I’m doing this as an example of how I view matters in an RPG, being more a matter of life than of a game they tend to be confusing and rather hard to keep track of. One should note that a fight is not a neat organized affair, and any pretence at organization is essentially a lie. In this series we’ll be taking a look at how fighting is handled in Dangerous Journeys and Mythus.
The Rumble as a Jumble
On a rare occasion―unless the players happen to be the feisty sort―the party may wind up in a fight. Now in most other RPGs a fight is usually known as combat, and most of them are stately, organized affairs. As somebody who’s been in an actual fight―twice, and I went 0 for 2―they are messy, confusing, and you really can’t keep track of them with any real confidence.
In the Dangerous Journeys system, which Mythus uses, fighting is designed to be confused and confusing, even though the mechanics for violent conflict are written to make it seem clear and organized.
An example of this illusion is found in how the steps used in determining the course of a fight can be seen below.
We start with the matter of the environment. Where does it occur? What do things look like? What can the players see? What do they notice?
The Encounter: The first thing the JM needs to do is to make note of where and when the encounter has taken place. Is it in a wide open location such as a rolling plain at high noon, or in a narrow corridor with only a dim, flickering candle as light.
In addition he needs to note how visible each party is. Are they trying to be obvious and get noticed, or are they sneaking about trying to avoid observation? There is also the matter of how noticeable they are under the local conditions, which may either be not really noticeable at all or more noticeable than they think they are.
Example: The party is making their way down an old tunnel far beneath a long abandoned manor. Their sole source of illumination is a poor quality lanthorn―they really weren’t prepared for this―but they are being cautious and suspicious.
Further down the tunnel a troll approaches. Having just had a fight with his wife he is irritable, on edge, and about ready to put the smack down on anybody who gives him a hard time. He also knows the area better than they do, and what with them being lit while he’s in the dark gives him some advantage when it comes to spotting the group before they spot him. The first sign the party has that they’ve encountered something is when they hear a snarl which sounds like somebody large issuing a challenge.
Up next is the matter of determining what everybody notices and can see, but that’s for the next post in this series.
The most important part of adventuring is noticing what’s going on around you. This is especially important when your Persona is in a situation where danger could be present.
In Mythus this spotting danger is handled through either Perception, Mental or Perception, Physical. In either case the sub-area most used is Notice, which is simply the Persona’s chance of actually noticing something. On a success the Persona actually notices something. On a failure he doesn’t. In the latter case you can think of the failure as him just not paying attention to what’s going on around him, or maybe getting distracted.
With a success in Perception the Persona is then able to determine initiative, if it prove necessary, with no penalties. In the case of a failure the player would then subtract his effective Target Number from the actual roll to get the penalty that is applied to his initiative roll.
Example of Failure: Bob the Apothecary has a Perception, Mental (Noticing) of 32. His player rolls a 42 on his Perception Check giving Bob a +10 to his initiative. This means he has another 10 beats that need to go past before he can do anything. As you can see, not paying attention has penalties.
In the case of Special Successes and Special Failures something special happens.
In the first case a Special Success in Perception means that the lucky soul gets an effective -30 on his initiative. It’s a matter of him just noticing something before the people around him do. It’s a matter of him getting an extra Critical Turn to do something in, in addition to any bonus added by the initiative roll itself.
Where a Special Failure is concerned such a failure in perception means the Persona has really flubbed it, so he gets and addition penalty of 1 CT—30 beats—before he can do anything, in addition to the penalty applied by the roll for Perception minus the TN. Where the pace of fighting in Mythus is concerned this could be fatal.
Example: Marvin the Mercenary has a Perception, Physical (Notice) of 63. His player rolls a 00 which means a Special Failure. 100 minus 63 is 37, and since the player got a Special Failure it means the mercenary has an additional penalty of +30 for a total penalty of +67. Ignoring things can get your HP killed.
So you’ve determined if people have noticed something’s going on. If they have they then get to roll for initiative normally. If they haven’t, and they’ve had matters pointed out to them by what the opposition has done, then they get to determine initiative with the penalty applied.
However, should the other side decide they’re going to be sneaky and not bring themselves to the attention of their opposition, then that opposition gets another CT penalty to add to their initiative.
Example: Sharon has a Perception, Mental (Notice) of 54 while Malcolm has a Perception, Physical (Notice) of 36. They are talking among themselves so they’re not really paying attention, and thus get a DR of Difficult. This means that Sharon has on effective TN of 27 while Malcolm has one of 18. The GM rolls Perception for them since he doesn’t want certain parties to be forewarned when they really wouldn’t be, and gets a 25 on the dice.
So Sharon notices there is something going on that should concern her, but Malcolm remains unaware.
Their foe, a Preternatural Vampire, is aware of them—a roll of 76 versus a TN of 84—so gets a normal roll on initiative.
To size up the situation said vampire decides to hang back in the shadows before doing anything. Since Sharon has noticed something her player gets to roll for initiative normally. The procedure is…
Roll 1d10, subtract the appropriate Speed for the kind of fighting going on plus any additional bonus for Special Success, Casting, Quirk, or Psychogenic Power. Then add a +7 for taking an action plus any speed factor who armor worn, load carried, and item used.
Example: Let’s say that Sharon has a Charm she can use to give any opponent doubts. She has a Reasoning Speed of 14 and her player’s roll on the d10 is a 3. 3-14 is -11. -11 + 7 is -4, so she starts casting on Beat -4 of the fight. Since a Charm takes 30 beats—1 CT or 3 seconds—to cast her dweomer will go off if successful on Beat 24 of the affray.
Her foe—let’s call him Ronald—notices she’s casting something—the JM got a 36 on the vampire’s roll to see if he noticed, so he can still react. His Reasoning Speed is 24—he is a Preternatural Vampire after all—so his roll of 8 minus the 24 then +7 for taking an action himself means an Initiative of — 8-24+7 — -23, meaning he’s got the jump on her.
Poor Malcolm is still quite in the dark. You get right down to it, both living individuals are being taken by surprise, and Ronald may have an easy meal ahead of him.
In the next part we’ll be having a look at the different types of fighting in Mythus, starting with Mental fights.