Combat in The World of Cartyrion | World Anvil


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.

The Combat Round and Combat Turns

Combat takes place in a series of Rounds; in each Round, every participant in the combat will have an opportunity to do things in their portion of the round: their Combat Turn. With a few exceptions that will be noted below, a Combat Turn provides each participant with the opportunity to make some movement and perform an action.

A Combat Round is approximately 6 seconds in duration (i.e. 10 rounds represent a minute of total elapsed real time). It is assumed that all of the activity described in each participant's Combat Turn takes place in the course of that 6 second span, though not strictly simultaneously. (Initiative and turn order determines the sequence in which events are completed and resolved within the 6 second span.

Determining Turn Order: Initiative

At the beginning of each Combat Round, a single d6 is rolled to determine which side (players or opponents) has the Initiative to act first in that round. On a result of 1 to 3, the opponents, controlled by the Gamemaster, go first. A result of 4 through 6 indicates that the Player Characters go first.

Once it is determined which "side" goes first, the members of that side are free to determine in which order they wish to take their individual turns. This offers the opportunity for flexible tactical planning. Unlike some other game systems, this does not result in players being stuck in a fixed order for an entire combat encounter as the result of a single die roll.

The Initiative Roll for the very first Combat Round is handled a little bit differently. 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 - one or both sides may be Surprised.

If neither side has reason to expect Combat to be begin - i.e. neither side is attempting to ambush the other - it is possible for either side to be surprised by the appearance of the other, and thus lose the opportunity to react quickly. For the first Combat Round only, if the Initiative die results in a 1, this indicates that the opponents have Surprised the Party. On a roll of 6, the party Surprises the opponents. (Rolls of 2 through 5 indicate that neither side is surprised, and turn order is determined in the manner already described. If either side is surprised, members of that side do not get to take Combat Turns in this first Combat Round, unless they have some trait or ability that precludes their being surprised. These exceptions are individual, though; one party member that cannot be surprised may get a Combat Turn, but the rest of the party is still surprised.

In the event one side of an upcoming combat encounter is consciously attempting to ambush the other, the interpretation of the Initiative Roll is slightly different:

  • If opponents are attempting to ambush the party, an Initiative Roll of 1 or 2 indicates the ambush was successful and the party is Surprised. A Roll of 3 allows the opponents to act first, but there is no "element of surprise"; the party members can take their turns in response. A roll of 4 to 6 indicates that the party has detected the Ambush and gets to take their turns first, followed by the attackers.

  • if the party is attempting to ambush its opponents, an Initiative Roll of 5 or 6 indicates that the ambush is successful and the opponents are Surprised. A roll of 4 allows the party to aact first, but the opponents can then all take their turns. A roll of 1 to 3 indicates the opponents detected the ambush and get to take their turns first.

  • In the inevitable situation where one side of an encounter suspects (or detects) an imminent ambush and actively tries to turn the tables on the ambushers, the Gamemaster can decide whether or not surprise is possible, or under what conditions a "reverse ambush" can be achieved. Awareness Checks will likely be involved.

    Regardless of any Surprise outcome on the first Combat Turn, all subsequent Combat Turns begin with a standard Initiative Roll as described earlier in this section.

    The Combat Turn

    A Combat Turn consists of two parts: Movement and Action.

    During a Combat Turn, a creature may travel a distance no greater than the Move value specified on a character sheet or statblock. Movement can take place before an Action is performed, or after, or can even be broken up, with some before and some after, so long as the total distance traversed in the Turn does not exceed the stated Move value.

    There are two exceptions to this:

  • Some special attacks and/or magical effects may specify that a creature is moved (pushed, dragged, etc.) some distance. In these cases, the movement specified in the effect is not considered to be part of a creature's Combat Turn movement.

  • There are some Actions which may enable a creature to achieve some form of movement above and beyond their normal turn's limitations. Leap and Dash are two examples. Description of these Actions will specify what additional movement is permitted.

  • Actions
    Actions are anything a creature might do to interact with their surroundings in some way that can be achieved in a few seconds. (Technically a Combat Turn represents about 6 seconds of real time.) Examples include retrieving an item such as a spellbook from a backpack, making an attack with a readied weapon, reloading a crossbow, 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, requires an Action of its own. Alternatively, a character may simply drop one weapon on the ground, draw another from scabbard or sheath, and attack with it.

    Most magical spells require an Action to cast; this can be assumed for all spells unless the spell description explicitly states othewise.

    During a combat turn, a character can also communicate with allies or foes, whispering or shouting no more than a sentence or so while performing their Movement and/or Action. Relaying complex instructions, however, would constitute an Action on its own. Pointing requires a free hand.

    Players and Gamemasters are free to be creative and flexible when determining whether any particular Action is possible, with the only hard limitations being the 6 second timeframe, the environment, and the abilities of the creatures involved. But here are some common activities other than standard attacks that would constitute an Action:

  • Leap
  • Dash
  • Grapple
  • Charge
  • Reload
  • Take Aim
  • Sheath a Weapon
  • Retrieve an Item
  • Combat - Attack Actions

    Making an Attack with any sort of weapon or magic ultimately requires dice rolls to determine two things:
  • the amount of Damage done on the target - whether in the form of Stamina Drain or inflicting Injuries, or both
  • the amount of Stamina Drain suffered by the attacker as a result of the stresses and exertions of combat.

    Melee and Reach 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.

    Reach combat is similar to melee, except that there may be some small space between combatants. The length of the weapon will determine the maximum distance; the weapon descriptions will specify this.

    Range Combat

    In Ranged combat, 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. In order to engage in Ranged combat, the target must be at least 10ft (3m) away from the attacker. 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 AWA bonus on such attacks.

    Most ranged attacks cannot simply be deflected away; the effect of an arrow striking a target is not simply to tire the target out a bit. Thus Ranged Attacks have the benefit of applying their damage immediately as Direct Damage. The target's DEX bonus, as well as any physical (or natural) armor or shields still come into play, but any damage not stopped by these is applied against Injury Points, not Stamina Points.

    Standing off and firing arrows does not immunize a character from the stresses of combat. To represent this, characters making ranged attacks must expend stamina points to do so. An untrained user of a ranged weapon must roll a d4 to determine expended stamina points. An acquired Weapon Specialization in a ranged weapon assumes that the character has learned some economy of effort; expended stamins for such characters is halved (rounding up).

    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's DEX bonus - opponent's Armor Points

    For ranged combat...
    Damage = die roll + your AWA bonus + magical item bonuses - opponent's DEX bonus - opponent's Armor Points

    There are times where opponent's DEX bonus may not come into play. These are described in various other places in these rules.

    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

    Damage Dice

    Each combat attack form, including spellcasting, will specify the type of dice (d4, d6, d8, or d10) that it uses to calculate damage, but does not specify a quantity of dice to be thrown. This quantity is known as the Damage Level Multiplier, and is a function of the attacker's character 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 magical bonus is not applied, however, to any 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.

    Power Attacks

    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.

    Sneak Attacks

    Sneak Attack is a combat tactic designed to employ stealth, planning, and accuracy to deal potentially devastating damage to an opponent.

    The first element in launching a sneak attack is positioning. The attacker cannot already be engaged in combat with the target - a sneak attack cannot be performed if the attacker has already made an attack on the target in the prior combat round. Furthermore, the attacker must either be concealed from the target at the beginning of the attacker's turn, or the target must be sufficiently distracted.

    Concealment might mean the attacker is hiding behind something, or approaching from an unexpected direction, or is magically invisible. Furthermore, the attacker must either be within half its movement range of the target before leaving concealment. Achieving or maintaining successful concealment may required a DEX check on the part of the would-be attacker.

    Being engaged in melee combat with another creature, or having just been successfully range attacked by another creature is sufficient distraction to permit a sneak attack, but a character deeply focused on a conversation with someone else - or intently searching for or studying someone or something might also be sufficient. The Gamemaster should determine if these conditions are met when the attacker announces that a Sneak Attack is desired.

    The second element in a successful sneak attack is delivering precision damage to the target, taking into consideration the armor they may be wearing. If the weapon being used is a Finesse or Rangeweapon, the attacker has an opportunity to strike where the target is weakest. An AWA skill check is required, with the DC equal to 10 plus the Armor Points of the target. If this check is passed, the attack has successfully hit home at a weak point where armor is not effective -- Armor Points are not used to mitigate damage. A failed check implies that the attacker has missed that weak spot; the target's Armor Points are applied to mitigate the damage being done.

    A Sneak Attack with a Power is still possible, but the target's Armor Points are always considered for damage mitigation.
    When the fight breaks out in the warehouse, Cedryk the Sneaky, a Level 3 character, leaps behind some crates to conceal himself. A DEx check indicates he does so successfully. As his companions square off against opponents, Cedryk readies his dagger and quietly moves around behind the crates to get position on the half-orc attacking his friend Janine the Pious. Another DEX check indicates his movements were not perceived.

    He leaps from behind the crates, his dagger point aimed for the narrow gap between the half-orc's curiass and pauldron. The required AWA skill check has a DC of 13 based on the half-orc's armor; Cedryk rolls a 9, but his AWA bonus of +4 means this is just enough to succeed.

    At Level 3, Cedryk's gets 2 damage dice, and with rerolls of exploding dice, rolls 4, 2, and 2. Cedryk's DEX bonus is added to this for a total of 12 points of damage. All 12 points are applied as Direct Damage -- a significant portion of the half-orc's 15 injury slots. While not dead, the target will be seriously considering withdrawal after such a devastating blow. Even if the AWA roll had failed, and the blade strike was not quite true, this attack would have done 9 points of Direct Damage to the half-orc.
    To calculate damage done by a successful sneak attack, roll number of damage dice rolled indicated by the attacker's Damage Dice Multiplier. Explode all maximum rolls as usual. The attacker's appropriate bonus (STR for power melee or reach, DEX for finesse melee or reach; AWA for range attacks) is added to this. The target's DEX is never subtracted. The target's armor points may or may not be subtracted, as explained above. Any resulting damage is applied as Direct Damage - it does not affect the target's Stamina Points, but instead registers as Injuries immediately.

    Sneak Attacks cannot also be declared to be Power Attacks. After the attack, if the attacker has movement remaining, they may use it, but cannot use it to return to concealment.


    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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