to zero.
Base Combat Difﬁculty
The base diﬃculty to attack someone is 10 (called the target’s passive defense value) or the target’s active defense total, modiﬁed by range and other factors.
The target character can opt to use an “active defense,” which aﬀects all attacks that occur after the defender’s turn in the current round but before the defender’s turn the next round. Active defenses are defensive maneuvers that the target consciously exercises, such as dodging, blocking, or parrying. Each of these is represented by a skill and counts as an action.
A character may make an active defense only when his turn comes up in the initiative line, but the total for the roll is eﬀective for all relevant attacks made against the character that occur after the character’s current turn but before his turn in the next round.
Remember: if a character acts later in a round than his attacker, he cannot take his turn sooner and use an active defense to replace the passive defense value — his reactions just weren’t fast enough.
If the roll is lower than the passive defense value, the character has succeeded in making himself easier to hit — by miscalculating where the attack would be placed and actually getting in its way.
The active defense total is modiﬁed as the situation dictates.
Dodge: The character attempts to anticipate the ﬁnal location of an attack from any source and be in another place when it comes. This is done by rolling the dodge skill.
Block/Parry: The character attempts to stop his opponent’s attack by intercepting it and either stopping it with a block or deﬂecting it with a parry. The character may roll his brawling or melee combat (if he has something in his hands) to block it. If the character uses a sharp or energized weapon (sword or dagger, for example) to parry an unarmed blow and is successful at the block, the attacker takes damage from the weapon. However, do not add the defender’s Strength to the listed weapon damage score when determining injuries inﬂicted this way. If the opponent strikes at the character with a bladed or energized hand weapon and the character uses any part of his body to intercept the attack, the defender always takes the weapon’s damage total. If the block was successful, then the attacker’s Strength Damage is not added to the listed score. If the block was unsuccessful, then the target character takes damage as normal. The character may avoid this aspect by having armor or a special ability.
A character who foregoes all of her actions for a round to completely protect herself from attacks makes a full defense. The total rolled by the skill plus 10 takes the place of the base combat diﬃculty from the time the character makes the full defense on her turn to her turn in the next round.
Full active defense value = any active defense skill roll + 10
A character who chooses to do something else in addition to guarding against attacks may take a partial defense. In this case, the active defense roll replaces the base combat diﬃculty from the time the character takes his turn in one round to his turn in the next round.
Partial active defense value = any active defense skill roll.
Since the character is taking multiple actions, the multi-action penalty applies. The gamemaster may call for a partial defense roll (as a free action) if he decides that the character might have a little awareness of an impending attack, yet not enough foresight to prepare for it.
Combat Difﬁculty Modiﬁers
Here are a few of the most frequently used modiﬁers to the combat diﬃculty. Others are discussed in “Combat Options” section. Regardless of the number of modiﬁers used, the total combat diﬃculty may never go below 3.
The gamemaster rolls the indicated modiﬁer and adds it to the combat situation. A standard modiﬁer is included in parentheses after the die modiﬁer, should the gamemaster prefer not to roll.
Range: The eﬀectiveness of a punch, weapon, Special Ability, or any other attack made at a distance depends on its range. All range modiﬁers are added or subtracted from the combat diﬃculty. Note that, unless a special maneuver allows otherwise, characters may use unarmed close combat attacks at Point Blank range only. In most cases, this is true for using various melee weapons as well, though the distance can be increased to Short range if the weapon is longer than two meters. For instance, a character with a support beam can whack an opponent at Point Blank or Short range.
Cover: When a target is protected by something — poor lighting, smoke, fog, a table — it makes her harder to hit. This is represented by a cover modiﬁer, which is added to the combat diﬃculty.
Aiming: Aiming involves careful tracking of the target. Characters may perform it against moving targets, but they cannot themselves do anything else in the round in which they aim. Each consecutive round of uninterrupted aiming add 1D to the character’s ﬁrearms, gunnery, missile weapons, or throwing skill, up to a maximum bonus of +3D.
Once the combat diﬃculty has been determined, the attacker rolls the die code in his character’s combat skill and compares the total to the combat diﬃculty. If it equals or exceeds the combat diﬃculty, the attack hits, probably doing damage or having another eﬀect that the attacker intended. If it was less than the combat diﬃculty, then the attack misses.
Step 3: Determining Damage
If a character successfully hits his target, he may have done damage to it. To determine the amount of injury caused, roll the damage die code for the weapon, including any modiﬁers from a special combat action, such as a sweep attack or hit location. Some weapons list their score as a die code with a plus sign (“+”) in front of it; in this case, add the damage die code to the attacker’s Strength Damage die code, add modiﬁers, and roll.
Determining Strength Damage
To ﬁgure the Strength Damage die code, drop the pips from the character’s Strength or lift die code (but include any relevant Disadvantages or Special Abilities), divide the number by 2, and round up.
The combat skill roll is supposed to reﬂect the accuracy of an attack. Subtract the diﬃculty of the successful attack from the skill total and divide this number by 5, rounding up. Add this damage bonus to the damage total before comparing it to the resistance total.
Step 4: Repeat
If the ﬁght isn’t ﬁnished after one round, then return to Step 1 and do it all over again. Repeat these steps until the ﬁght is resolved in favor of one side or the other.