[Let’s Study: Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein] Part 5: Sample Combat

Posted: June 29, 2012 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein, Let's Study, Roleplaying Games

Today we’re looking at the combat rules for DH:LoF. Yesterday, we put together Ivan, a young, headstrong Resistance fighter with a vow to avenge his blind sister, Rozsa. In today’s entry, we’ll have a chance to see how well he does in a combat situation. We’re putting him up against an NPC in the book, Parvu Torescu, an “Arranger” who looks for prospects among the living and arranging for convenient accidents to make the Augmentation material possible. Certainly someone that Ivan would love to kill.

So, before the combat, let’s look at both characters again:

Ivan

Strength 1
Dexterity 2
Fortitude 0
Presence 0
Wits 1
Resolve 2

Initiative: 6
Health: 2 dice (4 pips)

SKILLS:
Athletics (Dexterity) 4
Bull (Presence) 2
Conceal (Wits) 4
Dodge (Dexterity) 4
Etiquette (wits) 3
Firearms (Dexterity) 4
Fisticuffs (Dexterity) 3
Forgery (Wits) 3
General Knowledge (Wits) 2
Hide & Sneak (Dexterity) 4
Perception (Wits) 3
Photography (Wits) 3

TALENTS:
Deadly Shot (3 points) +1 die to damage in range combat with Firearms
Quick Draw III (6 Points) my protagonist can draw, ready and use a weapon in the same action.

ASSETS:
Ear of the Street (5 points)
Shop (2 points) – His sister probably lives above the storefront
Society Friends (4 points)

COMPLICATIONS:
Dependent – Rozsa, his blind sister
Vow – Revenge for Rozsa

EQUIPMENT:
Small Pistol (Damage 6, RoF 1, 6 Shots, Reload Time 4, Range 20)
A box of Ammo
A camera
Extra film
Travel Papers

And as for his opponent, Parvu, we’re using the NPC stats provided in the book. If you’ll notice DH:LoF uses a different stat block for NPCs, reducing them to general dicepools based on various competencies as opposed to a full character sheet. This suits me fine, though it might not necessarily be as granular as some people might prefer:

Parvu Torescu

Initiative: 12
Physical Competence +8
Mental Competence +5
Health: 5 Dice (10 Pip)
signature Skills: Appraisal +3, Bull +2, Business +4, Perception +3, Streetwise +2
Traits: Silver Tongue +2, Cold Hearted +3
Combat Abilities: 8 dice
Damage: Pistol 6 dice

We open the scene with Ivan, our protagonist, slipping quietly into Parvu’s office. It had been a difficult task to slip past Parvu’s security undetected, but Ivan was inordinately lucky tonight. Hopefully his luck would hold up until this assassination.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case as the floorboards under him creaked at his weight, alerting the Arranger of an intruder.

First up is Initiative: Both characters roll a number of dice equal to their Initiative rating and count their successes. The highest result goes first.

Ivan rolls 6 dice, and scores: 1,6,6,1,3,6; rerolling the 6’s gets him 5,3,1 for a total of 6 successes. More than I had anticipated.

Parvu on the other hand rolls 12 dice, scoring 4,6,6,1,6,6,4,5,6,5,1,5; rerolling his 6’s yields 4,4,2,4,3 for a total of 7 successes. Parvu wins initiative.

Parvu seizes a pistol lying on top of his desk and fires at the intruder, rolling his 8 combat dice. Parvu doesn’t exactly have Quick Draw, but I figure he should still be able to make a wild shot given that he won initiative. I figure he’d be doing it at a higher difficulty, so I’ll slap on a 3 Black Die penalty to the attack.

Parvu’s Attack: 6,2,2,5,6,3,1,6, rerolls 6,2,1, reroll 2
Black Dice: 3,1,2

Parvu scores 5 successes on his opening attack firing his pistol at Ivan.

Ivan can only hope to dodge out of the way. His player rolls Ivan’s Dexterity+Dodge pool of 6 dice and prays to roll higher than 5 successes to get through unscathed.

Ivan rolls: 5,6,6,2,2,1, rerolls 4,3 scoring a total of 3 success, not enough to dodge the bullet.

Parvu rolls the damage done by the hit, taking the 6 dice from the weapon and adding the excess successes he rolled over Ivan’s attempt to defend for a total of 8 dice.

This does not look good.

Parvu rolls: 5,2,2,2,5,5,6,3, reroll 1

(I have no idea why these weird rolls come up whenever I’m doing a playtest in combat)

A miracle! Ivan lives! the shot grazes his arm, taking only 2 pips of damage. The shock of the wound will penalize him with 1 Black die for all actions until the end of the turn though.

Ivan retaliates with his own shot, rolling his Dexterity+Firearms rating of 6 dice.

Ivan rolls: 3,1,1,1,6,1 reroll 4 for a total of 5 successes
Black Die: 2

Parvu responds with his own dodge roll of 8 dice scoring: 3,3,1,5,5,1,2,3 for a total of 2 successes. Ivan hits!

Ivan rolls his Pistol’s damage adding an extra die for his Deadly Shot talent, as well as the extra 3 dice for the difference between his attack and Parvu’s defense.

Ivan rolls: 4,1,5,3,2,1,2,6,5,6, reroll 6,3 reroll 3 for a total of 5 pips, half of Parvu’s total health!

Parvu staggers backwards at being shot, but manages to make a desperate yank at a nearby bellpull. Ivan curses, reinforcements will be here soon, and while injured Parvu can still get a lucky shot that could kill him right away…

My first observation might be a pretty obvious one: The bucketful of dice issue is here, but thankfully since you’re only looking for successes as opposed to counting pips, the difficulty is mitigated somewhat. Black dice didn’t quite come into play just yet, but as the injuries stack up, I expect them to make their presence felt more clearly, which is a nice touch to simulate how people’s combat performance drops after injury and an extended conflict.

We only played through a single round in the game, and there was a lot of rolling. In some ways it harkens back to the old World of Darkness days where the defense is rolled against the offense. It’s not a bad thing, as I know many players prefer holding the fate of their characters in their hands. I’m just glad that there isn’t a “Soak Damage” step to slow things down even further.

Combat is pretty brutal, and I can see how Augmented NPCs are better avoided than fought, at least until the player characters get much better at fighting. There’s a slight lack of variance in what you can do. There were no rules on cover and concealment as far as I could see, but it’s easy enough to slap on some Black Dice and call it a day. Overall, DH:LoF’s combat does feel simple but it works for the kind of game it’s going for. Combat is brutal as opposed to tactical, and the term “Savage beating simulator” comes to mind. Needless to say, the Resistance really ought to be fighting as dirty as possible in this game.

Next up, we’ll be wrapping up the Let’s Study Series for Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein with a few observations and a final review of the game.

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