Rules Summary

Character Anatomy
In Only War, each player controls a character known as a Player Character (or PC). Player Characters are as varied as the regiments and worlds from which they come, the specialised training they have, and the campaigns in which they have fought. In addition to personality, disposition, and background, which are invented by the player, exactly what a particular Player Character is like is defined by set of Characteristics, Skills, Traits, and Talents.


Characteristics represent a Player Character’s raw ability in a variety of physical and mental areas. There are nine different Characteristics, each rated on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the Characteristic score, the better.

Weapon Skill (WS)

Weapon Skill measures a character’s competence in hand-tohand fighting, whether using fists, knives, or chainswords.

Ballistic Skill (BS)

Ballistic Skill reflects a character’s accuracy with ranged weapons, such as lasguns and boltguns.

Strength (S)

Strength is a measure of a character’s physique, and determines how much he can carry as well as how hard he can hit with melee attacks.

Toughness (T)

Toughness defines how easily a character can shrug off injury and how resilient he is to toxins, poisonous environments, and other physical ailments.

Agility (Ag)

Agility measures a character’s quickness, reflexes, and poise.

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence describes a character’s acumen, reason, education, and general knowledge.

Perception (Per)

Perception measures the acuteness of a character’s senses and determines how accurately he perceives his surroundings.

Willpower (WP)

Willpower describes a character’s mental fortitude and how well he can withstand the multitude of horrors in the universe. It serves as a key measure for psychic potential.

Fellowship (Fel)

Fellowship reflects a character’s ability to interact with others, to deceive, charm, befriend, or lead.

Characteristic Bonuses

All Characteristics have an associated bonus. The Characteristic Bonus is equal to the tens digit of the Characteristic.

If a character has an Agility of 34, his Agility Bonus is 3. If he has a Willpower of 41, his Willpower Bonus is 4.

Characteristic Bonuses are often used as modifiers. Since these bonuses are determined by the Characteristic, they may rise and fall throughout the game. Should a Characteristic take a penalty, that penalty likewise applies to the Characteristic Bonus.


The following Skills represent only a sampling of the Skills that are available in Only War. Each Skill has a governing Characteristic, which is used to test against when a character uses the Skill (see below).


Governing Characteristic: Strength
Athletics covers all kinds of intense physical activity such as running, swimming, or climbing. A character calls upon Athletics when he wants to scale a challenging cliff face or cross a fast flowing river. Athletics is usually used as part of a Move Action.


Governing Characteristic: Perception
Awareness reflects a character’s ability to perceive hidden dangers, search for objects, or to notice small details about his physical surroundings. Awareness is not tied to any one sense; it encompasses them all. It is often tested passively or in response to a subtle change, and in those cases, making an Awareness Skill Test is usually a Free Action.


Governing Characteristic: Fellowship
Charm is used to befriend, persuade, or influence others in ways that are generally perceived as positive, or a least non-hostile. Making a Charm Skill Test usually takes about a minute.


Governing Characteristic: Agility
The Dodge skill is used as a Reaction in combat to negate a hit by jumping out of the way or otherwise avoiding a blow. See the Evasion Action in Combat Action Descriptions.

Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechnicus)

Governing Characteristic: Intelligence
The Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus) Skill represents the character’s knowledge about the followers of the Machine God, including such things as rituals, observances, common beliefs, and core philosophies.


Governing Characteristic: Strength

Intimidate is used to frighten, coerce, bully, or threaten others. While Intimidate is usually backed up by Strength, the GM can allow more subtle uses of Intimidate that rely on Intelligence or Fellowship. Making an Intimidate Skill Test is a Full Action.


Governing Characteristic: Intelligence

The Medicae Skill is used to treat and repair injuries by closing wounds and restoring the balance of the body’s humors. A successful Medicae Test removes Damage equal to the character’s Intelligence Bonus. A failure by more than three Degrees of Failure inflicts one additional point of Damage. Using Medicae is a Full Action for both the character using the Skill and his patient. Medicae can also be used to determine the cause of death when studying a body.

Governing Characteristic: Perception
Scrutiny is the Skill that allows characters to detect lies and see through falsehoods, as well as interpret obscure information.

Governing Characteristic: Intelligence Security is the ability to access and break into security systems, from mag-sealed bulkhead hatches and encrypted cogitator systems to simple mechanical locks. Though a deft hand is useful in these situations, the overriding requirement to be skilled at Security is a quick mind.

Governing Characteristic: Agility
Stealth is the ability to remain unseen or hide from an opponent. Stealth is most commonly used to lay ambushes or sneak past guards but can also be used to help others hide or to camouflage objects. Using Stealth is usually part of a Move Action or a Reaction when an opponent is trying to spot the character.

Governing Characteristic: Intelligence
A character can employ Tech-Use to repair mechanical items or figure out how unusual technological artifacts work. A Tech-Use Skill Test can take anywhere from a minute to an hour, depending on the complexity of the task. Extra Degrees of Success on a Test can reduce the necessary time.

Rules Summary

Only War: The Tsadian Campaign Damian_Drayden