Combat is fluid and complex, and many factors can influence one combatant's advantage over another. Below are listed the most common modifiers to combat rolls.
You can improve your chances of hitting with an attack by sacrificing your defense. Take up to a -4 penalty on your Defense to gain half that amount (up to +2) on your attack rolls or maneuver rolls for that round.
Some attacks consist of powerful explosions, bursts of energy, or simply chucking really big things at opponents. These area attacks cover a larger area than a normal attack, so they're much harder to avoid.
An area attack automatically hits an area the attacker can accurately target, filling the area with its effect. Targets in the area get a Reflex saving throw against a Difficulty of (10 + attack's bonus or rank). If the save is successful, halve the area attack's rank or bonus (rounding any fractions down) before applying it to the target, which then makes the normal saving throw against the attack. Targets with the Evasion feat suffer no effect if they make their Reflex save. Targets with Improved Evasion suffer only half effect even if they fail the save, and no effect if they succeed.
If you delay or ready a move action, you can try to avoid an area effect entirely. If you move before the attack and have sufficient movement to get out of the area, then you're safe. You must choose how far you move before the Narrator tells you the result of the area attack, so be sure you move far enough!
An autofire attack is a volley of multiple shots with a single action. To use an autofire attack against a single target, make your attack roll normally. The amount by which your attack roll succeeds applies a bonus to the attack's saving throw Difficulty: +1 per 2 points the attack roll exceeds the target's Defense. When using a stunt bonus with an autofire attack, the stunt bonus is applied to ALL attack rolls for the autofire attack.
If a target's defense (involving special resistance or immunity) would normally ignore the attack before any increase in the save Difficulty, then the autofire attack has no effect as usual; a volley of multiple shots is no more likely to penetrate than just one.
You can use autofire to attack multiple targets at once as a full action by "walking" the autofire attack from target to target. Choose a line of 5-foot squares no greater in number than your attack bonus. You may make attack rolls to hit targets, one target at a time, starting at one end of the line and continuing to the other end. You suffer a penalty to each of your attack rolls equal to the total number of squares. If you miss one target, you may still attempt to hit the others.
An autofire attack can provide cover for an ally. Take a full action and choose an ally in your line of sight, who receives a +4 to their Dodge against enemies in your line of sight and in range of your autofire attack. (You have to be able to shoot at them to get them to keep their heads down or this trick won't work.) You cannot lay down covering fire for an ally in melee. Each character after the first who lays down covering fire for the same individual grants an additional +1 bonus to that individual's Dodge. All covering fire attackers receive a free attack if an opponent chooses to ignore the Dodge bonus granted to the protected target.
An autofire attack can lay down a volley to force opponents to seek cover. Take a full-round action and choose an opponent, who receives a -4 penalty to attack rolls, maneuver rolls and checks for one round while in your line of sight and in range of your attack. An opponent who chooses not to seek cover ignores the attack modifier from suppression fire, but is automatically attacked (a free action for you). You cannot lay down suppression fire on an opponent in melee. Each character after the first who lays down suppression fire for the same target imposes an additional -1 penalty. All suppression fire attackers receive a free attack if the target fails to take cover or otherwise get out of their sight.
Generally speaking, any situational modifier created by the attacker's position or tactics applies to attack roll or maneuver roll, while any situational modifier created by the defender's position, state, or tactics applies to the defender's Defense or maneuver difficulty. The Narrator judges what bonuses and penalties apply, using the Combat Modifiers table as a guideline.
Table: Combat Modifiers
|On higher ground||+1||+0|
|Defender is...||Melee||Ranged||Dodge Bonus?|
|Using Total Defense||+4||+4||Yes|
|Kneeling or sitting||-2||+2||Yes|
|Moving all out||+0||+0||No|
Taking cover behind a wall, tree, or other obstacle provides a +4 bonus to Defense. Cover is measured relative to the attacker. For example, hiding behind a low wall provides no cover against an opponent hovering above you, but does provide cover against an opponent on the other side of the wall.
Cover and Reflex Saves
Cover grants you a +2 bonus on Reflex saves against attacks originating from a point on the other side of the cover from you.
Cover and Stealth Checks
If you cannot draw a line between you and a target without intersecting cover, the target has total cover. You can't make an attack against a target with total cover.
Varying Degrees of Cover
In some cases, cover may provide a greater bonus to Defense and Reflex saves. In such situations, the normal cover bonuses to Defense and Reflex saves can be doubled (to +8 and +4, respectively). A creature with this improved cover gains a +10 bonus on Stealth checks.
If it ever becomes important to know whether the cover was actually hit by an incoming attack, the Narrator should determine if the attack roll would have hit the protected target without the cover. If the attack roll falls within a range low enough to miss the target with cover but high enough to hit the target if there had been no cover, the cover is hit. This can be particularly important to know in cases when a character uses another character as cover.
In such a case, if the cover is struck and the attack roll exceeds the Defense of the covering character, the covering character takes the damage intended for the target. If the attack roll is lower than the Defense of the covering character, but higher than the Defense of the covered character, the original target is hit instead. The covering character avoided the attack and didn't provide cover after all! Covering characters can voluntarily lower defense bonus to ensure they provide cover.
Concealment includes circumstances where nothing physically blocks an attack, but something interferes with the attacker's accuracy. Typically, concealment is provided by things like fog, smoke, shadows, darkness, foliage, and so forth.
Concealment Miss Chance
Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a 20% chance (a roll of 17 or higher on d20) that the attacker missed because of the concealment. If the attack roll hits, the defender makes a miss chance roll to avoid being struck. Multiple concealment conditions do not stack.
Concealment and Stealth Checks
A target you cannot perceive with any of your accurate senses has total concealment from you. You can't directly attack an opponent with total concealment, though you can attack into the area you think he occupies. A successful attack into an area occupied by a target with total concealment has a 50% miss chance (a d20 roll of 11 or higher).
Concealment isn't always effective. Characters with Night Vision can see clearly for a greater distance with the same light source than other characters, for example.
|Partial||Fog; moderate darkness; foliage; precipitation||17 or higher|
|Total||Total darkness; invisibility; attacker blind; dense fog||11 or higher|
Most attacks rely on sheer power to overcome the Toughness of a target's armor. Finesse attacks target the weak points of an opponent's defenses. Characters can normally make finesse attacks only with melee weapons. Characters with the Improved Precise Shot feat can also make finesse attacks with ranged weapons, so long as they are within one range increment of their target.
To make a finesse attack, increase the Difficulty of your attack roll by an amount equal to the Toughness bonus of your opponent's armor. If your attack hits, the target does not get the armor's bonus on the Toughness save; the attack bypasses it altogether. If your attack roll fails, however, your attack glances harmlessly off the target's armor or, if you would have missed the target's normal Defense, misses entirely.
Creatures immune to critical hits are also immune to finesse attacks; their Toughness doesn't have any significant weak points to exploit. Also note that finesse attacks only affect the Toughness bonuses from armor and similar defenses. The natural Toughness bonuses from Constitution and creature type are unaffected.
Typically, up to eight attackers can gang up on an individual target, provided they have room to maneuver. If the defender can fight side by side with allies, back into a corner, fight through a doorway, and so forth, attackers can't gang up as easily.
Picture the eight attackers as evenly spaced out surrounding the defender. The defender can reduce the opportunity for attackers to gang up based on how much of the area around himself he can block off. Backed against a wall, a character only allows five attackers to get at him. Backed into a corner, only three attackers can get at him at a time. If the defender is standing in a doorway, the opponent in front of him can attack normally and one opponent on either side can attack as well, but the defender benefits from cover. If the defender is fighting in a 5-foot-wide corridor, only one attacker can get at him (unless attackers are coming at him from both directions).
The above rules are for medium and small characters. Larger characters present room for more attackers to get at them and combatants with ranged weapons can get at defenders more easily.
Coup de Grace
As a full-round action, you can deliver a coup de grace to a helpless opponent adjacent to you. You automatically hit and score a critical hit. If the defender takes damage but is not unconscious or dying, he must make a Fortitude save (Difficulty 10 + damage bonus) or be unconscious (for a non-lethal attack) or dying (for a lethal attack). You can't deliver a coup de grace against a target immune to critical hits. You can deliver a coup de grace against a target with total concealment, but doing this requires two consecutive full-round actions (one to feel around and accurately perceive the target and another to deliver the coup de grace).
Your mount acts on your initiative as you direct it. You move at its speed, but the mount uses its action to move. (You can take move actions, like drawing your weapon, normally.) Without you to guide it, your mount avoids combat.
Combat while Mounted
With a Difficulty 5 Ride check, you can guide your mount with your knees so as to use both hands to attack or defend yourself. This is a free action. When you attack a creature that is smaller than your mount and is on foot, you get the +1 bonus on melee attacks for being on higher ground.
If your mount charges you also take the -2 Defense penalty associated with a charge. If you make an attack at the end of the charge, you receive the bonus gained from the charge. When charging mounted, you deal +3 damage with a lance.
You can use ranged weapons while your mount is taking a double move, but at a -4 penalty on the attack roll. You can use ranged weapons while your mount is moving all out as well, but at a -8 penalty. In either case, you make the attack roll when your mount has completed half its movement.
Using Powers While Mounted
You can use powers normally if your mount moves up to a normal move (its speed) either before or after you use the power. If you have your mount move both before and after you use a power, then you have to make a Concentration check due to the vigorous motion (Difficulty 10) to successfully use the power. If the mount is moving all out, you can use powers when the mount has moved up to twice its speed, but your Concentration check is Difficulty 15.
If Your Mount Falls in Battle
If your mount falls, you have to succeed on a Difficulty 15 Ride check to make a soft fall and take no damage. If the check fails, you take +2 lethal damage.
If You Are Dropped
If you are knocked unconscious, you have a 50 percent chance (a roll of 11 or better) to stay in the saddle (6 or better if you're in a military saddle). Otherwise you fall and take +2 lethal damage.
An attack may come from an unexpected quarter. An attack that catches the target off-guard in some way is called a surprise attack. To make a surprise attack, you must catch your target unawares. You can make a surprise attack in the following situations:
- When you have total concealment from your target or the target otherwise hasn't noticed your presence.
- When you use an interaction skill to feint in combat.
- When your target is stunned.
- When you surprise a target at the beginning of combat.
- When you do something unexpected (in the Narrator's judgment).
Characters with the Uncanny Dodge feat cannot be surprise-attacked so long as they are capable of taking free actions (not stunned or helpless).
If you wield a second weapon in your off hand, you can get one extra attack per round with that weapon. You suffer a -6 penalty with your regular attack or attacks with your primary hand and a -10 penalty to the attack with your off hand when you fight this way. You can reduce these penalties in two ways:
- If your off-hand weapon is light, penalties are reduced by 2 each. (An unarmed strike is always considered a light weapon.)
- The Two-Weapon Fighting feat lessens the primary hand penalty by 4, and the off-hand penalty by 6 (to -2 and -4, or +0 and -2 if the off-hand weapon is light).
If you attack the same target with both attacks and both hit, increase the damage of the attack with the higher damage bonus by +2, much like a use of combined attack.
The same rules apply for throwing two weapons (one with either hand) or wielding two ranged weapons, one in each hand.