Would you use armor, custom moves, or something else to emulate fancy dodging ability?

Would you use armor, custom moves, or something else to emulate fancy dodging ability?

Would you use armor, custom moves, or something else to emulate fancy dodging ability?

I have an NPC with kung fu wire fighting style capabilities, but do not know how to emulate this in the crunchy bits. I wish to evoke a bit of the “you whiff” type combat (which I expect in the next session or two).

I noticed that the codex has a joke “Captain Murka” with “*Special Qualities:* Any action that specifically targets him cannot be a full success” that could be useful here, but I’m wondering what other people would do.

19 thoughts on “Would you use armor, custom moves, or something else to emulate fancy dodging ability?”

  1. Actually, if this is dodging and kung fu style, probably you don’t want to roll with + armor.

    Maybe the opposite, or maybe roll with DEX minus armor (so you encourage light or no armor for this type of combat).

    Perhaps a tuned Defy Danger could work, or even the possibility to trigger Defy Danger in lots of situations when other characters would just suffer harm?

  2. I’d just go with Fiction; the PCs need to maneuver in some way before they can even attempt to inflict damage. (note: the presence of a Wizard can really take the wind out of the sails of an opponent like this, so plan accordingly for the fact that he may just get Magic Missle-d into an early grave.)

  3. Mike Pureka thankfully, this is a lower magic setting and there’s no wizard. But you’re right, hack and slash seems to cover this case with the fiction:

    Note that an “attack” is some action that a player undertakes that has a chance of causing physical harm to someone else. Attacking a dragon with inch-thick metal scales full of magical energy using a typical sword is like swinging a meat cleaver at a tank: it just isn’t going to cause any harm, so hack and slash doesn’t apply.

    Volley doesn’t seem to have a similar restriction, but I could apply the rule with a Special Quality like above – perhaps “As long as she is free to move, she can not be hit by any physical action with a chance of failure” or some such.

  4. If this evasiveness is core to the Playbook, it should be supported in the moves, rather then left to Defy Danger.

    When you evade an enemy’s melee attack, roll + DEX. On a hit, you avoid their blow. On a 10+ choose one:

    Deal class damage against them;

    Take their weapon; or

    Take their position or balance.

    When you evade an enemy’s missile, roll + DEX. On a hit, you dodge out of the way. On a 10+, choose one:

    Redirect the missile into a target of your choosing;

    Catch/break/block the missile dramatically and dismay or impress the enemy;

    Force the enemy to use extra ammo in their effort to hit you; or

    Lure the enemy into an exposed position to grant you or an ally +1 forward against them.

  5. Oh, we all keep reading this for a PC instead of an NPC…

    You think you should regulate mechanically how they deal in combat with this NPC? your GM moves wouldn’t cover it?

    are you looking for something crunchy for consistence? to give players a better understanding mechanically of the situation? 

  6. Davide Pignedoli yeah, I guess I was looking for something that covers “permission to do damage”. It looks like this is covered briefly in the Hack and Slash description (posted above).

    I’d still actually say that doesn’t give me the FEEL at the move level I was looking for (whiff whiff whiff scratch whiff scratch scratch whiff hit dead), but it’s good enough to just say “don’t roll dice until you can actually hit her”. /shrug

  7. For a monster/NPC, I use a combo of armor & moves or qualities.

    The armor comes naturally, based on the monster creation guidelines. They clearly are “skilled in defense” so they get +1 armor. It might get another +1 armor if it “actively defends itself, with a shield or similar.”

    Then, if slipperiness/defense/skill at arms is really important to the monster’s concept, I’ll also write a move or quality about it. For example, one of my big bads (an undead elven warlord) has a move “Counter all but the most inspired attacks.”

    That move or quality becomes a “block,” one that prevents characters from triggering H&S or Volley unless they do something to overcome it in the fiction. And it also becomes a potential hard move.

    For example, if a character attacks boldly and directly (“Elf-wight, huh? I run up and chop at her, like ha! Hack and slash?”) then I might take that as a golden opportunity and make a hard move in response (“It’s like attacking the wind. She’s just not there, and you barely register a flash of silver as her blade bites into your sword arm. Take [b]2d12+1 damage, 4 piercing, messy.”) (This is a big bad, remember.)

    If a player is more cautious about it, or if they’ve seen her in action before, I’ll tell them the consequences and ask. “If you just go in there swinging, you just know she’ll see it coming and counter it. What do you do?”

    If they discern realities (and hit), they might get some useful info about how to overcome her guard (“What here is useful to you? Maybe you could drop that war-banner hanging over her crypt. It might give you a moment’s distraction, but only if you do it without giving her an opening.”)

    If the fighter, master fencer that he is, wants to engage her and try to figure out her guard, I’d tell him the requirements. “If you engage her, even cautiously, you’ll be defying all sorts of danger. But if you do it, it’ll give you a chance to discern realities about her fighting style. You game?”

  8. Agreed with Jeremy Strandberg — the “crunchy bits” you seek are simply monster moves like, “acrobatically dodge an attack” and “counterattack from an unexpected angle.” 

  9. Aaron, I guess it depends how much prep you want to do for the encounter.

    If you just describe the NPC as you did here, and explain to them (immediately, or when they ask, or when they try to engage…) that Hack & Slash simply does not trigger, you pass the ball to them.

    They will try to come up with some solution (i.e. someone Defying Danger to tackle and block the opponent) and you should be ready to make a GM call, on the spot, of which move it would trigger (likely Defy Danger) and what would be the cost/retribution for failure.

    (Make sure you know what to respond if they start to ask questions Discern Realities)

    If you make some custom moves, then you sort of ‘lock’ them into a given approach. So if you write that they must Defy Danger + DEX only to unlock Hack & Slash, that’s what they will do.

    (I am sure you will have a better and more colorful idea than Defy Danger + DEX – this is just a stupid example)

    In other words, if you start to write mechanical custom moves, these are the moves they will do.

    I am not saying it’s bad: it is mechanically clear and they might be fine with it, but the custom move should be flexible enough to allow a multitude of different approaches, probably, to grant your players some creativity margin.

  10. Oh, and if you want something crunchier or more reliable, you could write a custom move that requires accumulating hold or progress.

    Here’s an example off the top of my head:

    When you engage Tai Lung in battle, roll+STR (or+DEX if you wield a precise weapon). On a 10+, you gain 1 momentum. On a 7-9, choose 1:

    – Tai Lung counters your moves; lose 1 momentum.

    – You gain 1 momentum, but have to suffer a blow from Tai Lung to do so. Take [b]2d10 damage.

    On a miss, you lose all your momentum in addition to whatever the GM says. If you break off the fight or let up the pressure, you lose all your momentum.

    When you have 3 momentum, you can trade it all to pick one of the following:

    – Hack and slash against Tai Lung normally

    – Give an ally a chance to hack and slash against Tai Lung normally

    – Maneuver Tai Lung into a position of your choice.

  11. One thing I like to keep in mind when introducing an NPC or other element like this is to remember that PCs can’t make moves if they don’t meet the requirement.

    If an NPC like this one, has the ability to knock arrows out of the air with his kung-fu technique, then they PCs can’t actually make volley rolls with their bows against him. You would just dictate the fiction.

    “OK, you let fly with one arrow after another but he knocks them aside effortlessly and is still advancing, what do you do?”

    It might take all the PCs working together to gang up on him so he get’s tired/distracted enough that a PC has the chance to make a move, that’s up to you, but I wouldn’t have the PCs making rolls if they honestly can’t succeed at them, liek arrows or fighting one on one.

  12. Jeremy Strandberg spot on on both replies, but the momentum idea is almost exactly what I’m looking for.

    At the end of the day, she’s still a normal human, so one or two hits should drop her if they can actually land the hit.

    Thanks a ton!

  13. Cool!  If you use the momentum move (or something like it), I’d love to hear how it goes.  

    In my head, it seems pretty sound. But I’m wondering if it will 1) disengage players from the fiction, 2) work well with the other stuff the player’s might try (like Backstab or use an animated rope or whatever), and 3) end up being just bloody lethal for the PCs. 

  14. The “give an ally a chance” part of your move made me consider doing momentum at a group level. Maybe, for instance, you need 5 momentum to get in one solid hit, but all players build a single pool (maybe renamed to evoke the idea that it is HER lack of focus that is building).

    This FEELS a bit like stacking Advantages in Fate, and I like that. I’m also milling about extending it to “When you engage or distract Shuulan …” allowing the move to encompass more fictional acts than just attacking – throwing a bucket of water, ripping down a clothes line, torturing her manservant in the corner, etc. It’s entirely possible this could just be covered with Aid, though.

    As for point 1, I think as long as I/we keep to describing momentum gains and losses fictionally instead of just plus/minus points, it’d be fine.

  15. Hmm. Possibly a more elegant solution: give Shuulan 5 “poise,” and the following custom moves:

    When Shuulan would take damage or otherwise suffer the effects of an attack, she can spend 1 poise to avoid harm. If she does, describe how she twists, dodges, parries, or otherwise counters the attack.

    When Shuulan has the opportunity to make an attack, she can choose to deal no damage and instead befuddle, stun, or trip up a foe within her reach. If she does, she regains 1 poise.

    When Shuulan has more than a few moments to catch her breath and assume a new stance, she regains all her lost poise, up to 4 poise. Each time she uses this move, she regains 1 less poise.

    (Adjust the amount of poise she starts with and resets to to taste.)

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