Combat Overview

GURPS Combat can be pretty "detailed", but is fairly simple at the core. Thus, this little "cheat sheet" is here to provide details on the manuevers and options available in combat. In general, only an outline of what options are available will be presented, to avoid reproducing the entire combat system.

Jump to: Manuevers, Damage and Hits, Melee Attacks, Ranged Attacks, and Defenses.

The Basics

The Combat System is based on 1 second turns, with each combatant acting in order of their Basic Speed rating (including any fractions). Someone with a Speed of 5.75 thus acts before someone who has a 5.5 Speed rating. In the case of ties, the person with the higher DX goes first or a single die is rolled to break the tie if DX is also the same.

A character chooses his manuever when his turn comes up, and then actually performs that manuever during the 1-second interval between his declaration and his next turn.

A manuever consists of some kind of action, combined with movement and defense options. Movement is generally restricted to a 1 yard step, which can be taken before or after ones action. Some manuevers allow more movement. Active defenses include Dodge, Block (with a Shield or Cloak), and Parry (with a Weapon, or Unarmed). Some manuevers and situations prohibit the use of some kinds of defenses.


In every turn, a character has the following options:

  • Do Nothing: Standing there and doing nothing; when you are stunned you automatically take this manuever. No movement, any defense (-4 to defense if stunned).
  • Move: You can move a number of yards equal to your Move score. If you take this manuever two rows and move more or less in a straight line, add 20% to your Move score. Any defense.
  • Change Posture: This lets you change between any two posture. The postures include Standing, Sitting, Kneeling, Crawling, Lying Prone, and Lying Face Up. If you are Lying down, you must first Change Posture to Crawling, Kneeling, or Sitting before you can stand up. No movement, any defense (postures often penalize defense rolls, but make ranged attacks harder).
    • It's a free action to Crouch at any point, or to stand up from a crouch at the start of your turn.
    • You can change between Kneeling and Standing in place of a 1 yard step.
  • Aim: This full turn manuever adds to the accuracy of your ranged attacks, and can be undertaken for multiple consecutive turns for a higher bonus. You must use this bonus the very first turn after you stop aiming or it disappears. Step, any defense (but defenses spoil aim).
  • Evaluate: This full turn gives you +1 to skill with your melee weapon if you attack the very next turn after you stop Evaluating your opponent. Multiple turns are cumulative, up to +3. Step, any defense.
  • Attack: You can attack an opponent within reach. Step, any defense.
  • Feint: You fake your opponent out. Both of you roll against skill, and if you succeed your opponents defense is penalized against your next attack. You must attack in the your very next turn or you lose the benefit of the Feint. Step, any defense.
  • All-Out Attack: You go all out on an attack, not paying attention to defense. You can move one-half your normal Move score, but get no active defenses. Choose one of these options:
    • Melee Attacks
      • Determined: You get +4 to hit with your attack.
      • Double: You get two make two attacks.
      • Feint: You can Feint and Attack in the same turn.
      • Strong: You add +2 damage, or +1 per die.
    • Ranged Attacks
      • Determined: You get +1 to hit with your attack.
      • Suppression: Spray an area with an automatic weapon.
  • Move And Attack: You can move your entire Move score and make an attack. A Melee attack is at -4, and your adjusted skill cannot exceed 9. A Ranged attack takes a penality equal to the weapons Bulk rating, or -2, whichever is worse. Dodge or block only, and you cannot retreat.
  • All-Out Defense: You put all your efforts into defense, doing nothing else.
    • Increased Defense: You gain +2 to one active defense (Dodge, Parry, Block) for the turn.
    • Double Defense: You can defend against every attack you take with two different defenses, gaining a back-up if the first defense fails. These are normal defenses in every way.
  • Concentrate: You concentrate on one primarily mental action as a full-turn manuever. This might include casting a spell, using a psi ability, making a Leadership roll to give orders, or whatever. Some actions take more than one full turn to complete. Step, any defense (may interfere with concentration).
  • Ready: You perform some primarily physical action. This might include readying an arrow for your bow, drawing your sword from its scabbard, regaining control over an unbalanced weapon, or digging through your backpack. Some actions take more than one turn to complete. Step, any defense.
  • Wait: You do nothing unless a specific circumstance of your chosing happens, then you can transform your Wait into any non-Full Turn action.
    • Stop Thrust': If you have a ready thrusting weapon, you can use Wait to prepare for a possible enemy charge. This allows you to attack anyone who approaches within your reach, gaining a +1 damage for every two full yards your attacker moved toward you that turn.

Free Actions: A character can undertake any number of these actions every turn.

  • Talk.
  • Drop an Item.
  • Crouch.

Attacks and Stuff

Damage & Hit Points
There are two basic strength-based types of damage, "thrusting" and "swinging". Swinging is used when you are able to benefit from a lever, while thrusting is more "basic". With muscle powered weapons, this "Basic" damage is modified by the weapon itself, both in terms of a numeric bonus and in applying a damage type (see below) to the damage. Crossbows have their own ST value, and Firearms ignore strength entirely and inflict arbitrary damage.

Any damage you inflict is subtracted from the opponents DR, then multiplied as appropriate for its type and any hit locations you might have targetted.

Anytype you take damage, you suffer a Shock Penality on your next turn equal to the amount of damage you took. This maxes out at -4, and subtracts from your DX and IQ, as well as all skills based upon those attributes. It does NOT apply to any active defenses. Any wound that inflicts more than half your HP, or any crippling wound, is a "major wound". These wounds require a HT roll to resist stunning and being knocked to the ground.

A character reduced to below 1/3rd of his Hit Points is in "bad shape", and halves his Move and Dodge. Once you've been reduced to 0 HP or below, you have to roll versus your HT every turn in order to remain conscious. Once you reach -1xHP damage, these rolls are at a penality (-1 for every full multiple of HP below 0). You also have to make HT rolls to avoid dying for every full multiple of your HP you reach below zero. I.e., a character with 10 HP who reaches -10 damage has to make a HT roll to avoid dying and gets a -1 to stay conscious even if he lives through it. He makes another roll to avoid death at -20, -30, and -40 H Ps?. Once you reach -5xHP, you immediately die with no roll. Your body is utterly destroyed (if appropriate for the damage type) at -10xHP.

Damage Types
Here's the "wound modifiers" for different types of damage.

  • Small Piercing (pi-): x0.5
  • Burning (burn), corrosion (cor), crushing (cr), fatigue (fat), piercing (pi), and toxic (tox): x1
  • Cutting (cut) and large piercing (pi+): x1.5
  • Impaling (imp) and huge piercing (pi++): x2

This damage modifier is applied after DR is subtracted from damage, affecting the inflicted damage.

Hit Location
You can choose to target individual hit locations...

  • Torso (0): The "normal" and "default" target.
  • Vitals (-3): Only targettable by impaling, all piercing attacks, and tight-beam burning attacks. The damage modifier for impaling or piercing is x4, while tight-beam burning attacks do x2.
  • Skull (-7): The skull benefits from natural DR 2. The wounding modifier increases to x4 for all attacks. Knockdown rolls are at -10, and use the head-blow table for critical hits.
  • Eye (-9): Only targettable by impaling, all piercing attacks, and tight-beam burning attacks. The same as a skull hit, without the extra DR! Injury over HT/10 inflicts a crippling wound.
  • Face (-5): Sometimes ignores DR, if helmet is open faced. Corrosion damage gets a 1.5 wounding modifier, blinds one eye and inflicts a major wound. Knockdown rolls at -5, and use the head-blow table for critical hits.
  • Neck (-5): Crushing and corrosion attacks do x1.5 damage, and cutting damage does x2 damage. Anyone killed by a cutting blow to the head has been decapitated!
  • Groin (-3): Human males take double shock penalities from crushing damage, and get -5 to knockback rolls.
  • Arm or Leg (-2): Large piercing, huge piercing and impaling damage is reduced to x1. Any major wound that inflicts over HT/2 damage cripples the limb, but after the arm has been crippled any further damage to it is ignored.
  • Hands or Feet (-4): As per an Arm or leg, but it only requires HT/3 damage to cripple. The penality to hit a hand holding a shield is -8.
  • Weapon
    • Reach "C": -5
    • Reach 1: -4
    • Reach 2+: -3

You can attack at -8 (for the torso) or -10 (for anywhere else), in order to halve DR. This is cumulative with other armor divisors that you might have access to.

Melee Attacks

Deceptive Attack and Rapid Strike
You can make a "sneaky" attack, taking a -2 penality to your skill for every -1 penality to your enemies active defense. This only works with Melee attacks.

You can also choose to attack twice, each attack at -6. If you already have more than one attack for whatever reason, you can replace one of them with two attacks at -6.

I'll fill this in later, when I understand it better...

Slam Attacks
A slam attack lets you move your full Move speed and ram into an opponent, with both you and your opponent taking damage based on velocity and size (hit points). One person might get knocked down by this attack, with the attacker having a better chance of not being knocked down. If your opponent dodges your attack you must continue moving at least two yards past him if you can, possibly running into something.

Ranged Attacks

Rate of Fire & Rapid Fire
All ranged attacks have a Ro F?, and if this number is over 1 that weapon can be used with Rapid Fire, in which case you can fire a number of "bullets" equal to the Ro F?. This gives a bonus to hit, and you inflict an extra "hit" dependant on the weapons recoil value and your margin of success. If your weapon has a Recoil of 2, and you succeed by 6 points, you scored 4 hits. Your number of successfull hits cannot exceed the number of bullets you actually fired.


You can Dodge most attacks, and have no limit in how many dodges you can make in a turn. You can choose to Retreat when dodging a melee attack once per turn, gaining a +3 to your defense. You may choose to Drop when dodging a ranged attack once per turn, gaining a +3 to your defense and moving away 1 yard. You can also make a Sacrifical Dodge, throwing yourself infront of an attack that would hit someone else.

Once per turn you can take an Acrobatic dodge if you have the Acrobatics skill, gaining a +2 to your Dodge if you make the roll and a -2 if you fail.

You can make ONE block defense per scene if you have a ready cloak or shield. These items also add a Defense bonus to all of your active defenses. You can choose to retreat when making a block roll, adding +1 to the defense roll and moving 1 yard. You cannot block firearms or beam weapons.

You can make one parry defense without penality per hand, either with a weapon or barehanded. Additional parries with the same hand take a -4 penality. Off-handed parries subtract -4 from the skill being used, and thus -2 to the parry roll. You can choose to retreat when parrying a melee attack once per turn, gaining a +1 to your defense and moving away one yard. Boxing, Judo, Karate and any Fencing skill give a +3 to your defense if you retreat. You can only parry melee attacks and thrown weapons (at a penality), unless you have special skills.

When you successfully parry an unarmed attack with a weapon, you can make an immediate attack roll to see if you damage the attacking limb. This is at -4 if the attacker used Judo or Karate. It's also difficult and potentially dangerous to parry weapons unarmed. You suffer a -3 to parry weapons unless its a thrusting weapon or your using Judo or Karate. A failed parry against a weapon can choose to hit either the original target or the arm you parried with.