Effects of Balance & Focus in Combat

Positive Balance: Having positive Balance simply gives the Character a buffer against Balance damage effecting their ability to act. A Character's starting Balance number is the same as their Balance Damage Resistance. 

Positive Focus: When a combatant has positive Focus, it simply means that it will be more difficult to disrupt a spell they are casting, and that it will take more Focus Damage in order to Distract, Daze, or Stun the combatant.

Negative Balance: Being even a little off balance affects the Character's Advantage in combat by a number equal to your Balance. A negative Balance will also inhibit a multitude of physical Maneuvers outside of an Advantage situation the Character might make, such as trying to jump a fence, perform a backflip, walk a tightrope, etc.

Negative Focus: The loss of Focus is more of a cumulative effect, not directly reducing your Offensive and Defensive numbers until reaching certain plateaus, or when combined with Negative Balance.

Specific Effects Due to High Loss

Fall down due to Balance Damage: -20 Balance.

Fall down due to Balance & Focus Damage: Whenever the combined Balance and Focus Penalties are greater than or equal to -25, with at least -15 Balance.

Dazed: -20 Focus (Unable to Attack, but able to defend).

Dazed & on the Ground: Combined Balance and Focus Penalties are greater than 30, with minimum Focus -20.

Stunned: -30 Focus (Unable to Attack, Defend or Maneuver).

Stunned & on the Ground: Combined Balance and Focus Penalties are greater than 40, with minimum Focus -30.

Unconscious: -30 Focus.

Balance Resistance

Everybody has a natural ability to potentially recover immediately from a hit that causes Balance Damage. Whether it is a natural cat-like grace or stupid luck, sometimes a person will take that perfect step that will keep them upright despite the seeming odds. A Character's Balance Resistance is determined by adding the Quickness, Agility, and Cunning Bonuses and dividing by two, with the minimum Balance Resistance being two, or a 10% chance to resist Balance Damage. So, even the biggest klutz after ten shots of tequila has a chance to not get knocked over from getting shoved. 


In the course of combat Characters will take damaging blows that "impair" their actions, but this is not as simple nor devastating as saying "You took a -5 impairment to your left leg, therefore all your movement and combat actions are impaired by -5". In the Sister Continents it is assumed that adrenaline and endorphins will keep the Character from feeling the negative affects of relatively minor wounds and associated structural damage. For instance, someone could have a fractured leg and only be nominally affected during the rush of combat and after the frenzy of the combat realize they've got a problem.

In order to simulate a person's ability to fight through pain all impairment damage -15 and under has no affect on the Character, while Impairment over 15 is considered of such structural damage as to immediately impair any activity involving that body part. Impairment damage under 15 will have an affect when:

  • Vitality drops to zero
  • Cumulative hits to the same body part exceed -20 Impairment
  • The combat during which Impairment was received has ceased for 30 seconds

When one reads the last on that list, it is good to note that Impairment will not go away by simply entering another combat. Any impairments carried from one combat to another without first aid or healing will have detrimental affects on the Character's ability to perform actions.

Background Art by Jon Gibbons

© 2018 L. James Rice