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Edelweiss, Candle, and Anson encounter details

I really want to fuzz over this one and make it as brief as possible. This is unlikely to happen, as not only is the encounter quite long, the dice rolls and game decisions, and all the other behind the scenes stuff is kind of complicated.

Some background information on how and where I wrote this:

I’ve mentioned on my blog before that my regular keyboard experienced battery death. This forced me to find another bit of hardware to write with. My Alphasmart had several drawbacks, the final of which kept me from writing for days. Sometimes I just don’t want to use a particular device I own. I blogged about this before, and it’s kind of boring.

The real point is that using the Alphasmart meant that I could keep two files on the same machine and flip between them. One for the encounter, and the other for the dice rolls I had to keep track of.

Things didn’t start to get really complicated until I got up today, finally transferred all of my text to my PC, and got into writing the rest.

First dice roll was for Edelweiss, a Perception 2 + Wits 2 check to anticipate the arm, which I made Difficult because the room was smoky and she wasn’t paying attention. 1 success each on black and white, which comes out to 0.

After she won a Strength check to push him away, combat began. Neither had a ready weapon, so they each had -3 to Initiative, and -2 to their combat dice pools.

With their initiative crippled like that, it was kind of interesting. Edelweiss had 3 dice, and Jimmy only 2 (in fact, he didn’t get his name until rather later), and they kept on tying for initiative. I don’t really like the game’s tie solution, which is stat-based, so I just re-rolled until someone won. It was Edelweis, with 2 successes to the pirate’s 0. The way that PC and NPC stats work, there’s really no way that the solution in the book is fair.

Edelweiss’s combat roll was Swordplay 4 + Dex 2 + Initiative Bonus 2 – Unready 2, for a pool of 6. She gained 3 successes, while Jimmy only rolled 1.

And oh, our Edelweiss is just that kind of girl. With her degree of success 2 + Collapsible Sword 4 + Strength 3, she rolled 6 successes. Jimmy’s health points were wiped out.

But wait! The fight’s not over. Jimmy rolled a Fortitude + Resolve save (Physical 3 + Mental 2 for the NPC pirate) and succeeded. So he remained conscious and the fight would continue.

Candle stuck his nose in and combat widened. I actually finished rolling Edelweiss/Jimmy combat first, because I had all the numbers in front of me, and went back and wrote everything all in order.

No unready penalties for anyone this time around. Candle won initiative while Pirates 1 and 2 tied. They are statistically sameoids, so I just had them go in number order. We see the return of our old friend the Outnumbered penalty, with 3 black dice for Candle. But, he also decided to attack both of the pirates, so he had to halve his dice pool. Not too much to worry about, I thought. He has Firearms and Dexterity each at 4, plus 2 for winning initiative. That gave him a pool of 5 per pirate–but 3 black dice for each roll as well.

Against Pirate 1, he rolled a success each on the black and white dice. I hate those. 0 successes. But against Pirate 2, he rolled 3 successes on white and none on black. Pirate 1 rolled 2 successes, and Pirate 2 rolled 3 successes.

So, Pirate 1 got to hit. Pirate 2 tied with Candle, but because Candle won initiative, he won the round. However, he could roll weapon damage only. Weapon damage for Candle’s Heat Ray (steam) is 10 dice. Cue my grin.

With his Degree of Success 2 + Cutlass 7 + Physical 3, Pirate 1 ended up with a dice pool of 12, and he whomped Candle. 5 points of damage, and it could have been so much worse.

Left with one pip of health, Candle rolled damage for Pirate 2. Here, I kind of just want to cut and past my notes. (Keep in mind, all three pirates–Jimmy, 1, and 2–have 6 health points)

Candle
(Weapon damage only) Heat Ray (steam) 10
7 successes

Pirate 2, we hardly knew ye. Fortitude + Resolve roll, or shine on, you crazy diamond.

2 successes. You live.

Technically, I’m not sure at what part of the turn characters who are into their grey dice should be making saving rolls, but I liked the drama of doing it right then, and he was going to have to make one soon anyway.

Back up to Edelweiss and Jimmy. I knew he didn’t stand a chance, but he’s just so plucky. I wondered if she would really murder him or not. They both chose to slash at each other with swords–his a cutlass, hers the collapsible sword–and rolled initiative.

This time, they had no penalties–except for Jimmy’s -2, thanks to being in his grey dice. However, that does not affect his initiative. And if it does, too bad, because I didn’t roll it that way. Even if I had done, he could hardly have done worse. Edelweiss rolled 3 successes, and Jimmy rolled 0.

For combat, they both rolled their Swordplay skills and Dexterity. Edelweiss had the initiative bonus, and Jimmy had the “Oh I’m dyin’ here” penalty. Even so, it was a close thing. Edelweiss only rolled 1 success, but Jimmy didn’t roll any.

Edelweiss’s damage roll was Degree of Success 1 + Collapsible Sword 4 + Strength 3 = pool 8. I thought that would be it for Jimmy.

But she only rolled 3 successes. A pretty heavy toll to take, but he wasn’t dead yet. And he made his saving roll.

All of this not-dying earned him a graphic.

I was starting to wind down, and it was about time Anson came in, so after the saving rolls were taken care of, I had Anson roll a Difficult Empathy 4 + Presence 2 check. No successes on the black dice, but 2 on the white. No one was impressed, but he did make everyone stop goading the fight.

I did actually make a few healing rolls, but doing it made me realise just how pointless they were at this stage of the encounter. It was technically over, so I just wrapped it up and awarded Candle 2 experience points for being awesome. I think at the end of this round of encounters, I’ll give everyone 1 fate, which I’m sure at least one of them will exchange for experience. We’ve got at least two or three trying to improve their attributes.

Anson didn’t really get to do anything, but maybe I can accept this as a good place to set up whatever happens next.

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PaPW – Good Old Fashioned Pub Rumble

Edelweiss sat in a corner of the Rusty Arms, contemplating a drink. In the most literal sense. She was not the only patron bearing arms. However, judging by the density and reach of the smoke, she was the only one without tobacco.

She reached up and grabbed a fistful. It remained in her hand for nearly a full second before dissipating.

“Well what have we here?”

It was not the first time she had heard some iteration of an opening line. “I am not human. Nor am I inexpensive.”

A heavy arm dropped down as if from the smoke, latching about her shoulders. “Then it’s a good thing I had a string of lucky spreads.”

“Spreads.” It was a question, but only the way that Edelweiss asked it.

“Oh, bless. Must be a new model, not knowing Port of Call.” He squeezed her, which was unpleasant. His breath smelled worse than his body, and the competition was quite fierce.

Edelweiss pushed him away. “It matters not. I am engaged.”

“To what? A steamclock?” The man guffawed at his own ill-informed humour. “Come with me, honey. Old Jimmy’ll pay twice what your john’s shilling out.”

Speaking to this man was only worsening the situation. Edelweiss stood up.

He started to reach for his weapon, but Edelweiss was not about to be taken by surprise. She grabbed at her belt and drew a collapsible sword.

It folded out to deadly form seconds before the accoster had drawn his own sword. His eyes could barely follow the speed with which she struck. The blade sliced through the smoke, carving a deadly trail that ended in the man’s belly.

He stared down at it in dismayed surprise. “That ain’t friendly…” he said, choking on the last word. He dropped to one knee, but did not let go of his cutlass.

A thrill of anticipation and respect whirred through Edelweiss’s gears. Those eyes. A wound like that had all but killed him, but he wanted to go on. She eased into a more flexible stance, half-forgetting where they were. A real fight. This wasn’t sparring, or a desperate feat. This pirate had stopped seeing a whore, and was looking at a hand with a sword. She could feel it in his gaze, that he was looking over her stance now, not her hips.

Gravelly voices raised in protest and appreciation. Some cheered, but they were hushed up as men began to circle round them, like fast-moving clouds. Two men helped the first to his feet, but he pushed them away.

“First time I’ve seen such a lovely in this kind of distress.”

Another man had entered the circle, although this one had come to her side of it. She sized him up. “This is not a show,” she warned him. “Never mind what they are chanting.” She indicated the crowded pub-goers with a jerk of her head.

“It’s never a show.” The man, youthful in appearance, had large eyes only slightly hidden by his wild rust-coloured hair. He held up a device, similar to a steampistol, but slightly more complex, with a lens in the wide muzzle. “By the way, I’m Candle,” he said.

There was something about his smile that invited a mirrored answer. “Edelweiss.”

Old Jimmy’s friends were casting dirty looks their way. “Now that we’re friends,” Candle said, “I think local tradition demands we spill someone else’s blood in celebration.”

It was a stupid joke, but Old Jimmy was already heading back to cross blades. Edelweiss started to calculate how the battle would go against two opponents, when Candle leaped ahead to position himself by Jimmy’s friends.

Chivalry was  such an interesting concept, she thought.

Jimmy was staggering, but he held his cutlass upright. “I prefer a good horizontal dance to battle,” he said, then coughed. “But I wonder who made you capable of both.”

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Candle fire at both of the other men. Two blasts of heated air boiled towards his targets. His first shot went wide, allowing the skinnier pirate to strike at Candle’s leg. But his second shot hit home just before the other pirate could clip his knees. The chubbier pirate screamed and tore at his shirt. The cloth burnt away, revealing the blistered, bubbling skin beneath.

Horrified gasps mixed with the general roar of appreciation.

Old Jimmy didn’t seem to notice or care. He remained fixed on Edelweiss, wearing a determined smile that was marred only slightly by the trail of blood glistening on the corner of his mouth. But he made a game attempt at a swing.

Edelweiss sidestepped it, but she hardly needed to. It was a shame that a man with such gumption did not have the skill to match. She slashed at his front, tearing more clothing than skin.

Although he remained standing, his breathing became ragged, and the blood that had soaked his clothes was beginning to drip. “You just might be… a bit too much for me,” he said with an embarrassed chuckle.

“Now hold on!”

Everyone in the pub turned to see who had shouted.

With her superior vision, Edelweiss could cut through the smoke to see a thin man standing on a chair. He was dressed well, but not too well, and he was holding a black bag in front of him, like a parish priest clutching a bible. Perhaps he was handsome, but he did not seem a capable fighter.

“This quarrel should be allowed to die off without two of its participants doing the same,” the man said, head held high. He cleared his throat, then added, “The most exciting bit is over. Let them seek medical attention.”

The crowd murmured, but began to disperse among the tables. Some of the patrons left altogether. Jimmy laughed, then hunched his shoulders when it became a hacking cough. In a moment, the weedy man was by his side, still clutching the black bag.

“You are an impressive young woman,” he said quietly. “But you might consider learning some restraint.”

“Oh, don’t ruin her,” Jimmy gasped. “I ain’t dead, am I?” He waved his friends away, giving some instruction to have the chubby pirate taken to hospital. “No offence, doc.”

Candle cut short any possible response by hauling himself over. “I’m not picky.”

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Edelweiss encounter details

Listening to: “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid” – The Offspring

My Edelweiss post is actually my second attempt to write a Petticoats and Pipe Wrenches snippet. The first was too wordy and took too long to get to dice-rolling. I managed to find a better rhythm this time, as well as figuring out the game mechanics.

Next time I’ll take more detailed notes, but it’s still fresh in my mind, so I can point out sections and explain how the system works. It’s not quite an explanation of how Airship Pirates works, but here and there that will come up. It would probably make more sense to people who know how to play, but I tried to at least translate jargon instead of using more or less fluent AP cant.

The first point in the story where I decided to bring the dice into play was when Edelweiss attempted to lull the enemy captain into a false sense of security. With the idea of being a GM, I asked her for an  Act + Presence roll of an Easy difficulty. I chose Easy because the captain was already predisposed to think of her as defenceless, and she was basically supporting that belief. Easy rolls add 5 dice to the pool. With her 3 points of Act and 3 in Presence, this gave her a dice pool of 11.

She rolled four successes, which I used to justify the purple prose attached to her way of speaking. Then, on a lark, I decided that that many successes warranted a skillcheck for the captain to prevent an attack of stupid. I used the NPC stat-making system to give him Mental 1 in a Difficult roll. Difficult rolls add 3 black dice, which would cancel any of his successes should the black dice roll any successes.

He rolled one success, with two successes on the black dice. This constitutes a “foul failure”, which occurs any time there are more  successes on the black dice than on the white dice. The meaning of the term is pretty obvious, and I hope I illustrated the outcome of his roll sufficiently. Checking her teeth indeed.

By this time, I was having a lot of fun with the dice, and I wanted to see how much of the story-telling I could just give over to chance and numbers. When Edelweiss chose to bite him, I asked for an Average Strength roll. Average difficulty does not add white or black dice. Edelweiss’s strength is 3, as she is supposed to be a robot built for fighting. But she didn’t score any successes, and so I wrote the miss. Thrimble’s NPC stats could have allowed him to make an Average Dodge roll, but I decided against it because he shouldn’t have been able to see it coming, thanks to her great performance and his own foul failure to spot it as such.

Up to this point, I had not done any straight, by-the-book combat rolls. Combat in AP is duel-based, so they would have to both be attacking and aware of the situation’s status as a fight. I had to fudge it a little to have Edelweiss make a move not strictly combative, while Thrimble tried to hit her. I still rolled initiative, which Edelweiss won, but rolled a skill check for her, and a combat check for Thrimble.

She rolled Average Athletics + Dexterity to steal his cutlass, and he rolled Physical + Fisticuffs (also Average) to hit her. I probably should have given her a penalty for the ropes, but she only rolled two successes anyway, so I just wrote them in as a result of the minor success. Thrimble rolled a couple of successes as well. It took me a little while to figure out how to roll damage, because of the duel system, but eventually he  rolled one damage. However, Edelweiss is equipped with an armoured corset, which gives her 2 points of damage resistance. I gave her the action of drawing the cutlass as a free action to bring them to a proper combat.

At this point, I had been writing and rolling for a while, and I had to do a little housework before the day got away from me. So I considered what each of them would do next. I knew I didn’t want Edelweiss to kill Thrimble, so I decided that if she could hit him for two dice of health, he would give in.

When I went back and rolled my first proper combat, I got some fun surprises. Edelweiss won initiative again, which, in proper combat, means that she is the one who gets to deal damage. Both declare their actions after initiative–in a session, Edelweiss would say, “I want to attack him with the stolen cutlass,” and Thrimble would say, “I’m going to punch her”–and then roll whatever combat skill the player is using plus Dexterity. The combat + Dex roll is the one that determines who does damage.

In this case, Thrimble’s Physical + Fisticuffs gave him a measly one success, while Edelweiss’s Swordplay+ Dex got her four. Therefore, according to his intention, he got into a fighting stance, but she struck before he could get a hit in. The four successes means that she accomplished the move with some flair, so more purple prose. When she rolled for damage, I had to get up and get more dice.

I started playing with six each of white and black dice. Whenever a roll required seven dice, I just rolled a non-success again. But for Edelweiss’s stolen cutlass slash, I needed 7 for the cutlass, and 3 for her Strength, because it’s a melee weapon. She ended up doing 5 damage. I realised later that I had actually only used 9 dice rather than 10, but things turned out perfectly with the 9.

I had thought to have Thrimble concede after a prolonged drubbing, possibly dealing out some damage of his own, but the dice characterised Edelweiss exactly as I would have done without the game mechanics. She dominated the fight from start to finish, and with his 6 total health points, five brought Thrimble scared to his knees.

Rewarding experience is something I have been thinking about since I realised she might need to dodge. Without any points in that skill, she seems incomplete as a machine built to fight. So I decided to reward her just one point of experience (it sounds stingy, but points are spent to increase skills) because I didn’t intend to reward any for this encounter. I think I’ll also give her two fate points, because she did get an awesome near-lethal attack in.

In the encounter, she realised the importance of dodging, and so she will use her experience point to increase her Dodge skill to 1.

Tomorrow, I want to spend time with mums, but I’ll try to find some time to write or plan the next encounter.