We’re using the Mook Bowling rule from Blood of the Valiant: if you roll high enough to hit a mook but not to take them out, they lose their next action getting up (either from being knocked down by your blow or diving prone to get out of its way).

The bow reloading clarification from BotV also applies: as long as an archer has arrows in his quiver, he does not need to spend any shots reloading.

Combat Stances

Neutral 0 AV modifiers
Defensive +1 Dodge AV, –1 Attack AV
Offensive +1 Attack AV, –1 Dodge AV
Berserk +2 Attack, –2 Dodge, no active dodge

John Harper’s site has an interesting notion of combat stances. These let super tough guys like Big Bruisers and fighters in armor let themselves take the hits while being able to hit back, and non-combatants can go on the defensive and do other things. Note that these modifiers apply to Sorcery as well as everything else! Stances are determined at the beginning of each sequence, or can be changed at the cost of a three shot action.

Critical Hits and Fumbles

Index this table with the Outcome of the second roll after boxcars or with the actual negative number for a negative Action Result. This table is just a guideline for crits and fumbles. Double crits and double fumbles are very bad news; fumbled criticals are crits followed by fumbles, which indicate that you hurt them even as you screwed up, and criticaled fumbles are fumbles followed by crits, which indicate that you made the most of a fumble.
OutcomeResult OutcomeResult
+0–2 Double damage (add this Outcome to base damage) –1 Lose or break weapon
–2 Damage self (reverse Outcome and add to base damage)
+3–5 Double damage (add this Outcome to base damage, ignores opponent’s Toughness and armor) –3 Hit party member at your base AV+3
–4 Throw self at opponent’s weapon, get struck by their base AV even if it would miss (negative Outcome reduces damage)
–5 Body slam ground, at 1/2 AV for three shots
+6... Limb broken or severed (–2 Impairment), double damage ignoring Toughness and armor –6... Sprain a limb (–1 Impairment until healed), drop weapon
Double Critical Opponent’s head severed or bashed in Criticaled Fumble Hit opponent as per the Crit table, but get hit with your own Action Result as you lose your weapon
Fumbled Critical Sever or break opponent’s limb, take fumble as per table Double Fumble Break or sever your own limb (as crit)

Too Many Mooks

Player characters shouldn’t be invincible when faced with vast quantities of mooks. Check out the house rules from the Jade Agenda for inspiration.

Here’s my current rule of thumb: if mooks are explicitly ganging up on a named character, they get one roll to attack him and an AV bonus equal to the number for which the triangle is less than the number of mooks, minus one, so 3 mooks get a +1 bonus, 6 get a +2, 10 get at +3, 15 a +4, 21 a +5, and so on. They roll against a Difficulty of the named character’s Dodge or Parry. (All the usual dodge bonuses apply, though any from Fu powers must work against multiple opponents.) The process takes a number of shots equal to the number of mooks. (Fu powers that increase the shot costs of opponents attacking increase the time this takes proportionately: if attacks take 4 shots, it takes 4/3 the time.)

This is a massive dogpile/shoot-em-up, and it takes its toll on the mooks if the character is choosing to counterattack rather than parry or actively dodge. In the process, the named character gets a roll against the mooks. Take the number of points by which the named character exceeds the amount needed to take down a mook and triangle it: this is the number of nameless characters who perish or are knocked unconscious. (This only works if both the named character and the mooks are using the same range of attacks. If the mooks are all shooting at a martial artist, all the martial artist can really do is dodge.)

Example: Sixteen goons with Martial Arts AVs of 8 go after the Old Master Yoro-Sensei, who has a Martial Arts score of 15. They roll a +3. Their effective AV is 8 + 4 = 12, and the rolled +3 makes it a 15. Over 16 shots, Yoro is hit with a net Outcome of 0, doing their base hand-to-hand damage.

In this process, Yoro rolls a +1 for his counterattack. This gives him an Action Result of 16, 8 more than needed to take down a single one of these mooks. Since he needs an Outcome of 5 to take down a mook, he takes down triangle(16 – (5 + 8)) = triangle(3) = 6 mooks in the process. If he had two schticks in Symphony of Slaughter, he would have taken down triangle(16 – (3 + 8)) = triangle(5) = 15 of them— only one would have been left standing!

For tougher ganging-up bonuses, scale the bonuses by a factor of 2, so 3 mooks get a +2, 6 get a +4, and 10 a +6, and you take down extra mooks appropriately. This means that 10 mooks with AV 8 are seriously worrisome to an AV 14 character, though on even rolls the character gets hurt and takes down 1 mook in the process.

John Harper came up with the glass-jawed mook, which has a high AV— giving them a chance of hitting the hero— but only requires a 0 Outcome to take down. He also scales up the mook bonus in combat in a linear fashion with a cap of +10.

Mooks vs. Mooks

When m mooks with Martial Arts value x and white hats battle n mooks with Martial Arts value y and black hats, make one roll, z for each sequence of battle. (Three XP to anyone who can turn this into a parody of the Dr. Seuss rhyme about tweedle beetles.) The white hats will lose ((yx) – z) × (n ÷ m) members; the black hats will lose ((xy) + z) × (m ÷ n) members. Round fractions up; discard negative results.

Example: Thirty thugs with Martial Arts AVs of 6 take on ten monks with Martial Arts AVs of 8. The GM rolls a 3— things are going somewhat in the thugs’ favor. For the thugs, ((8 – 6) – 3) × 1/3 rounds to 0, so none of them drop. For the monks ((6 – 8) + 3) × 3 = 3— three go down! The next round, though, the GM rolls at –3: for the thugs, ((8 – 6) –( –3)) × (7/30) = 35/30, rounding up to 2, so two of them go down; for the monks, ((6 – 8) + –3)×(30/7) is quite negative, so they lose no one. As long as the GM doesn’t roll above a 2, the monks won’t lose anyone.

If you want to resolve a complete battle without going sequence by sequence, use a different system where the roll doesn’t make as much differenced. Determine z: make an open roll, declare a 0, or assign a value based on tactical considerations. (To make a grand melee interesting to player characters, send them out into the fray to battle other named characters and take down mooks on the way. For each battle between named characters, a victor adds a point to the value for their side.)

Generate scores: white gets (xy) + ((n ÷ m) – 1) + z; black gets (xy) + ((m ÷ n) – 1) – z. Consult the page of die roll probabilities: Each side takes a percentage loss equal to the probability of success of their score. For negative results, sum the probability of each negative roll from the result up to –1 with the probability of getting a 0, 57% (so the probability of a –3 is 7% + 9% + 11% + 57% = 84%).

Example: 30,000 nameless orcs with Melee 6 battle 15,000 ragtag pirates and town guardsmen with Melee 8. The gamemaster rolls a 2 for the battle, tipping things well toward the orcs. The orcs get a score of (6 – 8) + 1 + 2 = 1, and the humans get (8 – 6) - 0.5 – 2 = 0. The humans take 57% losses, and the orcs take 42%.

If the roll had been a 0, the orcs would have had a –1 and taken 68% losses, and the humans a 2 and lost only 31%. Similarly, with equal numbers of orcs and humans, and a rolled 2 in the orcs’ favor, the orcs would have had a 0 and the humans a 2, leading to orcish losses of 57% and human of 31%.

As you can see, allowing player characters to shift a roll by a couple of points can be decisive in a battle!

If you want to assume that one side will retreat after losing a given percentage or fight to the death, simply scale both losses equally until you get the numbers you want. If you find the rolls to be too decisive— I have very little knowledge of tactics, so I’m making these up out of thin air— apply a scaling factor to the roll or invent your own system and tell me about it! :-)