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Combat Mechanics

This guide is going to provide all the necessary information regarding the combat system in the CWoD, which is used in this community. The system itself is not hard and is easy to understand, and you will soon notice that it brings a lot of fairness and seriousness. 

Generally, the combat itself is split into two categories:
  • Ranged Combat: covers a variety of techniques to fight over a distance. Guns, bows, throwing objects and so on. One must see another to attack him over a distance, you can't hit what you can't really see. 
  • Close Combat: deals with the world of punches, kicks, bites and so on. When a beer bottle is smashed across your face, you are probably having a close combat. Various martial arts also fall under this category and other less-developed forms of combat.
Order of Battle
No matter what happens or whatever mayhem your characters faces, all combat is played through a series of actions turns. 

*Turn: In game terms, a turn is a specific amount of time which is required to do a single action. The exact length of a turn heavily depends on the action in question. An action turn generally lasts about 3 seconds, that is a turn in combat. Punching a creepy guy who was staring at you the whole evening takes a turn, as well as blasting vampire's head off with a sawn-off.

All players are required to roll their initiative to see who acts when and in what time, handling those actions in one-by-one basis. After everyone rolled their initiative rating, combat is split into three parts:
  • Attack: When you check whether or not attacks hit their targets...

  • Defense: The time when you see if a character can defend himself from those attacks...

  • Damage: When you determine how badly your character is hurt
*Initiative: To determine your initiative, roll 1d10 and then add your initiative modifier; the sum of your Wits and Dexterity dots (Vampires may add their Celerity rating as well.) The character with the highest initiative acts first, the second highest goes next, and so on down the line. Ties on the die roll go to the player with the highest modifer; if the initiative modifier ratings are also tied, then favour the character with the highest Wits. If the Wits ratings are also tied, favour the character with the highest Dexterity.

Phase One: Attack
When bullets fly, and you throw fists - the dice pool you employ depends on what you are doing.
  • For attacks that use projectile guns use Dexterity + Firearms

  • For attacks with thrown weapons, use Dexterity + Athletics

  • For attacks using the various hand-held melee weapons, your dice pool is the sum of your Dexterity + Melee

  • The better part of attacks that happen in hand-to-hand combat, roll your Dexterity + Brawl. (Some special manuevers ask from you to roll your Dexterity + Athletics, Martial Arts or Do. You don't need to worry about that now)
For the specific difficulties and results involved, see other posts below this one (WIP)

Phase Two: Defense
No one likes to be hurt. And in the World of Darkness, you can be hurt... really badly. And so, we present you with a system to defend yourself from various attacks. Be it a bottle swung at your head, or a shadowy dude trying to stab you — there's a chance to defend yourself! A character who doesn’t want to get hit with an attack has several options, all detailed below. These defensive maneuvers use the successes you roll to take away from the successes rolled by your opponent. You can perform a dodge, block, or parry as part of an attack – parrying a sword and then sliding your blade up your opponent’s own, for example, or dodging around a corner and then taking a shot at your enemies from behind cover. In each case, you need to divide your dice pool. A desperate defense, on the other hand, reflects all-out escape. A character can’t do anything else that turn.
  • Dodging: To have your character bob and wave to the side and avoid an attack, make a successful Dexterity + Athletics roll. Dodging close combat attacks calls for the usual difficulty of 6, Dodging attacks by bows or crossbows is a difficulty of 8, Dodging thrown weapons is a difficulty of 6 and Dodging firearm attacks is possible, but the roll is made at difficulty 9. This difficulty increases to 10 for attempts to dodge shotgun attacks, automatic fire, strafing, or three-round bursts.

  • Blocking: To use a part of body to deflect a blow, roll Dexterity + Brawl. Blocking hand to hand attacks is done at a difficulty of 6, a character cannot block lethal or aggravated strikes without having an Armor on or and an appropriate discipline (Fortitude, Life Magick, similar skin hardening effects). Blocking cannot be used to defend against firearms. Blocking any ranged attacks by bows, crossbows, or thrown weapons increases the difficulty of the block roll by 2.

  • Parrying: To parry an incoming attack, roll Dexterity + Melee. A parry acts as a block, but is done with a weapon. successfully deploying the parry maneuver against an unarmed attack (punches,kicks,grapple attempts, werewolf bites,claws etc) allows you to inflict an amount of damage based on the amount of the successes that exceed your opponent's roll, the amount of damage dice rolled against the victim equals exceeding successes + weapon's base damage - 1. 

  • Desperate Defense: If you want your character to put everything she can in order to get out of harm — declare a desperate defense. While your character cannot act in any other way except desperately defending in that turn, she does have higher chances of not being hurt. You roll your Dexterity + Athletics. Your character gets to use her full dice pool against the first attack, but she must subtract one die from each subsequent attack that turn, your character may not perform any other actions aside from defending when this maneuver is executed, although some reflexive feats are allowed, such as using blood to augment your Dexterity by a certain amount and proceeding to desperately defend afterwards.
Phase Three: Damage
During this stage, you determine the damage inflicted by your character’s attack. Each extra success you get on an attack roll -1 equals an additional die you add automatically to your damage dice pool. Roll your ''Strength'' at a difficulty of 6 (damage is always rolled at this difficulty unless stated otherwise by a special power) to determine the damage of a unarmed attack (a punch for example) aswell as the ''additional'' successes that you acquired on your attack roll as mentioned above. Inflicting damage with a melee weapon grants you an additional ''Strength +'' damage, every weapon has its own base weapon damage which you roll alongside your ''Strength'', for example a Great Sword has a damage equal to ''Strength + 5'', which basically translates into roll your Strength + an additional 5 dice of damage, the same principle applies to firearm usage (various guns), except when it comes to that you only roll the weapon's base damage + the additional successes scored on the initial attack roll.

Damage Types: 

Each success on the damage roll inflicts one health level of damage on the target. However, the damage applied may be one of three types:

* Bashing damage: 
Bashing damage comprises punches and other blunt trauma that are less likely to kill a victim (especially a vampire) instantly. All characters use their full Stamina ratings to resist bashing effects, and the damage heals fairly quickly. Any amount of /physical/ bashing damage inflicted on a vampire is halved down /after/ the soak roll given the vampire's undead nature which is resilient to such form of damage. punches, kicks, throws (depending on surface you land on), and similar attacks all fall under the bashing damage category, any character can naturally soak bashing damage unless specific restrictions of the power state that he cannot.

* Lethal damage: 
Lethal damage cause immediate and fatal injury to the target. Mortals may use Stamina to resist lethal effects (at a difficulty of 8 as a house rule), and the damage takes quite a while to heal. Vampires, Werewolves, Abominations & other may resist lethal damage with their Stamina. attacks that inflict lethal damage include knives, swords and other similar weaponry. 

* Aggravated damage:
Certain types of attacks are deadly to anyone. Fire, sunlight, and the teeth and claws of vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings are considered aggravated damage. Vampires cannot soak aggravated damage naturally without the discipline Fortitude, Some werewolves naturally can (depending on form and breed), same goes for Abominations and other races depending on their setup and forms.

Soaking Damage: 

Characters can resist a certain degree of physical punishment; this is called soaking damage. A normal human can only soak bashing damage. A vampire (or other supernatural being) is tougher, and can thus use soak dice against lethal damage. Aggravated damage can rarely be soaked, but there are certain traits and powers which enable an invidivual to do so.

After an attack hits and inflicts damage, the defender may make a soak roll to resist. This is considered a reflexive action; characters need not take an action or split a dice pool to soak. Unless otherwise stated, soak rolls are made versus difficulty 6. Each soak success subtracts one die from the total damage inflicted. As with damage rolls, soak rolls may not botch, only fail.


Armor adds to your character’s soak. The armor’s rating combines with your base soak for purposes of reducing damage. Light armor offers a small amount of protection, but doesn’t greatly hinder mobility. Heavy armor provides a lot of protection, but can restrict flexibility. Armor protects against bashing, lethal, and aggravated damage from teeth and claws; it does not protect against fire or sunlight. Armor is not indestructible. If the damage rolled in a single attack equals twice the armor’s rating, the armor is destroyed.

* Tough Hide: Reflects animals, Bygones & constructs. Rating ranges from 1 to 3 and no Dexterity penalty for wearing it.
* Cybernetic Armor: Rating ranges from 1 to 4, and wearer suffers no Dexterity penalty.
* Reinforced Clothing: clothing that is stiffened, padded, or layered with thin mesh protection. Rating ranges from 1 to 2, and wearer suffers no Dexterity penalty.
* Enhanced Clothing: normal clothing modified by the Matter Sphere, Lore of Forge or other forms of magic. Rating ranges from 0 to 5, and wearer suffers no Dexterity penalty.
* Biker jacket: represents thick, practical & heavy-duty protection. Rating 1 and wearer suffers -1 Dexterity penalty.
* Leather duster: Rating 2, and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Cosplay mail: reflects modern costume armor, Rating 2 and wearer suffers -1 Dexterity penalty.
* Chainmail: represents battle-worthy chain-link armor, heavier than cosplay mail. Rating 4 and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Steel Breastplate: Rating 3 and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Full Plate: articulated knight’s armor. Rating 5 and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Kevlar Vest: Rating 3 and wearer suffers a -1 Dexterity penalty. 
* Flak Vest: Rating 4 and wearer suffers a -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Riot Suit: police heavy body armor. Rating 4 and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Military Armor: Rating 5 and wearer suffers a -2 Dexterity penalty.
* Alanson Hardsuit: Rating 7 and wearer suffers -2 Dexterity penalty.

Shield Mechanics: 

Shields, meanwhile, act as protective gear that can be brought to bear when facing an enemy. An opponent who’s facing your shield in hand-to-hand combat adds +1 or +2 to his difficulty to hit you, depending on the size of the shield in question. If it’s being used to ward off projectile weapons (bottles, rocks, bullets, etc.), then a shield also acts as armor, reducing a blow by one success for every level in the shield’s Rating. 

That said, a shield occupies one hand, restricting the user’s movements and potential activities. Blocking a specific incoming attack (say a volley of bullets or a swung fire axe) may demand a Dexterity + Melee roll and a dedicated shield blocking action. Shields are heavy, too, and they suggest that you’re looking for trouble. Outside of riot-trained police (who often use them in formation) and medieval reenactment enthusiasts, you won’t find many people using shields these days.

Shield Types: 

* Trash Can Lid: Rating 3 | Difficulty to opponent: +1 | Dexterity penalty: 0
* Wooden Shield: Rating 2 | Difficulty to opponent: +2 | Dexterity penalty: -1
* Metal Shield: Rating 4 | Difficulty to opponent: +2 | Dexterity penalty: -2
* Riot Shield: Rating 5 | Difficulty to opponent: +2 | Dexterity penalty: -1

General Maneuvers:

• Aborting Actions: You can abandon your character’s declared action in favor of a defensive action as long as your character hasn’t acted in the turn. Actions that can take the place of a previously declared action include block, dodge, and parry. A successful Willpower roll versus difficulty 6 (or the expenditure of a Willpower point) is required for a character to abort an action and perform a defensive one instead. When spending Willpower for an abort maneuver, a character may declare the Willpower expenditure at the time of the abort. A Willpower roll to abort is considered a reflexive action.

• Ambush: Ambushes involve surprising a target to get in a decisive first strike. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Stealth (regular difficulty of 6 unless you've any modifiers) in a resisted action against the target’s Perception + Alertness (regular difficulty of 6 unless you've any modifiers). If the attacker scores more successes, she can stage one free attack on the target; she then adds any extra successes from the resisted roll to her attack dice pool, to a maximum of 3. On a tie, the attacker still attacks first, although the target may perform a defensive maneuver. If the defender gets more successes, he spots the ambush, and both parties determine initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed.

• Targeting: Aiming for a specific location incurs an added difficulty, but can bypass armor or cover, or can result in an increased damage effect. The Storyteller should consider special results beyond a simple increase in damage, depending on the attack and the target. targeting someone's limbs adds +1 difficulty, targeting the head and other small sized locations adds a +2 difficulty, going for precise locations such as the heart and eyes calls for a +3 difficulty.

• Blind Fighting/Fire: Staging attacks while blind (or in pitch darkness) usually incurs a +2 difficulty to all /physical/ related attacks, defending may not be done at all and same goes for ranged attacks. Powers such as Auspex Heightened Senses, Serpentis and Eyes of the Beast mitigate this penalty, where you suffer a +1 difficulty instead of 2.

Characters may move at up to half maximum running speed, then subsequently attack or perform another action, Characters may also wish to move while taking another action. This is possible, but each yard or meter moved subtracts one from the other action’s dice pool.


Ambushes are an important combat mechanic, one the books barely touch on. Neither of the book supplements clarify what the exact modifiers for ambushes are, or how invisibility and similar abilities factor in the roll, other than a few specific powers that explicitly state the enemy gets an increased difficulty on the Perception + Alertness roll. This guide will touch on the modifiers related to stealth rolls, sneaking up to people, firearms ranged ambushes and mechanics related to Unseen Presence and others forms of invisibility or powers that otherwise affect this.

Close Quarters Ambushes:

Ambushes that occur when an aggressor sneaks up to the enemy and then strikes with a melee weapon or their fist, these mechanics follow the basic Dexterity + Stealth 6, opposed by a Perception + Alertness 6 roll. If the aggressor succeeds, he adds each extra success in the contested roll to the dicepool of a single attack against the enemy, up to a maximum of 3. Note that it's not a turn, not an action you can split - it's ONE strike. Be it melee, a brawl or martial art maneuver combined with magick, it's one hit - no more. If they tie on the roll, the defender can only react in time to take a reflex driven defensive maneuver (Dodge, Parry or Block), actions such as Counter Throw and supernatural powers require a premeditated action. If the defender wins on the roll, then both the attacker and defender must roll initiative.

Bystanders who wish to get involved can also make a Perception + Alertness roll. Compare it to the attacker, if you score more successes, you can warn the defending player even if they failed their own roll. However, this only tips them off enough to react and defend, they can't take any other action since it's a spur of the moment assault.

During an ambush, characters can make full use of the Flanking & Rear attack modifiers if applicable, thus lowering the difficulty of their attack by -1 & -2 respectively. 

Characters involved in a combat scene cannot be ambushed at all during initiative play. 

Attacker Modifiers: 
- Your character can move no faster than their jogging speed (12 + Dexterity/yards per turn) when sneaking up to the enemy character. Unless you have means to silence your footsteps or confound the enemy's perception, add +2 to the difficulty of your sneak roll. 

- If your character laid in wait behind a wall, was shrouded in darkness or concealed in some other form when the victim passed nearby, they gain a -2 difficulty modifier to their Stealth roll. 

- Moving over foliage, gravel, old floorboards or other flooring that produces additional noise raises the difficulty by 1 on the Stealth roll.

Defender Modifiers: 
- Acute Senses can lower the difficulty based on the enhanced sense. This doesn't always apply however. 
> Sight (Reduces the penalty only if the attacker is within your natural field of view)
> Hearing (Reduces the difficulty in quiet areas, unperturbed by surrounding noises and people); Being able to hear fast steps whilst in a crowd won't necessarily warn you of an impeding threat. 

Ranged Ambushes:

Ranged ambushes are attacks in which the distance between the defender and attacker is greater than 25 yards. Contrary to a sneaking (Dexterity + Stealth) roll, the attacker rolls (Wits + Stealth), which reflects how well they make use of the environment to conceal themselves before the attack. Assume that if the defender is not facing your general direction, the ambush succeeds by default unless bystanders warn them. While regular ambushes give the attacker additional dice on their attack, ranged attacks instead grant them with additional turns for each success over that of the defender. During this period, they take aim (and thus lower the difficulty when using scopes) or prepare additional effects (I.E. use gifts to give additional dice, enhance the weapon with matter, extend force rotes, etc), up to a maximum of 2 extra turns. 

Other than using the common sense that a sniper behind you can't be detected at all, there are some modifiers that shape the difficulty of such rolls. 

- Distance: For each 100 extra yards the target is distanced from the attacker, the defender adds +1 to the difficulty of their Perception rolls.

- If the target camouflaged themselves or otherwise concealed their position by other means, the Perception difficulty increases, or the difficulty of their own Stealth decreases. As decreed by the power in use.

We are instituting a mechanic from WTA: 20 regarding the directions of attacks cross-splat

Note that certain abilities can negate this penalty if it's done to expand your Perception above 5, or there's some sort of extra-sensory perception involved.

Most notably: Attacking from the side gives -1 to the difficulty of the attack, attacking from behind gives -2 difficulty to the attack.

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