I would just like to start by thanking everyone for their positive comments regarding the first part of my skirmish rules, which, if you missed it, can be found here.
Now, I did state in my last post that I would be looking at Abilities next, which covers all the other capabilities of your individual characters, bar their basic attributes.
However, as people seem to be keen to give the rules a test drive, what I thought I’d do with this post was detail the basic combat Abilities, which includes weapons, armour and fighting skills AND give a brief overview of the rules themselves. That way, should you want to stat up some of your figures and have them battle each other across your tabletop, by the end of this post you should be able to.
However, bear in mind that whilst I will be detailing the system and the basic combat Abilities, all the other bells and whistles will have to wait for a future post, so ‘crunchy’ Abilities such as Leadership, Reactions and Tough, and supernatural and Ki Abilities, such as Fear, Flight and Blast will not be available…yet.
However, you should be able to replicate a skirmish between two opposing forces, or host arena combat between a group of players each controlling a single character.
Karasudo – Units
So, to start with, let’s look at what I call Units. Units are a measurement of distance, which are used to determine how far a character can move and the ranges of various missile weapons. “That’s a bit vague,” I hear you cry, “what exactly does a Unit represent?” Well, as the rules were designed with 28mm miniatures in mind, a Unit is nominally 1 Inch. So, as detailed under Attributes, an Average human with an Agility of 3 can therefore expend 1 Action during a round and move 3″. Similarly, a character armed with a matchlock, which has a range of 10, can shoot at anything within 10 inches of themselves.
However, now comes the clever part – Units don’t have to be defined as inches. If you prefer to play your games on gridded battlemaps, such as those used by the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures rules or the Heroclix rules, a Unit is 1 square. If you use HeroScape hexes to build your battlefield, then a Unit is 1 hex. And if you play in any other scale other than 28mm, then a Unit is whatever suits your scale – for example, if you play using 15mm figures, you can decide that a Unit is 15mm. As long as what a Unit represents is decided before the game begins, it can be whatever you want. Just make sure that all the players know beforehand. I like to call this ‘Universatility’ (new word – tell your friends!)
As the majority of tabletop skirmishes are fought between troops who have at least some degree of combat training, this is represented in the rules by three basic combat Abilities – Brawl, Melee and Marksmanship.
Brawl covers all forms of unarmed combat, from bar-room brawlers to highly trained Martial Artists. If you’re hitting someone with part of your own body, then you use Brawl.
Melee covers the use of a weapon designed to inflict harm in close combat. This can be a sword, spear, mace, axe, etc. If you’re hitting someone with something sharp, pointy or spiky, you use Melee.
Marksmanship covers the use of weapons designed to inflict harm at a distance, such as bows, crossbows, arquebus, shuriken, etc. If you shooting or throwing something at someone, you use Marksmanship.
All three of these combat Abilities are rated from 1 to 5, with a 1 representing minimal training and a 5 representing mastery. The shorthand recording of these abilities is the Ability followed by a +X, so a character with minimal training in unarmed combat would have ‘Brawl +1’ listed under their Abilities. Each point of combat Ability costs its value in points, so a master sniper, with Marksmanship +5, would add an additional 5 points to the overall points cost for the character.
To clarify this, let’s take our Average human from the Attributes section, give him a name and train him up a bit. So, ‘Axel’ has the Average human statline and points cost, as follows:
Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw 3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: None (13 points)
However, if we decide that Axel is a bit handy with his fists and a pretty good swordsman, his stats and points cost now looks like this:
Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Brawl +1, Melee +2 (16 points)
Looking a bit more capable now, isn’t he? But whilst he may have the skills, he has no protection or actual weapons, other than his fists, so let’s give him some kit…
Arms & Armour
We’ll start with armour. Armour is any kind of physical protection that is worn by the character. However, it also covers thick hide, tough skin or being made out of rocks.
Armour is defined as Light, Medium or Heavy. Light armour offers minimal protection, such as a formed leather breastplate or a shield. Medium armour offers better protection and coverage, such as a chainmail hauberk and Heavy armour offers the best protection and coverage, such a full suit of plate mail. However, whilst all three armour types have different names, they are recorded in the same way – as Armour +X. Light armour is +1, Medium armour is +2 and Heavy armour is +3. You can specify exactly what type of armour the character is wearing for ‘colour’, but this has no actual effect on the actual rating. As with the combat Abilities above, each point of armour costs its rating in points, so an Armour rating of +3 costs an additional 3 points.
As a shield is a separate piece of equipment, it can be combined with any of the armour types above to give an additional +1, so Medium armour AND a Shield would cost 3 points, the same as Heavy armour on its own. However, as you could lose your shield during melee, it is recorded under Abilities separately, so in the above example, it would be listed as ‘Armour +2, Shield +1’.
Note that these are the basic ratings for armour, as enchanted or technologically advanced powered armour would have better ratings – and a higher cost.
So, going back to Axel, let’s give him Medium armour and a shield. He now looks like this:
Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Armour +2, Shield +1, Brawl +1, Melee +2 – (19 points)
Not too bad, but he still needs a weapon…
Melee weapons, similar to armour, are defined by three separate categories – Small one-handed, large one-handed or two-handed. Small one-handed weapons are such things as knives, daggers and coshes. Large one-handed weapons covers any weapon that can be used comfortably in one hand and has some reach, such as swords, axes, maces, etc. Two-handed weapons can only be used in two hands – such as spears, halberds or naginatas. Obviously, a character with a two-handed weapon cannot also use a shield. Unsurprisingly, the ratings and points costs for weapons follows the same format as that for armour – small one-handed weapons cost 1 point and are +1, large one-handed weapons cost 2 points and are +2 and two-handed weapons cost 3 points and are +3. As characters may carry more than one weapon, the actual weapon is recorded under their abilities, so a character with both a dagger and sword would have it noted as ‘Sword +2, Dagger +1’.
Going back to Axel, as he already has a shield, we can’t give him a two-handed weapon, so let’s give him an axe, as it fits in with his name. He now looks like this:
Axel: V3 A3 W3 Aw3 S1 / H6 #2 K6 – Abilities: Armour +2, Shield +1, Axe +2, Brawl +1, Melee +2 – (21 points)
And now Axel is ready to venture out and cleave some enemies!
As this post is already quite lengthy, I will leave detailing Missile Weapons, Line of Sight and Cover for a future post, as otherwise I won’t have time to explain the actual rules!
THE BASIC RULES
To play a game, you will require: two opposing forces of miniatures of roughly the same points cost – suitably statted up on whatever bit of paper you have to hand, a playing surface of your choice, a measuring device of some sort and a handful of ten-sided dice.
Yes, for this game we use the humble d10, currently unloved by games designers, who seem to think that rolling multiple d6’s is the way forward. And you won’t need a bucket-load, just a couple for each player.
Set up your playing area, with whatever terrain you want. Each player then rolls 1d10, with the player with the highest roll choosing where to set up his forces first. The opposing player then sets up his forces on the opposite side of the playing area. If you are playing with more than two players, then the procedure is the same, but each player should ideally be placed an equal distance from each other player, with the highest roller placing first. For the remainder of this explanation, I will be assuming that there are only two forces in play.
Play is divided into a number of Rounds, with each Round being defined as the period it takes for every model in play to use all their Actions. A round is divided into three Phases – Initiative, Action and Recovery.
The Inititave phase simply determines who goes first, the Action phase is where all the models complete whatever Actions their player has decided they will do and the Recovery phase is where any characters that have healing or regenerative powers gain back any lost Health.
To determine which player goes first, both players roll 1d10 and add the Awareness score of the character or model designated as their ‘Leader’. Usually, this will be the character with the highest Awareness rating, but should any character have the Leadership Ability, that particular model is automatically considered that player’s ‘Leader’ and may use either the character’s Awareness or Leadership score as the modifier, whichever is highest. Whoever rolls highest goes first.
The player who won the Initiative then selects which of their models goes first. Each character may perform a number of Actions up to their Action score. For the majority of characters, this will be two Actions.
An Action can be anything, but the most common Actions will be moving or performing an attack of some description. So, a character could move twice, attack twice, move once and attack once or attack once and move once. The latter usually only applies to missile combat, as once you’re in melee combat, unless your attack has downed your foe, you probably want to stick around and finish them off.
Moving – A character can move up to their Agility score in Units by expending 1 Action. So, a character with an Agility of 3 could move 3 Units in whatever direction they choose. If they wish, they could use both Actions on movement and move 6 Units.
However, if a character has expended all their Actions on movement and this brings them in base-to-base contact with an opposing model, they are considered to have Charged into combat and not only get a free attack Action, but also get a +1 modifier to their attack roll for every additional move Action above the first. So, if a character with an Agility of 3 uses both their Actions on movement, which puts them in base-to-base contact with an opposing model, they may immediately launch an attack on the opposing model with a +1 modifier. Had the character’s Agility score been 5, and consequently 3 Actions, which were all used on movement, not only would they have moved a massive 15 Units across the board, they would also have launched an attack on their opponent with a +2 modifier!
Melee Attack – Once a character has moved into base-to-base contact with an opposing character they are considered to be in Melee (or Unarmed) combat and may launch an attack.
The attacking character rolls 1d10, adding their Agility score and any relevant combat Ability and this is their Attack roll.
If we use Axel above as an example, he would add his Agility of 3 and his Melee of +2, for a total of 5, to his dice roll. Axel rolls a 6, so his total Attack roll is 11. His opponent, who we’ll call Brad, has exactly the same stats as him, now rolls his Defence, which consists of 1d10 plus his Agility of 3 – Brad has no defensive Abilities, so that’s all he gets. Brad rolls a 7, for a total of 10, which means the attack gets through his defence by a single point.
We now take this +1, add Axel’s Vigour of 3 and the +2 from his axe, for a total Damage roll of 6. From this total, we deduct Brad’s Vigour of 3 (representing his ability to soak any damage) and his Armour of 3 (Armour +2 and Shield +1), meaning that the overall damage taken is…zero. Looks like Brad’s armour saved him this time!
Had Axel rolled a 10, his Attack roll would have been 15, beating Brad’s roll by 4. Adding his modifiers, this would have resulted in a Damage roll of 9. Deducting Brad’s combined Vigour and Armour of 6 would therefore have resulted in the actual damage being taken as 3 points. This would have been deducted from Brad’s Health score of 6, meaning that he was reduced to 3 Health points – half his overall Health, but still standing.
Once the player that won Initiative has completed all the Actions of their first chosen character or model, play then shifts to the other player, who then activates their chosen first model. Play then alternates between each player, until both players have activated and performed Actions for each model they have in play. Should a player have more models than their opponent in play, they would then continue with their remaining models after their opponent had finished.
Once both (or more) players have activated all their models, the Action phase is over.
Recovery Phase – During this phase, any characters that have healing Abilities would regain any lost Health points, depending on the Ability used. This will be explained in greater detail when I detail the remaining Abilities that characters can have.
After the Recovery phase, the Round is over and both players then dice for Initiative once more. Should either player have lost their designated ‘Leader’ during the Round, they would then declare which of their characters has stepped into the breach, and use this character’s Awareness (or Leadership Ability) as their Initiative modifer.
Okay, that’s a very rough and ready version of the basic rules, but should give you all a flavour of how they work and enough information to enable you to run a few test combats between heavily armed and armoured combatants in melee combat.
Once you’ve given them a go, please feel free to ask any questions or give constructive feedback, as this can only improve them.
Next time, we’ll be looking at Missile Combat, including Line of Sight and Cover, other Movements Actions, such as dealing with rough ground, obstacles and climbing, and some of the more interesting Abilities, such as Regeneration, Dominate and Snare.