Whew! That was an interesting evening. We all gathered round Ye Age Olde Gamyng Table and I drew my hastily-sketched encounter map on the whiteboard. The example combat was to take place in an abandoned church in London’s East End (not sure if there are any there, but who cares). The main villain was an Awakended 1 Scion I’d rolled up previously, mainly to test out how tough Awakened characters are against new Scions. First thing’s first though…
The heroes burst through the church doors to be faced with the massive frame of Raijin stood just off the altar, a huge two-handed glaive strapped to his back. Raijin beckoned them in, and we went for initiative. Everyone rolled their Fire+Air totals and I made an initiative order. It was Mark B’s turn first.
Note: Mark chose to spend his Mental Action on Downplay. This is only really useful against other players it seems, as it basically gives you a resistance against someone using Size Up on you. Size Up effectively lets you glimpse the state of someone’s Ability Pools at any point; being the GM I can already see their pools, but I guess outside the meta-game I could have Raijin make a Size Up action to see which one he would go for. But I digress…
After his Mental Action Mark put together a fairly simple sequence of Dash+L. Fist Strike+R. Fist Strike. He hit with the first as Raijin managed enough successes for him to only make 2 net successes overall. The fist hit for 3 damage; not a great deal when my villain was wearing Kevlar.
Note: Straightforward punches and kicks don’t do much against armoured opponents. To even cause the minimal amount of damage he would have had to add two Powers to the sequence (+5 damage each) to brake the -10 armour value. I may be inclined to make body-armour very scarce during the campaign, at least as much as guns will be.
After this we had a few bits of argy-bargy with other players, and eventually they started experimenting with positioning and combos. This is where things got a bit messy. The rules don’t make enough of the basic actions clear. We had a few issues with positioning and avoiding blows, and we plumb forgot to factor in Reach at all. That’s partly my fault but I guess it’s to be expected with a completely new system.
After a few more rounds of combat – my players finally getting the hang of things, as was I! – they eventually managed to take me down. This came about due to a bit of cunning on Mike’s part. Using the Ambush move, after I moved a lot of dice to Water (Ambush only let’s me use my base Water score for avoidance) and already suffering 3 wounds, Mike really had me on the ropes.
Note: This is where Size Up would really work. Because it was an open session, I wasn’t using a GM screen to hide my pools. In a proper game, Mike could use his Size Up ability here to get a peek into what my pools where at, and then make his Ambush test based on that knowledge.
Anyway, I was down to 1 dice only for my test (4 base Water only, -3 die penalty for the wounds, plus no Stance Changes or Karma left) and got pwned. This was a great bit of strategy and really surprised me. I’ll have to look out for this in future! After that we packed the dice up, chatted about the system, and I jotted down these notes:
- Body armour is very powerful.
- Size Up before using a disadvantage-focused sequence is a very useful player tool.
- If you start a move sequence with a positioning move (e.g. Dash or Stride) you have to spend 1 success per positioning move before resolving any other moves. That means that if Mark does Dash+Power+L. Fist Strike and rolls 3 successes, his total for the move sequence is 2 because he automatically loses one for positioning. That means I have to roll 2 or more successes to avoid the whole sequence (or in this case 1, because that would be enough to negate the L. Fist Strike anyway; Power does nothing on its own).
- Defensive sequences can contain attacking moves, but only after all attacks have been avoided, and only after using a Ready move before any attacks are made. Using the example above, I elect to Block+Roll+Ready+Glaive Strike versus Mark’s Dash+Power+L. Fist Strike. He rolls 3 successes giving him 2 to use for attacks. I roll 3 successes as well, meaning I get a net success of 1. That means I can move one along my sequence; in this case I block the L. Fist Strike, but don’t Roll or Strike myself. In order to complete my entire sequence I need 4 net successes overall – Mark needs just 3 to complete his.
- Any pre-defined move sequences as part of your fighting picks cannot be added to at either end by any other moves. In order to complete the Payoff, you need to perform the entire sequence, and only that sequence.
- Slam moves must be preceded by a Dash or a Grab. In the case of a Street Figher’s Head Butt combo he needs to have grabbed me the previous round before performing the Power+Slam combo needed for the Payoff.
- Armour does not take into account locational damage; if I’m wearing a -10 Kevlar Vest, I get to take 10 points of damage off any attacks, regardless of location.
- In multiple-foe combats, whatever you roll and whatever Karma you bid for your first set of moves is your total against all opponents. Simon and Mark have me surrounded, so I attempt Glaive Strike+Sweep. I elect Mark as the target of the Strike, and they both get hit by the Sweep. I roll 5 successes overall, meaning I can easily perform the sequence. Mark rolls 3 succeses for his Dodge, meaning I have 2 net succeses against him and therefore hit him with both the Strike and the Sweep. Simon rolls 3 successes as well, but as I am not aiming the Strike at him I lose one of those to that move. That leaves me with 1 net success; in this case just enough to perform the Sweep on Simon.
Overall I think, given the “things I learned” above, this could be really slick to run. Once people have it in their heads which moves go off which skill, and how many they can string together, I’m confident it’ll be a great system to run a game with. The fact that I love the setting as well makes it all the more appealing. Our first proper roleplaying session starts next Thursday, so I’ll write more after that. Wish me luck!