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Heroes & Hardships Combat Basics

Heroes & Hardships is universal RPG system with a d10 roll & keep dice pool system. One of the best ways to learn about the system is to download the 96-page Quickstart Guide 

But let's go over some combat mechanics here so you can get an idea of how to do murder! This article assumes you have read System Basics.


Not unlike many combat systems, Heroes & Hardships uses an Initiative to start off combat. Unlike many systems, however, only in the case of an Action Point tie does Initiative determine the order of action. Initiative is a Reactions Skill Check.

The Combat Track

The Combat Track is the H&H Combat System's "secret sauce". In Heroes & Hardships, characters will make both Offensive and Defensive Actions. These actions cost different amounts of Action Points. Actions cost AP from 1-5. When someone uses an Action, it moves them along the Combat Track a number of Action Points associated with the specific action they've used. The Combat Track never ends, and keeps going until the combat has concluded. Whomever is lowest on the Combat Track goes next. If there is a tie, the character with the highest Initiative acts first.

There are no rounds in Heroes & Hardships. The Combat Track allows combat to move quicker, and for players to act more often.

Example: Doug's character Tithon rolled an Initiative of 30. Bruce's character, Goonther, rolled a 24. The orc they are facing has an Initiative of 13. All three characters have an AP of 0 at the beginning of combat. Therefore they are tied. Initiative resolves who goes first. That is Tithon with an Initiative of 30, then Goonther with 24, and finally the orc with 13.

Tithon's first action is to wield his warhammer. He does so with the Interact Action, which costs 2 AP. He is now at 2 AP on the Combat Track. Goonther runs, knowing he likes to punch things, he doesn't need to arm himself. He uses the Run Action for 5 AP. That moves him past Tithon on the Combat Track and brings him to 5 AP. The orc is next, and decides to use the Aim Action, planning to throw his already wielded javelin. He only spends 1 AP on his Aim, which puts him at 1 AP on the Combat Track.

After their firsts Actions, the Combat Track looks like:

Orc 1, Tithon 2, and Goonther 5. 

Even though the orc acted most recently, he's the lowest on the Combat Track, so he goes again immediately! He uses the Standard Attack Action for 3 AP, moving him to 4 AP on the Combat Track. Now, the GM resolves the attack.

Afterward, the Combat Track looks like:

Tithon 2, Orc 4, Goonther 5.

It is going to take Goonther awhile to act yet because he took so long on his first move.

Not only do Offensive Actions move you along the Combat Track (Offensive Actions are any Action a character performs on their turn.), but Defensive Actions do as well. Defensive Actions are any Action that are reactive and done out of turn.

Let's say in our previous scenario the orc threw his javelin at Tithon. Tithon has a shield, which allows him to use the Block/Parry Action against a ranged attack (Typically you cannot block, dodge, or parry ranged attacks). He uses this action which costs 1 AP. That would increase Tithon's AP to 3 on the Combat Track, regardless if he were successful in block or not.

The new Combat Track looks like:

Tithon 3, Orc 4, Goonther 5.

And that's it! The Heroes & Hardships Core Rulebook gives advice on how to track this, and provides a handy table. This will also be provided as a handout for GMs.

More Information

Remember, the Quickstart Guide has more details about this process. You can also check out our Combat Tutorial video which explains the Combat Track and other parts of combat also has a fully automated character sheet that will roll and calculate the results. Playing with the character sheet can help you get an idea of how things work. Just create a new game and select "Heroes & Hardships" as the character sheet.

We will be releasing more articles like this soon. So stay tuned.

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