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Shadows over Baltimore

Melee Combat

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Melee Combat Resolution

Resolving Combat

Shadowrun includes four types of combat: ranged combat, melee (also known as hand-to-hand), astral combat, and cybercombat.  All combat, whether it involves firearms, knives, astral attacks, or attack programs, is resolved in the same manner.


Opposed Combat Test

Combat is handled as an Opposed Test between the attacker and defender. The exact skills and attributes used depend on the type of combat, method of attack, and style of defense, as described in each section. Various modifiers may also apply. If the attacker scores more hits than the defender (the defender wins on ties), the attack hits the target. Otherwise, the attack misses.


The Combat Sequence

Use the procedure outlined below to resolve combat.


1. Declare Attack

The attacker declares an attack as part of the Declare Actions part of his Action Phase  and spends an appropriate action depending on the type of attack. The defender also declares what method he is using to defend. The defender can choose to go on full defense if he chooses.


2. Apply Situational Modifiers

Apply appropriate situation dice pool modifiers to the attacker according to the specific attack. Modifiers may also apply to the defender’s dice pool depending on his method of defense.


3. Make the Opposed Test

The attacker rolls attack skill + attribute +/– modifiers. The defender rolls defending skill + attribute +/– modifiers.

If the attacker scores more hits than the defender (the defender wins on ties), the attack hits the target. Otherwise, the attack misses. Note the net hits (the number of hits that exceed the defender’s hits). If the result of the Opposed Test is a tie, the gamemaster may choose to rule it as a grazing hit. A grazing hit does not do any damage, but the character nevertheless makes contact.

This allows certain contact-only attacks (poisons, shock gloves, touch-only combat spells, etc.) to still do damage.


4. Compare Armor

Add the net hits scored to the base Damage Value of the attack; this is the modified Damage Value.

Determine the type of armor used to defend against the specific attack, and apply the attack’s Armor Penetration modifier; this is the modified Armor Value. If the attack causes Physical damage, compare the modified Damage Value to the modified Armor Value. If the DV does not exceed the Armor, then the attack inflicts Stun rather than Physical damage.


5. Damage Resistance Test

The defender rolls attribute + modified Armor Value to resist damage. Each hit scored reduces the modified Damage Value by 1. If the DV is reduce to 0 or less, no damage is inflicted.


6. Apply Damage

Apply the remaining Damage Value to the target’s Condition Monitor. Each point of DV equals 1 box of damage.

Wound modifiers may apply as a result of damage. Characters may also need to check for knockdown


Whenever two or more characters engage each other in hand-to-hand combat or armed combat that does not involve ranged weapons, the following melee combat rules apply. Melee combat in Shadowrun assumes that some maneuvering occurs as part of the fight. Rather than a single blow, each attack is a series of moves and counter-moves executed by those involved. Melee combat is not “I punch you and then I wait for your turn to punch me;” rather, it represents several seconds of feints, jabs, punches, counters, attacks, defends, kicks, and bites by both combatants at the same time. For simplicity, the character


Melee Attack Modifiers

Apply appropriate modifiers from the Melee Modifiers Table


Defending Against Melee Attacks

Defenders have three choices for defending against unarmed attacks. If they have a melee weapon in hand, they

can parry the attack by rolling Reaction + the appropriate weapon skill. If they have Unarmed Combat skill, they can choose to block by rolling Reaction + Unarmed Combat. Or they can simply dodge out of the way using Reaction + Dodge.


Melee defenders can also choose to go on full defense , and add Dodge skill dice to their defense roll. Defenders apply dice pool modifiers according to the Defense Modifiers Table. Some modifiers from the Melee Modifiers Table may apply to the defender as well.


Melee Modifiers

Various factors may affect a character’s ability to attack, parry, or dodge in melee combat. The modifiers noted on the Melee Modifiers Table apply to both attackers and defenders, unless specifically noted.


Called Shots

Characters using melee weapons may call shots.


Multiple Opponents and Friends in Melee

Characters may often find themselves outnumbered in a fight. When this occurs, the number of friends on hand becomes extremely important. In such a situation, total up the number of characters within a few meters who are involved in the same fight as the character. They only count if they are near the combatant character and fighting against the same opponent(s). If six friends are around, but are all spread out fighting their own combats, they can be of no help against the character’s opponent. Total up the number of “friends” on each side. The character with the greater number of friends on his side gets a +1 dice pool modifier for each friend more than his opponent

has, to a maximum of +4. As characters move away or are taken out of the fight, they no longer count as “friends.”



Certain weapons (or the arms of a troll) are longer and allow an attacker to hit a target from a greater distance, giving him a slight edge in melee combat. Weapons with this feature have a Reach rating of 1–4. When one melee fighter has a reach advantage over his opponent, he can choose to apply that reach offensively (attacking from a distance) or defensively (keeping his opponent at bay). Every point of Reach translates into a +/–1 dice pool modifier.


When a melee attack is made, compare the Reach of the two opponents and calculate the difference. The character with the higher net Reach can choose to apply his net Reach bonus as a dice modifier bonus to his test or as a negative dice pool modifier to his opponent’s test. Trolls have a natural Reach of 1 that is cumulative with weapon Reach.


Off-Hand Weapon

If an attacking or parrying character is wielding the melee weapon in his non-dominant hand, he suffers –2 modifier for the attack. Note that all characters have a dominant hand (left or right, their choice), unless they have the Ambidextrous quality.


Multiple Targets

Characters may attack more than one opponent in melee with the same Complex Action, as long as those opponents are within one meter of each other. The attacker’s dice pool is split between each attack, and each attack is handled separately.


Superior Position

A character has a superior position if he is standing on higher ground (by at least half a meter) than his opponent, if he is standing on stable ground while the opponent is not, if he is attacking the opponent from behind, or if the opponent is in a restricted position and the character is not. Note that if a target is not aware than an attack is coming then he cannot defend against it (no dodge or parry). It is generally assumed that characters engaged in combat have enough situational awareness to notice attacks from behind (and thus dodge/parry them) unless the attacker is using Infiltration skill to sneak up on the character.


Character Charging

A character who runs and attacks an opponent in the same Action Phase is considered to be charging. The charging character must cover at least 2 meters of ground to reach his opponent. Charging characters get a +2 Charging dice pool modifier to their attacks and do not suffer a movement modifier for running.


Defender Receiving a Charge

A character who has delayed his action and who is being charged by another character can intervene and take his action in the split-second before the charging character attacks. A character who receives a charge in this way receives a +1 dice pool modifier to his attack for bracing against the attack.


Touch-Only Attack

If a character is merely seeking to touch an opponent, rather than damage him (in order to cast a touch-only spell, for example), then the attacker receives a +2 dice pool modifier.


Melee Combat Weapons

Melee combat weapons are any weapons wielded by combatants within a few meters of each other. Some of these weapons can also be thrown, but if the weapon is swung, melee combat rules apply. If you throw a melee weapon (a club, for instance), you resolve that action as a ranged projectile attack. The Melee Weapons Table lists the melee weapons available in Shadowrun, along with their statistics. For full details, see the gear listings.


Melee Damage

The Damage Value for most melee attacks is based on the attacker’s Strength 2 (round up), modified for the weapon. A standard unarmed attack inflicts (Strength 2)S. Impact armor (not Ballistic) is used to defend against melee weapons.

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