The Attack Roll

To attack with a weapon, the player rolls a d20 and adds or subtracts any modifiers to the result. These modifiers include the Base Combat Bonus (see below), any strength modifier (for attacks with hand held weapons), any dexterity modifier (for attacks with missile weapons), and any modifiers for magic weapons. There may also be situational adjustments, to take cover into account for example.

The attack roll is then compared to the target�s Armour Class � if it is equal to or greater than the target AC, the attack succeeds.

Base Combat Bonuses

The Character Class Advancement Tables include the Combat Bonus used by a character at each level.

Monsters add their hit dice as their combat bonus, up to a maximum of +15. Ignore extra hit-points � for example, a monster whose hit points are 2d8 and one whose hit-points are 2d8+4 both have a base combat bonus of +2.

The Base Combat Bonus can be used offensively (to increase the chance to hit), defensively (to add to the combatant�s AC) or a combination of the two, as long as the offensive and defensive split doesn�t exceed the total Base Combat Bonus.

For example, a 7th level fighter has a BCB of +4. He or she could choose to use it as +4 to hit, or +4 to AC, or perhaps +2 both to hit and to AC.

Order of Battle

When the party of adventurers comes into contact with enemies, the order of events is as follows:

  1. Determine surprise
  2. Declare Spells
  3. Determine Initiative (d10, highest result goes first). One roll is made for each attack. Characters or monsters with Initiative acts first (casting spells, attacking, etc), and results take effect.
  4. Characters etc. that lost initiative act, and results take effect.
  5. Anyone who �held� initiative acts, and results take effect (both sides simultaneously).

The round is complete; begin the next round if the battle has not been resolved.

1. Determine Surprise.

GM determines if one side gets a free initiative phase before the first initiative roll. This is either through common sense (adventurers or monsters are not alert), or it can be a range of probability (e.g., a particular ambush has only a 50% chance of succeeding when the victims are alert and watchful), or by a die roll (see Surprise in Specific Circumstances).

If a die roll is required, a character or monster is usually surprised if they roll a 1 or 2. High or low wisdom and/or keen or dull senses may modify the surprise roll, but a roll of 1 always means the character or creature is surprised.

Once the combat is under way, surprise is only relevant if previously undetected combatants enter the fray.

2. Declare Spells.

Any player whose character is going to cast a spell must say so before the initiative roll. Spell casting begins at the beginning of the round. Thus, if an enemy wins the initiative roll and successfully attacks the spell caster, the spell�s casting may be disturbed.

3. Determine Initiative.

The die-type rolled for initiative depends on the character or creature's DEX score, as shown in the table below.

DEX Score Initiative Die
25 or more d20
21-24 d12
18-20 d10
15-17 d8
9-14 d6
6-8 d4
4-5 d3
3 or less d2

Initiative rolls may result in a tie. When this happens, both sides are considered to be acting simultaneously. When both sides are acting simultaneously, it is possible for two combatants to kill each other in the same round!

4. The Combat Round.

The round is counted down from 10 to 1, with characters and monsters acting on the number corresponding with their initiative score(s). Actions include moving, attacking, and anything else such as climbing onto tables, swinging from ropes, pushing boulders off cliffs, etc.

A full round (one minute) of combat is normally assumed to include a whole series of feints, parries and attacks. A single d20 attack roll doesn�t necessarily mean there has been only one blow; the whole minute�s combat is abstracted into that single roll, and the damage roll reflects all of the damage inflicted in that whole minute.

Characters can move up to half their speed and attack once in the same round.

Specific Situations

The following are a compilation of guidelines and instructions for handling certain, specific situations that might arise during combat.


Archers may fire two arrows per Round only if they do not move.

Crossbows can not, in general, be reloaded on the run. Only very light crossbows can be spanned with one hand

�Assassination� attacks

Attacks against a completely helpless or unaware victim do damage directly to the victim�s CON. This can make the Thief�s damage bonus for a surprise attack very dangerous indeed!

However, the victim gets a saving throw which, if successful, converts the CON damage to normal hit-point damage. Of course, that may still be enough to kill them.

This effect should only be able to be used against foes of whose anatomy the attacker has a reasonable knowledge, and it will not be effective against foes like blobs or most undead who have no particularly vulnerable spots.

Backstabbing and Flanking

Attacks from behind gain a bonus to hit of +2. Multiple attackers against opponents without all-round vision get +1 per additional attacker � i.e. 2 attackers get +1 each, 3 attackers get +2 each, etc.

Charging into combat

Characters can charge their full combat movement and make a single attack, but only if the charge is in a straight line, and they then get no DEX or BCB bonus to their AC for that round. A charge must be declared before initiative is rolled, just like spellcasting, and is subject to the �fending off� rules for spears and polearms (see Spears and Polearms below).

Closing into combat

Characters (or monsters) can declare that they are closing into combat, in which case they can move up to their full normal move, ending as soon as they are adjacent to a foe. Neither the character nor their foe gets a melee attack that round, but are still subject to spells or missile attacks.

Critical Hits and Fumbles

A �natural� roll of 20 is a Critical Hit, and does damage even if it would not normally hit due to a very high AC. (Note however that even a natural 20 will not affect creatures requiring special weapons to hurt them unless such a weapon is actually used).

Effects of Mighty Blows
d20 Effect CON
1-6 Merely a flesh wound! Continue fighting with a -2 penalty on attacks and saves. -1
7-14 Oof! Strike to the groin, head or other painful blow stuns the character for 1d3 rounds, and suffers a flesh wound as above -2
15-17 Crushing Blow! Character is stunned for 1d6 rounds, suffers a flesh wound, and must make a saving throw or be rendered out of the fight � unconscious or otherwise crippled until healed. -4
18-19 Incapacitating Strike! Character is rendered unconscious or otherwise crippled and out of the fight until healed. Further, a saving throw is required to prevent the obvious side effect of permanent and immediate death. -8
20 Deadly Blow! The character is dead. All
21+ Mangled! The character is dead, and body parts are missing, thrown around and otherwise mangled. All

If a natural 20 roll could normally hit the target AC, hit-point damage is applied as usual and the effect of the Critical Hit is determined on the Mighty Blows chart below.

The victim of a Critical Hit can reduce the d20 effect result by one with a successful Saving Throw, and another for every point by which the save is made, even negating the Critical entirely if it�s good enough.

E.G.: Blogo the 6th-level MU is walloped critically and rolls a 19 for effect � a Deadly Blow! He rolls his saving throw and gets a 17; since his save is 10, he moves the effect down by 7 to 12, a painful (but surviveable) blow to the groin. Ow.

For monsters and NPCs, just make a simple save versus death when reduced to damage from 0 to -5. If the save is successful, then the critter remains conscious but fights at -2. If the save fails, the critter is unconscious, if the save is a 1, the critter dies. If struck to -6 to -10, the critter is unconscious and dies if it fails a save versus death. At -11 and below, just kill the critter.

A critical hit with a missile weapon does damage as above, but leaves it in the wound, and it will do � additional (normal) damage in any round in which the victim moves, fights etc. It requires a full round to extract, and does normal damage on being extracted � it is possible to kill someone by pulling an arrow out of them! Extraction damage can be avoided with a successful saving throw by whoever is removing the weapon; the save can be modified according to circumstance (e.g. dirty or unstable conditions would apply a penalty, surgical skills and/or good equipment will provide a bonus).


A natural roll of 1 is an automatic miss, allows any opponents within reach an automatic free attack, and may result in dropping a weapon or suffering some other kind of problem. The character may hit themselves or a friend. A strained muscle might give a �1 penalty to damage rolls for the rest of a combat, or a helmet knocked awry might cover a character�s eyes until 1d3 rounds are taken to fix it. The exact result is up to the Game Master, and will usually be whatever amuses him or her most at the time.

Saving Throw Criticals/Fumbles

A natural 20 for a saving throw indicates that the spell (or whatever might have caused the save) has no effect, even if a successful save would normally inflict partial damage. A natural 1 for a saving throw means that the victim takes the maximum possible effect of whatever caused the saving throw.

Fighting Defensively

A character (or creature) can normally split their BCB (Base Combat Bonus) between offensive and defensive elements � i.e. between pluses to hit, and/or pluses to AC. However, if a combatant chooses to devote their entire BCB to defence and makes no attacks, they get an additional +2 to AC.

Ground Scale

There is no set or compulsory ground scale for these rules. However, it is assumed that if 25-30mm miniatures are used on a square or hex grid, one 1� square or hex is equivalent to 5� distance. If 15mm figures are used, a 1� square or hex would equate to 10�. Wherever a range in these rules is described in inches, 1� is equal to 5�.

Invisible Opponents

Attacks against a detected but unseen invisible opponent have a �4 penalty. Suspected but undetected invisible opponents can never be successfully attacked except with area-of-effect weapons or spells. Highly intelligent creatures can often detect the presence of an invisible opponent even though they cannot actually see them. Powerful magical monsters, or those with more than 11 hit dice, will usually be able to see invisible creatures normally.

Magic Use in Combat

Spell-casters must declare that they intend to cast a spell before initiative is rolled; the spell will actually go off on the magic-user�s initiative. Any successful attack on them before the spell is cast, even if it does no actual damage, will disrupt the spell and it will be lost, just as if it had been cast. For example, a wizard who is even shoved while casting a spell will lose the spell.

Miniscule attacks that do no damage � a 1-point sting that would have hit AC 10 but is foiled by the wizard�s Cloak of Protection, for example � will probably not disrupt the spell-caster�s concentration however.

Spell-casters may not cast spells while walking or performing any other task, and may not apply any of their Base Combat Bonus to defence (AC).

The reading of scrolls is subject to the same limitations, but the problems are compounded enormously in combat situations as scrolls take one round per spell-level to read to completion.

Melee Attacks

A melee attack is an attack with hand-held weapons such as a sword, spear, or dagger. In addition to all other bonuses, a character�s strength bonuses to hit and on damage (see �Strength�) are added to melee attacks. It�s only possible to make a melee attack when the two combatants are within 10 feet of each other unless very long weapons like long spears or pikes are employed. Two combatants within ten feet of each other are considered to be �in combat.�

Multiple Melee Targets

If there are more than one potential melee opponent within reach, the target for each attack sequence is usually determined randomly. This represents the fluid nature of melee combat, with attacks being made as opportunity presents itself.

If a player chooses to direct his or her attack against a specific opponent in such a situation, they are treated by all other opponents within melee range as if being attacked from behind (i.e. all other attackers get +2 to hit) because they are assumed to be concentrating their attention on the chosen target instead of maintaining full situational awareness.

Missile Attacks

Missile attacks are attacks with ranged weapons such as a crossbow, sling, or thrown axe. A character�s dexterity bonus (or penalty) is added to the to-hit roll when the character is using missile weapons. When using missiles to attack into a melee, it usually isn�t possible to choose which opponent (or friend) will receive the attack. Bows (but not crossbows) can fire two arrows a round, but only if the archer does not move � otherwise they can make a half-move and fire, as with any other attack.

Muscle-powered (i.e. thrown) weapons get the thrower�s STR bonus to damage, but only at short range � that is, up to the weapon�s first range increment.


Certain monsters, such as mindless or undead creatures, are fearless and always fight to the death. The majority, however, will not continue to fight a hopeless battle, seeking to retreat, surrender or flee. The GM decides when monsters abandon the battle and retreat, based on the situation and the monster�s intelligence. Keep in mind that the party�s own NPC allies might decide to flee if their prospects of survival look grim. Player characters decide their own morale unless they are being controlled in some way � possession, for example, and perhaps a Suggestion spell.

Movement within Melee

A human-sized defender effectively controls their own and each adjacent hex, and enemies cannot move freely through this area. Attempting to do so will draw a free attack which, if successful, will fend the attacker (the one attempting to move through the defended space) off into an adjacent hex (see Spears and Polearms below). Note that this applies only to a creature attempting to move through the controlled area, not one which is moving in to attack. The direction the victim is moved is determined randomly (except that it must be away from the attacker) so it is possible that the free attack will actually speed the creature on its way!

Negotiation and Diplomacy

Some combats can be averted with a few well-chosen words (including lies). If the party is outmatched, or the monsters don�t seem to be carrying much in the way of loot, the party might elect to brazen their way through, in an attempt to avoid combat � or at least delay it until conditions get more favourable. Striking bargains, persuading monsters or non-player characters to do things, and getting out of trouble by using your wits are an important part of the game. Don�t replace them with die rolls. Using dice to determine a monster�s initial reaction before negotiations start is fine, but use player skill (or lack thereof) to decide how far the players can improve a monster�s initial reaction. This isn�t a matter of �my character ought to be really persuasive� � this is one of the places where the players� skill, not the characters�, is tested.


A combatant can back away from an opponent at up to � their speed without penalty. At up to � their speed, they are at -2 AC and must make a successful DEX roll (modified by terrain) to avoid stumbling � in which case the opponent gets an immediate free attack, and they must use a half-move next round to get up again. Retreating at any more than � speed reduces your AC by -4 and grants an opponent an immediate free attack, to which you may not reply (you are assumed to have turned tail and run away).


If a group of fighters lock shields to form a shield-wall, they get the AC benefit of not only their own shield, but also those on either side. Thus the two flank fighters will be at AC +2, and the centre fighters at AC +3. To gain this benefit, the fighters must be literally shoulder-to shoulder: on a hex-grid, that means that three figures will occupy just two hexes. Naturally, this will make the group more vulnerable to area-effect attacks, and the very close quarters means that they cannot add any DEX bonus to their AC (though they will still be penalized for a very low DEX).

* Note that the members of a shield wall only get the AC benefit against frontal attacks; against attacks from the flanks or rear they get no shield bonus to AC as well as losing any DEX bonus for being in the wall.


A human-sized character occupies an area about three feet across for purposes of marching and fighting. However, a human-sized creature controls (or at least, can reach) into its own and any adjacent 5� hex without having been deemed to move from its position.

Spears and Polearms

Spears and polearms in the second rank of a battle formation can attack by reaching through the first rank of fighting-men (i.e. they can attack from 2 hexes away instead of just one). Pikes can be used from as far back as the third rank (i.e. they can attack from 3 hexes away) making a block of steady pikemen a truly dangerous opponent!

A polearm can be used to keep an opponent at bay � a successful attack against an opponent* who has not yet closed to arm�s reach will fend them off for that round. However, once the opponent is past the point of a long spear or pike (i.e. in an adjacent hex) the weapon becomes largely useless, and it would normally be discarded in favour of a handier weapon.

* A very massive or determined opponent may not be dissuaded; for example, a charging rhino may still crush a pikeman even though it has been spitted, due to its great mass, and wild boar are notorious for climbing up a spear shaft to get at the spearman. Such instances will be dealt with by the DM on a case-by-case basis.


Spell Level Required Armour Quality
1-3 +1
4-6 +2
7-9 +3
10-12 +4

Spell casting begins at the start of the round, and must be declared before initiative is rolled.

It is possible to cast a spell while within melee range of an opponent (10 ft), but if the spell caster is successfully attacked while casting a spell, the spell is lost. Unless the spell description states otherwise, the spell takes effect in the caster�s initiative phase.

Magic-users cannot cast spells when wearing any armour other than magical bracers. Fighter-mages can cast spells only in magical armour, depending on the quality of the armour and the level of the spell.

Subdual Damage

A weapon may be used to beat down, rather than kill, an opponent. When the player desires, damage inflicted can be composed of half �real� damage and half �subdual� damage that does not kill, and such subdual points are recovered at a rate of 1 hp per hour. If the opponent�s hit points, including the subdual damage, fall to zero, the opponent is knocked unconscious rather than killed (unless the real damage actually reduces real hit points to zero, in which case the opponent is accidentally killed).

Not all monsters may be subdued. Generally only humanoids and special creatures such as dragons will be subject to such attacks.


Assuming specific circumstances don�t determine whether one character or creature or another is surprised at the beginning of combat, a die roll is used. Each PC rolls individually, and the GM rolls for the monsters � individually if there are just a few, or in manageable blocks otherwise.

A character or monster is normally surprised if they roll a 1 or 2 on the die, and can be attacked freely without the ability to respond in that round; the number rolled indicates how long the victim is surprised for, so if a 2 is rolled, they can be attacked at least twice! Note that each segment of surprise is treated as if it were a full round of combat, so combatants with multiple attacks can use them for each segment of surprise. This does not apply to spell-casting of course, which has objective, not subjective time constraints.

The die-type rolled for surprise will depend on character class, species, and possibly level. The default die remains the d6, with surprise usually occurring if a 1 or 2 is thrown.

And so on, up to a d30 (if you own one of those things, which I don't now do).

Things like wearing a vision- or hearing-restricting helm would drop your surprise die down one or two levels, so a fighter wearing a closed armet would be rolling a d3 for surprise (66.6%

Terrain Features

Characters and monsters will hide behind things, stand on things, lie prone, fight from higher ground, shoot arrows from within concealing mists or tree branches, and take every possible advantage of the combat terrain. The Game Master will assign bonuses and penalties for terrain features. Most such bonuses will only be a +/-1 or 2, depending on the degree of cover or the benefit of higher ground. Trying to hit someone through an arrow slit in a castle wall might have a penalty of �3 � but remember, the penalty to hit an invisible opponent is only �4, so a +/- 4 is about the outside limit for terrain adjustments on the to-hit roll.

Two-Weapon Fighting

Using two weapons, one in each hand, allows two attacks in a round, but at a penalty of -3 for each. Alternately, the player can elect to use one weapon defensively in which case they get one attack at -1 and add +1 to their Armour Class. The off-hand weapon must be a dagger, short sword or hand-axe (or similar) unless you are a ranger, in which case two swords can be used.

Unarmed Combat

Brawling attacks, such as those conducted with fist, foot or dagger pommel, will normally inflict 1d2 points of damage, plus the attacker�s strength bonus to damage (if any). If the damage from the attack inflicts more than half of the defender�s remaining hit points, or if a blow is a natural 20, the defender is stunned. Anyone who is already stunned will be knocked unconscious for 1d4 rounds by the next successful attack.

Example: a blow of the fist inflicts 3 hit points of damage, and the defender has 4 hit points. The defender is stunned and suffers the penalties for being stunned. If the blow had only inflicted 2 points of damage (exactly half), the defender would not be stunned. If the stunned character is hit a second time, he will be knocked unconscious.

Note: Use common sense when adjudicating unarmed combat. Hitting somebody in plate armour with your fist is unlikely to hurt anyone but yourself.

Attempts to wrestle an opponent to the ground and pin him down, or attempts to smash into an opponent and push him backward, will be determined by the GM�s common sense (dragons aren�t easily wrestled to the ground, unlike goblins).

Wands and similar magic items in combat

Unlike a spell, a wand (or similar magic item) normally only requires a single command word or short phrase to activate.Therefore, use of a spell from a wand can usually only be interrupted by an attack if initiative is simultaneous, and in such a case the wand is assumed not to have been activated, and therefore no charge is used up.