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Combat Options

Combat Options

Characters have a variety of options to choose from beyond just whether or not they wish to move or attack. In addition to maneuvering around the environment and shooting at an enemy, characters may choose to activate psionic abilities, use magic devices, actively defend against incoming attacks, and even talk down or attempt to demoralize their foes.

Following is a list of options, and any associated rules clarifications, available to characters who are participating in a combat round. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list; feel free to be creative.

Just because there aren’t any rules listed for employing specific skills in combat doesn’t mean you have to ignore them, it simply means that they don’t need any specific rules associated with them. Remember, your imagination is the only true limiting factor when it comes to role-playing.



You may find yourself in a situation that requires you to attack another character. You may do so at your discretion, bearing the following in mind:

Attacking a target that is unaware of your presence is an unopposed action with a difficulty based on the range to the target. The GM declares the Range Difficulty (see Table: Range Difficulty, below) and the character uses the most relevant weapon skill to attack [such as Combat (Melee) or Combat (Ranged)].

Because this is an unopposed action, the target does not get a chance to defend—he does not get to roll any dice to signify that he is trying to “dodge” the attack. Simply make your attack roll and compare it to the Range Difficulty to determine success or failure.

The Range Difficulty assumes a roughly human sized target that is not moving. To hit a character a few feet away would be Poor difficulty while the same target at the end of a football field is Great difficulty. Modifiers to the attack roll for such things as speed and size can be found in the Modifiers section.

If the target attempts to defend itself (a wise choice), combat becomes an opposed action (see Defending).

Phenomenal difficulty attacks can only be made with certain powers that allow a character to reach across planes of existence. Characters with the astral projection ability may be able to project their powers across a plane of existence (to or from the Astral Plane) but the minimum roll required to hit a target is Phenomenal. Likewise, a character with electrokinesis and the cyberpsi gift may be able to attack a person through the ‘Net, but the difficulty is Phenomenal at worst.


Most characters will not stand idle while being attacked (most will dodge or run for cover). When a character defends, combat becomes Opposed. Each combatant makes an Opposed action roll against an appropriate weapon skill or defense (such as Body for dodging). If the defending character wins, he successfully thwarted the attack. If the attacker wins, the defending character is struck by the attack.

Minimum Required to Hit

Hitting an opponent in Opposed combat requires a minimum result of at least Poor to hit. The minimum required to hit is equal to the range difficulty, so the farther away the target, the higher the minimum to hit.

For example, a character needs to score a Mediocre blow (and still win the Opposed Action) in order to hit another human sized opponent that is across the room.

Attempting to strike a dodging foe at a hundred yards is an opposed check, but the attacker will need to make at least a Good roll to strike at that distance.


Table: Range Difficulty

Range Difficulty




Next to you

Hand-to-hand, Boxing


Across a table

Melee weapons (swords, clubs)


Across a room

Thrown object not designed to be thrown


Across a street

Weapon designed to be thrown


Down a block or football field



Several city blocks

Grenade launcher


As far as you can see a man

Rocket launcher


To the horizon (and farther)



Across a Plane (Material to Astral or ‘Net and vice versa)



Combat Modifiers

There are many factors that may affect the result of an action. The following situations will either increase or decrease the dice roll, depending on the value of the modifier.

Table: Combat Modifiers





A fighter who is Hurt


A fighter who is Very Hurt




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




Increase skill by +1 for each full round spent aim- ing (max of +3)




Target is moving on foot


Target is moving slowly (up 50 mph)


Target is moving quickly (up to 150 mph)


Target is moving very fast (>150 mph)




¼ inch, dime, 5mm, wings on a fly









Bus, Small building


Large building, skyscraper




Rain, Underwater, Night, Fog, Partial cover


Shooting through a crowd, Target 50% covered


Target 75% covered


For example, attempting to hit an object roughly the size of a basketball in the rain, will incur a penalty of -2. A character with Superb (+3) skill rolls a +1 on the dice. Normally, this would result in a Rolled Degree of Wonderful (+4), but since there is a -2 penalty to the roll, the Rolled Degree is actually Great (+2)—Fudge roll of +1, plus Superb (+3) skill, minus penalty of 2.

Offensive / Defensive Tactics

This optional rule allows more tactical flavor to combat at a small expense of complexity. 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.

Table: Tactical Options




Table: Tactical Options

Tactical Option

Offense Modifier



Total Offense




Partial Offense







Partial Defense (Cautious)



Total Defense (Defensive)





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 his trait level. This option stresses the player character’s abilities by disallowing fluke rolls by NPCs. It also helps to speed up combat by reducing the total number of rolls and comparisons made by players and GMs.

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, up to a maximum of -3.

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 spear-wielders), 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.

Ranged Combat

Like melee combat, ranged combat is usually an unopposed action. Targets are often unaware of their assailants, especially if they are being targeted by a character with a sniper rifle. In close-and-dirty firefights though, when characters are aware of each other, combat becomes an opposed action.

Following are some key terms and concepts relating to ranged combat.

Maximum Effective Range

Each weapon has a maximum effective range: the furthest a character can shoot that weapon before its ammo begins to drop too rapidly to be useful. A weapon’s maximum effective range is shown on Table: Guns.

Note that the list is a simplification of real-world maximum range. Real weapons vary in their ability to hit targets at long range, and even weapons within the same category (such as handguns) have varying maximum ranges. However, for the sake of keeping things simple and fun, the chart is used for all weapons of the given category.

Equipment modifications are available which can increase a weapon’s maximum effective range. See Guns in Psi-punk for more details on ranged weapon Gifts.

Rate of Fire

Rate of Fire (ROF) denotes how quickly a firearm shoots projectiles each time the trigger is pulled. There are four basic rates of fire: Standard, Burst, Full Auto, and Rapid Fire.

A firearm may possess more than one rate of fire. In this case, the weapon is selective fire. Each round, the shooter may change the weapon’s rate of fire. For example, if an assault rifle possessed Standard and Burst rates of fire, the shooter could take a Standard shot in one round, and then switch to a Burst in the next. Unless noted in the weapon’s description, all automatic weapons possess selective fire.

To avoid complicated mechanics that try to determine how many bullets strike a target in a single attack, a simplified solution is presented here. When firing with an automatic weapon, simply increase the Offensive Damage Factors for that weapon. It is possible to achieve a more realistic simulation by determining the number of bullets that hit a target based on the relative degree of success on the initial attack roll, but these mechanics can slow down gameplay. Instead, each rate of fire description below has its own modifiers which are applied to a single roll.

Standard (S): The weapon fires only once when the shooter pulls the trigger. No special rules exist for this Rate of Fire. It permits the character to attack normally.

Burst (B): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires three shots in a short, controlled burst. Firing a weapon in burst mode grants the attacker a +1 bonus on his Offensive Damage Factors. The attacker may only direct burst fire at a single target.

Full Auto (FA): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires a score of shots in a long, rapid burst. The shooter may direct full auto fire at multiple targets. Firing a weapon Full Auto at a single target grants a +2 bonus to Offensive Damage Factors. The weapon may be fired at multiple targets in a single round; in this case, the attacker gains no bonus on the roll. When attacking multiple targets, roll only once and compare the result to each defender individually.

Rapid Fire (RF): When the shooter pulls the trigger, the weapon automatically fires at least fifty shots in a long, rapid burst. Gatling guns and several advanced technologies are capable of this fire rate. Directing RF at a single target grants a +4 bonus on ODFs, while directing the attack at multiple targets grants a +1 bonus. As with Full Auto, roll only once and check individually against each target’s DDFs. A weapon must always be reloaded after using this attack method.


Table: Rate of Fire Summary







Bullets Fired


Max Targets









Full Auto









This table summarizes the information outlined above. Note that this table also indicates the maximum number of targets that can be hit using a given RoF.


Reloading Firearms

Guns require ammunition and inevitably run out of bullets. Each type of firearm must be reloaded from time to time, lest the shooter find himself without an effective weapon.

Psi-punk’s intention is to focus on simple, fun game play and not necessarily on realism. Therefore, you will not find any references to the number of bullets a given gun has in a clip or how many times it can be fired before the weapon must be reloaded. Instead, a more cinematic approach is utilized.

Characters may continue to fire their guns with no penalty until a natural roll of a certain number of blanks is made. When a player rolls, for example, 3 blank dice on 4dF, his gun runs out of ammunition and he must spend the next round (6 seconds) reloading before he can fire the weapon again. Characters may be able to reduce the amount of time it takes to reload a weapon with a Gift, such as “Fast Reload.”

The number of rolled blanks required for a gun to run out of ammo is dependent upon the weapon’s selected Rate of Fire. This information is summarized on Table: Guns.

Psionics in Combat

Many psionic powers have the ability to deal damage to targets at range. In most of these cases, that damage comes from hurled projectiles: fire bolts, ice darts, laser beams, and so forth. Any power which manifests a physical object or bolt of energy to be launched at a target is called a projectile at- tack.

To make such an attack, characters must possess a psionic power to activate, and the check is rolled as if activating a psionic power normally (see Psionics and Magic) but is opposed by the target’s physical defenses.

Minimum Required to Hit

The minimum check result required to hit a target with a projectile attack is Fair. This does not vary based on the type of attack; characters who fail to manifest their psionic attacks at a level of at least Fair are simply incapable of extending an attack beyond their maximum effective range.

Maximum Effective Range

The maximum effective range of a projectile attack is dependent upon the attacker’s initial check result. For every level of success above Fair, the attacker may hurl a projectile up to 30 feet. For example, if a cryokinetic attacks with an ice dart and rolls a Great (+2) result, he may hurl the ice dart 60 feet. A Fair result means that the character can only attack someone within melee range.


As normal, compare the attacker’s check result to the defender’s opposed check to determine damage. Attackers simply manifest their chosen power (such as pyrokinesis) and the defender rolls his Body attribute and adds any bonuses or penalties for armor, Gifts, Faults, and so forth. The attacker does not need to make an additional Combat (Melee) or Combat (Ranged) check.