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Chapter 4: Combat

Prev: Chapter 3: Scenarios

Combat is a type of scenario used to resolve situations of martial conflict. PCs face off against Adversaries in a battle of arms and spells. This chapter will cover, in detail, how to run all aspects of combat scenarios in Triptycho.

Base Reactions

A unique element of combat scenarios is that every PC has a Base Reaction that is practically always available to play. This Reaction represents a basic attempt to avoid an incoming attack.

Your base Reaction has a standard Miss: 1d4 entry with no additional effects. The Miss improves to 2d4 at level 6. Many cards, abilities, and Gear (especially Shields, Armor, and Implements) provide various bonuses to this base Reaction. Details on the Gear will be covered in a future chapter.

The Battle Map

Combat scenarios are distinguished by the use of a battle map illustrating the terrain layout and position of entities. Maps are divided into sections, which are most easily described as delimited areas enclosed by borders. These borders can be “hard,” such as a solid wall, or “soft” conceptual borders that divide a larger area into discrete parts.

Sections denote positioning. Each entity is located in one section on the map, often referred to as the “occupied section” for that entity. Particularly large entities may, at the DM's discretion, occupy multiple sections at a time.


Movement between sections is defined with a number denoting the number of soft section borders that can be crossed. For instance, an ability that grants a Move 3 allows you to cross three soft section borders. Unless otherwise specified, every entity has the innate ability to Move 1 during their turn.

You are permitted to Move on your turn during either the Strategy Phase or the Action Phase. You may Move before playing any Strategy, so long as you have completed all elements of the Start of Turn, and you may Move after playing any Action, so long as you have not yet begun to resolve any End of Turn elements. Moving does not cost any phase of your turn. You may be granted additional Moves as an effect from other cards played by you or other entities; these additional Moves do not count against your one Move per turn.

Normally, you can only cross soft section borders when moving. Special movement types can break this rule. For these special movements, the “Move” text is replaced with the special movement keywords. They are as follows:

  • Phase allows you to cross solid borders, such as walls.
  • Fly allows you to ignore Height values on section borders.
  • Teleport allows you to instantly shift from your occupied section to your destination section without having to cross through other sections on the way (thus ignoring potential interruptions, obstacles, or dangerous terrain).


Section borders can also have a Height definition, provided as a number. Height designators are only used for steep changes in elevation; slopes are not directly modeled.

In order to cross a border with a height increase, you must climb (see below), perform a Move with a provided Height value equal to or greater than the border's height, or use a special movement type.

If an entity falls across a height border (such as simply moving across it without climbing or using any special abilities), the entity suffers 1d6 damage per height. For instance, getting pushed down a height 3 border would result in suffering 3d6 damage from the fall.

The special movement type Fly ignores Height values. Phase and Teleport special movement types must have a range equal to or greater than the Height value to perform the movement.

Melee and other range 0 Actions cannot cross Height boundaries (unless they have Reach). Ranged Actions can cross Height boundaries. The range of the Action must be equal to or greater than the total change in Height when reaching the target. Additionally, the terrain must not obstruct the entity's ability to see the target. Consider the following examples:

  1. A PC wishes to make a ranged attack against a target 2 sections away with height changes of 1, then 2 across the section borders. The PC must play an Action with range 3 or better since the destination section is a total of 3 Height above the PC's occupied section.
  2. A PC wishes to make a ranged attack against a target 2 sections away on the other side of a chasm, with height changes of -6 and 6 across the section borders. The resulting height difference is 0, so the PC only needs an attack with range 2 or better in order to make the distance.
  3. A PC wishes to make a ranged attack against a target 2 sections away with height changes of 1 and -2 across the two section borders. This attack cannot be made because the shot is blocked by the terrain.
  4. A PC wishes to make a ranged attack against a target 2 sections away with height changes of -2 and -1 across the two section borders. The PC must use an attack with range 3 or better since the destination section is a total of 3 height below the PC's occupied section.

The DM can make exception for special circumstances in which these rules are too simple to accurately model the terrain.


Some combat terrain poses extra difficulties. The floor may be slick with ice or slime, have a hole or chasm that requires leaping over, or be randomly quaking from elemental magics. Perhaps there's a narrow platform to balance on while fighting, or sudden gusts of wind that threaten to knock you off your feet. For these situations and more, each Class has an Acrobatics entry on their card.

Acrobatics entries are used for simple opposed rolls when the situation calls for such in combat. The DM will let you know when this is needed. To succeed, you'll need to tie or beat the DM's roll. Failure can have a variety of consequences depending on the terrain. Common failure results include being unable to move, falling into another section, taking damage, or some combination of these.


Some section borders with Height values can be climbed. In order to climb without using any special abilities, an entity can make an Acrobatics check against the border as part of a Move to attempt to climb. Each successful roll results in traversing Height 1 unless otherwise specified. Until enough Height is traversed to overcome the border, the entity is climbing and subject to the following rules:

  • The entity occupies the lower section
  • If the entity's section is subjected to an Area Attack, the entity is only affected by the Action if the Action's Range entry is sufficient to reach the entity's current Height
  • The entity's Power and Resilience are treated as 1 less than their current value unless otherwise specified (min -4)
  • The entity cannot perform Incantations unless otherwise specified
  • If the entity takes damage, the entity must immediately make an Acrobatics check vs. the border; success does not result in any traversal, but failure results in an immediate fall

A climbing entity that wants to stop climbing may fall as a Move, suffering any resulting falling damage.


You can choose to prevent enemy passage across one or more section borders between the occupied section and one or more adjacent sections; this is called performing a Block. If your occupied section has 4 borders or fewer, you can only block 1 border. If it has more than 4 borders, you can block 2 adjacent borders. This blocking only works for leaving the section; entering the section is always permitted.

Blocking requires spending the Strategy Phase; the Block will remain so until the blocker leaves the section or willfully lowers the Block (this requires only announcing the intent to do so; no additional Strategy Phase must be spent for this). Additionally, Blocks are automatically lowered if the blocker becomes unable to Move. Finally, Blocks cannot impede the Phase, Fly, and Teleport movement types, nor can they impede any movement from an enemy that the blocker cannot see.

Some abilities permit Blocks of section borders at a distance. In these cases the Blocks function on both sides of the section border. Such Blocks do not end automatically if the blocking entity becomes unable to Move, they do not require the entity to occupy the section, and they function even if the blocking entity cannot see the enemy. These Blocks usually have their own durations and limitations described.

Distance and Range

The distance between sections is defined as the minimum number of soft section borders that must be crossed in order to travel from one to the other. For instance, two sections that share a soft border are distance 1 from each other. Imagine a hallway consisting of three linear sections; the section at each end of the hallway would be distance 2 from each other.

The range of an Action must be equal to or greater than the distance between the occupied sections of the attacker and the target (or, equal to or greater than the number of soft section borders crossed to get from one to the other). The range of an Action is described with a Range, Thrown, or Reach entry; if there is no such entry, the range of the Action is 0. So, an Action with Range: 2 can cross two soft section borders to reach a target.

An Action without a Range or Thrown entry is considered to be melee. Most such Actions can only target entities in your occupied section. An Action with the Reach descriptor is special in that it is melee but can also cross section borders if desired.

When performing an attack, the attacker can choose which section borders are crossed to reach the target. However, it must be possible to draw a straight line from a point in the origin section to a point in the target section that crosses all chosen section borders. In other words, you cannot curve ranged attacks (such as around obstructions) unless otherwise specified.

Unless otherwise specified, Actions with a Range entry cannot be made if there are any enemies in your occupied section. This restriction does not apply to Actions with a Thrown or Reach entry. If the Action has an Incant entry along with a Range entry, only check for enemies in the occupied section when beginning the Incantation; the Action is not canceled if an enemy then enters the occupied section later, and it can still fire normally at the start of the incanting entity's finishing turn regardless of the presence of enemies.

An attack with the Area Attack descriptor targets all entities in a section instead of a single entity. Some such Actions will specify that the Action only targets enemies or allies, and some may exclude the attacker from the set of targets. If an Action with the Area Attack descriptor lacks a Range, Reach, or Thrown entry, it can only target the occupied section and will also target the attacker unless otherwise specified.

If an entity is blocking a section border in its occupied section that a ranged attack without the Area Attack descriptor passes through, the entity may choose to Intercept, jumping in front of the attack as an Interrupt. If they do so, they become the new target of the Action. If a ranged attack without the Area Attack descriptor passes through a section border that was blocked from a distance, the attack automatically misses.


Sections can be either lit, shadowy, or dark. A section must be lit in order to see it and any occupying entities. If a section is shadowy, occupying entities can only be seen by other occupying entities, but the terrain can be seen from other sections. If a section is dark, it cannot be seen unless entered, and occupying entities cannot be seen even by other occupying entities.

Entities that cannot see their targets suffer -1 dice level to Accuracy and Evasion Dice, and if they cannot see in their occupied section, they also suffer -1 dice level to Skill Dice. If an entity occupies multiple sections with different illumination, only consider the relevant section, such as the section where the attack occurs or the Acrobatics check is required. If multiple sections are relevant, apply the worst visibility from all of them.

Some entities possess special abilities that grant them altered sensory capabilities in dark locations, such as Low-light Vision and Darkvision. An entity with Low-light Vision treats shadowy sections as though they were lit. An entity with Darkvision treats both shadowy and dark sections as though they were lit. An entity with Light Sensitivity, on the other hand, treats lit sections as though they were shadowy. This is often combined with other sensory abilities; for instance, an entity with Low-light Vision and Light Sensitivity would simply reverse the lit and shadowy properties when determining visibility.


Focuses and various Action cards often include Incant values in the Action entry. This number refers to how many charges are required to play the Action. Incantation charges are primarily gained by incanting; you can spend your Action Phase to begin an Incantation, though many Implements will provide alternate methods of beginning Incantations. At the start of your next turn, if you are still incanting, you gain 1 charge and can immediately play any valid Actions with an Incant entry that you have accumulated sufficient charge to pay. Playing an Action in this manner does not cost your Action Phase for that turn.

Playing an Action with an Incant entry expends all the charges you've built up, even if it requires fewer charges than you have. For instance, if you've incanted for 2 turns and built up 2 charges, playing an Action with Incantation 1 still reduces you to 0 charges.

You can choose not to spend your Incantation charge at the start of your turn. The charge is maintained as long as you begin incanting once again before the end of your turn. In this manner, you can accumulate multiple charges by incanting across consecutive turns.

Other effects may also grant you Incantation charges at points other than the start of your turn. If you gain Incantation charges after the start of your turn but before your Action Phase, you can play an Action in your Action Phase that requires Incantation charges following the same rules as if it was the start of your turn. However, playing an Action in this manner does cost your Action Phase.

If you take damage while you are incanting or while you have accumulated any Incantation charges, you immediately stop incanting and lose any charges you have built up.


Some sections may be filled with sufficient water that entities must swim if they occupy that section. An entity that is swimming has dice levels reduced by 1 on all Hit, Miss, and Damage dice when using Weapons, Tools, and Shields (stacking with any penalties or bonuses from illumination or Stat Tracks). Any Move that grants more than one section of movement is reduced by 1 for each section entered that requires swimming. The following exceptions apply to these rules:

  • An entity with the Aquatic keyword ignores these penalties.
  • An Action played from a Weapon having the Dagger or Spear type ignores the Hit and Damage penalties.

Unless otherwise specified or judged by the DM, ranged attacks cannot reach targets that are underwater.

Generally, combat should be quick enough that an entity's ability to breathe or hold breath while swimming underwater should not be taken into consideration. If PCs will be swimming underwater long enough that drowning is a serious consideration, an exploration scenario should be used instead.

It is possible to envision battle maps in which sections are layered on top of each other when the water is sufficiently deep. However, attempting to model such maps is not recommended as tracking three dimensional movement can be complex and rather irritating. If it must be done, limit the map's complexity, and use dice next to each entity to show their current depth.

Next: Chapter 5: Exploration

player_s_guide_chapter_4.txt · Last modified: 2019/07/20 20:40 by triptycho