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Upgrading difficulty for environment--Destiny point?

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I'm planning a combat encounter in a crowded city square, where a crowd of people will be panicking as the firefight takes place.

 

My instinct is to just automatically upgrade all the PCs' ranged attack difficulties, so that Despair can mean a bystander being hit or affected in some way by the attack.

 

Would you feel like (a) it's necessary to turn over Destiny Points for each of those upgrades? Or (b) it's enough as GM to just declare it so?

Edited by progressions

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I'd say you're fine with that or you could offer the compromise of they either upgrade and hope for the best or they make an Aim maneuver picking their target and take the added setback dice/die.

Trinity351 and Col. Orange like this

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I'd say you're fine with that or you could offer the compromise of they either upgrade and hope for the best or they make an Aim maneuver picking their target and take the added setback dice/die.

 

I was thinking of making it so that a character who Aims twice can bypass the upgrade (and get the 2 Boost), but that if they just Aim once they get the single Boost and the difficulty upgraded, to try to make it so the situation is so chaotic, you really have to be careful shooting into this crowd.

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I'd use the portion of aiming where you are being very selective about what you hit to highlight the difficulty of shooting accurately into a crowd.  I wouldn't give boosts at all for shooting in the crowd.

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I'd grant the Boosts for aiming but I would toss in Setback dice (1 or 2) for the distracting and chaotic environment.

 

More to the point, I wouldn't downgrade the difficulty for aiming (either aiming to gain a Boost or doing a called shot with added Setback) but I'd just simply narrate the effects of a Despair differently. Instead of the PC hitting a bystander, the blaster bolt narrowly misses someone running across the line of fire. The near miss causes the innocent NPC to freeze in his tracks and the enemy grabs him around the neck and takes him as a hostage. "You and me, we're going to take a walk together. How does that sound?"

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I just adjudicated a firefight in a crowded spaceport, and I had everyone upgrade the difficulty of ranged attacks once and added 2 setback dice to each roll to account for the ensuing chaos after blasters were drawn.  Of course the wookiee whipped out the LRB so that's why I opted for 2 setback dice; I figure most people will duck when they hear a blaster, but they'll have puppies if they hear autofire.

 

If you have Beyond the Rim, pgs 31-33 have some additional rules to add some flavor.

Edited by themensch
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I'd call this a case for Setback dice being applied rather than a straight Difficulty upgrade.  It's not that the task itself (shooting the bad guys) is that much harder, it's that there are external factors (the crowd) that make the task more difficult to complete.

 

So for a firefight in a crowded plaza, I'd start with two Setback dice, and occasionally flip a dark side Destiny Point to reflect occasional things like a woman pushing a baby stroller happens to dash between the PC and their target.  Seeing as how Boost dice tend to provide more of a positive effect than Setback dice do a negative effect, I'd just let any Aim actions the PCs take provide the usual benefit of adding a Boost die.  Of course, if the PCs have talents like Brace (which negates Setback dice from environmental factors), I'd certainly let them make use of that.

 

If one of the bad guys grabs a hostage, then I'd go with upgrading the Difficulty, since the PC would technically be shooting at an Engaged target while wanting to avoid blasting the hostage.

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I'd call this a case for Setback dice being applied rather than a straight Difficulty upgrade.  It's not that the task itself (shooting the bad guys) is that much harder, it's that there are external factors (the crowd) that make the task more difficult to complete.

 

So for a firefight in a crowded plaza, I'd start with two Setback dice, and occasionally flip a dark side Destiny Point to reflect occasional things like a woman pushing a baby stroller happens to dash between the PC and their target.  Seeing as how Boost dice tend to provide more of a positive effect than Setback dice do a negative effect, I'd just let any Aim actions the PCs take provide the usual benefit of adding a Boost die.  Of course, if the PCs have talents like Brace (which negates Setback dice from environmental factors), I'd certainly let them make use of that.

 

If one of the bad guys grabs a hostage, then I'd go with upgrading the Difficulty, since the PC would technically be shooting at an Engaged target while wanting to avoid blasting the hostage.

 

This is pretty reasonable, except I do kinda have my heart set on the possibility of Despair to mean that a bystander is affected in some way by the action of shooting through the crowd. I feel like it's appropriate a little more often than just in a case where an enemy has grabbed a hostage.

 

I may go with the default 2 Setback dice, but flip over Destiny Points to represent this danger, rather than making it a flat condition of the combat.

 

After a few turns it will become less of an issue anyway as the crowd thins out.

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I think you're fine with a Despair equalling a problem for a bystander. 

 

Definitely--my concern has more to do with how I choose to add the Challenge dice to the dice pool. 

 

One option is to just make a determination that 'most ranged attacks in this area will have their difficulty upgraded by one, because of the passersby'.

 

Another is to turn over Destiny Points to introduce the Challenge dice. I think this is what I'll do, combined with Donovan's suggestion of 2 Setbacks for environmental reasons.

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i had a similar encounter in Beyond the Rim. i simply upgraded the difficulty. i did not spend destiny points to do it. despair was used for collateral damage both persons and property. the NPCs killed a bystander the players crashed a swoop bike into the front of a cantina that was a local favourite.

Kshatriya likes this

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I think you're fine with a Despair equalling a problem for a bystander. 

 

Definitely--my concern has more to do with how I choose to add the Challenge dice to the dice pool. 

 

One option is to just make a determination that 'most ranged attacks in this area will have their difficulty upgraded by one, because of the passersby'.

 

Another is to turn over Destiny Points to introduce the Challenge dice. I think this is what I'll do, combined with Donovan's suggestion of 2 Setbacks for environmental reasons.

 

I'd just add the challenge die.  You have a specific reason in mind for the Despair result being included to reflect the potential consequences of the action.  I'd say your rationale is spot on.  People running every which way are creating a level of confusion that is sufficiently out of a player's control and represent a risk and pressure that justifies it imo.

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If you want bystanders to get hurt can't you handle this with Threat effects and leave Despair for the really bad issues?

 

Like say: 3 Threat: A blast from the other guys hits a bystander who collapses onto you knocking you to the ground.

Edited by Ghostofman
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If you want bystanders to get hurt can't you handle this with Threat effects and leave Despair for the really bad issues?

 

Like say: 3 Threat: A blast from the other guys hits a bystander who collapses onto you knocking you to the ground.

 

That's a good idea too!

 

I'm definitely not trying to have all the passersby get gunned-down, so using some Threat for it makes sense too. It can range from 2 or 3 Threats where a bystander gets pushed, something falls on them, or they get nicked by a blast, to Despair where an innocent actually gets injured.

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Also it would help you better manage who are the ones hurting the innocents. A Threat effect can be the result of something the other guys did..

 

"2 threat, the Thug grabs a bystander and shoves her toward the party, Setback on your next check"

 

Where a despair can be the direct result of the players...

 

"Despair, one of your stray blaster shots hits a nearby lamp post, and it comes crashing down into the crowd."

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I missed this in my post but no, as GM you can impose environmental setback dice without the use of a Destiny point.  

 

Thanks, that is definitely true.

 

My concern was more about whether it would be more fair to the players to use Destiny Points to upgrade the difficulty of checks, in order to raise the possibility of a Despair, or whether it's OK to just say "All the ranged attacks in this combat will be upgraded one because of the bystanders around."

themensch likes this

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I missed this in my post but no, as GM you can impose environmental setback dice without the use of a Destiny point.  

 

Thanks, that is definitely true.

 

My concern was more about whether it would be more fair to the players to use Destiny Points to upgrade the difficulty of checks, in order to raise the possibility of a Despair, or whether it's OK to just say "All the ranged attacks in this combat will be upgraded one because of the bystanders around."

 

 

If the players were worried about fair they shouldn't have started a firefight in a crowd! 

 

I too get into the mood where I feel like I'm not being fair by using Destiny points against the players, but it's really meant to be an ebb & flow mechanic.  

 

By all means I agree with increasing the difficulty AND introducing setback dice.   I would shy away from doing one or the other alone though, since many players have talents that negate certain environmental effects and they should be able to utilize those talents.  However, I also think that the base difficulty upgrade is fair because it's sheer chaos and the added stress reflects upon the firing character, not the environment around them.  

 

I do usually discuss these conditions with my heroes before we start so if we feel it's not fair we can adjust it. 

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I'm very curious to see what our party will do in this situation. There are a lot of options open to them, and the firefight in the crowd is just one of them!

 

It has to do with trying to rescue someone from a slave auction in a crowded square. There will be stealth and other indirect options available, so I do want to reflect the increased danger to others of the big firefight with lots of innocent people around.

 

I do want to make sure I'm flipping Destiny Points enough that there is a flow back and forth, however I do want the danger to make open combat in this situation a bit more stressful.

 

I'm thinking now I'll probably end up with 2 Setbacks from the chaos, and 1 Upgraded difficulty for most ranged attacks due to the danger of collateral damage.

 

And at various times I'll flip Destiny Points to represent something else big happening, like a "a speeder explodes" or "a statue starts to fall over". 

themensch likes this

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You can also scale it unless it's over in one round.  Crowds would be chaotic but they also thin out and catch on quickly whether that's looking for cover or calling it a day.  So you could dial it down as the fight progresses and make it less of a concern for your players if you wanted to.

themensch likes this

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You can also scale it unless it's over in one round.  Crowds would be chaotic but they also thin out and catch on quickly whether that's looking for cover or calling it a day.  So you could dial it down as the fight progresses and make it less of a concern for your players if you wanted to.

 

That's true, I have in mind that after 3-5 rounds or so, the crowds will be thinner and there will be less danger. If the fight's still going on by then there'll be fewer upgrades and setbacks.

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You're definitely allowed to upgrade because of the presence of negative effects. My players have never had a problem with me giving upgrades for things that make sense. Most of my players agree with me when I say "there really should be the possibility of despair on this roll so I'm going to upgrade the difficulty x times." So if it makes the check harder, use setbacks. If it has the possibility for disaster, use upgrades. If it has both, use both.

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