Gameplay

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VERS -> Book I - Player Rules -> Gameplay


With the basic concepts and character creation out of the way, this chapter ties up the loose ends and explains all the ways the previous information interacts to form a framework in which characters and create stories, interacting with each other and the environment.

Combat

One of the three primary types of gameplay in any roleplaying game is combat. In VERS there are three types of combat. Physical Combat is the standard model that most people think of when they say the word combat, but there is also mental and social combat.

Mental Combat typically takes the form of out-thinking your enemy, tricking them, surprising them, or otherwise using cunning to defeat them. This could also take the form of a riddle contest or some other more esoteric mode. Regardless, the idea with mental combat is always outsmarting the opponent in some way, eroding their Focus and reducing their ability to continue trying to outsmart you. When an opponent is defeated in mental combat they do not lose their life or even their consciousness, but they still feel the repercussions: confusion, panic, or even just simple exhaustion.

Social combat, on the other hand, is about outmaneuvering your enemy in a social situation. Maybe its trading witty barbs with your nemesis at a fancy party, or intimidating the thugs who accost you in the alleyway after. The goal with social combat is to weaken the character’s Morale and make them no longer desire to engage your character further or to submit to your force of personality. When a character is defeated in social combat they are not injured physically but can be embarrassed, intimidated, or otherwise easily manipulated.

Regardless of the type of combat, it is all resolved in basically the same way. One roll. Remember the player rolls all rolls, so if they are the ones making the attack they roll their relevant skill competence (Deception + Intuition, Ranged Attack + Agility, or Influence + Charisma, as examples of all three types) and subtract the opponent’s defenses (Discipline, Dodge, or the target's Parry competence, depending). Conversely, if the player is the defender then they roll Dodge, Discipline, or Parry and use the attacks skills as a penalty. Attack skills are always based on a Finesse attribute.

Attack Roll = Attack Skill - Defense

Once an attack has succeeded, it is time to calculate the damage. Every character has a base Effect Value (EV) equal to their power attributes (Strength for physical attacks) that automatically applies to a successful strike. This EV would be added to any additional EV that would come from abilities, advantages, weapons, or stunts. This total EV is how much damage the character does on the successful strike.

EV = Power Attribute + Abilities + Equipment + Stunts

Having calculated the total EV, compare the EV against the target’s Resistance Value (RV). Just like every character has a base EV, every character also has a base RV equal to their Stamina (for physical attacks). Again, like EV, RV can also be modified by advantages, abilities, equipment, or stunts.

RV = Resistance Attribute + Abilities + Equipment + Stunts

If the attacker’s EV is greater than the defender’s RV, the target takes damage based on the remainder, referred to as the Normalized Damage Value, or NDV. The level of damage is determined by the NDV.

Conversely, if the original attack misses then the attacker may be subject to defensive stunts, based on the Degrees of Failure. Depending on the nature of attack and defender it may even be appropriate to damage the attacker, based on what is dramatically appropriate at the time (fist-fighting a knight in armor, for example).

Attacks that target a group use the average of their defenses to resist. An Olympic gymnast cannot tumble out of the way if she is surrounded by clumsy oafs, nor can the most stoic of characters prevent a group from becoming a riotous mob just by their presence.

Any penalties from damage dealt are cumulative across damage types, meaning that taking damage on all three fronts (mentally, physically, and emotionally) is far worse than simply facing a foe attacking from one angle.

Final Considerations

Becoming Disabled, Disarrayed, or Debilitated is the type of stress that could easily put a permanent mark on a character. This could be the development of a disadvantage, but only if dramatically appropriate. As usual, the GM is the final arbiter for these decisions.

It is also important to remember that many times actions affect us on multiple levels. A sneak attack, for instance, deals Focus damage as well as Injury damage. A sneak attack by a treacherous ally may even warrant that same action also dealing Morale damage. Not only is that fine, it is an expected situation that brilliant strategists have used for millennia to win wars. The above example is essentially what happened to Julius Caesar, after all, allowing a group of regular people to kill off a trained soldier. The most important thing to remember, however, is not to get too carried away. Multiple types of damage in one attack should be rare and something that the character works hard to set up. It shouldn’t happen every other attack. Yes, a character’s feelings are probably hurt whenever he gets stabbed, but unless that stab represents a betrayal or other emotionally charged event it doesn’t qualify for extra damage.

The Chase

Not all action scenes are fights. In fact, in literature, movies, and TV, the chase is far more common. When the villain produces overwhelming odds, or maybe the guards recognize you based on those wanted notices going around town, either way it’s time to let your feet do the talking. There are three basic stages or types of chase, each with their own mood and drama. Each of them can morph into another as the scene changes and different situations arise within the chase.

Interposing

The first type of chase is called Interposing, of which the most common use is for the hunter (character trying to stop or catch the other) to cut off the way of escape, such as placing themselves in front of a door. It can resolve in many ways though, such as a sprint to grab an item, trying to brace a door before the hunter gets into the room, or even a tackle to the ground. The equivalent action for the hunted (character trying to get away) is Escaping, which typically involves getting around the hunter, but can also mean they slide under a closing garage door, get across the tracks just before the train comes, or whatever is dramatically appropriate. Either way, Interposing/Escape ends the chase. Either the character is either trapped or gets away (although depending on the circumstances a new chase may begin).

To Interpose, your character must be within a complex move action of the target. This is resolved as an active Athletics + Agility (as opposed to Athletics + Stamina as normal) opposed by the opponent’s Athletics + Agility. Degrees of Success can be used on stunts as the GM sees fit.

Pursuit

The primary mode of the chase rules are called Pursuit, which is defined as the hunted still within sight but outside of the hunter’s full movement speed. Pursuit is handled as a series of active Athletics rolls, with both Degrees of Success and Degrees of Failure counting toward an overall Pursuit Talley. The pursuit talley is an abstraction of the distance between the characters in the chase and it goes from 1 to 10 and starts at 5. With each roll this talley grows and shrinks based on the results, with the hunter’s Degrees of Success reducing the pursuit talley his Degrees of Failure increasing the talley. This is reversed for the hunted. The pursuit talley falling below 1 means the hunter may attempt to interpose, while the talley growing above 10 means the hunted either gets away, or the Tracking phase begins.

The hunted character can attempt to place obstacles in the hunter’s path, such as pulling over objects as they pass, pushing through a crowd, or leaping over objects, etc. These impose a penalty on the hunters roll, or can grant a bonus to the hunted’s roll, depending on which one the player is (remember players make all rolls). If the character is trying to do something fancy then the GM may roll they need to make an Acrobatics roll, with the results becoming a bonus or penalty on the current Athletics rolls. If neither side is able to definitively pull away in a number of rolls equal to twice the lowest Resolve or Stamina between the two sides then whichever character owns that lowest value loses automatically as they either lose the will to continue running or become exhausted and cannot carry on. These rolls do not have a specific length but are more narrative in length, with each roll being a new opportunity for the chase dynamic to change.

Tracking

The final type of chase is Tracking. This is long distance pursuit over hours, days, and even weeks. This is the type of chase that a GM can write an entire Episode around, or even an entire Season. The hunted in this case is well outside of catchable range, and the only method of following is by using Survival to follow physical evidence, like footprints and the like or using Investigation to gather social clues by asking locals, etc.

When tracking a character, the seeker rolls either Survival or Investigation once per day. This roll uses the evader’s Stealth as the defense, and on a success the seeker keeps on the trail, with degrees of success adding to a tracking tally that works very much like the pursuit tally, with the exception of going to 20 and starting on 10. After getting enough Degrees of Success the seeker catches up to the evader and they transition into pursuit, while 20 Degrees of Failure means the trail goes cold and the evader is well and truly gone.

Stunts

By itself, combat, even well-narrated and drama-filled combat, can be a little dull. Simply waiting for your turn to roll dice to see what happens becomes little bland. This is an issue that has existed as long as tabletop RPGs have existed, and have driven the majority of innovations in the field. VERS does not claim to be a major innovation, but looks to make what is here fun and engaging without falling into rote repetition.

Stunts are basically little additions that help a player be more descriptive during combat and make the rewards of a good roll less static and more within the control of the player. When a character rolls an attack, they are able to trade their rolled Degrees of Success for these minor effects. Most of the time a character is going to want to use their Degrees of Success on their attack rolls to deal more damage to their enemies (+1 EV per two Degrees of Success), but more strategic options exist, allowing the target to be knocked back, deprived of their defense for a Turn or many other possibilities. In turn, failing the roll allows the target to use these stunts against her in the same manner. These stunts allow the player room to be creative with their attacks without overly penalizing them for poor rolls or gambling away fun in an all or nothing longshot.

The following tables contain the available Stunts, not just for combat, but also miscellaneous roleplay situations. These, of course, are not the only stunts possible. Any time a player wants to do something interesting in combat they should be encouraged. Use these stunts as examples to empower interesting combat and tactical thinking.

Combat Stunts
DoS Name Effect
1+ Push Move the target of your attack 1m back per DoS spent this way.
2 Defensive Strike +2 to Dodge until next turn.
2 Target Selection Land your blow in a specific location, giving related penalties.
2+ Power Strike +1 EV of damage per 2 Degrees of Success spent this way.
3 Assist Grant ally a +2 bonus on their next roll against this target.
3 Disarm Disarm the target. With successful Strength roll they retain grip.
3 Quick Strike Make a second attack as a free action with a -3 penalty.
4 Piercing Strike Halve the target’s RV for this attack.
4 Trip Knock your enemy prone. They avoid with a successful Dodge.
6 Alter Tempo Change the Initiative order, putting yourself at the top.


Defensive Stunts
DoS Name Effect
1+ Push Move the target of your attack 1m back per DoS spent this way.
2 Counter Get a +2 bonus on you next attack against target.
2 Force Overreach Miss leaves attacker exposed. -2 penalty on their next Defense.
2 Taunt Make a Social Attack as a free action.
3 Disarm Disarm the target. With successful Strength roll they retain grip.
3 Sacrifice Allow hit (base damage), deny target Defense on their next attack.
4 Disrupt Balance Knock your enemy prone. They avoid with a successful Dodge.


Ability Stunts
DoS Name Effect
2 Defensive Use +2 to Dodge until next Turn.
2 Shape Ability Allow an AoE Ability to be made into specific shapes.
2+ Empower Ability +1 EV per 2 DoS spent this way.
3+ Disguise Ability Give opponents trying to identify the Ability a -2 Penalty.
3 Area of Effect Make the Ability affect all in an area, user can choose type
3+ Multiple Targets +1 Target per 3 DoS spent this way.
4 Quicken Ability Make Ability use a Free Action, up to 2 in a Simple Action.
4 Penetrating Ability Cut foe’s Ability Defense in half.


Roleplaying Stunts
DoS Name Effect
2 Confidence +1 on your social RV for the next turn.
2+ Cutting Remark +1 EV to Social attack.
3 Another Point Gain an automatic second successful social attack with no DoS.
3 Flirt Character who might be attracted to you takes a -2 on social RV.
3 Jest/Inspire Allies heal a point of Morale, foes take a point of damage.
3 Stunned Silence Your foes take a -2 on their next Social roll.
4 Piercing Wit Your Intimidation cuts through their defenses, halving their RV.
4 Flourish +1 bonus on social rolls against witnesses of this action for scene.
4 Luck Successful roll gives greatest advantage (spot enemy while hidden, etc).

The Environment

The previous sections have all been about characters conflicting with other characters (combat and chases), or different ways to model the uncertainty and complexities of action (stunts). This section, then, can be seen as the final section detailing rules for conflict: characters versus the world around them.


VERSIcon.png VERS Playtest v19.7 - Online Rule Reference
Book I
Player Rules
Basics What is Roleplaying? - Characters (Ranks, Character Points)
Time (Conflict Driven, Dramatic Time, Flashbacks) - Dice and Rolling
Who is Your Character? Character Concept - Momentum - Talent - Anchor - Motivation - Flaw - Relationships
What Can They Do? Power Source - Power Level - Attributes (Mental, Physical, Social, Figured, Other) - Skills (Skills in Detail)
Advantages (Mental, Physical, Social, Universal) - Abilities (Controlled Effects, Inherent Effects, Aspects) - Gear
Gameplay Combat (Mental, Physical, Social) - The Chase - Stunts - The Environment
Book II
GM Information
Optional Rules Complex Combat (Attack Locations, Stances, Fatigue and Energy, Damage Trackers)
Rules Add-Ons, System Tweaks, System Overhauls
Gamemastering
Storytelling and Drama
Advanced Techniques
Antagonists Antagonist Creation (Sentient or Beast, Building Blocks) - Hierarchies of Villains (Minions, Grunts, Elites, Nemesis)

The Cause (True Evil, Evil for a Good Cause, Social Evil, The Players are Evil?, The Rival)

Book III
Appendices
Gear Examples