Rounds and Initiative

When engaging in combat time is tracked in increments called Rounds. A Round lasts about 10 seconds, or enough time for someone to run across a room and perform one significant action.

During a Round, each side of a conflict acts together. Each individual on a side can act in whatever order they choose, and can move about 40 feet, and perform one significant action (make an attack, use an item, cast a spell, etc.).

Any actions that carry risk require a Save as usual, usually against the creature you’re engaged with.

The players’ side always goes first in a Round. However, if it’s not obvious that the players would be able to act before their opponents each player should make a DEX Save versus the opponent. Failure means they do not act during the first round, success means they act first as usual.


To make an attack, roll your weapon’s damage die. The target of the attack subtracts their armor and reduces their Grit by the remainder. If there is no excess damage, the target was able to avoid or otherwise defend against the attack. If there is more damage dealt than the remaining Grit, the excess damage becomes Direct Damage.

Direct Damage represents the attack making physical contact with the target, and causes a STR Save to avoid Critical Damage.

Critical Damage Save

After receiving Direct Damage, make a STR Save and roll higher than that amount to avoid Critical Damage.

This Save can be impaired due to being overwhelmed by multiple attackers, hit with a specific bane or weakness, or other particularly harmful attacks. This Save can be enhanced due to being focused on defense, being attacked with something you’re resistant to, or other beneficial circumstances.

This Save defaults to STR, but attacks or weapons that indicate they deal Direct Damage DEX or WIL causes Critical Damage Saves with the respective attribute.

Critical Damage

If you suffer Critical Damage, step down your STR and suffer any Critical Damage effects from your attackers. (If you made your Critical Damage Save with something other than STR, step that Attribute down instead).

If your STR steps down below a d4 (zero STR) you become incapacitated. An incapacitated creature can only weakly crawl, and will die in an hour without assistance. First aid from an ally gets you back on your feet, but doesn’t restore your STR.

Taking Direct Damage, or trying to step down your die, at zero STR is lethal.

See Harm and Healing for more details.

Overflow Damage

If the amount of Direct Damage you received is equal to or greater than the highest value on your STR die, immediately suffer Critical Damage. If the damage in excess of that amount is still equal to or greater than your now lowered STR die, repeat. If it is lower, make a Critical Damage Save as usual trying to roll higher the remaining damage.

If your STR steps below a d4 during this process, you become incapacitated and ignore any remaining damage.

Attack Modifiers

If you make an attack that is at an advantage (against an unsuspecting target, from higher ground, etc.) it is enhanced. Roll a d12 in addition to your other dice, and keep only the highest result.

If you attack while disadvantaged (through cover, while blind, unarmed, etc.) it is impaired. Roll a d4 instead of your other dice.


Attacks with the blast quality affect all targets in the area. This can refer to actual explosions, fireballs, whirling blades, or to a giant swinging a club in a wide arc.

Non-Combat Damage

While not in combat, damage ignores Grit and is dealt directly as Critical Damage.

For example, if a player fails a DEX Save to avoid being hit by a trap they immediately take Critical Damage and their STR step’s down.

This is to avoid rolling two or more Saves for a given situation. If the character has already failed a Save to avoid a trap or danger, they’re wounded rather than rolling a second time to see if there was really a consequence to the failure.

Morale Saves

When an NPC faces daunting, terrifying, or dangerous situations they should make a WIL Save to avoid surrender or flight.

NPCs make Morale Saves the first time they take Critical Damage, the first time one of their companions is incapacitated or killed, or if the tide of battle turns against them.

Morale Saves are also made when an NPC is presented with a situation dramatically outside their understanding, or hirelings being asked to put themselves at significant risk.

A Morale Save might be enhanced due to a courageous leader, the promise of significant reward, or being particularly oblivious. It might be impaired due to being directly threatened, a hopeless situation, or the obvious evidence of immediate danger.

Combat Example

Sam and Pete are mid battle against a troll.

Sam: Can I roll between its legs?

GM: Sure, make a DEX Save against it, succeed and your attack is enhanced, fail and it’ll get an enhanced attack against you.

Sam rolls a 5 versus the Troll’s 4 and wins.

Sam: Sweet! I stab it in the back.

Sam rolls a d6 and a d12 for her enhanced attack and gets a 3 and an 10. The Troll has 1 Armor and 2 remaining Grit so 7 Direct Damage is dealt.

The Troll rolls its d10 STR and gets a 6, failing to beat the 7 Direct Damage and dropping its STR to d8.

GM: Yeah, that’ll do a number on it. You wiped out it’s Grit and it does real damage even through its tough skin.

Sam: My dagger sinks in and I feel it hit something important before I roll away.

Pete: Okay, as I see Sam go in for a stab I fire my Great Bow at its chest, trying to time the shot to match.

Pete rolls a 9, for 8 Direct Damage after 1 Armor.

GM: The arrow thwaps into its muscly pecs.

The Troll currently only has a d8 STR, so it immediately takes Critical Damage and drops to a d6 STR, although none overflows so doesn’t have to make an additional Save. As the Troll suffered Critical Damage, it makes a Morale Save to see if it flees. It rolls a 4 with its d6 WIL to stay in the fight.

GM: You see the Troll stagger from the rapid injuries, but then gathers itself and ROARS still very much in the fight!