Table of

The Underside



& Skills


Actions &


of the






 For much of the game, Game Masters can inform characters as to how much time has passed between events.  But for certain actions, such as combat or a skill used under timed conditions, a more accurate method is required.

  • Rounds:  Rounds are about 5 seconds long.  In general, a character can take one action per round without accruing penalties.
  • Initiative:  Characters may act in the order of their Instincts scores (from highest to lowest).  A character with a higher Instincts may choose to Hold his Action, letting someone with a lower Instincts act first before he decides what to do.
Multiple Actions in a Round
For every additional action, the character suffers a -1D to all actions taken that round.  Under normal conditions, a character can take a maximum of 5 actions per round (with a cumulative penalty of -5D to all actions).  Some spells allow for more actions per round with reduced penalties.

Any additional actions are considered to be taken in the second segment of the round.  Thus, all first actions (by everyone acting in the round) are resolved in the first part of a round and any extra actions are resolved afterwards.  Who acts first in a round depends upon Initiative (see above).

Example:  Grimm is in combat again.  He decides he will take two actions:  he will attack and Dodge.  He will be -1D to both actions.
Occasionally, a character will need to react to something that has occurred during a round.  If the character has already acted in the round, the reaction skill is at -1D for being a reaction and -1D for each action already taken in the round.

Dodge, Melee Parry and Brawling/Martial Arts are commonly used as Reaction Skills to avoid damage.

If a Reaction Skill is used while defending from an attack, the dice roll becomes the difficulty the attacker must overcome to be successful, even if the reaction skill roll is lower than the original difficulty of the attack!

Example:  Grimm is in combat and has already acted once this round.  Suddenly, someone shoots at him and he attempts to Dodge.  His Dodge skill is normally 4D, but since he has already acted, it is now 2D (-1D for having already acted and -1D for being a Reaction Skill).  The shooter's base difficulty was 10.  Grimm rolls 2 dice and gets a result of 7.  The shooter only needs a 7 or better to hit Grimm.
Full Reactions
If the character decides that the only action she will take in a round is to react, then her Reaction skill roll is attempted with full dice and the result is added to the attacker's difficulty.
Example:  Mina knows someone is shooting at her.  She decides that all she will do this round is Dodge.  She rolls her full 4D for Dodge gets 15.  The shooter must now roll higher than 10 (standard difficulty) + 15 = 25 in order to hit her!

Applying Reactions to the Entire Round
Dodge rolls apply to all ranged attacks in a round.  Thus a character need only Dodge once to attempt to avoid attackers using guns, thrown weapons or grenades.

Parry rolls must be made for every attack!  Thus, in close combat, if a character is punched four times, he must either attempt four parries using his Brawling or Martial Arts skill or be take the damage!


Ranged combat difficulty targets:

Point Blank Very Easy (1-5)
Short Easy (6-10)
Medium Moderate (11-15)
Long Difficult (16-20)
Extreme Very Difficult to Heroic (20+)

Shooting at Multiple Targets
Characters may choose to aim at more than one target in a given round.  If they do so, they suffer a cumulative -1D when shooting at each target beyond the first.

Example 1:  Mina is cornered by two bloodthirsty bravos.  She is armed with a repeating crossbow that lets her fire off up to 5 crossbow bolts before having to reload.  She can either shoot at one without a penalty or attempt to shoot at both.  She decides to fire once at both of her attackers.  Her total dice penalty is -1D to the first shot (the penalty for taking multiple actions) and -2D to the second shot (the penalty for multiple actions + the second target penalty).
Example 2:  Mina is cornered again, this time by three thugs.  She decides to fire once at each (3 actions, 2 additional targets).  She suffers a -2D to her first shot (for the two additional actions), a -3D to the second, and a -4D to the third!
Spraying Bullets
Some weapons, such as fully automatic machine guns, allow the bearer to spray bullets at an enemy.  This has a variety of advantages and disadvantages:
Shooter gets +1D to hit and does not suffer any penalties for aiming at multiple targets in a round. The shooter may potentially hit anyone in the direction in which he is pointing the gun (including allies and innocents).  If the shooter is trying to avoid hitting a friendly target, add 15 to the difficulty number to hit.  If the shooter rolls less than 15 over the standard difficulty (dependent on range) , he hits the friendly target as well.  Roll damage normally.
  Uses ammunition more quickly.
  If the attack is successful, roll one less die for damage.

Using two guns at once:

Shooter does not suffer any penalties for shooting at more than one target in a round without declaring a "Spraying" action (see Spraying Bullets below). Shooting a second weapon counts as an action (resulting in an additional -1D to each action in the round).
Both first shots are fired in the first segment of the round (if one gun is shot twice, the second shot is considered to go off in the last part of the round, after all other first attacks have been resolved. Shooter suffers an additional -1D to any shot taken with his or her "off" hand.
Permits the character to fire the maximum number of bullets from both guns in a round (thus, is a shooter is using two pistols which may fire 3 times in a round, she can shoot 6 times total in the round).  If someone using two guns stops to reload, they must take an additional action to stow one gun while the other is reloaded.  There is no additional action if the "extra" gun is thrown away.

Scale represents the differences between small targets (such as Characters) and large, fortified structures  (such as aircraft carriers and buildings).  When targets of the same size are shooting at each other, ignore scale modifiers.  When targets are of different scales, add the Dice modifier (presented below) to the rolls as follows:

  • Lower scale attacking larger scale
    • Attacker adds the scale modifier to its attack roll
    • The target, if hit, adds the scale modifier to its Strength (or Body/Hull) roll.
  • Higher scale attacking lower scale
    • Higher scale rolls as normal, but the lower scale target adds the dice modifier to any Dodge/Evasion roll.
    • If successful, the higher scale adds the dice modifier to damage roll.
Scales Tiny Small Character Car Tank Aircraft Capital Superstructure


A number of factors can affect a character's chances to succeed in combat.  Smoke may obstruct a target, oil on the floor may make dodging more difficult, etc.  Following are a number of modifiers Game Masters may choose to apply in the game.

  • Drawing Weapons:  Drawing a weapon counts as an action in a round (all other actions are at -1D this round).
  • Reloading Weapons:  The time required to reload a weapon varies depending on the type.  Most require 1 action to reload.  See the weapon descriptions in the Equipment section.
  • Targeting Systems:  Some weapons, usually in aircraft or tanks, have targeting systems that help the gunner.  These depend on the weapon type and quality.
  • Rate of Fire (ROF):  This statistic is given for each weapon.  A weapon cannot be fired more times than its ROF in a round, regardless of the number of actions the character takes.
  • Called Shots:  Attackers can make a "called shot" against a specific target, such as a particular part of a target's body (a hand, head, etc) or a small item.  Add +1D to the difficulty for a target 10-50 cm (approximately 3-18 inches) long.  Add +4D to the difficulty for a target 1-10 cm long.  Add +8D to the difficulty for a target less than a centimeter long.
  • Cover:  Provides a target with some protection from detection and attack.  Add the following modifiers to attempts to detect or hit a target, when appropriate
Light Smoke
Thick Smoke
Very Thick Smoke
Poor Light
Complete Darkness
Characters can also hide behind objects, such as walls and vehicles, which provide protection against attack.  Add the following modifiers depending on how much of the target is covered.
Target is Modifier
1/4 covered +1D
1/2 covered +2D
3/4 covered +4D
Fully covered If cover provides protection, attacker cannot hit target directly.  Damage is absorbed by the item giving protection, until it's Body rating is depleted (see Protection below).
  • Protection:  Inanimate objects have a strength rating to resist damage.  If the attacker rolls well enough to beat the basic difficulty, but not well enough to beat the added cover modifier (see above) that mean the shot hit whatever the character was hiding behind.  If the object is hit, roll the attacker's damage against the protection rating below:
Sample Protection
Body Strength
Flimsy wooden door
Standard wooden door
Standard metal door
Reinforced door
Blast door
If the damage roll is lower than the Body Strength roll, the protection is not damaged at all and the target character suffers no damage.  If the damage roll is equal to or greather than the protection's Body Strength roll, find the difference on the chart below to see how badly the protection is damage.
Damage Roll = Body 
Strength Roll by:
Protection is:
Not seriously damaged
Lightly damaged
Heavily damaged
Severely damaged
A character behind protection may suffer some damaged depending upon how badly his protection is damaged.  Subtract dice from the attack's damage based on the chart below.
Protection is:
Reduce weapon's damage by:
Not seriously damaged Character is completely protected
Lightly damaged -4D
Heavily damaged -2D
Severely damaged -1D
Destroyed Character suffers full damage.
  • Armor:  Armor protects the wearer from damage.  In the game, add the value of the armor to the Constitution roll of the character suffering damage.  See the Equipment section for different armor types.


Hand-to-Hand Combat

The standard difficulty to hit with Brawling roll is Very Easy (5).  Damage is equal to the character's Strength roll + 1D per Effect Value (see Effect Value).

The standard difficulty to hit with Martial Arts is Easy (10), resulting in damage equal to the character's Strength.  A fighter skilled in Martial Arts may attempt more complicated maneuvers to render more damage, but must roll against a higher difficulty number to hit.

Character's may attempt to block an attack using their Brawling or Martial Arts skills.  Players must declare they will be attempting to block before the attack occurs. If they do not, they suffer an additional -1D when attempting to block.

Example:  Lector is in a fight with a bravo thug.  He decides to strike but forgets to "hold an action" in case he needs to block.  The thug takes a swing and Lector decides he had better try to block.  He must roll Brawling at -2D.  If his blocking roll is higher than the thug's attack roll, he will have parried the blow. If not, he may take damage.
Example:  Somewhat bruised from last round, Lector decides he will hold an action this round in case he needs to block.  This means he is -1D to both his attack and blocking roll.
An unarmed character may not attempt to block an attacker with a weapon without a special Martial Arts move.

Melee Combat
Melee Combat is handled much the same way Unarmed Combat is, except that the characters involved use Melee Combat and are armed with handheld weapons.

A character armed with a weapon may use it to block an unarmed assailant.

When an attacker successfully hits his target, he rolls the appropriate number of dice to designate damage + 1D per Effect Value (10 over the Difficulty target number).  Ranged weapons do a set amount (e.g. a Heavy Pistol does 5D damage).  Melee weapons do the attacker's Strength + XD, where X depends on the weapon (e.g. a knife does STR + 1D damage).

The targeted character then rolls his Constitution dice and adds any armor value, if armor is worn.  If the target's Constitution roll is greater than the attacker's roll, the she had resisted the damage.  If not, consult the table below for results:

Damage Roll 

Constitution Roll 
0-3 Stunned Character suffers a -1D to all skill and attribute dice for the rest of the round and the next.  If a character suffers a number of stuns equal to her Constitution, she falls unconscious for 1d6 minutes.
4-8 Wounded Characters fall prone and can take no actions for the rest of the round.  The character suffers a -1D to all skills and attributes until healed.  A character who is wounded a second time is Wounded Twice (suffers -2D to all actions until healed).  A character who is Wounded a third time is Incapacitated.
9-12 Incapacitated An incapacitated character falls prone and is knocked unconscious for 10D minutes.  The character can't do anything until healed.  An Incapacitated character who is Wounded or Incapacitated again is Mortally Wounded.
13-15 Mortally Wounded Falls prone, is unconscious and will remain that way until healed.  At the end of each round the character is unconscious, roll 2D.  If the number rolled is less than the number of rounds that the character has been mortally wounded, the character dies.  A Mortally Wounded character who is Wounded or worse again, is Killed.
16+ Killed. Instantly killed.  Can only be saved with a Heroic (50) First Aid roll within 1 round or through very powerful magicks.

Characters can heal in a variety of ways, but the three most common methods are natural healing, first aid kits, and medical facilities.

Natural Healing:
A character can heal naturally, but this process is both slower and riskier than getting medical care.  The character must rest a specified amount of time and then can make a healing roll:  the character's full Constitution to see if the character heals.

Healing characters can do virtually nothing but rest.  A character who tried to work, exercise or adventure must subtract -1D from his Constitution when he makes his healing roll.  Any character who opts to "take it easy" and do virtually nothing for twice the necessary time may add +1D to his Constitution to heal.

A Wounded character must rest for three standard days before rolling to heal:

Constitution Roll
Character worsens to Wounded Twice.
Character remains Wounded.
Character is fully healed.

A character who is Wounded Twice must rest for three days before rolling to heal:

Constitution Roll
Character worsens to Incapacitate.
Character remains Wounded Twice.
Character improves to Wounded.

Incapacitated characters must rest for two weeks before making a healing roll:

Constitution Roll Results
Characters worsen to Mortally Wounded.
Character remains Incapacitated.
Character improves to Wounded Twice.

Mortally Wounded characters must rest for one month (30 monthly days) before making a healing roll.

Constitution Roll Results
Character dies.
Character remains Mortally Wounded.
Character improves to Incapacitated.

First Aid Kits
First Aid kits usually have bandages, antiseptics, anti-inflammatories, painkillers and other lightweight medical supplies.  A standard kit can be used two times before needing to be restocked.

A First Aid roll is required to use a First Aid kit..  The difficulty depends on the severity of the patient's injury:

Degree of Injury Difficulty
Stunned, unconscious Very Easy
Wounded or Wounded Twice Easy
Incapacitated Moderate
Mortally Wounded Difficult
Killed Heroic (50)  (must be attempted the round after the patient has been killed).

If the First Aid roll is successful, the patient heals one level.  Stunned and Wounded characters are fully healed.  Wounded Twice are Wounded.  Incapacitated are Wounded Twice.  Mortally Wounded are Incapacitated.

If the First Aid roll is unsuccessful, the character's condition remains the same.  If the First Aid roll misses the difficulty by more than 10 points, the patient remains the same and another First Aid roll cannot be made for another 24 hours.

Multiple First Aid attempts can be made on a patient within a single day, but the First Aid difficulty increases one level for each additional use.

Medical Facilities
Professional medical facilities and underground "black-market" clinics may provide advanced medical care (for an advanced cost!)..

To treat an injured person with these facilities, a character must have the Medicine (A) skill.

Degree of Injury Difficulty and Time
Wounded Very Easy with 1D hours of care.
Incapacitated Easy with 4D hours of care.
Mortally Wounded Moderate with 1D days.
Killed Unearthly with 10D days.


The book Neverwhere is copyright Neil Gaiman, the TV series was copyright to the BBC, and the gaming system is copyright West End Games.  This site is wholly unauthorized.  Please don't sue me.

August 2002