The base structure of Combat:

  1. The DM flips a Drama Deck card to see if anything special applies and who wins initiative
  2. The winning side takes its actions
  3. The losing side takes its actions
Approved Actions

Each round, there are two approved actions.  You don't have to do the approved actions, but if you do, then you get an extra card for your hand if you succeed.  Sometimes attacking and defending are approved actions, but usually, one of the following skills is approved:

These five skills let you mess up your foes in non-physical ways, leaving them unskilled, or stymied, or setback or other conditions.  With a Spectacular success, you may even be able to trick/scare/etc your foe into doing something (running away, dropping his weapon, etc.)

When you do one of these attacks, you compare your skill total (with die roll, cards, etc) to their base skill total in that skill.  They may choose to spend an action on an active defense, which gives them a shot to improve their skills to resist you.  If you fail to beat their defense, nothing happens.  You just fail with no particular bad consequences.

Approved Actions have the following possible results to your foes:


John (Charisma 11, Taunt 0), is facing off against a Ravagon.  (Charisma 8, Taunt 1).  John decides to taunt the Ravagon, because he is hoping to mess it up enough for him to have a chance to shoot it.  (John has Dex 8, Dodge 1, Fire Combat 1, and is carrying a .357 Desert Eagle, damage 16; the Ravagon is Dex 9, Dodge 2, Unarmed Combat 2, and has Damage 16 claws.  It has armor, giving it 13 toughness to resist damage.).  John rolls an 18 and adds 5 to his Taunt of 11 for a total of 16.  The Ravagon has Taunt 9.  John gets 7 result points.  The Ravagon is Unskilled and Stymied.  This means it loses all its skill adds until the end of John's next Initiative Segment, and it is stymied until it rolls a ten or a 20.

The Ravagon responds to this by attacking John anyway.  It is unskilled and uses its base dexterity of 9 to attack his Dodge of 9.  It rolls a 4 and gets a -8.  It cannot spend a possibility on the roll because it is stymied.  It misses.

Next round, John taunts it again, and burns a possibility point on his roll.  John rolls a 10, gets a free roll of 11, then gets to roll for the possibility:  a 10!  John gets another free roll, and scores a 5.  That's a total of 36, for a +11 bonus!  John scores a 22 against the Ravagon on Taunt.  The Ravagon is unskilled still, so it resists with Charisma 8.  It suffers a 14 result point taunt!  That's a Setback, Stymie, and Unskilled.  The Ravagon suffers a setback.  When it rushes in to attack John, it is so angry with him that it pays no attention to where its wings are flapping and smashes them into a nearby tree.  The result is that its wings are too hurt for it to fly and it crashes to the ground.  It remains stymied, and now it will be Unskilled until the end of John's next initiative segment.

The ravagon's setback means it begins its next action prone.  It decides to just stand up.

Unfortunately for the Ravagon, John scores an Up Result on initiative.  He now takes this chance to shoot Mr. Ravagon.  He rolls a 14 and a 13, for a total of 27.  This means he adds 9 to his Fire Combat of 9, for an 18 against the unskilled Ravagon's Dex of 9.  This is 9 result points, added to the gun's 16 for a total of 25 damage against a Toughness of 13, for 12 result points of damage, or Wound K 5.

The Ravagon decides to cut its losses and runs for the hills.  It is still Stymied, but no longer Unskilled.

As it runs, John taunts it one more time for good measure.  But he rolls a 3, which is -8, and his taunt drops to 3.  The Ravagon ignores him as it runs.


Attacking someone is fairly straight forward.  You pick the combat skill you are using and roll against a difficulty of the target's defensive skill.  If you hit the target, you add the result points to the damage value of your weapon.  The damage total is then reduced by the Toughness of the target and the results are read on the damage table.


 Let's say that H. Beam Piper (Dex 10, Strength 9, Toughness 10, Dodge 2, Melee 3, Energy Weapons 4) is armed with a Cyberpapacy Laser Pistol (Damage 26) and a Vibro Dagger (Damage 14).  He is wearing Armor of God (Raises his Toughness to 18 against attacks).    He is shooting at a gospog (Dex 8, Toughness 9, Dodge 1, Fire Combat 1) which is armed with an AK-47 (Damage 21).  H. Beam is Poss-Rated, the Gospog is an Ord.  H. Beam Piper has initiative.  He shoots at the gospog, whose defense is its Dodge skill.  So he has a 14 skill vs. its 9 defense.  But he rolls a 5, which gives him a -5 modifier, causing him to only score a final skill total of 9.  This just exactly hits and has 0 result points, so H. Beam Piper does damage 26 against the Gospog's 9 Toughness.  This is 17 result points, enough to inflict 5 Wounds KO 17 on the Gospog.  It is extremely dead.

Feeling confident, H. Beam Piper now squares off with Maki the Ninja (Dex 13, Strength 10, Toughness 9, Martial Arts 4, Missile Weapons 2, Dodge 4), who is armed with Electro Stars (Missile Weapons Skill, Damage 15) and an Electro-Sword (Martial Arts skill, Damage 18).  They are both possibility rated.  H. Beam has initiative and Maki starts out 200 meters away from him.  H. Beam Piper has initiative.  He rolls a 9, which gives him a -1 to his 14 skill.  He only gets a 13, which is lower than Maki's Dodge skill of 17.  Maki runs 100 meters and is now only 100 meters away.  He tries throwing throwing stars; because he took a move, this is a multi-action, so the shot at H.Beam Piper is his second action and the difficulty of the shot goes up by 4.  So Maki pits his 15 Missile Weapons vs. H. Beam Piper's augmented dodge of 16.  He rolls an 18, which is +5 to his skill.  This means he gets a 20 vs. the 16, for a 4 result point hit.  His base damage is 15, which goes up to a 19 against H. Beam's Toughness of 18.  H.Beam takes 1 result point of damage, which is a single shock point.  Merely a scratch.

H. Beam shoots again, rolls a 7, gets a Final Skill total of 12 due to the -2 penalty, and misses again.  Maki runs 100 meters and is now in melee range for next round.  He decides he'll throw throwing stars as he charges.  Again, this makes the shot more difficult.  This time he rolls a 14 for a +1 bonus.  The final skill total is a 16 against H.Beam's augmented defense of 16.  With 0 result points, the damage is 16 against H. Beam's 18 defense.  The thrown stars bounce off the Armor of God.

H. Beam has his knife already out in his left-hand, but decides to spend a round switching hands so he can fight without penalty (he's right handed).  Maki takes a swing at H.Beam with his electro-sword.  He rolls a 16 for a +3 bonus, which raises his 17 Martial Arts to 20 for the hit vs. H. Beam's defense of 13 (H. Beam's Melee skill).  He gets 7 result points, which raises his sword's damage of 18 to a 25 against H. Beam Piper's 18, for 7 result points of damage.  H. Beam takes Knockdown K 2 and falls down.

Next round, H. Beam has to spend his action standing up from the Knockdown.  Maki attacks him again, rolling a 7.  This is a -2 bonus, which drops his skill to 15.  He still hits H. Beam with 2 result points, which means his weapon does damage 20 against H.Beam's 18 toughness.  H. Beam takes 2 result points of damage, which is O 1.  Since H. Beam already has a K, he is now KOed and passes out.  Uh oh.


Everyone has a Passive Defense equal to their base skill total in whatever defensive skill is appropriate.  If you do not choose to actively defend yourself with actions, this is used to set the difficulty to hit you.

One can also choose to actively defend.  This takes an action, and you make a skill roll using your defensive skill.  The Final Skill Total becomes the difficulty of one attack to hit you.  (To dodge many attacks, you have to take many actions).  However...when actively defending, your skill never decreases from the effort; it always improves your defense by a point at minimum.  You can actively defend against 2 billion people and you will gain a +1 bonus to your skill at minimum, regardless of your roll.  Of course, trying to do anything ELSE in the round will be screwed...

Active Defense can be declared before you act, but not after you act during the round.  (IE, if your foes win initiative, you can use active defense to save yourself immediately, but if you win initiative, you need to declare your plans to use active defense during your actions if you wish to benefit from it during the second half of the round).


Let's say that H. Beam Piper (Dex 10, Strength 9, Toughness 10, Dodge 2, Melee 3, Energy Weapons 4) is armed with a Cyberpapacy Laser Pistol (Damage 26) and a Vibro Dagger (Damage 14).  He is wearing Armor of God (Raises his Toughness to 18 against attacks).    Desiring revenge for the previous example, H. Beam Piper now squares off with Maki the Ninja (Dex 13, Strength 10, Toughness 9, Martial Arts 4, Missile Weapons 2, Dodge 4), who is armed with Electro Stars (Missile Weapons Skill, Damage 15) and an Electro-Sword (Martial Arts skill, Damage 18). They are both possibility rated.  Maki is 200 meters away.

Round 1:
The DM flips for initiative.  H. Beam wins initiative (but also takes 2 shock points of Fatigue) and cranks off a shot at Maki.  He rolls a 6, which means he gets a -5 to his shot, for a skill total of 9.  This massively misses Maki's 17 dodge.  Maki runs 100 meters and throws Electro-Stars at H. Beam.  H. Beam says he wants to active dodge, but the DM tells him he had to declare it during his action segment.  Maki rolls a 9, gets a -1 bonus modifier, for a skill total of 14 against H. Beam's 12 dodge.  With 2 result points, he does Damage 17 against H. Beam's 18 toughness.  The throwing stars bounce off.

Round 2:
H. Beam gets really lucky and gets an Up result with his initiative.  He gets to roll 2 dice and add them.  Maki declares an active defense, which he can, because he hasn't acted yet.  H. Beam gets an 8 and a 18, which is 26 combined for a +8 bonus.  This gives him a 22 to hit.  Maki prays to the dice gods, but rolls a 6.  He burns a possibility because the minimum +1 bonus for an active dodge just won't cut it.  His second roll is an 11, for a total of 17, which is a +4 bonus to his dodge of 17.  This pushes Maki up to a 21, but since H. Beam got a 22, he gets nailed for 1 result point, which is added to H. Beam's 26 damage for a 27 damage vs. Maiki's toughness of 9.  Maki takes 18 result points of damage.  This is 4 wounds, KO 5.  Maki would be blown to hell and back by this and die.  Being possibility rated, he burns a poss (rules for this in the Damage section below) and reduces the damage by 2 wounds and a K, which knocks it down to 2 wounds and 5 shock.  (See below for why the 0 result now vanishes).

Maki now gets his action.  He chooses to throw throwing-stars at H. Beam as he runs to close to melee range.  This is Maki's second action, at a +4 difficulty.  This means that H. Beam's passive defense of 12 goes up to a 16.  However, Maki rolled a 17 earlier, so his 15 Missile Weapons rises to 19.  H. Beam says he wants to active dodge, but the DM tells him he had to declare it during his action segment.  H. Beam reminds himself to do that next round.  Maki gets 3 result points with the hit.  With 3 result points, he does Damage 18 against H. Beam's 18 toughness.  The throwing stars do a single shock point of damage.  He runs 100 meters and is at point blank with H. Beam.  (In theory, the difficulty of running goes up by 6, but you don't have to roll to just run your normal movement).

Round 3:
Next round, Maki wins initiative.  He throws everything he has into a mighty sword attack.  Sadly, he rolls a 4.  He burns a possibility point and rolls a 19 for a total of 23, which is a +8 bonus, giving him a 25 to hit H. Beam's passive defense of 12.  H. Beam declares an active defense.  He rolls a 16, and desperate, burns a poss.  He scores a 9, which counts as 10 because this is a poss-expenditure.  So his total is 26.  This is a +8 bonus, for a total of 20.  However, because he is going to multi-action, the difficulty to avoid the attack goes up by 2, which pushes the defense down to 18, which is still better than not dodging at all, but Maki still hits with 7 result points.  H. Beam takes Knockdown K 2.  He is now suffering from K 5 damage and is knocked down.

On his action, H. Beam gets back up (second action), and switches weapons (third action), then tries to stab Maki (fourth action).  This means the difficulty to hit Maki increases by 6.  Maki forgot to declare an active defense, so he has to rely on his passive defense, which is now a 23.  H. Beam Piper has a 13 melee, and his +8 bonus to actions increases it to 21.  He still misses Maki.

Round 4:
Next round, H. Beam wins init.  He declares he will attack with his vibro blade AND actively defend in Maki's segment.  This means the difficulty of his attack goes up by 2 (first action), so his 13 Melee is pitted against a defense of 19.  H. Beam rolls a mighty 6, which is a -5 penalty to hit.  He burns a possibility point.  He gets a 1, which counts as a 10.  So he gets a total of 16, which is +3 to hit.  His Final Skill Total of 16 misses Maki's 19 dodge.

Maki now counter-attacks.  H. Beam's defense goes up by 3 (from his roll) to 16.  It is then lowered by 4 (second action of a multi-action), except that would make it a 12, and active defense always improves you by 1.  Which means H. Beam gets a defense of 14.  Maki rolls a 14, and adds 1 to his 17 skill.  18 vs. 14 is 4 result points, which does damage 22 vs. H. Beam's 18 toughness.  Two more shock puts H. Beam at K 7 damage.  Maki is still at 2 Wounds 5.

Round 5:
Next round, H. Beam gets a Flurry result.  This means he can take 2 actions without a multi-action penalty.  He chooses to use the first one to stab Maki and the second one to do a multi-action, stabbing Maki, then active defending.  He rolls a 12 on the first action, burns a possibility point, and rolls a 17.  This is a 29 total for a +9 bonus to his 13 skill for a 22.  Maki declares active defense against both attacks.  Maki rolls a 16, burns a possibility point, and rolls a 6, getting to add 10.  His total of 16 gives him a +9 bonus to his 17, for a 26.  However, the first action of a multi-action makes his dodging 2 points harder so he only gets a 24.  H. Beam still misses him.

H. Beam now snaps off his second stab.  He is very lucky and rolls a 20 and gets to roll again.  He rolls a 16, for a total of 36, for a +11 bonus.  He gets a total of 24 to hit.  Because it is a multi-action, his difficulty to hit increases by 2, giving Maki a base defense of 28.  However, Maki's second dodge gets harder by 4 points, so Maki's defense becomes a 24 instead of 28, still better than his passive defense.  H. Beam hits him with 0 result points, which pits his damage of 14  against Maki's 9 toughness.  Maki takes 5 result points:  2 shock, since he has no K and can't take an O. Maki now has 2 Wounds  7 damage.

Maki chooses to whack H. Beam with his third action.  H. Beam gains +6 to his defense because this is Maki's third action.  He also gets his +11 bonus off his roll of 36 on his first action.  But his skill goes down by 4 because this is the second action of a multi-action.  So he gets a total defense bonus of +13, which gives him a 26 defense against Maki's skill of 17.  Maki's skill goes up by 9 from his previous roll to a 26, and he just exactly hits.  His 0 result points means he does 18 damage against a 18 toughness, so H. Beam now has K 8 damage.  Maki still has 2 Wounds  7 damage.  H. Beam has spent 3 possibilities and has 7 left.  Maki has spent 4 and has 6 left.

Round 6:
Uh oh.  Maki has won initiative AND gotten a flurry.  This is going to be ugly.  Maki launches his kunitori, attacking with poss expenditure (5 left).  He gets a mighty 36 roll, so he can add +11 to his skill of 17, for a 28 attack.  H. Beam declares Active Defense and burns a poss (6 left).  He rolls poorly and gets a 13 total roll, for a +1 bonus.  His 13 defense goes to 14.  Normally, the first action of a multi-action would reduce his defense by 2, but active defense never lowers your defense below Skill +1.  So Maki hits with 14 result points, kicking his 18 damage to 32 against the 18 toughness of H. Beam.  This is a hideous 2 Wounds KO 5.  H. Beam burns a possibility point to knock the damage down to just 2 Wounds, as if he takes even just 2 shock, he will pass out.  He is now at 2 Wounds K 8 and has 5 possibilities left.

Maki now takes his second action.  He burns another possibility point in hopes of finishing H. Beam (4 points left).  He gets a total of 21 for a +8 bonus.  This gives him a 25 against H. Beam's 14.  This is 11 result points, which means he does damage 29 to Toughness 18, which means he inflicts Wound O 4.  H. Beam burns a possibility point, but still takes 1 shock.  He now has 4 possibilities left, and is at 2 Wounds K 9.  Since his toughness is 10, he is just barely conscious.  H. Beam's third action is a counter attack, but with his miserable rolling and the fact that action #3 improves Maki's passive defense by 6, the attack misses.

Round 7:
H. Beam Piper wins initiative, ut...takes 2 points of Fatigue.  This would knock him out.  He screams and burns a possibility point, reducing him to 3.  He avoids collapse.  He is afraid Maki is going to turn him into kibble on his next blow, so he declares he is just going to actively defend.  He rolls a 9, burns a possibility, and gets a miserable 3.  Which counts as a 10.  So he has a 19 total.  This is a +6 bonus, pushing his defense to 19 against Maki's 17 skill.

Maki rolls a 17 and saves his posses.  He adds +4 to his 17 skill for a 21.  Two result points means he does Damage 20 to Toughness 18, which would do O 1 to H. Beam.  This would knock H. Beam out, so H. Beam burns a poss and is now down to just 2 posses.

Round 8:
The luck of the draw favors H. Beam with another Up Result.  H. Beam chooses to conserve his 2 posses for damage reduction later.  He declares he will go for an attack on Maki, followed by an active defense.  But the dice gods KICK H. BEAM IN THE FACE, as he rolls a 1 and a 2 for a grand total of 3.  This -8 penalty means he doesn't hit.  And he's now fairly screwed.

Maki attacks, rolls a 10, and gets a free reroll of 6.  This total of 16 means a +3 bonus so he gets a skill of 20 against H. Beam's Active Defense of 14 (again, Active Defense always gives you at least a +1).  With 6 result points, he does damage 24 to Toughness 18 which means Knockdown 0 2.  H. Beam cries, burns a possibility and is down to one possibility, but takes no damage.

Round 9:
H. Beam Piper wins Initiative.  Maki takes Fatigue and has to burn a possibility to avoid it, or Maki would go to 2 Wounds 9 and pass out.  H. Beam declares active defense, praying he can live long enough for another up result.  His luck is good, he rolls a 10, then a 14 for a total of 24.  This means H. Beam adds 8 to his 13 defense and goes up to a 21.

Maki now attacks H. Beam with his sword, rolling a 4.  With a -8, he misses.

Maki now has 3 posses and is 2 Wounds 7.  H. Beam has 1 poss, and is 2 Wounds K 9.

Round 10:
Maki wins initiative.  He goes for an all-out assault, gambling on his superior defenses and that H. Beam has to hoard his one remaining poss for damage reduction.  He rolls a 3, then a 17, leaving him with 2 posses and scoring him a total of 20, which is +7.  This pushes Maki's attack up to 24.  H. Beam active defenses like mad, but rolls a 5.  So his defense is a 14, and Maki gets damage 28 against H. Beam's 18 Toughness.  Wound K 4, which H. Beam reduces to a single shock point so that it can't kill him.  H. Beam is now out of Possibilities and has taken 2 Wounds K 10, and passes out.

Maki now stuffs H. Beam in a body bag and takes him back to HQ for interrogation and brain-washing.   Maki also wants medical attention for his own 2 Wounds 8 and is down to 2 possibilities.

Result Points of Damage Ords  Possibility-Rateds
0 1 1
1 O 1 1
2 K 1 O 1
3 O 2 K 1
4 O 3 2
5 K 3 O 2
6 Knockdown K/O 4  Knockdown O 2
7 Knockdown K/O 5 Knockdown K 2
8 Wound K/O 7  Knockdown K 2
9 Wound K/O 9 Wound K 3
10 Wound K/O 10 Wound K 4
11 2 Wounds K/O 11 Wound O 4
12 2 Wounds K/O 12 Wound K 5
13 3 Wounds K/O 13 2 Wounds O 4
14 4 Wounds K/O 14 2 Wounds KO 5
15 5 Wounds K/O 15 3 Wounds KO 5
+2  + 1 Wound, +2 Shock  +1 Wound, +1 Shock

Interpreting the table:

Combat Complications:

In addition to the various forms of normal attack, you can use any of several special manuevers in combat:


By spending a round doing NOTHING else (no movement, no active defense, no attacks, no NOTHING), you can gain a +3 bonus to attacks on one target during your next initiative segment, if you are using a ranged weapon.  On a flurry, you can use the first action to aim and the second action to make aimed attacks.

All-Out Attack

You can just scream 'DIIIIEEEEE!!!' and charge with no regard for defense.  Until your next initiative segment, all attacks on you are +3 to Hit and Damage, but you gain +3 to Hit and Damage on your attacks in this initiative segment.

Automatic Weapons:

The default damage for semi-automatic weapons presumes a 3-round burst.  If fired on a single shot, they do -3 to damage.  If fired on fully-automatic, they gain a +3 bonus Modifier, but will run out of ammo quicker.

Opportunity Attack:

On your initiative segment, you can choose to hold your action until later that round.  However, if you choose to wait, you suffer a -3 bonus modifier to your held action.  A held action wins initiative against any unheld action, so you could hold your action, then when someone started to cast a spell, immediately stab them before they could cast.

Ranged Modifiers:

Weapons have a Short/Medium/Long Range.  At Short range, you may fire the weapon with no penalty.  At Medium range, you get a -3 bonus modifier.  At Long Range, you get a -5.

Sweep Attack

Sweep attacks focus on covering wide areas, but do less damage.  They gain +5 to hit, but suffer -10 to damage.

For example, H. Beam Piper (Energy Weapons skill of 14, damage 26) is facing Maki the Ninja AGAIN.  Maki has a Dodge of 17.  He decides to try Sweep Attacks with his Laser.  He has a base attack of 19 thanks to the sweep attack and rolls a 13.  This adds 1 giving him a 20.  This means 3 result points, so he does damage of 29.  But this is reduced by 10 for the Sweep Attack, so he only does a 19 vs. Maki's Toughness of 9.  Maki suffers Wound K 4.  OWW.

Vital Blow

Aiming for the vital spots of a target is difficult, but can be rewarding.  Such a shot raises the base difficulty by X, where X is set by the DM according to how hard the shot is.  The shot then has a damage bonus of 1.5X.  In some cases, it may well also be assessed against a lower Toughness.

For example, H. Beam Piper (Energy Weapons skill of 14, damage 26) is facing the ED-209 (Dodge 10, Toughness 30).  H. Beam Piper decides to try for a Vital Blow by shooting it one of its visual sensors.  The DM decides that this is a hard shot, though easier than with a human who has smaller eyes, so it's +5 to difficulty.  But if he makes the shot, he will do +8 damage (5 times 1.5, rounded up).  He has skill 14 against a difficulty of 15.  He rolls a 15 and adds +2 to his skill.  The 16 beats the 16 and he hits with 1 result point.  26 +1 + 8 = 35 vs. the toughness of 30.  ED-209 takes K 3 damage.