Combat actions normally should be declared by the players, and decided by the GM, prior to the initiative die being rolled. Certain actions, of course, are so integral to the game that methods for their resolution are set forth as rules. These actions are: fl eeing, negotiating, holding initiative, firing missiles, setting weapons against a charge, attacking, casting spells, and engaging in unarmed combat. Each of these common actions is described below.
Charge:Charging into combat allows the attacker to move and then attack in the same round. A charge is made at twice the normal movement rate (and must terminate within the 10 ft melee range of the target). If the defender has a longer weapon than the attacker, the defender attacks first (unless the defender has already acted in this round). The attacker gains no dexterity bonus against such an attack (and characters with no Dex bonus receive a +1 AC penalty). Additionally, if the defender has a weapon set against the charge (see below), he or she will inflict additional damage with a successful hit against the charging attacker. Assuming that the charging character survives, he or she gains +2 “to hit” on his or her attack. Characters may only perform a charge once every 10 rounds (i.e. once per turn). Characters who are at the maximum encumbrance category may not charge unless they are mounted and the mount is below the maximum encumbrance category. An attacker riding a warhorse or other combat-trained mount and equipped with a lance inflicts double the damage rolled on the charge round. (Although the weapon damage is doubled, any bonus for strength, magic, specialization or other such modifi er is not.) closing into combat: When two groups of combatants are not within the 10 ft melee range, the attackers may choose either to charge into combat or to advance more cautiously, closing into combat.
Closing into combat does not allow the character to make an attack roll that round; the cautious advance does not generate the opening to make a significant attack. However, neither may the character’s opponent attack until the round after closing. When closing into combat, the character may advance the full amount of his or her movement.
Fighting Retreat:A character may retreat backward out of combat, maintaining his or her defence, although the attacker may follow if not otherwise engaged. It is possible to parry while doing so, but not to attack. This maneuver may be used to “switch places” with another party member who is in combat, the first party member joining battle with the enemy to prevent the enemy’s pursuit while the second character makes a fighting retreat.
Fleeing from Combat:Often, discretion is the better part of valour, and the characters will choose to exercise the said discretion at top speed. If a character is in melee combat and runs away, his or her opponent(s) may make an immediate additional attack at +4 to hit. hold Initiative: Holding initiative is simply waiting until the other side has acted before doing anything.
A melee attack is an attack with a hand-held weapon such as a sword, halberd, or dagger. A character’s strength bonuses to hit and on damage (see “Strength”) are added to melee attacks. It is only possible to make a melee attack when the two combatants are within 10 ft of each other. Two combatants within ten ft of each other are considered to be “engaged.” When faced with more than one opponent, it is not possible to pick which opponent will be the one receiving the attack; in the rapid give and take of melee, any one of the opponents might be the one to let down his guard for a moment. When a character is in melee with multiple opponents, the target of an attack roll must be determined randomly, but note that characters or creatures with multiple attacks that are part of the same routine (such as a bear with a claw/claw/bite attack or a character wielding a sword and dagger) must make all attacks against the same opponent unless otherwise specified in the relevant monster’s entry.
Missile attacks are attacks with a ranged weapon such as a crossbow, sling, or thrown axe. When using missiles to attack into a melee, it is not possible to choose which particular target will receive the attack; the target should be determined randomly from among all melee participants, and the missile-fi rer could well hit a friend. A character’s dexterity bonus for missile attacks is added to the “to hit” roll when the character is using missile weapons. If a character has a missile weapon in hand, his or her missile bonus is also added to his or her initiative roll, allowing the character to potentially attack fi rst even if his or her party has lost the initiative roll.
Negotiation and Diplomacy:Some combats can be averted with a few well-chosen words (including lies). If the party is outmatched, or the monsters don’t seem likely to be carrying much in the way of loot, the party might elect to brazen their way through in an attempt to avoid combat (or at least delay it until favourable conditions arise).
A character who parries cannot attack, but may subtract his or her “to hit” bonus from his or her opponent’s attack roll. Parrying may be used in combination with a fighting retreat. Parrying only has value to a character with a strength or specialisation-related bonus “to hit”.
Spell casting begins in the spell caster’s initiative segment,and the spell is completed at the end of the casting time. It is possible to cast a spell while within melee range of an opponent (10 ft), but if the spell caster suffers damage while casting a spell, the spell is lost. While casting a spell, the caster receives no dexterity bonus to his or her armour class.
Set weapon against charge:Certain weapons can be “set” against a charge, which is a simple matter of bracing the weapon against the fl oor or some other stationary object. A character choosing to set his or her weapon against a charge cannot attack unless an opponent charges, but the weapon will inflict double damage against a charging opponent. A charge is any attack that allows the attacker to move and attack, and thus includes leaping attacks that may be made by some monsters. Weapons that may be set against a charge include spears, lances(when used dismounted), most pole arms, and tridents.
Unarmed combat:Brawling attacks, such as those conducted with fist, foot, or dagger pommel, will normally inflict 1d2 points of damage. All characters are automatically presumed to be proficient with such weapons, i.e. a proficiency slot is not required to make such an attack without penalty.
Two other unarmed attack forms are possible:
A successful grappling attack inflicts 0-1 (1d2-1) points of damage, but also restrains the target and prevents him or her from fi ghting. The chance of breaking a successful grapple should be determined according to the relative strengths of the creatures concerned. (An ogre could restrain a kobold almost indefinitely, and would be able to break free of the kobold’s grasp at will.)
Overbearing attacks are Grappling attacks exercised at the end of a Charge (see “Charge” above). If successful, the opponent is prone rather than restrained. Otherwise the attack is treated as a grapple.
Concealment is anything that obscures an opponent’s vision, such as tree limbs or smoke, but does not physically block incoming attacks (which would be considered Cover rather than Concealment; see below). The GM must decide whether the defender is about a quarter (-1 to AC), half (-2 to AC), three-quarters (-3 to AC), or nine tenths (-4 to AC) concealed.
Cover is protection behind something that can actually block incoming attacks, such as a wall or arrow slit. Cover bonuses are as follows: 25% cover: -2 AC 50% cover: -4 AC 75% cover: -7 AC 90% cover -10 AC An attack from the unshielded flank denies the target any defensive advantages from a shield. An attack from the rear flank negates the defensive value of the shield and also negates any dexterity bonus.
An invisible opponent can only be attacked if the general location is known, and the attack is at –4 to hit. If an opponent is invisible to the attacker, he or she cannot be attacked from behind (or from the fl ank). Note that more powerful monsters (those with sensitive smell or hearing, or more than six hit dice) will frequently be able to detect invisible opponents; the GM should determine the chance of this according to the creature concerned and the situation. Powerful magical monsters, or those with more than 11 hit dice, will almost always be able to see invisible creatures normally.
Attacks against a prone opponent negate the benefit of a shield, negate dexterity bonuses, and are made at +4 to hit.
An attack from directly behind an opponent negates the benefit of a shield, negates dexterity bonuses, and is made at +2 to hit.
Sleeping opponents (natural sleep, not magical sleep) may be attacked with the same chance to kills if the attacker were an assassin. The effect of magical sleep is described under the entry for the sleep spell.
A stunned opponent receives no shield or dexterity bonus, and may be attacked at +4.
If a character desires to fight with one weapon in each hand, the off-hand weapon must be either a dagger or a hand axe. The weapon in the primary hand attacks with a –2 modifi er, and the off-hand weapon attacks at –4. The character’s dexterity bonus (or penalty) for missile weapons is added to both attacks. Thus, a character with a dexterity of 3 would be attacking at -5/-7. However, although penalties can be offset, this rule can never result in a bonus to attacks! The off-hand weapon cannot be used to affect parrying.