Close Combat Question


So, last night we had a situation where there was a firefight happening in a packed cargo bay. There was so much cover that folks were having a hard time killing one another, and one side had taken position up on a catwalk. The other side advanced and got into close combat.

The sides looked like this:

A: 2 Characters, 8 Underworld Thugs, 2 Iron-suited personal guard.
B: 1 Character, 5 Anvil Scouts, 10 Underworld Thugs

How would one resolve a close combat like this?

Specifically, how does one determine who attacks who and would it really require 16 opposed rolls?

I couldn’t find any rules specifing which side determines the target of which attacks.

So how would you Burning Empires experts handle this close combat?


For the CC individual actions, only the characters and the NPCs attacking them or being attacked by them matter.

In the CCs that involve hundreds of people per side, we just roll for the characters – usually just one or two rolls. Nothing else matters in this game: When in doubt, roll for the characters and move on.

The rest of the unit is represented by the CC (or other) unit action roll.


Awesome, Luke. Thanks.

I had images in my head of dozens of NPCs dropping in droves, but I can see something like that taking forever and being really unwieldy.

Do you generally try to just keep it one-on-one with the characters, then? Or do you basically play it by ear as far as how many people are able to pile on them at any one time?


Depends on the situation, but the rule of thumb in Burning Empires is: It’s about the characters.

When ever in doubt about how to process a combat, refer to Faith Conquers. Does Trevor Faith have to fight off the cultists with his squads? Does he even get shot at? NO! He performs the unit actions until he meets another character. THEN he gets shot and killed. :slight_smile:


Good example. The one I had in my head was in Sheva’s War where she’s always getting surrounded and trounced by everything that engages her in close combat.

However, in that case there’s no actual characters on the other side. So, of course that happens.

In my case, I’d probably just use color to narrate the troops fighting it out and use disposition loss as my guide to who takes losses, etc. Then, the characters could script against one another.

If there were two characters on each side in my example, I’d have everyone script their actions, reveal them, then pick targets.

Still sounds damn bloody.


That is precisely the intent of the rules.

If there were two characters on each side in my example, I’d have everyone script their actions, reveal them, then pick targets.

I’m sorry if that’s not clear. You must have a target when you privately decide your CC actions. You can’t decide afterwards. Usually it’s pretty obvious who your CC target’s going to be.

Oh, good deal!

I think I like that better anyhow, I was just taking a cue from Burning Wheel for this one.

I’ll try to get an actual play up for the fight, at least, pretty soon. It was a bloody affair and even though we made a couple of mistakes, it was a lot of fun.

Iron is really fricking tough. Especially since you can keep directing your enemy’s shots toward it.