Combat Basics

Combat Systems

Combat Turns
In combat, many things happen at virtually the same time. Since this can make things a bit sticky in a game, combat is divided into a series of three-second turns. Each combat turn has three stages – Initiative, Attack and Resolution – to make it easier to keep track of things.
Wound penalties subtract directly from a character’s initiative rating.

Combat Summary Chart
Stage One: Initiative
- Roll initiative. Everyone, player and Storyteller character alike, rolls one die and adds it to their initiative rating [Dexterity + Wits]. Everyone declares their actions. The character with the highest initiative performs her action first. Actions can be delayed to any time later in the order of initiative.
- Declare any multiple actions, reducing dice pools accordingly. Declare Discipline activation and Willpower expenditure.
Stage Two: Attack
- For unarmed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Brawl.
- For armed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Melee.
- For ranged combat, roll Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
- A character can abort to a defensive action (block, dodge, parry) at any time before her action is performed, as long as you make a successful Willpower roll (or a Willpower point is spent).
Stage Three: Resolution
- Determine total damage effect (weapon type or maneuver), adding any extra dice gained from successes on the attack roll.
- Targets may attempt to soak damage, if possible.

General Maneuvers
Aborting Actions: You can abandon your character’s declared action in favor of a defensive action as long as your character hasn’t acted in the turn. Actions that can be aborted to include block, dodge and parry. A successful Willpower roll versus difficulty 6 (or the expenditure of a Willpower point) is required for a character to abort an action and perform a defensive one instead. When spending Willpower for an abort maneuver, a character may declare the willpower expenditure at the time of the abort. A Willpower roll to abort is considered a reflexive, not an action. (See “Defensive Maneuvers,” below, for descriptions of block, dodge and parry.)

Ambush: Ambushes involve surprising a target to get in a decisive first strike. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Stealth in a resisted action against the target’s Perception + Alertness. If the attacker scores more successes, she can stage one free attack on the target and adds any extra successes from the resisted roll to her attack dice pool. On a tie, the attacker still attacks first, although the target may perform a defensive maneuver. If the defender gets more successes, he spots the ambush, and both parties roll initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed.

Blind Fighting/Fire: Staging attacks while blind (or in pitch darkness) usually incurs a + 2 difficulty, and ranged attacks cannot be accurately made at all. The powers of Heightened Senses (p. 149) and Eyes of the Beast (p. 173) partly or fully negate this penalty.

Flank and Rear Attacks: Characters attacking targets from the flank gain an additional attack die. Characters attacking from the rear gain two additional attack dice.
Movement: A character may move half of her running distance (see “Movement,” p. 200) and still take an action in a turn. Other maneuvers such as leaping or tumbling may be considered separate actions, depending on their complexity.

Multiple Actions: If you declare multiple actions, subtract dice from the first dice pool equal to the total number of actions taken. Each subsequent action loses an additional die (cumulative). If a character performs only defensive actions in a turn, use the appropriate block, dodge or parry system. The Discipline of Celerity allows vampires to take multiple actions without this penalty. See the Discipline description for particulars.

Targeting: Aiming for a specific location incurs an added difficulty, but can bypass armor or cover, or can result in an increased damage effect. The Storyteller should consider special results beyond a simple increase in damage, depending on the attack and the target.
Target Size Difficulty Damage
Medium (limb, briefcase) +1 No modifier
Small (hand, head, computer) +2 +1
Precise (eye, heart, lock) +3 +2

Armor
Simply put, armor adds to your character’s soak. The armor’s rating combines with your base soak for purposes of reducing damage. Light armor offers a small amount of protection, but doesn’t greatly hinder mobility. Heavy armor provides a lot of protection, but can restrict flexibility.
Armor protects against bashing, lethal and aggravated damage from teeth and claws; it does not protect against fire or sunlight. Armor is not indestructible. If the damage rolled in a single attack equals twice the armor’s rating, the armor is destroyed.

Combat Summary Chart
Stage One: Initiative
- Roll initiative. Everyone declares their actions. The character with the highest initiative performs her action first. Actions can be delayed to any time later in the order of initiative.
- Declare any multiple actions, reducing dice pools accordingly. Declare Discipline activation and Willpower expenditure.
Stage Two: Attack
- For unarmed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Brawl.
- For armed close-combat attacks, roll Dexterity + Melee.
- For ranged combat, roll Dexterity + Firearms (guns) or Dexterity + Athletics (thrown weapons).
- A character can abort to a defensive action (block, dodge, parry) at any time before her action is performed, as long as you make a successful Willpower roll (or a Willpower point is spent).
Stage Three: Resolution
- Determine total damage effect (weapon type or maneuver), adding any extra dice gained from successes on the attack roll.
- Targets may attempt to soak damage, if possible.

Bashing Damage

Mortals may soak bashing damage with their Stamina, while vampires may also soak bashing damage with their Stamina (+ Fortitude, if they have that Discipline). However, any bashing damage applied to a vampire after the soak roll is halved (round fractions down) – the Kindred’s corpselike bodies simply don’t bruise and break like the kine’s.

If your character falls to Incapacitated due to bashing (or lethal) damage, then takes another level of bashing (or lethal) damage, she enters torpor. If your character falls to Incapacitated due to bashing damage but then takes a level of aggravated damage, she meets Final Death.

Lethal Damage

When your character’s Health boxes fill to Incapacitated, and she takes a further level of lethal damage, she enters torpor (p. 216). If your character is reduced to Incapacitated via lethal damage, and she takes a further level of aggravated damage, she meets Final Death.

Aggravated Damage

A level of aggravated damage may be healed only with a full day of rest and the expenditure of five blood points (though a vampire may, at the end of the full day’s rest, cure additional aggravated health levels by spending an additional five blood points and one Willpower point per extra aggravated health level to be healed).

a vampire who loses his last health level due to aggravated damage meets Final Death – his eternal life ends at last, and he goes to whatever reward awaits him beyond the grave.

Combat Basics

Berlin by Night WiHa05