Combat is an inevitable part of any adventurer’s career. This guide aims to teach you the basics of combat on Sundering Shadows and give you some tips on how to plan for offense and defense.
Disclaimer: The game is in active development. Any numbers presented in this guide are likely to change as things are tweaked and rebalanced. Our long-time goal is to find the sweet spot of balance, but until then observant players are likely to find disparities between this guide and the actual code.
The combat round and actions you can take in combat.
Combat is automated on Sundering Shadows and the combat rounds roll by without pause. In one round, every entity involved in the fight takes an action.
Note: Every combat round is the same length. This means that the information output will be faster depending on the number of involved entities and the number of their attacks.
During a round, you can do the following:
Make an attack
Without input from you, your character spends their round making attacks (melee or ranged). The success of your attack depends on several factors and is rolled against a difficulty equal to your opponent’s armor class.
Use a feat
In addition to attacks, you can activate a combat feat (rush, precise strikes, etc.). You can activate one such feat per round. There is a cooldown before you can use the feat again against the same target.
Passive feats (parry, sneak damage, etc.) are automated and do not count against your actions that round. The same applies for feats such as expertise and power attack, as well as metamagic feats (empower, hardenedminions) and similar.
Cast a spell
When you cast a spell, you spend the entire round doing so. This means your character loses any attacks it may otherwise have taken. Most spells have a casting time of one round, which means they activate in the same round that you cast them. Some spells are delayed, which means they activate in the following round. The success of your spell depends on several factors and is rolled against a difficulty equal to your opponent’s relevant save.
Use an item
Some items allow you to cast a spell (scrolls, wands, etc.) or perform a spell-like ability. This normally means you forgo your other attacks that round.
Wearing a shield or wielding a weapon do not cost you any actions but picking something up from the ground or getting something from your bag do.
Many commands start combat, the most common one being <kill NAME>. Other commands include <stab>, <throw>, <shoot>, and <cast>ing an offensive spell (fireball, etc.). If you hit someone with a harmful area of effect spell, it will also drag them into combat.
To leave ongoing combat you can try <flee> or <flee DIRECTION>. This will start a runaway process and let you exit after a few rounds. Certain spells help you escape combat quickly, and certain feats lock you in combat until the action is completed.
To keep someone from leaving, you can <block EXIT> or use items that limit escape routes.
Certain monsters (usually known as NPC's) and other players will fall unconscious when you win combat. If you have a rope, you can <bind NAME>. If you want them dead, type <hit NAME> on a bound or unconscious foe.
When you make a melee or ranged attack, the system makes a hidden roll of your total attack bonus + a randomized component, which is usually a random number between 1-20, also known as 1d20. It then compares this to the armor class of your opponent.
Your total attack bonus consists of the following:
If you hit your target, you deal damage equal to:
Let's break it down:
Your base attack bonus (aka BAB) depends on your class and level and can be viewed by typing <score>.
Your stat can be viewed by typing <stats>. To find your stat modifier, subtract 10 from the stat and then divide the total by 2 (round down).
The stats used are strength for melee weapons (swords, axes, etc.) and dexterity for ranged weapons (bows, pistols, etc.). The feat weapon finesse allows you to use dexterity instead of strength with certain weapons (<help weapon finesse>). Ranged attacks require ammunition in the form of a quiver or an ammo pouch.
There is a small penalty for every attack made in one round after the first. Environmental factors may also lower the effectiveness of your attacks. Additionally, wearing heavy armor decreases the effectiveness of dexterity-based attacks, but not strength-based ones. Certain feats and spells increase your attack and damage potential, as described in the individual help files. For gear, see below.
There are two main types of spells: Those that require your opponent to make a save, and those that require you to make an attack roll.
A spell attack is rolled against your opponent’s armor class and consists of the following:
Touch attacks (shocking grasp, etc.) depend on strength, while ranged attacks (ray of enfeeblement, etc.) depend on dexterity.
Your spell DC (difficulty check) determines how hard your spells are to resist. It is contested by the relevant save, as defined in the help file for each spell.
Your spell DC consists of the following:
The level of the spell also provides a small bonus on your DC, so a 1st level spell is easier to resist than a 9th level spell.
Your spell's damage depends on your caster level, your class, the level of the spell, and its nature. Refer to <help standard damage> for an overview of base damage per spell level. Feats that increase your caster level, also increase your damage potential.
Area of Effect spells (aka AoE's) damage everything in the room (other than you). The perfect caster feat (and the <party> command) keep your fodder and party members relatively safe from your magic.
Some entities will have magic resistance that you must overcome to harm them with your spells. Your ability to overcome spell resistance is determined by your spell penetration bonus. This consists of the following:
When someone makes an attack against you, the armor class represents your defense against that attack. Your total armor class can be found in <score> and consists of the following:
Medium and heavy armors have a maximum dexterity as listed in shops that apply to armor class and attacks.
Helpful Hint: Armor class is currently soft capped at ca. 80, meaning that anything that increases your armor class above that number has diminishing returns.
Avoidance is a common term for spells and feats that allow you to avoid an incoming attack. Spells (blink, entropic warding, etc.) do this by adding a miss chance to any attack made against you. Similar spells do not stack. Shields also add to this miss chance. Feats (scramble, parry, etc.) give you a chance to avoid the attack by rolling an opposed Athletics check (your athletic vs your opponent’s athletic). If you have two avoidance feats, you get a small bonus on these athletic checks, but they do not otherwise stack.
Your ability to resist magic effects and combat maneuvers are represented by your saves, also known as saving throws. Some classes have strong and weak saves, as detailed in the help file for each class. When a saved is rolled, the game adds a random component, usually 1d20.
Your total amount can be seen with <bonuses> and consists of the following:
There are three types of saves:
Helpful Hint: There is a hidden cap on how high your saves can be. This means that there are diminishing returns on stacking bonus sources. Normally, if you are a spell caster with access to mid- to higher level spells that increase your saves, you should not need to take any feats that do the same. Similarly, a melee character should be able to reach the cap by taking feats that increase their saves and investing in equipment that does the same.
Gear is an important part of an adventurer's career. As you level, you will gain access to increasingly powerful gear that both boosts your armor class and your other abilities.
Every piece of equipment has a number of base qualities, which can be viewed via the <discern ITEM> command. Base qualities include weapon damage, armor bonus, size, required proficiency feat and required craft skill for <repair>, craft magical equipment, and <alterobj>.
For example, if I discern the black horned helmet in my inventory, I get the following information:
This tells me that the helmet will increase my armor class by 3 points, provided I have the heavy armor proficiency feat. The ID tags of the helmet (helmet, helm, horned helmet, etc) are useful because they allow me to refer to that item specifically if I have more than one helmet in my inventory.
Non-magical equipment is often referred to as mundane items.
Magical items have magical qualities. These are a little harder to determine. To identify an item's magical properties, you can do the following:
Once you have successfully identified a magical item, you can see its base enchantment represented with a number after the item's name, like so:
The +3 tells me that the helmet will increase my armor class by an additional 3 points, to a total of +6.
Similarly, if I find an “ornate secari dagger +5”, it means that I get a +5 bonus on attack and damage rolls with that particular weapon.
Some magical items have passive bonuses, which you can see by using <look ITEM> on an identified item. Examples include will save +2, charisma +4 and caster level +2.
Example: If my ornate secari dagger +5 has the additional passive bonus of attack +2, that is added to the base enchantment, to a total of +7 on attack rolls with the dagger and a total of +2 on all other attacks (including spell attacks) so long as I am wielding the dagger.
Helpful Hint: Some items also have additional hidden bonuses that trigger on occasion. You will have to discover these during combat. Some items have a trigger word that produces a magical effect. You can usually find hints to this via <look>, <study> or <read>.
Helpful Hint: Some magic items are cursed! If identify reveals that I have a black horned helmet -3, that means it is cursed and will decrease my armor class by 3 points. If you wear a cursed item, you will need to find a church where you can have the curse removed. If you cannot identify an item, you can also get it checked for curses at the church before you wear it.
Each character has a total of 8 main equipment slots, which can be listed by typing <limbs>. Each slot can hold one piece of enchanted gear, and one or two pieces of non-enchanted gear depending on the type. Two examples:
Torso: Normal armors like studded leather, hides, and full-plates fit in the torso slot. In addition to one piece of armor, you can wear one shirt, jacket, etc., in your torso slot, as well as a jewelry item like a brooch or a badge. However, only one of these items can have an enchantment bonus.
Hands: You can wear a total of five rings on your hands, but only one of the rings can have a base enchantment bonus.
Bonuses of the same type do not stack. For example: If a ring gives me charisma + 2, and my boots give me charisma + 4, the boots override my ring for a total of + 4 charisma. Similarly, if my ring gives me attack + 4 and my serrated axe give me attack + 2, the ring overrides my axe for a total of + 4 attack.
When wielding two weapons, it is important to note that the base enchantment bonus of each weapon do not stack: A serrated axe + 3 and a nasty claw + 2 means I have a + 3 to attack and damage with the axe and a + 2 to attack and damage with the claw.
Bonuses of different types stack. For example: If a ring gives me will save + 2 and a cloak gives me wisdom + 4, the ring and the cloak stack for a total of + 3 will save.
When you use a shapeshift spell or ability, your gear meld into your body and becomes inaccessible. Passive bonuses remain active, but special magical qualities are suppressed. Therefore, if you wield your serrated axe +3 with an attack bonus +2 before you shift, your shapeshifted attacks will have an attack bonus of +5.