Dynamic Derring-Do: speeding up combat

by Colin Chapman

The following optional rules are designed to significantly increase the dynamic pace of play in the Ubiquity system, also emulating the heroic pulp adventures wherein the stout-hearted heroes make short work of groups of nameless thugs.


Applying any and all appropriate situational modifiers to a given task can slow down play. Rather than calculate and apply all appropriate modifiers, you can hasten this element of play by applying only the largest appropriate penalty and bonus, ignoring lesser modifiers.

Taking the Average of Odd Numbers

Taking the Average is a useful tool, but can be made even quicker and easier itself in the case of averaging odd numbers (HEX, p. 110). Rather than worrying about the “+” sign, simply take the average of odd numbers by halving and rounding up. This makes odd numbers as effective as even numbers a step up, but does streamline play.


Rather than rolling for Initiative in combat, things can be moved along nicely if actions are taken purely in Initiative rating order.

Gamemasters wishing to highlight the differences between important characters such as the player characters, and unimportant ones such as a group of cannibal assailants, may allow important characters their full Initiative rating, and Take the Average for unimportant ones.

Nameless Thugs

Nazi soldiers, pirate gangs, hooded cultists and other minor opponents and villainous servitors largely exist to be trounced by the heroes, the real challenge being the villains themselves and other significant opponents.

When dealing with nameless thugs and other largely unimportant extras, the following optional rules make play much swifter:

Always Take the Average

As described in Defense and Taking the Average (HEX, p. 127) Gamemasters may want to use the Average Defense rating for NPCs and less important characters. This approach can naturally be extended to any and all rolls made by unimportant NPCs.

Rather than rolling for the attacks or actions of such NPCs, the Gamemaster can Take the Average of their appropriate attack, attribute, or skill pool in every case. This removes the need for the Gamemaster to roll for the nameless NPCs at all, and makes their success purely dependent on how well the player character rolls or how high the difficulty they face is. This has the benefit of making the PCs the obvious focus of attention, highlights their heroic standing, doubles how quickly the game plays when dealing with unimportant opponents, increases the tension when an important opponent is faced, and frees up the Gamemaster somewhat to concentrate on other aspects of play.

Out of Action

Tracking the type of damage suffered by an unimportant NPC or worrying about other details for them, such as Health below 0, is largely unimportant. When dealing with such unnamed foes, the Gamemaster can rule that they are out of the fight at 0 Health, either unconscious or dead as suits the types of attacks they suffered.

The Gamemaster may highlight the heroic nature of the PCs and speed up play even more by ruling that any unimportant NPC taking more damage than their Stun or Strength ratings is also automatically out of the fight, unconscious or dead as appropriate.

Original Forum Thread

Created by Bretbo. Last Modification: Sunday 04 of January, 2009 14:56:01 MST by Bretbo.