Combinations

Martial artists can learn a class of multiple-attack techniques called "Combinations" (p. 80). These constitute a special case of Rapid Strike (p. B370), which makes them compatible with All-Out Attack, Attack, Committed Attack, and Defensive Attack, but not with Move and Attack. The chosen maneuver modifies all applicable elements of the Combination: All-Out Attack (Strong) gives +2 damage with all strikes, Committed Attack (Determined) gives +2 to hit with all attacks, and so on.

Regardless of skill or speed, a fighter can use only one Combination per maneuver. If he does, he can't execute a Rapid Strike or Dual-Weapon Attack (p. B417) as part of the same maneuver. For more on the interaction between rules that let a warrior use a single maneuver to attack more than once, see Multiple Attacks (pp. 126-128).

A feint at the end of the maneuver immediately previous to the one that delivers the Combination lowers the target's defenses against the whole thing. The same is true for the feint portion of All-Out Attack (Feint) when the ensuing attack is a Combination. If using Riposte (pp. 124-125), a Combination counts as a single attack. The target's defense reduction applies against all parts of it, but note that only one active defense suffers the full penalty and it generally takes more than one defense to stop a Combination.

Any or all parts of a Combination can be Deceptive Attacks (p. B369) or Telegraphic Attacks (p. 113). These options modify the attack and defense rolls to resolve the affected portion(s) of the technique only. A fighter can mix and match; for instance, he could start a three-attack Combination with a Deceptive Attack, follow with an unmodified attack, and then finish with a Telegraphic Attack.

The viability of each attack after the first in a Combination depends on how well the preceding attacks do.

If the attacker misses with one of these - or if his foe makes a successful active defense against it - his target gets +3 on rolls to avoid the remainder of the Combination. This bonus applies equally to active defenses and to rolls against ST, DX, or skill for attacks that use Quick Contests.

If a later attack requires a successful earlier attack to proceed, the "setup" must work for the fighter to attempt the "follow-up"! If it doesn't - for whatever reason - the rest of the Combination is forfeit. Common situations include:

• Attacks with limited reach. If a Combination involves an attack with fixed reach, that attack can only work if the preceding ones leave the target in range. In particular, if a close-combat strike like a punch or a Knee Strike follows an attack that hurls the victim one or more yards away - most often a shove, throw, or strike that inflicts knockback - the Combination ends if the attacker can't step to deliver the short-ranged attack.

• Holds, locks, throws, and disarms using grappling skills. Combinations that include such attacks require a successful grab or grapple, and cannot proceed without it.

• Strikes that require a prone target. A Combination that directs a Knee Drop, Stamp Kick, or similar attack against the target's upper body can only proceed if an earlier attack puts the victim on the ground. It might specifically set up such a move using a throw, takedown, or Sweep . . . but many realistic Combinations end with a strike like this on the off chance that an earlier blow knocks down the target by pushing him off-balance (see Knockback, p. B378) or injuring him (see Knockdown and Stunning, p. B420).

A Combination doesn't preclude movement by the attacker. He may make full use of any movement his maneuver permits. He can intersperse this between the elements of his Combination however he sees fit, although some maneuvers limit his options (e.g., All-Out Attack allows only forward movement). He needn't specify this when he learns his technique, as realistic Combinations take into account that some movement is inevitable in combat. This freedom doesn't extend to the order of attacks, which is always fixed.

The target may retreat after any element of the Combination, gaining a bonus to his active defenses against that attack and all that follow. This is gradual movement -not a sudden lurch, like knockback - and doesn't take him out of reach of the remaining attacks. Treat the distance between attacker and defender as constant unless the attacker steps or the defender suffers knockback, a throw, etc. If using tactical combat, move a retreating defender back a hex only after resolving the effects of the entire Combination.

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