When two or more characters come into close melee range of each other and begin attacking, this is considered engaging in melee combat. When a character engaging in melee combat gets a turn, that character can decide to perform any number of actions. Some of these will be unexpected, and the GM will have to deal with them accordingly. Normally, however, a character's action in melee combat will fall into a category we've dealt with here.
A character can choose simply to attack their opponent. To attack, the attacker informs the defender of his or her intent. The defender may decide what action to take in response to this attack, if they have a spare action, whether it be to dodge, block, catch the attack, counterattack, or anything else the defender can think to respond with. There is a list to follow of possible defense actions, but as long as the GM can handle an action, the attacker or defender can perform it. An opposing roll is made between the skill of the attacker and the skill of the defender, with the attacker as the primary roller, unless otherwise noted in the rules. If he needs to, the GM will inform the attacker and defender which attributes and skills to roll on. When the results come in, the GM describes the result and uses the damage rules to decide how much damage is done and where the attack lands.
If the character has an extra action available, they can take a second attack on their turn with a -1 rank penalty for every additional attack they are capable of (meaning they almost certainly will not be able to make any more than 4 total attacks in one turn), or can react to an action on a later turn in that round as long as they succeed in a Reflexes roll. This Reflexes roll will act as an Assisting roll to their action. If a character has multiple extra actions and fails a Reflexes roll, he will not be able to take any other extra actions on that round.
The GM must decide, fairly, where the target is hit based on the type of weapon used, the position of the attacker relative to the target, the type of attack, and the type of result. An uppercut will most likely never hit someone in the leg, for example, and a downward slash against a standing opponent will most likely never hit the groin. The GM must use all available information to decide where the hit lands. If the attacker was throwing a regular punch and the defender was putting up his hands to block, the GM might declare that a Poor success just clipped the outer arm while a Good success might be a good square hit to the cheek. In this situation, if the defender makes a Poor overall success, the GM may decide the blow is successfully blocked, but that it lowers his guard and the next attack will not be able to be defended against. If the defender were turning to run, the GM might decide the blow lands on the defender’s back even if he were aiming for the face.
If a character has actions available, they may use them to react to an attack with a defending action. This does not require making a Reflexes roll like some other actions.
Following is a list of methods a character can use to defend against attacks. Remember that the Hero@Heart system, by means of the imaginations of its players and GM, can allow for any types of attacks or defenses its combatants can come up with. When something unexpected happens, the GM just has to come up with his own method for dealing with it. This list is by no means exhaustive, and each item on the list could conceivably have any number of imaginative sub-items under it.
For example, an enemy could be attacking you with a chainsaw, swinging it down on you from above. You could always say “I block...” but, how? How would you possibly block a chainsaw without completely destroying your own weapons and possibly your body? Well, if you were standing next to some metal shelves, you could say “I grab the shelves and pull them in front of myself.” In order to survive, you have to be inventive! But don't let the lack of rules for such methods hold you back: the reason there are so many attributes and skills is so the GM will have plenty of room to work with when coming up with ways to deal with your techniques!
Dodging: When an attacker’s target decides to try to Dodge, an opposing roll is made between the skill of the attacker and the defender’s Agility, plus any skill the defender may possess that would assist the evasion, as permitted by the GM. The success rank of the Dodge becomes a Difficulty Rating for both the attack AND the damage.
Blocking: When an attack is to be blocked, the attacker makes an opposing roll between their skill and the Agility of their target, plus any blocking skill or other characteristics the defender may have.The success rank of the Block becomes a Difficulty Rating for the attack, but not the damage. If the defender is using bare arms to block, a failed attack will still cause damage to the defender’s arm, and the GM may also cause damage to weapons if he deems such damage to be fitting and realistic.
Riposte: A riposte is a move made by an armed defender with the intent of disarming an attacking opponent. To do this, the defender must attempt to block the attack. If the block is successful, the defender can automatically attempt to riposte. The riposte can be achieved if the defender succeeds in an immediate Reflexes roll. If successful, the weapon is thrown 1d10 feet away, and the opponent must either attempt to get it or fight without. On an Excellent success, the character performing the riposte can knock the weapon into their own hand, but on a critical failure, the character loses their own weapon!
Disarm: An unarmed character can attempt to disarm an opponent. To attempt this, the defender will make a Dexterity roll as though attacking with the attacker's roll opposing it. If the defender fails, the attacker's success rank is used unmodified against the part of the body the defender tried to grab the weapon with. If the defender gets a Poor or Fair success, the character has grabbed the weapon, but must make a successful opposing roll of Strength versus Strength to pull it away from the enemy. On a Good or better result, the character can choose either to obtain the weapon or throw it away. If an enemy with a weapon is being grappled, the grappler can attempt to spend a turn disarming them. This would include either obtaining the weapon or throwing it away. This requires an opposing roll between the Strengths of the combatants plus any applicable skills and characteristics. Whoever succeeds winds up holding the weapon. On a low result, the GM may decide that the weapon gets accidentally thrown away or dropped.
Counterattack: A character who has successfully dodged or blocked an attack with a decent success rank (“decent” meaning “to the GM's approval”) may attempt an immediate counterattack (“immediate” meaning “on the same turn without taking up his next available turn). To do this, he must successfully pass a Reflexes roll. If he fails, he doesn't have time for a counterattack. If he rolls a Poor or a Fair, he may perform a counterattack that his opponent is allowed to defend against. If he rolls a Good or higher, he may perform an attack that his opponent does not get an opportunity to defend against.
Catching an Attack: If a character has a weapon coming at them, including a bare fist, they can attempt to use either the Martial Arts skill or the Catch skill (or both skills combined, if the GM allows) to grab it out of the air. This is done by making an opposing roll of Dexterity plus any applicable skills or characteristics against the attack roll. If the character is successful, they have taken control of the weapon, but a Poor or Fair result means they caught the wrong end and have taken damage to their hand. If the item thrown was a grenade, this is not true, but the character must throw it immediately to avoid having it explode in their hand (the GM may wish to have the catcher roll Luck to see if it does anyway!)
To attempt to wrestle, the character must be engaged in close quarters melee combat. Like normal combat, the GM listens to the description of the attack and defense and decides what rolls need to be made. Unlike fighting with fists or weapons, which ordinarily requires a roll of Agility or Dexterity, a wrestling roll will require Strength modified by Wrestling , if the character has that skill. Once held, an enemy must make a successful Strength (modified by Wrestling) roll against the wrestling attacker to break free. This can only be attempted once per round on the defender's turn. While held, the enemy is open to all attack without a chance to defend, and the wrestler is free to perform any action, including attacks on the held opponent, as long as the GM decides he would be able to based on how much of his body is occupied with holding his opponent.
Moving Hold Position: If the wrestler is holding his target, for example, by the neck, but wants to move to another part of the body, say the arm (in order to break it), the GM must decide how many transitions will need to be moved through. In the above example, only one transition would be required, between the head and arm. To move to the leg, the GM may decide the required transitions would be from head to torso and then on to the leg, requiring two transitions. Each of these transitions should take only one turn each, but the defender may struggle in order to stop the transition completely or break free, based on the result of the rolls. The roll required is up to the GM, but should normally include either Strength or Agility modified by Wrestling, if the character has it. If there is a failure or an Exceptional success in favor of the defender, he manages to break free, but the GM may allow the attacker to try a Reflex roll to catch him before he gets away.
Submission Hold: Once the opponent has been successfully grappled by a pressure point such as the neck, the joints of the arms or legs, or the spine (by means of a bearhug) the wrestler may attempt a submission hold. This is simply a regular wrestling hold that now has additional pressure being supplied to it to cause the defender to give up. Every turn that passes from the time the hold becomes a submission hold, the victim takes 1 point of Fortitude damage. Every round, during the attacker's turn, the defender can attempt to break out of the hold, and if he fails, he takes Fortitude damage equal to a tenth of the attacker's Strength rounded up. If the defender's Fortitude falls to 0, the bones in the area being held are broken (see the Damage section for more on this). In the event of a Sleeper Hold (a submission grip round the neck from behind), the defender passes out from lack of oxygen at 0 Fortitude and is asphyxiated to death at –10.
Breaking a Limb: A wrestler or martial artist who has grappled a limb may choose to break the held limb immediately. Every round that the enemy has not broken free, the person controlling the limb may attempt to break the limb. Make an opposing roll between the unmodified Strength of the two combatants. On a failure, no damage is done, but if successful, crushing damage is done equal to the success rate of the roll.
Displace: A combatant who is holding their opponent may attempt to throw the opponent to the ground or perform a wrestling move like a suplex or a piledriver. An opposing roll must be made between the Strength of the person attempting the displacement and the Agility of their target. Either side can modify their roll with appropriate skills or characteristics, as the GM allows. If the attacker fails, the enemy is unharmed and most likely released. For any positive result for the attacker, the GM must decide on an appropriate response based on the conditions of the throw and the success rate obtained.
Reversal: Someone who is being grappled may attempt a reversal rather than trying to break free. An opposing Wrestling roll is made, and on a Good or better result for the defender, the positions of the wrestlers are reversed.
Charge Attack: Characters who move their full movement speed in one turn in combat gain a one rank melee attack bonus when they reach their opponent and attack.
“Drive-by” Attacks: Characters who are moving past their target, whether on foot or mounted, suffer a one rank penalty to their attack, but gain one rank of damage (two if they are using a nonranged Puncturing weapon). A character may attack as many opponents like this as they can reach in their full movement.
Tackle: A combatant who is running and moves at least five feet to occupy the space of another combatant is said to tackle that opponent. The target makes a Strength roll, and gains a bonus for every size larger than the tackler (or a penalty for every size smaller) he is. The tackler then makes a Strength roll, and if successful, the target takes Fortitude damage equal to the success rank of the tackler. If the success is Fair, it results in a 5-foot Knockback. If the success is Good, it results in a Knockdown. If the success is Excellent, the result is a 5-foot Knockback AND a Knockdown.
Sneak Attacks: A character who is sneaking, while moving at a very low rate of speed, may be able to accomplish a devastating sneak attack. The attacker gains a +2 rank bonus to the attack, which is highly likely to result in an unmissable, unblockable attack that will slip through body armor. The attacker must remain hidden in order to achieve this bonus. If the target is currently unfocused, the attacker will need to reach the target by remaining behind cover or in shadows. If the target is focused, the sneaking attacker need only make his way up to the target from behind. A target that is focused on the attacker cannot be sneaked up on. If any opponent sees the sneaking combatant and calls out (which counts as a free move and can be done immediately) the sneaking combatant will lose the sneak bonus and must go back into a sneaking mode in order to achieve the sneak attack, which will require finding cover or shadows and re-hiding. A combatant who has no current combat focus and is the target of a sneak attack has the opportunity to make a Focus roll. If successful, the sneak attack is a failure and the target may turn to defend without penalty. A combatant who does have combat focus on a different target does not receive this opportunity.