The bottom left of the Gieden character sheet has a sword and a shield; this is where you mark down your weapons and armor. The hourglass at the bottom right is a measure of your health.
The combat system in Gieden is meant to function believably without getting weighed down by too many rules...so rather than beginning with hard and fast numbers, I'm going to begin this section with some common questions.
From the original text:
Who goes first? In most situations, who acts first will rely on three things: the character’s perceptions, their reflexes, and luck. In game terms, this is called the Initiative, and it means that the players will add together the number of dots they have in perception and reflexes, then roll a D10 and add that number to their total. Whomever has the highest total has the first Initiative and will act first, the next highest will go next, and so on. There are some situations, however, where this is not the case. If characters are ambushed, for instance, one or more of the attackers may automatically get to go first. The players can’t attack characters that they don’t know are there, so until an attacker shows itself, no rolls are made.
What options do the players have? The players have as many options as they have imagination. They may use magic, attack with weapons, attack with their fists, run, use an artifact, hide, or whatever reasonable alternatives they may come up with. The basic rule of thumb is that whatever action the character takes, it must either take only a moment to do, or they must remain busy at that task for the rest of the round. For instance, swinging a sword (or dodging one, for that matter) only takes an instant, but if a character chose to sit down and examine an ancient artifact, then it could be assumed that they would be studying it for at least as long as it takes to finish a combat round.
An overview of the combat system:
How does it work? To attack, the player will add the number of dots in the applicable Stat to the number of dots they have in the applicable Skill. The Weapons Chart will tell which Stat and Skill apply to your weapon, but for most weapons, you will roll Dexterity+Melee. To attack with your bare hands, you will roll Strength+Fist Fight.
You then roll that number of D10s against a target number, which also comes from the Weapons Chart--your weapon's "Hit Difficulty". This is a measure of how hard it is to hit a moving opponent with the weapon in question. Every D10 that shows a number higher than the weapon's Hit Difficulty (HD) is considered one "success".
Successes can be cancelled out by armor, or by the opposing character parrying or dodging. Any character who is attacked and is not pinned down can attempt to dodge.
To dodge, the player will add the number of dots they have in Dexterity and in Dodge, then roll that many dice against the weapon's "Dodge Difficulty" (also on the weapons chart). For every die that shows a number equal to or greater than the weapons Dodge Difficulty (DD), the attacker loses one success against the dodger.
For instance: Nathan rolls 4 successes to hit Donovan’s character.
If Donovan attempts to dodge and rolls 2 successes, then Donovan’s character is only damaged as if Nathan had hit with 2 successes. If Donovan rolls 3 successes, then Nathan is only left with 1, and if Donovan rolls 4 or more successes, then he dodged the attack entirely and takes no damage.
Damage is calculated by multiplying the number of successes that remain after armor, dodging, and parrying attempts by the weapon’s damage rating.
If a player takes damage, they mark off that many sections from the hourglass on their character sheet. Once their damage becomes substantial, they begin get penalties to their rolls. The numbers on the right hand side of the hour-glass show the applicable penalties.
What about armor? Armor raises the Hit Difficulty for your attacker and, in most cases, adds more health levels to your character. Basically, it takes a better, more accurate hit to do damage despite the armor, and even then, the armor will take the brunt of the damage--at least for the first few hits.
Can a character dodge multiple attacks in the same round? If a player suspects that they will be attacked multiple times in a single round, then they have the option of attempting a Skilled Dodge. This is done by first adding together the total number of dots they have in Dexterity and Dodge, and then declaring how many of those dots will be used for each dodge.
For instance: Tommy’s character is being attacked by three archers. Tommy tells the Game Master that he will attempt a Skilled Dodge, and then adds together the number of dots he has in Dexterity (3) and in Dodge (also 3). This gives him 6 dice. The Game Master tells Tommy that the first arrow misses him, so Tommy doesn’t have to roll a dodge. The second arrow, though, will hit with four successes if Tommy doesn’t dodge well. Tommy decides to roll five of his six dice, and he scores three successes, greatly reducing the damage he would have taken. The last arrow is on its way, and now Tommy only has one die left to roll…
Can a Character Attack Multiple Times in a Round? Yes. A character may attack up to three times in a single round if they choose to do so. First, they would count the number of dice they would normally be allowed to use when attacking. Then, they would choose how many of those dice to use for each attack. For instance, someone using a sword would add up the number of dots they had in Dexterity and Melee. Let’s say they have 6 dice to roll. Now, if they wish to attack twice in a round, they could roll 3 dice for each attack, roll 5 dice for one attack and 1 for the other, or divide it any other way they saw fit.
Can a Character Block or Parry? Yes. If a person is using a weapon similar to the one they are being attacked with, or if they have the Strong Advantage: Expert Parry (see the section on Advantages and Disadvantages), then they may parry. This is done by rolling the dice just as if they were attacking. If their number of successes is equal to or greater than the attacker’s successes, then they have blocked the attack. Otherwise, they missed their block, and they take full damage. Parrying must be done instead of dodging or instead of attacking.
Can I Parry Multiple Attacks? Yes. Count the number of dice you would normally use to parry. Now decide how many of those dice to roll for each parry. This works almost exactly like a Skilled Dodge, however, a parry is all or nothing. You block, or you don’t. If the attacker ends up with even one extra success, then the blocker receives the full damage--a parry does not cancel out any successes unless it cancels out all the successes. Be very careful when attempting to parry multiple attacks.
Using a Two-Weapon Style: Some characters may wish to use two weapons at once, such as twin scimitars or a short sword and dagger combination. In this case, the character cannot use their hands during the battle for anything other than wielding their weapons. The advantage of using two weapons is that it grants the user one free parry; instead of a parry taking the place of either a dodge or an attack, the player may choose to dodge, parry, and attack all in the same round, parry twice and then attack, or parry three times without having to split their dice pool.
Using a Two-Handed Weapon: Using a larger-than-normal melee weapon, such as a claymore or a massive axe, requires the use of two hands and allows the user to do more damage than usual. Anytime the user of such a weapon successfully hits an opponent, the weapon does an extra ½ box to full box of damage. There are three things to keep in mind when using this rule. First, an opponent who successfully dodges or parries the attack takes no damage. Second, the extra damage is added one time, not once per success. And third, this does not stack with Combat Mastery. Combat Mastery takes precedence over the two-handed weapon damage.
Next time, I'll give the weapons chart. See you then. ;)