Bulletproof Blues 4e EN:Actions
Now we come to the most complicated part of Bulletproof Blues: 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.
If you can play a fun game of Bulletproof Blues 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.
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 perform minor useful actions like dropping a weapon, turning off a power, or crouching behind cover. We call these "move actions", "standard actions", and "quick actions", respectively. A character can perform these actions in any order.
|Round 1||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
|Round 2||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
|Round 3||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' 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.
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 (an 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 the direct control of 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.
Combat starts when Blueshift runs around a corner and sees Ganyeka, who is giving commands to his minions. The GM declares that the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Ganyeka's minions.
|Round 1||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the second round, Monolith runs around the corner, startling Ganyeka's minions because, wow, that guy is huge. The GM declares that the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Monolith, then Ganyeka's minions.
|Round 2||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the third round, Blueshift delays her turn, waiting to see what Monolith does. When it is Monolith's turn, he attempts to grapple with Ganyeka. Blueshift uses her delayed turn to assist Monolith by combining her attack with his.
|Round 3||Ganyeka's turn|
Blueshift's turn (delayed)
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the fourth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.
|Round 4||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' 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, activate a defensive power, 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.
Continuing from the previous example, on the fifth round, the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Monolith, then Ganyeka's minions.
|Round 5||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the sixth round, Blueshift makes short work of two of Ganyeka's minions with a sweep attack. Ganyeka then pulls out a sinister-looking weapon, aims it at Monolith, and fires. Blueshift forces her next action to leap between Ganyeka and Monolith, taking the full brunt of Ganyeka's attack.
|Round 6||Blueshift's turn|
Blueshift's turn (forced from round 7)
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the seventh round, Blueshift loses her turn because she forced it in the previous round.
|Round 7||Ganyeka's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
On the eighth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.
|Round 8||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's minions' turn
Types Of Actions
There are three types kinds of actions a character may perform during their turn in a round: move actions, standard actions, and quick actions. Under normal circumstances, a character can perform one move action and one standard action during their turn. In addition, a character can perform as many quick actions as the GM deems reasonable.
When it is not a character's turn, they can still react to events around them. Free actions can be attempted at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable.
|On your turn||One move action|
One standard action
As many quick actions as the GM deems reasonable
|Any time||As many free actions as the GM deems reasonable|
With a move 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 a movement power to move up to the distance that the power allows. With the GM's permission, the character may instead perform any equivalent action: opening an access hatch, standing up from a prone or seated position, squeezing the throttle on a motorcycle, or what have you.
A character making a double move (running) gains a bonus die on their defense rolls, 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 rolls, but they automatically fail all other rolls.
Movement itself does not generally require a roll, although the GM may require an Athletics (Agility) 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.
With a standard action, a character may attempt to perform one task. This could be attempting a skill roll, attempting to attack an opponent in combat, activating a power and attacking someone with it, or a similar activity. Under normal circumstances, a character can perform this action before, during, or after they move.
A quick action takes essentially no time. A character can't perform quick actions until it is their turn to act in the round, but during their turn, they can perform as many quick actions as the GM deems reasonable (perhaps as many as a half dozen). Typical quick actions include activating a power (but not attacking with it), deactivating a power, dropping a weapon, crouching behind cover, and so on.
A free action takes essentially no time and can be performed at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable. Roleplaying, for example, is a free action. This might include banter with the character's teammates, making fun of an enemy's name or costume, or declaring that the opponent "shall not pass". A free action may also be a response to something another character does, usually at the request of the GM.
All rolls are skill rolls. When a character attempts a task, and the outcome is either contested or there is some random element involved, the player must roll dice to see if the character succeeds. The player rolls their dice, counts the dots, and adds the result to the character's relevant attribute. This roll is compared to their opponent's roll plus their relevant attribute. If the player's total equals or exceeds the target number, the character's attempt succeeds. There is no need to roll for routine tasks: characters automatically succeed at routine tasks.
|Action Total||Target Number|
If the character has the needed skill, the player rolls 2d6. If the character has Expertise with the needed skill, re-roll any 1s and 2s until all dice have a 3 or higher. This applies to any bonus dice, as well.
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, but it takes a skilled woodworker to make a mortise and tenon joint. If a character attempts a task in which they have no skill, the player rolls one die instead of two. For example, if a character is attacked by an enemy with a knife, but the defender does not have the Hand-to-hand Combat skill, the defender rolls 1d6 and adds their Brawn.
Most skills are associated with a specific attribute (Agility, Brawn, etc.). However, the relevant attribute might change depending on the circumstances. A character's relevant attribute is added to their dice roll.
When making a skill roll, the character may add the power level (PL) rating of their equipment to their roll. Simple or multipurpose equipment, such as a Swiss army knife, generally has a PL of 1. Ordinary equipment, such as a reasonably complete box of tools, would have a PL of 2. Special-purpose or very high quality equipment, such as a complete surgical theatre, would have a PL of 3.
Some abilities allow a character to add their Power Level to a skill roll. If the character has more than one such ability, the character's Power Level is added to their skill roll only once. The PL from a character's abilities does not usually stack with the PL of their equipment: the character gets the benefit of whichever PL is greater.
The difficulty of the task depends on whether someone or something is actively working against the character.
If the character is actively competing against an opponent, the target number is usually equal to the opponent's roll plus their relevant attribute, plus the rating of their equipment, if any. In combat, the relevant attribute of the target is normally Brawn for Hand-to-hand Combat attacks, Agility for Ranged Combat attacks, and Power Level for Mental Combat attacks. However, the attribute used for the opponent's roll might change depending on the circumstances.
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.
|--||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.
Types Of Attacks
Each attack, whether from a power or an ordinary weapon, is one of three types: normal, mental, or alteration.
Most attacks are normal attacks. A successful normal attack reduces the target's current Endurance. Clubs, firearms, and powers such as Blast are all normal attacks. Armor, force fields, and powers such as Damage Resistance are effective against normal attacks. Normal attacks are usually resolved with an Agility roll or a Brawn roll. Normal attacks are usually obvious when used.
Mental attacks are those which affect the target's mind directly. Conventional defenses such as armor and Damage Resistance are not effective against mental attacks: only Mental Resistance is effective against mental attacks. Mental attacks are usually resolved with a Power Level vs. Presence roll. Mental attacks are obvious to anyone who has Mental Resistance or mental powers, but are usually invisible to everyone else.
Alteration attacks are those which transform the target in some way, or which affect one of the target's attributes other than Endurance. Conventional defenses such as armor and Damage Resistance are not effective against alteration attacks: only Alteration Resistance is effective against alteration attacks. Alteration attacks are usually resolved with a Power Level roll against the target's Agility or Brawn roll. Alteration attacks are usually obvious when used.
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 number of dice a player rolls is reduced below zero, their opponent (or the GM) gains bonus dice, instead.
|Attacker is making an all-out move (sprinting)||Attack fails|
|Attacker can't perceive defender in ranged combat1||Attack fails|
|Attacker can't perceive defender in hand-to-hand combat1||Penalty die|
|Attacker is attempting to disarm the defender3||Penalty die|
|Attacker is distracted4 or surprised||Penalty die|
|Attacker is restrained5||Penalty die|
|Attacker is making a double move (running)||Penalty die|
|Attacker is using a sweep attack6||Penalty die|
|Attacker is using a two-handed weapon with one hand||Penalty die|
|Target is beyond effective range of the weapon||Penalty die|
|Underwater or zero-G||Penalty die|
|Attacker is charging the defender2||Bonus die|
|Defender is distracted3 or surprised||Penalty die|
|Defender is prone in hand-to-hand combat4||Penalty die|
|Defender is restrained5||Penalty die|
|Defender can't perceive attacker1||Penalty die|
|Defender has cover2 or is prone in ranged combat4||Bonus die|
|Defender is focusing exclusively on defense||Bonus die|
|Defender is running or sprinting||Bonus die|
A character hiding behind an obstruction is more difficult to hit. The defender gains a bonus die on their defense roll.
A prone character is easier to hit with a hand-to-hand attack, but is harder to hit with a ranged attack. A prone defender incurs a penalty die on their defense rolls against Hand-to-hand Combat attacks, but they receive a bonus die on their defense rolls against Ranged Combat and Mental Combat attacks. Standing up from a prone or seated position requires a move action.
A restrained character is not helpless, but they can't use 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.
There are five range bands: hand-to-hand, short, medium, long, and extreme. Hand-to-hand 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 one meter. 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 10 meters. Medium range is too far for thrown weapons, but is within range of most small arms: up to 100 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 a kilometer. A few weapons have even greater range, called "extreme": these are effective at distances of 10 kilometers or more.
Weapons that are useful at a distance have an effective range given in their description, while the range of powers is based on the character's Power Level.
|Hand-to-hand (1 m)||Fist, sword, club|
|Short (10 m)||Pistol, flamethrower, grenade|
|Medium (100 m)||Carbine, crossbow, rifle|
|Long (1 km)||Sniper rifle, shoulder-fired missile|
|Extreme (10 km+)||Long-range artillery, guided missile|
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 lowest roll, up to a maximum of +10. The outcome of all other rolls are determined normally.
In combat, all of the characters ganging up on an opponent must strike simultaneously (meaning every attacker but one must delay their attack). Noncombat tasks might benefit from a multidisciplinary approach. For example, disabling an alien doomsday weapon would obviously benefit from engineering experience, but a keen understanding of alien psychology or linguistics could also be helpful. This allows characters with different skills to combine their efforts to accomplish the task.
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 vaccine, the first person or team to achieve the required number of successful rolls succeeds at the task.
Red Streak is trying to escape from Inferno by zig-zagging through the city. The GM declares that this is an extended Athletics (Agility) contest. Each round, both Red Streak and Inferno will make an Athletics (Agility) roll, and count how many times each character wins the contest (on a tie, Red Streak wins). The GM declares that if Red Streak gets three more successes than Inferno, then she loses him. Until then, Inferno and Red Streak can attempt to attack each other each round. Because both Red Streak and Inferno are running, they both have a penalty die on their attack rolls and a bonus die on their defense rolls.
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 attack finds its target, inflicting one point of Endurance damage. However, rolling higher than the required target number may grant additional benefits.
Knockback is an optional rule which will make combat cover a greater physical area, possibly causing collateral damage in the process.
When struck by a normal attack, a target is pushed away from the attacker (or from the center of an explosion). The distance the target is moved is equal to the amount by which a player's roll exceeds the target number. If the target number is 12, and the player's total is 15, the target will be pushed back 3 meters.
If the target is pushed more than 2 meters, they must succeed at a moderately difficult (DV 3) Athletics (Agility) roll or be knocked prone. If the target is flying or swimming and fails this roll, they don't fall to the ground, but the mechanical effects are the same: they are easier to hit with a Hand-to-hand Combat attack, harder to hit with a Ranged Combat or Mental Combat attack, and recovering their equilibrium requires a move action.
Targets who suffer knockback often smash through walls and windows, destroying whatever they pass through or happen to land on, but they suffer no significant injury themselves from doing so.
Margin Of Success (Optional)
Margin of success is an optional rule which will make combat more brutal.
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 combat roll, the attack inflicts an additional point of damage for each 3 that the player rolled over the target number.
For example, if an attacker made a Hand-to-hand Combat roll against a target number of 11, and the attacker rolled a total of 19, this would be a margin of success of 8. The attack inflicts an additional point of damage for each 3 that the player rolled over the target number, so this attack inflicts two additional points of Endurance damage to the target (12, 13, 14 = +1, 15, 16, 17 = +2).
Be aware that using the margin of success rule in combat will usually hurt the player characters more than it hurts the villains. Consider using margin of success for the player's attacks, but not for the villain's attacks.
Failing 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.
For example, Grimknight is trying to intimidate a low-level ASGARD technician into revealing details about the organization's plans to distribute a new, highly addictive psychoactive chemical disguised as an energy drink. Sadly, Grimknight's player rolls poorly, and fails to intimidate the technician. Rather than having this be the end of this line of inquiry, the GM has several options.
- Quid pro quo: The technician will give Grimknight the information, but only if Grimknight gives the technician something in exchange. This could be something as prosaic as money, but with an operative of ASGARD the cost is more likely to be something rare or unique, such as blueprints for an experimental device or a sample of Grimknight's DNA.
- Red herring: The technician tells Grimknight what he wants to hear, but the information is not true or it leads Grimknight off on a wild goose chase. If the technician is clever, she may send Grimknight after a local Aegis cell that has been causing problems for ASGARD.
- Stirring the pot: Grimknight gets the information, but his activities attract attention. A rival organization, the Jade Moon Society, learns of ASGARD's psychoactive energy drink as a result of Grimknight's activities, and they try to beat him to the prize. Alternately, the rival organization might use Grimknight as a stalking horse, allowing Grimknight and ASGARD to fight each other so that the Jade Moon Society will have an easier time taking the spoils from the winner.
- Alerting the enemy: Grimknight gets the information, but ASGARD learns of Grimknight's interest in their activities and they begin to make preparations against him. It could even be that the technician was intended to be captured by Grimknight all along, in order to set him up for an ambush!
Endurance And Recovery
Endurance (END) represents a character's ability to shrug off physical and mental abuse. Endurance acts as a reservoir of points which are expended as the character is injured, and replenished as the character recovers. The base attribute is referred to as the character's "total Endurance" or "maximum Endurance", while the changing value is referred to as the character's "current Endurance". It is rare for an attack to alter a character's maximum Endurance, so when the rules specify that a character loses Endurance, you may assume that it is referring to the character's "current Endurance" unless it specifies "maximum Endurance".
When a character is successfully attacked, one (or more, if using the optional margin of success rules) is subtracted from their current Endurance. A character who has been reduced to 1 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.
Area, penetrating, and stunning attacks modify attacks or how characters defend against them. Blinding and terrifying attacks have additional effects on the target, which the target may usually resist by making a roll against 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 up) 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, this damage is temporary. It all comes back after the character has had a chance to rest and recuperate.
Inanimate objects have Endurance, reflecting the structural integrity of the object. An object which has lost more than half of its Endurance is damaged, and may not work properly. An object which has lost of all of its Endurance is effectively destroyed.
An unnamed character is defeated on any successful attack roll. They make up for this by vastly outnumbering the player characters.
In the source material which Bulletproof Blues 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.
However, even if the character dies, there is precedent in the Kalos Universe for death not being final. Depending on the character, their background, and the needs of the story, death may be temporary or merely a transitional phase. For example, when Dryad was killed during the Audubon Park Massacre, her oak tree on the grounds of the Vanguard headquarters seemed to die as well. It was only later when Doctor Morpheus joined Vanguard that it was discovered that her tree was not dead, but merely dormant, setting the stage for Dryad's eventual return.
Whether death is final for a character also depends on how they died. Did the manner of their death leave any room for doubt? Might their powers provide a way for them to return from the circumstances that killed them? And most importantly, did their death have an important impact on the story? The way a character dies may be their most defining moment; if so, it would cheat them and the story for their death to be temporary. Still, there is always a loophole if you need one. The most important thing to remember about death is that it should never be decided by a roll of the dice.
A charging attack involves using the velocity of the attacker to increase the damage inflicted. Charging requires the attacker to use their move action to travel directly toward the target, followed by a Hand-to-hand 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".
A disarm is a special hand-to-hand attack that does not inflict damage, but instead deprives the target of a piece of ordinary held equipment. A disarm attack requires a successful Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll against the Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll of the target. The attacker suffers a penalty die on the roll, and powers such as Strike, Damage Resistance, and Force Field do not apply to these rolls.
If the attacker's roll is equal to or greater than the defender's roll, the attacker may choose one piece of ordinary equipment held by the target and either take it away from them or knock it from the target's grasp. A disarm may be used against equipment which has been purchased as a power only if the GM (for NPC targets) or the other player (for player character targets) gives their consent. This information should be given to the attacker before they attempt to disarm the target.
Distraction can be used by a character to mislead an enemy into dropping their guard. Distracting an opponent requires using a standard action to make a Deception (Presence) roll against the Perception (Reason) 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.
During their turn, or as a forced action, a character may use a standard 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. A character who is using their action to dodge continues to receive this benefit until they take their next turn.
A grapple is a special hand-to-hand attack that does not inflict damage, but instead restrains the target. A grapple attack requires a successful Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll against the Hand-to-hand Combat roll of the target, using the target's Agility or Brawn (whichever is greater). Powers such as Strike, Damage Resistance, and Force Field do not apply to these rolls.
If the attacker's roll is equal to or greater than the defender's roll, the target is restrained. A restrained character is not helpless, but they can't use move actions until they break free of the grapple. A restrained character incurs a penalty die on all rolls other than rolls to escape the grapple.
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 Hand-to-hand Combat attack on one of their future turns.
Breaking Free Of A Grapple
To break free of a grapple, the target must use a standard action to make a successful Hand-to-hand Combat roll using their Agility or Brawn (whichever is greater) against a Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll of the attacker. If the target succeeds at this roll, they break free of the grapple. Alternately, the grappling character may release the restrained character at any time as a free 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 a standard action to make a Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll against the restrained character's Hand-to-hand Combat roll, using the restrained character's Agility or Brawn (whichever is greater).
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 move actions until they break free of their opponent's grapple. While restrained, both characters incur a penalty die on all rolls other than rolls to escape the grapple.
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 collapsing castles, 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.
A slam or takedown is a special form of hand-to-hand attack that uses a target's mass and velocity against them so that they fall to the ground (or are hurled against a nearby flat surface, in zero-G). 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. A slam requires a successful Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll against the Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll of the target. If the attacker's Hand-to-hand 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.
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 move action to get back up.
A sweep attack permits a character to make hand-to-hand attacks against everyone within reach of the character simultaneously. The attacker incurs a penalty die on each roll. The targets must each attempt a Hand-to-hand Combat (Brawn) roll to defend against the attack, as usual.
Special Attack Types
Area attacks inflict damage to everyone within a certain distance of the target -- everyone within short range (10 m), typically. The attacker rolls once for the attack. 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.
A successful blinding attack renders the target unable to see clearly. In hand-to-hand combat, a blinded character incurs a penalty die on their attack and defense rolls. In ranged combat, a blinded character incurs a penalty die on their defense rolls, but they automatically fail any Ranged Combat attack rolls. However, if the blinded character is able to locate their target to within a meter or so (by using their Hyperacuity-granted super hearing, for example), then the blinded attacker incurs a penalty die on their Ranged Combat attack rolls. A blinded character suffers no penalty when defending against mental attacks, but they automatically fail any Mental Combat attack rolls.
To recover from a blinding attack, the target must use a standard action to make a challenging (DV 3) Perception (Reason) roll.
If the character has not recovered from the blinding attack by the end of the scene, then they recover their senses shortly thereafter.
Burst Fire Weapons
Weapons which fire multiple times per round, such as a machinegun, usually grant a bonus die, and they might or might not do more damage than their single-shot equivalents (PL 4 instead of PL 3, for example). However, the attack is only resolved once. Whether the damage from an attack is inflicted by one discrete injury or twelve, it's all just one Ranged Combat roll. There's no "roll damage three times" mechanic like some game systems have.
If an attack is penetrating, any of the defender’s dice that show a "5" or "6" are re-rolled until each die rolls lower than 5.
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.
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 (because they are running).
To recover from a terrifying attack, the target must make a remarkably difficult (DV 6) 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.
Each player begins each game session with at least 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 will 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
Plot points can be spent by players at any time, even when their character is unconscious. 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 Telekinesis 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.
A bonus die is just that: the player spends a plot point, and their character gains a bonus die on the current roll. The player may decide to spend the plot point before or after she rolls her dice.
Spending a plot point allows the character to immediately break free of a grapple or a lasting power such as Dazzle, Mind Control, or Telekinesis.
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, they should consider make their plots a bit less mysterious.
A power stunt permits a character to use their current powers in new and creative ways. For example, a character with Stretching might use a power stunt to pick a lock. The outcome of a power stunt is not automatically successful: the player still needs to roll to determine the outcome, if the outcome is contested or subject to some uncontrolled factor. A player who used a power stunt to gain Finesse would still need to make a Finesse roll in order to pick the lock.
Power stunts usually only last for one round, but they might last as long as a scene if that seems to make sense and the GM agrees.
Under normal circumstances, an injured character recovers half of the Endurance they have lost (rounded up) 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" is short for "retroactive continuity": changing the past in some way that supports the current needs of the plot. This can be a needed resource that had previously been overlooked ("If we only had a wheelbarrow..."), or it can take the form of a character revealing a previously unknown era in their history, thus giving them new information. 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.
A surge increases one of the character's attributes by one. A character with Brawn 5 could gain a temporary surge to Brawn 6, or a character with Presence 7 could gain a temporary surge to Presence 8.
A surge 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.