Hammercalled Combat Revised, Part 2: Attack Actions, Move Actions, and Reactions

Yesterday I talked about how Hammercalled was getting a simple-but-fulfilling action system, today I want to go into more detail about how each of those actions can be used in combat.

One quick thing to remember is that actions can be used in any order, and can be used simultaneously, or split apart to different parts of the turn. This impacts my decisions in some of the defensive rules, since I want Hammercalled to be quick-playing and not get bogged down.

The first thing I want to talk about are attack actions. These are very simple, but are designed to make the game play smoothly and with a lot of flow.

Attack actions are broken into two options:

Ranged attacks are the “norm”, in the sense that they have practically no rules about when you can use them. So long as a target doesn’t have the Disengaged status, you can fire at them (and special weapons can even attack then). You can’t attack with most ranged weapons if you’re In Melee.

Melee attacks have to be made against a target that you are In Melee with (more on that when we get to Move Actions), and they have the benefit of compelling a Reaction. If the target chooses not to spend a Reaction or cannot spend a Reaction, you get +10 to hit (which modifies your potential maximum damage).

This bonus is lost entirely if the target spends a Reaction, which makes combat with multiple enemies especially dangerous, since normally it’s relatively safe in one-on-one fights (since you’re not typically going to be attacked more than once by one guy), but you are going to give people free bonuses for ganging up. Likewise, if you’re distracted by other events, like ending a status effect, you’re going to be at a disadvantage against melee fighters, which gives good synergy (and encourages crazy melee weapon builds, which I consider a good thing).

For Move Actions, you get three options:

• Convert to a Reaction
• Change your status from In Melee to no special status, or from no special Status to Disengage, or the opposite way around. If you move to In Melee with another character, the target gains In Melee status with you.
• If your status is not In Melee or Disengaged, you may target a Disengaged enemy, make a Grace vs. Mobility Threshold roll, and if you succeed they are no longer Disengaged.

The purpose of allowing players to convert their Move Action into a Reaction is to give added defensive potential. It’s the equivalent of finding a choke-point or hunkering down in cover, but doesn’t require any new rules or actions.

The In Melee status is special because you’re only ever In Melee with one person* and this lets you make Melee Attacks against them.

Basically, you are able to change your own status automatically (but then other people can change it back, especially critical for people trying to gain the Disengaged status to flee combat), or attempt to change others’ statuses.

Gear or special abilities (and magic, once that’s a thing) may allow characters to change these states more dramatically. Magic that works via touch may make it a good thing to be able to go In Melee with allies, but that doesn’t require any special rules (there is a “fail defense” option granted to characters, which could be used to yank an ally out of combat and to you).

Finally, you have Reactions.

The point of Reactions is that it lets people take an action in response to declared actions of other characters. By default, however, there is only one use for a Reaction:

• Add +10 to a threshold in response to an Attack or Move Action.

A second use is permitted in some cases.

• Undo a status effect that is impacting you and can be removed with a reaction.

This allows players to avoid being chased down (if fleeing), or represents dodging, taking cover, or parrying. They could also try to extinguish flames, break free of magical influence, or so forth. If characters have gear or abilities that let them move as a reaction, they can use them to remove In Melee status effect.

And there you have it. I didn’t include semi-final rules text today, so this will look a little different in the final rulebook. I’m searching for an optimal way to explain the movement between the status conditions that show position.

*Rules for group melee aside, which are complex and may be optional rules.

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