Combat in Triumvene is designed to be tight, focused and built around narrative. It's extremely distinct from something like D&D or Pathfinder. Instead, the two golden rules for Triumvene combat are, what makes sense in the story is something which can be done, and the damage that makes sense is the damage done. As such, a single hit with a sword can be lethal. If you sneak up behind someone and stab them, they just die, instead of losing an amount of HP. Attacks don't do numbers, they do damage.
Rolls to hit and rolls to defend still exist, but since no player character death in the game is permanent, the story is the main focus. Even the group all ending up dead simply means you didn't complete your objective, with whatever consequences follow from that, until you revive.
Each encounter consists of a series of turns, in which you can Move and take an Action. They continue until your major objective is achieved or lost, which could be anything from retrieving an item to killing all the enemies in a space, to rescuing a target of interest.
Every encounter has at least one timer associated with it, which counts the number of turns the group has until they fail. Every time every player around the table has set out their moves and actions for the turn, the timer ticks up by one. If the group manage to achieve the objective before the timer completes, then they succeed, otherwise, they fail. The narrative then continues, with whatever outcome happened.
Encounters can run into each other, with each with their own countdown. For example, you might have a party of three assigned to rescue a person from capture. You might set out one encounter with 8 turns to break in, another with 12 turns to find the person, and then a final encounter with 8 to escape.
In Triumvene, character death isn't permanent. As such, if you're killed but your group succeeds, they can hopefully retrieve your body. Otherwise, you'll be considered captured, until your magic revives you the next day.
If the entire group ends up either incapacitated or killed, maybe you all end up arrested and locked up until you revive or heal. Maybe someone else you were supposed to protect or evacuate gets killed. Maybe the item you were sent to steal or to protect was taken by someone else, and now you'll have to retrieve it. The story continues, as will you.
When Moving you can travel six spaces per turn. Diagonal moves are not allowed. Once you've taken an Action, you lose any remaining Movement you haven't used.
Movement costs can vary. Walls prevent movement, and some tiles have effects which reduce the number of moves available. The effects are:
- Challenging - these are hard to move on. Maybe they're slippery or sticky, or have a surface hard to move over in some way such as water. These cost two points to move through.
- Superheated/Acidic/Supercooled - these inflict Burning or Frozen status effects if the character ends their turn standing on them.
- Water - Stops Burning damage, at the cost of being Challenging.
- Smoke/Fog/Steam - these inhibit sight. All checks to attack or defend, and any Fitness checks involving sight or line of sight are rolled at advantage.
- Cover - anything which inhibits line of sight and is robust enough generally prevents you from attack. As such, hiding behind a stone column or a sturdy wall should keep you safe, whilst a door might stop someone seeing you, but might not stop a rifle bullet.
After moving, you can choose between Attacking and using a Manipulation, but you can't do both. Manipulations are fairly straightforward, in that they do what they say, but attacking and defending has a few rules you'll need to know.
There is one check for all attacks, and one for defending.
- Attack: everything from hand to hand combat, use of non-traditional weapons (think bar brawls), swords, axes, knives, daggers, bows and crossbows, darts, grenades, firearms and anything else you can think of. If it's an attempt to hurt someone through physical means, it gets rolled for with this check.
- Defending: dodges, blocks, parrying and all other forms of otherwise avoiding being harmed. Defence checks against Ranged attacks from a character attacking from an adjacent tile are rolled with advantage.
Weapons may also cause effects beyond their own damage, such as causing explosions, doing damage to targets around them, or having enough force to punch through several targets. These are left up to the rulings of the GM.
Different sized weapons of differing levels of quality do different amounts of damage, but that damage happens in the story, rather than being mechanically determined. Shooting someone with a crossbow vs a blow dart vs a rifle will have very different effects, because it's inconceivable that it wouldn't. The damage and effects caused happen in the narrative, based on what makes sense.
Firearms require upkeep and custom ammunition. This could be anything from batteries, specific liquids or projectiles, to time to recharge.
When moving near enemies, you may want to travel stealthily. This imposes a penalty on your movement, making all tiles cost double to move through. However, it also requires anything that might have otherwise seen you to fail to notice your movement, unless you're particularly conspicuous.
As a rule of thumb, if there's a reasonable way the player can move without being seen, and no-one's looking for them, they succeed automatically. If however there are lookouts, the player rolls a Defence check.
Whilst you might wish for a quiet life, there will be times when the need for combat arises, and then you'll be glad of your armour. However, Triumvene treats armour as a narrative tool, not a mechanical one. As such, armour (if you're wearing it) exists to create ways in narrative to explain how you survive damage which would otherwise kill you. It adds flavour to storytelling, but gives no special bonus to your ability to survive an encounter.
Assuming you've rolled to avoid damage and failed, you may avoid injury by using points from your Luck pool. Alternatively, you can take the damage and that can influence your character in the future, assuming they survive.
War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing...but controlled and purposeful violence.
Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers
Weapons and environments can do more interesting things than simply knocking someone over. Here's the common effects you'll want to be aware of
The target is knocked 1d12' straight backwards.
The target is knocked 1d12’ in a direction specified by the GM, and 1d12’ into the air. The target loses one Luck, or must take some level of damage on impact. On rolling a 12 on either dice, causes the target to be stunned.
Any Fitness related rolls suffer disadvantage for the next turn.
Acids, Burning & Frozen
The target either loses Luck suffers some level of damage for two turns.
The target cannot move in the next turn.
The target is zapped by a damaging electrical discharge. Roll a Narrative check. On rolling a 9+, the target's muscles spasm, doubling Movement costs for the next three turns.
A limb is seriously harmed by the force of the blow. Fitness checks suffer disadvantage until the target is healed.