Action Module Basic Combat
The Basics Combat Sequence
Combat Statistics
Zones on the Battlefield
Actions in Combat Actions
Action Descriptions
Conditions in Combat Damage & Injury
Combat Advantage
Combat Options Combat Feats
Mini Module: Low-Combat Games
Mini Module: Descriptor-Based Damage
Mini Module: Realistic Healing

Several skills determine how well you do in combat. This section summarizes these traits and how to use them.


An attack roll represents the attempt to strike a target with an attack. When you attack a target, make an Attack check with the appropriate skill (Melee Attack or Ranged Attack). If your result equals or exceeds the target's Defense resistance, you hit and may deal damage (or have another Effect as dictated by your attack). Various modifiers affect the attack roll, which are discussed in this module.

Automatic Hits and MissesEdit

A natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on the attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 (the d20 comes up 20) is always a hit, regardless of the opponent’s Defense. A natural 20 is also a possible Critical Hit.

Circumstance Penalties
Firing Out of Melee 1
Firing Into Melee 1
Target in Light Cover 1
Target in Hard Cover 2
Firing Beyond Range 1 per additional Zone fired through

Area attacks ignore Penalties for firing into Melee and for Concealment.


Your Defense represents how hard it is for opponents to hit you, the Difficulty Class of an opponent's attack . Your Defense is:

10 + Defense resistance + Dexterity + miscellaneous modifiers

Defense ResistanceEdit

Your Defense resistance represents your passive ability to avoid attacks. Your ranks in the Defense skill represent your ability to actively avoid attacks. If you can't react to an attack, you can't use your Defense ranks. For example, you lose your Defense ranks if you're bound up in a snare, or when you're caught Flat-Footed at the beginning of combat. You do, however, retain your Dexterity modifier to Defense even while Flat-Footed.

Miscellaneous ModifiersEdit

The circumstances may also apply miscellaneous modifiers to your Attack or Defense. See the Combat Modifiers Table for details.


When you hit with an attack, you may deal damage. Each attack has a damage modifier. For melee attacks, the damage modifier is your Strength, plus any modifiers for FX like Damage. For ranged attacks the damage modifier is usually based on the attack's FX rank.

Melee Damage modifier = Strength modifier + weapon damage
FX Damage Miodifier = FX rank


Your Strength measures how hard you can hit, so your Strength applies when you attack unarmed or with a melee or thrown weapon with the Mighty Extra.

Weapon DamageEdit

Weapons have a damage modifier, showing how much damage they inflict. Ranged weapons have a fixed damage modifier. Melee and thrown weapons add the wielder's Strength modifier to their damage.

FX RankEdit

Your FX's rank measures how much damage it inflicts, so it serves as the FX's damage modifier. Individual FX descriptions provide more information on how much damage a particular FX inflicts.

Critical HitsEdit

When you make an attack roll and get a natural 20 (the d20 actually shows 20), you hit regardless of your target’s Defense, and you score a threat. The hit might be a Critical Hit (sometimes called a "crit"). To find out whether it's a critical hit, determine if the attack roll total would have normally hit your opponent's Defense. If so, then it is a critical hit. If not, the attack still hits, but as a normal attack, not a critical.

A critical hit increases the attack's damage modifier by 5. A critical hit against a minion allows no resistance; the minion is automatically dropped Helpless .

Increased Threat RangeEdit

Characters with the Improved Critical feat can score a threat on a natural result less than 20, although they still automatically hit only on a natural 20. Any attack roll that doesn't result in a hit is not a threat.

Resistances ResistanceEdit

When you're subjected to a potentially harmful effect, the attack must beat the DC established by your resistance.

Resistance TypesEdit

Your main resistances are Defense, Toughness, Will and Fortitude, but other skills can act as resistances as well. The resistances are:

  • Defense: Your ability to avoid attacks and harm. The DC to overcome your Defense is 10 + your ranks in Defense + your Dexterity score.
  • Toughness: Your ability to resist physical punishment and direct damage. The DC to overcome your Toughness is 10 + your ranks in Toughness + your Constitution score.
  • Might: Your ability to apply muscle to lift and resist pressure, usually to avoid an enemy maneuver. The DC to overcome your Might is 10 + your ranks in Might + your Strength score.
  • Reflex: Your ability to react quickly to danger or in response to another event, such as avoiding an enemy maneuver. The DC to overcome your Reflex is 10 + your ranks in Reflex + your Dexterity score.
  • Fortitude: Your ability to resist attacks against your vitality and health such as poison and disease. The DC to overcome your Fortitude is 10 + your ranks in Fortitude + your Constitution score.
  • Wits: Your ability to keep your mind focused and to think quickly. The DC to overcome your Wits score is 10 + your ranks in Wits + your Intelligence score.
  • Perception: Your ability to spot danger or hidden threats. The DC to overcome your Perception is 10 + your ranks in Perception + your Awareness score.
  • Will: Your resistance to mental influence and domination as well as certain FX. The DC to overcome your Will is 10 + your ranks in Will + your Charisma score.


Every round, each combatant gets to do something. The combatants' Reflex checks determine the Initiative order in which they act, from highest to lowest.

Initiative ChecksEdit

At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check with their Reflex skills. The GM rolls for the NPCs while the players each roll for their characters. Your initiative in combat is determined by your Reflex score, including modifiers like the Improved Initiative feat. The GM finds out in what order characters act, counting down from highest total to lowest. Each character acts in turn for all rounds of the combat unless a character takes an action to change initiative. Usually, the GM writes the names of the characters down in initiative order so he can move quickly from one character to the next each round. If two combatants have the same initiative check result, they act in order of highest Dexterity first. If there is still a tie, roll a die, with the highest roll going first.


At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first turn in the initiative order), you are Flat-Footed. You can't use your Defense ranks while flat-footed. The Uncanny Dodge feat allows you to retain some Defense ranks while flat-footed.

Surprise AttacksEdit

An attack may come from an unexpected quarter, especially when dealing with powerful opponents. An attack that catches the target off-guard in some way is called a Surprise Attack. To make a surprise attack, you must catch your target unawares and have Combat Advantage over the target (such as when a foe is flat-footed at the start of combat).

Opponent InitiativeEdit

Typically, the GM makes a single initiative check for opponents. That way, each player gets a turn each round and the GM also gets one turn. At the GM's option, however, he can make separate initiative checks for different groups of opponents or even for individual foes. For instance, the GM may make one initiative check for an evil overlord and another check for all of the villain"s minions.

Joining a FightEdit

If characters enter a fight after it"s begun, they roll Reflex for initiative and act whenever their turn comes up in the existing order.


When a combat starts, if you are not aware of your enemies but they are aware of you, you"re surprised. If you know about your opponents but they don’t know about you, you surprise them.

Determining AwarenessEdit

Sometimes all combatants on a side are aware of their enemies; other times none are; and other times only some of them are. Sometimes a few combatants on either side are aware and other combatants are unaware.

The GM determines who is aware of whom at the start of a battle. The GM may call for Perception checks, or other checks to see how aware the characters are of their opponents. Some examples:

  • The characters enter a seedy bar and immediately spot members of a notorious gang. The gang members notice the characters at the same time. Both sides are aware; neither is surprised. The characters and the gang-members make Reflex checks for initiative, and the battle begins.
  • The characters are tracking a mysterious shape-shifting monster, which has fled down a dark alley. They follow, unaware the monster has assumed the form of an old crate, hidden among several others. When the monster springs out to attack, the characters are surprised and do not get to act in the surprise round.
  • The characters infiltrate a criminal mastermind's headquarters wearing the uniforms of his men. When they reveal themselves and attack to prevent the mastermind from triggering his doomsday device, they surprise their opponents. The characters act during the surprise round, but the mastermind and his henchmen do not.

The Surprise RoundEdit

If some, but not all, of the combatants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. The combatants aware of their opponents can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), combatants who started the battle aware of their opponents each take a one action, not the normal two. If no one or everyone is surprised, a surprise round doesn't occur.

Unaware CombatantsEdit

Combatants unaware at the start of battle do not get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are Flat-Footed because they have not acted yet. Because of this, they lose any Defense ranks and are vulnerable to Surprise Attacks.


Minions are minor characters subject to special rules in combat, and generally easier to defeat than normal characters. The following rules apply to minions:

  • Minions cannot score Critical Hits against non-minions.
  • If an attack overcomes a minion's Resistance, the minion is dropped Helpless.
  • Certain traits (like Takedown Attack) are more effective against minions.


Mobs are groups of minor characters like minions who act as a single unit. A mob is treated as a single heroic character (not a Minion). The number of creatures in a mob determines its overall capabilities relative to the base creature. Compare the number of creatures in the mob to the progression value on the Time and Value Progression Table to determine the Mob Modifier.

  • Mobs add their Mob Modifier to their Attack (both Melee Attack and Ranged Attack) and Might. Mobs treat all their attacks as having 1 rank in the Barrage extra. In order to gain these benefits, a mob must spend one Move to surround an enemy it is in range to attack. A surrounded target may spend one Move to escape from being surrounded. If a surrounded target is Engaged, it may Move and both Disengage and escape being surrounded, or remain Engaged but escape being surrounded (until the the Mob surrounds them again). A Mob can surround as many targets as it spends moves on.
  • Mobs also add their Mob Modifier to their Toughness. They do not need to surround a target to gain the benefit of this improved Toughness.
  • Depending on the descriptors of the creatures making up the mobs, they are not affected by especially subtle, single-target FX, such as Mind Control or Inflict. At the GM's option, targeting important individuals within a mob (such as officers in a military unit) can affect the whole mob, but the mob will often gain 1 or 2 bonuses on the resistance.
  • Area attacks which target a mob have 1 bonus to their effect modifiers.

Damage conditions affect a mob normally (with the exception of the stunned result), though the descriptions might change:

  • An injured mob might see some of its members fall, and suffers a Cumulative -1 to Toughness checks.
  • A stunned mob might be disrupted and unable to coordinate its attacks as well. A stunned mob also immediately decreases its Mob Modifier by the number of Injuries it has suffered from its original value. So when a mob with a Mob Modifier of 8, which has already suffered 2 injuries, suffers a Stunned result and a third injury, it decreases its Mob Modifier to 5.
  • A staggered mob might see many of its numbers fall, teetering on the edge of total chaos, and becomes limited to only taking 1 action per turn.
  • An unconscious mob might dissolve as its members are either debilitated or fleeing for their lives.

Description-wise, single-target attacks against a mob are usually resolved as a series of attacks of the same type, such as a fierce unarmed onslaught that tears through the mob, sending dozens of creatures flying, or a barrage of gunfire. These types of attacks gain no special bonuses or penalties, and are assumed to be just as effective as usual.