Combat

Werewolves are creatures of pure rage, beasts sometimes trapped in the shell of a human. They attempt to be graceful and cordial at times, but the beasts, in the end, always prevails. Simply put, Garou is inherently vicious animals, intent to shed blood, whether in the pursuit of justice, purity, or in some cases, just for the sheer joy of it. They don’t care who they have to hurt or kill to get what they want or need.

Combat is a catch-all term for what happens when two perfectly reasonable people find that they cannot reach agreement like rational individuals and instead beat the living shit out of one another until one of them gets what she wants.

Everybody wants something out of a fight. The very first thing you need to do — before worrying about who attacks first or anything like that — is to determine what each character wants to get out of the fight. Boil it down into a simple sentence that starts with the words “I want:” “I want to kill Johnny,” “I want the book that Frances is holding,” or “I want what’s in Larry’s wallet.”

A character’s intent has to be something she could achieve through an act of violence in the current scene — even a gunman on the White House lawn couldn’t get away with “I want to be President of the United States.”

By stating her character’s intent, a player is setting out how much her character is willing to hurt — even kill — someone else in order to get. If your intent has nothing to do with hurting people and you end up killing someone, you lose a point of Willpower.

Optional Rule: Beaten Down & Surrender

Any character that takes more than his Stamina in bashing damage or any amount of lethal damage is Beaten Down: He’s had the fight knocked out of him. He must spend a point of Willpower every time he wants to take a violent action until the end of the fight. He can still apply Defense against incoming attacks, can Dodge, and can run like hell, but it takes a point of Willpower to swing or shoot back.

However, he can surrender, giving his attacker what she wants according to her declared intent. If you give in, you gain a point of Willpower and take a Beat, but you take no more part in the fight. If the other side wants to attack you, they’ve got to spend a point of Willpower to do so, and probably suffer a breaking point. If everyone on one side has surrendered, the fight’s over and the other side gets what they want.

If one side’s intent involves violence, the other side can’t surrender — not without being killed. If that’s the case, their intended victims don’t get Beaten Down, and gain no benefit from surrendering. When someone wants to kill you, the only thing you can do is to try to stop her, whether you run like hell or unload a shotgun at her.

These rules only apply to people (or werewolves) who would incur a breaking point for committing (or attempting) “murder.” Creatures that don’t have a problem killing people in general can ignore surrender without penalty and don’t have the fight beaten out of them like normal folks.

Down and Dirty Combat

The Storyteller might decide that your character can get what she wants without focusing on the details of the fight. Maybe she’s picking on people weaker than her. Maybe she’s internalized the mechanics of violence. Or maybe the fight’s not the important thing going on with regards to the character’s intent. If that’s the case, the Storyteller can opt to use a Down and Dirty Combat. This system resolves the entire fight in a single roll. Storyteller characters might deal some damage, but they’re never able to initiate a Down and Dirty Combat.

Action: Contested; resistance is reflexive

Dice Pool: Combat pool (Dexterity + Firearms, Strength + Brawl, or Strength + Weaponry) versus either the opponent’s combat pool (as above) or an attempt to escape (Strength or Dexterity + Athletics). Ignore Defense on this roll.

Roll Results
Dramatic Failure: The character’s opponent gets the upper hand. This usually includes the opposite of the character’s intent — if she wanted to disable the guards so she could escape, she is stunned instead.
Failure: The opponent wins the contest. If the opponent used a combat pool, deal damage equal to the difference in successes plus weapon modifier. Also, the opponent escapes unless he wants to press the combat.
Success: The character wins the contest. She deals damage equal to the difference in successes plus her weapon modifier and achieves her intent — if her intent includes killing her opponents, then she does so.
Exceptional Success: As a success, and the character also gains a point of Willpower from the rush of inflicting violence on an inferior opponent.

Initiative

When a fight’s inevitable, it helps to know who acts first. Time in combat is always tracked in turns. At the start of combat, determine your character’s Initiative by rolling one die and adding her Initiative Modifier.

When your character is using a weapon, apply its Initiative penalty for as long as she’s got the weapon ready. The only way to avoid this modifier is to sling it or drop it. Dropping a weapon is a reflexive action, but picking it back up takes an instant action. A character wielding two weapons subtracts the largest Initiative penalty from her score, and then reduces it by a further one. Wielding a baton (Initiative penalty –2) and a riot shield (Initiative penalty –4) thus applies a –5 die penalty.

Surprise

Characters who don’t realize that they’re about to be on the receiving end of bloody violence have a chance to notice the ambush by rolling Wits + Composure, contested by the attacker’s Dexterity + Stealth. Any character who fails the roll cannot take an action in the first turn of combat, and can’t apply Defense for that turn. Determine Initiative in the second turn as normal.

Attack

On your turn, your character can attack using one of the following dice pools:

  • Unarmed Combat: Strength + Brawl – Defense
  • Melee Combat: Strength + Weaponry – Defense
  • Ranged Combat: Dexterity + Firearms
  • Thrown Weapons: Dexterity + Athletics – Defense

Resolve the attack roll like any other action. Determine damage by adding the successes rolled to any weapon bonus. See “Injury and Healing,” below.

Defense

Subtract your character’s Defense from any unarmed, melee, or thrown attacks that the character is aware of. Every time your character applies his Defense against an attack, reduce his Defense by one until the start of the next turn. Spending a point of Willpower increases her Defense by two, but only against one attacker.

You can choose not to apply your character’s Defense against some attacks. If two unarmed gangbangers attack before a chainsaw-wielding lunatic, you might want to let the gangbangers get their blows in, and apply your full Defense against the maniac swinging a chainsaw at your head.
You cannot apply your character’s Defense against firearms attacks.

Dodge

At any point before your action, your character can choose to Dodge. Doing so gives up her normal action. When Dodging, double your character’s Defense but do not subtract it from attack rolls. Instead, roll Defense as a dice pool, and subtract each success from the attacker’s successes. If this reduces the attacker’s successes to 0, the attack does no damage. Apply successes from Dodging before adding any weapon bonus.

Against multiple opponents, reduce Defense by one for each opponent before doubling it to determine your dice pool. If your Defense is reduced to 0, you roll a chance die. A dramatic failure when Dodging leaves your character off-balance; reduce her Defense by one for her next turn.

Unarmed Combat

These rules present special cases that come up when fighting without weapons.

Bite

A human’s teeth do –1 bashing damage. Other creatures treat their teeth like weapons, dealing lethal damage to mortals (see “Weapons,” below). A werewolf’s teeth deal +1 Bashing in Glabro form, +1 lethal damage in Crinos, Hispo and Lupus forms (with the benefit of the Armor Piercing 1 quality when in Hispo). Animals have a weapon bonus depending on the kind of creature: a wolf applies +1, while a great white shark gets +4.

Humans and werewolves in Homid or Glabro forms can only bite as part of a grapple, using the Damage move, but werewolves can bite as a normal attack, as long as they are in Crinos, Hispo or Lupus forms, the forms meant for what the Garou call “throating” (see Glossary, p. XX).

Grapple

To grab your opponent, roll Strength + Brawl – Defense. On a success, both of you are grappling. If you roll an exceptional success, pick a move from the list below.
Each turn, both grappling characters make a contested Strength + Brawl versus Strength + Brawl action on the higher of the two characters’ Initiatives. The winner picks a move from the list below, or two moves on an exceptional success.

  • Break Free from the grapple. You throw off your opponent; you’re both no longer grappling. Succeeding at this move is a reflexive action, you can take another action immediately afterwards.
  • Control Weapon, either by drawing a weapon that you have holstered or turning your opponent’s weapon against him. You keep control until your opponent makes a Control Weapon move.
  • Damage your opponent by dealing bashing damage equal to your rolled successes. If you previously succeeded at a Control Weapon action, add the weapon bonus to your successes.
  • Disarm your opponent, removing a weapon from the grapple entirely. You must first have succeeded at a Control Weapon move.
  • Drop Prone, throwing both of you to the ground (see “Going Prone,” below). You must Break Free before rising.
  • Hold your opponent in place. Neither of you can apply Defense against incoming attacks.
  • Restrain your opponent with duct tape, zip ties, or a painful joint lock. Your opponent is immobilized. You can only use this move if you’ve already succeeded in a Hold move. If you use equipment to Restrain your opponent, you can leave the grapple.
  • Take Cover using your opponent’s body. Any ranged attacks made until the end of the turn automatically hit him (see “Human Shields,” below).
Touching an Opponent

Sometimes, a combatant doesn’t want to do damage. Maybe she wants to plant a bug, or deliver some supernatural power. Roll Dexterity + Brawl, or Dexterity + Weaponry to tap an opponent with a weapon. A successful roll deals no damage.

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Ranged Combat

These rules present special cases that come up when shooting at people.

Autofire

Automatic weapons can fire a short, medium, or long burst in place of a single shot.

  • Short Burst: Three bullets fired at the same target. Add a +1 die bonus to the shooter’s dice pool.
  • Medium Burst: Ten bullets, which can hit one to three targets standing close together. Add a +2 die bonus to the shooter’s dice pool. If firing at more than one target, subtract the total number of targets from the shooter’s pool, then make one attack roll per target.
  • Long Burst: Twenty bullets at as many targets as the shooter wants. Increase the shooter’s dice pool by +3. If firing at more than one target, subtract the total number of targets from the shooter’s pool, then make one attack roll per target.
Range

The firearms chart (below) lists the short, medium, and long ranges of some sample firearms. Shooting a target at medium range imposes a –1 die penalty, while shooting a target at long range increases that to –2. Shooting at targets beyond long range reduces the attack dice pool to a chance die.

Thrown weapons have a short range of (Strength + Dexterity + Athletics – object’s Size), doubled for medium range, and doubled again for long range. Aerodynamic objects double each range — so an aerodynamic object’s long range is {(Strength + Dexterity + Athletics) * 8}. Characters can only throw objects with a Size less than their Strength.

Cover and Concealment

Hiding behind something is a good way to not get shot. How effective it is depends how much the cover hides. Concealment penalties apply to a shooter’s dice pool.

  • Barely Concealed: –1 (hiding behind an office chair)
  • Partially Concealed: –2 (hiding behind the hood of a car, with upper body exposed)
  • Substantially Concealed: –3 (crouching behind a car).

A character who is concealed and wants to fire at someone else takes a penalty to his Firearms attack that’s one less than the penalty afforded by the character’s protection — so if he’s substantially concealed, he can fire back with a –2 die penalty.

If a target’s entirely hidden by something substantial, he’s in cover. If the cover’s Durability is greater than the weapon modifier, the bullets can’t penetrate the cover. Otherwise, subtract the cover’s Durability from the attacker’s damage roll. If the cover is transparent (bulletproof glass, for example), subtract half the cover’s Durability, rounding down. Both the object and the target take any remaining damage.

Human Shields

Sometimes, the only available cover is another person — be they a terrified member of the public or a life-long friend. Characters who use human shields treat them as cover, with Durability equal to the victim’s Stamina + any armor. Unlike normal cover, the victim takes all of the damage from the attack.

Using a human shield is almost certainly a breaking point. For a mortal, this means a pretty severe modifier (–3 or more) if the victim dies; Kindred may risk a breaking point if they have Humanity 2 or more.

Reloading

Reloading a firearm is an instant action. If you need to load bullets separately, you cannot apply your Defense on the same turn. If you have a magazine or speed-loader, you don’t lose your Defense.

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General Combat Factors

Some conditions apply to all kinds of fights.

Movement

A character can move his Speed in a single turn and still take an instant action. He can forsake his action to move at double his normal pace.

Going Prone

When a character can’t find cover, the next best thing when bullets are flying is to drop flat to the ground. Ranged attacks against him suffer a –2 die penalty. A standing attacker using Brawl or Weaponry to attack instead gains a +2 die bonus.

A character can drop prone at any point before his action. Dropping to the ground costs his action for the turn. Getting up from being prone also takes your character’s action.

Specified Targets

Attacking specific body parts has its benefits. In addition to ignoring armor (see “Armor,” p. 180), strikes to limbs and the head can have added effects, noted in brief here. The God-Machine Chronicle includes these effects in a system of Tilts — a comprehensive set of Conditions that specifically affect combat.

  • Arm (–2): A damaging hit can Arm Wrack the victim if it more damage than the target’s Stamina
  • Leg (–2): A damaging hit can Leg Wrack the victim if it deals more damage than the target’s Stamina
  • Head (–3): A damaging attack can Stun the victim if it deals at least as much damage as the target’s Size
  • Heart (–3): If the attacker does at least five points of damage, the weapon pierces the opponent’s heart.
  • Hand (–4): On a damaging hit, the victim suffers Arm Wrack
  • Eye (–5): On a damaging hit, the victim is Blinded

Arm Wrack forces you to drop whatever you’re holding in the affected arm, and gives you a –2 die penalty to rolls requiring manual dexterity if you’re using your off-hand. Having both arms affected reduces rolls relying on manual dexterity to a chance die, and gives a –3 die penalty to all other Physical actions. The effects go away when the character heals from her wounds, or receives medical attention.

Blinded gives the victim a –3 die penalty on any rolls relying on vision — including attack rolls — and halves his Defense if one eye is blinded. The penalty increases to –5 and the loss of all Defense if both eyes are blinded. A single attack against the eyes blinds one eye, or both on an exceptional success. The effects go away when the character heals from her wounds, or receives medical attention.

Leg Wrack halves the victim’s Speed and applies a –2 modifier to Defense and Physical rolls that require movement. If both legs are affected, you drop prone (see above) and can’t get up. Your Speed is reduced to 1, and you have to give up your action to move. Physical rolls requiring movement are reduced to a chance die. The effects go away when the character heals from her wounds, or receives medical attention.

Stun causes the character to miss her next action. Her Defense is halved until she next takes an action.

Killing Blow

When performing a killing blow, you deal damage equal to your full dice pool plus your weapon modifier. You’ve time enough to line up your attack so it avoids your victim’s armor.

While people who kill in combat can justify their actions based on the heat of the moment, performing a killing blow is a premeditated attempt to end a sentient life without the target having a chance to do anything about it. Going through with a killing blow is breaking point whether the victim survives or not.

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Weapons and Armor

Weapons are one of the fastest ways to turn a fight into a murder. Sometimes, that’s what you want: Pulling a gun shows you’re serious about killing people.

Improvised Weapons

The weapons charts can only go so far. Characters who grab improvised weapons still stand a chance of doing serious damage.

If your improvised weapon is close enough to one of the weapons above, use the associated weapon profile. Otherwise, an improvised weapon does (Durability – 1) damage, with an initiative penalty and Strength requirement equal to the weapon’s Size.

Using an improvised weapon reduces your attack pool by one die. On a successful attack, the weapon takes the same amount of damage as it inflicts; Durability reduces this damage as normal. Once the weapon’s Structure is reduced to 0, the object is wrecked.

Armor

Armor provides protection against attacks, including bullets and knives. Though it’s rare to find Kindred wearing armor, police officers and other law enforcement agencies rely on it.

  • Ballistic armor applies to incoming firearms attacks. Each point of ballistic armor downgrades one point of damage from lethal to bashing.
  • General armor applies to all attacks. Each point of general armor reduces the total damage taken by one point, starting with the most severe type of damage.

If armor has both ballistic and general ratings, apply the ballistic armor first.

When applying armor to an attack dealing lethal damage, you always take at least one point of bashing damage from the shock of the blow.

Armor-Piercing

Some weapons have an armor piercing quality, usually between 1 and 3. When attacking someone wearing armor, subtract the piercing quality from the target’s armor. Subtract from ballistic armor first, then general armor. Armor-piercing attacks in close combat subtract from general armor only.

When shooting at an object — or a person in cover — subtract the piercing quality from the object’s Durability.

If a weapon has the Total Armor Piercing quality, this is an expounding on the Armor Piercing quality, which penetrates all Armor a character is wearing (instead of just 1 to 3 points). This is reserved for silver weapons (see p. XX for more information on silver), as it mystically tears at the very being of a werewolf because of the curse levied by Luna on the wolves.

Injury and Healing

Characters can suffer three types of damage. Fists and feet, along with other kinds of low-impact trauma, deal bashing damage. Brass knuckles, knives, and speeding trucks deal lethal damage. Kindred take bashing damage from all mundane weapons, because they’re less fazed by pain and don’t depend on their internal organs.

Some horrifying powers — along with the great weakness of the werewolves, silver — deal aggravated damage. When something deals aggravated damage directly, it’s quite obvious. Flesh bubbles and burns away. Foaming pustules taint the victim’s flesh. Blackened veins streak out from the site of the injury.

If a mortal’s health track is filled with bashing damage, his player must make a reflexive Stamina roll each turn for him to remain conscious. If it fills with lethal damage, then each minute thereafter in which the mortal receives no medical attention — mundane or supernatural — he suffers one more injury. One health box currently marked with an X is upgraded to an asterisk for aggravated damage, from left to right on the character’s Health chart. Once all boxes are filled with asterisks, he’s dead.

If a werewolf’s health track is filled with bashing damage, she remains conscious. If it fills with lethal damage, she “loses the wolf,” falling unconscious and retaining her current form but unable to regain any Gnosis until at least one health box is returned to bashing or emptied completely of damage; she may be returned to consciousness, however, through the acts of other characters, allowing her to defend herself normally. If it fills with aggravated damage, she suffers an unrecoverable death, her body reverting to her breed form.

Marking Damage

When a character suffers bashing damage, mark it with a slash (/) in the leftmost empty box of his health track.When a character suffers lethal damage, mark it with a cross (X) in the leftmost box of his health track that doesn’t contain lethal or aggravated damage. If you mark over a point of bashing damage, it moves one box to the right.

When a character suffers aggravated damage, mark it with a large asterisk (*) in the leftmost box that doesn’t already contain aggravated damage. If you mark over a point of bashing or lethal damage, it all moves one box to the right.

Always mark the most severe injuries at the left of a character’s health track, and push any less severe injuries to the right. Characters heal their rightmost health boxes first and progress left.

Example: Vincent has seven dots of Health. He’s just taken one point of bashing damage. His Health boxes look like this:

1slash.png

If he’s later stabbed and takes a point of lethal damage, his Health track would be:

xslash.png

If Vincent next suffered a point of aggravated damage, his Health boxes would look like this:

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Wound Penalties

As your character takes damage, it impairs her ability to act. When one of her three rightmost Health boxes has damage marked, she suffers a penalty accordingly. Subtract this penalty from every action she performs, including rolling for Initiative, but not including Stamina rolls to stay conscious.

Health Boxes Marked Penalty
Third-to-last –1
Second-to-last –2
Last –3

Upgrading Damage

If your character’s Health track is already full of bashing damage, any further bashing or lethal damage upgrades the leftmost point of bashing damage to lethal — turn one of the slashes into a cross.

If your character’s health track is full of lethal damage, any further damage upgrades an existing point of lethal damage to aggravated. Turn the leftmost X into an asterisk. When a mortal’s rightmost Health box has bashing damage marked in it, she has to make a Stamina roll each turn or fall unconscious. If it has lethal damage, she takes another point of damage each minute (upgrading existing lethal damage to aggravated) until she receives medical attention.

Healing

Characters need time to heal once they’ve been beaten to a pulp. Kindred use their Vitae to return their bodies to the state of their Embrace, but mortals rely on time and medical care to set broken bones and heal bullet wounds. This is a double-edged sword: Kindred can use stolen blood to heal their wounds, but can’t be helped by time or medicine.

Mortal characters heal their rightmost health box at the following rate. The healing time is enough for the wound to fully recover — lethal damage doesn’t “downgrade” into bashing. Normally, a character can heal without medical attention, though use of the Medicine Skill will doubtless help him recover. The only exception is if a mortal character has all her Health boxes full of lethal damage — she’s bleeding out. She can’t recover from that without urgent medical attention and emergency surgery.
Wounds recover at the following rates.

Bashing: One point per 15 minutes.
Lethal: One point per two days.
Aggravated: One point per week.

Example: After a scuffle with an off-duty cop, Persephone’s out of harm’s way for now. She isn’t looking for another fight. Her health track is the same as it was at the end of the fight.

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Her rightmost wounds heal first. Each point of bashing damage takes 15 minutes to heal. Her lethal damage then heals over the course of the next two days. Finally, her aggravated wound heals over the course of the next week. In all, it’s taken a little over a week and two days for her to recover from her injuries.

Objects

Objects, such as lead pipes, walls, or cars, in the Storytelling System have three traits: Durability, Size, and Structure. Mostly, these relate to how easy the object is to destroy.

Durability: How hard the object is to damage. Subtract Durability from any damage dealt to the object. Durability has no effect against attacks that deal aggravated damage.

Durability Material
1 Wood, hard plastic, thick glass
2 Stone, aluminum
3 Steel, iron
+1 per reinforced layer

Size: How large the object is. Objects smaller than Size 1 can fit entirely in a person’s palm.

Size Object
1 Pistol
2 Crowbar, sawn-off shotgun
3 Assault rifle
5 Door
10 Sports car
15 SUV

Structure: An object’s Structure is equivalent to its Health and equals its Durability + Size. Each point of damage removes a point of Structure. Once it’s taken more damage than it has Durability, anyone using the object suffers a –1 die penalty. When its Structure hits 0, the object is destroyed. Objects do not differentiate between bashing and lethal damage, and can be repaired with an appropriate Craft roll.

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