In the real world, disagreements are usually settled with words. Regular, mundane, perfectly harmless and not-at-all magical words. It’s civilized, and wise. Unfortunately for your hero(ine), liches, necromancers and the like aren’t so kind, and they lace all their words and phrases with power and hate. Also, like, ogres and dark knights? They hate you just because.
Don’t take that man. you’re great. Stand up for yourself. Have a combat!
Our game uses mostly turn based combat (with rare exceptions). Theoretically, all characters are acting at the same time, with each round taking a few seconds. In practice, each character has its own rounds to act. Order is determined by Initiative. Higher initiative characters have more liberties with when and how they act. In addition, on the first round of combat, characters might gain bonuses or penalties based on whether they have acted yet (being considered “flat-footed” or “FF” because they are so low in the order they haven’t registered that combat has started yet).
> Each Combat is called an encounter.
> Each combat consists of rounds.
> Each round consists of turns.
> Each turn consits of actions.
>Full Round Actions take your entire turn. You cannot take any other actions this round. Full Round Actions (FRAs) might be Large Area effect spells, a flurry of mighty weapon attacks, search an area, dig through your pack for an item, take a full movement (4x regular movement to escape, usually), or other, difficult or time consuming actions like some skill checks.
>Standard Actions (SA)take up most of your round. Leaving you time for a move action and possibly some other minor action. they can consist of attacks, or other fairly complex actions, like some skill checks.
>Move Actions (MA)take up a smaller portion of your round. You may draw a weapon or grab one of your items that are in easy reach, drink a potion, move up to your standard movement (30ft for medium creatures), get up from a prone position, or other similar actions like some skill checks.
>Free Actions (FA) take virtually no time or effort, and can consist of talking, casting the simplist spells, quick drawing as part of a move (or no move, with a perk), or taking a five foot step (or 5FS).
Immediate Actions: (IA)usally require use of an Action Point and allow you to take an action when it isn’t your turn. These are generally very specific, and almost always require a perk.
How do we start? Well, combat can start in a lot of different ways. Generally, a threat is made, or a sound is heard, and the GM asks you to roll for Initiative. The impulsive wizard may decide that the stubborn guard will be more apt to let you through the gate if he was set on fire, and proceed to make it so. Things like this result in a surprise round. In this case, the character(s) with advantage get to take actions before rolling initiative.
What happens next:
Each combat has characters taking turns, taking their best available actions to either attack, defend, out-maneuver, contain, or otherwise thwart their adversaries, often by working in harmony with their allies.
Melee characters tend to close the distance with enemies or stand their ground to protect weaker allies. rangers and rogues position themselves advantageously to make the best use of their particular skill sets, often either finding a good spot to harry defenders, or staying mobile to vex attackers, and casters use their versatile tools to affect the battle in myriad ways either subtly or explosively.
Here is an example of 3 rounds of combat between two groups.
The “A” Party: Abe the Barbarian, Anne the Rogue, and Al the Warrior.
The “B” Party: Bill the Paladin, Bonnie the Wizard, and Bob the Ranger.
Party B is walking along, minding their business, counting their money from a recent sale of treasures found in blah blah blah, they notice a motley band standing before them!
It’s Party A, they are highwaymen, and they want B’s loot as payment for passage, or they’ll take it by force!
Roll for Initiative! After every character has rolled their d20s and added their Initiative mod, lets look at the Initiative order: from highest (first to act) to lowest (last to act):
Round 1:> Anne acts first, but she isn’t strong enough to stand in the open. she surveys the area (FA), moves into the tree line (MA) and attempts a stealth skill check to hide, hoping to be more vexing to party B when they can’t see her. She rolls a very high 24 stealth check, setting the difficulty for other characters to find her. > Bob sees the easy target that is Anne flee to the trees, and tries to spot where she hid (FA), unfortunately his alertness roll of 19 wasn’t good enough to spot her. So he decides to start aggressions. He moves away 80 feet (SA), drawing his bow as he does, and takes a shot at Abe (Normally a Standard action, but thanks to Bob’s Skirmisher class ability, he gets to make 1 attack as a FA after a full move), rolling his Ranged check, he gets an 18, which will hit abe’s 13 FF AC, with 5 overage. Bob rolls his 3d6 for his bow, getting a 9. 9 + 5 overage = 14 damage delivered to Abe, who subtracts 2 with his DR, for a total of 12. > Bonnie is next up, and she wisely tries to spot Anne (FA), rolls 17, failing to see her. so Bonnie decides to restrain the very present threat of Abe and Al. She casts her Tangling Roots spell that summons thick vines to entangle the feet of an enemy, preventing them from moving, and invoking a slight penalty. She decides to enhance the spell to cover an area instead of a single target (taking it from a SA to a FRA, and dealing herself 1d6+2 mental burn totalling 6). Bonnie rolls the Conjuration check and gets a 21, setting the number that Abe and Al must DEX save against. Abe rolls a 7, and fails. he is trapped by the vines. Al rolls a 21 and makes his save, leaving himself free to move. Seeing this, Bonnie uses a FA to 5FS behind Bill for protection. > Abe is trapped by Bonnie’s roots. Whatever actions he had intended to take are moot now, and he must try to break free of his bonds. His hands are free, so he attempts a might check (SA) and rolls a 24, breaking free. He uses his MA to draw his other axe in case Bill decides to close with him. > Al made his save, and will charge Bonnie. While she is behind Bill she is protected only from ranged attacks, so bill uses his FRA to charge past Bill and hit Bonnie with that momentum. Al charges a full 40 feet, adding +4 to his attack from the added momentum, Bill doesn’t have the “Hold the Line” or a piercing weapon, so he is powerless to stop Al’s charge. Al rolls his attack and crits! Maximizing the damage from his 2d6 longsword. The attack total was 29, and Bonnie’s AC is only 14, so Al will add the difference (15) to the 12 damage he got from his dice. Seeing how powerful that is, Bill uses an Action Point for his “Shield Ally” perk which allows him to take half of the considerable damage. Of the 27 damage dealt, Bill takes the Brunt at 14, minus his DR, Bill takes 10 damage. Bonnie takes 13. she has no damage reduction. Bonnie is now at 4 HP out of 17, well below half, and is considered Bloodied > Bill is ready to defend Bonnie, and takes a FRA to attack Al. Bill can make a number of attacks up half his skill (currently 8), but he takes a penalty on every attack equal to the number of attacks he is making. Knowing Al’s AC is lowered by 2 for the charge he just made, Bill has some room to work. He decides to take all 4 attacks. Each at a -4. Each attack and damage is resolved before moving on to the next one. >1st attack total (including -4 for multiple attacks) is a 20, hitting Al’s current AC of 18 with 2 overage, adding 2d6 from Bill’s warhammer, the total is 10, -4 for Al’s DR, the damage is 6. > 2nd attack is a 27! with overage the damage is 18. -4 for DR, and Al takes 14 more damage. Al is now at 18 of 38 HP, less than half, and is considered bloodied as well > 3rd attack is 14, which misses Al. > 4th attack is another 27! Bill rolls low on his 2d6’s and totals at 14, for a total of 10 damage after Al’s DR.
in total, Bill dealt a very respectable 30 damage.
Round 2:> Anne is up again, and makes her move, firing her short bow twice (FRA)at the weakened Bonnie! > 1st attack is a 19. with 5 overage, her 2d6 crossbow deals 15 damage (because Bonnie has a -2 to her AC for being unaware of Anne’s attack since she is stealthed), and bonnie is faced with a choice: go unconscious, and out of the fight, hoping her allies win so she can be awakened and fight another day, or take a condition and stay conscious. she already has a minor condition (bloodied) she can take 2 more, one moderate, and one major. she chooses to take a moderate condition, and the GM assigns her a Painful Wound, which imposes a -2 penalty on all saves and makes Bonnie require a successful Discipline check to cast through the pain. Now that Anne has made an attack and exposed her position, party B may try an immediate alertness check to spot her again. her stellar stealth check is lowered by 5, to 19. Bob rolls a 22, spotting Anne, Bonnie rolls a 13, seemingly distracted by her new wound, and Bill rolls a 20, spotting Anne as well. > 2nd Attack is a critical failure, and Bonnie’s bow breaks. > Bob, now aware of Anne’s position and Bonnie’s predicament, decides he needs to step up to the plate. He takes a FRA at 3 attacks. Two at Bonnie and one at Al. >1st attack is a 25, beating Bonnie’s 16 AC by 9, with 3d6 the damage is 24! E Even with her 1 DR, Anne still takes 23 damage and goes all the way past Bloodied and must go unconscious or take another condition to stay up. The GM assigns Hamstrung (-3 on might/athletics/stealth, 1/2 move, can’t charge), and Anne must make an athletics check to stay perched on her branch. With her new -5, her total is only 18, just shy of the 20 the GM required, and she falls 10 feet to the ground below, taking another d6 of damage. the total is 5, Anne only has a 2 in her Constitution (putting her -HP at 4), so she must take another condition, or go unconscious. With a 3rd condition, Anne is 1 hit away from Death. she decides to go unconscious. > Bob’s 2nd attack would be wasted as Anne has fallen to the ground limp, but he can’t move it to another target (without the proper feats), so he moves on to attack 3. > 3rd attack is on Al, and Bob rolls an 18, which is only a glancing blow (it hit Al’s AC dead on), so it gets no overage, and only deals 1/2 damage. 3d6 totaled at 10, halved to 5, and reduced by 4 because of Al’s DR from armor, and Al only takes 1 dmg. > Bonnie sees Al is still too close to cast, so she takes a 5 foot step (using her move action and thus provokes no Attack of Opportunity) before casting Casting Blinding Light at Al. Her penalized (for her painful wound condition) Evocation check is still a healthy 23, and Al must Constitution save against it. His save is only 17, and he fails, and is rendered completely blind until the end on Bonnie’s next turn. Blindness is added as a moderate (if fleeting) condition to Al. > Abe is a barbarian. Barbarians can “Rage” when something sets them off. One of Abe’s “Rage triggers” is seeing an ally taken out. So Anne’s impression of an apple sends Abe into a fury. His rage grants him some potent combat enhancements, chiefly to his strength and constitution. With his newfound power, Abe Charges (FRA) headlong into Bill, Bringing his mighty Axe to bear! His attack is a huge 41 (18 on his roll, +4 for the 40 ft charge, plus 8 for his skill, + 2 for his focus and weapon enhancement, and +9 for his enhanced strength at 1.5x for using a 2handed weapon). Bill’s 23 AC is no match for that, giving Abe 18 overage on this attack. adding his 3d6 weapon damage, and Abe deals a bone-crushing 29 damage! Even with 4 DR, Bill still takes 24 damage. Bill has lost all of his 34 HP, and is now forced to take a moderate condition (in addition to gaining bloodied) or go down. Bill is given Concussion (-2 on all mental saves and -1 on all skill checks) as a moderate condition. > Luckily for Bill and Bonnie, Al is still blinded, he swings wildly with 4 attacks (in addition to a -4 from multiple attacks, bill has a -2 and a 75% miss chance, in addition). We will save time, and assume he misses. But hey, he had to try.
> Bill is up, and he will Lay on hands himself as a FA (something he forgot to do last round. keep track of your abilities) and heals himself for 1d6, getting a 3, and recovering 4 health due to his religion perk for Alidor. Then he takes a FRA against Abe. Bill then takes a 5 foot step as his move action, and casts a healing spell on Bonnie as his SA, healing her of 3d6 + 3 damage, totalling 16.
Round 3:> Anne is unconscious, but makes a Constitution check vs bleeding out. the DC is 10 + 5x her number of conditions, so the DC is 20. she rolls a 20, and stabilizes (she won’t bleed to death unless more damage is dealt to her) > Bob lines up his shots against Abe, and fires 3 shots as a FRA. > 1st attack is a 23, beating Abe’s current 15 by 8. 8 + 3d6= 20. Abes Enraged DR is 5, so he only takes 15 damage. *Abe is at 20 of 45 (rage modified) HP, and is bloodied. Abe has a barbarian only perk “Fight Through”, that raises his DR and damage by 1 each per condition, so he just got a little tougher. > Bob’s 2nd attack is a 28, and his 3d6 + 13 overage is another 27 damage, even with DR 6 it manages to drop Abe to negative HP. *Abe now chooses to take another (his 2nd) condition instead of going unconscious. GM gives him Broken Ribs, biving Abe a -1 on all physical skill checks, and a -3 on reflex saves, but raising his DR and attack again. > Now it’s Bonnie’s Turn, and she spends a FRA to cast a twice enhanced Lightning Bolt spell. Enhanced Once to add a target (now at 2) and once again to add a d6 of damage, bringing it from a 2d6 spell to a 3d6 spell. she also spends an action point to Tag her perk “Storm Born” that causes lightning damage spells cast outside to have their damage enhanced (1.5x normal). Still hindered by her Painful Wound, Bonnie rolls a 14 on her d20. + 8 for her skill, + 4 for her Intellect mod, +1 for her school focus, and +1 for her staff, her total is a whopping 28! Blinded, Al can’t see it coming, and his roll is penalized, he gets a 23, and will take full damage. Abe rolls a 28! but with his -5 from Broken Ribs, he falls short at 23 as well. Bonnie rolls her 3d6 for a total of 11, +5 for her “Storm Born” perk, +2 for half overage on Save spells, and Bonnie deals 18 damage to Abe and Al! Abe’s natural DR still applies to magic, but he still takes 11 damage and chooses to take his 3rd condition (and risk death). In light of the nature of this attack, however, and knowing that a 3rd condition is always a major, lasting one, the GM paralyzes Abe from the waist down, and he falls prone. *Al’s armor’s DR can’t apply to magic, so he takes all 18 damage, putting him at negative HP, and takes a second condition. Again, in fitting with the attack, the DM Paralyzes Al’s Sword arm with “Nerve Damage” (-3 on attacks, can’t fight two handed). > Al overcomes his blindness, surveys the situation (including Bob who is still at full health) and decides to surrender himself and his incapacitated allies to justice.
> Bill, Bob, and Bonnie escort the paralyzed Abe, unconscious Anne, and defeated Al to the nearest town and its guards.