7. Conflict and Damage

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu’s advice aside, sometimes one must accept less than the greatest victory. When combat is inevitable in a D6xD6 RPG adventure, the following rules apply.

Combat Time

Combat in the D6xD6 RPG rules is designed to be fast and furious.

  • Each combat turn represents 2 seconds of real time.
  • During each turn, a character can perform one action.
  • Some special actions may require more than one turn to complete.

Turn Sequence

To determine what happens when, each round begins with declaration, followed by dice rolling and resolution.

  1. The game host decides secretly what actions the evil forces intend.
  2. The game host asks the players one at a time what action their character intends. (Decisions must be made quickly. If a player pauses too long, the game host may declare, “Your character hesitates this round and takes no action.”)
  3. The players all roll their dice.
  4. The game host rolls all the evil forces’ dice together and assigns them.
  5. Actions take place in reverse numerical order, starting at 36 and counting downward to zero.

Combat Distances

Concepts of distance and movement in these D6xD6 RPG rules are relatively simple, playable either abstractly or by use of miniatures.


For purposes of personal combat, combat distances fall into five ranges:

  1. Brawling: Within 2 meters. Characters within this range can strike one another barehanded or with handheld weapons like clubs and swords. It is generally not an effective range for throwing or shooting. (The game host may make an exception for short firearms like pistols and sawed-off shotguns.)
  2. Throwing: Up to 20 meters away. Characters within this range can attack with thrown rocks, spears, shuriken, throwing knives, throwing axes, etc. They can also use shooting weapons or “viewing attacks” (see below).
  3. Shooting: Up to 200 meters away. Characters within this range can use bows, firearms, lasers, and such, as well as “viewing attacks” (see below).
  4. Viewing: Up to 2 km distant. Specially trained snipers with long-range rifles can reliably hit at about 1.5 km; these rules round up to 2 km for the sake of convenience. Characters within this range can also attack with magic spells or psychic powers, if the game setting includes those.
  5. Lost: Beyond 2 km in distance, a target is effectively out of sight. Still, a trained forward observer within sight of the target can call in remote fire (mortars, aerial bombing, etc.) upon it. The accuracy of such attacks is limited by the Focus of the forward observer or the attacker, whichever is lower.

Note: For combat on US soil, in Liberia, and in Myanmar, use yards instead of meters, and round off 2 km to 1 mile.


During a round of combat, a character can freely move up to 2 meters and still take an action (or vice versa).

To move more than 2 meters requires a “movement action.” The player uses the Athletics skill or an appropriate occupation. Each level of success adds 2 meters to the character’s movement. While this sort of movement action starts at the character’s rolled number in the turn sequence, it is considered to progress through the rest of the turn. So the game host will decide whether any enemies along the way have a chance to attack the character as planned.

Attack Actions

Attacking an opponent is an action (as defined under “Combat Time,” above).

  • To attack, a character must be within range of the target, as determined by the type of weapon used. (See “Weapon Types,” below.)
  • Drawing a weapon is considered a free action, as is reloading.

Damage Ratings

Human characters in these D6xD6 RPG rules can suffer six levels of damage: graze, stun, hit, wound, knockout, or kill. Each of those terms represents a different degree on a sliding scale of damage.

  1. Graze: This is the most basic level of damage—a punch or kick, a bruise or abrasion. A grazed character suffers a 1-point penalty to all dice rolls. (E.g. for Focused rolls, a result of 8 becomes 7; for Unfocused or Unfamiliar rolls, an 8 becomes a 9.)
  2. Stun: This is a more serious level of damage—a breathtaking gut punch, a dazing blow to the head, or even just a stinging cut. A stunned character suffers a 2-point penalty to all dice rolls.
  3. Hit: This is a solidly landed attack—a bruising blow, a deep cut, or even a flesh wound from a gunshot. A hit character suffers a 3-point penalty to all dice rolls.
  4. Wound: This level of damage indicates cracked or broken bones, serious cuts or gunshots, and so on. A wounded character suffers a 4-point penalty to all dice rolls.
  5. Knockout: This level of damage renders a character unconscious.
  6. Kill: A character who suffers this level of damage is unconscious and dying. Unless treatment is given to reduce the damage, or to at least stabilize the character, the character will perish within a few minutes.

Accumulating Damage

Damage levels in combat follow two rules: “Add” and “Supersede.”

Added Damage: A successful attack that causes less than or equal to its target’s current damage increases the target’s damage by one stage. (E.g. a “Hit” character who receives a “Graze” is now “Wounded.”)

Superseded Damage: A successful attack that causes more than its target’s current damage becomes the target’s new damage. (E.g. a “Grazed” character who receives a “Stun” is now “Stunned.”)

Weapon Types

Different weapons have different default damage ratings, as shown on the weapons table below. If an attacker rolls bonus levels of success, each bonus level increases the damage rating by one step. (Note: A “Kill” increases to an “Overkill,” making defense more difficult.)

Some settings may provide additional weapons or further details. For most purposes, however, the following table will serve.

Weapon Damage Type Comments
Attack: Brawn, Grace, Martial Arts, or Combat career
Defense: Brawn, Grace, Martial Arts, or Combat career
Fist or foot Graze
Club, skillet, chair Stun
Small blade Hit
Spear Hit Requires Martial Arts skill or Combat career.
Two-hand blade
or two blades
Wound Requires Martial Arts skill or Combat career.
Attack: Throwing, Martial Arts, or Combat career
Defense: Grace or Wits
Taser (usable as “Unfamiliar” skill) Knockout If Kill results, a successful Brawn or Will check reduces it to Knockout.
Stone Graze
Throwing blade Hit
Spear Wound
Attack: Shooting, or Combat career
Defense: Brawn or Will
Small bow or sling Stun Unusable at Brawl range
Small pistol Stun
Large bow/
Hit Unusable at Brawl range
Large pistol Hit
Shotgun Wound/Hit/Stun Damage at Brawl/Throw/Shoot range
Rifle Wound 2-point attack penalty at Brawl range
Hand Laser Wound

Created with the HTML Table Generator


To keep combat moving quickly, most D6xD6 RPG settings treat defense as an automatic rating, based on a character attribute or protective clothing.

Reactive Defense

Innate abilities and training alike help to avoid damage or to resist its effects. In the D6xD6 RPG, each attack type or weapon type lists the occupation, skill, or attributes that can defend. If a target character has “Focused” any of the listed defenses for that attack, the character reduces the attack damage by a single step (“Graze” to nothing, “Stun” to “Graze,” etc.). A character cannot reduce damage more than one step in this way.

Passive Defense

While reactive defense helps either to avoid being hit or to withstand damage, armor helps to either absorb or deflect damage. The “Armor” table below lists reduction to damage based on type worn. This rating is used instead of the wearer’s reactive defense; it does not add to it. Note also that armor imposes a slight penalty on its wearer’s actions: subtract the character’s armor rating from the calculated result of all rolls that character makes. (E.g. a character wearing a Kevlar jacket would subtract 2 points from all rolls—meaning a roll of 5 • 6 would result in 28 instead of 30.)

Armor Category Damage Reduction/
Dice Penalty
Light 1 Leather coat; small shield
Medium 2 Kevlar jacket; Roman cuirass & helmet
Heavy 3 Military ballistic vest & helmet; plate mail

Created with the HTML Table Generator

Dramatic Defense

Players may spend any number of Drama Points to reduce an attack on their characters on a one-to-one basis. (E.g. One Drama Point would reduce a Hit to a Stun; two would reduce a Hit to a Graze; three would reduce a Hit to a miss.) Dramatic Defense can be used in addition to Active or Passive Defense.

Optional Rules

While the above rules cover most combat situations, the game host may allow any or all of the following rules for special situations.

Second Wind

Even in the heat of combat, it can help to take a moment to catch your breath. In game terms, a character can spend an action to immediately recover from damage. The player rolls vs. either Will or Brawn; on a successful roll, the character recovers one level of damage. Each bonus level of success recovers another level of damage.

Held Actions

Sometimes a character may want to delay taking an action until another has acted. The character with the higher dice roll determines whether his or her action occurs immediately before or immediately after the other character’s.

Example 1: The character wants leap onto the running board of a getaway car that is coming for her. She holds her action until just after the driver’s, and then makes the leap.

Example 2: The character is waiting for an alien carnivore to attack her (and expose itself) before she shoots it. She shoots just as it reveals itself, before it attacks.

Combined Actions

As explained in chapter 3, “Dice and Tasks,” characters can combine their efforts on a single task. When timing is an issue—e.g. moving a heavy table to barricade a door—the action takes place on the lowest roll. When timing is not an issue—e.g. holding an already barricaded door against an onslaught of zombies—the action is considered to last the whole turn, from 36 to 0.

Missed Actions

Sometimes players may roll successfully, only to have their characters’ actions countered by a faster action. (E.g. a character intends to punch an alien, but the creature teleports away before the blow lands.) In such cases, the game host may allow a character to choose a different target for the same action—at one success level less. If this reduction drops the success below one level, that character’s action is negated.

Aimed Attacks

A character who spends consecutive turns preparing an attack may add to its damage. When the attack occurs, if the roll is successful, each turn spent aiming adds one level to the damage dealt. If the roll fails, however, the turns spent aiming are simply wasted.

Exceptional Attacks

A character who achieves more than one level of success with an attack may choose to split those successes among several targets rather than add them all on one target. (E.g. a character using a small pistol with a Shooting skill and a Focus of 5, on a roll of 25 could hit one target for a Wound, or three targets for a Stun each, or one target for a Hit and another for a Stun.) Note that bonus levels gained from aimed attacks (see above) may also be split this way.

Combat Team

Just as the game host rolls all dice for the evil forces and then chooses where to assign them, several players may pool their dice in order to portion them to best effect. To do this, those players must choose as team leader a character with a “Peacekeeper” occupation (see Chapter 5: “Occupations”). That character’s player then rolls all their dice together and assigns them to each character for best effect.

While this strategy can be very effective, players are never obligated to join the team or to remain in it from turn to turn. If they do join, however, they are obligated to use the dice assigned to them that turn.

15 thoughts on “7. Conflict and Damage

  1. Hey,
    I stumbled across this system, and it seems very interesting and original, so I’m working on adapting it to a custom universe (based on the Gwendalavir books).

    But, I am having some trouble regarding the combat : I don’t see how you could make an untouchable character which would dodge everything (there are some in the universe lore). From what I got, if you chose Grace as focused attribute, you’ll automatically get 1 level reduction of whatever hits you except from shooting range, but if your opponent is a warrior focused on, say, swordsmanship (focused number 2), he’ll roll 47% of the time with 2+ levels of success (I didn’t do the math myself but ‘King Nate’ did on the google group), so it means he will hit you 47% of the time.
    I guess 47% is still okay, because you expect armor to be more reliable than dodging for beginners. My issue is that the attribute-related dodging doesn’t stack with level… so after some game sessions, my Grace-focusing players would risk getting destroyed by attack-focusing opponents.

    So I thought I would give the option to spend drama point on focused attribute upgrade, and reduce another damage level. What do you think?
    The only other option I see would be to make opposing rolls, but it doesn’t seem that this system is encouraging opposing rolls… (which is another topic I might have a question on =D).

    Anyways, thanks for reading this and for the inspiring system!

    • Thanks for the questions, Romain.

      Let me address Attributes first. Their primary purpose is actually just to give players a first idea about their characters. As noted in the Game Host chapter, their use beyond that should be avoided. I’ve seen game sessions break down because the Game Host kept defaulting to a Grace roll, or a Will roll, etc., which makes players feel their characters are generic, and which punishes anyone who didn’t Focus the attribute rolled against. So in game design terms, that they have a combat defense purpose is one way of working them into the game mechanics without actually rolling against them.

      As for opposing rolls in combat, the system is designed to be a quick: 1. What does your PC intend to do? 2. Roll for it. 3. Apply the results. Did they succeed; when does it happen; how well do they do? That’s fast. Opposing rolls would break that sequence (e.g. “My action would have happened at 9, but I’m picking up the dice to roll a defense instead, now I rolled a 10–does that mean I’m going sooner?”). It would slow play considerably.

      As for a “Grace so good you can’t hit me” character, the system admittedly does not support that. It’s not as wide-ranging as GURPS or some similar rules set. But then again, with D6xD6 you don’t have to thumb through three or four books of 300 pages each to find a specific rule.

      I built a few things into combat that give PCs a chance to reduce damage taken: spend Drama Points for “Dramatic Defense” to reduce a devastating attack, spend a turn for “Second Wind” to regain some health, wear armor, and an Attribute may reduce a particular attack based on range.

      In a nutshell, the system is designed for quick, cinematic action. Hesitate and the Game Host says you do nothing this turn. Most combats are over quickly, in just a few turns. Then it’s back to story.


  2. I’ve implemented a house rule concerning damage levels:

    I’ve changed KILL to DYING, because according to the rule book the character has 3-5 minutes to recieve aid.

    I’ve also added a further level of DEAD, in case the damage level surpasses DYING. Obviously this would be a kill shot.


    • Thanks for the comment, Jason.

      I like that as a house rule, and I’m happy to see that the game’s design framework makes that sort of adaptation easy.

      For what it’s worth, when designing the current damage levels, I strove for one-syllable descriptors (couldn’t think of something simpler for “Knockout” though; even KO is two syllables) that gave an abstract idea of effect. For example, “Graze” isn’t always a grazing blow or shot; sometimes it represents a straight-on attack that just doesn’t accomplish much. “Stun” doesn’t actually make a victim lose an action as in many games, it’s a convenient descriptive term between “Graze” and “Hit.” And so on. Following this rationale, “Kill” isn’t an immediate death blow—since in real life even a “fatal” gunshot leaves a victim bleeding for at least a few seconds.

      With that in mind, I wouldn’t personally add “Dead,” because PCs are too precious to be outright killed by a single attack. (The vehicle rules are an exception, with a starship phaser blast pretty much incinerating a human target in one shot.)

      But if you prefer to call “Kill” by the term “Dying,” I can see the sense of that.


  3. Damage Accumulation: LESS: add health level. MORE: supersede health level. What happens if the attack is EQUAL to the current health level?

  4. During combat, does armor get applied after a successful hit is scored, or not at all if I use a reactive defense? The rules imply that a defender gets a reactive OR passive defense.

    • Thanks for the question, James.

      An armored target uses Passive Defense only. The benefit is it works against pretty much any sort of attack; the detriment is that its bulk imposes a penalty to the wearer’s actions—and that it negates Reactive Defense.

      An unarmored target uses Reactive Defense only (of course). The benefit is that it’s generally automatic, and it doesn’t hamper the character; the detriment is that no one Passive Defense protects from all types of damage.

      In summation, characters cannot choose during combat to use one or the other. By wearing armor, they’ve already chosen Passive Defense. Or by not wearing armor, they’ve already chosen Reactive Defense.


  5. Would it be possible to see a fully worked out example of how armour works? I’m a bit confused by how armour doesn’t seem to stack with active defence, and I’m not sure how to apply the protection level. For example, does 3 armour mean the attacker has a three dice penalty, or it reduces the severity of a successful hit three levels? How would you use a shield with this system? What about cover or other environmental influences? And finally I presume that if you eventually managed to get 6 points of defence you could never be hit, since it would reduce one die to zero.

    • Hi, Ashley. Thanks for the question.

      Both Reactive Defense and Passive Defense protect in the same way: they reduce damage after a strike. Let’s say someone throws a stone (Graze damage) and rolls well enough to get three Success Levels on the attack (raising the damage from Graze, to Stun, to Hit). Focused Grace or Wits could let you partially dodge that Throwing attack (reducing it one step, to Stun). Or Medium armor could absorb part of that damage (reducing it two steps, to Graze).

      To keep combat fast and easy—and to keep the mechanics simple—a character can use either Reactive Defense or Passive Defense, but not both together. Passive is more useful overall, but it tends to slow you a bit (hence the penalty to totals a wearer rolls).

      And note that armor is either Light, Medium, or Heavy. That’s strictly game mechanics. How a player describes that rating is purely a matter of flavor: one character’s Light armor might be a shield, another character’s might be a long leather coat, another’s might be a leather vest and motorcycle helmet, and another’s might be an energy field.

      As for cover and concealment, those are discussed in the Game Host chapter. In real terms, concealment makes a person harder to see and target, but it doesn’t absorb any damage. (If you hide behind a curtain, I may not see you; but if I fire a shotgun at that curtain and manage to hit, it’s going to hurt a lot!) Cover does reduce damage levels, so being inside an armored car makes you pretty much impervious to a handgun, for instance.

      I hope that discussion clarifies things.

      • Yes, thank you. It’s rolled all the intricacies up into an elegant, but simple to implement, mechanic. I was just getting ahead of myself based on other games i’ve played.

  6. I bought the game, read through the rules, but cannot understand how this game can be played. I do not understand how having a high focus rating is a good thing. The rules state that when rolling for a focused skill, a roll that equals the number or greater succeeds. However, with a higher focus number, wouldn’t the chances for failure be greater. And wouldn’t it be more difficult for get higher levels of success with a higher focus rating? I do not see anything in the rules where this is compensated for.

    Or, is it just assumed that the character will succeed if using a focused roll? And the dice rolling is just to determine how much the character succeeds? I’m very perplexed by this.

    Thank you for your reply


  7. I see two issues with the weapon table:

    * There is an “Attack: …” line on top of each weapon category. This, however, is not covered by an explanation in the text. I assume, anyone using a weapon of this category who has at least one of the items listed after “Attack:” focussed, adds one step to the damage inflicted?!

    * There is an “Attack: Brawn, Grace,” on top of the Brawling Attacks category. However, chapter 4 Character Creation specifically sais: “Attributes serve as reactive ratings … (They are used only to avoid, never to accomplish.)” This is a contradiction, because if Brawn is used to increase damage, it clearly accomplishes.

    • Hi, Peter.

      To make an attack, as with any action, something has to determine if it’s a Focused, Unfocused, or Unfamiliar task. The abilities listed atop the table indicate what can be used for this.

      So, for example, if you circled Brawn during character creation, you could use it as a Focused ability for brawling with “Fist or foot,” “Club, skillet, chair,” “Small blade,” or “Spear.” If you have none of the listed abilities Focused, you’d have to roll for Unfocused or Unfamiliar instead.

      The “Two-hand blade or two blades” attack specifically requires Martial Arts or a combat career. So one of those would determine whether you’re making a Focused, Unfocused, or Unfamiliar task roll.

      You are correct, of course, that the “Dice and Tasks” chapter says Attributes are rolled against only as a reaction. This would be the one exception. We’ll clean that up during editing; right now, of course, the Web site is still a work in progress.



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