Wow. This is a pretty big one. Seriously, something awesome happened in this one, I swear.
I think that since most of the explaining about the game mechanics has been done in the earlier ones, I should fall into a more summarising narrative for these details posts. As before, the circumstances are more interesting–but this time, the dice had a lot more to do with it.
This was another encounter that I had trouble setting down to write. I didn’t get much chance before getting home, and once I did, I wanted to do other things. But once I got started, everything just slid into place.
Technical issues arose with this one as well. I tried to make the draft on my PC first, and access it on my tablet, only to find that it needed a constant connection to access and update it. I do not have that at work, so I made an Evernote file. Screw you, WordPress App. Die in a fire.
I was already using Evernote to keep track of encounter details anyway, so instead of making a separate file for those, I just made all detail notes in-line with the text. This made me very paranoid of leaving them in the final post, but I think I checked it enough times. I think. It was a lot easier to do it this way, so I might just write everything in Evernote and then just put it in Yarny or Dropbox for sake of saving.
I tried to use the dice to do some more menial things this time, like checking if she’s afraid of being up so high with a Wits 2 roll (1 success). I was told that the scenes should try to cover more time, so I did a bit of a time jump as practise. Good thing, or she wouldn’t have gotten to the combat.
Jess’s character is not the easiest to explain or write, but she is essentially a straightforward person. She has quite a few flaws in her makeup, but she’s a good person, and she is able to make good suggestions to cover up her weaknesses by playing to her strengths.
For example, when she heard the bang on the door, I wanted her to be able to figure out it needed attention, but I still wanted to at least gauge her success. However, she has no skill points in Perception, as well as a low score in the related attribute. This is something she has in common with other characters, so I came up with a way to patch it. Instead of an Easy 5 Perception 0 + Wits 1, she rolled an Easy 5 Survival 2 + Wits 1 for 3 successes. Two dice make a difference, and she played to her traits instead of rote checks. It still amounts to an awareness check, she simply used a different skill to the same end.
Three successes means that she accomplished the task with some flair, so her instincts told her to get out her weapons before breaking down the door. What I was going to mention in my first post today was that I found another thing in the mechanics I haven’t gotten to do yet, which is breaking objects. Wooden doors have 4 structure points (like health). I assumed that when attempting to break an object, damage is rolled against the object’s structure points, and so she rolled 8 for the Arm Blades and 1 for Strength. Door got splintered.
Combat was… bizarre.
In my first post about Jess, I basically detailed exactly what would happen in this encounter. But I didn’t end with whether she saved the girl or not. So when I started writing combat, I decided that she didn’t need to kill the baddies, but if she didn’t do damage by the second round, they would kill the girl and she would have to make an Empathy 2 + Presence 1 check. A success in that check would allow her to chase them down and attack and/or acquire information. Failure would mean collapsing with guilt and sadness.
Two rather awesome things happened here. It’s all a little complicated, but I’ll try to unravel it.
The death condition existed because I had a contingency plan I was fairly fond of. No matter what happened, Jess would end up with a contact called “Aphrodite”. Either the woman here, or her twin sister. No concrete name left that much in the air. Should Jess fail, she would have to contact the girl’s family and then find herself in an obviously haunting situation, which the sister would have misinterpreted to comedic effect. I was eager to play it that way, but… when the combat started, and the odds looked so obviously against the woman surviving, I felt absolutely awful.
I hoped quite hard that the dice would roll in Jess’s favour. Only one man could attack anyway, as the other had to hold the hostage. The first round of combat, the pistol-wielder rolled 3 successes to Jess’s 1. With that, he brought his combat dice pool up to 9 (Physical 5 + Firearms 2 + Initiative Bonus 2) and rolled 3 successes. Jess’s combat roll was Beast Dancing (martial art) 4 + Dexterity 3, for a dice pool of 7. I knew I wasn’t eager for the death condition when I started calculating if I should let her reneg the declared action and Dodge. I even went back and made another personalised awareness check to give her a chance to notice the pistol. But 7 to 9 didn’t seem too bad, so I rolled the fight.
Jess got 1 success. My heart actually sank.
With the degree of success and the damage dice for his pistol, the pistol-wielder had a damage dice pool of 7. He didn’t roll a single success. This brought me to the weird experience of having to write a hit with a gunshot that did no damage. So he hit her in the hair.
The second round was even cooler. Jess won initiative by 1 success, and so the combat dice pools were switched–9 for Jess, 7 for Pistolman. Again, Jess won the combat roll by a single success. At that point, I just felt relief whoosh through me. Jess has a contact, similar to Candle’s but hers will be around more often and under (probably) more varying circumstances.
I started rolling damage almost as an afterthought. Degree of success 1 + Arm Blades 8 + Strength 1 for a pool of 10. Those weapons are crazy awesome. She got 5 successes and gutted the guy for all but one of his health points.
Those dice rolling the way they did is kind of cool. Maybe creepy. I gave her 2 experience points for that, which she’s saving for an attribute fix.
The last roll was when Aphrodite hugged Jess. Our Jess is not a very touchy-feely person, and she has the Paranoia complication, so I made her make an Empathy 2 + Presence 1 check to prevent pushing the woman away. It yielded one success, which was enough to let her awkwardly sit and take it a moment.
Wow, that was a lot of writing. But that was the coolest thing that’s happened so far. This is totally why I wanted to write with dice in the decision-making. Governing the story by my feelings doesn’t always produce the best result. I was honestly excited to write the Haunted by the Death of an Innocent and Faced with Identical Twin thing.