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Chimera Combat

Slipping this under the New Year's wire...

I'm wrapping up the revised Chimera Core rules. You may be familiar with the current version, called Chimerapedia, but the revision includes even more--expansions on Chimera Basic as well as updated material from earlier versions of the game. The final format, as promised, will include RTF, PDF, and The Keep formats, so you can print, edit, and organise the rules to your heart's content.

Klar the barbarian

Klar fights!

I should also mention the very important point that Chimera Core includes suggestions and feedback from you--players of Chimera Basic, readers of the blog, and dedicated email correspondents. I can say without fear of contradiction that this version is the most complete and concise version of the Chimera RPG to date, since the game's inception in 2006.

One thing I've added is more examples, so gamers can better translate the core concepts into actual game situations. Naturally, combat mandates such illustration. To whet your appetite, here's the combat example from the upcoming Core rules. [1]


Klar the Barbarian and his companions, Kade the Archer and Kaye the Enchantress, are skulking about the Desert Temple of The Five Scorpions. They enter a large chamber, occupied by cultists.

This is an encounter, so time immediately switches to 10-second rounds. The GM’s first task is to determine the number of cultists. This is a keyed encounter, so the GM checks his notes and sees there are 1d4+2 cultists (he rolls and comes up with 6).

The GM determines encounter distance and rolls 12 on 3d6, meaning the cultists are 12” away. However, because the chamber is only 10" long, the GM simply decides that the cultists are on the very opposite side from where the party entered.

Each side rolls 1d6 to check for surprise. The party roll 1 and the cultists roll 2, indicating that Klar and his companions are surprised. This means that the cultists automatically gain initiative (essentially, they get a free round to act).

The GM rolls 2d6 for the cultists’ reaction. A result of 8 indicates they’re cautious; the GM decides they’ll make a show of force, so they draw their short swords, and stride boldly toward the party. Each cultist has MR 8”±1d6, so at the end of the first round, they’re 2” from the party.

The second round begins with initiative; each side rolls 2d6. The party’s 11 beats the cultists’ 8, so the party goes first, starting with the Movement phase.

Klar wants to attack with his axe, so he moves 2” to get within melee range of the nearest cultist (though he can’t make his attack until the Melee phase). Kade will fire his short bow, and since the cultists are within the bow’s 4” range, he stays put. Likewise, Kaye decides she’ll loose a spell, so she decides to hold her ground. The Movement phase is over.

No one acts during the Mischief phase, so the GM moves onto Missile fire. Kade fires his short bow at the nearest cultist with a d20 Shoot roll of 6, adjusted to 8 for his Shoot AR +2. It’s just enough to hit the cultist’s MR 8”, and Kade rolls 1d4 for damage. He gets a 4; the cultist’s Defence of 1 reduces this to 3, so he’s hit for a sev3 wound. Unfortunately for him, this exceeds his Wound Limit of 2, so he’s vanquished.

The Power phase is next, and Kaye casts her Desert Sting spell (i.e., the shock power) at the nearest cultist. Her d20 Wield roll of 13 is adjusted to 15 (Wield +2), which is a Normal Success against shock’s TN 12. The cultist misses his Athletics roll to resist the shock (power TN + Wield AR = TN 14) so Kaye rolls 1d4+2 damage (+2 for being 2nd-level) and comes up with 5. The cultist’s DF 1 reduces this to 4, which (again) exceeds his WL 2, so he’s vanquished as well.

The Melee phase is next, and Klar’s d20 Fight roll comes up 8, adjusted to 10 (Fight +2)—it’s a Critical Success and enough to overcome the cultist’s MR 8 and Parry +1. Klar rolls 2d6 for damage and gets a feeble 2, which is reduced to 1 by the cultist’s DF 1—the cultist takes a sev1 wound and a subsequent Wound Penalty of –1.

During the Mop-up phase, Kade makes an ammo check, a Shoot roll vs. TN 13 (TN 12 + 1 for the short bow’s RoF); he rolls a 3—even adjusted to 5 for his Shoot AR, it’s not enough, so Kade loses a load of ammo. Kaye also has to check fatigue for power use. Because she rolled a Normal Success, her TN equals the power’s TN minus her Wield AR—in this case, TN 10. Her Athletics roll of 7 fails, so she takes a Fatigue Penalty of –3 (¼ shock’s TN = 3).

Thus ends the first half of the round—now it’s the cultists’ turn, starting with the Morale phase.

However, in this case, he cultists have no reason to check morale—they’ve lost less than half their number—so the GM skips straight to Movement.

Sensing Klar isn’t as tough as he seems, one cultist moves to melee with the barbarian; Klar now faces off against 2 cultists—the one he wounded earlier and this new guy. Each of the remaining two cultists moves to melee with Kade and Kaye, respectively.

Each cultist wants to fight hand-to-hand, so the GM can bypass the Mischief, Missile, and Powers phases. The Melee phase starts with the cultist attacking Kaye, who rolls 16—a Critical Success—enough to overcome her MR 12 and parry of +1 (TN 13 to hit). He rolls 2d4 for damage and gets 4, reduced to 3 by Kaye’s DF 1—she takes a sev3 wound; it doesn’t exceed her WL 3, so she suffers a WP of –1.

The next cultist attacks Kade and misses his MR 11 with a roll of 7. Kade avoids the blow.

The last 2 cultists attack Klar; each needs a 12 to hit (Klar’s MR 10 and parry of +2). The first rolls a 20 (reduced to 19 by his WP –1, though it’s still a Critical Success), and the second gets a 13—both cultists hit. The first rolls 2d4 for damage and gets 5 points, reduced by his WP –1 and Klar’s DF 3—Klar takes a sev1 wound. The second rolls 1 point of damage, which is totally absorbed by Klar’s Defence.

All the cultists have attacked, so it’s onto the Mop-up phase. At the round’s end, there are 4 cultists left (1 fighting Klar has a WP–1). On the party’s side, Klar has a WP of –1. Kaye also has a WP of –1, in addition to a Fatigue Penalty of –3; her total penalty is –4.

This is the end of the second round, and since the encounter isn’t yet resolved, round 3 starts with initiative rolls on both sides. Though the party rolled high in round 2, with 4 cultists left, Klar operating at –1 and Kaye at –4, it’s still anyone’s fight.

Final Words

The big question is: Can you follow this? Does it make sense? Does this example provide any working knowledge of how combat works?

Understandably, it probably benefits from having read the actual rules, so if it's cloudy, please consider it an error of omission. But I am hoping that it looks good--let me know what you think.


  1. Astute readers will note that Chimera Core follows the initiative format inspired by Moldvay Basic.
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  1. Woodthorn
    January 1st, 2013 at 10:16 | #1

    Whenever I make examples myself I try to make clear distinctions between the characters. It’s entirely up to you, but I think three 4-letter names starting with K is two too many for the same example.

  2. January 1st, 2013 at 22:48 | #2

    @Woodthorn : Trying to invoke my inner Gygax, but easy enough to fix. Assuming the names were more differentiated, are the example’s mechanics easy to follow?

  3. Woodthorn
    January 3rd, 2013 at 09:02 | #3

    As you’ve already written, we’re looking at this without knowing what the rules themselves are saying so things are bound to be a bit foggy. The one thing I didn’t get at all was critical hits, but as soon as I remembered the rules from Chimera version I played the summer-11 it all became clear.

    I can only assume what’s supposed to go on in the mischief phase, but then again, I have not read the rules for that bit.

    Looks good all in all and should work well.

  4. January 5th, 2013 at 12:14 | #4

    @Woodthorn : Mischief is a catch-all for non-attack actions, like picking a lock, rigging an explosive, pushing a boulder over a cliff. I wanted to include a phase that allowed characters to do inventive stuff–think of a typical James Bond fight scene and you may get a better idea.

  5. Greg MacKenzie
    January 8th, 2013 at 11:17 | #5

    The mischief phase is a good idea, allowing some kind of minor action to take place as part of the sequence of play.

  6. January 8th, 2013 at 21:10 | #6

    @Greg MacKenzie : Thanks. I wanted to formalise that kind of thing in the combat round. Note also that it occurs before any attack action, so there’s incentive for players to be inventive.

    To clarify, here are the phases in order: Morale (as needed), Movement, Mischief, Missile, Powers, Melee, Mop-up (bookkeeping).

    Been thinking that the Powers and Melee phases might swap, so that Powers occur last (i.e., right before Mop-up). Thoughts?

  7. Greg MacKenzie
    January 9th, 2013 at 10:58 | #7

    I believe that the traditional approach equates powers/magic to a form of missile attack. The question of where powers belong in the sequence is worth some debate. Are powers senior to missiles, subordinate to missiles, or equal. You might consider Powers and Missiles as loosed in the same phase, its a direct and simple approach. We are only talking about a 10 second interval.
    Powers may or may not require preparation, which is the long established tradition of the enchanter, droning out the words which invoke the release of the desired power upon completion of the last word. Maybe that makes sense in a 1 minute round of combat but not in 10 seconds. Of course longer completion times for magic rituals in fiction and movies would be intolerable, unless during the complex ritual the hero is able to close in for the rescue. You could have some complex powers taking place over rounds in which case, yeah, release may need to be defined as at the end of a round. In movies and fiction the powers are released with one or two short magic words to facilitate the action. I think this is a practical approach to 99% of most magic powers and would certainly mesh will with the ESP powers where you just think it to make it happen.
    My fall back, if none of this should be persuasive, is “words before deeds”. ;)

  8. Greg MacKenzie
    January 9th, 2013 at 13:14 | #8

    Just a thought, the critical, i.e. how to read the dice to determine if your roll is a critical, might bear some further explanation in the above example. As written, 16 and 20 are crits and the players would have to refer to the Chimera Basic 5th revision, to understand how that works.

  9. January 10th, 2013 at 06:16 | #9

    @Greg MacKenzie : Thinking on it, this would depend on what the power actually is. An incantation for a magic spell could take any length of time, as maybe a divine miracle. But a psionic blast or super-power could be faster.

    Perhaps the best answer is that the power phase varies in the sequence depending on its nature. GMs can rearrange it, or (more likely) it’s a setting thing.

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