Combat represents time in slow motion, when the passage of Time is measured in seconds rather than minutes or hours. Most commonly it is used when there are two or more parties in battle with one another, but it can also be used whenever time is a factor for determining the outcome of an event, such as when exposed to a fast-acting poison or when holding your breath. Combat is measured in segments and rounds, with each round being composed of 10 segments. Ten rounds represent about 1 moment, which is approximately 2 to 3 minutes of real time.

The GM determines when combat will start, but most frequently it occurs when hostile creatures become aware of each other, or a decision is made by one hostile creature to attack another. When combat begins, the GM will determine Tide of Battle and will ask the players to roll initiative for their characters, then he will roll initiative for the NPCs and/or monsters.

Tide of Battle

Before combat begins, your GM will determine Tide of Battle. Tide of Battle represents the morale of each side of the combat, based on the personal strengths, numbers, and position of each side. When Tide of Battle is in the favor of your party, you will receive a bonus to your Attack Rolls and Defenses equal to the current Tide of Battle. If Tide of Battle is in favor of your opponents, they will receive the bonus. If Tide of Battle is even between all opponents, there is a Neutral Tide and no bonus is given. Tide of Battle will shift throughout the combat, adjusting according to how each side is faring against the other. See Tide of Battle for more information.


Initiative represents your character's quickness in reacting to a situation and determines when you will take your first turn in combat. You cannot take any actions prior to your first turn (not even free actions), as you are still reacting to the event that started initiative.

Rolling Initiative

When your GM asks you to roll initiative, you will roll 1d10 (or a smaller die if you have feats or features to reduce the size of this die). The result of your die roll will represent the first segment in which you may act, and your first turn. This is often referred to as your Starting Initiative.


Sometimes it is possible to initiate combat before one or more opponents become aware of each other. When a creature is completely unprepared for combat (i.e. it was distracted doing something else, it was sleeping, it did not notice its opponent and was not expecting attack), it is Totally Surprised. A Totally Surprised creature must add 10 segments to his starting initiative (causing him to not get a turn until the next round).

A creature is Partially Surprised if he is On Guard and generally prepared for combat. A Partially Surprised creature must add 5 to his starting initiative. See Determining Surprise for more details.

Counting Initaitive

When the GM is prepared, he will start counting out the segments of the first round, starting with segment 1. He will continue until one or more players responds that they are acting in a particular segment, or until he reaches the starting initiative of one of his NPCs or monsters.

After a creature has taken its turn (see Taking Your Turn for more information), the GM will continue counting until he's reached segment 10. After all actions in segment 10 complete, the round ends and a new round begins with segment 1.

Initiative Order

Once your initiative is called, you may take your turn. If more than one creature is acting in the same segment, then the creature with the highest Initiative Order goes first. If two creatures acting in the same segment have the same Initiative Order, the two actions are considered to occur simultaneously (though the players and GM can confer to determine who will take their turn first for simplicity's sake).

Recovery Time

After you take your turn, you will have a Recovery Time for the action you completed. You add this recovery time to the current segment (the segment in which you took your turn) to determine when you act next (i.e. the segment of your next turn). If this new segment number is higher than 10, you will act in the next round (subtract 10 to determine in which segment you will act).

For example, if your turn is in Segment 6, and you make a Basic Attack with a Dagger, then your Recovery Time for the attack is 6 segments (i.e. equal to the Dagger's Speed). Adding the Recovery Time of 6 to the current segment 6, determines that your next turn will be in segment 12, or segment 2 of the next round.

Back to How to Play