- The Mechanism and the Pull Bag
Combat inevitably slows the game down, but in a game like Werewolf is unavoidable. This system was designed largely to render combat as simply as possible (and to minimize the time needed to be spent in Crinos form). Consequently, combat should be relatively quick and deadly. However, combat is made more complicated by many Garou Gifts.
The combat sequence
Once combat starts, the game slows down and moves into combat rounds:
The combat sequence in detail
1. Combatants move
Characters can move either their full movement or a shorter movement and then an action later (see Forms). This speed can be modified by other effects (such as Gifts or Fetishes). One step means the player's typical stride. Movement always takes place before other actions, and happens simultaneously. If this phase becomes complicated, the Storyteller may call everyone to move one step at a time (e.g. "everybody move first step"). Those characters who move further than their short movement may take no actions in phase 3, 4 and 5 except to ready a simple item and to subtract their Toughness from damage.
2. Shapechange by 1 step or to breed form
Garou may only change form at this time, even those with the Metamorph merit. The exception to this are those rare Garou with Kailindo (not implemented yet). A Garou in combat is assumed to pass through all the stages between the form he starts in and the form he is heading for (even if Will is spent to increase the rate of change). The exception to this is if shifting to Breed form (this is Crinos for Metis characters). Note that in the Umbra, a Garou can change form freely and so may choose to change straight to their target form in this phase.
3. Declare action and targets
Each player should declare their action simultaneously. Obviously this is unrealistic to implement, and should a dispute occur, actions should be declared in order of Rage, lowest first. You cannot declare an effect against a character the other side of the Gauntlet unless you can both see them and affect them.
4. Pull X beads
It is possible to Pull all beads from your Pull Bag. In this case you do maximum damage (or have maximum effect if performing a no-damage action), which is the number of Fire beads currently in your Pull Bag + damage bonuses (or effect bonuses). While weapons are the usual source of bonuses (or penalties), many Gifts also affect combat Pulls, as do weapon Skills. If performing a non-violent action, this is the time when you test for success at that if necessary (although skilled tasks usually take far longer than a combat round to complete). A character (not in Frenzy) may choose to pull less than their full allowance of beads.
5. Resolve action
All actions happen simultaneously, unless a Gift or other effect says otherwise. This means a character trying to escape by stepping sideways still gets hit. Each character subtracts their toughness from the damage of each character attacking them. Do not subtract Toughness from no-damage actions (such as grappling) unless the effect which generated the Toughness specifically mentioned that type of action (e.g. Shed). Silver damage to Garou ignores Toughness and is aggravated.
Garou regenerate easily and at this point they can heal one point of damage. For normal damage this is free. Aggravated damage is harder to heal than most damage, Garou can still heal it quickly by spending a point of Will. (This is a change from the W:tA books.) Some non-Garou can regenerate, but most cannot.
Each point of damage taken reduces all the character's Pulls by 1 (this is referred to as Wound Penalties). A character dies when he takes 10 wounds, aggravated or not. Some effects give characters extra "free" health levels. Instead of taking a point of damage, a character may lose one of these extra health levels: loss of these levels does not incur a Wound Penalty. Wound Penalties may be ignored for one test by spending a Will.
A Garou may not always want to go as fast as his Rage takes him. Normally this is because there is reason not to reveal their supernatural nature (such as when humans are around). A Garou's Rage in slow combat is considered their full Rage divided by 5 (round up). I.e. a Garou with less than 6 Rage can use 1 Rage, while one with 6 to 10 Rage can use Rage 2. This is called a character's Slow rating, and is increased by changes in form.
When trying to restrain someone, a character may only use their slow combat Rage rating. Unless the target uses their action to resist restraint, the grappler succeeds if they Pull a single Fire bead.
A character who is resisting restraint may use their full Rage. To successfully resist restraint, the character must draw more Rage than each character trying to restrain him: each character he beats fails to grapple him. If they are held, they may not use weapons and their Rage is reduced by the Slow rating of each character holding him.
This ritual combat historically was fatal to one party, but now tends not to be since Gaia needs all of her warriors. Typically, both characters use their Slow rating and frequently fight in Glabro form rather than Crinos. Only the character who Pulls the most successes damages (equal to the difference between successes). Both characters are likely to check for frenzy throughout the fight due to the tension, in which case it is difficult to prevent the fight becoming fatal since those outside the fight are forbidden to interfere. Once a character frenzies, combat returns to normal rules.
There are no rules for dodging, although conceivably some Gifts may give Toughness due to dodging.
All new material ©copyright 2002 Aidan Bowes. All rights reserved.
Werewolf the Apocalypse and Minds Eye Theatre are trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc.