GM Combat Guide

From X-Factor

We use a trimmed-down version of Faraday's FS3 system. If you're interested in the mechanical details, you can read all about them.

This guide will familiarize you with the code needed to GM a combat scene, as well as some of the combat policies and things to think about as you GM combat. Ideally you should be familiar with the player side of combat before GMing. If you're not, grab someone for a mock battle to test it out!

Combat Prep

Before you start, you'll want to do a bit of prepwork.

  • Review your participants' +sheets. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What custom skills or mutations might they need to +roll?
  • Create your NPCs and consider what level they should be.
  • Think about the location of your combat. Do you need to desc a TP room for your use? Do you need a map so that players can keep IC movements straight? We suggest using Google Drawings as a visual aid if the location is at all complex or if the combat will involve more than two NPCs.

Creating NPCs

Our system allows GMs to create and store NPCs for future use in combat. Unlike PCs, who have a full character sheet, NPCs have only a single skill rating used for every roll they make. NPCs can be level 1-12.

+npcs - Shows NPCs
+npc <name> - Shows details for a specific NPC
+npc/create <name>=<skill level (#)> - Creates a NPC
+npc/delete <name> - Deletes a NPC. Only the creator or staff can do this.
+npc/skill <name>=<skill level (#)> - Changes a NPC's skill level
+npc/notes <name>=<notes> - Adds notes to a NPC. Please do this for any NPCs your create - at the very least note what plot they are for.

There are also NPC commands that echo all of the combat commands, such as +attack <name>=<target> or +stance <name>=<stance>


These commands provide useful information as you run combat.

+combat/list - See a list of all ongoing combats, their organizers, and their participants.
+combat/skills - Summary of the skills, mods, and damage of the participants. Only the organizer can see this.
+combat - Shows everyone engaged in your combat, along with their weapon, damage, stance, action, target, and team. This includes NPCs.
+combat <name> - Shows combat-related information on a person, including type, team, weapon, stance, armor, modifiers, target, current action, and more.
+damage <name> - View someone else's damage. If they do not currently have any damage, you will see an error message.

Starting Combat

+combat/start <mock or real> - Starts a combat. Mock combats are generally for sparring or training, and no real harm is done.
+join <name, name>=<#number> - Forces players or NPCs to join combat. It's often easier for the GM to simply add people to combat than to try to get everyone to add themselves.
+newturn - Triggers a new turn. You need to use this at the beginning of combat to kick things off, as well as each time you want a new round to begin. 

Controlling Combat

Combat takes place in turns. During each turn, every player and NPC chooses an action and poses to it. The code tells you when everyone has posed and when everyone has chosen an action. You'll see:

<COMBAT> Everyone has posed.
<COMBAT> Everyone has entered their actions.

Note that the system does NOT recognize +rolls. If you have someone +roll a skill, they'll also need to +pass so that the system recognizes that everyone has chosen an action. It also does not check for NPC poses or actions.

When everyone has both posed and entered their actions, you'll need to trigger a new turn. It's possible to trigger a new turn even if everyone has not posed or chosen an action, but this should be used sparingly.

+newturn - Triggers a new turn. 
+slackers - See who has not yet posed or chosen an action. Does not show NPCs.

GM Actions

As the GM, it is your job to make the system work for RP. This means that sometimes you may choose to ask for a +roll of a skill rather than a combat action, or that you may choose to skip outside the system entirely to move things along for your players. It also means that you should be aware of your players' weapons, armor, and especially stance. Be sure that what they are using in code is also what they are posing in RP, and vice versa.

You have the ability to change everything about someone's combat code, including their stance, their weapon, their armor, and their actions. Use this sparingly, but keep it in mind as a tool, especially to help out new players who may be overwhelmed by the system.

The same code syntax chooses the stance, weapon, armor, target, and actions for NPCs.


+weapon <name>=<weapon>
+armor <name>=<armor>
+stance <name>=<stance>
+attack <name>=<target>
+target <name>=<target>

To get NPCs to pass, do +combat/pass <npc>.

Mutations in Combat

There are three ways to reflect the use of mutation in combat:

  • If the mutation is combat-heavy, such as claws or explosions, players may ask staff to create a custom weapon to represent this aspect of their mutation, in which case they can +weapon <mutation> and use it as part of the combat system.
  • Mutations can simply be RPed. There is nothing wrong with choosing to simply allow mutation to be successful in situations where it makes sense.
  • Mutations can be +rolled (see below for details). This is useful when you want to add an element of chance. Be sure to modify the situation appropriately.


Rolls are primarily used to reflect mutations in combat, but they can also be useful for situations like breaking and entering or investigation. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with skipping the +roll and presuming competence on the part of PCs if you feel that the +roll is unlikely to add to the scene.

Social combat type skills (intimidation, seduction, manipulation, lying, etc) are not allowed to be rolled in plot scenes. If you're unsure about what counts, ask staff.

When players +roll, they need to also +pass so the system knows they've done an action for that round.

+roll <skill>+<attr><+/-mod> - Roll a skill/mutation.
+roll <charA>=<skill>+<attr><+/-mod> vs <charB>=<skill>+<attr><+/-mod> -  Make an opposed roll to determine a winner.

Generally rolling skills can be done without the attribute, as skills have attached ruling attributes. There may be instances when a different attribute feels more appropriate, however, and in that case the attribute should be specified.

Modifiers reflect how difficult or easy a situation is. A standard roll reflects a task that is routine to a trained professional. When considering modifiers, bear in mind that 3 rating points is the difference between a beginner and a professional, so a modifier of + or – 3 is a pretty dramatic impact, representing a task that is either really easy, or really hard.

Standard rolls can result in: Embarrassing Failure, Failure, Success, Good Success, Great Success, or Amazing Success.

Opposed rolls can result in: Marginal Victory, Victory, Crushing Victory, DRAW!, or FAIL!


You can add modifiers to indicate that a situation is particularly difficult or particularly easy. For example, a shot at point blank range may get a + modifier, while a shot made through smoke or rain may get a - modifier.

A plus or minus 5 modification reflects a stroke of good or bad luck; 20 would signify an extremely easy or difficult situation. Players can also modify themselves, so keep an eye on that.

You can also adjust someone's lethality, which reflects how hard their weapons hit. This may be particularly appropriate for characters with super strength, etc. It can also be a way to speed up a fight that's taking longer than anticipated.

+mod <name>=<modifier, + or -> - Sets a situational modifier (not damage!).
+lethal <name>=<modifier, + or -> - Sets a lethality modifier


As a GM, it is up to you what players can use their luck for, but generally we recommend that you at least allow the uses listed in the player combat guide.

Remember that players can use one luck point per combat scene.

NPCs in Combat

The system does not check to be sure that NPCs have posed or set their actions each turn, so there's no need to worry about every one in every round. It does keep track of NPC actions and damage in the same way that it tracks PCs, so you can view them on +combat and see their +damage.

You can focus each NPC's actions individually, with the command syntax above, or you can assign them to teams and let random choice play a role.

+team <name>=<team#> - Changes a player or NPC's team.
+teamtarget <team# list>=<team# list> - Sets up team targets. For example: +teamtarget 1 3 = 2 4 (targets teams 1 and 3 at teams 2 and 4). This does not affect targets for teams 2 and 4 - you must set them separately. This team setting is remembered from one turn to the next.
+retarget- Forces all NPCs to pick new random targets based on team targets.
+retarget <attacker=target,attacker=target,etc.> -  NPCs listed pick specific targets and all others pick random targets

Fixing Mistakes

Staff can make changes to combat results if needed. For example, they can modify or remove injuries or inflict damage directly. It's fair game to ask staff to make changes in instances where things have just gone completely awry or where the code conflicts with what works best for the story. Just page a staff member or +request.

If someone is KO'd and really needs to stay in the fight, organizers can

+combat/unko - Un-KO's someone who shouldn't have been (organizer only)