Melee Combat

Locked in Melee

Locked in Melee is a state that two or more combatants can enter. It representing a furious struggle in close quarters combat.

Forcing Melee

When a character attacks another using a melee attack (usually with the Assault skill), the defending character becomes Locked in Melee, and may respond in three ways:

The defender may immediately take a Standard Action it to retaliate. Treat the defender as if he chose to perform a melee attack. Note that if the defending character has already declared a nonmelee action, they suffer the -1 penalty for changing their action.

The defender may choose to evade. Evading does not require special actions, but only allows the defender to roll an appropriate skill at half the skill level, rounded down.

The defender may also elect to take an active defense, which requires them to immediately take their standard action but allows them to roll a defense skill at full value.

The retaliate and active defense options require that the defender have a Standard Action available. Either they have not yet acted this round, or they held or delayed their action.

Disengaging and Escape

Combatants that are Locked in Melee are assumed to be actively swinging and parrying each others’ blows and cannot take melee oriented actions (typically melee attacks and maneuvers). If they wish to take other actions (including moving as a minor action), they must first disengage from the melee. This requires spending a minor action, and removes the Locked in Melee trait from them. Note that taking this action imposes a -1 penalty on their main action.

Multiple Combatants

If multiple characters become Locked in Melee in the same zone, they are considered to be Locked in Melee with each other. Each character is focusing his attacks on one target, either one declared during their own attack action, or to retaliate against another’s attack. They can only inflict damage on their chosen target.

If a character is attacked by multiple targets, they make defense rolls separately for each. A character that is forced to use the evade option must oppose the attack roll with half their defense skill as normal. A character that has taken a Standard Action to involve themselves in the melee (i.e. attacked, maneuvered, retaliated or full defense) may use their full Assault skill as a defense.

Attacking and Defending

Each character that is Locked in Melee makes a single Assault roll. This serves both as an attack roll (against your designated target) and your defense roll (against all melee attacks). Note the defense roll is not halved for taking a regular action.

In the case of a tie, no damage is dealt.


If a character is equipped with a weapon with Parrying, you may expend your minor action to reroll your Assault roll. The result of this roll may only be used as if you took the active defense option.

If you have two weapons with Parrying (ex: a sword and shield), you may perform this action without expending a minor action.

Melee and Cover

Cover modifiers do not apply in melee attacks. Being Locked in Melee causes all combatants to move out of cover and away from any stationary emplacements they occupy (such as weapon platforms with the Setup trait).

Weapon Restrictions

In order to initialize a melee attack, you must use a melee weapon.

Assault Range Weapons

Some range weapons (notably pistols) have the Assault trait. This allows them to retaliate against a melee attack using their Marksmanship skill. However, this trait does not allow the weapon to be used to initiate a melee attack.


Vehicles may disengage from humanoid combatants at any time, for free.

All-out Attacks

Declaring an all-out attack gives you a +2 bonus to your attack, but treats the result as 0 for purposes of defense.

Firing into a Melee

A target that is Locked in Melee defends against a range attack as normal, using half of the applicable defense skill, plus applicable cover modifiers.

If the defender does not invoke a cover Aspect, he may instead free-tag Locked in Melee as an Aspect for a +2 bonus. Any opponent he is locked in melee with may spend a fate point to negate this action.

If the range attacker misses an attack, the defender may force the attacker to reroll the attack against another target that is Locked in Melee. This costs 1 Fate Point, may be done for free by spending defender’s spin bonus. The defender cannot tag Locked in Melee, and there are no further redirection of attacks.

Types of Melee Weapons

The following is a guide to the philosophy that guides the stats for various melee weapons.

Swords are the favored weapons of many melee combatants. They have the Parrying Trait.

Axes are offensively oriented weapons with the Deadly(1) trait.

Hammers are heavy weapons that allow the use of Might in place of Assault, and may knock down humanoid combatants or do heavy damage against vehicles.

Polearms have Reach, allowing them to attack into adjacent zones.

Being Unarmed

If you are without weapons of any sort and you become Locked in Melee, you gain the Aspect Unarmed, which may be tagged by any armed combatants that are Locked in Melee with you.

Improvised Weapons

You may use almost anything as a weapon (typically by picking it up as a minor action). This replaces your Unarmed Aspect with a detrimental Aspect of your choice reflecting the awkwardness of your weapon.

Melee Combat

Fate: Warhammer 40,000 Andante