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Assess the Situation & Athletics in a chase scene

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#1 phild



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 04:54 AM

Just finished my first WFRP adventure (these things take a while with my group), which was a slightly tweaked Eye for an Eye. The final session had the group chasing the Cult Leader out from an underground temple, through the grounds of Grunewald Lodge to the front door of the lodge, with the Cult Leader having a 10 manoeuvre head start. Half way through the chase, a bunch of beastmen burst into the grounds, making it a three-way chase with the PCs in the middle.

To begin with, the PCs loaded up with Fatigue to try and catch the Cult Leader. However, one or two of the PCs soon got so far behind the pace that they had no chance of success. So those PCs stopped running and instead just ambled along using a single manoeuvre, and used Assess the Situation to regain their lost fatigue.

To me, this highlighted a serious issue with the repeated use of this particular card in a chase scene. But I can think of multiple fixes.

1) the problem wasn't the card, it was the scene. Although it was a sequential chase, it shouldn't have been treated as an encounter scene, and so Assess the Situation could only be used once.

2) give Assess the Situation a recharge rating. I think this may well be part of the solution.

3) give Assess the Situation a special recharge rating, such that it can be used once and then recharges in each Rally step.

I don't like suggestion 1, I'm leaning towards suggestion 3, but equally I acknowledge that the way I put the scene together probably played a role - the progress tracker was too long, which led to this result.

The other thing is with Athletics. Instead of using the rule option in the Toolkit to swap an action for a free manoeuvre, I had the players roll Athletics. Success gave a free manoevure, while 2 boons gave 1 fatigue back (which could then be spent on more manoeuvres if wanted). This worked ok, but the trouble is it gives too much meta knowledge to the player, with the player making the decision about how many manoeuvres to take only after the skill result is known. If I was to do it again, I'd have the player declare the number of moves they wanted to make first and THEN roll Athletics, with a success returning 1 fatigue, 3 successes returning 2 fatigue and 2 boons giving a free manoeuvre. Or something like that. This would also introduce the possibility of a new Athletics action card, with a Sprint-type action on the red side and a Distance-running action on the green side.

p.s. maybe this should be on the House Rules sub-forum. I never know for sure. It's not like there's that much traffic here, just merge them all into one I say!

#2 Superchunk



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:17 AM

Assess The Situation is a combat action card (it has the Defense trait). I would let my players know that they can't use combat-related action cards during non-combat scenes (including chase scenes unless combat was taking place during the scene too).

Problem solved.

#3 phild



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:59 AM

Superchunk said:


Assess The Situation is a combat action card (it has the Defense trait). I would let my players know that they can't use combat-related action cards during non-combat scenes (including chase scenes unless combat was taking place during the scene too).

Problem solved.



True, but it's a bit severe. Firstly, it's an "action" - there's nothing that says it's a *combat* action. Secondly, most chases are combat scenes - it's just that they occur either before or after the actual fighting. Thirdly, it is illogical in a simulationist sense: "Yes, you can recover as much fatigue as you want when you're in the middle of a fight, but when you're running towards one you can't".

#4 HedgeWizard



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 07:18 AM

My players haven't abused this action yet, but I do like the special recharge rating idea (recharges at rally step).  I'd be equally inclined to just remove the card entirely and leave it as a standard rally step action only.



#5 k7e9



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 09:18 AM

In a chase scene the die roll is the action that advances you on the progress tracker, which takes you closer to your goal, most often it's an athletics is the skill used, resilience sometimes (if it's a really long distance run, like a marathon), coordination seldom (if it includes a high degree of balance, such as chasing over the rooftops). I don't do manouvers during chase scenes, but I allow the players to take fatigue to add fortune dice to their dice pools, obviously fatigue over strength will also generate black dice to the check, so they can't use the fatigue -> fortune for long.

If you want do assess the situation or do any other action, you do not get to do an athletics roll for the chase. So you could stop to get your breath back (assess the situation) but you risk beeing left behind. I usually put a token for the fleeing NPC on the tracker, and move it one step each turn and if it's too far ahead it has fled the scene and the PC's cannot catch up. A fast opponent might advance two steps each turn.

A head start for the opponent means more steps need to be accumulated to catch up.

1 success = move one step on the tracker.
3 successes = move two steps on the tracker.
Sigmar's comet = move an extra step on the tracker.
Chaos star = You hurt yourself during the exertion (could result in fatigue, wounds, negative conditions or story implications).
Boons/banes = The universal effects (i.e. you can actually recover a fatigue when rolling).

It minimizes my die rolling, and let's the players do all the work to catch up (same goes if they are fleeing). In writing all this sound very dull and might result in a lot of die rolling, so try to add interesting things around the players. The chase might go over an unstable bridge in a storm (making chaos stars interesting), reasons to stop running might occur (such as having to save a poor farmer from robbers in an ally), the character they're pursuing might turn over furniture (making the athletics roll harder for the PCs) and so on.

Try to make the chase short but intense, I aim for at most 3-4) rounds of chasing so 3-4 rolls for each PC, with 1-2 events/scenes (as described above) during the chase. Then the bad guy should be caught or fled. One roll could reflect 5-10 minutes of running, or 5-10 seconds depending on what you want, so one roll might be on that dangerous bridge, the next might be in the middle of a small village.

This is barely even a houserule, I believe it's just an adaptation of the chase scene progress tracker example that FFG gives in one of the books (I forget which, remind me). Long post over. ;)

#6 Jericho



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Posted 28 August 2012 - 02:20 PM

For chases I remain in encounter mode.

Every runner will select a number of movement manœuvres to flee or catch up, they will do this secretly. Then I will ask for competitive Athletics checks (or Coordination in special circumstances) with a difficulty set by terrain and other obstacles.

Then I add up move manoeuvres plus number of successes on the athletics to get a "speed total" and then compare scores to see who gains on who.

I usually create a tracker with an event space in the middle being the quarry and move all other runners up or down a number of spaces equal to their differential with the quarry.

Anyone that catches up can use their Action to attack or tackle or whatnot.

Very simple to use, very effective.

Usually, PCs with high Athletics and high To will prevail. In the first rounds of the race people usually go all out, and get tired a lot, if the quarry isn't caught, people slow down as they try to keep Fatigue in check. Assess the situation could be used to regain fatigue.


The key here is to use case by case analysis and apply logical modifiers to the Athletics (harder in difficult terrain, but also if you run 5 moves instead of 2, unless you are on a good road clear of any debris) and apply modifiers to the Assess also. Assessing when running 5 moves in a round should be harder. And remember that armour should also have an impact here.


My 2 cents.

(You could give a +1 bonus to the Athletics result to elves and a -1 to dwarfs and halflings.)

The time of change has come!

#7 Blackberry



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Posted 29 August 2012 - 01:06 PM

 Don't forget that, in story mode, you decide how long a "round" is based on the particulars of the scene being played out.  

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