These maneuvers give you a variety of choices in combat. Roleplaying combat is more entertaining if you can visualize your character’s moves instead of simply rolling dice. Most of these maneuvers take one action to execute.
• Aborting Actions: You can abandon your character’s declared action in favor of a defensive action as long as your character hasn’t acted in the turn. Actions that can take the place of a previously declared action include block, dodge, and parry. A successful Willpower roll versus difficulty 6 (or the expenditure of a Willpower point) is required for a character to abort an action and perform a defensive one instead. When spending Willpower for an abort maneuver, a character may declare the Willpower expenditure at the time of the abort. A Willpower roll to abort is considered a reflexive action. (See “Defensive Maneuvers,” below, for descriptions of block, dodge, and parry.)
• Ambush: Ambushes involve surprising a target to get in a decisive first strike. The attacker rolls Dexterity + Stealth in a resisted action against the target’s Perception + Alertness. If the attacker scores more successes, she can stage one free attack on the target; she then adds any extra successes from the resisted roll to her attack dice pool. On a tie, the attacker still attacks first, although the target may perform a defensive maneuver. If the defender gets more successes, he spots the ambush, and both parties determine initiative normally. Targets already involved in combat cannot be ambushed.
• Blind Fighting/Fire: Staging attacks while blind (or in pitch darkness) usually incurs a +2 difficulty, and ranged attacks cannot be accurately made at all. Powers such as Heightened Senses and Eyes of the Beast mitigate this penalty.
• Flank and Rear Attacks: Characters attacking targets from the flank gain an additional attack die. Characters attacking from the rear gain two additional attack dice.
• Movement: A character may move half of her running distance and still take an action in a turn. Other maneuvers such as leaping or tumbling may be considered separate actions, depending on their complexity.
• Multiple Actions: If you declare multiple actions, declare the total number of actions you wish to attempt and determine which of the dice pools is the smallest. Then, divide that number of dice between all of your actions. If a character performs only defensive actions in a turn, use the appropriate block, dodge, or parry system.
• Targeting: Aiming for a specific location incurs an added difficulty, but can bypass armor or cover, or can result in an increased damage effect. The Storyteller should consider special results beyond a simple increase in damage, depending on the attack and the target.
Target Size Difficulty Damage
Medium +1 No modifier
Small +2 +1
(hand, head, cellphone)
Precise +3 +2
(eye, heart, lock)
It’s a given that your character tries to avoid being hit in combat — that’s why everyone makes attack rolls to try to hit you. Sometimes, though, all your character wants to do is avoid attacks. You may announce a defensive action at any time before your character’s opponent makes an attack roll, as long as your character has an action left to perform. You can declare a defensive action on your character’s turn in the initiative, or can even abort to a defensive maneuver. You must make a successful Willpower roll (or may simply spend one point of Willpower) to abort. If the Willpower roll fails, your character must carry out the action that you declared originally.
There are three types of defensive actions: block, dodge, and parry. Your character can defend against virtually any kind of attack with these three maneuvers. However, your character may not be able to avoid every single attack that’s directed at her. She can’t dodge when there’s no room to maneuver, and she can’t block or parry if she doesn’t know an attack is coming.
Each defensive maneuver uses the same basic system: The defensive action is a resisted roll against the opponent’s attack roll. Unless the attacker gets more total successes, he misses. If the attacker gets more successes, those that he achieves in excess of the defender’s successes, if any, are used to hit (the attacker doesn’t necessarily use all the successes he rolled). So if the defender has fewer successes than the attacker does, the defender’s maneuver can still reduce the effectiveness of the attack, even if the maneuver can’t counteract it completely.
• Block: A Dexterity + Brawl maneuver using your character’s own body to deflect a hand-to-hand bashing attack. Lethal and aggravated attacks cannot be blocked unless the defender has Fortitude or is wearing armor.
• Dodge: A Dexterity + Athletics maneuver useful for avoiding attacks of all types. Your character bobs and weaves to avoid Melee or Brawl attacks (if there’s no room to maneuver, she must block or parry instead). In gunfights, your character moves at least one yard/meter and ends up behind cover (if there’s no room to maneuver or no cover available, she can drop to the ground). If your character remains under cover or prone, cover rules apply against further Firearms attacks.
• Parry: A Dexterity + Melee maneuver using a weapon to block a Brawl or Melee attack. If a character makes a Brawl attack and the defender parries with a weapon that normally causes lethal damage, the attacker can actually be hurt by a successful parry. If the defender rolls more successes than the attacker does in the resisted action, the defender rolls the weapon’s base damage plus the parry’s extra successes as a damage dice pool against the attacker.
Block, dodge, and parry can be performed as part of a multiple action in your character’s turn (punching then blocking, shooting then dodging, parrying then striking). Using a multiple action to act and defend is advantageous because your character can still accomplish something in a turn besides avoiding attacks.
Rather than having to divide your dice pool among multiple defensive actions, you may declare that your character spends an entire turn defending. The normal multiple-action rules are not used in this case. Instead, you have a full dice pool for the first defensive action, but lose one die, cumulatively, for each subsequent defense action made in the same turn. It is still difficult to avoid several incoming attacks, but not as difficult as trying to attempt multiple things at once.
Remember that any actions, including defensive ones, versus multiple attackers still suffer difficulty penalties (see “Multiple Opponents,” below).
Close Combat Maneuvers
This is simply a listing of the common maneuvers used in close combat; feel free to develop your own Maneuver Characteristics Maneuvers are typically performed versus difficulty 6. Maneuvers with specific combat effects may modify your attack roll, difficulty, or damage dice pool.
Traits: The Trait combination used for the action taken. If your character doesn’t have a rating in the needed Ability, default to its base Attribute.
Accuracy: The dice added to the roll to hit an opponent. A “+3” adds three dice to the dice pool for that attack.
Difficulty: Any additions or subtractions to an attack’s difficulty (which is most often 6). A “+2” means the difficulty of an attack, if initially 6, is increased to 8.
Damage: The damage dice pool used. moves (with the Storyteller’s approval). All hand-tohand attacks inflict bashing damage unless stated otherwise. The damage inflicted by melee attacks depends on the weapon type (see the Melee Weapons Chart). It is typically lethal, though clubs and other blunt instruments inflict bashing damage. All references to Strength also gain the benefit of Potence.
Difficulty and damage for these maneuvers may be modified at the Storyteller’s discretion, depending on the combat style the character uses. As always, drama and excitement take precedence over rules systems.
• Bite: This maneuver is available only to vampires (or other supernatural creatures with sharp teeth, such as werewolves). A bite maneuver is a “combat” bite, intended to cause damage rather than drain blood. Bite damage is aggravated. To use a bite attack, the vampire must first perform a successful clinch, hold, or tackle maneuver (see below). On the turn following the successful attack, the player may declare the bite attempt and make a roll using the modifiers below.
Alternatively, a player can declare her vampire’s bite to be a “Kiss” attack. A Kiss is resolved in the same way as a normal bite, but inflicts no health levels of damage. Upon connecting with a Kiss, the vampire may begin to drain the victim’s blood at the normal rate, and the victim is typically helpless to resist. Following the Kiss, a vampire may, if she chooses, lick the puncture wound of the Kiss closed, thereby removing any evidence that she has fed.
Traits: Dexterity + Brawl Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: +1 Damage: Strength +1
• Claw: This attack is available to vampires with claws, such as those from the Protean power of Feral Claws or bone spurs constructed with the Vicissitude power of Bonecraft. A few other supernatural creatures, such as werewolves, also have claws. A claw attack inflicts aggravated damage (if Feral Claws) or lethal damage (if a Vicissitude-constructed weapon).
Traits: Dexterity + Brawl Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Normal Damage: Strength +1
• Clinch: On a successful attack roll, the attacker goes into a clinch with the target. In the first turn, the attacker may roll Strength damage. In each subsequent turn, combatants act on their orders in the initiative. A combatant can inflict Strength damage automatically or attempt to escape the clinch. No other actions are allowed until one combatant breaks free. To escape a clinch, make a resisted Strength + Brawl roll against the opponent. If the escaping character has more successes, she breaks free; if not, the characters continue to grapple in the next turn.
Traits: Strength + Brawl Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Normal Damage: Strength
• Disarm: To strike an opponent’s weapon, the attacker must make an attack roll at +1 difficulty. If successful, the attacker rolls damage normally. If successes rolled exceed the opponent’s Strength rating, the opponent takes no damage but is disarmed. A botch usually means the attacker drops her own weapon or is struck by her target’s weapon.
Traits: Dexterity + Melee Difficulty: +1 Accuracy: Normal Damage: Special
• Hold: This attack inflicts no damage, as the intent is to immobilize rather than injure the subject. On a successful roll, the attacker holds the target until the subject’s next action. At that time, both combatants roll resisted Strength + Brawl actions; the subject remains immobilized (able to take no other action) until she rolls more successes than the attacker does.
Traits: Strength + Brawl Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Normal Damage: None
• Kick: Kicks range from simple front kicks to aerial spins. The base attack is at +1 difficulty and inflicts the attacker’s Strength +1 in damage. These ratings may be modified further at the Storyteller’s discretion, increasing in damage and/or difficulty as the maneuver increases in complexity.
Ability: Dexterity + Brawl Difficulty: +1 Accuracy: Normal Damage: Strength +1
• Multiple Opponents: A character who battles multiple opponents in close combat suffers attack and defense difficulties of +1, cumulative, for each opponent after the first (to a maximum of +4).
• Strike: The attacker lashes out with a fist. The base attack is a standard action and inflicts the character’s Strength in damage. The Storyteller may adjust the difficulty and/or damage depending on the type of punch: hook, jab, haymaker, karate strike.
Traits: Dexterity + Brawl Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Normal Damage: Strength
• Sweep: The attacker uses her own legs to knock the legs out from under her opponent. The target takes Strength damage and must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 8) or suffer a knockdown (see “Maneuver Complications”).
The attacker can also use a staff, chain, or similar implement to perform a sweep. The effect is the same, although the target takes damage per the weapon type.
Traits: Dexterity + Brawl/Melee Difficulty: +1 Accuracy: Normal Damage: Str; knockdown
• Tackle: The attacker rushes her opponent, tackling him to the ground. The attack roll is at +1 difficulty, and the maneuver inflicts Strength +1 damage.
Additionally, both combatants must roll Dexterity + Athletics (difficulty 7) or suffer a knockdown (see “Maneuver Complications”). Even if the target’s Athletics roll succeeds, he is unbalanced, suffering +1 difficulty to his actions for the next turn.
Traits: Strength + Brawl Difficulty: +1 Accuracy: Normal Damage: Strength +1
• Weapon Length: It is difficult to get in range with a punch or knife if someone else is wielding a sword or staff. A character being fended off with a longer weapon must close in one yard/meter before striking, losing a die from her attack roll in the process.
• Weapon Strike: A slashing blow, thrust, or jab, depending on the weapon used. See the Melee Weapons Chart, p. 280, for particulars.
Traits: Dexterity + Melee Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Normal Damage: Weapon type
Close Combat Maneuvers Table
|Bite||Dex + Brawl||+1||Normal||Str +1 (A)|
|Block||Dex + Brawl||Special||Normal||None (R)|
|Claw||Dex + Brawl||Normal||Normal||Str +1 (A)|
|Clinch||Str + Brawl||Normal||Normal||Str (C)|
|Disarm||Dex + Meele||Normal||+1||Special|
|Dodge||Dex + Athletics||Special||Normal||None (R)|
|Hold||Str + Brawl||Normal||Normal||None (C)|
|Kick||Dex + Brawl||Normal||+1||Str +1|
|Parry||Dex + Meele||Special||Normal||None (R)|
|Strike||Dex + Brawl||Normal||Normal||Str|
|Sweep||Dex + Brawl/Meele||Normal||+1||Str (K)|
|Tackle||Str + Brawl||Normal||+1||Str +1 (K)|
|Weapon Strike||Dex + Meele||Normal||Normal||Weapon|
(A): The maneuver inflicts aggravated damage.
(C): The maneuver carries over on successive turns.
(K): The maneuver causes knockdown.
(R): The maneuver reduces an opponent’s attack successes.
Ranged Combat Maneuvers
Many physical conflicts involve ranged weapons. The following maneuvers allow for a number of useful actions during a firefight. Don’t feel limited by this list; if the need arises, try developing a new maneuver (at the Storyteller’s discretion). Refer to the Ranged Weapons Chart, for specific information.
• Aiming: The attacker adds one die to her attack dice pool on a single shot for each turn spent aiming. The maximum number of dice that can be added in this way is equal to the character’s Perception, and a character must have Firearms 1 or better to use this maneuver. A scope adds two more dice to the attacker’s pool in the first turn of aiming (in addition to those added for Perception). The attacker may do nothing but aim during this time. Additionally, it isn’t possible to aim at a target that is moving faster than a walk.
• Automatic Fire: The weapon unloads its entire ammunition clip in one attack against a single target. The attacker makes a single roll, adding 10 dice to her accuracy. However, the attack roll is at a +2 difficulty due to the weapon’s recoil. Extra successes add to the damage dice pool, which is still treated as equivalent to one bullet. An attacker using automatic fire may not target a specific area of the body.
This attack is permissible only if the weapon’s clip is at least half-full to begin with.
Traits: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: +2 Accuracy: +10 Damage: Special
• Cover: Cover increases an attacker’s difficulty to hit a target (and often the target’s ability to fire back). Difficulty penalties for hitting a target under various types of cover are listed below. A character who fires back from behind cover is also at something of a disadvantage to hit, as he exposes himself and ducks back under protection. Firearms attacks made by a defender who is under cover are at one lower difficulty than listed below. (If a listed difficulty is +1, then the defender suffers no penalty to make attacks from under that cover.) If your character hides behind a wall, attackers’ Firearms rolls have a +2 difficulty. Your character’s attacks staged from behind that wall are at +1 difficulty.
Note that difficulties for combatants who are both under cover are cumulative. If one combatant is prone and one is behind a wall, attacks staged by the prone character are at +2 difficulty, while attacks staged by the character behind the wall are also at +2 difficulty.
Cover Type Difficulty Increase
Light (lying prone) +1
Good (behind wall) +2
Superior (only head exposed) +3
• Multiple Shots: An attacker with a fast firearm may try to take more than one shot in a turn. The attacker can divide his attack dice pool by how many shots she wants to fire at a similar number of targets, up to the weapon’s rate of fire (multiple attacks against the same target are covered under maneuvers like “Automatic Fire” and “Three-Round Burst”). Each attack is then rolled separately.
Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: Normal Accuracy: Special Damage: Weapon type
• Range: The Ranged Weapons Chart lists each weapon’s short range; attacks made at that range are versus difficulty 6. Twice that listing is the weapon’s maximum range. Attacks made up to maximum range are versus difficulty 8. Attacks made at targets within two meters are considered point blank. Pointblank shots are made versus difficulty 4.
• Reloading: Reloading takes one full turn and requires the character’s concentration. Like any other maneuver, reloading can be performed as part of a multiple action.
• Strafing: Instead of aiming at one target, fully-automatic weapons can be fired across an area. Strafing adds 10 dice to accuracy on a standard attack roll, and empties the clip. A maximum of three yards/meters can be covered with this maneuver.
The attacker divides any successes gained on the attack roll evenly among all targets in the covered area (successes assigned to hit an individual are added to that target’s damage dice pool, as well). If only one target is within range or the area of effect, only half the successes affect him. The attacker then assigns any leftover successes as she desires. If fewer successes are rolled than there are targets, only one may be assigned per target until they are all allocated.
Dodge rolls against strafing are at +1 difficulty.
Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: +2 Accuracy: +10 Damage: Special
• Three-Round Burst: The attacker gains two additional dice on a single attack roll, and expends three shots from the weapon’s clip. Only certain weapons may perform this maneuver; see the Ranged Weapons Chart for particulars. Attacks are made at +1 difficulty due to recoil. As with automatic fire, the damage dice pool is based on one bullet from the weapon in question.
Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: +1 Accuracy: +2 Damage: Weapon type
• Two Weapons: Firing two weapons is considered performing a multiple action, complete with dividing the dice of the lowest pool between two different targets. Additionally, the attacker suffers +1 difficulty for the attack with her off-hand (unless she’s ambidextrous).
Each attack is rolled and resolved separately — multiple attacks made against the same target are covered by maneuvers such as “Automatic Fire” and “Three-Round Burst.”
Ability: Dexterity + Firearms Difficulty: +1/off-hand Accuracy: Normal Damage: Weapon type
Ranged Combat Maneuvers Table
|Automatic Fire||Dex + Firearms||+10||+2||Special|
|Multiple Shots||Dex + Firearms||Special||Normal||Weapon|
|Strafing||Dex + Firearms||+10||+2||Special|
|3-Round Burst||Dex + Firearms||+2||+1||Weapon|
|Two Weapons||Dex + Firearms||Normal||+1/off hand||Weapon|
The following are common combat complications. The Storyteller should add any others as the situation warrants.
• Blinded: Add two dice to attack rolls made against a blinded target. Furthermore, blind characters are at +2 difficulty on all actions.
• Dazed: If, in a single attack, the attacker rolls a number of damage successes greater than the target’s Stamina (for mortals) or Stamina + 2 (for vampires and other supernatural beings), the victim is dazed. The target must spend her next available turn shaking off the attack’s effects. Only damage successes that penetrate the defender’s soak attempt count toward this total.
• Immobilization: Add two dice to attack rolls made on an immobilized (i.e., held by someone or something) but still struggling target. Attacks hit automatically if the target is completely immobilized (tied up, staked, or otherwise paralyzed).
• Knockdown: The victim falls down. After suffering a knockdown, the subject makes a Dexterity + Athletics roll. If successful, she may get back on her feet immediately, but her initiative is reduced by two in the next turn. On a failed roll, the subject spends her next action climbing to her feet, if she chooses to rise. On a botch, she lands particularly hard or at a severe angle, taking an automatic health level of bashing damage.
Maneuvers like tackle and sweep are intended to knock an opponent down. However, an especially powerful attack of any kind may send the target to the ground. Such instances are best left to the Storyteller’s discretion, and should occur only when appropriately cinematic or suitable to the story.
• Stake Through Heart: A vampire can indeed be incapacitated by the classic wooden stake of legend. However, the legends err on one point: A Kindred impaled through the heart with a wooden stake is not destroyed, but merely paralyzed until the stake is removed. To stake a vampire, an attacker must target the heart (difficulty 9). If the attack succeeds and inflicts at least three health levels of damage, the target is immobilized. An immobilized victim is conscious (and may use perception powers, such as those in the Auspex Discipline), but may not move or spend blood points.