Victory is assured when all of your enemy’s choices lead to their defeat.

When words fail and retreat is not an option, you’ll need to draw your weapons and clash steel with your enemies. The GM will use these combat rules when you and your allies must fight though foes to achieve your goals. Combat occurs in a series of rounds, where each round represents about 6 seconds of in game time. During each round, you can only use a limited number of skills during your turn, so choose carefully.

The GM will describe the battlefield to you, and you will often need to move into a better position to act. When you engage with the enemy, you will break their defenses with attacks until you can ultimately defeat them. But watch out, they will try to do the same to you. If the tide of battle turns against you, you will begin to suffer stress. This stress will hinder you for days to come - if you even survive.

Turns & Rounds

Combat begins as soon as one character does something that other characters witness and are willing and able to oppose. That first acting character takes the first turn of combat. If multiple characters attempt to act at exactly the same time, the GM will call for an opposed agility roll to see who acts first.

You may use two skills on you turn, one actions and one maneuver. Actions typically involve attacking enemies or supporting allies, while maneuvers typically involve moving to a better location or preparing for another skill. If you don’t already have a weapon drawn when the fighting begins, you’ll likely want to use your first maneuver to draw one or two. You may also use reactions on your turn if their triggers as met. You must always finish one skill before starting another; you can’t move a few paces with a maneuver, use an action, then finish the rest of the maneuver’s movement.

Once your have finished your turn, the GM will determine which of the characters who hasn’t acted yet this turn was most affected by your last turn. This could be the character you targeted with your action, the character to whom you dealt the most damage, or the character you ended your turn closest to, in that order. This could be one of your allies, but the GM will give preference to your enemies if everything else is equal.

This cycle continues until all characters have taken their turns, then the round ends. Legendary foes might be able to take multiple turns in a single round. Some effects, especially environmental effects, do something at the end of the round. Once the round ends, all characters can take turns again, and the GM will start with the character most affected by the last turn of the previous round.

Legendary Turns

Legendary creatures, like fearsome dragons, can often take multiple turns during each round of combat. During each of their turns, they get one action and one maneuver as normal. Most legendary creatures are limited in how often they can use the same skill each round, but that varies by creature. If you apply a temporary condition to a legendary creature, then it lasts until the creature and one of your allies both use actions, instead of just until the creature uses an action.


To emerge victorious, you will likely need to defeat your enemies. That is achieved by reducing all their defenses to zero. Player characters and elite or legendary enemies have three defenses: poise, momentum, and focus. The GM won’t normally ask you to keep track of your defenses outside of combat. Under normal circumstances, you begin combat at your base poise, base momentum, and base focus.

You can gain defense above these values, but doing so is likely to attract unwanted attention if you haven’t already. The GM will gain a point of doom if you dally to gain defense in dangerous territory. When the adrenaline of combat fades, typically after about a minute, your poise momentum and focus return to their base values.


Poise describes your precise balance and control of your weapons and fighting stance. Your base poise is equal to five plus five times your agility. When your poise is reduced to zero, you become reeling, which weakens all your attacks.

Skills that spend poise require precise coordination, while skills that gain poise let you regain your balance. Taking poise damage means being knocked off balance or being forced into an awkward position, and fighting atop a swaying bridge might cause a character to lose poise.


Momentum describes how much physical force you can put into their movements. Your base momentum is equal to five plus five times your brawn. When your momentum is reduced to zero, you become knocked-down, which prevents you from moving.

A skill that slams down into the ground might cost momentum, while a skill that lets you surge forward might grant momentum. Effects that slam, push, or buffet you, like a mace strike or howling winds, might damage or reduce your momentum.


Focus represents your awareness of yourself, other character in the battle, and the battlefield itself. Your base focus is equal to five plus five times your cunning. When your focus is reduced to zero, you become confused, making you just as likely to target allies as enemies.

Skills that require intense attention will cost focus, but skills that gain focus only take a fleeting thought. Anything that draws a character’s attention away from the battle will deplete their focus, including an enemy’s projectile or a booming explosion.

Minions’ Defense

Many weaker NPCs, called minions, do not have poise, momentum, or focus. Instead, they simply have defense, which represents all three together. Whenever a minion would gain or lose poise, momentum or focus, their defense is adjusted by that amount instead. If an effect prevents a minion from either dodging, blocking, or predicting an attack, that minion must yield.

Defending vs Yielding

When you are attacked, you must choose to either defend against or yield to the attack. Defending against an attack means taking damage equal to the attack’s threat to your choice of poise, momentum, or focus. Your armor reduces the attack’s threat against you. If you successfully defend against an attack, then the attack’s yield never comes to pass; no dice are rolled and no other yield effects are applied.

Defending with poise is called dodging, defending with momentum is called blocking, and defending with focus is called predicting. Some attacks may be undodgeable, unblockable, or unpredictable, preventing you from defending in those ways.

You can only defend against an attack with a specific defense if that defense is at least equal to the threat of the attack targeting you. For example, you cannot block an attack with 11 threat (after subtracting your armor) if your remaining momentum is only 10. If you can’t block, dodge or predict an attack, then you have no choice but to yield to it.


An attack’s yield describes what the attack does if it is not defended against. Each attack has a damage type (poise, momentum, or focus) and damage dice that you roll if the target yields. Add together all the dice to determine the amount of damage you do with the attack. If it is a melee or thrown attack, also add your brawn to this damage. The target’s armor reduces the damage they take from an attack’s yield.

Furthermore, compare each individual die to your cunning. Each die that rolls equal to or below your cunning earns you a cunning effect, in addition to the yield’s other effects!

Damage & Defeat

Damage will reduce your defenses and interfere with your ability to continue the fight. Most damage is dealt by attacks, but objects and the environment can also deal damage. If damage reduces your poise to zero, you become reeling, when your momentum is reduced to zero, you become knocked-down, and when your focus is depleted, you become confused. If all three pools are depleted, then you are defeated and excess damage carries over to your stress.

When you defeat an enemy with a skill, take a close look at each of the dice you rolled to do so. Each dice that you didn’t use to defeat them - whether for their damage or for their cunning effect - earn you a free critical effect! The GM will tell you how your overwhelming force shifts the tide of battle.



A reeling character’s poise has been reduce to zero, leaving them in a unable to coordinate an attack. While reeling, you can’t gain poise, you loose your zone of control, and you suffer a bane on all your attacks.



A knocked-down character’s momentum has been reduce to zero, leaving them immobile on the ground. While knocked-down, you can’t gain momentum, you loose your zone of control, and you can’t move except with the Shift skill.



A confused character’s focus has been reduced to zero, and they have lost track of the battle around them. While confused, you can’t gain focus, you loose your zone of control, and all your skills target a random character within the skill’s range.


Unless combatants flee or come to terms, combat will end in the defeat of one side or the other. A defeated character has had their focus, momentum and poise all reduced to zero, and is out of the fight. The remainder of any damage dealt beyond your defenses is dealt directly to your stress instead.

While you’re defeated, you are still conscious and can still talk. But you can’t take any actions or reactions, can’t gain poise, momentum or focus, you loose your zone of control, you’re interrupted and can’t concentrate ,and the only maneuver you can use is to Shift one pace. If you continue to take damage, your stress is increased by the damage dealt and you may begin to suffer afflictions.

Your can recuperate from being defeated if you or another character spend 10 minutes tending to your wounds and restoring your strength. Once you are no longer defeated, your poise momentum and focus are restored to their base values and you are ready to fight again. Being defeated doesn’t inherently carry any penalties. However, any stress and afflictions may linger for days, until you have a chance to recover.

Legendary Defiance

Legendary creatures are tough to take down for long. When a legendary creature is defeated, it can use a point of legendary defiance to stay in the fight. Using legendary defiance also grants the creature several other benefits:

However, you should still savor your victory! When you force a creature to use a point of legendary defiance, the GM will award you with a critical effect related to the event for free! For example, the GM might tell you that your attack shredded the dragon’s wing to taters, preventing if from flying and imposing a bane on it’s wing attacks.

Each legendary creature has a certain amount of legendary defiance points to use. After the creature has used all of them, you must defeat it one final time to finish it off once and for all!

Final Gambit

The most deadly warrior is a desperate one. You may invoke a final gambit on your turn, letting you push through any hardship for one last chance at victory. During the round of your final gambit, you gain several benefits:

However, pushing your limits comes at a cost. After the round of your final gambit, your remaining defenses are all depleted, you are immediately defeated, and you suffer one stress. NPCs, including minions and legendary creatures, are also capable of final gambits, so never underestimate a foe.

Movement & Position

Distance is counted in paces, where one pace is equivalent to about 5 feet or 1½ meters. The most reliable way to get from place to place is the Dash maneuver, which allows you to move 3 paces plus your speed. However, using most maneuvers in an enemy’s zone of control carries a risk of being hindered, as described below. Another movement option is the Shift maneuver, which lets you move exactly 1 pace. Since Shift has the careful tag, it can ’t be hindered. Finally, the Sprint reaction lets you trade momentum for a burst of speed.

There are a few rules that must be followed when you move. You can move freely through an area occupied by another friendly character, but not an enemy. You can’t end your movement less than one pace away from another character; if you somehow find yourself sharing an area with another character, the GM will move one of you one pace away. If you can’t help but share an area with another character, then both of you become encumbered. Sharing an area with a friendly mount is an exception to these rules.

If your group is using a square grid, then the first diagonal pace counts as one pace, the second counts as two paces, the third as one, then two again, and so on. You can’t move diagonally if the movement would cut through an impassable obstacle or a enemy.

Some effects may require you to use additional point of movement. If you can’t afford this extra movement, you can’t move there. Other effects prevent movement entirely, not even any movement specified by a skill.


Some skills will shove you in a specific direction. If you are shoved toward or away from something, you must end up closer or further than your previous position, respectively.

Being shoved ignores movement restrictions from special terrain. You can’t be shoved into an area occupied by another character or an obstacle. Instead, when you are shoved into an occupied area, you lose 2 momentum per remaining pace you would have been pushed. You begin falling when you are shoved off a ledge, and any remaining distance you would be shoved is ignored.

The distance you are shoved is increased by one for each size larger than you the character shoving you is. Likewise, the distance you are shoved is reduced for each size smaller than you they are, to a minimum of zero paces.

High Ground

An area that is about 3 feet or 1 meter higher than another counts as higher ground. Moving up to higher ground costs an additional movement point, but you may move two paces downward for each point of movement. A gradual slope may require moving laterally several paces to ascend or descend one pace.

Your melee attacks gain a boon against targets on lower ground, but your melee attacks suffer a bane against targets on higher ground. When you use a ranged skill from higher or lower ground, add or subtract the height difference to the range of the skill, respectively.


Any skill that passes through an area containing an obstacle or another character suffers a bane. Attack, utility, ranged, and melee skills can all be penalized by cover. The obstacle might be a tree, a corner, a low wall, or anything else that would partially block your view of the target. Remember than you can’t normally target a character that you can’t see at all.

You can’t normally pop out from behind cover, attack, then duck back into cover all on your turn. However, some objects, like a low wall or an arrow slit, might provide cover for you but not interfere with your skills.


Your size describes how big you are and how much space you take up. A normal human’s size is 1. A character with a size larger than one takes up a square with each side made of paces equal to their size, so a size 3 character takes up a three pace by three pace square.

Smaller character are described with lower numbers, such as 0, -1, -2, and so on. The GM may allow characters of significantly different sizes to share an area. Different sizes don’t come with any inherent bonuses or penalties, but may become relevant for certain skills or conditions.


When you become disarmed, everything you are holding is thrown three paces away in random directions, including wielded weapons. Any of those weapon’s skills you may have been concentrating on are immediately interrupted. You will need to draw new weapons or reverie your old ones to stay in fighting shape.

Zone of Control

Your zone of control, sometimes abbreviated as “ZoC”, is the area of the battlefield where you can interfere with an enemy. Any ranged skill used while in an enemy’s zone of control suffers a bane. Your zone of control also determines where you can hinder maneuvers and when you have an enemy surrounded.

When you’re armed with a weapon with the ZoC tag, typically a weapon used for melee combat, your zone of control includes the area within one pace of you. You don’t have a zone of control if you don’t have a ZOC weapon, although some creatures might. You might temporarily loose your zone of control while you are knocked-down, reeling, confused, or affected by certain other conditions.

Hindering Maneuvers

Using most maneuvers while engaged with the enemy is risky. Whenever you use a maneuver in an enemy character’s zone-of-control, that enemy can hinder you. When you are hindered, you immediately lose -4 poise, -4 momentum, and -4 focus. Hindering is not an attack; there is no threat or yield, your armor doesn’t reduce the loss, and excess doesn’t carry over to another defense.

You may enter a hostile character’s zone of control without being hindered, but using a maneuver to move from within an enemy zone of control allows that enemy to hinder you. A skill with the careful tag can’t be hindered. Actions and reactions also can’t be hindered, even if they let you move. However far you move, each enemy can only hinder you once per maneuver.


You might become surrounded if you have multiple enemies or obstacles closing off your retreat. Attacks gain a boon against you while you are surrounded.

In simple terms, you are surrounded if you can’t leave an enemy’s zone of control. More precisely, you are surrounded if you are within the zone of control of one or more enemies, and every area within one pace into which you could move is also within the zone of control of at least one of those enemies. You are also surrounded if you have two enemies with active zones of control on directly opposite corners of you.

Even if you can’t move, or could teleport, the areas within one pace into which you could hypothetically move should be considered. If an obstacle prevents movement into a area, that area doesn’t need to be in an enemy’s zone of control for you to be surrounded. You are not surrounded as long as you could leave the zones of control you are currently in, even if it means moving into someone else’s zone of control. Since you can move into the area of a friendly character, an area occupied by a friendly character doesn’t count against you to determine if you are surrounded, unless it is also in an enemy’s zone of control.

Mounted Combat

Fighting from atop a horse or even a mythical flying beast can convey a huge advantage. In order to serve as a mount, a creature needs to be at least one size category larger than you. The creature must be willing, and many creatures require a saddle, harness, or other equipment to be ridden properly.

Whenever the mount moves, you move with it. While mounted, you and your mount share the mount’s position. That means you can use skills as if you where anywhere on the mount, but skills can also target you if they target any part of the mount. If you have a normal zone of control, then your zone of control includes the area within one pace of the mount. If an enemy hinders the mount’s movement, they may hinder either you or the mount.

While mounted, you use the mount’s momentum as if it were your own. Skills and effects that cause you to gain or lose momentum or take momentum damage cause the mount to gain or lose momentum or take damage instead. If either you or the mount are shoved, kneeling, or knocked-down, you fall from the mount and your momentum is reduced to 4 if it was higher. If you dismount intentionally, your momentum returns to what it was before you mounted the creature. Depending on your mount’s size, and the battlefield around you, your mount might give you the benefits of high ground, as determined by the GM.

If the mount has only animal intelligence, like a horse, then you must use your turn to command it. Instead of your maneuver, the mount may use a maneuver, and instead of your action, the mount may use an action. It doesn’t use actions or maneuvers unless you use yours to command it. If the mount has any reactions, you may choose to use them whenever their triggers are met. Such mounts are not perfect, and may disobey you if they are put in unfamiliar situations.

If the mount is reasonably intelligent, then it acts on its own, taking its own turn during combat and using its own actions and maneuvers. You may use your actions and maneuvers independently while mounted, although you still share the mount’s momentum.

Underwater Combat

Fighting while swimming can be extremely difficult if you are unprepared. Areas of water count as wet terrain, and require an extra point of movement for every pace you try to move. You automatically become wet while swimming, and the wet condition is instantly reapplied if it is ever removed. Your skills suffer a bane while you are swimming, but the GM may determine that certain skills from daggers, one-handed polearms, and similar weapons remain effective. Almost all ranged skills, including utility skills, are ineffective against a target more than 5 paces away in water. The GM may further rule that some skills are impossible to use or have other penalties underwater.

If you are unexpectedly plunged under water, you suffer the choking condition, and that condition is persistent while you remain under water. However, if you intentionally hold your breath on your turn, you are immune to the choking condition, but you lose -2 momentum and -2 focus at the end of your turn. See the breath holding rules for dives lasting longer than a few rounds.