Combat Circumstances


Cover is a vital part of surviving a firefight and a good Guardsman knows that it is best to find cover first and then draw your gun (no matter what the Commissar might say!). There are no penalties to Ballistic Skill Tests made to attack targets standing partly behind cover. However, there is a chance that the shot may hit the cover rather than the target. It is up to the Guardsman to decide which parts of his body he is exposing when behind cover, but as a general rule, a character firing around or over cover will have his body and legs concealed. If the shot would hit a body location that is concealed behind cover, work out the Damage against the Armour Points of the cover instead, with any excess being applied to the target as normal (see Table 8–4: Cover Examples for a guide to the Armour Points of different kinds of cover).

Damaging Cover

Cover is not invulnerable. Attacks can Damage or destroy the protection afforded by cover. Each successful hit against cover that deals any amount of Damage in excess of the Armour Points it provides reduces the cover’s Armour Points by 1.

Table 8-4: Cover Examples

Cover Type Armor Points
Armor-glass, genatorium pipes, thin metal, wooden planks. 4
Flakboard, storage crates, sandbags, ice, trees. 8
Cogitator banks, stasis pods, standard barricades 12
Rockcrete, hatchways, thick iron, stone. 16
Armaplas, bulkheads, plasteel. 32

Weapon Skill Tests made in darkness are regarded as Hard (–20), while Ballistic Skill Tests are regarded as Very Hard (–30). While a character is concealed by darkness, Concealment Skill Tests are Routine (+20).

Difficult Terrain
Weapon Skill and Evasion Tests made whilst standing in difficult terrain, such as mud, are Difficult (–10). Tests made whilst standing in arduous terrain, such as deep snow or slick ice, are Very Hard (–30).

Engaged In Melee
If an attacking character is adjacent to his target, both the character and his target are considered to be engaged in melee.

Shooting into Melee Combat
Ballistic Skill Tests made to hit a target engaged in melee combat are Hard (–20). If one or more characters engaged in the melee are Stunned, Helpless, or Unaware, this penalty is ignored.

When a character is Fatigued, all his Tests, including any Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests, suffer a –10 penalty.

Fog, Mist, Shadow, Or Smoke.
Ballistic Skill Tests made to attack targets concealed by fog, mist, shadow, or smoke are Hard (–20). While a character is concealed by fog, mist, or shadow, Concealment Skill Tests are Ordinary (+10).

Ganging Up
A character has an advantage when he and his allies engage the same foe in melee combat. If a group of characters outnumber their opponent two to one, their Weapon Skill Tests are Ordinary (+10). If a group of characters outnumber their opponent by three to one or more, their Weapon Skill Tests are Routine (+20).

Helpless Targets
Weapon Skill Tests made to hit a sleeping, unconscious, or otherwise helpless target automatically succeed. When rolling Damage against such a target, roll twice and add the results (note that Prone and Stunned targets are not automatically considered Helpless Targets).

Higher Ground
Characters standing on higher ground, such as on a table, hill, or atop of a mound of dead squad mates, have an advantage in melee. Weapon Skill Tests made by these characters are Ordinary (+10).

Missing and Scattering
Sometimes, when flinging a thrown weapon, it’s important to know where the weapon lands should the attacker fail his Ballistic Skill Test. On a failed roll, the GM rolls 1d10 and consults the Scatter Diagram on page 255. Roll 1d5 to determine the number of meters the weapon travels in the indicated direction. This is also used with weapons with the Blast Quality. They affect a wide enough area that if the shot goes awry, it may still Damage something, even if it’s not the original target.

Scattering In Zero Gravity
The consequences of throwing dangerous objects in a zero gravity environment can be both amusing and deadly. One way of determining exactly where that errant krak grenade floats after it bounces off the bulkhead is to roll twice on the Scatter Diagram, once for the X-axis and once for the Y-axis.

Being shot at is a terrifying experience at the best of times, and even the most inexperienced Guardsmen know to keep their heads down when the bullets and bolt shells start flying. Pinning represents a character’s survival instincts telling him to stay in cover. Certain combat actions or other circumstances call on their targets to make a Pinning Test (Challenging [+0] Willpower Test). On a success, the character may act normally. On a failure, the character becomes Pinned.

Being Pinned
A Pinned character is busy trying to avoid getting shot, so may only take a single Half Action each Turn, though he can take Free Actions and Reactions as normal. Additionally, he suffers a –20 penalty to all Ballistic Skill Tests. If a Pinned character is in cover relative to the attacker that Pinned him, he may not leave it except to retreat (provided he can remain in cover while doing so). If he is not in cover when Pinned, he must use his next Turn to reach cover. If there is no cover nearby, he must move away from the attacker that Pinned him. A character can make a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test at the end of his Turn to escape Pinning, in which case he may act as normal on his next Turn. This Test is Easy (+30) if the character has not been shot at since his last Turn or is under cover. A character engaged in melee combat automatically escapes Pinning. Characters cannot initiate melee combat in an attempt to escape Pinning.

Point-Blank Range
When a character makes a ranged attack against a target that is two meters away or closer, that target is at Point-Blank Range. Ballistic Skill Tests made to attack a target at Point Blank Range are Easy (+30). This bonus does not apply when the attacker and the target are engaged in melee combat with each other. For weapons with a short range of less than three meters, Point-Blank Range is one meter less than the weapon’s short range.

A character is considered Prone any time he is lying on the ground. Weapon Skill Tests made to attack Prone targets are Ordinary (+10), but Ballistic Skill Tests made to hit Prone targets are Difficult (–10) unless the attacker is at Point Blank Range. A character who is Prone suffers a –10 penalty to Weapon Skill Tests and a –20 penalty to Evasion Tests.

Size is an important factor when shooting ranged weapons because it’s usually easier to hit a larger target. All characters and creatures in Only War have a defined size category, and it should be relatively easy for the GM to assign appropriate size categories to objects as needed. Use Table 5–6: Size (see page 157) for determining bonuses and penalties based on a target’s size.

Stunned Targets
Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests to attack Stunned targets are Routine (+20).

Unaware Targets
When a character has no idea that he about to be attacked, he is considered an Unaware Target. Usually, this happens at the beginning of a combat when one or more characters are Surprised (see page 240). Weapon Skill or Ballistic Skill Tests made to attack Unaware Targets are Easy (+30).

Weapon Jams
Weapons may jam either through extreme age, maltreatment of their machine spirit, or just plain poor design. An unmodified result of 96 to 00 on a Ranged attack, in addition to being an automatic miss, also indicates the weapon has jammed. A jammed weapon cannot be fired until it is cleared. Clearing a jam is a Full Action that requires a Ballistic Skill Test. If the Test is successful then the jam has been cleared, though the weapon needs to be reloaded and any ammo in it is lost. If the Test is failed, the weapon is still jammed, though the character can attempt to clear it again next Round. Note: Some weapons, such as plasma guns, grenades, and missiles, are particularly dangerous to use. For these weapons, refer to their descriptions and Weapon Special Qualities (see Chapter VI: Armory). Semi-automatic and fully automatic fire also increases the likelihood of jamming. This is described within the Semi-Auto Burst, Full Auto Burst and Suppressing Fire Actions.

Weather and Unnatural Conditions
Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill Tests made to attack whilst enduring harsh weather or unnatural conditions, such as heavy rain, an ash storm, or standing knee-deep in waves of fungus, are considered Hard (–20), unless stated otherwise (see Chapter I: Playing the Game).

Combat Circumstances

Only War: The Tsadian Campaign Damian_Drayden