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April 1, 2011

Increasing combat survival rates – The facts you need to know

by Game designer

A combat situation is always deadly thus increasing your character’s survival chances is always something to consider carefully. The combat related skills will really help your character to survive if he is involved in fighting.  What are they ? How to determine their base values ? After answered these questions, I will describe each of them. And finally, I will explain why they are so useful in the game .

Combat related skills are a special group of skills that is directly related to fighting activities but cannot be used in a combat action. These skills which increase considerably your character’s survival chances, are camouflage, combat intelligence, demolition, escape, obstacles and tracking. But first, let’s have a look on how to determine how good your character will be at them.



Combat related skills share two common points with combat bonus skills. First common point, combat related skills are linked to the character’s traits.  Second common point is that these skills can never be improvised. You will obtain the base value of the skill by following the following process. First you must add the value of the appropriated traits for the right skill and multiply it by 5%. 

  • Camouflage : you must add the values of the intelligence and psychic power traits. This skill is a typical knowledge skill, but often used under high stress.
  • Combat intelligence : you must add the values of the intelligence and reaction speed traits. As camouflage this is a typical knowledge skill but due to the quick flow of information from sensors you must have a very good reaction speed to pick up the good Intel in one quick look.
  • Demolition : you must add the values of the intelligence and psychic power traits.This is a very technical skill : you must know many things like structures resistance and molecule acceleration factors, but you also need not shaking while handling a deadly device.
  • Escape : you must add the values of the flexibility and psychic power traits.This is more a adroitness based skill that a real knowledge full of theory. Also a good flexibility help to go trough small passage, or escape from bonds, the aptitude to keep your coolness under pressure is also very important.
  • Obstacles : you must add the values of the intelligence and coordination traits. As combat intelligence, this is a knowledge type skill but you must know how to drive complex construction vehicles which requires a very good coordination… Especially when you are working with chemicals devices.
  • Tracking : you must add the values of the intelligence and endurance traits. Tracking, like chess, is a wit struggle but on the long distance… Like a wolf you know how to exhaust your quarry before going to the kill.

Example 1
Marc is creating a new character and one of the skills available for his chosen occupation is demolition. He wants to know, if he chooses this skill, how good his

character will be at it. Marc has chosen a classic male character with a GVIII penhuman genotype. According this, his character’s traits are STR 5 END 7 COR 5 FLX 5

INT 4 RSP 8  CHA 4 PSY 5.

1. Add the values of the appropriated traits : INT+PSY = 4 + 5 = 9
2. If Marc choose a demolition skill for his character, he will start the game with Demolition = 45%.
3. If the skill is not chosen, but needed later : 9 x2 = 18. So, So, Marc’s character will do skill checks with Demolition = 18%

Typically, if the required combat related skill has not been chosen but it is written in the character’s occupation’s skill list, the game master can multiply this base value by 2%. Now, let’s go trough the description of each combat related skill.



  • Camouflage is anything you use to keep your character, your gear, your space ship and your position from looking like what they are. Both natural and man-made material can be used for camouflage. When the terrain does not provide natural cover and concealment, you must prepare your cover and use other natural and man-made materials to camouflage yourself, your equipment, and your position.
  • If an hostile non player character can see you, he can hit you with his fire. With this skill you can also hides anything from observation. Please remember that this kind of concealment not protect you from enemy fire. You can concealed a shuttle or a teammate position from visual detection, radiation sensors… You can even try to conceal a psychic signature…
  • With this skill you know how to get cover gives from bullets, fragments of exploding rounds, flame, radiological effects, and biological and chemical agents. Cover can also conceal you from enemy observation.
  • Only if this skill is chosen at the character creation phase, because of years spend in operations dodging enemy fire with any inch of cover available, the character gain a bonus if another character shoot at him. Please note that, if your teammates can also provide good cover, they can also blame you for that. Which is not good for your reputation, isn’t it ?



  • This is the art of collecting and reporting information about the enemy, terrain and weather. This skill doesn’t grant an interpretation of what happening : just the fact. In other words, the information you gathered becomes combat intelligence after it is interpreted.
  • With this skill you can use your sense or your personal army of unmanned electronic devises for recon.  You can identify any military or civilian equipment or vehicle only by his thermic signature or if you must rely on you sole vision, only a little part of the vehicle or weapons visible. You also know all the basic tactics use by conventional units or by criminal.
  • Your character  also has the ability to navigate in whatever environment and plot your position or other thing on a map. You know how to set up and camouflage effectively a surveillance post in any environment : this special ability is only granted for the establishment of this operational post.
  • Only if this skill is chosen at the character creation phase, because of endless hours spend alone in the dark on a small meteor, or buried in the snow while watching  the same thing, the character gains a special resistance to disorientation.


  • Escape is the skill you need to get away from your enemy if you are captured. Please note that the best time for you to escape is right after you are captured. Prison rations (usually barely enough to sustain life) and enhanced interrogation quickly cause physical weakness, loss of coordination and reasoning power.
  • With this skill you also know how to break codes, how to bypass simple locks but not without giving alarm. Please understand that it is a quick and dirty fix, not a skill for stealthy infiltrations. You know how to get out and how to do it quickly…
  • This skill also allow to stall for time with a confusing or distracting stream of conversation. Know how to escape simple bonds and grapple technics. A little warning here, this is not hand to hand combat technique. Just how to release from a lock when a non player character is handling you.
  • He knows basic contortionism techniques that allow him to squeeze through opening normally too small for their passage or fit into area too small for their bodies
  • You know how to handle interrogation, and how to gain time when enhanced interrogation techniques are used against you. So, if this skill has been chosen at the creation phase, it grants the character a special resistance to interrogations


  • There will be times when you have to use demolitions for: breaching minefield or nanowire obstacles, clearing landing zones, blowing holes in walls of buildings or to blow a whole spaceport, blowing down trees or other things to create obstacles… With a skill value superior to 45% you can also make improvised explosives devices if suitable materials are available.
  • If you have the appropriate materials you also know how to build a device which can produce : smoke, light, and various pyrotechnical effects… You can build devices which effect range from smoke grenade to enhanced radiation weapons through held expedient antiarmor devices.
  • Only if this skill is chosen at the character creation phase, the character acquire the knowledge of basic outline of whatever building he may be in because of hours spend to study their structures.


  • When your character is involved in combat actions, he can use obstacles to stop or slow his opponent’s movement. I he has to bypass or make a gap through those obstacles in order to continue his mission, he know how to do it. There is two basic categories of obstacles used in the game. There are minefields and nanowire obstacles.
  • Your character may use mines during security, defensive, retrograde, and offensive operations in order to reduce his enemy’s mobility. In those operations, with this special skill, he can pick the perfect places for the mines and emplaces them and, when required, retrieves them.
  • With this skill, your character also know how to use gravity pods to move meteors fields and drive construction vehicles.
  • Only if this skill is chosen at the character creation phase, because of to hours spend using devices in the most creative but effective way, your character gain the ability to build nearly undetectable booby traps.


  • During the game, your character must be alert for signs of enemy activity. Such signs can often alert him to an enemy’s presence and give your players group time to prepare for contact. This skill also cover the ability to track an enemy after he has broken contact whatever the environment.
  • Continuous operations and fast-moving scenarios increase your chances of becoming temporarily separated from your teammates. If you are separated from the player characters group, your mission after being separated is to regroup. With this skill, you can make it easier : because you know how to move stealthy and how to spot the right things to track down the group.
  • This skill can also be used to notice threats like ambushes or traps and to notice cleverly hidden objects or slight changes in the environment.
  • Only if this skill is chosen at the character creation phase, because of years spend tracking animals, penhuman and human in whatever environment, your character gains an interesting bonus for solving all problem which comes from a survival situation.


This is why this group of skills is so useful. The working together of two specific combat related skills can produce an effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Shortly, these six combat related skills work in pairs, but the effect is not reciprocate : 

  • Combat intelligence, gives a bonus to the escape skill because of the extensive knowledge of patrol and reconnaissance tactics and vehicle capabilities. However, the acquisition of the escape skill do not give a bonus to the combat intelligence skill.
  • Tracking gives a bonus to the camouflage skill because of the knowledge of what an enemy can look for enhanced the effectiveness of the camouflages technics. However, the acquisition of the tracking skill do not give a bonus to the camouflage skill.
  • Demolition gives a bonus to the obstacles skill because of that considerable knowledge in structures resistances and explosives capabilities.However, the acquisition of the obstacles skill do not give a bonus to the demolition skill.

Now, I explain how to calculate easily this bonus value. During the character’s creation phase, if you choose to take two synergistic skills, you add five to the digit of the tens in the appropriated skill and you will obtain this bonus value. If your character has a skill value ranged between 1 and 9, the bonus value will be only 5% because the digit of the tens is zero so, 0 + 5 = 5%. However, if you succeed to have a character with 100% in the appropriated skill, you take 10 instead of zero.

Example 2
Marc is still working on his character, he knows that if he will choose to take the tracking and camouflage skills, his character will have Tracking=55% and Camouflage=45%. According to this synergy rule, his character will have a bonus of 5 + 5 = 10%, so all character’s camouflage skill check will be done on a 45 + 10 = 55% basis. Not that bad for a beginning, isn’t it ?

Example 3
Denis very experienced character has Demolition=100%, Obstacles=88% and Camouflage=74% . This 100% in demolition means that the character has a bonus of 10 + 5 = 15% but 88% + 15% = 103% if there is no modifier to his skill check the value the game master will consider will be 100%. The Camouflage skill alone doesn’t give any synergy bonus specific to the combat related skills.

Alone, each of these six combat related skill can do more than help your character to survive another day. Choose wisely the right combat related skills ! The choice of synergistic skills allows you to perform actions that are hard or impossible for your character with just a single skill. However, please remember, during the character creation phase, that a player can choose one or several of them only if they are available in the description’s occupation. Have you got any question or comment about this new outstanding group of skills ?


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