Heroes, Ninjas, and Other Strangeness
Ah, combat. What Palladium player hasn’t tinkered with this in some way or another? Unlike skills, we’ll be using the system largely as-is. Just a few tweaks here and there…
Actions per Round
If there’s one thing that’s caused more confusion than any other aspect of Palladium rules, it’s the interchangeable use of “Attacks” and “Actions” per round of combat. So we’re gonna lay it all out, as clear as can be:
- An Action can be an attack, but it can also be a full move (the distance per Action being derived from your Spd attribute, as per the rules), casting a spell or using a power, dodging, etc.
- Everyone gets TWO Actions per round automatically. These actions can be used in any of the ways just defined.
- Your Hand-to-Hand style, plus certain Physical skill specialties, give you bonus MELEE Actions. Anything that says “+ 1 Attack per Melee” or “Two Attacks per Melee” or related adds to your MELEE Actions only. These will usually be used as either be attacks or dodges, although movement could also count—but not things like spell or power use, or firing a gun or missile pod or what-have-you.
- Selecting a Weapon Proficiency also grants an extra Action per round with that type of weapon; MELEE WPs will add to your HTH attacks and RANGED WPs will add to your missile attacks with any weapon covered by that proficiency. Again, these bonus Actions can only be applied to attacking, dodging, or moving. You can select the same WP more than once; doing so grants an additional +1 to strike (or +1 to parry with a melee weapon, if that’s an option listed in the WP) and an extra Action with that weapon.
What about using MELEE Actions to dodge RANGED attacks, or vice versa? I think for simplicity’s sake, it’s best to keep Actions wholly separate. So you can only use MELEE Actions to dodge MELEE attacks, and same goes for RANGED combat. However, remember that your two free Actions are “universal” and can be burned to dodge any kind of attack.
We’re going to experiment with a concept first introduced in Ninjas & Superspies: Combat Range. We’ll modify it slightly for our purposes, however, starting with a name change.
There are three abstract Zones in which you might be engaged in combat, defined as follows:
- Close Combat: You are engaged face-to-face with one or more opponents. You may make any attack you’d like, but they all come out of your pool of MELEE actions. Furthermore, unarmed strikes (punches, kicks, locks, throws, etc.) can only be made while inside this range. GMs may wish to raise the TN to Strike if the combatant is wielding a particularly large weapon (like a polearm).
- Melee: Equal to your Spd score in feet. You’re within striking distance of nearby opponents, but still have enough room that you can target others with ranged attacks. The “default” combat zone. Attacks come out of either MELEE or RANGED Actions, as appropriate. Any MELEE attack must be made with a weapon, and even then the GM may rule that certain small weapons (like daggers) cannot strike from this zone. Some unarmed attacks (such as Flying Long Jump) may be allowable, as per GM discretion.
- Ranged: Outside your Spd in feet. MELEE attacks (both against others and against you) are not possible; all attacks must be RANGED.
You can spend an action to move from one zone to another on your turn, either closer or further away from your opponents. Certain attacks and maneuvers, such as Flips, Leaps, Jump Kicks, Cartwheels, and Rolls, can include a change of zone as part of the move, if the player so wishes.
A different style of adjudicating combat is suggested to make the game run faster and build excitement. Roll initiative as normal, but whichever character gets it keeps on attacking until one of the following occurs:
- They run out of Actions.
- They fumble (roll a natural 1).
- They decide to stop attacking and use their remaining actions later for further movement, attacks, or dodging. These actions can be used to “interrupt” another combatant before they get a chance to act.
Please note that if you run out of actions using the CM system, you become a sitting duck and can only use Automatic Parry for the remainder of the round. Ergo, most combatants will want to end their initial run with at least one Action remaining to use for dodging, particularly if they’re in a firefight or ranged attacks are otherwise somehow involved.
Automatic Fire & Recoil
When firing a gun, you can choose between Aimed, Burst, or Wild shooting—please note that you do not need a WP to make this choice! If the gun is an automatic, you’ll either fire a Burst (20% of the magazine) or Wild (the whole magazine, using up all your Actions for the round).
For Burst fire, calculate the number of rounds fired, then make your attack roll. The first round takes the number rolled (after modifiers) as normal, while every subsequent round takes a penalty equal to the gun’s Recoil Value, which is equal to the number of dice it rolls for damage.
For example, a .45 automatic does 4d6 damage and thus has a Recoil of 4. If a character is firing a burst of three rounds and the player rolls an 18 to Strike after modifiers, the first round uses 18 as its Hit Number, the second uses 14 (18 minus the Recoil Value), and the last round’s Hit Number is further reduced to 10 (14 minus Recoil).
(NB: When firing a Burst on multiple targets, the space between them requires one round to be shot into it. In the above example of the .45 auto pistol, the player could try to hit an assailant with the roll of 18, sacrifice the roll of 14, then try to hit another foe with the roll of 10).
If firing a Wild burst (i.e. emptying the clip), roll once per point of Recoil and pick the worst result. Furthermore, no bonuses to strike may be applied to these rolls. If you hit, roll damage times two if 20 or fewer rounds were fired, or damage times three if more than 20 rounds were fired. Use the rules as written if using Wild shooting to “spray” an area, while applying the Recoil rules described here.
Firing either Burst or Wild two-handed, braced, or using a stock reduces Recoil by 1 each, and effects are cumulative, although Recoil can never be reduced lower than 1. Recoil can also be reduced by the PS bonus.
Beam weapons have no recoil, but they cannot be fired Wild.
Dodging Ranged Attacks
When dodging ranged attacks, apply the following penalties: –1 vs thrown, –3 vs arrows/spears, –4 vs guns & rockets, –6 vs beam weapons, –9 vs invisible weapons.
You only make a single Dodge roll against a Burst attack. As a result, you might dodge some of the missiles but not all. In the Burst fire example above, If your dodge roll was a 13, you’d get hit by the 18 and the 14, but dodge the 10.