All Important Rules

Pull Your Blows - If somebody complains that you're hitting too hard, then you are.

No Head Hits

No Stabbing

No Punching, Kicking, Wrestling, etc. - Unarmed combat is represented by tapping the target lightly with an open palm.

If members of the general public show up, call “Walkers!” immediately and be polite.

If the police show up call “Walkers!” immediately, fetch the LARP Organiser or the most experienced person there and get them to explain.

General safety rules are covered in more detail on the Safety Rules page.

Time Calls

LARPing uses a bunch of different calls to switch between IC (In Character) and OoC (Out of Character) stances, with varying flavours.

Time In - Start acting In Character, you can assume that anybody around is there In Character unless they're waving their finger in the air and saying “you can't see me” or “I'm not here”.

Time Out - The encounter is over. Drop Out of Character for a bit, so as people can do OoC things like battleboarding.

Time Faff - The players remain In Character and stay where they are while doing whatever players do when they're not being attacked, while one of any number of things (monsters move kit / monsters get up and run off / GMs hack the plot / the next encounter is set up) happens that they're not meant to interact with.

Time Freeze - Everybody stops where they are but stays IC. Game time is frozen, as something that needs GM description has just happened so the GM is going to describe it. The players may be asked to close their eyes and hum so that they don't see or hear what's being set up. This may also be used as a general purpose call to stop the game mid-Encounter for any reason. A time-freeze generally ends with a 3-2-1 countdown.

MAN DOWN! - Stop what you're doing, don't move (unless you're standing on the person who's down, or on their glasses, etc.) and wait to find out who fell over and whether or not they're okay. You will be timing back in as if from a time-freeze, and people moving over or crowding round may make the situation worse, so don't move from your current position unless there's a very good reason to do so.

Walkers - Non-roleplayers are approaching the game. Shotover is a public common, so stop fighting or roleplaying and stand aside so that they can get through and you don't accidentally hit their kids or trip over their dog. Be polite and inoffensive, don't threaten them with weapons or say things which may be misunderstood. Note that it's traditional to make this call in as camp a voice as possible!

So, the actual combat bit then...

Having got the necessary health warnings out of the way, on to the actual system. This being a LARP game combat is based on a reasonably simple resolution system. Try to hit your target. If you hit them then you have hit them, if not then you haven't. When you hit somebody you call out the amount of damage that you do, be it “Half”, “Single”, “Quad” or whatever. The target then loses this number of Hits from the location you hit.

Damage to PCs

Player Characters (PCs) have a base of two Body Hits per location, modified by the Tough skill and occasionally their race (see the character generation page). There are five locations - torso, right arm, left arm, right leg and left leg. Once you have lost all of the Body Hits on a limb, it becomes useless. If you have lost all of the Body Hits on your torso you collapse unconscious. PCs are expected to keep track of when they should be falling over. If in doubt, go down and claim to have been “winded”.

If you take enough Body Hits to a location to drop it to minus its normal maximum Body Hits then it is severed or destroyed and cannot be healed without great difficulty. For example, if your arm normally has 3 Body Hits and it takes three Doubles, dropping it to -3, then you lose that arm.

If one of your legs drops to zero Body Hits then you should drop to one knee. This provides a reasonable representation of how hard it is to fight with one leg gone, without relying on people's varying ability to hop or different interpretations of how flexible an injured leg is. If your leg is severed or destroyed and then gets hit, count this as a hit to the other leg.

If one of your arms drops to zero Body Hits then just let that arm drop to your side and drop any item held in it. Be sensible though, for example don't just let a fragile arrow drop into the middle of a combat but pop it to one side when you have a moment. It is reasonable to suppose that anything like a shield is still strapped to your arm. If your arm is severed and then gets hit, count this as a hit to your torso. Characters with the Ambidextrous skill who are really bad OoC at fighting off-handed may, if they wish, swap the fact that their IC sword arm has been disabled and keep using their favoured arm to fight with. Some people will want to do this, others will want to try and phys-rep fighting off-handed. But if a character 'swaps arms' they will have to swap leg locations as well, as their footwork will be different. Please indicate this loudly to the monsters and the GM as you are having to swap (and please still take a moment to pass the weapon from hand to hand).

Damage Calls

Since some of you may not be familiar with LARP damage calls, it's probably best to give a quick list here:

Single/Double/Triple/etc. - Take one/two/three/etc. hits to the location hit. Note that it is possible to pull your blows IC in order to inflict less damage than normal - for example, someone who usually does Triples with a sword could instead choose to do Doubles, Singles or even Halves.

Global Single/Double/etc. - Take one/two/etc. hits to every location. This is usually the result of magical or environmental attacks rather than direct physical ones.

Subdue - This blow does subdual damage rather than ordinary damage, causing you to lose one Fatigue hit. Only blows to the torso count for subdual damage. All other subduing blows have no effect. Note that it is perfectly legitimate to switch between ordinary and subduing damage depending on where you hit. See the subdual and fatigue section for more details.

Paralysing Single/Double/etc. - In addition to the normal damage, see the rules for paralysis on the monsters page. This only counts if the blow does Body damage rather than just damaging armour, and it takes several minutes before the victim starts stiffening up and becoming paralysed (though the more Paralysing damage is done, the quicker it'll be).

Vitrifying Single/Double/etc. - In addition to the normal damage, see the rules for vitrification on the monsters page. This only counts if the blow does Body damage rather than just damaging armour, and it takes several minutes before the victim starts turning to glass (though the more Vitrifying damage is done, the quicker it'll be).

Psychic Single/Double/etc. - This attack does damage to Psyche Hits rather than to Body Hits or Armour Hits. Some creatures can do Psychic damage with physical attacks.

Through Single/Double/etc. - This damage ignores or goes straight through armour and is taken off the target's Body Hits.

Please Note that there is no “magic” damage call. Damage from spells is exactly the same as damage from their mundane equivalents.

Special Calls

These are special calls you can make if you have the right skills:

Dodge - Call when hit by an opponent. That hit missed you and thus doesn't count. Ranged attacks and some spells can also be Dodged. Note that Dodging is difficult or impossible when wearing lots of armour.

Parry - Call when hit by an opponent, you managed to parry their blow with your weapon and thus it doesn't count. You can't Parry ranged attacks or spells, and trying to Parry falling trees and the like may break your weapon. A Parry can be used to counter a Disarm.

Disarm - Call when you hit an opponent's weapon: that opponent must call a Disarm or a Parry to counter your Disarm, or else drop their weapon.

Disengage - Call at any time and start running, your opponents must give you five seconds head start to run away.

Poison - Call when you have poison on your weapon. Blows that hit flesh do an extra Triple of damage.

There are also some other special calls to which PCs don't have access. GMs are free to use a couple of specialist calls, either from the list below or created especially for an adventure, as long as they clear them with the LARP Organiser beforehand and explain them clearly at the start of the adventure during the safety briefing. Examples of these special calls include:

Loc. Zero - Immediately reduces a single location's Body Hits to zero. Often combined with Through damage.

Knockdown - The target that takes the blow (even if the blow is parried with a weapon or Parried) is knocked off their feet and has to essentially sit down and get back up again. This blow can be Dodged.

Knockback - The target that takes the blow (even if the blow is parried with a weapon or Parried) is knocked back and should stagger back ten feet or so, removing them from the fight for a moment. This blow can be Dodged.

Mighty Blow - This blow cannot be countered by calling a Parry (but you can still get your weapon in the way as normal or call a Dodge).

Swift Blow - This blow cannot be countered by calling a Dodge (but you can still move yourself out of the way as normal or call a Parry).

Entangling - A location struck by entangling damage is immobilised until the victim has mimed dealing 5 points of damage to the entangled location.

Damage to Monsters

Most monsters, like PCs, have a number of Body and Armour hits per location. Some have a set number of Global hits and any damage to any part of their body is taken off this total. Some are Insubstantial, in addition to their having Global hits all blows landed on them count as Halves regardless of how much damage they would normally inflict. Some monsters ignore blows to their torso, some monsters ignore blows to any location except their torso. Some monsters are ethereal and can only be damaged in psychic combat. Some monsters have more obscure immunities. See the monsters page for more details.

PC Death

A PC will die under a number of circumstances. These circumstances include:

A PC who has collapsed unconscious due to being reduced to zero Body Hits on their torso will die if a monster elects to finish them off. Monsters please note that this is extremely bad form. The only circumstances under which monsters should be attacking fallen heroes is if they're maneaters.

A PC who has been reduced to zero Body Hits on their torso will collapse unconscious and begin to bleed. They will die within sixty seconds of the damage being taken unless they are healed by another character or an NPC such that they have at least one Body Hit on the torso. Until this time they are unconscious and can take no action themselves. The healing must be completed within sixty seconds, therefore surgery is of no use whilst magic, alchemy and First Aid are all effective.

A fair few magical spells are instant-kill. These will take PCs out as easily as monsters, but GMs please use them sparingly. High level sorcerors are very, very dangerous. They're supposed to be.

If a PC takes enough damage to their torso to drop it to minus its usual maximum Body Hits then they have been cut to ribbons and killed.

Burning one Rank of the Luck skill will allow any PC or NPC to survive any of the above situations.

Surviving Combat

There are a bunch of things you can do to increase your odds of surviving combat. More precisely, there are a bunch of things you can have to increase your odds of surviving combat.

Armour - Armour gives you between 1 and 6 Armour Hits per location. It comes in light, medium or heavy flavours, can be made of normal materials or steelsilk, and can often be repaired during the course of an adventure by characters with the Armour Repair skill, village blacksmiths and the like.

Dodges - Dodges are the art of getting the hell out of the way of incoming attacks. Each Dodge you have allows you to completely ignore one blow per Encounter. You can Dodge anything you can see coming as long as the description doesn't say otherwise. If you are wearing medium armour you halve the number of Dodges you gain from the “Quick” skill (rounding up). If you are wearing heavy armour you cannot use Dodges gained from the “Quick” skill at all - but in both cases you may still use Dodges gained from skills like Tactician and Survival, from Superior equipment, and from Blessings.

Parries - Parries are the art of stopping attacks with your sword. Note that there is a difference between a capital 'P' Parry and just using your sword in a fight normally, just as there is a difference between a capital 'D' Dodge and just avoiding a blow normally. Each Parry you have allows you to avoid one blow per Encounter. You cannot Parry ranged attacks. You can always Parry regardless of what armour you're wearing.

Subdual & Fatigue

In addition to their Body Hits and Armour Hits characters have a number of Fatigue Hits. These are lost in a number of circumstances, most notably when somebody strikes to subdue. This takes the form of a special damage call of “Subdue”. Everyone always strikes for Subduing Singles, with the exception of Thieves with the Cosh skill (who may strike for Subduing Doubles if wielding a blunt weapon). Subduing attacks only count if they hit the target's torso, any subduing hits to other locations are ignored.

Once a character has run out of Fatigue Hits they fall unconscious until the end of the Encounter, after which they recover Fatigue Hits at a rate of roughly one a minute and regain consciousness when all their Fatigue Hits have returned.

During an Encounter Fatigue Hits are recovered at a rate of one for each minute of complete rest the character receives - this means lying down and relaxing in a safe environment without any threat within sight or earshot, and is subject to GM veto.

Wind Sorcerors lose Fatigue Hits for casting spells. GMs may impose Fatigue damage under other circumstances at their discretion. A character who misses a night's sleep is on half Fatigue hits (rounded down) until they get a good night's sleep.

Psychic Combat

Periodically PCs may come under psychic attack from various types of Sorcerors, ethereal creatures and other strangeness. Because it'd be really boring to just stand still and go “nnngg” while looking constipated, like a character in a bad Japanese cartoon series, psychic combat is assumed to be represented by normal combat between the characters (you can think of this as a fight on some kind of “astral plane” if it helps). Psychic combat happens instantaneously - while a psychic combat is going on, everyone is held in a Time Freeze except for the participants and any Exorcists in the area.

Participants in a Psychic Combat should match weapons (defaulting to one single-handed sword each).

Psychic combat is fought out just like normal combat except that most people only do Halves because they are simply not used to fighting in this kind of way. The exceptions are Priests, Sorcerors, anybody with the Empowered skill and nobles with Velasquez Blood, who do a minimum of Singles. Psychic damage is always taken off your Psyche Hits regardless of where blows land.

It is important to note that most humans cannot initiate psychic combat. Even Empowered characters can't do it. To start psychic combat you need a spell that says you can, or else you need to wait for something else to attack you. This also means that you cannot intervene in someone else's psychic combat. The one exception to this rule is Priests with the Exorcist skill, who can join another person's psychic combat and can initiate psychic combat against an ethereal spirit or a creature which is possessing someone.

It is equally important to note that Dodges and Parries are of no use in psychic combat. Being good with a sword doesn't prevent you from being possessed. However, at the risk of confusing everyone massively, it should be pointed out that there are some physical creatures which do Psychic damage with their physical attacks (Rosemary Maids, Vitrimorphs and so on). Blows from these creatures can be Dodged and Parried. There's a difference between psychic damage taken in physical combat and full on psychic combat.

A character who runs out of Psyche Hits will have any number of things happen to them, depending on the circumstances. If they were in psychic combat with a spirit of some kind, they may get possessed. They may simply fall unconscious. If they were fighting a power of Ash they'll probably die. If they were fighting something from Glass they'll probably go mad. Regardless of the side effects, they will recover consciousness at the end of the Encounter with a single Psyche Hit.

Unarmed Combat

Unarmed combat takes the form of light taps with the open palm of the hand - no actual punching, kicking or slapping is allowed and head hits are still forbidden.

Due to their intensive training in martial arts, characters with the Weapon Master: Unarmed Combat skill always count their unarmed attacks as a superior quality weapon, i.e. there is no limit on the damage bonus that can be applied and they have one extra Parry per Encounter if fighting exclusively with superior quality weapons.

Characters with the Gutter Fighter skill and Weavers do base damage of Singles with their unarmed attacks and count their unarmed attacks as a standard quality weapon, so can never have a damage bonus of more than +1.

Characters who don't have the Gutter Fighter skill or the Weapon Master: Unarmed Combat skill and aren't Weavers do base damage of Halves with their unarmed attacks, but the first point of damage bonus applied to these attacks instead counts as raising their base damage to Singles. They can never do more than Doubles with their unarmed attacks. This is an exception to the normal damage rules and the normal weapon quality rules.


Most healing has already been described in other sections, but I'll summarise here.

Natural Healing - This is slow. We're looking at about one Body Hit per location per week.

First Aid - This is far faster. This can heal one Body Hit (and one Body Hit only) to a location which has lost no more Body Hits in total than the Rank of the healer's First Aid skill. First aid can only heal injuries which have been inflicted during that Encounter, and no location may benefit from first aid more than once per Encounter. Furthermore, first aid uses up supplies (bandages and the like).

Surgery - Heals all Body damage to one location, but requires a full day of rest in a properly equipped surgery and the attention of someone with the Surgeon skill.

Magic - Varies a lot, see the magic page.

Fatigue - Heals at the rate of one Fatigue Hit per minute of complete unthreatened rest. Incidentally, anything like “having a blazing row with another PC”, “running away from a big volcano” or “being on the other side of a door from a bunch of bad guys” doesn't count as “rest”.

Psyche Hits - Heal with healthy natural sleep, a character will recover all their Psyche Hits after a good night's rest of at least eight hours. A single Psyche Hit is recovered after a ninety minute catnap. If you miss a night's sleep, or spend the night sleeping close to somebody with Shattered Blood, then you lose one Psyche hit instead. Any character who has lost all their psyche hits will come around with a single psyche hit

Arms & Armour

There are some special rules which need to be gone into as regards weapons and armour. Some of these rules are repeated from earlier.

Weapons & Weapon Quality

All single handed weapons are assumed to be roughly equivalent. Clubs, swords and daggers all have basically the same rules. IC differences between the weapon types are more than adequately accounted for by the OoC difference in the way the actual weapons handle. A dagger, for example, has no rules that make it inferior to a sword, but a character with a dagger will have considerably less reach than one with a sword so it all comes out in the wash. If a particular weapon is unsuitable for you to use due to your personal physical strength and build, the weighting not being to your liking, etc. then please switch to using a different weapon.

Daggers are one handed weapons, with no bonuses for having both hands on the weapon. For those who attend the White City LARP regularly, think of Julian's daggers as being the upper limit on size.

For one-handed weapons (swords, maces, clubs, etc.), those who attend the White City LARP regularly should think of Helen's basket hilt sword as being the upper limit on size.

Bastard weapons (swords, maces, axes, etc.), also known as hand-and-a-half weapons, are one- or two-handed weapons with base damage of Singles if used in one hand and base damage of Doubles if used in two hands by someone with the Great Weapon skill. For those who attend the White City LARP regularly, think of anything from the club's orange maces up to Richard's maces as being the upper limit on size. Using something else in the other hand when wielding a hand-and-a-half weapon in one hand is possible, as they themselves are limited to the same length as one handed weapons. Bastard weapons should not be too short.

Great weapons (spears, staffs, greatswords, etc.) must be used in two hands, with base damage of Doubles if used by someone with the Great Weapon skill. These are always two handed weapons and may not be used with one hand, regardless of circumstances: if you lose the use of an arm while wielding a two-handed weapon, you should drop the weapon.

In order to spice up the weapons mix a little, there is a small degree of variation between weapons of a particular type. Weapons can be of substandard quality, standard quality or superior quality. Ranged weapons have their own rules, for melee weapons the distinction is as follows:

  • Substandard quality weapons can never have any damage bonuses associated with them; single handed substandard weapons do Singles, double handed ones do Doubles, that's it. In addition the handling on substandard weapons is so clumsy that it reduces the number of Parries per Encounter their wielder has by one.
  • Standard quality weapons are only ever able to have a damage bonus of +1, so a skilled or strong swordsman with a standard quality one handed sword will do Doubles, as will an extremely skilled strong swordsman wielding the same sword. Likewise, standard quality Great Weapons can never do more than Triples.
  • Superior quality weapons are sufficiently sturdy and finely crafted that they will be able to take any level of damage bonus you care to give them. In addition, they are so well balanced that using superior quality melee weapons during an Encounter grants the wielder one extra Parry for that Encounter - note that you can never claim more than one Parry during an Encounter for wielding superior quality weapons, no matter how many you use. In addition, the Parries and Disarms from the Noble skill Duellist can only be used when wielding a superior quality sword (or sword and dagger).

Ranged Weapons

Soft-cored LARP-safe throwing daggers are available to use. Do not throw any other kind of LARP dagger, and please try not to lose any of the throwing daggers in the undergrowth. Some people also have other LARP-safe throwing weapons for their personal use.

LARP bows and crossbows can be used. A bow competency test or crossbow competency test must be carried out under the LARP Organiser's supervision before you will be permitted to use a bow or crossbow on a LARP, please consult the LARP Organiser in advance if you are thinking of doing so in order to arrange for these tests to be taken.

Armour & Armour Quality

Most of the rules for armour are already given elsewhere, but are summarised here. Armour will provide +1-2 (light), +3-4 (medium) or +5-6 (heavy) Armour Hits to a location it covers and (unsurprisingly) no protection elsewhere. Whether the armour provides the lesser or higher number of hits depends on whether or not the player has a phys-rep for it. Like weapons, armour may be of substandard quality, standard quality or superior quality:

  • Substandard quality armour counts as being one level heavier that its degree of protection would imply. For example, substandard light armour counts as medium armour for the purposes of losing Dodges, although it can still be worn by characters without the Armoured Combat skill and repaired by the Armour Repair skill. There is no such thing as substandard heavy armour.
  • Standard quality armour has no special rules.
  • Superior quality armour is so well crafted and easy to move in that it gives the wearer one free Dodge each Encounter, regardless of whether they're wearing light, medium or heavy armour.
Steelsilk Armour

The City of Silk, on the far side of the Great Forest to the West of the White City, produces a substance called steelsilk which, as its name suggests, combines some of the best properties of the two substances. Steelsilk armour is always treated as light armour for the purpose of Dodges and repair, however much protection it provides. This also means that you can legitimately pass off a silk shirt as light armour. Steelsilk armour can only be repaired by Weavers with the Armour Repair skill.

Using Magic in Combat

Most types of magic have some kind of combat-useful spells, because after all it's a LARP game. Mostly it's just a matter of doing what it says in the spell description. In addition, when casting a spell you should name both the spell you're casting and the amount and type of damage it does (as well as which location it does it to) or the effect it has.

system/combat.txt · Last modified: 2010/12/10 20:00 by larpo
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