The combat maneuvers listed below fall into two categories: general and trained. General maneuvers are available to everyone, from the most battle-hardened veteran to the most combat-averse fop. Trained maneuvers represent those techniques and styles which require advanced training to even attempt. Note that training does not require formal study: the battlefield is an unforgiving instructor that can teach one how to survive quite quickly.
- 1 General Techniques
- 2 Fencing Styles
- 3 Battlefield Styles
- 4 Unarmed Styles
Everyone is able to knock someone down, throw someone through a window, or trip someone without special martial arts training (though training will make it considerably easier to do so).
In order to initiate a grapple the fighter needs to take an aggressive stance and roll at a goal of -2. If she wins, she and her opponent are grappling. Small melee weapons or pistols can be used at -2 goal in a grapple. Medium or larger melee weapons and anything larger than a pistol cannot be used while grappling. Grappling damage is per unarmed combat, and characters may use either Dex or Str while grappling.
A character who is grappled may break free by gaining the edge and declaring the grapple broken. Characters can move a few meters while grappled- this represents uncoordinated pushing and pulling, or even rolling around on the ground.
In order to knock an opponent down or throw/push her into another object the fighter must take an aggressive stance and beat her opponent by 3 Vps. A character that was thrown or tripped is at -2 the next round. Damage done by a throw or trip is per unarmed combat (minus the 3 Vps required to cause the trip or throw), though obviously environmental hazards may increase the damage.
While grappling a character may attempt to pin her opponent. In order to do so she must make an aggressive or balanced attack, and achieve 4 Vps. Once pinned a character is helpless for as long as her opponent maintains the pin.
A character can strike at an opponent's weapon in an effort to either damage the weapon or knock it free from her opponent's hand. A character may attempt a disarm in either aggressive stance or defensive stance. If the fighter is attempting a disarm in aggressive stance she rolls using her Strength attribute paired with her combat skill. If the fighter is attempting to disarm from a defensive stance then she rolls using her Dexterity attribute paired with her combat skill. She must score 3 VPs greater than her opponent to succeed in disarming.
Heavier weapons are better at battering a lighter weapon out of an opponents hands. If a character is using a broadsword or heavy weapon against a light weapon (most fencing weapons and knives), then a character in aggressive stance attempting to disarm needs to score only 2 VPs greater than her opponent.
Certain weapons are more difficult to disarm. A two handed weapon requires an additional VP to disarm (for a total of 4 greater than the opponent).
Few and far between is the noble who does not wear, day and night, an energy shield. These Second Republic wonder devices guard the rich and powerful from harm, absorbing everything from assassin's bullets to laser blasts. They are with only a single flaw- slow moving objects do not activate the protective cocoon of force. This vulnerability has spawned a dueling culture in the Known World elites much akin to the ancient renaissance dueling. There are numerous schools around the Known Worlds that teach different philosophies of the duel. Listed below are the primary approaches to dueling culture- there are many more variations that are less popular or well known. All fencing styles require training.
Every round in a duel both opponents are striking, parrying, dodging and feinting. As a result is assumed that a duelist is losing 1 Hit off of their shield every round. This represents the close-calls and minor nicks which are absorbed by the energy shield. The only exception to this is if a duelist scores 3 or more VPs than their opponent in the round. If this occurs it is presumed that the winning duelist has such complete control of the combat that her opponent's blade is not getting near enough to trigger a shield hit.
Energy Shield Dueling
All damage done to opponents is halved. This is the art of fighting a combatant with an energy shield. The duelist is taught to slow her blade an instant before making contact with her opponents energy shield. Aside from requiring a great deal of skill to pull off, a slower blade means less a less forceful impact. Every noble duelist learns this skill and it is often so much a part of how the noble fights that it is hard for them to remember how to fight an unshielded opponent without slowing their attacks.
Relying on stop-thrusts and quick ripostes the duelist attempts to stall her opponent's advance before it gains any momentum. This technique is excellent at countering hot-headed opponents but is dangerous to use against more deliberate duelists who can bait a counter-fighting expert into exposing herself to attack. This style can only be used in balanced or defensive stance. If an opponent uses an aggressive stance on a duelist using this style, the opponent receives a -3 to their goal. If the opponent uses balanced or defensive stance, then the duelist receives a -1 to her goal.
Ad Corpus Fighting
Meaning "To the Body", rather than parrying her opponent's blows the duelist throws her body at them hoping to force her opponent into activating her shield. When in aggressive stance the duelist applies an additional -1 goal to an opponent using Energy shield fighting, and adds +1 to her opponent's damage. Every round the duelist loses 1 additional shield hit.
Wall of Steel
Rather than relying on her shield, the duelist parries and deflects her opponents strikes with her own blade. If the duelist is fighting defensively and wins the round, then she does not take any shield hits.
The duelist fighting with this style is at a -1 goal. A single well struck blow is worth a thousand that bounce harmlessly off of an energy shield or get absorbed by the resilient material of an opponent's synthsilk. A number of styles teach their adherents to wait patiently for the right moment to strike in order to find a chink in their opponent's armor. This deliberate style of combat is slightly easier to defend against, yet masters of the style can often end a duel in a single blow. While in a balanced stance the duelist takes a -1 goal, but opponents receive a -2 to their armor if struck by the duelist.
Aggressive Shield Fighting
The Hazat have an internal dueling culture that abhors energy shields and as such several of their dueling techniques rely on battering down an opponent's shields as quickly as possible. The effectiveness of this style is undeniable and it has slowly spread. The duelist rains down blows on her opponent, less in an attempt to do harm and more in an effort to trigger shield hits. A duelist using this style must be in aggressive stance and she receives a -2 to damage. However, every round the duelist wins her opponent receives an additional shield hit.
Though single sword dueling is the most common style among nobles at the moment, several schools still teach the use of a main gauche, knife, or other small blade for parrying purposes. Some schools even teach the use of a second fencing blade in the off-hand, though this style is considered to be too flamboyant for fashionable nobles. The second blade provides a +1 goal to fighting defensively.
Rather than relying on linear advancing and retreating, a duelist who has mastered this maneuver makes use of the entire battlefield. Relying on dodges and sidestepping her opponent's blows the duelist dances in and out of reach while striking. In balanced or defensive stance, a duelist using this style gives her opponent a -1 on melee rolls. This maneuver is incompatible with Off-Hand Style: this technique relies not on parrying but on the duelist dodging attacks entirely.
Most duels involve a back and forth as the combatants probe the defenses of the other, feint to create an opening, strike and retreat. The duelist who has learned this maneuver does not believe in retreating. Once she has the Edge she is loath to let it go, constantly advancing and never giving her opponent an ounce of room. This technique is only useable if the duelist has the Edge. The duelist must be in either balanced or aggressive stance. While using this maneuver the duelist receives an additional +1 bonus to combat rolls.
The Emperor Wars touched every planet in the Known Worlds, and hundreds of thousands of soldiers formed ranks on dozens of worlds to oppose would-be conquerors or to raise the flag of their lord on some distant world. The veterans of this war, and the hundreds of other smaller, regional conflicts have been taught by experience how to survive on the modern battlefield. The techniques taught below are learned most often through trial and error, as only a few noble houses have the time, money, or interest in preparing their foot soldiers for war. What they lack in the cultured refinement of the dueling schools above, they make up for in brutal efficiency.
Sword and Board
Anyone can pick up a shield and hold it in front of them, but the veterans of the battlefields of the 5th millennium are experts at using their shield for both defense and offense. The soldier receives an additional +1 goal in defensive stance from her shield.
Once a soldier has mastered how to use a shield defensively she can begin to use it as a weapon in its own right. By using the edge of the shield to batter at her enemy or to pin enemy weapons the soldier opens up opportunities, but at the cost of losing the defensive benefits of her shield. While using this style the soldier receives a +1 goal in aggressive stance.
Once a soldier masters the fundamentals of fighting with a shield she can begin to use it both as an offensive and defensive tool. A soldier using this style uses her shield both to knock aside her enemy's weapon and to keep her opponent off balance. The soldier using this style receives a +1 goal in balanced stance.
Though many nobles prefer the reliable protection afforded by heavy armor, many still walk the modern battlefield wearing their energy shields. The immunity offered by this technological advantage has born a fighting style among nobles and certain shielded priests and guilders that makes use of this invulnerability in order to gain the advantage in a fight. The warrior is taught to imagine themselves immune from danger while aiming her own strikes for maximum effect. This style gives a +1 goal while fighting aggressively or balanced, but every round the fighter takes shield hits equal to the number of opponents+1. This style requires its practitioner to be cognizant of how many hits remain on their energy shield- an unshielded fighter using this style gives all opponents a +2 to their goals to hit him, both in melee and ranged combat.
More than a few fights have devolved into two combatants rolling around in the dirt trying to stick a knife in the other. There is some art to using a melee weapon or firearms while pressed up against an opponent, and though few formal schools teach it, it is a skill that many veterans of battlefields and barroom brawls alike have learned. While grappling the fighter does not take a penalty for using a knife or other small weapon, and may use a medium weapon at a -2.
Mastery at Arms
The battlefield is a vicious place. Swords can get stuck in bone, axes can lodge in armor, and a mis-swung hammer blow can leave a combatant off balance and vulnerable. Veteran soldiers and knights know all of these dangers and have adapted their fighting style. While using a broadsword or heavy weapon, a soldier using this technique receives a +1 in balanced stance.
Few swords can pierce or hammers dent ceramsteel. The most many soldiers can hope for when facing well-armored opponents is to exhaust their foe. A soldier using this style purposefully aims not for the most exposed areas on her target but the areas most likely to cause shock. When a soldier is delivering hammering blows she does 2 points less damage. However, if she hits her opponent suffers 1 point of additional stun damage. This technique can only be used in balanced or aggressive stance.
Hack and Slash
Momentum is key in the whirling maelstrom of battle. A master of this style of fighting gives his opponents no quarter, cleaving her way across the battlefield. While in aggressive stance a soldier using this style receives a +1 to damage. If the soldier switches her stance from aggressive she has lost the momentum and as a result she suffers a -1 penalty for that round.
The blade is not the only dangerous part of a blade and a survivor of war knows this. Whether striking with the pommel of a sword or clubbing with the haft of an axe, a soldier with this style knows how to strike her opponent in an unexpected way in order to gain the advantage. Whenever a character with this maneuver ties in melee combat she is treated as having won the round for purposes of determining the Edge.
With the invention of polymer-knit barding armies have returned to using cavalry not only as a tool to scout out enemy locations but for shock charges against massed infantry. Every soldier mounted on a horse knows the advantage gained by fighting from horseback but it takes special training and experience to know how to best use a half-ton beast for tactical advantage. A soldier trained with this maneuver knows how to not only fight from horseback better, but to use his mount's size to keep his opponents off-balance. A soldier with this maneuver always receives the edge.
A cavalry style of fighting with melee weapon and shield. The mounted warrior can use shield maneuvers on a horse.
In the Second Republic a soldier would receive extensive training in the use of a firearm in combat. In the 50th century few House, Guild, or Church militaries have the money to extensively drill their front line soldiers. Instead, specialist training is offered to elite commandos or special forces. These soldiers are taught the proper ways to clear rooms and aim around corners, as well as a variety of other techniques for tactically moving in combat. A soldier with this maneuver may move at half speed while using any ranged combat maneuver.
Many a soldier lives by the credo that he who shoots first shoots last. The skill of gunslingers and veterans of jungle warfare, quick draw represents not only the ability to pull a pistol free from its holster quickly but also the ability to bring an unreadied slung weapon to bear in a single smooth motion. Soldiers with the quick draw maneuver always have the edge in the first round of combat and if timing is relevant to an action she is presumed to go first.
Any veteran of battlefields will tell you that it is hard to fire accurately with a pistol or submachine gun in both hands. Style, however, trumps usability for those that adopt this style and with enough practice many of the disadvantages of fighting this way can be mitigated. A gunslinger with this maneuver may use the rules Two-Gun Fighting, but receives a -1 penalty when using Small weapons, or a -2 when using medium weapons. A gunslinger who also has the "Strong Arms" style may use Large or Extra Large Weapons at a -3 penalty.
A very small number of people in the Known Worlds have found it useful to hold a heavy firearm in both hands and unload upon their enemies. An individual with the maneuver may use the Two-Gun fighting rules with Large or Extra-Large Weapons at a -5 to all rolls.
For unknown cultural reasons Scravers like to hold their pistols or one-handed submachine guns sideways. Normally a character receives a -1 penalty when firing in this fashion. A Scraver with this maneuver does not receive this penalty.
Moving targets are harder to hit, and many martial arts school teach their students tactics to dance in and out of reach of their opponents, striking hard and fast. A martial artist trained in mobility receives a +1 goal when fighting balanced or aggressively. While fighting aggressively, martial artists using this style strike with powerful flying kicks and strong punches. They receive a +1 to Damage.
The martial artist is trained to stand firm in the face of incoming attacks and redirect their energy away from herself. A martial artist using this style receives a +1 goal when fighting balanced or defensively. Additionally, a warrior using this style may use a throw maneuver if she has declared a defensive stance and her opponent is in an aggressive stance. This may be declared after the dice are rolled.
The martial artists is trained to get in close and bind her opponent's limbs with her own. When grappling, wrestling or throwing an opponent the martial artist needs to have 1 fewer VPs.