This guide covers pretty much everything you would ever need to know to participate in combat.
If you still have questions after reading this, feel free to ask the Storyteller.
A skill challenge is any task that would be at least reasonably difficult. Actions like opening your car door, driving to the supermarket, and purchasing some bananas are not skill challenges. Anyone can do that stuff! You get that for free. Skill challenges are things like driving to the store in a blizzard, shooting at a giant flying ant, or haggling with a merchant over a pair of enchanted emerald earrings. Skill challenges have varying difficulty penalties set by the GM, but usually follow realistic expectations. Skill challenges are resolved by rolling three six sided dice and comparing the result against your tested skill. Rolling UNDER or EQUAL TO your skill minus penalties is considered a success. For example:
Peter the Gentleman Jewel Thief is breaking into Lady Kasperof’s apartments to steal the beautiful necklace he observed her wearing at last night’s party. Walking to the penthouse is trivial, so no roll is required. However, the guard who is usually asleep is alert and patrolling the grounds! Peter will have to use his Sneak skill to slip past the guard and into the foyer. Peter, who has a 15 in Sneak, is well know for his stealthiness. His player rolls three dice, coming up with a 2, a 4, and a 5. Eleven. 11 < 15 so Peter succeeds in sneaking past the guard and has reached the door.
Unfortunately the door is locked. Peter brought his set of nice lockpicks, which gives him a +1 boost to succeed. This boost is applied to his skill. Peter has a 13 in Lockpicking, so now he only has to roll under 14! He is trying to hurry though, before the guard comes back around, so this gives him a -2 penalty for going fast, lowering his target number to 12. He rolls three dice, coming up with an 18! This is bad news, rolls of 17 or 18 are known as critical failures. They always mean something bad for the player, beyond just normal failure. Peter’s lockpick breaks!
The guard is coming back, and Peter has to get out of sight quickly. He rolls his Acrobatics (14) skill to dive around the corner of the building. The dice come up with a 3! 3s and 4s are critical successes. These are spectacular successes that usually end up doing something extra beneficial. Thinking fast, Peter jumps up to a lamppost above and climbs onto the support strut. Above the directed light he is practically invisible. As a bonus, this strut is just below the window to Lady Kasperof’s room. Peter moves carefully from the strut to the window (possibly needing a dexterity roll) and opens the unlocked window.
The Lady is not in her room, so Peter ambles smugly up to her jewel box. As he goes to open it, the Storyteller secretly rolls against Peter’s Perception (12), which is used to notice things. The Storyteller rolls a 14, so Peter fails to notice the alarm trigger attached to the box. The alarm sounds, and Peter has to snatch the jewels and run for his life!
Above are some of the primary examples of rolls that will need to be made, additional rolls will be covered in the Combat section.
In summary: Skill Challenges are actions that have real risk attached, and are always attached to an attribute or skill. You roll under said attribute or skill, plus or minus modifiers, to determine if you succeeded.
Pick a lock uses Lockpicking (15) – 2 for difficult lock (13). The character rolls 13. Success.
Sneak across a room using Stealth (15) The character rolls 16. Failure.
Climbing a wall uses Climbing (12) -1 for hard climb. The character rolls 3. Critical Success!
Shooting an alien uses Guns (Pistol) (12) The character rolls 18. Critical Failure!
Additionally, the Storyteller can perform rolls that affect the player and are usually based around Perception.
Noticing the ninja in the room uses Perception (12) -8 for ninja. The character rolls 10. Failure. Storyteller doesn’t tell player about the ninja.
Actions in GURPS combat are called manuevers, and there are a good number of them but it mostly boils down to Move, Attack, Defend. Each maneuver affects how you can defend against attacks. Maneuvers are also detailed on page 324 in GURPS Basic. Most important ones will be detailed first.
Your character performs an attack, either with a ranged or melee weapon. Also includes throwing stuff. Weapon must be Ready. (more on that later) You can also move one hex before or after you attack in any direction.
Moving is what it sounds like, your character moves. How far you can move in hexes is determined by your Basic Move. If your Basic Move is 5, you can move 5 hexes. Each hex is a yard, by the way. You don’t have to move 5 hexes either. 5 is just the maximum for your character. Once you’ve Moved, your turn is done. Moving does not affect your defense in any way.
Guns blazin! This is an all out offensive maneuver that leaves no room for defense. You can move up to half your move but only forward. You must move before you attack. Instead of Moving you can Change Facing. You also get no defensive options. You cannot Change Facing at the end of this maneuver.
There are two options for Ranged combat:
-Take a plus 1 to your Attack
-Suppressing Fire: Spray an entire area with automatic weapons fire. Weapon must be RoF (rate of fire) 5+. (more on Suppression later)
Move AND Attack
Woah getting fancy here. Works just like Move, but you can make an Attack during or after your Move. This Attack sucks. Ranged attacks have a penalty of -2 OR your weapon’s Bulk if that’s worse. Only Block and Dodge defenses are available after this.
You take some time to aim. Select weapon and target. You can’t aim at something you can’t see or otherwise detect. Aiming lets you add your weapon’s Accuracy (Acc) rating to your roll. For example, the Barrett M107 has an Acc of 6+3. Aiming for one turn would add a +9 to your Guns (Rifle) roll if you Attacked or All-Out Attacked on the next turn! Aiming for more than one turn adds +1 to that bonus each turn for a max of +2. You can move a single hex in any direction while Aiming. You can engage in any defense, but doing so spoils your aim. If you are injured while aiming you have to roll against Will to maintain it. Evaluate is the melee version and won’t be covered. Additionally, if your weapon is braced you gain an additional +1 for aiming. Bracing involves propping your gun on a ledge of some kind, lying prone with a bipod, or holding a one handed weapon in both hands.
Turtlin’. The exact opposite of All-Out Attack. Lets you take one step in any direction. There are get two options here too.
-Take a +2 to one active defense of your choice. Dodge, Block, or Parry. Persists until your next turn.
-Apply two different defenses against one attack. If you fail the first you can use the second.
-If you take the +2 to Dodge you can also Move up to half your Basic Move.
This maneuver has a few uses. It lets you:
-Pick up or draw any item, prepare it for use, regain control of any unwieldy weapon after an attack. Must be in your hex or an adjacent hex.
-Reload a weapon
-Complete physical actions other than fighting like opening/closing a door, picking a lock, etc.
-Plus some other uses that don’t currently apply to anyone.
Lets you change between these postures: Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, Crawling, Lying Prone (face up), Lying Prone (face down)
Kneeling and Standing can be switched between as a ‘step’ rather than moving a hex.
Moving from Lying Down to Standing takes two Change Posture maneuvers.
You can Crouch at the end of your turn if you have only taken a Step.
Postures other than standing create movement penalties but present smaller targets for ranged attacks.
You concentrate on a usually IQ-based task such as tuning a radio, plugging in artillery coordinates, or trying to decipher alien glyphs. If you are forced to use an active defense, are knocked down, or injured, you have to roll Will-3. Fail and you must start over.
Yes this is a maneuver choice too. You can still defend normally unless stunned. Stunned or Surprised characters must take this.
Melee maneuver. If you’re feinting aliens you’re probably about to die.
A more useful version of Do Nothing. Wait has you doing nothing until an event you specified in advance occurs before your next turn such as: A foe moves into range. If the thing you stipulated occurs, you can change your Wait maneuver into an Attack or All-Out Attack, (or Feint but blah) and take a Step if you wish. This interrupts the turn sequence for a moment. You can even interrupt someone else’s movement! Consider this Overwatch mode or Reaction Fire mode.
Not a maneuver, this is a list of things you can do during your turn for free.
-Talk (some Storytellers would limit this to one sentence per turn, but that’s boring so I’m not doing that)
-Drop an item (only if item is Ready, can drop on any hex during your move)
-Crouch (only at beginning)
-Stand Up from Crouch (any time)
What the hell do all these stats mean?!
Here is an example gun:
5d+1 pi | Acc 4
RoF 12 | Shots 30(3)
Bulk -4 | Rcl 2 | Weight 8.4/1.4
5d+1 is the damage this gun does. In this case, it is 5 dice plus 1 to the final result. Dice are always D6s.
pi is the damage type, piercing here. Damage types have different qualities.
Acc 4 is the accuracy of the gun, add this number to your skill roll if you’ve taken the Aim maneuver.
RoF 12 is the gun’s Rate of Fire. You can fire a maximum of 12 bullets per turn with this gun.
Shots 30(3) is how many rounds are in your gun. The number in ()s is how many seconds it takes to reload.
Bulk -4 is how bulky the weapon is and causes penalties when you try to run and gun.
Rcl 2 is the weapon’s recoil and affects attacks that fire more than one shot.
Weight is the weight of the weapon. The second number is the weight of the ammo.
Some weapons have special stats or modifiers. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
Here are the different damage types you will likely encounter. Unless mentioned specifically assume damage is normal
pi- (Take penetrating damage and multiply it by 0.5)
pi+ (Take penetrating damage and multiply by 1.5)
pi++ (Take penetrating damage and multiply by 2)
How the heck do I fight?!
Setting up the shot
1. Take base weapon skill: Gun (Rifle) 14
2. Add weapon’s accuracy if you aimed last turn
3. Apply target’s Size Modifier (Humans are 0, anything higher adds +1 per. SM 2 = +2 to hit)
4. Modify for target’s Range and Speed modifier (one modifier) The main thing to take away is further/faster is harder.
5. Modifying for circumstances. Rapid Fire, Difficulty, Darkness, Cover, etc.
6. Choose a hit location (Torso is default and applies no penalties) Locations such as the vitals and head do bonus damage.
Hit locations include: Torso, Vitals, Skull, Eye, Face, Neck, Groin, Arm or Leg, Hands or Feet, Weapon.
Okay I fired now what?
If the shot was a success, the enemy now has a chance to Defend. If the enemy successfully defends, your successful attack means nothing. Always.
Defensive rolls are the same as all other skill challenges but use your Dodge, Parry, or Block stats.
Important to note: A critical success always hits. A roll of 3 always does maximum damage.
I hit him! Now what?
If you hit your opponent, now you roll for damage!
Also the Storyteller rolls for hit location, unless you were specifically aiming somewhere.
Take the damage stat on your gun and roll it out.
If the enemy has Damage Resistance (DR) compare your damage to that, whatever goes through is how much you damaged the enemy!
Some weapons have armor divisors that reduce DR.
Additionally, certain damage types have additional effects.
Additionally, you can opt to fire more than one shot per turn. This is rapid fire. Your weapon needs a RoF higher than 1. The more bullets you fire the more of a bonus you get to hit. It is possible you could hit with more than one bullet. This is a matter of your margin of success versus your weapon’s recoil stat.
Help I’m getting shot at!
Active Defenses are the means by which you avoid taking damage. There are three; Dodge, Block, and Parry. For the purposes of this particular game, Dodge is going to be the most useful. All Active Defenses work essentially the same as skill challenges. You just roll under or equal to your number to succeed. Shields and some Advantages boost your Active Defenses.
-Holding a Riot Shield boosts your DB by 2. What this means is you add +2 to ALL your Active Defenses while you hold the shield.
-The Advantage Combat Reflexes boosts your Dodge by +1.
Special Defense Maneuvers
Acrobatic Dodge – if you have acrobatics, you can roll this to boost your Dodge (+2), failure penalizes you (-2).
Sacrificial Dodge – you dive into the line of attack, pushing your ally aside. Announce after the attack but before defense roll. Roll your dodge, if you succeed YOU are hit instead of your ally. Failure means your ally gets his normal defense roll.
Retreat – against a melee attack you can take a Step away from your opponent and get a bonus to defend. There are some additional rules but that’s the basics of it.
Dodge and Drop – hitting the dirt, basically. You go from Standing to Prone and get a +3 to dodge.
Sacrificial Dodge and Drop – Same as Sacrificial Dodge but you both end up prone. Also if you succeed by 3 or more you both avoid the attack.
Dive for Cover – if there is cover only a step away (from say an explosion) you can do a Dodge and Drop there to avoid the AoE attack.
In combat you can also spend fatigue points (FP) to really push the envelope and make an extra effort to succeed. Each kind of Extra Effort costs 1 FP.
The only extra effort pertinent to this game is the +2 to an active defense roll you can get by spending 1 FP.
A luck point is a special point that allows you to change the outcome of a single roll to one that you specify. The player must then reflect how luck factored into their success in their post. A PC caught in a deadly explosion might emerge totally unscathed because they tripped and fell into a small divot in the ground, or a bullet wound everyone thought would be fatal ended up missing the femoral artery by centimeters.
Luck Points cannot be used to accomplish impossible things. You can’t declare you are assassinating the Dictator of Tomatostan while you are in Wisconsin with a miraculous critical success shot.
The player can use Luck Points on either rolls their character made or rolls affecting their character.
Every player starts the game with one Luck Point.
The Storyteller may award more for good roleplaying, extra effort/punctuality in posts, or various other reasons.
I’ve been shot!
In the rather likely event of you getting shot, here are some things to remember.
Damage and Injury
If you are hit and the damage penetrates your armor, subtract the damage done from your hit points. You’re still in the fight if you have positive HP. You don’t really need to know this stuff but I’ve included it to highlight how dangerous combat is.
Here is a list of bad things that happen to you as you get injured:
-If you are at 1/3rd your full HP you are severely wounded and have half your normal Move and Dodge
-If you have zero or fewer HP you are barely hanging on and must roll against HT each turn to prevent unconsciousness.
-If you go fully negative on your HP (-10 if you started with 10) you are at serious risk of death! When this happens you must roll against HT immediately to prevent death. Each time you reach an extra multiple of your HP you must roll again. (-20/-30/-40 if you started with 10 for example)
-If you ever reach -5xHP you die automatically. (-50 if you started with 10)
Here is a list of more bad things that can happen!
-An attack that does more than 1/2 your HP is a Major Wound. If you take a MW to the torso you have to roll against HT to not be stunned or pass out.
-Additionally, taking damage causes Shock. Each -1 to HP you take gives you a penalty to DX and IQ of -1, up to -4 max. Shock lasts for only your next turn, then it goes away.
-If you are Stunned, you get -4 to Active Defenses and have to take the Do Nothing maneuver. At the end of each turn roll against HT to shake it off.
You lose Fatigue Points (FP) during combat as you exert yourself. You can recover FP by resting for 10 minutes per 1 FP. Eating a good meal while resting can boost this. Additionally, certain drugs will recover FP.
Here is a list of bad things that happen when you get tired!
-If you reach 1/3rd of the FPs left, halve your Move, Dodge, and ST (but not stuff like health and melee damage)
-At 0 FP or less, you’re pretty much done. Each FP you lose after that also does 1 HP of damage. You have to make a Will roll to do anything besides talk or rest. If you fail, you collapse and can do nothing until you get back to positive FP.
-If you reach -1xFP (or -10 if you start with 10) you fall unconscious and do not wake up until you reach positive FP.
But wait! You can get better! Natural Recovery allows you to regain lost HP. At the end of a day with rest and a decent meal, roll HT. If you succeed, you regain 1 HP! Stuff like being in a hospital boosts this.
If you are unconscious, there are several ways to wake up:
-If you are at positive HP, you wake up automatically after 15 minutes.
-If you are at -1xHP of better, you get an HT roll every hour to wake up.
-Below -1xHP, you get an HT roll after 12 hours to wake up. If you fail this roll, you will not wake up without medical attention. Until you get this help, you have to roll HT every 12 hours to avoid dying.
Hex Grid Considerations
There are a few additional details that need to be addressed that are related to the hex grid we’ll be using for combat.
Your character must have a facing at all times. Basically they must be looking towards one of the six adjacent hexes. Changing facing at the end of your move is free if you used less than half your move, otherwise you can only turn by one hex facing. Changing facing at the beginning or during your turn costs 1 movement point per hex facing. (turning 180 degrees costs 3 move points)
You take movement penalties to sidestep or step backwards. Basic Move translates directly into Move Points for purposes of Hex moving.
Forward Movement: Front three hexes. 1 move point per hex. You must turn to face a hex when entering it.
Sideways or Backwards: All other hexes. 2 move points per hex.
You can also sidestep into a forward hex for a cost of 2 to keep your facing.
Posture affects movement by adding cost.
Crouching: +1/2 move point per hex.
Kneeling: +2 move points per hex.
Crawling: +2 move points per hex.
Lying Down: All move points per hex.
Sitting: Cannot move.
Other obstructions include:
Ally in Hex: +1 to move through.
Body on ground: possibly +1 to move through.
Pile of bodies or Barricade: must go around or jump over.
Enemy in Hex: You must Evade.
Mud or other bad ground: +1 or more per hex
Stairs: +1 move per hex
Shallow Water: +1 per hex
Deep Water: All move points per hex.
When you go prone you will take up two hexes. Your lower half stays in the hex you were standing on while your upper half goes to a nearby hex of your choosing. When getting up you can choose which hex of the two to get up into.
Arc of Vision
In most situations you can only make a ranged attack in the 180 degree arc in front of your character’s facing. Shooting Blind is possible in the 180 degree arc behind you, but your skill for this blind shot is -10 and cannot exceed 9.
Defending from attacks from the side are at a -2.
Defending from attacks from behind is not possible.
Line of Fire
To determine if you can make a shot, attempt to draw a straight line between your hex and your target’s hex. If you can touch any part of your hex to any part of theirs without running into a solid obstacle you can make the shot.
Anyone in the way (friends or foes) of your shot gives you a -4 to hit. This stacks for each person in the way. This does not count of they are prone unless you are as well. If you FAIL your attack against your intended target, the Storyteller will roll for each person in the way to see if you hit them instead. The same applies if your intended target Dodges and there are foes or friends behind them.
In order to make use of Opportunity Fire, you need to take a Wait maneuver, be facing the right direction, then indicate one or more hexes. You are watching those hexes now. If anyone enters them you must attack. Larger areas also give a penalty. You may also specify a single straight line of hexes. Anyone entering that line must be attacked. (-2 for the line method) You can only Aim in conjunction with this if you are watching a single hex. Trying to discriminate between friend and foe gives you a penalty (-2). Plus the Storyteller makes a Perception roll determine whether you can tell the target is friend or foe.
A “pop-up attack” is a special Attack maneuver in which you emerge from cover, move no more than one hex, make a ranged attack, and return to cover – all in the space of one turn! Examples include ducking around a corner or a tree, or out of a trench. This is possible with any thrown weapon, firearm, or crossbow, but not with a bow or a sling. You cannot aim a pop-up attack. In fact, there is an extra -2 to hit because you couldn’t see your target at the beginning of your turn. Note that when you emerge from cover to attack, anyone targeting your hex with opportunity fire can attack you. If so, your only legal defense is a dodge.