Chapter 5 – Combat
The story so far (Under attack)
The three shambling monstrosities clamber up out of the concrete floor and begin lurching towards our heroes. Jake begins placing shot after carefully aimed shot into the lead creature’s chest. Each bullet leaves a relatively large hole but seems to be doing little to slow the monsters down.
“They’re already dead” calls Malefice. “If you have to shoot them, go for the head”.
Jake hurriedly reloads his handgun while Malefice mutters arcane words under her breath. Dr Herbivore is assembling some kind of gadget behind them. It is a long tube with a trigger at one end, perhaps a gun of some sort.
Malefice manages to release her first spell to great effect. The head corpse begins to smoke and then to burn. The shambling corpse of the missing mob boss, Falzetti, lets out a long moan and crumples to the ground. In moments, nothing remains of the corpse except ashes.
The two remaining corpses, Falzetti’s missing lieutenants no doubt, do not seem phased by the loss of their boss. One lurches toward Dr Herbivore who manages to get a shot off with his hastily assembled weapon. It melts a football sized hole in the back wall of the warehouse but misses its target. The monster swings an inhumanly strong fist at the diminutive little doctor, sending him sliding across the floor in a daze.
Jake makes his next two shots count, the bullets bursting the head of the nearest assailant like an overripe melon. However, the remaining monster, having knocked Dr Herbivore to the ground, closes in on Malefice and is trying to choke the life out of her. The creature is too close for Malefice to use a spell without being caught up in it herself.
“Jake”, she coughs. “Get it off me!”
Fortunately, Dr Herbivore has recovered slightly. Lying prone on the floor he carefully raises his weapon and sights along its length. There is a slight hiss as he pulls the trigger and the monster’s head melts away.
“Thanks!” whispers Malefice hoarsely. She is still catching her breath when the sound of a skylight latch closing is heard followed by footsteps running across the roof.
“Someone’s up there” shouts Jake.
“Probably the sorcerer who raised the corpses” shouts Dr Herbivore, already running towards the rear of the warehouse where a series of ladders make their way to the roof.
The chase is on!
Melee and Ranged Combat
At various times in the game players may find themselves in a fight.
Fights are conducted in rounds of four phases each.
At the beginning of each round the players and their opponents (whose actions are determined by the GM) roll 1 six sided dice (1d6) each.
The order of action is determined by the dice roll from highest to lowest. Ties are settled in the players’ favor.
Each non-player-character (NPC) has a combat skill based on whether they are a novice, standard, skilled, or elite fighter. This figure is added to their dice rolls during combat.
They also have a maximum number of wounds they can sustain before dying (see GMs Guide for detailed advice on determining the relative strength of opponents.
At the start of the round players and opponents specify their actions. There are five typical actions to choose from in standard combat and they govern when combat tests are required during the round. The actions are…
1. Frenzied attack
The player or opponent will make a combat test each phase but will do so with a minus 2 modifier.
2. Standard attack
The player or opponent will make a combat test on the first and third phases of the round with no modifier.
3. Targeted attack
The player or opponent takes careful aim and makes a combat test on the second and fourth phases of the round with a plus 2 modifier.
4. Spell attack
The player or opponent prepares or sustains a spell during the first and third phases, releasing its effect during the second and fourth phases. A spell caster is committed to using magic for the entire round. (see magical combat for further details.
5. Defensive action
The player or opponent chooses to try to duck and dodge incoming attacks. A -4 modifier applies to the attacker in each phase. Damage is halved (rounded down to a minimum of 1).
Players may attempt to escape combat at the end of any round in which they engaged in a defensive action. A consequences roll must be successful (not a 6) in order to avoid pursuit.
A fail will keep the player in combat for another round.
The result of each phase is calculated (in initiative order) one phase at a time. Each success results in damage calculated on the basis of the weapon, gadget, or effect applied.
|Hand to hand or equivalent||1 wound|
|Rocks (thrown or fired) or equivalent||1 wound (2 if skilled)|
|Clubs or equivalent||2 wounds|
|Blades and projectiles or equivalent||3 wounds|
|Area Weapon (flame thrower, grenade etc.) or equivalent||4 wounds|
A player who is stabbed or shot (by any kind of projectile or effect that pierces the players skin) should record a piercing wound.
A player or opponent becomes unconscious when wounds reach 0. At minus 1 the player or opponent dies.
When the leader of a group of opponents falls the group members must each make a consequence check to stop from fleeing.
Combat tends to be short and brutal.
By referencing the terrain in the description of combat actions the player gets +1 to their attempt to hit a target.
Targeted actions can render targeted limbs/weapons etc. useless.
Providing descriptions of combat actions that make use of the terrain also earns 1 action token per phase (2 for standard and targeted actions, 1 each for frenzied actions).
Spending 5 action tokens earns a double damage attack. A critical hit can also be doubled.
As you fight you are assessing and weighing up your opponent’s weaknesses and the longer you fight the more you learn which in turn allows you to exploit those weaknesses with a particularly devastating blow.
There is no dodge skill in this game.
There are 3 types of opponents.
Henchmen – the waves of little guys that the good guys mow down in action movies (represented by a pool of wounds). You can dispense with as many of them as the damage points you inflict allow.
Minions – the middle management of any evil empire. Tough enough to have their own statistics and they can earn special attack bonuses of their own, but they are not as tough as the villain.
Bosses – the big bad guys. Tough hombre’s who are capable of wiping out a team of heroes all on their own.
Villainous NPCs with statistics (non-henchmen) can earn action tokens that can be spent on double damage attacks and get the same +1 bonus as players for utilising the environment in their descriptions of combat actions.
Combat can be tracked using a combat board and tokens like the ones below.
Place the combatants in initiative order from left (highest) to right (lowest) upon the colored squares. Place their elected action types above them and then progress from left to right, top to bottom through the actions to complete a round of combat.
Re-roll initiative and reset the board for each following round.
Combat Cheat Sheet
Step 1 – Determine initiative
At the start of a round roll 1d6 initiative for each player character and for each NPC group involved in the conflict.
If there are several distinct groups of NPCs with different objectives then each group can be rolled for individually by the GM. (PCs always roll individually).
If there is a tie between players, roll again to decide who of them goes first).
If there is a tie between a player and the GM, the player always goes first.
Participants in the combat act in order from highest score first to lowest score last.
Step 2 – Specify combat types
Players and NPC groups choose one of five combat actions for the round (standard +0, spell +1, targeted +2, frenzied -2, or defensive (-4 to enemies)). These combat actions determine which phases participants act in.
Step 3 – Repeat steps 4 to 6
Repeat Steps 4 to 6 until the combat is concluded (there is no-one left to oppose the winning side) or until the current participant actions for this round have been resolved.
Step 4 – Specify action
At the start of a player-action (or NPC-group-action) in any given round, the acting participant must describe what they are doing.
If they incorporate an element of the environment into their description they get +1 to their chance to succeed in that action.
If they describe their action with more detail than “I shoot him” they earn 2 action tokens (standard or targeted actions) or 1 action token (frenzied and defensive actions).
If they choose to attack something then they must specify
- the weapon they are using (if any)
- whether they are cashing in any action tokens to improve the damage they deal (minimum 5 tokens to increase damage x 2).
- and who or what they are attacking
Step 5 – Determine the success of the action
If the player has chosen a defensive action then skip this step.
The player must roll 2d10.
A skill bonus must be added to the result for the skill being employed (typically melee, ranged, brawl, or a specific weapon skill).
The player must add the bonus related to the current combat action they are engaged in as well (0 standard/spell, +2 targeted, -2 frenzied, or -4 if attacking a defensive target)
If the player incorporated an element of the environment into their description they add +1 to the result.
If the result is > 11 a hit has been scored.
If a hit has been scored then the player must roll 1d6.
If the result is 6 then the damage is doubled.
If the player chooses to cash in 5 action tokens then the damage is doubled (this can stack with any previous damage).
Step 6 – Apply Damage and note consequences
If a targeted attack was used to try to disable an arm or leg etc. then a consequence roll on the part of the victim is called form. If a 6 is rolled, then any weapon held by that appendage is lost, but the appendage is still functional.
If a targeted attack succeeds (without a failed consequence roll) then the appendage is no longer operational and the victim must find another way to continue to fight.
Targeted head shots and heart shots are not allowed. Alternatively they can be attempted at a -6 penalty (only with a piercing weapon) and automatically fail if the individual is wearing a helmet or armour.
If wounds < 0 the NPC target has been killed. Player characters are considered skilled enough to NOT kill their opponents if that is their aim (so long as they are not using weapons, such as explosives or rocket guns, that employ an area effect). If they only intend to knock an opponent out then the NPC is rendered unconscious when their wound points <0.
PCs fall unconscious at 0 but any successful hit thereafter kills them.
If a PC is dealt a lethal blow, then with their dying breath they may make one final heroic action upon their next action phase.
If all antagonists are dead or have escaped (or the PCs are dead or have escaped) then combat ends, otherwise the next player or NPC action takes place.
Step 7 – Return to “Step 1”
Determine Initiative (above) and repeat.
NEXT TIME: A set of print-and play components for tracking combat during the game. While you don’t need to use them, we recommend them as a way of keeping track of the players and their opponents during a fight.
This chapter of the Host Your Own Old Time Radio Drama RPG and all associated content (except where acknowledged) is © copyright weirdworldstudios.com and Philip Craig Robotham 1997 and may not be reproduced or distributed without the written permission of the author.
HYOOTRD Roleplaying Game – Players’ Guide
- Chapter 1 – What is Roleplaying?
- Chapter 2 – Preparation for Play (What you’ll need and an introduction to the World of Radio Adventure)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 1 – Introduction and Character sheet
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 2 – Specialities, Archetypes, Base Attributes and Derived Attributes
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 3 – Character background and history
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 4 – Character skills and equipment (including weapons, vehicles, and specialist gear)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 5 – Special items and abilities (including gadgeteering, weird science, and magic)
- Chapter 3 – Creating a Character – Part 6 – Special conditions effecting characters (including illness and injury, insanity, mutation, mechanization, undeath, disembodiment, reanimation, , vampirism, lycanthropy, and necrophagy)
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 1 – Skill types and skill ranks
- Chapter 4 – Getting Things Done – Part 2 – Consequence tests, perception, contests, special skills and abilities, hero points and skill advancement
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 1 – Melee and ranged combat, combat actions, the combat board, and a combat cheat sheet
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 2 – Print and play components
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 3 – Physical combat (melee and ranged combat) example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 4 – Magical combat example
- Chapter 5 – Combat – Part 5 – Vehicular combat example, injury, and recovery
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 1 – Chases and chase actions
- Chapter 6 – Chases – Part 2 – Chase example
- Chapter 7 – Death-traps, hazards, and puzzles
- Chapter 8 – Victory and death – Heroic deaths, cheating the odds, plot devices, experience and advancement