|Basics||Dramatic Interaction Basics|
|Options||Mini Module: Reputation|
Beginning a Dramatic InteractionEdit
Depending on the dramatic interaction in question, different checks are appropriate to determine the order of action in the subsequent rounds of dramatic interaction. Below is a short list of appropriate checks for various types of dramatic interaction:
- Chases and similar physical dramatic interactions are best started with an opposed Reflex check, exactly like Initiative in combat.
- Social encounters of wit or battles of knowledge are best initiated with opposed Perception checks.
- Temptations and interrogations should almost always give the tempter/interrogator the first action, since the tempted/suspect almost by definition is entirely reactive in this type of dramatic interaction.
The party with the highest check acts first in all subsequent rounds, and parties with lower results act in descending order from the highest result.
Favorable or Unfavorable Starting ConditionsEdit
At the start of a particular dramatic interaction, the GM may decide that circumstances significantly favor one party or the other, and award that party bonus edge dice. Favorable circumstances might include having a higher land speed in a Chase, engaging in a dramatic social interaction in a setting more friendly to one party than the other, and so on. Someone acting under favorable circumstances might gain additional Edge dice, or a bonus or two to checks during a dramatic interaction.
Dramatic interaction is something like combat in that it is divided into rounds. The rounds are not particularly well defined in terms of length. The separation into rounds is a purely mechanical division to bring order to dramatic interaction. Each character may act once in each round. Unlike the well-defined actions in combat, an action during a dramatic interaction might take only a few seconds, or it might take several minutes. Thus a “round” in a dramatic interaction is nothing more than how long it takes all interested parties to finish reacting to one set of actions from one another.
The advantage which one party may have over another in dramatic interaction of any sort is represented by edge dice. The more edge dice a character has, the more options he has open to him. Characters may gain or lose edge dice as they and their opponent act during a dramatic interaction. Generally speaking, at the start of a dramatic interaction, each party involved gains five edge dice apiece, and the interaction ends when one party has all ten dice and the other party has none, though this could change depending on circumstances.
Each dramatic interaction has different sorts of actions a character can take, depending on exactly what sort of dramatic interaction the characters are engaged in. In general, characters gain and lose the edge by “wagering” dice based on how many of them are taking a risk with their declared action.
Wagering Edge DiceEdit
Each round, the parties involved in the dramatic encounter announce actions in the order of initiative. The party with the highest initiative declares an action and which party he or she wishes to target (if there are multiple parties involved in the dramatic interaction, see below). Depending on the nature of the action, the GM decides which skill is most appropriate. Each character in the party who is involved in this Dramatic Interaction is entitled to act and wager a single Edge Die from the party's pool. This increases the party's chance overall to win the round. The opposing party makes his or her own wager, and then the player then makes an opposed check with the other party.
The advantage to having multiple party members wagering edge dice in a single action is that there are more chances to overcome the opponents' check. However, the more dice they roll, the more dice they could potentially lose!
There are certain limitations to these opposed checks. The party which doesn't have the Initiative for the round is forced to react to the opposition, and is limited to only using the following types of skills:
- The same skill just used by the opposing party's check for the round. If multiple skills are used by the opposing party, any one skill may be opposed for the purpose of this check.
- Naturally opposed skills, such as Persuasion and Perception, or Infiltration and Perception, or Attack and Defense.
- Certain skills in a particular type of Dramatic Interaction are usually safe to use, and are noted as such. These may always be used to oppose any opponent's check (though they suffer a cumulative penalty for attempting that check multiple rounds in a row).
- Appropriate, but not paired, skill checks are allowed, but they suffer an additional 1 penalty to the check. For example, if a character just nimbly hopped over a rickety wooden fence to evade a pursuer, the pursuer can oppose his check just by barreling through the fence with a Might check if desired.
Resolving a WagerEdit
To resolve a particular round of a Dramatic Interaction, the party with the highest single result of the round gains the Initiative for the round, which means on the next round, that party will declare their action first and force the other party to respond, rather than vice versa. The parties then collect edge dice wagered from lowest to highest, with each party collecting dice wagered by the opponent with lower total results than his or her own results. Note that dice cannot change hands twice in one round this way, so the dice you win in a single round are never at risk of being lost in the same round.
Take a car chase as an example. Two characters (Bob and Becky) are driving in one car while attempting to escape from the character (Joe) driving in the other car. Becky is driving the lead car, and focuses on swerving in and out of traffic with a Vehicles check to lose their pursuer, while Bob leans out the window to try to shoot out the pursuer's tires. Each character makes a skill check: Joe makes a Vehicles check to swerve through traffic and keep up with his target, Bob makes an Ranged Attack check with his hand gun, and Becky makes a Vehicles check to evade Joe. Joe rolls a total of a 19, while the Becky gets a 21 and Bob only manages a 14. Bob surrenders one Edge Die to Joe, Joe gives his edge die to Bob and Becky in the lead car, and Becky claims the Initiative for the next round, which means her car is still in the lead, and still dictates the terms of the chase to Joe.
Just as with any other skill checks, circumstances might modify skill checks in dramatic interactions. Favorable or unfavorable circumstances to individual types of checks might grant characters attempting to use those skills a bonus or penalty for that specific check, as circumstance dictates. For example, if during a chase, the thief being chased by the guards announces he wants to attempt to run across a sloped tile roof after a rain storm, both he and his pursuers suffer normal penalties to their Acrobatics checks for trying to cross such a precarious surface.
Can't Fool Me Twice!Edit
Players may tend to pick one or two skills to try to see them through a Dramatic Interaction, such as exclusively using Acrobatics in a chase to jump from rooftop to rooftop, which can be effective, if repetitive to play out.
To protect against this, players suffer a cumulative penalty for using the same skill multiple times in the same Dramatic Interaction, starting at 1 penalty for the first repetition, and increasing to 2 for the second and 3 for the third and beyond. An opponent will learn to predict this sort of thing, making these efforts less beneficial later in the interaction.
However, in some interactions, a particular skill might just be so essential that it would cripple a character's options to penalize them for using it repeatedly. These safe skills still suffer the above penalty only if used in consecutive rounds: if a player alternates and uses another skill every even-numbered round with the "safe skill" every odd-numbered round, there is no penalty.
At points during the interaction, the GM might interject requests for different checks from the parties involved, representing factors outside of the control of the parties’ control. In a foot chase, for example, a GM might request an Endurance check from the parties after a certain number of rounds to see if either party is slowing down because of simple fatigue, while in a social interaction, the parties might have to contend with an audience member blurting something embarrassing out. These outside factors usually do not require the parties to wager Edge Dice, but might impose penalties on future checks. These outside factors need not affect both parties: it might only require a check from one of the involved parties.
If one particular group in a particular dramatic interaction is made up of multiple parties (such as a mob of local citizen with flashlights and hunting rifles chasing an escaped criminal, or a noble and his sycophants hurling insults in the king’s court), it's best to simply assign the group a modifier based on its size. Check the number of members in the group in the Value column on the Time and Value Progression Table. The bonus the group receives is equal to the rank on the table (so a group of 25 citizens would have a +5 modifier on their collective Perception check to spot an escaped criminal).
Having a large group is sometimes a hindrance, though. A group is only as strong as its weakest member, and suffers this modifier as a penalty when applied to checks such as Endurance, as stragglers might start slowing the group down. The group may choose to ignore this modifier at the cost of permanently decreasing their modifier by 1 rank down the Time and Value Progression Table, as they begin to abandon stragglers.
Particularly in dramatic social interactions, there might be multiple sides to any given dramatic interaction. All parties involved track their edge dice individually, but must choose individual targets for each of their actions. Only that target must make an opposed check each round. Parties not targeted may attempt to seize the Initiative with a Reflex check in physical interactions or a Wits check in mental or social interactions. The dice used for these checks are not considered to be wagered: they are made only to see whether or not these other parties have a chance to seize the Initiative for the round and are not at risk of being lost.
Alternatively, the GM may allow one party to target multiple parties at once. In this case, all involved parties make their opposed rolls, and dice are exchanged as normal, from lowest to highest, going to the party with the next highest result.
For instance, in a social interaction, a young socialite may attempt to flirt with two other characters’ girlfriends. In the opposed Persuasion check, the flirt manages to best one of the boyfriends, but fails to defeat the other. In this situation, the boyfriend who lost the opposed check surrenders one edge die to the flirt, while the flirt loses one edge dice to the boyfriend who succeeded, who now has the Initiative.
In the case of passive "opponents" in a dramatic interaction (such as searching out bombs hidden around a building), that party doesn't take any actions or make any active wagers. These types of opponents will only react to the characters' checks, making their checks with a smaller set of opposed checks (usually even just one skill).
Note that passive opponents never suffer a cumulative penalty for using the same skill check multiple times in a row: it's all they “know” how to do! They also never have a chance to take the Initiative.
Winning a Dramatic InteractionEdit
The dramatic interaction lasts until one character runs out of edge dice, in which case she “loses” the dramatic interaction. If it is a chase, her pursuers might corner her and force combat. In a social battle, she might be laughed out of the room. If it is a test against temptation, she might give in to her vice and succumb to her tempter's will.
On the other hand, if the character manages to force her opponent to run out of tokens, she prevails in the encounter. In the example of the chase dramatic interaction, for example, the character escapes from her pursuers. In a social battle, it is her opponent who leaves, flustered and disgraced. If it is a matter of temptation, the villain’s attempt to assert her will over the character is utterly thwarted.
Note that there is always the option for one party to simply hand over his or her edge dice and surrender.
There is also a chance in some interactions, especially in social interactions, for one party to simply walk away before any one party has all the edge dice. In a social interaction, this is the equivalent of leaving gracefully before anyone’s dignity is in tatters. It is up to the GM to decide if this is an acceptable end to the interaction.
In this situation, the party with the most edge dice is declared to be the winner, but it’s not a total victory, and the results of the interaction are less certain.