Time and Combat
Time Scale: the Turn
Previously we discussed movement, and referred repeatedly to how fast one can move in a turn. But just what is a turn, you ask? In the Universal Heroes system, a turn is six seconds - usually enough for every character to attempt at least one action each. In non-combat play, this need not be too precise; a character simply states what he or she wants to do and with the Judge's blessing, makes any applicable rolls.
On the other hand, particularly during a fight sequence, it may be absolutely vital for the Judge to know what happens when. When this is the case, it is imperative that players follow the combat sequence for a turn, which allows each player to act in an orderly fashion - unless one character's actions obviate the need for another's. Turns proceed in the following fashion, and are defined in much greater detail below:
- Declare Actions
- Roll Extra Action FEATs (if necessary)
- Determine Initiative
- Resolve Actions in Order
- If Multiple Rounds Needed, Resolve Extra Actions
- Wrap Up
Step 1: Declare Actions
To start with, all players must determine what their character will be doing in a given turn. This applies to both player characters and non-player characters. In the interest of fairness, the Judge should determine what the non-player characters are going to do before the players make their declaration. This helps to keep non-player characters from seeming omniscient - especially when they shouldn't be.
This does not mean the Judge need declare NPC actions first, or at all, at least until they are made - just that NPC actions should be determined before other players declare theirs. This may lead to the players occasionally ruining the Judge's carefully laid plans, but then that's what player characters are for. That and it always gives players a warm, fuzzy feeling to get a surprise victory out of left field now and then.
Step 2: Extra Action FEATs (if necessary)
If a player intends to attempt more than one action in a given turn, he or she must roll a FEAT in order to determine if they may in fact do so. This FEAT can be resolved on table 22, which shows how many combat actions per turn a character may try. Where offensive actions are concerned, the FEAT is made with one's Ftg (off) score, and shows how many active tasks the character may attempt in a turn.
|Remarkable||Two Attacks / Aversions|
|Amazing||Three Attacks / Aversions|
|Unearthly||Four Attacks / Aversions|
|Shift Y||Five Attacks / Aversions|
|Class 1k||Six Attacks / Aversions|
|Class 3k||Seven Attacks / Aversions|
|Class 5k||Eight Attacks / Aversions|
Making the number of offensive actions indicated on table 22 is a Fighting FEAT that is equal to the indicated intensity; for example, squeezing three actions into a six second period is an Amazing intensity Ftg (off) FEAT. If one has an Incredible Ftg (off) rank, making so many moves would require a red Ftg (off) FEAT, while a character with Monstrous Ftg (off) would only need to make a green Ftg (off) FEAT to pull this off.
If this FEAT roll fails, the character can only attempt one action in this turn, and does so at a -3 CS. If they are successful however, characters may attempt more than one action. These can either be resolved as separate actions (if dissimilar) at a -1 CS each, or if the player chooses, they may occur as a 'flurry' of action, adding a +1 CS to the damage inflicted for each doubling of attacks, instead of making separate assaults.
Where defensive actions are concerned, table 22 indicates how many defensive actions a character may attempt without penalty (no roll required). For instance, a heroine with Incredible (40) Ftg (def) may attempt to avert two separate attacks with ease. Attempting subsequent aversive actions is still possible, but occurs at a cumulative -2 CS for each maneuver the character tries.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if using their full movement in a given turn, characters can only attempt one action during that time, no matter how many they would like to. As such, in order to perform multiple attacks under such circumstances, they must wield them all in a singular burst. Regardless, actions attempted while moving one's fullest in a turn are made at a -1 CS (unless attempting a charging attack).
Step 3: Determine Initiative
Initiative is the order in which characters act. Unlike just about everything else in the Universal Heroes rules, initiative can be determined with just one d10, not percentile dice. What you do is roll said d10, and add it to the modifier indicated by your Intuition rank on table 23. Characters with a higher initiative go first, counting down until everyone has performed their first action.
While this is reasonably accurate, and helps to break things up on a turn to turn basis by showing the fortunes and misfortunes of combat, perhaps the standard initiative system is simply too cumbersome for some games. This may occur with a very large number of participants in a given battle, or maybe a particular game group simply prefers not to spend so much time rolling the dice (or die, as it happens).
As such, here are a few optional initiative rules:
- Instead of rolling for initiative each turn, the players can instead just roll once - at the beginning of play. They merely recall their initiatives (or scribble them down) and whenever action gets complicated enough to require initiative, they simply refer to their earlier roll. NPCs need only determine initiative when they first appear.
- Instead of rolling initiative at all, simply make use of the initiative modifiers the characters' Intuition scores give them. Whoever has the highest bonus gets to go first, and the rest may act in descending order. This way a roll is only actually needed in the event of a tie (or just flip a coin). This works for NPCs as well; keep their modifiers in mind as they appear, but otherwise act normally.
- Ignore initiative entirely. Players may simply act in a set order - perhaps clockwise around a gaming table. While this often doesn't reflect the 'reality' of combat or the relative speed of characters, it's definitely consistent and easy to remember. NPCs can then go either before or after the players do, according to the Judge's whims (speedsters and ambushers go first, while the rest go after, or whatever).
Players can mix this up to their advantage on occasion, as well. Perhaps they decide to coordinate their actions as a true team, instead of handling each brawl on their own. If using 'team' tactics, players should just have one character roll their initiative, and they all go relative to the NPCs whenever the die indicates. When using teamwork, it's sometimes amazing what a group of players can actually accomplish.
Step 4: Resolve Actions in Order
As the Judge counts down initiative values from the highest to the lowest, each character may act in turn. In complex encounters, PCs and NPCs will act in varying order, which can make some matters tricky. In fact, as some characters act, the actions of others will be rendered moot or impossible (knocking out one character means, quite naturally, that the unconscious person cannot perform his or her desired action).
If, after seeing the actions of others playing out (or even if they change their mind upon hearing the declarations of other players), a character has the option of changing their stated action. This requires a yellow Agy (bal) FEAT roll, and if successful, the newly declared action can proceed as normal, though at a -1 CS (which accounts for the lack of preparation, etc.)
If this yellow Agy (bal) FEAT roll fails however, the character in question may not act at all in a given turn. This represents them dropping the ball (either figuratively or literally), and often leaves them in a particularly disadvantageous position upon the start of the next turn. What form this 'disadvantage' may take depends on what task(s) they failed to accomplish, but may or may not represent a negative Column Shift.
Step 5: If Multiple Rounds Needed, Resolve Extra Actions
Step five is only required if one or more characters pass an extra actions FEAT at the beginning of the turn. For instance, say three characters out of six attempt an extra actions FEAT roll. Two of those characters manage to acquire two actions that turn, while the other secures a total of three. Everyone then acts normally, performing their actions as declared earlier.
Once everyone has acted once, a second round begins, and the three characters with extra actions go again. With this done, the one character with three actions makes their final move, and then...
Step 6: Wrap Up
Once every character (player or non-player) has expended all of their actions, it is time to end the current turn. The Judge will use this time to take stock of the action at hand, and determine if another turn of activity is necessary or if the action is done for the moment. He or she will also use this opportunity to introduce any events or changes in the situation as it currently exists.
This is when bombs go off, floors suddenly collapse, fires ignite... that sort of thing. Assuming the Judge has any 'events' in mind, or if circumstances cause them to occur, they will fall into the flow of action here (if they weren't already triggered by characters during steps 4 or 5). This is also a good time to calculate things like recovered health (for people who regenerate) or to count ammunition (if applicable).
As you can see from the above, the structure of a turn is very precise in order to best allow combat between characters to function as seamlessly as is possible. So keeping that in mind, let us speak about the essentials of combat in the Universal Heroes game. Standard combat maneuvers all make use of the first four primary abilities, each of which has its own offensive capabilities.
Various forms of hand to hand fighting, slugfest combat is resolved with one's Fighting (off) score. In order to engage in hand to hand, or melee combat, two characters must be generally adjacent - in other words, very, very close. Sometimes certain techniques will allow a character to engage non-adjacent characters in melee (the elongation power, ridiculously long melee weapons), but normally this isn't an issue.
Blunt Attacks (BA) are attacks with one's bare hands, boxing gloves or gauntlets, or any number of (you guessed it) blunt instruments. Whether punching or swinging a bat, blunt attacks are all resolved on the aptly named blunt attacks portion of the effects table, which you can find on the Universal Table. Blunt attacks have one of four results, depending on the color rolled.
A white result indicates a miss, which means you did not connect with your punch, kick or whatever. A green roll means you hit, and can then determine how much damage you inflicted. A yellow result is as per a green hit, adding the potential of a Slam - physically knocking the foe about. A red roll also behaves per a green hit, with the added possibility of inflicting a Stun result on one's foe.
This assumes the target of such attacks is not attempting to avoid them. Melee combatants may attempt to either evade or weave against blunt attacks, which will either prevent them from connecting or apply negative Column Shifts to hit. Alternately, they may try to block the damage, taking the hit and using their Strength against its incoming harm (on top of any other protection they may have access to).
The advantage of blunt attacks is that their wielder need not use maximum force when applying them. By declaring that he or she is pulling their punch, a character has the option of either reducing the damage inflicted or the color result after the dice have settled, allowing them to avoid inflicting lethal damage or potentially harmful effects - particularly useful if one is possessed of super-human brawn.
Edged Attacks (EA) involve assaults made with sharp, pointy objects. Whether using a sword, a dagger, or even some sort of inherent weaponry, edged attacks are all resolved on the (that's right) edged attacks segment of the effects section on the Universal Table. As is the case with blunt attacks, edged attacks have one of four possible results, depending on what color is indicated by the die roll.
White results mean your sharp, pointy implement missed its target. A green die roll means that you have struck your foe, and may now determine damage based on the effective rank provided by either your Strength or super-human physical weaponry. A yellow result acts per a green roll, adding the potential of a Stun result on top of the damage. A red roll indicates, in addition to doing damage, a Kill result may have been achieved.
This assumes the target of such attacks is not attempting to avoid them. Melee combatants may attempt to either evade or weave against edged attacks, which will either prevent them from connecting or apply negative Column Shifts to hit. Alternately, the target may try to block the damage, taking the hit and using his or her Strength against its incoming pain (hopefully along with other protection they may have), to avoid being cut.
Edged attacks, particularly when compared to blunt attacks, tend to do a little less damage. On the other hand, they're a whole lot more lethal - swords usually mean business, after all. Unlike a blunt attack, the user of an edged attack does not have the option of pulling their punches; they get to live with whatever result they rolled, possibly killing their foe in the process. Which may of course be the idea!
|Rank||Range in Areas||Rank||Range in Areas|
|Feeble (2)||One area||Monstrous (75)||Seven areas|
|Poor (4)||One area||Unearthly (100)||Eight areas|
|Typical (6)||One area||Shift X (150)||Ten areas|
|Good (10)||Two areas||Shift Y (200)||Fifteen areas|
|Excellent (20)||Three areas||Shift Z (500)||Twenty areas|
|Remarkable (30)||Four areas||Class 1000||Forty areas|
|Incredible (40)||Five areas||Class 3000||Eighty areas|
|Amazing (50)||Six areas||Class 5000||Line of Sight|
Ranged attacks are assaults which work over a long distance - possibly extremely long. They include projectile weapons ranging from rocks to rockets, as well as energy weapons both artificial and inherent. While ranged attacks place their wielder in less immediate danger from their foe (who needs ranged attacks to strike back without closing), they also involve a lot more details - usually to the detriment of a ranged attacker.
Based on the Agility (dex) of their wielder, ranged attacks suffer penalties for extreme range; for each area away from one's target beyond a ranged attack's listed range, it suffers a -1 CS modifier to hit. Furthermore, any objects in the path of one's ranged attack inflict a -2 CS to-hit penalty - each. Even something as seemingly simple as a window can act to deflect the trajectory of a ranged attack, no matter what form it takes.
In that same vein, if a ranged attack strikes something on the way to its intended target, the material strength of whatever it attempts to pass through is directly subtracted from its damage sum before it even hits its target. For instance, a door of Good (10) m.s. is struck with a hail of bullets. This Excellent (20) intensity attack is reduced by 10 points, and then inflicts what's left on those on the other side (if it hits).
The last thing to keep in mind about ranged attacks is simple physics. While you're (usually) not in danger of striking others if you miss a slugfest attack, a ranged attack just might hit someone else if one launches it at a heavily occupied area. If a ranged attack misses, and if anyone is adjacent to its target, make a roll for each additional person that may be struck by it instead.
Blunt Throwing Attacks (BT) are similar to ordinary blunt attacks, but they introduce distance into the equation. This basically involves throwing something at an opponent, whether it's a rock, shoe, cue ball, or even a bus. Blunt throwing attacks are not directly lethal, and are resolved on the blunt throwing portion of the Universal Table's effects row, based (of course) on one's Agy (dex).
A white roll naturally means the thrown object missed its target. A green result indicates that the flinging fighter has indeed struck their foe, and may determine damage normally. A yellow roll is the same as a green, but is known as a bullseye, and may be required for trick shots (hitting a specific part of a target, for instance). Red results indicate that in addition to inflicting damage, the flinger may have Stunned their foe as well.
Blunt throwing attacks may be avoided just like blunt attacks, though different maneuvers are needed for this. The target of blunt throwing attacks may dodge or feint against them, or alternately may attempt to block, taking the hit and hoping to 'muscle' the damage away. Finally, the wielder of a blunt throwing attack may pull his or her punches, just like they could if inflicting blunt attack damage in melee.
Edged Throwing Attacks (ET) are similar to standard edged attacks, except for the obvious factor of range. An edged throwing attack involves flinging some sort of sharp, deadly object at another person, whether it's designed to be used in that way or not. Shuriken, daggers, some axes, and even spears fit this bill, though an improvised edged weapon can often be thrown as well - albeit at a considerable negative penalty to hit.
As you can imagine, a white edged throwing attack misses its target completely. A green result means the thrown weapon hits its target, and its wielder may determine damage normally. Yellow rolls indicate a hit, per the green to-hit FEAT above, plus the added possibility of a Stun. A red FEAT on an edged throwing attack indicates a hit, in addition to potentially inflicting a Kill result on its hapless target.
Edged throwing attacks may be avoided just like edged attacks, though different maneuvers are needed for this (as is the case with blunt throwing attacks). The targets of an edged throwing attack may dodge or feint against it, or alternately may attempt to block, taking the hit and hoping to 'shrug off' the damage to be inflicted. Keep in mind that you may not pull your punches on an edged throwing attack.
Energy Attacks (En) are specialized assaults making use of non-physical projectiles. They involve striking something with lightning, cutting it with a laser, or even killing it with fire. Energy attacks are very powerful and versatile, and often quite lethal, as the human body is not designed to absorb energies at this level. Energy attacks are resolved on the (yep) energy attacks effect portion of the Universal Table.
A white roll details a missed energy attack, which may be very bad for the surroundings. A green FEAT means the energy attack has struck its intended target, and damage is inflicted. A yellow roll is the same as a green, and indicates a bullseye was struck (if precision attacks are attempted). A red energy attack inflicts damage per a green result, but may also inflict a Killing blow on top of the mere Health loss.
The target of an energy attack may attempt to avoid it as he or she can most other ranged assaults, by performing either a dodge or feint maneuver. On the other hand, the target of an energy attack can instead take the hit, while trying to brace themselves against the damage inflicted. The wielder of an energy attack may partially pull their punches, lowering the intensity of damage inflicted, but not the color result rolled.
Force Attacks (Fo) are an odd combination of blunt and energy attacks, and involve striking a foe with a physical manifestation of energy in some form or another. This can include 'force' blasts of pneumatic power, bolts of kinetic energy, or even bursts of anti-gravitic repulsions. Force attacks are resolved using the force attacks portion of the Universal Table's effects row. See a pattern yet?
A white force attack indicates the blast missed its intended target (but can always strike someone else). A green roll means the force attack struck, and may inflict damage normally. Yellow results behave per green rolls, but are also bullseyes, meaning a precise blow has been struck (if attempted). A red force attack indicates damage per a green roll, plus the potential for a Stun condition to be inflicted as well.
A force attack can be avoided in a number of ways, as befits its strange, hybrid nature. Its target may attempt either a dodge or a feint maneuver, either preventing it from connecting entirely or providing a negative Column Shift to be hit. Also, a force attack may be blocked, just like a blunt attack. A user of force attacks can partially pull his or her punches, inflicting less damage but retaining whatever color result was rolled.
Shooting Attacks (Sh), last but not least, are the single most common form of ranged attack. They come into play when someone grabs a handgun or bow (or a hybrid, the crossbow) and fires it at whoever has irked their ire. Some larger weapons also inflict Shooting damage as well, primarily being huge-caliber military weaponry. Shooting attacks are resolved on the similarly named portion of the Universal Table's effects row.
A miss with a shooting attack means the shooter has struck something by or behind their target. A green roll indicates that he or she has hit, and may determine damage per the usual. A yellow FEAT performs like a green, with the added bonus of a bullseye effect (if desired or required). A red roll indicates damage was inflicted, and the shooter may have also inflicted a Kill result with their projectile as well.
As is the case with energy and force attacks, the target of a shooting attack may attempt several maneuvers to avoid harm. These include both the dodge and the feint, which involve not being where the bullets (or arrows or whatever) are going. However, no one can block or brace against shooting attacks, for they are simply too piercing to work against with brute strength or fortitude.
Wrestling combat is a Strength-based affair. It almost exclusively requires that one be adjacent to another when engaging in wrestling attacks, unless powers such as elongation are in play. A wrestling maneuver involves using one's Strength directly against another, not necessarily with brute force so much as with leverage, grappling, and pinning maneuvers, literally overpowering another with technique and muscle.
Grabbing Attacks (Gb) involve taking something from someone else by force. In order to grab an item, one must overcome the Strength of whatever is holding it in place - without breaking it in the process. Thus, a grabbing attack is fraught with peril, for one must apply the proper amount of Strength to the task without going overboard - or ham-fisting the attempt and knocking an item away from oneself.
A white grabbing attack is a miss - the grabber failed to grab that which he or she wanted to grab. A green grabbing FEAT means one may have grabbed the target, if their Strength is greater than that of their opponent (or the m.s. of the item, if not held); if not, a green result indicates a struggle. A yellow FEAT indicates the grabbing attack took the item away, and a red result means this has occurred, and the item may be broken!
Grabbing attacks may be avoided with an evasion or a weave maneuver.
Grappling Attacks (Gp) are those in which an attacker attempts to limit the motions of another with his or her very body. A series of maneuvers on the part of the grappler allows them to shift their Strength such that it will partially or fully pin their foe, and may inflict damage in the process. A white or green grappling result means that the maneuver has failed utterly, and that one's opponent has avoided being grappled entirely.
A yellow grappling attack indicates a partial hold has been scored, and that the attacker has limited their opponent's movements somewhat. A red grappling FEAT means a grappler has achieved a full hold, and has prevented their foe from moving at all. He or she may also inflict damage upon the held individual if their Strength is greater than their opponent's. One may perform one action in addition to maintaining a hold each turn.
One can avoid a grappling attack in the first place with an evasion or a weave maneuver. Once a partial or full hold is applied however, only an escape maneuver can be used to dislodge a grapple - unless the grappler lets go... or is made to let go, somehow. While somewhat less effective than normal melee attacks, grappling maneuvers are great for incapacitating a foe without beating them senseless.
Charging Attacks (Ch) are those which combine movement and combat, a high speed body check which terminates at the target - usually violently. A charging individual may make his or her full movement and still execute a charging maneuver - in fact, this is usually required, as one must move at least one full area in order to inflict a charging attack upon a target (whether it is a living foe or an inanimate object).
A character may add a +1 CS to hit for each area moved through before attempting a charge, to a maximum of +3 CS (with a practical limit of Shift Z (500)). A charging character rolls on his or her Endurance to see whether or not they can hit, cross-referencing the die roll against the charging portion of the Universal Table's effects row. There are four potential results of a charging attack.
A white result indicates that the charging character missed his or her target entirely - and it's quite possible they'll careen into something else if their target was in a crowded area. A green FEAT means they struck their foe, inflicting full damage (see below). A yellow FEAT indicates the target was hit, and may suffer a Slam result as well. A red charging FEAT shows a Stun result has been scored in addition to mere damage.
Damage for a charging maneuver is based on the Endurance or body armor of the attacker, whichever is higher.
This damage is supplemented by the amount of areas traveled though before the charge connected; add two points for every area a charging individual traveled through, with a maximum of the character's Endurance or body armor score (whichever is higher). A character with Unearthly (100) Endurance, then, could benefit from up to 50 areas worth of bonus charging damage!
The thing is, this damage is subject to the target's body armor. If a character charges into another with body armor, an amount of damage equal to said armor score will rebound back onto the charging individual. If he or she also possesses like armor, this damage will be radiated out into the environment, usually harmlessly (though windows in the immediate vicinity may be damaged if such a hit is powerful enough).
Charging inanimate objects works the same, treating the object's material strength (whether a wall or a tank) as if it were body armor. If the charging character inflicts damage, they may break the object - or barrel right through. If not, they may instead hurt themselves in the attack. Falling damage is also handled in this fashion, treating the 'fall' as a charge against the ground - or whatever else is under a falling character!
The character attempting a charging attack may 'pull their punch' as far as the result rolled, but the damage is pretty much set depending on both his or her Endurance (or body armor) rank and the amount of distance traveled.
Every basic attack form described above may be avoided in at least one fashion, often in multiple ways. A defensive maneuver is one made specifically to avoid the attack of another, an aversive technique to prevent incoming damage from connecting with or otherwise affecting its executor. All characters may attempt at least one defensive maneuver per turn without penalty, more with higher Ftg (def) prowess.
Block maneuvers involve using one's Strength (mgt) to counter incoming damage. No effort is made to avoid being struck by an attack; instead, one leans into it and attempts to 'muscle' away the damage with brute force. A blocking character may use the result of this maneuver or any other protection to absorb the force of an attack, but not both - that is, unless the values are close enough to stack, per a normal buddy CS.
When blocking, a white FEAT provides one's Strength -6 CS in protection against incoming damage. A green FEAT will provide one's Strength -4 CS, a yellow FEAT one's Strength -2 CS, and a red FEAT one's Strength +1 CS. This is why the block is the preferred defense mechanism of many super strong heroes and villains - it doesn't take great dexterity to avoid incoming harm, just a whole lot of muscle.
A block may be used against most physical damage forms. It can be wielded against Blunt Attack, Blunt Throwing, Edged Attack, Edged Throwing, and Force attacks - but not Shooting attacks.
Brace aversions are similar to blocks, but involve using one's Endurance (res) to withstand incoming damage instead of Strength. Working in the same basic fashion, a brace doesn't involve moving, so much as trying to 'soak' up damage. A bracing character may use the result of this maneuver or any other protection to absorb the energy of an attack, but not both - that is, unless they are close enough in rank to stack, like a normal buddy CS.
When bracing, a white FEAT provides one's Endurance -6 CS in protection against incoming damage. A green FEAT will provide one's Endurance -4 CS, a yellow FEAT one's Endurance -2 CS, and a red FEAT one's Endurance +1 CS. This is why the brace is the preferred defense mechanism of many super tough heroes and villains - it doesn't take great Agility to avoid incoming pain, just a whole lot of fortitude.
Brace maneuvers are primarily useful against Energy attacks, but can apply to other forms of directed, special energy forms (some Deionic, Karmic and Sorcerous powers fall into this category).
Catching actions are those intended to, well, catch an object. This can be something that is falling, something that was thrown at the character or someone else, or even a projectile weapon (if the character is fast enough). Agility (bal) is used when determining the success or failure of a catching maneuver, and one may only catch one item at a time - though multiple actions may allow several catches in a given turn.
A white catching FEAT indicates an auto-hit - the character not only didn't catch the item in question, but it struck them! A green catching action indicates the would-be catcher missed, and if the item to be caught was aimed at them, it gains a +1 CS to hit. A yellow catching FEAT indicates the item was caught, but might be damaged in the process (roll a Strength FEAT against its m.s.). A red FEAT indicates a successful catch.
As with evasions and feints, a catch maneuver prevents one from attacking in a given turn. Catching something specifically aimed at oneself applies a -3 CS penalty.
Dodge maneuvers are the basic way to avoid a ranged attack, whether one is flinging a rock or fireball at you. This basically involves getting out of Dodge, so to speak, and being somewhere else when a ranged attack comes calling. A dodge maneuver does not overtly negate the ability of an attacker to score a hit on its executor, but may do so based on the dodge result rolled. Dodges use a character's Agility (bal).
A white dodge result means that no penalty was applied to the attacker - one's movements made no practical difference. A green dodge FEAT reduces one's ability to hit the dodger by -2 CS, a yellow by -4 CS, and a red by -6 CS. Against many 'normal' opponents, these Column Shifts may be enough to drop one's 'to hit' score below Shift 0, thus making the scoring of a hit in that instance impossible.
Dodges may be attempted against Blunt Throwing, Edged Throwing, Energy, Force, and Shooting attacks. They can also apply to most other ranged attack forms that have a 'to hit' roll (some Deionic, Karmic and Sorcerous powers fall into this category).
Escape attempts are those which are designed to extricate oneself from a partial or full hold inflicted as a result of a successful grappling attack. While an evasion or a feint will stop a grappling attack from sticking, an escape maneuver is the only way to get out of such once it has been applied. Escape maneuvers can also be used on equivalent attacks such as a telekinetic power's use (save for the application of a reversal).
A white or a green escape result indicates failure - in other words, the character's struggles are for naught. A yellow escape roll demonstrates success, and the formerly held individual is now free of the partial or full hold he or she was in before; they may not act this turn, but may on the next. A red escape result indicates a reversal of the hold, and that the escapee is now the grappler, if they so choose.
As stated above, escape maneuvers are only useful against grappling attacks already in play, and are based on one's Strength (mgt).
Evasion is a Fighting (def) technique by which a character actively tries to avoid being affected by melee attacks. It involves possibly playing for time, 'feeling out' a foe's offense, or maybe just a serious desire to avoid being struck. Evading counts as a full action, which means one cannot attack in a turn that they are evading, but the benefit of this is that the evading character can easily avoid incoming damage.
A white evasion FEAT roll means one has bungled the attempt, and walked right into an attack. Even if the attacker would've otherwise missed, they have managed to somehow strike thanks to the failed evasion. A green evasion FEAT means the attack is avoided, while a yellow adds a +1 CS to the evader's next action against that foe, and a red FEAT adds a +2 CS to whatever offensive action the evader takes against his or her opponent.
An evasion can only be attempted against melee attacks, and then only against one opponent at a time. These include Blunt Attacks and Edged Attacks, as well as initial Grappling attempts and any special attack powers or energy forms which are delivered on touch.
Feint aversions are similar to evasions, in that they involve an active defense, a sacrifice of one's own attack in a given turn to ensure that they avoid being struck. The difference between the two is that a feint involves actions against a ranged opponent, and that Agility (bal) is the base of the feint maneuver. They are otherwise the same, in that one can only feint a single ranged opponent per feint attempt.
A white feint FEAT roll means one has bungled the attempt, and walked right into an attack. Even if the attacker would've otherwise missed, they have managed to somehow strike thanks to the failed feint aversion. A green feint FEAT means the attack is avoided, while a yellow adds a +1 CS to the feint executor's next action against that foe, and a red FEAT adds a +2 CS to whatever offensive action the feinter takes against his or her foe.
Feint aversions apply to Blunt Throwing, Edged Throwing, Energy, Force, and Shooting attacks, as well as other special, ranged attack and damage forms that require a to-hit roll (some Deionic, Karmic and Sorcerous powers fall into this description).
Weave maneuvers are attempts to directly avoid incoming melee damage. While an evasion can completely prevent a melee hit from connecting, it involves a more active defensive posture and technique - and takes one's combat action in a given turn. Essentially, a weave maneuver functions just like a dodge, only that it applies to melee attack instead of that which is ranged in nature.
A white weave result means that no penalty was applied to the attacker - one's movements made no practical difference. A green weave FEAT reduces one's ability to hit the weaver by -2 CS, a yellow by -4 CS, and a red by -6 CS. Against many 'normal' opponents, these Column Shifts may be enough to drop one's 'to hit' score below Shift 0, thus making the scoring a hit in that instance impossible.
A weave aversion may primarily be used on Blunt Attacks and Edged Attacks, as well as initial Grappling attempts or any other damage form or attack power that requires direct physical contact. Weave attempts are made with one's Fighting (def) score.
Slam, Stun and Kill Results
Above and beyond standard combat results, there are three which particularly stand out: the Slam, the Stun and the Kill. All three of these may be ignored if no actual damage is inflicted in the attack which scores one, but if it does, the character suffering from such must immediately make an Endurance FEAT roll. The possible results of said FEAT rolls are presented here.
Slam results describe a hit so powerful that it may physically knock a character around. A Slam result prompts an Endurance FEAT made on the Slam? portion of the Universal Table's effects row. A red FEAT means the target of a Slam was not, in fact, slammed at all. A yellow FEAT indicates that he or she may have been pushed back a few feet, or perhaps down on one knee, but the target may still act normally.
A green FEAT to resist a Slam result states the character is in fact slammed one full area away. A white FEAT against a Slam result indicates utter failure, and that a Grand Slam has occurred. This means the slammed character will be physically launched away, as if thrown, with a Strength equal to the damage inflicted after his or her body armor or other defenses (see table 24, above, for specific distances).
When a Slam occurs, roll a d10 to determine which direction a character is slammed (if the attacker has none in mind). A one or two means the character is knocked straight down, a three or four means a character is thrust to the left, a five or six means he or she was slammed to the right, a seven or eight means they were knocked backwards, and a nine or ten means the slammed character was smashed straight up into the air.
If the slammed character strikes something while in motion, it should be treated as per a charging attack, above, which may be particularly disastrous to both the environment and the slammed character if he or she was hit hard enough. But then, if they were hit hard enough to fly ten areas, that may be preferable to being within melee distance of the person that hit them so hard to begin with.
Stun indicates a strike was powerful enough to potentially incapacitate its target for a while. When a Stun result is rolled, the character might be dazed, concussed, or otherwise rendered unable to act for a short period of time, depending on the Endurance FEAT rolled on the Stun? portion of the Universal Table's effects row. There are three possible results of a Stun check.
A red or yellow Endurance check means that the target of a Stun result is not, in fact, stunned. While it may have looked like a powerful strike at first, the target managed to avoid being dazed (or whatever) by the attack. A green FEAT roll, on the other hand, will Stun its victim for one turn. If the character has not yet acted, the Stun applies to the current turn, but if he or she has acted already it applies to the next.
On a white FEAT, a Stun will affect its target for 1d10 turns. The character so affected is knocked out for all intents and purposes, either unconscious or so disoriented that he or she cannot do anything other than twitch or convulse. A stunned character may be revived by someone with the first aid talent, but otherwise they're at the mercy of the elements - and whoever it was that knocked them out.
Kill results indicate a potentially lethal attack has been executed on the target. A Kill result requires an Endurance FEAT made on the Kill? portion of the Universal Table's effects row. A roll must also be made on the Kill? sub-table whenever a character's Health score drops to zero, or when a character suffers Negative Health damage (being struck while unconscious or otherwise out of Health).
As with a Stun, a red or yellow Endurance FEAT upon receiving a Kill result means the character is just fine - at least, as a result of that particular attack; their situation may still be quite dire. A green FEAT means the character will be affected by the Kill result if the source of the damage was either Edged Attack or Shooting. A white FEAT means that the Kill result was successful, and that the victim loses one Endurance rank.
For every subsequent turn the victim of a Kill result lies unaided, he or she will lose another Endurance rank, doing so until they die. This assumes that no one helps them at all. A dying character who is helped before slipping below Shift 0 Endurance will live (assuming nothing else happens to them), but may be in dire straits nonetheless thanks to their reduced Endurance score, which must heal normally.
Other Combat Results
In addition to a Slam, Stun or Kill, all manner of other combat results may occur on the Universal Table, as each attack technique has its own set of potential outcomes. Those which are not quite as detrimental as the above three are listed below, in order to give one a better handle of the variables that may occur in the midst of a fight while using the Universal Heroes rules.
Auto-hit is what happens when one zigs when they should have zagged. A catch, feint or evasion that achieves this result has caused its executor to quite literally walk into an attack. Even if the attacker would've otherwise missed, the character who scored an auto-hit will make it strike him or her somehow, possibly by inadvertently walking into the space the missed attack would've otherwise occupied.
Break results occur on a grabbing attack where too much force may have been used. The grabber grabbed the item in question, but he or she must roll a Strength FEAT against the m.s. of the item. If their Strength overcomes the m.s. of said object, it may be broken, or may otherwise hamper the grabber's activities. A bomb may detonate, while a statue might crack, or a gun might even go off!
Bullseye is a combat result that is required when one wishes to strike a precise location on a target with distance attacks. No matter the weapon or attack form, the idea is that a bullseye is required to strike something specific, such as the gun in one's hand, that spot between the eyes, or anything else desired. If a precision strike isn't intended, a bullseye is treated as a normal hit.
Catch results are the best possible outcome of a catching attempt. A Catch means that the character not only avoided being struck by whatever it was he or she intended to catch, but that they avoided damaging it in the process of catching it. If an inanimate object, the caught item is now in the character's possession, and if it was a living being, it may be safely set down without further risk.
Column Shift results indicate a CS applied either to an attacker or a defender, based on some ability or another. Dodge and weave maneuvers usually apply a negative CS to attacker's hit rolls, while a block or brace applies one to one's own Strength or Endurance to determine momentary protection. Normally negative, a CS can demonstrate a bonus, particularly where evasions and feints are involved.
Damage is a potential result of a catching attempt gone awry. This result indicates that the item was indeed caught, but may have suffered damage as a result of the catch. The catching individual must make a Strength FEAT against the m.s. of the object to determine if it was damaged or destroyed. If catching a living being, this maneuver may instead damage the caught entity, per a charging attack!
Escape is a combat result that only occurs when attempting an escape maneuver (really). When this result is scored, the character attempting the maneuver has managed to shake themselves loose of whatever hold their opponent had him or her in. He or she can engage in no other actions on that turn, but may act normally on the next - assuming they are not grappled anew by their foe.
Evasion / Feint when attempting either a feint or an evasion, these results indicate success. The executor of this maneuver has successfully avoided being struck, if at the expense of their own offensive maneuvers. These results do not place the evader / feinter in an advantageous position against their foes, but on the other hand they have not suffered damage of any variety either.
Full Hold indicates that a grappling attack was successful. It means the held individual cannot move at all, until let go or they successfully execute an escape attempt. A grappler may inflict damage upon his or her foe if they can pass a Strength FEAT against the held individual's Strength, though this also requires overcoming any body armor or other protections they may have as well, if any.
Grab results of grabbing attacks mean that the grabber has managed to grab the item in question away from his or her target. This occurs regardless of the Strength of their opponent or the material strength of the object in question, and the grabber now has full possession of the item. Mind you, there may not be anything to subsequently stop its former possessor from grabbing the item back.
Hit results rolled on the Universal Table indicate that yes, you have struck your target. Aside from inflicting damage, assuming no protective items or powers in play on the target, a hit does not inflict any additional combat effects. Mind you, simply inflicting damage can be enough to accomplish what a character intends in the first place, but that's neither here nor there.
Miss indicates just that - the attack in question failed to connect with its target. This may or may not have serious consequences; when a ranged attack misses, it may very well strike someone or something in the vicinity of the intended target, with potentially dire results. Alternately, a miss may place the attacker in a disadvantageous position against his or her foe (or target, if grabbing) on the next turn.
Partial Hold indicates that a grappling maneuver has been partially successful, and that its target has been somewhat constrained in their movements. A partial hold inflicts a -2 CS penalty upon all actions a held individual attempts. The only way to remove this penalty is to make the grappler let go somehow or to successfully execute an escape attempt upon him or her... which is easier said than done.
Reversal results are the best possible outcome of an escape attempt. When a reversal is rolled, the character attempting the escape may, if he or she so chooses (or is physically able), reverse the hold their opponent previously held them in. If the escapee does not wish to continue grappling with his or her foe, they may simply push or kick themselves loose, and may instead engage in any one action of their choice during that turn.
Take results of a grabbing attack indicate the item may or may not be in the grabber's possession. On a take result, the grabber must roll a Strength FEAT against either the Strength of the person holding the item or the item's material strength. If this FEAT fails, the grabber has not liberated the item, and he or she must struggle with its current possessor to take the item (or if 'loose', treat as a miss result instead).
Damage in the Universal Heroes game can be tallied in two fashions. The first, and less accurate, is to just use the listed rating whenever an attack is used. For instance, an Amazing (50) ranked fire generation power will always inflict Amazing (50) SD Energy damage, no matter the circumstances in which it is used. The advantage of this method is that combat can be resolved somewhat faster.
On the other hand, damage may be rolled after a hit has been scored. This involves making a second die roll upon hitting a target, but allows the damage to be represented as an intensity, meaning that that Amazing (50) rank fire attack listed above can cause Excellent (20) damage on a white result, Incredible (40) damage on a green, Amazing (50) damage on a yellow, and Monstrous (75) damage on a red roll.
While the former method can greatly speed things up in a game, it is far from dynamic; combat will be generally predictable. Furthermore, it does not allow for extremes of action, and can cause many of the results seen so often in comic book battles to be downright impossible. The Judge should declare which method they prefer at the beginning of a campaign - though it may behoove them (and the players) to switch now and then.
This can be done in order to streamline action when conditions at a game are different than normal. For example, a Judge may normally run a game for a few close friends, perhaps up to six, and prefers the damage intensity method. But when running a game at a convention, and inadvertently winding up with over a dozen players (as has happened to this author more than once), the static method may work best.