Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy
Ah, a perfect green and I'm ready for the put... And then a priority window opens in my glasses.

"Damn, not again! What's happening over there?"

"Ortega here, colonel. We have difficulties effectuating the lift-off of Charlie platoon"

"I'll be damned! OK, Ortega, stop Alpha from boarding the choppers and use distraction attack 2. Bravo -- proceed. Don't let the targets fall into the slork's hands."

"Ay ay Sir, and good luck with your put."

Combat is often given a large section in many role-playing games; this is because combat is such an important part of many role- playing games. It isn't in InfoWar. In InfoWar combat is something the characters rather would like to avoid, you may get killed and it's not very glamorous.

Some general guidelines for the Coordinator when it comes to combat:

Combat in InfoWar is mainly about small firefights or melees not full scale warfare. This is a techno-thriller, not a Schwartzenegger movie.

Combat scenes in InfoWar should be as fast as possible and as lethal as possible.

Always reward players that think in a combat situation. Players who think superior firepower and armor replaces intelligence should be penalized. Creativity and improvisation is what often wins the battle, and in a real fight all dirty tricks are allowed.

The skill of Combat Experience cannot be stressed enough, without it the character is frightened and lost in combat. Being good on weapon skills isn't enough; you have to know how to use them in a dangerous situation.

The Coordinator should never describe an action in game terms, keep up the role-playing instead. And players should of course also describe what they do in freestyle as much as possible.

Common sense always takes precedence over the rules.

Combat Terms

any combat that involves striking the opponent with a natural weapon or a held-held weapon. Used with Brawling, Martial Arts or Melee.
Ranged attack
an attack from a distance. Used with Bows, Firearms, Thrown Weapons or Heavy Weapons.
Story element
a distinct segment of the story line in the game. In combat, the interval between story elements can be a practical place for a die roll. The story element in a combat scene is the Combat round.
Combat round
a segment of five seconds during which all characters' actions are made.
Offensive damage
factors those which contribute to damaging an opponent: Strength (if using a Strength-driven weapon) and deadliness of a weapon.
Defensive damage
factors those, which contribute to reducing the severity of a received blow: armor and the Endurance attribute.
Total damage
factor the attacker's offensive damage factor minus the defender's defensive damage factor.

The Combat rounds

Combat is divided into Combat rounds of five seconds, during which all actions are made. The Coordinator explains the situation in as much detail as is apparent (and in most combat situations few details are apparent). Give a better description to the characters that have a high Combat Experience, they know how to assess the situation better. It is then time to call for an Initiative die roll for everyone involved in combat. The Coordinator can give positive or negative modifiers to Combat Experience depending on fatigue, lighting, footing, surprise, bravery, cowardice, a good tactical plan, C3I etc. Once again you should help the characters with high levels of Combat Experience.

Gaining initiative is an Unopposed action; everyone rolls Combat Experience versus a Difficulty Level of Fair. You then compare the degree to which the combatants succeeded or failed and let them take actions in that order. The one that succeeded with the best degree does his action before anyone else, you then continue with the one second best degree and so on. If two or more combatants roll the same degree the one with the highest CON acts first.

Example: Three thugs are attacking Bruce. Bruce has Combat Experience: Good, the thugs have Combat Experience: Mediocre. Bruce rolls a Superb result, a degree of +2; the thugs roll Mediocre, Mediocre and Poor, for degrees of -1, -1 and -2. Bruce acts before the thugs and of the thugs one acts after the other two.
If a character rolls a Critical success on the Initiative roll he gains an extra action before anyone else (if several roll Critical successes, decide initiative among them as usual). If someone achieves a Critical failure he cannot act at all.

If you completely lack Combat Experience you always act last in the Combat turn and you'll have to roll your CON against a Difficulty Level of Mediocre to act at all (you're scared!). If there are many in the fight that lack Combat Experience the CON roll's degree decides their internal order of initiative. Critical failures on these CON rolls means that the character completely panics and most likely does something quite stupid. An experienced character can try to lead the others; a Good Combat Experience roll will give the unskilled characters a bonus to their CON.

You may try to attack hastily gaining a +1 modifier to Combat Experience on that roll but you will be slightly unbalanced of it and receive a negative modifier of -1 to all your attack and defend rolls.

When everyone has acted you start the Combat round again in the same order of initiative. The Coordinator should only call for a new Combat Experience roll when the combat situation changes in some significant way, for instance one side receives reinforcements, the leader of one side is Incapacitated, good leadership, the enemies show themselves to be much more powerful than expected etc.

Attacking and Defending

Each attack is an Opposed action: the attacker's Melee or Ranged attack skill against the defender's Defensive skill (Brawling, Martial Arts, Melee or Combat Experience). If the attacker gets a positive relative degree in the dice roll against the defender he will harm the defender. If there is a tie or the defender wins, the defender is unharmed. If Brawling, Martial Arts or Melee is used, the attacker missed or perhaps the defender succeeded to sidestep the blow or parry it. In Ranged combat the defender uses Combat Experience to defend himself. You cannot really dodge or sidestep a bullet, but an experienced fighter gives the enemy a harder time of hitting, since he knows where to take cover, how to move to make it difficult to aim and knows about the enemy's capabilities. The reason for this difference between defending against Melee or Ranged attacks is that Melee attacks can be countered by pure skill, but projectiles are too quick for a person to react to, so you have to think beforehand to avoid getting hit.

The Difficulty level to attack or defend is normally Fair. This means Short distances to the target for Ranged combat (both for attacking and defending) and close unhindered Melee combat. As always, the Coordinator should decide the Difficulty level for the task at hand.

The characters are limited to one Ranged or Melee combat attack per action (see automatic fire and three-round bursts for exceptions. They can make an unlimited amount of Defensive rolls, but see the multiple opponents modifier below -- it of course gets harder.

Melee Modifiers

Modifiers are important in combat; what really wins the battle isn't necessarily the skill but the ability to have all the advantages on one's side and put the enemy at an disadvantage.

If one fighter has a positional advantage over the other, there is a penalty (-1 or -2) to the fighter in the worse position to attack and defend. Examples include bad footing, lower elevation, light in the eyes, kneeling, etc.

Shields are seldom used in the 21st century, but some police forces still use them in riots. The police shields come in two versions. One is a small round shield that gives the user a +1 Melee bonus for defending. The other one is a squared shield that protects most of the body; it also adds a +1 Melee bonus for defending. The larger shield also protects against thrown weapons and smaller projectile weapons too (but not high velocity bullets, pistols yes, rifles no) adding a +1 bonus to Combat Experience for defensive purposes. Shields are seldom used since they are cumbersome and visible -- highly visible.

Compare combatants' weapon sizes and shields (see below). If one fighter's weapon + shield value is +2 (or more) greater than the other fighter's weapon + shield value, the fighter with the smaller weapons is at -1 to his combat skill. This is because it is much harder to strike or defend oneself against an opponent with a much wider range for his longer weapon and/or bigger shield. Example: If one person attacks another with a broadsword (+2 to damage) and the other one defends himself with a knife (+0 to damage) the man with the knife is at -1 to his Melee.

Weapons that require long training and/or are rare give the wielder a negative modifier of -2 to his Melee until he has trained extensively with it. That's the reason why most people in the 21st century mostly use knives and clubs as melee weapons. Those two-hand swords are difficult to use without a properly learned technique.

All-out offense, grants a +1 to the combat skill (and an additional +1 for damage, if successful). However, if an all-out attacker ties or loses the Opposed action, the other fighter has wounded the attacker with his degree, and gets a +2 to damage! An all-out defensive stance earns a +2 to the combat skill, but such a combatant cannot harm his foe, not even an all-out attacker (see above).

Some special Martial Arts maneuvers can be extra difficult to perform but may grant extra damage.

A successful all-out defense and a successful Combat Experience roll at Difficulty Level Good produces a -1 penalty to the opponent on the next round, even if the character isn't all-out defending. This is because the fighter can take a few seconds extra to scope out the area and maneuvers to take advantage of any terrain or conditional irregularity.

Generally Brawling and Martial Arts can only be used to parry attacks from those skills. You have to use Melee (and a weapon) to parry a melee attack.

When more than one opponent attack a single fighter, they have a positional advantage. The lone fighter is at -1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first. There is however a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent. Six is the maximum under ideal conditions, while only three or four can attack if using weapons or Martial Arts that require a lot of maneuvering space. If the lone fighter is in a doorway, only one or two fighters can reach him.

Ranged Combat

Ranged combat may or may not be an Opposed action. If the target is unaware of the assault, or the Coordinator thinks that it is impossible for the character to do anything to block the shooters sight he will make the attacker roll an Unopposed action roll to hit the target. Otherwise the character can use Combat Experience, as noted above. Do not modify the attacker's skill for range, partial cover, or other circumstances -- that's included in the Difficulty Level. An all-out defensive stance earns a +2 to the Combat Experience skill, but such a combatant cannot shoot back. When more than one opponent attack a single fighter, they have a positional advantage. The lone fighter is at -1 to his skill for each additional foe beyond the first. There is a limit to the number of foes that can simultaneously attack a single opponent. Six is often the maximum.

Maybe, if the attacker is at a very short distance from the target (a meter or so), he could receive an extra bonus of +1 to his skill (besides the low Difficulty Level). Shotguns give the attacker's a +1 skill modifier when fired at a target at a short distance, but a -1 skill modifier when fired at a target at a long distance.

If the ranged weapon is thrown, there is no modifier to the defense roll. However, bows and crossbows reduce the defender's skill by -2, and guns and rifles reduce it by -3. It is damn hard to get out sight, only the most experienced fighters can manage that.

Firing an automatic weapon at full automatic is not as efficient as many people think. The weapon will quickly get completely uncontrollable because of the recoil. So in InfoWar we assume that those that use automatic fire use it wisely (but a character can still fire wildly and waste ammunition). A long fire burst fires at least 20--30 bullets from the weapon's clip. Each area of 5 square meters the burst covers reduces the attacker's skill by -1, due to recoil. The Relative degree to each target in the area shows with how many bullets the target has been hit. Each Relative degree of +2 means that one bullet has hit (+1 is a hit but only a graze; +4 would mean that the target has been hit by two bullets), drop fractions down. To determine the damage of each bullet the attacker has to divide the Relative degree between the hits (for the hit above it could be one hit at +3 and one at +1, or two at +2 at the Coordinator's call). Of course, you cannot hit with more bullets than you actually fired. Note that the attacker rolls Firearms once and the targets roll their Combat Experience against it. But the most efficient side of full automatic fire is that it pins down those opponents in the fire area that don't succeed with their Combat Experience rolls. They cannot act at all, just desperately take cover.

Three-round bursts are the most efficient way to fire at a single foe. The burst of course uses three bullets in the clip, and adds a +1 modifier to the shooter's Firearms skill.

A minigun gives the character +2 to his skill due to the massive amounts of bullets fired. A well-prepared machinegun nest adds +3 to the attacker's skill. Machine pistols are sensitive to recoil so they reduce the attacker's skill by -1, when firing full automatic. Automatic shotguns are devastating in close combat as they receive the +1 skill bonus of all shotguns too.


InfoWar doesn't use a hit location system, because we think that if you're hurt you're pretty messed up anyway. Sometimes it could be important to know if you hit a particular area, for instance a hand to make the FOG bureaucrat drop his briefcase or for that desperate headshot to take down a berserk crackhead.

The attacker announces that he's aiming at a particular specific body location -- this must be done before rolling to hit. In order to hit an arm, leg or head you have to win the Opposed action by a Relative degree of +2. To hit a hand or a foot you have to win by a Relative degree of +3. If you win but not with a sufficient degree you still hit, but not the aimed portion of the body. Head hits increase damage by +1, so wear those helmets!

Wound Levels

Combat damage to a character is described as being one of seven stages of severity. The stages are:
No wounds at all. The character is not necessarily healthy -- he may be sick, for example. But he doesn't have a combat wound that's recent enough to be bothering him.
No real game effect, but it hurts a bit. The damage may eventually lead to being Hurt if the character is hit again.
The character is wounded significantly, enough to slow him down: -1 to all traits that could logically be affected.
Very Hurt
The character is seriously hurt and can only stumble about. Very Hurt gives -2 to all traits which could logically be affected.
The character is so badly wounded as to be incapable of any actions, except possibly dragging himself a few meters now and then.
Near Death
The character is not only unconscious, he'll die in less than an hour -- maybe even a lot less under bad conditions -- without medical help. No one recovers from Near Death on his own.
The character is impossible to revive without advanced intensive care within the next few minutes (and possibly not even that), the damages are too great. The character is clinically dead.
The skill of Body Control can be used to reduce the penalties listed at Hurt and Very Hurt; with enough stress or training it is possible to ignore pain and keep going. The difficulty of decreasing the penalties depends on the level of hurt:
Damage Difficulty
Hurt Fair
Very Hurt Great
Incapacitated Superb
A success decreases the penalties with one, a critical success with two. Extreme motivation may give bonuses. At incapacitated a success means the character can still act, but slowly and clumsily at the end of each turn (better than just lying around).

All character must roll Endurance not to loose consciousness when damaged. The Difficulty level is Terrible for Scratched, Poor for Hurt, Mediocre for Very Hurt and Fair for Incapacitated. Again the skill of Body Control may help (if the Endurance roll fails, it is possible to try a Body Control roll with the same difficulty).

Offensive Wound Factors

Sum up your character's Offensive factors from the following lists: For more details on weapons see Col. Charles F. Cantrell's guide of weapons.

Defensive Wound Factors

Sum up your character's Defensive factors from the following lists:

Determining Wound Level

A given blow will cause a certain level of wounding. Remember to role-playing wounding too. Do not describe it as "a Hurt Wound", describe it as "You think you wounded her, but she is still on her feet".

In order to determine the amount of damage done, add up the attacker's offensive factors and then subtract the defender's defensive factors. The result is the Total Damage Factor (TDF).


Noi, Concordat sympathizer:

STR: Good (+1)
Knife (+0)
Offensive damage factors: +1

END: Good (+1)
Leather jacket (+1)
Defensive damage factors: +2

Thai policeman:

STR: Superb (+3)
Baton (+1)
Offensive damage factors: +4

END: Fair (+0)
Defensive damage factors: +0

Noi's TDF against Thai policeman is 1-0= 1.
Thai policeman's TDF against Noi is 4-2 =2.

Since the Thai policeman's TDF is larger, if he hits her, he'll do more damage to her than she would to him for an equally well placed blow.

Once these numbers are determined, jot them down so you don't have to refigure them each combat round.

Take a look on the character sheet, there you will find the following chart:

1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9,10 11+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incap. Nr.Death Dead
The numbers above the wound levels represent the amount of damage needed in a single blow to inflict the wound listed under the number. For example, a blow of three or four points Hurts the character, while a blow of five or six points inflicts a Very Hurt wound.

However, you cannot simply use the damage factor you determined above -- relative degree is also important. A Relative degree of +1 is treated as a graze, see below. Otherwise simply add the Relative degree to the TDF. The result is a number that may or may not be a positive number. If it's 0 or less, no damage is scored. If the number is positive, look up the result across the top of the wound levels, and figure the wound as described above. If Noi hit the Thai policeman with a Relative degree of +2, she adds that to her TDF of +1 to produce a damage number of three. Looking at the chart, we see that a result of three is a Hurt wound.


Any Relative degree of +1 can cause at most a low wound level. It may do no damage at all, depending on your Total Damage Factor (TDF). Here is the graze severity table:
TDF Result
Less than 0 Undamaged
0-4 Scratch
5+ Hurt

Recording wounds

Once the final damage is determined, it is recorded on the wounded fighter's character sheet. This would look like:
1,2 3,4 5,6 7,8 9,10 11+
Wounds: Scratch Hurt Very Hurt Incap. Nr.Death Dead
The boxes below the wound levels represent how many of each wound type a fighter can take. When a wound is received, mark off the appropriate box. The results are not cumulative only the penalty for the highest recorded wound level counts.

If there is no open box for a given wound result, the character takes the next highest wound for which there is an open box. The character will then suffer the penalties for than level, but for healing he has only received two of the lower wounds. This is important since serious wounds are harder to recover from (Example: if a fighter receives to Very Hurt wounds he is Incapacitated, for penalty purposes, but for healing his wounds he has been Very Hurt twice).

Note that three boxes are provided under Scratch. A Scratch wound will not make a fighter Hurt until he receives his fourth Scratch.

Stun, Knockout and Holding Punches

A character can announce that he is trying to stun or knock his opponent out rather than damage her. Damage is figured out normally, but any damage inflicted doesn't wound the opponent: it stuns her instead. It is more difficult to stun an opponent; the attacker receives a modifier of -1 to his skill. If he succeed in Hurting the opponent, this is called a "Stun" -- a stunned character cannot attack or all-out defend, and is at -1 to defend for one combat turn only. However, the Stun result stays on the character sheet: that is, a second Stun result, even if delivered more than one Combat round after the first, will cause the character to become Very Stunned. Very Stunned means that the character cannot attack and is at -2 to all actions for two Combat rounds. A result of Incapacitated or worse when going for a Stun damage results in a knockout. If a result of Dead is achieved the Coordinator might check for chock or brain damages (roll END, Difficulty level variable). Stun levels recover after combat has ended, the character only needs to rest for half an hour or so to recover.

Likewise, a character may choose to do reduced damage in any given attack. This is known as "pulling your punch", even if you're using a knife or a gun. To pull your punch, simply announce the maximum wound level you want to inflict, if successful, before rolling the dice.


Wounds are healed through medical care. Wounds are horrible things that hurt like hell and they tend to worsen if not properly attended to, or in bad external conditions (remember that most soldiers before the 20th century didn't die in battle, but at the field surgeons'...). Everything in this section assumes that characters have access to modern 21st century medicine and some kind of well-equipped hospital and a decent doctor. These are luxuries, especially in Third World countries, but also if the character has to go to the inferior public hospitals in First World countries (besides being registered by FOG).

A Scratch wound doesn't require a Medicine roll to heal. They are usually healed if given a bit of attention after combat and about 10 minutes of rest (they haven't disappeared, but they don't bother a character that after that period).

First aid helps the wounds from deteriorating, and usually requires just some basic equipment and Basic Education.

If someone with Medicine and proper equipment manages to give treatment quickly enough the wound level of the most serious wound is reduced by one level. He must succeed with a Medicine roll against a Difficulty level depending on the severity of the wound, with bonuses for access to good equipment or being in a hospital. But it has to occur fast enough, otherwise all that can be done is (possibly) to stabilize the condition.

Wound Difficulty Time of grace
Scratch Medium
Hurt Fair One day
Very Hurt Good One hour
Incapacitated Great Half an hour
Near death Superb 10 minutes
Dead Enhanced (or more) Minutes
Yes, it is possible to save somebody who is "dead" given enough technology, intensive care and skill -- but it will be costly. This is nothing that happens in the field!

Healing will take time. Hospitals and medicine will only insure that the wound will heal, given rest and proper care. Below is a table that shows how much time in a hospital that a character must spend to heal a specific wound level. These times should be doubled if he doesn't receive good care in a good environment (a hut in the middle of the Amazon forest, for instance).

Hurt One month
Very Hurt Two months
Incapacitated Six months
Near Death One month of intensive care or he dies. The wound level is reduced to Incapacitated after this time and healed normally after that.
Dead Permanent (cryonics patients might be an exception)

Penalties for intellectual abilities tend to recover faster than physical penalties; they can be regarded as two wound levels better than the real state of the patient once healing is underway.

Naturally a healthy and sturdy character heals more quickly than a frail and sickly one. A character can attempt to halve the healing time involved by rolling his END against a Difficulty level set by the wound. Fair Difficulty level for Hurt, Good Difficulty level for Very Hurt and Great Difficulty level for Incapacitated. You cannot roll your END for a Near Death wound, because survival is more about outside support than physical condition. If you receive IC you're just Incapacitated after a month, otherwise you're dead.

A Critical failure on the END roll means that there are complications, maybe it takes more time or you had to amputate a limb. Positive or negative modifiers are given according to the quality of the hospital, the medical equipment and the skills of the physicians. A critical Medicine roll of the physician can also help decrease the healing time (a critical failure, on the other hand might introduce you to the wonderful world of iatrogenic illness -- illness due to the treatment).

Emergency Medicine Online Textbook