Rough Magic:Actions

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Now we come to the most complicated part of Rough Magic: actions! There are a lot of rules here because we tried to address the most common actions a character would attempt. However, just because we wrote it down doesn't mean you have to use it, nor should you feel constrained from making a call if a situation arises that we did not anticipate. You should treat these rules as examples, not as restrictions on your own sense of fun and fair play.

Don't use the rules unless you need to.

If you can play a fun game of Rough Magic without referring to these rules, you should. Applying your best judgement is often a better solution than trying to find a rule that applies to a specific situation. Remember that player choice, not the roll of the dice, drives the game.

Order Of Play

Time is important. Without some way to keep track of time, everything would happen at once, and that would be terribly confusing.

Time in the game is usually divided into scenes. A scene typically starts when the characters arrive at a place, and ends when they leave. A scene could also be a period of time while the characters are together and moving toward a destination. In some cases, a scene might end even though the characters haven't moved at all, such as when they go to sleep, or when a fight ends and they begin talking about their plans for what to do next. Any time you feel would be a good time to "go to a commercial" or "start a new chapter", that's a good time to end the scene and start a new one.

If the characters are in combat or in some other tense situation, time seems to slow down, and every decision takes on a greater importance.

Combat time is divided into rounds. One combat round is six seconds, give or take, giving us ten rounds per minute. In a round, each character gets a turn. During their turn, a character can travel a distance up to their base movement (walking, typically) and still have time to do something useful (such as making an attack or using a skill) as well as engage in some banter with their teammates or anyone else nearby (such as telling one's lackeys to "fly, you fools!"). We call these "movement actions", "task actions", and "roleplaying actions", respectively. A character can perform these actions in any order.


Example:

Round 1 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn
Round 2 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn
Round 3 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn


Everything that happens in a round is assumed to occur more or less simultaneously, but the players can't all speak at once. To keep the game orderly, we need a way to determine the order in which characters act when combat starts.

Initiating Conflict

If a character wishes to initiate a conflict, each player makes a Perception (Reason) roll for their character, and the GM makes a Perception (Reason) roll for each antagonist. If one or more characters gets the drop on their opponents (a surprise ambush, for example), the characters with the advantage each get a bonus die on their initiative roll. Actions proceed each round from highest roller to lowest, with each character getting a turn. When every character has had the opportunity to take a turn, the highest initiative goes again, and so on until the conflict has ended.

The environment always goes last in a round. Any falling objects (including characters) fall, and any uncontrolled vehicles move, after all of the characters have had the opportunity to take their turn. If any object or vehicle is under direct control by a character, then the object or vehicle will move when that character moves it.

Delaying A Turn

If a player does not wish to use their character's turn when they have the opportunity, perhaps wanting to wait and see what an opponent does, the character may delay their turn, with the option of using it later in the round or on a successive round. The character may then interrupt another character's turn.

Delaying a turn does not alter the order of play. After the character has taken their turn, the order of play resumes its previous sequence.

Example:

Combat starts when Soraya runs around a corner and sees Virek-Kohl, who is giving commands to his lackeys. The GM declares that the order of play is Soraya, then Virek-Kohl, then Virek-Kohl's lackeys.

Round 1 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the second round, Issvisk runs around the corner, startling Virek-Kohl's lackeys because, wow, that guy is huge. The GM declares that the order of play is Soraya, then Virek-Kohl, then Issvisk, then Virek-Kohl's lackeys.

Round 2 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the third round, Soraya delays her turn, waiting to see what Issvisk does. When it is Issvisk's turn, he attempts to grapple with Virek-Kohl. Soraya uses her delayed turn to assist Issvisk by combining her attack with his.

Round 3 Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Soraya's turn (delayed)
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the fourth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.

Round 4 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

Forcing An Action

Sometimes a character might need to take a desperate action before they have had the opportunity to take their turn in a round or after they have already taken their turn in a round. This is known as forcing the character's action. Forcing an action allows a character to sacrifice their next turn in order to block, dodge, dive clear, or take another purely defensive action. A forced action can also be used to take a defensive action on someone else's behalf, such as diving in front of an attack to protect an innocent bystander. The character may not force an action which the GM could construe as an attack, such as blocking a bullet with an opponent's unconscious body or running into someone. When a character forces their action, they sacrifice their next available turn, whether that action would be in the current round or on the next round. A character may only force an action once per round.

Because a forced action is always defensive, it always takes place at the appropriate time, either before or during the attack which triggered it. The attacker does not have the opportunity to "take back" their attack.

Forcing an action does not alter the order of play. After the character's next available turn has passed (the turn they sacrificed in order to take a defensive action sooner), the order of play resumes its previous sequence.

Example:

Continuing from the previous example, on the fifth round, the order of play is Soraya, then Virek-Kohl, then Issvisk, then Virek-Kohl's lackeys.

Round 5 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the sixth round, Soraya makes short work of two of Virek-Kohl's lackeys with a sweep attack. Virek-Kohl then pulls out a sinister-looking weapon, aims it at Issvisk, and fires. Soraya forces her next action to leap between Virek-Kohl and Issvisk, taking the full brunt of Virek-Kohl's attack.

Round 6 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Soraya's turn (forced from round 7)
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the seventh round, Soraya loses her turn because she forced it in the previous round.

Round 7 Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

On the eighth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.

Round 8 Soraya's turn
Virek-Kohl's turn
Issvisk's turn
Virek-Kohl's lackeys' turn

Actions

There are four kinds of actions a character may perform during their turn in a round: movement actions, task actions, free actions, and roleplay actions. Under normal circumstances, a character can perform one movement action and one task action during their turn. In addition, a character can perform as many free actions and roleplay actions as the GM deems reasonable.

When it is not a character's turn, they can still react to events around them. Reactions can be attempted at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable.

Movement Action

With a movement action, a character may move the distance permitted by their Agility and/or Brawn (depending on whether they are walking, swimming, or jumping), or they may use magic to move up to the distance that the spell allows. With the GM's permission, the character may instead perform any equivalent action: opening an access hatch, squeezing the throttle on a motorcycle, or what have you.

A character making a double move (running) gains a bonus die on their defense roll, but they receive a penalty die on any skill rolls or attack rolls.

A character making an all-out move (sprinting) gains a bonus die on their defense roll and a penalty die on any skill rolls, but they automatically fail any attack rolls.

Movement itself does not generally require a roll, although the GM may require an Athletics roll if there is some obstacle to the character's free movement (distractions, inclement weather, uneven ground, etc.), and reduce the character's movement to one-half its normal value if they fail the roll.

Task Action

With a task action, a character may attempt to perform one task. This could be attempting a skill roll, attempting to attack an opponent in combat, casting a spell and attacking someone with it, or a similar activity. Under normal circumstances, a character can perform a task before, during, or after they move.

Free Action

A free action takes essentially no time. A character can't perform free actions until it is their turn to act in the round, but during their turn, they can perform as many free actions as the GM deems reasonable (perhaps as many as a half dozen). Typical free actions include dropping a weapon, crouching behind cover, standing up from a prone or seated position, and so on.

Roleplay Action

Like a free action, a roleplay action takes essentially no time. During their turn, the character can perform as many roleplay actions as the GM deems reasonable (perhaps as many as a half dozen). Typical roleplay actions include banter with the character's teammates, making fun of an enemy's name or uniform, or declaring that the opponent "shall not pass".

Unlike free actions, a character can usually perform roleplay actions at any time, whether it is their turn or not. Rough Magic makes roleplaying an explicit action during combat to encourage players to roleplay. In the heat of combat, it can be easy to forget that roleplaying is an essential part of the game.

Reaction

Reactions are usually responses to something another character does, and are usually made at the request of the GM. A character can perform reactions at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable.

Rolling Dice

When a character attempts a task, and the outcome is either contested or there is some random element involved, the player rolls 2d6, counts the dots, and adds the result to the character's action value (AV). This roll is compared to 2d6 plus a difficulty value (DV), also called the target number. If the player's total equals or exceeds the target number, the character's attempt succeeds.

2d6 + action value vs. 2d6 + difficulty value

Action Value

A character's action value (AV) is usually equal to the attribute they are using to accomplish the task at hand, plus the rating of any equipment being used. For example, if a character is attempting to climb a sheer cliff (attempted with an Athletics roll), the character's action value is usually equal to their Brawn plus the rating of their climbing equipment.

Most skills are associated with a specific attribute (Brawn, Agility, etc.). However, the relevant attribute might change depending on the circumstances.

Better equipment makes success more likely. For example, a character attempting to break into a locked chest would make a Lockpicking (Agility) roll. If they had a set of lockpicking tools with a rating of 2, their action value would be equal to their Agility + 2. Simple or multipurpose equipment, such a basic lockpick, generally has a rating of 1. Ordinary equipment, such as a reasonably complete set of lockpicking tools, would have a rating of 2. Special-purpose or very high quality equipment, such as a set of picks designed specifically to bypass a particular model of lock, would have a rating of 3.

Being Unskilled

A character may attempt a task in which they have no skill, if the GM says it is possible. For example, anyone can tell a lie (attempted with a Deception roll), but not everyone can recite an epic poem and keep the audience's attention (attempted with a Performance roll). If a character attempts a task in which they have no skill, the character's attribute is not added to their action value: their action value is equal to the rating of the equipment they are using, if any.

Combat

In combat, a character's action value is often called their "attack value" -- the two terms are interchangeable. When making a Close Combat roll, the action value (AV) of a character is normally equal to their Brawn plus the rating of their weapon. When making a Ranged Combat roll, the action value (AV) of a character is normally equal to their Agility plus the rating of their weapon.

Difficulty Value

The difficulty value (DV) depends on whether or not the task at hand is opposed by another character: whether someone or something is actively working against the character.

Opposed Tasks

If the character is actively competing against an opponent, the difficulty value (DV) is usually equal to the opponent's relevant attribute plus the rating of their equipment, if any. As with the action value, the attribute used for the difficulty value might change depending on the circumstances.

A defender with a higher defense value is harder to hit, more resistant to injury, or both. In combat, the defense value (DV) of the target is equal to their relevant defense attribute (normally Brawn for Close Combat attacks and Agility for Ranged Combat attacks) plus the rating of their defensive equipment.

Multiple layers of defense value do not stack -- only the highest defense value applies.

Unopposed Tasks

If no one is actively working against the character, the GM simply sets a difficulty value (DV). In most cases, if the GM requires the player to roll dice to accomplish an unopposed task, it's because the GM has deemed that task "moderately difficult". Moderately difficult tasks have a difficulty value of 3 (DV 3). More difficult tasks have a higher difficulty value.


Table: Difficulty value examples
Difficulty value Examples
-- Routine Perform a familiar task under ordinary conditions
3 Moderately difficult Perform a familiar task under hostile conditions, or an unfamiliar task under ordinary conditions
6 Remarkably difficult Perform an unfamiliar task under hostile conditions
9 Extremely difficult Perform an esoteric task under ordinary conditions
12 Inconceivable! Perform an esoteric task under hostile conditions


There is no need to roll for routine tasks: characters automatically succeed at routine tasks. Similarly, there is usually no need to roll if there is no penalty for failure and/or no time limit: it might take months, but the character will succeed eventually.

Bonuses And Penalties

A character's roll may have one or more bonus dice and one or more penalty dice. For example, a circumstance that makes an attack more difficult would impose a penalty die on the attack, while a circumstance that makes it easier to defend against attacks would grant a bonus die to the defender. Each bonus die adds one to the number of dice the player rolls, while each penalty die subtracts one from the number of dice the player rolls. If the combined bonus dice and penalty dice reduce the number of dice rolled to zero, the task is simply impossible.

If the number of dice rolled is zero, the task is simply impossible.


Table: Skill bonuses and penalties
Circumstance Modifier
GM deems attempt impossible Attempt fails
Character is distracted1 Penalty die
Character is running or sprinting Penalty die
Character has expertise Bonus die
  1. Distracting


Table: Attack bonuses and penalties
Circumstance Modifier
GM deems attack impossible Attack fails
Attacker is sprinting Attack fails
Attacker can't perceive defender1 Penalty die
Attacker is distracted2 Penalty die
Attacker is restrained3 Penalty die
Attacker is running Penalty die
Attacker is surprised Penalty die
Attacker is using a sweep attack4 Penalty die
Attacker is using a two-handed weapon with one hand Penalty die
Target is beyond effective range of the weapon Penalty die
Attacker is charging the defender5 Bonus die
  1. Sensory Attacks
  2. Distracting
  3. Restrained characters
  4. Sweep Attack
  5. Charging


Table: Defense bonuses and penalties
Circumstance Modifier
Defender is distracted1 Penalty die
Defender is prone; attack is close combat2 Penalty die
Defender is restrained3 Penalty die
Defender is surprised Penalty die
Defender can't perceive attacker4 Penalty die
Defender has cover5 Bonus die
Defender is prone; attack is ranged2 Bonus die
Defender is running or sprinting Bonus die
  1. Distracting
  2. Prone characters
  3. Restrained characters
  4. Sensory Attacks
  5. Cover


Cover

A character hiding behind an obstruction is more difficult to hit. The defender gains a bonus die.

Prone Characters

A prone character is easier to hit with a Close Combat attack, but is harder to hit with a Ranged Combat attack. A prone defender incurs a penalty die on their defense rolls against Close Combat attacks, but they receive a bonus die on their defense rolls against Ranged Combat attacks.

Restrained Characters

A restrained character is not helpless, but they can't use normal movement until they break free of the restraints. Attacking a restrained character is easier, and a restrained character's attacks are easier to avoid: a restrained attacker incurs a penalty die on all attack rolls, defense rolls, and skill rolls while restrained. If the character is completely immobilized, they are considered helpless rather then merely restrained.

Helpless Or Unconscious Characters

A helpless or unconscious character can't defend themselves nor make attack rolls, defense rolls, or skill rolls. They are effectively at the mercy of any attacker.

Range

There are five range bands: close, short, medium, long, and remote. Close range is the distance that a character can reach with their hands or with a hand-held weapon: anywhere from "in your face" up to about two meters. Short range is the distance that a character can easily reach with small hand-held weapons, or with thrown weapons with a bit of luck: up to ten meters. Medium range is too far for thrown weapons, but is within range of most small arms: up to fifty meters or so. Long range is too far for most handguns, but is within range of most rifles, with careful aim and a steady hand: up to 500 meters. A few weapons have even greater range, called "remote": these effectively have no maximum range.

Weapons and traits that are useful at a distance have an effective range given in their description. Attacking more distant targets is more difficult or impossible (at the GM's discretion). If the GM declares that the attack is possible, the attacker incurs a penalty die.


Table: Range bands
Range Typical weapons
Close Fist, sword, club
Short (10 m) Pistol, flamethrower, grenade
Medium (50 m) Carbine, crossbow, rifle
Long (500 m) Sniper rifle, shoulder-fired missile
Remote Long-range artillery, guided missile

Combining Effort

Multiple characters can work together to increase their effectiveness. All of the characters make a roll as usual. The total number of characters working together is added to the highest roll (all other rolls are discarded).

In combat, all of the characters ganging up on an opponent must strike simultaneously (meaning every attacker but one must delay their attack). The the total number of attackers is added to the highest attack roll (all other rolls are discarded).

Some tasks might benefit from a multidisciplinary approach. For example, getting a desperate fugitive to surrender would obviously benefit from experience with negotiation, but a keen understanding of the fugitive's culture could also be helpful. This allows characters with different skills to combine their efforts to accomplish the task.

Extended Tasks

Some tasks are more complex or time-consuming than can reasonably be resolved with a single roll. For example, constructing a ship or racing through a city could both be extended tasks. When attempting an extended task, the GM sets a difficulty value and the required number of successes. The GM might also set a maximum number of attempts, to indicate tasks which have a time limit or a penalty for failure, such as disarming a bomb before it explodes. In extended opposed tasks, such as a competition between rival scientists to create a cure for a disease, the first person or team to achieve the required number of successful rolls succeeds at the task.

Consequences

Success

If the player's roll equals or exceeds the target number, the character succeeds in a completely satisfactory manner: the clue is found, the engine is repaired, or the bullet finds its target, inflicting one Endurance damage. However, rolling higher than the required target number may grant additional benefits.

SIDEBAR: Margin Of Success (Optional)

Margin of success is an optional rule which will make combat more deadly.

The amount by which a player's roll exceeds the target number is called the margin of success. If the target number is 12, and the player's total is 15, they have margin of success of 3.

If the player has a margin of success of 3 or more when making a skill roll, the character may have a "eureka!" moment, or perhaps they have found answers to questions they didn't even know they should ask. If the player has a margin of success of 3 or more when making a Close Combat or Ranged Combat roll, the attack inflicts an additional point of Endurance damage for each 3 that the player rolled over the target number.

For example, if an attacker made a Close Combat roll against a target number of 14, and the attacker rolled a 19, this would be a margin of success of 5. Divided by 3 and rounded down, this attack inflicts one additional point of Endurance damage to the target.

Failure

Failing a roll, particularly a skill roll, is not the end of the world. A failed attempt may not give the character the result they wanted, but it should not mean the game grinds to a halt. Rather than having a failed attempt be a dead-end, it should mean that the desired outcome has a greater cost, or perhaps the desired outcome has undesirable side effects. Remember that success and failure are both paths to the same goal: to make the game more fun. Failure is okay. Boredom is not.

Failure should never make the game less interesting.

For example, Inspector Dupuis is trying to intimidate a low-level Gitan hexmaster into revealing details about the organization's plans to distribute a new, highly addictive drug disguised as a love potion. Sadly, Inspector Dupuis's player rolls poorly, and fails to intimidate the gangster. Rather than having this be the end of this line of inquiry, the GM has several options.

  • Quid pro quo: The gangster will give Dupuis the information, but only if Dupuis gives the gangster something in exchange. This could be something as prosaic as money, but it could be something more interesting, such as information about a rival gang or a drop of Dupuis's blood.
  • Red herring: The gangster tells Dupuis what she wants to hear, but the information is not true or it leads Dupuis off on a wild goose chase. If the gangster is clever, he may send Dupuis after a local Maghrebi gang that has been causing problems for the Gitans.
  • Stirring the pot: Dupuis gets the information, but her activities attract attention. A rival organization, the Maghrebi, learns of the Gitans' love potion as a result of Dupuis' activities, and they try to beat her to the prize. Alternately, the rival organization might use Dupuis as a stalking horse, allowing Dupuis and the Gitans to fight each other so that the Maghrebi will have an easier time taking the spoils from the winner.
  • Alerting the enemy: Dupuis gets the information, but the Gitans learn of Dupuis's interest in their activities and they begin to make preparations against her. It could even be that the technician was intended to be captured by Dupuis all along, in order to set her up for an ambush!

Endurance And Recovery

Endurance represents a character's determination and ability to shrug off physical and mental abuse. A character's base Endurance is equal to their Brawn or their Presence, whichever is greater. When a character is successfully attacked, one (or more, if using the optional margin of success rules) is temporarily subtracted from their Endurance. A character who has lost more than half of their Endurance can speak and take roleplaying actions, but any other action, including combat, incurs a penalty die. A character whose Endurance is reduced to zero is defeated: they are out of the fight, and probably unconscious. Endurance may not be reduced below zero.

Exploding, penetrating, and stunning attacks modify attacks or how characters defend against them. Sensory and terrifying attacks have additional effects on the target, which the target may usually resist by making a roll against the action value (AV) of the attack.

When the conflict has ended, the combatants may rest and recover. Normally, an injured character may recover half of their lost Endurance (rounded down) by resting for about half an hour. After that, a character may only recover additional Endurance by getting a good night's sleep (or its equivalent, for characters who don't sleep). Barring some gruesome disfigurement, a character's Endurance will be completely replenished after a solid night's rest.

If the character has taken some other form of damage, such as damage to one of their attributes other than Endurance, this damage is temporary. It all comes back after the character has had a chance to rest and recuperate.

Inanimate Objects

Inanimate objects have Integrity, reflecting the structural integrity of the object. An object which has lost more than half of its Integrity is damaged, and may not work properly. An object which has lost of all of its Integrity is effectively destroyed.

Unnamed Characters

An unnamed character is defeated on any successful attack roll. They make up for this by vastly outnumbering the player characters.

Death

In the source material which Rough Magic seeks to emulate, main characters very rarely die. That being said, if the GM and the player both agree that the game would be best served by the character taking the final bow, then so be it. It should never be merely the result of a dice roll, though.

Special Actions

Charging

A charging attack involves using the velocity of the attacker to increase the damage inflicted. Charging requires the attacker to use their movement action to travel directly toward the target, followed by a Close Combat roll. The attacker gains a bonus die on the roll. Charging may be called by various names depending on the technique the attacker uses, such as a "flying tackle", "ramming", or a "pounce".

Distracting

Distraction can be used by a character to mislead an enemy into dropping their guard. Distracting an opponent requires using a task action to make a Presence roll against the Presence of the opponent. If the character attempting to use distraction rolls more than the target, the distraction is successful: the distracted character suffers a penalty die on their next attack roll or their next defense roll, whichever comes first.

Dodging

During their turn, or as a forced action, a character may use a task action to focus exclusively on defense. Dodging might involve using finesse to harmlessly divert attacks away, or it might entail using brute force to withstand attacks: the choice is up to the player. Dodging grants a bonus die to the character's defense roll when they are attacked. The bonus die may be applied to physical attacks, social attacks, or mental attacks: this must be chosen each time the character uses an action to dodge. A character who is using their action to dodge continues to receive this benefit against the selected type of attack until they take their next turn.

Grappling

A grapple is a special Close Combat attack that does not inflict damage, but instead restrains the target's limbs and prevents them from moving freely. The defense value (DV) of the target is equal to the defender's Agility or Brawn (whichever is greater).

If the attacker's Close Combat roll is equal to or greater than the defender's roll, the defender is restrained. A restrained character is not helpless, but they can't use normal movement until they break free of the grapple. Attacking a restrained character is easier, and a restrained character's attacks are easier to avoid: a restrained attacker incurs a penalty die on all attack rolls, defense rolls, and skill rolls while restrained.

A grapple is not normally able to inflict damage directly (like a punch), but the attacker may attempt to use leverage to hurt the grappled character by making another attack on one of their future turns.

Breaking Free Of A Grapple

To break free of the grapple, the restrained character must use a task action to roll their Agility or Brawn (whichever is greater) against the attacker's Brawn. If the restrained character's roll is equal to or greater than the grappling character's roll, the restrained character has broken free of the grapple, and they may use their movement action for that turn. Alternately, the grappling character may release the restrained character at any time, without using an action.

Hurting A Grappled Target

If the attacker wishes to exert strength or leverage in an attempt to hurt the restrained character, they must use an action to make another attack roll against the restrained character.

Grapple vs. Grapple

If the grappled character succeeds in a grapple attack against the original attacker, both characters are considered restrained. Neither character can use normal movement until they break free of their opponent's grapple. Both characters incur a penalty die on all attack rolls, defense rolls, and skill rolls while restrained.

Throwing A Grappled Target

If the attacker wishes to throw the grappled character, the distance an attacker may throw the defender is based on the Brawn of the attacker and the mass of the defender. First, look up the mass of the defender in the "Lift" column (rounding to the nearest mass value), and find the corresponding Brawn for that mass. Subtract that from the Brawn of the attacker, and look up that resulting value in the "Throw" column. This is how far the attacker can throw the restrained character.

Running For Cover

Attacks which are particularly large, such as explosions and burning zeppelins, are much more difficult to avoid. The only way to avoid such attacks is to not be under them when they land. If a character is about to be hit by a large attack, they can take a forced action to run for cover. When running for cover, the character sprints to the nearest open ground which is beyond the area of the attack or behind the nearest cover. A character may perform a forced action to run for cover from an ordinary attack, if they want, but it sacrifices their next action.

Slamming

A slam or takedown is a special form of Close Combat attack that uses a target's mass and velocity against them so that they fall to the ground. A slam can represent an aikido throw, a leg sweep, a judo hip toss, or even tripping someone with an umbrella, depending on the attacker's fighting style. If the attacker's Close Combat roll is equal to or greater than the defender's roll, the defender falls to the ground and may be injured by the impact.

The action value of this attack is normally equal to the attacker's Brawn, and the target's defense value is normally equal to their Brawn. If the defender is stationary and not restrained at the time of the attack, the defender gains a bonus die on their defense roll; if the defender is moving at the time of the attack, the defender receives a penalty die on their defense roll.

A character who has been slammed is prone and must normally use a movement action to get back up.

Sweep Attack

A sweep attack permits a character to make Close Combat attacks against everyone within reach of the character simultaneously. The attacker incurs a penalty die on each roll. The defense value (DV) of each target in the area of the attack is equal to their Brawn plus the rating of their armor, as usual.

Special Attack Types

Exploding

Exploding attacks inflict damage to everyone within a certain distance of the target -- everyone within short range (10 m), typically. The action value of the explosion diminishes with distance from the center. The action value is at its full value within half of the total radius, and one-half of its value (rounded down) in the remainder of the explosion. For example, a fragmentation grenade with action value 7 would have its full action value from the center of the explosion out to a radius of 5 meters, and an action value of 3 from 5 meters out to 10 meters. The attacker rolls once for the explosion. Normally, each target in the affected area rolls individually against the attack, but if the GM prefers, she may roll once for each group of similar targets.

Penetrating

If an attack is penetrating, any of the attacker's dice that show a "1" are re-rolled until the die rolls higher than 1.

Sensory

A successful sensory attack renders the target unable to see and unable to hear. A defender who can't perceive an attacker incurs a penalty die on their defense roll.

To recover from a sensory attack, the target must use a task action to make a moderately difficult (DV 3) Perception (Reason) roll.

If the character has not recovered from the sensory attack by the end of the scene, then they recover their senses shortly thereafter.

Stunning

Damage from a stunning attack is temporary. Record it separately; it all comes back after the fight is over, when the character has had a chance to rest and recuperate.

Terrifying

A successful terrifying attack causes the target to involuntarily cower or flee (defender's choice). A cowering character incurs a penalty die on their defense rolls, while a fleeing character is granted a bonus die to their defense rolls.

To recover from a terrifying attack, the target must make a moderately difficult (DV 3) Survival (Presence) roll.

If the character has not recovered from the terrifying attack by the end of the scene, then they recover their composure shortly thereafter.

Plot Points

Each player begins each game session with one plot point. A player gains a plot point when they do something particularly entertaining or interesting, when one of their character's complications causes a serious problem for them during the game, or when the GM overrides a roll of the dice to make things more difficult for the characters. Plot points are spent to alter the game world, gain a bonus die, or gain an advantage in combat.

Gaining Plot Points

Players receive plot points for helping make the game more fun, and they spend them to make their character more effective. Each player starts each game session with one plot point, and should get one or two more during each game session. It's in the players' best interests to spend these plot points before the end of the game session, because any unspent plot points do not carry over to the next game (unless the GM makes an exception).

Plot points shouldn't be given to a player just for roleplaying their character -- they should be doing that anyway. The GM should give out a plot point when the player does something really exceptional or inventive, or when the player volunteers for their character to suffer some dramatic setback. For example, if a character upholds their ideals rather than choosing the easy or expedient solution, and this causes serious problems for the players, this would earn the player a plot point -- and if the consequences are serious enough, it might earn all of the players a plot point. The player might even suggest ways that their character's complications can come into play, giving the GM an opportunity to ramp up the tension.

It's important for the GM to remember that while plot points are a reward for making the game fun, they also make the characters more powerful. A game in which plots points are handed out by the handful will have a much different feel than one in which they are given out sparingly. It's probably reasonable for each player to receive one or two plot points over the course of a typical three or four hour game session.

Spending Plot Points

The examples listed here are the most common uses for plot points, but they aren't the only ones. If a player wants to spend a plot point to make something fun happen, and it has about the same impact on the game as these examples, the GM should consider permitting it. For example, let's say an earthquake has collapsed the roof of a cavern, dropping tons of rock on the characters. If a character with a Telekinesis spell wanted to spend a plot point to protect herself and her allies from being crushed, should the GM permit it? Sure! It's fun, and it doesn't unbalance the game.

Bonus Die

A bonus die is just that: the player spends a plot point, and their character gains a bonus die the current roll. This can be a skill roll, an attack roll, or a defense roll. The player may spend the plot point before or after the rest of her dice are rolled.

Boost

A boost increases one of the character's attributes by one. A character with Brawn 5 could gain a temporary boost to Brawn 6, or a character with Presence 7 could gain a temporary boost to Presence 8.

A boost usually only lasts for one round, but it might last as long as a scene if that seems to make sense and the GM agrees.

Inspiration

Despite the best intentions of the GM, sometimes players get stuck. All of the leads have been followed, all of the witnesses have been interviewed, and the players are oblivious to the obvious solution the GM has given them to their dilemma. When all else fails, a player can spend a plot point to make an intuitive leap and receive a hint from the GM on what to do next.

If the GM finds this happening with any regularity, it might be worthwhile for them to make their plots a bit less mysterious.

Rally

Under normal circumstances, an injured character recovers half of the Endurance they have lost (rounded down) after they have had a chance to rest and recuperate for half an hour or so. Spending a plot point allows a character to rally and immediately recover half of the Endurance they have lost, as though they'd had a half-hour's worth of rest.

Retcon

"Retcon" is short for "retroactive continuity": changing the past in some way that supports the current needs of the plot. This can involve the realization that a needed resource is available, but had previously been overlooked ("Oh, what I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak"), or it can take the form of a character revealing a previously unknown era in their history, thus giving them new background skills ("As a matter of fact, I spent a full year studying the Olmec language"). A retcon could also be used to apply a character's skills and abilities in a way that makes it seem they planned ahead in a particularly cunning way, such as having already established a false identity as a caterer in order to sneak into an exclusive banquet.

A good retcon should not overtly violate what has been established in the game: it should build on what has been established in a fun and inventive way.

Retcons are essentially permanent.