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5.20 Falling

Whenever a character falls, there is the potential to be wounded or killed by the impact. Table 37, below, gives the Damage modifiers for falling various distances and the modifiers for the type of ground landed on.

Table 37: Falling Damage

Base Damage

Distance Damage
1 metre 1 roll at -6
2-3 metres 1 roll at -4
4-5 metres 1 roll at +0
6-7 metres 2 rolls at +0
8-10 metres 3 rolls at +0
Each block of 5 metres above 10 m: +1 per roll

Falling Damage Modifiers
Situation Mod
Land on netting -8
Land in water -6
Land on hay/sand -5
Land on soft earth/mud -4
Land on trees/bushes -2
Land on crates -1
Land on packed earth +0
Land on stone +2
Land on rocks +4

A successful Agility or Swashbuckler Task with Difficulty 20 allows the person falling to determine which part of their body impacts first and hence takes the damage. Otherwise, determine randomly (see Table 28) or let the GM decide according to circumstances. When multiple damage rolls are called for, the damage may be distributed between more than one location.

With regards to hitting water, a Swim Task of Difficulty 10 plus the Height fallen (in metres) allows the entry into the water to be clean, in which case no damage is taken. This Task can also be made on half Agility, or half Swashbuckler Skill. When entering water, there must be sufficient depth for the diver's speed to be slowed to nothing. This can be approximated by taking the square root of half the distance fallen.

5.21 Ambushes

An ambush is resolved as an Active Task Resolution (see section 4.1) between the ambushers and their victims. The ambushers each determine an Ambush value by rolling on Ambush, Camouflage or Evade skills. The lowest of these values is adjusted by a terrain modifier and is considered the ambush value.

The actual value of the terrain modifier depends on how exposed the ambush site is. Unfortunately, the better an ambush site is, the more likely it is that people will suspect that they will be ambushed there. This is determined by whether the person being ambushed has an Ambush skill equal to or in excess to the suspiscion values listed below:

Open area: Practically no cover present.
Modifier: -20
Suspected on: Ambush skill of 60+
Sparse: Some scant cover available.
Modifier: -10
Suspected on: Ambush skill of 50+
Average: The area has suitable places to hide in.
Modifier: +0
Suspected on: Ambush skill of 40+
Surrounded: The only path through is surrounded by suitable places to hide (a street for example).
Modifier: +10
Suspected on: Ambush skill of 30+
Enclosed: Anyone passing through this area cannot fail to be surrounded by any ambushers (e.g. a valley).
Modifier: +20
Suspected on: Ambush skill of 20+
For suspecting ambushes, gamesmasters may wish to modifier a character's Ambush skill according to whether they are Cautious or Suspicious (adding +5 for each), and to keep a list of what different character's ambush suspicion values are. This way, they will know instantly who will suspect a particular ambush site.

If a character suspects an ambush, they should be allowed to make an Awareness roll prior to the ambush being sprung. If this exceeds the ambush value, the character is forewarned and spots one of the ambushers.

If the ambush is not broken by someone spotting the ambushers, the victims will have to make rolls when the ambush is sprung to see if they are surprised. This roll should be made on the character's Awareness, unless they already suspect the ambush site, in which case it should be made on the highest out of their Ambush skill and Awareness.

Any victim who equals or exceeds the Ambush value on their Awareness or Ambush rolls fights as if a normal fight had begun (that is, they roll Initiative dice and determine their starting Strike Rank). Those who gets less than the Ambush value forfeit their base Actions for the first round after the Ambush is sprung, although they still get any Actions indicated by Initiative dice.

As an example, let us take a situation where three bandits, with skills of Ambush 21, Ambush 16 and Evade 19, attempt to surprise two travellers with Awareness 6 and 19 and Ambush skills of 32 and 12. The GM determines that the rocky terrain makes the ambush site a surrounded area, giving a +10.

The bandits roll a 8, 12 and 5 respectively, making the ambush value 34 (19 +5 is the lowest skill roll, modified by +10 gives 34). When the two travellers reach the ambush site, the second traveller automatically suspects that he is about to be ambushed and gets an Awareness roll. The die comes up as 17 giving a total of 23 - not enough to break the ambush.

When the ambush is sprung, the travellers roll a 4 and 10 respectively. The first traveller suspects the area, and hence uses their Ambush skill (which is far higher than their Awareness), getting a total of 36 - enough to avoid being surprised. He fights with his normal Actions. His companion only gets a total of 29, and is hence surprised. She loses her base Actions and only gets any Actions indicated by Initiative dice. If this comes out as no Actions, she is forced to only Combat Dodge (Dodge on Half her Dodge skill).

It is possible to ambush someone, even if they can see their attacker, provided they do not realise they are about to be ambushed. Such an attack is considered a surprise attack, and is resolved as an Active Task Resolution between the defender's Awareness (or half the defender's Awareness if the attack comes from behind) and half the attacker's Ambush skill. Footpads and Assasins can make surprise attacks on their Fighting style instead of Ambush (if it is higher).

5.22 Charges

A charge is used for two reasons: to demoralise the opposition (the effect of which is left to the GM to determine), and to add the momentum of running into your attack. However, it is harder to defend yourself whilst charging. A person who charges into combat gains a +1 Damage bonus, and a +2 Damage bonus for weapons which are used as thrusting weapons, those marked e on Table 22 and Table 23.

A charging character is unable to Dodge without terminating their charge, and is at -5 for all their combat Skill rolls (both Attacks and Parries). Their charge ends if they can no longer travel forward (usually because they encounter an opponent or an obstacle, such as a wall). At the end of a round spent charging, a character may opt to terminate their charge. Certain weapons (those marked d in Table 22 and Table 23) may be set firmly to receive a charge, and gain a +3 Damage bonus against any charging opponents who engage them.

5.23 Horses

Mounted warriors have a number of advantages. In terms of endurance, manoeuvrability, and height, Cavalry has the advantage over Infantry. Anyone attempting to attack a mounted warrior from the ground is at -5, and all attacks from horseback gain a +1 Damage bonus, hence a charging rider gains +2 (or +3 if using a weapon marked e) on their Damage rolls. With regards to determining loss of Agility due to armour (see section 5.11), a mounted warrior is at +4 STR, meaning that they can wear armour which has a minimum Strength requirement of up to four higher than what they could usually wear.

Lances are much easier to use when a person is mounted, and can be held one-handed. All that is needed for an attack is for the horse to pass close enough to the opponent to strike them. In order to do so, the rider need only succeed a Ride Task Resolution with a Gamesmaster assigned Difficulty (somewhere between 10 and 30 is reasonable) for a person on foot, or beat their opponent in a Ride versus Ride Task Resolution for another mounted person. If both people wish to come close enough to melee, no rolls need be made.

No rider can Dodge, but they may Parry freely. Note, however, that a Lance cannot be used to Parry, and hence any Parrying would need to be carried out with a weapon or shield in the rider's other hand. Attacks with Lances are made on half Ride Skill unless the rider has a Specialist fighting style Skill in Lance, or the Horseman fighting style.

People who engage on horseback suffer certain restrictions. These are suffered to a lesser degree by people with the Horseman Fighting style. Whenever they make a thrust that hits (or is Parried), or any time they attempt a swing or blow, they must make a Passive Task resolution on Ride, with a Difficulty of 10 x Damage modifier of attack, including all bonuses for being mounted, charging etc.

If this Task is failed, the rider has fallen from the back of the horse. If an Agility task of 20 is not made, they will suffer damage for hitting the ground (see section 5.20). A person in heavy armour may also be pinned to the ground. In order to stand up, they must make a Strength Task of twice the Strength limit for the armour (see Table 29).

For example, a person on horseback performing a thrust with a broadsword would have +1 Damage modifier (base of +0, +1 Damage bonus for being mounted), hence if the attack was Parried or hits, a Ride Task of 10 would have to be made. If the same rider tried a blow this Difficulty would be up to 40 (base of +3, with +1 for being on horseback). If these moves were performed whilst charging the additional +1 Damage modifier would add 10 to the Task Difficulties in each case.

For people attacking with the Horseman Fighting style, the Difficulty for being dismounted is automatically 20 lower. In the above examples, the rider would not have to roll for the thrust and would only need to get 30 or higher for a charging blow. The GM may allow other Fighting styles which would have a training in horses a similar advantage. For example, it is suggested that the Knight style should gain a bonus of 10, hence any Ride Task difficulties caused by their attacks are 10 lower.

In addition, when a rider is hit or Parries, they have a chance of becoming dismounted. Once again, the deciding factor is the Damage bonus, and once again the difficulty is based on 10 x Damage modifier, versus the defenders Ride Skill. However, when the defender is Parrying, they are capable of deflecting the blow, and hence lowering the difficulty. Subtract the amount the Parrying total exceeds the Attacking total by from the Task Difficulty to avoid being dismounted (for convenience, this may be taken in blocks of 5, that is, for each 5 that the Parry total exceeds the attack total, subtract 5 from the Task Difficulty of dismounting. The GM should decide whether the actual difference, or the difference in blocks of 5 should be used).

As an example, let us take the person on the receiving end of a charging thrust, followed by a charging blow. They fail to Parry the thrust, which has a Damage modifier of +2. They must make a Ride Task of 20 to stay mounted. However, they stay mounted and then Parry the blow, rolling a Parry of 39 to the attackers 28. The GM is using the blocks of 5 ruling, and this is two whole blocks of 5 above the attack, so the Task Difficulty to avoid being dismounted is lowered by 10. Since the Damage modifier was +5, the difficulty comes to 40.

5.24 Holding Enemies at Bay

If a person is using a weapon which exceeds the length of their opponents weapon by 1 metre or more, and the weapon is a stabbing weapon, such as a spear or polearm, it is possible for them to hold their opponent at bay. Examples include a person with a spear versus a person with a knife, or a person with an awl pike, and a person with a broadsword. In order to do so, they must hold their weapon extended towards their opponent, and every time their opponents make an attack, they must thrust towards them.

In game terms, every time the person with the shorter weapon wishes to make an attack, the person with the longer weapon has the option to attack them first - regardless of Strike Value. If this attack is Parried or Dodged, the person with the shorter weapon can make an attack as normal. If the person with the shorter weapon Parried, they cannot generally attack with that weapon straight away (they are using it to push the longer weapon aside), and hence any attack must be with a different weapon. However, if they qualify for a Riposte (that is, their Parry total exceeded the attack by 10 or more) they may slip inside their opponents guard and get in an attack.

If the weapon in question is exceptionally long (e.g. a Pike) then the same rules apply, but a successful Parry or Dodge allows the person with the shorter weapon to move beyond the dangerous end of the weapon: they still have to travel further to actually make an attack. In such a situation, the person with the longer weapon will usually drop it and draw something easier to wield in close quarters. This will probably give the person with shorter weapon one round in which they can attack without being attacked.

5.25 Ranked Formations

Whilst many skirmishes are disorganised affairs, there are certain battles in which one or both sides adopt an organised strategy. In Avatar, military formations are considered ranked. This applies to any way of arranging troops such that most combatants are in a line of some sort.

The advantage of ranked formations is that the person to the left and to the right of you provide you a certain degree of defence. Except for those people at the corners, any attacks are generally restricted to coming from one direction. However, only certain weapons are appropriate for use in ranked formations. Blades up to 0.6 metres in length, spears and polearms (although they must be used in a Thrusting manner) can be used freely. Almost all other weapons are infeasible to use in a tight formation.

To represent the advantages of being flanked by other people on your side, the Skill of anyone fighting in ranked formation is raised by a modifier for the person to their left and right. This is worked out as if both neighbours were Task Assisting (see section 4.5). That is, if their neighbour has a higher Skill, or no less than 4 below their Skill, they get +5. If their neighbour's Skill is between 5 and 9 less than their Skill, they get +2. Otherwise, they get a +1. Although you cannot normally get Task Assistance from more than one person, ranked combat is an exception.

For example, four people form a rank for combat. From left to right, their Skills are 26, 12, 19 and 15. The first combatant exceeds the combatant to his left by more than 10, therefore earning a combined Skill of 27 (26 +1). The next has a person to his left with a higher Skill (+5) and a person to the right with a higher Skill (+5) giving an effective Skill of 22 (12 +5 +5). Next, the left is 7 lower (+2) and the right is 4 lower (+5), netting 26 (19 +2 +5). Finally, on the right flank, the person to his left is higher (+5), yielding 20 (15 +5).

Individuals who use a Solo fighting style (see section 5.6) suffer a -10 penalty when fighting in ranked formation, and all people who do not use a Group fighting style (including those using a Solo fighting style) gain only half the bonus for their neighbours Skills, and provide only half bonus to their neighbours.

For example, if the third member in the previous sequence was using the Skirmisher Skill, and everyone else was a Legionnaire, the Skirmisher (Skill 19) would only get +1 for the person on their left, and +3 for the person on their right, for a combined Skill of 23, instead of 26 as in the previous example. In addition, the Skirmisher's left and right neighbours gain only +3 (instead of +5), because they are not using a Group Fighting style.

As another example, if the third person was using a Swashbuckler style they would gain the same bonus' as in the example above, but would suffer a -10 penalty to their Skill whilst in formation, because they are using a Solo Fighting style. As well as hampering their own abilities to perform in combat, they are less able to assist their neighbours. The Swashbuckler's Skill is effectively only 9 without their neighbours bonuses (19 -10), but this is still within 4 of their left neighbour's Skill, so that neighbour still gains +3 (+5 halved, rounded up). The right hand neighbour has a Skill exceeding the Swashbucklers adjusted Skill by 6, so the bonus is reduced to +1 (+2 halved). It is still an advantage to have the Swashbuckler in the rank, but they are less effective than someone using a Group Fighting style.

As an additional advantage, a formation can have a designated leader. If the leader has a Group fighting style, all other people in the formation using a Group fighting style gain a bonus as if the leader was Task Assisting (see section 4.5) them, provided they are using a Group fighting style. This particular tactical advantage also applies if they are in a loose formation.

5.26 Animals in Combat

Animals have their own Fighting style - the feral fighting style - which is not normally available to player characters. The style cannot be taught and anything fighting with it cannot use weapons and cannot Armour block. The skill counts as a Specialisation in Dodge if the Specialisation rules are being used (section 3.18).

The feral fighting style is used with natural weapons. There are three special attacks that only apply with this Fighting style:

Trample attacks:
For an animal to make a trample attack, it must be significantly larger than the thing it is trampling. If a character is being trampled by an animal which is not doing so intentionally (stampeding cattle, for example), the GM should assign a Difficulty for the character to attempt to Dodge out of the way. If the animal is intentionally trampling, it uses its feral skill. Either way, each 5 that the character misses their Dodge roll by means they suffer an additional trample damage roll.
Knock downs:
These occur when an animal attempts to knock over their opponent. Knock downs cannot be Parried (except with a shield) or Armour blocked, but can be Dodged. If the animal succeeds in their attack, an Active Task Resolution is carried out on the animal's Strength and their opponent's Agility. If the animal wins, the defender is knocked over, and the animal is then at +10 to hit them until they stand up (Agility Task of 20, and can only be achieved in a round where the defender is not hit). In addition, when a knock down is attempted, the defender can opt to defend themselves by Thrusting at the animal. This is treated like a Parry, except no Parry bonus is given, and even if the attack succeeds, the defender may still be knocked down (although they will get to injure the animal first).
Maul attacks:
These occur when an animal lunges at or dives onto an opponent and then remains on them (usually after a successful knock down). When an animal is mauling, it attacks at +20 (+10 for their opponent being prone, and +10 for pinning them down) but cannot defend itself without breaking off the maul attack. The person being mauled may attempt to break free by defeating the animal on a Strength versus Strength Active Task Resolution.
Animals can have a variety of possible attacks, and suggested statistics for natural weapons are given in Table 38, below.

Table 38: Natural Weapons

Basic Statistics

Weapon Dam Act Notes
Sting -6 2 +Poison damage
Hoof -4 3 Concussive
Trample -3 NA Conc., +2 if Charging
Claw / Talon -2 1 +1 for maul attacks
Pincer -2 2 -
Beak -2 2 -
Butt -2 2 Conc., +2 if Charging
Bite -1 2 -

Damage Modifiers for Animal Size
Size Example Mod Strength
Small Lobster, Hawk, Rat -6 0 / 5
Average Ape, Dolphin, Wolf +0 5 / 10
Large Bear, Horse, Shark +2 10 / 15
Giant Mammoth, Whale +4 15 / 20

Size: Suggested size brackets.
Example: Typical animals in this size bracket.
Mod: Damage modifier for this size of animal.
Strength: Strength values for the standard Damage penalty and Damage bonuses. For example, a Large animal has a +0 Damage Modifier if it's Strength is less than 10, +2 if it has Strength in the range 10 to 14, +3 if it has Strength 15 or more and an additional cumulative +1 for each 5 Strength above this (see
section 5.8).

Characters with the feral style should have a reason as to why they have learnt it, such as being raised by wolves, subject to approval by the Gamesmaster.


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Last Updated: April 16th, 1999