OK RPG Rules: Action

Although the basic mechanics suffice for a lot of derring-do, sometimes there will be a lot of people trying to buckle swashes at the same time, in which case you will need the Sequence of Action rules, and may end up needing the combat and damage rules.


There are some values you're probably going to refer to often during an action scene, and they aren't going to change much if it all during the scene, so you should work them out ahead of time and write them down for easy reference. As with most parts of these rules, no specific Attributes can be named; you (or your GM) will have to decide which of the Attributes in the game best fills each role described. If several Attributes could apply, you get to pick the best one.


Initiative is based on whatever Attribute best expresses how quickly you can make decisions (which is not at all the same thing as how quickly you can move). Usually this is the best of your combat-related Attributes (Martial Arts, Gunslinging, etc), but any other Attribute whose use involves thinking fast could apply.

Taking It Like A Man

Your Damage Resistance (abbreviated DR) is how hard someone has to hit you before it actually hurts you. Your DR is the halved rank of whatever Attribute best applies.

You have two recovery rates, for nonlethal and lethal damage. Each is based on the halved rank of whatever Attribute best expresses your ability recover from being knocked around or being chopped up, respectively (these are often the same Attribute, and possibly even the same as the Attribute used for DR, but not always). Subtract one full rank from this and find the number of that rank; this is how many points of nonlethal damage you recover each round. It may be a fraction, in which case it takes you multiple rounds to recover one point.

Add a half-rank to your nonlethal recovery rate. This is how many points of lethal damage you heal every week. Again, if you're a big wimp, it might take more than one week to heal a point of damage.

Attribute DR Recovery Healing
Def Def+ 1/3rd 1/2wk
Avg Avg 1/2rd 2/3wk
Gd Avg+ 2/3rd 1/wk
Grt Gd 1/rd 3/2wk
Ext Gd+ 3/2rd 2/wk
Her Gt 2/rd 3/wk
Leg Gt+ 3/rd 5/wk
Mth Ext 5/rd 1/day

Movement Speeds

In almost all cases, movement speed goes as the halved rank of whatever attribute expresses your overall strength minus the rank of your size (subtract first, then halve). Average running speed is 5 m/s; average swimming speed is 1 m/s. The maximums for normal humans (taken from Olympic records) are 10 m/s and 2 m/s respectively, which correspond to Great rather than Extraordinary; this is because, realistically speaking, anyone with Extraordinary strength is also going to have at least Good size, and no one with Deficient size is going to have better than Good strength. Action heros and nonhumans are not thus limited, of course.

The speed at which you can jump also goes as the halved rank of strength minus size, but the distance you can jump goes as the full rank, from 2m at Average to 10m at Good. Longer jumps thus take more time: if you can jump 5m, it takes a second; if you could jump 20m, it would take 2 seconds, and if you could jump 100m, it would take an entire 5-second round. Keep in mind that while you are airborne, unless you have wings or attitude jets, you are on a fixed parabolic trajectory. Which is to say, "Pull!". If it matters, leaps of less than your maximum distance take proportionally less time (eg, half the time for half the distance).

If you are, for whatever bizarre reason, trying to traverse a long stretch in multiple leaps, consider your overall speed to be a half-rank less than your running speed, minus the halved rank of the number of leaps you make in a round (eg, if you jump 5m, it takes a second, so you can jump 5 times per round, so your overall speed would be your running speed minus a half rank for leaping minus another full rank, which is to say, not very much).

Your vertical jumping distance is two and a half ranks less than your horizontal jumping distance. This is the distance your center of gravity goes up, so if you are of human size and shape, you can high-jump over something about a meter higher than this, and grab onto something 2-2.5 meters higher.

Net Strength Run Swim Horiz. Time Vertical Speed
Pth 2m/s 0.5m/s 0.5m (0.3s) 0.07m 0.5m/s
Def 3m/s 0.7m/s 1m (0.5s) 0.15m 0.7m/s
Avg 5m/s 1m/s 2m (0.7s) 0.3m 1.5m/s
Gd 7ms/ 1.5m/s 5m (1s) 0.7m 2m/s
Grt 10m/s 2m/s 10m (1.5s) 1.5m 5m/s
Ext 15m/s 3m/s 20m (2s) 3m 7m/s
Her 20m/s 5m/s 50m (3s) 7m 15m/s
Leg 30m/s 7m/s 100m (5s) 15m 20m/s
Mth 50m/s 10m/s 200m (7s) 30m 30m/s

If your campaign has Attributes specific to movement, use them in place of the strength Attribute for all these calculations.

Sequence of Action

Pre-Round Preparation

Tide of Battle

At the beginning of the fight, and sometimes thereafter (maybe every round, maybe not), the GM rolls one die for each side involved in the battle. Usually this is two, but sometimes things get complicated. If the die for a side turns up 6, everyone on that side gets an extra beginning-of-round recovery, and that side overall gets an advantage: a fallen combatant rejoins the fight, reinforcements arrive, an attack will have a particularly exciting effect, someone remembers she did pack extra ammo, etc. On a 1, no one on that side gets a beginning-of-round recovery, and something else bad happens: a failure of morale, a failure of equipment, one combatant gets run over by a truck, any attack that misses will go horribly awry, or anything else the GM's sadistic imagination can devise.

None of this is revealed to the players until it actually happens, of course. However, the GM may wish to reveal the roll of selected ToB dice to lure the players into making rash decisions or show them the shape of their doom. This is most appropriate if one of the PCs has impressive tactical ability (ie, can make a Great roll).

Optionally, if any side is especially unlucky, despised by the gods, or should have to struggle against great adversity for plot reasons, the GM may roll two dice for them and take the worse. (This increases the chance of a 1 from 17% to 31%, and decreases the chance of a 6 from 17% to less than 3%.) In principle, a side could get the better result of two dice, but this seems unlikely to happen in practice. Neither of these options is really strongly recommended.

The ToB dice may not be appropriate for very structured combats where random factors are kept to a minimum (ie, duels).


At the beginning of every round, you lose a number of points of nonlethal damage equal to your nonlethal recovery. If this is less than one, use counters of some kind to keep track.

There are two exceptions to this: if the GM rolled a 6 for your side on the Tide Of Battle die, you recover twice, but if the ToB die was 1, you do not recover at all.

If you don't know what nonlethal damage is, keep reading.

Initiative Rolls

Once the GM has stopped cackling over the ToB dice, every combatant rolls on her Initiative. In some cases, it might be more appropriate for someone to use some other Attribute than the one her Initiative is based on, but this quickly leads to confusion. Unless there is a really compelling reason to change, just use the normal Initiative rating.

To the number of successes rolled, each person adds any left-over Action Points from the last round, even if that number is negative. The result, which cannot be lower than the number of successes carried over from last round and can never be less than zero, is the number of Action Points that person has for this round.


Now you get to use those action points to do things. Repeat the following three steps until no one is able to act:

  1. Determine who has the most action points
  2. If that character has 3 or more action points, she acts (or declares a hold)
  3. The character who just acted loses 3 action points (or 1 if she held)

The one exception to this sequence is defensive actions. Any character can, in response to being attacked, perform one defensive action that is relevent to the attack. Defensive actions in response to attacks on other characters are probably okay too, being heroic.

The round is, obviously, over when no one has more than two action points. Any remaining action points can be added to the character's total for the next round. The round could end earlier, if at any time everyone who has 3 or more action points says they aren't going to do anything more this round. However, no more than 3 action points can be carried over to the next round. If, somehow, a character is reduced to fewer than 0 action points, that number is applied as a penalty to her initiative roll for next round.

Action points determine sequence; they aren't a direct measure of duration. What you can do with three action points is limited not because there isn't enough time, but because other people can interfere.

If there are multiple characters with the same number of action points, they act in whatever order seems most agreeable. However, if they all defer to each other, consider them to have all declared a hold.

Declaring a hold means that you're waiting for something to happen before you do anything, and you should say what it is you're waiting on ("I'm waiting for the hostage to get out of the helicopter before I fireball it."). If you want to interrupt that action, rather than just waiting for it to finish, you will need to roll some attribute for quickness (perhaps the one you used for initiative, perhaps one more specific to the action) against whoever you're trying to pre-empt, and they get +2 to their base successes.

There are no 1 or 2 Action Point actions. If what you want to do is really that simple, combine it with another action using the Combined Action rules.

Continuing actions, like piloting a vehicle, either only require an action when something comes up, or occupy the first action of every turn, depending on how attention they need.

Observe that a random bystander, with Average initiative, will probably get fewer than 3 action points on the first round of a fight, and not be able to do anything. The action points will carry over to the next round, though, and when added to a typical roll, will the let bystander come out of shock and beging panicking. Anyone with Avg+ or better initiative will most likely be able to take at least one action every round.

The kinds of actions you can perform in combat, and how to resolve them, will be addressed below, along with deviations from this simple scheme.

Combined Actions

Sometimes you'll want to do something that, although one action for dramatic purposes, is two separate actions mechanically: draw and fire a gun, swing on a chandelier and kick someone in the head, use iaijutsu.

If both actions are so simple that no roll would be called far (walk across a level floor, unholster a weapon), or are so easy that any roll would automatically succeed (difficulty two and a half ranks less than your relevent Attribute) and the degree of success isn't important, then you succeed at both and move on. OK RPG Rules are not about sweating the small stuff.

If one action is simple, but the other is complex enough to require a meaningful roll, then you succeed at the simple action but have to spend one success from the complex action, which may cause it to fail (but see below).

If both actions require meaningful rolls, you make one roll and apply it to both actions. You then need to spend two successes from each, which may cause one or both to fail.

After rolling and considering the number of successes you're getting for each action, you can decide to not spend the successes from one action, in which case the other one automatically fails (EG, if you don't roll well enough that you can spend two successes from both chandelier-swinging and head-booting and still succeed at both, you can keep those two successes for swinging and automatically fail at booting, or keep the successes for booting, but plummet from the chandelier).

Three separate actions is too much for 3 Action Points; you'll have to swash on one action and buckle on another.

Post-Round Cleanup

Spatial Aspects

Position and distance are normally handled in a fairly abstract way in OK RPG Rules, although it is certainly possible to use a battlemap and miniatures, or any other concrete system of display.



Although (depending on the length of your weapon) you can only hit someone at most a couple of meters distant, you can spend one success off your attack to extend this by one move. There is no other penalty for range with hand-to-hand attacks.

Whack 'Em

To attack someone, use whatever attribute seems most appropriate to the kind of attack you're using. The required number of successes is equal to the base successes of the target's most appropriate defensive attribute, plus any bonus for active defense (see below).

On a marginal success, you do damage equal to the base damage of your attack minus a full rank and further reduced by any armor the target has, and nothing else. Extra successes can be spent to do better than this in the following ways:



Armor has two qualities, protection and coverage. Coverage determines how many successes it takes for an attack to bypass the armor: one for some armor, two for a lot of armor, three for a complete carapace. The coverage rating may bear only a faint resemblence to the amount of body actually covered, especially in the sort of game that has battle bikinis, but it shouldn't be hard to figure out.

The protection of a set of armor is on the same scale as the damage of attacks, and indicates the most powerful attack the armor is designed to resist. If the damage of the attack exceeds the protection of the armor by two full ranks or more, the armor is effectively worthless, and can be ignored. Otherwise, the attacker has to spend enough successes to bypass the armor in order for the attack to be fully effective.

Optional Penetration Rule for Greater Realism: An attack may have a different "damage" rank for purposes of piercing armor than for actually hurting people. This auxiliary rank is called penetration. For example, a shotgun blast has, in toto, about as much energy as a heavy rifle (damage Grt+), but since each pellet has only the energy of a handgun round, the penetration would be only Gd+. Penetration cannot be increased by spending successes; the rule for bypassing armor encompasses this.

Optional Armor Variation Rule for Greater Realism: Armor may have differing levels of protection against different attacks. For example, a kevlar vest is fine against guns (Gd protection), but not very effective against sharp things (Avg, or maybe less). This rule should not be overused; it can easily bog down every attack in a morass of chart references.

If armor is not bypassed, the effect on the attack depends on how the penetration (or damage) compares to the protection of the armor:

Defenses against other kinds of attack (magical wards, Iron Mind meditation technique, etc) can be modelled using similar mechanics.

Special Effects

Instead of just hurting your opponent more, you can spend your successes on annoying them in a variety of other entertaining ways. Like damage, a special effect has a base rank, which you have to spend one success to get all of and can increase by one half-rank per additional success. Unless otherwise noted, a special effect also inflicts marginal (base minus one rank) damage, which can be increased separately from the special effect at the usual rate, or can be avoided altogether for one success. The base rank of most special effects is the same as your base hand-to-hand damage, but you might be able to use weapon damage instead if the weapon is suited to the attack.

The two primary special effects are the called shot (targeting a specific bit of the enemy) and the grab; the others are combinations or extensions of them.

Called Shot

Hitting a specific part of your target requires extra successes, the exact number depending on how precise you want to be. A large part of the target (chest, legs, shield) takes one success, a small part (hand, head, sword) takes two, and a very small part (eye, finger, grenade pin) takes three. Something like splitting an arrow with another arrow or putting a bullet into the same hole as a previous shot probably takes four success, although you could equally well consider the last success spent on style as on the called shot.

You can't declare a called shot on some vital part of the target to get extra damage or an instant kill or anything; spend your successes on increasing damage if that's what you want. Similarly, if you want to hit an unarmored part, spend your successes on bypassing armor.

A called shot doesn't have any special effect power rating; spend extra successes to increase damage as usual.


To grab someone takes one success and a special effect power no more than one rank lower than their base hand-to-hand damage. If you grab someone, they generally can't do anything do you; if they can do anything to other people, it's at a penalty of two ranks or more, depending on the description of the grab.


Escaping from a grab requires no extra successes, but does require a special effect power greater than that of the grab.


Striking or shooting a weapon out of someone's grasp is a 2-success called shot. The power of the disarm has to exceed the victim's base hand-to-hand damage (or half-rank of other appropriate Attribute); add a half-rank to this threshhold if the weapon is held in two hands. Extrapolate as needed when disarming squid warriors.

If you just barely succeed at the disarm, the weapon falls to the ground; additional successes cause it to fly further away. If you want it to go in a specific direction, spend another success.


Taking away a weapon is a combination of a disarm and a grab, requiring 3 successes. If the power of the takeway exceeds the victim's hand-to-hand damage, you now have their weapon. If it's a tie, at least they can't use it, and the struggle will continue on subsequent actions (for which you don't have to spend the three successes, since you already have the weapon grabbed).


Knocking someone down is usually a 2-success special effect, but might be only 1 for a particularly unstable target, or 3 for a quadruped or other well-braced victim. Extrapolate as needed when taking down centipede warriors.

Someone who is down is at a full rank less to defend against physical attacks until she gets up. Getting up in one action is a task of Deficient difficulty; a respectable combatant can multiaction this, possibly even trivially.

Getting an opponent off-balance in some way other than physically knocking her down probably uses the same rules, unless it's a setup (see below).


A throw is like a takedown with extra energy. For one additional success (a total of three) you can throw your victim as far as you could throw any other object of that size (2m, plus one rank for each rank of extra buffness beyond what you need to lift her).


It would hardly be a game of heroic action if you couldn't beat up an entire roomful of goons at once, now would it? Therefore, you can spend successes to apply the results of the rest of your attack to multiple targets. Normally, every two successes moves you up one full step in number of victims: 2 successes lets you hit 2 people, 4 gets you 5, 6 gets you 10, etc. Half-steps with odd numbers of successes are also possible, of course, although 1.5 targets rounds down to 1. Sorry.

If your attack is described as well-suited to whaling on multiple people, the GM may give you a discount, letting you get the first one or two full steps of numbers for only 1 success each. For example, a staff has two ends, so in many situations whacking two people will be perfectly natural (although probably not if, for example, you're trying to fight with a staff in very close quarters). Bare-handed attacks can also go double pretty easily; the clichéd example is grabbing two heads and knocking them together. To get 5 victims for 2 successes requires something like an autofire gun; to get 10 for 3 would take an area-effect attack, or at least a recoilless continuous-fire weapon. You can get more targets than you get a discount for, but additional steps cost the regular 2 successes each.

When doing a multiple attack, you need to specify how many of your successes are being used to get a basic hit, since it is not guaranteed that all your targets will have the same defense value.


If you want to perform your attack in some way that doesn't add anything to the effect, but looks really good and may impress people (either players or characters), the GM might require you to spend a success on style. The canonical example of this, of course, is carving your initial into the target with the point of your sword. If you want to do something truly outrageous, like writing your name in kanji with the point of your sword, you may have to spend two successes, but this should be the exception.

Other Combat Actions

Active Defense

Normally, your defense value is just the base successes for whatever attribute is relevent to avoiding the incoming attack. However, if that's not good enough, you can perform an active defense, which increases your defensive value against certain opponents.

Active defense is a defensive action, meaning you can perform it out of turn when attacked. You can only declare one active defense in response to one attack. However, the bonus lasts until the end of the turn.

The bonus depends on how many opponents you want to defend against. If you only want to defend against one opponent, increase your defense value against him by 3. If you are defending against a limited group of opponents ("The guys who just burst through the door" or "The guys sniping from the roof over there"; as a rule of thumb, any group you can point to without have to wave your hand), the bonus is only +2. If you want to defend against all attacks, regardless of source, you get only +1 to your defense value.

Although you can declare as many active defenses as you have action points for, the bonuses are never cumulative. If you use three actions to defend, respectively, against everyone, against the neo-Islamic bikers who just kicked in your front door, and against their hulking leader, you still only get +3 defense against the leader and +2 against the rest of the bikers (and +1 against the ninja sneaking in through the air ducts).

As with every other part of this system, the description of an active defense can be anything appropriate to your resources and the nature of the attack: dodge, parry, counterspell, duck behind cover, etc.


Because you can at most roll up two ranks from your base Attribute (that's not too likely), you'll sometimes find that you don't have much hope of a successful attack against an opponent. This frequently happens right after your opponent performs a +3 active defense.

You can overcome this deficit by spending an action to set up your opponent. You need to specify what action you're setting up (usually an attack, but others might be possible), and you can't do anything between the setup and the action without losing the setup bonus.

A simple, or free, setup only takes an action, and automatically gives you an extra full rank for the action being set up. The canonical example is taking careful aim with a gun.

A hard setup also requires a roll, although hopefully an easier one than the action you're preparing for. Exactly what attribute you use and how many successes you need depends on what you're doing. A hard set-up might be using Repartee to blind your opponent with anger, Agility to maneuver to a more favorable position, Sex Appeal to distract him with a stunning display of cleavage, or Dirty Infighting to kick sand in his eyes. Regardless of the details, you get two full ranks for your following action.

Optionally, you can do a general setup that requires a roll as for a hard setup but, if successful, gives everyone a one-rank bonus for any action against the target of the setup until his next action.

The effects of most setup actions can fit equally well into any of these three categories; whether you want to treat your action as a free, hard, or general setup is up to you.



Combined Actions

Sucking Up Damage

The amount of physical abuse you've been subjected to is recorded as points of damage taken. You (and every other major character) can take 10 points of damage before going down for the full count, regardless of how tough you are. However, an attack of a given rank will do fewer points of damage to a tougher person (if it helps, thinks of it as 10%, 20%, ... of total damage capacity). The number of points you take is equal to the number of the rank of the difference between the damage and your DR (1 if they're equal, 2 if the damage is one rank more, ...), with fractions rounded nearest (an asterisk on the table indicates a fraction rounded up; this will be important later).

Points Effect
-1 rank 1*
1 HR 2*
1 rank
3 HR
2 ranks Impair
5 HR Down
3 ranks 10  Out
7 HR 15  Way Out

If the total damage you've accumulated is 5 or more points, you are Impaired: you take a full rank penalty in any action you attempt. This does apply to initiative rolls. You do not have to recalculate your DR, but should probably take a half-rank off your movement.

Optional Limbmangling Rule For Greater Detail: If the attack that puts you at or over your Impairment Point is described as striking a specific location, the GM may give you only a half-rank of impairment overall, but two full ranks when using the damaged appendage. Hits to the head or torso still give one rank of overall impairment.

Optional Gumption Rule For Greater Heroism: If you are impaired, you can take an action to roll Willpower, devotion to the task at hand, Sheer Bloodymindedness, or something similar. If you get a Good result, you may ignore half the ranks of impairment. If you get a Great result, you may ignore all of your impairment. This lasts until the end of the round, and does help with the next round's initiative roll.

If the total damage you've accumulated is 7 or more points, you are Down: you immediately lose all Action Points, and will not get any more on future rounds. You are not necessarily unconcious, but even if you can still see which way the villains' getaway car went, you sure can't do anything about it.

If the total damage you've accumulated is 10 or more points, you are completely Out of it.

Every point of damage you take is either lethal or nonlethal, depending on the kind of attack. Lethality is expressed as a fraction of the total damage, from 1 down to 1/10, or equivalently as a number of ranks to be subtracted from the number of points done by the attack. Which method is faster depends on how deep the brainworms have nested.

If you had to round the total damage up (indicated by an asterisk on the previous table), at least one point must be nonlethal, regardless of the lethality level of the attack. This is only an issue if the lethality of the attack is 1.

Attack Type Fraction Ranks
Deep puncturing (bullet, arrow, quarrel) 1  
Cutting (sword, axe, knife) 2/3 -1 HR
Vicious bashing (mace, lead pipe) 1/2 -1 rank
Less vicious bashing (stick, brass knuckles) 1/3 -3 HR
Regular bashing (fist, foot, cheap furniture) 1/5 -2 ranks
Allegedly nonlethal (padded club, primitive tranq) 1/7 -5 HR
Really nonlethal (taser, good tranq) 1/10 -3 ranks

if a success was spent to increase or decrease the lethality of an attack, move the lethality two rows (a full rank) in that direction, to a maximum of 1 or a minimum of 1/10.

Optional Headcracking Rule For Greater Realism: Retroactively increase the lethality of an attack that brough you to 7 points by one step or the lethality of an attack that brought you to 10 points by two steps (it's hard to knock someone out without really hurting them).

Although lethal and nonlethal points both contribute equally to being Impaired, Down, or Out, there are two important differences between them. One is that only nonlethal damage goes away when you get a recovery at the beginning of a round. Lethal damage takes weeks to heal (see below). The other is, obviously, that lethal damage can kill you.

If you have 10 or more points of lethal damage accumulated, you are dying (in addition to being Out). At exactly 10 damage, it will take you about an hour and a half to croak. This time goes down by two full ranks for each point past 10: 20 minutes, 5 minutes, 1 minute, 2 rounds, half a round (at 15). Optionally, the GM can modify this time by a die roll to add some uncertainty.

During this time, you can make extended dying soliloquies, declare the love you never could speak of while you were alive, or vow to return from the grave to wreak a terrible revenge. If you're really unlucky, your friends will then be able to get you to medical care before you pass on, so that you have to live with everything you said.

Simplified Damage System For Mooks

Since mooks, goons, and faceless minions are plentiful and not individually very important, the efficient GM may want to avoid doing the full set of damage calculations for them. This streamlined version of the full damage system can be used instead.

Calculate Damage Resistance as usual. Then, on the scrap of paper the mooks' Attributes are written on, record the following (putting in the actual ranks):

The numbers indicate how many points of damage an attack of that rank or better inflicts. Ignore the distinction between lethal and nonlethal damage. A mook who takes 5 points of damage, whether in one hit or several, is Down: no longer fighting, but still alive and possibly even conscious. Mooks do not recover during combat (although they might lose a few points of damage if there's an extended pause), but some or all Downed mooks will get back up if their side rolls a 6 on the Tide of Battle die, in which case remove two points of damage from each one that gets up. A mook who takes 7 points of damage is Out of the fight for the duration. If it matters, a mook taken Out by a high-lethality attack will probably need hospitalization, and may be bleeding to death (or just plain dead if way over 7 points); Out from a low-lethality attack just means unconsciousness.

Even Simpler Damage System

Rather than counting points of damage, there are only three results:

Two Tags add up to Down; Down and Tag (in either order) add up to Out.

Simplest Of All

(DR + 3 HR): Down.


This file was last modified at 1106 on 25Jan00 by trip@idiom.com.