Withdrawing for Momentum

Since the rules say “Any character can only perform a single Movement action during each round,” and since Withdraw and Move are both marked as Movement actions, I understand that Withdrawing safely from Reach limits a character’s movement to Close range for that round. Period.

My question is about the Withdraw Momentum spend. For 1 Momentum, a character “leaves the Reach of an enemy without triggering any Retaliate Reactions.” My reading of this would be that this occurs without any discrete action being taken, and the character is therefore free to use the Move action to reach a safe distance. Is that right?

My question is about the Withdraw Momentum spend. For 1 Momentum, a character “leaves the Reach of an enemy without triggering any Retaliate Reactions.” My reading of this would be that this occurs without any discrete action being taken, and the character is therefore free to use the Move action to reach a safe distance. Is that right?

I believe you are reading Withdraw incorrectly. I just checked Withdraw in the Core Rulebook on page 116. There is nothing listed there requiring a Momentum spend to utilize the Withdraw Action. It does state that:

  • To avoid Retaliate actions from an enemy when moving out of an enemy’s reach the Withdraw Move Action can be taken;
  • Withdraw is a move action which moves a character to anywhere within Close Range not within reach of an enemy and cannot be the target of a Retaliate action that round.

For me, I read Withdraw as one of two move actions for which your Standard Action may be used. Unless there is a Talent that allows additional Move actions to be taken, character’s are limited to a single Move Action each round, the type of Move Action taken based upon whether you a taking a Free Action, Minor Action, or Standard Action.

This is my understanding of Withdraw, so take it with a grain of salt. Do what feels right for your table.

You can withdraw as an action, but there is a Momentum spend for Withdraw, too (page 118).

Cost 1 Momentum
The character leaves the Reach of an enemy without triggering any Retaliate Reactions.

If you generated Momentum during your action(s) on your turn or there is still 1 Momentum left in the Group Momentum pool, you can perform a Withdraw as a Momentum spend.
This 1 Momentum spend only sets your character outside of the opponent’s Reach, but does not move you outside of Close range. You are still quite close to the opponent, but beyond his immediate wepon’s reach.

If you are counting on being able to act before your opponent next round, this is a good way to get away from an opponent. But if the opponent is able to act before you (perhaps by spending Doom to act first), then the opponent can simply move back into Reach and engage you again.


Withdraw is a Movement Action; you can only use one Movement Action per turn, regardless of whether it is also classified as a Minor, Free, or Standard action.

The momentum spend on page 118 is referring to momentum you garner while in combat: a Withdraw is usually a Standard Action, so if you attack, this provides you with an alternative method for achieving a withdrawal without Retaliation–i.e., if you generated momentum with your attack, you can spend 1 to withdraw after the attack is resolved. Your minor action (in theory) remains unused in that scenario, however since Withdraw is a Movement Action, and you may only take one Movement Action per turn, that means that your Minor action must be used for something other than changing zones.

By extension, if you had moved from one zone to another before attacking, the 1-momentum spend for Withdraw is unavailable to you that round as it would violate the one Movement Action per turn rule (pg 113).

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I understand the Momentum spend which is confusingly also called “Withdraw” as a different thing from the action “Withdraw”, which is a movement action.

If you spend the Momentum, you are placed outside of the immediate Reach of your opponent without having to perform an action or an movement action. This Momentum spend is, like most other Momentum spends, not an action.

Some official rules clarification would be helpful, I think.


Thanks @FrankF for the clarification. I wasn’t even aware of the Withdraw Momentum spend until it recently came up in a session. Looks like I’m not the only one who it escaped.

To clarify for everyone, I’m referring to the “Withdraw” Momentum spend. According to my reading, this occurs on a Momentum spend generated by another action, this is different from the Standard action also called “Withdraw.” There are a lot of blanks left so I wanted to see if anyone applied this rule differently, ruling that it’s a Free Movement Action.

@Maxspire You are correct in that Withdraw, the Standard action, is a Movement action. Yet the only text explaining the Withdraw Momentum spend (which I can find) is in the Momentum Spends table. If the table specified that this was a Free action, for instance, I would agree with you hands down. But it simply states “The character leaves the Reach of an enemy…” (Core 118). My interpretation seems to agree with @FrankF, that this occurs as part of an action that generated Momentum, not a separate Free action. So unless this was part of a Movement action, no Movement action has yet occurred, leaving the character free to continue movement.

I said almost the exact same thing when my GM mentioned this rule recently in session. Nope, what I’m referring to is on the Momentum Spends table on 118, shoved there in the bottom without mention like a bad report card.

I can dig the argument where Withdraw as a Momentum spend is just confusingly named. At the very least, it’s a plausible theory. And you both make a good point about Momentum spends not being actions–I overlooked that small, but crucial, aspect and I think it makes all the difference, really.

I went back to check the other, earlier, 2D20 systems, to see if they offered any clarity by virtue of different nomenclature or wording; although Infinity doesn’t have Withdraw as a combat momentum spend suggestion, the earlier Mutant Chronicles does. Unfortunately, it remains as confusing there as in Conan, with virtually the same wording and same names for the actions/momentum spends.

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Honestly, I missed that.

I wonder if the Withdraw Standard action is for a full Tactical retreat to fully disengage from all opponents, whereas the Withdraw Momentum spend is performed as part of an attack to allow you to disengage from just the opponent you attacked.

Or to withdraw from an opponent who just attacked you and which attack you just parried with 1 Momentum to spend.

If a player character parries against an NPC this occurs usually on the NPC’s turn, so more at the end of a combat round. If the parry is successful and the Withdraw Momentum spend is made, the chances are high, that this player character starts the initiative next round (unless the GM spends Doom to interrupt and let an NPC go first).
So this is the way to disengage from the opponent and get to move as far away as possible without them retaliating.

As a GM I have used this Momentum spend for Nemesis NPCs, too, to make them get away from a competent player character - this requires not only spending Momentum for the Withdraw spend, but spending Doom for interrupting the initiative, to act before the player characters can close to Reach again.