Chapter 35: Combat Adjustments

The combat adjustments represent variables that occasionally affect combat. This includes things like: terrain, cover, concealment, weather conditions, and some things that are simply strange. Combat adjustments affect the player’s to hit rolls, and they are either added or subtracted from the kilodie to hit roll. Bonuses are those conditions that make it easier for the persona to hit her target, and these combat adjustments are added to the player’s to hit roll. Penalties are those conditions that make it harder for the persona to hit her target, and these combat adjustments are subtracted from the player’s to hit roll. Common sense should rule here. If there is some combat adjustment bogging down game play, then the referee should simply drop it. The referee must strike the comfortable balance between playability and realism, and if combat adjustments must suffer to ensure that everyone has fun there should be no question about dumping them.

Theatrical vs Tactical Combat Adjustments: There is no difference between the tactical and theatrical combat systems in regards to combat adjustments. The referee can use what ever combat adjustments that she sees fit. Most theatrical combat based campaigns will not bother with the combat adjustments listed here. In fact neither will most campaigns using the tactical combat system.  Occasionally modifications to to hit rolls will be absolutely essential in either system, and this chapter gives guidelines for such moments.

To Hit Adjustments

Nearly all combat adjustments are made to the player’s to hit rolls. These can be penalties or bonuses. Mostly penalties. The penalty or bonus could be a flat adjustment or a rate adjustment. For simplicity most penalties are listed as negatives so simply everything is added to the player’s to hit roll. 

Flat Adjustments:  The To-hit adjustments can be flat adjustments that simply added to the to hit roll. For example, a flat adjustment of -100 to hit would be subtracted from the players to hit roll. Flat adjustments apply to all weapon types. 

Rate Adjustments: Rate adjustments are multiplied the number of hexes in range between the weapon on the target. The rate adjustments are calculated and added to the player’s kilo-die to hit roll. Rate adjustments only affect Type B and C weapons. Type B and C weapons have maximum weapon ranges and decay effects are considered rate adjustments. For example if an axe has a decay rate adjustment of -333 per hex beyond full range would have -666 to hit 2 hexes beyond the axe’s maximum range.

Penalties: Penalties only affect the players to hit roll. They do not reduce the persona’s Maximum Roll  (MR) or any part of the combat table. A persona with a very high  Bonus Proficient (BP) could overcome a to hit roll penalties. For example, a persona using a ranged weapon, 10 hexes from her target, in a heavy rain (-15 per hex) would have a total rate adjustment of -150. This to hit roll penalty is subtracted from the player’s raw kilo-die roll. The penalty does not  affect the player’s Maximum Roll (MR). If player were to generate an unadjusted to hit roll of 953, it would be reduced to 803. 803 becomes the players to hit roll, the player would add her Bonus Proficient (BP) and that would be the to hit roll would be compared to the player’s Maximum Roll (MR). The MR is not decreased by penalties.

Bonuses: To hit bonuses are added to the player’s net to hit roll, even if that is the persona’s Maximum Roll (MR). Thus a rear attack (+90 to hit) with a club could allow the player to surpass her persona’s MR (Maximum Roll) and possibly hit a previously impervious target. Consider the following scenario of a persona  with a Maximum Roll (MR) of 763 is trying to hit a target with an Armour Rating (AR) of  793. Under normal circumstances, the persona could not hit the target because her Maximum Roll (MR) is too low. However the rear attack to hit bonus of +90 adjusts the net to hit roll upwards by 90. This means that the net to hit roll could be as high as 883 (MR of 793 plus 90) allowing the persona to hit a target she cannot normally hit when attacking from behind. This method of administering to hit bonuses is blatantly biased towards the players. There is no justifiable reason for players to be excluded from combat because their persona has an inadequate Maximum Roll (MR). To hit bonuses allow the a player to gain a chance to hit a target through ingenious, or experienced, tactics.

Through rain, and sleet and dark of night...
Through rain, and sleet and dark of night…

Meteorological Conditions

Most to hit adjustments described are penalties, and these mostly arise from inclement meteorological conditions. Since most referees will not bother to quantify the intensity of a rainfall the classifications are grouped so that the actual intensity can be randomly determined. Any undecided weather condition can be rolled on a die. The intensity of snowfall for example, light (1), normal (2), heavy (3), blizzard (4), can easily be determined with the roll of a d4.

If the rate adjustment system is too cumbersome, it can be converted into a bulk penalty system. This is achieved by multiplying the intensity level of the adverse condition by 50. With this system the penalty would be the same regardless of the range of the attack. Heavy snow (3), would be -150 to hit, moonlight darkness(2) would be -100 to hit, and dense smoke (5) would be -250 to hit.

Table 35.1 Rain To Hit Roll Penalty

Rain makes even bullets slippery.
Rain Intensity (1d4)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
RainDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Light-3
2Normal-8
3Heavy-15
4Monsoon-22

Table 35.2 Hail To Hit Roll Penalty

Hard rain.
Hail IntensityDescriptionPenalty per h/u
HailDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Light-12
2Heavy-24

Table 35.3 Sandstorm To Hit Roll Penalty

When storming beaches or deserts.
Sandstorm Intensity (1d4)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
SandstormDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Light-30
2Normal-42
3Heavy-60
4Blizzard-90

Table 35.4 Wind To Hit Roll Penalty

Effects of wind on to hit rolls.
Wind Intensity (1d4)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
WindDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Normalnil
2Strong-20
3Fierce-40
4Gale-60

Table 35.5 Fog or Smoke To Hit Roll Penalty

The fog and smoke of war.
Fog Intensity (1d6)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
Fog or SmokeDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Trace-2
2Thin-5
3Normal-15
4Thick-60
5Dense-115
6Opaque-230

Table 35.6 Darkness To Hit Roll Penalty

Under the cover and obfuscation of darkness.
Darkness Intensity (1d4)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
DarknessDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Twilight-10
2Moonlight-20
3Starlight-35
4Void-42

Table 35.7 Snow To Hit Roll Penalty

The softer hail.
Snow Intensity (1d4)DescriptionPenalty per h/u
SnowDescriptionPenalty per h/u
1Light-03
2Normal-12
3Heavy-24
4Blizzard-48

Table 35.8 High Gravity Effects Penalty

Oh the gravitas.
Encumbrance LevelFlat To Hit Roll Penalty
EncumbranceFlat To Hit Roll Penalty
Free-50
Unencumbered-100
Encumbered-200
Over Encumbered-300
Lift OnlyLift Only

Cover and Concealment

Cover and concealment are to hit roll penalties that are attributed to cover taken by the target. They are different from other to hit adjustments in that cover and concealment depend on the actions of the target. Cover and concealment penalties apply to weapon types B and C only.

Cover and concealment penalties are based on the percentage of the target that is protected by the cover/concealment. The table is based on the premise that there is some portion of the target is still visible some time during the unit. If the target is completely hidden and not poking out to attack during the unit then the target is completely concealed. Attacks made would be firing blind.

A Tom Corbett Space Cadet Adventure: The Revolt On Venus. By Cary Rockwell. Illustrated by Louis Glanzman. Technical Adviser Willy Ley. Gosset and Dunlap 1954
Om nom nom. Dinner has it’s own toothpick.

Cover: Cover is any solid or otherwise impenetrable barrier that the persona places between her body and the attacker’s weapon. Typical covers are rocks, tree trunks, hills, and corners of buildings. The more cover that a target has, the more difficult it is to hit.

Concealment: Concealment is when a persona places some non-solid obscuring or distracting barrier between herself and the attacker’s weapon. The major difference 13,etWeen cover and concealment is that cover will stop the attack when it comes in, acting as impenetrable armour for the persona, but concealment does not stop the opponent’s attacks, and merely hides the persona from the attacker. The key difference is that cover is impenetrable to the attacking weapon, while concealment is not. Thus a persona may find her previous cover downgraded to concealment if the attacker starts using a more powerful weapon.

Example: If a target was enjoying 90% cover, then flat penalty would –450  on the To Hit Roll.  If the attacker were to switch to a weapon that was not stopped by the cover, the target would have 90% concealment, and the to hit roll flat penalty would be –80. Cover and concealment are not cumulative the target may have only one or the other.

Table 35.9 Cover and Concealment Penalty

One persona's penalty is another persona's protection. Simply put cover will block an attack, concealment will not.
% Target HiddenCover Flat PenaltyConceal Flat PenaltyExample
% HiddenCover PenaltyConcealment PenaltyExample
90-450-80Looking through a slit.
75-220-60Peeking around a corner or over a hill.
66-175-40Pistol or binox around a corner.
50-125-20Rifle around corner.
33-80--Type A or Type B weapons around corner.

Firing Blind

Firing blind refers to attacks made against targets which are not visible, ones that have 100% cover or concealment. Blind firing is also employed when the attacker cannot see her target due to smoke, blindness, invisibility, tear gas, etc. Firing blind is based on the principle that before the attacker can even try her to hit roll, she must first make a percentage roll to determine whether her attack will even warrant one. The chance of getting a to hit roll depends on the target’s size, and what information the attacker has about it.

If the attacker knows the target is beyond a certain wall, can hear footsteps above, or if the target is just plain noisy, each attack has a percentage chance of warranting a roll to hit. This means that if a persona can hear an alien crunching through the bush outside her tent, she may fire a burst of automatic gunfire through the tent wall. The ref, knowing the alien’s size (say, Large), would give each burst a 16% chance to be near enough to allow the player a to hit roll. If the roll is successful, the player may roll kilo-dice to make her regular to hit roll against the alien’s AR.

This system is identical for type A, B and C weapons. The referee must remember that a target with complete cover still cannot be hit; weapon ranges still apply; and attacks that do not even get a chance to hit still cost the persona ammunition. Grenades, aerosols and bombs damage everything in their area of effect and so exact aim may not be necessary (see chapter 30, Grenades and Aerosol combat).

Thrilling Wonder Stories, March 1941 Robert Arthur author Wallace Saaty Illustrator
You may hit it, and still not damage it.

Table 35.10 Percent Chance To Have A Chance To Roll To Hit Dependent On Relative Size of Target If Concealed So Not Visible

Randomly attacking a completely obfuscated target hoping to get a chance to hit.
SizeTinySmallMediumLargeGigantic
SizeTinySmallMediumLargeGigantic
% Chance 2481632

Range Penalties

The range is the distance that the target is from the attacker. It is determined by either a subjective estimate from the ref (such as in the theatrical combat system), table top measurement, or a count of the number of hexes from the attacker to the target (such as in the tactical combat system). When counting hexes, the first hex is the one immediately in front of the attacker, and the last hex is the one containing the target. Thus a target on an adjacent hex would be one hex away.

There are no range penalties unless the target is further away than the maximum range of the weapon. The maximum range of a weapon is determined by its construction. Type A weapons (clubs, swords, etc). are virtually useless when the opponent is out of reach. Type B, and C weapons lose accuracy beyond a certain distance. The tactical combat system has a rate adjustment that makes weapons rapidly less accurate for each hex beyond their efficient range.

The Range of type B, and C weapons indicate the number of hexes the target can be from the attacker before penalties are issued. If the target of a throwing axe is within 14 hexes there is no range penalty. The Decay (-300 for the axe) of a weapon indicates how inaccurate the attack is once it is beyond the weapon’s effective range. The Decay is subtracted from the roll to hit for every hex beyond the weapon’s range. So if the axe attack just mentioned were 16 hexes from its target the to hit penalty would be -600. The weapon with the longer range has a greater  Range value and a lower Decay Rate penalty. If the target is within the weapon’s range then there is no range penalty to speak of. However there still could be Meteorologic penalties for every hex between the target and the weapon. 

Type A Weapons: Thrusting and striking weapons can be used within the same hex as the attacker, and can reach out into any adjacent hex. Thus any persona passing within one hex of an opponent wielding a Type A weapon could be subject to an attack. The referee may limit very long weapons (such as double handed swords, morning stars, and large flails) to use outside of the attacker’s hex, and on occasion perhaps within a two hex radius of attack (halberds and pole arms). Combatants using very short weapons may find themselves limited to in hex combat. More information about type A weapons can be found in chapter 28, Weapons.

Type B Weapons: Non powered missile weapons cannot be used within the same hex as the attacker. Their efficient range is listed in Chapter 28: Weapons. In the tactical combat system, this is the number of hexes free of decay rate penalties. If a player wanted to hit a target that was 16 hexes away, with an axe, she would have a -600 penalty. Note that several weapons which are not Type B weapons have given ranges on the table. A more in depth discussion of type B weapon ranges is found  in Chapter 28: Weapons.

Type C Weapons: Powered missile weapons include any ranged weapon that is self powered, i.e., those which do not require physical action to inflict damage. Any rifle, lazer, crossbow, or bizarre energy weapon is included in this category. Type C weapons have no minimum range, and their ranges are much longer than type B weapons, and their decays are much lower. Guns are artifacts and are detailed in Chapter 46: Guns.

Movement Penalties

Movement combat adjustments can become very cumbersome to calculate if the terrain is in any way varied. The most efficient system is to allow movement to proceed essentially unhindered until combat becomes touch and go, and then apply those movement adjustments that seem necessary.

Movement Differential: To-hit adjustments based on movement apply only when the attacker and target have a difference in movement greater than 12 h/u. Any attacks made at differential velocities above 12 h/u are penalized at the rate of -10 for each differential h/u. A persona firing-on a creature flying 15 h/u faster than her would be penalized -150 on her roll to-hit. Likewise, a persona attacking a stationary target from a vehicle moving 22 h/u (80 km/h) would have a -220 to hit penalty. Robots and aliens that naturally attack at speeds where the velocity difference is greater than 12 h/u are not affected by this penalty if they are engaged in what could be considered a natural attack for that persona.

Crawling: A persona can crawl at 1/4 her movement rate. A persona cannot act while crawling, however crawling does offer protection from type B, and C attacks. Crawling accounts as 50% cover from ranged attacks, this offers a flat penalty of -125 on the attacker’s to hit roll. However if a type A attack is launched against a crawling target, the attacker will earn a to hit bonus of +165 (considered prone).

Crouching: A persona can move in a crouched position at 1/2 her movement rate. Crouching personas can act normally except that type A weapons cannot be used, type B weapons have a -200 flat to hit penalty, and type C weapons have a -75 flat to hit penalty. Crouching is generally used for cover from type B and C ranged attacks. Crouching offers 33% cover, which converts to a flat penalty of -80 on the attacker’s to hit roll.

Rolling: Personas can roll ap1 h/u. A persona who is encumbered can only roll by completing successive Normal (1d20) PSTR attribute rolls. An encumbered persona cannot act while rolling, whereas an unencumbered persona can attack with a type C weapon only with a flat penalty of -210 to hit. It also should be noted that some substances cannot be rolled through.

Climbing: Any target engaged in careful vertical climbing is considered a prone target, and the flat to hit bonus is +666. There are several modes of frantic combat climbing that are not near as efficient as regular climbing, but offer better cover. These are discussed in chapter 12, Time and Movement. If the target is free climbing, climbing a rope, or climbing a ladder then there is a flat +165 to hit roll bonus. 

Dekes and Dodges: Players will often attempt to have their personas dodge, deke or avoid particular attacks. The referee’s interpretation of such descriptive role playing is entirely personal. Mercenaries can bolster their armour rating by carrying out such maneuvers; but other classes are not combat trained, and therefore cannot dodge attacks. It is assumed that they will be taking every reasonable action that will keep themselves from getting hit. If they don’t want to engage in combat then they should run away.

Attacking While Prone: Prone is an immobile, tactically-minded, face down position. The prone persona is restricted to attacking with Type C weapons, but enjoys 90% concealment from type C attacks. Seated, squatting or reclining personas can attack normally with a type C weapons, but will suffer a flat penalty -100 to hit with type A or B weapons.

Further Points: The to hit roll adjustments listed should cover any eventuality that the expedition may encounter. There is, of course, always the exception. This is when the ref must improvise, and create her own to hit adjustments. This should not be done haphazardly. The emotion of the moment will always affect the final decision. Before announcing a bizarre to hit adjustment, ask yourself why, and be prepared to defend it. Once the decision is made, it is final. No roll can be re-rolled, and the ref must be prepared to live with that decision for all eternity. No pressure.