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A Quick Combat System

Copyright Georg Witrisal ©2002

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

The Quick Combat System presented below was created in order to speed up the flow of the game. Sometimes, when your party ventures into a dungeon or another dangerous site, dozens of patrolling units may be encountered. These nasty groups all tend to be alike, and resolving such a struggle gets boring after having defeated the third band of Orcs or villains. So both you and your players may wish to reach the lion's den faster, but you can't just skip the next encounters. After all, there is still a chance that a lucky Orc might harm or even kill a character.

This fast-moving combat system is based on the rules for running mass land battles that were originally published in ICE's Middle-earth Sourcebook The Kin-strife (ICE #2015), but it is focused on struggles between a party of player characters and smaller group of enemies. It incorporates most statistics of the original Rolemaster system and calls only for a few calculations, which can be done within a minute or two (or even before the start of the adventure).

Computing a character's Individual Combat Value

The first step is to compute the Individual Combat Value (ICV) of each character (PC) and the average opponent (NPC). This is done using the following formula:

Individual Combat Value =
(OB x Attack Modifier + DB + Armor Type + Status Modifications)
Frequency Factor

OB: The normal Offensive Bonus without any modifiers due to position or surprise.

Attack Modifier: The weapons and attack forms presented in Arms Law and Spell Law all differ in terms of efficiency (basically, i.e. deadliness). To represent this, the OB has to be multiplied by a certain modifier based on the attack:

Attack Modifiers


Arms Law


Battle Axe

x 1.4


x 0.7


x 1


x 0.7

Composite Bow

x 0.8


x 0.5


x 1.1


x 1.5


x 1

Heavy Crossbow

x 1.1


x 0.8


x 1.5

Light Crossbow

x 0.9

Long Bow

x 0.9


x 1

Main Gauche

x 0.5

Morning Star

x 1.3


x 1.3


x 1


x 0.8


x 1

Short Bow

x 0.6

Short Sword

x 0.9


x 0.7


x 1.1

Two-handed Sword

x 1.5

War Hammer

x 1

War Mattock

x 1.4


x 0.5

Claw Law1)



x 1


x 1.4


x 0.6


x 0.9


x 1.5


x 0.7


x 1.1

Martial Arts:Strikes

x 1

Martial Arts:Sweeps

x 0.7


x 0.9


x 0.3


x 0.2


x 1.5

Spell Law3)


Cold Ball4)

x 2.5

Fire Ball4)

x 3

Fire Bolt

x 1.2

Ice Bolt

x 1.3

Lightning Bolt

x 1.6

Shock Bolt

x 0.4

Water Bolt

x 0.7

1) The given Attack Modifiers are for Huge Attacks. Reduce the modifier by 0.1 for each attack size/degree below Huge to a minimum of 0.1 (i.e., for a Small Attack, the modifier is reduced by 0.3).

2) A Brawling attack may not yield a deadly result (i.e., treat all "kill" results as rendering a foe unconscious).

3) For Spell Law attacks, PPs must be spent (see below).

4) A +50 bonus is applied to Ball Spell attacks as an OB for computing a character's ICV. The Attack Modifier assumes that more than one target is being hit.

DB: The normal Defensive Bonus, including shields and magic (if you spend PPs on your spells).

Armor Type: A character wearing heavy armor is protected from many serious blows, while a character without any armor should better not charge into combat blindly. Therefore, the following modifiers due to armor apply:

AT 1 & 2: 10, AT 3 to 6: 5, AT 7 to 10: +0, AT 11 to 14: +5, AT 15 to 18: +10, AT 19 & 20: +15.

Status Modifications: The penalties that accrue from the loss of Hits, Power Points or Exhaustion Points.

Frequency Factor: If a character relies on missile weapons or magical attacks instead of normal melee combat, he may need to prepare the attack a couple of rounds. If he is, on average, able to attack every second round, the ICV is divided by two. If he is able to attack only every third round, it is divided by three, etc. (A combination of various attacks may also be used. An example of this can be found at the end of the article.)

Example: Two PCs examining an abandoned tower have to face three scattered Orcs. The still unwounded fighter (level 5) wears a chain mail (AT 14), has a DB of 10 and an OB of 105 (he has a +10 non-magic weapon). He attacks each round with his Tow-handed Sword, and therefore has a Individual Combat Value (ICV) of: (105 x 1.5 + 10 + 5 0) 1 = 173. The fighter is accompanied by an able magician (level 6), who has already spent a quarter of his PPs (thus, he suffers a -10 penalty). The mage decides to throw in a couple of Fire Bolts (which will cost him further PPs) that he prepares one round each. He has a Directed Spells: Fire Bolts OB of 90, a DB of 30 (magically enhanced) and wears no armor (AT 1). His ICV is: (90 x 1.2 +30 10 10] 2 = 59.

The Orcs (level 3) wear heavy leather armor (AT 10), have an OB of 60 with their scimitars, a DB of 20 (they have shields) and are not (yet) wounded. Their ICV is: (60 x 1 + 20 0 + 0) 1 = 80.

Computing the Group's Combat Value

In a fight against large groups of enemies, there are usually only one or two different kinds of NPCs involved, e.g. some Orcs who are accompanied by a single Troll. Besides computing the ICV for each kind of enemy, you only have to decide how many foes will be encountered. After this decision, the Group's Combat Values (GCV) are calculated. This is done by adding all the PC's ICVs together, respectively by multiplying the NPC's ICVs by their number. Then, divide the two sums by the number of combatants in the (numerically) weaker force. Round the results off to the nearest number.

Example:The Group's Combat Value (GCV) of our two heroes from the above example equals: (173 + 59) 2 = 116. The Orcs' GCV is: (80 x 3) 2 = 120.

Resolving the Struggle

A struggle is resolved by the GM rolling on behalf of the NPCs, and a player (preferably the group's "leader", i.e., the character with the highest skill bonuses in Tactics and Leadership) making the roll for the PCs. Both add their group's GCV and all applicable modifiers to the rolls. Then, the modified result of the NPC's roll is subtracted from the modified result of the PC's roll. To determine the outcome of the battle, consult the below table.

Quick Combat System Static Maneuver Table T-QCS

-26 Down

Spectacular Failure

2 rounds

Historically bad attempt. All player characters are killed or imprisoned. You should have tried Arms Law combat.

-25 to 04

Absolute Failure

1 round -20

The NPCs almost defeat the PCs. Each PC receives a +50 attack from a suitable enemy weapon. Then, roll again on this table, subtracting 20 from the PC's GCV. Duration 1 round

05 to 75


+0 rounds -10

The PCs have a hard time standing upright. Four PCs receive a +30 attack from a suitable enemy weapon. Then, roll again on this table, subtracting 10 from the PC's GCV.

UM 66

Unusual Event

+1 round -5

The NPCs seem to be ridiculed, but not scared. each PC rolls an appropriate fumble, adding +20 to the roll. Ignore all results that only delay the combat. However, the NPCs take advantage of the situation and force the PCs to roll again on this table at -5. Each PC also receives a +40 attack from a suitable enemy weapon. Duration +1 round.

76 to 90

Partial Success

+2 rounds

The PCs achieve their goal and defeat the NPCs. They may decide if the NPCs are killed or if they have fled. However, three PCs receive a +25 attack from a suitable enemy weapon. Duration +2 rounds.

91 to 110

Near Success

+1 round

The PCs defeat the NPCs and may decide if they are killed or if they have fled. However, two PCs receive a +20 attack from a suitable enemy weapon. Duration +1 round.

UM 100

Unusual Success

-2 rounds

The PCs eradicate their enemies. Extremely gory, but quick (duration -2 rounds). No PC gets harmed.

111 to 175


+0 rounds

That was easy! The PCs may take one prisoner alive, the rest of the NPCs are killed or flee if they are allowed to. However, one PC receives a +10 attack from a suitable enemy weapon.

176 up

Absolute Success

-1 round

The PCs achieve a great victory. The may decide if the NPCs are killed or subdued. No PC gets harmed. Duration -1 round.

General and GM-Assigned Modifiers

Player Characters (SM-Table balancing factor) +75
Poor unit cohesion in combat (e.g., Barbarians or Orcs) -10
Unfamiliar terrain type -10
Unfamiliar location -10
Orc in sunlight -25
Man in darkness -25


Use the following formula to determine how long a struggle lasts:

# of rounds = (# of NPCs # of PCs) x 5 (round off)

If a PC uses Elemental Attack Spells, divide the number of rounds by his Frequency Factor. The result is the number of spells he has cast.


1) If an entry tells you that the PCs have to roll again on the Quick Combat System SM Table, and they score a second failure, the PCs are defeated (killed or imprisoned).

2) Only the player characters may score "unusual" results (a roll of UM 66 or 100). Ignore such rolls on behalf of the NPCs.

3) If an entry says that a PC receives an attack from a suitable enemy weapon, only this OB and no DB is used when resolving the strike.

4) If an entry says that a certain number of PCs receive such an attack, determine randomly who is hit (you may decide to reduce the chance for a PC who was not participating in close combat, depending on the situation).

5) If there are fewer PCs in your group than there are attacks, you may decide to reduce this number if the PCs are not outnumbered by more than two NPCs. If the numeric strength of the two groups is roughly equal (1), all PCs face a strike.

6) If you want to award Experience Points, always apply the multiplier for "Routine" condition (x 0.5).

7) If the Channeling Companion is available, it is strongly suggested to use Fate Points. If a roll yields a very bad result for the PCs, one of them could spend a Fate Point to re-roll it.

Example: The GM rolls a 38 for the Orcs. Together with their GCV of 120 and the modifier for their poor unit cohesion (-10), they score a result of 148 (inside the tower, there is no bright sunlight). The player controlling the fighter rolls a 72, adds 116 for the GCV and the balancing modifier of +75. Since the PCs are unfamiliar with the location (-10), their result is 253. So, the final result is 105 (253-148) - a Near Success! The Orcs are killed after 9 rounds, and the magician has cast 4 Fire Bolts (spending 24 PPs). Both PCs face a +20 scimitar attack.

[If the mage was a more able swordsman, he might be well advised to use his sword to save some PPs. But in fact he has an OB of only 40 with his Broadsword. He decides to cast one Fire Bolt, and then he draws his weapon with which he has an ICV of (40 x 1 +30 - 10 - 10) 1 = 50. The fight is expected to last 8 rounds ([3 NPCs 2 PCs] x 5), that means the mage would be occupied one quarter (2 rounds) of the combat with preparing and casting the Fire Bolt, and three quarters (6 rounds) with fighting. The ICV for this combined attack would be 59 x 1/4 + 50 x 3/4 = 52.]

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