Combat Maneuvers

The following systems are options that characters may use during combat. If you visualize your character's moves — rather than just roll dice for a generic "attack" — the scene becomes more interesting and the drama more intense. Most of these maneuvers take one action to accomplish.

General Maneuvers

  • Aborting Actions: At any time during a turn, you can abandon your current stated action to block, dodge, or parry an incoming attack. You must either make a successful Willpower roll (a reflexive action) using Willpower rating as a dice pool, difficulty 6, or you can spend a Willpower point to be allowed to defend automatically. If your Willpower roll fails, your character may not defend and must follow through with her originally declared action on your initiative. You enact your defense at the moment the attack occurs, even if the attack occurs before your place initiative comes around. If your character has already acted this turn, she may not defend against the attack. (See Defensive Maneuvers descriptions of dodging, blocking and parrying).
  • Ambush: To have your character sneak up on or secretly lie in wait for her quarry and get a surprise attack, roll Dexterity + Stealth with a resisted roll against the target's Perception + Alertness. If you score more successes than the victim, your character may stage one free attack against him, and you may add any extra successes beyond the first in the ambush roll to your attack dice pool. On a tie, your character still attacks first, but the target may defend with a block, dodge or parry. If the target gets more successes, he sees your character coming and both parties roll initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed.
  • Blind Fighting/Fire: Situational factors — pitch blackness, blindness or physical damage — inhibit vision during combat. Attacking while blinded incurs a +2 difficulty to the roll, and ranged attacks cannot be made accurately at all. Certain hunter edges may offset some of these challenges.
  • Flank and Rear Attacks: If your character attacks from the side or flank of his target, add a single attack die to your dice pool. If your character attacks from the rear, add two extra dice to your pool.
  • Movement: A character can move half her running distance (See automatic-feats, Movement) and still take an action in a turn. She may follow that movement with an action, as well. Your character moves half the distance she could normally cover, then acts. Though this is not considered a multiple action, the Storyteller may impose a penalty to the difficulty number or to your dice pool for the action. On the other hand, if your character moves while attempting a second action, such as crossing a room while trying to reload her gun, each yard moved penalizes the other action's dice pool by one.
  • Targeting: If you want your character to attempt a called shot or to aim for a specific location on the target, the difficulty of the attack roll increases. However, your character can bypass armor or cover, or can inflict extra damage by calling a shot. A successful targeted shot, punch, or stab can have dramatic results beyond simply inflicting damage: the destruction of an object, blinding of an enemy or disarming of an opponent. If your character uses a blunt object that would normally cause bashing damage, but she target's the victim's head specifically, the resulting damage may be considered lethal at the Storyteller's discretion. Refer to the following chart when determining difficulty and damage modifiers for aimed attacks.
Target Size Difficulty Damage
Medium (leg, arm, briefcase) +1 No modifier
Small (hand, leg, weapon) +2 +1
Precise (eye, heart, padlock) +3 +2

Maneuver Complications
You usually roll combat maneuvers against a difficulty of 6. Certain special combat effects and situational factors may modify your attack roll, difficulty number or damage dice pool. The following categories explain maneuver characteristics in this chapter's rules.

  • Traits: The recommended Attribute + Ability Traits used for the maneuver. If your character doesn't have the appropriate Ability, default to the Attribute alone.
  • Accuracy: Some maneuvers add dice to attack rolls. A "+3" adds three dice to the attacker's dice pool for that attack.
  • Difficulty: Some maneuvers impose modifiers, positive or negative, to an attack's difficulty. Base difficulty is 6; any modifiers listed add or subtract from it. A "+2" indicates that the attack's difficulty — initially 6 — increases to 8.
  • Damage: This category is the damage dice pool.

Close Combat Manueuver Table

Maneuver Traits Accuracy Difficulty Damage
Bite Dex + Brawl Normal Normal Str
Block Dex + Brawl Special Normal (R)
Cinch Str + Brawl Normal Normal Str (C)
Disarm Dex + Brawl/Melee Normal +1 Special
Dodge Dex + Dodge Special Normal (R)
Hold Str + Brawl Normal Normal (C)
Kick Dex + Brawl Normal +1 Str + 1
Parry Dex + Melee Special Normal (R)
Scratch Dex + Brawl Normal Normal Str
Strike Dex + Brawl Normal Normal Str
Sweep Dex + Brawl/Melee Normal +1 Str (K)
Tackle Str + Brawl Normal +1 Str +1 (K)
Weapon Strike Dex + Melee Normal Normal Weapon

(C): The maneuver carries over into successive turns.

(K): The maneuver causes a knockdown.

(R): The maneuver reduces an opponent's attack successes.

Ranged Combat Manueuver Table

Maneuver Traits Accuracy Difficulty Damage
Automatic Fire Dex + Firearms +10 +2 Weapon
Multiple Shots Dex + Firearms As normal split action Normal Weapon
Strafing Dex + Firearms +10 +2 Weapon
3-Round Burst Dex + Firearms +2 +1 Weapon
Two Weapons Dex + Firearms Special +1/off-hand Weapon

Combat Maneuver Complications
Combat can be complicated by numerous events, several of which are listed below. You should feel free to come up with others as the situation warrants.

  • Blinded: If your character acts against a blind opponent, you gain two extra dice on any attack rolls. On the other hand, blind characters receive a +2 modifier to the difficulty of all actions.
  • Dazed: If, on any single attack, your damage success exceed the target's Stamina (for humans) or Stamina +2 (for supernatural beings), the victim is dazed. Only successes left over after the defender's soak attempt apply and are compared to the defender's Stamina. A dazed victim loses his action, whether this turn or the next; he can neither act nor defend during that time. The character may still trigger reflexes, though.
  • Immobilization: When your character attacks on an immobilized victim who can still struggle (held by someone, for example), add two dice to your attack roll. All attacks hit automatically if the victim is completely immobilized (tied up or somehow paralyzed).
  • Knockdown: Your character falls or is forced off his feet. Make a Dexterity + Athletics roll to determine whether he can stand immediately. However, his initiative is reduced by two in the next turn. If the roll fails, your character's next action can be to rise. In case of a botch, your character falls hard or at an odd angle and suffers by one bashing health level of damage automatically. Your character may use certain maneuvers such as sweep or tackle to knock down an opponent. Other particularly powerful attacks — a solid punch or hit with a bashing weapon — may also knock a target flat. Your Storyteller decides if a knockdown occurs in these instances. They happen only when cinematic or appropriate to the story.
  • Stake Through Heart: To stake an opponent, an attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9). The Storyteller decides whether any special effects result, if any.

Firefight Maneuver Complications

Complication Difficulty Dice
Changing action +1
Immobilization -2
Long range +2
Point-blank 4
Lying flat +1
Behind wall +2
Only head exposed +3
Movement +1
Aiming +Perception(1/turn)
Scope +2 when using the Aim maneuver
Specific area of target +1 - +3
Multiple shots As normal up to Rate in split actions
Full-auto +2 +10
Three-round burst +1 +2
Spray 5 +1/yard +10

Gunfight Complications

Complication Dice Difficulty Description
Fanning Wits + Firearms or Dexterity + Firearms (Whichever is lower) 8 Requires a split Dice Pool or Rage expenditure of Rage to account for shots fired and to pull off the fanning action. Fanning increases the difficulty of all shots by two and is the only way to fire multiple shots with a double action pistol unless the dice pool is split to fire, cock and fire again.
Quick Draw Wits + Firearms/Athletics (for thrown objects) for initiative; shootout is resolved normally with Dexterity + Firearms diff 4 for initiative roll; diff for shots are determined by weapon A face-off doesn't have to be strictly one-on-one; one or two allies can contend with one or more opponents on an open street. Skilled gunfighters can still use Wits + firearms to beat their opponents to the shot in such situations. The difference is that when a single character faces multiple opponents, he must spend Rage or split his Dice Pool to shoot at them. A character who loses a stare down in a duel cannot perform a quick-draw in that same fight.
Reloading Wits + Firearms 6 The number of successes indicate the number of bullets that can be loaded in one turn. Failure indicates that the character is distracted (probably by the shots fired on him), while a botch indicates that the character drops all of the bullets.
Two Guns -2 for off-hand unless ambidextrous Fanning is impossible if you have double-action pistols, limiting you to two shots a turn.
Trick Shots Dexterity + Firearms Reference following chart Targeting a specific part of the body or object increases the shot's difficulty. Not only do called shots do more damage, they can cause victims to drop their weapons, lose their sight, or fall prone.
Difficulty Target Damage Special Effect
+2 Hand No Modifier Drop weapon
+4 Eye +3 Dice Blindness
+3 Head +2 Dice Dazed
+1 Torso +1 Die None
+3 Groin +1 Die Stunned
+2 Leg No modifier Fall prone