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Phase 2 of combat is where the player characters get to take all their actions. During this phase the player characters take movement actions, make attacks, defend against incoming attacks, and take any other actions they like. The player characters have to work together as a team to figure out the best course of action to deal with incoming threats. Player characters can only target enemies they are aware of. If the enemies catch all the player characters unaware, skip this phase during the first round of combat.
During Phase 2 of combat player characters take individual turns in any order they choose. Player characters are encouraged to discuss and strategize with each other the order they want to take their turns and how to handle threats. If the player characters cannot agree on an order, the GM selects one character to go first then that character chooses the next to act, and so on until all the characters have taken a turn. Each player character may only take one turn per round. Once a player character has been chosen to start their turn, they must complete all actions they want to take before selecting the next character to act.
During a player character’s turn, that player character may take as many actions as they like until they fail skill roll.
There are several types of actions each character can take, the most common involve the use of a skill. Players can also move, use items, and/or use special abilities.
During an encounter player characters can use multiple skills in a turn to try to achieve as much as possible. Skills are used to attack opponents, dodge attacks, create advantages, jump chasms, hide in the shadows, and just about anything players can think of attempting. Below is a description of how skills work in combat and the most common way they are used during an encounter. These are not the only way skills might be used. Player characters are encouraged to try any action they like and allow the GM to adjudicate the attempt.
When a player character uses a skill as the first action on their turn, they make a complexity 2 skill roll for the action they are trying to achieve. Per “Skills” if the roll does not result in any doubles, the attempt succeeds. If the dice rolled do result in doubles, the attempt fails, the player character’s turn ends immediately, and the GM can either invoke a failure effect as normal or gain 1 Collapse point.
If the player character is successful with their action, they can choose to take another action on the same turn. If a player character takes another action to use a skill, they must make a complexity 3 skill roll. If they succeed on this skill, they may then use another this turn, this time by making a complexity 4 skill roll and so on. Every time a player character uses a skill on a turn it increases the complexity of the next skill roll they make that turn by 1. If a player character takes an action that does not require a skill roll (such as the free movement action all player characters can take once per turn), the complexity of future skill rolls made on that turn does not increase.
Player characters do not have to keep taking actions on their turn, and they do not need to continue taking actions until they fail. They can choose to stop taking actions and end their turn at any point (though all actions resolve after dice are rolled before a turn ends). If player characters continually take actions until they fail, it results in a very difficult encounter. Player characters have to regularly weigh the risk-reward balance of how many actions they want to take on their turn.
Example: It is Luwe’s turn. She decides to use her Melee skill (d8) to attack a nivick boss. She rolls 2d8 and gets a 1 and a 7. There are no doubles, the skill roll succeeds, and the attack deals 1 damage. Luwe decides that she wants to keep going, and she uses her Ranged skill (d10) to attack a pirate captain with a laser pistol. She rolls 3d10 as this is the second action during her turn. The roll is a 10, 8, and 2. The Ranged skill roll succeeds, and the attack deals 1 damage as again there are no doubles. Luwe continues to press her luck and uses her Stealth skill (d6) to hide form the foes she harmed. She rolls 4d6 as this is her third action. She rolls a 6, 5, 5, and 3. Since she rolled doubles, the skill fails, the GM gains 1 Collapse point, and Luwe’s turn ends.
The Adrenaline Effect
During combat the complexity of skill rolls fluctuate and are dependent on the number of actions a player character has already taken. Outside of combat the complexity of skill rolls are static. You may wonder, “Why does a chasm that requires a complexity 3 skill roll to cross outside of battle become a complexity 2 skill roll during combat if crossing it is my first action and a complexity 4 skill roll if crossing it is my third?” The answer is the adrenaline effect.
During life-threatening combat (not a situation engineered by the player characters for easier skill rolls) player characters start their turn with a boost of energy that helps them focus, making the first task they perform easy. This energy boost also allows them to take multiple actions, but the more a player character takes on in a turn, the more difficult it is for them to perform tasks.
Player characters can use any skill to make an attack, provided it makes sense in the narrative and the GM allows it. Unless an attack has its damage boosted by a weapon, special ability, or Nova ability, it deals 1 damage to one target on a successful skill roll. The following guidelines apply when you make an attack that doesn’t use a weapon or special or Nova ability:
These guidelines have exceptions, determined by the GM. For instance, a GM could rule that a hacker making an attack against a robot using the Computers skill can happen from more than 5 squares away or that a character using a tree trunk as a weapon can deal more than 1 damage on a successful attack.
Weapons and other items aid in making attacks. Typically weapons deal more damage and/or have better effects than attacks without weapons.
Any time a player character has an attack declared against them, any player character can make a skill roll during their turn to defend against the attack. If the skill roll succeeds, the targeted character avoids the attack and takes no damage or negative consequences from the attack. If the skill roll fails, the character does not move out of range, and the attacking enemy is still in the fight, the attack hits the target player character during Phase 3 of the combat round. Note that if a player character attempts to foil an enemy’s attack by moving out of range, the enemy still gets to move in Phase 3 before the enemy’s action resolves, and could put the player character back in range of the attack.
When a player character makes an active defense skill roll, they may choose any skill they can justify to the GM to defend with. A player character who is attacked with a laser pistol could use the Athletics skill to try and dodge the attack, the Ranged skill to return suppressing fire, or the Stealth skill to try and blend into the background to avoid being hit. An allied player character might use the Deception skill to distract the attacker, forcing a miss, or the Presence skill to intimidate the attacker into not attacking. The GM makes the final decision on whether a particular skill can be used to defend against an attack.
Example: A nivick boss declares an attack on Ballallanava, a player character, with a laser sword. As his second action on his turn, Ballallanava decides to use Presence to intimidate the nivick boss into rethinking their choice of attacking. Ballallanava’s Presence skill has a d10 die size, and since the skill roll is Ballallanava’s second action this turn, he rolls 3d10. The result is a 9, 6, and 2. As there were no doubles, the roll was successful and the nivick boss’s attack does nothing.
Example: A nivick declares an attack against Ballallanava with a knife, and a pirate grunt declares an attack on Ballallanava with a laser pistol. On Ballallanava’s turn he decides to use his first action to make an active defense skill roll against the knife attack. Ballallanava decides to use the Presence skill to intimidate the nivick into rethinking their attack. Ballallanava’s Presence skill has a d10 die size, so he rolls 2d10 as it is his first action. The roll results in a 3 and a 7, therefore the roll is a success, and the attack is prevented. Ballallanava is still being targeted by the pirate grunt’s laser pistol, and he now could choose to make another active defense skill roll at a complexity of 3 to prevent that attack.
Advantages represent strategic advantages the player characters gain during an encounter (see “Advantages” below). These points are earned when the player characters take actions to improve their strategic position in an encounter or observe details and gain information about the current situation.
Example: Luwe makes a Knowledge skill roll to learn about a strange species that invaded their spaceship. On a successful roll, Luwe learns any information the GM provides her and earns an Advantage, as the team is now more prepared to handle the situation.
Example: During a battle in an office, Jalis makes a Might skill roll to knock over a large filing cabinet, placing an obstacle between a group of enemy toughs and Jalis’ allies. On a successful roll, the GM rules that Jalis has created an area of difficult terrain and earns an Advantage, as the team now has an edge over their enemies.
When a player character makes a successful skill roll during an encounter to gather information or narratively improve their position, they gain an Advantage. These Advantages are kept in a shared pool and can be used by any player during an encounter. The characters can have a maximum number of Advantages equal to their ship’s Livability Rating in their pool. At the end of a combat encounter all unused Advantages disappear.
Unless stated otherwise in an item’s description, a player character who wants to use an item needs to make a skill roll as described above. If the use of the item doesn’t require a skill roll (such as activating a torch rod), then the use of the item doesn’t count as an action (though the GM has the final say).
Player characters can use special abilities during combat based on the description of the individual ability. If the ability states that it requires a skill roll or makes an attack, then make a skill roll with the complexity based on the number of actions you have taken unless the skill says otherwise.
Nova abilities can be activated at any time in combat including on other player characters’ turns and in Phases 1 and 3 of combat. The player character declares they are spending one or more Nova points then resolves the affect. There are only two exceptions: Nova abilities that require a skill roll can only be used during the activating character’s turn, and player characters who have 0 health levels cannot spend Nova points (unless an ability specifies otherwise). Nova abilities that require a skill roll are considered actions and can only be used in accordance with the normal action/skill rolls for taking actions.
Movement is counted in squares. In a combat encounter each square on the grid in Roll20 should equal 5 feet. Every player character has a starting speed of 5 squares (or 25 feet). Special abilities, Nova abilities, items, and more could increase this speed.
During combat every player character gets one free movement action on their turn during which they can move some or all of their speed in squares, going from one square to any adjacent square (including diagonals). Once a player character ends their movement, their free movement action is done.
Player characters can attempt to take additional movement actions by making skill rolls. This additional movement is treated as a skill roll action as described in “Using a Skill” above. The player character is only able to make the additional movement if they succeed on this skill roll, and a failure on this roll results in the end of the player’s turn and a consequence or 1 Collapse point for the GM. If the player character succeeds on the roll, they can move a number of squares equal to their movement speed. Sometimes a player character may need to make a skill roll to complete their first movement action if that movement requires moving in stealth, jumping across an open pit, or any other maneuver that requires special effort to complete. In these situations the first movement action is instead completed as a skill roll using all the rules from the “Using a Skill” section, and the player character does not get to make a free movement action this turn.
Example: Furo wants to move 5 squares. He has not moved yet this turn, so he can move 5 squares without needing to use a skill. Once in his new space, he makes an attack against an enemy in that room and succeeds on the skill roll. Furo now wants to move again. This time he makes an Athletics skill roll to push himself to keep moving. His Athletics skill is a d8, and as this is the second action during his turn he must roll 3d8. He rolls and gets a 7, 6, and 3. As there are no doubles he successfully moves another 5 squares.
Movement is a key aspect of tactical decisions and avoiding attacks. If an opponent has declared they are going to run at a player character and make a laser sword attack against them and then the character moves further away than the enemy can move during Phase 3, the enemy attack cannot be resolved. Alternatively if an enemy throws a grenade that affects everyone within 3 squares, any player characters who move out of that zone on their turns avoid the damage from that attack.
After a player character decides not to take any more actions or fails a skill roll, their turn ends. The players decide who the next character to have a turn will be, and that character begins taking actions. This continues until all characters have taken their turns. No character may take more than one turn in a round.