Errata: Exalts need not spend experience to purchase or create Combos, nor spend Willpower to activate them. Characters may simultaneously activate as many of their Charms as they desire, so long as the combination of powers activated obeys the rules for creating Combos (for example, characters still may not activate two Simple Charms simultaneously, nor activate another Charm at the same time as a Charm that lacks the Combo-OK keyword).
Combos are hard—they don’t just develop overnight or when you really need them. Characters often must undergo arduous training or seek out special conditions to learn their new secret moves. Make learning new maneuvers part of the game, not just a matter of writing something new down on a character sheet.
- Combos may include only those Charms with the “Combo Basic” or “Combo-OK” keywords.
- Charms with the Combo-Basic keyword can share a Combo with only reflexive Charms.
- A Combo can include more than two Charms but it can never include the same Charm more than once.
- Storytellers are always free to veto the combination of certain Charms, and the Storyteller’s decision is final when it comes to defining how a given Combo works.
The use of the individual Charms that compose the Combo is in no way restricted by them being part of a Combo—characters may use the individual Charms normally outside of the Combo. When a character uses a Combo in battle or in war, there is an unmistakably brilliant display of Essence. Any character present will know that the Exalt is using a Combo the moment she pays the temporary Willpower to activate it. However, the witness will not know the exact nature of the Combo until he has seen it used once. The display of a Combo’s activation is very distinctive, and once a character has seen it activated, he will be able to recognize it if he sees it again.
Simple—a Combo can have only one simple Charm in it. If there are supplemental Charms in the Combo, the character must use them to supplement the simple Charm. If there is an extra-action Charm in the Combo, the character must use the simple Charm as every action in the magical flurry. The character must use the simple Charm a number of times equal to the minimum number of actions in the flurry. The simple Charm must be from the same Ability as the extra action Charm unless one of the Charms explicitly permits the combination, and it must be an appropriate action for every action the magical flurry contains.
Supplemental—There is no limit to the number of supplemental Charms that can be part of a Combo. If there is a simple Charm in the Combo, the supplemental Charm must be used to benefit it. This means the supplemental Charm must be from the same Ability as the simple Charm unless one of the Charms explicitly permits the combination, and it must be able to benefit the kind of action the simple Charm is. If there are no simple Charms in the Combo, the supplemental Charm must benefit all of the character’s non-reflexive actions. Unless the Charm’s description indicates otherwise, supplemental Charms can only benefit uses of the Ability on which they are based. The supplemental Charm may benefit the character’s reflexive actions, including actions given by reflexive and permanent Charms, if it can validly apply to them. Unless the Charm’s description indicates otherwise, supplemental Charms can only benefit uses of the Ability on which they are based.
Reflexive—There is no limit to the number of reflexive Charms that can be part of a Combo. If there is a simple Charm in the Combo that can validly benefit from the reflexive Charm, the character may use the reflexive Charm to supplement it. If there is an extra-action Charm in the Combo and one or more actions in the flurry can validly benefit from the reflexive Charm, the character may use the reflexive Charm to supplement it. If there is neither an extra-action nor a simple Charm in the Combo and the reflexive Charm can validly benefit one or more of the character’s dice actions, the character may use the reflexive Charm to supplement it. If there is a supplemental Charm in the Combo and the reflexive Charm gives a reflexive action and the supplemental Charm can validly apply to that action, then the supplemental Charm may benefit that action. The reflexive Charm can be used outside the character’s dice actions, as usual. However, the player must state that the Exalt is using a Combo, and which Combo, and must pay the price for the Combo (see below),
as soon as the player uses the first Charm for that Combo in a given action—he cannot use a reflexive Charm and then later in the action declare that he actually wishes to use a Combo containing that Charm.
Extra Action—Only one Charm of the extra-action type may be used in a given Combo. If there is an extra-action Charm in the Combo, then the character must activate it. If there is a simple Charm in the Combo, the character must use the simple Charm as every action in the magical flurry. The character must use the simple Charm a number of times equal to the minimum number of actions in the flurry. The extra action Charm must be from the same Ability as the simple Charm unless one of the Charms explicitly permits the combination, and the simple Charm must be an appropriate action for every action the magical flurry contains. If there are supplemental Charms in the Combo, they must all benefit all of the actions in the flurry. This means that they must benefit the same kinds of actions that the flurry includes. If there are reflexive Charms in the Combo, they may be used to benefit any of the actions in the magical flurry.
Permanent—Permanent Charms may not belong to Combos. Characters may use the ongoing benefits of permanent Charms during a Combo.
The character launches a single attack at a target, either unarmed or using a weapon. Because attacking is the most complicated action possible in Exalted, this chapter provides the rules for resolving attacks after this list of all possible combat actions, starting on page 141. The Speed of an attack is the Speed of the weapon or attack maneuver used.
The character concentrates on a particular target (declared when the action is selected). Against an animate opponent, such concentration helps him to strike a vulnerable area at the most opportune moment. Against inanimate targets, he scrutinizes points of structural weakness. The character can abort the aim and attack his studied opponent on any tick after the first, adding one die to the attack roll for every tick spent aiming. Aborting to any other action is impossible. Aborting an aim is also like aborting a guard in that the attack does not refresh DV, even though it counts as a normal action in all other respects. Instead, the character must wait for the Speed of the attack to pass before his DV refreshes. If the character aborts DV to do anything besides attack his scrutinized target, he loses two dice from the action as an internal penalty from his divided attention.
If the character completes a full aim cycle, he still does not refresh DV, but he may use the new action to attack the studied target with three bonus dice. Alternatively, he can enter a new aiming cycle with the action. In this case, DV does not decrease further and neither does the character add more bonus dice. However, the full bonus stays “banked” through as many aim cycles as desired until used (by attacking the target) or forfeited (by using an action to do anything else). This is used to simulate a character “covering” targets. Aim cannot be part of a flurry.
The character runs flat out, sprinting at speeds up to (Dexterity + 6 – current wound penalties – armor mobility penalty) yards per tick. The minimum rate of a dash is two yards per tick. Unlike a basic move, dashing is not reflexive, and it sharply penalizes defense. Characters suffer a DV penalty of -2 during the tick and cannot parry at all without a stunt or magical assistance.
Dashing is normally accomplished without a roll, but it may require a (Dexterity + Athletics) roll in order to cross treacherous terrain to avoid mishap, at Storyteller discretion.
If the terrain or the character’s capabilities allow, a dash may involve another mode of locomotion besides running, such as swimming or climbing (both at Dexterity yards per tick, and both modes generally require rolls to accomplish) or flying (rate dependent on the means of flight).
The character focuses entirely on avoiding attacks made against her, dodging or blocking as best suits her training. This action does not reduce a character’s Defense Value. On any tick in which a character is guarding, her player can abort the defense and take any other action desired except to aim or to perform another guard. This new action does not refresh DV but is a normal action in all other ways. Therefore, the character must wait for a number of ticks to pass according to the Speed of the new action to refresh DV and act again. Guard cannot be part of a flurry.
The character sprints up to (Dexterity) yards per tick over land. Wound penalties (see p. 150) subtract from this speed, as does the mobility penalty (see p. 374) of any armor worn. The value cannot drop below a speed of one yard per tick. Unlike most actions, move is reflexive and does not normally require a roll, unless the terrain is particularly treacherous or slick. The only restriction on movement is that a character can either move or dash on the same tick, but not both (as the dash maneuver replaces and supersedes lesser movement).
A character’s base movement rate increases or decreases depending on any number of factors, including Charms and terrain. Characters who are swimming or climbing halve their base movement rate (rounded down) and usually require a successful reflexive (Dexterity + Athletics) roll to move freely without mishap. Those who are flying by means of some enchantment, natural capability or device will have their base movement rate for flight listed.
The character launches a quick series of blows or otherwise performs multiple actions rolled on a single tick. Characters can draw their weapon at the beginning of a flurry of attacks, subject to the -1 DV penalty for their miscellaneous action.
Barring the aid of magic, this option imposes normal multiple action penalties (see pp. 124-125) on all rolls. The Speed rating of a flurry equals the highest Speed rating of any action taken as part of the cascade. Each action in the flurry imposes its own defense penalty as normal for that action. In the case of attacks, a weapon cannot be used to attack more times in a flurry than its rate. (See the tables beginning on p. 366 for rates of common weapons.)
Certain actions are barred from being part of a flurry, as stated in their descriptions. If, when his player declares the flurry, the character chooses an action that later becomes invalid (for example, killing a target on the first blow of a series), he may choose to abort the flurry rather than carry out the invalid action. The flurry ends with the aborted action—characters cannot pick and choose among actions in a flurry when one becomes invalid. The flurry remains as long as it was when the character chose to undertake it (even if the longest action is one of those dropped), but the character takes the DV penalty for only those actions he actually undertook.
The character is unconscious, paralyzed, helpless or otherwise unable to decide her own actions. Players cannot choose for their characters to be inactive, except perhaps by arranging for some form of incapacitation. The state of inactivity automati- cally happens whenever the appropriate conditions arise. This means that a character who is grabbed during the interval before her next action immediately aborts that action state to enter inactive. Likewise, the state of inactivity ends as abruptly as it begins, as soon as the conditions causing it withdraw. On the next available tick, the character may act normally with refreshed DV and a full range of options. Characters who are inactive cannot defend themselves; they start the action at DV 0.
The character uses her action to do something that doesn’t fit neatly into any of the other options, such as pick- ing a lock in a hurry or trying to decipher the controls of a complicated First Age weapon in time to save her friends. Storytellers should keep in mind that a tick is a very short span of time, approximately one second. Even if a charac- ter focuses on the chosen task until her next action to the exclusion of everything else, this probably won’t give her more than about five seconds in which to work. If the task will take much longer than that, the Storyteller should try to break the task into smaller pieces that the character can accomplish in such an interval.
The DV penalty for performing a non-combat action de- pends on whether the character wishes to focus completely on the task at hand without paying attention to the battle raging around her or whether she tries to keep one eye out for danger. In the former case, the character’s intense concentration forfeits all DV if the character has a positive DV (negative DV ratings are not increased to zero, but are still treated as zero). In the latter case, the character generally suffers a -1 penalty to DV (the number can vary with the action), but her distraction also subtracts two dice from any roll made to accomplish her task. Miscellaneous actions of the second variety can be part of a flurry as long as the sequence of actions makes sense (Storyteller discretion). In that case, the character suffers the appropriate multiple action dice penalty to the miscellaneous action roll instead of the usual -2. Common examples of miscellaneous actions include:
In many cases, combat begins at the point in which characters draw weapons. In other situations, a character might find herself ambushed or she might wish to trade out one weapon for another. A character may use a miscellaneous action to unsheathe, draw or otherwise ready as many weapons as she has hands and weapons available (grabbing a sledge in both hands, unsheathing a short sword in each hand, grabbing a fistful of shuriken in each hand, etc.).
Characters who have their hands or feet free do not need to take an action to use natural punch or kick attacks. Usually, drawing any other weapon is a diceless action. Only the most extreme conditions warrant a roll (a character half-dead from frostbite pulling his sword free with his numb and shaking hands), in which case use (Dexterity + appropriate combat Ability) at difficulty 1.
Even though readying is automatic, it still factors into multiple action penalties if performed as part of a flurry. Therefore, a character who draws her sword to behead an opponent in one motion is at -3 to the attack roll.
Finally, a flurry that only involves a character drawing a weapon and using it for attacks uses the Speed of the weapon, even if the Speed is less than 5. This is an exception to the usual rules for determining flurry Speed.
If a character is knocked to the ground or otherwise loses her footing, she will certainly wish to get up as quickly as possible because she is at -1 external penalty to all non-reflexive physical actions as long as she remains supine. Like readying a weapon, rising is normally an automatic action that succeeds without a roll. Extreme conditions such as trying to stand in the middle of an earthquake or on the pitching deck of a tempest-tossed ship might require a (Dexterity + Athletics) roll, though. Even when rising is automatic, it still factors into multiple action penalties if characters wish to take additional actions as a flurry.
The rules for jumping may be found on pages 127-128. In combat, a jump is a miscellaneous action with a -1 DV penalty that can be placed in a flurry as normal. However, a character can make only one jump in a flurry or on its own, so characters cannot take multiple actions to quickly leapfrog across a battlefield. Characters may move normally on a tick in which they jump, enabling such feats as running leaps or pouncing and tumbling into a short dash. Epic battles inher- ently involve acrobatics, so characters can take short jumps that do not vault obstacles within a standard move action, provided they do not use jumping to travel farther than a move allows. Characters need only declare an actual jump to pounce, cross chasms and the like.
In a horde, combatants concern themselves with only their own targets, trusting companions to fight their own battles. Yet disciplined fighting units often concentrate attacks against powerful opponents in order to overcome their opponents’ defenses. In particular, Dragon- Blooded members of the Wyld Hunt rely on “pack tactics” to defeat the individually superior Celestial Exalted.
Coordinating a group of attackers to assault a single target has the usual Speed 5 for a miscellaneous action and requires a (Charisma + War) roll from the player of the group’s commander. The difficulty is half the number of participants in the group, rounded down. Should the commander wish to benefit from the coordination for his own attacks, his player must include the character into the group when determining difficulty. If the roll fails, the coordination attempt fails, so wise commanders do not overextend their organizational skill. If the roll succeeds, the coordination opens a “window of op- portunity” on the tick when the commander next acts. Every member of the group who attacks the designated target on that tick reduces the target’s DV (see p. 146) by the number of successes rolled on the coordination roll. This penalty cannot exceed the number of attackers in the group. For example, if the commander wants to link six archers into a firing squad, his player rolls (Charisma + War) at difficulty 3. With two or fewer successes, the attempt fails. With three successes, the DV penalty suffered by the target against the squad’s attacks is -3. With six or more successes, the penalty increases to its maximum value of -6. Synchronizing a barrage of attacks generally requires the participants to aim and/or guard so that they can abort and attack on the appropriate tick.
Without Charms, blocking another individual’s movement is a Miscellaneous Speed 5, DV -1 action. It requires that the character be directly interposed between the individual or individuals whose movement he is attempting to restrict and the place he is attempting to keep them from reaching (such as a doorway, or another character). When the targets attempt to move past the blocker, make a contested ([Strength or Dexterity] + Athletics) roll for both parties. Ties favor the blocker.
If the blocker wins, the target cannot move past him toward the blocked destination. If the target wins, she may move as she wishes. A single blocker may impede up to three targets per Blockade Movement action at a time. Blockade Movement may be flurried to impede more than three individuals at once, if needed.
Without Charms, defending another individual is a Speed 5, DV -1 Miscellaneous action. It requires that the character be within (Dexterity) yards of his ward, and allows him to interpose his Parry DV against attacks which target the individual he is protecting. If an attacker bypasses the character’s Parry DV, she has the option of either letting the attack continue on to the guardian’s ward (in which case the attack will need to use its remaining successes to also beat the ward’s DVs), or she may simply let the attack strike the guardian himself. Parry based perfect defenses such as Heavenly Guardian Defense may be used to automatically guard others, while dodge-based perfect defenses such as Seven Shadow Evasion do not impede attacks against the character’s ward at all. Only one Defend Other action may be placed in a flurry.
Unless explicitly noted otherwise, perfect defenses with a Duration longer than Instant apply to only one protected character per activation. To protect oneself requires one activation, and protecting anyone with a Defend Other action requires a separate activation per ward.
If multiple characters attempt to defend a single target, one guardian (generally the individual with the highest Parry DV) becomes the leader of the guard, who actually applies his DV against attacks. Each additional character guarding the same ward raises the leader’s Parry DV by 1 when defending the ward. Up to five characters may simultaneously guard one human-sized ward on open ground.
If an attack inflicts more raw damage than a defender’s (Stamina + Resistance), the force of impact hurls her to the ground unless her player makes a successful reflexive ([Dexterity or Stamina] + [Athletics or Resistance]) roll, difficulty 2. Rising from prone requires an action (see p. 144).
Deliberately tackling someone prompts an immediate knockdown check for both parties if the attack connects. Even if the target’s player makes this roll, the character is stunned. Sweeping a target with a chain, kick, staff or any appropriate weapon reduces the Accuracy of the attack by -2, but if it hits (whether or not it inflicts damage), the victim must check for knockdown.
As a more cinematic alternative to basic knockdown, a character may be hurled back one yard for every three dice of raw damage inflicted by the attack, skidding to a halt prone. If she strikes a particularly solid object, this arrests her flight painfully, though she crashes through any fragile objects. In no case does knockback cause extra damage, as it is purely intended to spice up a fight scene. Rising from prone requires an action.
Characters who suffer a greater number of actual health levels of damage than their Stamina rating might find themselves shaken and disoriented from the trauma. Reflexively roll (Stamina + Resistance) at a difficulty of (damage – Stamina). Failure leaves the victim at -2 dice to all non-reflexive rolls until the tick when the attacker next acts.
Characters may choose to assault an inanimate object rather than other characters or creatures. Doing so uses slightly different rules. Most inanimate objects aren’t noted for dodging or parry- ing, so unless some extraordinary exception exists, assume that they have no DV with which to defend themselves. Moreover, if an attack on an animate target actually hits, it does not have a minimum damage. This means that all objects effectively have a Hardness rating equal to their soak. However, the corollary to this added protection is that damage against objects is not rolled. Instead, every die that penetrates soak generates one success and inflicts one level of damage. Objects do have health levels, but they do not suffer any form of wound penalty (obviously). Instead, objects have two health values separated by a slash: Damaged/De- stroyed. Damaged indicated the number of health levels necessary to functionally impair the object. For a statue, this might mean that limbs are severed rather than the stone being scratched on the surface. For a door or wall, a state of damaged means that a small hole exists—wide enough to attack through (though targets on the other side benefit from 75% cover). Breaking a door down completely or opening a section of wall wide enough for characters to pass requires the object to be destroyed.
Note that some powerful magical objects might deviate from these rules in a variety of ways. An enchanted stone wall of Shogunate Era design might require that damage be rolled against it rather than applying the value that beats its soak, while a First Age counterpart might require rolled damage and be completely immune to attacks that are not made using magical weapons or enhanced with Charms. Also note that it is possible to break objects outside of combat through sheer strength, but doing so takes time and is outside the scope of combat rules.
Sample Object Soak (L/B) Health Levels (Damaged/Destroyed) House Door 1/3 3/10 Oak Door 3/5 10/20 Fortress Gate 8/10 20/40 Wood Wall 3/5 8/12 Brick Wall 6/10 24/40 Stone Wall 12/18 40/80 Wood Statue 2/4 3/16 Stone Statue 4/8 4/28 Iron Statue 6/12 6/50
In open terrain, a human-sized character can be attacked in close combat by only five human-sized opponents. Even if a larger group coordinates (see p. 144), they simply don’t have the room to cluster any tighter. In cramped quarters such as a hallway, stairwell or doorway, the maximum number of opponents that may engage a character in close combat drops to three (or even less at Storyteller discretion). This number increases proportionally for smaller attackers, so characters run a real risk of being torn apart by a mob of frenzied hatra or a school of razor fish. Conversely, large opponents such as buck ogres or tyrant lizards can flank only one to each side at most, even in the most open terrain. Anyone who is pressed inside a maximum permitted cluster of combatants has no room to maneuver and cannot choose to move or dash away using an action. Furthermore, such a character also suffers a -2 Dodge DV penalty unless she uses a stunt or magic to somehow evade without giving ground. Worst of all, if she cannot maneuver (either from being ganged up on by a maximum cluster of op- ponents or because of the terrain), one of her opponents gains the benefits of an unexpected attack. The player of the character trapped in a group chooses which opponent she exposes her back to. No restrictions limit the number of opponents that may attack a character with ranged attacks, making a concentrated archer volley the best means of ganging up on a single adversary.
Characters might not always perceive every attack made against them, whether as a result of ambush or a treacherous knife in the back. Unless a character has a magical means of detecting unexpected attacks (such as Surprise Anticipation Method, on p. 226) or a magical defense that guards against unperceived attacks (as most defensive Charms do), the attack is unblockable and un- dodgeable. That is, the character has a Dodge and Parry DV of 0 automatically, but matters such as cover can improve the value.
In the case of ambush or an opening attack by an invisible opponent, roll the attacker’s (Dexterity + Stealth) against the victim’s (Wits + Awareness). If the victim is distracted by con- versation or focused on some other activity rather than casually looking around (or if the attacker is completely outside the field of her senses, as by being directly behind), the victim suffers a -2 internal penalty to this roll. Conversely, add one die if she is actively wary and suspects danger.
Setting up an ambush from plain view is also possible (such as in the case of an assassin who wishes to throw a knife at someone during a peaceful banquet without telegraphing her aggressive intentions in advance), but doing so adds two to the difficulty of the Stealth roll and requires that the scene is not currently in combat. Make this roll immediately before rolling (Wits + Awareness) as part of a Join Battle action, as noted on page 141. If the defender wins, she notices the attack in time to respond to it normally with a block or dodge. Her DV still drops normally if faced with an invisible opponent, but she can defend, which beats the alternative. If the attacker wins, the defender suffers from an unexpected attack and must rely on passive defenses or magical defenses that work against surprise.
Players of Exalted characters should keep in mind that Melee Charms require that an Exalt be armed with a ready weapon to use them. As such, characters whose magical defenses focus on evasion will have an advantage against ambush unless the parry expert expects trouble enough to unsheathe her blade.
Reestablishing Surprise: Unexpected attacks normally open hostilities but are not often a factor once fighting is underway. Once a traitor stabs his master in the back or an assassin shoots a blowdart from his concealed perch, everyone present reacts by initiating a Join Battle action. Regaining the considerable advantage of surprise is not easy. The character must try to hide while alert opponents do everything in their power to track his movements. Even invisibility does not guarantee a new surprise attack, although it certainly helps.
Whenever a character wishes to hide, doing so is a miscel- laneous action that may be part of a flurry as normal. Roll the attacker’s (Dexterity + Stealth), and make independent reflexive opposed rolls of (Wits + Awareness + 2) for all witnesses. If the hiding character is invisible or similarly obscured from senses, add two bonus successes to the Stealth roll. Using a distraction, movement, or some aspect of the environment to aid in hiding is a stunt, adding bonus dice as normal. If the environment affords no hiding spots and the character cannot hide or cloak himself magically, he cannot attempt concealment. Any witness who loses the contested roll loses track of the character entirely and cannot continue to attack or interact with him until he reveals himself—or until someone else who still sees him points or calls out the general location or direction. The hidden attacker may launch new surprise attacks against anyone who doesn’t know his present location, granting the full benefits of surprise.
Once the character launches a new surprise attack, he gives away his location to everyone until he can hide again. Until then, any character can take a miscellaneous action to try to find the character (potentially as part of a flurry), rolling a (Perception + Awareness) check against a difficulty of the successes on the roll to hide. Those who find him can immediately shout out to others (subtract two successes from the Stealth roll for alerted searchers) or keep the knowledge to themselves.
Providing superior height, speed and the ability to trample infantry opponents, battle-worthy steeds offer considerable ad- vantage to their masters. However, mounted characters must split their attention to keep the animals under control. While mounted, characters recalculate all attack pools and Defense Values such that they use the lower of the Ability in question or their Ride rating. For example, characters with Ride 3 and Melee 4 have an effective Melee of only 3 while mounted. Conversely, a master horseman with Melee 3 and Ride 5 uses her full Melee.
In addition, every mount has a control rating, as indicated:
Control Rating Examples 0 Automata, Artifact Vehicles, Undead 1 Simhata (ridden by Exalted), Marukani Finest 2 Trained Warhorse 3 Horse, Mule, Yeddim, other conventional mounts 4 Wild/Unbroken Horse 5 Simhata(riddenbyun-Exalted),Domes- ticated Claw Strider, other predators 6+ Tyrant Lizard, other super-predato
If a character’s Ride matches or exceeds the control rating of a mount, it obeys her without any particular effort on her part. Otherwise, she cannot reliably command it. Instead, she must either devote full attention to riding her mount (represented by a Ride roll as a miscellaneous action) or flurry to take other actions following this roll. The difficulty is the control rating of the mount. If the Ride roll fails, the mount acts as it pleases, preventing any additional actions the character may have planned for a flurry. Herbivores generally panic and try to leave combat, but they do not try to buck their riders unless the control roll botches. Carnivores generally pick prey of their own choosing and lunge toward it or buck and attack their riders on a botch. Passengers on a mount do not need to make control rolls, but they suffer the usual cap of their Ride rating to use combat Abilities.
Mounts big enough to carry a howdah use slightly different rules. The driver must control the beast as normal, but other pas- sengers may use combat Abilities without suffering a Ride cap. Instead, those with dots in Ride act without penalty, while those who lack Ride suffer a -1 external penalty. In the event that the mount panics, passengers can jump and roll to freedom with a successful reflexive (Dexterity + Dodge) roll or stay on the howdah despite the bucking with a successful reflexive (Wits + Ride) roll. Both rolls are made at a difficulty of the beast’s control rating.
As noted previously, mounted opponents add one to their DV against close combat attacks, while those in a howdah add two (and may only be attacked using close combat weapons with the reach tag, such as spears). Characters attacking from a howdah may use only those close-combat weapons that have reach to attack opponents on the ground. These bonuses also apply to the mount itself. Opponents on the ground subtract these values from their own DV versus close combat attacks from cavalry.
Characters might find themselves in situations where they must struggle just to stand upright, let alone fight. Such situations are handled using the same general rules as for controlling a mount, except that characters use Athletics in place of Ride and the situation’s instability rating replaces a mount’s control rating. This means characters must have a sufficient Athletics rating to keep their balance, or else, they must combine an Athletics check into a flurry to do anything else. Failing the (Dexterity + Athletics) roll means the character struggles to avoid falling and cannot take any other actions she might have planned as part of a flurry. A botch (or a failure if the difficulty is twice the number of successes rolled) means the character falls prone (at best), although truly precarious situations (such as fighting on a narrow bridge over a chasm) may result in worse falls. Characters struck by an attack require a new Athletics check at the usual difficulty, but this roll is reflexive, so it uses the character’s full dice pool. Guiding a mount over unstable terrain changes its control rating to the instability rating of the setting or (control rating + 1), whichever is greater, but the controlling Ability remains Ride rather than Athletics.
The instability rating of terrain depends on a range of cumulative factors: slickness (+1 for frost or puddles; up to +3 for oil-coated floors or smooth ice), narrowness (+1 for a parapet or bridge to +4 for a tightrope), wind/buffeting force (+1 for a gale through +3 for a hurricane), moving ground (+1 for a pitching deck of a ship in rough seas; up to +3 for a major earthquake) and any other pertinent modifiers the Storyteller assigns. For example, a fight on a thin, swaying, iced rope bridge in the middle of an arctic squall would be difficulty 7, throwing all but the most nimble combatants to their doom.
Characters cannot be forced to spend Willpower more than once within a scene to resist natural mental influence originating with the same character. After a character has spent Willpower to resist natural mental influence from any character during the course of a scene, all other individuals’ attempts to levy natural mental influence against the character suffer an external penalty equal to the character’s Integrity.
Unnatural Mental Influence
Unnatural mental influence does not clearly announce itself as magical mind control unless it comes from an Obvious source and fails to affect the targeted character—characters targeted even by Obvious unnatural mental influence only realize this fact once they have successfully resisted it (although unaffected bystanders who witness an Obvious Charm’s use can tell the target is being subjected to mental coercion of some sort).
Defender defends normally. If grapple succeeds, the defender is considered "inactive". The attacker may:
- Break hold. May throw defender, yards equals strength.
- Crush. Inflict bashing damage equal to strength plus extra successes.
- Hold. Maintain grapple without damage.
Attacker must roll to maintain grapple every turn.
Seizing an opponent in a clinch or pinning him down requires a grapple attack using ([Strength or Dexterity] + Martial Arts). The maneuver has Speed 6, Accuracy +0 and Rate 1. This attack can be dodged or parried normally, and it inflicts no damage if it hits. Clinching can be part of a flurry, and with a stunt or magic, it is possible to try holding two or more opponents at once by repeatedly flurrying with every new clinch roll (see p. 370). If the attack does not hit, the attacker’s ineffectual pawing accomplishes nothing. If the attacker hits, he seizes the opponent in a clinch and controls it. The victim’s action shifts immediately to inactive. The aggressor may do any of the following tasks with that control:
Break Hold: This can involve throwing the opponent a number of yards back equal to the aggressor’s Strength (possibly resulting in a knockback dramatic effect as appropriate and defi- nitely prompting an immediate knockdown check to avoid going prone). Alternatively, the aggressor can hurl the opponent to the ground, leaving him automatically prone. Finally, the aggressor can simply release the opponent without further violence.
Crush: The aggressor inflicts bashing damage equal to Strength plus the remaining successes on the clinch roll. This is a piercing attack.
Hold: The aggressor pins the opponent motionless without inflicting injury.
For as long as a character maintains a clinch, he can do nothing else without a flurry, and he must use every subsequent action to renew the clinch. Without a stunt or magic, he cannot block or dodge. The held opponent cannot block or dodge either, as per the inactive action, but she may use reflexive Charms or actions, as well as other Charms designed to function while held in a clinch. When renewing a clinch, reroll the ([Strength or Dexterity] + Martial Arts) of the aggressor, reflexively resisted by the victim’s same pool. The winner controls the clinch and may perform any of the clinch tasks listed, adding net successes to damage if electing to crush. If a character held in a clinch turns the tables on his opponent, then his action immediately switches to attacking and the former aggressor switches to inac- tive, resetting the appropriate speed of each from that tick.
When multiple opponents “dogpile” onto a single victim, handle this action as limited teamwork (see p. 125) with each helper adding a bonus die to the lead aggressor’s clinch roll. Because a clinched victim is helpless to resist, anyone wishing to join in the clinch needs only a single success on the initial attack roll. If successful, she adds her bonus die to the lead character’s next clinch roll for as long as she holds on. She does not make a clinch roll, but simply attacks without a roll to contribute the bonus or lets go at any time. Should a victim break free, he breaks free of everyone holding him except the leader, whom he can damage, throw or hold normally.
Whenever a character directs an attack more precisely than normal, the attack uses the following rules. Each varia- tion of these techniques imposes an external penalty as noted in parenthesis and must be declared along with an attack. As external penalties, these are applied during step 5 of the order of attack events (see p. 145).
Pulling Blows (-1): By striking with the flat of the blade or applying less force than usual, a close combat attack that normally inflicts lethal or aggravated damage can be made to inflict bashing damage instead. With the aid of a stunt or magic, thrown weapons can also be pulled (like hurling a dagger so the pommel strikes). Arrows cannot be pulled, though most bows can fire blunt-tipped fowling arrows that inflict bashing damage. Directing a coup de grace to inflict maiming is also a form of pulling a blow (see p. 152).
Showing Off (-1 to -4): Characters may attack small tar- gets for dramatic purposes, like cleaving a rope with an arrow or cutting fruit in half with a sword as it falls. In a similar vein, characters may decide to graze opponents in a way that marks them without inflicting sufficient injury to qualify for levels of damage. If a marking attack successfully hits and could inflict minimum damage or better (i.e., penetrates Hardness and similar defenses), the attack leaves the desired mark. Marking someone’s clothing does not even require that the attack overcome Hard- ness. The Storyteller should assign the penalty for showing off based on the complexity of the task.
Disarming (-2 or -4): Knocking a weapon out of someone’s hand has a -2 external penalty with a close combat attack or -4 using ranged. If the attack hits, it inflicts no damage, but the victim’s player must reflexively roll (Wits + the appropriate wielding Ability) against a difficulty of the net successes on the attack roll. For every success by which the victim fails to meet the difficulty, her weapon flies one foot away from her grasp. Retrieving a dropped weapon is a difficulty 1 (Dexterity + wielding Ability) roll and is only possible if a character can feasibly do so. Duels fought over looming chasms or aboard a ship might not afford such a luxury. Note that characters cannot be disarmed of their natural weapons (fists, feet, claws, fangs, etc.), nor can they have weapons taken from them that are actually strapped to the body such as a cestus or tiger claws. If players regularly take advantage of disarming as a prelude to executing a helpless victim (instead of using the maneuver for dramatic purposes), the Storyteller should feel free to raise the penalty imposed by the technique. With a flurry, it is possible for an attacker to disarm and then use a retrieval action to take the weapon for himself, provided he has hands free to take it. Doing so almost always involves a stunt.
Fierce Blows (-1): A character may strike in fury, sacrificing accuracy for a slight increase in damage (+2L/A or +3B, depending on the type of damage the attack inflicts).