Wednesday, July 1, 2015


These are the basic rules for combat in GUMSHOE. Find the GUMSHOE SRD here.

Deciding Who's First

In a one-on-one situation, the aggressor goes first.

In a situation involving multiple individuals, the person with the highest number of points in the pool they will be using goes first. If there is a tie, then the highest rating breaks the tie.

Captain MacGuinness has 10 points in his Firearms pool due to an earlier fight. The four thugs he is facing have Firearms 6, Weaponry 12 and Scuffling 8.  Two of them are using fists (Scuffling), one has a club (Weaponry) and one is using a rifle (Firearms). Daniel has Firearms 4. 

The thug with the club goes first. Captain MacGuinness goes second, the two unarmed thugs go third and fourth, the thug with the rifle goes fifth and Daniel goes last.


You make a simple test on Scuffling, Weaponry or Firearms. The normal Hit Threshold is 3. If the target has an Athletics Rating of 8 or higher then the Hit Threshold is 4. Some creatures or circumstances might increase the Hit Threshold more.

Daniel tries to hit the thug attacking the group. He decides to spend 2 Firearms points. He rolls a 3 for a total of 5 and hits.


If you are completely Exposed with no cover, reduce your Hit Threshold by 1.

If you have Partial Cover do not change the Hit Threshold, this is assumed to be the normal situation in a gunfight.

If you have Full Cover except when you pop up to take a shot, increase your Hit Threshold by 1.

Cover does not affect Scuffling or Weapons.


There are four ranges for firearms.
  • Point-Blank - Melee range
  • Close - .
  • Near - Max normal range for pistols and shotguns.
  • Long - Max normal range for rifles.
2 Firearms points can be spent to allow a pistol to be shot at Long range or a Rifle to be shot at Extreme range. This does not add to the chance to hit but simply allows the attack in the first place.


When you hit you then do 1d6 damage plus a bonus dependent on the weapon used.

Surpassing the Hit Threshold does not add extra damage so there is no point to spending extra points beyond what you think you need to hit the difficulty. Conserve your points.

If you have a Rating of 0 in the weapon you are using you suffer the following penalties:
  • You automatically do -2 damage when you hit.
  • You must declare your action at the beginning of each round and cannot change it if the tactical situation alters. (you basically telegraph what you're going to do.)
  • You go last in each round.
  • If you are using a firearm, a roll of 1 means you have accidentally shot yourself or one of your allies as selected (or rolled randomly) by the Keeper. Do damage as normal, including your -2 damage penalty.
Daniel has a Firearms of 4. Even if he uses up all of his Firearms pool he still has a rating of 4 and thus can always use firearms with no problem.

Ming-Wen has a Firearms of 0 and thus if she tries to use a gun she suffers the above penalties including the risk of shooting teammates.

The condensed GUMSHOE rules and SRD have a complex chart of different firearms and weapons. We are using a simplified version of the damage chart found in the first edition of the game. Though I've expanded the shotgun damages by range.

  • The following weapons deal 1d6-2 damage.
    • Fists and kicks
  • The following weapons deal 1d6-1 damage.
    • Small improvised weapons
    • Light club
    • Knife
    • Roll of quarters in a fist
    • Blackjack
    • Bullwhip
    • Brass Knuckles
    • Shotguns at Near range
  • The following weapons deal 1d6 damage.
    • Light firearms
    • Shotgun at Close range
    • Heavy club
    • Big improvised weapons
  • The following weapons deal 1d6+1 damage
    • Sword or similar melee weapon
    • Heavy firearm
    • Shotgun at Point Blank range
Firearms do an additional +2 damage when fired at point blank range.

One Gun, Two Combatants

If you are facing an opponent with a ready firearm and you have no firearm yourself, he can empty his clip or chamber at you before you get to him or get yourself out of range.

If, for example you have no cover and are facing an opponent with a readied gun more than five feet away, they can make a shot at Difficulty 1 (Difficulty 2 if you have Athletics rating of 8 and are moving). He rolls one instance of damage and it is tripled. The tripling is taken into consideration after weapon modifiers are taken into account.

If your opponent has a pistol but it is not readied, you may attempt to jump him and wrestle it from his grip. If he has a pistol readied but is not aware of you, you may also attempt to wrest control of the gun from him. This is a Scuffling contest to see who gets the gun and a chance to fire it. The winner makes a damage roll against the loser (if they desire) using the pistol's damage modifier including the +2 for Point Blank range.

If you jump an opponent with an unready rifle or who is unaware of you, a Scuffling/Weaponry combat breaks out with the opponent using the rifle as a heavy club.


Armor reduces damage suffered by its rating. None of the characters have armor and there is not much worn armor during the time period. If you encounter something with armor, you're probably in trouble.

Back to Loss of Life prep page.

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