Well then, now that we’re familiar with the kinds of characters in the Jianghu Wuxia Setting, I think it’s about time I try out a sample combat. Something simple first, with both Threat level 1 Standard and Special NPCs against a level 1 character.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’ll be using Zhao Meng, the Drunken Master from a previous post.
The scenario takes place in a busy restaurant inside the poor quarters of the Imperial City. Hsi Rong, a corrupt Magistrate, hears of the presence of Zhao Meng in the city, and is determined to enact a little revenge for an earlier slight.
That said, the Magistrate has brought along three goons given the robes of magistrates, acting under his authority.
Hsi Rong finds his quarry, and the patrons of the restaurant quickly abandon their meals, even as the wait staff and the owner cower in the kitchen. Zhao Meng appears unperturbed, calling for more wine before looking at the Magistrate and giving a broad smile. “Come to drink with me Hsi Rong?”
“Hardly.” the Magistrate replied irritably before gesturing to his goons, “Show Master Zhao Meng here how we treat scum like him.”
Example 1: PC vs. Standard Characters
Goons: (30 xp each)
These thugs are standard characters, and mooks at that. They’re practically walking scenery, but that doesn’t mean they can’t give a character trouble.
Str 10, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10
Speed: 30 ft.
Init III: +1, Atk VI: +1, Def III: +1 (+3 when 2-to-1 or +5 when 3-to-1 with Horde Basics), Res III: +1, Health IV: +1, Comp I: +0
Skills: Athletics IV: +5, Intimidate IV: +5
- Club Basics: Each of your club attacks may inflict your choice of lethal or subdual damage instead of a weapon’s normal damage (no penalty or damage decrease occurs). Also, you gain the Driving Stance.
- Horde Basics: You and each teammate gain a 1/4 personal cover when you have a 2 to 1 advantage, and 1/2 personal cover when you have a 3 to 1 or greater advantage.
- Horde Mastery: Once per round when you have a 2-to-1 or greater advantage, you and each teammate may Pummel as a half action
- Mook: NPC may not have a Tough quality. If he’s a standard, he automatically fails Damage saves. If he’s special, he has no vitality.
Attacks / Weapons: Club (1d8 Subdual; threat 20)
Gear: Partial Leather Armor (Dr 1; Resist Fire 3, DP -1; ACP: -0)
Step 1: Determine Flat-footedness
None of the combat participants are caught flat-footed at this time.
Step 2: Initiative
Zhao Meng rolls a 6, and adds his +4 initiative modifier for a result of 10
The goons roll a 12, and add their +1 initiative modifier for a total of 13
Hsi Rong, in true martial arts movie fashion, decides to not participate in the fight just yet, content to watch his goons gang up on Zhao Meng. (that is, for the purposes of this demo, we’ll consider him as a non-participant for now.)
Step 3: Surprise Round
No surprise here, everyone’s well aware of where everyone else is.
Step 4: Combat Rounds
As determined by initiative order, the goons move first, followed by Zhao Meng.
The three goons, not being known for their creativity and bolstered by their superior numbers, fall upon the Xia with their clubs.
Goon 1’s Turn:
Spends his first half action to move towards Zhao Meng, then his remaining half action to take a swing with his club and rolls an 18, plus his attack bonus for a total of 19, smacking Zhao Meng on the temple for 6 subdual damage.
This prompts Zhao Meng to make a Fortitude Save (DC 10 + half of his subdual damage, rounded down. In this case, DC 13). Zhao Meng rolls a total of 12, suffering 1 level of the Fatigued status. This drops his effective Strength and Dexterity scores by 2.
Things are not looking good for Zhao Meng. Good thing that his Attack, Defense and Initiative values are calculated using his Wisdom Modifier thanks to the Martial Arts Feat.
Goon 2’s Turn:
Following Goon 1’s lead he also advances and takes a swing, rolling a paltry result of 9, failing to meet Zhao Meng’s defense of 14, and misses.
Goon 3’s Turn:
Hoping to follow up on Goon 1’s success, he too takes a swing at the old man, getting a total of 4 missing by a mile and crushing the jar of wine on the table, much to Zhao Meng’s disappointment.
Zhao Meng’s Turn:
Infuriated at the loss of his drink, Zhao Meng decides to unleash a flurry of attacks. He opts to make use of his Two-Hit Combo feat, allowing him to take a half action to make 2 unarmed Standard Attacks by accepting a -2 penalty with his attack and skill checks until the start of his next Initiative Count.
Zhao Meng also decides to not move and use his remaining Half Action to make a third attack, effectively striking once at all three Goons in one action.
His first attack goes to Goon 3, the one responsible for the loss of his precious wine. Zhao Meng rolls an 11 and adds his BAB for unarmed attacks of +5, for a total of 16, easily bypassing the Goon’s Defense score of 14. By having the mook NPC quality, Goon 3 automatically fails Damage Saves, and goes down for the count.
Zhao Meng’s second strike is quick as lightning, this time aimed at Goon 1, the one responsible for the rather large bump on the side of his head. His attack check gets a result of 10 and adds his BAB+5, bypassing the now reduced defense score of 12. Again Goon 1 goes down like a sack of rice.
The third attack was an knee to the solar plexus for Goon 2, with an attack check result of 15+5 for a total of 20. Goon 2 doesn’t even have time to register what happened before the lights go out on him.
Zhao Meng winced, touching the tender spot by the side of his head. “You sure know how to make a guy feel welcome.”
Hsi Rong scowled before drawing his magistrate’s dao, “Oh, that was just for starters.”
Example 2: PC vs Special Character
Hsi Rong is not a mere standard character. The corrupt magistrate is destined to be a thorn by Zhao Meng’s side, and has been built as a Special Character.
Hsi Rong, Corrupt Magistrate (55 XP)
Medium Folk Walker
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 10
Init IV: +1, Atk VIII: +2, Def V: +2: , Res V: +2, Health IV, Comp III: +1
Sense Motive V: +6, Intimidate V: +6
- Sword Basics: Once per round as a free action, you may Anticipate an opponent that you’ve hit with a sword this round. You suffer a -4 penalty with the Sense Motive check. Also you gain the Martial Spirit Stance.
- Ragged Wound (Melee Attack Trick): Increase error range by 1 and decrease damage by 2 to grant weapon the bleed quality
- Grueling Combatant: Each time an adjacent opponent attacks the NPC and misses, the opponent suffers 2 subdual damage.
- Story Critical: Once per Scene, the NPC may Cheat Death with a Petty Fate
Martial Spirit: You gain a +1 bonus with melee attack checks and +3 bonus with melee damage rolls.
Long sword, 1d12 lethal; threat 20
Zhao Meng rolls an 7+4 for a total of 11
Hsi Rong rolls a 16+1 for a total of 17
Round 1, Hsi Rong’s Turn:
Not being known for having anything resembling patience, Hsi Rong falls into his Martial Spirit stance, and attacks the unarmed Zhao Meng, aiming for a Ragged Wound. He rolls a 15+2+1 (Atk bonus and stance), easily overcoming Zhao Meng’s Defense of 14. He rolls his Dao long sword damage of 1d12+3 and gets a total of 6, plus Bleed.
Zhao Meng rolls a Fortitude Save vs. 6, rolling a 12+3, the Dao cuts deep and draws blood, but not enough to put the old man at risk of dying from blood loss.
Zhao Meng now only has 8 Vitality remaining.
Zhao Meng’s Turn:
Zhao Meng is not happy with the situation. Even if he’s a capable martial artist, that Dao is going to be the death of him. The old man decides to even the odds, going for a Disarm for his first Half Action, gaining a +3 bonus for Mix-Up and spending 1 Action Die to make sure it that fate favors him!
This Disarm attempt sparks a contested attack check from both parties, with Hsi Rong gaining a +4 bonus since the Dao counts as a bigger weapons compared to Zhao Meng’s fists:
Zhao Meng rolls 16+5+3 (+2 from his Action Die).
Hsi Rong rolls a 5!
Zhao Meng’s Disarm attempt succeeds, and the deadly blade flies off from the Magistrate’s grip, clattering to the ground. Finally things were looking much better for the old man.
To finish off his turn, Zhao Meng decides to Taunt Hsi Rong, insulting his mother, his manhood and his hygiene to draw his attention away from the fallen blade.
This Taunt begins another contested check, this time involving Sense Motive. Zhao Meng has 4 Ranks, and a +3 wisdom modifier and a further +3 modifier for the Mix-Up Trick.
Zhao Meng rolls a 20(!)+4+3+3 for a grand total of 30.
Hsi Rong rolls a 20(!?)+4 for a total of 24.
Despite his superior discipline, Hsi Rong must truly love his mother, cherishes the size of his manhood and considers himself a paragon of good grooming.
Round 2, Hsi Rong’s Turn:
Blinded by rage, the magistrate forgets about the blade, thinking of nothing but bashing the old man’s face in. He dedicates both his actions to performing unarmed attacks, fists flailing wildly like a schoolyard bully.
His first attack rolls a 5+2, way below Zhao Meng’s Defense of 14.
His second attack rolls a 1(!) Zhao Meng’s player declares that he’s spending 1 Action die to activate a Critical Error.
Hsi Rong’s useless flailing proves to be his undoing, as Zhao Meng dodges the first punch while picking up someone’s cup of wine and sidesteps the second punch while taking a sip. The sudden loss of his target sends Hsi Rong hurtling out of balance, stumbling over a low bench, and Sprawled (flat-footed, and -2 to all attack checks made until attacked or Hsi Rong repositions.)
Zhao Meng’s Turn:
Zhao Meng is pleased with this turn of events. Hsi Rong has been long overdue for a good righteous beatdown. The old man doesn’t hold back, once again triggering his Two-Hit Combo, and spends all his actions delivering 3 attacks on the fallen magistrate.
1st Attack : 17+5, a hit. Zhao Meng rolls 1d10+3 damage from his Unarmed Strikes, dealing 6 damage.
2nd Attack: 19+5, another hit, this time with a critical threat. Zhao Meng activates the Crit with his last Action Die, dealing the next damage directly to Hsi Rong’s Wounds. He rolls a 9+3, dealing 12 wounds, and taking Hsi Rong out of the fight.
Zhao Meng straightened, before bowing at his fallen opponent. “Perhaps this lesson will remain fresh in your memory the next time you decide to flog a man for failing to pay your bloated taxes, Hsi Rong.”
And there we have it. A brief rundown of combat involving a Level 1 PC against 3 mooks, and 1 Special Character at Threat Level 1. It’s my first attempt to try running a step-by-step combat but overall it looks pretty good.
I appreciate the fact that it rewards tactical play. Zhao Meng would not have done so well against Hsi Rong if the Disarm and Taunt actions weren’t available. Of course luck played a big part in this fight, given that Hsi Rong fumbled in his rage, and the bad guys seemed to enjoy really high initiative rolls for some reason.
Overall I’m glad that Zhao Meng held his own, without it being a cakewalk. He’s used up all his Action Dice, is rendered fatigued thanks to that blow to the head, and nearly lost all his Vitality due to that freakish Dao plus Bleed, plus Martial Stance.
I regret not being able to use all the other tricks in the game in this sample combat but I think that would double my word count and drive me mad. That said, as a long time HERO System GM and player, I find that Fantasy Craft offers a broad and satisfying range of tactical options, without adding too much in terms of complications.
Edits and Corrections:
From Daedalus in the Crafty-Games Forums:
Even mooks get the default defense of 10, so your Horde members get 15 (14 w/ armor) defense while there’s 3 of them, 13 (12 w/ armor) defense when there are two and only 11 (10 w/ armor) when one is left standing. Your drunken master will have to roll a total result of 15 to hit the second one, not to forget the -2 penalty. If his natural roll was 8+3 then his total is 11, which doesn’t quite hit the second guy’s 12 defense. On the third he rolled an 11+3 = 14, which means he would hit the third one, even if he missed the second one.
It looks like, even with the penalty from Two-Hit Combo, that your drunken master beat up the magistrate easily (17 + 3 > 14, 19 + 3 > 14), don’t forget that all characters have a base defense of 10, and that Two-Hit Combo penalizes all attacks/skills during a round by 2.
I’ve modified the dice roll results to reflect these changes rather than type out an extra round. :p Also I’ve corrected the Defense entries to 10+modifier.