This page is intended to act as a primer to how combat generally works in Mass Effect: G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N..

Combat Structure

  1. Player action. The player decides what they would like to do - for example, poking out from behind cover and firing their M-8 Avenger assault rifle at an enemy.
  2. The responding rules depend on the context of the scene.
    1. GM response (if the enemy being fired upon is an important NPC controlled by a Game Master). The Game Master themselves dictates whether or not attacks hit and how the enemy is affected them.
    2. Self response (if the enemy being fired on is a basic grunt-like NPC in an Event). The player who committed the action - in this case, firing the rifle - also determines to what extent their action succeeds, such as a few bullets hitting the opponent, missing entirely or getting a dead-on accurate burst of rounds sent directly into their head. If the attacking player is deemed to be playing unfairly (see Rules of Combat point 1) then they will be subject to disciplinary action from a GM, who may decide the effects in the player's place.
    3. Player response (if the enemy being fired on is another player). The opposing player decides how successful and effective the first player's attack was on them. If the enemy player is deemed to be playing unfairly (see Rules of Combat point 2) then they will be subject to disciplinary action from a GM, who may decide the effects in the player's place.
  3. Enemy action. After the players have all had the chance to make actions, the GM then performs similar actions for any enemy units.
    1. GM response (only usually used if the player is being punished for unfair play). The Game Master dictates whether or not an enemy's attack hits and how effective it is.
    2. Self response (the most common response). The player themselves decides how effective an enemy's attack is. Their response must be reasonable - if out in the open with no cover, they cannot dodge the fire of six alerted guards firing at them without arousing suspicion from the GM that they may be using plot armor, but being hunked down in good cover is a good explanation for how a character can avoid taking any damage at all from enemies.

Rules of Combat

  1. You are not invincible. Unlike in tabletop roleplaying RPGs, there are no hard mathematical mechanics to how combat works - no health bar, no shield bar, no STR/DEX/INT, etc. We instead operate battles on a player-honor system, asking players to construct an exciting battle by both taking actions and having their characters be affected by other character actions in a realistic manner. That means not always magically dodging enemy attacks and being willing to allow their character to be negatively affected by actions for the sake of building a better story. A character who never gets hit or injured by their enemies is not 'badass' - they are simply dull and uninteresting. Truly badass characters are the ones who take punishment and come back at some point in the future, permanently shaped and molded by their experiences. If a Game Master deems a player to be playing their character with this unacceptable playstyle, also known as 'plot armor', the player will be subject to disciplinary action that may extend to them being forcefully injured/killed/taking defensive penalties or being removed from Events.
  2. You do not have godly offensive capabilities. Your character should not be capable of constantly landing precise shots without fail over and over, as this is simply uninteresting and unrealistic. If a Game master deems a player to be playing their character with this unacceptable playstyle, also known as 'aimbotting' or 'picking Soldier 76', the player will be subject to disciplinary action that may extend to them being forcefully handicapped/having their weapons or powers fail on them/taking offensive penalties or being removed from Events.
  3. The Game Master's word is final. Game Masters dedicate immense amounts of personal time to crafting wonderful and exciting adventures for you and your fellow players, exposing themselves to the immeasurable spoilers of G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N.'s story in the process and sacrificing their own enjoyment of the adventure to enhance yours. Whilst our Game Masters are impartial and fair to players and the actions they decide to take, they are the primary narrators of Events and guide the flow of the story. If they note that your character is not being played fairly, you must adhere to their guidance or accept that you will face consequences as a player.
  4. You cannot randomly attack another player character without consulting them first. Even if you do so anyway, they are under no obligation to take the hits or damage unless they are happy to do so for the sake of creating an interesting story. You should privately discuss any rising tensions with a player if you would like your character's relations with theirs to escalate to violence or full-on combat.
  5. "Health" is handled realistically. If a pistol round pierces your armor/shield defences and embeds itself in your shoulder, you don't "take three damage" - you've been shot, wounded, injured. Blood is going to seep from that wound. Your character could go into shock. It could've hit a major artery. It could've even hit an internal organ. Or, if you're luckier, perhaps it's just landed in some less-vital tissue or caused damage to a muscle. It's important that when responding to being injured, you have a specific style of injury in mind that is realistic to the type of damage you've received. Taking damage from acid should cause acid burns, for instance. Being shot in the head should be a high-fatality scenario where there's only a 5% chance of survival, even if you are rushed into intensive care immediately. Being injured is not a game-like scenario; it's serious. Your character could be in the med bay for days, weeks or even be killed/disabled for life. Thankfully, to circumvent this, characters have a series of defenses at their disposal, such as armor, shields and defensive powers. Whilst they are not infinite or foolproof, having their own weaknesses and shortcomings, characters who play their cards carefully are unlikely to see serious injury.
  6. Firearms use thermal clips. Weapons build heat over time that must be dissipated in order to continue firing. Once a weapon's heat has built up to unsustainable levels that risk permanent damage to and/or loss of function in the weapon, the safety is automatically engaged until heat levels drop - this prevents the weapon from being fired anymore until it is safe to do so again. When this happens, players have two primary options.
    1. Wait for the weapon to cool. Depending on the weapon, this can take anywhere between fifteen to forty seconds.
    2. Pop a thermal clip. Thermal clips are stored inside slots on the side of most weapons. When heat builds up, characters can quickly eject or 'pop' a clip out of the weapon, taking the stored heat inside with it. Doing this removes all heat from a weapon and makes it instantly usable once more. Characters can only carry a limited number of clips, usually four per weapon (perhaps more in the case of powerful one-shot-per-clip weapons), so G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N. Operatives are encouraged to spare them when necessary.

Stealth & Initiative

  • Stealth is dependent on how well a character can mask their presence to their enemy's senses - sight, sound, smell, hearing and taste. Avoid leaving traces that you were ever there and you will greatly improve your chances of moving undetected.
  • Characters who have the jump on another character to a certain extent should be considered more likely to succeed in their actions.
  • Some GMs may choose to employ Random Number Generators or dice rolls to avoid letting bias effect whether or not enemies spot hiding players.



Most characters, including all G.U.A.R.D.I.A.N. Operatives, are equipped with some form of combat armor.

  • When equipped, armor offers some protection against ballistic projectiles, e.g. small-arms munitions. If a character's armor features standard ablative plating, these also offer limited protection against acid and fire.
  • Armor can be weakened with fire-based tech powers and the biotic power Warp, which dissolve/destroy the aforementioned standard ablative plating that comes on most armors.

Kinetic Barriers

Most armors feature kinetic barrier generators, also known as 'shields'; small units that project mass-effect fields out from the user's body to deflect incoming projectiles.

  • Kinetic barriers have a high chance to fully protect the user from small-arms fire. The exact number of shots that can be deflected before a battery recharge is needed varies, but it is generally accepted being exposed to the following types of fire will fully deplete one's barriers (please note that this is just a rough reference guide and by no means a set rulebook);
    • Three to six assault rifle rounds.
    • One to three sniper rifle rounds.
    • One close-ranged shotgun blast, with rogue pellets/scattershot fragments having a high chance to bypass any remaining barriers if they're not fully depleted.
    • Six to nine submachine gun rounds.
    • One to twelve pistol rounds, vastly varying depending on the pistol model itself - for example, the Blood Pack Executioner would be capable of fully depleting barriers in one shot at close range, but a non-charged Arc Pistol would take many shots at any range to achieve the same effect.
  • Barriers are not a foolproof form of protection. Whilst rare, it is possible that stray rounds can be missed by the deflecting mass effect fields or even fit through small gaps in the effective areas of protection. As aforementioned, shotguns are the type of weapon most likely to cause this effect, as most kinetic barrier generators struggle to create enough mass effect fields at once to deflect scattershot fire.
    • The shrapnel of fragmentation grenades also apply this effect, but it's worth noting that it's not just the shrapnel that is damaging about grenades. The sudden compression/decompression of air and the kinetic energy created from an explosion can be enough to liquefy internal organs. A kinetic barrier generator will do little to protect a soldier from these effects.
  • Kinetic barriers do not protect users from melee attacks, flamethrowers, certain tech powers, most biotic powers or hazardous environments/substances.
  • Kinetic barriers recharge very slowly over time, usually taking thirty seconds to fully recharge. In an absolute emergency when a soldier needs a full shield capacity fast, they can use a Stimulant Pack (if they have access to this power) to instantly boost the battery back to full capacity. However, these are consumable items that are not unlimited. Use them carefully.


An all-purpose medicinal salve for the treatment of moderate to severe physical trauma, medi-gel combines an anaesthetic and clotting agent used by paramedics, emergency medical technicians and military personnel. It is capable of almost instantly sealing wounds against infection and allows for rapid healing by having the gel grip tight to flesh until subjected to a frequency of utlrasound. It is sealable against liquids - most notably blood - as well as contaminants and gases. While technically its properties make it illegal under genetic modification laws, in this case the restriction is ignored because of the product's beneficial properties.

Usage in Gameplay

Medi-gel can be an absolutely indespensible part of any character's armament, allowing for serious, life-threatening wounds to be patched up for long enough to fight back against enemy forces, carry out vital tasks or retreat safely.

When used by a character, clotting agents prevent further bleeding whilst biological nanindes begin to repair damaged tissue and cells. If a dosage of medi-gel is high enough, the powerful sedative properties send the patient into a state of virtual hibernation, the medically-induced coma maintaining vital systems and preserving internal organs. Surgery is still required for serious wounds, but except in the most extreme cases medi-gel can stabilize patients long enough to get them proper medical attention.

Effects of a Small Dose

Small doses of medi-gel can be either externally applied to wounds as a gooey salve or injected directly into the bloodstream as liquid. Many armour systems release small amounts of medi-gel automatically when the life support systems deem it necessary.

  • Maintains consciousness
  • Moderate pain relief
  • Prevents further external bleeding
  • Does not prevent internal bleeding
  • Does not repair injuries

Effects of a Large Dose

Large doses of medi-gel must be injected directly into the bloodstream as a liquid. When highly concentrated, the effects of a large dose are almost immediate.

  • Unconsciousness; medically-induced coma
  • Major pain relief
  • Prevents further external bleeding
  • Helps to slow further internal bleeding
  • Repairs mild tissue and nerve damage in minutes

Combat Tips

  • Use cover wherever possible. Putting physical objects between yourself and the enemy is a very effective way of staying alive.
  • Keep a low profile and reduce how much of your Operative's body is exposed to enemy units. Having a smaller target to shoot at will make hitting you all the more difficult.
  • Use tactics. Plan assaults carefully. Give separate teams certain roles and think about backup plans.
  • If you can write it out and it's a realistically-achievable action for your character, they can do it. Kicking over tables to create new cover, destroying the enemy's cover with explosives or even simply throwing rocks can all be done should you so wish.
  • If you can see the enemy, they can see you.
  • If the enemy is in range, so are you.
  • Friendly fire isn't.