Combat

Last Updated: 2013.01.16

 

Do all characters regardless of size always do 1d4 + X damage with unarmed attacks?

With the Unarmed proficiency, and unless another rule says otherwise, yes.

 

Some weapon qualities now imply that attacks may deal two types of damage (lethal and stress for razor, any and lethal for Achille's Heel). What happened to the "one attack - one damage type" concept, and how does this work now? 

On occasion you'll see rules that say, "when you inflict this damage type, you also inflict an equal amount of this other type" (or 1/2 as much, or whatever). Each is a separate instance of damage. You can still only inflict 1 type of damage with each instance - it's just that some instances also trigger new instances (sorta like some attacks also trigger free attacks).

 

Is the second clause of the pummel action supposed to be for surprise attacks?

Yes. Enough damage can stun a Special NPC in one hit.

 

Are the Force of Nature's elemental blasts counted as natural attacks?

No. Those attacks don't conform to any other existing attack type. They're so far unique and only follow the rules in that ability coupled with the universal rules for attacking.

 

Since there aren't any 'move' actions in the game (although there is a 'standard move actions' and several other 'movement actions'), I'm having trouble interpreting what a character in Wicked Dance (or one of the other 5' only stances) can and can't do. For example, does the Handle Item action (a movement action) break the stance?

There are Movement actions in the game (see page 218) and they're specifically what the wicked dance stance is prohibiting. Of course, one of the reasons we leave these things a bit open to GM interpretation is that a GM can and should feel empowered to extend that reach if, say, a combo arises in his game that's detrimental to play. For example, I might rule that anything involving significant movement of any kind would break the stance, even if otherwise protected by magic or other abilities. The game's flexible like that.

 

This sentence from the Combat Section, page 203: "Unless a character intentionally enters a combat after it begins, he begins the fight flat-footed." What exactly is that saying? I think it means that when combat starts, everybody in it is flat-footed to begin with, but if you join a running combat after it's started, you're not flat-footed.

Adventurer spots a bar fight and decides to join. He's not flat-footed because he's entering intentionally. However, if that same adventurer is sitting down to dinner and a fight that's been brewing outside for a round or two spills through a window and over his table, he is flat-footed, as he wasn't expecting to enter the fight.

 

Two opponents 10’ apart, are facing each other. Initiative is rolled, and they attack. Nobody is flatfooted? It seems you can only be flatfooted if you are surprised?

You remain flatfooted until after you are initially attacked or else you take your first action (ie, your turn comes up in initiative order) in which case you lose the as soon as you begin your action, whatever that might be. Sunsequent events during combat a successful feint or a failed grapple may reinstate the condition.  So the higher you are in the initiative order, the better chance you have to benefit from an opponent's flatfooted state.

 

For x1 > x2 & y1 > y2, which trumps: a higher result (19+x1=y1) or a threat/critical success (20+x2=y2)?

A natural 20 has to actually produce the higher total in order to be activated as a critical success.

 

A hypothetical Soldier, Level 9 with Cleave Basics, Mastery, and Supremacy and Greatsword Basics, Mastery, and Supremacy, Contempt, Darting Weapon, and Flashing Weapon and the Soldier Weapon Specialist abilities Most Deadly and Decisive Attack (not all of this will come into play). We'll say he's using a Claymore, threat range 19-20 (18-20 vs standard characters). The Solder attacks a Standard Character with Tough I, rolls a natural 18 on the die and hits- can he activate the critical for 0 action dice as if he has spent 2 (killing the standard character)? (-1 from Cleave Supremacy, -1 from Most Deadly)

Yes. Both abilities are -1 AD cost, minimum zero - you're just activating a 2 die crit for -2 dice.

Now what if he used the Greatsword trick Spiral Cutter with 5 standard characters in range- would only one critical activate, or could you normally have spent 5 separate action dice to activate the threat on each of the five targets?

With abilities that affect multiple targets, the rule is you can activate the crit against multiple targets by spending more action dice: "This cost is paid separately for each hit, even when multiple hits are scored with a single attack or action".  With his -2 cost, he could crit each target once for 3 action dice, or kill them for a total of 8.

Since I don't know how that one will rule, we'll get rid of Tough and say that he kills all 5 of those Standard Characters with damage alone, but he's got +1 reach with that Claymore and so there are more standards within a 5ft's step so now, how does killing those 5 interact with Cleave B/M/S? It's only one attack, so it makes sense it would only give one extra, but with the wording I could see argument for it giving him multiple.

This I would rule entirely based on circumstance and abuse level.  If the player used spiral cutter and killed 5 guys [say a huge mob of enemies was charging towards him] and wanted to 5ft step into the mob and keep swinging I would totally let him.  The visual is fantastic, and I can't see it coming up too often.

 

When you are sprawled and use reposition can you only become prone, or can you stand up instead/as well? Do sprawled characters/npc's lose flat-footed after they are attacked, even though their still technically sprawled until they reposition?

Yes - if you Reposition at all, either to go prone or stand up, you lose sprawled. Also, a sprawled character loses flat-footedness after being attacked.

 

What does invisibile do? It just says if you move 10ft you become hidden.  Are you just perfectly hidden barring story concerns of smell or what not? By default, does only the person making the check to find a hidden character benefit from succeeding or can they point them out to allies?

Invisibility is NOT a better version of hidden - rather, it is a condition that allows you to automatically become hidden (if you are not) by moving 10 or more feet. Hidden is the relevant rule for detection and the like. By default, anyone can now target a character once someone has caused them to lose the condition, though naturally the circumstances of an individual scene may change this. Hidden has been further clarified in the Second Printing PDF and the First Printing errata.

 

How is fire damage calculated?

The fire damage is set when the character is initially hit, and then increases by +1d6 each round. If a character starts by suffering 3 points of fire damage (and is unlucky enough to catch fire), he would not be subject to 4d6 next round, but rather 3 + the result of 1d6 points of fire next round.

 

If I apply the bleed quality to an atack that deals stress or subdual damage, is the extra damage lethal or the same as the attack?

It says right there in the condition - lethal damage.

 

Regarding tricks that trigger the flat-footed condition on failure. Is that condition set at the end of the acting character's initiative count? Or does that outcome only apply to the tricks that call it out specifically as per Forced Opening and Venom Master for example.

Tricks almost always call it out as specifically happening at the end of your initiative count, the only exceptions are Cheap Shot and Crippling Strike (Ferocity Mastery). Actions on the other hand don't pecify: Grapple, Disarm, Feint, all the rest, just say they make you flat-footed. It's easiest to run them all in the trick manner: flat-footed at the end of your count, otherwise the whole flat-footed business isn't a risk at all if you just take your alternate action first (which with most of those abilities you often do.

 

Does a character automatically remove the bleeding condition if they have bandages?  Or are bandages a required item to have before attempting the Medicine roll?

Using a bandage on a character removes the bleeding condition, no medicine check needed.

 

I can apply Parry and Arrow Cutting tricks outside of my turn and even if I used tricks on both my half actions, yes? I see those 2 have "Initiative Action" next to it but not finding a definition of it in the PDF scan so that doesn't help.

Parry and Arrow Cutting are not tricks, they are special initiative actions just like actions like Aim, Anticipate, Delay, Distract, Ready, and Refresh. That means it's not an attack or movement action (and thus can't have attack or movement action tricks applied to them). There's no limit to the number of tricks you can use a turn - just one per action.

 

What would the effect be if you used something like Backhand with Beatdown would you apply both types of damage or is this combination silly as you would just pick one type of damage to be the "instead"?

Damage is never duplicated is this fashion, nor can a single instance of damage have more than 1 type. Sometimes damage will prompt other damage, as seen with the excruciating weapon quality, but this is really the only way you'll ever see a single attack inflicting more than 1 type of damage.

 

The Mage put to sleep an opponent, they wanted to all perform a Coup De Grace on the opponent at the same time.  But I wouldn't let them.  Was I right or should they have been able to all get the action?

A sleeping character is usually presumed to be helpless/in a Terminal Situation (since the Light Sleeper quality says you are not in a Terminal Situation when sleeping), so it would follow one coup de grace him (in combat) or just spend the action die to activate a Terminal Situation (out of combat). However, unless the character had both Surge of Speed and Ferocity Basics and was standing next to the character already, it would be very hard to put a character to sleep (half action to cast) and coup de grace him (full action, only vs. adjacent opponent). Otherwise, the best he could do would be to cast sleep in round 1, then spend his next half action to get next to the sleeper, then on the next turn coup de grace him. In that time, the sleeping target would be able to make another save (at +4 if he's special) OR have an friends get next to him and attempt to wake him up with a DC 10 medicine check (page 212 - an unconcious character can be wakened) if you were feeling generous.

 

Do character get the +4 bonus to save vs. sleep (and others) because of the Terminal quality?

Yes

 

With a breath weapon's  line attack I can sort of see the potential for a miss (or the target's potential to get out of the way). But then I look at the Greater Breath feat, which turns your breath weapon into a 40 ft line, a 20 ft cone, or a 15 ft sphere.  Apparently, you can still miss with a cone or a sphere, although I have a harder time visualizing how?

Mainly, I see it as firing your blast too late, or after the character is behind intervening cover.

 

Can you apply tricks to the breath weapon?

If it's a ranged attack trick, you should be fine! Bullseye + Canny Shot + Fire Breath = Lurve

 

A character who doesn't possess the unarmed proficiency deals 1d3 subdual damage, and a character who is proficient deals 1d4 lethal.  Can a character who is proficient choose to deal subdual damage?  How much do they deal?

The conversion rules include those restrictions because subdual damage gets ugly very, very quickly as the damage escalates. At this level - with an absolute damage cap of 4 + STR mod, it's fine to simply allow the character to choose between either value at no penalty.

 

When you apply a trick to an attack, the attack still functions normally unless the trick specifies otherwise, correct?  So, it still does its normal damage?

Correct on both counts. Rules don't change unless other rules alter them.

 

For someone with Hurling Master, there would be no reason not to apply Staple to every throw (assuming they didn't have other tricks to use)?

Well, that's one option - you may have other tricks you'd prefer to apply for certain attacks.

 

Would Unnerving Shot would apply to all three opponents taunted at once with Aggro Basics, or just one of them?

I could go either way on this, and would probably rule on a case-by-case basis.

 

When a class ability lets you convert damage without penalty such as the monk's spirit fist on pg 115 of the adventure companion, does that also mean no penalty to the damage dealt? (As opposed to a half damage penalty as stated in the core book when converting damage?)

Yes

 

Are there any penalties for using a ranged weapon against a foe in melee range?  It seems like the answer is "no", at least as far as I can figure.  Is that correct?  Seems odd that you can use a bow or rifle without any penalty against someone that is actively up in your business.

There are not, currently. Considering Load times and the overall damage codes of arrows vs. other melee weapons, though, it's far more efficient to fight with a melee weapon than a ranged one close up.

 

So non-proficient weapon use, can't find a rule for that.

-4 to hit, +2 error. See page 205, second column, first paragraph.

 

According to the RAW, a mounted character counts as a single character the size of the mount. This is obviously a problem for me, since horses would be able to outrun me, and people on said horses likely have really dangerous pointy bits aimed at me. I was wondering if I could use "Shove" (push an opponent back 1 square) or "Get Over Here" (pull an opponent towards you X squares) to tear a mounted rider from their horse. I hear that "Trip" works to demount a character by making both their mount and themselves sprawled, but what about movement-based tricks that target a single character? Would I be able to yank a horseman from his horse and then get at his juicy soft bits with my Stiletto, or would I be forced to have to deal with a man on a horse that I (with no significant tripping ability) have no way of bringing down into stabbing distance?

The inability to easily shove a rider from his horse (by giving the mounted character the same size) is entirely on purpose - you've got to reach up and pull that dude with the pointy bits aimed at you down! Your Shove or Get Over Here will affect the mounted character as a whole - pushing horse and rider back or pulling them closer. Now, if you want to be good at tripping, some Acrobatics (a handy skill for many Assassins) is all you need. Maybe you should grab it with an Origin Skill? Beyond the enhanced ability to Trip, you also get all that tumbling, jumping, and other nonsense that made guys like Altair and Enzio so much fun to play.

Is there any way besides tripping to make a mounted character demount? I don't think I'll typically need too, since I think I could just stab the horse to death with that free ambush and sneak attack dice, but it doesn't hurt to see if there's a way to demount somebody if they're riding a big nasty I don't want them riding.

One way to quickly event the odds when unhorsing someone with a trip action is to... mount up yourself. (you don't have to own the animal, just borrow one for a round or 2). The other alternative is to hit them so hard they have little choice but to let the horse take the hit... which can be enough to drop the animal in one shot, putting the target back on a more even footing. Not too many mounts are gonna be special characters, so they're pretty fragile.

 

Do ranged weapons with the lure quality need to be thrown to make a Ranged Feint? Do Throwing Knives count as Knife Weapons?

The answer to both questions is no; as a corollary even though they possess hurled, daggers are still treated as Knives (and thus melee weapons). It's worth noting however that some very similar tricks in the Adventure Companion do use 1 shot, though I'd definitely allow returning to work.

 

What's the penalty for attacking an invisible character who is not hidden?

None. Invisible is a condition that makes you hidden when you move X distance. When you lose hidden, you are temporarily visible until you move again, at which time you become hidden.

 

I understand Thick Hide is considered wearing partial armor you can't take off.  Under Acid Damage on page 210 it says both the character and his armor take the damage, if the damage is higher than the DR.  If it is not, just the armor takes the damage.  The damage was less than his DR, but what happens to the Thick Hide?  I could not find any saves for it.  Do you assign an Construction score to it and call for a save and it "heals" over time?  Or, is it just a benefit from having Thick Hide and "immune to Acid Damage" under the DR?

Since I wouldn't imagine the character would lose his skin, I would ignore the acid damage effects on destroying armor.

 

When you substitute a skill bonus for an attack check, what gets substituted? Does a swordsman using Sense Motive to hit with his sword still get the bonus of the Martial Spirit stance? On top of this, do you get your attribute bonus also? Like would the swordsman still get his strength bonus on top of his sense motive?

When an ability is phrased that way, you substitute the first item's FULL bonus (including attribute and other modifiers) in place of the second FULL bonus (including attribute and other modifiers).

 

Am I right in thinking that when standing next to an enemy in combat, you can cast spells, shoot a ranged weapon out of melee, and shoot a ranged weapon at the enemy in the next square all without penalty?

Yes and no. There could be problems with casting and shooting while someone is trying to stab you, but they aren't explicitly called out. Under the rules for Resolve/Concentrate checks: "A character must make 1 Concentrate check per round when the GM determines that his current action(s) are threatened by one or more distractions". So can you do those things?  Yes.
Can you do them with impunity?  It's up to your GM.

 

Does a Battering Ram count as a melee weapon for purposes of feats and tricks?  I've always assumed that melee weapons were just weapons with no range but I have to admit I'm a bit nervous at applying darting weapon to a battering ram. 

That feels pretty niche-case-y, and sounds like exactly the right spot where the GM and the player need to logically agree about what the rule will be going forward. Some game groups will be cool with it, and some won't. I'm generally in the latter group (as the idea of two quick taps with a battering ram is just silly), but I can see where in certain cases it'd be fine (a Giant or Ogre doing the swinging, or a high-powered bizarro campaign world where ridiculous weapons are more normal).

 

The Aim action grants a bonus with all Standard Attacks.  That seems to include melee attacks.  Is that intentional?

Yes.

 

Besides the spell Fly I, I don't see anywhere that describes heavy armor/load interfering with winged flying . Does it not, or am I just missing it?

Heavy Load's "and you move at only 1/2 Speed (rounded up)" and Armor's "a penalty applied to the wearer’s Speed (to a minimum of 5 ft.)." applies to ALL modes of movement, including Flight, with the exception of the spell which acts a little differently because it isn't normal movement, its a spell. Its very short term so it can be slightly better than normal movement modes. You still apply armor speed reduction as the spell says nothing about making an exception for armor as it does for Load as according to the Flyer Mobility section for NPCs on page 227, flying characters use Acrobatics to make maneuver checks. Use the modifiers from the Maneuver chart for making the acrobatics and athletics checks.  The only ones that seem relevant to a flying character are break fall, jump, and push limit.  Jump specifically cannot be used while wearing full armor or carrying a heavy load.  If jump is intended to be the limiting factor on how fast a flying character can gain altitude, then it would stand to reason that it cannot be done at all with a heavy load.

 

How does one handle grappling a blinded opponent or grappling in the dark? The action is an Melee Attack Action but does not use BAB. Do you apply the attack adjustment to the attackers Athletics skill check, does the defender suffer any penalty to thier athletics check? Reading the text for blinded then for grapple, its not clear how or even if being blinded afffects grapple.

I'd say that's definitely conditional and up to GM interpretation. Should he or she rule that those modifiers apply, there's no reason they can't apply to Athletics instead.

 

Does the Lava-Born's conversion of unarmed or melee damage to heat damage without suffering the normal –4 attack penalty ignore DR as would be the case with normal heat damage? Under Damage Types it says, "Each attack or injury may inflict only one type of damage.  When more than one damage type applies to an attack (e.g. a flaming sword, which can inflict for either lethal or fire damage), the attacker decides which to apply..." it  seems you just pick one.  The only time it mentions the -4 penalty and half damage is converting from Subdual and Lethal. My guess is that you inflict the damage (which must have beaten DR to be inflicted) then apply it as heat, and it becomes subdual damage. Correct?

Like normal damage conversion you have to decide if you are doing it before hand.  So you choose to hit for heat damage, roll as normal and if successful you deal 1/2 normal damage as Heat damage and their DR applies if applicable (Heat Resistance on certain armours). The feat doesn't automatically apply the damage type to your attacks, so you still just do normal lethal (or subdual) damage. It just adds the damage type to the list of types you can convert damage to, and removes the -4 penalty for that type only. .
    The reason for the rule you mention is to clarify what happens when, for example, a troll hits someone with a piece of flaming timber, which would logically be inflicting both lethal damage (or subdual damage, if that's how the GM rolls) and fire damage. Fantasy Craft flatly omits any chance of damage multiplication via this loophole, but favors the attacker in letting him or her choose the single type of damage inflicted This would also happen if for some reason you had a magic weapon that inflicted two different types of damage, or whenever else that corner case might come up. It does not, however, cover damage conversion, which is an entirely different process involving one single damage type turning into another (i.e. there's only one damage type in play at any given time).

 

If using Path of Air/Fire II to convert your melee and unarmed attacks to one of those elements, do you still take a minus 4 penalty to hit and deal half damage? I've always found that damage conversion section rather confusing, mostly due to the wording on page 209.  The damage conversion section denotes that there is a special case for the conversion of Lethal to Subdual and visa versa: -4 penalty to the check and the resulting converted damage is reduced to 1/2 normal damage. I can't find where is states that damage conversion in any other situation (ie lethal to heat) halves the damage. This may be the intent of that section but it could use some direct clarification

Yes. The intent of that section is to prevent the weirdness. By default and per the RAW, the game only allows conversion between lethal and subdual, excluding all other types. The odd rule may allow for it at some point, of course, and there's always the logical allowances by world and story, which is why the rule is just a wee bit fuzzy. It promotes you playing outside the box.

 

The mounted combat rules don't address the situation when there's multiple riders on a mount, or in our specific case, a rider and a "gunner". Do they all act as one character, or only the rider and mount, while the gunner is free to act on his own? And if the former, does that mean they benefit from the best DR & Resistance of the three and the worst Def, Init, & Saves? Unfortunately there are no FantasyCraft rules for the benefits or penalties of being a passenger or even what a passenger can do. If they act normally, wouldn't it be a huge benefit for my lancer to "argue" with my mount so we become passenger and carrier (Fantasy Craft, page 215, quoted above) so we both get two half actions in combat each round?

I would run it that only the rider and mount act as one character. Anyone else on a mount is treated like a vehicle passenger. Passengers sit, they get in and out of the vehicle, they act -- just like anyone else. There don't have to be any special rules for them. As for your lancer, while there are situations where logically rier and mount are two individuals moving in the same direction who would each act independently, were that scenario of the two arguing to take place remember that all NPCs -- even those owned by a player --are under the GM's control and he would be perfectly within his rights to have the lancer's mount go in completely the opposite direction to that which the lancer wants unless he can manage a successful Impress/Intimidate check up to and including a forceful dismount. As with many rules, there are obviously situational variances in their employment and enforcement.

 

With Explosive Damage, is the Reflex DC equal to the base damage rolled, or the actual damage the character would be subject to, after damage fall off and DR and whatever else?

Base damage.

 

Can an attack trick be applied to any attack action, or just to a standard attack?  For instance, Taunt is an attack action.  Could a character that is using Taunt apply Cheap Shot, which is an attack trick? could a hypothetical movement trick (I don't know of any) be applied when the character takes a Reposition action, or Total Defense?

When we design attack tricks, we're generally thinking of actions that involve or require an attack check. Likewise, movement tricks - if ever we were to create any - would probably be focused on actions that involve or require actual movement. Now, this isn't to say that your combos there aren't interesting, or that you shouldn't make a case for them at the table. Like much of the Fantasy Craft system, the action rules are quite forgiving of interpretation - purposefully so - and we encourage unexpected and innovative applications in play.

 

Massive damage question: Does it apply to damage inflicted by spells? The wording says 'damage in a single hit'. Is a spell effect a 'hit'?

No.

 

I just want to make sure I'm not missing something... There is no auto fail on a 1 or auto success on a 20, right? For any roll?

Yup, that's the rules as written. A lot of tables however seem to prefer to ignore it in favour of the usual auto fail/success from the parent OGL/d20 ruleset though, including the possibility of gaining an error on what would otherwise be a successful check.

 

Can a PC spend more than 1 AD on a threat against a Special Character with more than one level of Tough?  The rules specifically mention this for Standard Characters, but don't address Special Characters with Tough.

Definitely not. Spending more than one action die per check or effect is primarily limited to specific options already in the rules, plus narrative control. It isn't a way to circumvent or undermine defenses, abilities, and the like.

In a similar situation, what about a critical hit using one of the instakill tricks against a standard character who has toughness, could you spend action dice on top of that to cause them to lose more damage saves after the one lost by the trick?

That's a bit of a gray area, honestly. I might rule according to each situation.

 

One of my players has the talent of "Striking".  Striking allows her to Distract up to three opponents.  She also took the "Fan Service" feat, which gives the "Yowza!" trick which causes Standard characters to become fixated on her.  Her interpretation is that the two stack, and that if she distracts three standard characters, they all become fixated on her.

As written all three are fixated. Also, each target is rolling separately versus the single Distract roll and the sneak attack and critical hit things are explicitly called out, so it's not necessarily a general rule.

 

 

Does Distracting someone if you have a lower initiative score than them do anything? Would it let you possibly act before they do next round if you roll high enough, or does it just waste the attempt? I'm currently in a PbP forum game where I've got the last init and want to Distract an Assassin from attacking a friend of mine. I'll still do it if it doesn't, since I've got Yowza, but I have no idea how Distract works if you have a later init than them and nobody has a later init than you. Is it an ability that just sometimes doesn't work?

As the action states the opponent’s Initiative Count drops by 2d6 for this round only, as currently written you need to have a higher initiative than your opponent for the reduced Initiative Count to matter. Having a lower Initiative Count is fairly decisive. It's one of the most persistent perks or impediments a character can suffer in combat, and not easily circumvented. In the proposed case, the character with the lower Count is operating at this decisive disadvantage, consistently reacting rather than acting in relation to characters with higher Counts, which eliminates a variety of otherwise useful options, like Distract. In these cases it's best to have a friend with a higher Count who's willing to act as the distraction, potentially leveling the playing field.

 

When a character is subject to a surprise round once combat has started (say via an opponent using ambush basics), are they automatically rendered flatfooted?

I would say, "yes, conditionally" - by which I mean, I wouldn't rule that it's always the case, but it seems like it would be most of the time. I'd reserve the right to not have one or more targets become flat-footed based on their positions, current actions, awareness, and a variety of other factors.

 

Can you apply tricks to free actions granted by other tricks? Clarifying example:  I have Sword Mastery and Charge Basics.  Charge is a Run Trick.  Can I apply Bury the Blade to the Free Attack that is granted by my Charge Trick?  I can see two interpretations - on one hand, you are applying a trick to an action that already has a trick (Run with Charge + Bury the Blade).  On the other, you are applying a trick to a run action, and a separate trick to an attack action (Run + Charge // Attack + Bury the Blade).

Free attacks are NOT part of the action that gave you the free attack.  They are a "free-action Standard Attack".  As a separate attack action, since you can apply 1 trick to any given action, you can apply a trick to the free attack you gain while using the Charge(Run Trick). Similarly a trick that grants a run action would be able to have Charge applied to it -- provided there's no sort of recursion. Effectively, nce you hit the loop, consider the clause that free attacks are "single  attacks that  cannot trigger other attacks" to be in effect.

 

As best I can determine, once the prep-time has passed (6 rounds normally, 2 rounds thanks to Ambush basics), an Ambush check itself is by definition a free action. Is this correct?

It's a 1-minute check where the roll doesn't come into play until the end, but yeah, same difference (except for rules that apply to free actions - those don't apply to Ambush checks, if that's what you were thinking).Your 1 minute (or 2 rounds) however are taken up fully by "preparing" the ambush. If you're launching an ambush in the middle of combat, what counts as preparing is entirely situational and must be adjudicated by the GM on a case-by-case basis.

 

What's the difference between an opponent and an adversary?

An opponent is someone you happen to be fighting. An adversary is someone the GM has specifically identifies as an antagonist of the story (see page 224).

 

How do you make someone Helpless?  I could not find a specific mechanic to cause this; there was nothing which said, "X causes a character to be Helpless." For example, if a character is Paralyzed they are flat footed and can only take purely mental actions.  Mechanically, wouldn't the character also be Helpless?

There isn't any explicit way to become helpless -- being helpless is kind of subjective, all you have to go on is the condition text "unable to defend themselves in any way." It's ultimately up to the GM to say when a character is or isn't helpless.

 

Attack is rolled and scores a Threat. Parry attempt is made and succeeds. Would the AD be spent before or after the Trick? Either way, damage averted?

Parry renders damge to 0, so unless the attack has a particular additional quality to it beyond damage that is triggered by a critical or striking wounds instead of vitality, there's no need to spend the AD.

 

Does the person being attacked get to add any dodge bonus they enjoy to the initial check of a grapple? The actual difference between checks was sufficiently large enough that the bonus itself wouldn't have done any good, but in this specific case the target had made a successful anticipate check against the attacker in the same round which was then noticeably effectively rendered useless.

Absolutely, and for the exact same reason that Small targets enjoy a benefit in the initial "grab" check.  It's not in the book though, just logical extension.

 

Sneak Attack.  I just went through the entire core book, and the only mention that I could find about range limitations are in the damage type itself, with specifies "vitals within Reach" (reach having been defined earlier in the same chapter).  The Deadeye has Ranged Sneak Attack as an ability, but it doesn't actually give a new range, or alter the existing range.  So what does it do?  By RAW, effectively nothing (you'd have to use a ranged attack at a target within your reach to satisfy both rules).

This is one of those rules that is intentionally vague to allow for interpretation. Some tables will rule that "what you can reach" is "Melee Reach," while others will rule that it's "trained bow range." Depends on the game, story flavor, and so on.

 

I have a questions about Edge rules and the feat Lucky Break.  The two don't seem to mesh as the rules for Edge specify all Edge is lost at the end of each combat" while Lucky Break grants 2 Edge at the beginning of each scene. My question is predicated on my understanding that one scene can have multiple combats.  If so, do the 2 edge from Lucky Break disappear at the end of the first combat (which would be a literal reading)?  Or was Lucky Break supposed to say "You gain 2 Edge at the beginning of each combat"?  Or is the Edge from Lucky Break somehow different from other edge and it doesn't disappear at the end of a combat (but should disappear at the end of a scene)?  Or is the answer something entirely different?

Yes, this is the case. Lucky Break is giving you an additional 2 Edge every time the story refreshes, which is different from every time you get into a fight. It's a subtle distinction but one that gives the GM a lot more control over how the feat comes into play.

 

Does Darkvision II let a character see without any light at all, or is a tiny amount of light required?

No light is required as the complete absence of light is one of the ambient light penalties the quality allows you to ignore. It however will not work in magical darkness.

 

I'm confused about what happens when the path of a Bullrush is obstructed. If the bullrusher wins, the obstructing character becomes sprawled in a random adjacent square (using the Deviation Diagram) and the Bull Rush continues past him  I'm envisioning the bull rusher's target having his back to a tree (the obstruction blocking the path). How then does the obstructing character get moved into a random square, shouldn't he just be pummled to the ground in the square he is standing in, and how is it that the bullrusher 'continues past him', if there's a tree behind his target? Let's say the obstructing object is a wall, how does the bull rusher punch through that?

This point only concerns a blocking character, not the object.  If you'd like, read it that if the bullrusher wins, his path is determined as if the blocking character did not exist.  When an object suffers the bull rusher's damage, it makes a Damage Save.  If that fails, the bull rusher punches a hole through it, rather like the Kool Aid Man or just about any action hero fighting inside a house. You know the doors are going to get busted off. If the wall is too strong (Normal guy bullrushes a castle wall) feel free to simply declare the character takes his own damage and bounces harmlessly off the object.  I wouldn't let bullrushes make a hole through a thick stone wall, but I might let them penetrate a house's wooden wall.  Optionally, rule that the character goes through a conveniently placed window or portal. In the case of a bullrusher running into a character with his back to a large tree, I'd inflict damage on all three and stop the bullrush there (handing out sprawled as needed) unless the tree is small enough to be knocked over or bent in some way by the bull rush.

 

It seems to me, that if both opponents are holding their weapon with one hand, and both have the same sized weapon, there are no penalties to the actual disarm action? Thats makes Disarm extremely powerful as you just have to beat your opponent in an opposed standard attack. I can see weapons flying around all over the place during comabt. Granted if he fails, he's flat footed, but still.

There are no penalties. A standard Disarm causes the opponent to drop his weapon in an adjacent square. When you are disarmed, you don't need to move to pick up your weapon if it landed in the square next to you... you can pick up stuff within your reach. Without support/coordination it is basically an exercise in trading a half action of yours for a half action of theirs. With an ally to snatch it or needing to tie up a villian, trades are good. But against standard characters it's probably not that expedient.

 

Does All out Attack's "penalty with your attack and skill checks of up to –4 to gain an insight bonus with melee damage rolls equal to twice that number" mean a +8 to damage rolls?

If you take the full penalty, yes -- depending on the penalty you take, you will get either a +2, +4, +6, or +8 bonus.

 

Surprise doesn’t mention you need the Tactics/Ambush to surprise opponents. And if you don’t need it, what’s the use of it?

First off, look at the Critical success. You can make an Ambush check whenever the GM allows. In some cases that means in the middle of combat (see Ambush Basics). See the Sense Motive option? It means that you can be talking to the guards and nod to the rest of the party. They move into position, and BAM!, Ambush check and surprise round. Ambushes are a reliable way to get a surprise round, rather then just hoping you sense your adversary before they do. It's the same principle not needing Athletics to run, but it's the skill you'd use for determining the victor of a foot race.

 

Per page 203 a character can combine 2 half actions gained from different sources to take 1 full action; half actions include making an attack or taking a standard move, so a character can usually attack and move, or attack twice, or move twice, in every round. But aren't moving twice and attacking twice coming from the same source; movement action and attack action respectively?

This isn't referring to the actions that are taken, but rather when new actions are gained. For example, the spell Haste gives the target 1 additional half-action per round, while the feat Surge of Speed can give you an additional non-attack half-action in a round. Taken together, these 2 half-actions can be combined into a Full-Round non-attack action. In this case, they could be used to Run, a Full-Round action.  In this case, a character could actually take 2 Run actions in 1 round. Similarly, if you attack with your first half action using a character option that triggers a free attack you could combine it with your as yet unused second action that round to make a full-round attack action provided the free attack doesn't specifically limit the type of attack that can be made with it. Basically, using an action is not a source of the action.  The source of most of your actions comes during Step 4: "When a character gets the chance to act, he may take either 1 full actionor 2 half actions (for a list of standard actions, see page 218)" but it is possible to get actions from other sources like spells and feats.

 

With the Delay action, what does the line "He may take this action a number of times per round equal to his Initiative bonus + 10" actually mean?

Basically you cannot delay more than 10+your bonus initiative points, so if you roll a 15 and your initiative is +13 (for initiative) 28, you can only delay to initiative 5. (28-23).

 

What are the implications of reach 1 against reach 2? Specifically what benefits does combatant 2 enjoy? What infringements does combatant 1 have? How does combatant 1 close on combatant 2?

The biggest benefit is he can attack someone 2 squares (10 foot) away without having to be adjacent to them (adjacency can trigger a number of character options) and cannot be counter-attacked by a melee or unarmed attack by that opponent if their reach is only 1. There is no threatened area like in D&D, and no Attacks of Opportunity in the base rules, so provied #2 is within his movement range, #1 is completely free to move within #2's reach to become adjacent and attack just as he would an opponent with the same reach as himself.

 

Initiative before surprise? That threw me a bit. Usually you get a round of surprise, and then you'd roll for Initiative. I guess 'Ambush' would be that initial suprise round before initiative? So how does it work RAW? Everyone just rolls for Initiative, then the GM decides using the information at hand, who is unaware of whom? Couldn't this have the scenario where someone who rolled a 17 for Initiative, is unaware of the opponent off to his right, who rolled a 9 for initiative? What happens now, 9 effectively gets to act upon 17 because 17 can't react, being unaware?

Yes.  9 acts in the surprise round, then 17, then 9. Alternatively, another ambusher who'd roll an 18 would get two turns before 17's first turn, and crucially, would know this at the start of the first turn.