fight scene duration


I find my fight scenes dragging a little. I try to stuff my adventure with plenty of plot, but my players are pretty smart, and tend to get to the next fight scene rather quickly. none of them are min/maxers(while I would have jumped for joy if this had been any other role playing system...this game is about ass kicking!), and also, didnt really take the heavily combat oriented characters (no old masters or killers, and the ex special forces took all gun schticks, and took his signature weapon to be a bowie knife) there are between 4 and six of them, all newbs to the feng shui system, two of them new to role playing altogether, so the fight scenes take a long time. usually way more than half the session.

one method I use to end fight scenes is to have the bad guys flee once they realize theyre getting their buts kicked (even if they arent) this is good because it keeps them alive to continue interfere with the PCs. but I think my pcs want blood by now. I am considering revising the damage system so that things die easier (including the PCs of course) but would love to avoid this if possible.

another thing I was thinking about was adjucating stunts so that they are WAY more effective then regular attacks, just so that things die quicker without changing the system. collapsing a roof on the baddy is a good way to do a lot of damage. Any suggestions about how to do this?

Thanks for any input


Fight scenes typically drag where low damage is the problem. The best way to make them go more quickly is to have less people there. Instead of a group of bad guys, have one who's just that bit harder than the party. They'll take damage more quickly, but he will as well (particularly because he may not be able to actively dodge without losing all his actions). Try running fights with named guys and no mooks present, if you're not already, or a token handful of mooks to make the fight interesting.

Or have the players find some non-combat way of separating the bad guy from his friends- this makes the non-combat skills seem relevant to the big fights and the players can feel proud for making things easier for themselves.

As for letting stunts do great damage, there's nothing wrong with that. You will have to play it by ear, considering how the fight is going, the example damage figures in the book, and most importantly what the plot requires.

Stunts can also be used to bring fights to an end.

In one of my most proud moments, I took on a Ancient Monk that Ninja statistically could not beat.

We were fighting in a warehouse filled with shipping crates for cargo carriers. My character was unarmed. First I pulled the steel pins from the door of a shipping crate and used them as blunt weapons against him. I was able to get his back to the now open crate and via a stunt I knocked him back into it. I then slammed the doors shut and locked him inside.

A lot of martial arts movies often have the ceiling collapsing or a fire started with good guys on one side and bad guys on the other. In X-Men2 Ice man makes a wall that seperates Wolverine from Striker and his goon squad.

Such tricks can quickly bring a fight to an end. What I like about them is you get to 'sample' the bad guy without forcing a situation that requires the characters to fight until someone is dead.

Sounds good so far... in Feng Shui, there shouldn't be a lot happening in between fight scenes other than "what do we need to do to get to the next fight scene?" kind of stuff.

This shouldn't matter too much if you scale back the average enemy AVs so they're on par with the group's average combat AVs.

This works well when you want to clear the mooks off the table, but probably isn't an option for your named GMCs. Some other techniques that help speed things up:

  • Have the mooks attack in groups. Roll once for the entire group (add +1 AV per group member) or roll only one positive die for each group member and subtract -3 from each roll. (In most cases, a mook can't hit a PC unless his positive die "aces" on a 6, so you can ignore anything that doesn't roll a 6.) The less bookkeeping you have to do, the faster things will go.

  • "Glass Jaw" mooks - give them an AV comparable to a PC, in the 13 to 15 range, but they go down with one solid hit. This is the same as a PC trying to roll 5 or more on a mook with an AV of 8 to 10, except the "Glass Jaw" mook has a lot better chance to hurt the PCs. Use this if you want to increase how much damage the mooks are doing, but because of this use these guys sparingly.

  • Replace your groups of mooks with smaller numbers of named GMCs here and there. This consolidates the opposition into just a few combatants to keep track of, and the players focus their damage more, which should speed things up.

Giving out bonuses for stunts depends entirely on your personal GM style. I like my fights to be cinematic and fairly loose, so I hardly ever give a negative penalty for a stunt, unless it's a standard penalty for attacking more than one target. I want to see the really cool ideas work! Stunts that move the plot along or finish the fight in a particularly dramatic way should get big bonuses (+3 or more) or work automatically.

What you really want to happen is to get the players into a little game of one-up-manship where they're trying to outdo each other's stunts. And you don't want to stifle that kind of creativity with a negative modifier... if a player is waffling about doing something really cool but thinks it has less chance of working than a straight "vanilla" attack, then let him know you'll even the odds for him.

A rough guide:

+1 - Something in the "Cool Things That Could Happen" list.
+2 - Something clever that even you didn't think of.
+3 - Causes soda to spew from your nose, or gets cheers from other players around the table

Just to be clear, you are using mooks who go down on one hit with an Outcome of 5+ right? And otherwise don't track their health situation?

I've seen people fail to realise that mooks don't have Wounds a few times in the past when new to Feng Shui.

There should be lots of mooks, who go down easily, with a sprinkling of Named Characters to make things interesting.

Yes, this is an important distinction. In particular, schticks that do extra damage or depend on wounds being inflicted may be entirely useless against mooks. Some schticks are designed specifically to work against unnamed characters, while others are best for named characters.

For example... basic Fu attacks like Bite of the Dragon (+2 damage), Fire Strike (+2 fire damage), or Claw of the Tiger (+3 damage) are useless on mooks. But Breath of the Dragon or Claw of the Dragon work against both named and unnamed characters. The quintessential Old Master's Flying Windmill Kick is only really useful against named characters, where extra attacks will pile up more damage... although you could keep using it against a hard-to-hit mook if you're having trouble rolling high enough to get that Outcome 5 or better. But most OM's would consider such use on an unnamed opponent unworthy and shameful.

Creature Powers that depend on doing damage or inflicting wounds (Conditional Escalation, Corruption) also don't generally work on mooks, although some GMs will let those slide if they're not being abused. Blood Drain may be among those... can't recall the details on that one.

Another sore spot with some GMs/players is that Signature Weapons (+3 damage) have no significant effect on mooks. Some GMs have proposed house rules or added schticks to "Path of the Selective Master" to give a few more options for signature weapons. Some examples:

Signature Training
Prequisites: none
Effect: Reduce the outcome necessary to take out an unnamed character by one. This stacks with other similar abilities, such as the * or ** on shotguns and assault rifles.

Signature Flourish
Prerequisites: none
Effect: +2 AV when disarming, pinning, or tripping an opponent.

Signature Parry
Prerequisites: none
Effect: Gain an additional +2 AV when parrying with a signature melee weapon.

Signature Finish
Prerequisites: Signature Weapon
Effect: Once per sequence, if a named opponent succeeds on a death check after one of your attacks, you get one free attack with your signature weapon at no shot cost.

Signature Combo
Prerequisites: Signature Weapon
Effect: Gain another Signature Weapon. Add +1 AV when attacking with both weapons at once (such as with Both Guns/Blades Blazing).

I like this!

Signature Training in particular is something that scores serious cool points with me -- I can see this being taken instead of Carnival of Carnage for those gunbunnies who don't want to blow four of their five gun schticks on Carnival of Carnage, and just want to cap mooks with more efficiency using any gun while still keeping the regular three-shot action. A good schtick in general to have.

And I can also see Signature Finish working damn well with a gun as well -- one shot through the heart and the other between the eyes.