Combat Skill Levels

Combat: No roll required
Cost: 2-8 Character Points per Level (see text)

Once a character knows how to use an attack, he can improve his skill with it by buying Combat Skill Levels. Combat Skill Levels (CSLs) have several potential uses, though a character can only use a CSL for one thing at a time. Characters can use Overall Levels as CSLs, but if so, cannot use the Overall Level for anything else that Phase.

A character can change the assignment of his CSLs as a Zero Phase Action. However, unless the GM permits otherwise, a character may not change the assignment of his CSLs more than once in a Phase. After he attacks or takes some other action, his CSLs stay as they are until he chooses to re-allocate them in a later Phase (or when he Aborts to a defensive Action and assigns them to DCV).

Example: Renegade has four 8-point CSLs with All Combat. When his turn comes to act in Phase 8 (he is DEX 25), he assigns 2 Levels to OCV and 2 to DCV. His CSLs stay that way until he acts in Phase 10 (again, on DEX 25), at which point he can decide to leave them as they are or rearrange them.

Unless the GM permits otherwise, a character can only allocate a CSL on a Phase when he uses an attack/power that CSL applies to. For example, if a character has a 3-point Combat Skill Level with his Energy Blast, he can only assign that Level (for any purpose) on Phases when he uses his EB.

There are three different uses of Combat Skill Levels:
1) Accuracy: Characters can use one CSL as + 1 OCV with any attack which the CSL applies to. This is the only way to use a 2-point CSL; 2-point CSLs cannot apply to DCV or increase damage.
2) Defense: Characters can use one CSL costing 3 or more points as a + 1 DCV against the same types of attacks (HTH or Ranged) for which the CSL could increase OCV. For example, a CSL with a swordfighting martial art could increase DCV in HTH Combat (against any type of HTH Attack), but not in Ranged Combat. Characters can buy CSLs costing 5 points to add + 1 DCV against all types of attacks. A CSL (of any cost) applied to DCV is not Persistent (and cannot be made so except by buying the Skill Defense Maneuver at level IV); instead, the character must specify when he’s using the CSL (he cannot specify that he uses it “at all times”). However, see Optional Rules, below.
3) Damage: Characters can use two CSLs to increase the damage done by a HTH or Ranged attack by one Damage Class (up to a maximum of twice its original DCs) (see page 405 for more information). For instance, a 1d6+ 1 Killing Damage weapon does 1.d6 if a character uses two CSLs to increase its damage; four CSLs would raise its damage to 2d6, and so on. Similarly, a 4d6 Normal Damage club would do 6d6 if a character used four CSLs to increase the damage. Only Heroic campaigns use this rule.

As noted below, some types of Levels can be bought to affect Mental Powers (OECV, DECV, and so forth) instead of CV-based abilities. Levels bought to provide CV bonuses do not work with Mental Powers, even if (for example) the Levels are with “all Ranged attacks” and the Mental Powers work at Range. If a character wants CSLs that apply to his Mental Powers, he has to buy them specifically for that.

The Combat Skill Level Table lists the several types of CSLs.

2-point CSLs: The2-point CSL applies to a single weapon or attack. A character could buy this to help him with, for example, his broadsword, or the Move Through Combat Maneuver. The weapon or attack is defined generically. For example, a 2-point CSL with “Broadswords” applies to all broadswords, not just the one broadsword that the character owns, and it applies to any form of attack made with that weapon or ability (such as a Strike, Haymaker, or Sweep with the sword’s blade, an attempt to Disarm or Move By a foe, and so forth). A 2-point Combat Skill Level can only increase the attacker’s OCV (or OECV); it cannot increase his DCV or the damage caused by an attack.

If a character buys 2-point CSLs with Strike, he must define the type of Strike — Punch, Sword Slash, or whatever. He cannot apply the Level to any type of Strike (but at the GM’s option, a character could buy 3-point CSLs that apply to all HTH Strikes, or all Ranged Strikes).

If a character buys 2-point CSLs to improve his OCV with a Combat Maneuver that can be used with multiple powers or other Maneuvers (such as Haymaker, Rapid Fire, or Sweep), those CSLs increase his OCV with the Maneuver regardless of what attacks he makes with it or uses it with.

3-point CSLs: The 3-point CSL applies to any group of three related maneuvers or attacks (with the GM’s permission the group can include both HTH and Ranged attacks, or both standard and Mental attacks, but the GM may wish to restrict this for simplicity or to preserve game balance). This could apply to any three Combat Maneuvers, to a single martial arts style (regardless of how many maneuvers that style has, and whether they’re used armed or unarmed), or to a tight group of weapons (like “all pistols” or “all swords”).

Three-point CSLs can apply to OCV, DCV, or damage as outlined above; except for the fact that they can increase DCV and damage, they generally function like 2-point CSLs.

5-point CSLs: Characters can buy the 5-point CSL as any of the following:
+ 1 OCV, + 1 DCV, or increased damage with all HTH Combat
+ 1 OCV, + 1 DCV, or increased damage with all Ranged Combat (not including Mental Combat)
+ 1 OECV or + 1 DECV with Mental Combat
+ 1 OCV, + 1 DCV, or increased damage with a related group of HTH and Ranged attacks (such as “U.S. Army Infantry Weapons” or “All Martial Arts Weapons”)
+ 1 DCV against all attacks (HTH and Ranged) — no matter how many opponents attack a character in a given Segment, or with how many different attacks, a 5-point DCV CSL provides + 1 DCV versus all of them. + 1 DECV against all Mental attacks

8-point CSLs: The 8-point CSL applies to any type of combat whatsoever — HTH, Ranged, or Mental, OCV/DCV or OECV/DECV.

When you buy CSLs for a character, think of the kind of combat or weapon skills the character should have. The more CSLs the character buys, the more choices he has during combat.

The 5-point CSL is the smallest CSL characters can buy with Limitations. For example, if a character wants to build a weapon that’s more accurate than normal (ie, that provides a bonus to the user’s OCV), he would buy 5-point CSLs with the Limitation Focus.

Combat Skill Levels bought with Limitations can only increase the user’s OCV, unless the GM gives special permission otherwise.


Cost Application
2 + 1 OCV (*or OECV) with any single type of attack 1
3 + 1 with any three maneuvers or a tight group of attacks (e.g., + 1 with Pistols, + 1 with Karate)
5 + 1 with HTH Combat, + 1 with Ranged Combat, + 1 with Mental Combat, + 1 with a related group of attacks, or + 1 DCV against all attacks
8 + 1 with All Combat

1 May not be used for DCV.

Here are two optional rules the GM can use with Combat Skill Levels.

DCV Levels: As an optional rule, the GM can distinguish between a character’s DCV against HTH attacks and his DCV against Ranged attacks. In this case, a character cannot use a CSL to provide a DCV bonus against Ranged attacks unless the CSL applies to All Combat (an 8-point Level). Moreover, a character with a CSL that applies specifically to a Ranged attack or class of Ranged attacks can never use the Level to improve his DCV.

This optional rule reflects the fact that it’s difficult to dodge a bullet or arrow, regardless of your expertise at shooting bullets or arrows. The GM should always use it when characters buy CSLs with Limitations (an accurate gun doesn’t make its user harder to hit, for instance).

Negative Combat Skill Levels: Certain powers or abilities, such as some curses in Fantasy games, involve making a character less capable in combat — in short, they apply negative CSLs to him. At the GM’s discretion, a character may impose a – 1 on another character’s OCV or DCV for 5 Character Points. (The character must choose whether his NCSL power reduces OCV or DCV when he buys it, and cannot change this thereafter.) This reduction in CV applies for all purposes, not just for a single attack or versus the character who imposes the NCSL. This “Power” is No Range, Constant, and costs END; using it to affect the target requires an Attack Roll. Each point of Power Defense the target has negates one NCSL.

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Combat Skill Levels

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