Combat Procedure


I Check for surprise:
A The DM may dictate that surprise exists simply due to circumstances of the encounter. Class or race surprise abilities factor in that decision.
B A 1-4 on a d12 otherwise normally indicates surprise. [See Conversions.]
C If neither side is surprised or both sides are surprised then proceed to step II.
D Surprise lasts 1 round. If not surprised you act as in a normal round. If needed, resolve actions in order of highest surprise die roll first.
E Encounter distance between parties is determined by DM judgment (generally within range of visual/audible detection) but should be less if surprise exists.
II Determine initiative:
A Roll a d12 for the party; modify by dexterity; DM rolls for opponents. Sides act in order of lowest to highest result indicated by the die they rolled for themselves. Simultaneous action is possible.
B Option: using individual rolls or individual adjustments to group roll. Even with group initiative, by adjusting the die roll individually you might act simultaneous with, or prior to the enemy – even if your side “lost” initiative.
C A spellcaster may decide on his initiative result what spell to cast, if any. Caster is then casting for the duration of the listed casting time; then the effects are resolved. Spells needing a full round to cast are resolved last in the round.
D Any damage taken before completing a spell in that round prevents any/all spell completion. Damage (or failed save that affects the casters actions) means the spell is forgotten if disruption occurs while actually casting.
E When entering/charging into melee range of any opponent the longer weapon strikes first, regardless of initiative. Weapons always win initiative vs. unarmed unless special abilities apply [e.g. monks are never “unarmed”].
F Ties are just that – simultaneous results.
G Options: Ties between melee weapons may be decided by comparing WSF. Ties involving multiple weapon attacks (missiles too) go to whoever has more attacks. Ties between spell completion and a melee strike go to whichever is lower of the casting time or WSF. Ties between missile fire and spell completion go to the missile if spell casting time is actually higher than initiative die result.
III Additional combat rules:
A A character beginning a round with missile weapon ready and target in sight fires before initiative is rolled but must fire by their turn or lose action for the round.
B Unless otherwise specified, ALL a characters attacks resolve on their turn.
C Missile fire versus adjacent opponents attacking you with a melee weapon draws an Attack of Opportunity. Casting while in melee range also draws an AoO.
D All characters may move their standard rate and still use their full attack routine or cast. Movement may be split as desired before and/or after attacking/casting. Faster movement than that sacrifices any combat or casting.
E Spellcasters lose dexterity AC bonus only while actually casting.
F Moving more than 5’ while remaining within melee range of an opponent allows an Attack of Opportunity at their best possible bonus for the round. Generally only one AoO per round per character.


Attacks per round Fighter Paladin Ranger Monk
1/1 1-6 1-7 1-7 1-5
3/2 7-12 8-13 8-14 6-11
2/1 13+ 14+ 15+ 12+


This is a d12 roll. Standard modifiers are:

Elf/halfling “on point” surprises 4
Ranger surprises +2
Ranger is surprised -2
Monk lvl 5-8 is surprised -1
Monk lvl 9-12 is surprised -2
Monk lvl 13
is surprised -3
Monster previously surprised 1/8 is surprised -2
Monster previously surprised 1/10 or better is surprised -3

Surprise is assumed to affect the entire side unless optional rules for individual initiative are used. Having an individual on your side who has good abilities to surprise others imparts that benefit to everyone he’s with. Adjustments are applied to the normal surprise range, not the die roll. E.g. an elf on point makes the standard enemy surprise range 1-8 instead of 1-4.

Surprise is nothing more exotic than one side being aware of the presence of the other and being able to act swiftly upon that knowledge. The DM may simply declare that surprise exists if conditions warrant. If the PC’s have reason to be on heightened alert and players have stated that their characters are taking “greater-than-usual” precautions then that should factor into chances of surprise.

The effect of surprise is simply that the non-surprised side gets one round of normal actions whereas their opponents will not. If individual surprise is being used then non-surprised characters may act for one round while surprised characters do not.

There are a LOT of factors that can affect surprise that simply cannot be covered by compact, elegant rules and that’s why determining surprise is firstly given to the DM to determine. However, if the DM has no particular reason to rule one way or another let the dice fall where they may.


Group Vs. Individual Initiative

Using this option PC’s would get to make individual surprise and initiative rolls while opponents will generally be rolled for as a group simply for the sake of DM convenience. The DM may still declare that PC’s MUST roll as a group if certain circumstances dictate it. Modifiers are pretty much unchanged – it’s just who is or isn’t affected by them.

Effects of “Readied Actions”

What if you have a missile attack ready and target in sight? (Assumes that this is during combat. If this were outside of combat than it would be a surprise situation.) “Having the drop” on someone gives you the initiative advantage even if surprise is blown. You might be able to take your prepared attack and then roll for initiative and get an additional attack in before your opponent. This is left to the DM to sort out because circumstances can widely vary. Remember that getting the drop on somebody is NOT assassination, it is simply a temporary combat advantage. And by the way, failure to USE that advantage immediately means that it is wasted.

Attacks Of Opportunity

There need to be rules to prevent everyone from moving with absolute impunity on their turn simply because combat must be divided into turns to prioritize actions. It becomes outrageously unrealistic if we don’t allow for out-of-turn actions in relevant circumstances. Initiative turns within a round simply organize the resolving of actions into smaller chunks of time, but those actions ARE still taking place somewhat simultaneously over the course of the round. You may move closely around or brush past an enemy but you have to acknowledge that there are going to be consequences for ignoring threats as you move or act – that’s the Attack Of Opportunity.

Before a PC is hit with attacks of opportunity the DM should announce that the characters intended actions can or will have such consequences, thus allowing the player to make reasoned judgments for the character which fit the circumstances as the DM adjudicates them.

The AoO is otherwise just a single, bonus attack made by the opposing individual at their “normal” chance to hit.

Movement During the Round

Base movement for PC’s who aren’t encumbered by too much weight or bulky armor is 12” (which for our purposes is six squares) per round for human size characters. Smaller characters like halflings are limited to moving only 9” (four squares) per round. You can move further/faster, sometimes a lot more – you will then just be limited in what other actions you can perform, if any.

As you carry more gear, the weight or mere bulk of it will slow you down:

weight human/elf/dwarf* halfling
up to 35#, light 12” (6sq) 9”
35# – 70#, heavy 9” (4sq) 6”
70# – 105#, very heavy 6” (3sq) 3”
over 105#, encumbered 3” (2sq) -

  • dwarves can bear the heaviest burdens a little better, and move faster despite their stature.

Obviously strength bonuses or penalties will adjust those weight totals for everyone.

The 5’ Step

Everyone should be able to move 5’ as a shift in position, prior to other actions, and without drawing any drastic reactions or consequences including Attacks of Opportunity – this is the 5’ Step. This, however, assumes that this is your only movement for that round, and that you are not otherwise already limited to only 5’ of movement or less due to other circumstances, such as over-encumbrance, full-round casting or the like. So, if you’re ONLY allowed to move 5’ or less in the first place you lose the ability to make a 5’ Step. You can still move your 5’ – you just might draw consequences that you would otherwise be immune to and your movement must be taken after your other actions are resolved.

Spell Duration

If the spell description originally said rounds it still means rounds, if it said “turns” that still means turns, unless it is noted as having been revised. Deciding with greater precision how long spells with a duration of turns should last is a work in progress, so as of this writing a duration may be… flexible. One turn of duration may be 10 rounds or 10 minutes – probably whichever comes first (meaning that in combat where time is marked in rounds a spell will actually become of shorter duration than if cast outside of combat where time is marked in turns. As situations arise and spells are used they will be written/re-written to either be shorter-duration combat spells or spells which are generally meant to be used outside of combat and thus to be practical should have a longer duration.

Taking Actions On Your Turn

ALL of a characters actions are generally resolved on their turn and as indicated by initiative. By default there is no initiative advantage or disadvantage for having more/fewer attacks or attack routines than an opponent. Multiple attacks may involve more complicated rules IF the DM decides to employ optional rules.

Casting in Combat

Any damage that a spellcaster takes prior to completing his spell in a round, whether or not he is actually in the process of casting when he takes it, will prevent spellcasting in the remainder of that round due to disrupted concentration. This does not prevent other actions any more than it would for ANY other character – this disruption only prevents casting.

Casters still take the same risk of losing a spell from memory if they choose to attempt to complete a spell but are struck while actually casting. In that case not only is the spell not completed but it is wasted – forgotten and expended; removed from the caster’s memorized list of spells.
Withdrawal Tactics and Effects of Failed Morale

Fall back, fighting: Combat continues normally but you’re stepping back (no more than 10’). You keep your front to the enemy. You can parry instead of attack if you so choose. Your opponent can still follow you and also continue fighting on his turn with no penalties (assuming his movement allows). If your opponent chooses NOT to follow you and continue to press his attack then you can rest, redirect your attacks or your attention, etc. It often helps if the act of falling back will actually place you in a more defensible position, but if the movement is “forced” by failed morale this is less likely.

Note that the first 5’ backward generally doesn’t draw an AoO because it then puts you outside the opponent’s weapon reach. Opponents are given the immediate choice to follow or not. If they follow nobody gains additional attacks or AoO as a result of this. It is just a shifting of the line of contact to the PC’s rearward by all engaged forces. If they do not follow there still should be no advantage gained other than an opening up of space between the engaged combatants.

Disengage-retreat: This is an orderly retreat. To disengage is to stop fighting. If this is a consequence of lost morale the moving forces feel very dubious about how things are going. If this wasn’t prompted by morale loss then this is simply how you more actively attempt to get out of combat.

Note that a morale check is a “temperature check”. It won’t tell you if the engine IS going to overheat or why, it only indicates that you think the engine is hot. That is, it won’t tell you if you’re actually losing or not. Heck, you might actually still be winning. A failed morale check simply indicates that something has happened that makes you FEEL less confident about your chances of success. Although no formal method is given herein for checking morale the DM can still make such a check in any way he sees fit and adjusted for circumstances as he sees fit. Player characters never check morale – their morale is decided by the players. Only specific effects such as magic will force PC behavior changes.

Disengaging forces do not fight as they fall back no matter how far they fall back. This forces you to at least sacrifice any and ALL initiative advantage for the round. You could only fight if your opponent continues to follow and doesn’t let you disengage, and at the DM’s discretion may not permit you to attack or parry even at the end of the initiative order. Falling back, especially as the result of a failed check, is the equivalent of, “DRAKE! WE ARE LEAVING!” You’re just not yet to the point where complete fight-or-flight has taken over. You do, however, continue to keep your defensible front towards your opponent as you move.

NOTE WELL: Players and DM’s alike are strongly advised not to “game the system” in these circumstances. The DM might even be encouraged to forbid it and is strenuously warned to not engage in it himself. If the PC’s make a choice to disengage then they should continue to do so even if a single round of withdrawal suddenly places them in an advantageous position, and the DM may hold them to that course of action even if players try to change their minds, or perhaps at least require a morale check for PC’s to see if they successfully rally. DM’s should otherwise allow PC’s to disengage without having the NPC’s/monsters press the issue. Failure of either side of the gaming table to allow the other to ever rely on disengagement actually taking place only ensures that it never, EVER will work. All fights are then to the death regardless of morale or tactics on either side and that’s a bad way to run an RPG.

Flee in panic: You turn and run as fast as your feet can fly. Your opponent gets your back. For NPC’s it ought to include a possibility of dropping their weapon or shield as they go and perhaps that should provide a slight movement increase. This is commonly also the practical result of a fear effect or severe morale loss. Opponents may take an AoO at your back, but then are not permitted to pursue on their turn.

Surrender: You don’t even see the point in running. You either throw down your weapon, put up your hands, fall to your knees or all of it at once, possibly while also squealing, “Please don’t kill me!”

Combat Procedure

Crucible of Souls duanevp