Lever — RPGaDay #25

The system for The Dee Sanction provides a very basic combat system and approach with the levers and pulleys to make a formidable opponent terrifying and a weak one, necessarily, a pushover.

At the same time, I have been trying to find the best way possible to make it pseudo-compatible with other “popular” game systems, so that I’m not completely closing off to the wider market. That’s as big a challenge as I had expected. I was not deluding myself that the prospect was going to be damned hard when I’m writing some kind of system from scratch, but want it to be broadly compatible. Anyone would think I like to create insurmountable challenges.

As well as having basic stuff like a name and a brief background, opponents have: 

  • Hits – which is the number of Hits required to render a threat defenceless, defeated or dismissed. So, battled an arrogant swordsman might be to unconsciousness, but attempting to rid a location of a haunting spirit would run on until dismissed. Most of the time, zero Hits amounts to the same thing. The lever here is the quantity; player characters start with 3 Hits, so an opponent with one or two won’t last too long against such opposition, but neither would a single opponent with 6 Hits against three or four characters.
  • Resistance – type and strength of defences, along with the dice thrown to avoid harm. The format is (UP or DOWN#, #d#), representing potency (UP or DOWN#) and armour (#d#). For potency, apply the Step-Down (DOWN #) or Step-Up (UP#) to an Agents die – with a higher number indicating an easier or harder target. DOWN is bad; the opponent is swift, powerful or highly skilled. For armour, roll the dice and a result of 1 or 2 resists a Hit. The armour is Physical unless otherwise marked; some might indicate Magical, which protects from both types of damage. An average opponent will have no protection or maybe a 1d12, while a tough and highly armour Forest Troll might have 1d4. Some opponents will have a third marker that signifies further resistance or invulnerabilities, like only be hurt by silver or blessed weapons or only being visible to those in possession of a Hand of Glory acquired from a thief hung on the Winter solstice. Those require the expenditure of Tradecraft by characters or that the Agents engage in additional tasks/quests to acquire the item(s) needed. As you can see, there is a world of levers there to consider when considering an enemy’s Resistance.
  • Hit Resolution – a table of variable options the GM can use, at random, to inflict harm where a character Falters or has no means to defend against an enemy with many attacks. Some options will have additional variables (if the Resolution was an odd number or in a certain range) or might change as the tide of battle progresses (where a certain number of the enemy lie incapacitated or a certain Consequence – like Bleeding exists on three characters in the battle – exists). You can see a really simple and a slightly more complicated example of an enemy below, one with and the other without a Hit Resolution table; that’s the lever.
  • Abilities – usually, this spot contains any other details about the potential the individual or entity has to cause harm, complication or run amok. If the threat has more than one attack, it will be listed here as Multiple Attacks: #. Many attacks make an opponent a challenge for a group even when they find a lone example; more than one creature with many Attacks will be a genuine threat worthy of running away from.

A really simple opponent is just:

  • Opponent, 2 Hits (none)

It’s as simple as that; they can take two harm and deliver 1 Hit (the default) if the player character falters in their attack. Nothing formidable and as likely for them to run as anything.

And Angry Mob might be:

Angry Mob – d4+2 Hits (1d8)
 [1,2] Run Away: 0 Hits; roll 1d12 minus Hits taken; if Falter, break and run
 [3,4] Overrun: 1 Hit, Physical Challenge or character is Fallen
 [5,6] Confusion: target Step-Down-1 Physical Challenge 
 [7,8] Rally: Recover 1 Hit (4 people)
Overwhelm: The mob contains 4 x Hits people; it inflicts ½ x Hits (rnd up) auto-Hits per Moment (choose a random Agent; inflict 1 Hit damage).

The lever there is the added layer of action, reaction and response, making the opponent a more complicated target to deal with.

As I say, I’m considering how to provide a fair selection of ready-to-run enemies, while also providing a basic guide to creating your own and converting from other popular systems. The more levers the GM has to pull and make adjustments, the better.

Every day during August, I’ll be writing something new on The Dee Sanction and aim to connect the word prompt of the day with the development of the game. Check out the concept, the list and the graphics over at AUTOCRATIK.

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