|Again, Mike Cagle art|
When playing out combat in Superhero 2044, turns of ten seconds are used. Every turn, each character has a round in which to perform actions: move and attack, move twice, attack twice, but NOT attack and move. If it is necessary to determine the order in which characters act, the Dexterity score may be used. However, activity is simultaneous – damage is not applied until the end of the turn, after all rounds are completed.
There are four 'types' of attack: direct physical, projectile, mental, and transformation. 'Direct physical' attacks are what others games call hand-to-hand/melee attacks. 'Projectile' attacks include conventional ranged attacks, but the term also applies to “energy bolts and rays, force beams, [and] gases...” Intuitively, 'mental' attacks affect the target's mind; examples include “mind control, certain kinds of invisibility, mind reading, etc.” 'Transformation' attacks are attempts to alter the physical nature of the target.
'Direct physical' attacks are resolved by first subtracting the target's Stamina score from the Attacker's Stamina. For purposes of determining this number, a character's Stamina may be modified as a result of circumstances. For instance, a blind attacker's Stamina is reduced by 20 and a target wearing (any) body armor receives a bonus of 20. The rules on page 15 claim that “the resulting number must be matched or bettered...for the effect to occur.” This isn't quite true; it would mean that attacks would be automatically successful if the attacker's Stamina is equal to or less than the target's Stamina. Also, the more Stamina an attacker has compared to the target reduces the likelihood of the attack's success.
The rules should say that the difference of the target's modified Stamina from the attacker's modified Stamina needs to be checked against the Universal Combat Matrix. If the attacker's Stamina is equal to the target's Stamina, the attacker must roll an 11 or greater on 3d6. Otherwise, each five points of Stamina difference modifies the score needed by one. If the attacker's Stamina is more than thirty points less than the target's, a roll of 18 is necessary. If the attacker's Stamina is forty or more points greater than the target's, success is automatic. The supplementary rules present the number needed to hit as a percentage.
'Mental' attacks are resolved just like 'direct physical' attacks except Ego values are compared instead of Stamina. A person might think that 'projectile' attacks are handled in a similar manner, like comparing Dexterity instead of Stamina; however, such a person would be very wrong. 'Projectile' attacks are handled akin to 'transformation' attacks. 'Transformation' attacks are resolved by rolling a d6 and applying situational modifiers. A second d6 is rolled and if the result equals or exceeds the modified result, the attack is successful. Yes, you roll a die to determine the result you need when you roll a second die. I guess the Universal Combat Matrix isn't so universal after all; perhaps the name should be changed to 'Limited Combat Matrix' or 'Matrix for Some Combat.' On page 31, the supplementary rules allow saving throws against 'transformation' attacks.
Anyway, conventional damage causes a target to lose Endurance and/or Vigor, usually both. According to page 16, “Endurance loss represents pain and shock” while “vigor loss represents the actual injury.” As Endurance is depleted, certain debilitating conditions take effect. With an Endurance of 10 - 14, a character is stunned, may not attack, and may only move once per round. A character with negative Endurance “requires immediate medical aid to prevent brain damage.” There are also debilitating effects when Vigor is reduced. A character with only 1 - 4 Vigor is “barely conscious...[and] unable to move.”
What happens when Vigor is reduced below one? Well, it's complicated. There are “four areas of the body” which, in other games, would be called 'hit locations.' They are: head, body, arms, and legs According to page 16, “each of the four areas of the body contains 50% of the total body vigor points.” 'Projectile' attack damage is applied either to a randomly determined area or an area for which an attacker specifically aimed. If Vigor for the head area is reduced below one point, the character dies. If Vigor for any other area is reduced below one point, that area is incapacitated. The supplementary rules on page 33 allow a saving throw to avoid death or incapacitation. The problem is that the 'area damage' paradigm only applies to 'projectile' attacks; 'direct physical' attacks do not affect a specific area. Should 'direct physical' Vigor damage be tracked separately from 'projectile' Vigor damage? If so, the effect of having less than one point of 'direct physical' Vigor is not explained.
The damage from 'direct physical' attacks depends upon “Weapon Class.” There are five classes: (1) untrained unarmed; (2) clubs, nightsticks, etc.; (3) trained unarmed; (4) “knives, stilettos, etc.”; and (5) “swords, spears, etc.” The damage from 'projectile' attacks varies by weapon (or ammunition type). All damage is listed as a fixed amount of Vigor and/or Endurance, except for Weapon Class 3 damage. However, the supplementary rules list variable damage for weapons (e.g., trident = 2d12, longsword = 5d6). The supplementary rules also introduce four 'types' of 'armor class' (unarmored, bullet-proof vest, bullet-proof suit, and battle armor) as well as the concept of weapon mastery. A character can have up to seven levels of mastery with a melee weapon, but no more than four levels of mastery with a firearm.
Endurance is recovered at a rate of one point per turn of rest (i.e., six points per minute). Vigor wounds of no more than five points can be treated with first aid, recovering one point every six hours. Greater wounds require hospitalization and Vigor is recovered at a rate of two points per six hours (as opposed to one point per three hours). “Intensive field care” causes an immediate recovery of two points of Vigor. (I suppose “Intensive field care” is only effective if applied before other recovery options.)