Age of Heroes
Basic combat has been covered by the rules above, but there are numerous instances and conditions that can complicate a battle. Tactically minded players can use these to their advantage, while encountered enemies with the skills or abilities to do so may impose them against their foes. In any case, these factors can combine to make nearly impossible battles merely difficult and make an indefacicable enemy vulnerable to a strategically planned assault.
The generals of the ancient world did not crush their enemies by overwhelming force alone, but by clever tactical use of their resources. In an Ancients game, you will often find yourself facing stronger and better armoured opponents than yourself or monstrous creatures from the myths with scales of iron and a gaze that can turn men to stone. Tactics are the key to victory. The hero who is clever enough to use a burnished shield as a mirror is more likely to survive than the one who relies on force of arms.
Presenting a Smaller Target
You can change your Passive Defense against certain forms of attack by presenting a smaller target, such as by dropping to the ground. This, however, only works against attacks coming from a given direction.
A prone character has +4 to his Passive Defense against ranged attacks coming at him horizontally, as he is lying flat and presents less of a target. However, against ranged attacks from above or against melee attacks, he has –4 to his Passive Defense. Note that this does not affect a character while he drops to the ground reactively, as an evasive move. It only applies once a character has become prone.
When a character is behind cover, he presents a smaller target, which equates to a bonus to his Passive Defense. Cover provides a +4 bonus to Passive Defense against ranged attacks and melee attacks.
To determine whether your target has cover from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. If any line from this corner to any corner of the target’s square passes through a square or border that blocks line of effect or provides cover or through a square occupied by a creature, the target has cover. When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has cover if any line from your square to the target’s square goes through a wall (including a low wall). When making a melee attack against a target that is not adjacent to you (such as with a reach weapon), use the rules for determining cover from ranged attacks.
Low Obstacles and Cover
A low obstacle (such as a wall no higher than half your height) provides cover, but only to creatures within 30 feet (6 squares) of it. The attacker can ignore the cover if he is closer to the obstacle than his target.
Cover and Attacks of Opportunity
You cannot execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with cover relative to you.
Cover and Hide Checks
You can use cover to make a Hide check. Without cover, you usually need concealment (see below) to make a Hide check.
Creatures, even your enemies, can provide you with cover against melee and ranged attacks. However, such soft cover provides no bonus on Reflex saves, nor does soft cover allow you to make a Hide check. A creature that is acting as cover, whether it means to or not, allows a +4 bonus to your Passive Defense. The Games Master may allow a greater bonus if the covering creature is larger than the creature covered or if it is purposefully trying to provide cover.
Attacking a creature that has cover from another creature gives an attacker a chance of hitting the covering creature instead. If an attack roll scores higher than the covered creature’s Passive Defense without the cover bonus but less than that amount after the bonus, the attack has struck the creature providing the cover. For this reason, it is highly dangerous to attack an opponent who is standing behind one of your friends. For example, Phegeus throws his spear at Diomedes, who is standing in his chariot behind his charioteer. The charioteer provides soft cover, so Diomedes’ Passive Defense is modified from 10 to 14. Phegeus rolls a 13 with his attack roll. This is higher than Diomedes’ Passive Defense but less than his Passive Defense after the cover bonus, so the unfortunate charioteer is the one hit by the spear.
Big Creatures and Cover
Any creature with a space larger than five feet (1 square) determines cover against melee attacks slightly differently than smaller creatures do. Such a creature can choose any square that it occupies to determine if an opponent has cover against its melee attacks. Similarly, when making a melee attack against such a creature, you can pick any of the squares it occupies to determine if it has cover against you.
If you do not have line of effect to your target he is considered to have total cover from you. You cannot make an attack against a target that has total cover.
Varying Degrees of Cover
In some cases, cover may provide a greater bonus to Passive Defense and Reflex saving throws. In such situations the normal cover bonuses to Passive Defense and Reflex saving throws can be doubled to +8 and +4, respectively. A creature with this improved cover who makes a successful Reflex save takes no damage, while a failed saved allows them to take only half damage from the effect. Furthermore, improved cover provides a +10 bonus on Hide checks.
Concealment makes a target harder to hit by obscuring him partially or completely, such as with darkness or smoke. Concealment does not affect your Passive Defense, as it is not a matter of how small or fast-moving a target you present but more a matter of an observer being unable to tell exactly where you are at a given moment.
To determine whether your target has concealment from your ranged attack, choose a corner of your square. If any line from this corner to any corner of the target’s square passes through a square or border that provides concealment, the target has concealment.
When making a melee attack against an adjacent target, your target has concealment if his space is entirely within an effect that grants concealment. When making a melee attack against a target that is not adjacent to you, use the rules for determining concealment from ranged attacks. In addition, some magical effects provide concealment against all attacks, regardless of whether any intervening concealment exists.
Concealment Miss Chance
Concealment gives the subject of a successful attack a 20% chance that the attacker missed because of the concealment. If the attacker scores higher than the defender’s Passive Defense, the defender must make a miss chance percentile roll to see if the attack missed completely. Multiple concealment conditions do not stack.
Concealment and Hide Checks
You can use concealment to make a Hide check. Without concealment, you usually need cover to make a Hide check.
If you have line of effect to a target but not line of sight, he is considered to have total concealment from you. You cannot attack an opponent that has total concealment, though you can attack into a square that you think he occupies. A successful attack into a square occupied by an enemy with total concealment has a 50% miss chance instead of the normal 20% miss chance for an opponent with concealment. You cannot execute an attack of opportunity against an opponent with total concealment, even if you know which square or squares the opponent occupies.
Concealment is not always effective. Although invisibility provides total concealment, sighted opponents may still make Spot checks to notice the location of an invisible character. An invisible character gains a +20 bonus on Hide checks if moving or a +40 bonus on Hide checks when not moving; even though opponents cannot see you, they might be able to figure out where you are from other visual clues.
Varying Degrees of Concealment
Certain situations may provide more or less than typical concealment and modify the miss chance accordingly.
When making a melee attack, you get a +2 flanking bonus if your opponent is threatened by a character or creature friendly to you on the opponent’s opposite border or opposite corner. When in doubt about whether two friendly characters flank an opponent in the middle, trace an imaginary line between the two friendly characters’ centers. If the line passes through opposite borders of the opponent’s space (including corners of those borders), then the opponent is flanked.
If a flanker takes up more than 1 square, it gets the flanking bonus if any square it occupies counts for flanking. Only a creature or character that threatens the defender can help an attacker get a flanking bonus. Creatures with a reach of 0 feet cannot flank an opponent.
A helpless opponent is someone who is bound, sleeping, paralyzed, unconscious or otherwise at your mercy.
- Regular Attack
A helpless character cannot make Active Defense or Shield Defense checks at all and must rely on Passive Defense and any armor he is wearing to protect him. Bear in mind that most helpless characters are also prone, so they are harder to hit with ranged attacks. It is very rare for a helpless character to be standing upright; paralysis is one of the effects that can cause this, as is being tied to a vertical post or tree, such as for an execution by bow and arrow. Usually, a character becomes prone immediately after becoming helpless. Unconscious characters drop to the floor automatically and sleeping characters are assumed to be on a horizontal surface. A helpless defender is treated as if he was disallowed his Dexterity bonus to Active Defense for the purpose of sneak attacks and suchlike effects, although he cannot actually use Active Defense.
As a full-round action, you can use a melee weapon or a burning item (such as a hot poker) to blind a helpless opponent. You automatically hit and deal normal damage. A Coverage check may be made if the opponent is wearing armor on his head but the check is at a –10 penalty. If any damage at all gets through, the resulting wound is considered grievous even if it is smaller than the character’s Constitution ability score and the character is blinded. Each use of this attack blinds the character in one eye, so it must be repeated twice to blind the character completely. These grievous wounds may only be healed with Medicine skill checks and never with cautery. In a historical campaign, characters never recover from blindness, even when the grievous wounds that caused it have healed. In a mythic campaign, sight can be restored with magic (such as a miracle) but not until the grievous wounds that caused it have healed completely, not just been turned into normal wounds.