In the world of Swan Song, combat is an inevitability. At some point the talker will run out of words, the sneaker will get spotted, and the fight will be on. Shooting, stabbing, blowing things up, drive-bys, car chases, breaking things, and healing wounds will be covered in this article.

1. The Basics

In Swan Song Combat is governed by rules and procedures designed to keep the action clear and flowing.

Combat Round

Things happen fast in combat. To keep those things straight, Swan Song breaks each encounter into five-second chunks called Combat Rounds (12 Combat Rounds = 1 minute). Each Combat Round follows a set sequence to resolve issues such as who acts first, who’s faster on the draw, what happens when one character punches another, and so on. During the Combat Round, players act in an order determined by their Initiative Score; each player describes their character’s action, then rolls dice to see how well the character performs. The gamemaster describes the actions and reactions of the non-player characters, as well as the final outcome of all actions.   Combat Rounds are broken up into a series of Initiative Passes, which are further broken down into Action Phases allowing player characters (PC) and non-player characters (NPC) to take actions sequentially during the Combat Round. This allows combat to flow smoothly from character to character without clogging up on the actions of a single player. Things can happen quickly; one of the gamemaster’s jobs is to keep players engaged and ready for their next Action Phase.   The Combat Round plays out as follows:


Determine Initiative Scores for all the characters, critters, spirits, sprites, intrusion countermeasures (IC), and anything else involved in the fight. The order in which things happen during the Combat Round is determined by Initiative Scores, going from highest first to lowest last. Initiative is fluid and changes both within a Combat Round and between Combat Rounds.


The character with the highest Initiative Score in the combat takes their Action Phase first. This character is the acting character. If more than one character has the same Initiative Score, compare Attributes according to determine who acts first. Alternatively, the gamemaster can simply determine that all actions occur simultaneously.


The acting character declares and takes his actions, according to the steps below.   If another character has delayed an action and wants to act during this Action Phase, he must declare it here. That character chooses whether to act before, after, or at the same time as the current acting character.
The acting character declares his actions for the Action Phase. He may take use up to three Action Points during his Action Phase. Action types and point costs are further detailed in the Actions section. Alternately, the character can choose to delay his action until a lower Initiative Score in that Combat Round.   The character may also declare one Free Action during each Action Phase in the Combat Round.   Likewise, any character who has already acted in the Combat Round prior to this Action Phase, has a "Interrupt"-Action, and still has enough Actions left for this Initiative Pass, may declare to use it at this point if he chooses.
Resolve the actions of the acting character.


Once the character with the highest Initiative Score has acted, move on to the character with the next highest Initiative Score and repeat Step 3 until all characters have acted in the Initiative Pass.   Once all characters have acted, subtract 10 from all characters’ Initiative Scores and return to step 2 for all characters with an Initiative Score greater than 0 (starting a new Initiative Pass, including only the characters who can still act).   If a character was wounded previously, wound modifiers may affect his Initiative Score on this and any subsequent Combat Turns.   Once all characters have an Initiative Score of 0 or less, move to Step 5.


Begin a new Combat Round, starting again at Step 1. Continue repeating Steps 1 through 4 until the combat ends.


Initiative determines the order in which characters act, as well as how often they act during a single Combat Round. Initiative is based on three factors:
  • Initiative Attribute
  • Initiative Dice
  • Initiative Score

Initiative Attribute

The Initiative Attribute is a derived attribute used to measure the speed, perceptiveness, and reaction rate of a combatant. Is consists of your combined Reaction + Intuition scores.

Initiative Dice

All characters normally have one Initiative Die, which they use to determine their Initiative Score. Several Traits, Qualities and Effects can modify the number of available Initiative Dice. When Determining their Initiative Scores, characters always roll all their available Initiative Dice.

Initiative Score

To determine a character’s Initiative Score, make an Initiative Test rolling the character’s Initiative Dice and adding the total (not the number of hits) to your Initiative attribute—this total is your Initiative Score.   Karma⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ may be used on this test to roll the maximum of 5D6 for a single Combat Round. The gamemaster records the score for each character, from highest to lowest. The character with the highest score goes first and the others follow in descending order during each Initiative Pass.   If there is a tied Initiative Score use RIC (Reaction, Intuition, Coin toss) to break the tie, comparing Attributes in that order, with the character with the higher Attribute going first. If you’re still tied after comparing all three tie-breaker Attributes, flip a coin. Alternately, at the gamemaster’s discretion, both characters can act simultaneously.

Initiative Passes

How many times a character can act during a Combat Round is determined by the Initiative Test. Every character starts out with a base Initiative die of 1D6. Some characters may spend Karma or have modifiers that increase their Initiative dice total, allowing them to roll more dice and potentially perform more actions than their non-enhanced associates.   The Combat Round is divided into Initiative Passes. Everyone gets to act during the first Initiative Pass (in order according to their Initiative Score). At the end of each Initiative Pass the gamemaster subtracts 10 from all characters Initiative Score. Characters with an Initiative Score higher than 0 get to go again during a second Initiative Pass. This process is repeated until all characters have an Initiative Score of 0 or less, the Combat Round ends, or the combat ends.   A character with an Initiative Score of 0 or less can no longer take an Action Phase during the remaining Combat Round.

Changing Initiative

In some cases, a character’s Initiative Score or Base Initiative Dice may change in the middle of a Combat Round. A player might gain Initiative by activating an augmentation, for example, or could receive a boost from a drug or feature or other enhancer. Conversely, a character who is wounded or whose vital equipment (weapon, augmentation, etc.) takes damage might lose Initiative.   If a character’s Initiative attribute changes, immediately apply the difference as a positive or negative modifier to the character’s Initiative Score. This new Initiative Score applies to all remaining actions in that Combat Round. So a character with Initiative 8 and an Initiative Score of 11 who activates an implant that changes his Initiative to 10 (+2) immediately raises his Initiative Score to 13 (11 + 2).   If the number of Base Initiative Dice available to a character increases, that character immediately rolls the extra Initiative Dice and adds the sum to their current Initiative Score for that Combat Turn. If the number of Initiative Dice available to a character decreases, then that character immediately rolls the number of lost dice and subtracts the total from their Initiative Score (along with any decrease to their Initiative Attribute).   Initiative also changes when a character or NPC is injured. Wound modifiers are applied directly to the character’s Initiative attribute. These changes are made immediately after the injury occurs and can affect the initiative order even within the same Initiative Pass. These changes do not allow the character to act again; they simply change their Initiative score.
Entering Combat Late
If a character enters combat after it has already begun, they should roll for their Initiative Score as normal and then subtract 10 for each Initiative Pass that has already occurred. This means they may get an Action Phase during the current Combat Round or they may not, but at least they have a chance.

Delaying Actions

There are times when a player wants to see how others act and what happens before making his move; choosing to wait is called a Delayed Action. A Delayed Action must be declared during Step 3A (Declare Actions) of the Combat Round Sequence. A player can declare a Delayed Action on any of his Initiative Passes and can continue to delay action until a later Initiative Pass.   When the character decides to act, he replaces his normal Action Phase for that Initiative Pass with the Delayed Action and then acts on an Initiative Score lower than their own. During the Declare Actions part of that Initiative Pass, the character must declare that he is intervening at a specific Initiative Score. He can make that declaration when it is time for players with that score to act. Characters who have a Delayed Action and intervene in this manner can choose to go before, after, or at the same time as a currently acting character who would normally take his action on that Initiative Score; any actions they take receive a –1 dice pool penalty.   If multiple characters delay their actions until the same Initiative Score, they break the tie in the same manner as Initiative. Characters delaying an action in this manner keep their initial Initiative Score. If the character does not act before the end of the Initiative Pass, they incur the standard reduction of 10 at the end of the Initiative Pass.   Players can also decide to go after the last player’s Action Pass. As long as the character acts before that Initiative Pass ends and the next one begins, there is no problem. If more than one character wants to act last in a Initiative Pass, they act in the reverse order of their Initiative Scores; the character with the highest score goes last. In the event of a tie the characters must either act simultaneously or continue delaying their actions into the next Initiative Pass.
Delaying into the Next Initative Pass
A character can delay his action into the next Initiative Pass and be the first to act. He must still use his own Initiative Score to determine the Action Phases he has for the Combat Round.   If a character has delayed his Action until it is his own Action Phase in the next Initiative Pass, he loses the Delayed Action Phase. Similarly, when a Combat Round ends, all unused Delayed Action Phases are lost.

Timed Items and Initiative

Some items, such as grenades, explosive devices, timed traps, and so on, go off after a certain preset interval. In most situations, these items do what they do based on the character’s current Initiative Score during the next Combat Round. If there are no more Combat Rounds, the item activates as the gamemaster sees fit.   If an item has a timer set by a player character, that character can decide for how long to set the timer, but he must declare this when the item is activated. It’s usually best to have such items go off during the character’s Action Phase on a predetermined Initiative Pass or at the beginning or end of a five-second Combat Turn. Timed items always go last in the case of tied Initiative Scores.   In the case of radio-detonated items, the character spends their Action Phase performing a Use Item action.


Getting from one place to another, especially from one piece of cover to another or closing the distance on an opponent, is important. Characters in Swan Song have three types of movement:
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Sprinting
A character's "Walk"-Rate is the total distance a Character can move during a single Combat Round, as a Free Action. This distance is determined as the character's (Agility Score x 2) in Meters.   If a character wants to move farther than this during the same Combat Round, he can use the "Run"-Action, which costs 1 Action Point. This will allow him to once again move his "Walk"-Rate. If a character uses the "Run"-Action again during the same Combat Round, he is now considered Sprinting.   When Sprinting, characters need to perform a Running + Strength [Physical] test, where the hits determine the distance in Meters a character can run with this Action. A Sprinting character also takes 1 Strain Damage, each time he performs a Sprint.

Running Modifiers

Characters who are running take a –2 dice pool modifier to all actions performed while running (except for Sprinting).
  • Characters charging into melee combat gain a +4 dice pool modifier (making a net bonus of +2 when combined with the general penalty) when running into melee combat.
  • Characters making a ranged attack against a running opponent suffer a –2 dice pool penalty to their attack test.
  • Characters making a ranged attack against a sprinting opponent also suffer a –4 dice pool modifier to their attack test.

Action Phase

When a character’s Action Phase arrives, she must decide what she’s going to do. She has many options to choose from: fire a gun, cast a spell, activate a computer program, and so on. Each of these actions falls into one of five categories:
  • Free. A very basic action, not costing any Action Points (1x per Initiative Pass).
  • Simple. A standard Action, costing 1 Action Point.
  • Complex. A more complex Action, costing more than 1 Action Point.
  • Extended. Same as a complex Action, but with the option to be completed in several consecutive Action Phases, usually costing more than 4 Action Points.
  • Interrupt. Actions that can be taken outside a characters own action phase.
  During her Action Phase a character can perform a single Free Action and a combination of Simple Actions or Complex Actions, depending on the available number of Action points. A chracter doesn't always have to use up all his Action Points. He can decide that he doesn't need them, or keep them to be used for Interrupt Actions. But all unused Action Points are lost at the end of an Initiative Pass.   Interrupt actions are a little different as they can be taken at any time in a Combat Round, even if it is not the acting character’s Action Phase.   When it’s your turn to act, you must declare the actions that you will perform during the Action Phase. While you generally may take your actions in any order during your Action Phase, sequence can sometimes be important; like drawing your weapon before you fire it. Many of the combat actions a character might take in Swan Song are described below. Gamemasters must determine on the fly whether any action not listed that a character wants to take would be Free, Simple, or Complex by comparing it with actions that are listed and considering the effort the action would take.   Movement is declared and taken into consideration during the declare actions phase of the Action Phase. Once declared, a character cannot increase the distance they wish to move, but can decrease the distance or change the direction if they run into unforeseen obstacles. The same movement penalties and bonuses apply regardless of whether the character moves their full distance.

Combat Resolution

All combat, whether it involves firearms, knives, biotic attacks, or attack programs, is resolved in essentially the same manner. Combat is handled as an Opposed Test between the attacker and defender. The exact skills and attributes used depend on the type of combat, method of attack, and style of defense, as described in each section. Various modifiers may also apply to both attack and defense rolls.   If the attacker scores more hits than the defender, the attack hits the target. In the case of a tie the defender usually wins, with the exception of a grazing hit. Otherwise, the attack misses.

Combat Sequence

Use the procedure outlined below to resolve combat. You can use the mnemonic device “DADA” to quickly recall the sequence.
The attacker declares an attack as part of the Declare Actions part of his Action Phase. The defender also declares what method he is using to defend. A standard Defense Test (Reaction + Intuition) is free; for a price, the defender can choose to Dodge, Parry, Block or go on Full Defense as an Interrupt-Action.
The attacker rolls Combat Skill + Attribute +/– modifiers [Limit]. Apply appropriate wound, environmental, recoil, and situational modifiers to the attacker according to the specific attack.
Defending is a two-step process:  
  1. The defender rolls Reaction + Intuition +/– modifiers. Apply appropriate wound, environmental, and situational modifiers to the defender according to the specific attack. Compare the results to the hits of the attacker. If the attacker scores more hits than the defender, the attack hits the target. Note the net hits (the number of hits that exceed the defender’s hits) and move on to the second step. If the result is a tie the attack is considered a grazing hit. If the defender scores more hits than the attacker, the attack misses and you’re done rolling.
  2. Add the attacker’s net hits to the Damage Value (DV) of the weapon to determine the modified Damage Value. Reduce the defender’s Armor Value (AV) by the attack’s Armor Penetration (ARP) modifier to determine the modified Armor Value (a positive ARP lowers the defender's AV, while a negative ARP increases the defender's AV). Now add the modified AV to half the defenders Body to get his Soak Value (SV) pool. Lastly roll the SV and reduce the modified Damage Value by the number of hits. If this reduces the modified Damage Value to or below 0, the attack deals no damage.
Apply the remaining modified Damage Value to the appropriate Health Pool. Wound Modifiers may come into effect as a result of the damage. The additional effects of certain damage types should also be determined here.


To better explain this, we will look at this Combat Sequence, from a fight between Joe Schmoe (JS) and Bob Rock (BR).  
JS declares that he wants to attack BR with his Combat Knife. BR declares that he wants to do a standard defense test as a reaction to the attack.  
JS has to roll a Blades + Agility [Physical] test to attack with his Combat Knife. His Blades Skill is at rank 3 and his Agility Score is at 4 as well. This means he has a dice pool of 7. The Accuracy of his Combat Knife is 6.   So JS rolls: 3d6 + 4d6 [6] and his result is: 6, 6, 2, 4, 1, 5, 1, and thus he has 3 successes.  
  1. BR has to roll a Reaction + Intuition test to defend himself. His Reaction Score is at 2 and his Agility Score is only at 1. This means he has a dice pool of 3.   Then BR rolls: 2d6 + 1d6 and his result is: 2, 5, 4, and thus he has 1 success. This means that JS has scored 2 net hits ( 3 hits - 1 hit), which he can add to his DV.
  2. The DV of his Combat Knife is (STR + 2) Kinetic. Since JS has a Strength Score of 2, this means the DV of his Combat Knife is 4. If he now adds his Net Hits, he gets a modified DV of 6.   BR has an Armor Value (AV) of 4 and a Body Score of 3. The Combat Knife from JS has an Armor Penetration (ARP) of 1. This reduces RB's modified AV to 3. This means that BR has a Soak Value (SV) of 3 + (3/2), which equals an SV of 4. He rolls his soak test and gets 2 hits.   JS's modified DV gets reduced by the SV of BR: 6 - 2 = 4. This means that JS's attack now deals 4 damage to BR's health pool.
BR has no Shields and no Armored Health, so he takes 2 damage to his Flesh. Since Kinetic Damage deals 100% damage to Flesh, the damage gets dealt in full and is subtracted from BR's Flesh Health.

Grazing Hit

If the result of the Opposed Test is a tie, or an attacks DV got reduced to 0 through armor, the attack is considered a grazing hit. A grazing hit does not do any damage, but the attacker makes contact. This allows certain contact-only attacks (poisons, shock gloves, touch-only biotic powers, etc.) to still do damage.

2. Actions


Action Points

All characters in Swan Song can perform various things during combat. These things are called Actions. Some actions are easy and quick to perform, while other may be very complex or require a lot of time. These differences between actions are determined by the Action Point (or AP) cost of each action.   A character may only take a single Attack Action during his Action Phase. If a character wants to split up his attacks on multiple enemies or Attack "more often" he either has to use the Free Action "Multiple Attacks" and split his dice pool or use a Burst or Automatic Fire attack action.   Each character has a certain pool of Base Action Points, he can spend during each of his Initiative Passes, generally three of them. When a character has used all of his action points for the current Initiative Pass, he can't use any more actions, apart from free actions. A character regains all of his action points at the start of the next Initiative Pass, as long as his Initiative Score is above 0. All unspent action points from the previous Initiative Pass are lost at this point.


Free Actions

Free Actions are relatively simple, nearly automatic actions that require little effort to accomplish, and cost 0 AP. Examples are saying a word, dropping an object, gesturing, or walking. A character may take one Free Action during his own Action Phase or at some later point in the Initiative Pass.   Only one Free Action is normally allowed per Initiative Pass, but multiple Free Actions could be allowed by the gamemaster if the situation seems reasonable (dropping an object and speaking a phrase). Free Actions generally require no Success Test, though special circumstances may warrant one.   If a character wants to use more than a single Free Action, he can upgrade any Free Action to a Simple Action with a cost of 1 AP.

Simple Actions

A Simple Action is one step more complicated than a Free Action and requires more concentration to attempt. Simple actions cost 1 Action Point to use and can be taken in any combination with other actions.

Complex Actions

A Complex Action requires intense concentration and / or finesse. Complex Actions take several Action Points to be performed and can only be performed if a characters has enough AP left at the moment he wishes to use them.

Extended Actions

An Extended Action requires either a long time or is extremely complex. Extended Actions take a great amount of Action Points. A character that has less AP than needed for an Extended Action, can still use said action, by spending the AP of several Action Phases on it, if he is able to complete the action before the Combat Round ends. If he takes any other action, apart from a free action, during that time, the Extended Action gets canceled.

Interrupt Actions

There are times when a character is permitted to take an action outside his allotted Action Phase. Such rare instances are called Interrupt Actions and are clearly identified in the rules. Interrupt Actions can inly be used as a reaction to the required trigger. When a character uses an Interrupt Action, such as Full Defense, he takes an action out of turn, but only if he has enough Action Points left in the Combat Round to pay the price for the action. Interrupt Actions occur outside the normal course of the Combat Round and do not cost the character their Action Phase (unless they reduce their Action Points to 0 with their actions). A character may only take an Interrupt Action prior to their first Action Phase if they are not surprised.

3. Defense

Regardless of whether they’re being shot at or are locked in a knife fight, characters usually have a chance of avoiding or defending against incoming attacks before they connect—unless of course they are caught by surprise. This section offers a few extra options to avoid getting bloodied or bruised in such situations.
Note that even stationary or inanimate targets may have a defense dice pool if they have Partial or Good cover.

Ranged Defense

A defender has three choices for defending against ranged attacks.
  • The defending character can perform the standard Reaction + Intuition Test for free.
  • The defender can also choose to go on Full Defense to gain a bonus on their Defense Test equal to their Willpower for the whole Combat Round.

Melee Defense

A defender has five choices for defending against melee attacks; one is free; four are Interrupt Actions.
  • The character can perform the standard Reaction + Intuition Test for free.
  • If the character has a melee weapon in hand, he can Parry the attack and roll Reaction + Intuition + appropriate Melee Weapon Skill [Physical] as his Defense test.
  • If his hands are empty and he has the Unarmed Combat skill, he can Block and roll Reaction + Intuition + Unarmed Combat [Physical] as his Defense test.
  • Or he can Dodge and roll Reaction + Intuition + Acrobatics [Physical] as his Defense test.
  • If the defender chooses to go on Full Defense, he boosts his Defense test by an amount equal to his Willpower for the Combat Round.
Full Defense and Block, Dodge, or Parry can be used in conjunction with each other.

Defense Modifiers

Defender inside a moving vehicle +3
Defender prone -2
Defender unaware of attack No defense possible
Defender wounded - wound modifier
Defender/Attacker has longer Reach +1 /-1 defense per point of net Reach
Defender has defended against previous attack -1 per previous attack
Attacker firing flechette shotgun on narrow spread -1
Attacker firing flechette shotgun on medium spread -3
Attacker firing flechette shotgun on wide spread -5
Attacker firing full-auto (Complex) -9
Attacker firing long burst or full-auto (Simple) -5
Attacker firing burst or semi-auto burst -2
Defender in melee targeted by ranged attack -3
Defender running +2
Defender/Target has Good Cover +4
Defender/Target has Partial Cover +2
Targeted by area-effect attack -2

Defender inside a moving vehicle

If the defender is inside a moving vehicle he gains +3 dice to his defense.

Defender Prone

Characters who are on the ground have a more difficult time getting out of the way and suffer a -2 dice pool modifier. This modifier does not apply to defending against ranged attacks unless the attacker is extremely close (5 meters or less).

Defender Unaware

If the defender is unaware of an incoming attack (he does not see the attacker, the attacker is behind him, or he is surprised), then no defense is possible. Treat the attack as a Success Test instead. This does not apply to defenders who are already engaged in combat. If the defender is behind cover, the defense dice pool is determined by the cover, according to the Defense Modifiers table.

Defender Wounded

Wound modifiers apply if the defender has taken damage.

Reach Advantage

The net Reach difference, after comparing that of the attacker and defender, acts as a positive or negative modifier for the Defense test.

Defender has Defended against previous Attacks

If a character has defended against at least one other attack since his last Action Phase, apply a –1 cumulative modifier for each additional defense roll.

Under Flechette-Spread Fire

The wider the spray of flechettes thrown at a character, the harder it is to avoid them. This keeps things relatively concentrated, though, so defending characters suffer a –1 modifier if the attacker is using a shotgun set on narrow spread.
This widens the spread of ammo out a bit, making them even more difficult to avoid. Defending characters suffer a –3 modifier if the attacker is using a shotgun set on medium spread.
With this setting, ammo fills the air, making it a challenge to escape unscathed. Defending characters suffer –5 modifier if the attacker is using a shotgun set on wide spread.

Under Full-Auto-Burst

The more bullets thrown at a character, the harder it is to avoid them. Defending characters suffer a –9 modifier against ten-round Full-Auto bursts.

Under Long-Burst or Full-Auto Fire

Just what was said above, though fewer bullets in the air decrease the stress and likely blood loss on a Crosser. Defending characters suffer a –5 against Long Bursts and Full-Auto (Simple).

Under Burst or Semi-Auto Burst

The number of bullets drops again, but the challenge to not let them hit you remains. Defending characters suffer a –2 dice pool modifier against Burst Fire and Semi-Auto Bursts.

Defender in Melee being Range Attacked

When a defender is putting all his attention on the attacker trying to take him out up close and personal, he loses perspective on incoming ranged attacks. This means a –3 dice penalty to his Defense test due to the distraction.

Defender Running

Serpentine! If the defender is currently considered running, i.e., if they ran in their previous action, they gain a +2 bonus to their Defense test.

Defender has good Cover

If the Defender uses a Take Cover action to get behind something where more than fifty percent of the defender’s body is obscured by intervening terrain or cover, he gains a +4 dice pool modifier to his Defense roll against any attack. This modifier can also apply to prone targets that are at least twenty meters away from their attackers. This modifier is applicable to both Ranged Combat and Spellcasting.
Note that this modifier does not negate the Blind Fire modifier the attacker suffers. Both the modifiers to the attacker and to the defender would apply when firing at a target that is totally concealed (one hundred percent behind cover).

Defender has partial Cover

If the Defender uses a Take Cover action to get behind something where more than twenty-five and up to fifty percent of the defender’s body is obscured by intervening terrain or other forms of cover such as brush, foliage, or various obstacles (crates, windows, doorways, curtains and the like), he benefits from a +2 modifier to his Defense Test. Note that this modifier applies to all Ranged Combat tests and also against incoming Indirect Combat Spells that allow a Defense Test.

Under Area of Effect Attack

Dodging explosions is not as easy as it seems in the movies. Apply a –2 modifier when trying to defend against weapons like biotics, grenades, rockets, or missiles with a blast or area effect


If you attack someone in cover and you tie in the Opposed Test, you hit your target through the cover she’s using. If you penetrate the barrier you can still do damage to your opponent.


People and vehicles have Body and Armor, while barriers have Structure and Armor. Barriers have a number of Hit Points based on their Size and Structure rating. Every square meter (of about 10 centimeters thickness) of material has a number of Hit Points equal to the Structure rating of the barrier.

Shooting Through Barriers

If an attacker wants to shoot through a barrier and hit a defender on the other side, a few things need to be determined. A defender using the barrier as cover receives a defense bonus for cover. If the defender is completely hidden behind the barrier, the attacker suffers a –6 Blind Fire dice pool modifier for not being able to see his intended target, but the hidden defender is considered unaware of the attack. If the barrier between the attacker and defender is transparent, like bullet resistant glass, there is no cover or obstruction to sight, but the attack must penetrate the barrier to reach the defender.   If the barrier takes the hit first, the gamemaster rolls Structure + Armor to resist the damage, and the structure takes any unresisted damage. If the Structure rating is exceeded by the damage it suffers, any remaining damage is transferred to the target behind the barrier.   If the weapon’s modified Damage Value does not exceed the barrier’s Armor rating (modified by the weapon’s ARP), then the weapon is simply not strong enough to pierce the barrier, and the attack automatically fails.

Barrier Ratings

Barrier Example Structure Armor
Fragile Standard Glass 1 2
Cheap Material Drywall, Plaster, Regular Tire 2 4
Average Material Furniture, Plastiboard, Ballistic Glass 4 6
Heavy Material Tree, Hardwood, Dataterm, Light Post, Chain Link 6 8
Reinforced Material Security Door, Armored Glass, Kevlar Wallboard 8 12
Structure Material Brick, Plascrete 10 16
Heavy Structure Material Concrete, Metal Beam 12 20
Reinforced Material Reinforced Concrete 14 24
Hardened Material Blast Bunkers 16+ 32+

Destroying Barriers

If a character intends to destroy a barrier (or knock a hole in it), resolve the attack normally. Since barriers can’t dodge, the attack test is unopposed. The purpose of the attack test is to generate extra hits to add to the Damage Value. If a character got no hits, then only apply the base Damage Value. The only way a character could “miss” is if he got a critical glitch on the attack test, thus proving themselves literally unable to hit the broad side of a barn.   A character may use Demolitions as the attack skill if he has the proper materials and time to set charges. Before rolling the barrier’s damage resistance test, adjust the modified Damage Value to reflect the type of attack, as noted on the Damaging Barriers Table.   Resolve the Damage Resistance Test by rolling the barrier’s Structure + Armor. Barriers ignore Strain damage. Apply the remaining DV as damage to the barrier. If the total points of damage are greater than or equal to the Structure rating, the attack has made a hole in the structure. Each hole is one square meter per increment of Structure rating. For example, an attack that dealt 30 net points of damage to a Structure 15 barrier would create a 2-square-meter hole.

Damaging Barriers

Weapon DV Modifier
Melee or unarmed No change
Projectiles and bullets see Penetration Weapons
Explosive in contact with barrier base DV x 2
AV rocket/missile base DV x 2
Combat biotics No change

Penetration Weapons

If the weapon you’re using is primarily a penetrating weapon, like a firearm or a pointed sword, then the barrier takes 1 point of unresisted damage (or no damage at all at the gamemaster’s discretion), allowing the rest to transfer to the target behind it. When multiple rounds are fired at a barrier, the damage increases to 2 points for 3 bullets, 3 points for six bullets, and 4 points for 10 bullets. Subtract this from the damage done to anyone on the other side of the barrier. This is only true for weapons whose modified DV exceeds the Armor rating of the barrier. As above, if the modified DV is less than the Armor, the attack is stopped dead with no damage to anything.

Body Barriers

Someone, at some time, is going to want to use a body, living or dead, as cover or a barrier (this is experience talking). In these cases, use Body in place of Structure. Armor acts the same. Apply damage to the body before moving on to the intended target. Also of note is the difficulty of lugging a body around as a shield, as they tend to be heavy and awkward. Apply an Agility and Reaction penalty equal to the difference between the holder’s Strength and the shield body’s Body attribute while the humanoid shield is carried.

4. Advanced Mechanics



All weapons have an Accuracy score that acts as a Limit (see Tests⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣) for that weapon. Accuracy scores reflect the quality and craftsmanship of a weapon and determine the number of hits that can be used in a skill test.

Melee Accuracy

Melee weapons, those that were made for combat, have an average Accuracy of 5. Improvised weapons—items that can be used, however awkwardly, to inflict damage but are not designed for combat, such as a golf club or frying pan—usually have an accuracy of 4. Random objects used as weapons that are very unwieldy or heavy (like a chair, barstool, or refrigerator) generally have an Accuracy of 3. Standard Weapons that are in poor condition or broken can have their Accuracy reduced by 1.

Unarmed Accuracy

Unarmed attacks use the Inherent Limit [Physical] as determined by the Attributes of the character and do not have an Accuracy rating. Items used as part of the Unarmed Attack, also use the Physical limit.

Ranged Accuracy

Most basic ranged weapons have an accuracy of 4 or 5. Specialized ranged weapons, like some sniper rifles or some Hyperion⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ weapons, have an accuracy of 6 or higher. Improvised ranged weapons have an Accuracy of 3, and broken, old, damaged, or otherwise flawed ranged weapons can have their Accuracy reduced by 1, to a minimum of 1.


Armor can mean two different things in Swan Song. All characters have an Armor Value (AV), while some characters might also have Armored Health (AHP)

Armor Value

A character's Armor Value (AV) is used with Body to make damage resistance tests (see Defend). The armor rating is modified by the attack’s ARP value. Good armor protects a character from serious physical harm. If the modified Damage Value (DV) of an attack causing Health damage is less than the ARP-modified armor rating, then the attack causes no damage.

Armored Health

Armored Health mostly exists within robotic creatures (like Robots and Synths), structures and other non-organic entities. A character's Armored Health (AHP) acts similar to his Flesh Health (FHP or just HP) or his Shield Health (SHP). The difference to HP is that Armored Health does not regenerate naturally and can't be healed by medicine or first aid. Armored health can only be recovered by performing mechanical maintenance on it and through mechanics tests.   Armored health is also more resistant / vulnerable to some damage types, when compared to the other two health pools.
Damage Types Kinetic Shock Fire Corrosive Cryo Radiation
Modified Damage 50% 50% 50% 200% 150% 50%

Armor and Encumbrance

If a character is wearing more than one piece of armor at a time, the value of the highest armor piece applies for determining the Armor Value. All the other pieces do nothing but add a lot of bulk; too much can make Joe Schmoe look like the SoyPuff Marshmallow Man, slowing him down more than the protection is worth.   Armor accessories, items listed with a “+” in front of their rating, add to the character’s Armor Value for the purpose of Damage Resistance tests. The maximum bonus a character receive from these items is limited to their Strength attribute. For every 2 full points by which the bonus exceeds the character’s Strength, the character suffers a –1 penalty to Agility and Reaction.

Armor Penetration

Certain weapons are better at punching holes in armor than others. A weapon’s Armor Penetration (ARP) represents this penetrating ability. ARP modifies a target’s Armor rating when he makes a damage resistance test. Some weapons fare poorly against armor, and so actually raise the value of the armor. If the target is not wearing armor, this bonus does not apply. If a weapon’s ARP reduces an armor’s rating to 0 or below, the character loses all his armor dice on his damage resistance test but does not subtract from his Body.


Involved as they are in an illegal and often hazardous line of work, Crossers get hurt and get hurt often. What kind of damage, how bad an injury is, and how much it affects the character vary greatly depending on the situation.

Types of Injury

After considering elemental Bonus or Penalty against certain Health types, Damage in Swan Song boils down to Health or Strain damage. Each type of damage is tracked against the respective pool.   The main difference to keep in mind is that Health Damage, reduces the Health Points, while Strain damage increases the Strain Points. When your health points reach 0, you fall unconscious, and might potentially die, but when your Strain Points reach your threshold, you also fall unconscious, but aren't at a risk of dying from it (which doesn't mean you can't be killed while unconscious).

Health Damage

Physical or Health damage, the most dangerous type, is the kind done by guns, explosions, elemental damage sources, most melee weapons, and some biotic powers.   Physical damage reduces your Health Points (HP) and takes a long time to heal. If you have severel types of Health Pools they are used up in the following order:
  • SHP > AHP > FHP
  • Shield > Armor > Flesh
  Shields (or Shield Health / SHP) automatically recharge after a scene (or encounter) or can be instantly recharged by certain energy sources. Armor (or Armored Health / AHP) can only be recharged through repair and maintenance, which often costs a lot of time and money. Flesh (or Flesh Health / FHP) naturally regenerates over time, but without medical aid this process is slow and painful (see Healing⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣).

Strain Damage

Strain damage—bruising, exhaustion, muscle fatigue, tremendous stress, and the like—is the kind done by fists, kicks, blunt weapons, stun rounds, shock weapons, concussion grenades, and some biotic powers. If something does Strain damage, the letter “S” follows the Damage Value.   Strain damage takes a much shorter time to heal and is usually completely healed after taking some time to rest (at least 1 hour).

Wound Modifiers

Injuries cause pain, bleeding, and other distractions that interfere with doing all sorts of actions. Every (full) 50% of Flesh Health a character loses, she gains a cumulative -2 Wound modifier. Every (full) 50% of their Strain Threshold a character suffers, she gains a cumulative -1 Wound modifier.   So e.g. a character at 50% Health and 50% Strain would suffer a total -3 Wound Modifier.   Wound modifiers are applied to all tests not about reducing the number of damage you’re about to take (such as damage resistance, resisting biotics, toxin resistance, and so on). The Wound Modifier penalty is also applied to the character’s Initiative attribute and therefore their Initiative Score during combat.   Critical Injuries can also apply additional Wound modifiers, that last until the Injury is healed, independent of a character's current Health and Strain.

Exceeding the Thresholds

When the total number of Damage applied to a pool, Health or Strain exceeds the maximum threshold for that pool, and damage still remains to be applied, one of two things happens:  
  • If the damage is Strain, the character falls unconscious and the remaining damage carries over into the Health damage pools, specifically into your Flesh Health. For every two points of excess Strain damage, carry over 1 box to the Flesh Health damage pools. Characters that do not have Flesh Health (such as Robots), use the next available Health Pool (Armor>Shields).
  • If a character takes more Health Damage than he has points in his health pools, the character is in trouble. Reaching or going below 0 Health means he’s near death. Instant death occurs only if damage overflows the Health Pool, by more than the Character's Body Attribute.. One point over that limit and his memory will be toasted at their favorite Crosser bar.
  Characters whose Physical damage overflow has not been filled can survive if they receive prompt medical attention. If no medical attention is available, the character takes one additional health damage from loss of blood, shock, or other complications for every (Body) minutes he manages to hang on. If the cumulative overflow damage exceeds the character’s Body attribute before medical help arrives, he dies.

Critical Injuries

Some injuries are more severe than others, or in some cases can even be permanent; these injuries are called Critical Injuries in Swan Song.

Effects of Critical Injuries

Whenever a character suffers a Critical Injury, he gains a stacking permanent -1 Wound Modifier, until the Injury is healed. Healing a Critical Injury is a lengthy and difficult process and is further explained under Healing.   How this Injury actually looks in game should be played out through roleplay. Maybe the character has suffered an ugly burn, a deep wound or maybe even lost a limb.

Ways to get Injured

There are several ways a character can suffer a Critical Injury.   The first and most common Method of acquiring a Critical Injury happens, is when a Character drops to 0 Health and goes into Overflow Damage (see above). Whenever this happens, the character also receives 1 Critical Injury.   The other common way to receive Critical Injuries comes from massive damage. Whenever a Character takes more (unsoaked) Health damage than twice his Body Rating, from a single attack, he suffers 1 Critical Injury. Critical Injuries can only come from Flesh Health Damage, and never from Shield or Armored Health Damage or from Strain.

5. Special Actions


Sometimes things happen when you least expect them; this is doubly true in Swan Song, and that can be a problem - the unexpected has a tendency to mess things up. Sometimes it’s deliberate, such as an ambush on your way to a supposedly friendly meet. Sometimes it’s accidental, like ducking into an alley and landing in the middle of a pack of devil rats. There’s no sure way to be ready for the unexpected (if you were prepared for it, it wouldn’t really be unexpected, would it?) Surprise simulates those moments you didn’t see coming, and the rules of Surprise apply to all characters and critters.   A surprised character is caught off guard and can do little except watch events unfold. Surprise occurs on a character-by-character basis. A character walking into an ambush set by two opponents, for example, may be surprised by one of his enemies but not by the other, and not all characters in a Crosser team may be surprised by the same events.   Surprise normally occurs at the beginning of combat, but it is possible for it to happen within a Combat Round if an unexpected force enters the fray.

Surprise and Perception

Surprised characters are unaware that the fecal material is about to hit the air-circulation device. This normally occurs either because they failed to perceive something (e.g., they didn’t get enough hits to notice the concealed sniper) or because the gamemaster decides that they didn’t have a chance to perceive it (e.g., they blithely walk into a supposedly empty room and come nose-tomuzzle with a dozen smiling and heavily armed guards).   In some circumstances, gamemasters may wish to give a character the chance to be alerted that something is about to happen. The best way to do this is to make a secret Perception Test for the character. If the character is lucky, he may, for example, hear approaching footsteps, notice the smell of nic-stick vapor as he approaches the corner, or just get that tingly feeling that someone is behind him. A character who succeeds in the Perception Test is alerted in some way and receives a bonus on his Surprise Test (see below).   The surprise rules below apply to all situations, whether all the parties involved are caught off guard or whether one or more parties are intentionally ambushing others.

Surprise Tests

To resolve surprise situations, all participants must make a Surprise Test, rolling Reaction + Intuition (3). Characters who have been alerted in some way receive a +3 dice pool modifier on this test. Surprise Tests do not have a Limit. Success means individuals get to act normally. Failure means characters lose 10 from their Initiative Score (either when Initiative is rolled or immediately if it occurs in the middle of the Combat Round) and they are considered surprised until their next Action Phase.   Surprised characters get no Defense Test when attacked. This can be avoided by spending a point of Karma⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ to avoid surprise. They still lose the Initiative Score points, but they can at least use their defense rolls. Characters who glitch on their Surprise tests may still react appropriately, but they startle in some way, such as jumping, knocking into something, or dropping something they were holding. The gamemaster determines the exact effect of the glitch. Same for a hard glitch. A critical glitch on a Surprise Test means the character is completely stunned and does not act for the first Action Phase. If they are able to enter combat after that, they receive a -10 penalty for failing the Surprise Test, as well as the -10 penalty for entering combat in the middle of the fight.


Characters who plan an ambush and delay their actions while they lie in wait for the arrival or appearance of their targets receive a +6 dice pool modifier on the Surprise Test. Ambushing characters are automatically not surprised by the characters they are ambushing—assuming they are aware of the movement and actions of their target(s), such as an ambush on open terrain. If the ambusher is unaware of his prey’s activities (for example, he is waiting for someone to enter the room, waiting for the target to exit a bank, etc.), the ambusher still receives the +6 modifier, but he must check for surprise as well, as he may not be ready or may be temporarily distracted when the target comes into sight.
Note that if an ambushed character manages to come through the Initiative roll with a higher score than those who set the ambush, they can get the drop on their ambushers and act first.

Surprise in Combat

Surprise may also occur within a combat that has already started. A Crosser team may, for example, get chased into an alley where a pack of skag are happily dining on their latest victim. Whenever new characters are unexpectedly introduced to a combat situation, the gamemaster should order a Surprise Test for all characters, both those already engaged in combat and the ones just entering. If any characters are surprised, adjust Initiative Scores, return to the regular Combat Round, and remember that surprised characters cannot make defense rolls during this Action Phase.

Effects of Surprise

Characters who are surprised cannot take any actions that directly affect, impede, or counteract characters who are not surprised. This means surprised characters cannot attack the non-surprised characters, nor can they dodge or defend against attacks from those characters; the surprised character cannot react to the other characters’ actions in any way. The surprised character can, however, carry out other actions that are not specifically directed at any surprising characters, such as dropping prone or readying a weapon (but not firing it).
Note that this affects would-be friendly actions, too. A character caught in an ambush situation may not react to his friend’s warning to duck, for example, if they failed their Surprise Test.


If movement takes a character within one meter (+1 meter per point of Reach) of an opponent, and the character attempts to pass by without attacking that opponent, that opponent can use an Interrupt Action to make a melee attack. This rule also applies to characters who are attempting to move out of melee combat.   If the opponent has a melee weapon ready, he uses his normal melee weapon skill rating; otherwise, he uses the Unarmed Combat skill. If the character is wielding a firearm they may choose to use the weapon as a club and attack with the Club skill. This attack follows all of the normal rules for Melee Combat⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣. If, after their Resistance Test, the character attempting to pass takes damage equal to their Body, he is intercepted and cannot continue his movement. Prone combatants cannot intercept.   With a little room to move, agile characters can avoid the Interception attempts of their opponents without engaging in combat. Using a Simple Action with their movement, they can make an Agility + Acrobatics (1) [Physical] Test. Each hit above the threshold allows the character to move past one opponent.


Characters who take damage may be knocked down by the attack or its staggering effects. If a character takes a number of damage (Strain or Health, after a Damage Resistance Test) from a single attack that exceeds his Physical Limit, then the attack automatically knocks him down (this acts as a forced, free Drop Prone action). Any character who takes 10 or more of damage after a Resistance Test in a single attack is always knocked down.   Certain less-than-lethal weapons are specifically designed to knock a target down. Gel rounds, for example, reduce the Physical limit of a character by 2 when comparing it to the DV to determine knockdown. A character making a melee attack may attempt to intentionally knock his opponent to the ground by using a Called Shots.

Called Shots

Sometimes, just taking a normal shot isn’t enough, and an attacker wants to do something specific with their attack. This section offers different options for calling a shot, though gamemasters can choose which of these options to allow in their game.
All called shots incur a -4 dice pool penalty and cost a Free Action in addition to their basic attack action.
  For a list of the different Called Shot Options, see Actions.  


Hits to specific areas are listed here along with their modifier, DV limit, and any additional effects they may cause. When aiming for a specific location, the modifier listed here replaces the standard –4 Called Shot modifier. The DV limit is the maximum amount of Damage that can be applied with a successful attack on this location. The effects of hits to different areas add any new effects but do not double up on any effects listed for both locations. The durations can be extended with multiple hits to the same location. What all this means is that if you Stunned someone with a shot to the neck, hitting them in the sternum is not going to cause another Stunned effect. It will, though, cause them to be Slowed.
Target Location Modifier DV Limit Portential Effects
Ankle -8 1 Slowed, Winded
Ear -10 1 Deafened, Stunned
Eye -10 1 Blinded, Stunned
Foot -8 1 Stunned, Slowed, Winded
Forearm -6 2 Broken Grip, Weak Side
Genitals -10 4 Stunned, Nauseous, Buckled
Gut -6 8 Stunned, Nauseous, Slow Death
Hand -8 1 Stunned, Broken Grip, Weak Side
Hip -6 3 Knockdown, Slowed
Jaw -8 2 Stunned, Unable to Speak
Knee -8 1 Stunned, Slowed, Winded
Neck -8 10 Stunned, Bleedout
Shin -6 2 Knockdown, Slowed, Winded
Shoulder/Upper Arm -6 3 Stunned, One-Arm Bandit, Weak Side
Sternum -10 10 Stunned, Fatigued, Winded
Thigh -6 3 Slowed, Winded
Vehicle Location
Engine Block -4 - Disables vehicle.
Fuel Tank/Battery -6 - Disables vehicle. Causes fuel leak or battery leak.
Axle -6 6 Reduces Speed to 1.
Antenna -8 2 Disables communications and wireless capability.
Door Lock -6 0 Door cannot be opened.
Window Motor -4 0 Window cannot be opened.
    Show Location Details
This is a nice tender spot to drop a heel and a quick way to end a chase.
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved, and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Turns equal to the original DV of the attack)
This is not a shot through one ear and out the other (though how wicked cool would that be?). This is a shot so close to the ear that it causes a sudden air pressure change, overstimulating the ear drum and shutting it down, or it could be a cupped hand clapped over the ear. This attack can be made twice (once per ear) to completely deafen a target. Attacks after all ears have been affected only do the 1 DV max damage and they no longer Deafen or Stun the target.
  • Modifier: –10
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Deafened (One ear: –2 all actions involving hearing; Two ears: –4 on all actions, no hearing- based Perception tests allowed for a number of Combat Turns equal to the original DV of the attack)
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (2) Test to resist or target receives –10 penalty to Initiative Score)
This is not a bullet to the eye and straight into the brainpan. This is that shot so close to the eye that the sudden air pressure changes force the lens to bend, or it’s the classic thumb to the eye. This attack can be made twice (once per eye) to completely blind a target. Attacks to the eye made after each eye is affected only do the 1 DV max damage and no longer Blind or Stun the target.
  • Modifier: –10
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Blinded (One eye: –4 all actions involving sight; Two eyes: –8 on all actions, no vision-based Perception tests allowed for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (3) Test to resist or target receives –10 penalty to to Initiative Score)
A key soft spot with all those tiny little bones, the foot is a good place to put the hurt on and is a sweet target for someone looking to bring down a more powerful foe.
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (target must succeed in a Body + Willpower (3) Test) or experience a –5 reduction in Initiative Score)
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
Two bones and a whole slew of muscles and tendons make the forearm a great place to hit to break an opponent’s grip, weaken their defenses, or just give them a little reminder of why you are not someone with whom anyone should trifle.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 2
  • Effects:
    • Broken Grip (target is unable to maintain their grip on anything in their hand, suffers a –1 dice pool penalty per injured arm for all Subduing or Clinching attacks, and drops any item in their hand for a number of Combat Turns equal to the DV of the attack), Weak Side (The target suffers a –1 dice pool penalty on all melee Defense tests while they suffer from the effects of Broken Grip)
It’s a low blow, but sometimes it’s the dirtiest trick that will save your life.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 2
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (4) Test to resist or target receives a –10 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Nauseous (target makes a Body + Willpower (4) roll; each hit less than the required 4 causes the target to double over and begin vomiting for one Combat Round. Vomiting targets suffer a –4 dice pool penalty to all actions)
    • Buckled (target makes Body (DV) Test or else they hit the ground and stay there for (DV)-hits Combat Turns)
A solid punch to the gut can set an opponent to retching and heaving, while a bullet or knife in that spot will often give the injured a nice slow death.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 8
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (target must make a Body + Willpower (2) Test or receive a –5 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Nauseous (target makes a Body + Willpower (4) roll; each hit less than the required 4 causes the target to double over and begin vomiting for one Combat Round. Vomiting targets suffer a –4 dice pool penalty to all actions)
    • Slow Death (Physical Damage attacks only, must be with piercing weapon; injuries cause the target to bleed internally, suffering unresisted 2S DV every minute until a Medicine + Logic [Mental] (16, 1 minute) Extended Test, First Aid + Logic [Mental] (16, 1 minute) Extended Test is successful, or a Heal power is invoked on them and removes at least 1 damage)
There’s just something cool about putting a bullet through someone’s palm, breaking a few fingers with a good strike, or pushing that wrist-lock too far for comfort. It’s disarming someone without killing them, but still making them hurt. How can you not see the appeal in that?
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (2) Test to resist or target receives –5 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Broken Grip (target is unable to maintain their grip on anything with the stricken hand for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the DV of the attack and suffers a –1 dice pool penalty per injured hand for all Subduing or Clinching attacks), Weak Side (target suffers a –1 dice pool penalty on all Melee Defense Tests while they suffer from the effects of Broken Grip)
Hit the hip, pop the socket. A shot to the hip is intended to slow or disable an opponent.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 3
  • Effects:
    • Knockdown (target needs to make a Strength + Agility (DV+3) Test or fall prone; they can attempt to stand in their next Action Phase)
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
This is the target when it’s time to knock someone’s teeth out or shut up that running mouth. Fists break jaws, bullets shatter teeth.
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 2
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (2) Test to resist or target receives –5 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Unable to Speak (the target loses the ability to form understandable speech. They can mutter, gesture, groan, and drool, but everything they try to speak comes out as gibberish. This lasts for 1 hour x DV of the shot)
Kneecapping has been an old standby for mobsters and thugs for centuries. A bullet to the knee not only slows a target down but it also helps make the most combative individual see the value of your point of view.
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 1
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (target must make a Composure (2) Test or receive a –10 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Knockdown (target must make a Strength + Agility (DV+3) Test or fall prone)
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
Put a hole in their neck and watch them bleed. This is the shot to the jugular or carotid that makes blood geysers splatter across the finely crafted corporate halls. A favorite of drug cartel leaders and gory video directors.
  • Modifier: –8
  • DV Limit: 10
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (3) Test to resist or target receives –10 to Initiative Score)
    • Bleedout (target suffers 1P DV, unresisted, for every Action they perform that is not First Aid until a successful Logic + First Aid [Mental] (4) Test is made) or a Heal spell is cast on them and removes at least 1 box of damage)
The shin bone’s connected to the … nothing if you put a bullet through it. Shooting the shin slows a foe and usually puts them square on their hoop. And kicking someone in the shin is just plain mean.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 2
  • Effects:
    • Knockdown (target must make a Strength + Agility (DV+3) Test or fall prone)
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
Whether the hit knocks the joint out of socket or shatters the bone, this hit is going to force the target to fight with only one arm for awhile. A skilled fighter can severely hamper their opponent’s ability to use their arm with a solid punch (with one knuckle out) to the upper arm while a bullet through the bicep makes almost every move of the arm excruciating.
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 3
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (1) Test to resist or target receives –5 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • One-Armed Bandit (target’s arm is ineffective and they are unable to perform any actions with that limb for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the DV of the attack; they also suffer a –6 dice pool penalty until that arm is healed)
    • Weak Side (target suffers a –2 dice penalty on all melee Defense tests while their arm is ineffective)
A hard strike to the center of the chest can put a world of hurt on a target. This can be a good way to put a quick end to an attack.
  • Modifier: –10
  • DV Limit: 10
  • Effects:
    • Stunned (Body + Willpower (3) Test to resist or target receives –10 penalty to Initiative Score)
    • Fatigued (target makes a secondary Damage Resistance Test using Body only against Stun damage equal to half the DV of the original attack)
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
Sometimes it’s to slow an opponent, sometimes it’s to make a point, but no matter the purpose, shooting someone in the thigh makes a statement. That statement is often “ow.”
  • Modifier: –6
  • DV Limit: 3
  • Effects:
    • Slowed (target’s Movement, both Walk and Run rate, is halved and no Sprint Tests are allowed)
    • ]
    • Winded (target is unable to perform Complex Actions for a number of Combat Rounds equal to the original DV of the attack)
You can target different parts of a Vehicle in the same way you’d target parts of the body. Pick a vulnerability, then see if you can take it out with a single shot. See the Vehicle Called Shot Table for modifiers, DV limits, and effects of Called Shots on vehicles. Note that the effects only kick in if there was damage done to the vehicle after it makes its Damage Resistance Test.


Multiple Attacks

Characters sometimes want to really put on the hurting in a single Action Phase and can choose to attack more than once in a single Action Phase by using the Multiple Attacks Free Action. This action represents both attacking multiple times from a single melee weapon and attacking with two different weapons (firearms or melee). The attacker’s dice pool is calculated with all modifiers (Wound, Environmental, Situational, and the full recoil of all attacks if it’s a ranged attack) and then split as evenly as possible between all attacks, and each attack is handled separately. (Keep in mind as the dice pool gets smaller the chances of a glitch rise.)   Dice gained by spending Karma⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ applies before the pool is split, while dice from both pools can be re-rolled with a single use of Karma⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣. The total number of attacks you can make in a single Action Phase is limited to half of the attacker’s Combat Skill (round up).

Fight for your Life

A character may invoke the Fight for your Life rule to perform one final action phase before dying or falling unconscious. To do so, he must spend one Karma⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ and activate the following effect:   When your character is about to fall unconscious, you can spend Karma to stay conscious for the remainder of this combat round. If your Initiative Score is already at 0 or below, you gain an Initiative Score of 1 until the end of this Combat Round. During this Round your Walk-Rate and all your Dice Pools are halved (before applying other modifiers). If you get the killing blow on an enemy or recover at least 1 hit point during this combat round, your character starts the next combat round with a minimum of 1 hit points and half of your current strain.

Articles under Combat


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