Combat Mechanics

Combat is a common situation for adventurous Heroes. Combat covers many different facets of action-oriented sequences. In APEX, Combat means any type of situation where opponents are acting against one another and the concept of “who goes first” becomes important. That said, not every Combat situation involves people shooting at each other or clubbing each other to death. Combat can cover things like car chases, heated diplomatic exchanges, or epic action scenes where the Heroes survival is on the line.

Time and Space

When in combat situations, the concepts of timing and distances often come into play. In a duel, who gets to attack first? In a firefight, a long distance target is more difficult to hit.

When a combat scene starts up and there are multiple participants, interesting terrain, or opportunity for tactics, it’s a good idea for the Narrator to have a map of the battlefield drawn out. You can use regular paper, graph paper, or a battlemat (recommended). Distance in APEX is measured in “squares”, referring the grid of a battlemat or graph paper. When scaling comes into play, such as well dealing with massive spaceship or boat battles, simply divide or multiply the scale of the squares as needed. On a typical battlemat, a square is about one square inch. Each square is the equivilant of five feet (5′) in the game world. Having this reference map of the battlefield makes it easy to determine positioning, make tactical decisions, and figure out ranges for attacks.

If you choose to go “old-school”, where the combat is played out entirely in the group’s collective imagination, you can make loose guesses about distances in feet, and then make the translation into squares after the fact. Having a map or battlemat encourages tactical decision-making and adds an extra element of the visual experience of the game. The old-school approach works just fine as long as all of the players are good with describing their actions in detail. Much of the time, though, the collective-imagination battlefield devolves into overly-simplified action descriptions such as “I attack…”. That makes combat boring! Avoid it!

During normal gameplay, time is handled loosely. The Narrator and the Players can make educated guesses at how long different activities might take. Common sense and a little thought can usually answer the question of “how long”. Once you get into Combat, however, things become much more rigid since lives are on the line. Time during combat is fast and furious, denoted by Rounds. A Round is approximately three seconds long, meaning there are about twenty Rounds per minute. During the period of a Round, all of the participants of the combat situation have an opportunity to act. Each participant’s opportunity comes in the form of a Turn. Each combatant gets one Turn per Round, and the order in which they act is determined by Initiative.

Initiative

At the start of a Combat scene, all participants roll their Initiative dice, total up the results, and then compare them to one another. The order of actions then goes from highest result to lowest result. In the case of a tie, those two participants can reroll initiative between themselves, the winner goes before the loser. The Initiative order is then preserved for the duration of the combat, with the participants taking their Turn in the same sequence each Round. In the event of newcomers to the scene, they automatically are placed last in the order. If multiple new combatants arrive similtaneously, a private Initiative roll is held between them and their sequence is appended to the end of the original order. Main Characters like Heroes and important villains roll their Initiative and act individually in combat. Support Cast, however, are usually rolled for as a group.

A character may choose to their Hold their Turn to wait and act later during the Round. They can Hold all the way up until the last participant’s Turn, but must use their Turn before the round is over or lose their Turn. A character Holding their Turn may choose to go before any other character whose Turn is after theirs. If they choose to act before a friendly ally, the ally may allow it freely, or they may contest the interruption. If the Holding character chooses to interrupt an enemy, the interruption is automatically contested. During a contested interruption, the Holding character and the interrupted character both roll their Initiative and the winner goes first. If the Holding character loses the contest, they still must take their turn after the winner or lose it completely. In the circumstance that multiple opponents are on Hold at the end of the round, hold a private Iniative to determine who goes first, unless one volunteers to go last.

Surprise

In some instances, not everyone involved is prepared to fight when the combat scene begins, such as in an ambush or other surprise attack. In the case of a surprise situation, the participants that are aware of the combat roll Initiative with a +2 Bonus. Those at risk of being surprised make a Perception roll, where success means they spot the ambush and roll Initiative with a -2 Penalty, and failure means they are caught offguard and roll Initiative with a -4 Penalty.

Action Types

As the combat scene plays out, each participant takes their Turn according to the Initiative sequence. During a character’s turn, they are allowed to take two Actions, though different actions have different costs, as shown below. There are five types of actions:

  • Attack Action: Using a melee or ranged weapon to attack another via Close Combat or Marksmanship Abilities, or when using certain Perks like offensive spells. You can take the Attack Action twice per Turn, with some limitations noted below.
  • Move Action: Move your character up to a number of square equal to their Base Speed, or any other type of significant movement like standing up from the prone position. If you take two Move Actions on your Turn, you can a number of squares up to your Run Speed.
  • Special Action: Any miscellaneous action, such using a special Perk, drawing a holstered weapon, using a quickly executed Ability, executing a Combat Option, ect. You can typically take two different Special Actions per Turn without any limitations.
  • Extended Action: Any action that takes a full Turn or more, such hacking into a mainframe, reloading a musket, digging through a bag for an item, lighting a torch, or hotwiring a get-a-way car. The number of Actions that need to be spent to complete the task is typically up to the Narrator, though 1d6 can do the trick as well.
  • Free Action: Short, quick actions like speaking a sentense, motioning to an ally, dropping an item from your hand, or falling prone. You can typically take two Free Actions on your Turn without consequence, but if you need to take more than two, they would collectively count as a Special Action.
Multiple Actions

As a rule of thumb, characters can typically take two different Actions on their Turn, such as a Move Action and an Attack Action, without consequence. Players can declare both actions at the same time, or declare the first, execute it, and then declare the second. You can take the same action twice on your Turn, such as making two Attack or Move actions, but in this case the actions must be declared at the same time and before either is executed! There are usually some constraints or limitations to taking the same action twice in a Turn, as explained below.

Multiple Ranged Attacks: You can make multiple Ranged Attacks on your Turn, each additional Attack drawing a -2 Penalty on all Attacks made that Turn. You can only fire ranged weapons a number of times up to their Rate of Fire. Firing a ranged weapon twice (also called a Burst Fire, requires RoF 2) therefore would allow a character to make two attacks with the same gun, each at -2. Firing a weapon three times (also called Auto-Fire, requires RoF3) allows a character to make three attacks with the same gun, each at -4. Multiple ranged attacks can be directed at different enemies, so long as the second and third enemies are no more than 3 squares from one to the next (range penalties apply separately to each enemy). Each individual attack is considered an Action, therefore using Autofire requires the use of an Adrenaline point to award you one extra Action.

Multiple Melee Attacks: You can make multiple Melee Attacks on your Turn, each additional Attack drawing a -2 Penalty on all Attacks made that Turn. Melee weapons can only be used a number of times per round equal to their Quickness. Using a melee weapon twice (also called a Rapid Strike, allows you to make two attacks with the same melee weapon, each at -2. Using a melee weapon three times (called a Flourish), allows you to make three attacks with the same weapon, at -4 for each attack. Multiple melee attacks can be directed at different enemies, so long as they are within your weapon’s Reach. Each individual attack is considered an Action, therefore using Flourish requires the use of an Adrenaline point to award you one extra Action.

Multiple Attack Summary

  • Burst Fire (Requires RoF 2, fire the ranged weapon twice, each attack at -2)
  • Auto Fire (Requires RoF 3, fire the ranged weapon three times, each attack at -4, burn an Adrenaline point)
  • Rapid Strike (Requires Quickness 2, attack with the melee weapon twice, each at -2)
  • Flourish (Requires Quickness 3, attack with the melee weapon three times, each attack at -4, burn an Adrenaline point)

Multiple Move Actions: You can make multiple Move actions on your Turn, up to three Move Actions if you burn an Adrenaline Point. If you use two Move Actions, you can move up to your Run Speed. If you spend an Adrenaline point to gain a third Move Action, you can move an extra 1d4 squares. This 1d4 does not Pop, so you can move up to 4 extra squares!

Special Movement

Going Prone: Falling prone from a standing or crouching position is a Free Action. Going from prone to crouching or standing is a Movement Action.

Jumping: Jumping counts as a Move Action. Typically characters can jump 1 square from a stand-still, or two squares with a running start. To perform a jump with a running start, this requires the use of two Move Actions, and your character must move at least two squares before making the leap. For a long jump, make an Athletics roll, success granting 1 extra square of jumping distance, and each Crit granting another.

Difficult Terrain: If you character is moving across difficult terrain, such as in deep mud, thick snow, or an unstable surfice, each square of movement actually counts as two squares.

Crouching: While crouched, you can move half of your Base Speed, rounding up, per Move Action.

Crawling: While prone, you can crawl along the ground at the rate of two squares per Move Action.

Attacking

There are four main kinds of attacks: Melee Attacks, Ranged Attacks, Throwing Attacks, and Special Attacks. They are detailed below:

Melee Attacks (Close Combat): A character can attack any enemy within the Reach of their melee weapon. Combatants usually only attack with a melee weapon once per Turn, but you can make multiple melee attacks if necessary (see Multiple Actions above). When you wish to Attack an enemy with a melee weapon, you’ll roll your Close Combat Ability against the target’s Defense Resistance. If you fail the test, your attack is a miss. If you succeed with your roll, the attack is a hit and you can roll damage. For each Crit you gain on your Close Combat attempt, add a +4 Bonus to your damage roll.

Ranged Attacks (Marksmanship): A character can attack any enemy within the total Range of their weapon. Attacks made against a target standing within the Range of the weapon are considered to be Short Range attacks and receive no Penalty. Attacking any targets standing within 1 to 2 times the Range of the weapon are considered Medium Range attacks and receive a -2 Penalty. Attacking any targets standing within 2 to 3 times the Range of the weapon are Long Range attacks and receive a -4 Penalty. Targets standing more than 3 to 4 times the Range of the weapon away are Extreme Range attacks and receive a -6 Penalty. Attacks cannot be made against enemies standing a number of squares more than 4 times the Range of your weapon. Assuming the target is within range, when you wish to Attack an enemy with a ranged weapon, you’ll roll your Marksmanship Ability against the target’s Reaction Resistance. If you fail the roll, your attack is a miss. If you succeed with your roll, the attack is a hit and you can roll damage. For each Crit you gain on your Marksmanship attempt, add a +4 Bonus to your damage roll.

Throwing Attacks (Athletics): A character can throw a weapon or object at any enemy within the total Range of their weapon. Attacks made against a target standing within the Range of the weapon are considered to be Short Range attacks and receive no Penalty. Attacking any targets standing within 1 to 2 times the Range of the weapon are considered Medium Range attacks and receive a -2 Penalty. You cannot throw weapons more than twice their Range away. Assuming the target is within range, when you wish to Attack an enemy with a ranged weapon, you’ll roll your Athletics Ability against the target’s Reaction Resistance. If you fail the roll, your attack is a miss. If you succeed with your roll, the attack is a hit and you can roll damage. For each Crit you gain on your Athletics attempt, add a +4 Bonus to your damage roll.

Range Modifier Summary

  • Short Range – Within 1x Weapon Range (No Penalty)
  • Medium Range – Between 1x and 2x Weapon Range (-2 Penalty)
  • Long Range – Between 2x and 3x Weapon Range (-4 Penalty)
  • Extreme Range – Between 3x and 4x Weapon Range (-6 Penalty)
Combat Options

Below are some special actions your character can take.

  • Aim: Spend 1 Special Action to gain a +2 Bonus to your next Attack (Melee, Ranged, or Throwing).
  • Take a Breather:
  • Hunker Down:
  • Recover:
  • Call a Shot: