STEP Combat

The STEP Combat System

When battles begin and every few seconds matter, Interphaze employs the Step Combat System. It slows the encounter down, zooming in on each hero’s actions in turn and giving each person an equal chance for heroics.

Time spent in combat is referred to as being “in step”. Each turn or “count” in step represents approximately 2-3 seconds, the time necessary to move a short distance and competently perform one action. A judge will announce the beginning of each count by calling “Step!”
Each count a character may perform the following:

  1. One movement action
  2. One general action

A judge will resolve any actions for the count, determining whether attacks hit or miss, describing the effects of spells cast, etc. See below, “Success or Failure of Actions” for more information. After everything is resolved, the judge will call “Step!” again and the process will repeat until the encounter is completed.


The unit of distance employed during combat is a “step”. The length of a step is equal to the distance between footsteps when walking at a normal pace, the average is about 3 feet.

Each count a player may perform a move action. This means they can take their base movement (usually one step) in any direction.

If a character wishes to move more quickly, they can use their general action to take an extra step. This is the equivalent of running.

General Actions

A general action may be used to perform any one of the following:

  1. Ready weapon
  2. Attack
  3. Parry
  4. Dodge
  5. Guard
  6. Use an ability
  7. Cast a spell
  8. Concentrate on maintaining a spell
  9. Actively resist a spell
  10. Use an item
  11. Run (+1 movement)

Readying, Attacking, Parrying, and Dodging

To make a melee attack in step combat, a player calls out their attack and tags or touches another player with a melee weapon prop to attack them. With a ranged weapon, they call out the attack and point at their intended target.

Before making an attack, a weapon must be readied. Readying a weapon requires the use of a general action. Drawing a weapon counts as readying it. This usually means that an attack can be made every other count, like this:

Ready // attack // ready // attack

Parrying or dodging is an attempt to avoid being hit by an opponent’s attack.  Parrying attempts to block the attack with a weapon, shield, or other object. Dodging is an attempt to avoid the attack without the use of a weapon.  A weapon does not need to be readied in order to parry. For medium and heavy weapons, parrying makes a weapon unreadied, so it must be readied again before attacking, like this:

Parry // parry // parry // ready // attack

For light weapons, parrying readies the weapon. A character can then parry and attack every other count, like this:

Attack // parry // attack // parry

Ranged attacks can only be parried by a shield, though they may be dodged normally.

When Parrying, the character adds their Tough save to their Defense.  When Dodging, the character adds their Quick save to their Defense.  See Saves below.

For more information on types of weapons and weapon damage, see weapons and damage below.

Attacking: Called Shots

A character may elect to make a “called shot” with their weapon attack. A called shot is an attempt to perform some heroic feat such as blinding your opponent with an arrow to the eye.  It is also used for difficult or imrpovised circumstances such as slicing through a swinging rope.  If the character must stretch, overextend, or otherwise substantially shift their position to reach the target with their weapon from where they are standing, the attack is also considered a called shot.  Called shots require 4 EP to attempt.


A Guard maneuver may be used to keep enemies at bay. Instead of dealing damage, guarding prevents the target from moving within your weapon’s reach. A guard may only be attempted with a Readied weapon, but is maintained indefinitely so long as the person maintaining the guard does not move. Over several counts, guarding may look like this:

Ready // guard // guard // guard

Using an Ability

Unless otherwise noted, using special abilities and class abilities take one count. A character announces which ability they are using and the ability takes affect according to the details printed on the character’s passport.

For more information on abilities, view the ability rules page.

Cast a spell

Spell Casting classes may choose to cast a spell as their action in step combat. Some spells may take more than one count to finish casting or may remain in effect for multiple counts. For example, a spell with a casting time of 3 takes effect on the third count after casting begins, like this:

Casting 1 // casting 2 // spell takes effect

To cast a spell, have your spell book open to the spell you want to cast. The caster must tell the judge what they are doing and make any actions necessary (as dictated in the ‘method’ section of the spell card).

For more information, see rules on spellcasting below.

Use an Item

Items other than weapons can be used the same count they are removed from storage. A character should show the judge the item’s description on his or her item sheet so a charge can be marked off. The item takes affect according to the specifications on the item sheet.

For more information on creation and use of items, see the rules on items.

Success or Failure of Actions

At the end of each count, a judge determines the success or failure of actions during that count.  A judge will compare one of the attacker’s offensive scores (see below) against one of the defender’s defensive scores to determine whether the attack is successful or not.

Offensive Scores


The Attack score represents a character’s ability to successfully strike something with a melee weapon or touch attack, usually another character.


The Accuracy score represents a character’s ability to successfully cast a ranged spell, or fire a ranged weapon at a target.

Defensive Scores


The Defense score represents a character’s ability to avoid a “Martial” attack.  Martial attacks are physical attacks made by weapons.


The Resistance score represents a character’s ability to avoid a Magic attack, and other miscellaneous effects.


Saves represent a character’s ability to actively resist an attack or harmful effect.. There are three types of Saves, each representing a different aspect of a person’s ability to resist things.

  • Tough Save: Tough saves are used to Parry, or whenever the physical body is threatened, such as being knocked down.
  • Quick Save: Quick saves are used to Dodge or avoid danger, such as a lightning bolt.
  • Mind Save: Mind saves are used whenever the inner will is threatened, or to resist charms or trickery.

Weapons and Damage

Weapons at Interphaze are divided into two categories: melee and ranged. Weapons are further organized into three types: Light, Medium, Heavy.

Melee Weapons

Melee Weapons are defined as weapons that are held, either in one or two hands, to attack opponents.

LIGHT melee weapons are weapons which are wielded one-handed. They deal 1 point of damage on a successful hit. Some examples include: wooden staves, daggers, and short swords.

MEDIUM melee weapons are weapons which are normally wielded one-handed. They deal 3 points of damage on a successful hit. Examples include: broadswords, maces, and single handed spears.

HEAVY melee weapons are weapons which are normally wielded two-handed. They deal 5 points of damage on a successful hit. Examples include: two handed swords, heavy axes, and most polearms.

Ranged Weapons

Ranged Weapons are defined as weapons that are either thrown or fired at a target that is more than 1 step away. Ranged weapons have an extra descriptor: distance. Distances are divided into 3 categories: Short (5 steps), Medium (10 steps), and Long (15 steps).

LIGHT ranged weapons deal 1 point of damage, and may have a Short or Medium range. Some examples include: thrown daggers, slings, or blow guns.

MEDIUM ranged weapons deal 3 points of damage, and may have a Short, Medium, or Long range. Most bows fall into this category.

HEAVY ranged weapons deal 5 points of damage, and may have any range. Some examples include heavy crossbows and some long bows.

SIEGE weapons deal gobs and gobs of damage, the kind meant to take down castle walls, and are dealt with on an individual basis. In short, don’t get hit by one.


Firearms are not normally available to the denizens of Interphaze. Sometimes they are invented by gnomish tinker-magi. When they do show up, they are individually described on item sheets. Firearms deal variable amounts of damage, as described on the item sheet, and have variable range. Any firearms that are not “high quality” suffer a 10% cumulative chance per use of exploding, dealing their damage to the wielder.


Armor adds its score to either Defense or Resistance, as noted by the armor.  Some rare armors add their score to both.

Some armors also have the ability to “soak” damage from a successful, reducing the amount of damage taken. The heavier the armor, the higher its score and the more damage it can potentially soak.  Armor values are written by denoting AC (meaning Armor Coverage), then their score (such as +10), then their soak value (such as (1) ), then to which score they apply (Defense or Resistance).  For example: Plate Mail armor provides AC +15(2) Defense.

Armor is defined in similar terms to weapons; they’re also divided into three types: Light, Medium, and Heavy.

LIGHT provides no damage soak against a succesful attack.  It typically provides a +5(0) to either Defense or Resistance.

MEDIUM provides 1 point of damage soak against a succesful attack.  It typically provides a +10(1) to either Defense or Resistance.

HEAVY provides 2 points of damage soak against a succesful attack.  It typically provides a +15(2) to either Defense or Resistance.

If a defensive check is critically failed, your armor may break, and will not provide any further benefit unless it is repaired. High quality armor will not break if it critically fails its save, but it is usually a great deal more expensive.


If a character takes damage, they must mark off their “HP” (hit points) on their character passport.

Health points measure how much physical damage a character can withstand before dying. If a character loses 90% or more of their total hit point pool, they will be “wounded” and suffer a -40% penalty to all actions.

Character Death

When a character reaches 0 HP, they die.

Characters may revived or resurrected according to the specifications of certain spells. The most common are clerical spells which usually require that a person have been dead less than a day, and will return a character to life with the minimum of HP and half the remaining EP they had when they died. Of course, there are other ways to bring a person back to life, but they may involve more extreme measures, such as a quest for either the character, or their friends or family members.