After the Demon Lords fell and their ilk scattered, many tried to offer the remaining devils a truce. They thought they could show their moral superiority by offering grossly undeserved mercy. Several mutilated diplomats later, it became obvious that reasoning with the foe was futile.
If left alone, demons would raid towns and carry people off to hidden dungeons where they could indulge their lust for torture. After great shows of strength, some could talk a beaten fiend into surrender but such submission was always short-lived; the infernal creature would escape, slaughtering thousands on its way out, and proving the necessity of extermination.
Lockjaw of House Gorgenbrew, the chief of the Earthhewn Clan said:
Of all the seductions the Enemy’s tried, we’re lucky that the one lure they’ve never offered is peace. After a decade of war, it’s the one hunger that could convince everyone to let their guard down. Fortunately, we’re winning now and we can take peace by force.
It’s been decades now since any demon’s been seen but that sentiment still lingers. No nation has the stomach for war but increasing scarcity of resources and political tensions etch the dreadful silhouette on every mind.
One of the key resources of combat is your Tactical Points. They are a representation of your character’s ability to focus during the high intensity of combat and perform tasks effectively.
You gain Tactical Points during Round Prep (ref Round Prep). Keep track of Tactical Points by placing a Counter Token on your character sheet for every Tactical Point you have (see Counter Tokens). When you “spend” Tactical Points, remove a token from your sheet for each Tactical Point spent.
Lockjaw of House Gorgenbrew, chief of the Earthhewn clan, had been chasing the imp legion through the swamps for days. He and his men were tired and demoralized from the fruitless pursuit but he knew that at any moment, that chase would reach a bloody climax.
In combat or other deadly situations, your character may suffer Damage. There are five kinds of damage:
All at once, the imp legion was upon them, hurling stones and burning feces onto the Earthhewn company!
Stuns are the disorienting damage that will bewilder for a moment but leave no lasting effects.
Effects of stun damage:
Wounds are the scrapes and bruises that can accumulate to something more debilitating. This is the most common type of damage. If the word “damage” is used by itself, assume that it’s referring to wounds.
Effects of Wound Damage:
An arrow flew from the marshes and landed in Lockjaw’s neck, barely missing arteries and the esophagus. This inflicted 6 Wounds (one of which is ignored because of his light armor) so he places five tokens under the “Wounds Sustained” track on his character sheet.
Handicaps are severe, even crippling damage. They may haunt your character with prolonged health consequences.
Effects of Handicaps:
The torrent of arrows did not cease, until at long last, the Earthhewn Chief had sustained enough wounds to fill his Wounds Threshold. He chooses to mark the top stack number of his Spirit then clears all the tokens from his Wounds Sustained track.
Mass damage affects anybody inside a wide area, possibly harming multiple characters simultaneously. Mass Damage is used to represent things like shrapnel, heat, the raw concussive force of an explosion.
Gorgenbrew saw a cluster of his enemies, perched behind the trunk of a large tree. This was his opportunity. He lit a grenade and hurled it at their position. The resultant explosion sent splinters and bits of imp everywhere with its 8 Mass Damage.
Effects of Mass Damage:
Some of the imps were able to leap away, suffering only 4 of the 8 Mass Damage the grenade.
Where Mass Damage affects the area of a location, Siege Damage is applied to the location itself. For each point of siege damage, place a tally mark on the location’s paper or a counter token to represent the siege damage.
Only the very largest of weapons such as trebuchets and cannons deal siege damage. Depending on the kind of location, Siege Damage can deform its terrain enough that additional changes occur to the location. For example, rubble can make a place difficult to traverse, increasing the Tactical Point cost to enter that location.
Lockjaw stopped his raft on a mound and ordered his men to start loading the cannon. They took aim at a tower that the imp archers were firing from and blasted a hole in its wooden platform, inflicting 1 Siege Damage on the tower.
Typically through armor (see Armor and Protection) or some magical effect, Wound Damage can be modified through Damage Reduction. Whenever a character is granted Damage Reduction, any amount of Wounds suffered will be reduced by the amount of Damage Reduction given.
When you’re granted “2 Reduction,” this means that any time you are to suffer Wounds, first subtract 2 from the amount of wounds suffered. If this brings the total damage below a single wound, you suffer no damage in that instant. Reduction will never allow you to recover wounds (so suffering 1 Wound with 2 Damage Reduction doesn’t remove a Wound from your track).
Reduction is applied to each discrete instance of damage. Any damage inflicted by a single action (such as a “hit” from an Attack action, the Mass Damage from an Assault, or a single combatant’s allocation of harassment damage) will be treated as its own instance and its damage reduced individually. Many discrete instances of damage can occur in a single turn, each being subject to reduction.
Combat is divided into rounds. Rounds represent no fixed interval of time but the general ebb and flow of action in the battle. Each round is divided into four steps performed in the following order:
A round may consist of any number of turns during the turn execution step. If no turns are executed during that step, combat ends before the Aftermath step resolves.
The swamp returned to its eerie silence for just a moment. Lockjaw took this opportunity to reload his rifle.
This step prepares you for the rest of the Combat Round. Any abilities that trigger at the start of the round will take effect before you do anything else described here. Once all such abilities have resolved, do the following things in this order:
After everyone has completed these, you’re ready to proceed to Bid For Priority.
Each Combat Round begins with two tactical points by default. The number of TP’s may change depending on context. For example, if you are surprised and unprepared for the fight, you may start with fewer. If you have some advantage going into the fight, you may begin with more.
You gain one additional Tactical Point for each of the available Cunning stack numbers your character has.
Chief Gorgenbrew refilled his Tactical Point supply as he calculated his next move.
Turn Tokens represent your character’s ability to act quickly and efficiently in combat. For each Turn Token you have, you may take one turn per combat round.
Gain a number of Turn Tokens equal to your character’s Vitality score.
His dwarven nature and his years of harsh experiences gave him a steely nerve. His Resolve score of 4 gave him three stack numbers (1, 3, 4) and three Turn Tokens per round.
If you are wearing no armor, skip this step. If you’re wearing armor, you must spend Tactical Points equal to its Encumbrance cost which is listed in Armor and Protection (ref Armor and Protection). You may also spend Turn Tokens which count for 2 Tactical Points when spent.
If you can not or choose not to pay your armor’s costs, you lose all your Turn Tokens and all your Tactical Points. At this point, you may decide to spend the entire round taking your armor off. If you do, you immediately lose your armor’s damage reduction benefits and you will begin the next round wearing no armor.
The chief’s light flack jacket afforded him some protection but its bulk and tightness hampered his movement, costing him one Tactical Point or one Turn Token if he wished to over-pay.
Once you’ve completed the Round Prep, you may use them to bid for priority in the round. Secretly commit to spending any amount of your TP’s to ensure that you can act as quickly as possible. Being fast allows you to squeeze your attacks in before others can and can disrupt the enemy’s plans but tactical points can also be used in other ways that may matter so you don’t want to over-commit.
Once all combatants are ready, everyone reveals their bids at the same time. Whoever bids the most TP’s has the highest priority. If any combatants bid the same amount, one may choose to “cede” priority to the remaining tying combatants (thus choosing to act after all the combatants with-whom their bid ties but still before combatants that they out-bid). Those who do not cede compare their Tactics skills and the higher skill level takes precedence. If ties still persist, resolve the tie randomly.
You then receive a number of Turn Tokens equal to your character’s Vitality score (to a minimum of zero) before proceeding to the Execute Turns step.
Gorgenbrew knew that he would have to act quickly if he was to remove the threat of imps before they could regroup and strike again. He chose to commit four of his five Tactical Points to securing top priority.
Take one of your turn tokens and place it in front of you, separate from any others you may have, to signify that it is the turn you are about to resolve. This is your Pending Turn. If you have the highest priority of all combatants with a pending turn, you then execute your turn.
Of the combatants that still have pending turns, the one with the highest priority then executes a turn. Repeat until all pending turns are executed.
When nobody has pending turns left, if you still have any turn tokens, you may make one of them your new pending turn. Repeat until all combatants have exhausted all their turn tokens.
Gorgenbrew pressed his cheek into the butt-stock of his weapon, watched the front sight carefully, and gently squeezed the trigger, sending an imp reeling to the ground. Each of his men did the same, their volley thundering through the swamp. The imps retaliated without much success. Gorgenbrew, having one last Turn Token, ordered his men to assault the imps' tower.
Throughout the fight, everyone’s been dodging, slashing, shooting and cussing at each other. Those actions that you performed on your turn are more momentous but they aren’t the only things you tried to do.
Aftermath is for calculating the cumulative effects of all the random things that character has been doing even when it wasn’t your turn.
The Aftermath step includes the following parts:
At this point, the Combatant with the highest priority is granted one last turn that can be executed regardless of whether this combatant has any Turn Tokens available. This is the reward for having out-bid everyone else in during the bidding step (ref Bid For Priority).
At this point in the round, any remaining Tactical Points are not going to remain so you will want to spend them all if you can. If you wish to make a new weapon ready, you may spend the appropriate TP’s to do so (see Arm Yourself) as if it were your turn.
Throughout the fight, you’ve been slashing and shooting at things whenever the opportunity arises. This step denotes the little hits you’ve managed to squeeze in throughout the fight.
Beginning with the lowest priority combatant and working up, each combatant with Tactical Points may spend them to harass others. On your chance to harass, divvy out whatever Tactical Points you have among any number of combatants that you could hit with the weapon you have ready.
If you’re unconscious, you must roll with your Endurance against a difficulty of 7. If you fail, you must take a Handicap.
At this point, if all conscious combatants agree to end the fight, combat is over. If at least one combatant is still hostile, begin another Combat Round.
On your turn, you may take any number of Simple Actions as long as you can satisfy the costs and requirements associated with these actions.
If you do not wish to spend TP’s on a Simple Action, you may waive the TP cost (but not any other cost) by upgrading that action to a Full Action. If you do so, you are assumed to have spent 2 TP on the action unless otherwise specified.
Possible Simple Actions include:
Your character is always assumed to have no weapons ready for fighting unless explicitly stated otherwise. If combat begins before you’ve managed to make a weapon ready for fighting, you will most likely want to change that right away.
Your character can only have one weapon at the ready at any time. Sometimes a weapon consists of two pieces held in either hand (such as the “Daggers” weapon) but these two components still count as a single weapon for purposes of arming yourself.
If you upgrade this action to a Full Action, you are assumed to have spent TP’s equal to your Grace or 3, whichever is greater.
Being without a weapon in the world of Fiend Wake is like being without a car in an early 21st century American Suburb. You can get by without one but nobody really wants to. Those who can are usually very physically fit and probably poor.
Sometimes, the benefit of pinpoint precision outweighs its cost and you don’t want to just hit the enemy’s face, you want to hit the enemy’s eyeball. In situations like this, you’ll want to “call” your forthcoming shot.
You may perform this action multiple times in a single turn, always increasing the difficulty to hit somebody and stacking your Power up multiple times for extra damage. If you miss the newly-set difficulty, you miss your attack entirely — even if you would have hit the original difficulty level before calling your shot.
You and your GM should agree on the amount of times you must call a shot in order to hit whatever body part suits the narrative.
In order to make room for a weapon, any weapon you have in hand must be moved out of the readied state.
Some places on the field have special significance that set them apart from the churning mosh pit of death that the fight would otherwise be. Occupying them can grant special abilities or simply make it harder for enemies to get to you. For more info, consult the Strategic Locations section (ref Strategic Locations).
If you upgrade this to a Full Action, you are assumed to have spent TP’s equal to your effective Grace.
Being in a location is helpful but sometimes you have to leave it to get things done. Evacuation is easy to do.
Discretion is very often the better part of valor. When you decide that standing and fighting isn’t in your best interest, you may take this action to leave the combat scene.
If you upgrade this to a Full Action, you are assumed to spend as many Tactical Points as you have Endurance. You may also spend TP’s after upgrading to a full action to increase the value of your retreat by the number of TP’s spend.
In order to gain the benefits of a steed, one must be riding the creature. If you’re not already astride your animal, this action is useful for mounting it.
There are times when player creativity creates situations that are not accounted for in the rule book. When trying to do something completely off the wall insane that isn’t included in the rules, you must appeal to the Game Master and request an Odd-Ball Behavior take place.
Depending on how difficult the GM believes the action in question to be, the price in Tactical Points will vary with the following being a good rule of thumb:
If you upgrade this to a Full Action, you must roll your Tactics with whatever stat the GM deems appropriate. The difficulty of the roll is proportional to how weird or hard the action is.
If you upgrade this to a Full Action, you’re assumed to have spent TP’s equal to your Power on this action.
You are allowed one Full Action per turn. If you upgrade any Simple Actions to become Full Actions, that counts against this limit.
Possible full actions include:
To assault a location, specify which location you are assaulting and call for supporters among any combatants that could perform an attack on occupants (if any) of the location. Combatant that you invited will signify support by spending at least 1 TP. You may also spend TP’s toward this assault.
You plus any supporter in the assault forms the Assault Team.
Roll your Command skill with Cunning against one of the following difficulty values:
If you succeed on the roll, the location suffers mass damage equal to twice the amount of TP’s spent by your assault team and any member of the assault team may choose to enter that location at this time without having to spend TP’s to do so.
Before you perform the Command roll, you may choose to voluntarily increase the difficulty of the roll by any amount. You and all your supporters are assumed to have spent an extra TP toward the assault for each point of increased difficulty you apply.
Select a local combatant as your target.
Roll your Unarmed Combat skill with Grace against a difficulty equal to the target’s Evasion score.
If you succeed this roll, you “hit” and the target suffers Stuns equal to your Power.
The target may choose to resist your grapple by rolling Unarmed Combat with Grace against a difficulty equal to the value of your attack roll.
If the target does not resist or fails the roll to resist, the target suffers another amount of stuns equal to your Power.
If you have Caltrops, select a combatant who occupies no location. Create a “Caltrops” location that the selected combatant occupies. The location has the following attribute:
Any combatant who begins a turn in this location takes 2 Wounds.
You no longer have Caltrops in your inventory. Picking up your caltrops is a Full Action that requires you to spend six Tactical Points or take six wounds.
If you’re using a Melee weapon (see Melee Weapons), select a local combatant or a combatant in no location as your target.
Roll your weapon’s skill with Grace against a difficulty equal to the target’s Evasion score. For each die stacked toward the roll, this attack gains a point of precision.
If you succeed, you “hit” and your weapon’s First Intention Damage Rating is inflicted as wounds on the target. Additionally, the following also apply:
Select an unconscious local combatant to be your patient. Roll your Medicine skill with Cunning against a difficulty of 7. If you succeed, the patient recovers a handicap.
If you’re using a Ranged weapon, select a combatant in any location (or no location) to be your target.
Roll your weapon’s skill with Grace against a difficulty equal to the target’s Evasion score. Each die stacked toward this roll is a point of precision for the attack.
If you succeed, you “hit” and inflict wounds (see Wound Damage) equal to your weapon’s First Intention Damage rating. In addition, this hit inflicts one extra Wound for every point of precision granted to the attack. This precision bonus can not exceed your Power.
Good reflexes and quick thinking are absolute necessities for maturing past adolescence in this world. Reactions are special actions that you may take at any point in a fight (even on others' turns) as long as the triggering event occurs and you can satisfy the costs of that reaction.
A reaction may only be performed once per triggering event.
Possible reactions include:
Holding locations is usually advantageous; it allows you to control enemy movement and often gives you other tactical advantages. The Dwarven clans taught the world through their abundant use of grenades and artillery that sometimes it’s also important to abandon locations.
The damage is halved before any Damage Reduction takes effect.
When you’re on a a ship or in a castle, your fate is tied to the integrity of the structure you occupy. When the enemy deploys siege engines or artillery on your location, you’ve got to act fast to keep from getting crushed.
They say “there is no I in ‘team work’” but there is one in “intercept” which is a thing that team players will do. Intercepting enemy attacks helps your friends survive longer in the brutality of combat.
Sometimes, you’ll end up fighting great big cowards who need a thorough beating. If you ever catch anybody trying to flee the combat scene, you can attempt to keep them in the fight.
Not all parts of the battlefield are the same. Some places have very special tactical significance because of terrain features or structures that may exist there. In Fiend Wake, these places are called “strategic locations” or simply “locations.”
You don’t get to grow up in the brutal world of Fiend Wake without at least some basic understanding of how to use movement and terrain to your advantage in a fight so it’s safe to assume that your character will always be moving around, looking for ways to get the upper hand when in combat.
In normal circumstances, your character is considered to “occupy no location.” This doesn’t mean that your character is outside of space-time, but simply that your character has not yet taken advantage of a location’s strategic value.
Your character may “enter” a location (ref Enter Location) as a simple action, paying the appropriate TP cost to enter. Sometimes, the location’s ability will specify some additional restrictions or costs to entry which must be paid or you may not occupy that location.
Special abilities and properties can be attached to a location. For example, in naval combat, parts of the ship can become “flooded” which will put you at risk of drowning when occupying those locations. The GM is encouraged to apply whatever descriptive properties help the narrative and fun of the game.
Whenever you occupy a location, all other combatants who also occupy that same location are “local combatants.” If you occupy no location, all other combatants who also occupy no location are “local combatants.”
All combatants who are not “local” combatants are “outsiders” or are “outside” the current location. This is helpful for understanding the relationship a location has to the area surrounding it.
Whenever an attack or similar action is performed “into” a location, that means that it was initiated from outside that location but its effects will occur within the specified location. The most prevalent example is the Ranged Attack which allows a combatant to shoot at somebody across locations.
Similarly, an action performed “out of” a location means that it originates in the specified location but its effects will occur elsewhere. Ranged attacks are performed “out of” location when they target outsiders.
Under normal circumstances, you may only enter a location from “no location” and when you leave any location, you will occupy “no location.” This is relevant when performing actions such as the Grapple Attack (ref Grapple Attack), Enter Location (ref Enter Location), Evacuate Location (ref Evacuate Location), and the Clear Out (ref Clear Out) reaction.
Some locations will state that they can only be entered from certain other locations. For example, a castle may be made up of several constituent locations as follows:
These accessibility restrictions and abilities illustrate the sorts of defensive capabilities that are characteristic of castles. Any time where it would make sense, the GM is encouraged to restrict location accessibility in this way.
Whenever the rules refer to an “accessible location,” they are referring to a location that may be entered from the one presently occupied – which may include “no location.” In the above castle example, any combatant in the Gatehouse can enter the Barbican or the Courtyard as “accessible locations” but can not move directly into the Keep for obvious reasons.
Locations may be recorded as separate pieces of paper (such as index cards) and placed on the table where all can see them, or they may be illustrated on the same piece of paper to make their accessibility requirements easier to infer. All abilities and special properties of a location should be listed and location info should be on a large enough area that it can accommodate tokens to represent Siege Damage (ref Siege Damage) as well as any markers representing combatants who occupy that location.
Here are some examples of the kinds of locations you may see on a battlefield. The list of possible locations is, by no means, limited to this set.
It can’t be denied that riding an animal can give you tactical advantages. The GM is free to add animals to this list but for the most part, the only animals that can be mounted are:
Any other animals are assumed to be untrained and unwilling and attempting to mount requires a successful wrangling.
Additional rules that apply while you’re mounted are:
In order to mount an unwilling or untrained an animal, the GM must agree that the animal can be wrangled and you must roll your Totemism with Power against a difficulty of the animal’s Training Difficulty. If you succeed, the animal is wrangled for the duration of the combat situation. If you fail, take 12 Wounds from the animal’s wild, flailing resistance.