Flamepunk: Combat and Conflict

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Flamepunk:Main Page -> Flamepunk: Combat and Conflict

Overview of Combat and Conflict[edit]

This section describes the rules for physical combat.

Initiative and Combat Rounds[edit]

Time and Combat[edit]

A combat round lasts two to three seconds, during which each character may choose to take one or more actions.

This is something of an abstraction for the sake of gameplay, and a rough guideline rather than an absolute. In an epeeist's fencing match, for example, 2-3 seconds is a damn long time, whereas in a boxing match it's barely anything. GMs and players are encouraged to be a little flexible with how the combat round is perceived.

Order of Action[edit]

The following rules are used for determining initiative:

  • Actions are declared then immediately resolved when it is a character's turn.
  • The character with the most dice left in his action dice pool acts next.
  • If action dice pools are drawn, then players act before non player characters.
  • If players are drawn in action dice pool, then they can decide who goes first.
  • If the above factors do not tell you who goes next, the GM arbitrarily decides, taking into account drama and expediency.

A character can choose not to act when his turn comes round by "setting aside" one or more dice. These set aside dice cannot be used for the rest of the round, but are returned to the player's dice pool at the end of the round.


The brawl in the Obsidian Mines involves two player characters ("Jax the Anvil" and "Lucia Candlewhisper"), and two non player characters (Brawler Thug 1, and Brawler Thug 2). At the start of the combat round Jax and Lucia have 6 dice in their action pool and the thugs have 4 each.

Jax goes first, declaring and immediately resolving a 2 dice action (thus reducing his pool to 4 dice). Lucia goes next, and declares a 4 dice action, immediately resolving it (thus reducing her pool to 2 dice).

Next up Jax and the Thugs are drawn at 4 dice left. Jax is a player, so he goes first. However, he wants to see how things are going to pan out, so he declares that he will "set aside" 1 dice, reducing his action dice pool to 3.

The Thugs then act, making 4 dice actions each (they ain't subtle) which bottoms out their dice pools at 0 dice.

Jax has 3 dice left and flings them all into a 3 dice action, bottoming out his dice pool to 0 dice.

Finally, Lucia still has 2 dice left, but decides she has done enough this round. She sets aside the 2 dice, reducing her action dice pool to zero, but effectively saving those 2 dice for the next round.

Ending the Round[edit]

Once all characters in the combat have no dice left in their action pool, the round ends.

Each character moves all set aside dice back into their action dice pool, then recharges a number of action dice equal to half their Focus rounded up.

For player characters this will generally be three action dice.

A player's action dice pool cannot exceed their Focus from this.

Attack Rolls, Defences, Damage[edit]

The system for taking actions in combat is the same as in the basic rules with a few variations.

Attack Rolls[edit]

An attack roll in combat will vary in Hit Target according to what sort of attack is being made, and the level of training of the attacker.

A basic unarmed attack made by an untrained attacker has a hit target of 5 or 6.

For other attacks, consult the appropriate trait sections: ((links here)).


Defence applies after the action roll, just as in the basic rules.

A basic dodge made by an untrained combatant is a reflexive action that costs 1 action dice, and has the effect of removing 1 dice from the attackers rolled dice pool.

For other defences, consult the appropriate trait sections: ((links here)).

Some trait and equipment abilities also affect the defence step with their own special rules.


Damage is usually equal to the success level of the attack roll. For example, an unarmed attack with a success level of 3 deals 3 hit points of damage.

Other factors may apply:

  • Some attacks (especially from weapons) have special effects that increase the damage on a successful hit. The most common effects will be "if this attack hits, add +X to the magnitude", but there are many different special effects depending on the attack.
  • Some effects (most notably armor) will affect the damage of hits against you. The most common effect will be to reduce the magnitude of hits against you, but there are numerous different special effects with different abilities and equipment.

Damage is applied directly to the receiving character's wound points. When a character is reduced to 0 Wounds, he has been taken out of action. Usually this means death, but the GM can alter this according to dramatic circumstances.

For a more detailed look at physical damage and optional rules for more complex and gritty trauma rules, click here

Tactical Positioning[edit]

The Narrative Approach[edit]

Flamepunk games don't lend themselves too well to grid-based combat, as battle scenes will often be in dramatic (and difficult to model) terrain, with scenes changing fast and often. Its recommended that GMs and players adopt a narrative approach to tactical positioning, working with whatever suits the story.

Changing tactical positioning is best handled with a simple action roll, for example rolling to swing on a chain to get away, or running in to close the distance on an enemy.

Those who want more structure might consider the rules below.

Movement and Range[edit]

  • Melee Range is right up close and personal, so much so that you can spit in someone's face, or try to shiv them with a knife.
  • Short Range is the other side of the room. You can throw stuff at them, but if you want to smack them with a crowbar you'll need to close the distance a little.
  • Medium Range is the bottom of the street. It'll take you at least two actions to close in with them. Making ranged attacks is ok for weapons designed for ranged attacks, but improvised thrown weapons are probably too inaccurate at this distance.
  • Long Range is way over there, on the far side of the field. A crossbow bolt could cover the distance, though you'd need to be damn good to pull off a hit with anything less than a carefully aimed shot with no distractions.
  • Distant is too far to fight, but close enough to see.
  • Gone is gone. You're not even in the same battle.

It takes a single successful move action to move one step distance relative to someone. The Hit Target of this check is usually the default (5 or 6), and the Defence of this check depends on the circumstances (for example a clear road has no defence, while a rubble strewn ruin might count as taking off two of your rolled dice).

A failure on a move action indicates that though you are on the move, you haven't gone far enough to change the range step on this action.

Note that the Physical Trait Athletics makes you more efficient at move actions.

System Permutations[edit]


Ordinary combat doesn't allow much time for aiming, but it can be done.

To aim an attack, you must select your target and spend 3 dice as an automatic action. Then, as long as you don't take any other action (even a reflexive action), and don't lose sight of your target, you are considered to have aimed.

The next attack you make against that target is an aimed attack. Aimed attacks are exactly the same as normal attacks, but you can choose to pick up any number of dice after the roll, but before defence is applied, and reroll those dice.

If you choose to reroll a dice, you must accept the new result, even if it is worse than the original. All dice to be rerolled are rerolled at the same time.

Changing Equipment[edit]

Holstering or dropping a held item is an automatic action that costs 0 dice.

Drawing a one handed weapon or item into an empty hand is is an automatic action that costs 1 dice.

Drawing a two handed weapon or item into two empty hands is is an automatic action that costs 2 dice.

Removing an item of armour, clothing or other worn item is is an automatic action that costs 3 dice.

Donning an item of armour, clothing or other worn item is is an automatic action that costs 3 dice.

Combat and Psychology[edit]

For more ambitious GMs, it is possible to mesh physical combat with social combat to simulate the effects of battlefield morale. Refer to the chapter Combining Social and Physical Combat for more on this.


Getting down into cover helps protect you against some attacks.

If a character is ducked behind cover, but in a position to fire back on those shooting at him, then for all attacks against him (before defence has been applied, but after any rerolls) apply the following effect:

  • Poor Cover Effect: Remove all attack dice that show a "1" as their face value.

If a character is in very good cover, such as in a bunker firing out through a slit, then apply the following effect

  • Good Cover Effect: Remove all attack dice that show a "1 or a 2" as their face value.

If a character is in so much cover that he cannot be seen at all, then he cannot be attacked.

No Stacking Defences[edit]

As stated in the basic rules, you can only make a maximum of one reflexive action in response to an action against you.

Essentially, this means that if someone attacks you, you can dodge, or you can parry, or you can use another defence, but you can't do more than one of those things. Also, you can't "stack" the same defence - you can't, for example, declare three dodges against a single attack.

Note that some paths to avoiding injury don't count as reflexive actions, so can be used freely. Armour, for example, takes no action to use, so will reduce damage in addition to any defence you use. Using Cover also requires no action, and dramatically reduces the effectiveness of ranged attacks that come your way.

Smart characters will look out for these "non-action protections" and use them in addition to dodging.

Special Effects and Non-Injuring attacks[edit]

In addition to just doing damage, some attacks will inflict special effects.

Sometimes this will be explicit from the rules. For example, for every six on the (post-defence) attack roll an Excruiator Whip removes one dice from the target's action dice pool.

Sometimes, though, special effects will be a consequence of what the player is trying to do, or a product of the environment. For example, rather than aiming to just kick an enemy, a character could try to kick that enemy off the edge of a cliff.

Generally, achieving a special effect is more difficult than just dealing damage. The GM should reprsent this by adding to the Dodge Defence of the attack.


  • Sweeping someone at the legs so they fall over as well as receive damage (and will need an automatic 1 dice action to stand again): +1 Dodge Defence.
  • Knocking a sword out of someone's hand rather than injuring them: +2 Dodge Defence.
  • Throwing sand in someone's eyes so they lose the rest of their action dice (but dealing no damage): +2 Dodge Defence.
  • Stabbing someone's wrist so they are injured AND drop their weapon: +3 Dodge Defence.
  • Blinding someone by sticking your fingers in their eyes, AND damaging them: +3 Dodge Defence.
  • Carving a "Z" on someone's vest without cutting them: +4 Dodge Defence.

GMs are encouraged to play loosely with these rules, and use the following guidelines:

  • If what a player is doing is fun or cinematic, or plays off the specific combat situation in a cool way, err on the side of low increases in Dodge Defence.
  • If a player is just angling for an extra advantage, or has used the same trick before in the same combat, err on the side of high increases in Dodge Defence.

You can justify higher Dodge Defence bonuses by saying that an enemy is prepared for that trick now you've done it once already, or by saying that getting the advantage that the player is seeking is harder and less straightforward and effective than just trying to drop their opponent.

Fighting to Subdue[edit]

Optionally an attacking character can fight to subdue rather than kill. This could represent trying to bludgeon someone into subconsciousness, or aiming attacks for limbs to cripple rather than murder.

This works exactly the same as normal attacks, except that when the target is reduced to 0 Wounds, he is subdued rather than killed.

Some attacks, of course, are not suited to being used to subdue. Its hard to subdue someone with a Holocaust Cannon, for example. The ultimate ruling is up to the GM, though player creativity should generally be rewarded rather than penalised.

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