Many of the Encounters that a group of adventurers will experience will involve battling with opponents using weapons, magic, and various abilities and skills. From a rules standpoint, Combat is, understandably, the most structured part of the game.

Combat takes place in a series of Rounds; in each Round, every participant in the combat will have an opportunity to do things - they will take their Combat Turn. Determining the order in which players and gamemasters take their turns, and the types of actions they may perform during these turns, is described below.


A single d6 is rolled to determine initiative at the beginning of each Combat Turn. On a 1-3, the enemies, controlled by the Gamemaster, go first. On a 4-6, the Player Characters go first. Each "side" can determine what order their members wish to act in, and this can change each turn. This hopefully encourages team tactical planning.

The Combat Turn

During your turn, you can Move, and you can Act. When Moving, you can move up to your "speed" value. Acting includes retrieving an item from your backpack (such as a spellbook), making an attack, or casting a spell. Weapons or items that are already in hand, or that are worn in a scabbard, sheath, bandolier or other "quick grab" contrivance do not require a separate action to be readied; you can draw a sword and strike with it in as a single action. Re-sheathing a weapon, however, does require an action. (Alternatively, you can simply drop one weapon on the ground and draw another.)

Melee vs Ranged Combat

Combatants standing more or less toe-to-toe and swinging weapons at each other are said to be in Melee combat. Typically, melee combat requires that the opponents be adjacent to one another (though the use of a weapon with exceptionally long reach may modify this somewhat.) Weapons used in meleee combat are hand-held, or are a natural part of the combatant. Melee combat typically relies on brute strength; this is reflected by the use of the STR bonus to enhance damage. Sometimes, though, it can rely on agility, finesse, and precision use of a weapon; in these cases a DEX bonus may be used instead.

In Ranged combat, on the other hand, the opponents are generally some distance apart, and the weapons are projectiles launched in some manner at the foe. This could involve throwing things as well as using bows, slings, or other devices to propel the weapon. Accuracy with ranged weapons requires an innate ability to account for windage, gravity, and the movement of the target. The ability of a combatant to make the mental calculations needed to accurately make a ranged attack is represented by the use of the WIS bonus on such attacks.

Resolving Combat

There are no "to hit" rolls. You roll for damage only. Initially, damage dealt to a creature or character draws down that creature's or character's stamina points. Think of this as "wearing down your opponent" in the early stages of a fight.

For melee combat...
Damage = die roll + your STR (or DEX) bonus + magical item bonuses - opponent Defense Points

For ranged combat...
Damage = die roll + your WIS bonus + magical item bonuses - opponent Defense Points

Defense points typically are the sum of the target's Armor Points and Dexterity bonus, but there are situations where the Dexterity Bonus is not considered.
Critical Hits
Each time the die roll results in a maximum value for that die type, you roll an additional die of that type and add it to the total. This is often referred to as "exploding dice", and it serves to offer the thrill of the "critical hit" that other rules systems offer.

Level 1 damage with Shortsword
Level 3 damage with Shortsword
Level 9 damage with Shortsword

Weapon Types and Damage Dice

Each weapon will specify the type of dice (d4, d6, d8, or d10) that it uses to calculate damage, but the number of such dice rolled is a function of the combatant's Level. At Level 1, you roll one die of the specified type to determine the damage done in a combat round (subject to the exploding dice provision described above). At Level 3, you roll 2 dice, and at every odd level beyond, you add another.

Magical Weapons will specify a bonus that is added to each damage die rolled. Thus, for example, a Longsword+1 wielded by Level 2 character will do d6+1 damage, but when that character reaches Level 3, it will do 2d6+2 damage. The bonus is never applied to the additional dice generated by the "exploding dice" feature.
Tombril, a 9th level character with 55 Stamina Points is using his +2 short sword to attack a club-wielding Hill Giant. Tombril's STR bonus is +8. His DEX bonus is +5, and his armor gives him 3 Armor points, for a total of 8 Defense Points. The Hill Giant, a Level 12 creature, has an STR bonus of +9 and a DEX bonus of +3. It's tough skin acts a bit like armor, adding another 1 Armor point for a total of 4 Defense Points.

A 5 on the Initiative Die in the first round indicates that Tombril goes first. He rolls 5d6 for damage, and gets 5, 3, 4, 3, and 2, for a total of 17. Adding the sword's magical bonus and his STR gives 35. Subtracting the Giant's Defense Points from this total gives a damage result of 31. As this is all slashing damage from the sword, 31SP are taken from the Hill Giant's starting amount of 68, leaving it with 37 SP.

The giant now attacks back with its nonmagical club. The Giant rolls 6d6 and gets 6, 5, 3, 6, 2, and 6. The three 6's "explode" for three more rolls, giving a 5, 1, and another 6. That last six is rerolled once more and a 2 results. All these are added up for a total of 42. Adding in the giant's STR bonus gives 51. Tombril's 8 Defense Points are subtracted from this; he takes 43SP in damage - clearly a severe, and lucky, blow! Tombril is left with just 12 SP.

It's time for Round 2, and the process repeats, starting with Initiative being rerolled. Tombril is lucky and gets to go first again. He realizes that he may not survive another swing of the giant's club, so he decides that a judicious retreat is in order. Since the giant does not pursue, the combat encounter is over.

A player or a creature controlled by the Gamemaster has the option to declare a Power Attack before rolling for combat damage. In a Power Attack, the number of damage dice is doubled - but the weapon is assumed to be broken and unusable after the attack. (Declaring a Power Attack, then rolling really poor damage is this system's equivalent to a "Critical Fail".)


Characters may choose to devote their combat turn to actively deflecting or avoiding damage instead of inflicting some. They must be equipped with either a weapon or a shield, or both to do so. If a character decides to parry, it cannot make an attack on its turn, but incoming damage from all sources is mitigated until their next combat turn. Futher detatils and restrictions depend on what equipment is being used to parry.
Parrying with a Weapon
The character will suffer no damage from incoming attacks as long their weapon remains intact. If any attacker rolls a damage die that explodes, the attack blow is assumed to shatter the character's weapon. The damage that causes this will be fully mitigated, but no further damage reduction is possible, and the weapon is useless. If the weapon used for parrying has a magical bonus, an additional exploding die roll is required for each magical plus before the weapon is shattered.
Parrying with a Shield
The character will suffer no damage from incoming attacks until they begin their next combat turn, assuming their shield can sustain the damage. The shield takes double damage from absorbed blows. If the shield takes enough damage to be destroyed, additional damage will affect the character - including any excess damage from the blow that destroyed the shield.

Surprise Attacks

When two opponents or groups encounter each other, it is possible that one or both are not expecting it, and consequently take a moment to realize what's happening. If neither or both sides are surprised, there is no effect, and combat will begin with an Initiative roll. If one side of an encounter surprises another, that side gains the opportunity to take combat turns without their opponents doing so. (In other words, the surprising side takes their turns before the first initiative die is rolled.) It is left to the Gamemaster to determine what situations or conditions will require a determination of surprise. Alternatively, a random roll could be used (good for random encounters). Roll a d6. On a 1, the opponents gain a surprise round. On a 6, the adventuring party gains a surprise round. On a 2-5, neither side is surprises (or both are).

Sneak Attacks

If a character or creature attacks another with some element of surprise, additional damage can be done. To achieve this element of surprise, the attacker must either be completely hidden from from the target's view prior to the attack, or the target must be engaged in combat with another, and the attacker must approach from behind the target. The attacker's entire movement track must be "behind" the target.

Characters and creatures that have front-facing eyes are assumed to have approximately a 120 degree field of vision. Attacks directly from the sides, or from behind can generate sneak attack damage. Creatures with many eyes, or eyes in unusual arrangements, may have a larger field of vision, making them more difficult to sneak up on. Creatures that rely on a sense other than sight and creatures with no discernable "back" may also be more difficult; details are left for the gamemaster to decide.

The damage done by a sneak attack is determined by the weapons used, but the target's Defense Points do not include any Dexterity Bonus. Sneak Attacks may also be declared as Power Attacks, sacrificing the weapon for additional damage.


The Laurels and Loot Rule System is published by Bob O'Brien
It is available to all in accordance with the Creative Commons (Attribution) license
(Creative Commons 4.0 International License)

Laurels and Loot Rules are derived in part from the following sources:
Knave 2.0 TTRPG System Rules published by Ben Milton
in compliance with
(Creative Commons 4.0 International License)

The banners on these pages was composed with art attributed to:
b0red from Pixabay (treasure chest image)
Gordon Johnson from Pixabay (laurels image)

The side panels are composed with art attributed to:
Evelyn Chai from Pixabay (dungeon passage)


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