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akerson

Throat-slitting kills

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We got into an interesting debate in my group this week over a particular scenario:

 

We were fighting a small group of storm troopers that ambushed us on a boat. My friend jumped off the boat, swam under the boat, and did a stealth check to sneakily come up on the other side of the boat behind two storm troopers without them noticing he exited the water. He succeeded (due to the nature of the chaos of the combat and his skill in stealth), and then requested to slit the throat of a stormtrooper who did not noticed his presence with a vibro knife. The GM requested he do a melee combat roll and gave him a boost die for the surprise attack.

 

Here's where the issue comes in: from the player perspective, he feels gipped. He requested to do something, and feels there was little to no chance of failure on a successful roll. In his mind, it was very "assassin's creed" style where the chances of failure (or survival) were slim. A success roll of some kind would just result in successfully slitting the neck of the storm trooper and killing him. Rolling two successes with a knife is hardly cinematic in the way the player desired (it did like, 4-5 damage?), and he argued his ideal playstyle was almost neutered (why would I not just play a ranged light/heavy user when melee is underpowered??)

 

In the GM's eyes, he felt there was an importance in the narrative dice. The boost die was essentially for the jump, and if he managed a crit on the melee roll the minion would be dead anyway and then this result could be from the knife to the jugular (to which the player argued he could do that from medium range with a gun instead for the same effect). He felt it would be too much 'cheese' if all you had to do was be stealthy and you could take out virtually anyone (to which I agree). He said if it wasn't an important character, or if he was an unarmored guard standing watch in a dimly lit area, it would be fantastic, but given the circumstances it seemed too easy to just say "i kill him".

 

Obviously the issue is between desired cinematics and maintaining mechanics. I totally get that the player feels his playstyle has been neutered, while I also respect the GM's opinion of maintaining some sort of balance.

 

 

Anyway my question to you is: if you had a player request this in this scenario, what would you say?

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I'd side with GM, thats what the advantage & triumph dice for in this system.

Also, could have used extra successes (or even advantage) on the stealth check to give you MORE boost on your surprise attack,

Edited by Diggles

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Well, it would depend on the difficulty he beat. Coming out of water on to a boat while combat was happening would be extremely difficult. I would say a opposed skill check with at least 2 or 3 setback dice. If successful I would have granted a critical hit which on a standard trooper (which are minions) is an instant kill.

The thing is the game isn't assassins creed. How would a player like to be one shotted? It maybe the player and GM need to talk about the style of game they each want.

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The way your GM handled it is fine in my eyes. Getting a critical with a vibroknife is exceptionally easy (Critical 2), so he could have taken him out with 2 Advantages too. Sometimes that perfect strike isn't so perfect. If he wants to improve on his odds for such attacks, there are Talents that do that (like Quick Strike).

Rikoshi likes this

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The way your GM handled it is fine in my eyes. Getting a critical with a vibroknife is exceptionally easy (Critical 2), so he could have taken him out with 2 Advantages too. Sometimes that perfect strike isn't so perfect. If he wants to improve on his odds for such attacks, there are Talents that do that (like Quick Strike).

or using a Destiny point to give a upgrade.
polyheadronman likes this

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If I were GMing, I'd give the player the kill. I would build the additional difficulty of the knife attack into the stealth roll, though. 

 

It's all a matter of play-style, though. It sounds like your group needs to have a talk about expectations and make sure everyone is on board with it. Otherwise, you end up with frustrating (for both sides) conversations like that in the middle of a session.

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I agree with the GMs call.  Rolling was important, in this case.

 

Maybe give extra boost dice for the successful stealth roll and other distracting advantages, as has been suggested (or heck, maybe even a free upgrade), but just because it seemed easy doesn't guarantee it would go well.

 

In other words, even Han Solo steps on a tree branch from time to time.

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Here's where the issue comes in: from the player perspective, he feels gipped. He requested to do something, and feels there was little to no chance of failure on a successful roll. In his mind, it was very "assassin's creed" style where the chances of failure (or survival) were slim. A success roll of some kind would just result in successfully slitting the neck of the storm trooper and killing him.

 

Well, there's an easy fix. The next time the players fail a perception roll, have an NPC sneak up and kill on of them without a roll. See if they still think it's great. :P

 

Or, to put it a different way: I think the GM handled it fine. The advantage system already handles that kind of sudden kill against minions (critical hits) and boost dice adds a high chance of extra advantages, so with a boosted roll he already had a better than normal chance to succeed with slitting the trooper's throat.

polyheadronman likes this

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I would handle such a situation with an opposed check. Stealth vs Vigilance. I will add boost, setback or upgrade the difficulty as a function of the enviroment /situation (light, noise, etc)

 

On a successful roll, the stormtrooper is dead.

 

You can use the other symbols to create side effects

A despair may mean the stormtrooper has time to deal a blow to the PC

Disadvantages may mean he has time to rise the alarm

...

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Yepe has a good suggestion, I like it.

 

I'd perhaps make it into a combined check (I like this idea, based off two-weapon fighting in case you wonder):

  1. Pick the lowest characteristic of Agility and Brawn.
  2. Then the lowest skill of Stealth and Melee.
  3. Then pick the highest difficulty of based on opponents Vigilance or Perception, or use normal combat check, whichever is higher. Perhaps slap on an upgrade or an increase - if you really want to keep it in the spirit of two-weapon fighting.
  4. Add boost and setback according to environment of course and talents and suchness.

 

Make check:

  1. successful = dead.
    1. Threats = dead but made noise/managed to sound the alarm.
    2. Advantages = death, silently, just after checking in (if appropriate) ensuring more time before HQ notices the guard is gone.
    3. Triumph and Despair = have fun :ph34r:
  2. Failure = start normal combat.
    1. Advantages has him not thinking of sounding the alarm (yet).
    2. Threats = sounds the alarm as first manoeuvre before attacking.
    3. Triumph and Despair = see above.

I like this solution, it's elegant, but a tad long winded I guess, at least the first few times.

awayputurwpn and FangGrip like this

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I agree with how the GM handled this. Whilst I enjoy a good narrative, there is always a chance that the guard might managed to get away, or stop the character's knife before it causes a catastrophic bleed. Combat in real life is hectic and alarming and almost nothing goes to plan: also, people's senses go on full alert, meaning that the trooper might well have heard the PC's approach at the last second, perhaps explaining why the attack didn't kill him (trying to wriggle out of the movement).

 

Yes, this is a game where the players should be able to feel awesome - but there's drama in even failed attacks, especially with the SWR system. Players who expect to be able to perform one-hit kills just because they have the "perfect kill scenario" (which doesn't actually exist) are being naive - also will also likely attempt the same argument in similar situations. ("I have a scope, and have been tracking his movements from my vantage point for three rounds. Surely I can get a headshot without a roll? I don't care if it IS Vader, saying no is unfair!")

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I was just thinking of how to treat a hidden sniper shot, in a similar way to the throat slitting combined check suggestion above...

 

So, besides Range (heavy) - because I mean, it's going to be a sniper rifle. What other skills could be used in this case? Stealth? nah... Cool? Perhaps... Vigilance? ... Suggestions?

 

I mean, the whole point - which might be a silly and problematic one - would be to attack (and hopefully kill someone) without actually starting a combat encounter (just like the throat slitting above). Since it's an ambush, and let's say you're already hidden, and probably far away (with your trusty sniper rifle), I don't think Stealth is necessarily the best option. Cool could be used I guess, as its a the ambush skill. So:

  1. The lowest of Cool and Ranged (heavy)
  2. The lowest of the two characteristics tied to these skills (or Cunning and Agility?)
  3. Difficulty: Vigilance, Perception or Range (whichever is higher) + optional increase/upgrade (again as a reference to two-weapon fighting).

Any further thoughts on this? Is it just a bad idea; should it just be handled with a normal Cool (for initiative) and Ranged (heavy) check? That could also make sense I guess...

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With a scope and the two boost dice for aiming 2 maneuvers, there's a good chance of a sniper crit, which will take out a minion, and possibly even do enough pure damage to take out a Rival.

Cinematically, tough Rivals and Nemesis will somehow often avoid the shot being fatal, so if the shot doesn't take them out totally, that's probably fine.

If the sniper chooses to go with the Setback dice for aiming at a specific location, if they got a crit I would let them pick anything off the crit table up to a 100.

Overall, I think the EotE mechanics work better than most systems for this sort of thing.

Edited by Grimmshade

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I was just thinking of how to treat a hidden sniper shot, in a similar way to the throat slitting combined check suggestion above...

 

So, besides Range (heavy) - because I mean, it's going to be a sniper rifle. What other skills could be used in this case? Stealth? nah... Cool? Perhaps... Vigilance? ... Suggestions?

 

I mean, the whole point - which might be a silly and problematic one - would be to attack (and hopefully kill someone) without actually starting a combat encounter (just like the throat slitting above). Since it's an ambush, and let's say you're already hidden, and probably far away (with your trusty sniper rifle), I don't think Stealth is necessarily the best option. Cool could be used I guess, as its a the ambush skill. So:

  1. The lowest of Cool and Ranged (heavy)
  2. The lowest of the two characteristics tied to these skills (or Cunning and Agility?)
  3. Difficulty: Vigilance, Perception or Range (whichever is higher) + optional increase/upgrade (again as a reference to two-weapon fighting).

Any further thoughts on this? Is it just a bad idea; should it just be handled with a normal Cool (for initiative) and Ranged (heavy) check? That could also make sense I guess...

 

I would allow the written benefits for Aiming, coupled with another Boost die or two to simulate the sniper attacking an unaware target (the mark is unlikely to be moving to cover or even quickly, so the sniper can wait until his shot is lined up and then judge trajectory and other nitty-bitty details in order to increase the changes that his round gets to where it's required).

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So, if I understand correctly, you'd just use Ranged (heavy)? Makes sense I guess.

 

So that way bases itself off an initial Stealth check, which (can) grant Boost die/dice. So, successful (i.e. 1 success, nothing more good or bad) = +1 boost die? What about threats? Would that negate a boost die? Would further successes or advantages provide additional Boost dice? For instance +1 Boost die per 2 successes/advantages?

 

How about hitting specific location on the target (the setback variation of Aim) - Would you do as Grimmashade? Let them choose a critical injury result up to 100 - and would Lethal Blows (or any Vicious quality if applicable) add to that?

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Typically you can't stack multiples of the Advantage result that grants a Boost die. Further Advantages can be used to negate defensive bonuses (cover or otherwise).

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I suppose it would depend upon circumstance. If the enemy was a minion - let them hit where they need to and remove him. If you're going to allow a Critical Injury anyway, then instant death seems valid; if it's a Nemesis, then I would still run it as a normal attack. But the fact that the player is getting more Boost die (say... 2 from Aiming, and another 2 from the fact that the target is unaware and unlikely to be moving in an unpredictable pattern) would increase the chances of producing more enviable results.

 

Again, combat isn't predictable. Shots can be affected by wind direction and speed, and perhaps your target stops short a few steps, or turns in an unexpected direction. What could have been a kill-shot could then become a wounding one - it depends on the rolls, and the results. The PC being in a better position and having the advantage is expressed through the +4 Boost dice you're giving him.

 

But that's merely how I'd run it. To each, their own, right? :)

Jegergryte likes this

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I like how the GM handled it. As was stated, this isn't Assassin's Creed - or even Shadowrun. At the same time, Stormtroopers are usually minions and as such have pretty low thresholds to be 1-shotted, but that doesn't mean it should be an automatic thing without a Melee roll - you can still mess it up pretty bad, step on a creaky plank at just the moment where they notice, whip around and punch you. Also lol if he thinks Melee is underpowered. Seriously lol.

 

The player has plenty of ways to get bigger rolls anyway - he could have flipped a Destiny point, asked for the Stealth check to give him Boost dice on the attack (don't see it coming = negates Defense or whatnot), Aim once or twice (taking Strain to get another Maneuver), ask for an ally to Assist him (drawing the enemy's attention for more Boost die), etc.

 

I do agree this is a "talk to your player, establish group expectations" moment though.

PatientWolf likes this

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Anyway my question to you is: if you had a player request this in this scenario, what would you say?

 

The GM certainly handled it the right way, especially since this was an armored foe in the middle of battle.  Maybe the Stormtrooper dodged a shot from one of your allies just as the character made his strike or maybe he just at that moment began to change positions to take a shot of his own. So the character wasn't able to make a strike from the optimal angle and didn't get the instakill.  

 

Personally even out of combat I would make the character roll and just give him boost dice based on the stealth roll. As someone else pointed out Advantages and Triumphs could add boost dice to the attack while Threat and Despair would add setback dice. Sometimes fate steps in and the enemy gets lucky somehow.  

 

Your friend needs to understand this isn't a video game where the outcome of any actions are hard coded and happen exactly the same way every time and judging the outcome of an action by Assassin's Creed is not appropriate.

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Your friend needs to understand this isn't a video game where the outcome of any actions are hard coded and happen exactly the same way every time and judging the outcome of an action by Assassin's Creed is not appropriate.

 

Hail to the King, baby.

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Perhaps I'm generous, but I've always considered that combat vs. unaware targets should be treated differently than combat vs. aware targets. It's my thought that the difficulty of attacking as written in the rules, is written with the expectation that both sides are aware of a fight. I personally houserule a downgraded difficulty by one step when attacking someone who is essentially flat-footed.

 

For a melee character trying a sneak attack, that means one difficulty die (although in this case, I'd add at least one setback die given that the Stormtroopers ARE in a firefight, just not with this character, and probably a second for targeting a bodypart). If they've got a vibroknife, decent melee skills, and spend a destiny point, their chances of critting are incredibly good. They have a statistically high chance of killing the character outright, while still having a chance for failure. Is it only a token chance for failure? Sure, but a guy with a knife behind you that you don't know about probably only has a token chance for failure when stabbing you, so I'm fine with that.

I'd apply this to a sniper shot as well, personally. If the target is unaware, not behind cover and not moving quickly or erratically, the shot is going to be significantly easier to make - downgrade the difficulty. Just giving automatic boost die equivalent to aiming doesn't really seem like enough when you're attacking a completely unprepared foe.

 

However, I'll admit that I'm a fan of the rule of cool, and I'd rather have my players talking about the awesome stuff they pulled off (if they were smart about it, at least), than go away feeling kind of disappointed with their risks not having much potential for reward.

bladerunner_35 likes this

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I'd apply this to a sniper shot as well, personally. If the target is unaware, not behind cover and not moving quickly or erratically, the shot is going to be significantly easier to make - downgrade the difficulty. Just giving automatic boost die equivalent to aiming doesn't really seem like enough when you're attacking a completely unprepared foe.

 

Tell that to the soldiers who regularly miss the target on a firing range. :P

 

In all seriousness, it's GM's decision. But from experience, shooting someone isn't as simple as "point and shoot" - hell, before I was ever allowed to fire my rifle, I had to memorise and put into practise a whole bunch of lessons that would influence my ability to hit a target. 

 

Of course, I recognise that this is fiction (and epic fiction at that), and so I can easily understand why giving them the kill would seem fair. But the drama is in the risk - and there's never more risk than in combat. Furthermore, what happens when they apply their expectations of one-hit kills against foes you really would rather not lose outright? They'll see the lack of consistency as unfair and challenge it.

Edited by Shakespearian_Soldier

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I'd apply this to a sniper shot as well, personally. If the target is unaware, not behind cover and not moving quickly or erratically, the shot is going to be significantly easier to make - downgrade the difficulty. Just giving automatic boost die equivalent to aiming doesn't really seem like enough when you're attacking a completely unprepared foe.

 

Tell that to the soldiers who regularly miss the target on a firing range. :P

 

In all seriousness, it's GM's decision. But from experience, shooting someone isn't as simple as "point and shoot" - hell, before I was ever allowed to fire my rifle, I had to memorise and put into practise a whole bunch of lessons that would influence my ability to hit a target. 

 

Of course, I recognise that this is fiction (and epic fiction at that), and so I can easily understand why giving them the kill would seem fair. But the drama is in the risk - and there's never more risk than in combat. Furthermore, what happens when they apply their expectations of one-hit kills against foes you really would rather not lose outright? They'll see the lack of consistency as unfair and challenge it.

 

 

I'm not saying that it's impossible to miss a stationary target. But would you agree that a stationary target is easier to hit than one that is actively attempting to avoid you?

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I do entirely - hence the Boost die. However, Difficulty in ranged combat isn't set by a target's speed: it's set by range, which would be reflected in the sniper's distance from his enemy.

 

The rules suggest that effects that benefit a character translate into Boost die, whilst hindering considerations (wind speed, direction, cover or hindering landmarks/layout) would translate into Setback die.

 

I don't disagree that your method is certainly valid, of course. But the above is how I would run it.

PatientWolf likes this

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