This page describes combat in Legends as well as other stressful or important situations.
Fight in-character! Combat is described from the perspective of the Player Characters (PCs) because they are the protagonists of the story.
Combat occurs in two alternating phases: Action and Maneuver. The GM announces the two phases.
- Action Phase: Each player may describe a quick action, such as attacking a foe with a weapon that is already drawn and readied. Players will make various checks as needed, often to Attack or Defend. Longer actions, including movement or Readying Abilities need to wait for the next Maneuver Phase.
- Maneuver Phase: Each player may describe a long action, such as moving around, Readying weapons or other Abilities, or wrestling with a foe. The GM may require players to make Maneuver checks for any ambitious moves, and Ability checks for Readying Abilities.
All actions within a phase are simultaneous, and any effects such as damage are applied at the end of the phase.
Players make Checks (see Roll Dice) within phases whenever a character attempts an action. The standard Checks are ready ability, maneuver, attack, defend, or recover. Players will also make Damage Roll, Saving Throw, and Area Effect checks as needed. Since combat takes place from the perspective of the characters, the GM sets the Difficulty (“Ugly Dice”) relative to the PC and the NPC or challenge he is facing.
Since combat starts with an Action Phase, during which only previously readied weapons and other abilities may be used, players need to be diligent about describing which weapons or other abilities their characters have readied prior to combat.
Players must “Ready”any Abilities before they can use them. This may only be done before combat starts or during the Maneuver Phase, because Readying an Ability takes time.
Every active Ability needs an Ability Die. The player may either play an Influence Die or make an Ability check to get a free Ability Die. See the page on Abilities for details.
When a PC attempts a challenging or cool move, the player rolls a Maneuver check to see if the movement was successful. This is necessary in situations such as evading a trap, leaping, climbing, moving with stealth, charging through an enemy line, or blocking a foe from moving.
- Good Stuff: The player describes the maneuver in more detail. On Extra Good Stuff the PC completed the maneuver with style and can describe an Advantage.
- Bad Stuff: The GM can describe a minor mishap, such as tripping, stopping short, or dropping an item of equipment. On Extra Bad Stuff the PC might have hurt himself, broke an item, or stumbled (or fallen) so that he suffers a Disadvantage.
If a PC wants to make an attack that requires careful aiming then the player must make a Targeting Roll check during the Maneuver Phase, prior to the actual attack (which will be an Attack check in an Action Phase).
The Targeting Roll is required for carefully aimed “sniping” shots such as long-range rifles, or an attack that will cover an area, such as a grenade, bomb, or machine gun burst. Such weapons need careful setup before they can be fired effectively.
A successful Targeting roll provides benefits appropriate to the attacking weapon, which makes up for the risk in the extra check. For example, precisely aimed weapons like sniper rifles can hit targets incredibly far away, and area-effect weapons like grenades or heavy machine guns can affect a broad area, hitting many opponents at once.
- Good Stuff: The player describes the measures the PC takes. For example a sniper sights carefully down his scope at a target a mile away, or a thrown grenade is lobbed expertly around the corner where the bad guys are standing. On Extra Good Stuff he can describe an Advantage, to be used in either a related Attack check or Damage Roll check.
- Bad Stuff: The PC may not attack with the weapon he was targeting. The Ability the player was using (e.g. a sniper rifle or grenade) cannot be used during this turn, although he could try again on the following Maneuver Phase. On Extra Bad Stuff the Ability the PC is using becomes unreadied (similar to rolling Bad Stuff on an Attack check) and/or the GM may rule the weapon misfires, potentially affecting allies or even the PC (this option is recommended for risky weapons like grenades).
The Targeting check is a special type of Maneuver check, and characters who try fancy movement as well as targeting will suffer Disadvantages.
- Resisting opponent (unarmed/threatening weapon): 1/2
- Ranged (short/medium/long): 1/2/3 *
- Area Effect (small/medium/large): 1/2/3 *
* Ranges and areas are relative, described in “plain words” so that the same modifiers can be used for both ground, small ship, and fleet tactical battles. In general these are relative to the battle map scale used, and correspond to “1/3 of battle map”, “2/3 of battle map”, and “full map”. Thus, a “short range” attack would be up to 1/3 of the battle map width (or height), and a “small area” effect would be up to 1/3 of the battle map area.
When a PC attacks an NPC the player rolls an Attack check to see if the attack hits. The GM can adjust the Difficulty as appropriate, such as adding an Ugly Die to shoot a quickly moving target, or fencing against an opponent with exceptional skills.
- Good Stuff: The player describes the attack in more detail and makes a Damage Roll (see below) to see if the foe was wounded. On Extra Good Stuff the player can claim an Advantage for the Damage Roll .
- Bad Stuff: The GM can describe a minor mishap, such as running out of ammunition or an overextended attack (a Disadvantage). On Extra Bad Stuff the NPC hit the PC instead, and the player must make a Saving Throw (see below).
When a PC succeeds in an Attack the player must make a Damage Roll, which is a check to see if the attack penetrates armor and inflicts damage.
- Good Stuff: The player describes a severe wound inflicted on the foe, such as lopping off a limb. The GM should collaborate on this, and will also let the player know when the NPC has had enough, and the player can describe a “finishing” move. This can either kill or incapacitate the NPC foe. On Extra Good Stuff the player can roll again!
- Bad Stuff: The GM or player describes how the NPC foe took no damage, such as the attack glancing off its scaly hide. On Extra Bad Stuff the GM describes a mishap with the PCs weapon, such as dropping the weapon, breaking the weapon (unless high quality), or running out of ammo.
- Difficulty: The GM should adjust the Difficulty based on the ability for the NPC foe to resist the general kind of attack, such as weapons, magic, grappling, etc. It is easier to hurt an unarmored orc than a heavily armored knight. Keep in mind that the PC already succeeded on the Challenge and has hit the foe, so this is mostly related to armor, toughness, resistances, or the ability to dodge. The Difficulty should not depend on character details and should not vary between characters. The GM should be able to predetermine the Difficulty before the characters arrived. Some creatures have special immunities or vulnerabilities, but these should not affect the Difficulty the Damage Roll, because they would also depend on the specific attack used by the character.
Player Tactics: Players can target specific NPC capabilities, such as attack capabilities, movement options, special abilities, or resistances. This is an important strategic consideration for players, as they can choose to target particular abilities that are giving their PCs trouble, such as wings, a sword arm, poisoned sting, etc. Defanging a serpent is often just as good as killing it.
When the GM says something (an NPC, trap, etc) attacks a PC then the player must roll a Check to defend.
- Good Stuff: The player describes how the character avoided being hit. On Extra Good Stuff the player can describe how his PC or another PC has hit the foe! The player then makes a Damage Roll (see above).
- Bad Stuff: The GM describes the attack in more detail and the player makes a Saving Throw (see below). The player may optionally volunteer to sacrifice an active defensive ability to avoid getting hit, if the GM allows. On Extra Bad Stuff the PC suffers a Disadvantage on the Saving Throw, or possibly a secondary effect.
- Good Stuff: The player describes how the character avoids being wounded by the attack. On Extra Good Stuff the GM either describes the foe’s weapon breaking, or says that the PC has found a weakness in the attack, and gets an Advantage on future Saving Throws against that same specific attack (usually just from that same foe).
- Bad Stuff: The GM assigns a Disability to the PC. By default this causes a Disadvantage on all Saving Throws and Recovery Rolls until the PC is healed. On Extra Bad Stuff the PC is incapacitated or slain–effectively taken out of the fight.
A PC who has been hurt can make a Check to get better. These Checks suffer Disadvantages for any Disabilities.
- Good Stuff: The player describes how the PC feels better and recovers one Disability. On Extra Good Stuff the PC recovers two Disabilities. Professional medical facilities grant Advantages.
- Bad Stuff: The PC does not recover. On Extra Bad Stuff the PC actually gets worse and suffers another Disability.
A PC who is incapacitated can declare a relevantTheme (especially a Signature) and make a Check to become active again. They aren’t healed, but are no longer incapacitated.
PC vs NPC: Most combat involves the PCs fighting NPCs, so the system focuses. PC vs PC combat is rare and handled as an exception.
Next: Take Off!