Secret of the Bullet Dance [SS/2022]

Started by Lo.Ste.Pelle, September 01, 2010, 06:50:23 PM

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Hi people!

Me again... eheheh... sorry, but i want to share all new stuffs, and learn more in the process...

Look, i have just created this secret for my Character in owr 2022 campaign.

One of my compain say that is too strong, or, otherwise, if the use is against easy enemies, useless, but i want to know your ideas about it.


Narrative Description: The character embraces his firearms and stands up in the middle of a crazy shooting, in the real Rambo style, walking straight to his new cover, calm and cold, shooting the enemies in the process. Once at the new cover, the Character feels a superficial harm at his leg, arm or torax.

COST: the character spend half of his VIGOR and INSTINCT pools.

GAME MECHANICS: The character passes harmless through the shooting, taking only 1 damage at the end of the action. He test FIREARMS ad kills enemies in this proportion:
   -3 to 0 | the character passes the shooting, but no enemy is killed;
+1 to +2 | the character kills 1 enemy for every two INSTINCT points were spended in the secret activation.
+3 to +4 | the character kills 1 enemy for every INSTINCT point was spended in the secret activation.
+5 to +6 | the character kills 2 enemies for every INSTINCT point was spended in the secret activation.

Eero Tuovinen

I can see what you're getting at here. However, some concerns:
  • Isn't this a bit blase as concept for a Secret? The best Secrets in my experience are evocative in mechanics, fluff and, most importantly, identity. That is, it's not sufficient for a Secret to depict something cool the character can do, but it should rather also say something about who the character is: why can he do this thing? Furthermore, a Secret is not at its best if it's a super-specific feat because Secrets are about what a character can do in general and in a repeatable way, as part of his heroic identity; what you describe here sounds like something an action hero might do at the drop of a hat, but it seems unlikely that it would be something that he trains in regularly and knows that he has in him before he does it - and even then it's not like a secret finishing move or anything, but rather a one-time dramatic occurrence. Something akin to a colorful stunt than a secret weapons technique, it seems to me.
  • Paying fractional Pool is a bit hinky for most purposes: what you're doing here is that you're effectively doubling the Advance cost of a Pool point increase for a character who relies on Secrets like this often. Besides, that cost seems really high: many characters would often end up paying 4 Pool points for this Secret, which is huge.
  • How is your crunch landscape handling extras (non-significant NPCs, that is)? The effect of this Secret doesn't seem too impossible as a conceit, but the crunch landscape needs to be solid about making enemies a currency if the Secret is just about killing enemies by the bunch. How is it established how many enemies there are? Can this kill anybody, or just unnamed NPCs? What does it matter if there are many enemies on the opposed side? What does it matter when they die?
(Remember that I don't know about your campaign, so my critique might be completely off-base here. Just making observations.)

Now, fixing the above concerns depends on many separate decisions about how your campaign works in detail and style. For example, here's something I would establish if I wanted to make faceless enemy soldiers a currency in the game:

Secret of Leadership
The character has a position of leadership that allows him a bunch of faceless goons at all times. Unless he specifically detaches himself, it may be assumed that he has a number of goons equal to a Leadership (I) Ability check available to him in any given scene. Furthermore, he can always call for reinforcements with a new check as long as he has not failed a Leadership (I) check during the scene. The goons are useful scenery that justifies it when the character uses his command Abilities to achieve things in conflict; they also provide the character one bonus die per available goon to any Ability checks that benefit of the aid of goons. Goons are fragile, however: an opponent can always kill goons equal to his level of success with an Ability check (in conflict or not). Cost: 2 Instinct to call reinforcements.

Defining a Secret like that goes a long way towards explaining how a campaign handles large numbers of faceless enemies; it also helps explain where the goons come from and how many there might be of them in the immediate situation. Most significantly, we can define how goons are killed in this action film context: I could have left that last sentence out of the Secret description to create a secondary Secret that was all about goon-killing, but I opted to include that option right in there in the definition of goon; it is a staple of the action movie that practically anybody starting with the kid sidekick and his dog can kill a goon, after all.

But what about the cool image of a character walking through a firefight with steel in his eyes? That's something that is better handled as a combat stunt, a description of successful action, rather than a Secret. For it to be a Secret it would have to be some sort of discernable identity element inside the fiction, but I just can't see a specific sort of combat stunt as such: did he learn it in hero school, or is it a secret gypsy martial art, or what? Not feeling it. (For those following at home, this is my issue with Exalted Charms: too many of them are just arbitrary combat maneuvers devoid of dramatic significance.) The closest I could get would be something like this, inspired by late '90s Punisher:

Secret of the Spirit of Death
The character has given himself over to a presence, something that comes for men of action in the darkest places of the Earth in their darkest hour. Allowing this mysterious spirit to take control enables the character to ignore all fear and kill without remorse. When fighting savagely in extended conflict, the character can force an exchange to become parallel to hurt his enemy at the best of his Ability. Furthermore, any Harm he takes because of this is immediately shaken down at the cost of 1 Instinct per level shaken, up to the amount of Instinct left. Cost: 1 Vigor + Instinct equal to the Harm levels shaken.

That Secret has some discrete meaning in the fiction as something that is part of the character: he once was desperate and survived a lethal fight, coming out of it with this semi-mystical power he barely understands himself. I can work with that. The immediate fictional description of what the character does when he's using the Secret is somewhat less specific, too, allowing us more variety in describing the events in the game.

But, still, what about stunting in general? Should each separate combat stunt get its own Secret? I would say no - as I've discussed, I don't think it's a good idea to make Secrets out of things that are just smart moves in a crisis situation. Secrets should depict special knowledge and abilities, not cool fight choreography. Of course this doesn't mean that a character couldn't get a Secret that makes cool fight choreography more rewarding or easier to accomplish. Something like this I could totally see in an action movie -styled campaign:

Secret of Swashbucklery
The character's uncommon courage allows him to succeed in daring stunts. Every time he makes a smart and low-key tactical move in a fight he gets to add his check result with an appropriate Ability to his Swashbuckling pool, representing his tactical advantage. (This counts in addition to any other effect such checks might have.) The Swashbuckling pool is emptied if any such check fails, however. Instead of adding to the pool the player can opt for a flashy combat stunt by describing such and burning Swashbucklery pool for bonus dice in an Ability check. Instead of bonus dice, the player may opt to take out enemy goons 1:1 with his Swashbucklery pool.

As you can see, that's a sort of "lone hero" mirror of that leadership Secret up above: both give you resource pools (goons are essentially a pool of resources even if I didn't call it that) that turn into bonus dice for fighting, and they even cancel each other out in a way. What's more important, this Secret says something about character identity (he's reckless, which allows him to swashbuckle) while encouraging the player to describe a variety of combat tactics: he'll start with conservative and careful moves to add to his Swashbucklery pool, presumably, and then makes a big showy move now and then to utilize his amassed pool. The overall effect here is to encourage attention towards the specific fight choreography without predetermining what the character is doing, exactly.

I hope those musings help you out with your campaign!
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Eero, thanks a lot for your reply;;;

well, let's see if i have understood...

what i describe like a secret is more a "narrative action", than, and the secrets have to be something the character trains and learn...

Thanks for the explanation, and for the knowledge sharing!


Ah, ok.. i have read your post with more calm now and i think i've understood...

The secret i explained is without a pourpose... Maybe, and just maybe, 'cause, after youir explanation i think will be difficult, creating a crunch modifier with the secret (like a new pool) and makin' him more specific will help to increase the effectiveness of the secret...

is that?

Eero Tuovinen

Well, of course I don't know the whole picture of what you're doing - the sensibility of a Secret depends as much on its context as its substance, as it will be used in play alongside everything else in the campaign. In this regard I'm just taking potshots here in the hope that you'll find something useful in my musings.

Perhaps it would be useful if you told me what you were trying to accomplish with this Secret, exactly. Looking over those musings of mine, I'm really all over the board in speculating about your motivation. Do you want a cool combat maneuver, or are you figuring out how characters could kill a lot of enemies at once, or do you just like the idea of a powerful combat move that causes the character Harm? I'm evidently having some trouble zeroing in on the fundamental purpose here.
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.


Ok... well...

when i've wrote the secret i was thinking: will be cool if the character can, in the middle of the sotry, pull out from a endless situation with a super thing, avoiding the principal focus of the story (wich isn't a shooter, but more like a stealth adventure) and choke the pothers players with a "i didn't expecting this" situation...

Eero Tuovinen

Ah, yes. That is a good motivation, you just need to set up your Secret to be somewhat more generic to leave room for the players to fill in the details when they play. And the Secret needs to be such that it doesn't kill off important characters too easily. Perhaps something like this:

Secret of Mercenary
The character is a professional soldier. The player can roll any bonus dice the character gains to combat Ability checks as penalty dice for his immediate opponents, instead.

Showdown Tactics
The character can shut down an extended conflict with a successful Firefight (V) check by taking drastic and risky action; the conflict ends as if the character had won it as a simple conflict. However, the check made to activate this Secret does not deduct from Harm suffered by the character himself regardless of whether the action is parallel against an opponent or not. Cost: 3 Vigor. Requirement: Secret of Mercenary

Secret of Tactician
The character only pays one Pool point to activate any tactical Secret he knows, but only when the described action seems credible to a majority of the play group (SG vote resolves ties). Do not actually stop to wait for a vote, but rather assume that everybody's OK with your tactical narration unless somebody says something. Requirement: Secret of Mercenary

(The other Secrets there are just some support and context for Showdown Tactics, to make it clear how one might use it.)
Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.