The Xha’lem binary star system sits in the center of war, and conflicts large and small break out constantly across the several planets. The following provides the rules for all creatures and mechs to engage in combat, whether it is a brief skirmish or an all out war.
For the purposes of this chapter, when referring to both machines and creatures, the term combatants will be used in this chapter. Combat between combatants is determined by the number of combatants, ally and enemy, the location of each combatant, and the actions each one takes during their turn. For all activities and rolls, each player must remember to add any additional bonuses or penalties that may be applicable, even if not clearly stated to do so within this chapter. The steps to combat are the following:
Identify each combatants position
Determine which combatants are visible or discernible to other combatants
Determine Initiative score
Rank all combatants in order from highest to lowest Initiative score
Starting from the top of list, each combatant takes a turn and determines their action and movement
Continue cycling through the Initiative list, highest to lowest, until combat is complete
Location and Initiative
When creatures and machines duel, the SM must first determine where every combatant is located. Given the combatant’s position, the SM can then know where the adversaries are, their distance from other players or items, and in what direction are characters and objects in relation to the combatant’s line of sight. A target can be shielded from detection by Scanners, such as a cloaked combatant, causing their location to be indiscernible.
Each player must then roll for Initiative. To determine your machine's Initiative, add your Engine score to 1D20. To determine your creature’s Initiative, add your Evasion score to 1D20. As an option, combatants operating as a group, that share similar stats, and are controlled by the SM, can get the same Initiative so that they can each take their action at the same time. The SM would roll 1D20 for the whole group, adding Engine or Evasion scores, and whatever other benefits or penalties. The Initiative scores are then placed in order from highest to lowest, with the combatant with the highest score going first. If a tie occurs among SM-controlled combatants, the SM can determine the order. If a tie occurs between the SM-controlled combatants and the player-controlled combatants, both the SM and the player must reroll for Initiative. If the tie occurs between player-controlled combatants, the player with the highest Engine score (machine) or Evasion score (creature) will succeed, unless the players decide differently among themselves. If neither option resolves a tie, the players will have to reroll for Initiative.
Going in Initiative order, each player or the SM can take one action and one movement on their turn. There are times when players can include a secondary action. Combat is broken down into a cycle of turns and rounds. Barring any adversarial or unexpected force or circumstance, each player gets one turn per round based on their position in the order of Initiative. A turn is when a player can decide to move, take an action, or both. A player can skip a turn, but that would forfeit their turn in the round. A round represents all turns taken in the Initiative order. If there are 10 characters, for example, there are 10 turns in a single round. For the keeping of time within the game, each round is 10 seconds, regardless of how many characters/turns. This would mean that there are 6 rounds in a minute and 360 rounds in an hour. This doesn’t equate to time in the real world. In reality, a round can last 10 minutes or 2 hours, but knowing the timing within the game is important during gameplay.
All combatants are capable of performing specific activities during their turn. These activities are called actions. There are two types of actions while in Initiative: primary and secondary. You do not need to take any action during combat.
The following are a list of the common primary actions used in the game:
This is considered an extra action, or an action granted in addition to your primary action. You can take this action only under the conditions outlined by the specialty, program, or weapon that allows for this type of action. This action only comes after the primary action, such as an engagement or the use of an object. A secondary action can occur before or after a dash/thrust. If you decide to take no action, you can still perform a secondary action. However, you can not take a secondary action first and then a primary action.
No combatant needs to be equipped to engage, or attack, another combatant. As stated earlier, the body of the machine or creature can be used as a weapon. Still, most times you will equip yourself with a conventional or energy melee or ranged weapon. Mechs and ships are the most common machines used in combat. A ship can be equipped with dozens of weapons of varying types, each with their own special features. Mechs, on the other hand, unless specifically stated in the combatant’s stats or otherwise prevented by an external element, at a minimum, can be equipped with one ranged and one melee weapon. At a minimum, every creature can be equipped with one weapon at a time. Creatures and mechs can have other weapons and items at their disposal to use to engage an enemy, however, they can’t use it without it being equipped. There will be creatures who are able to use both hands to fight with, and therefore can be equipped with two one-handed weapons.
As a machine, you can use your action to engage with any equipped weapon. You must first announce the weapon you will be using. For creatures, you can only switch between weapons by using an action, unless otherwise stated. If you are using a dual-strike specialty, you are able to attack twice with one action, machine or creature. Neither creature nor machine can switch weapons when using dual-strike and must use the same weapon for both attacks.
When you engage with your combatant, whether it is with a melee weapon, ranged weapon, or specialty, you must first choose your target. The target can be any other machine, structure, location, or creature. The SM will determine if the target is cloaked or concealed, or if you have an advantage or disadvantage against the target.
Most engagements by a combatant require an engagement roll of 1D20. In order for your combatant’s weapons to successfully hit their target you must beat the target’s evasion. The target will roll 1D20 to evade. If the final score of your engagement roll, including the bonuses and penalties, is greater than the target’s final score of their evasion roll (plus their bonuses and penalties), then you successfully hit the target. A tie always goes to the defender. Your weapon, program, or specialty will determine the dice you use to calculate the damage and the type of damage you will cause.
As a machine, you must always add your Systems score to the engagement roll (D20). If you are successful in hitting the target, or besting their Evasion score, you must always add your Hull score to the damage roll if using melee weapons, engaging unarmed, or throwing an object. If you are using an energy ranged weapon, you must always add your Reactor score to the damage roll. Do not add any additional score to conventional ranged weapons. As a creature, your chosen race or archetype may allow you to use certain abilities for certain weapons. Generally, you will add your Agility score to all engagement rolls. When using melee weapons, engaging unarmed, or throwing an object, add your Strength score to the damage roll. All ranged attacks will require you to add your Agility score.
If you roll a 1 or a 20 with a D20 while playing a creature, the SM can attribute added effects. Rolling a 1 with a D20 when attempting to engage as a creature is considered an automatic failure regardless of the penalties and bonuses that may be added on to it. Rolling a 20 with a D20 is an automatic success during an engagement. The SM can describe the successes and failures however they wish. Added effects and automatic outcomes do not apply to machines.
You may use an action to prepare for a possible action taken by another player. When the standby action is taken, you will use a reaction to execute your held action. First, you must decide on what would trigger you to react. Then, you choose the action you will take in response to that trigger. You can also choose to move as a reaction. Your reaction always comes after the triggering action takes effect. For example: “If the mech launches missiles, I'll fire my missiles,” and “If the mech thrusts towards me, I’ll thrust away.” You can also choose to ignore the trigger. The trigger can happen at any time, so long as it happens before your next turn. If the reaction interrupts another combatant’s turn, that combatant can continue its turn right after you complete your reaction. Certain specialties, programs, or attributes may allow for a reaction for specific actions against you or your allies.
There will be opportunities to act against a target whenever a target that you can see moves into and out of your reach. A combatant can enter your reach and engage with you as normal, this does not provoke an opportunity. A combatant can leave after engaging with you and this also would not provoke an opportunity. The combatant must move into and out of your reach without engaging you in order to provoke an opportunity attack against it. This type of attack is a reaction as well, and it allows for a single melee weapon engagement against the target. Small mechs are protected against opportunities. If you teleport out of the target’s reach, you will not provoke an opportunity against you. If you are moved against your will into and out of a combatant's reach, you will provoke an opportunity attack. You must be equipped with a melee weapon in order to take an advantage of the opportunity. If you are immobilize or otherwise incapacitated, you can not react in any way.
You are only allowed one reaction per round.
When engaging using a machine program or creature specialty, you are to use the same rules as if engaging with an actual weapon, however each specialty/program will have its own directions regarding the dice to roll, the engagement’s range, the damage, and the effects. Some specialties/programs may provide additional bonuses and penalties to the engagement or movement. Certain specialties/programs will also have guidance on how the target can defend against the engagement.
During combat, a combatant can be surrounded by enemies, preventing it from successfully engaging with any one combatant in reach. This is referred to as flanking. In order to successfully flank an opponent, you and an ally have to be in melee combat and have to be 0-10 feet/hexes from the opponent. You and your ally would have to be directly across from one another with the opponent between you. In other words, a flanked combatant must have an enemy in front and behind them, and be 0 to 10 feet/hexes away. The flanked combatant does not have to be in melee combat in order to be flanked, however the attacking combatants can only use flanking tactics when in melee combat. Flanking would provide both attackers advantage on an attack. If another ally joins the fight from the side, the third attacker does not get an advantage. If the third attacker is striking from directly above or directly below the flanked character (0-10 feet/hexes distance), then the third attacker has an advantage. If a fourth ally joins the fight, surrounding the target on all four sides (back, front, left, and right), all four attackers will have an advantage. If a fifth ally joins and they attack from directly above or below the target, they will have an advantage. An ally that stands directly beside another ally to attack will never receive an advantage. Flanking can be voided by applicable specialties, programs, or abilities.
You can lend your aid to another combatant in the completion of a task or when attacking a target. When you take the Assist action, the combatant you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn. When an ally is attacking a target, your ally must be within 5 feet of you for you to use the Assist action. You distract the target, and if your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first engagement roll is made with advantage against it.
While in combat, you can use your action to search for something. You will then be able to use your Investigation skill (creature) or Scanners (machine) to search for whatever you wish. Your SM will determine if and how your search is successful.
If a creature wishes to hide, the SM will decide if hiding is possible. When you take the Hide action, roll for a Stealth check. If you succeed, you are hidden from being seen or heard until you are discovered or you stop hiding. Any creature can use their Perception or Investigation check to search for signs of your presence. Creatures must beat your Stealth check total. Machines, on the other hand, can detect a hiding creature with a passive scan. A creature can only hide from a machine by being cloaked or if concealed by an object or force that blocks Scanners.
You can't hide from a creature that can see you clearly, and you can give away your position if you make noise, such as shouting a warning or stepping on fallen branches.
Machines can not take the Hide action, but they can be cloaked or concealed.
Cloaked or Concealed Engagements
Any target that you can’t detect but believe to be there is either concealed or cloaked, but can still be engaged. If you have the means to become cloaked, you would use an action to do so.
Cloaked targets are invisible, preventing them from being seen by normal vision or detected by Scanners, even if standing directly in front of a target. Cloaked targets can not mask any sounds that they make while moving, and they will still leave behind traces of their presence or movement, such as footprints, fuel emissions, or rustled leaves.
When engaging a target that is cloaked, you must perform an engagement roll with a detriment to see if you are able to hit the target. A detriment is when you must roll 4D20 and use the smallest number. The SM must then state if the target is within range, if it is not already known. If the target is not within range, the engagement automatically fails and you lose your turn. If the target is within range, the target is then able to perform an evasion roll with advantage (2D20).
Concealed targets are targets that are hiding, but are able to block Scanners from detecting them as well. A concealed target may be hiding behind a boulder or in a room that prevents any Scanners from penetrating it. Concealed targets are not invisible and there is always the possibility of spotting them if they make the wrong move. Machines can not take the Hide action, but can be concealed. A machine can be detected if Scanners are strong enough to pass through the concealment. For example, a mech may be concealed behind a distortion field that prevents Scanners from detecting it. The SM can determine a CR (challenge rating) for the field and the attacker's roll to scan must beat the CR of the field in order to detect the mech.
When engaging a target that is concealed, you must perform an engagement roll with disadvantage (2D20) to see if you are able to hit the target. The SM must then state if the target is within range, if it is not already known, or if the target is protected by whatever is concealing it, such as a wall. If the target is not in range, or is protected from attack by their concealment, the engagement automatically fails and you lose your turn. If the target is within range, or the engagement is otherwise successful, the target is then able to perform an evasion roll with advantage (2D20).
If you are engaging a target and you are cloaked or concealed, your opponent is unable to roll for evasion. Your engagement score still has to beat their base Evasion score. Once you engage while undetected, you immediately give away your position. Once your position is given away, whether cloaked or concealed, there is no disadvantage or detriment to engage you, but you would still receive an advantage on all of your evasion rolls so long as you are cloaked or concealed. Once you move again, if you are still able to maintain your cloak or concealment, then all actions against you are made with a disadvantage (concealed) or detriment (cloaked).
Concealed targets can be fully or partially concealed. If the target is partially concealed then you are aware of its presence, even if you can’t determine any specific details. If it attacks you, you are able to perform an evasion roll. However, any engagement you make against a partially concealed target, the target has an advantage on its evasion roll. There is no disadvantage for engaging a partially concealed target.
All combatants have a range of 5 hexes/feet when using a melee weapon, with the exception of gargantuan-sized mechs, and giant and behemoth-sized creatures. Their reach is 10 hexes/feet. Certain machines, such as ships, will have their engagement reach included within their profile. There are melee weapons that can extend this reach even further. If a combatant engages without weapons, this is considered an unarmed engagement and has identical ranges as well (5 or 10). An unarmed engagement can be done with any part of the combatant’s body. For the purposes of combat, when engaging unarmed, your combatant’s body is considered a weapon. All programs and specialties will clearly state their area of effect and the range in which you can strike a target.
When you want to grab or wrestle with a combatant, you can use the Engage action to grapple. Using at least one free hand, you can try to seize a target with a grapple. If you're able to make multiple strikes with the Engage action, this engagement replaces them. This means that if you have dual-strike capability, you can only attempt to grapple once per turn. If you get to strike twice in the same action, you can not strike once and then try to grapple. The target of your grapple must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your unarmed reach.
To grapple using a machine, you must roll for engagement (D20) and add your Hull score. As a creature, you roll for engagement and add your Strength score. Your opponent, mech or creature, must roll to evade. If they manage to evade, the grapple fails. If they fail to evade, they are grappled. On your opponent’s turn, if they are still grappled, they can use an action to roll 1D20 and use their Hull (machine) or Strength (creature) score to break free. You must roll 1D20 and add your Hull (machine) or Strength (creature) score. If their score is equal to or better than yours, they break free. If they fail, they are unable to move or take any further action. On your turn, you can move with the target you are grappling, so long you have the ability to pull, push, or lift them. Tell the SM what you wish to do and the SM will ask you to roll to check if you have the needed Strength (character) or Hull or Engines (machine) to execute it. You are also able to let go, and this would not require an action. You are unable to take any other action while grappling and you are unable to move unless your ability checks to do so were successful. A combatant can automatically be grappled if the target is incapacitated or immobilized.
When you move, you can drag or carry the grappled creature with you, but your speed is halved, unless the combatant is two or more sizes smaller than you.
Shoving a Combatant
Using the Engage action, you can shove a combatant, either to knock it down or push it away from you. If you're able to make multiple attacks with the Engage action, this action replaces one of them.
The target must be no more than one size larger than you and must be within your reach. Roll for engagement, if you manage to overcome the opponents evasion roll, you make a Hull (machine) or Strength (creature) check. The opponent would need to do the same to see if their score beats yours. You succeed automatically if the target is incapacitated. If you succeed, you either knock the target down or push it 5 feet away from you.
All engagements have a disadvantage, unless you are a creature with the ability to breathe underwater or a mech with programming that allows specifically for such engagements. While fully immersed, all creatures and mechs are immune to fire damage, and are vulnerable to electrical damage if partially immersed, or at least 25% covered. Creatures inside of mechs are not immune to fire damage if the fire occurs inside the mech, such as the cockpit or holding areas. Creatures are unaffected by electrical damage to a mech while inside the mech, even if the mech is fully immersed.
You can use an action to manipulate an object. Such activities would include opening, lifting, pushing, pulling, breaking, or turning. The SM will provide guidance on what type of object manipulation would require the full use of an action.
All combatants have a movement speed. Machines generally cover a lot more ground than a creature. The speed for mechs and larger machines is measured in hexes. 1 hex equals 15 feet. All mechs start with a base speed of 25 hexes, with the exception of Gargantuan-sized models. Gargantuan mechs have a base speed of 35 hexes. The speed for a creature is measured in feet. A creature that is small, medium, large, and extra large in size, moves in intervals of 5 feet during combat. Creatures that are giant or behemoth in size move in intervals of 10 feet during combat. The base speed for creatures depend on the race. On your turn you can move your entire movement/total speed. You can divide movement into parts so that actions can be taken between movements on a single turn. For example, if your speed is 40, then your combatant can move 20 hexes or feet, engage, and then move another 20 hexes or feet.
During combat, all combatants move at intervals of 5 feet or hexes in any direction and through any environment (air, land, water, etc.). When in space, however, all combatants move at intervals of 2,000 miles in any direction. The SM can create hazards, items, or activities within these intervals (3 feet, 2 hexes, 1,850 miles, etc.), but for simplicity, spacing things out in the 5/2,000 intervals is highly encouraged.
You can use an action to increase your speed. This is called a dash for creatures or a thrust for machines. You take your maximum speed and then double it. The maximum speed is to include any benefits and penalties. So if your maximum speed is 35 hexes/feet, you can use your action to move an additional 35 hexes/feet in any direction for a total of 70 hexes/feet. When you dash or thrust, you are unable to divide your movement with an engagement as you would have forfeited your action to engage so that you can dash/thrust.
If a creature was to achieve flight, the means by which they would do so would be detailed by the granting authority, such as a specialty or a mad scientist. Generally speaking, however, the rules for moving through the air are the same for moving on the ground. The creature would be given a flying speed and would only be able to move that distance with each turn. A creature can divide their flying speed and walking speed, and difficult terrain in the air, such as a hurricane, would have the same effect as difficult terrain on the ground.
If you have more than one speed, such as your walking speed and a flying speed, you can switch back and forth between your speeds during your move. Whenever you switch, subtract the distance you've already moved from the new speed. The result determines how much farther you can move. If the result is 0, you can't use the new speed during the current move. For example, if you have a speed of 30 and a flying speed of 60, you could fly 20 feet, then walk 10 feet, and then leap into the air to fly 30 feet more.
Without additional support, mech engines alone aren’t always strong enough to allow for flight or even to slow their descent while within the gravity of a planetoid. Other machines, such as ships, or those specifically designed for flight, are the only machines capable of performing this activity. When in space, however, all machines with engines have mobility and move much faster. To determine maximum speed in a single turn while in space, add your Engine score and your Reactor score and multiply it the total by 2,000 to get the number of miles (ex: (3+2) x 2,000 = 10,000 miles).
A willing creature or machine that is at least one size larger than you, and that has an appropriate anatomy or structure, can serve as a mount. Once during your turn, you can mount a creature or machine that is within your reach. You must use an action to mount or dismount. Machines that are big enough to enter can not be mounted. For example, a mech can not mount a spaceship that it can fit inside.
When riding a mount that you control, it shares your initiative. Their movement speed replaces your movement. This means if your movement is 50 hexes/feet, and its movement is 30 hexes/feet, your total movement while mounted is 30 hexes/feet.
You can not ride a mount that you can not control. You may be asked to roll to see if you can control it or if it allows you to control it, and the SM will determine the roll’s success. If the mount is sentient and not forcibly compelled to obey, the SM can decide under what conditions it will continue to allow you to control it.
If an effect moves your mount against its will while you’re on it, the mount must succeed on a Strength (creature) or Hull (mech) check of its own, or it is knocked down. You must also succeed on a Strength check, if you are a creature, or Hull check, if you are a mech, or fall off the mount, knocked down in a space within 5 feet of it.
In a situation where an effect targets just your mount, and it is knocked down, you can use your reaction to dismount it as it falls and land on your feet. Otherwise, you are dismounted and fall down in a space within 5 feet of it. Keep in mind, you can only react once within a round.