Across the Universe / X-COM
Combat will be executed in Turns, with each side (Players and Aliens) being able to take actions during their turn. Turns will alternate between Players and Aliens … one side will take their actions, then the other side will take their actions. During your side’s turn, Characters can act in any order. Once all Characters on a side have acted (or held any remaining actions), that side’s turn ends and the other side begins their turn.
Initiation of Combat
Combat in X-Com will typically start when one side (Players or Aliens) engages the other. In rare situations, both sides may attempt to initiate combat at the same time … in this case, the side that was first aware of the opposing side will act first (and turns will alternate from there). If both sides are effectively surprised by the other, each side makes a single Reflex check using the average Reflex value of all Characters involved in the initial encounter (all Characters that perceived the other side). Note that Cool checks for NPCs (and in rare cases, Players) may adjust the effective average Reflex stat this check.
During a Combat Turn, each Character can take two actions. The list of potential actions include:
- Move up to your available Movement Allowance
- Fire weapon(s) or make a melee attack
- Dodge (in X-Com, you can Dodge to decrease the chance to be hit by ranged attacks)
- Aim a ranged weapon
- Take an action not specifically listed here (reload weapons, skill checks, etc).
Encounters within X-Com are extremely tense events, especially for NPCs. During such situations, Characters may freeze or react slower than normal … this is reflected by a Cool check. Whenever the GM feels it is appropriate, Characters will be required to roll a Cool Check. A Cool Check consists of rolling a d10 and adding the Character’s Cool stat (Player Characters get an additional +10 for their Cool Check, ’cause they are just that Cool) … this value is compared against the threshold value for the check.
Characters that meet or exceed the threshold can move and act normally. Characters that do not meet the threshold reduce their effective Reflex and Movement Allowance by 1 for each point their roll was below the threshold. If a Character’s effective Reflex stat is reduced by more than half of their normal Reflex stat, the Character looses one action during that (or their next) Combat Turn. Characters who’s effective Reflex stat is reduced to 0 or below (even if it was reduced by just one point) loose all of their actions during that (or their next) Combat Turn. The results of the Cool Check remain until the start of that side’s next turn.
During X-Com encounters, bad things often happen. Characters generally dislike bad things, and when confronted by enough bad stuff Characters will sometimes do things they normally wouldn’t. This is reflected by a Panic Check. A Panic Check is rolled the same way as a Cool Check (with Player Characters still getting the automatic +10, since they are still just that cool). Characters that meet the Panic Threshold can move and act normally … Characters that do not meet the Panic threshold are taken over by the GM, who will determine an appropriate panic response.
Characters that have panicked remain panicked until they make a successful Panic Recovery Check against the original Panic threshold. Each turn, the Character gets to make a Panic Recovery Check, which is the same as a normal Panic check but has a cumulative +10 adjustment for each turn that they have not been exposed to further panic triggers. Panicked Characters are immune to further Panic checks while panicked … however, any situation that would normally trigger a Panic Check will reset the Character’s Panic Recovery adjustment to 0.
Each Character starts with a Movement Allowance of 10. Each action spent moving allows the Character to move up to their current effective Movement Allowance in Meters. A number of factors effect a Character’s Movement Allowance (primarily encumbrance … carrying a significant amount of weight relative to the Character’s Maximum Weight Allowance, or MWA). Apply all of the applicable factors below (in the order listed) to the base Movement Allowance to determine a Character’s effective Movement Allowance at any particular time:
- Lightly Encumbered (carrying between 50% & 75% MWA): Reduce MA by 1
- Moderately Encumbered (between 75% & 100% MWA): Reduce MA by 2
- Heavily Encumbered (between 100% & 125% MWA): Reduce MA by 5
- Crawling: Reduce MA by 50%
- Difficult Terrain: Reduce MA by 50%
- Rising from a crouch: Reduce MA by 1
- Standing from being prone: Reduce MA by 3
Each NPC has a preset “Snap Action” that will be attempted if the NPC has remaining action(s) and is surprised by an opponent. To determine if the NPC is able to successfully perform the Snap Action, the NPC rolls a Cool Check and then both Characters involved roll Reflex checks using the modifiers below (some of the modifiers only apply for Snap actions taken after the roll). The Character rolling the higher Reflex check can take actions until their Reflex check result (as modified by further actions taken) falls below the other Character’s Reflex check:
- NPC fails Cool Check: Reduce result by Cool check failure amount
- Lightly Encumbered (carrying between 50% & 75% MWA): Reduce result by 1
- Moderately Encumbered (between 75% & 100% MWA): Reduce result by 2
- Heavily Encumbered (between 100% & 125% MWA): Reduce result by 5
- For each action held/remaining: Increase result by 5
- Remaining Movement Allowance: Increase result by 1/2 of remaining MA (round down)
- Using a Pistol class weapon: Increase result by 5
- Using an SMG class weapon: Increase result by 2
- Drop to Crouch/Prone (does not count as using an action): Reduce result by 3
- Dive for cover: Reduce result by 5
Note that Characters cannot “generate” additional actions by rolling well for a Snap Check. If the Character only held one action (or only has one action not completed from the current Turn), the Character cannot get two Snap actions even if they roll significantly higher than their opponent. As soon as a Character has expended all of their remaining actions, the other Character can take any of their remaining actions. For Snap Actions (and Snap Actions only), remaining Movement Allowance is converted into one Snap Action.
If a Snap Action is not clearly documented on the NPC’s Character Sheet, a default Snap Action of firing a single shot at the enemy while remaining standing will be used.
As Characters become more experienced with fighting Aliens, the stresses and rigors of combat become less pronounced. This is reflected by the special skill Combat Experience. Players cannot increase Combat Experience … it can only be gained by Characters engaging in combat. The GM will keep track of Character’s participation in combat and will periodically increase a Characters Combat Experience stat. At the beginning of their careers, Combat Experience will increase relatively quickly … earning the higher levels of Combat Experience will require significantly more (and more dangerous) experience in combat.
Combat Experience is counted as additional Cool and MA for the purposes of Cool Checks, Panic Checks, and encumbrance effects on movement. Once a Character has earned some combat experience, increase the current value of their Cool stat when performing Cool or Panic Checks. Also increase the Character’s Maximum Weight Allowance for the purposes of determine how encumbered the Character is. This does not increase the maximum amount of weight the Character can lift (the Character’s dead lift amount), it only affects how much the Character can carry easily in combat.