[Let’s Study] God-Machine Chronicle Rules Updates Part 4: Combat

Posted: May 9, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games, World of Darkness
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Today we’re taking a look at the updated rules for combat from the GMC. Those familiar with nWoD combat will find some interestin changes here, as well as a few optional rules that emulate aspects of combat that don’t normally show up in most games.

Some of the tweaks applied to the combat system are:

  • Weapons now have an Initiative Modifier that affects the initiative roll. Bigger, heavier weapons have bigger penalties.
  • All weapon damage is now Lethal. Which makes sense, getting hit across the face by a crowbar isn’t Bashing damage no matter how I think of it.
  • Weapon Damage is now applied as straight damage rather than additional dice to the attack roll. Needless to say the use of any weapons now are definitely indicative of doing some serious harm.
  • Defense is now calculated as the Lower of Dexterity or wits plus Athletics. This makes for slightly higher Defense scores for most characters.
  • Dodging allows for characters to double their Defense score and roll it as a pool of dice against an attack. Successes on a Dodge roll are subtracted from the attacker’s successes. This comes in very handy as this might be the best way to use Defense against ranged attacks that would otherwise nullify Defense.

Down and Dirty Combat

This system introduces a “one roll” combat for those fights that aren’t a dramatic focus. While some might argue that every fight deserves screen time, sometimes a fight exists as a speedbump and this system allows for the game to move past those as quickly as possible.

Intent is key to the Down and Dirty Combat system, as the attacker declcares their intent to justify a “one roll” approach to the Storyteller. If the ST is okay then they proceed with the simplified combat. Of course, Storyteller characters aren’t allowed to use these rules.

The roll is handled as any combat task. The Attacker rolls their combat pool, and the target rolls either a combat pool against it, or an attempt to escape.

If the attacker succeeds, then they win the contest, and deals damage equal to the difference in successes plus her weapon damage and achieves her intent. If the intent includes killing then that happens too.

Optional Rules: Beaten Down and Surrender

The Beaten Down and Surrender rules have to be one of the most interesting additions I’ve seen in a game set in the modern-day setting. As an optional rule, a character that takes more than their stamina in Bashing damage or any amount of Lethal damage has the fight knocked out of them and gains the Beaten Down Tilt (a Tilt is a special condition that affects combat, but more on that later.)

Characters who are Beaten Down must spend Willpower each time they want to take an offensive action. He can defend, dodge and run but can’t strike back without spending Willpower.

One of the most important considerations here is that the character who is Beaten Down can then surrender, and gains a Beat and a point of Willpower for their trouble. Furthermore, the assailant now has to spend Willpower to attack you and will most likely suffer a breaking point for doing so.

I’m especially fond of these rules as it simulates a common fact in a lot of real fights. People fight until someone gives up or runs away. Very rarely do fights escalate to the point at which someone dies, and even in those instances, it’s often an accident.

Of course these rules only apply when the side that surrenders has something that he can give up. If the assailant is purely after the person’s life, the Beaten Down and Surrender rules do not apply and both fight with the same kind of desperation.


I know we mentioned Intent before, but it matters at all times now. Intent is gathered at the start of any hostile encounter to determine what people are after in a fight. This is very important as if an Intent is to commit violence for it’s own sake, the Beaten Down Tilt doesn’t occur.

Storyteller Characters and Willpower

Storyteller characters now have caps on how much willpower they’re able to spend, which is always a good thing, as opposed to the old situation where a character with 5 willpower may end up facing off against 3 nameless goons with a combined pool of say, 12 Willpower.

Combat Tilts

With the Conditions rules, there are now Combat Tilts that affect gameplay during a fight. These conditions range from ones that are obtained after being hit by a called shot (like Arm Wrack) to various environmental factors like extreme temperatures or being flooded.

The new combat system improves the game in ways that I’d not considered, which is a very good thing. New insights into the brutal and occasionally non-lethal outcomes of combat are greatly appreciated, and will come into play somehow. I’m very eager to try this out and see how it works out side of the usual empty room scenario, with actual stakes, intent and props to work with.

  1. Octavo says:

    By the way, here’s DaveB’s beta full conversion for Mage.


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