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5.13 Shields

Shields work like weapons do, except they are only used for Parrying, and can only be used against a limited number of opponents each round. The three main sizes of shield are:
+5 Parry, Strength 1. May be used against any number of opponents. The buckler can be used in one hand, or can be fastened to the forearm, leaving both hands free. In this case, it is treated as +0 Parry (this may still be useful if the person wielding it cannot Parry with what they have in their hands).
+10 Parry, Strength 3. May be used against one opponent per round. This class of shield includes anything larger than a Buckler, but not large enough to cover the whole body, such as the Heater and Target shield.
+15 Parry, Strength 6. May be used against two adjacent opponents. Any shield that can cover almost the entire body, such as the Tower shield, is considered in this class of shield.
For the purposes of Abstract combat, the shield cannot be used if the Strength limit is not reached. Most Fighting styles suffer a penalty when using shields (see
section 5.6). Note that if another weapon is being used with the shield, the character must have Strength higher than the sum of the requirements for the shield and the weapon.

5.14 Flails

Table 21 deals with a certain type of weapon involving a length of chain connected to a weight of some kind. These weapons can be used as they are, but are more effective if the weight is spun around on the chain to increase the force of impact. As a result there are two Damage modifiers given and, in some cases, two Parry modifiers. The first is for when it is used without swinging, and the second for use after having been swung around.

In Abstract combat, when a character declares their decision to swing before striking, they suffer a Dodge and Parry penalty equal to the bracketed Speed value multiplied by 5. If the opponent Dodges the attack successfully, the chain remains in motion and does not need to be spun again until it strikes, is Parried or the wielder decides to stop it swinging.

For example, someone attacking with a pair of nunchakas, which have a Speed of +0 (1), and Damage modifiers of -2 / +0, could attack at -2 Damage without penalty, or attack at -5 to all Dodges and Parries in that round and do damage at +0.

Some of these weapons (those marked c) can, under certain circumstances, become entangled with an opponent's weapon. Whenever such a weapon is used to Parry a blow, or is Parried by anything other than a shield, the chain will wrap around the opponent's weapon - provided it was spinning at the time. If they are not in circular motion, they cannot be used to Parry with.

Once a weapon has become entangled, the two people involved should make an Active Task Resolution on their Strength Attributes, with a +5 bonus if they are using a two-handed weapon. If neither succeeds by more than 10, the weapons disentangle. If someone gets a total 10 or more greater than their opponent, they have pulled their foe's weapon from their hands.

Nunchaka are Specialist weapons, and anyone without the appropriate Specialist fighting style uses them at -10. The GM may wish to make some of the other flails Specialist weapons.

5.15 Whips

A whip cannot be Parried by anything other than a shield, although it may be Dodged. It is possible to use a whip accurately enough to disarm an opponent. In order to do so, the attack is declared as an attack to disarm and combat is resolved normally, with the whip-holder suffering a -10 to their Skill whilst attempting the disarming.

If the attack is a success, Damage is determined normally, and the target must make a Passive Task Resolution on their Endurance against 10, 20 or 30 for a Flesh, Light or Serious wound respectively (any armour protection should be applied before determining the Endurance task). If the attempt fails, they drop their weapon.

If the whip attack Overpowers (that is, exceeds the defence total by 20 or more) the weapon may be pulled out of the target's hands and thrown several metres away.

5.16 Missile Weapons

Any weapon which involves a projectile propelled at an opponent by a means other than being thrown (such as a bow, crossbow or sling) is considered a missile weapon.

Unlike melee weapons, where your opponent's Skills determine whether you hit or miss, the factor which determines success and failure in missile combat is the Range itself - missile combat uses Passive Task Resolution. Avatar employs four basic Range brackets, as indicated by Table 31, below. The actual range for a missile weapon depends on the weapon being used (see Table 32 for range multipliers).

Table 31: Missile Weapon Range Brackets
Range Maximum Damage Difficulty
Close 10 m +1 10
Short 25 m +0 20
Medium 50 m -1 30
Long* 100m -4 40
*Roll 1d6+1 for hit distribution.

Range: Name of range bracket.
Maximum: Base maximum distance for that bracket.
Damage: Damage modifier for that range bracket.
Difficulty: Base difficulty for that range bracket.

Table 32 gives details of the main missile weapons. Where two Strength values have been given, these are the minimum Strength, and Strength for Damage bonus (see section 5.8) - note that missile weapons have a maximum Damage bonus of +1. If the lower limit is not reached, the first of the two Action codes is increased by 1 (e.g. a sling would become 4/1). Where one value is given, this is the Strength required to be able to hold the weapon accurately (this does not apply if the weapon is rested on a suitable surface when it is fired).

Table 32: Missile Weapons
Weapon Dam Range Str Actions
Blowgun -6 x 0.2 NA 1/1
Sling -1 a x 0.5 2/12 3/1
Sling staff +0 a x 0.5 4/14 4/1
Short bow +1 x 1 6/14 1/2
Light crossbow +0 b x 0.5 6 1/4
Heavy crossbow +1 b x 1 10 1/9
Composite bow +2 x 1.5 12/18 1/2
Long bow +2 x 2 16/20 1/2
a Damage listed is for stones. Bullets are at +1 damage.
b These weapons get an armour piercing bonus of 0-2 at close range and 0-1 at short ranges (see below).

Weapon: Name of missile weapon.
Dam: Base weapon damage.
Range: Range multiplier for weapon.
Str: Strength limits for weapon.
Actions: Number of Actions to fire and load the weapon respectively (Duellist system). See below for how to apply this in the Abstract system.

The chance of hitting is dependent on the distance to the target and certain other factors, such as the speed of the target. Suggested modifiers for speeds are +5 for up to fast walking speed, +10 for up to running speed, +15 for up to riding speed and +20 for faster speeds. These speeds assume movement is perpendicular to direction of attack, and the modifiers should be scaled down if the angle is more acute.

Missile weapons may be blocked by a small or large shield, in which case the defender makes a Parry attempt as usual. In order to hit, the attacker's total must exceed the Passive Task Difficulty or the defender's Parry total, whichever is higher.

Table 33: Number of Shots per Round
# of Actions Sum of Action Costs
2 3 4 5 6 10
1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/6 1/10
2-3 1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/5 1/8
4-5 1 1 1/2 1/3 1/4 1/6
6-7 1 1 1 1/2 1/3 1/5
8-9 2 1 1 1 1/2 1/4
10-11 2 2 1 1 1 1/3
12-13 2 2 2 1 1 1/2
14-15 3 2 2 2 1 1
16+ 4 3 2 2 2 1
Aim +4 +6 +8 +10 +12 +20

To determine how many shots may be fired per round in the Abstract system, cross reference the character's Actions with the sum of the Action costs for the weapon being used (for example, the Action cost for a sling staff is 4/1, so the total Actions cost is 5) on Table 33. This gives the number of shots that can be fired in one combat round and the aim bonus for spending one of these `shots' on aiming. The total aim bonus can never exceed +20.

Where the number of shots is fractional, this indicates the number of rounds that must be spend reloading the weapon. For example, 1/5 indicates that the weapon can only be fired once every 5 rounds - four rounds must be spent reloading it. During these rounds the person reloading cannot generally do anything else.

For example, a person using a short bow has 5 Actions. A short bow is listed as 1/2 for a total Action cost of 3 and cross referencing this with 5 Actions on Table 33 gives a value of 1. They can fire their bow every round. Alternatively, they could spend a round aiming and get an aim bonus of +6. At some point in the future, the bowman is reduced to their Wounded wound state. Their number of Actions is halved, so they now only have 3 Actions (5 halved, rounded up). Now their number of shots per round is down to 1/2 - they can only fire one shot every two rounds.

As a second example, let us consider someone with 9 Actions using a blowpipe (1/1 Action costs, giving a total of 2). This indicates they can fire 2 shots per round. Their aim bonus is +4, hence in one round they could fire two shots, or fire one shot with a +4 bonus, or they could aim twice and have a +8 bonus on their first shot in the next round. They could carry on aiming for another 3 `shots', at which point their total aim bonus would be +20 and nothing more would be gained by aiming.

Crossbows fire heavier projectiles than other missile weapons and, at close and short ranges, they are better at punching through armour. At close range they apply a modifier of 0-2 to the Armour Rank of the target. This effectively means that the number of Ranks of armour protection the target rolls is reduced by two (see section 5.11). At short range the modifier is 0-1, hence the number of Ranks of armour protection rolled are reduced by one.

For example, a light crossbowman is attacking a target in chainmail (Rank 2) at 10 metres. This is inside the short range bracket for a light crossbow (a light crossbow has a range multiplier of 0.5, and the base maximum distance for short range is 25 metres, giving a maximum distance of 12.5 metres for the short range bracket of a light crossbow) and hence a modifier of 0-1 is applied to the target's armour. The target's Armour Index is treated as 2-1 for the purpose of this attack. The crossbowman hits, and the target rolls two d6's, getting a 6 and a 3. The resulting wound would be lowered 1 Rank.

5.17 Thrown Weapons

All thrown weapons (throwing knives, shuriken etc.) have three range brackets: near, standard and far. The actual distances to which these correspond depend on the person throwing the weapon. The maximum distance a weapon can be thrown accurately is Strength + 5 metres multiplied by the weapon's range multiplier, and the three brackets correspond to one third, two thirds (round down) and one whole of this. The properties of these range brackets are given in Table 34. The opponent may attempt to Dodge, in which case, if the Dodge value exceeds the Base Range Difficulty, this is the value the attacker must beat.

Table 34: Thrown Weapon Range Brackets
Range Maximum Dam Difficulty
Near 1/3 (Str + 5) m +1 10
Standard 2/3 (Str + 5) m +0 20
Far Str + 5 m -2 30
Range: Name of range bracket.
Maximum: Maximum range for that range bracket.
Dam: Damage modifier for that range bracket.
Difficulty: Base difficulty for that range.

In the far range bracket, the trajectory has begun to drop off. Roll 1d6+1 for Hit distribution (see section 5.10, and Table 28), rather than 2d6. Table 32 provides statistics for the general types of thrown weaponry.

Table 35: Thrown Weapons
Weapon Dam Range Strength Actions
Dart -4 x 0.5 0/10 1
Shuriken -1 x 1.5 2/12 1
Knife +0 x 1 2/12 1
Hammer +0 x 1 4/14 1
Warhammer +0 x 1 6/14 1
Hand axe +1 x 1 6/16 1
Speara +1 x 1.5 6/14 1
Javelinb +1 x 2 6/14 2
Long spear +2 x 0.5 10/16 2
a With a run up, Range increases to x 2, but a -10 Skill penalty is applied.
b With a run up, Range increases to x 3, but a -10 Skill penalty is applied.

Weapon: Name of thrown weapon.
Dam: Weapon damage.
Range: Range multiplier for weapon.
Strength: Strength limits for that weapon.
Actions: Number of Actions to throw the weapon, (Duellist system). See below and
section 5.16 for how to apply this in the Abstract system.

As with Missile Weapons, there is a limit to the number of weapons that can be thrown in one round. For the Abstract system, this limit is expressed as a number of throws per round, and this value is worked out as for the number of shots in section 5.16. However, thrown weapons (obviously) don't require reloading. A new weapon must be taken from somewhere, though, so a `reload' cost of 1 should be used for bandoliers, belts and other readily accessible places, and 5 for less accessible places.

The Strength values listed are the minimum Strength, and Strength for damage bonus (see section 5.8). If the lower limit is not reached, the usual penalties are applied, namely a -2 Damage modifier and a +1 Action penalty (effectively, one is added to the total Action costs when determining the number of weapons that can be thrown in one round).

As an example of thrown weapons, a person with 8 Actions using throwing knives (1 Action) stored on her belt (1 Action) would be able to throw 2 knives per round. If she had to get her knives from her backpack (5 Actions), she would be reduced to throwing one knife every two rounds.

As an example of range brackets, if her Strength is 17, she can throw her throwing knives (x 1 range modifier) a maximum range of 17+5 = 22 metres. Her near range bracket is from 1 to 7 metres (22 divided by 3, rounded down), her standard range bracket is from 8 to 14 metres (two thirds of 22, rounded down) and her far range bracket runs from 15 to 22 metres.

5.18 Unarmed combat

In unarmed combat, the Brawling or Martial artist Skills are used and combat is worked as usual. A number of different moves are possible in unarmed combat, and Table 36 gives the statistics for these moves.

Anyone engaging in unarmed combat is able to perform the moves listed in italics: the simple block, butt, elbow, knee, straight punch and straight kick. Essentially, combat is performed exactly as if each move were a different weapon.

Table 36: Unarmed Combat Moves
Move Body Diff Act Dm Agl
Block Defensive 10 0 - -
Block (simple) Defensive 0 1 - -
Butt1 Head-Head 0 2 -7 -
Elbow2 Elbow-High 0 1 -8 -
Double punch Hands-Any 20 1 -7 -
Face punch Hand-Head 10 1 -7 -
Flying kick Foot-High 30 5 -4 20
High back kick3 Foot-Head 30 4 -6 15
High kick Foot-Head 20 3 -6 15
Jab punch Hand-Body 20 0 -7 -
Knee Knee-Body 0 2 -8 -
Low kick Foot-Leg 10 2 -6 -
Mid kick Foot-Body 10 2 -6 -
Reverse punch3 Hand-Head 20 2 -7 -
Reverse kick3 Foot-Body 20 3 -6 -
Reverse sweep3 Foot-Leg 30 3 -9 30
Round-house Foot-High 30 4 -5 20
Straight punch Hand-Any 0 1 -8 -
Straight kick Foot-Any 0 2 -7 -
Sweep Foot-Leg 102 -9 30
1 Attacker also suffers Damage at -8 if their Attack value is less than 20.
2 Target cannot be in front if move is to be performed.
3 Target must be behind for move to be performed.

Move: Name of unarmed combat move.
Body: Description of move, giving what part of the attacker is involved, followed by what part of the defender is targeted. Body covers torso and arms (1d6+3 on Hit Distribution), High covers head, torso and arms (2d6+3 on Hit Distribution).
Diff: Martial artist Skill required for this move (see below).
Act: Cost in Actions of that move (Duellist combat only).
Dm: Damage modifier of that move (see below).
Agl: Target must make an Agility Task with this Difficulty, or fall over. The attacker is then at +10 on attacks on their prone target until they stand up, which is an Agility Task of 20.

When an attack hits, damage is rolled as usual, using the Damage modifiers given for each move. All unarmed moves have a minimum required Strength of 4 (that is, a Damage penalty of -2 is suffered if the character's Strength is less than 4), and gain the first Damage bonus (+1) at Strength 9 (see section 5.8). Hits to the head are always treated as Concussive (see section 5.12).

Martial artists are more versatile unarmed combatants. Any Martial artist can attempt any of the moves from Table 36. The Difficulty of a move is representative of how hard the move is to perform. If the combatant's Martial artist Skill exceeds this value, they can perform the move freely. If their Skill is under this value, they can perform the move with a Skill penalty equal to the difference between the Difficulty and their Martial artist Skill.

For example, a certain Martial artist has a Skill of 28. They can perform almost all of the moves in Table 36 freely, except for the double punch, flying kick, high back kick and round-house kick (Difficulty 30) which they perform with a Skill of 26 (effectively at -2: the Difference between their Skill and the Difficulty of 30).

The simple block and block are effectively Parry attempts. In the case of the simple block, the person blocking, if successful, takes the damage on their arms. The true block, which can only be performed on the Martial artist Skill, allows the force of the attack to be deflected.

The double punch is an advanced form of jab punch where the attacker is actually performing two nearly simultaneous jab punches. Two different (but close) locations can be targeted, and two Damage rolls are made with it.

Certain moves (those with a number in the Agl column of Table 36) strike their target in such a way as to possibly knock them over. The target of such a move must make an Agility Task on the number given to remain standing. If they fall over, their opponent is at +10 on all attacks until they stand up, which is an Agility Task of 20.

In addition to being able to perform a wider range of moves, a Martial artist can also defend themselves better. At the beginning of a round, they may declare two areas of the body to be concentrating on defending (head, torso, arms or legs, although they may not opt to protect both the head and the legs). The attacker should always declare their attack without knowing which areas the defender is protecting, and vice versa. If these areas are attacked, a bonus of +10 is applied to the defender's Parry roll (using the block move, to Parry attacks).

5.19 Improvised Weapons

In desperate situations, any object can be picked up and used to attack with. Such last resort weapons are known as improvised weapons. Since the range of possible objects is quite large, the actual statistics have been left out. However, most will essentially be a make-shift slashing weapon (e.g. broken bottles) or a club of some sort (barrels, tables, weapon hilts etc). The statistics for knives and cudgels can be used to determine the basic statistics for these weapons in melee, and the statistics for throwing knives and hammers can be used to determine the basic statistics for thrown improvised weapons.

However, improvised weapons are much less sturdy than weapons designed for the rigours of combat. The GM should assign Damage codes in exactly the same way as a human Wound Code (see section 5.9) for the object. Every time it is used to attack or Parry successfully, the wounds should be rolled, and applied against the object.

For example, the GM decides that a wooden table has a -2 Damage modifier, a +5 Parry modifier, requires Strength 16/20 and can take MM before being smashed. A brawler with a Strength of 17 picks up the table and throws it at his opponent. He rolls 10 on the Wound matrix, which after the -2 gives a serious wound. He then picks it up and uses it to Parry a blow from an opponent wielding a greatsword. The Parry succeeds, and his opponent rolls for damage and causes major damage. The table has suffered MS, and is hence still intact. However, he then hits someone with the table once again and causes a serious wound. The table has now suffered the equivalent of two M's, and splinters.

People using the Brawling and Swashbuckler Fighting styles (see section 5.6) use improvised weapons without penalty, whilst all others suffer either a -10 penalty, or their usual penalty for weapons that their Fighting style doesn't cover, whichever is more severe (e.g. a Bladesman would use improvised weapons at -20 when fighting in melee with them, and -10 when throwing them).

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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999