Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dresden Files RPG - Extended Combat example

So, last time I tried to figure out the rules to a game I wrote my way through a little playtest and shared it publicly, which was a huge help, since one of my players caught some mistakes that I made. Since it worked so well last time, I’m doing it again. 


Elizabeth Carter is a dangerous woman. Her mother once told her that her father was an angel. As an adult, she wasn’t even really sure if angels really existed, much less if she carried the blood of one, but at this point her mother was long since dead, and there would be no way to ask her.

What she did know, however, was that she herself was no angel.

It was nearly midnight on the day that would become know as the Night of Burning Skies. Things were never exactly quiet in Amsterdam, but tonight they were downright terrifying. The creatures she had heard described as the ‘fomor’ had been in town for a while, but they had mostly kept a low profile. Tonight however they had moved in a big way, and some sort of war had erupted because of it.

Elizabeth wasn’t exactly ‘plugged in’ to the local scene, but she knew that had to be bad, and she had friends that she needed to check in on. There were plenty of faster ways around the city, but she had elected to run down the back alleys and stay out of sight as much as possible. The roads and waterways just weren’t safe for the talented right now.

In a city like Amsterdam, however, that wasn’t always possible, and it was only a matter of time before she found herself slowing to rest a little too close to the water.

The run had been exhausting, and she had been at it for hours. She had called people, convinced them to gather for safety, and sent out as many messages as she could, but still there were those who had to be checked in on in person. So far the number she had found missing, with their homes or vehicles in a state of disarray was frighteningly high. Now she had no choice but to stop and catch her breath for a minute. She’d be no good to anyone if she came across a fight already tired.

She scolded herself even as she finished the thought. She wasn’t exactly superstitious, but if ever there was a time to knock on wood…

Of course, that’s when she heard the furtive movement behind her. She whirled around, but it was already too late. The first of the fomors’ servitors was already out of the canals and getting ready to pounce, with two of its friends coming out of the dark water close behind it.

Elizabeth Carter
High Concept: Touched by an angel (if you believe in such things).
Trouble: I’m responsible for those who put their trust in me.
  • Anger issues.
  • Unknowing, unwilling, Sword of Heaven.
  • I fight for people, not causes.
  • Spirit of an angel, heart of a young woman.
  • Sins of the father.
  • Channeling (Kinetomancy) -2
  • Inhuman Speed -2
  • Refinement -2
  • Inhuman Mental Toughness -2
    • The Catch (Alien thoughts) +0
  • Inhuman Toughness -2
    • The Catch (Unholy Power) +0
  • Alertness +2
  • Athletics +4
  • Contacts +3
  • Conviction +5
  • Discipline +6
  • Endurance +3
  • Fists +1
  • Guns +2
  • Investigation +2
  • Lore +4
  • Presence +1
  • Rapport +1
  • Resources +1
  • Stealth +2
  • Weapons +3
  • Ring: +1 Offensive power (force)
  • Ring: +1 Defensive Power (force)
  • Anklets: +3 to Athletics, 2/session.
  • Cloak: Armor 4, 3/session.
  • Potion (Undeclared)
  • Physical: OOOO
  • Mental: OOOO(OO) Armor: 1
  • Social: OOO
  • Mild:
  • Mild (Mental):
  • Moderate:
  • Severe:
Refresh: 2

Fomor Gorilla-Shark (3)
High Concept: Weird Fomor Minion
  • Freakishly Strong
  • Good Swimmer
  • Athletics +4
  • Endurance +4
  • Fists +5
  • Might +5
  • Physical Skills at +3
  • Other Skills at +2
  • Aquatic -1
  • Supernatural Strength -4
  • Mental: OO
  • Physical: OOOO
  • Social: OO
Refresh: -5

Our battlefield is simple: A long alley bordered on the north and south by two-storey buildings, with entrances at the east and west. The west entrance exits onto a main street, with a canal just beyond it. To the east the alley stretches a long ways before emptying into a small, dark, side street.

Elizabeth is pretty sure she could get away if she needed to, and she has no illusions about how dangerous and powerful these things were, but it’s been a hell of a night, and she feels the need to strike back. With one last sideways glance she turns back to face the creatures head on.

Round One - Fight.
Elizabeth begins in Alley (2). The first fomorian creature begins in the Street zone, with two more in the Canal.

Thanks to her Inhuman Speed Elizabeth goes on a Fantastic (+6) initiative, while the FGS (Fomor gorilla-sharks) go at Fair (+2). Seeing the opportunity to even out the odds a bit, she starts by erecting a wall of pure kinetic force along the zone border between the Canal and the Street, hoping to cut one of the creatures off from the pack. These things are strong, so she knows it’ll have to be tough. Starting with her Conviction of 5, she adds one for her defensive focus item, and decides to live with the stress of adding four more, bringing the total shifts of power to 10(!) for the cost of a 5 Stress hit to her mental track. She still needs to control the power though, so she makes a Discipline test against that same 10. Dice come up ++00, so still not quite enough. Unwilling to take another big hit to her mental stress this early in the fight, she decides to tap her aspect: The Unknowing, Unwilling, Sword of Heaven, so she tosses in a Fate point to bring her Discipline of 6 (8 after the die roll) to a 10 for successful control.

Not realizing yet that he’s alone, the first FGS Sprints through Alley (1) to join Elizabeth in her zone. The difficulty is negligible, and with his Great (+4) Athletics he makes it easily, but the movement takes up his turn this round.

The other two FGS, blocked by the wall, decide to work together in an attempt to bash it down. FGS2 makes a Teamwork Maneuver check (Difficulty Legendary +8), rolling a +--- for a net of -2 to his Superb (+5) Might. Normally this would reduce it to a Good (+3) result, but Supernatural Strength adds +6 when trying to break things, so his final result is a 9. Good enough to place an Assisted by FGS2 aspect on FGS3’s Athletics attempt to move through the wall. Essentially he’s bashing at the thing trying to weaken it.

FGS3 then makes his Athletics check. ++-0 on the roll, plus the free tag on FGS2’s aspect brings his Great (+4) Athletics to Epic (+7). Still not enough for the mighty wall.

Current Damage
  • Elizabeth:
    • Mental: OOOO(XO)

Round Two - Prolonging the inevitable
Seeing the FGS’ strength in action, Elizabeth begins to rethink her decision to fight so many at once, but stay or run, she needs time. Hoping she can rely on the tricks up her sleeve to deal with the one on top of her, the decides to ignore it for now and reinforce her wall to buy some time. Making a roll to prolong, she summons 5 shifts of power, and pushes them all into the wall’s duration. Her Discipline roll is +--0, but she still makes it with her Fantastic (+6) skill, and only takes the mandatory single point of mental stress from casting. Now she has 5 more rounds to decide if she should stay, or if she should go.

FGS1, determined to make sure she’s going nowhere, makes his move, a powerful Fists attack, rolling +--0, bringing his skill down to a Great (+4). Elizabeth rolls Athletics to dodge, normally at a +4, but with Inhuman speed she gains an additional +1. Coupled with a good roll she ends up with a Fantastic (+6) dodge. Enough to avoid the damage completely.

FGS2 and 3 try to break through the shield again, and though they still fail, it’s a near thing. Elizabeth is beginning to realize that, even with such a powerful wall, she’s blowing through energy a lot faster than they are. Time to try going offensive.

Current Damage
  • Elizabeth:
    • Mental: XOOO(XO)
Round Three - Sink or Swim
Frustrated that her wall had cost her so much, but unwilling to let if be for naught, Elizabeth decides to redirect the energy from the powerful spell, pulling and compacting the wall into a spear of pure force that she yanks back toward herself, straight into the back of the creature attacking her. This still requires a Discipline roll to target the creature, but no additional energy, making it a free weapon 10 attack good for a single use. Rolling a +0--, her normally Fantastic Discipline drops to +5, but the FGS rolls even worse, not noticing the spear until it’s too late, and only dodging at Fair (+2). This creates a whopping 13 shifts of damage. Theoretically the creature could take a moderate and severe consequence to reduce it to 3 and stay in the fight, but the GM rules that it's more fun to just let the crazy powerful attack just Take the thing Out. He still has two more to continue the fight with after all.

With a toothy grin Elizabeth’s player describes how the spear of force takes the creature off its feet and pins it to the northern wall briefly before the magic dissipates leaving it to fall to the ground, limp and dead. She's seen a lot of friends disappear tonight, and the payback feels pretty good.

Free of the wall FGS 2 and 3 hesitate only a second to stare at their dead companion before quickly closing the distance and moving into alley (2) with Elizabeth.

Current Damage
  • Elizabeth:
    • Mental: XOOO(XO)
  • FGS1: Dead

Round Four - A good run of bad luck
Elizabeth turns her not-entirely-sane grin toward the closing monsters and lashes out again. Flush with success from her previous attack, she goes for an 8 shift spear of force directly at FGS2. Even with her offensive ring this attack is going to cost her another 3 stress, and she’s becoming very aware of how quickly she is tiring. A bad Discipline check later, and now she's really regretting it.

Reduced by dice from a normally Fantastic (+6) Discipline to Superb (+5), Elizabeth is suddenly staring down the barrel of three points of uncontrolled energy. Too much to save herself from with her last remaining Fate point, she is suddenly kicking herself for pushing so hard. At this point she has a choice: she can take the backlash, doing a 3 stress hit to herself, but casting the spell at full power, or reduce the spell’s power to 5 and allow the other 3 points to leak out into the environment as fallout, probably damaging the buildings around her, but keeping her safe at least.

Reasoning that these monsters will do a lot more than three stress if she doesn’t kill them quickly, and noting that she can always take the backlash as physical damage, which is untouched, she decides to push the full damage into the spell, and take the 3 stress hit. Unfortunately, her roll to hit is also her targeting roll, and the fomor’s dodge roll is an amazing ++++, bringing it to a Legendary (+8). Not only does it manage the dodge, it gets Spin (an optional rule, but one we use). Already hurt and tired, and now with her enemy at a +1 to hit, Elizabeth is in real trouble.

FGS2 returns Elizabeth's grin and lashes out at her, rolling well enough to bring its Fists roll up to a +7 after factoring in its +1 from Spin. Elizabeth dodges, but only manages Great (+4), and takes a 7 Stress physical hit. This includes 4 points for the thing's Supernatural strength and 3 more for its net successes. Unable to soak that kind of damage, Elizabeth triggers her cloak to gain Armor 4 against the attack. This reduces the hit to 3 stress, but since she just filled that box with backlash it rolls up into her 4th physical stress box.

Never one to be left out, FGS3 hits as well, with a Fantastic +6. The mage tries to dodge, but her Athletics roll, even with the +1 for Inhuman Speed, ends up as a Great (+4). Two net hits, plus four for the monster's strength leaves her with 6 damage. Once again Elizabeth triggers her cloak, reduceing the damage to 2 physical stress, but she’s running out of tricks.

Current Damage
  • Elizabeth:
    • Mental: XOXO(XO)
    • Physical: OXXX
  • FGS1: Dead

Round Five - Last chance
Frustrated by last round's setbacks, but bolstered by the fact that she still has all of her Consequences free, Elizabeth decided to give it one last shot. Channeling a 7 stress force attack into her own hands she lashes out with a whip of energy at FGS3’s hand as it is turned aside by her cloak. She takes a 2 stress mental hit from the energy, but her gamble pays off as she rolls +++0 on her Discipline check. This brings her base skill from Fantastic (+6) to +9, or +10 after adding the bonus from her ring of Offensive Control. The creature tries desperately to dodge, but only manages Great (+4) on its Athletics. Adding her net success of 6 to her Weapon 7 attack, she just smirks as another 13 stress rips through the monster, just like the earlier spear did to its friend. When the GM concedes that it is Taken Out as well, she described the whip of living energy wrapping itself around the shark-headed thing until its struggles (and breathing) cease.

She has anger issues.

FGS2 is close to running himself, but he knows the young woman can’t keep this up forever. Deciding to give it one last chance he strikes out at the girl with both fists, as if trying to drive her into the ground. One last good roll puts his Fists attack up to Epic (+7), and Elizabeth knew she was in trouble. Even with her exceptional ability to dodge, and her last use of the cloak, she'd be hard pressed to get that hit down to 1 stress, and anything more than that would definitely roll up and either Take her Out, or force her to take Consequences. As a last ditch effort she decided to protect herself with magic instead of Athletics. The skill was slightly higher.

Elizabeth needs at least 8 shifts of power to deflect the attack, and even with her ring that means she takes a 3 stress mental hit. Since her 3 stress box is already full it rolls up to a 4, but she still only has to Roll her Discipline against the 8. Starting with a Fantastic skill, and rolling +-00 on the dice, she only manages a 6. She can’t afford the backlash, she's too low on Stress. A 2 stress hit on her mental track would roll all the way up to 6, and even on the physical track it would force a Consequence. Sighing she tags her Touched by an Angel aspect and uses her last Fate point.

Current Damage
  • Elizabeth:
    • Mental: XXXX(XO)
    • Physical: OXXX
  • FGS1: Dead
  • FGS3: Dead
  • FGS2: Unharmed

Round Six - Live to fight another day
Having fought until near exhaustion, Elizabeth decides to choose the better part of valor. She has let her anger run away with her again, and she knows it. Luckily for her, the creature looks hesitant to keep going as well.

A part of her knows she could take it, but at what cost? It's not worth leaving herself vulnerable and injured in a future attack just to polish off one more of these things, which mean nothing to their masters.

Instead of attacking again, she triggers her anklets and Sprints toward the southern wall. At a full dash her Inhuman Speed adds 2 to her normally Great (+4) Athletics. With the +3 from her anklets and a good roll (+2 more), her total is an 11. That’s enough to Sprint straight up the wall, across the roof, and jump over to another nearby building.

Lacking both the ability and desire to follow the powerful mage, the last FGS standing decides to let her go.