Friday, January 12, 2018

Superhero 2044 Second Edition Revised :: Combat System


Old School

At the time of its first publishing in 1977, Superhero 2044 originally had four different combat systems; Transformation, Mental Combat, Direct Physical Combat ("melee") and Range Combat.  These used a D6 for resolution, and for "melee" and "range combat" involved the use of a D6 for hit-location. The "range combat" was not an opposed die roll, the "mental combat" mimicked "melee" but used Mentality stat ("Prime Requisite") instead of Stamina.

The second edition rules introduced two new ways of combat; using a D100 for "melee" and "range combat", and then a D100 for hit-location.


I have decided to make everything more consistent.

There are still four combat systems, but they all hinge upon the use of the "Universal Mechanism" which is a D10 roll against a target number (usually 6 or higher) written as D10=6+. Effectively these rolls are all "Saving throws" and received dice modifier (DM) adjustments against the target number (TN) according to a Simplified Score representing a +1 per every 5 Prime Requisite value above a value of 20. For example, a 20 PR gives a DM +0 but a score of 30 gives DM +2.

Of course, the Referee will have access to a slew of sensible dice modifiers for success such as DM -3 if target is behind cover or DM +2 if shooter is focussing effort on an attack.



The primary feature of the combat resolution mechanic is that it has an accuracy roll which is always an opposed check. What this means is that each character, the Attacker and the Defender, make a D10 roll. The Defender's roll comes first and, after applying any modifiers, becomes the Target Number for the Attacker.

The Attacker then rolls its D10 against that TN for success. The Attacker of course gets its own set of DMs to adjust its roll. 

The Referee will note the Margin-of-Success [MoS] or Margin-of-Failure [MoF] and this affects the outcome of damage. Should the Attacker roll higher than the Defender's TN, the MoS will adjust the amount of the effect of the attack. 

Handling Damage

Damage from all attacks automatically cause damage; there is no Opposed damage roll. 

For example, a Psychic Blast 10 will do 10 Damage to the target character's Psyche; causing Stress damage. An average character could take about 4 of those blasts directly. Each MoS will allow an additional D6 of damage.

Hit Location

However, for "melee" and "range combat" actions; the Attacker will need to check the hit-location of the target using a D10, with "0" being the target character's head and "9" being the target character's "left-leg". If this is a "range combat" attack and the target was behind cover, a D6 is used instead which allows hit-locations to cluster around the target's upper body.

Standard Hit-Locations

Body Points

Each of the ten Hit-Locations on a target will have an amount of Body Points equal to that character's Vigor. This is standard in the original SH2044 rules. When the number of Body Points is reduced, this will affect the capabilities of a character. Having negative Body Points for the Head will kill a character, while having reduced Body Points for an Arm will make it less useful in lifting things or for using it to attack others.

Physical Damage

Depending on the Body Part hit by the attack, the Defender character may take more or less damage. Physical Damage is always Body Points (express as VIG or Vigor loss) and an accompanying amount of Pain (resulting in Fatigue loss).

For example, a Sword will automatically do an amount of damage equal to the Attacker's Vigor. So a VIG 20 character will cause 20 VIG loss against a target. Should the Hit-Location be the Defender's left leg ("Leg, Left"); that automatically loses 20 Body Points. Swords themselves have the "Cleave" keyword which would remove the target's leg from its body.


20 Body Points is a tremendous amount of Damage!

This is where protective armor gets to help the targets of physical attacks. At its most basic, armor is ablative; it will stop all damage less than its Armor Value. Therefore, AV 20 will stop 20 Damage. These AV20 could be Psychic Shielding which protects from Psychic Blasts, or Physical Armor which protects from "melee" and "range combat" attacks.

However, all is not so simple.

Physical Armor rated at AV 20 is fairly heavy armor especially if it were to cover the entire body. A mere Bulletproof Vest will cover just the "Torso, Chest"+ "Torso, Middle". A Bulletproof Jacket will cover as a vest plus the Arms, etc. When those 20 Damage come down to the Defender, the Hit-Location could be protected by Armor ... or not. That D10 Hit-Location roll then becomes critical.

Armor Values

Armor Values have a degree of effectiveness. This can be overlooked when attacking Minor Characters (being "Minor NPCs", "Minions", and "Mooks"), but becomes important for Major NPCs and all Player Characters (PCs).  
  • If the VIG damage is greater than the Armor Value [AV] by more than 5 then full damage goes to the target location.
  • If the VIG damage is less than or equal to the Armor Value [AV], then the armor stops it completely.
  • Otherwise divide the VIG damage by 2 and apply to the target.
Those three simple conditions make armor behave a bit more realistically against very powerful attacks by allow them to ignore lesser armor completely. Therefore Leather Armor (AV 5) would stop most punches, but shouldn't do a thing to affect damage from bullets and swords.

This scales up as well. Tank armor with AV 100 should ignore all Damage 100 and below. Damage 107 should not become 7 Damage after applying armor protection; it becomes fully 107 Damage.

As a result, players will be able to fully appreciate the benefits of armor and the deadliness of high-Damage weapons. This should encourage all characters within the game to avoid combat unless adequately prepared.


These are the bitter details used for when tracking Major NPCs and all Player-characters. The Referee is encouraged to ignore such rules as necessary ("wing it") in regards to lesser NPCs.

Body Points

All characters have an amount of Body Points for each Body Part location based upon their Vigor and their Mass (in kilograms). This comes to about 20 Body Points for the average adult human male. It could go much higher for characters like Marvel's The Hulk (1000 Kg and very strong ... high Vigor). Vigor is used within SH2044SER as the equivalent of "Strength"; physical power.


A character receives roughly 50 points at Ego 20, 100 at Ego 40, etc. Doubles every +20 value in Ego. Is reduced by Mental attacks, some Magic / Transformation Attacks, and by attacks involving a high amount of Pain such as from Bombs and Fire. Having little or negative Stress start curling up into a ball and crying, or run away from combat or the source of Stress Damage.


A character receives roughly 50 points at Endurance 20, 100 at Endurance 40, etc. Doubles every +20 value in Endurance. Is reduced by damage which causes Pain, and actions which cause actual fatigue. Radiation damage, doesn't cause (immediate) Pain, but a Punch in the face does. So does Fire (until the nerve endings are destroyed). Torture causes Pain but not necessarily Body Points. Having little or negative Fatigue puts a character into a coma; drained of energy. Characters which take large losses of Fatigue as a result of Pain become Stunned and may eventually pass out from exhaustion or curl into fetal position to try to avoid participation in combat.

Variable Damage by Hit-Location

I'm hoping the image above shows enough legible information. Basically, kicking somebody in the groin ("Torso, Groin") should cause more Pain than normal. And punching somebody in the bony chest ("Torso, Chest, Center") should cause less Vigor damage and Pain. Weapons and the method of attack will of course change all of this. A sword could slice through the thin bones of most humans, and an attack involving acid or fire would certainly cause additional Pain damage.

NPC Types

There's some lore I'm building out for the NPC Types (see here for the foo-foo).

There's tiers of NPCs ("non-player characters"). In the parlance of the rules for SH2044SER these tiers are, Major NPC, Minor NPC, Minions, Mooks, Cast of Thousands.  The tier system is an mnemonic aide to the Referee as to how much an impact to the game each NPC of a given tier could affect change. NPCs of lower tiers (Mooks and Cast of Thousands) would get promoted slowly upwards until they become Major NPCs. In game-terms they'll have more care given to their presentation and details as the Referee sees fit, but they shouldn't swing actively through their tiers during the course of a single session (a "scene") and should probably await completion of a campaign arc (an "story") before switching tiers.

  • Major NPCs - Here to annoy and plague player-characters. Nemesis. Arch-villains. Rival heroes.
  • Minor NPCs - Side-kicks and second-in-commands to Major NPCs. Love interests, kid-brothers, etc.
  • Minions    - All of the bothersome NPCs encountered during gaming sessions which are useful during Handicapping Scenarios.
  • Mooks      - A variety of Minions meant to be SH2044SER equivalent of Star Trek's "Red Shirts". They'll not even have a name.
  • Cast of Thousands - If the Referee ever needs to blow up a building full of innocent bystanders, or maybe need to nuke a city ... these are they! A footnote in the history books.