Each heading below describes one of the facets of the system. Some rules are designated as simple - everyone needs to read and understand them, but they hopefully shouldn't be hard. Everyone should also note that the complex rules exist, but can probably get away without completely understanding them unless they hope to exploit them in battle. Of course, they cannot complain if they are used against them.
Extras are assumed to always roll their average number of successes in battle, that is, pool * 0.4, rounded near (down on 0.5).
This means that a die-pool of:
- 2-3 = 1 success
- 4-6 = 2 successes
- 7-8 = 3 successes
- 9-11 = 4 successes
- 12+ = 5 successes
- Anyone with a higher dice pool is probably not an extra. Even 12 is pushing it.
Assume that (skilled) extras can flurry for two attacks, achieving -1 then -2 successes compared to their base. This only matters where extras could score 4 or 5 successes, but increases the speed at which they ablate DVs overall. See below for more information on this.
DVs no longer automatically ignore attacks, but the static number of successes makes check for defence just as fast. This is important because one of the main roles of extras are to wear down an attacker's DV for other attackers to benefit from.
Targets may still choose not to defend if they choose, trusting to luck or hardness to keep them safe from the myriad stings of a group of extras, and if they do, then obviously they do not ablate DV, as the rules below state.
At the start of combat, or whenever appropriate otherwise, characters make a Join Battle roll, rolling Wits + Awareness at standard difficulty. The number of successes on this roll is recorded as that character's initiative count. Initiative count is measured in ticks, but these are not quite the same as in basic 2e, they do not indicate a set amount of time between characters.
The highest initiative count acts first, and then the next highest, and so on down to the lowest, in order. People on the same initiative count act simultaneously - if both flurry, each action in the flurry is resolved simultaneously with the appropriate action in the other flurry.
Once everyone has acted, the turn is over - start again from the highest initiative count. Initiative counts are not rerolled between combat turns. For timing purposes, each combat turn is between three and six seconds in duration, and ten normal combat turns equate to one long tick. Mass combat can and probably should be run by these rules.
A turn under this system lasts from the action in question to the character's next action. If they act halfway through the turn and do something that lasts for 'one turn', then it will begin as soon as they have done it, and continue until the start of their next action which in most cases will be somewhere next turn. As a result of this, DVs and charmslots refresh at the start of your action, not at the 'end' of the turn.
The above rules are the basis of the initiative system. However, this means that fast characters get only a small advantage at the beginning of the fight, and from then on, it doesn't matter too much when anyone acts, everyone will get one go in sequence. Thus, to prevent things from becoming predictable or boring, there are ways of changing initiative counts, both yours and others, and you can use initiative to get a bonus to many different things.
- Bonuses from Initiative: At any time, someone with a higher initiative than someone else can spend initiative points, which actually alters and drops them down the initiative order, to gain a bonus on one action against that someone with a lower initiative. Each point spent can add one die to an attack or defence pool, one yard to engagement ranges, or one unit to anything else the GM declares appropriate. However, on any one action there is a limit of (Wits + Awareness) points spent, and if these points are spent on a flurry they affect only one attack roll. The initiative count is changed instantly upon using it on a roll, but if the user has already acted this turn, they will have to wait until their new count next turn (which will now be lower) to act again. These bonuses are not counted against die adding limits from charms.
- Changing Initiative: By making a Change Initiative action, which incurs a -1 DV penalty, a character can alter their initiative count and thus their place in the initiative order. Change Initiative is flurriable as usual, but there can be only one Change Initiative action in a flurry. The character rolls Wits + Awareness at standard difficulty, and every success lets them change their initiative count by one point, up or down. They are not required to use all of the successes. This has several implications. First, they are NOT allowed to go twice if they move down the order (and thus later in the turn). Second, if you move from being below someone to above someone in the init order, you now refresh before they do, which, if you've just attacked them, is a fairly large advantage. Moving downwards in the init order is usually not advantageous, but in most cases is not negative either. The 'optimal' position to be in is just above whomever you think is the most dangerous threat, and just below whomever you think is the least threatening.
- Taunts: Not everyone will naturally be blessed with the keen mind and trained senses required to dictate their chosen position in the initiative order. In addition, many enemies will not line up nicely and let you act when you wish. In these circumstances, one of the easier methods of reordering the turn is to change -their- initiative rather than your own, and to do that most people use a Taunt. Taunting the enemy is a normal attack action, with -1 DV penalty, flurriable as usual, although there can be only one taunt per flurry. This is treated as an extremely quick social attack, with all of the appropriate rules and modifications. Taunts -always- use manipulation, and whichever ability seems to be appropriate. As taunts are difficult to ignore, half the dodge MDV against this attack, although if the target can think of an appropriate riposte, their parry MDV is unchanged. If successful, every net success allows you to change the target's initiative count by 1 per success, positive or negative. When using taunts, be wary - incensing a target so that they move 3 steps upwards and are now exactly in the right position for you to attack easily may be nice, but if they pass an ally on the way, you may have given them an opportunity to strike at those less well prepared than yourself.
Actions / Penalties
The DV penalty of actions does not change. However, the way DV penalties are calculated for flurries is different:
- only the largest (most severe) DV penalty from attack actions in a flurry counts towards that flurry's total DV penalty. All non-attack actions stack their DV penalties as usual.
- For example:
- Ever-Burning Star, fire aspected dynast and scourge of the northern air pirates, is fighting on the deck of an airship. Assuming he has no other penalties, if he attacks once, he will be at -1 to DV, as standard. However, If he flurries and attacks four times, he will still be at -1 DV - each attack action still has a -1 dv, but only the most severe (-1) is used.
- Later on, Ever-Burning Star dashes towards a hated foe, and uses a custom charm for the sake of example. This charm is a supplementary charm that changes an attack to cause it to incur a -2 dv penalty (and no doubt be horribly lethal as well). He flurries togeather a dash (-2 DV), an attack supplemented by the charm (-2 DV) and a normal attack. Until his DV refreshes, he is now at -4 DV (2 from dash, 2 from most severe attack).
As there is no cumulative penalty for attacks, flurries are much more useful compared to 2e base. The only reason not to flurry would be to retain the attack dice to punch through a strong defense, and even then, more attacks provide more chances, even if those chances are smaller. There is also little disadvantage to attacking - most people will attack on their action, as waiting has its own drawbacks and no longer provides such a vast defensive advantage. Guarding now negates some DV penalties in addition to not reducing DV (see below), so it is still an effective strategy for those not wishing to get hit.
Defense Values are penalized as normal by mobility and wound penalties, meaning dodging in heavy armour is difficult, and both dodging or parrying effectively when wounded also becomes less certain. In addition, most miscellaneous actions still incur a lasting dv penalty until refresh, as per usual
Onslaught however involves extra calculation. It involves the use of a new value called DV step, which is set each turn at your highest DV + 1.
- The highest value is always used for this calculation, even if this means doubling a DV which cannot technically block lethal attacks or is suffering from some other disadvantage - the abstract measure of defensive skill as a fighter which DV is being used to represent more important than the type/quality of the actual defence itself in this case. If you are disarmed or your highest DV otherwise changes in the course of the action, that does not matter. The DV step is set until the next refresh, whereupon it is recalculated. Static and permanent additions to DV boost the DV step, as well as scenelong additions to DV, but instant effects, even free ones you can apply to every defence (such as Infinite Melee Mastery and melee excellencies, for example) do not count.
(for a variant, have the step changeable, the net successes need to take you from your DV to 0 remain the same, but it has more of a curve to it, representing an exalt getting more tired as they defend against massed attacks. For this variant, your DV step is equal to twice your DV, but once it drops, the DV step is reduced by two. ie: DV of 5, DV steps of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2)
- Bob the Solar Exalt has a PDV of 8 with his shiny golden sword. His dodge is awful (DDV 3). As his moment arrives, he refreshes his DV. His DV step is now 9 (DV + 1 at refresh.) - Later in that turn, he is disarmed. Even though he's now reduced to his fists (DV 4) which can't even parry lethal anyway, he still benefits from a DV step of 9 until his next DV refresh. At that next refresh, his DV step becomes 5 (highest of PDV 4 + 1), and will not increase even if he reclaims the Daiklave of Parrylots later in the turn.
- However, if he possessed the charm Summoning the Loyal Steel(or any other reflexive method of retrieving his weapon), he could reflexively invoke it as or before his DV refreshed and thus claim his full DV of 8 (for now) and DV step of 9 (for that entire turn).
Whenever you are attacked by any party and you choose to apply a DV, note the total number of attack successes after such things as cover, unrelated external penalties and difficulty (referred to as 'net attack successes' from now on). Even if the number of net attack successes are below your DV, and thus the attack is deflected or dodged, you must use up some of your concentration to defend.
Normal onslaught penalty still applies if you are being attacked by a flurry. However, flurry or not, you must add the net attack successes to a running total, which is reset to 0 every DV refresh and persists between attacks. Each time this total reaches your DV step, apply a cumulative lasting onslaught penalty of -1 to DV, and the total resets to zero, with excess attack successes carrying over. If you suffer a particularly effective attack with a low DV step, it is possible that you will accrue two or more penalties from that single attack.
- Example One:
- Verdant Absolution, a wood aspected archer, is attacked by a vicious multi-armed lunar anathema in a horrific combo of striking tentacles and gaping maws. She suffers 4 attacks as a flurry, which have successes of 7, 4, 8, 4 respectively. Verdant Absolution has a DDV of 6, which she will be using to defend against this assault, a currently unusable PDV of 4 (martial arts) and a DV step is 7. (Note that if the PDV had been 7, it would have granted her a DV step of 8 instead.)
- The first attack hits. We shall assume Verdant Absolution's dragon-favoured armour deflects the worst of the assault, and that it causes no further penalties for the simplicity of this example. She has now accrued 7 successes of incoming attack against her DV step, lowering her DV down to 6. The second attack has an onslaught penalty of -1 (flurry) and -1 Step for 4, and so her DDV barely evades it. She has now accrued 11 successes. The 8-success attack faces a DV of 3, reduced three times (from 6) for the flurry. Somehow, Verdant Absolution survives the attack. That is not the end of her troubles however. Shaken and off-balance by the ferocity of the attack (not to mention any wounds) she has accrued a total of 19 successes towards DV step, over two steps. As such, she suffers a further -2 onslaught penalty, and notes down the 5 successes accumulated towards the next step. The 4 success attack now faces a DV of only 1, reduced three times for the flurry and twice by cumulative onslaught. After the assault is finally over, her DVs are still reduced by -3 cumulative onslaught penalty until DV refresh (total of 23 successes, over three times the step), should she suffer another assault. Further assault would likely increase the penalty even more as she struggles to regain balance and focus.
Let's have a look at a slightly different example, concentrating more on numbers of opponents than the skill of a single opponent.
- Example Two:
- Meanwhile, Bob the Solar Exalt is being chased by a platoon of mortal archers, who eventually corner him in the ruins of a long forgotten temple. There are 12 of them, but Bob is not particularly worried. They're only mortals, after all.
- The mortals are each assumed to roll 3 successes on their attack, as they are trained to the elite standards of the wyld hunt and carry fine quality equipment. Bob has his PDV of 8, DV step of 9, and is saving his essence for the moment when dragonblooded reinforcement shows up.
- The first 3 mortals attack, and Bob defends with no trouble against each one. He now has a cumulative onslaught of -1, as their combined 9 successes have reached his DV step. The next three mortals are shooting for DV 7, and still can't manage, but reduce Bob to DV 6, the third and fourth bunch likewise reducing his DV by a further two to 4. Clearly, Bob can ignore up to around 15 mortals without using charms before they start to even hit him, let alone inflict damage.
- However, if their dragonblooded leader were to leap out just before Bob's DV refreshed, Bob would still suffer the accrued -4 cumulative penalty, and against a dragonblooded, DV 4 instead of DV 8 is a fairly big difference. Perhaps Bob should have used Fivefold Bulwark Stance after all, since it would ignore all onslaught penalties, including cumulative ones, and allow Bob to walk through hailstorms of arrows with no ill effects.
- (It's worth noting in this example that if the mortal archers had flurried, they could have achieved more than 3 successes per flurry, still not hitting Bob but ablating his DVs faster. With only 12 archers, this makes no difference, but against the 20, the final set or two might get in some glancing hits. Whether you choose to let your extras flurry is up to the ST, but it is suggested.)
- Guarding: A character may elect to Guard on their action. This means they can ignore up to their base DV of penalties to each DV, until it becomes their action again and DV refreshes normally. Guarding does not eliminate those penalties, it simply ignores them, so enough attacks may eventually start dropping DVs. Characters can also abort to guard, choosing to guard when it is not their action. This means that they will remain guarding past their next DV refresh which will not occur until the next turn again, when they may act normally.
- Delaying: Characters may choose to delay their action to act later. This incurs a -3 die internal penalty to all offensive actions. For this hefty penalty, a character may resolve their action on any tick later than their own. Delaying does not affect the character's initiative count, and should the initiative reach the delaying character's next action without them acting, they lose the 'held' action, although they could then choose to delay again, if they still see a need to wait. Characters may not interrupt another, they act simultaneously, the exact result of this being determined by the ST, but in the case of two people attacking one another, this usually means both strikes are rolled as usual, and damage for either is only applied after both are completed. Delaying does not affect DV refresh.
- Aiming: Aiming is much like delaying, but more specific, with more downsides. When you Aim, you must specify a target, and you delay your action until later, incurring a -1 DV penalty. At any time, you may choose to act against the target specified without incurring the -3 internal penalty for delaying, but aborting to attack against a different target suffers a -5 internal penalty. Aborting to do some non-offensive miscellaneous action suffers a -2 internal penalty.
If you aim (without otherwise acting) until your DV would normally refresh, you may claim a +3 internal attack bonus against the specified target, but your DV does not refresh. If you wish, you may continue to aim - this does not increase the bonus or decrease your DV further, merely prolongs the action - you may thereupon attack at any later point and claim the bonus. Alternatively, you may give up the +3 bonus for a DV refresh if you prefer.
- Coordinated Attacks: These work normally compared to the 2e core rules, but also negates the attack penalty for anyone who delays to act at the coordinated time. It does NOT remove the DV penalty for doing so. Indeed, performing a Coordinated Attack action incurs the standard -1 DV penalty for the coordinator, which lasts until DV refresh as usual.
A character may reflexively move up to their (Dexterity * 4) yards during their action, either before the action (to get into position to attack, for example) or during/after it. If they do not move all of this distance on their action tick, then they may reflexively move the remainder at any point during the turn until their next action and DV refresh. Obviously, circumstances may block characters in, but without blocking in this fashion, it is possible that a fast character can deny a slower one the chance to melee simply by moving backwards as the slow mover attempts to close. Melee reach depends on weapon, varying from a yard for knives and daggers up to four yards for the longest and most devestating of melee weapons such as a Grand Daiklave or a Direlance.
To catch up to a retreating opponent, or simply to move faster, a character can declare a Dash at any point during their action. This adds a flat +6 to dexterity, thus making the default calculation ((Dexterity+6) * 4) yards. Again, they retain use of this for their entire turn, until DV refresh. However, dashing does not come without consequence, and a dashing character suffers a -2 internal penalty on ALL actions until DV refresh, and a -2 DV penalty which also lasts until refresh. Indeed, without a stunt or the assistance of magic, dashing characters cannot parry at all - treat parries as inapplicable unless stunted or magically assisted.
The dex of a character is modified by several things to calculate movement, mainly armour mobility penalty and any wound penalties the character is suffering. These both subtract directly from the dexterity of the character in question, with a minimum 'effective dexterity' of 1 for normal movement and 2 for dashing.
- As an optional rule, suggested if people are having trouble getting into melee, any character who is within Dexterity yards, or Dex+6 if a dash is declared, can be engaged in melee combat before they have the chance to move away, thus preventing their reflexive movement from stymying the character. They may still move away after the character's action, if they survive. (Lightning speed and other movement affecting charms enhance this as usual - monkey leap is especially effective, since anyone within the range of the first 'leap' should be considered engagable under this ruling.)
no simple / complex split here, it's presented as non-combo and combo rules.
Everyone has two charmslots. One is Offensive, and one is Defensive. Yes, this vastly changes everything. For a start, offensive charms are no longer a tactically disadvantageous option, and fights should take less time, with everyone spending essence at approximately twice normal speed. Excellencies may NOT be used both offensively and defensively unless they're assigned to both charmslots, which is perfectly acceptable. If you really wanted, you could assign one excellency to one charmslot and a different excellency to another, but they can no longer cross over.
- The exceptions to this rule are the Dragonblooded. Since they already have wider use of reflexive charms, they do not have Offensive and Defensive charmslots. Dragonblooded simply have two separate charmslots, and can fill either or both of them with whatever they desire, in addition to whatever reflexive charms they may wish to activate. They can even merge two combos togeather (assuming the combination is actually legal, as if it were one combo), and always pay Offensive combo costs. See below.
Charmslots both refresh at the same time, at the start of your action. Be wary, this means everyone in the init order will have a chance to strike you before you can alter your defenses.
Charms which do not fit into either charmslot(Lightning Speed, for example), or charms which fit into both (Solar Counterattack is one such) can be placed into either charmslot, as desired. Typically, utility charms will be placed into Offensive, so as to not leave a character open, but the option is there for them to be placed in either.
Combos MUST be designed as either Offensive or Defensive, and are subject to GM approval. A mostly offensive combo can contain counterattacks, but cannot contain purely defensive charms. Likewise, a purely defensive combo could not contain a supplemental attack charm. If charms could fit into both, then in general, they can be assigned to combos designed for either slot, but a purely utility combo (Graceful Crane, Lightning Speed, Monkey Leap) must still be activated as Offensive or Defensive (usually offensive for costing reasons).
Once a combo has been designed, it cannot switch slots.
Combos can be combined from either or both slots, togeather with single charms, as desired. A character can combo offensively, defensively, or both, or neither.
Defensive combos are usually entirely reflexive, and cost one willpower (1w) to activate, in addition to any activation costs of charms as the combo is used.
Offensive combos are more difficult to generalize, and vary by character. They cost three motes of essence (3m) OR one willpower (1w) to activate, chosen at the moment of activation.
While the system described above would allow for social combat, it's not optimized for it. Either run social combat using the core 2e rules, or, our preferred method, ignore initiative and speed for socials, and have all 'combatants' act simultaneously. If it really matters, give the privaledge of declaring last to the person with the highest socialize, or roll wits+socialize to figure out who that is on ties.
FluffySquirrel thought I was doing it wrong, and provided something which may well be a better option. Instead of all of this kerfluffle with wrapping and stuff, we should be treating initiative as a bonus. Keep the join battle, wits + init mechanics, and the change init action + rules. Scrap wrapping and possibly other things. If you're acting against someone who's lower than you in the initiative order, you may sacrifice initiative points for a +1 bonus to any action against that lower-init person. You will act again at this new value. You can use the bonus on attack rolls, defense rolls, engagement range, anything against that person and combative. However, on any single roll (including a single attack in a flurry) you can't gain more than (wits + awareness) bonus dice, and if you want bonus dice on multiple actions in a flurry, you must pay initiative points separately for each bonus.