Combat Guide


By Night Studios MET: WtA Combat Summary

All materials contained in this packet are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of By Night Studios, LLC.

Tests and Challenges

A test is a single instance of RPS. A challenge consists of all tests (and retests) involved in the challenge.

Winning a Test: If you throw the winning hand symbol, you win the test.

Tying the Test: If both individuals throw the same hand symbol, the test is a tie. Compare your pool to your opponent’s. If the attacker’s test pool is greater than the defender’s, the attacker achieves a normal success. Otherwise, the attacker loses the test.

Losing the Test: If you throw the losing hand symbol, you lose the test.

Winning a Challenge: A challenge is composed of one or more tests. You have won the challenge if you win the final test in the challenge, after all retests have occurred. If you are attacking, you inflict your victory condition. If you are defending, you are unaffected by your opponent’s assault.

Exceptional Success: If the attacker outright wins (no ties) all tests involved in a challenge, and the attacker’s test pool is higher than the defender’s test pool, then the attacker has scored an exceptional success.

It is often wise for a defender to retest when an attacker scores an outright win on a test, in the hopes of a loss or tie (even if the attacker will win the trait comparison). A retest makes it less likely that an attacker will score an exceptional success on the challenge.

Defenders who win the test do not check for exceptional successes.

If you lose an opposed test (and only if you lose), you may spend a point of Willpower to retest, and re-attempt the test. The results of the second test are final. The second test cannot be retested.

Common Test Pools

  • Attacking — Unarmed: Physical + Brawl
  • Attacking — Armed: Physical + Melee
  • Attacking — Firearm: Physical + Firearms
  • Defense — Physical: Physical + Dodge
  • Defense — Social: Social + Current Willpower
  • Defense — Mental: Mental + Current Willpower


By default a thrown, brawl, or melee attack inflicts 1 point of damage. Default firearms attacks inflict 2 points of damage.

Exceptional successes inflict an extra point of damage, or provide whatever bonus the power describes.

Resolving Combat
A character’s initiative is equal to her higher attribute: Physical or Mental (no matter what kind of challenge she is attempting).

Resolve combat actions in initiative order. Remember that challenges are not resolved simultaneously. You may attack your target on your initiative; she will have the option to attack you on hers.

Rounds and Turns: A round is one full pass through all characters’ initiative actions. A turn encompasses one full set of rounds: everyman, Rage 1, Rage 2 and so forth. Once the Storyteller has run all applicable Rage rounds, the current turn ends, and a new turn begins on a new everyman round.

Surprise Action: If a combat starts because one character takes a sudden or unexpected action, that action occurs immediately, outside of normal initiative order. The character’s remaining actions resolve normally on her initiative.

Standard and Simple Actions
A character may take one standard action and one simple action on her initiative.

Standard Action: An action that requires a challenge (static or opposed), or requires the character’s full attention

Simple Action: An action that a character can perform without a challenge

You may use a simple or standard action on your initiative to move up to three steps. If you use both actions, you may move up to six steps.

Maximum Attacks Per Round
During a single round, a character can be targeted by a limited number of challenges:

  • One Social challenge
  • One Mental challenge
  • Two Physical challenges

A failed challenge still counts against this limitation.

Physical, Mental, and Social Attacks
You may perform Physical attacks on any round. Mental and Social attacks may only be performed on the Everyman round.

Retrying Failed Attacks
If you fail a Physical challenge, you may retry on your next appropriate action, if possible. If you fail a Mental or Social challenge, that target is immune to your use of that specific power for the next 10 minutes.

Combat Maneuvers
Before your attack, you may spend 1 Willpower to apply one combat maneuver to your attack. You may only add one combat maneuver in this manner.

  • Burst of Speed: This combat maneuver allows you to take your simple action immediately, out of order, and then take your standard action on your normal initiative. This maneuver doesn’t allow you to take an additional action, but it does allow you to use your simple action before your initiative. If you try to act at the same time as another character, the character acting on her natural initiative goes first. If two players use Burst of Speed at the same time, the character with the highest initiative goes first.
  • Blinding Attack: If you succeed with a Blinding Attack, your opponent suffers 3 less damage (minimum 0), but is blinded until she spends two simple actions clearing her eyes.
  • Disarm: Modify your attack test pool by -2. If you succeed in the challenge, you force your target to drop one item of your choice. Picking the item up requires a standard action. If you are Dexterity-focused and have a free hand, you may choose to end up holding the disarmed object. Normally this maneuver can only be used on an object the target is holding in her hands, but the Storyteller may allow you to use this maneuver to take unsecured items off the target, such as a cord tied around her neck, a hat, or a rod sticking out of her pocket. Disarm cannot be used to remove large or secured items, such as a jacket or chain mail.
  • Grapple: If you succeed with a Grapple attack, your opponent takes 3 less damage (minimum 0) and is grappled. While grappled she can’t move and cannot use her standard action to take a Physical action. She can escape from your Grapple by using a simple action and besting you in an opposed challenge (Brawl or Melee). Upon escaping, the target regains full use of her standard action. (She doesn’t have to wait until the next round to use it.) You relinquish your Grapple if you take any action that targets anyone other than the character you’re grappling, or if you move more than one step per round. If a single character is being grappled by more than one opponent, she need only best one opponent to escape. If the grappling characters cannot decide who will resist the attempt to break out, the Storyteller decides. As long as your character is grappled, she is considered the target of a Physical challenge each round (allowing others to only target her with one additional Physical attack per round). (See Maximum Attacks Per Round, page 282.)
  • Knock Out: If you surprise your target, you may attempt to knock her unconscious. Modify your attack test pool by -2. If you succeed, your target is unconscious for 10 minutes. You can only use this maneuver during the first round of combat, and you can’t use it if your target is expecting an attack. (Some supernatural creatures, such as vampires, cannot be knocked unconscious.)
  • Quick Draw: You can draw one weapon or other small item on your person without using a simple action.
  • Knock Down: If you succeed with a Knock Down attack, your opponent takes 1 less damage (minimum 0) and ends up lying on the ground. (See the rules for prone characters above.) While prone, your opponent may use an action to crawl one step. A prone character can use a simple action to stand up and move up to one step.
  • Fighting Blind: If you can’t see your opponent, you must use this combat maneuver to attack her. If you don’t use this combat maneuver, your attack will automatically miss.
  • Pierce the Heart: If your opponent’s wounds are in the Incapacitated wound track, you may attempt to use a melee or ranged weapon to Pierce her Heart. Modify your attack test pool by -3 when attempting this maneuver. If you hit a mortal with this attack, she is instantly killed. If this attack hits a vampire and your weapon has the staking quality, the vampire is staked. A successful Pierce the Heart maneuver stakes Stock NPCs regardless of how much damage they currently have, since they do not utilize wound tracks. For more information on the staking quality see Chapter Thirteen: Influences and Equipment, page 517.

Physical Focuses in Combat
Strength: Perform one of the following combat maneuvers once per combat without spending Willpower: Disarm, Grapple, Knock Down, or Pierce the Heart.

Dexterity: Perform one of the following combat maneuvers once per combat without spending Willpower: Burst of Speed, Disarm, Fighting Blind, or Quick Draw.

Stamina: Cannot be Knocked Out or Knocked Down by a combat maneuver unless your attacker has a higher Physical attribute than you.

Mass Combat
Mass combat occurs when three or more characters engage in a fight. During such a scenario, a character may spend one action (as defined below) to apply one of two mass combat tactics to another character’s Physical attack. You cannot use these tactics to enhance or defend against Mental or Social attacks.

Mass combat tactics may be used outside of your initiative, superseding your initiative. Alternately, you may hold your initiative in order to assist another character later in the round.

Only one mass combat tactic may be added to an attack/defense.

Assist Attacker: Spend a standard action and offer to assist one character in the combat. If that character accepts, she may apply a combat maneuver to her attack without spending Willpower. This may allow two combat maneuvers to be applied to the same attack, if she also spends a Willpower to add a maneuver.

Assist Defender: Once per round, when one of your allies is being attacked, spend a simple action and announce that you will be defending that character. You may move up to three steps to the defender in order to shield her from this attack. You become the new target of the attack. Both you and the original defender are considered to have been targeted by a Physical attack for the purpose of determining maximum attacks per round.

Stock NPC Tactics: When a Stock NPC uses the assist attacker tactic, she instead provides a +1 bonus to that character’s Physical attack. Likewise, when a Stock NPC uses the assist defender tactic, she instead provides a +1 bonus to the defender’s Dodge-based defense test pool.