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Combat is the main fighting mechanic in Caves of Qud.

Combat attributes

The primary attributes that affect melee combat are agility and strength.

  • Agility affects one's accuracy, increasing the to-hit chance of striking an opponent.
  • Agility also affects one's DV, or dodge value, making it easier to avoid being hit.
  • Strength affects one's PV, or ability to penetrate the defenses of a hit opponent, causing more damage.

Offensive combat stats

Accuracy Accuracy is not a stat that appears on the character's stat sheet, but it is important to combat calculations. Accuracy equals 1d20 plus the character's agility modifier and any special to-hit bonuses on the weapon. (The amber-tipped staff is an example of a weapon with a to-hit bonus.)
(penetration value)
A weapon's penetration value is displayed after the weapon name as an arrow ( ) followed by a number.
Damage A weapon's damage is displayed after the weapon name as a heart ( ♥) followed by a number or dice roll string.

Defensive combat stats

(dodge value)
A character's dodge value affects how easy that character is to hit in combat, and serves as a first line of defense in melee fighting. Attacks are more likely to miss a character with a high dodge value.
(armor value)
A character's armor value affects how damage is calculated after the character is hit. Hits will do less damage against a character with a high armor value, or may not do any damage at all if the attacker fails to penetrate the character's armor.
Resistances Resistances provide a percentage reduction to their corresponding damage types. For example, a character with 30% cold resistance will take 30% less damage from the cold effect of a rimewyk's bite.

Hit Roll

The game begins processing an individual weapon attack by making a simple hit roll to determine if the attack hits the target:

If the attacker's hit roll is higher than the opponent's DV, the attack hits.

At this point, all on-hit effects are applied to the target. Unlike physical damage from the melee attack, on-hit effects do not need to penetrate to be applied, they simply require the Hit Roll to succeed. On-hit effects include just about anything besides direct weapon damage, such as:

  • Elemental damage from the weapon or its mods.
  • Status effects, such as bleeding or poison.
  • Physical effects, such as disarm, trip, or forced movement.
  • Special effects, such as the those caused by memory eaters, qudzu, stun rods, gamma moths, thirst thistles, and many other creatures and items.

Guaranteed Hits

Certain scenarios result in guaranteed or near-guaranteed successful hit rolls against a target:

  • If the target is Stuck or Overburdened, the target's DV is automatically reduced to -10, which can effectively guarantee success with all attack hit rolls against them.
  • Targets affected by the attacker's Hook and Drag are automatically hit by the attacker when the attacker moves.
  • If the attacker has latched on to the target (an effect unique to madpoles and leather whips), the attacker is guaranteed to hit the target.

Penetration and Damage

After an attack is determined to have hit the target, penetration rolls are made to calculate the damage.

To begin, the game calculates the defender's armor value (AV) and the attacker's penetration value (PV). How PV is calculated depends on whether it is melee or ranged combat.

Penetration Rolls

The penetration rolls are now processed using the AV and PV values that were calculated in the previous two sections. Penetration rolls are the most complex and peculiar part of combat calculations. Penetration rolls determine the total amount of physical damage caused by the melee weapon.

Step 1 - Roll the attacker's PV value against the defender's AV value 3 times (let's call this a triplet).

Step 1a - Each individual roll within the triplet works as follows (let's call each roll a singlet):
Step 1a.i - Roll 1d10-2. Each time that the maximum result of 8 is rolled, perform the 1d10-2 roll again and continue adding the results together.
Step 1a.ii - Add the attacker's PV value to the total roll calculated in Step 1a.i.
Step 1a.iii - Note whether the total PV roll from Step 1a.ii is greater than the target's AV.
Step 1b - If at least one singlet roll was greater than the target's AV, the attack penetrates one time (or one more time if this is a subsequent triplet). If all three singlet rolls were greater than the target's AV, reduce the PV value by 2, return to Step 1, and perform another triplet of rolls to determine if the attack penetrates an additional time. (Continue this loop, reducing PV by 2 each time, until at least one singlet fails to roll higher than the target's AV.)

In summary, the attack penetrates once for each triplet of rolls where at least one singlet was higher than the target's AV.[1]

If all three rolls in the first triplet are equal to or lower than the target's AV, the attack fails to penetrate at all.

Damage Rolls

Damage is calculated by rolling the attack damage for each penetration and summing the result. For example, if an attacker penetrates two times with an attack that does ♥2d2 damage, the total damage is 2d2+2d2. If the attack does not penetrate at least once, no damage is applied.

Melee Combat

Main article: Melee combat

Missile weapon combat

Main article: Missile weapon combat


  1. XRL.Rules.Stat, method RollDamagePenetrations