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Combat House Rules

Whether you like it or not, combat is often a part of the World of Darkness. Entire chapters, even books, are devoted to systems for running combat in the WoD, and a great many powers are specifically developed for it.

This can get difficult to manage across four editions and over half a dozen game lines. Set out here are the site's official rules on handling combat.

For purposes of this game, we're allowing characters with combat abilities to use some of the more advanced combat maneuvers modified from various books or listed here. Characters are not required to pick up the advanced stuff here. In fact, everything listed here expands from the basics and adds onto it. You can function equally well with just the basic combat systems, and it's encouraged that characters who are not meant to be experts in combat work with the basic combat skills. STs will be on the look out for power gamers just wanting "kewl powerz". Twinky McAzz-Kicker need not apply and he can stick with the standard rules for Combat abilities. Additionally some games may limit the number of Combat Abilities a character can start with depending on the ST's preference.

Along this same vein of thought, you're not required to take the full number of Maneuvers you can. Some players may choose to take fewer Maneuvers than they're allowed if they feel it makes it more realistic for that character. The numbers provided are for the upper limit, there is no lower limit or requirement for these Maneuvers to be taken.

So first, let's look at what you can do with the combat Abilities.

No Abilities (Raw Attributes)

If you have no Combat Abilities and are working purely on the raw Attributes, you can still perform combat actions. However, you are limited to just the Basic Maneuvers and those are performed at +1 difficulty above the normal. Additionally, if any of these Basic Maneuvers have prerequisites, then you cannot perform it at all unless you have those prerequisites.


Brawl covers the basics of hand-to-hand combat. Punches, kicks, grappling, throwing, it can all be done with basic Brawl. This is also the one that covers the use of more feral features like fangs, claws, talons, tails, and what have you. No martial artist will ever learn the brutal Tooth and Claw Maneuvers using martial arts; they are meant for a more bestial mindset. Even the martial arts developed by shapeshifters and vampires don't actually teach you claws and fangs. Natural weapons fall under the purview of Brawl. Finally, Brawl covers all forms of unarmed blocking.

Tooth and Claw Maneuvers
Okay, so let's look at how Brawl works with using your natural weaponry. Natural weapons are the purview of Brawl. While there are some martial arts that allow you to employ your natural weapons with the maneuvers that it teaches, you won't learn the maneuvers focused on using those fangs and talons with those arts. At best, you'll just learn to adapt your natural weapons to the maneuvers you learn with the art.

Characters who possess the appropriate natural weaponry may use any Tooth and Claw maneuvers available to them, meaning any that they have the equipment and prerequisites for.

Advanced Maneuvers
Advanced Maneuvers are the meat and potatoes of the Advanced combat system. Martial Arts gets some of these for free. But not Brawl. Brawl doesn't get to start with any of these for free. However, a character can spend either 2 freebies per level of the maneuver during creation or spend 2xp per level of the maneuver to purchase it after creation. Obviously, this only applies to maneuvers which are based on the Brawl ability.


Melee covers weapons. Swords, clubs, chains, spears. These are all covered under the pretty basic ability of Melee. But what sort of weapons does a character get to use?

There are a number of different types of weapons out there. But they all fall into a few pretty standard classifications:

Blades - This covers daggers, knives and other similar weapons. They are light weight and designed to be weilded with precision and accuracy. The style of using a dagger is much different from that used to weild the larger bladed weapons like swords.

Swords - This would be swords. Short swords, long swords, broadswords and other large bladed weapons that rely on power with the razored edge. Swords are used in a much different way than daggers, hence the separate category for proficiency purposes.

Axes - While blades like daggers and swords are split into two categories, axes are pretty standardized in their uses, regardless of the size of the weapon. Weapons with flat, edged blades used for hacking and chopping fall into the category of Axes.

Picks - Similar to axes, pick weapons don't have a broad flat edge. Instead, they have a single, piercing point which is driven into the opponent. While the motions to use one are similar to those used to strike with an axe, the differences are important enough to warrant a separate category.

Clubs - Rounded weapons designed to be weilded with a single hand, the category of Clubs covers both the basic stick used to hit someone with and the studded or spiked maces which convert the damage into lethal damage rather than bashing. This category also covers mauls and hammers used as weapons.

Staffs - Long, blunt weapons weilded with two hands, these weapons are generally slender to allow rapid movement and effective defense at the same time.

Polearms - Polearms consist of large staff-like weapons, tipped with a long slashing blade. Polearms are usually swung at opponents rather than stabbed with. Halbards, naginatas and other similar weapons all fall under the category of Polearms.

Spears - Similar to polearms, spears consist of long staff-like weapons which are tipped with a stabbing blade rather than a slashing blade. A spear is often thrust forward and driven into an opponent rather than slashed with as the pointed tip makes slashing very difficult.

Flexible Weapons - This category covers weapons like whips, chains, ropes and anything else that can be used as a weapon which consists of a long, flexible item. Often times, these weapons are difficult to use for the untrained and botches can be catastrophic.

Improvised Weapons - Pretty much everything else falls under this category. From broken bottles to table legs to pool cues. If it wasn't meant to be used as a weapon then it falls under this category. Additionally, the use of a shield as a weapon falls under this category of weapons.

A character with Melee is assumed to have a number of proficiencies equal to his level in Melee. So a character with Melee 3 is assumed to be proficient with three types of weapons. So how do these proficiencies come into play? Well if you stick to the Basic Maneuvers, Weapon Strike and Parry, they really don't. The most basic of attacks can be done with Melee using any weapon without penalty.

But what if you want to get a little more advanced? Well, characters with Melee can also learn Weapon Maneuvers. We'll get to that in a moment. But if you want to use a Weapon Maneuver with a weapon you're not proficient with then the maneuver faces a +1 difficulty penalty. It's harder to pull off the more complex maneuvers with a weapon you don't know how to use.

Weapon Maneuvers
Weapon Maneuvers represent the advanced use of weapons. We've already discussed how proficiencies affect them. But how do they work with Melee in general? Well, a character with just Melee doesn't get any of these for free. But, he can spend one freebit point per level of a maneuver to start with it at creation. Or, he can spend 1xp per level of a maneuver to learn it later during play.


Both Brawl and Melee have defensive capabilities in the form of the Block and Parry respectively. But there's another way to avoid harm too. Just plain getting the hell out of the way. That's where dodging comes in. It lets you just plain avoid harm by ducking, weaving even running or throwing yourself to the ground to avoid an attack.

Advanced Maneuvers
There are some Advanced Maneuvers that are based on the Athletics ability. Again, as with Brawl above, a character who possesses the appropriate level of Athletics may pay either 2 freebies per level at creation to start with a maneuver, or pay 2xp per level of the maneuver to buy it after creation during play.


Besides flat-out dodging, Athletics covers a lot of the subtle nuances to combat. Such as getting to your feet after having been knocked down. Or dealing with rough or dangerous terrain during a fight. Athletics is also the default ability for using thrown ranged weapons. Weilding a knife in your hand is Melee. Throwing that knife is Athletics-based.

Advanced Maneuvers
Like Brawl, there are certain Advanced Maneuvers which are based on the Athletics ability. These do not come natural to someone who has pure Athletics. However, for 2 freebies per level of the maneuver at creation or for 2xp per level of the maneuver after creation, a character may learn these maneuvers.


Firearms is pretty basic. You use it to manipulate guns and shoot people with it. There is a little variation that's possible with Firearms, however.

Gun Maneuvers
These Maneuvers represent a more advanced proficiency with a firearm than the standard user might possess. They are more than simply "point and shoot" and tend to add some variation to the use of a firearm. A character may start with these Maneuvers by spending 1 freebie point per level of the maneuver. After creation, a character may purchase one of these maneuvers by spending 1xp per level.

Rig Maneuvers
These are not so much the advanced use of the gun itself, but rather the knowledge and experienced needed to make the best use of optional equipment which might be used with a firearm. Characters may start with these at the cost of 2 freebies per maneuver, or learn them in play by spending 1xp per maneuver.

Martial Arts

Now we get into the complex one. Brawl, Melee, and Athletics are all pretty basic. But Martial Arts is the big one. It gives the user a lot of benefits that the other combat abilities typically don't. However, it's also more expensive. All the abilities above cost the normal cost. But Martial Arts costs more than normal abilities. During creation it costs 2 Skill points per dot of the ability or 3 freebie points per dot. After creation, learning it from the start requires 5xp for the first dot and current x 3 xp to advance the ability.

When you pick a Martial Art, you need to specify what kind of Martial Art it is. It could be Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, Fencing, Commando Training, Boxing, Muay Thai or supernatural styles such as Kailindo, Gae Bolga and Mo Chi Kung Fu. The possibilities for your particular variety of Martial Art are nearly limitless.

Now, we already talked about the type of Martial Art. But that's not quite enough. You also need to specify what kind of Martial Art that represents in terms of focus. You have to specify your Martial Art as a Hard, Soft or Weapon Style Martial Art. Some, like Kung Fu, can be either one. There are many different varieties of Kung Fu, some focusing on deflection and evasion, some focusing on damage and power and still others focusing on the use of weapons. You should be specific. For the most part, however, most Martial Arts should be obvious in terms of what kind of what Style it is. Muay Thai is very clearly a Hard Style. Fencing is very obviously a Weapon Style. Etc.

Hard - Hard styles focus on doing as much damage to their opponents as possible, for the most part relying on the basic defensive Maneuvers to avoid damage from their enemies. While there are certainly defensive abilities associated with Hard styles, they focus mostly on how to damage their opponent. A Hard Style Martial Art may replace Brawl in all applicable Brawl rolls save for those involving the use of Natural Weapons.

Soft - Soft styles focus on defensively dealing with their opponents. They avoid damage, disable their opponents, strike in a way so as to be harder to hit, and ultimately turn their opponent's own power or impatience against them. While a Soft style certainly does have strikes and attacks, the attacks tend to be focused on doing damage while avoiding being hit at the same time and striking at sensitive spots to maximize effectiveness. A Soft Style Martial Art may replace Brawl in all applicable Brawl rolls save for those involving the use of Natural Weapons.

Weapon - Weapon styles focus on the use of the weapon over everything else. They are neither Hard, nor Soft, but use a list of Maneuvers which is a mix of both. Their main focus is on the use of Weapon Maneuvers. A Weapon Style Martial Art may replace Melee in all applicable Melee rolls. Additionally, each level of a Weapon Style Martial Art provides two Weapon Proficiencies, twice that of normal Melee.

Soft and Hard Styles replace the Brawl Ability in all rolls that call for Brawl. Weapon Styles replace the Melee Ability. So if a character has a Soft or Hard Style and wishes to use a Weapon Maneuver, then the character still rolls Melee for that. If a Weapon Style Martial Artist wishes to use an Advanced or Expert Maneuver, he still rolls Brawl for it.

Advanced Maneuvers
We've talked about how Brawl, and Athletics can all be used as a basis for purchasing Advanced Maneuvers. But here's the big benefit to Martial Arts: You get a lot of maneuvers for free.

When selecting Maneuvers based on Martial Arts, you determine them via your Style. Hard, Soft or Weapon. Each Style has a different list of Maneuvers. Regardless of your Athletics, Brawl or Athletics, a character recieves all maneuvers of the appropriate Style that are of a level equal to or less than your level of Martial Arts.

That sounds complex so let's break that down.

If you have a Soft Style Martial Art at level 3, then you have all the Soft Advanced Maneuvers of levels 1, 2 and 3. If you have a Hard Style Martial Art at level 4, you have all the Hard Advanced Maneuvers of levels 1, 2, 3 and 4. You have a Weapon Style Martial Art at level 3, then you have all the Weapon Advanced Maneuvers of levels 1, 2 and 3. And so on.

These Maneuvers are free of charge for your available level of Martial Arts. However, some Maneuvers also have other Prerequisites. If you don't have the Prerequisites, you don't get the Maneuver. Not until you can fill in the blanks and get those Abilities you're missing.

Characters may purchase Advanced Maneuvers from a different style (ie: a Hard Martial Artist learning some Soft Maneuvers) by spending 1 freebie point per level of the Maneuver during character creation or by spending 1xp per level of the Maneuver after creation during play.

Expert Maneuvers
Another benefit to Martial Arts is that only with Martial Arts is a character capable of learning the Expert Maneuvers. A character with a Hard or Soft Martial Arts starts with one Expert Maneuver per level of Martial Arts. Each time he goes up in level, he gains a new Expert Maneuver. Additionally, a character with Martial Arts may purchase additional Expert Maneuvers by spending either 2 freebie poitns per level during creation or by spending 2xp per level after creation during play.

A Weapon Style Martial Artist does not get any Expert Maneuvers for free but may still use freebie points or experience points to purchase them.

Weapon Maneuvers
Characters with a Weapon Style Martial Art may start with two free Weapon Maneuvers per level of his Martial Arts. Each time he buys a new level, he gets two more free Weapon Maneuvers.

Characters with a Hard or Soft Style Martial Art do not start with free Weapon Maneuvers. However, they may choose to learn a Weapon Maneuver INSTEAD of his free Expert Maneuver per level. However, proficiency in this case is measured by his Melee Skill unless he also possesses a Weapon Style Martial Art.

In either case, Weapon Maneuvers are purchased at a rate of 1 freebie point per level of the Maneuver during creation or 1xp per level of the Maneuver after creation during play.

A character gains one free Technique with Martial Arts. Additional Techniques may be purchased by spending 4 + (Number of Techniques already known) in experience points after creation. You may not start with extra Techniques during creation. A character may not know more Techniques than his Martial Arts rating.

Martial Arts as a Specialty
Many variations of Brawl, Melee and even a little Athletics all feature various Martial Arts as options for Specialties of those Abilities. Brawl for instance could have the user specialize in Tae Kwon Do, Boxing or other fighting styles. A Melee fighter could specialize in Fencing or Kendo. A character who specializes in a Martial Art in this way may spend 10xp to purchase ONE Technique for the character. This is the only Technique a character may possess without actually leaning Martial Arts. Such a character is a hobbyist at a Martial Art, not a true martial artist.

Characters who choose another Specialty for Brawl or Melee may not take advantage of this option. But taking a Martial Art for a Brawl or Melee specialty is not for everyone and characters may choose to get their specialty bonuses on other related rolls.

While it's true that Martial Artists get all Advanced Maneuvers of a certain level, many of these Maneuvers also have other Prerequisites which a character must possess in order to use them. If a character possesses these prerequisites, then the maneuvers are fully available. If the character does not possess the prerequisites, then the character is unable to use that maneuver.

Many Martial Arts were not designed to be used in the inhuman forms. While those forms which possess two arms, two legs and a basic humanoid shape may operate without penalty while using martial arts, those who take completely inhuman shapes may not. Such characters (such as Archid form Mokole, various forms of the Ananasi or almost all of the animal forms associated with the Fera or other shapeshifters like vampires with Protean or demons with Lore of the Beast) may not use Advanced or Expert Maneuvers at all, nor may they make use of Techniques.

Types of Maneuvers

Each Maneuver has a specific Type to it. Different Types of Maneuvers are handled differently. So to clarify, here are the different types of Maneuvers that are used. Each Maneuver will have it's type specified in its description.

Standard Attack: A simple direct attack used against an opponent.

Aeriel Attack: These Maneuvers are executed by jumping into the air and then performing the attack. These Maneuvers cannot be used against crouching opponents, children or other opponents beneath average height, unless the Maneuver specifically states that it can. They can however be used against larger opponents, such as Shapeshifters in war forms or other large creatures without the need for them to be aerial.

Crouching Attack: These Maneuvers are performed very close to the ground. They cannot be used against aerial opponents but are used against targets low to the ground without any problem. Targets who have suffered Knockdown and haven't gotten to their feet yet are considered to be crouching for these purposes (a method of kicking them when they're down so to speak).

Multiple-Hit Attacks: These Maneuvers cause multiple Damage rolls with only one attack roll to hit the opponent. Fighters do not have to split their dice pools to perform them and damage does not add together to determine if a target is Dazed or not. However, because the character is doing multiple strikes, he's unable to put his full force behind each individual one. The difficulty of the damage rolls are +1 difficulty higher than usual. So the base difficulty of damage rolls with a Multiple-Hit Maneuver is going to be 7, not 6.

Sustained Hold: On a successful roll, the attacker holds the target until the subject's next action. At that time, the victim uses his action to roll Strength + Brawl or Martial Arts in an attempt to break free and the attacker gets to reflexively resist with his own Strength + Brawl or Martial Arts; the subject remains immobilized until she rolls more successes than the attacker does. Some Sustained Holds are used to damage opponents, others are used to simply restrain them.

Reactive: These Maneuvers are used to interrupt another character's action. In order to perform them, you need a higher Initiative than the opponent, and you must declare that you wish to interrupt them with this Maneuver.

Abort: These are defensive Maneuvers that a character may choose to change their action to. They need not be declared at the beginning of the turn in order to be used, instead the character declares that he wishes to Abort his current Maneuver and then either rolls Willpower at difficulty 6 or spends a Willpower point. If he chooses to roll and fails, then he must perform his previously declared action. Success changes the action to the defensive one instead. Alternatively, a character can choose from the beginning to perform an Abort Maneuver, if they plan to be defensive for the entire round.

Reflexive: These Maneuvers do not require an action to perform and are performed automatically. Many of them automatically add boosts to other Maneuvers or modify other actions. Most of these have no dice pools to roll and are simply declared to be in use.

Combat Rules:
Combat House Rules
Combat Complications
Basic Maneuvers
Advanced Maneuvers
Expert Manuevers
Weapon Maneuvers
Gun Maneuvers
Tooth and Claw Maneuvers
Kailindo Maneuvers
Do Maneuvers
Mo Chi Kung Fu Maneuvers
Warrior's Halo Maneuvers
Klaive Dueling and Iskakku (The Way of the Staff)
Other Supernatural Styles

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