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Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells - Combat Procedures - Part I

These images are licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain License

Combat is obviously a big part of any game that involves adventuring. Not because it's the part where it's focused on, as many make the mistake to assume, but because it's the part we cannot resolve without rules. You can't roleplay combat. Not to mention, it's the part the stakes are usually very high and the potential for impact is great (what's impact? Check out this great post by +Arnold K.).

So, what follows is part of the combat rules for Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells. It's similar to how SS&SS handles it, but with some tinkering.

The Role of Combat

Even though the Universe is dangerous and violent, the Overlord should try to offer a diverse selection of challenges for the players. Combat should never be the only option or the only possible obstacle between the characters and their objectives.

However, once combat happens, anything goes. Don’t pull punches, or the excitement of these encounters will be lost, and victory will feel cheap. Also, unbeatable enemies should give some opportunities for the players to escape. Their deadlines should be telegraphed before the adventurers find them. Corpses are found near its location. Rumors of their cruelty could be well known. They could see a NPC being annihilated in front of them.

In the end, combat should be just one other way to handle a situation, and usually not the best way.

Combat Procedures

Once combat begins, the rules of the game becomes a little more structured, so to prevent doubts and confusion as to what is really happening. The time starts to be measured in rounds, and the Overlord follow these simple steps.
  1. Assess surprise situation.
  2. Determine Initiative.
  3. Combatants act in order of Initiative each round.
  4. At the end of every round, the Overlord assess the situation.

1. Assess Surprise Situation

Sometimes, a group of combatants gets the drop on their opponents, being able to act before they can react properly. In game terms, that’s called a Surprise. The Overlord will adjudicate if the current situation warrants a Surprise or not, often asking for Attribute Tests to prevent or guarantee this advantage.

When this happens, the party that surprised the others can have a full round of actions before anyone else can act for free. This can possibly tip the odds strongly in their favor.

Kaylia and her allies were taking some time out from their problems in the Purple Star cantina when, suddenly, everything was silent. Hot in debate about what to do now that their Credits were running low, however, they didn’t immediately notice this. Thus, the Overlord asked for a Difficulty 2 Intellect test to notice the approaching 4 Nebula Assassins (with 3 HD each), hired to execute them on behalf of an revengeful Crime Lord who they’ve wronged in the past. If they fail, the assassins will have a round of Surprise over them.

2. Determine Initiative

To determine the other in which the combatants will act after the round of Surprise, the player characters make an Agility test. If they succeed and roll a number higher than an opponent's HD, they act before that opponent. If they succeed but roll a number equal to or lower than the opponent’s HD, the opponent act first. Usually, if the character fails the roll, he acts after all opponents. Opponents act in order of HD. Characters can act in the order they want as long as they respect the aforementioned rules.

After the Surprise round, Kaylia and her companions will have a chance to counterattack. To determine Initiative, she makes an Agility test and gets a 4, enough to succeed. And as it’s a result higher than the opponents HD, she will act before them. If there was an enemy with 4 HD, however, she would act after him, but still before the assassins.

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