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"In Nomine" Combat

by Collie Collier

This page is just quickie tips on combat in In Nomine (IN). It's mostly for players, but if it helps a GM too, all the better. The IN combat system is designed around the ability to roll three sixes on 3d6, so it's a little clunky in spots... in a lot of spots, actually. The core mechanic of the system is a roll of 2d6 versus a stat or skill for success and 1d6 (the check digit die) for the effect of a successful roll. Nevertheless, it was intended to run quickly and easily, with maximum simplicity, so here goes.

Here's the relevant trick with the dice:

  • If you are angelic and you roll a 111 it's really good for you, while a 666 roll is really bad for you.

  • If you are demonic and you roll a 111 it's really bad for you, while a 666 roll is really good for you.

Relevant Stuff For Combat

For ease of reference, I'm separating out the basic and detailed stuff. Note to the wise -- there are a tremendous lot of annoyingly easy-to-forget modifiers... on everything! Best to make a personal table for what armor / weapon / etc. modifiers there are, and more importantly -- when.

Game Rules

  • Really basic: Assume no battle map or initiative, and battle can occur in the corporeal, ethereal, or celestial realms as well -- even all at once. Anyone can hit anyone else; you can either move or attack, but not both. Movement is defined as a movement using a skill, i.e. Running or Dodge. There are no held actions.

    There are two possible 'unusual' choices: Aim or Full Dodge. Choosing to Aim for the entire turn gives a +1 to hit your target -- but only if you're not damaged throughout the entire round, as that breaks concentration. You may Aim for up to three rounds with a Ranged Weapon, or one round for a contact weapon. A Full Dodge is useful if you're close to dying. You must do it for the entire turn (it is considered an action), and it gives you a +2 on all Dodge rolls (it does not affect your check digit).

    When attacking, everyone picks a target, then rolls 3d6 to hit with their Song or weapon of choice. If the attack is successful, the Power of the attack is added to (or subtracted from, if it's negative) the check digit, giving the amount of damage done to the target. Anything else (i.e. attacks from behind, line of sight modifiers, fleeing, or any other tactical manipulation of distance or time) is a bonus or penalty based on the GM's judgement alone.

  • More detailed: Assume five second rounds, everyone goes on each round, and you can maneuver around the field of battle for bonuses (table of Attack Modifiers on pg. 64 of the In Nomine rulesbook). Corporeal bipeds can run [Agility * 6] yards per round. Corporeal quadrupeds and fliers usually move [Agility * 10]. Celestial forms move at [Perception * 6], and are able to fly through any corporeal thingie. Note: normal celestial "hand-to-hand" is [Will] yards.

    There are two weapons tables on pg. 65 -- one for ranged, the other for hand-to-hand combat.

  • Even more detailed: In the NachtMusik game, the GM determines Initiative by adding Strength and Agility. Highest number goes first.

Armor / Protection

  • Really basic: Armor, or rather the Protection number, is subtracted from the amount of damage, and so is the check digit on successful Dodges by the target. If you do not "resist" an attack, you can attempt a Dodge to reduce the damage of the attack. Unfortunately, that's all Dodge can do for you -- reduce the amount of damage by one to six points. If the damage number then becomes zero or less, the target receives no damage. If you're about to die and can't just run away, try going into Full Dodge mode.

  • More detailed: there's a table for Armor Types on pg. 65. It seems the target's armor can both protect the target (the Protection number) -- and lessen the attacker's "to hit" roll (the Modifier number)!

  • Even more detailed: The NachtMusik GM notes that Dodge only reduces the amount of damage, but it has to be that way. Once your total Dodge skill + Agility is greater than or equal to 12, you're looking at automatic successes. If Dodge allowed you to avoid being hit completely, you'd never be hit again. He states amusingly that the rules are broken enough, as it is, with stats past 13 and higher, when you start adding automatic bonuses to the check digit, and nobody can kill you with anything less than an M60.

Combat Types

There are three kinds of combat, just like there are three realms: corporeal, ethereal, and celestial. You can perform any of the types of combat in the corporeal realm, but only ethereal or celestial combat in the ethereal realm. You can only perform celestial combat in the celestial realm.

Also, you can be in corporeal or celestial form in both the corporeal and the ethereal (i.e. the Marches) realms, but only celestial in the celestial realm. There doesn't appear to be an ethereal form.

You cannot fight something in a form for which it has no Forces, i.e. you can't combat someone Ethereally if they have no Ethereal Forces. However, there are some special skills you can do in all forms, such as Dodge or Fighting. For example, if you purchase Fighting/2, you then have that skill at a 2 in all your forms. Read these skills carefully to be sure you're adding the right characteristic bonus depending on form!


All physical combat occurs in the corporeal realm; if you're not physical you can't take corporeal damage. There are a few Songs that celestial-form folks can use to affect the physical realm, but aside from that you've got to be corporeal to inflict or receive physical damage.

Weapons require care to use to best effect -- depending on what they are, they can affect your 'to hit' roll, your damage, or both. Be very careful not to lose any modifiers due to weapon type, and don't forget to check their Accuracy, Power, and (for Ranged weapons only) Range and Shots on pg. 65. Also, hand-to-hand combat is a bit pointless until your Fighting skill is greater than four or your Strength is greater than 8 -- otherwise your Power is actually reduced. Pick up a damn rock, at least.

Attack damage is: your check digit + the Power of your attack.

If you're really close to dying corporeally, you can chose to do nothing else for your entire round but a Full Dodge. All this means, though, is that you get a +2 bonus to your Dodge roll, rather than something that affects the amount of damage you take. This is not a huge bennie, but if you don't ordinarily have the skill it could be useful.

  • Stun: If you take 25% or more of your Body hits in one blow, you're stunned for the rest of that turn and the turn after, and you can take no actions.

  • Unconscious: If your current Body is reduced to zero, you fall unconscious and can take no actions.

  • Dead: If you take [vessel level * Strength] hits after unconsciousness, your vessel is dead and you're discorporated. You'll wake up in the Celestial realm after suffering Trauma or, if you have one, in your reserve vessel in your body bag.

  • Healing: If you're healed above zero Body hits, or if [7 - Corporeal Forces] hours pass, you wake back up. Normal healing for organic celestial vessels is a hit per day, at either sun rise or set, depending on what type of celestial they are. Inorganic vessels don't heal. Your vessel will not heal if you're not in it!

You can run away from physical combat by shifting to your celestial form (i.e. make a Will roll and spend two Essence). Weirdly, you can also "grapple" while you're both celestial (but not when corporeal?), regardless of what realm you're on, although you have to be within a yard of each other to do so. The grappler can only hold on, although it costs two Essence if it's holding on while the grappled goes to the Celestial realm. The grappled's movement is halved, and to break free it has to take a full round and win a contest of [Will + Celestial Forces].


This is basically just mental combat. It can be done in either the corporeal or the ethereal realm (this is what we might call the dreamlands, which is called the "Marches" in In Nomine), and in the corporeal or celestial form. You need ethereal Songs or weapons to attack, though. If you don't have any Ethereal Forces you can't engage in ethereal combat, either to attack or be attacked. Basic attack: Intelligence + Ethereal Forces.

You Dodge using the Precision skill instead of Agility. Damage is done in Mind hits instead of Body hits. You have [Intelligence * Ethereal Forces] Mind hits. If you fall unconscious in the Ethereal Realm you automatically get kicked out of there and, to add insult to injury, you take one level of Ethereal Discord. Aside from that, and the fact that one cannot become stunned there, healing or making someone unconscious in the Marches is pretty much the same, except it's "Ethereal stuff," i.e. you'll need an Ethereal Song of healing to heal someone -- a Corporeal one won't work there.


Physical or mental attacks are pointless in the celestial realm -- you need celestial attacks and defenses. If you don't have Celestial Forces you don't have to worry about celestial combat, but if you do, and you lose them all, you die -- all gone, forever. Basic attack: Will + Celestial Forces.

There are, of course, weapons unique to the Celestial realm, and you can try Dodge, although your target number is now [Dodge + Perception], which is nicer. You get the snazzily named Soul hits here, which are [Will * Celestial Forces].

Unfortunately, each time the total hits you take equals your Soul Number, i.e. your total number of Soul hits, you permanently lose one Force, then reset at your total number of Soul hits again, and the cycle starts over. To die the Final Death you have to have lost all your Forces.

Roll 1d6 to determine what type of Force you permanently lost -- corporeal (1 or 2), ethereal (3 or 4), or celestial (5 or 6). Naturally, you also lose the associated 4 levels in associated abilities, although they do let you decide how they get ripped off the character. This also means any associated formulas, like Soul hits or Perception or whatever, have to be redone -- which is extremely unpleasant. [author's note: Yuck. Talk about the spiral of death.]

Explanation of "the spiral of Death!": Wounds add negative modifiers to all future actions. Once someone has received a wound, they are more likely to receive future wounds -- and less likely to be able to inflict wounds on their opponent. This leads to an ever-increasing reduction of capability known in the joking local idiom as the "spiral of Death!"

Important lesson: Always attack weaker foes -- and if you get hurt,
run away!

You don't get the hits from lost Forces back, even with the appropriate healing Song. Also, you only heal one per week here. Celestial combat is convoluted, and there's the prospect of dying the Final Death. Avoid Celestial combat!

The Combat Decision Tree


  • Determine combat form and realm. Broad hint: stick with corporeal combat!

  • Determine initiative; pick your target

  • To attack:

    • Move, or roll 2d6 (plus your 1d6 check digit die) to hit target with Song or weapon -- you can't do both in one turn. Tactics can affect "to hit" roll, as can target's armor and your song or weapon. Target rolls Will to resist some types of Songs; if successful, you miss. Go to the To defend section.

    • If attack is successful, your damage done is the check digit, plus the weapon's Power, minus the target's armor. Target can attempt to dodge -- if successful, subtract the check digit from damage as well. Go to the To defend section.

  • To defend:

    • If the attack against you is successful, tell the GM how much armor you're wearing before you subtract it from the Damage done to you. You can also attempt to Dodge. If you do so successfully, subtract the Dodge check digit from the damage you receive. Then check the following:

      • If you receive 25% or more of your body hits in one blow you're stunned and can do nothing for the rest of that round and the next one.

      • If you eventually take all your body hits in damage, you fall unconscious. Pray your friends heal you to above zero body hits, or you're out of the fight -- and maybe your vessel as well, if you get killed while unconscious.

      • If you take [vessel level * Strength] more body hits after unconsciousness, your vessel is dead. Hope you have a reserve vessel in your body bag, or expect to suffer Trauma.

    • If you've not yet attacked, go to the To attack section; if you already have, continue.

That's it. Go to next round.

Last modified: 2006-Aug-26 14:13:42

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