Characters begin combat on the first round by allocating their soul attribute to boost their other ones. This is not a requirement, but is advantageous against bodily assaults by weapons or physically manifest powers such as lightning bolts or sprays of fire. Characters decide how much of their soul they wish to assign to their other halos, then count whats left.
Quicknote: Disadvantages of Soul Allocation
Because the soul determines the strength of an immortals serenades, assigning too much of it to the other attributes diminishes the effects of his supernatural powers in favor of a stronger body. Further, immortals with less soul attribute can perform fewer actions than their more robust counterparts. A balance should be achieved which leaves neither physical prowess or supernatural efficiency impaired.
The character with the highest soul points acts first. Also, for every 3 soul he has unallocated, he gains an additional action during the round.
There are two types of physical (non-magical) combat: melee and ranged. Melee indicates combat that is performed at close quarters, hand to hand . Ranged is performed at a distance, usually with the aid of far-reaching weapons such as firearms, bows and darts, spears and other thrown weapons. Damage delivered from ranged combat heal rapidly due to the panaceas miraculous aid. Damage delivered on the end of a sword or fist, at close quarters, negate the panacea and must heal normally or require supernatural healing from serenades or carnals.
Combat between opponents is resolved in 5 easy steps. Once youve done it enough times, the time in which each attack and defense is resolved flies by. The dominant soul always goes first in a round.
The attacker makes his move. Usually this involves using a weapon or a serenade against his opponent. In melee combat (hand-to-hand) he makes a yellow dexterity roll, adds that attribute to the roll and his rank of skill with the weapon. This number is compared to the defenders total, which is determined by his yellow roll plus his dexterity total plus his weapon skill if he he parrying. If he is not parrying, he makes a roll, adds his green (movement) attribute and his dodge skill.
The total of both rolls is compared. If the attacker has a higher roll, he compares the surplus of his roll above the defenders roll against the violet (armor) attribute of the defender. If the defender has a higher roll, he escapes damage and will go first on the next round, becoming the attacker if he wishes.
Role-play is an intense, visual practice. As things are described to a player, he sees events transpiring around his character in his minds eye. Good description is vital to good visualization. If the game is described in purely mechanical terms ("your total is a 12, you hit him") without role-play embellishment ("your sword flickers in the streetlight, opening a long rip in his sleeve and the muscle underneath") the game becomes very dry. Describing such things as the sound of ringing steel, the smell of blood in the air after a wound is delivered, the expression on an opponents face or the hate burning in his eyes and the sensation of a burning sting in a wound brings combat vividly alive.
Narrators should vary their descriptions and especially play up unique qualities of their non-player characters. One immortals blood may glow as it flows from a wound, anothers canine teeth elongate, anothers clothes growl when ripped. Play up the supernatural aspects of an immortal and players will have a true appreciation of just how different these creatures are from a normal human opponent.
The following is a sample combat, describing ranged, melee and serenade conflict between two characters. It explains combat in purely mechanical terms.
Matharius had tracked Boudicea to a condemned housing project deep in the heart of Los Angeles. Matharius has a .38 special as well as a short sword cherished from his days serving Emperor Nero in ancient Rome. Boudicea disdains the use of firearms, but she does have a two-handed "bastard" sword she calls Singer.
Matharius is on a roof, looking down on Boudicea as she walks down the street like a goddess of vengeance. He lays on his stomach and pulls his pistol, taking aim at his adversary.
Boudicea knows Matharius is around, and is intently looking for him so he doesnt ambush her. She makes a blue roll (rolling a 5) (because she is using her senses) and adds her senses attribute of 8. The narrator decides the target number, taking in consideration that Matharius is under cover, is a 12. Boudicea overcomes the target number. She sees Matharius up on the roof as she walks down the deserted street.
Matharius fires. He makes a yellow roll (3), adds his firearm skill of 4 and his dexterity attribute (for accuracy) of 5 for a total of 12.
Boudicea sees Matharius up on the roof so is not going to be surprised. In fact, she is going to try to dodge the incoming bullet. She makes a green roll (3), adds her dodge skill (2) and her movement attribute of 4 for a total of 9.
The totals are compared. The target number Boudicea needed to overcome was Matharius total of 12. She only rolled a 9. She is hit by the access 4 points. This is base damage from Matharius accuracy. To this he adds the damage a .38 Special delivers, 8 points, for a total damage potential of 12.
This total is now applied against Boudicea violet (armor) attribute, which happens to be 6. The two numbers are compared. Her armor stops 6 points, while the remaining 6 punch through. She is wounded.
On the character sheet is a section called Wounds Taken. There are five levels of wounds, from the mildest (light) to the most severe (mortal). All characters have a certain number of open boxes under each levels. These open boxes represent the resilience of his body, how much damage it can physically take and still function.
When a character takes damage, one of the boxes on one of these levels is filled in. When all of the boxes of a wound level is filled in, the next box, no matter how minor the damage, is filled in on the next highest level. This emulates the bodys lower resilience once its already been hurt.
To fill in a wound box, a player needs to understand what level of wound his character has taken. The formula is simple: Every 3 points of damage raises the wound severity one level.
Chart: Calculating Wound Severity
For Example: From our combat example above, Boudicea took 6 points of damage. This causes a level 2 (impairing) wound. Her player will now fill in one box on the "impairing" line.
For one character to grapple or hold onto another, he must roll a orange die and add his orange (strength) attribute. His opponent being held makes the same roll. Whoever rolls higher succeeds.
Grappling automatically takes an action every round for the immortal doing the holding. The defender is allowed to make one attempt (using one action) to roll and break this strength. Both holder and defender are under a grapple hostile to represent the difficulty of doing anything else while holding one another. The difficulty number of this hostile is determined by the total roll of the holder.
The digits on a d10 range from zero to nine. Whenever a zero is rolled, it is known as a null. Nulls indicate catastrophic failures. In physical combat, a null counts simply as a no roll, forcing the character to depend upon his attribute and skill alone to protect or aid him. In serenade combat, where mystical energies are channeled through the precise control of an immortals vox, a null is far deadlier. See Serenade Nulls, below.
Instituting this rule allows for more specific (and often realistic) application of damage to an opponent, as well as opening the options of stunning or knocking out an opponent rather than having to damage him. After an opponent is successfully hit, total the points of damage that get past his armor attribute. Now roll a d10 and consult the chart below to see if the blow landed in a vital area. The higher the number, the more vital the area hit and the greater additional damage is applied as a wound. Rolling a null halves the damage already scored.
Chart 4: Vital Areas
Sometimes, an attacker wants to stun or knock out his opponent rather than cause wounds that will damage him. When an opponent is stunned, he loses all of his actions during the round after he has been struck. To stun an opponent, a character must make a roll a total of 8 on the vital areas d10. This indicates that, no matter how much damage got through, the impact of the blow caused enough momentary pain to disorient the opponent. The opponent is stunned during the rest of the round if he has not already acted, or the next round if he has. While stunned, a character gets no roll or skill to apply against his opponent, although his armor is applied normally. A character cannot be stunned for more than 1 round from a single blow.
To knock out an opponent, a character must roll a total of 9 on the vital areas d10. A character is knocked out for the rest of the scene, time enough for his opponent to subdue him with chains or other restraints.
Some characters actually want to precisely land a blow to gain additional damage, or score stun or knockout. A character increases his chance to hit a vital area according to his weapon or martial arts skill level. His level (1 to 6) is applied as a bonus when rolling the vital area d10, thereby increasing the chance that the roll will be higher. Anything over a nine is counted as a +5 damage factor.
Over and above the inherent resilience of the body to absorb damage, characters will also wear armor to increase that resilience. Human armor comes in many forms, from leather to chain-mail, full plate, to kevlar vests capable of stopping a bullet from doing significant damage. Immortal armor is even more exotic, often made of such unusual materials as glass, silk, wooden beads, gemstones, feathers or even body paint. These materials are often enchanted to acquire the same damage-resistance as more traditional forms of armor.
In essence, armor adds to the violet (armor) attribute of the character wearing it. Damage is applied against this augmented value. Anything that gets through is considered actual damage. Normal armor has a range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the strongest armor a person can wear. Enchanted armor can have a value higher than 5.
Whenever a character scores a 9 or better on the vital area, he negates the entire value of normal armor.
Whenever a character scores 14 on a vital area roll against enchanted armor, he negates the entire value of enchanted armor. Or, if he has a sword which is enchanted with a damage rating equal to the enchanted armor rating, a 9 or better roll will negate it.