In which Arion tools up, and I learn how to handle Persons of Interest and gunfights.
Travel Scene: Metropolis
Advance the Story Scene: Question a Person of Interest – Civilian Rep 4 Professional, Middle (Downtown), Retail.
“Arion,” says Anderson’s voice, distorted by some mechanism. He does not identify himself. “Take what you found to a friend of mine, address attached. He might be able to get it open. Report in once you’ve done that.”
“Huh,” says Arion. “We just came from there.”
The return trip is uneventful.
The PEFs are in sections 4641, and let’s assume I’ve set the table up so that I can reach the target building in section 1 avoiding three of the four PEFs by moving through sections 9, 8, 5, 3, and 1 in that order.
The PEF resolves as four NPCs; Rep 4 Exotic Private Eye, Rep 4 Shaker Academic, Rep 5 Exotic Police, Rep 4 Exotic Professional. Talk the Talk: Arion 14124 = 3 successes, Police 33144 = 3 successes, exchange pleasantries only.
Roger is walking a bit less stiffly now, so draws no attention from a group of people as the two pilots walk up to a computer repair shop downtown. They enter, the doorbell announcing their arrival.
The dice determine that the Big Bad is there ahead of Arion, this time with two mooks (both Rep 4 Gangsters, like Chapman himself armed with BAPs) and a further roll for the Defining Moment says there is no-one else to encounter. After the Defining Moment we would meet the Person of Interest, but since the Big Bad is already there, he is already talking to the PoI. As Arion has solved fewer than 4 clues we go to Talk the Talk; Arion rolls 55161 = 2 successes, while Chapman rolls 26131 = 4 successes; this means the Confrontation escalates to deadly force.
Chapman is inside, with a couple of hard-looking individuals backing him up, talking to the shop owner. At the sound of the bell he looks towards the door.
“You again?!” He gestures to his minions. “Kill them.” As the shopkeeper drops to the floor and scuttles into the back room, all five of the others draw their pistols and seek what cover they can amid the displays of electronics and counters.
Here we see a barebones setup for the encounter as per p.59 – Rep 5s opposite each other 6″ apart. As stationary figures inside a building, everyone is counted as concealed and in cover (p. 28). I could argue that as Arion and Roger have just entered they are moving, and thus only concealed, but they’re outnumbered and outgunned so that seems harsh.
Activation dice are not in use at this stage. As per p. 60, the two leaders now take an In Sight test with neither counting as active. Arion gets +1d6 due to his Steely Eyes attribute, and everyone gets -1d6 for being Concealed; Arion rolls 5d6 (5+1-1) for 24666 = 1 success, while Chapman rolls 4d6 (5-1) for 3556 = 1 success. As this is a tie, I roll again for both sides at -1d6. Arion 2356 = 2 successes, Chapman 446 = 0 successes; Arion wins the In Sight test and so he and Roger will act. Flipping back from p. 60 to p. 25, I see that all figures on the active side now act in descending order of Rep, then we take reaction tests, then the active side continues its movement.
Since “if the figure can fire, it will” Arion clears leather and opens up on Chapman – a little metagaming here, I’m picking him because he has the highest Rep and is therefore the most dangerous, and as a Star I could move instead of shooting, but I want to see how shooting works, so… Arion only has an ordinary pistol (Target Rating 1) and so only has one shot. He rolls 2d6 vs Rep and gets 1, 6 = pass 1d6. Since the target is in cover, he misses. Roger now fires at Chapman and gets 14 = pass 2d6, a hit. Roger now rolls for damage using only 1d6 (because none of the modifiers on p. 28 apply), scoring 6; Chapman is knocked to the ground and Out of the Fight. I really ought to consider hiring this guy permanently.
Chapman has two Star Power dice left and may as well use them; he rolls 44 and fails to soak the damage. Say goodnight, Dick.
Now my instinct was to take the Received Fire test as soon as Arion missed Chapman, but p. 25 seems pretty clear that Arion and Roger both fire before any tests are taken. Page 31 also seems clear that only Chapman would take the test; I hunt around for a while and find from the NPC Generators that Business Magnates use the Civilian reaction tables. Good, but by the point Chapman could take the test he has been gunned down and won’t be able to execute whatever the tables mandate, so I don’t bother rolling.
His two mooks, however, have seen their boss shot and drop, triggering a Man Down test. They are both Rep 4 Criminals. The first mook rolls 3d6 (he gets an extra die for being in cover) against Rep 4 and gets 224 = pass 2d6; he will Carry On with his last orders (“kill them”). The second mook rolls 446 = pass 2d6 and also carries on. If Chapman were still in the fight he could help with his Leader Die, but once he has gone OOF that seems unreasonable. I turn his token grey to indicate he is OOF. Mook One steps up as the new leader on Chapman’s side.
At this point Arion could lead Roger away as they haven’t finished moving, but I still want to see how the gunfight plays out, so they stand their ground.
Arion draws on Chapman’s orders and fires, missing him. Roger takes a fraction of a second to aim, and his first round drops the opposing leader. The two bodyguards are taken by surprise.
Activation: Arion 5, Chapman 2. Both sides act but Arion goes first.
Arion fires at Mook One, missing but causing a Received Fire test. The mook passes 2d6 and as he can fire, he does; he misses Arion, forcing Arion to take a Received Fire test, but as Arion is a Star he may choose how many dice to pass and chooses two, allowing him to return fire with a Rush Shotl he passes 2d6 and hits, rolling a 3 for damage; this is less that the target’s Rep so the mook Ducks Back into cover. He is already in cover, but the advantage of this is that he can’t fire again until next active.
Roger meets all the requirements to be in the same group as Arion and also fires, at the other mook; he misses and the second mook passes 1d6 on Received Fire, so makes a Rush Shot at Roger; this misses because Roger is in cover, but does trigger a Received Fire test. Roger is able to benefit from Arion’s Leader Die, and so rolls 1d6 vs Arion’s Rep (5); a 4 gives him pass 1d6 on that, and the roll of 23 vs Roger’s Rep (also 5) is pass 2d6 for a total of pass 3d6; Roger can’t pass more than 2d6 so takes that result, and since he can fire, he takes a Rush Shot at his assailant. 25 = pass 2d6, hit, and a 2 for damage forces the second mook to Duck Back.
Both mooks have now broken line of sight with Our Heroes. Notice that had they not ducked back, they would still have line of sight despite being in cover and concealed (p. 23). I turn the mooks’ counters around to show that they are ducked back.
The mooks now activate, pop up and fire back. One hits Arion, but the damage dice are less than his Rep so force him to Duck Back; luckily he is not OOF so doesn’t need to use Star Power. Since he wasn’t missed, he doesn’t suffer a Received Fire test. Mook two misses Roger, who does take a Received Fire test and replies with a Rush Shot – this misses, causing another Received Fire test and mook two fires back, causing Roger to Duck Back.
All four combatants trade shots for a few seconds while ducking in and out of cover.
Activation: Arion 4, Chapman 1. Both sides active, Arion goes first.
Now, as per p. 22, figures can move as much as they want when active and inside a section, so I move Arion and Roger up to the Person of Interest, taking care to turn them to leave the gangsters inside their front arc. Arion pauses to pick up Chapman’s Big Ass Pistol as it’s a better weapon.
Arion and Roger both fire at mook one in the hope of triggering a reaction test that will cause both to flee. Arion now has a BAP so gets two shots, and points both at mook one so that he can claim an extra damage die. He hits once, misses once, and forces two Duck Backs, which by definition means Roger can’t hit, so he shifts target to mook two. Meanwhile mook one takes a Received Fire test, passes 1d6 and Ducks Back again. Unfortunately Duck Back doesn’t stack, so this has no further impact. Roger’s shot at mook two misses, but passing 1d6 on the Received Fire test causes the second mook to duck back also.
The fire and movement continues, with Arion and Roger working their way up the left hand side of the shop to get to the shopkeeper and flank their opponents.
Activation: Arion 4, Chapman 2. Both sides activate, Arion goes first.
I debate whether to give the gangsters an In Sight test when Arion and Roger move; after poring over p. 23 for a while I decide that I should have done that last turn, so let’s do that now. Arion gets 24556 = 1 success, the mooks get 123 = 3 successes, but since they are ducked back they cannot fire and complete their reaction instead. The only option available to them if they can’t fire is to charge into melee, so they do that.
By this point I’m confident enough to abandon the main body of the rules and run the rest of the fight just using the Quick Reference Sheets, shifting to entirely abstract movement.
This is a two on two melee, so everyone takes a charge into melee test at +1d6 for having a target in cover. Arion passes 3d6, as does mook one, while Roger passes 2d6 and mook two passes 1d6. Mook one fires a Rush Shot at Roger and hits, forcing Roger to Duck Back. Damn, that means Arion is alone against two mooks, and as a Civilian he cannot fire at mook two even though he scored more successes.
- Round 1: Arion 1 success, mook one 1 success.
- Round 2: Arion 1, mook 0; Arion rolls 5 for damage and as this exceeds the mook’s Rep, he is down and Out of the Fight. As a Grunt, he has no Star Power so it’s goodnight Vienna.
- Round 3: Mook two steps up and Arion hasn’t lost any Rep or dice. Arion rolls 2 successes, the mook one; Arion rolls 2 for damage and the mook loses one point of Rep for the duration of the fight.
- Round 4: Arion 3 successes, mook 2, Arion shaves another point of Rep off the mook.
- Round 5: Arion 2, mook 0; Arion KO’s the mook.
Unfortunately this flanking manoeuvre brings the two pilots within charging range of the bodyguards, who ambush them, and things descend into a brutal melee. Roger is pushed back and gets tangled up in one of the displays, but Arion makes short work of the gangsters with fists, feet and knees.
QUESTIONING THE PERSON
As Arion has possession of the field of battle, he can now question the Person of Interest. Each rolls Rep d6 looking for successes; there are no applicable modifiers on p. 57 so it’s raw dice rolls. Arion gets 11246 = 3 successes, the shopkeeper gets 2346 = 2 successes so he provides some useful information and Arion counts as having solved one clue, bringing his running total to two out of eight.
“Hello,” says Arion, leaning over the counter where the shopkeeper is hiding. He dangles the McGuffin over the edge. “Mr Anderson said you might be able to help us? We’re trying to find out what’s on this.” The contact reaches out tentatively for it.
“Oh, wait, where are my manners?” says Arion, putting away his gun. “There, that’s more civilised, isn’t it? Roger, would you mind collecting up their pistols please? We shouldn’t leave them lying around, somebody might get hurt.”
The contact turns the McGuffin over in his hands several times, and examines it thoughtfully.
“I might be able to do something with this,” he admits. “But I’ll need something. This has military-grade physical encryption – see that tag there? We either need the key it’s paired with, or someone who knows the admin reset password. You have either of those?”
“No,” says Arion, thoughtfully. “But I bet I know someone who does…”
RECOVERY AND REP
Chapman passes 1d6 for Recovery, meaning he returns at Rep 5 but has another Decreasing d6. Mook one returns at normal Rep, but mook two returns at normal Rep with one Decreasing d6.
Arion and Roger both fought without going Out of the Fight or using Star Power, so they each get one Increasing d6. As I understand the rules, Arion hasn’t solved all the clues yet so can’t capture the Big Bad – “We don’t have enough evidence to hold him.”
- Star: Arion, 5 Star Power left, 2 clue of 8 solved, one increasing Rep die.
- Grunt: Roger Houston, Rep 5 Pilot, one increasing Rep die.
- Big Bad: Richard Chapman, 2 Star Power left, two decreasing Rep dice – now fully recovered.
I hadn’t noticed this during my readthrough and subsequent review, but rolling to hit is now 2d6 vs Rep rather than 1d6 + Rep vs target number; statistically, this means figures are more likely to hit than before, speeding up combat.
Rerolling ties until somebody wins the In Sight seems unnecessarily slow, but I will try it a few more times before doing anything about it; I find that it helps to play a few games with the Rules As Written before changing them, as this often teases out the reason why things are as they are.
Movement is much more cinematic than I’m used to in THW games, i.e. as much as you want but watch out for line of sight and triggering In Sight tests.
Notice how you can get in a lot of attacks in a single turn, and it looks as if actual figures on a table are largely optional, so with a spreadsheet for random numbers I could run a LTL campaign in the office during my lunch hours, which is an attractive idea.
Overall, the rules changes seem to make things faster-moving and more cinematic.