Starfarer Player's Guide Version 0.2OL: Online version. This document is copyright 1998 by Alan D. Kohler. Permission granted to copy and distribute this document in its original, unaltered form for personal use only

Email comments and questions to:

Chapter 3: Personal Combat

3.1 Basics

Many of you trigger-happy space marine wanna-bes out there may have flipped past chapter 2 on basic tasks because you were too eager to learn how to kill things in Starfarer. If this describes you, then GO BACK. The whole combat system is intimately dependant on the task system.

That said, for those of you who have already read the chapter on tasks, we may continue with a list of definitions to make your journey through the combat system a little easier:


3.2 Time and Initiative

The Starfarer combat system is based around 6 second combat rounds. This is sufficient to allow the players to embark on some fairly complex tasks while allowing the action to proceed at a realistic pace. This also conveniently divides each minute into 10 combat rounds.

When you roll for initiative, roll a 1d10 and add the Initiative statistic. This is your Action Point total for the round.

For each 10 full Action Points, you get an Action Phase during that round. An Action Phase is the amount of time that the character may take a combat action without penalties. You may attempt multiple actions during an Action Phase, but incur a penalty for each action past the first (See Section 3.2.1.)

Characters resolve their actions in order of their action points, counting down. When you take an action phase, you subtract 10 from your action point total. You may take another action phase this combat round if you have 10 or more points left. If you do not have ten Action Points left, you do not take any further action phases during the round, but you add any action points you have left next round.

Example: Three characters (we'll name A, B, and C ) initiate combat. They have initiative scores of 12, 9, and 7 respectively. A rolls 9 for initiative, so has 21 action points this round. B rolls a 5 for initiative, so has 14 action points this round. C rolls a 2 for initiative, so has 9 action points this round.

A takes the first action on 21. He resolves the action phase and subtracts 10 from the total, leaving him with 11 action points. B takes the second action on 14. He resolves his action phase and subtracts 10 from his action points, for a total of 4. A takes a second action on 11. He resolves his action phase and subtracts 10 from his action points, leaving 1.

The combat round ends, as there are no characters is left with 10 or more action points left.

Next round, character A adds 1 to his initiative, character B adds 4 to their initiative, and character C adds 9. Note that character C didn't get a chance to act this round, but with a +9 on his initiative next round, he will likely act first next round.

3.2.1 Action Declaration (optional)

Normally, a player may declare what action they want to take during an action phase when the time comes to resolve that action phase. However, if the GM is using initiative modifiers (section 3.2.2) or multiple actions (section 3.2.3), a character must declare their next action ahead of time, except as described in the abort action (see 3.2.4)

Under the action declaration rule, if a player wants their character to do a specific action in the next phase, they must declare that action either before initiative is rolled, or at the end of the preceding action phase.

3.2.2 Initiative modifiers (optional)

Normally, most actions are considered to have an initiative modifier of "0." This means that whatever you roll on your action point total is used to determine when you take your action phases.

However, some actions (such as some weapons) have an initiative modifier. This typically ranges from +3 to -3. When a player declares an action (see 3.2.1), any initiative modifiers associated with that action are added to the character's next phase action point total.

3.2.3 Multiple Actions (optional)

The default assumption is that a character will perform but a single action in an action phase. However, some characters have sufficient ability that they can credibly perform several tasks concurrently.

A character declares multiple actions in the same way that they declare singular actions. As described in 3.2.2, initiative modifiers are added to the characters next action point total. Add only the lowest initiative modifier to the character's action point total upon declaration.

When performing multiple actions in a phase, the EF of all attempted tasks are reduced by -1 per action attempted past the first.

At the end of the action phase, apply a -1 to the character's action point total for each action performed in the action phase, and add in all initiative modifiers except the lowest (which was added in the declaration step.)

3.3 Movement

3.4 Attack Resolution

In Starfarer, the combat system is based upon the same task system that is used to handle all other tasks. However, there are some additional mechanics needed for resolution of damage as well as other factors.

The success (or failure) of an attempted attack on a person or object is handled by a success based task. There are two basic types of attack in Starfarer: Ranged and Melee. Task profiles for each are outlined below: Table 3.1 Ranged "To Hit" Task.
To hit in ranged combat:
(Dexterity, Weapon*), x EF*
EF is based on range to target: 

Close*: x5

Point Blank: x7

Short: x6

*Close range if within target's melee range

Ranges are on range table

Medium: x5 

Long: x4

Extreme: x2

EF Modifiers: (-) Any modifiers from target's evasion task

Any modifiers from ranged modifier table

LOS Modifiers: Any modifiers from ranged modifier chart

LOS: Each LOS is a x1 damage multiplier

Table 3.2 Melee "To hit" Task
To hit a target in Melee combat:
(Weapon* or Unarmed, Agility), x5
EF Modifiers: (-) Any modifiers from target's evasion or parry task 

Any modifiers from melee modifier table

LOS Modifiers: Any modifiers from melee modifier chart

LOS: Each LOS is a x1 damage multiplier

Whenever a character attempts an attack during combat, the player (or GM, for NPCs) rolls an immediate success based combat task as defined above. If successful, the resultant LOS is used to determine damage inflicted by the weapon.

3.4.1 Ranges

When using range weapons in a task, the firing player (and/or GM) must determine how far away the target is, and check this against the weapons range table to determine which range bracket the target is in. These range bracket is split up into the categories of Point Blank, Short, Medium, Long, and Extreme. Additionally, a target is considered to be at close range if the target is eligible to make a melee attack on the firer during the current round.

Not all weapons have the extreme range bracket. Only weapons that have munitions that remain lethal beyond the effective aiming range of the weapon have this category, any it extends out to 1.5 times the long range of the weapon.

Ranges vary from weapon to weapon, but all weapons follow a general scheme. Weapons have a range rating based on the length, aiming characteristics, and power of the weapon. The general table that defines most weapons in the game is listed below by range rating. Table 3.3: Weapon Ranges by Range Rating


Ranges by Range Ratings
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
PB 1m 2m 3m 4m 5m 6m 7m 8m
S 5m 10m 15m 20m 25m 30m 35m 40m
M 10m 20m 45m 80m 125m 180m 250m 320m
L 30m 100m 300m 1000m 3000m 10km 30km 100km
E* 45m 150m 450m 1500m 4500m 15km 45km 150km
*- not all weapons have an extreme range bracket.

3.4.1 Hit location

Before resolving damage, you must determine where the attack hits. If the target is a human or is generally human shaped (like a humanoid android), then simply look at the "one's" dice (i.e., the low order digit) of the percentile roll. Use that number as the roll on table 3.4.

Some weapons hit multiple locations at once - like explosives and plasma weapons. See the special rules for those weapons for details. Table 3.4: Human Hit Location Chart
Low dice: 1 2-4 5-6 7 8 9 0
Result: Head Chest Abdomen Right Arm Left Arm Right Leg Left Leg

3.5 Damage Calculation

Each weapon is listed with a penetration rating followed by a damage rating, separated by a slash. A typical rating for a light projectile weapon would be 7/5, meaning it has a Penetration Rating of 7 and a Damage Rating of 5. Penetration Rating describes the weapons ability to defeat armor. The Damage Rating describes the inherent destructiveness of the weapon.

When a target is hit by the weapon, follow these steps. The procedure is simple, but the order of each step is important.

1) Find the target's Armor Rating. Subtract the Penetration Rating of the weapon from the Armor Rating to find the Modified Armor Rating for this attack. Treat results of less than zero as zero.

2) Subtract the Modified Armor Rating from the Damage Rating to find the Modified Damage Rating for this attack.

3) Multiply the Modified Damage Rating by the Level of Success of the attack. If the LOS is zero, multiply the Modified Damage Rating by ½. This is the applied damage.

Example: Kitai Kurugumi fires his laser pistol at an opponent that is 15 meters away. He has a skill of 5 with the laser pistol, and a dexterity of 7, giving him a BCS of 12 for the task. The target is 15 meters away, which is medium range for a laser pistol. The ranged to hit task has an Ease Factor of 5 at medium range, thus the MCS of the task is 60. A 24 is rolled for the attack. The Level of Success for the attack is 3, and since the second dice of the percentile roll was a "3", the laser hits in the chest.

The laser is a 2500j model with a penetration rating (PR) of 10 and a damage rating (DR) of 9. The target has level 16 armor against lasers. The penetration is subtracted from the armor rating for an effective armor rating of 6 (16 - 10 = 6.) This effective armor rating is subtracted from the damage rating for an effective damage rating of 3 (9 - 6 = 3). The LOS was 3, so the applied damage is 9 (3 x 3 = 9.)

3.5.1 Blow Through Rule (optional)

In the Starfarer system, a marginal (LOS 0) is typically considered to do minimal damage. However, some weapons have huge DRs that allow them to cause heinous wounds even though a marginal success is all that was rolled. In essence, very large weapons can never produce graze or even light damage results.

Some DMs may have a problem with this inherent level of coarseness in the damage system; accordingly, this rule puts a limit on the damage large weapons do to small target.

Under the blow through rule, large weapons are assumed to be wasteful when used against small targets. If the modified damage rating exceeds the targets mass, then reduce the modified damage rating to equal the target's mass rating prior to multiplying by the LOS of the attack.

There is a limit to this though. Do not reduce the modified damage rating by more than the target's mass rating. Strikes form very large weapons, such as laser artillery, tend to be deleterious of any life, regardless of the fact that the hit was somewhat "peripheral." (i.e., if the modified damage rating is over 2x the target's mass, reduce the modified damage by the target's mass.)

Example: Kitai Kirugumi has the same 2500j weapon described in the previous example: PR 10, DR 9. He has the occasion to fire his laser at an unarmored target, a normal sized human with a mass rating of 6.

Against this target, the modified damage rating would normally be 9. However, this exceeds the target's mass rating, so the modified damage rating is reduced to 6. If Kitai has an LOS of 3 against this target, the applied damage would be 18 points.

Later that day, Kitai finds a Phemorian Camprat (a pesky native life form that is mass rating 4) digging through his equipment. He fires his laser at the annoying beast. The Camprat has no armor to speak of. Normally, the modified damage rating would again be 9. This exceeds 2x the Camprat's mass rating of 4, so the modified damage is only reduced to 5 (instead of 4.) A LOS 3 hit against the Camprat would do 15 points.

3.6 Damage Resolution

3.6.1 Weapon Lethality

All weapons have a statistic called Lethality, which is the sum the weapon's Penetration Rating and Damage Rating. This is not tabulated in the weapon tables as it is easy enough to determine on the fly in most cases. This figure is important because it determines how severely a weapon affects a given target. Smiting a large, physically fit man with a nightstick might only irritate him, but the same blow might prove lethal for an elderly man in poor health. However, either man would doubtlessly to be slain by a large caliber railgun slug at point-blank range.

3.6.2 Assessing Damage.

The normal condition in a firefight is that all damage taken by an individual is appiled 100% to both the shock total and towards the individual wound tracks. This is true whenever the lethality of the weapon inflicting the damage has a lethality at least equal to the targets resilience rating.

However, if a weapon's lethality is less than the target's resilience, wound damage is lessened. If the lethality of the weapon is less than the targets resilience, record the full amount of damage to the target's shock total, but only count half of the damage (round up) when allocating wounds (see section 3.6.3)

In addition to this, if the area hit was the target's head, double the damage for purposes of shock value and wound effects.

3.6.3 Allocating Wounds

The final step of damage allocation is allocating individual wounds. Each character sheet has a wound track. These correspond to the hit locations determined as in 3.4.1. Across the top of the wound chart is a listing of various damage levels. For an average sized human, these are all in groups of 3. Though the character sheet does not name these wound levels, they are as follows: 1-3 for Graze, 4-6 for Light, 7-9 for Moderate, 10-12 for Heavy, 13-15 for Severe, and 16+ for Destroyed. Destroyed is otherwise known as "Maimed" for extremities or "Mortal" for Head, Chest, and Abdomen.

When damage is written in the wound and stun tallies, also mark one the circle in the box in the column corresponding to the amount of wound damage received from the attack and the row corresponding to the hit location. Graze and light wounds have multiple circles in that box; in this case, mark the leftmost unmarked circle. Mark the circle with an X.

If the all circles in the box in question are marked, mark the next available circle to the RIGHT of the normal one, but mark it with a slash (/)instead of an X. This represents accumulation of wounds. Wounds marked with either a slash or an x are treated the same for the purposes of combat effects, but are different for the purposes of wound treatment and healing.

The wound table on the character sheet is reproduced below. The chart shown is for a normal sized human:

Table 3.5: Wound Level Record Chart:


Wound Level:
Graze Light Medium Heavy Severe Maim/


Chest OOO OO O O O O
Abdomen OOO OO O O O O
Left Arm OOO OO O O O O
Right Arm OOO OO O O O O
Left Leg OOO OO O O O O
Right Leg OOO OO O O O O
0 -1 -2 -3 -4 -5

Table 3.6: Typical Wound Levels For Mass 6 (Size Mod 0) Humans:

Damage: Wound Level:

1-3 Graze

2-6 Light

7-9 Medium

10-12 Heavy

13-15 Severe

16-18 Maimed (if non-vital area)

16+ Mortal (if vital area)

3.6.4 Shock Damage:

In addition to the effects of specific wounds on the body, the player must keep track of shock damage. Shock is a generalized term encompassing life threatening damage throughout the body; it also represents short term effects of pain and damage on the body.

Whenever a character takes damage, in addition to allocating a wound, the damage must be recorded in the shock damage boxes. In addition to the effects of wounds, there are some other effects such as bleeding (see 3.6.7), illness, and other effects that attack the body as a whole that cause general (shock) damage and not specific wounds.

Characters have shock and stun damage tracks recorded for them. Similar to the effects of wounds, a character who has a certain level of general damage must make task rolls or suffer adverse effects.

3.6.5 Effects of wounds: Trait Penalties

In Starfarer, damage to the body can have immediate debilitating effects. How severe the effects depends partially on how severe the wound is.

The first effect of any wound is that the character suffers a trait penalty to any task they attempt using that body part. For example, injuries to one's arm affects any to-hit tasks involving that arm; wounds to legs impair movement, etc. Wounds to the chest and abdomen affect all tasks at ½ level (round up) due to the shock and pain involved. Wounds to the head affect all tasks at full level.

The trait penalty is listed at the bottom of the wound chart in the row labeled "modifier." Any task attempted using the affected limb, subtract the shown number from EACH trait the character has relevant to the task.

Similarly, if a character has enough accumulated points of shock damage, there may be an adverse effect. If the character takes at least 2 times their basic shock potential, they suffer the same modifier as listed under the appropriate column on the character sheet. For example, if your character has suffered 3x the basic shock, the character suffers a -2 penalty. This applies to traits for all actions.

3.6.6 Effects of Wounds and Shock

If a character takes a wound of medium level or higher, the player must make a disability check every round in order to use the affected body part that round.

If a character takes a wound of heavy (in a vital area) or severe (in a non-vital area), the character must succeed in a shock check or lapse into unconsciousness.

If a character takes mortal level wound (NOT maimed), the character must make a survival check every round or die.

In addition to the effects of wounds, a character must make a shock check whenever:

The task profiles required for these checks are as follows:

Disability check:

To use an injured extremity

(Endurance, Willpower) x 5


Subtract the wound level modifier from the EF (not from the traits.)

Success allows the character to use the extremity for tasks using the affected body part, subtracting the modifier from the character's traits.

GM: Only required if the character has a level 3+ (medium or worse) wound.

Shock Check:

To remain conscious:

(Endurance, Willpower) x 8


Modify EF by the wound level penalty or shock level penalty.

If the character fails, LOF is the number of rounds for which the character loses consciousness. After this time, the character may make another check to regain consciousness. If this second check fails, roll LOF in d10 to determine the amount of rounds until any further checks are made.

Any LOF over 3 results in an additional wound in the same body area at the next higher level. This wound is marked as a slash (/).

GM: This check is required if:

Survival Check:

To avoid death when mortally injured or when in the "x6" bracket for accumulated shock damage.

(Endurance, Essence) x 8


-1 to trait levels for each round past the first with the wound untreated.

GM: This check automatically fails if the character has taken over 2 times the basic "mortal" level of damage.

3.6.7 Bleeding

If a character takes a wound that has a negative modifier associated with it, they are considered to be bleeding. The amount of the negative modifier is how many additional shock the character takes every round.

A character can attempt to slow or stop the bleeding; see the section on treating wounds. There is also a small chance that bleeding will stop of its own accord:

To stop bleeding without treatment:

(Endurance) x5

Modifiers: -1 EF per point of bleeding in area.

Success automatically stops one point of bleeding.

LOS: Each LOS stops an additional point of bleeding.

DM: Only check once every number of rounds equal to the rate of bleeding. Check individually for each area wounded.

As an optional rule, blunt instruments are less likely to cause severe bleeding. Divide bleeding rate from blunt instruments by 2 (round up).

3.6.8 Specific Injuries

The above rules are a general system to handle injuries during a heated combat. After the combat is resolved, surviving characters may make use of the specific injury charts in the appendix to determine the exact nature of the involved injuries.

3.7 Using karma