Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Feng Shui: Dodging

This past Saturday was the end of our Feng Shui adventure arc, and while this isn't my last foray into the realms of Hong Kong-style action RPGing, I'm ready to get back to Traveller for a while.

That said, I'm not done talking about Feng Shui.
During the last fight of the story arc, the players were fighting a big bad boss supported by many mooks in a defensive posture. The players spent a lot of time dodging incoming gunfire by said mooks, and I'm not certain if I handled it the best way.

In Feng Shui's rules as written, you declare a dodge after the GM says someone is attacking you but before the roll is made and the result announced. Now maybe I'm a big ol' softie, but I thought it was cinematic to allow the PCs to go "Oh crap!" and abort to a dodge after the roll is made but before the result is announced. I figured that losing shots (and potentially burning Fortune) was penalty enough in an action game -- after all, if you're dodging you're not fighting, and Fortune is a limited resource.

The problem with this approach is that it slows the game down. It's one thing when the PCs are fighting an equal number of Named characters, but if they're fighting 30 or so mooks with automatic rifles, it can turn into... well...
GM: Two of the mooks hit. A simple dodge will work for one, but you'll need to dodge and spend Fortune to avoid the other. Will you?
Player: Huh? Sorry, I wasn't listening.
GM: Will you dodge?
Player: Oh, sure.
[awkward silence ensues]
GM: Will you please spend Fortune on that?
Player: Oh, right...
With 6 players and 30 or so mooks, this can happen many times in a game session.

I'm not yet ready to do away with the "abort to a dodge" house rule, because I understand that bosses hit hard and players don't want their characters hit -- but I'm currently giving it the gimlet eye and sizing up its neck while I sharpen the butcher knife.

But what I think I will do is remove the ability to abort to a dodge against mooks. I realize that they are designed to be speedbumps, but they need to be some kind of a threat and they seem to work best in groups. So perhaps I will rule that when fighting mooks, you either take your lumps if they hit or you just do a blanket "I dodge" and... hmm. That still ends up with having to roll fortune and a game slowdown.

Okay, how about this: Mooks are designed primarily to be distractions and resource drainers for  PCs, so just the act of spending Fortune against one of their attacks ought to be an automatic dodge. So if, say, you happened to be a single hero running heroically down a gauntlet as a squad of mooks empties automatic weapons at you, you just tell the GM "I'm dodging" and the GM starts debiting your dodge account:
GM: The mooks shoot at you as you run through their killzone, automatic rifles blazing.
Player: I dodge.
GM: [consults pre-rolled Mook AV chart] Okay, you're down five shots and three Fortune.
Player: Um, I only have two Fortune.
GM: No, what you mean to say is that you have zero fortune and a gunshot wound. 
Yes, I like this concept. Let's see how it plays out the next time I break out the Feng Shui rules.

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