More Combat Rules and Building Decks

In this homebrew version of D&D, there are 6 ability scores used for attack rolls and defense values, as well as the 12 skill categories which encompass a broad range of other skill sets, and are directly affected by ability scores. Refer to Skills for more information on skills and skill categories.

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Ability Scores and Skills

Ability scores, when used aggressively for attack scores or defensively for defense scores, are always added on to a 1d20 roll. In the case where one’s character is unaware of an attack (e.g. attacked while sleeping), or completely helpless against it (being tied to a chair), the player may not roll the 1d20, but still keeps the ability score value as a defensive value.

Ability scores are always rolled against other ability scores, and skills against other skills. An ability score and a skill will rarely be matched against each other. For example, a Strength vs. Charisma roll is acceptable, and so is a Listen vs. Sneak, but you wouldn’t see roll Strength vs. Listen (ability vs. skill) or Bluff vs. Charisma (skill vs. ability) very often.

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Combat

Combat takes place in turn-based fashion rotating between individual players and DM-controlled monsters in an order determined by the initiative roll at the beginning of each round. Once either side is defeated, surrenders or retreats, combat ends.

Steps to Starting Battle

(Step 1) Laying out the Battlefield, Taking Hero Chips and Rolling Initiative

At the beginning of battle, players and the DM first arrange their miniatures on the battlefield so that everyone has a chance to asses the situation and coordinate a battle strategy. Each player then takes Hero Chips according to their starting value, followed by a roll for their initiative to determine the turn order. This turn order is in effect for 3 complete rounds.

Initiative Score = 1d20 + Dexterity + Misc.
(Step 2) Building a Deck and a Hand

Each player constructs a small deck of combat technique and/or spell cards from their collection, and chooses any Instants to place in their hand. The composition of decks and hands are class based. Refer to the Class Rules page for more details on this.

After the DM and the players have constructed their deck and hand, everyone flips over and plays with the top card of their deck revealed.

(Step 3) Taking Your Turn

i) Enchantments: Take into consideration any Enchantments you own and reduce the number of rounds it remains in play by 1. At this stage of your turn, you may also try to Break the effects of any Enchantments on you (1 attempt/Enchantment).

ii) Taking Action: On your turn you may move around, and either attack with the flipped card at the top of your deck or take a Standard Action. Be aware you can move first, then use your card/take a Standard Action, or vice versa. (Read about Standard Actions below)

iii) Top Card: After you have made your attack, taken action and/or moved, place the top card of your deck into the discard pile and flip and reveal the next card of your deck for you and others to see.

The Standard Action

Using the Standard Action card allows the player to do one of the following:

  • Make a standard attack
  • Move around again
  • Use a skill
  • Safely Move (move 1 space without drawing an Attack of Opportunity)

The Standard Action is always available to all players to take instead of using the revealed top card of one’s deck. In this case the card will be discarded but you can still take the standard action. If at any time a player has no cards left in the deck, the Standard Action may be taken as a substitute.

A standard attack is extremely useful in that it allows you to choose which ability score to attack with, and which ability score the foe must defend with.

e.g. Making a standard attack with my fighter's STR against the werewolf's CHA

Some actions are so small or trivial that they can be done freely without consuming an action point. Here are some examples of what would constitute free actions:

Free Actions:
  • Using an Instant
  • Yelling to someone
  • Dropping something
  • Kicking an object nearby (as not to do damage)

To make an attack, use a skill or cast a spell, declare a target and roll the appropriate attack score or skill score (if any). If necessary, compare the roll with the appropriate defense or skill score and determine if damage or any effects come in to play.

(Step 4) Starting the Next 3 Rounds

After 3 rounds have completed all Deck cards (used and unused) are reshuffled back into the Deck, and any Instants played go back to the player’s collection of cards. Each player may exchange 1 Deck card they used in the previous 3 rounds for another Deck card that they own.

Additionally any 1 Instant card they own can be taken and placed into the hand.

After a new Hand/Deck is formed the next round begins.

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Card Types

Cards can be placed into one of three groups: combat techniques, spells or items. A deck of combat techniques, spells and/or item cards represent a character’s “arsenal” of abilities. These three card types are similar in that using a card translates into doing something extraordinary in the heat of battle. Mechanically, however, they have a few more subtle differences.

It is very important to remember that the effects of a card work in the order they are written on the card. Any special effects written before the attack roll play out before the attack is made, and vice versa.

Card Subtypes and Other Descriptors

Combat techniques and spells can be further classified based on how and when these abilities can be used as well as how frequently.

Melee – Sometimes requires the use of a melee weapon. Can be affected by one’s STR/DEX/CON.
Ranged – Requires the use of a ranged weapon. Often affected by one’s STR/DEX.
Destruction – A spell subtype classified by spells of a damaging or power-enhancing nature. The power behind spells of this type is typically modified by INT.
Manipulation – A second spell subtype that includes spells that inflict negative effects on foes and alters the playing field to change the pace of battle. Generally, these types of spells become more potent if the spell-caster has a higher WIS.
Protection – This third spell subtype describes defensive and restorative spells. The higher the caster’s CHA is, the more dramatic the effects of the spell.
Instant – If a card is classified as an instant, it may be played on anyone’s turn and at any time throughout the course of battle.
Enchantment – These cards often have effects lasting longer than a single turn. The enchantment will remain played until it expires or is forcibly removed.
Poison/Disease/Curse – Special types of enchantment cards that have extremely long lasting effects and are typically difficult to Break (read about _Break_ing an enchantment below).
Break – Enchantment spells tend to have effects that last longer than a turn. Any player affected by the enchantment is absolved of these effects when he/she meets the requirements described in this section. At the beginning of the player’s turn, 1 attempt per enchantment may be made to try and break it. The effects of an enchantment will continue to occur only if the the player fails the attempt to break it.

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Other Important Details to Combat

Hero Chips

Hero chips can have several functions within the game. The most commons uses include using them as a currency to expend on powerful abilities, and to increase or decrease the final total of any die roll made or value used during combat.

After any attack roll or damage roll is made, players may choose to spend any number of hero chips to boost the value of his/her attack score or defense score, to increase the damage (or HP) to be dealt, or to reduce the damage received. For each chip spent, a 1 point bonus is added or subtracted from the final value.

It is very important to note that chips may NOT be spent to increase the duration of enchantment effects, or the number of targets an ability affects.

Hero chips are awarded at the beginning of a fight from items and Combat Mastery, can often be acquired from the use of spells or combat abilities or by consuming a potion or food that grants hero chips, and can be rewarded to players who perform some outstanding deed in battle. Should a combat technique or spell otherwise reward hero chips, the card will specify who may receive hero chips and how many are received.

I want to stress that the most enjoyable, and perhaps profitable way of gaining Hero Chips in a fight is to be creative with your character. Trying something new and different or using a skill instead of attacking will almost always reward you with a few Hero Chips. More importantly, it will spice up what is going on in the scrimmage and certainly make it more memorable.

Players start battle with hero chips equal to their Combat Mastery skill plus bonuses from items, and lose all hero chips gained when a battle ends. A player may have a maximum of 5 hero chips at any point, but this value may be increased by investing into the skills, Combat Mastery or Arcane Mastery. Your maximum is equal to 5 plus half your Combat Mastery and armor bonuses.

Gaining Advantages in Combat

There are an uncountable number of factors or means to sway the tides of battle in your favour or against it. Poor weather conditions, flanking an emey, fighting from higher/lower ground, or impenetrable darkness may grant you bonuses or instill penalties on the actions that you take. Generally speaking, any clear advantage/disadvantage grants a 2 point bonus/penalty in most cases. From there the DM will asses the situation and determine if a greater bonus/penalty is needed.

  • Clear Advantage = +2
  • Unfair Advantage = +4
  • Failure Nearly Impossible = +8

Surprise Round

If the players or a group of enemies are caught unaware, the attacking party may engage in a surprise attack round against the unsuspecting victims. In this scenario, any person in the attacking party may take a surprise turn before the defenders can respond. On the surprise turn, the aggressors may take a normal turn although no Instants can be played. As for the defenders, they cannot use any Instants, abilities or hero chips in response, nor do they get their 1d20 awareness bonus to their defense scores.

Unaware

Creatures who are unconscious or completely immobilized are considered unaware. Being unaware deprives you of your 1d20 roll when forming defense scores.

Attacks of Opportunity

Certain actions, if performed by someone within melee-striking distance of enemies, grant those enemies an immediate standard attack against that character/creature. This is known as an Attack of Opportunity. If you are in a space threatened by an attacker who could potentially hit you with a melee attack, these actions will draw attacks of opportunity:

  • Willingly move from a threatened space
  • Casting a spell
  • Making a ranged attack
  • Performing a difficult combat technique that you are not trained in
  • Doing anything that makes you drop your guard

Each player/creature is only allowed to make 1 attack of opportunity within a round.

Critical Blows

When a character lands a devastating blow or spell, critical effects/damage come into effect. An attack is considered a critical blow whenever a player makes an attack roll and the number showing on the die falls between the critical range of the weapon/spell. For most spells and weapons, this only occurs when a 20 is rolled, although some weapons may have ranges as wide as 15-20 resulting in a critical blow.

Note: A critical blow is considered an automatic hit unless the target is considered completely immune to the damage type of the attack.

Critical damage is calculated based on the weapon when used in martial attacks, but is often the same for any damaging spells.

Note: For both martial attacks and spells, a player adds his/her INT score to the final damage.

Maximum: A weapon with the “MAX” description means that upon a critical blow, the highest roll possible on the roll is taken as the roll. (e.g. a 1d8 damage roll for a longsword results in an automatic 8.)

Multiplier: A weapon with a multiplier value on it allows the player to make extra damage rolls equal to the multiplier. (e.g. A multiplier of x2 means the 1d8 damage roll of the longsword may be made 2 times.)

Increased Critical Range: Most weapons require a natural 20 to be rolled to result in a critical blow. However, if a weapon has a critical range of 18-20, a roll anywhere between those 18-20 results in a critical hit.

Added Die Rolls: Add the listed die roll whenever a critical blow lands. (e.g. if it says +1d6 add a 1d6 roll to the final damage of the attack.

Spells: All spells do MAX damage when a critical is rolled.

Other Effects: Some strong magical artifacts may even have more powerful effects enacted when someone makes a critical strike with it. The exact effects will be written in the weapon’s description.

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Combat as the Dungeon Master

Unit Groups

All creatures of the same name are grouped together and effectively share the same turn, hand and hero chips.

The initiative rolled for the creature at the beginning of a battle represents the initiative for all creatures in that unit group. Any effects that might change a single creature’s initiative or turn order, instead affect the entire group.

A hand of combat technique, spell and/or item cards are shared within a single unit group. Like cards belonging to players, they are discarded after being used. Some cards, noted as [Recharge] cards will only return to the Deck when the recharge conditions are met.

More Combat Rules and Building Decks

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