|Dice + Bonus to Hit||Dice + Hand-to-Hand + Bonus to Hit|
|Dice + Bunus to Duck||Dice + Hand-to-Hand + Bonus to Parry|
Standard combat involves attacks using "gun" type weapons, such as pistols, rifles, assault weapons, and and also includes thrown edged weapons. There are two parts, attacking and ducking. The attacks are considered to be the character's action, and ducking is the character's reactions.
To attack, a character rolls dice (0-4) and adds any bonuses that they may have with their weapon. The total is considered to be the attack attempt.
To duck, a character rolls dice (0-4), and adds any bonus to duck that they may have. The total is the duck attempt. This duck is the effective one for the entire turn, against all standard attacks.
The higher total prevails, and a tie is usually considered a nick, and inflicts half damage.
Hand-to-hand combat is when a character uses a weapon that requires physical contact. This is also called "melee", and includes stabbing, slashing, punching, kicking, biting, poking, noogies, grabbing, slapping, wrestling, grappling, holding, blocking, joint-locks, and scratching.
The downfall of hand-to-hand combatants is that they are often ineffective at at longer range. For this reason, the second-best defense against hand-to-hand attacks is to keep them at a distance. The best defense is to BE a skilled hand-to-hand combatant with a good parry bonus.
To attack, dice (0-4) are rolled, and added to the character's hand-to-hand ability plus any bonuses to hit they have with edged weapons (bare hands count as edged weapons). As with standard combat, this total is the attack attempt, but the attacker must be able to reach the defender - unless they are throwing their weapon (more on that a little later).
To defend against a hand-to-hand attack, a character rolls dice (0-4) and adds their hand-to-hand plus any bonus to parry they may have. This is re-rolled, with the same dice, for every hand-to-hand attack.
As before, the higher total prevails, and a tie is usually considered a nick, and inflicts half damage.
Mixing Standard and Hand-to-Hand Combat
When an edged weapon is thrown, there is a mix of both standard and hand-to-hand combat. The usual hand-to-hand attack roll is used, but the defender ducks as if it were a standard attack, and rolls dice (0-4) and adds their bonus to duck. Multiple thrown weapon attacks are indeed considered to be standard attacks, and may all be avoided with one duck roll, as with standard combat.
A character may use their standard duck roll to avoid a hand-to-hand attack if they so choose, but the defender must give up their opportunity to attack their attacker with hand-to-hand ability. On the positive side, they only have to roll once to duck (which applies to all attacks) - so if a character rolls double-sixes (automatic duck), they can choose to avoid all attacks, including hand-to-hand ones.
Conversely, hand-to-hand combatants can defend against normal attacks by batting the gun aside - when they are within reach. In the past this generally meant that a hand-to-hand combatant could only their parry with the combatant they were currently engaged with, but with the advent of range extending equipment such as thug beams, force spears, and force gauntlets, this is no longer necessarily a limitation. At referee discretion it may be ruled that a hand-to-hand combatant can only perform parries per defensive turn equal to their speed. Additionally, mentalist characters can perform parries a longer range using telekinesis. Or, even more creepily, prescient characters can perform what is called a "range parry" - the ability to attempt to parry a range attack by deflecting the blast/beam/projectile by virtue of knowing slightly in advance where they are going to be (referee's discretion).
A Couple Closing Comments...
There is a difference in how you "duck" and "parry". A duck is moving such as to be difficult to hit - ducking, leaping, and rolling (or whatever) - that is why we say that you only get to roll it once for defense. A parry is dealing with a single attack, and either blocking it or deflecting it so that it does no harm - which is why we say that you need to roll for each attempt.
Since a character can use their hand-to-hand parry against another character attacking them with a range weapon while they are in reach, it is often preferable to move away from from the hand-to-hand combatant before shooting at them. However, it is assumed that the defending hand-to-hand character can follow up to their normal movement distance (if they so choose) to try to stay in reach of their parry defense. Also, some beings have better reach than others...