Combat in Magic: the Multiverse is resolved by a tick system; each action completed by a character takes a certain number of ticks to complete, and a tick cycle moves round until there is an event to resolve. Actions complete when the tick cycle moves round to the relevant point. If the action is unresolvable, the action is wasted.
Characters who will be unable to complete their action as desired (due to an opponent’s action finishing first, for example) may complete a Difficulty (difficulty 8) Acuity check. If the check is passed, they may assign a new action without penalty.
If it is failed, they must complete their action as originally assigned. When an attack resolves against an opponent, a to hit roll is made. This is a roll of the character’s Finesse dice plus any combat specialities vs the opposing character’s Acuity dice and any defence specialities. If the attack hits, the character makes a Strength dice test plus any successes after the first and any weapon bonuses vs the opponent’s Endurance and any combat damage specialities. Any successes on this roll deduct damage levels from an opponent. If a weapon has any dealing-damage effects, there needs to be at least one success on this roll in order for the effect to trigger.
1. Determine action order. Players roll a d10 and deduct their Acuity and any bonuses that may apply (e.g. First Strike, situational penalties/bonuses) to get their Initiative Value. Characters present at the start of a combat begin to act at the tick equal to their Initiative Value. Where Initiative Values are tied, characters with the lowest Acuity declares their action first, and both characters begin to act at the same time. Where Initiative Values would be negative, all characters with negative values begin actions on the first tick of the combat. They declare their actions in descending order (so a character with an IV of -1 declares before one with -2, who would declare before a character with -3 and so on. However, all three characters would begin their actions together).
Example: A character with Acuity 5 rolls 7. This gives them an Initiative Value of 2 (7-5 =2), meaning they begin their action on the second tick of combat. A character with Acuity 2 rolling a 3 would declare their first action on the first tick of a combat cycle (3-2 = 1). If the character with Acuity 5 were to roll a 3 they would still act on the first tick (3-5 = -2), but the Acuity 2 character would have to declare their action first.
2. Move through the tick cycle. Combat moves in 10-tick long cycles. If there are no actions to be initiated or resolved in a tick, move through the ticks until there is an action to resolve.
3. Resolve actions. When the tick cycle moves round to the end of uninterrupted actions, they resolve. Combat strikes hit, spells are cast etc. Players may then declare further actions for entities that have completed their actions. These actions begin their resolution time from the next tick.
4. End combat. Combat is ended, and the tick cycle halted, when there is no more need to keep track of exactly where entities are. This is usually when all of one side are dead, fleeing or otherwise incapacitated. If a moving character wishes to stop at any point before their declared end point, they may do so without penalty, declaring a new action in the next tick.
Characters must always be taking an action of some sort in combat; generally this will be moving, attacking or an action not directly related to combat. If at any point during the tick cycle a character is not in the process of completing an action (whether or not that action is successful), they must declare a new action at the start of the next tick. Move
Players declare move actions in the form of moving from a place to a place, at a certain speed (normal speed, running or sprinting).
Walking characters then move a number of yards per tick equal to a character’s Finesse score, plus any speed- or action-related specialities, until they reach their destination.
Running or sprinting multiplies this number by 2 or 3 respectively. However, to reflect the diminished awareness of their surroundings and lessened ability to keep a guard up, for each multiplier applied the character suffers a -1 to their Acuity when a to hit roll is made against them. Characters also may not be able to keep running or sprinting for extended periods of time; if the multiplier takes their movement over their Endurance score, they may only apply multipliers to their movement for a number of rounds equal to their Endurance without having to pause for a tick or move to a movement rate lower than their Endurance. This has -1 subtracted for each multiplier desired.
Example: A character with Endurance 4 and Finesse 3 could move at 6 yards ( Finesse x 2) per tick for 4 ticks before having to stop or slow to a movement of 3 yards per tick or less. If the character wanted to move at 9 yards per tick (Finesse x 3), they could do so for 3 ticks before stopping or slowing. If the character had Endurance 6 they could move at 6 yards per tick without having to pause or slow.
Characters may always move the number of yards equal to their Finesse score per tick without penalty, even if this is greater than their Endurance.
Players declare their characters are making an attack against an opponent they can reach with a weapon they have (or an unarmed attack), which then takes a number of ticks to resolve depending on the weapon in question; a character swinging a double-handed axe may get a swift dagger in the ribs before their axe connects! Attacks with weapons take a number of ticks to connect equal to their speed value. Speed values of common weapons are listed here.
As weapon design can vary hugely throughout the Multiverse, the reach of a given weapon is decided by the GM when a character first receives it. Generally, however, the longer reach a weapon has the longer it takes to bring it to bear against an opponent, and so the greater the Speed value. Opponents may, of course, move away from a weapon swing before it hits, but attacking does give a certain momentum. If a defending character moves away, the attacking character may make an Acuity check to stay within striking range, with a difficulty equal to the defending character’s Finesse.
When an attack resolves, the attacking player rolls their character’s appropriate attribute for the weapon in question (listed in the link above), to a difficulty of the defender’s Acuity. If the defender is also making an action and does not have Vigilance, the value is Acuity – 2 instead. For every kept success the attacker makes, one point is subtracted from the defender’s life total. Also, any additional effects of an artefact melee weapon listed as “when X deals damage” also trigger at this point.
Ranged attacks (such as from a crossbow, bow or throwing knife but not including spells) resolve in the same way as melee attacks, but in order to resolve correctly a character must have taken a loading action first. These actions take time depending on the type of weapon they are, a complete list of which can be found here. Once the load action is completed, generally the next action must be to fire the weapon. This is because most ranged weapons (throwing knives, bows and crossbows being the most common) cannot be put down or another thing done without them losing their readiness. If a player has a weapon similar to a gun, however, this restriction may not apply. Such an exemption is at the GM’s discretion.
A roll to hit the target is then made, using the character’s Finesse, with a difficulty of the target’s Acuity. There are also additional penalties depending on how clearly the firer can see the target:
Clear view – no penalty
Partially obscured (¼ of the target behind cover) – +1 to difficulty of Finesse roll
Half obscured (½ of the target behind cover) – +2 to difficulty
Mostly obscured (¾ of the target behind cover) – +3 to difficulty
Totally obscured – no roll to hit possible
GMs should also feel free to impose additional penalties depending on the range of the weapon in question; a throwing knife isn’t going to deal damage at more than a few hundred yards, but the effective range of a bow or crossbow is going to be much greater.
Spells can be cast in a combat situation like any other action. As the impetus for a spell comes from the mind, casters do not need their hands or mouths free to cast spells. Any non-instant spells can only be cast after a completed action; they cannot be cast the tick after an action is cancelled. Instant spells can be cast at any time. Spells then take the same number of ticks to cast as their converted mana cost. The mana cost for a cast spell is paid at the start of the spellcasting action, and it resolves at the end. If the spell is interrupted for any reason, players do not get their mana back.
Mana burn from interrupted spells
If the spellcasting action is changed or interrupted before it is resolved, the character may take damage equal to the spell’s casting cost in mana burn, due to losing control of the magical energies which then tears through their bodies. The character must pass a Challenging (difficulty 7) test against their highest stat associated with the colours of magic they’re casting.
If they pass this, they can carry on casting the spell, but if it fails they may take damage from mana burn. Each point of damage may be resisted by taking a Challenging resistance test against the character’s lowest stat associated with the colour of mana used in the spell. In the case of multicoloured spells, players take the lowest high stat of the colours. For each success, they negate one point of damage
Example: Astaroth has 3 Acuity, 2 Strength, 4 Intelligence, 4 Finesse. He uses 2 red and 1 blue mana to cast Eletrolyze on two nearby goblins. However, the goblins close the gap quicker than the player expected, and stab Astaroth before he can cast the spell. Astaroth rolls 4 dice (for his 4 Intelligence or Finesse), and gets 6, 4, 4, 2. His spell is disrupted, and he may take mana burn. To resist the mana burn, he must now roll 2 dice (for his 2 Strength), and gets a 6 and an 8. He resists 1 point of damage, but still takes 2 damage from the uncontrolled mana coursing through his body.
Any spell with the words “counter target spell” in it can be cast by a character as a spell resolves, if they have the mana available and pass the required Acuity roll to change action. In the case of countermagic, the spell is cast and resolved in the same tick regardless of casting cost. If the spell resolves, the target spell resolves but does not have any effect. The caster suffers no mana burn as the result of a countered spell.
More details about spells can be found in the Spells section of these rules.