Now that we have a general idea of how combat works in the abstract, let’s examine each of the three types in detail. First is the most common, physical combat, which has several special caveats to the above rules.
For maximum success, a warrior always prefers to strike from an advantageous position, and that often means from beyond their opponent’s reach. Targets occur at three distinct distances: Grappling, Close Combat, and Ranged Combat.
Grappling happens at the shortest of all ranges, defined as anything within 1 meter of the character. Grappling is the skill used to attack within this range, primarily governing such techniques as joint locks, holds, and throws. Attacks at grappling range are only possible with hands and other body parts, and any attempt to use other weapons at this range takes a -4 attack penalty. If using miniatures to model combat, a character is in grappling range only if they are within the same hex/square as the attacker. Any close combat attack against a character engaged in a grapple takes a -2 penalty and hits the wrong target on a Dramatic Failure. Any ranged combat attack against a character engaged in a grapple takes a -4 penalty and hits the wrong person on a roll with 2 or more Degrees of Failure. A character engaged in a grapple does not get their Dodge against attacks from outside the grapple.
Close combat targets are those within arm’s reach plus any additional distance based on a weapon, typically 2 meters for the average character, based on Size 0. Targets at this range can easily be attacked with bare hands/feet as well as weapons such as swords, axes, and spears. Any attempt to use ranged combat or grappling at this range takes a -2 attack penalty. If using miniatures to model combat, a character is in close combat range if they are in the hex/square next to the one the attacking character is in.
Long weapons like spears may also add to the character’s Reach. Reach is an abstract measure of the advantage longer weapons have over shorter weapons. Ultimately if you can hit your opponent but they cannot hit you, this can be a major advantage. In close combat, the character with the greater reach gains an attack bonus equal to the difference between his reach and his opponent’s.
|Ranged Combat: Distance Increments|
|Range||Max Dist||Penalty||Agi 1||Agi 2||Agi 3||Agi 4||Agi 5|
|Short||Agility||0||4 m||8 m||16 m||32 m||64 m|
|Medium||Agility + 1||-2||8 m||16 m||32 m||64 m||128 m|
|Long||Agility + 2||-4||16 m||32 m||64 m||128 m||256 m|
|Extended||Agility + 3||-8||32 m||64 m||128 m||256 m||512 m|
|Extreme||Agility + 4||-16||64 m||128 m||256 m||512 m||1024 m|
Ranged combat allows a character to target any enemies within line of sight. However, practically speaking, it is much harder to hit enemies that far away than those closer. For this reason ranged combat is actually broken down into a series of smaller distance increments based around how hard something is to hit at that range. These are Short, Medium, Long, Extended, and Extreme. The attacking character’s Agility determines what these range increments are in ranks of distance.
Finding Cover can be the difference between life and death on the battlefield. When a character wants to use an object as cover the GM needs to decide two things: how much of the character does the object hide and how much damage can the object take.
An object that covers more of the character gives more Protection, providing a +2 bonus on the covered character’s defense rolls (or a -2 on attack rolls to hit that character) for each body part covered (arms, legs, lower torso, upper torso, and head). As an example, a warrior hidden behind the trunk of the tree would have one arm, one leg, his head and half of his upper and lower torso (each thus being a -1, instead of a -2) covered for a -6.
When an attack involving cover misses, compare the Degrees of Failure to the bonus granted by the cover. If the cover bonus is greater, the attack hits the covering object dealing damage to it. For example:
Bjorn, a viking warrior character, is swinging an axe at an enemy who is using a shield that gives them 4 points of cover. The first attack misses by 5, which is greater than the amount of the cover, thus missing the enemy completely. The second attack only misses by 2 and thus digs deep into the shield, dealing damage to it and ultimately breaking it. At this point Bjorn sees archer on the ridge and takes cover behind a tree. Because Bjorn is a player character, that means he rolls his defense against the attacker, so in this case the tree would give him a bonus of 6 to his Dodge. The archer fires an arrow, and Bjorn succeeds by 7. Since this is more than the bonus of 6, this arrow would have missed with or without the tree, so it makes a barely audible “thwip” as it disappears into the snow bank beside Bjorn. The archer fires again, and Bjorn succeeds again, although only by 3 this time. This is less than the bonus of 6, so it would have connected if Bjorn had been in the open. The GM declares that the arrow thuds into the wood of the tree and vibrates.
Anything that interposes between a target and the attacker gives cover, but not all cover is the same. While a character hiding behind a tapestry is harder to hit, that cover won’t last long nor will it soak up much of the damage. Any attacks that hit cover deal damage to it directly, as if the character were trying to break it. Any attack that successfully breaks the cover object then deals the remainder of its damage (if any) to the character behind cover as normal.
Range and cover are not the only tactical advantages a character might receive on the battlefield, just the most common. Other factors that may have a bearing on combat are things like terrain, weather conditions, and facing, although even more things are possible. All of these factors are reducible to penalties or bonuses based on how much they affect the battle, such as giving an attacker on higher ground a +2 to attack, or giving soldiers fighting in thick mud a -4 penalty to their actions, while a character attacking from behind their target may get a +4 bonus for catching their target unaware. No character should ever get an environmental or situational modifier, bonus or penalty, greater than 4.
Because VERS is a player centric system, as many rolls as possible should be in the hands of the players. VERS also attempts to make as few rolls as possible. These two facts together mean that when a PC attacks an NPC she rolls her attack against the target’s static defense values (Dodge or Discipline, typically). However, when an NPC attacks a PC the player rolls their defense against the attackers static attack values (Agility + Close Combat, typically) instead. The same is true when making any other Active rolls. Unless it is a special situation, NPCs don’t roll dice. They merely provide the difficulty rating the PC is trying to overcome.
A character’s defenses are designed with one on one, single combat in mind. Rarely is a fight so orderly, however. Many times a character will find themselves outnumbered, or even surrounded. If a character is being attacked by multiple enemies they take a cumulative -1 for each attack in a turn. This penalty is removed at the end of the turn. After all, even the most skilled warrior can only cover so many angles before being cut down. Additionally, if a character cannot see an attack coming they do not get their defenses against it at all, turning it into a passive roll (in the case of a PC making the attack) with no difficulty rating.
Dealing Physical Damage
Once the attack is ruled a success and the NDV is determined, the only thing remaining is to apply the appropriate condition. Physical attacks give Injury conditions, which can be either lethal or non-lethal as is appropriate for the attack. The injury conditions, in order of least to greatest, are Grazed, Wounded, Impaired, and Disabled.
- Grazed: The grazed condition applies if the NDV is between 0 and 2. This is the equivalent of the dramatic cheek cut or slicing a Z in their shirt, and does not really impact a character in any other meaningful way. A character can have up to 2 of these before they start being upgraded.
- Wounded: The wounded condition applies when the NDV is between 3-5. This is the equivalent of a flesh wound, a dull weapon, punch, kick, etc, would give the character a bruise while a cutting or piercing attack would be a minor cut that bleeds but is not enough to slow or otherwise harm the character. A character can have 2 of these before they begin upgrading to the next level, each one granting a -1 penalty.
- Impaired: The impaired condition applies when the NDV is between 6 & 8. This is the equivalent of a broken bone for dull types of attacks or a well-placed gunshot or stab. In addition, due to the trauma, any use of skills related to the damage (as is dramatically appropriate) take a penalty. A character can only survive a single blow such as this, and the penalty given is a -2
- Disabled: This condition applies when the NDV is greater than 9. A character who gets hit by this much damage (or has lesser damage upgraded to this point) is disabled in a dramatically appropriate way. This could be physical unconsciousness, or death, depending on what the type of damage was. A character with the disabled 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 is rendered completely unconscious or dead, as is appropriate. Any action taken while disabled upgrades the highest Focus or Morale condition (player's choice) by one level as the player succumbs to the confusion and despair of their situation.
When noting the injury, be sure to mark it under the right category, and either as (L) for lethal or (N) for non-lethal. It is also a good idea to note anything else important such as location, type of weapon, etc. For instance, a non-lethal head wound would be marked down as "(N) Head, Bashed" while a lethal stab to the abdomen would be "(L) Abdomen, Stab."
Recovering From Injury
Characters recover from Injury by a combination of fortitude and time. Once per day, after a long rest (usually sleep) the character can take a Recovery Action. They make a Stamina roll with a penalty based on the highest severity Injury condition. Success allows them to remove the highest level condition, as well as an addition condition per 3 degrees of success. A successful First Aid roll grants a bonus to the recovery equal to half the degrees of success.
Additionally, a character can take a Quick Recovery after combat to recover from Injury. This takes 10 minutes and allows a character to wipe away all Grazed level conditions. A Quick Recovery can also be taken in combat by taking a Complex Action and making a First Aid Roll with a -4 penalty.
Recoveries and Quick Recoveries apply to all damage types, although they are each rolled individually.