Good luck and schtick abuse is ruining my story!

Okay, so I'm used to running World of Darkness, so I love lots of twists and turns and mystery in my stories. I'm trying to do this in FS 2, but it seems like I have to either ignore some of my players' schticks or ignore my own rolls so my enemies actually pose a challenge.

I really trust my friends, so I don't want to say they're cheating, but they frequently tale out feature foes in 3-4 attacks, and the amount of exploding positives and positive boxcar rolls they make is uncanny. I just had a Karate Cop do nearly enough smackdown to one shot a boss. Not to mention that is a key enemy ever tries to escape, they ALWAYS SUCCEED to stop them. (Let alone the Karate Cop immediately stop them with no roll required)

In standard enemy encounters (one featured per player and 4 mooks per player), each encounter seldom takes longer than a single sequence with these players. Last night I decided on a whim to actually make them have a second sequence for once and had seven featured foes, two being moderately overpowered uber bosses, against my five players, using non-lethal damage, intending to capture the party to progress the story. Well, needless to say.. They mowed right through them. The one player bitching about how much damage they were putting out as he succeeded in his 8th upcheck in a row. The other character with wushu dodging every attack and getting repeated attacks. The ninja never being hit once because even with a 14 attack value, I rarely roll good enough to beat a 16.

All this without mentioning the story schticks of the sorceress rendering murder mysterys impossible. "I SUMMON THEIR SPIRIT AND ASK WHO KILLED THEM."

90%of my bosses drop in a single sequence and always fail their first up check. My key story foes can never escape, and my players get pissed when I fudge rules because they break my story.

I've done improv world of darkness for years, so I'm all about adapting the story to unforseen twists from players, but running a system where with the right schticks players can circumvent 80% of your arch and remove any aspect of mystery and lasting rivalries with a foe makes for a very disappointing campaign.

The combination of my bad luck with rolls and my players good luck, along with them having easily exploited schticks (story and otherwise) leads to me feeling like a useless storyteller and not wanting to even play anymore. =(

Man, that sounds frustrating! I wish I had the right thing to say to help you.

I also had a PC with "Stop right there!" who could stop anyone from Cheesing It, so I would let that happen, but sometimes I believe it's OK to use GM fiat to allow a character to escape if the circumstances reasonably dictate it. Like if they set off a huge bomb or cast a spell which opens up an enormous fissure in the Earth or have a plane come down and skyhook them out of there. As a player, I'd grant the GM that option once in a while without complaining that it ruined my schtick.

You mentioned an encounter which featured "over-powered uber-bosses" but nobody could hit the Ninja with an Attack Value of 14. Were the uber-bosses the ones with Attack AVs of 14? Because that's not really uber-boss level. Uber-boss is more like Attack AV of 17 to 19.

When I first started, I also found that most of my fights lasted only a single sequence. In most cases I was OK with this, because it still felt like the heroes were challenged. Over time I learned to fine-tune the encounters and add more mooks.

Are you playing remotely or are the players in the same room as you? Because if one of the heroes succeeds 8 Up Checks in a row, that's a little suspicious. At that point, however, they have at least 8 Marks of Death, don't they? After the fight they should pretty much collapse into little hero bits.

How dynamically are you and your players describing the action? I had prepared a silat-fighting knife-wielding guy based on Cecep Arif Rahman from The Raid 2. The Old Master leaped up to where he was and started Spinning Windmill Kick-ing him. This was during beta, so the Spinning Windmill Kick had no limits and he kicked the baddie successfully something like 6 times, taking him out in a single turn. The bad guy didn't even get to attack!

But it was such an epic moment that our players still talk about it, and I didn't feel like it was bad, I felt like it was a great moment for that player.

I think the "standard enemy encounter" is just a suggestion and you need to find your own balance for your party. (See this topic for some more discussion on this: https://forum.atlas-games.com/t/fengshui-gaming-day-questions/10685/1 )

If you've got a Sword Master or a Killer, they're going to mow through your mooks. Even before my heroes started getting advancements, I would throw 20 or 30 mooks at them in a single encounter.

I'd save the Boss or main Featured Foe until the second sequence. The mooks prevent the heroes from reaching the boss and the heroes must face them. Personally I prefer just adding more mooks versus trying to mess with mook attack values. They're easy to add and subtract from a fight.

I love talking about FS2 so I'm racking my brain trying to find ways to help you. I hope some of this is some help at least!

I upped their attacks to 15 and 16 mid fight and still had trouble hitting. And we play local. Another friend watches his rolls. And they were doing non lethal to capture.

Also, the Transformed Dragon takes full advantage of Beard/Tail of the dragon and ends up with 20+ initiative everytime there's an extended sequence.

I just have aweful luck with the rolling system. The Transformed Dragon also manages to heal for no less than 25 every time he does a medical roll between fights with his omni competence medical. And in the rare event of a way aweful fail on anything, he just uses breath of the dragon to reverse the roll.

Also, since he's unarmed, he takes no penalty from way-aweful failures anyway. His damage is also equal to the strongest enemy attack plus 1. Which is absurd when there's a powerful foe. =\

Just because someone is unarmed doesn't mean they should take no penalty for Way-Awful Failures... it's definitely within your prerogative to have some crazy wild thing happen to them.

The Transformed Dragon rolls a Swerve of 10 (meaning at least one exploding 6) every time he rolls medicine? That's what it would take to heal 25 points of damage with a Healing of 15.

You're using the Fortune/Chi/etc points correctly, right? The Dragon has to spend a Chi point to gain that Medicine check. If he's ever doing it in combat, it takes 5 shots and makes him extremely vulnerable. (FS2 p107)

Fortune points are a finite resource for almost every character type. When your heroes use those abilities, are they subtracting the spent Fortune points from their total?

Did you see my question about how your character who took 8 Up Checks handled the Death Check he had to make with 8+ Marks of Death? That character should be dead.

Are you 100% sure you're using the rules correctly? I just don't know how your players are rolling so well.

Yeah. I am using the rules mostly right. They're managing they manage their chi very well. In that specific encounter, they were doing non lethal in attempt to capture them, so no death check. I put them up against an unfair encounter to progress the story because I'm trying to make it different from the former ST's system of "Find bad guys and beat them up to figure out where the next bad guys are ×8.

Using the "Cheese It" rules, they've already circumvented half about 25% of my story.

And I mean when he heals between fights, everyone is back to 100% or darn close.

We house ruled that marks of death go away if you're healed between fights. I don't want to kill off characters. I've always felt that players should decide if their character dies. If a PC death is not important to the story, I'll usually have something happen to turn the tide. In WoD this can cause tons of drama and make the character regret not dying.

But not that I think of it, if we're house ruling out bad things for the sake of roleplay and the story, why shouldn't I be allowed to house rule out things like it being excessively easy to stop people from running away?

As GM you should definitely be able to say when an NPC is attempting to "Cheese It" and when they just get away. I wouldn't bypass a character's schticks 100% of the time but every now and then, a villain is just able to get away, regardless of schticks.

I agree about character death. In my campaign, we decided it was more like a TV series such as Flash or Arrow rather than a standalone film like The Killer. In The Killer, I totally expect the hero to die at the end, but I don't want Flash to die in the middle of the season.

I just want to clarify something again. Earlier you said "I put them up against an uber-boss", and then you referred to an NPC's Attack AV being 14. Then you said "I increased his AV to 15 and then 16...".

Was the NPC with the Attack AV intended to be the uber-boss? Because if that is so I'm concerned you may be misinterpreting the meaning of "Uber-Boss". An Uber-Boss should have Attack and Defense AVs of 18 or 19 or something like that, right out of the gate.

I wish I could see one of your sessions to see all this amazing luck happening. You should grab one of your players' sets of dice when you roll for your villains :slight_smile:

I escalated their stats mid fight to uberboss levels.

It started out as a normal standard encounter. Followed by an encounter with two bosses with about normal stats. They ate through the first encounter, two or three shorting over half of the enemies. And they kept rolling high and had the bosses both making upchecks before half of the sequence was over, so I hiked their stats and health pool. They still killed them before ethe end of the sequence. I made an overpowered schtick where the bosses used two handguns, each doing nine damage separately, but unlike Both Guns Blazing, didn't double toughness. Intended to drop health quickly and prevent the transformed dragon from getting another fight where he did 12 damage with his fists due to one guy using an assault rifle. Incompacitate and take them to one of the mob bosses hideouts where they would have an NPC contact come break them lose and they'd have to fight their way out.

But due to dice rolls, they wiped everyone out, and these mobsters are serious business, and they'd kill themselves before talking. So then I run into the dilemma of the players getting pissed that they don't get any leads, because none of these guys are going to rat on the mob.

I roll with change. They've screwed my story before with unnaturally good much and my bad luck. But it's getting to the point where I just want to run my story how it was written for ONE session.

Regarding summoning the victim of the murder to discover who the perpetrator was: If Pushing Daisies taught us anything, it is that just because someone was the victim, it doesn't mean they know all the details of the crime.

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Geez Betsy

Good luck everyone - and Im still iffy on Sundays race - m.i.l. still in hospital but improving very slowly - well see if Ill be allowed a few hours of fun on Sunday...