Question on NPC Attacks and Use of Doom

Rouroni, thanks for your input.

You refer to aiming and holding their shot - you’re referring to the Exploit action? Yet the rule that I quoted on page 117 makes no mention of the Exploit action, nor of needing a ranged attack to spread over multiple actions or Rounds to trigger a Retaliate Reaction. Rather, it vaguely says a ranged attack “may be subject to the Retailate Reaction.” [Emphasis mine.}

There’s a lot of possibilities, all of which could fall within the vague guidance I quoted from page 117.

  • It wouldn’t be crazy if the Retaliate Reaction were triggered by the ranged attacker paying no attention to the threat within Reach (because the ranged attacker is attacking someone else).
  • Alternatively, it could be that making a ranged attack against anyone, including the threat within Reach, triggers the Retaliate Reaction.
  • Possibly to your point, maybe the reason the rules say the Retaliate Reaction “may” be applied here is because Retaliate is triggered by the ranged attacker first using the Exploit action (irrespective of target) - thereby requiring the ranged attacker to hold still across multiple actions and perhaps even Rounds.
    I don’t think any of those would be crazy as a Retaliate Reaction trigger for ranged attacks while within Reach of a threat.

I think it’s also useful to keep in mind that this is the second penalty for a ranged attack while within reach of a threat - the difficulty of the ranged attacked is already always increased by one. AND all of this is in addition to penalties due to Range, which will occur with: all crossbows, Shemite bows, Bossonian bows and slings.

As GM, I can definitely just make a reasonable call on this situation and proceed - as I think your comments suggest Rouroni - but I was interested in what more specifically Modiphius had in mind for this fairly common situation.

I have never had this come up in any of my games. Ranged players in combat simply attack with melee weapons instead of shooting out of combat. Never had a player try and run away either and need to use the withdraw action that I can remember.

If I did have this come up.

I’d probably not let the opponents retaliate against a ranged attack directed against them, in the same way you wouldn’t let someone retaliate against a melee attack. Ie they are engaged with those within reach and so are not subject to retaliations. Shooting out of “REACH” I very well might allow for a retaliate action.

Also when the question has completely changed from the subject of the thread it is in, might be good to make a new thread. :smiley:


Ogedei, thanks for your thoughts.

I kept it in the same thread because Nathan from Modiphius had been on a roll answering questions in this thread, but obviously your point there is valid.

I would suggest that whether players switch weapons away from ranged when newly engaged by a melee attacker would be meaningful impacted by what we’re discussing here. For example, if a player is told for ranged attacks in melee the Difficulty increases by one each time, versus telling them that in addition to that Difficulty increase, their target gets a Retaliation Reaction every time. I think the latter would positively assure no one sees it in their game. :slight_smile:

Absent further guidance from Modiphius, I’m leaning in your direction ogedai. I think I would have the Retaliate Reaction trigger if:
—The ranged attacker performed a ranged attack against someone other than the threat in Reach or
—The ranged attacker used the Exploit action against any target (thereby holding still and aiming while a threat is within Reach).

My two cents. YMMV, of course.

I was referring to the actual mechanics of shooting a bow but it also incorporates the usage of the Exploit action in combat. It seems like that was the heart behind Modiphius decision to create that hinderance. It also avoids ranged characters shooting in melee because unless you have a specific talent that makes it impossible to parry their attacks. Which can be a major advantage.

While, as you say, you can’t Parry a ranged attack without that particular talent, everyone can use a Defense Reaction using Acrobatics to defend against ranged attacks. So can’t agree with you there that ranged attacks hold a major advantage over melee attacks when it comes to Defense Reactions.

Your comment, “For simplicity it is safe to assume that making a ranged attack triggers a retaliation,” grants maximum advantage to the melee attacker. I don’t read that in the rules, which say that a ranged attack in Reach of a foe “may” trigger a Retaliate Reaction. Hence why I was asking Modiphius what they had in mind with that “may”.

As I mentioned to ogedei, I would put that “may” to work by having Retaliate Reaction trigger when the ranged attacker target someone besides the foe in Reach, or if the ranged attacker uses the Exploit action. But if the ranged attacker focuses on the foe in Reach, and doesn’t use the Exploit action (thereby holding and aiming), then no Retaliate Reaction would be triggered (but, of course, their Difficulty increases one step as always).


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You can use acrobatics for that, at the same cost as a parry but the mechanics/what is actually going on isn’t the same. Physically you are dodging the attack verses attempting to bat it aside. This changes the mechanical way that you are dealing with the attack. The way the system is set up ranged attacks have a significant advantage so granting them a weakness to physical attacks when the melee attacker is right on top of them makes sense. Also remember, most archers/ranged combatants will have some kind of melee weapon at their disposal. Worst case scenario the bow/crossbow in question can be used as a makeshift club. I understand your position. I was simply explaining the way I read it as Modiphius left this particular issue up to a case by case scenario in the book with the usage of the terminology “may”. The idea that ranged have no disadvantage in melee while utilizing a ranged weapon puts ranged weapons at an advantage over melee. Remember, one of the biggest functions of parry is the ability to retaliate as well as other possibilities that it opens up with other talents. Taking that away by denying that retaliation minimizes the usefulness of the parry talent tree unless you are including acrobatics as a parry in which case this causes all kinds of balancing issues where the acrobatics tree is concerned when stacked with the parry tree. Ultimately it is of course up to the GM but to me between real world logic and what I read in the books it makes sense to assume that ranged attacks trigger a retaliation. Do note however, I didn’t say a “free” retaliation. Just a chance for the melee character there to utilize one. One of the things I enjoy about Conan as Modiphius has written it is that everything has a cost and most things (I won’t say everything because at the very least it behooves every PC to pick up the courageous talent lol) have some kind of offset that stops them from being the end all be all of any given situation.



Please be patient if you’re waiting for an official response from me - I’ve just spent the weekend at a Star Trek convention running Star Trek Adventures, and now I’ve got a week off to recover my wits before getting back into some big projects, so I’ll only be around intermittently.


Thank you for all your hard work regardless.

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@Modiphius-Nathan Of course, no worries. Appreciate you piping in. If anything, we’re (I’m) just jealous we’re not just back from a Star Trek convention. :smiley:

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Rouroni, appreciate the fun DEEP DIVE on this subject! :slight_smile:

You mention that the mechanics for the Defense Reaction against a ranged attack using Acrobatics isn’t the same as using Parry. Obviously Acrobatics and Parry have their own talents, but mechanically the structure is the same… I’m open to why specifically it’s mechanically different, but I can’t find anything. Also, I don’t think using Parry necessitates “to bat it aside” as there’s nothing in the rules to prevent an unarmed target from using Parry against a melee attack (note that unarmed strikes are given a Reach of 1 on page 152). Parrying would reasonably include stepping clear of a melee weapon swing.

On that note, I agree with your point that it’s a bad idea for a GM to allow Acrobatics to be allowed for dodging a melee swing. Parry works fine for an unarmed combatant (or anyone) “dodging/stepping aside” from melee attacks.

You mention that “the way the system is set up ranged attacks have a significant advantage”. Obviously ranged attacks have the intrinsic advantage that they are effective at range - but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re referring to when you say, “the way the system is set up.” So I’m not sure what “significant advantage” ranged weapons have over melee weapons you’re referring to? Are you referring to the Volley Quality? That doesn’t apply to all ranged weapons…I don’t think I’d consider that as constituting a “significant advantage” over melee weapons.

As I’ve mentioned, completely agree that a ranged-weapons fighter should suffer a disadvantage against a melee foe while in Reach - and the rules stipulate this as always being true by always raising the Difficulty of the ranged attacker when targeting any foe in this situation. Therefore our question here, is not whether the ranged attacker should suffer disadvantage in melee, but how much.

You mention that one of biggest functions of Parry is the ability to retaliate as well as other possibilities
that it opens up with other talents. There are no Parry talents that involve the Retaliate Reaction. Two of the other talents involve Stage Fighting, so not applicable. One involves using Parry as a Standard Action, so that’s non-applicable for the Reaction situation we’re discussing. One talent lets you use Parry instead of Acrobatics against ranged attacks, which also is not applicable to our situation here of a ranged attack in Reach of a melee threat. One talent makes the Defend Reaction cheaper - I suppose that indirectly supports a possible later retaliation of some kind? There is one Parry talent, among the six, that does facilitate an immediate counterstrike (Riposte). That’s a good talent, but I can’t say I’m onboard that one of Parry skill’s “biggest functions” is essentially the use of this one talent. Let’s keep in mind that Acrobatics offers its own talent advantages in combat, including allowing Acrobatics being used instead of Parry during Defense Reactions against melee attacks, as well as offering a 1d20 reroll talent. (Dutifully noting however, that it does not have that one Riposte counterstrike talent that Parry has.)

I hear you on your just go case-by-case point, nothing wrong with that. I’m not interested in having a rule to cover every possible eventuality no matter how rare. However, in my view, a ranged attacker being in Reach of a melee threat will be common enough to warrant figuring out in advance how best to handle it in most cases.

However, at the end of your reasoning you return to that “it makes sense to assume that ranged attacks trigger a retaliation.” You’re still again saying that while Modiphius actually used “may”, that we should trust you that they actually really meant “pretty much always”. :wink: In my opinion, that’s an unreasonable leap. I do not believe the rules assume that ranged attacks trigger a retaliation (or else they’d say that), and nor do I believe the rules assume you’ll do it as I would (see below).

I take RAW on this as straightforward as I can. The rules put in a floor on this situation by stipulating that a ranged attacker will always increase the Difficulty of their attacks against all targets as long as they’re in Reach of a melee foe. After that, the “may” in question is saying it’s up to the GM if and when Retaliate Reactions come into play.

Lastly, to that end, note that I’m not taking the opposite position from yours, I’m just not going as far. I completely agree that a ranged attacker should be at disadvantage when a melee threat is in Range - and the rules stipulate this is always the case, with 1 increased step of Difficulty for the ranged attacker when they’re targeting any foe while a melee threat is in Reach. Regarding Reactions, I would have the Retaliate Reaction available to the melee foe when 1) the ranged attacker targets someone besides the melee threat in Reach (thereby is focused on someone else) and/or 2) uses the Exploit Action on any target, including the melee threat in Range (thereby in essence holding still and aiming).

Thanks again for the discussion Rouroni! Good stuff. Cheers


The designer intent is that ranged attacks trigger the retaliate action, but without the rulebook on hand right at this moment (away from my books at the moment), I can’t clarify the specific text right now.

So, in short, if an enemy gets into melee with you and you’re carrying a bow, drop the bow and draw a blade instead.


Page 117 of the core rulebook contains description of the Retaliate action and also the paragraph with Ranged attacks specify that you are subject to Retaliate if you attach with ranged weapon at Reach:

A Ranged attack is made…

If the attacker has an enemy within Reach, then the
Difficulty of the Ranged Weapons test increases
by one step and the attacker may be subject to the
Retaliate Reaction.