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Melee Combat

Melee Combat Options

The various options listed below may be used with any melee system. This is not a comprehensive or “official” list of options. The GM should, in fact, consider these options merely as examples to stimulate her imagination.

The GM may wish to import complex combat options from other games into Fudge.

Melee Modifiers

Some situations call for one side or the other’s trait level to be modified. Here are some examples:

A fighter who is Hurt is at -1, while one who is Very Hurt is at -2.

If one fighter has a positional advantage over the other, there may be a penalty (-1 or -2) to the fighter in the worse position. Examples include bad footing, lower elevation, light in his eyes, kneeling, etc.

Subtract the value of a shield from the opponent’s weapon skill. A small shield has a value of +1 in melee combat only, while a medium shield has a value of +1 in melee combat and +1 to defense against ranged attacks (if the shield material is impervious to the weapon). A large shield (+2 in all combat) is cumbersome to lug around. The larger the shield carried, the more the GM should assess penalties for things such as acrobatic and other fancy maneuvers. Shields can also be used offensively to push an opponent back, for example, or knock someone over.

Compare combatants’ weapon sizes and shields (see Sample Wound Factors List). If one fighter’s weapon + shield value is +2 (or more) greater than the other fighter’s weapon + shield value, the fighter with the smaller weapon is at -1 to his combat skill. (Example: one fighter has a Two-handed sword: +4 to damage.

His opponent has a knife and an average shield: +1 to damage, +1 for shield makes a total of +2. The knife wielder is at -1 to skill in this combat since his weapon modifier is -2 less than the sword fighter’s.) Aiming at a specific small body part (such as an eye or hand) will require a minimum result of Good or Great to hit and also have a -1 to the trait level. If a result of Great is needed and the fighter only gets a Good result but still wins the Opposed action, he hits the other fighter but not in the part aimed for.

A fighter may have a magical blessing (+1 or more) or curse (-1 or worse).

All-out offense, such as a berserk attack, grants a +1 to the combat skill (and an additional +1 for damage, if successful). However, if an all-out attacker ties or loses the Opposed Action, the other fighter wins, and gets +2 to damage!

An All-out defensive stance earns a +2 to the combat skill, but such a combatant cannot harm his foe except with a critical result.

A successful All-out Defense and a successful Perception or Tactics roll produces a -1 penalty to the opponent on the next round. The fighter takes a few seconds to scope out the area and maneuvers to take advantage of any terrain or conditional irregularity. Similar combat subtleties are possible, and encouraged taking a successful All-out defense one round can allow a player to try an acrobatics maneuver the next combat round without risk of being hit, for example.

Offensive/Defensive Tactics

This optional rule, used with simultaneous combat rounds, allows more tactical flavor to combat at a small expense of complexity. This option replaces the Allout attack and defense options listed above, and allows for both combatants to be injured in the same combat round.

Before each round, a fighter may choose to be in a normal posture, an offensive posture or defensive posture. An offensive or defensive stance increases combat skill in one aspect of combat (offense or defense), and decreases the same skill by an equal amount for the other aspect of combat.

There are five basic options:

  • +2 to Offense, -2 to Defense
  • +1 to Offense, -1 to Defense
  • Normal Offense and Defense
  • -1 to Offense, +1 to Defense
  • -2 to Offense, +2 to Defense

Each combat round, a player secretly chooses a combat stance by selecting two Fudge dice and setting them to a result from +2 to -2, which represents an offensive modifier. (The defensive modifier shown above with the offensive modifier is automatically included.) Both sides simultaneously reveal their choices.

For those without Fudge dice, choose one die placed as follows:

Die face: Option:

1 -2 to offense 2 -1 to offense 3,4 Normal offense 5 +1 to offense 6 +2 to offense

Each fighter then makes a single Opposed action roll as normal. The result is applied to both offense and defense, however, and will thus have different results for offense and defense if anything other than a normal posture is chosen. The offensive rolled result of each fighter is then compared to the defense of the other fighter.

For example, a fighter with Good sword skill chooses +1 to offense and -1 to defense for a particular combat round: his offensive sword skill is Great this round, while his defensive sword skill is Fair. His opponent, a Great swordswoman, chooses normal posture. The swordswoman rolls a -1: a Good result for both her offense and defense. The first fighter rolls a 0 result: his offensive rolled result is Great, his defense is Fair.

His offense result of Great is compared with her Good defense: he wins by +1. However, her offense result of Good is simultaneously compared with his defense of Fair: she also wins the Opposed action by +1. Both sides check for damage, to see if they got through each other’s armor (seeĀ Wounds).

PCs vs. NPCs

If a PC is fighting an NPC the GM can treat combat as an Unopposed action by assuming the NPC will always get a result equal to her trait level. In this case, the PC will have to tie the NPC’s trait level to have a stand-off round, and beat the NPC’s trait in order to inflict damage.

This option stresses the player characters’ abilities by disallowing fluke rolls by NPCs.

Multiple Combatants in Melee

When more than one opponent attacks a single fighter, they have, at least, a positional advantage. To reflect this, the lone fighter is at -1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first. (For epic-style games, with a few heroes battling hordes of enemies, this penalty can be reduced, or the GM can simply give the hordes Poor skills and low Damage Capacity which is not out of character for a horde.) The lone fighter rolls once, and the result is compared with each of the opponents’ rolled degrees, one after the other. The solo combatant has to defeat or tie all of the opponents in order to inflict a wound on one of them. If he beats all of his foes, he may hit the foe of his choice.

If he ties his best opponent, he can only wound another whose result is at least two levels below his.

Example: Paco is facing three thugs, who have just rolled a Great, Good, and Mediocre result, respectively. Paco rolls a Great result, tying the best thug. He hits the thug who scored a Mediocre result (at least two levels below his result) and is not hit himself (he tied the best thug).

The lone fighter takes multiple wounds in a single round if two or more enemies hit him. Usually, he can inflict damage on only one foe in any given round his choice of those he bested. It’s also possible to allow a sweeping blow to damage more than one foe at a time. Of course, this slows a slash down: reduce damage done by 1 or 2 for each foe cut through.

A well-armored fighter facing weak opponents can simply concentrate on one foe and let the others try to get through his armor (that is, not defend himself at all against some of his attackers). In this case, the lone fighter can damage his chosen foe even if he is hit by other, ignored foes. This is historically accurate for knights wading through peasant levies, for example.

There may or may not be a penalty for the lone fighter in this case.

There’s a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent. Six is about the maximum under ideal conditions (such as wolves, or spearwielders), while only three or four can attack if using weapons or martial arts that require a lot of maneuvering space. If the lone fighter is in a doorway, only one or two fighters can reach him.

When multiple NPCs beset a lone PC, the GM may wish to use the option in Section 4.33, PCs vs. NPCs. This will save a lot of die rolling.

Alternately, she may wish to roll only once for all the NPCs. The lone fighter is still at -1 per extra opponent.

The GM rolls 2dF, and applies the result to each NPC.

For example, if the GM gets a +1 result, each attacker scores a +1.

For those without Fudge dice, the GM could simply use the 1d6 method discussed in Opposed Actions.

Example: Three NPC pirates, complete with eye-patches, scars, earrings, sneers and generally bad attitudes, are attacking dashing PC hero Tucker. The pirates (whose names are Molly, Annie, and Maggie) are Fair, Good, and Mediocre, respectively, at combat skills.

Tucker is a Superb swordsman, but is at -2 for having two extra fighters attacking him at once: his skill is Good for this combat. The GM wants to roll just once (applying the result to all three pirates) rather than rolling three times each combat round.

Rolling 2dF, she gets a +1 on the first round.

The pirates have just gotten Good, Great, and Fair results, respectively. If Tucker scores a Superb result, he could hit the pirate of his choice and remain unhit. On a Great result, Tucker would be unhit, and could land a blow on Maggie. On a Good result, he doesn’t hit anyone, but Annie hits him. If Tucker rolls a Fair result, both Molly and Annie would hit him. The process is repeated each round.

Hit Location

A light blow to an eye is very different from a light blow to an armored shoulder, or to a shield. Using a hit location system adds flavor to combat and the description of a character’s equipment, wounds and scars! Many games have a hit location system, and a GM can easily translate one she is familiar with to Fudge. Or she can use the simple system given here.

The simplest system is not to worry about “called shots.”

Merely say the better the relative degree, the better the location of the blow. Winning a battle by +8 will allow the attacker to pierce an eye, if desired. Hopefully, the players will describe their actions in such detail that the GM will know how close they came to their objective merely by looking at the relative degree.

A more complicated system: an attacker can announce that he is aiming at a specific body location this must be done before rolling to hit. The GM decides the minimum relative degree necessary for such a shot to succeed, usually ranging from 2 to 4, though extreme locations (such as an eyeball) are harder to hit. So if a player wishes his character to hit his opponent’s weapon arm, the GM can respond, “You have to win by 2 to do so.”

If the player then does win by relative degree 2 or more, the weapon arm is hit, and the wound is specific to that arm.

If the attacker wins the combat round, but not by the minimum relative degree needed to hit the called target, the defender names which part of the body or shield is hit. This will most likely be general body (if there is no shield), but it could be the off-hand, which would carry a lesser combat penalty than a wound to the torso. The GM may have to fudge some here.

A damaged specific body part can be described as being Scratched (no real game effect), Hurt (a penalty to use, but the body part still functions), and Incapacitated. After battle is the time to decide if an Incapacitated body part can be healed, or is permanently Incapacitated.

A Hurt body part is generally at -1 to its normal use.

A Hurt sword arm gives a -1 penalty to combat, for example, while a Hurt leg is -1 to any running, acrobatics, etc. A Hurt eye is -1 to vision, and so on.

To determine the exact level of the damage, the GM should consider how well the hit scored, as well as the Strength of the attacker and the weapon being used.

Winning by the minimum relative degree necessary to hit the specific body part shouldn’t make the victim Incapacitated unless the attacker is of a much larger Scale than the defender. On the other hand, an arm hit with a battle axe wielded by a large, berserk Viking has a good chance of being cut off even if the Viking just rolled exactly what he needed to hit the arm. . . .

As a guideline, if the attacker surpasses the relative degree necessary to hit the body part at all, the part is Scratched or Hurt, depending on Strength and weapon deadliness. If he surpasses it significantly, the part is Hurt or Incapacitated.

Species other than humans may have a different list of body parts to hit, and/or different difficulty modifiers.

Fancy Stuff

A lot of fancy maneuvers are possible in Fudge combat.

All require a bit of thought on the GM’s part.

What if you want a Speed or Reflexes trait to affect how often you can strike in combat? How would you handle someone of Good Speed vs. someone of Fair Speed? If someone has a Power that speeds him up beyond the human norm, you can simply have him attack every other round as if his opponent wasn’t aware of the attack.

That is, every other round, an Unopposed result of Poor or better hits the foe, with no chance to be hit back in return.

For more subtle differences, the GM may allow an Opposed action to determine if one fighter gets to land a blow first: after declaring their actions, each fighter makes a roll against a Speed trait. The winner of the Opposed action, if any, adds the difference to his weapon skill.

How about Fudge’s “graininess” getting in the way of interesting combat? That is, since there are only seven levels in Fudge, a Good fighter will often meet another Good fighter, and it doesn’t seem right that you can’t meet someone who’s just a little better or worse than you.

In this case, the GM can create new levels of combat skills (there’s no point in using this option with other skills). These new levels require full experience points to reach, but function only as “half” levels, called “plus” levels. Thus, you can have:

  • Superb +
  • Superb
  • Great +
  • Great
  • Good +
  • Good

And so on. In any combat, someone with a “+” has the skill level listed before the “+”, but gets a +1 every other round, starting with the second round. So in a combat between Gus (skill Great) and Ivan (skill Good +), Gus would have the higher skill on rounds one, three, five, etc. But on rounds two, four, six, etc., Ivan will roll as if he had a Great skill, thus being Gus’s equal those rounds.

What about swinging on chandeliers and other swashbuckling moves? Since role-playing games have more to do with movies than real life, this should be encouraged if the genre is at all cinematic.

In these cases, have the player describe his swashbuckling intentions as fully and dramatically as he can. The better the story, the better the bonus to the die roll or no roll needed if the outcome is entertaining enough.

You may then request a roll against Dexterity, or Acrobatics (or even Chutzpah!) and let that determine how well he accomplished his aim. Maybe the swing on the chandelier came off great, but the landing on the banister was a little rough, so the slide down to slam the villain in the back was a tad off, and instead of knocking him out, you merely made him drop his weapon, but then fell on the floor yourself, and now he’s mad, and maybe you should get up before he picks up his pistol, or you could try to yank the carpet while you’re down there, right next to it, and he seems to standing on it a bit off-balance? Whatever is fun!