I have some time on my hands (4 hours till my next appointment with clients, and the kids are playing outside), so I’m playing around with different combat resolution methods.
1) The Black Hack: you still have the chance to miss a blow, to whiff it. Hm. Some people have said they like that mechanism because it can build tension in a dramatic fight. Yeah, well. The magic word here is “can”. It’s possible you roll a LOT of misses, and that isn’t fun at all. Not necessarily because you don’t hit, but because nothing is moving forward.
2) powered by the Apocalpyse: you have the chance to miss or to land a partial hit. In any case, your character’s “moves” do trigger events in the game world (or at least, suggest them), and that’s a good thing.
3) Into the Odd: now we’re cooking with gas. Not only does every hit (okay, almost every hit because armor might negate 1 or 2 damage points) move the fight forward, but there’s also massive dramatic tension and narrative baked into that rule: a 1-point hit might be a glance, or a slight tactical impairment, or fear crawling up the fighter’s spine.
As much as I like playing around with traditional combat resolution methods, Into the Odd wins, hands down.
Let me try an example here.
I’m using my work-in-progress, Seattle Slicks. I roll a Cop with Body 10, Intelligence 7, Dexterity 8. Condition Monitor (hp) 3. This is what the table says:
EMP grenade (shorts all local
tech), TACTICAL AUGMENT or
CYBERDECK (d8, including
cybermodem jacks) or
4 SPELLS (d8) or 4 SPIRITS
(d8) or 4 PHYSAD POWERS”
I can decide between a piece of Tactical cyberware or a cyberdeck. Since I’m playing a cop with mediocre stats, I’ll pick the ‘ware. The random table tells me I have an Echolocation System.
I roll for money: a 6. Oh. My salary is 1,200 bucks a month. My starting money is 1d3 times that salary: 2×1,200 bucks = 2,400.
Bod 10 Int 7 Dex 8 CondMon 3. Flamethrower (d8), EMP grenade (shorts all local tech)
Let’s say he gets into a fight with a member of a go-gang (all stats 10, 3 hp, knife d6).
I allow the cop to make a Dex save so he can fire the flamethrower once before the gangster closes in. A 17, that’s not going to help much. So the Cop tries to pull the trigger, fiddling with the safety latch first, but too late, the gangster is already too close.
The Cop wins initiative, and because he’s not very intelligent, he’s closing the distance and tries to engage his opponent in close quarters combat. He rolls d4 for his wild right haymaker: 3! This takes the gangster to zero hp, but he’s still standing. A quick flick of the knife (d6) inflicts 5 points damage to the Cop. He’s down to 0 hp and Bod 8. He makes the Bod save, bloodied, but still conscious.
Obviously, the Cop now understands that punching against a knife is not too bright, so he applies his CCQ combat training (which, I assume, took place many years ago): he tries to immobilize the attacker’s knife arm and take him to the ground.
NOW Into the Odd’s beauty starts to shine: You roll saving throws to avoid danger from risky actions or situations. Trying to immobilize a knife fighter’s weapon arm definitely justifies a save against Dex. The Cop rolls a 4 — success!
The gangster tries to break the Cop’s arm bar, rolling a 7 — success!
The Cop’s only chance to survive this fight is to trap the knife fighter’s arm again. Rolling a 15, his hands slip and can’t get a grip. The gangster hacks his knife into the Cop’s shoulder, repeatedly: 3 points. Now, the Cop is down to 0 hp and Bod 5. His Bod save is not successful: Critical Damage. Heavy bleeding. Blackout. The fight is over.
Did anyone feel bored? Did anyone miss the tension of missed to-hit rolls? Certainly, not me.