Combat is played out in rounds, and in each round everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle. Combat usually runs in the following way.
- Each combatant starts the battle flat-footed. Once a combatant acts, he or she is no longer flat-footed.
- The Narrator determines which characters are aware of their opponents at the start of the battle. If some but not all of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants who are aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take one move or attack action. Combatants who were unaware don't get to act in the surprise round. If no one or everyone starts the battle aware, there is no surprise round.
- Combatants who have not yet rolled initiative do so. All combatants are now ready to begin their first regular round.
- Combatants act in initiative order, each choosing at least one standard action and one move action.
- When everyone has had a turn, the combatant with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends.
This section summarizes the fundamental combat statistics. The numbers involved are:
Your combat bonus is the fundamental number upon which your effectiveness in combat is determined. Your combat bonus is based on your role(s) and level and applies to your Attack Bonus, Maneuver Bonus, and your Base Defense.
Use your attack bonus whenever you want to strike your opponent and deal damage. To make an attack you roll a d20 and add our attack bonus. If your result meets or exceeds your opponent's Defense (or Dodge or Parry, if the opponent is using them), you score a hit and may deal damage. A character's attack bonus is:
Combat Bonus + Dexterity + Miscellaneous Modifiers - range penalty
Your skill in combat, based on your role(s) and level, determines your basic ability to successfully strike a target.
Speed, agility, and accuracy make it easier to hit the target. You add your character's Dexterity score to your combat bonus to reflect this.
The circumstances of your attack may involve a modifier to your attack bonus. Attacking while prone, for example, imposes a -4 penalty on melee attack rolls. See Combat Modifiers for a detailed list of modifiers. In addition, a number of feats can modify your attack bonus, such as Attack Focus.
The range penalty for a ranged weapon depends on what weapon the character is using and how far away the target is. All ranged weapons and thrown weapons have a range increment. Any attack from a distance of less than one range increment is not penalized for range. However, each full range increment causes a cumulative -2 penalty on the attack roll. A thrown weapon has a maximum range of five range increments. Ranged weapons that fire projectiles can shoot up to ten increments.
Automatic Hits and Misses
A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit. A natural 20 is also always a threat-a possible critical hit.
Use your maneuver bonus whenever you want to make a special sort of combat action: trip or disarm your opponent, to grapple with him or push him backwards or other such maneuvers. To make one of these maneuvers you roll a d20 and add your maneuver bonus. A character's maneuver bonus is:
Combat Bonus + Strength + Miscellaneous Modifiers
The maneuver roll is made against the target's Parry (see below).
Only creatures with an Intelligence of -3 or greater can attempt maneuvers at all. Creatures with an Intelligence of -4 or less have a Maneuver Bonus, to use in determining their Maneuver Difficulty (calculated as usual), but they cannot attempt special maneuvers themselves.
Your skill in combat, based on your role(s) and level, determines your basic ability to successfully perform maneuvers in combat.
Power and force make it easier to overwhelm your opponent, so you add your strength to all maneuver rolls.
The circumstances of your maneuver may involve a modifier to your maneuver bonus. Attempting a grapple without both hands free, for example, imposes a -4 penalty on your maneuver roll. See Combat Modifiers for a detailed list of modifiers. In addition, any feats that modify your attack bonus with the weapon you are using to perform the maneuver (if any) also affect your maneuver bonus (both for attempting maneuvers and resisting them).
A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the maneuver roll is always a failure, regardless of the target's Maneuver Difficulty. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is likewise always a success.
When you hit with an attack, you may deal damage. Each attack has a damage bonus. This is typically a weapon's damage modified by your Strength. However, some attacks have a fixed damage.
Damage Bonus = Weapon Damage + Strength
Weapons have a damage modifier, showing how much damage they inflict. Most projectile weapons inflict a fixed damage bonus. Melee and thrown weapons add the wielder's Strength score to their damage.
Your Strength measures how hard you can hit, so your Strength score applies to damage when you attack unarmed or with a melee or thrown weapon.
Lethal and Non-lethal Damage
Damage comes in two types: lethal and non-lethal. Lethal damage does lasting injury and can kill. Non-lethal damage can stun and cause unconsciousness, but causes no serious injury. Some attacks can only deal non-lethal damage; attacks that deal lethal damage can always deal non-lethal damage at the wielder's discretion.
When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 actually shows 20), you have scored a threat. The hit might be a critical hit (sometimes called a crit). To find out whether it's a critical hit, make another attack roll, using the same attack bonus. If this second roll equals or exceeds the target's Defense (or Dodge or Parry), the attack is a critical hit. If not, the attack still hits, but as a normal attack, not a critical hit. A critical hit increases the attack's damage according to the type of weapon or attack. If unspecified, a critical hit increases damage by +3.
Increased Threat Range
Characters with the Improved Critical feat can score a threat on a natural result less than 20. Some weapons have higher multipliers or threat ranges; see the Weapons list. Any attack roll that doesn't result in a hit is not a threat. Only natural 20s always hit.
When not actively defending themselves (but still able to react and move), a hero has to rely on her Base Defense. This is used whenever a character is not aware of the incoming attack (for example, when they are flat-footed). Opponents attacking a flat-footed hero must exceed her Base Defense in order to strike her. A character's Base Defense is equal to:
10 + Combat Bonus + Miscellaneous Modifiers
Your skill in combat allows you to avoid attacks, so you add your combat bonus to your defense. If you can't move, you can't use your combat bonus. For example, you lose your bonus if you're bound or unable to move.
A character may have any sort of modifier that adjusts their Base Defense.
Dodge and Parry
These two values represent two different ways of avoiding incoming attacks. Any character who is aware of their opponent and able to act can choose either of these values against the attack. Dodge can be used against both melee and ranged attacks, whereas Parry can only be used against melee attacks.
You can choose either value against every attack you face in a round, and may choose a different value against different attacks; so for example, if you are fired upon by a bow-wielding native, you can choose to Dodge that attack, and in the same round if a knife-wielding madman attacks you, you can choose to Parry that attack. Your opponents must meet or exceed whichever value you choose in order to strike you.
All modifiers that apply to your Defense apply to your Base Defense, your Dodge and your Parry.
When a character is aware of an attack, they can actively attempt to avoid it. This is not an action; the character can choose to use their Dodge against any incoming attack. An opponent trying to strike the hero needs to meet or exceed their Dodge value with an attack roll in order to score a hit. Characters cannot use Dodge when they are flat-footed or unable to move. A character's Dodge value is equal to:
Base Defense + Dexterity + Miscellaneous Modifiers
Your Base Defense determines your starting point.
Since Dodge represents your ability to avoid incoming attacks, your speed and agility are applied.
When a character is aware of an attack and able to react, they can actively attempt to block it. This is not an action; the character can choose to use their Parry against any incoming melee attack. An opponent trying to strike the hero needs to meet or exceed their Parry value with an attack roll in order to score a hit. Characters cannot use Parry when they are flat-footed or unable to move, or against ranged attacks. A character's Parry value is equal to:
Base Defense + Strength + Miscellaneous Modifiers
Note that your Parry is what you use to resist Maneuver attempts against you.
Here it is again. This number's important, you know.
When blocking an attack, your ability to withstand incoming force is critical, so you apply your Strength to your Parry value.
Any modifiers that affect your attack bonus with the weapon you are using to parry also apply to your Parry.
When you’re subjected to a potentially harmful effect, you get a saving throw to avoid or reduce it. Like an attack roll or check, a saving throw is a d20 roll plus a bonus based on an ability score and other modifiers.
Your saving throw is equal to the following:
Saving Throw = Dd20 + Base Save Bonus + Ability Score + Miscellaneous Modifiers
The Difficulty for a save is based on the attack itself. The four different kinds of saving throws are the following:
Toughness is your ability to resist physical punishment and direct damage. Your Toughness saving throw equals your Constitution score, modified by feats like Defensive Roll and Tough, plus any armor you are wearing.
Your ability to resist attacks against your vitality and health, such as poison and disease is your Fortitude. You apply your Constitution score to your Fortitude saving throws.
This is your ability to avoid harm through reaction time and agility, including dodging explosions and crashes. You apply your Dexterity score to Reflex saving throws.
Will is your resistance to mental influence and domination as well as certain powers. You apply your Wisdom score to your Will saving throws.