Actions in Combat

Consider what an action comprises. Drawing a weapon is an action. Doing a dive roll is an action. Shouting instructions to a friend is an action.

Turn Order

The bulk of the time there will not be significant concerns about the order in which actions resolve. When walking through town, the first person to the door is, all else, equal, the fastest person. However, in combat, turns are taken and actions are regimented, to ensure that no one player monopolizes the story and that all the characters involved get a chance to act rather than stand around dumb-struck.

Determining Turn Order

To determine the order in which turns are taken, all characters, including antagonists and bystanders, roll two dice and add their motor skills value to the result. The order is determined from highest resulting value to lowest, with ties decided by another roll to determine order within the tied group.

Round Duration

During a player’s turn, they may move and attempt an action. A round is the length of time that passes while every character takes a turn. Its duration is about one second.


If you wish to attempt to multitask, you may not take more actions than you have things to take them with (you can’t attack with three hands without special modifications) and you take -2 for every action after the first on the rolls for all actions attempted during a turn in which multiple actions are taken.

Reflexive Actions

In addition to the ability to move and take an action, your character gets one reflexive action and one free dodge each round. These are actions taken during other characters’ rounds as responses to their actions, and are primarily used for defense.

This diagram was produced to illustrate angles of response for practitioners of La Verdadera Destreza. Preparation allows experts of the martial arts and quick thinkers to react swiftly to changes in spacing, posture, and balance.
This diagram illustrates angles of response for practitioners of La Verdadera Destreza.

The reflexive action is taken as an instinctual reaction to a stimulus that is perceived by your character, as is the free dodge. The reflexive action may be a dodge, for two dodges in a round. However, once you are out of dodges, you are left defenseless, and are now a target for unopposed attack rolls (success on 9+).

Keep in mind, also, that dodging moves the character, and that you must have somewhere to go to be able to get out of the way. If in a corner, you can perhaps jump or fall prone, but you would be dodging at -3 and would be left in a compromising position at the start of the next round. Dodges that require a dive or leap leave the character in mid-air during the split-second between the dodge and their next turn.

Differentiating Action Types

The line between a combat action, a move action, a reflexive action, and a free dodge is often blurred. Ultimately, it is the narrator’s responsibility to adjudicate what is and is not an action of each type, and these decisions should be respected by the players, even when they disagree. To provide some concrete guidelines, below are some examples of what constitutes an action of each type for a given situation.

Free Dodge

  • Dodge an incoming melee attack
  • Dodge an incoming ranged attack other than that made with a firearm
  • Dodge an incoming gunshot (with and only with tier four reflex training)
  • Dive into cover
  • Jump out of a vehicle

Reflexive Action

  • Block
  • Parry
  • Respond to a question or shout with a few syllables of your own
  • Slam a door as it swings open
  • Return the wheel of a steamcar to its previous course when it is altered

Move Action

  • Walk
  • Run
  • Jump a gap
  • Press bodily against a wall
  • Climb

Combat Action

  • Attack with a melee weapon
  • Attack with a ranged weapon
  • Shout a series of complex commands up to a length of a few sentences
  • Manipulate complex the complex controls of machinery
  • Exert IMEM influence with a spirit ability