Ashton’s Notebook | Part 2: Combat and Charisma

Greetings! Didn’t think I’d return to this, I would assume? Well, I’m back, and I’ve figured out at least a foundation for rules regarding combat and social encounters. There really isn’t much for me to say regarding the world, so this post will just be about the system. Good? Good.

BUT FIRST, I changed some stuff. First, dice in the pool just have to exceed the TN now: meeting the TN is counted as a failure. Why this change? I wanted a TN of 10 to be equivalent to flipping a coin – each d20 would have a 10/20 chance of being a success or a failure. However, with the way things worked previously, a TN of 10 would be an 11/20 chance. Hence the change.

Also, attributes are now a thing! These work similarly to VtM: each level in an attribute adds a certain amount of d20 to your pool (currently 2d20), as does levels in skills (currently 4d20). In addition, you always have 2d20 in your pool. Always. Even if all of your party members screw you over when trying to assist, you will always have 2d20. Even if it means you can only Botch, Mess, or Critical. Also, for any attribute, you must have at least one level in it. Attributes have five levels (again, like VtM attributes), while skills have only three levels to account for the fact that they add more dice. This means that, in theory, you can have a maximum of 24d20 in your pool. Which is a lot, so I might tweak the numbers a bit. Maybe make attributes and skills equal, or change it such that skills are the only thing that affect the dice pool and attributes allow you a certain amount of re-rolls? That remains to be seen, but I kinda like the system as it is so who knows.

As for what the attributes are, they’re literally just the standard D&D attribute set because I can’t think of anything better, but Dexterity is renamed to Reflexes and Constitution is renamed to Endurance. Also, each skill will correspond to one of the attributes. The only exception is Perception, which can be used with any attribute (riffing off of Cogent Roleplaying System a bit here). Besides that, the only other skills I’ve figured out so far are: Melee Weapons (Str), Ranged Weapons (Ref), Throwing Weapons (Ref), Persuasion (Cha), Intimidation (Cha?), and Deception (Cha).

As for stats, I have four right now and they are HP (End), Unarmed Combat Damage Multiplier (Str), Unarmed Combat TN (Str), and Speed (Ref). Guess what all of these do.



When combat begins, turn order is decided. Whoever has the highest Reflexes goes first. If two characters have the same Reflexes, do a competitive check to break the tie.

When a character’s turn comes up, they can perform up to three actions. Moving to a different position takes up one action as long as it’s within the distance determined by the character’s speed. Any more and it may take up multiple actions. Using items may or may not use up an action, depending on the item and how it’s used. Attacking someone will always use up one action. For the purpose of explaining stuff, we’ll say that the person who used an action to attack someone is called the “Attacker”, the person they want to attack being called the “Target”. The target will have two options for how to deal with the attack: they can defend themselves, or they can try to counter-attack. If the attacker is using a ranged or thrown weapon and the target doesn’t have one, they can only defend. Otherwise, the target has a choice. No matter what the target chooses, a competitive check occurs. The TN is dependent on the other character’s armor rating and their reflexes. What happens depends on the outcome and what the target chose. I’ll describe them from the attacker’s perspective (and I’m also assuming the attacker is you), as such:

  • If the target is defending themselves:
    • Botch: You fail to attack. If valid targets other than you and the original target are in range, roll 1d20 to determine who will actually be attacked. Otherwise, the attacker harms themselves no matter what.
    • Fail: You fail to attack.
    • Mess: You attack, but your damage is cut in half.
    • Succeed: You attack.
    • Critical: You attack, and you deal double damage. If the target is using an item to defend themselves directly, the item is damaged. If the item had been damaged twice before and not repaired, it is broken.
  • If the target is counter-attacking:
    • Botch: You fail to attack, and are attacked by the target for double damage.
    • Fail: You fail to attack, and are attacked by the target.
    • Mess: You attack, but are attacked by the target.
    • Succeed: You attack.
    • Critical: You attack for extra damage.

Assuming you landed a hit, you roll again to determine how much damage you deal using the same dice pool, but with a TN determined by the weapon you are using. Then, the success dice should be counted and multiplied by a number which is again determined by the weapon you’re using. The number you get is then doubled if you get a critical or halved if you get a mess while the target is defending.

Something important when it comes to combat is what I’ll call the Deck of Wounds. Yes, if you’ve been on r/RPGdesign, you’ll know that this is basically the Deck of Tragedies. Basically, each player gets a deck which contains a bunch of cards (will be 24 assuming I don’t change the number). When a player character’s HP hits 0, the player must draw the top three cards from the deck and give two of them to the game master. The GM must then choose one card, which is handed back to the player while the GM narrates how the wound was gained. Wound cards have at least one effect and a condition that must be met for the wound to be removed/healed. The only exception is death cards. Yes, death cards. When a death card is chosen, it is handed back to the player who then narrates their character’s demise. I have plans for a divine magic ritual that could revive a character, but it would be a slim chance of success. All wound cards which were rejected or healed, as well as death cards, are returned to the bottom of the player’s deck.

Assuming the player avoided character death, the character’s HP returns to their maximum and they are unconscious for the rest of the combat encounter (and will also be safe from further harm) unless they make a 15 TN Strength-only (think of it like a saving throw) check to fight on. Outcomes are as follows:

  • Botch: You go unconscious, but are vulnerable to further harm.
  • Fail: You go unconscious.
  • Mess: You fight on, but your max HP is halved for the rest of the encounter, rounding up if your max HP is odd.
  • Success: You fight on.
  • Critical: You fight on, and your max HP is doubled for the rest of the encounter.


Social encounters are handled in a (hopefully) simple manner. NPCs will have one of three attitudes towards the party: friendly, neutral, and hostile. The attitude determines the TN for the charisma roll. The party may attempt to change an NPC’s attitude through roleplay, but they may only move it one “notch” in either direction during a single encounter. One player should then make a charisma plus persuasion/intimidation/deception check. If any other players helped, they each add 2d20 to that one player’s pool. If any players (accidentally or purposely) hindered the effort, they each remove 2d20 from that one player’s pool. When the check is made, the TN for a friendly NPC is 5, the TN for a neutral NPC is 10, and the TN for a hostile NPC is 15. The outcomes are as follows:

  • Botch: The NPC won’t help you, and will try to hinder the party’s efforts.
    • If the NPC was Friendly, a botch acts like a regular fail.
    • If the NPC was Neutral, they will only accept minor risks.
    • If the NPC was Hostile, they will accept major risks.
  • Fail: The NPC won’t help you.
    • If the NPC was Hostile, they will try to hinder the party’s efforts, accepting minor risks to do so.
  • Mess: The NPC will help you, but they won’t take any risks.
  • Succeed: The NPC will help you, taking minor risks to do so.
  • Critical: The NPC will help you, taking major risks to do so.

Hopefully this all makes sense so far. Again, feedback and questions are appreciated. Have an awesome day!


Ashton Snapp


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