Introduction to the System
The Combat System used by Aeon Horror games is non-contact which makes it different to more standard latex-weaponry LARP. This means that (except in grapple circumstances detailed specifically below) no physical contact should be made with any other player without their explicit consent. Blows should be mimed slowly and safely, and should stop short of their target. In keeping with the “realism” of games, any object which can be wielded safely can be used as a weapon. If that priceless vase in the corner of a room is there IC, unless you’ve been told otherwise, it can be used to brain the nearest most deserving target.
Please don’t actually break the priceless vase.
An example of combat will be given as part of the pre-game brief before every game. In most cases, combat can be avoided entirely. However, you can never be sure when someone might try to sneak up on you so it pays to be aware of what to do when that happens.
Knives and Other Sharps
The only exception (and it’s a very important one) to the “any object can be a weapon” is for items which in “real life” have sharp edges – knives being the primary and most obvious example.
The Ref team will provide phys reps for blades where relevant. At the start of events where it would be odd to not have sharps available (in a kitchen for example), you will see obvious IC representatives. Once these are gone, they’re gone – either spirited away into a canny character’s handbag, or lodged between the shoulder blades of an unlucky intruder. Any player seen wielding a knife or comparably sharp object (as a weapon to directly threaten another player, or as a dramatic device), will be given an immediate “time out”.
Numbers on the Character Sheet
Your character sheet will have three primary statistics (Health, Willpower and Strength – Willpower is discussed here), two combat proficiency ratings (Melee and Firearms), and a variable number of named skills, some of which will be relevant to combat in a passive or active form.
- Health is the measure of how fit and healthy your character is and how much damage they can sustain before succumbing to their wounds. The average Health for a player character is 8, although scores will typically range from 6 for the unhealthy, to 10 for all-round action heroes. Health is depleted if you take damage, with unconsciousness occurring at 0, and death occurring at minus 5 Health points (regardless of your starting total).
- Strength is a measure of your brute physical power and it is used to determine the damage you inflict in combat and the strength of your grasp. High scores may come from your size and physicality, training in how to strike and grapple with force, or simply the kind of ‘idiot strength’ that comes from not having the faculty to care about overexertion. Strength for playable characters scales from 1 to 5. Scores from 1 – 3 are most common, with 2 being average for a reasonably able-bodied adult.
- A 6th Rate combatant may be clumsy and extremely hesitant to throw a punch or level a gun. They will actively seek to avoid combat even if it puts them at greater risk.
- A 5th Rate combatant has neither background nor formal training, but is generally capable and will be prepared to defend themselves if pressed.
- A 4th Rate combatant will have had a bit of experience, either from some basic training or simply from having a rough background, but it hasn’t been consolidated.
- A 3rd Rate combat proficiency is about right for someone who has spent a bit of time engaged in their field of combat, and has demonstrated a degree of ability in it, such as a hired thug or a soldier.
- A 2nd Rate combatant is likely to have particularly noteworthy abilities, and have a reputation for being rather dangerous.
- A 1st Rate combatant is a master of their martial art and their control of a combat situation. They are fortunately rare.
Both forms of combat (melee or firearms), work on the same principle: your Combat Rating is the number you need to count down before you strike with a successful blow or fire a successful shot. The lower your rating number therefore, the better fighter or the better shot you are. A novice will spend five seconds lining up a shot or waiting for an opening, hesitating, lining up again, rethinking, and eventually attacking, whereas a 1st Rate combatant can let off a successful blow or shot after every second.
How To Fight
To initiate an attack, first you need to give some indication of your violent intentions be that putting up your dukes, adopting a martial arts pose, or simply aiming your gun at the target. When in an appropriate stance, you should count your Rating score slowly (we recommend pacing by saying “…elephant…”, “…Mississipi…”, or spacing word of your choice between each number) then make your attack. For a 3rd rate score, for example, you need to count “1 mississipi… 2 mississippi…3 mississippi” then strike / shoot. You do not have to count loudly enough for everyone to hear, however the refs should be able to tell you are pacing your attacks appropriately. Mouthing out your count or muttering it under your breath works. While preparing to attack, you cannot do anything else at the same time.
If you have a weaker rating and thus are slower, you may find your target moves while you are preparing. This is fine, so long as your target is in line of sight (in the case of firearms) or within swing distance (if you’re hitting them) when you pull the trigger or make the blow. If your target goes out of line-of-sight or out of range during the countdown, the countdown gets reset: you cannot count and give chase at the same time.
If in melee, pantomime your strike stopping short a safe distance from your target, or if in a fire fight pull the trigger and call your damage. For a Melee attack this is your Strength plus any weapon or skill bonuses you may have. For a Firearms attack, this is a fixed amount dependent on the damage score of the weapon. See the damage sections below for more detail.
Whether using a firearm or in close combat, if it’s not clear to the target that they’re the one being attacked you will also need to call out that player/character’s name before the damage so they know that it was intended for them. For example “Bob, 6!”.
If your gun fails to go “bang!” when you squeeze the trigger, this is considered an IC misfire as well as an OOC misfire and the shot failed. If you want to fire again, you will need to start your countdown once more.
It is possible to count down to your attack and hold your action rather than delivering your blow or shot once you reach 0. During this time you cannot do anything else except talk – you cannot move around or engage in another activity such as running around or hiding: Your character is ready and poised. There are two circumstances in which is this helpful:
- Your target is ducking in and out of cover, or is about to burst through a door. You know exactly where they will appear and can position yourself accordingly. This does mean that you must remain still and aimed and therefore may be prone.
- You have a target cornered, but don’t want to administer a blow to them straight away. Maybe you’re trying to get information out of them.
The base damage you call in Melee is equal to your Strength. This is the amount of damage you cause when unarmed with a punch or a kick. If you are brandishing an object which you intend to use as a weapon then the item carries bonus damage:
- +1 damage: the weapon is either sharp, or hard, or heavy, or is long enough to put a bit of force behind your swing. Examples include: Small knives, coshes, knuckle-dusters, and most improvised weapons that might be grabbed from your surroundings such as that priceless vase.
- +2 damage: the weapon has at least two of the aforementioned properties (sharp, hard, or heavy). Many swords would count as +2 weapons, but so would cricket bats or sharp gardening implements.
- +3 damage: these tend to be actual, serious weapons for delivering real damage, often large, sharp, and dangerous. Proper broadswords, fire axes, and other items that clearly mean business come in this category.
The choice of weapon also influences what will happen to your target when you hit them: a +2 carving knife and a +2 baseball bat may inflict the same damage number, but they will spell different consequences for your victim: A knife will cause bleeding, but a baseball bat may leave your opponent with a broken limb. Ask a ref if you’re unsure.
A standard pistol will normally cause around 6 weapon damage; depending on the era of the scenario, some guns may cause more or less. Firearms will be tagged by Refs prior to time in to show the amount of damage they cause.
Effects of Damage
Every time you take damage, your health decreases by the number called. If you have taken damage, you should role play your character’s status appropriately, taking into account any limitations or lasting effects.
If you reach 0 health points or lower you are considered to be Unconscious unless you use Will Power at the point you drop Unconscious. For more info on this, look at the section on Walking Wounded in the Will Power section of the site.
At 0 health you are stable, but in a bad way; below 0 you are considered to be dying, so best hope someone is on hand to administer healing.
Below 0 health you are not only unconscious but dying with speed dependent on how messed up you are. If you fall to -1 (or lower), then please speak to a Ref as quickly as possible and the Ref will tell you what happens next. If you fall to negative health and receive medical attention to bring you back to 0 Health or more, then you will retain the effects of your near-death experience and will feel appropriately terrible.
Refs will advise you on the nature of your injuries and your life expectancy. If you do hit -5 (or more) then you will be unsaveable and will die immediately from the injuries you have just sustained.
Getting into fights may have lasting consequences. If you get hit by a single blow which removes over half your starting Health (5 points or more in the case of an average 8 health points character), then this will have a number of consequences dependent on the weapon inflicting the damage:
- Sharp weapons and firearms cause Bleeding
- Blunt weapons cause Crippling
Weapons that are both sharp and heavy do both (such as bullet wounds)
If your character gets hit by a blow of this magnitude, they will suffer shock. The shock of the blow will cause you to fall to one side clutching at the damaged area and will render you prone. You should role play through the experience. The cause of the injury will have lasting consequences:
- Bleeding, means that you will lose a point of health every five minutes. If this continues to -1, the Dying rules kick in. Please seek a Ref asap. You do not continue to lose further damage from bleeding; once you reach -1, the dying rules will take effect as they’re much more fun and brutal. And descriptive. Surprisingly descriptive.
- Crippling effects vary depending on where you were hit. If you are Crippled then a bone has been broken; you should move with great effort and pain, and you are at -1 to your Strength for the rest of the game.
Grapples are a variety of melee combat based on your Strength. To initiate a grapple, place both hands on your intended target (note: do this gently, and respect comfort levels) and call the number of your Strength score – e.g.: “Strength 2”.
If your Strength is higher than the person you are grappling, they will be pinned. If it is lower, they can shake you off. If both opponents have the same Strength score, then you will be expected to pantomime an equal struggle in which neither opponent comes out “on top”, then release one another. Several people can combine their strength scores to help pin someone, although this is restricted by the number of people that can actually get both hands on them. Role play this sensibly and note what is both realistic and safe.
Asphyxiation and Strangulation
In order to strangle a person, you must first successfully grapple them. You must then announce that you are strangling them and maintain the grapple. After every 15 seconds the victim’s health drops by 1 point. If you strangle them until their Health drops to 0 then they are rendered unconscious, and a Ref will need to pronounce on them before they regain consciousness. After consciousness is regained, or if the strangulation was broken before that point, all Health lost due to the strangulation was considered to be temporary, and it gets restored. However, if you strangle them further, until they reach -5 health points, they will die.
Make sure that the struggle is role-played properly – someone being strangled thrashes and chokes horribly if they are not unconscious – and does not make your victim unduly uncomfortable OOC.
Note that strangulation isn’t the only time when such a countdown should be used, as it is applicable if you are deprived of air for any reason, such as: drowning; being buried; being trapped in a halon anti-fire system; being blasted into space.
The Escape skill allows a character to escape from a successful grapple. To do this, they should call “Escape!” and move away from the player or players grappling them. If they do not move away, they can be grappled again. Grapplers should give the escapee a respectful distance and give them opportunity to flee.
If the the escapee is daft enough to move towards another player who wishes to grapple them, their new opponent may do so.
If you are grappling somebody who uses the Escape skill, you must give them the opportunity to move away before you may attempt a new grapple.
Special: Surprise Attacks
You may find yourself with the luxury of executing an attack against a target that is unaware that any attack is coming: they are not prepared for a fight, and you absolutely have the drop on them. As a rule of thumb, an attack is a Surprise Attack if your target has their back to you and is not already engaged in combat; they are not in a state of combat readiness and are unable to flinch out of the way. To make a surprise attack, call “Surprise Attack” and state your damage call whilst placing your hand on the victim’s shoulder regardless of whether the attack is melee, firearms or grappling.
Surprise Attacking unarmed or with a melee weapon confers an extra +1 damage to your attack. Also, if you can inflict more half the maximum Health of your target (i.e. a Serious Wound, as described above) it will be an instant knockout. Your target should fall to the floor unconscious and remain so for five minutes.
Surprise Attacking with a firearm is serious business. In these circumstances, you may call double the firearms usual damage: 12 in many cases, and possibly more. This is no small amount of damage, and is very likely to kill your target. Unless you are a complete sociopath, and generally consider yourself to be Cool with ending the life of another human being, you should (at the very least) take a Yellow Stress level. You monster.
If you have the drop on someone, you get +1 to your strength for the first attempt to grapple the unaware target. The rest of the Grapple will play out as standard after this initial grab. A character with the Escape skill cannot free themselves if they are Surprise Grappled unless their strength naturally exceeds that of the grappler (i.e their skill doesn’t confer them any bonuses).
Medical Attention and Recovery
Three specific healing skills exist to restore health: First Aid, Surgery, and Medicine. These skills restore 1 Health point each per treatment, and multiple forms of medical skills can be used with combined effects if used one after another.
- First Aid: First Aid is a pre-requisite to any further medical training. First Aid can only do so much to help a person get back on their feet, but most significantly, it can stop Bleeding.
- Medicine: handles the administering of the correct drugs to control pain and stabilise a body in shock. Medicine can also have non-combat related benefits – for more information, see the Skill.
- Surgery: as with real life, Surgery cannot repair a broken limb in the scant hours an event occupies. A Surgeon can brace or splint that break in such a way that it will (eventually) heal. In game time, an afflicted character will continue to suffer the -1 to strength effect of crippling damage (as the limb or such is still not functional), but the pain will be lessened and movement will be all-but restored to the rest of the body. It’s generally helpful for RP purposes.
A “treatment” is a single instance of restoring health to a patient by whatever skills are at one’s disposal. It can only restore Health up to the level it was at the last time a treatment was successfully applied, so you can’t get healed by 2 points, say, then take a single Health point of damage, then get healed up a further 2.
For more detailed information on what we refer to as Healing Skills, please see the Skills section of the site.