From the introduction:
Welcome to Narrative Combat, a book in Adamant Entertainment’s d20 MasterKit line. These products expand standard d20 rules to cover exciting new adventure opportunities ranging from chases to the fury of the open sea.
Why, then, did Adamant release Narrative Combat? D20 is, effectively, a tactical combat simulation with a thick gloss of other things thrown over the top. Combat hardly represents an “exciting new adventure opportunity” for the average player. In fact, it features fairly regularly in even the least violent campaigns. Characters in violent campaigns play out more combat in an afternoon that most real world soldiers see in a lifetime of service.
However, for all its focus on tactical combat, the d20 rules provide us with few ways to run combat involving goals more complex than "beat down the other guy". This gets fairly old after the first few times the characters beat someone up and take their stuff. So Game Masters invent their own rules in an attempt to spice things up.
Regardless of whether these rules work or not the players and Game Master still wrestle with the detailed tactical combat system cluttering d20 books. Concerns about scene pacing and dramatic rhythm take a back seat to calculating exact damage numbers and accounting for all of the tactical possibilities. This kind of play makes for a fun game when used in moderation. However we also need a way to run all of the other kinds of combat we would like to include in our games.
Thus was born Narrative Combat. Inside these pages you will find a combat system designed to help spark narration rather than record-keeping. It assumes character intent and skill matters more than their position on the field of battle. It uses standard d20 character information, but does so without getting bogged down into intricate calculations. Most importantly it provides a unified method for discussing and running everything from simple brawls to tense combats on burning bridges or keep sieges.