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Simplified Tactical Resolution System for Waylights

The STRS is used for combat and skill challenges.


Relevant stats:

  • Timing, to decide the order of non-simultaneous actions. Timing is added to initiative rolls, and comes into play elsewhere.
  • Attack skill bonus. This has two elements, which are summed together:
    • The skill in use, including martial arts, brawling, and proficiency with a weapon (combat skill for ranged weapons is assumed to include dodging and using cover competently). If there is no applicable skill, this is assumed to be -1. Most martial art skills have a base stat requirement to be raised.
    • The bonus conferred by any weapon or implement.
  • Defense skill bonus. This is calculated the same way as above, but with different skills (dodging instead of shooting, for example) and implements (armor and shields instead of weapons).
  • Threshold. This represents a character's toughness and effectively acts as a divider for the damage.
  • Wounds, to represent how hurt the character is, and how much the character is able and willing to keep fighting.

It is recommended to calculate the attack and defense bonuses at the beginning of fight scene. While they change during a scene, they will generally change by +1 or -1 increments.


  • Whoever had an intention of catching the other group by surprise goes first. If it's a tie (both groups are alert, or neither is), whoever has the best timing goes first. If it's a tie, the PCs go first. After the first round, whoever has the best timing goes first.
  • A character can perform TWO actions during their turn. Valid actions are Move, Split Move, Fight, Change weapon, Use an item, Use a skill (mundane or psi). If the Move action is not used for this round, a character can still take a single step, moving by 1 while performing other actions. Turning around is free.
    • MOVE: A character moves up to their move value. If using a square grid, diagonal moves cost 2.
    • SPLIT MOVE: A character moves up to half their move value (round down). This leaves them able to take a step later, hence "split move".
    • USE AN ITEM: Ready a launcher for firing, replace the clip on a launcher, Get something out of a backpack, etc. Note that "swapping weapons", such as dropping an empty launcher and unsheathing a blade, is a single action if both weapons are readily accessible.
    • USE A SKILL: Activate a psi ability on oneself or an ally, trigger a trap, jump over an obstacle, glance at a map to figure out where to run towards, etc.
    • FIGHT: Engage an enemy, shoot a launcher, or dodge, take cover or assume a defensive stance, use a psi ability on a target, etc. Melee attacks that have a range of 1 cannot reach diagonally. It is possible to delay one's FIGHT move, (usually to prepare an overwatch shot) between the first and second move of someone else's turn, but doing so ends the character's turn. It is the player's responsibility to remember to take the delayed FIGHT move when appropriate.

For example, moving twice represents dashing forward; replacing the clip or refilling the hopper of a pneumatic launcher requires a full turn (Replace clip and Reload launcher); the vast majority of launchers can be fired on the move, or fired and reloaded, but not both; and so on. Obviously, the action should be described with a minimum of narrative!

Action 1Action 2Step?Narrative
MOVEMOVEnoCharging forward, or "tactical retreat" aka run for your life
FIRERELOADyesArnie-style walk and blast while wearing heavy armor
MOVEKICKnoStraight up charge at an enemy and hit them inna rocks
PUNCHMOVEnoHit and run, hopefully to avoid retaliation
RELOADCLIPnoPinned down and out of pellets, equivalent to reloading a semiautomatic firearm
SPLITMOVEFIREyesMost efficient use of cover, as long as it holds
SPLITMOVESPLITMOVEyesDashing out to look behind a corner
FIREFIREyesStep out of cover and fire both pistols.
PUNCHKICKyesMy sky-fu is strong!

Attack and Defense:

Characters have to decide how many dice to allocate to attack and defense.

  • A character has 4 dice to roll per turn, and declares their allocation (attack/defense) at the earliest time in the round where this becomes necessary, whether because it's their turn or because they are attacked.
  • A character can attack twice during their turn by using both actions to attack; this uses the attack dice pool as normal -- if the allocation is 3/1, both attacks happen with three dice.
  • A character may not normally attack two different targets in a turn.
  • A character can only change their dice allocation when it's their turn; they have to do so at the beginning of it. If they haven't had a turn yet, the default is 2/2.
AtkDefNarrative (melee)Narrative (ranged)
40All-out finishing blow, or desperation moveMore dakka dammit!, or sniper's focus
31Fencing style lungeStand up launcher blazing, or aimed shot
22Thrust and parryFire and take cover
13Close guard, or biding timeSnap shot
04Fighting defensivelyHunkering down
  • The initiator declares a target and their own dice allocation;
  • The target declares their allocation if they haven't had a turn yet, or uses the dice allocation they declared during their last turn;
  • Dice are rolled.
  • The character's combat skill is added to their roll.
  • Wounds are directly subtracted from the roll (If using d12s, each wound subtracts 2 from the roll).
  • The character's bonuses from weapons (on attack) or shields/armor (on defense) are added to the score.
  • The defense score is subtracted from the attack score.

Damage resolution:

  • If the result is a negative number nothing happens (the attack has been defended against).
  • If the result is lower or the same as the defender's Threshold, a glancing hit has been scored.
  • If the result is higher than the defender's Threshold, the defender takes one wound.
  • If the result is higher than twice the defender's Threshold, the defender takes one more wound.
  • If the result is higher than thrice the defender's Threshold, the defender takes yet one more wound, and so on.

In case of a melee fight, whoever has the best timing has their attack (or move) resolved first. If it's a tie, the actions are exactly simultaneous, meaning that any wounds get calculated at the same time.

Status Effects:

A character may be subject to status effects. A status effect represents a penalty that cannot be quantified otherwise. Removing a status effect is generally possible by removing the cause, although for some effects this is likely to require charge or items. Removing fatigue using psi is only a temporary remedy; the character will have to sleep it off!

EntangledThe character is being held, has been caught in a net or a lasso, or is wearing restrictive clothing such motorized armor that has been disabledThreshold halved; may not MOVE or SPLITMOVE. May still take a step unless actively grappled.
FatiguedThe character has exceeded the limits of their stamina due to lack of sleep, psi backlash, or exertionCharacter may only take one action instead of two
WeakenedThe character has suffered recent head trauma, is under the influence of poisons, drugs or debilitating psiCharacter may only use half their dice pool.
PanickedThe character is scared for their lives, has seen something unspeakable, or is under psi influenceCharacter must use at least 2 dice on defense, and take a MOVE or SPLITMOVE action away from the source of panic.


Fights to the death in Waylights are comparatively rare: a character will "take a dive", or simply be knocked out, when their wounds reach a certain value. A character that is KO may be killed as a full turn action, used to deliver a coup de grace or a carefully aimed shot in an exposed vital spot. Lasting wounds are resolved narratively, but it's a safe bet that anything serious will require medical attention beyond healing crystals.

On that note, a healing crystal or healing psi ability is just the thing to reduce the effect of wounds for the duration of a fight -- on the flip side, some military or mercenary outfits will use psi to dampen pain response before a fight or enhance armors, effectively granting higher threshold.

Wounds are directly subtracted from fighting ability, to represent fatigue and in the worst cases, blood loss. For every wound received, a character subtracts 1 from the total results (not per die) when rolling dice.

Character typeWounds before KO
Pests, animals in a swarm, children1
Civilians, minions, farm animals2
Trained fighters, starting player characters, wild animals3
Well-trained fighters, mid level PCs4
Elites or fanatics, high level PCs5
Fearless beings6
Great monsters7

Psi Charge

Any time a success is scored (successfully inflicting a wound, or successfully defending from an attack), that success may be given up in order to gain charge, psionic "voltage" that can be used for risky moves or for powering psi abilities without a crystal. In case of a glancing hit, the attacker automatically gains one point of charge.

Charge can be stored between fights or challenges, up to a character's Attunement, and dissipates at a rate of 1 per day. However, there is no limit to how much charge can be held during a fight scene. Releasing any amount of charge on a target must be done while actively attacking or defending against that target -- however, the action negated to gain charge counts, so it is possible for example to grapple someone rather than punching them, or letting someone score a hit they otherwise wouldn't have, just before disarming them. Releasing any amount of charge on a single target is a single action, so "super moves" may be built up. Releasing charge on oneself or an ally takes an action, since the character is using a skill.

In general, an effect which does not put a hostile target in immediate harm's way "costs" 1 charge, an action which does "costs" two, and an action which would put someone out of a fight immediately "costs" 3. The action should make sense, for example executing a grapple with most ranged weapons is absurd -- unless you've built yourself a net launcher or a slime sprayer... A few examples follow.

Grapple1The target suffers the Entangled status.Melee
Break off1Negates a grapple.Melee
Entangle/Shock1The target suffers the Entangled status until they spend an action to disentangle themselves.Ranged with appropriate weapon
Shove1The target executes a Splitmove away from the characterMelee, usually
Change Focus1The character can switch targets mid-turnMelee, usually
Disarm1The target drops their weapon, and will have to spend an action to recover itNone
Suppression1The target cannot move, if they do, the character gets an immediate free attack against themRanged
Armor Pierce1The target's armor bonus is negated until they adjust their stance to cover for it on their next turnNone
Surge2Next time dice allocation is decided, use an extra die; this can be done multiple timesNone
Human shield2Any ranged attack that would hit the character this turn, has a 75% chance of hitting the target insteadMelee, usually unarmed
Probe Defense2Gain +1 on combat bonus against this opponent; does not stackNone
Call Bullshit2Prevent the use of a psi powerPsi-null characters only
Channeling3Use a psi power without consuming a crystalNot allowed for psi-null characters
Stunning Blow3The target is briefly KO'd and skips a turnSome blasters or psi-focused melee attacks can do this
Second Wind3Recover a wound until the end of the fightNone

Equipment and environment:

The intention is to keep equipment stats simple.

  • Weapons grant a bonus to weapon power on offense. Launchers or thrown items allow for ranged combat; some melee weapons may grant reach; some weapons may have armor piercing capability, negating all or part of the armor bonus. Weapons such as sprayers or blasters may also cause various effects to the target.
  • Shields grant a bonus to weapon power on defense: a shield works exactly like a weapon. More, some weapons may function as shields, and grant a bonus to weapon power on defense as well.
  • Armor grants additional threshold, and may grant a bonus to weapon power on defense like a shield does.
  • Healing crystals or healing psi can be used to reduce the effect of wounds -- this reduction is, however, temporary in nature and does not provide a substitute for after-action medical care (whether traditional or psionic).
  • In a firefight, light cover grants a 2/6 chance of avoiding a hit from a direct-fire ranged attack. Medium cover grants a 4/6 chance of avoiding a hit from a direct-fire ranged attack. Full cover prevents direct fire from hitting at all. In order to simplify fights, it's recommended to roll for this chance before ranged attacks are calculated. Stepping out of cover at any time during one's turn, for example by using a split-move action or poking out to fire, downgrades the cover rating by one (light cover is negated). Indirect fire is not affected, but requires specialized launchers that tend to be heavy and cause collateral damage, and can only be used out in the open.

Collateral damage:

[To smash thing, attack it to break it and defend to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your weapon; the thing has some sort of toughness value, which must be beaten. It is possible to both damage the thing and hurt yourself, which causes one wound. Some weapons cannot be used for this, you can't smash down a door with a foil for example, and will have to use unarmed skill, or raw strength]

Skill challenges

Simple skill check

A simple skill check is used within the narrative, to quickly determine if a character succeds or fails at a task that has no particular time duration such as spotting somebody or figuring out, by following the pipes, which valve to shut in order to disable a lift. A character is to roll two dice, adding the relevant skill, stat and equipment bonuses (if any). The player is encouraged to substitute the closest relevant skill if an exact match is not available.

Opposed skill checks

An opposed skill check works like a combat round, with the character with best Timing going first on the attack. The attack and defense bonuses are replaced by relevant stats and skills. The characters' Thresholds are likewise replaced by the defensive bonus that was just calculated. The opposed skill check continues until one of the characters receives a "wound", marking them the loser. Psi charge may be used as normal, if it applies narratively (for example, it's possible for an armwrestling match to result in either contestant being fatigued at the end of it).

Extended skill check

Sometimes, a character must perform an extended action that requires their full attention for a longer period of time. In this case, there are two possible failure modes; the character has botched the job thoroughly (for example, a repair attempt made the problm worse in such a way that field repairs are now impossible) or the character has reached physical or mental exhaustion before the job was finished.

In an extended skill check, the character must balance attack and defense die like they would in combat, against a pair of target numbers representing difficulty (for attack) and intensity of effort (for defense). Instead of using attack and defense skills, use the relevant base stats and skills -- defense is done with Focus or Stamina. If the character fails their defense, they are exhausted (and may suffer the Fatigued or Weakened status) and must stop working towards the goal; depending on the nature of the skill check, this may force an abort. Note that for some jobs it's possible for another character to take over to let the first character rest! If a character succeeds with their attack, progress towards the goal is made (a "point" is scored); an extended skill check involves at least two steps, but three or four is more common. If an attack is failed, progress is reduced by one notch if there has been any. If two attacks are failed in a row, the skill check has failed entirely.

Other stuff:

[Dee's ideas: Armor gives +1 defense die; diff types of armors use diff dice geometries; shield gives a +x PER DEFENSE DIE; weapon gives a +x per attack die]

[4:37:52 AM] D Noir: maybe bonus dice from skill ranks should be a "roll this many extra, but keep the four you like"... for clasew [4:38:19 AM] M K B: that works really well actually. [4:38:22 AM] M K B: nice, simple, effective [4:38:27 AM] D Noir: keeps specialization bonus from going insane, and also has the nice effect of letting you gain tension easily [4:38:32 AM] M K B: ya

[7:56:55 PM] cs_riley: Sounds reasonable. [7:57:17 PM] cs_riley: I might even suggest there be a specialization skill for extended[skill] that can be used with Focus or Stamina for defence! Obviously people who do a lot of extended checks are the only ones who'd want this [7:57:25 PM] cs_riley: but guys like miners? Heck yeah they'd be better at spending hours digging. [7:57:46 PM] cs_riley: Other than that, it sounds reasonable!

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Page last modified on November 17, 2014, at 12:23 AM