Whenever the order people act in is important or contested, the party is considered to be "in combat". Despite the name, this doesn’t necessarily mean that anything violent or hostile is happening, though that is usually the case. Nothing is fundamentally different about how the world works; anything that can be done "in combat" can be done "out of combat", and vice versa (although it may take time enough to be impractical).
INITIATIVE AND ACTING ORDER
Combats are divided into rounds, each about twenty to thirty seconds in length, during which each character will have at least one chance to act. Whenever a round starts, all characters involved make an initiative check. This is a special Quickness check with no associated difficulty; instead, the result of this check is the character's initiative, which determines how soon (and often) they can act in this round.
The character with the highest initiative (ties are broken by Tier, then by Quickness) takes their turn first. During their turn, they perform one action of their choice. They may also move both before and after their action, and carry out as many minor or inconsequential tasks (non-actions) as they wish.
After a character completes their turn, their initiative is reduced by 20, and the character with the next highest initiative takes a turn. Characters whose initiatives fall below 0 "drop out" of the round and can't act further; otherwise, they will be able to take an additional turn later in the round when their new initiative is reached. In this way, characters who are sufficiently Quick (or lucky, or prepared) are able to act two or even three times in a round. Once no one is left to act, the round ends and everyone rolls initiative for the next round.
Combats (especially at higher Tiers) are dynamic and complex affairs; to help streamline matters, locations are divided into abstracted and approximate regions, instead of being mapped out in hexes or squares. Rather than worry about a character's precise position, a character simply "occupies" a region and is assumed to be moving throughout during a combat round. Each region has an Area, is connected to one or more neighboring regions along an edge, and may be partially or completely subdivided further into smaller regions.
What does matter are the Ranges between them, as well as to objects and points of interest. By default, the Range between any two characters is equal to that of the smallest region they share; this is also the greatest Range possible between them, without one of them moving to a different region. However, there are two sets of circumstances under which a better Range can be drawn.
First, every character may optionally have a focus - another character, object, or point that they orient themselves to and acts as a point of reference. The Range between each character and their focus is tracked separately, and characters can increase or decrease the Range between them and their focus during their turn as part of their movement.
Second, if a "chain" of Ranges between multiple characters or objects are known, the Range between any two characters in the chain can be found by adding the intervening Ranges. When adding two Ranges, the sum is the greater of the two Ranges plus 1 if the Ranges are within one increment of each other, or the greater of the two Ranges otherwise. Multiple Ranges can be added by first adding the two smallest Ranges, then the next two smallest, and so on.
Every character has a zone of influence around them, or Reach, normally equal to their Size. Reach represents how near a character has to be to physically interact with another character or object; this includes the use of Close abilities and attacks. It also represents the area where characters can effectively defend themselves: all attacks made against a character while within their Reach are treated as Close attacks.
Whether a character can perform a certain movement is determined by their Speed. Some movements are considered long movements; these decrease the character's Speed by 1 (and thus limit further movements) for the rest of the round.
The character chooses another character or object as their focus, determining the Range appropriately and replacing their current focus (if any). Alternately, they may simply drop their current focus.
The character moves to another region, provided the Range between them and their destination is less than or equal to their Speed. If the Range is within one increment of their Speed, this is a long movement for them.
RANGE AND TARGETING
The following are the basic abilities available to every character. Various job abilities can modify these, or allow for new actions.
As with most other activities, characters can aid one another during a fight. Combat assistance generally requires an accuracy check against an enemy, and either gives all characters an edge on any accuracy check against that enemy until it next acts, or gives the enemy a fault on its action next turn.
A character can cast any spell they know as their action, provided they have enough MP.
When getting from point A to point B (or staying away from enemy C) is essential, a character can trade their action to increase their Movement by 1 for rest of the round. This can't raise their Movement to more than their normal Movement, plus 1.
Defend / Delay
Sometimes, inaction is the best course of action. If the character has not moved on their turn, they are Defending; otherwise, they are simply Delaying. Both actions immediately end their turn, but their initiative is only reduced by 10 (instead of 20). If this results in them dropping out of the round, they receive +10 to their initiative next round. Defending characters gain two edges on all resistance checks until their next turn.
Preparing allows a character to trade time for success, whether they're lining up the perfect shot, charging up a fireball, waiting for the opponent's guard to slip, or simply taking the time to do a thorough job. When a character Prepares, they specify a particular action that requires a check; if they perform that action before the end of their next turn, they gain an edge on their check. Multiple turns can be spent Preparing the same action, and the edges will accumulate. However, any unresisted damage taken, or performing any action other than Defending, Delaying, or Preparing the same action, results in the loss of these edges.
Some abilities or activities require multiple actions to complete, or happen in a longer timeframe than a single combat turn. Gaining a single edge on these tasks usually requires the same number of actions or amount of time spent Preparing as the task itself. Other activities require an indeterminate amount of time, or have the time they take influenced by the check result; these generally cannot be Prepared.
(Close Physical Attack)
A character can make an attack with any weapon at hand (including their innate Brawling weapon), with the description of what exactly this entails left to the attacker. By default, this is a Close Physical attack against a single target, with the Size equal to the greater of their Size or Tier, and inflicting damage based on the weapon’s Tier. Certain weapon traits can modify how this attack works, as follows:
- Grappling - The character can choose not to deal any damage with an attack from a Brawling weapon. Instead, they can make an opposed Might + (Size or Tier) check; success allows them to perform one of the three following options:
While you are grappling, the Range between you and your opponent is 0. At any point during your turn, you may change which option you are applying, or end the grapple. On your opponent's turn, as their action they may attempt the same opposed check to gain control of the grapple; success allows them to either grapple you instead or break free entirely.
- Mystic - Attacks with Arcane weapons are Magical, rather than Physical, and thus apply Insight to accuracy and Presence to damage.
- Ranged - Archery, Marksman, and Throwing weapons can make Ranged attacks.
- Sweeping - Great and Reach weapons can make Close Burst attacks, with an Area equal to their Reach.
DAMAGE, INJURY, AND DEATH
Every ability has one or more of these tags, determining how it can be used and whom it can be used upon.
abilities require an accuracy check
to affect their target. This is a special opposed check: the attacker rolls 3d6 + Quickness
(for a Physical attack) or Insight
(for a Magical attack) against 10 + the defender’s Quickness/Insight
. This is modified as follows
- If the attack is Close, or is Ranged but is made within the defender's Reach, this check has one edge for every Size increment the attacker is larger than the defender, or one fault for every Size increment the attacker is smaller than the defender. A smaller attacker can negate a number of these faults equal to their Tier.
- If the attack is Ranged and made from outside the defender's Reach, this check has one edge for every Size increment the attacker is smaller than the defender, or one fault for every Size increment the attacker is larger than the defender. A larger attacker can negate a number of these faults equal to their Tier.
abilities are based on the user's and target's Quickness and Might, while Magical
abilities instead use Insight and Presence. Some abilities may allow a character to make a Physical attack (Quickness) that deal Magical damage (Presence), or a Magical attack (Insight) that deal Physical damage (Might), but these are generally rare.
abilities only affect the user.
abilities can only target the user or something within their Reach.
abilities can target anything within their Range, or anything the user can perceive if no Range is specified.
abilities can affect multiple characters. Close Bursts are centered upon the user (who is excluded from effect unless otherwise stated) and affect all characters within the appropriate Area around them. Ranged Bursts affect a target within Range and everything in the appropriate Area around them, or alternately everything within a region of the same Area or smaller. If the Burst is an attack, a separate accuracy check is made for each notable character and for each "group" of identical standard characters.
abilities are like Burst abilities, but allow the user to exclude characters from their effects.
abilities do not affect Floating or Flying characters.
The most common consequence of an attack is damage
, which results in the character losing HP (or MP, in special cases). Before this occurs, they are entitled to a resistance check
to mitigate it. This is a special opposed check: 3d6 + Physical/Magical Defense + Might/Presence + Size
, against a difficulty of the attack's base damage + the attacker's Might/Presence + the attack's Size
. If the damage was from an attack, this check has one fault for every 5 over the difficulty the attacker rolled on their accuracy check. Success means the character "shrugs off" the damage entirely; otherwise, they lose 1 HP (or MP) for every 1 by which they failed. Abilities or effects that result in a character directly losing HP or MP, instead of inflicting damage, do not allow a resistance check.
HP represents a character's ability to keep fighting, and by itself doesn't correspond to any lasting physical harm; the only "penalty" from losing HP is that a character is now closer to defeat. However, if they lose 5 HP or more from a single effect, or roll a complication on a resistance check, they sustain an injury
- a broken limb, nasty wound, impaired sense, concussion, or something else of lasting consequence. The exact nature and effects of the injury are left to the group; typically, an injury will give one to three faults on checks involving the affected limb or area, and/or reduce a trait such as Movement or MP. Effects that restore HP generally do not also heal injuries; instead, a character needs time and rest (in some combination) to recover. Insight checks, especially combined with medical knowledge or White Magic ability, can be used to speed up the recovery process.
Though a character can fight fine all the way down to 1 HP, they are in real danger once they reach 0 HP. What happens then depends on how "important" they are - more specifically, whether or not they have a Destiny rating (regardless of how much they actually have left to spend):
- Characters without Destiny are Knocked Out (KO'ed) if the attacker who struck the finishing blow so wishes; otherwise, or if they were downed by a non-discerning source, they are dead.
- Characters with Destiny are always KO'ed when reduced to 0 HP.
Characters who are KO’ed are in serious trouble. They are unable to take action or avoid attacks, and any damage they take results in consequential injury or even death. However, most opponents will leave a downed character be - they no longer pose a threat, but their allies still do, and there will be plenty of time to finish them off (if so inclined) after the fighting is over.
Characters who are dead are really dead
. The only way to bring them back from the other side is by burning Destiny, either through them cheating death or a player declaring that a plot device exists somewhere to return them to life.
Every character has a set of elemental affinities
, which determine how they react to each of nine elements.
- A character who is weak to an element takes 50% more damage from the appropriate type, after the resistance check.
- A character who is neutral to an element does not modify the damage taken. This is the default affinity for any element.
- A character who resists an element takes only half damage, after the resistance check.
- A character who is immune to an element takes no damage, regardless of what they roll on the resistance check.
- A character who absorbs an element, instead of taking damage, actually heals half the damage they would have otherwise taken after the resistance check.
effects are usually less effective against Dragons, and very effective against Plants.
Characters who are weak to or resistant to Fire, increase or halve the damage from being On Fire, respectively. Characters who are immune to or absorb Fire cannot be set On Fire.
effects are usually less effective against Beasts, and very effective against Dragons.
effects are usually less effective against Plants, and very effective against Aquatics.
effects are usually less effective against Insects, and very effective against Aerials; however…
Many (but not all) Earth abilities are Grounded. Grounded effects are unable to target characters who Float or are capable of Flight.
effects are usually less effective against Constructs, and very effective against Beasts.
Characters who are weak to or resist Poison, increase or halve the HP loss from being Poisoned, respectively. Characters who are immune to or absorb Poison are also immune to being Poisoned.
effects are usually less effective against Aquatics, and very effective against Constructs.
effects are usually less effective against Aerials, and very effective against Insects.
effects are usually less effective against Humanoids, and very effective against Fiends.
effects usually less effective against Fiends, and very effective against Humanoids.
effects, while technically not elementally-based, act similarly to elemental effects for classification purposes. Non-Elemental is the "default" damage type, and while characters are not often resistant to Non-Elemental effects, they are even more rarely weak to them.
Abilities or effects that reference "elements", or allow a character to select an element, do not include Non-Elemental effects unless specifically mentioned.
RESTING AND RECOVERY
A number of non-damage effects, both good and bad, can happen to a character. Collectively, these are referred to as status conditions
; negative conditions are also called status ailments
while positive ones are status enhancements
. Unless otherwise mentioned in the condition or the ability causing them, status conditions last indefinitely until removed.
- Cursed: The character suffers a complication when they roll only two 1's on a check; if they roll three, the complication cannot be overcome with Destiny. Being Cursed also requires a character to spend a point of Destiny to activate a break.
- Guard Broken: The character suffers two faults on all Might and Presence checks they make, and are unable to take the Defend or Delay actions.
- Knocked Out (KO'ed): A Knocked Out character is unconscious - they can take no actions, cannot recover HP or MP, are unaware of their surroundings, and are treated as if their Quickness and Insight were 0. Failing to resist damage while KO'ed results in a lasting injury or trauma of the attacker's choice; if the attack inflicts 5 or more damage, the character is instead permanently maimed or even dead if the attacker chooses. KO'ed Characters that take no damage and are left alone for five to ten minutes (i.e. a Quick Rest) regain consciousness and 1 HP.
- Mind Broken: The character suffers two faults on all Presence and Insight checks (excluding resistance checks), and reduces all Magical damage they inflict by 2.
- On Fire: At the end of the round, the character suffers Fire damage equal to that of the effect that inflicted this condition, which is resisted as normal (excluding any faults from a high accuracy check). Every round a character remains On Fire, the damage increases by 1. They, or a character Close by, can make a Quickness check (difficulty is the damage) as an action to extinguish the flames. The condition also ends if the character successfully resists all damage from being On Fire, and any Water damage taken is subtracted from the On Fire damage. Multiple On Fire conditions do not stack; only the more damaging applies.
- Poisoned: Every round, at the end of their turn, a Poisoned character loses 2 HP. A character that is both KO'ed and Poisoned cannot regain consciousness through a Quick Rest or other natural means.
- Power Broken: The character suffers two faults on all Might and Quickness checks (excluding resistance checks), and reduces all Physical damage they inflict by 2.
- Speed Broken: The character suffers two faults on all Quickness and Insight checks they make, reduces their Speed by 1, and is unable to take the Dash action.
- Auto-Life: After the character is KOed, they are brought back to consciousness with 5 HP at the end of what would be their next turn. This enhancement is always dismissed after it is triggered.
- Floating: The character can hover and drift a short distance above the surface. While not enough to allow free movement in all three dimensions, this renders them immune to Grounded effects and most difficult or hazardous terrain.
- Regenerating: Every turn, at the end of their turn, a Regenerating character gains 2 HP.
Characters will likely have many ways to heal and recover after a tough fight, but most of these cost valuable resources, usually in the form of consumable items or MP. If they can’t or don’t wish to expend their reserves, then they can always heal the natural way - by resting. There are three grades of rest, each of which provides an increasing benefit.
A Quick Rest is simply a break after a bit of excitement - five or ten minutes for characters to catch their breath. Characters don’t recover any HP or MP after a Quick Rest, but provided they possess a Destiny rating, they do regain a single point of Destiny if they currently have none. A Quick Rest also brings an end to many status conditions, including being Knocked Out, and allows certain limited-use Job abilities to "reset".
A Travel Rest is the typical quality of rest one can expect when on the road or away from civilization. With eight hours of such, a character recovers 5 HP and 5 MP, and their Destiny is refreshed. While getting some sleep is generally expected, characters mustn’t necessarily sleep for the entire duration, but they do need to rest. Sitting, conversing, keeping watch, and the like are acceptable, but anything more disruptive or strenuous will increase the amount of time before any recovery occurs by the length of the interruption (to a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 8 hours).
A Full Rest is a solid eight hours of sleep and recuperation in the comforts of civilization. After taking a Full Rest, a character recovers 10 HP and 10 MP, and their Destiny is refreshed. Any interruptions or strenuous activity downgrades a Full Rest to a Travel Rest.
Characters can only benefit from one Travel Rest or Full Rest in a 24-hour period. There is no such limit for Quick Rests.