July 24th, 2010

call of mordicai

Oubliette: Math & Mechanics; Damage.

("The World of Kamandi!" map by Jack "King" Kirby.)

In the spirit of World of Darkness: Mirrors, I thought I'd take a second to actually write down some of the house rules I run my Oubliette campaign with.

Upgrading Damage
(This supplements the rules located on page 171 of The World of Darkness)

Characters in combat are relatively fragile-- with six to ten health boxes, a single turn of combat can turn lethal. On the other hand, healing times are exceptionally quick, with even the worst beating going away in a matter of hours & a near-fatal gunfight being right as rain after a week of bed rest. These two conflicting poles can be reconciled by upgrading damage. When a player takes more than three points of damage from any single attack, the Storyteller can decide (or the Player can request) to upgrade the damage-- three points of any one type can be traded up to a single point of the next higher level. That is, three points of a bashing attack can be taken as a single point of lethal or three points of lethal can be traded in for a point of aggravated damage. The new damage is marked as normal, starting at the left of the health boxes & any remaining damage from the initial attack is also recorded. This allows savage blunt trauma to leave marks for much longer & for stabbings & gunshot wounds to have much more realistic post-battle consequences, requiring hospital stays & intensive care. It also allows Players to stay in a fight for longer, as they won't be knocked out as quickly, which can make battles more dramatic.

Blondie raised the broken chair leg, bringing it smashing down onto Gillick's head; she rolls her pool of 7 dice (Strength 3 + Melee 3 + 2 weapon bonus -1 for an improvised weapon). She comes up with 5 successes, dealing 5 points of bashing damage. This is the surprise round, & the Storyteller doesn't want Gillick out of the fight so quickly & thinks this is a good opportunity to display the brutality & horror of violence. Thus, the Storyteller upgrades the damage, telling Gillick's Player that he takes 1 point of lethal damage & 2 points of bashing. "The make-shift club hits his head with a sickening crack, as you feel the skull fracture. The farces & puppet shows had prepared you for a dull thump & a harmless pratfall; instead, Gillick reels, blood welling up & then pouring out of the gash in his scalp-- & you think you see bone!"

Scaling Damage
(This supplements the rules located on page 171 of The World of Darkness)

Some creatures or devices in Oubliette are beyond the outrageous of slings & arrows. A crawling reptilian kaiju from the depths of the ocean isn't fazed by human fists any more than a massive mechanical juggernaut the size of a skyscraper is slowed by pitchforks & scythes. That is to say, even the fiercest strike is unlikely to have any noticeable effect on a force of nature, but sometimes the massive threats of Oubliette will stop to swat a fly. Scaling damage is simple; just adjust damage from one type down to the next lower kind, with bashing disappearing entirely. If a creature scales damage down, bashing damage is ignored, & lethal damage becomes bashing damage, which aggravated damage becomes lethal. Some creatures could be so nearly invulnerable that even lethal damage is ignored, & any aggravated damage is downgraded to bashing. These terrors must be stopped through story elements & action rather than any plausible Player combat.

The steam-driven tank rattled down the city street, spiked wheels digging into the cobblestones. Rioters against the Vizier's alliance with their ancient enemies filled the streets, throwing rocks at the tank & hitting it with sticks. The Storyteller ignores all these attacks, knowing that the tank is impermeable to such minor ills. One of the Players has a character hiding in an alley, & as the tank rumbles past belching black smoke, her character jumps out with her tomahawk & cleaves into it. She rolls her dice pool of 9 (Strength 3 + Melee 4 + 2 weapon bonus), rolling 3 successes, which the Storyteller records as 3 bashing (out of the 20 boxes of lethal the tank has). "Your axe bites into the brass, cutting a divot, but the massive tank rolls on."

Tactical Movement
(This supplements the rules located on page 95 & 164 of The World of Darkness)

The rules for tactical speed allow the use of miniatures & maps, & are very simple. When calculating a character's speed, record the human species factor as zero, & adjust any other races or creature's speed factor accordingly. In essence, this means that most human character's movement speed will be their Strength + Dexterity, plus any other bonuses such as the Fleet of Foot Merit. Each point of speed is one square or hex that the character can move. Characters, as usual, can move & perform an action, or move twice. For other creature's species factor for movement, subtract five. In situations where this results in no speed, such as a turtle with a species speed factor of -4, assume that in a tactical situation the players can move around it more or less with impunity.

Beetle is surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves, & is 15 squares from the safety of the walled fort, whose doors are being held open for him. The wolves howl ominously, chilling his blood, & he glances at the steel bars, raised & tantalizing, wondering if he can sprint & make it. His tactical speed is 6 (Strength 2 + Dexterity 4). A quick success on a Intelligence + Survival check tells him that the wolves speed is 9 (Strength 3 + Dexterity 3 + 3 species factor). Even if he springs all out, the wolves will overtake him, so he draws his flintlock pistols & prepares to move & fight his way to the gate...