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GemStone IV Combat Reference Guide

Combat Factors

Attack Strength Dodge Health
Defense Strength Block Status Ailments
Attack Vs. Defense Parry Death
Casting Strength Encumbrance Death's Sting
Target Defense Level Roundtime
Cast Vs. Armor Hiding Environment
Dice Roll (d100) Positioning Spellburst
DFRedux Stance Force on Force
Evasion Attack Results  

Attack Strength (AS)

Attack Strength is a measure of how hard a character or creature is hitting. It is a factor used when calculating the damage caused by physical attacks and bolt spells. It is increased by weapon skill (or spell aiming skill for bolt spell attacks), the weapon's bonus, stat bonuses (strength or dexterity, depending on the kind of attack), Combat Maneuver skill, certain spells, and other factors.

Ex. With an edged weapon skill bonus of +45, a mithril short sword with an inherent weapon bonus of +5, a strength bonus of +16, and 4 ranks of CM skill providing a bonus of +2 in an offensive stance, the total is: 45 + 5 + 16 + 2 = 68.

    You swing a mithril short sword at a lesser orc!
      AS: +68 vs DS: +55 with AvD: +40 + d100 roll: +83 = +136

Defensive Strength (DS)

Defensive Strength determines how well a character or creature is defending against an attack, and is used in calculating the damage taken by physical attacks and bolt spells. It is increased by the presence of a shield and shield skill, the shield's bonus, the amount of weapon skill applied to defense via a particular stance, the armor's bonus, bonuses from evasion/blocking/parrying, Dodging skill, many different spells, and other factors.

AvD (Attack vs. Defense)

Certain weapon types are more effective against a particular piece of armor than others, and some armor offers superior protection against a certain attack over others. Each combination of weapon type and armor type has an AvD rating associated with it, which is added directly to the combat roll. The higher this number is, the more likely it is that the attack will be a success.

Casting Strength (CS)

Casting Strength expresses how difficult a warding spell is to resist, and comes into play when determining if or how hard that spell will hit. A character earns 3 points of CS per level, and the appropriate stat bonus is added depending on the nature of the spell (the aura bonus is counted for elemental spells, while the wisdom bonus is counted for spiritual spells). The number of spell ranks known, certain spells being active, and other factors also increases CS.

Target Defense (TD)

Target Defense is a reflection of a character's ability to resist or mitigate the damage of a warding spell. A character earns 3 points of TD per level, and the appropriate stat bonus is added depending on the nature of the spell (the aura bonus is counted for elemental spells, while the wisdom bonus is counted for spiritual spells). TD is also increased by certain spells being active, as well as other factors.

CvA (Cast vs. Armor)

Just as wearing heavy metal armor can inhibit the casting of a spell, so too can a target that wears such armor be more insulated from magical effects. Like AvD, this number is added directly to the combat roll to determine a warding spell's success. Positive values represent a greater vulnerability to attack, and negative values represent less.

Dice Roll (d100)

A visible random dice roll from 1 to 100 is used in determining the outcome of most combat situations. When attacking, a high dice roll increases the chances of success, and the opposite is true when attempting to defend against an attack. Due to factors outside of the dice roll, including other portions of the combat equation or Evade/Block/Parry, it is possible for a perfect 100 dice roll to still result in a miss.


DFRedux is a factor for damage reduction that generally comes into play in nonmagical classes, based on the assumption that a character spending more time engaged in physical training will be hardier than one spending time engaged in arcane endeavors. Characters experiencing damage reduction will take less damage from head-on hits.

To gain DFRedux benefits, a character must have sufficient training in certain skills:

The Physical Fitness skill is of the most importance.

Other skills that contribute include Armor Use, Shield Use, Combat Maneuvers, Dodging, Multi-Opponent Combat, Ambushing, Two Weapon Combat, Edged Weapons, Blunt Weapons, Two-Handed Weapons, Polearms, Brawling, Thrown Weapons and Ranged Weapons.

A character incurs a substantial penalty to DFRedux for the number of ranks of spell knowledge.


Even before a character makes a combat roll, it is still possible to avoid attack through one of three secondary means. If a character fails to evade, block, or parry an attack, the various factors involved still contributes to the character's DS when the attack is resolved.

Evading an attack causes it to miss completely. The possibility of evasion is increased through training the Dodge skill, agility, intuition, and maintaining low encumbrance, among other factors. Shields and armor make it more difficult to evade an attack, especially larger shields and heavier armor.


Dodge Defense Strength (DS) bonus:
(Dodge Ranks + (AGiLity bonus) + (INTuition Bonus/4) + Spell Mods) = Base Value

Base Value * Stance Modifier * Shield Penalty * Armor Hindrance Penalty = DS bonus

Stance Modifier: 75% + Stance/4.

Example: In Stance Guarded (Stance = 80), the Dodge DS stance modifier would be 75% + (80/4) = 95%

Shield Penalty: Using a shield hinders attempts to Dodge. The penalty is 20% for a small shield, 30% for a medium shield, 40% for a large shield, and 50% for a tower shield.

Armor Hindrance penalty: Wearing heavy armor hinders attempts to Dodge. The penalty is 1/2 of the armor's Maneuver Hindrance value.

The odds for an outright dodge are based on the defender's Dodge ranks compared to the attacker's level. It is affected by stats, certain spells, and stance. A character with 1x Dodge training can evade a like-level foe roughly 5% of the time in stance offensive. A character with 3x Dodge training and all other factors the same would have roughly a 15% chance to evade that same attack.

Evade DS bonus is increased by 50% against any ranged attacks (arrows, hurled, bolts). It is possible to evade ranged attacks completely, though the chance of a successful evasion is less than the chance against melee attacks.

Spells that improve attempts to Dodge include Mobility, Mass Blur, Elemental Refraction, and Song of Mirrors.


Blocking is using a shield to intercept an attack. Possessing a larger shield and training significantly in the Shield Use skill can raise the chance of a shield block, along with possessing greater strength and dexterity. Compared to a medium-sized shield, small shields give a -15% chance to block an attack, while large shields give a +15% bonus. Tower shields give a +30% bonus. This is the shield's size modifier.

Shield Defense Strength (DS) bonus:
(Shield Ranks + (STR bonus/4) + (DEX Bonus/4))/(1.5) = Base Value

Base Value * Stance Modifier * (100% + Shield Size Modifier) = DS bonus

Stance Modifier: 50% + Stance/2.

Example: In Stance Guarded (Stance = 80), the Shield DS stance modifier would be 50% + (80/2) = 90%

The odds for an outright Block are based on the defender's Shield Use ranks compared to the attacker's level. It is affected by stats, shield size, and stance.

A character with 1x shield training and a medium shield will block a like-level foe roughly 5% of the time in stance offensive. A character with 3x shield training and all other factors the same would have roughly a 15% chance to block that same attack.

For Bolt DS, which includes all ranged attacks (arrows, hurled weapons, and bolt spells), the size modifier of your shield is increased by 50%. For example, a wall shield would have a 60% size modifier versus ranged attacks rather than the 40% versus melee attacks. Five DS is added for each size greater than medium, while small shields have a reduction of 5 DS. Normally, it is not possible to block bolt spells.


Parrying an attack is generally done with a weapon, and can be encouraged through training in that weapon's associated skill or skills. Increased strength and dexterity also contribute to success. Unlike other weapons, using a two-handed weapon increases success chances by 50%. Wielding two weapons at once also increases one's chances.

Parry Defense Strength (DS) bonus:
(Weapon Ranks + (STR bonus/4) + (DEX Bonus/4)) = Base Value

Base Value * Stance Modifier * 2H weapon modifier + Stance/2 = DS bonus

Stance Modifier = 20%+(Stance/2)

Example: In Stance Guarded (Stance = 80), the Stance Modifier would be 20% + (80/2) = 60%

Using a two-handed weapon provides a 50% bonus, otherwise no modifier. The weapon enchant is applied before the 50% parry modifier for two-handed weapons is added. For one-handed weapons, the bonus is plus/2, for two-handed weapons, the bonus is the plus (enchant of the weapon).

The odds for an outright parry are based on the defender's weapon ranks compared to the attacker's level. It is affected by stats, certain spells, and stance. A character with 2x weapon training would parry a like-level foe roughly 5% of the time in stance offensive.


Encumbrance, a factor of Strength, is an expression of how weighed down a character is. Characters can be weighed down by carrying too much gear at once, but wearing armor that requires more advanced levels of armor training can also contribute to being encumbered. Encumbered characters will move slower and suffer from decreased resistance to enemy combat maneuvers.


Level is a measure of how experienced a character is in Elanthia. Higher-leveled characters are generally more powerful and possess a larger variety and depth of skill than their less-experienced counterparts. Characters begin with no level and can progress to a maximum of level 100 with the opportunity to gain further skills indefinitely. A character's level grows by gaining experience, which is generally achieved through accomplishing Adventurers' Guild goals or hunting creatures around the character's current level. New skill ranks can be acquired up to a limit either equal to, double, or triple the character's levels (counting level 0 as a level), depending on the particular skill and profession involved.


Hiding is a skill that allows a character to slip into the shadows and remain unseen. While hiding, a character can be revealed by players or creatures, by spells or searching. Due to heightened senses, wild creatures have a much higher likelihood of finding a hidden character than might a player-character opponent. Hiding is a helpful component of Ambushing.


Characters can maneuver themselves into four positions: lying, sitting, kneeling, and standing. Some spells and maneuvers can force a character into a lying or kneeling position, significantly hindering that character's ability to defend. Of all weapon practitioners, only crossbow archers benefit by kneeling, adding +30 to their attack.

A character that is not standing up will have his or her DS and full offensive AS reduced by 50 points (unless using a crossbow). Sitting or kneeling will reduce chances to evade, block and parry by 25%. Being prone (lying down) reduces these chances by 50%.


There are six main stances in which a character can exist: offensive, advance, forward, neutral, guarded, and defensive. In offensive, a character is devoting all of his or her efforts toward attacking. When in stance defensive, that character is dedicating all energy toward defending. Neutral stands in between the two, and forward and guarded allow further incrementing. Characters who are in stance defensive will generally take less damage from physical attacks, including bolt spells, than those in stance offensive.

In stance offensive, 100% of a character's weapon skill is applied to AS, and the character has a far reduced chance to evade, block or parry.

In stance defensive, only 50% of a character's weapon skill is applied to AS, and the character has the highest chance to evade, block or parry.

Attack Results

With all of the relevant statistics compiled, the GemStone IV combat system displays the numeric attack detail. The attacker's AS, the AvD and the die roll are added, and the defender's DS is subtracted. (In case of warding attacks, CS, CvA, and die roll are added, and TD is subtracted.) If the result is over 100, the attack succeeds; otherwise it misses or is deflected, etc.


    You swing a steel mace at a goblin!
      AS: +87 vs DS: +51 with AvD: +31 + d100 roll: +61 = +128
       ... and hit for 14 points of damage!
       Blow raises a welt on the goblin's left arm.
    Roundtime: 5 sec.
    You gesture at a ghost.
      CS: +57 - TD: +6 + CvA: +25 + d100: +62 == +138
      Warding failed!
      A painful blow.
       ... 20 points of damage!
       Smash to the chest!
       Good thing there were no ribs there to shatter.
       The ghost is stunned!
    Cast Roundtime 3 Seconds.
    A relnak tries to bite you!
      AS: +61 vs DS: +45 with AvD: +35 + d100 roll: +15 = +66
       A clean miss.

If a physical attack was successful, the success margin (the amount of the attack result beyond 100) is multiplied by a Damage Factor, a decimal ratio that is characteristic of each type of damage dealt vs. the kind of armor that it hits. The product is the "raw" hit point damage that the target suffers. The combat system then also determines if a critical wound was inflicted on the body part that was struck, based on the amount of raw damage and what kind of armor may (or may not) have covered the affected area.

In the first example above, the mace's damage factor against the goblin's skin (i.e., no armor) was multiplied by the 28 points of success margin for a total of 11 raw points of crushing-type damage. Based on those 11 points and the lack of armor, the goblin also was inflicted with a rank 1 wound to the left arm, adding another 3 points of damage. Only the result of these calculations is displayed.

A successful warding attack will have special results that vary from spell to spell.


Health is a measurement of how many hit points a character has. Influenced by Constitution and a character's race, high health can help a character last longer in battles. Dropping to or below zero health will cause instant death. Characters can die before they lose all of their health points, especially if a critical strike harms a vital organ. Giantmen and other hardy races tend to have higher natural health than the frailer Halflings and Erithians.

Injuries and reduced hit points also lower success chances for many other actions, both combat and non-combat related. Missing hit points can have a slight adverse effect on AS and DS.

Total hit points are determined by race and training in Physical Fitness. New characters' total hit points are equal to (strength + constitution) / 10. After that, each rank in Physical Fitness yields extra hit points up to the racial maximum according to the following chart:


Max HP

Aelotoi   120
Burghal Gnome   90
Dark Elf   120
Dwarf   140
Elf   130
Erithian   120
Forest Gnome   100
Giantman   200
Half-Elf   135
Half-Krolvin   165
Halfing   100
Human   150
Sylvankind   130

Note that each race's maximum hit point total is increased by a character's constitution bonus. Also, hit point increases per Physical Fitness rank are increased by (constitution bonus) / 10.

For example, a player rolls up a dwarf character with a strength stat of 80 and a constitution stat of 90. His strength bonus would be 25 and his constitution bonus would be 35. His initial hit point total would be (80 + 90) / 10 = 17. Each rank of Physical Fitness would gain him 6 + (35 / 10) = 9 extra hit points, up to a maximum of 140 + 35 = 175.

Status Ailments

There are a number of status ailments in Elanthia: stun, silence, bleeding, and bound among them. Status ailments will generally hinder your character's ability to move or defend, and can quickly end an otherwise favorable fight.

A character that is not standing up will have his or her DS and full offensive AS reduced by 50 points (unless using a crossbow). Sitting or kneeling will reduce chances to evade, block and parry by 25%. Being stunned or prone (lying down) reduces these chances by 50%. More serious incapacities can prevent evasion, blocking, and parrying abilities altogether, in addition to their other effects.


When a character dies, he or she is unable to move. Dead characters exist as a feeble spirit still bound to the character's corpse, and are unable to communicate beyond several emotes and the ability to speak or use certain Voln abilities. Dead characters lose access to thoughts as well, and will need to be reunited with their body through the services of a Cleric or a Paladin, or they will depart and be reborn through the grace of Lorminstra, Goddess of Death. This rebirth carries a heavy price.

Death's Sting

When a character dies and is resurrected without deeds, or is not resurrected by a Cleric or Paladin, dying leaves a mark on his or her soul. For a time, the character's ability to gain experience will be compromised, and the character will also suffer Constitution loss that expresses his or her weakened state. This makes subsequent deaths more likely, and Death's Sting can quickly stack up if the player does not take great care in future combat. Death's Sting will eventually wear off on its own, but priestesses in major towns also provide potions to help mitigate its effects, exchanging the potions either for certain items or cold silver.

More information on death can be found here.


Roundtime is the amount of time needed to perform an action. Most combat-related actions have a minimum roundtime that is required, but which can be exacerbated by factors like Encumbrance, armor, and certain spell effects. Characters in roundtime can speak and look around, but generally cannot perform any other actions.

Most heavy armors add a certain number of seconds to the roundtime of a standard attack. This penalty can be overcome by the Armor Use skill: each +20 increase in Armor Use bonus reduces the penalty by one second.


Environment can be an important factor in determining the outcome of combat. For example, locations that are exceptionally dark will provide a bonus to the defenses of all combatants in the area, along with allowing stealthy adventurers to hide better. Icy winds around the Icemule tundra will cause wounds and can even stun adventurers who have been exposed for too long, and can turn the tide of a close battle.

Other, more arcane, effects may be observed in special areas. The ongoing mana storm around Darkstone Castle will devour spells placed on characters one at a time, and places of seismic instability may feature tremors that can knock an unwitting person off his or her feet.


Spellburst is a special environmental mechanic that comes into play in some higher-end leveling areas, including Old Ta'Faendryl, Temple Wyneb, and the Ruined Temple off Teras Isle. Spellburst penalizes players under the effects of too many beneficial spells outside of their profession's spell circles, causing damage or even death.

Training in Arcane Symbols and Magical Items Use can mitigate the damage caused by Spellburst, and sufficient training can negate its effects entirely.

Force on Force

Force on Force is a system that comes into play when a single character engages multiple opponents in the same room. Each same-level foe that attacks in short succession after the first will lower the character's stance by approximately one full level. Once the character's stance is pushed all the way down to stance offensive, Force on Force will begin eroding the character's defensive strength and ability to Evade, Block, and Parry.

Training in Multi-Opponent Combat can offset the negative effects of Force on Force. 10 ranks will remove one opponent from consideration in stance reduction, followed by one more foe at 25 and 45 ranks. One foe more is ignored every 25 ranks afterward.

There is a short grace period upon entering a room, during which a character will not be affected by Force on Force.

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