Damien’s Hard and Fast Combat Rules

These rules are designed to be easily memorised and followed. The White Wolf combat system is convoluted, and really slows down play more than even an experienced group would like.

It is the considered opinion of our group that far and away the most annoying part is the split dice pools rules, and scarcely one session goes by without someone getting lost. The next thing that slows things up is the last initiative player declaring actions then everybody with higher initiative countering and what not. I’ll agree that these things are more realistic than what follows, but we would rather get back to the intrigue as fast as possible!

With an eye towards doing away with all the confusion, I am using the following rules on a trial basis. They are hard and fast rules, and yes, they are full of holes. But combat seems to be going much quicker these days.


Initiative: each player rolls Wits + Alertness (diff 4), modified by wound penalties and situational modifiers on an ad hoc basis.

Order of Actions: Highest initiative goes first and so on.

Blood Point Expenditure: This is declared on a player’s first action of the round.

Split Dice Pools: A character with a dice pool of 6 or more may split that dice pool once in the combat round, provided they do not move or talk. The dice pool must be an even split, and the second action is at +1 difficulty.

Dodge: Dodge is an instinctive roll, meaning that it can be done as many times in a combat round as you like. However, each roll after the first reduces that dice pool by 1, and each attacker after the first increases the difficulty by 1. A player may elect not to Dodge certain attacks to save dice for others.

Accuracy: Every success on an attack roll after the third (which would be classed as a complete success on most other d10 rolls), grants 1 bonus die of damage.

Damage: Wound penalties apply to all rolls except virtue and soak rolls. In accordance with the Fortitude rules outlined under Disciplines, Lethal and Bashing damage are always soaked at difficulty 6, Aggravated damage from the teeth and claws of other supernaturals may be soaked with Stamina at difficulty 8 (plus Fortitude at difficulty 6 in a separate pool), and sunlight and fire may only be soaked with a Fortitude roll.


Celerity actions take the same format as above, but may not be split for any reason.


Targeted Actions

Also known as a “called shot”, a targeted action may only be taken once each round, regardless of split dice pools or Celerity actions). Those with the capacity to attack multiple times in a round may still do so, but they may not be called shots. The attack in question must also be the first attack of the round. The following table stipulates the modifiers involved in a targeted attack:

Target Size: Medium (limb or medium sized weapon); Difficulty: +1; Damage: No modifier.
Target Size: Small (hand, head, small weapon); Difficulty: +2; Damage: +1 die
Target Size: Precise (heart, eye, neck, a held vial); Difficulty: +3; Damage: +2 dice

In addition to bonus damage, special results can occur. Consult WOD: Combat (p. 90) for suggestions.



Staking a vampire requires a targeted action, also known as a “Called Shot”. The attack is made at +3 difficulty and gains +2 bonus damage dice if successful. Only 1 net damage success is required ( ie. after soak) to stake a vampire.

If the target in question is partially immobilised (such as involved in a grapple) the called shot gains +1 accuracy dice.

If the target is completely immobilised but still active (such as pinned in a grapple, but still struggling) the Called shot gains +2 accuracy dice and is rolled against a base difficulty of 5.

If the target is completely immobilised and inactive (such as pinned in a grapple and dazed), the Called Shot gains +2 accuracy dice and is rolled against a base difficulty of 4.

If the target is completely immobilised and unresisting (such as a sleeping vampire or one “frozen” by a power such as Rigour Mortis), the Called Shot gains +2 accuracy dice and is rolled against a base difficulty of 3.

Note that a regular, “uncalled” attack on a completely immobilised and unresisting character automatically hits (ie. it gains an automatic 1 success in addition to the bonus 2 accuracy dice) but is still rolled against a difficulty of 3 to determine number of successes and thus, possible bonus damage dice. A targeted attack still requires unusual accuracy however, requiring the dynamic prescribed in the previous paragraph.

(Dazed descriptor (from V20, p. 279): If in a single attack, the attacker rolls a number of damage successes greater than the target’s Stamina (for mortals) or Stamina +2 (for Cainites or other unusually hardy supernatural beings), the victim is dazed. The dazed person must then spend her next available round shaking off the attack’s effect. Note that damage dice do not matter, only damage successes).


Grappling hard and fast rules

  • The initiator of the Grapple rolls Strength + Brawl on the defender, resisted by his own Dodge or Block roll.
  • If the initiator is successful, the combatants have entered the state of being Grappled. This means simply that they cannot move more than a step or two, nor can they focus any of their attacks on anyone other than the other, or a third party also attempting to enter the grapple.

At this point both combatants are considered partially immobilised, as their attention is completely dominated by the hand-to-hand struggle. Any other attacks by other characters against them cannot be Dodged and gain a +1 accuracy die. Also, while in a grappled state, both attack and defender may only use natural weapons and light weapons (such as knives, daggers or the pommel or hilt of a sword).

  • On his own action, the defender may attempt to break the Grapple. He makes a Strength + Brawl roll of his own, resisted by a reactive Strength + Brawl roll of the attacker. If successful, the Grapple is broken. If failed, the attacker may then attempt a Pin, Clinch, Bite or Throw on his next action.
  • Once established for a full round, the Grappled state continues without requiring further actions in subsequent rounds. Until the defender breaks away from the grapple, the state continues automatically.

In real terms, this would simply look like one combatant grabbing at another. The two of them wrestle, with the second trying to disengage while the first attempts to gain a dominant hold. Until the second combatant breaks away, the wrestle continues.

Note: As all Celerity actions take place after the first phase, it is possible for an attacker with more actions impending to initiate another maneauver in the second phase. Indeed, if that attempt fails he may continue making attempts as long as he has further phases of Celerity in which to act.



  • To successfully Pin the defender, the attacker must first maintain a Grapple beyond the retaliatory action of the defender. He then makes a second Strength + Brawl roll, resisted by a reactive Strength + Brawl roll on the part of the defender. Only 1 net success is required to establish the Pin.

A pinned character is considered completely immobilised but still struggling. Further attacks on him gain +2 accuracy dice and he cannot Dodge, nor Block, any attacks.

  • The defender may make no physical attacks of his own until the Pin is broken, which requires him (on his next action), to make another Strength + Brawl roll (difficulty 7), opposed by the attackers own Strength + Brawl roll (difficulty 6). Note that other than holding the Pin, the attacker may not make further attacks of their own save Biting (at difffculty 5).
  • If the defender manages to break the Pin, he is still considered Grappled until he makes a further attempt to break that too. Meanwhile, the attacker may attempt to initiate another Pin on his next action, so long as the Grappled state is maintained.



Biting may be undertaken one of three ways.

Firstly, and most typically, the attacker establishes a Grapple (see above), and then bites. The difficulty for this attack is 5, and the effects of the Kiss are then established.

Secondly, a bite may be attempted when two combatants are already engaged in a Clinch maneauver (see below). Typically this can only be accomplished if the would-be biter has enough dice to split pools, or has the Celerity discipline.

Lastly, the attacker may simply lunge and bite, seeking to brutally tear chunks off of the defender. The difficulty for this attack is 7, and the effects of the Kiss are obviously not established. Some particularly savage vampires will also target a specific area, such as the neck, for this attack.


Bear Hug and Clinch

In the first scenario, having maneuvered himself into advantage while grappling, the attacker wraps his arms around the defender and attempts to crush him. Each round, the attacker automatically does Strength + Potence dice of damage, while the defender continues to attempt to break the hold.

The Clinch is similar in nature, and can be entered into by either combatant at any time after the Grapple is accomplished but before a Pin, Throw or Bear Hug is successfully carried out. To begin, either attacker rolls Strength + Brawl to establish the clinch. The two combatants then each roll Strength + Brawl every round, and both of them take damage. The one with the most successes can elect to continue the Clinch, or slip back into a Grappled state. Few vampires will engage each other in a Clinch, as it opens them up to Bite attacks (see above) but it is a favourite against particularly troublesome mortals or other Supernaturals who resist the Kiss.

In either scenario, each combatant is considered to be completely immobilised. All attacks by third parties gain +2 accuracy dice, and neither combatant may Dodge or Block.



Having successfully maintained a Grapple, the attacker may elect to throw the defender.wherever he likes (up to 5 feet per dot of Strength). The maneuver does Strength +1 Damage (which is obviously applied when the defender lands). If the defender lands somewhere particularly painful, the Storyteller may award extra damage dice.

A charging attacker can also be thrown by a clever defender. To do so, the defender must obtain higher initiative and wait for the attacker to close. After Dodging the charge strike, the defender can then attempt to use the attacker’s momentum against him. He rolls Strength + Brawl (resisted by the opponent’s own Strength + Brawl). If successful, he can throw the attacker farther down his line of attack with a +2 Strength bonus. In other words, the attacker is thrown an extra 10 feet…


The Concord of Ashes Haligaunt