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Grid-based Combat

Page history last edited by Bruce Mason 12 years, 11 months ago

RuneQuest II house rules::Grid-based combat

This page contains changes to combat and movement to facilitate playing RQII with miniatures on a 2m square grid. Most of the changes can be adapted for different scales (1m squares), grids (e.g. hexes) or simply using rulers at some scale. The primary issue is reconciling round-based movement with Combat Actions.[1]

The Grid

These rules assume that each square is 2m on a side. Adjust as necessary for other scales.



Each character is represented by a Figure.


A figure's base size is a measure of how much room it takes up on the battle map. An average human takes up one square therefore has a base size of 1x1. Larger quadrupeds may have a base size of 2x1 (representing that they are relatively long) while larger humanoids may have a base size of 2x2, 3x3 or 4x4.


A figure's reach normally depends on its smallest base size modified by weapon reach. A human with a base size of 1x1 has a reach of 1 square all around it which means that it can attack any figure adjacent to it. If using a Very Long (VL) weapon, however, its reach is increased by 1, meaning that it can attack any figure that is 2 or fewer squares away.


A figure with a base size of 2x1 has a smallest base size of 1 therefore has the same reach as a 1x1 figure. However a figure with a base size of 2x2 has a base reach of 2 squares which means that if using a VL weapon it can reach any figure within 3 squares. Even bigger creatures may have even greater reach dependent on the shape of the creature but this is best decided on a case by case basis.


These rules ignore facing. A Combat Round is a summary of 6 seconds of hectic action and movement, a figure does not point in the same direction for all 6 seconds.


Figure base size

SIZ 1-4: 4 per square. SIZ smaller than 1: 1 "swarm" per square
SIZ 5-30: 1x1 square; SIZ 31-60: 2x2 squares; SIZ 61-90: 3x3 squares;  SIZ 91+ 4x4


Note that many quadrupeds are often longer than they are wide. In which case the following size equivalency can be used.

SIZ 5-20: base size 1x1. SIZ 21-40: base size 2x1. SIZ 41-70: base size 3x2. SIZ 71-100: base size 4x3. SIZ 101+: base size 5x4


The base size is usually figured from the average SIZ of the species or the size of the miniature itself. This prevents some Great Trolls being 2x2 while others are 1x1 based on which side of SIZ 30 they happen to be.

Some creatures have very unusual body shapes (e.g. wyrms) in which case the figure size and shape will deviate from the numbers above. For convenience sake, they can assumed to have a square base of some size but may attack whatever figures seem logical.



A figure's Movement Rating (MOV) is affected by its Armour Penalty, by as being overloaded with encumbrance, exhausted through fatigue and so on. A figure's Armour Penalty divided by two (and rounded up as usual) is subtracted from its normal MOV to give its current MOV. Example a Human with a normal MOV of 8m has an Armour Penalty of 5. This reduces its current MOV to 5m (8-3).


A figure moves by spending 2m MOV to move into each square. There is no extra cost for moving diagonally. Terrain and obstacles increase the cost to move into a square. Difficult terrain doubles the cost to move into a square so it would cost 4m of MOV to move into it. Very difficult terrain trebles the cost to 6m per square. Example, a character with a MOV of 7m could move 3 squares costing a total of 6m of movement. The next square would cost another 2m so can't be entered as there is only 1m of MOV left.


It is possible for a character's MOV to be reduced to such a low number that for all intents and purposes it can't move. In that case you can make spot rulings.[2] E.g. the figure can move but it uses up all its CAs at once or some such.


Movement while engaged in close combat

While engaged, in combat a figure cannot move unless it uses the Change Range Combat Action or Combat Manoeuvre. A successful Change Range lets a figure immediately move up to its MOV. E.g. a human with MOV 8m might be able to move 4 squares. This may be enough to allow the figure to move far enough away to make an escape.


Change Range can also be used to allow the acting figure to move to any other square adjacent to the target figure even if this would seem to allow it to move more than its MOV. 


Movement while not engaged in close combat

Half move - "walking"

A figure may spend up to 1/2 of its MOV rating (rounded up) as an action either singly or in combination with another action. It may take Defensive Combat Actions while moving cautiously. I.e. it can Parry or Evade or cast a Counter Spell of some sort.


Full move - "hustling"

A figure may spend a CA to move up to its MOV rating. It may take Defensive Combat Actions while doing so. I.e. it can Parry or Evade or cast a Counter Spell of some sort. It cannot however combine this movement with another action such as drawing a weapon, casting a spell making a ranged attack or readying a parry. 


Counter Spell: Any spell that can be cast as a reaction to another spell being cast. 


Running and sprinting

An unengaged figure can run at a speed of up to 1.5 times its MOV (rounded up as usual). Example, a figure with a MOV of 7m can run up to 11m as a Combat Action. The figure is considered to be running until its next Turn. A running figure cannot take any other actions, including Defensive Combat Actions, until its next Turn

  • Optional. Sprinting. If a figure wishes to run flat out it can an attempt an Athletics roll. If successful it can move at a speed equal to twice its MOV. 


Moving and acting at the same time

Generally a figure can spend a CA to move up to 1/2 of its MOV rating while performing any action other than a close-combat attack action (making or readying an attack). This does allow it to, for example fire a missile weapon while moving or cast a spell. E.g. a figure with a MOV of 9m could move up to 5m while performing anything other than a combat action. The action combined with a move can be taken at any time during the move.


Climbing, Crawling, Sneaking, Swimming and Limping

A figure that is disabled, prone, trying to sneak, climbing, swimming and so on, moves at half of its "walking" pace. For a human with a normal MOV of 8m this allows it to move 2m per CA. The figure may also suffer other penalties depending on the circumstance.


Reaction Movement - aka flee!

A figure that is not engaged may react to another figure that is moving towards it by fleeing as a reaction. This may be useful if being charged.[3] 


An Important Note

These rules are based on figures moving in chaotic, combat situations where the ground may be difficult and enemies are trying to kill them. For this reason it's generally not possible to simply sprint in a straight line. Tying together actions and movement is always likely to throw up some odd cases of unduly slow or quick movement. GMs are encouraged to use common sense to deal with such cases.



If a figure is not currently engaged in close combat then it can charge. 


A charge is an attack on the run against an opponent. The figure must be able to run in a straight line towards the target. The figure must also be far enough away to get up to speed. Therefore the target must be more than twice the charger's largest base size away. E.g. a human has a base size of 1x1 therefore the target must be 3 or more squares away. Note that this counts squares and ignores the effect of terrain on movement costs and so on. It is purely a simple way of assessing whether the figure has enough room to get up to speed. 

  • A charge happens on the run therefore the charger cannot take Defensive Combat Actions while charging, including during the attack. The actual charge attack is part of the move action.[4]
  • The charge attack is resolved on the attacker's SR. 
  • Benefits of charging. The charger's damage modifier is increased by one step and any weapon used to parry the charge is treated as one size smaller than usual.
  • Defending against a charge. Providing the target has a Combat Action left, the target of a charge may Parry or Evade as normal. Alternatively the target may attack instead of defending. In this case the person with the longest Reach goes first. If both weapons are the same reach, then the attacks are resolved simultaneously. If the target has previously prepared an attack and has used it to set an impaling weapon against the charge, then the defender may choose to use the attacker's damage modifier instead of its own. 
  • Movement after a charge. If the target either successfully evades or is knocked back by the force of the charge then the charging Figure must keep moving forwards in a straight line until it has completed its running distance.  Example: Keldo has a MOV of 5 and is charging at full speed (8m) at a goblin 6m (3 squares) away. The goblin dives out of the way so Keldo ends up running at least another 3m before he's able to skid to a halt. If the defending figure does not want the attacker to be able to move past, then the defender will need to attack in the hope of disabling the charger or make a Parry and choose the stand firm Combat Manoeuvre.
  • Charging into Figures. The charging figure does not necessarily have to have a weapon, it may simply charge into an opponent in an attempt to bash it out of the way using its Brawn skill. If the Brawn skill is a success and not evaded, roll normal unarmed damage plus damage modifier (including bonus from the charge) and see if this is enough to cause knockback as per normal. This is also the way that a mounted figure can "ride someone down; in that case use the Ride skill and the mount's Damage Modifier. 
  • Mounted charge. If the attacker is mounted and is using a braced weapon like a lance, then the attacker's damage modifier is increased by two steps and any weapon used to parry the charge is treated as two sizes smaller than usual. Additionally, the target of the charge may end up being knocked into or even trampled by the mount.
  • These rules also apply to flying creatures attacking on the move. Such creatures moving very fast may increase their damage modifier by three steps and gain 3 levels of bypass parry.  


Keep in mind that if a defender has a longer weapon and chooses to attack rather than defend then any hit will generate a Combat Manoeuvre, possibly allowing the defender to trip the attacker. The moral of the story is do not charge into combat against a brave, prepared opponent who has a longer weapon than you.


Trample attacks

Some large creatures have the Trample trait. Such creatures can simply attempt to walk over any figure less than half of its SIZ as part of a Movement action. Providing the creature keeps moving, it can attempt to Trample as many figures as it would walk over. The creature attacks with its Brawn skill. A Trample attack can be Evaded or Attacked but not parried. If the target has a weapon capable of impaling and has had time to brace it through the Prepare an Attack Combat Action, the weapon uses the Trampling creature's Damage Modifier. A big enough creature may trample several figures over the course of a move.


Moving past figures

One figure can generally move past another figure that is currently engaged in close combat without issue though the GM may require Athletics tests if the field is congested. 


If a figure wishes to move out of a square within reach of a figure that is not currently not engaged in close combat, that could attack and that figure is aware of the moving figure and it has at least one Combat Action left then it may attempt to make an out-of-turn attack (OOT Attack) against the moving figure. A figure may move past or even through a square containing an unengaged friendly figure without any issues.

  • If the figure being moved past elects to attack then the moving figure has three options: do nothing, evade or parry. Note that if the moving figure is running that it cannot take Defensive Combat Actions therefore its only option is to keep running and hope.
  • If the moving figure elects to parry then, if the attack is success, the movement stops immediately.
  • If the moving figure elects to evade and wins the opposed roll against the attack, the movement can continue.  Note though that the moving figure has evaded therefore it cannot attack on its next turn.
  • The attack or defence can trigger Combat Manoeuvres as normal.


Mounted Figures

Generally the mount and rider act as one, using the rider's Combat Actions. So a knight on horseback could spend 1 CA to have their horse move then its remaining 2 CAs attacking and parrying adjacent enemies. With a successful Riding roll, a rider can move and act at the same time including attacking and parrying as part of the movement. However this will cap the rider's combat skills at their Ride Skill percentage. Note that skill modifiers are applied after the skill is capped.


Optional rule. What if the mount has fewer CAs than the rider? In this case, the mount cannot take more actions than its normal number of CAs. E.g. If a Dragonewt with 3 CAs is riding a Thunderer with 1 CA, the Thunderer can only make 1 move action per round; the dragonewt cannot accelerate the dinosaur. The Dragonewt must spend the other 2 CAs on itself such as attacking or casting spells. If using tokens to track actions, it is suggested that different colour tokens are used to track tokens that can be used by either the mount or the rider and those tokens that only the rider can use.

Some mounts are specially combat trained and can act on their own volition. This means that the mount can move using its own actions, freeing the rider up to concentrate on its own actions. In this case, however, both mount and rider have 1 fewer Combat Action than normal (to a minimum of 1) as both parties need to maintain some measure of focus for the other. 


Combat Actions

Because movement is now a Combat Action rather than measured per round, bonus Combat Actions that are provided from a Combat Style can only be spent on actions using that style. E.g. a figure using a Sword & Shield Combat Style can only use the bonus action provided by the style to either attack or parry with either weapon. The bonus action cannot be used to Move or to Evade for example. The one slight exception to this is that a figure combing a 1/2 move with preparing a parry can use the combat style bonus Combat Action to do so.

  • It is suggested that tokens ("Action Tokens") are placed with figures and removed each time an action is taken. Any bonus Action Tokens such as those from combat styles should be a different colour from the normal Action Tokens. 
  • The appropriate number of Action Tokens should be set at the beginning of each Combat Round.
  • Effects which change a Figure's characteristics and therefore change their Combat Actions Attribute do not have an immediate effect but will change the number of Action Tokens placed next Combat Round. Similarly, events that give bonus actions such as picking up a shield do not provide the action token until next combat round. Note however that if a figure has a bonus action token for dual wielding and loses the use of one of the weapons before using the bonus token that there will be no way to use that bonus token before the end of the round so the token will, effectively, be wasted.
  • Effects which cause a figure to "lose" or "forfeit" their next X Combat Actions cause the figure to immediately lose the appropriate number of Action Tokens. If the figure doesn't have enough left this Combat Round then it will lose the remainder on the next combat round and even future combat rounds if necessary.  
  • Some effects stun figures, preventing them from using their actions to attack. A good idea is to use different coloured stun tokens and state that a figure with stun tokens must use those tokens first.  


Aborting Actions

Any Combat Action can be aborted to allow the acting character to perform some other action. The Action Token(s) spent on the aborted action are still lost. For example a figure is moving past another figure that declares on OOT attack. The runner decides to abort the run in order to Evade. The run action comes to a stop but the character does not 'reset' back to the beginning of the run; the runner ends in the square that it reached when the OOT attack was tiggered. 


Conditional Defenses

In the RQ core rules it is stated that you can elect to parry but change your mind once you have seen the results of the attack. To clean up certain anomalies, this has been removed from grid-based combat. Instead a defender can choose to parry, ignore or "conditionally parry" an attack. (e.g. "I'll parry the Orc if it hits"). The only game effect this has is if the defending character has a parry skill of over 100%. A character with skill over 100% who elects to conditionally parry an attack does not get to adjust the attacking skill using the skills over 100% rule. 


Figures cannot Conditionally Evade. Once an Evade has been declared it must be performed or aborted. The advantage to aborting an Evade is that although the CA is still spent, the figure has not Evaded and can therefore attack normally on its own turn.


Flanking, surrounding and attacking from behind

In RQ, surrounding or flanking an opponent means that the surrounding figures probably have significantly more CAs to spend than the target therefore there is no attack bonus. It is usually only possible to attack a figure from behind if the figure is unaware of the attacker.


Line of Sight / Flight

Line of Sight is blocked by landscape and objects that fill whole squares but not, usually, by figures or small obstacles. Magic requires line of sight when cast on a target at range.


Line of flight refers to targeting a figure with a missile of some sort. Line of flight usually is affected by figures but not normally small obstacles. However obstacles may provide some cover. Magic with the Resist (Evade) trait "Physical Magic" does require line of flight as well as line of sight.


Unintended Targets

If there are figures in the line of flight to the target or there are figures adjacent to the target there is a risk that the attacker will hit one of them instead of the target. Therefore, when the attack is rolled, if the attack roll is a 'double' (e.g. 22 or 77) then an innocent bystander has been hit instead of the intended target even if the attack roll would normally be a miss. If the attack roll was a fumble, determine the fumble first as any result of hit nearest ally will override this effect. If there is more than one possible casualty then select randomly. E.g. if there are 4 possible casualties then roll 1D4. Note that the intended target is not included in this determination. The possible casualty can attempt to Parry or Evade as normal. If Evade is chosen but the original attack was a miss (e.g. the attacker's skill was 63% but it rolled 88) then the defender must simply succeed at the Evade roll. If an unintended target is hit, the attacker does not gain any Combat Manoeuvres nor can the attacker choose to reduce damage.


This rule can also be used if a figure is making a close combat attack against a figure that has been grappled by a third party. 


Magic and Area Effects

By default magic with the trait "Area x" means an area of X metres in radius. This can be handled in one of two ways:


  1. Create cut-out templates which are placed on the grid as appropriate. That could also be used to deal with things like breath weapons and so on.
  2. Rule that "Area X" refers to a square of size X by X. E.g. "Area 2" would cover a 2x2 square. If it is possible for the spell's shape to be manipulated, rule that the shape can cover a number of contiguous squares equal to the Area squared. In the example of "Area 2" the magician could create a shape featuring 4 squares, each square having to connect on at least one side with another square. Particularly large area effect spells (e.g. divine weather spells) would affect the whole grid. 


Spot Rules

Bashing into things

If a figure bashes into a wall or immovable hard object (e.g. due to knockback or misjudging running etc) treat it as the equivalent of a 2 metre fall. Armour will protect in this case.

Constrained spaces

If a figure is in a square which is bounded on two opposite sides it is in a constrained space. 


Example Combats

Note that some of these use different movement systems.


  1. I should say that it is perfectly possible to use the current RQ rules when using figures on a grid. These ideas are if you want to create something like a skirmish mini-game using the RQ ruleset.
  2. A spot ruling is simply one that is made for one particular case and doesn't act as a precedent.
  3. Of course it might seem odd that a character can flee if it is being charged but not if there is no one around. This is purely a quirk in the rules with no particular effect on game play.
  4. i.e. it only requires spending CAs to move, the attack comes for 'free.'

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