“When somebody challenges you, fight back. Be brutal, be tough.” – Donald Trump

House Rules, Roll Checks Damage

Remember: This is a Horror RPG not tactical or even started combat RPG.

Combat can be said to be split into three types, Unarmed Melee (Brawl), Armed Melee (Weaponry) and Firearms). A fourth, Ranged including Thrown also exists and is covered by Athletics usually.

Called Shot spend 1WP and take appropriate location penalty (-4 head) but damage there is up one level so aggravated rather than lethal or Lethal rather than bashing.
If Called Shot and damage > Sta then wound on location or if no called shot then general wound tilt?
If another damage>stamina done on same location before fixed up then increase the wound.. minor, moderate, major.
Recoil: only on firearms. If using firearm but don’t equal Str Requirement, cumulative penalty applies (-1 single shot, -2 short Burt, -3 medium burst etc). This cumulative penalty is reduced back to 0 if a Turn taken off from shooting. If penalty is greater than stamina, 1 bashing damage taken also.
Shock: If ever a single hits Damage exceeds the Defenders’ Size+Stamina then roll Shock Check and if it fails then the body goes into Shock and apply one of the possible outcomes including Numb, unable to use part of body, unconscious, fear & run, cower, internal bleeding does 1 bashing every round, organ damage 1 lethal, etc etc.
Internal Bleeding: If the Lethal Damage done at any one time exceeds the Defenders’ Stamina then chance of Internal Bleeds, causing 1 extra Bashing every Turn until stabalise.

Evasion is defence dodge ?
Attacker=8-Defender(6)=2 Attack Dice Pool

Angela : Str:3 Dex:3 Sta:3
Sniper,. Int:2 Wit:3. Res: 2
Pre:1 Man:2 Com:2
Defence: Dex+Wit/2=3 + Athletics
Body:5+3+3+2=13 Physical Health

1. Roll Initiative at start of the Combat Scene
Players each roll 1D10 + Initiative Advantage Modifier.
(Dex+Com/2) + Any suitable Merits like Alertness
E.g. Dex=3 + Com=2 (=2) and the Player rolls 7 on 1d10 for a total of 9. They have an Initiative Mod=9.
Their Opponent has Dex=4 + Com=4 (=4) with a 1d10 Roll of 5. Their Ini. Mod is 9 and so they go first each Turn of Combat for that whole Scene.
As these Initiatives now remain static for the whole Scene and does not change each Turn, those 1d10 Rolls are incredibly important.

2. Act in order of “lowest Initiative first”
Each player takes their Turn from lowest to highest. This allows those with higher Initiative and thus the faster, to be aware what the slower people are doing and act accordingly. This makes Initiative rather powerful and very important to combat.

3. Splitting Dice Pool
This is never a great idea and a last ditch attempt when things are very desperate. Announce at beginning of their turn. You may split your Dice Pool in half for 2 Actions or thirds for 3 Attacks but your Initiative is halved for 2nd, divided by 3 for 3rd etc. (Always Round Down). You apply a penalty also for each extra attack of – 1, – 2 for 2nd etc. For example:-
Roles 3+8=11 Initiative. 2 attacks mean you attack at 10 In (11-1) & 3 in (11/2=5 (10.5=10 rounded down -2 for no. of attacks))
For 3 attacks you attack at Initiative: 10; 5/2=2-3 = -1 ( no. attacks)

4. Considering your Action
Determine your Dice Pool for whatever Action you are wanting to do. For example: -

5. Attacking
Strength Requirement: If the Attacker does not satisfy the Strength Requirement, a Penalty equal to Strength Requirement – Actual Strength so someone with Str=1 trying to use a chainsaw in combat (Str Requirement=4) suffers a -3 penalty.
Using Two-handed Weapons one-handed: Suffers a penalty which is in addition to any Strength Requirement Penalty.

  • Attacker: Attribute + Ability + Edge = Roll this Dice Pool for number of potential Successes
    • 2 + 3 + 1 = 6 Attack Dice
      Rolls 3 Successes
  • Defender: Defence + Edge = Dice Pool = Roll D10’s equal to this Dice Pool. Successes are taken from Attackers Dice Pool, if Dodging then Double Defence and Roll then the Successes remove Attackers Successes.
    • 4 (Dex + Com) + 1 (Athletics) = 5 Standard Defence Dice + BODY or wound penalty?
      Roll these and the successes are taken away from Attackers’ Rolled Successes to equal damage before the Bonuses & Penalties.
      Rolls 2 Successes
      NOTE: This House Rule means any Defence, no matter how small has the chance with ReRolls to outnumber the Attackers Attack Dice and do defend completely against the attack.
  • Attacker: Remaining Successes – Defenders’ Armor = (Remaining Successes is the Actual Damage to Defender + (Weapon Damage Bonus)
    • 3 – 2 = 1 Damage + 2 Weapon Damage = *3 Total Damage+*
  • Successes + Weapon Damage Bonus = Damage taken – Opponent’s Armor = Actual Damage taken from Health.

After the 1st Attack Roll Success, the extra successes add to the Damage Successes. So someone Attacks with DP=5 and gets 3 Successes.
Damage=3 + Weapon Damage Bonus – Opponents Armor.
Shock: If a single hit ever does Damage greater than the Characters Stamina, Roll for Shock Tilt. If this fails you are in shock and are perhaps unconscious, stunned, puking on floor, catatonic etc. If you succeed you can continue to fight as normal. Note: WillPower can be spent on this roll as normal.

  • Graze: 1 single Success to hit means a graze only and the Attacker just does only half the Weapon Damage (Rounded Down, as always) without adding any Die Successes so a 5L becomes a simple graze of 2L.
  • 2-4 Successes: The Damage equals the number of Successes (2, 3 or 4) + half Weapon Damage.
  • 5+ Successes: This is a Critical, Dramatic Success and the damage equals the number of Successes (5 or more) + full weapon damage.
  • Health Boxes fill up with Damage. Once Lethal reaches your Stamina you must Roll for Unconscious each round with growing penalties.
  • When all Lethal Boxes are full, the Character is Bleeding Out until proper Medical Attention is received. This Tilt is added to your Conditions.
  • Health boxes slowly fill up with lethal as you bleed out and once all boxes are full of aggregated Damage.. you’re Dead!

Examples of Dramatic Failures or Fumbles
1 shoot own foot off
2 drop weapon
For firearms, each type (unarmed, melee & firearms) needs 3 groups for grazes, success & Crits.

Situational Modifiers
Unskilled Penalty if no Speciality of the weapon or firearm. Depending on Enc/Size of weapon due to how difficult to wield and handle they are? -1 for pistol or short blade, -2 etc.
Light(-1) med Cover (-2) heavy Cover (-3), prone (-2), Cover, range, number of attackers, tilts like surprise, Ambushes, wounds or health, aiming for up to 3 rounds,
Confined space: Larger the weapon, greater the penalty. The penalty is equal to the Enc/Size or Weapon in moderately confined spaces but in the smaller, tightest spaces that penalty adds on the Size of the person wielding the weapon so likely a Penalty of 5+3 = -8 Penalty for fighting with a short sword in a closet.
Stun: Doing damage greater than the Defenders’ Size (Size -1 if Skull) then defender is stunned.

  • Don’t forget Durability.
  • Opponent’s Defence taken away from dice pool (Athletics, Brawl or Weaponry)
  • Armor subtracts from Damage from your BODY Health which is now calculated as :
    Size + Sta + Res

Strike: A basic unarmed strike, a blow with the fist, knee, foot, or elbow. Roll Strength + Brawl without any bonus dice.

Bite: Your character’s teeth clamp down on a target. Roll Strength + Brawl + Bonus dice based on size of attackers jaw. For a human this is typically 0.

Called Shot: This is a conscious attempt to hit a particular part of a target, such as the Head, Leg etc. To do this, spend 1 WillPower and declare your target location during the declaration phase. Apply the Body Locations penalty for the specific location. Successfully hitting your target gets more damage applied but missing the target and you must expend another 1 WillPower.
Note:You may also spend the previous Round Aiming your shot for the extra bonus if you have the time.

Grapple: Character grabs hold of the Defender and attempts to restrain them. Moves within this “Style” are hold, restrain, clinch then maybe also strangle, cover mouth, Knockout, other wrestling moves or wrestling styles.

Aim: You can spend your time aiming before you attack. At least 1 Turn (1) must be spent doing this, up to a maximum of 3 Turns (3) and you must Attack the Round directly after aiming otherwise the aim is wasted and you need to spend time aiming again.

All Out Offence:

All Out Defence:


Defend: You might hold back some of your Attack Dice Pool for Defending (with Merit?) to show how high skill in brawl or weaponry includes I tribasic Defence. I.e. Str: 4 + Weaponry: 3 = 7 DP. Keeps 5 for attacking and holds back 2 for extra Defence.

  • This is changed to the highest of Dex or Wit by a Merit.

Dodge: When Dodging, double your character’s Defense pool but do not subtract it from attack rolls. Instead, the defender’s player rolls the character’s Defense as a dice pool and subtracts any successes from the attacker’s successes. Defense reduces attackers’ DICE. Dodging reduces attackers’ SUCCESSES. From GMC:._
Declare Dodge as your Action, allows you to double your Defence but stops you attacking for that round.



Guard: A Character can choose to try and protect a person (i.e. guard their back) or a location such as a doorway, bridge or stairs etc.

Taunt Goad:

Counter Attack:+





Team Action:

Ordered Retreat:+

Surrender: The Character has had enough and realises how outclassed they are in combat, giving up the win.

Fancy Footwork:

Stunts: In combat, player characters (and significant antagonists) can gain from 1-3 extra dice on ANY roll (including Dodge) by providing descriptions to their actions. Stunts should include cinematic, barely-realistic descriptions, interactions with the environment, improbable coincidences, and character flair. Particularly flat, bland, rote declarations of actions incur a -1 penalty. Stunts are limited to a 1 die bonus to powers that already provide a 3 die or more bonus.

Firearms deal Lethal damage to Mortals but if wearing certain Armor it may be replaced by Bashing damage. unless a Called Shot is declared and successful against a body location without any Armor.

Here are some of the obvious standardised dice-modifying situations in combat:
Willpower Spent
All-out Attack
Fighting Style Merits
Inflicting Tilts like Knocked Down, Arm Wrack, Leg Wrack, etc.
Being prone
Being in cover
Environmental Tilts

Sacrificing Your Defense" could now simply remove your Athletics (or Brawl) rating from your Defense. This effectively causes it to remove the same amount as in the past, and is quick and easy to keep track of. Essentially, you’re giving up the “training” part of defending yourself, leaving only basic instinct.

  • Create a basic Merit called “Expert Brawler” which, over the course of about two points, lets Brawl come up to the level of Weaponry. It works like this:

Level 1: Use your Brawl instead of your Athletics, or add +1 Defense if your Brawl is lower than your Athletics.
Level 2: Deal lethal on unarmed Brawl attacks, or deal +1 damage on your nonlethal Brawl attacks.

Then, over two Merit DoTs, you get Brawl up to near Weaponry in basic utility; you’ve given up a couple of Merits, but you get the “not using a weapon” benefit, and the benefits don’t stack well with most supernatural brawl-boosting abilities.

1-3 Cover provided : Partial Cover (-1), Full Cover (-2), Exceptional Cover (-3)
1-3 Visibillity : Poor Visibillity (-1),
-4 Quarter Moon, -3 Half Moon
-5 Complete Darknesss
Possible Modifiers
- Aiming: +1 per turn to a +3 maximum
- All-Out Attack: +2 with Brawl or Weaponry attack; lose Defense
- Armor Piercing: Ignores amount of target’s armor equal to item’s own rating
- Autofire Long Burst: 20 or so bullets at as many targets as the shooter wants, pending Storyteller approval. A +3 bonus is applied to each attack roll; -1 per roll for each target if there’s more than one
- Autofire Medium Burst: 10 or so bullets at one to three targets, with a +2 bonus to each attack roll; -1 per roll for each target if there’s more than one
- Autofire Short Burst: Three bullets at a single target with a +1 bonus to the roll
- Concealment: Barely -1; partially -2; substantially -3; fully, see “Cover” or -1, -3 & -5
- Dodge: Double target’s Defense
- Drawing a Weapon: Requires one action (one turn) without a Merit, and could negate Defense
- Firing from Concealment: Shooter’s own concealment quality (-1, -2 or -3) reduced by one as a penalty to fire back (so, no modifier, -1 or -2)
- Offhand Attack: -2 penalty
- Prone Target: -2 penalty to hit in ranged combat; +2 bonus to hit when attacker is within close-combat distance
- Range: -2 at medium range, -4 at long range
- Shooting into Close Combat: -2 per combatant avoided in a single shot (not applicable to autofire)
- Specified Target: Torso -1, leg or arm -2, head -3, hand -4, eye -5
- Surprised or Immobilized Target: Defense doesnÕt apply
-Touching a Target: Dexterity + Brawl or Dexterity + Weaponry; armor may or may not apply, Defense does apply
- Willpower: Add three dice or +2 to a Resistance trait (Stamina, Resolve, Composure or
Defense) in one roll or instance

Initiative , Delaying Action , Surprise , Attack , Damage , Chance Roll (0 dice)

Fighting is a series of instant actions, demanding however long it takes until someone surrenders or is rendered unable to fight.

Combat involves a single dice pool roll per attack. The result determines whether or not your character hits and how much damage he inflicts on his target. The dice pool is determined as above, but the equipment modifier depends on the weapon used. A knife is more deadly than a fist, and a gun is more deadly than all.

Each success gained on your attack roll represents a point of damage inflicted against the target’s Health trait. When the target has no more Health left, he is unconscious or dead (depending on the type of damage done).

There are three types of damage: bashing (caused by blunt weapons such as fists or clubs; these wounds heal quickly), lethal (caused by sharp weapons such as knives and bullets; these wounds heal slowly) and aggravated (caused by devastating supernatural attacks; these wounds take a very long time to heal).

There are a number of complications involved in combat, such as a target’s Defense trait (which is subtracted from any melee attack dice pools targeted against him), penalties for armor, for hiding behind cover, and more. Details are described in the following chapters, but the basics are simple. Roll to hit and apply successes as damage.

Example: Let’s see how it looks in action.

Your character tries to shoot at a thug who just killed his friend. Your character’s Dexterity is *, his Firearms *, his Firearms **, and he’s using a Glock 9mm pistol, which provides a dice modifier of +2. Your dice pool is therefore made up of seven dice.

The thug is about 30 yards away – that’s within the pistol’s medium range. A -2 penalty is applied to attacks at medium range. So, your dice pool to reduced to five dice.

But that’s not all. It’s raining cats and dogs. The Storyteller decides that there’s an additional -1 penalty for poor visibility. That leaves you a dice pool of four.

The roll yields a 3, 5, 8 and 9 – two successes. The thug is hit. He suffers two points of lethal damage to his Health. It hurts, but it’s not enough to stop him and he staggers away. Your character needs to decide whether to give chase and close the distance, or try to fire again at a receding target.

5. Concluding Effects
This may be Damage from an Attack on an Opponent or trying to break down a door, hack a security system etc.

What does this mean for combat?

Old nWoD System
- Weapons made it easier to hit and do some damage.
- Overall damage in combat was usually in the range of 1 to 3.
- Combat was nibbling away health with at least a bit of damage every round.
- Some Merits made combat very one-sided by adding damage or giving multiple actions.

My personal experience with the classic nWoD combat is this:
Easy and fast, but too boring. Additional systems like Fighting Styles failed to make combat more interesting and unbalanced it instead.

Major changes GMC System
- Defense higher with Athletics or Merit + (Brawl/Melee).
- Higher damage thanks to modifiers from weapons.
- Armor subtracts from damage.
- Fighting Styles that are not broken.

- No more I-win-button multiple attacks!!!
- Attack dice pools are smaller, but hits do more damage.
- Defense is easy to minmax, using the added Skills (feature, not bug).
- Higher Defense reduces unskilled combatants to chance rolls.
- Fighters with good stats and some extra Merits will have a dice pool size that gives them a chance of 75% or even more to do decisive damage!

Dice pool size differences are more deciding for combat than ever. Dice pools of 5+ using weapons hit so reliable with added damage as to make combat boring. Hitting the interesting regime of 1 to 4 dice is thus both less likely and more important.
If you attack with 1 or 2 dice and the opponent with 5+, rolling dice is almost a waste of time.

Unless you change the target number or introduce success test thresholds, some issues in nWoD won’t go away. Especially not in combat. Don’t blame the devs for making the best they can with what they have.

Personal note:
In my nWoD games, combat was very rare, like, occuring about three times in the 30-40 sessions of one chronicle. So this is not something that has a huge impact on my kind of games (so far).

One guy with a weapon steamrolling an unarmed regular joe is not hurting my suspension of disbelief the slightest.

Geeking out on math here, I’ll close with saying that for 8+ on D10 dice pools the probabilities for a success threshold of 2 are the way to go. Regarding target numbers, rolling for 9+ is better than using 8+.
Intent and therefore Beaten Down could probably use three levels instead of two.
Unarmed combat, and Brawl in general, got the shaft. It has a huge XP price tag in terms of buying Merits to be even slightly threatening in combat. Brawl costs just as much Weaponry or Firearms, and but gets you far less for it. Brawl (and Weaponry) should not have to pay XP to block while Athletics defends for free. Brawl is, at the moment, the only way to do bashing, but that’s not going to last once Tazers and other less-than-lethal options for Weaponry and Firearms get stats. Weaponry doesn’t have it quite so bad but…
*Firearms are even more deadly than they already were. Even with the buffed armor, you can shoot around it (and there’s pretty much no reason to not shoot around armor). And there’s way less XP to spend on Merits.
*Armor is so much better that going around it is almost always the best choice.
*The *Strength and Two-Handed penalties
are still laughably small (esp. as they combine now) the worst you can get is a -1 to attack, even if you’re a Str 1 person using a chainsaw one-handed (requires Str 5).
- Fixing the strength and two-handed penalty issue is already something I had a house-rule for already: The penalty is equal to the amount of Strength you’re missing. A Strength 1 character trying to one-hand a chainsaw is looking at -4 dice off the bat. Even if they have a huge Weaponry score (5 + Specialty), their looking at 3 dice before the opponent gets to defend. With the buffed Defense, this makes using something you’re not strong enough for a desperation tactic; not a smart move.

  • Sacrificing your Defense is way too harsh now.
    - Drop the Defensive Combat Merit gets rid of the silliness of needing to pay extra to defend yourself with combat training. I’d personally add in a bit of GM discretion caveat about certain skills being inappropriate against certain attacks/damage sources. You’re not going to block a car or parry the spray of a fire-hose (at least not without a shield). No need to lay down specific rules though.

Making Brawl more worth taking could be something like a free Brawl-based or general fighting Merit per dot of Brawl (can be banked for multiple dot Merits), you still have to have the pre-reqs. Given how utterly behind Brawl is, it seems like the only way to really make it worth investing in.

Intent and Beat Down having a middle tier is a simple mechanical change (full bashing or Stamina lethal damage before Beaten Down), the hard thing is establishing a line between Intents with three categories. I think the key separation to make would be a willingness to fight even in the face of getting hurt, but would still take a surrender rather than keep going. Leaving surrender on the table means you avoid fighting to the death as much, but it also lets you do something like a fight-club beating where you’re not going to tap out after a solid hit, but you’re going to tap out because the other guy’s Intent isn’t to keep harming you if you surrender.

got nothing on fixing Defense sacrifices right now.

I’m also a bit stumped on what to do about shooting around armor. In hand-to-hand, defense + targeting penalty is probably going to make going around armor less “always the better idea.” With guns ignoring defense, armor really doesn’t help you a lot. Maybe some sort of Merit for combat training for fighting stances that keep your armored sections the main target (maybe give a +1 or +2 to shoot armored areas and double targeting penalties)? Not sure that’s be a great solution, but I’d love something to make specified shots something for unique situations, not the default option against armored opponents.

Recoil is also something the nWOD basically ignores completely. I’m torn on ideas because I don’t want to add book keeping and more weapon stats. But it seems a decent way to tone back guns without making them less appealing as the dominant weapons people use. Something like, if you’re using a gun and you do not exceed the Strength requirement, you take a cumulative penalty after each shot that applies to shooting next turn with -1 for single shots, -2 for short burst, etc. This penalty goes away after one turn of not firing. If the penalty you build up for the next turn exceeds your Stamina take 1 bashing that round. But it seems like a bit too much to track to make work.
- Definitely something you want to be cautious about doing — as one would in a potentially lethal fight. Without the damage nibble of the original system, things are a lot more high-stakes, and thus intent and Beaten Down and such become more important. I like it that way.

- The problem is that “well-armored” isn’t even an issue. I’m completely for targeted shots against people in full body armor given the penalties for that (-4 or -5) combined with the likelihood of shields (another -2 or -3), because that’s a meaningful trade off of major penalties to shoot around, or trying to punch through heavy armor. But poorly armored targets are still better to target around than shoot through; except reinforced clothing. It is less, “that guy is wearing a ton of armor, I should try to aim for a gap,” and more, “that guy is wearing armor, I should shoot him in the legs.” The -2 penalty for shooting the legs is going to reduce your average damage by 2/3 a damage, while even the weakest armor is going to absorb 1 damage. Even with armor piercing bullets, you’re mathematically better shooting around ballistic armors. And you might Leg Wrack them in the process.

My problem is not that sometimes you’re going to want to shoot around armor. My problem is that, in the system as it stands, you always want to shoot around armor except for reinforced clothing (so not even really combat armor anyway) or your dice pool has a enough penalties to drop you into chance die range if you shoot around (which is basically going to require SWAT/military level gear to do).

Perhaps the answer is in adjusting specified targets. You don’t see shooting around armor much in real world gun-battles because it’s hard to do, even against people without a lot of armor coverage. In the heat of a fight, aiming for anything but center mass is damned hard to do (and combat personnel are often trained in how to present a profile that minimizes the exposure of unarmored body parts).

  • The initiative penalties really don’t make a lot of sense. There is a bit of sense in bigger hand-to-hand weapons = bigger init penalties. But why does a stake get a -4? Why are shields such a penalty to init? Why are firearms initiative penalties seemingly based on damage? Why does holding a shotgun make me go slower than holding a pistol?
    *Recoil is still meaningless, or at least it is supposed to be tied into STR/init penalties even though STR/init penalties happen before you shoot; not after.
    - I’m tempted to just drop the Initiative penalties all-together. They don’t seem to have a strong logic behind them, they make translating all the weapons not covered more difficult, and I’m not sure they really add anything to the game. Otherwise I’d want to do something that’s based on a formula. Maybe something like (the lower of the Strength requirement and Size) – 1 as the base penalty (min. zero), keep the multiple weapon penalty, have objects not intended as weapons (including improvised) get an additional -1, and a situational additional penalty in confined places.
  • Environmental Tilts seem a bit whacky.
  • Delayed Actions weren’t addressed.


World of Darkness - Alpha Network Greyman Greyman