As mentioned several times thus far, VERS has more than just physical combat. One of those other forms is mental combat. This typically takes the form of subterfuge, misinformation, misdirection, and other attempts to confuse or deceive. Sometimes these mental attacks are tied into physical or social attacks, such as cunning ambushes or putting a person on the spot with an insightful remark on an embarrassing subject. In these cases both the mental and physical or social attacks are rolled separately (they have different defenses, bonuses, etc) and then applied separately. The attacker may chose the order.
Making a Mental Attack
There are three primary ways to initiate mental combat. The first, and most typical, is the Deception skill. Often used in conjunction with other actions, a character can use Deception to make surprise attacks (which can also deal physical and social damage), misdirect a target’s focus (such as a sleight of hand “magic trick”), or to simply make the target believe something is happening that isn’t. Anytime a deception like this is intended to confuse and not to entertain, it is considered a mental attack and the character rolls Deception against the target’s Discipline to determine if it were successful.
The second method of making a mental attack involves abilities. Certain abilities can affect a person’s Focus, and as such count as mental attacks. Again, as a rule of thumb, if the ability is intended to confuse or deceive then is affects Focus.
The final method of making a mental attack involves tactics and strategy, such as an ambush, a surprise attack in the middle of the night, or a particularly witty remark during a social encounter. It can only happen once (you can’t surprise someone twice with the same action, after all), but it can definitely put the opposing group on their heels, disorganized and disheartened. This type of attack uses various skills, such as Tactics, Leadership, or Influence, but the rule of thumb is that any action that can confuse, startle, or distract deals Focus damage.
Mental attacks use Discipline for defense.
Dealing Mental Damage
Once the attack is ruled a success and the NDV is determined, the only thing remaining is to apply the appropriate condition. Mental attacks give Focus conditions, which are, in order of least to greatest: Distracted, Flustered, Disoriented, and Distraught.
- Distracted: The distracted condition applies if the NDV is between 0 and 2. This is the equivalent of a small diversion of attention, the "hey what's that?" or something similar. A character can have up to 3 of these before they start being upgraded.
- Flustered: The flustered condition applies when the NDV is between 3-5. This is the shock of a sudden betrayal, that "et tu Brute?" moment where the character is uncertain of their action for just a split second. A character can have 2 of these before they begin upgrading to the next level. Characters take a -1 penalty to all skills per condition at this level.
- Disoriented: The disoriented condition applies when the NDV is between 6 & 8. This is the equivalent of seeing your best friend severely injured, or a character watching in mute horror as the enemy overruns your position. The classic "deer in headlights" level of disbelief. In addition, due to the trauma, any use of skills takes an additional -2 penalty. A character can only have one condition at this level.
- Distraught: This condition applies when the NDV is greater than 9. A character whose Focus is so afflicted is essentially disabled, being too confused to function, overwhelmed by the awesome events transpiring around them. A character with the disarrayed condition can still make actions, although they must make a Discipline roll and are restricted to a single simple action per Turn. Their movement speed is also halved. Failure on the Discipline roll means the character falls unconscious. Any action taken while disarrayed upgrades the highest Morale condition by one level as the despair of their situation rises.
Characters recover focus by a combination of discipline and time. What this means is that a character can take a recovery action and make a Discipline roll to downgrade any Focus conditions, with success shifting all Focus conditions down by one level and shifting another level for every 3 degrees of success thereafter. The roll takes a penalty equal to the highest level of focus damage (see chart below). Characters, regardless of tone, can take a recovery at the end of combat. A successful Meditation roll grants a bonus to the recovery roll equal to half the degrees of success.
In addition, a character can take a quick recovery during combat to recover Focus. This takes a full turn and the roll takes a -4 penalty. Focus conditions that come from environmental effects (chaotic noises, flashing lights, etc) can only be recovered once the character is removed from those situations.
Recoveries and Quick Recoveries can be taken separately for each type of damage (Injury, Focus, or Morale). Taking one does not preclude taking others, however each must be rolled separately as they each rely on different skills and attributes.