Feature Highlights: Combat Introduction


Ho there traveler!

It’s time for another feature highlight! This time, talking about combat rules! This is a big subject but I have to start somewhere, so today we’ll have a look at a few core concepts. Forgive me if this reads a bit like a chapter out of the D&D Player’s Handbook (though I suspect quite a few of you like that).

Some dungeoneering motifs by John Henderson!

In case you’re reading this and don’t know what game we’re talking about, you can start by checking out the SKALD demo on Steam (and don’t forget to wishlist):

Combat in Skald

Combat in Skald is turn-based and takes place on a tile grid. I’m a huge tabletop RPG nerd and there is a strong influence from 3rd edition D&D and beyond (including games like Pathfinder and, of course, 5th edition D&D).

At its core, this means that combat in Skald cares a lot about proper positioning and synergies between party members and their different skill-sets.

Battle is Joined!

Once a combat is triggered, you get to deploy your party. Use this phase to make a plan: Set up charges and flanking. Make sure your spellcasters have good angles of attack and take advantage of the terrain when possible (there’s nothing wrong with a good choke-point).

Characters act in descending order of initiative. Agile, lightly armored characters tend to act earlier in the initiative order. You can view the initiative order using the initiative widget on the left side of the screen at any time.

Note how you can also toggle the “tactical overlay” to superimpose a grid over the battlefield. This makes the characters’ exact position more easy to spot.

Also, you should always try to pay attention to the statistics of your opponents and party members (things like damage resistance are great to know about). Thankfully this is really easy with the popup tooltip system!

Action Economy

A character can move a number of tiles each turn equal to their Combat Moves. These are indicated by the yellow pips on the side of the combat map:

The purple pip(s) indicate the number of attacks a character has. A character can forgo attacking and instead spend their attack action to move one extra tile.

Once a character has attacked, it is no longer possible for them to move (in other words, their turn typically ends after attacking).

Some characters have multiple attacks. You cannot move and attack more than once each turn. So to take advantage of your multiple attacks you must dedicate your entire round to attacking.

Moving out of melee (Disengaging) or swapping places with an ally, consumes all your remaining movement and attacks.

To-Hit Mechanics

At a very basic level, hitting an opponent comes down to the following:

Attacker rolls 2d6 + relevant skill (Melee Attack or ranged Attack)


2d6 + defender’s Dodge skill.

If the attacker rolls equal to or above the defender’s roll, a hit is scored and damage is rolled equal to the weapon’s damage score + relevant modifiers (such as a Strength bonus for Melee Attacks) .

If the defender is wearing armor, part of the incoming damage is absorbed by the armor (a random amount from 0 to the armor’s Soak value).

Basic Tactics

There are hundreds of spells and abilities that can be used in combat depending on your class and build. Today however, I’ll give a very short overview of some of the basic general tactics that help setting up the game’s positional gameplay.


A charge is executed by moving at least 2 tiles in a straight line before executing a melee attack.

A charge attack gets a bonus on the to-hit roll and the damage roll. This bonus increases the longer you move in a straight line before attacking (Momentum builds up).Classes of the Warrior archetype tend to have feats that improve their charge attacks.


A flanking attack is performed whenever two attackers stand on opposite sides of the same defender.

Flanked opponents are much easier to hit. They also lose the Dodge bonus derived from using a shield. You can spot a flanked target by looking out for the Flanking icon:

Flanking also ties in to one of the Rogue’s special abilities: Backstabbing.  I’ll talk more about backstabbing in a later post, but in short, whenever a Rogue attacks a character that is either defenseless (Paralyzed etc.) or flanked, they automatically perform a Backstabbing attack that deals a lot of extra damage.

So for any party with a Rogue in it, setting up and taking advantage of flanking can result in very rewarding tactical play.

Hold Action

Another easily overlooked but vital feature is the “Hold Action” command. This basically moves the current character to the end of the initiative queue (meaning they act last in the turn order).

This is a lot more powerful than it seems as it allows your characters to act with more synergy. Perhaps your rogue would rather wait to attack until after the magos has blinded their target for them, setting up a sweet Backstab attack?

Pass and Defend

No very exciting but also worth a mention. A character may choose to pass their turn without acting. Typically this is done if a character has no relevant action to take. However, this also gives them a substantial bonus to their Dodge score until their next round.

Consider using this tactically to increase the staying-power of your front line fighters whilst your ranged strikers wear down your foes from the back ranks.

Injury, Death and Morale

Characters in Skald have two “hit point” reserves: Vitality and Wounds.

Vitality is represented by the green bar under the character portrait. Vitality points are numerous, easily lost and easily regained. They can be restored using healing potions and spells and losing Vitality has no immediate negative consequences. The problems begin once you lose all your vitality points!

Once all your Vitality is gone, damage is dealt to your Wound points. This represents actual, severe physical damage being done to your character. You have few Wound points and they are much harder to recover. Wounds are represented by the purple bar under your character portrait. When you take wound damage two things happen:

First you sustain an injury. Injuries (represented by red circles in the character portrait) give severe penalties to your character. They can only be removed by resting fully in a camp.

Secondly, the wounded character must make a Will save or begin to Panic and flee.

Unlike Vitality, lost Wounds can only be recovered by resting. In other words, once you start to get party members with lost Wound points and lots of injuries, it’s time to start looking for a camp site (see last month’s devlog).

I’m not the only one hearing the crackling of the fire, right?

Getting Knocked Out

So what happens when you’re out of both Vitality and Wounds? Well, if you’re a player character you’re lucky: You’re Knocked Out until end of combat. Once combat ends, if at least one character is left standing in the party, all Knocked Out characters wake up with 1 Wound point restored.

The only real downside of getting knocked out in combat is that knocked out characters don’t get their XP share after the fight. This may seem harsh and it might change down the line but I do like a bit of stakes in my combat and I think it works well all in all.


Finally, I also alluded to the Panic condition above. This is worth a mention as well as it plays a large part in combat. Whenever something traumatic happens, a character must make a moral check (2d6 + Willpower vs a difficulty number). This can be triggered by:

  • Seeing an ally get killed / knocked out
  • Taking Wound damage
  • Certain spells and abilities

A character who fails their moral check will no longer act during their turn and instead try to flee. There is a chance each subsequent turn that they may regain their composure but needless to say, having your party members rout is VERY dangerous.

Thankfully, Priests and Officers excel at boosting your party’s moral. Also actively trying to erode your opponents will to fight through clever use of spells and maneuvers is an excellent tactic.

I think I’ll leave it here for today. This is such an extensive subject and I’ve only just scratched the surface in this post. Hopefully it gives you a bit of an initial impression though. For a lot of you TTRPG fans out there, you can probably start seeing some of the lineage of the system.

I’ll go more in depth on spellcasting and special abilities etc. at a later point (there’s A LOT to talk about) so stay posted!

Be sure to follow the Skald Twitter and Discord and wishlist on Steam if you haven’t already done so!

Much love,