Into the Darkness
Combat in Dragon Age is very easy to execute. An order of initiative is determined once, at the beginning of the fight, and then all combatants take turns in that order. Each cycle of all characters taking one turn each is called a round. When each round ends, a new round begins, using the same initiative order.
At the beginning of combat, each combatant makes an initiative test using Dexterity (Initiative). This is a simple test, but rather than being compared to a target number, all combatants’ test results are ranked. Combatants will then act in that order, with higher results going before lower results. Ties are broken the same way as in opposed tests.
On their turns, characters take actions. There are two types of actions: major and minor. On any given one of their turns a character takes one major action and one minor action. If the character wishes, however, he may take two minor actions instead. A character may also decline either or both actions and do nothing.
- Melee Attack: You attack an enemy within 2 yards in hand-to-hand combat.
- Ranged Attack: You attack an enemy by firing or throwing a missile weapon.
- Run: You travel up to double your Speed in yards. You must be in a standing position to do this.
- Defend: You gain a +2 bonus to your Defense until the beginning of your next turn.
- Heal: You provide first aid to an injured ally. You must be within 2 yards of them and have bandages ready (per the ready action). Make a TN 11 Cunning (Healing) test. If successful, your ally gains Health equal to your Cunning plus your dragon die result; that ally can’t benefit from another heal action until he takes more damage.
- Ready: You unsheathe a weapon, pull out a tool, or otherwise get ready to use some stowed item on your person. As part of this action, you can also put away something you already had in hand.
- Move: You travel up to your Speed in yards. If you limit your travel to half your Speed you can also fall prone, stand up, or mount or dismount a horse or vehicle.
- Aim: You carefully plan your next strike. If your next action is a melee attack or ranged attack (even on your next turn), you gain a +1 bonus on that attack roll.
- Activate: This action is used with certain powers or items whose descriptions say something like, “Use an activate action to…”
When attacking an enemy, you make a simple test. The target number is your target’s Defense. On a success the attacker inflicts damage. On a failure the attack does nothing. Each pre-generated character and NPC stat block has a pre-calculated attack bonus that includes the appropriate ability score, focus bonus, and any other bonuses that always apply.
To inflict damage, simply make that roll and subtract the results from the target’s Health. If the target has armor, though, subtract their Armor Rating from the damage before reducing Health, unless the damage is “penetrating” damage, in which case armor is not helpful. When a character has Health 0, he is dying. (There is no negative Health.) A dying character can talk, but otherwise take no actions. Unless he receives first aid to increase his Health, the character dies in a number of rounds equal to 2 + his Constitution. The GM may rule that NPCs simply die when their Health reaches 0, rather than bothering to wait the requisite number of turns.
However, combatants can also always elect to incapacitate rather than kill their Health 0 enemies when they would otherwise inflict a killing blow.