Survey - Actual Play Mechanics

It occurs to me that if there ever is a new edition of Feng Shui, it might help to clean up some of the system mechanics. In particular, the rules for adjudicating stunts can be a bit vague. What I'm really curious about is getting some feedback from other GMs (and possibly players) about how they handle stunts. Specifically, I'd like to know:

  1. What are minimum and maximum bonuses you give out for a stunt? (Personally, I like to stick to +1 to +3). The rulebook implies that most stunts will generally have a negative penalty, but I find rewarding creative players with positive bonuses makes the game more exciting.

  2. Once a player has described a stunt, do you let him roll first, and then tell him the bonus/penalty, or do you give him the bonus/penalty before he rolls? (I'm not very consistent with this myself, just wondering if there's a benefit to always giving the bonus/penalty before the roll, or if interpreting the results after the roll is more flexible.)

  3. Do you allow fortune points to be spent after the roll? (Somewhere in the rulebook I think it says you have to spend them before the roll, but it's difficult to find this rule.)

  4. Do players ever spend fortune points on their active dodges? (Just wondering if this rule ever gets used. My players tend to think so long as they're not dead, fortune points are always better spent on attacks.)

I have a little different approach to this. I don't want to be a judge at a "best in show" competition where the players, like poodles, doing their best to impress me. It's everyones game and everyone should enjoy what they think are cool without having to be judged. That's why I never give "poodle points" during (bonuses) or after (XP reward) a game.

Like I said, I never give bonuses or modifiers due their description. If they describe their action, then I'm pleased - as long as they describe their own character. If they want to affect someone else I tend to look at what they try to accomplish. If they want to hit several people then I would give the normal modification: -2 for hitting two persons, -3 for hitting three and so on.

When they do a stunt with Martial Arts that is a non-combat stunt then I usually give then a difficulty of 10, and if they try to do something that will effect the Story in a noticable way, then I will raise the difficulty to 15.

This brings the effect that they roll first and then describe, using the roll as a helping hand. If they want to take out 8 mooks and succeeds with the roll, then I'm really want how the character does that. :slight_smile: I tend to strive for creative challenges (It's not importent that you get there, but how you get there), instead of the normal "gamistic" or "problem solving" challenges.

IMHO, fortune points should only be used when in really importent situation. It would be a little to easy for them if they could spend fortune points after a roll.

To be honest, I've never told them that rule, but they tend to do active dogdes almost every time (and I don't understand why they should do it - it's just a fifty-fifty chance that they will do better then +3). One thing I'm thinking of is implementing that imparement is something good that gives them bonuses. So a really damaged character will be harder to hit and gives more damage. That would simulate how the good guy can get beaten, just so the hero can do a come back and kick the others ass.

  1. What are minimum and maximum bonuses you give out for a stunt?

I know this goes against Mr. Law's basic ideas for the game, but I don't know that I've ever given any penalty or bonus for a stunt, but that's because my players don't do terribly wacky stunts. We play the game as an action-adventure game, but no so much as an over-the-top wuxia extravaganza that seems to be the gist of the game. (More Die Hard, less Matrix.) So if my player states that they're gonna ricochet a bullet off a gong and pop the mook hiding behind a pillar, I don't think I'd bother penalizing it. (Maybe you could consider that a bonus, then, eh?) That's about as fancy as they'd ever get. (However, I do apply the penalties for attacking more than one dude at a time, per the standard rule.)

  1. Once a player has described a stunt you give him the bonus/penalty before he rolls?

[color=darkblue]If the players ask for the Difficulty of anything before rolling, I'll give it (or at least I'll give them the verbal approximate: i.e. "real tough"), but if they don't ask then I don't worry about it. At any rate, the penalty or bonus for a stunt would be included in my answer, but since as mentioned above I often don't worry about stunt mods, it's kind of a moot point.

  1. Do you allow fortune points to be spent after the roll?


  1. Do players ever spend fortune points on their active dodges?

[color=darkblue]Nope. But then again, I can think of possibly one time offhand when my players have even thought to use Fortune points on any roll ever. My guys really prefer to let the chips fall where they may, so they either forget, or don't care, to use Fortune to affect their rolls. Hey, whatever makes them happy. :slight_smile:

Min/Max Bonuses.

I usually follow the book when it comes to penalties. When it comes to bonuses, I'm not very generous. I use a simple rule that if the player say s "I shoot the mook" then they miss, it requires a reasonable description to make -any- shot. I do encourage stunts with bonuses, I generally give a +1 for stunts that do not affect the setting, and move you through the set. +2 is given for the best stunt so far (creating some one-up manship).

Announcing bonuses + penalties.

I give my players their target AV before they roll. Including penalties and bonuses. This way they'll know if they want to spend a Fortune or not.

Fortune Dice.

Once they've found the target AV, they choose if they want it to be spent. I don't allow it after the roll.

Where is that rule? I find they spend the shots quite often, but I've never made it clear that they could spend Fortune as well. My players don't spend their Fortune often, because they have so little of it.

Not sure if you're still interested but I can let you know:

  1. We don't use stunts much - we sort of lost the habit. We tended to give +1s and occasionally e.g. -1 impairment to the target of a stunt for the rest of the sequence. Really, the stunt has to be worth the 'cost' of 1 shot. For 1 shot a character could. . . aim or ker-chink. . . so if you give MORE than +1 you render those actions valueless in a combat situation.

  2. We tell the bonus before the roll, or if there is an impairment to the target, we tend to describe it but don't quantify it (the players like working out the effect for themselves).

  3. Nope. The Serenity RPG suggests a system where if you pay after the roll you pay double or somesuch - sounds like a reasonable variation.

  4. Yes.

I only give out penalties for multiple targets, or when cover is a major part of the encounter. I don't give out bonuses, because I feel that a well-described stunt is its own reward. I have been known to say 'ignore the dice, that actually hit' when dramatically appropriate.

Always in advance, so they know what they're getting themselves in for. I even give descriptions like: 'He's got good cover- probably about -4s worth'.

Hell no!It's not just that it takes the curse off the attack, but they could potentially fudge it by only spending fortune on active dodges when it could make it miss entirely.

Seldom. In my group they always seem to prefer 'save it for the death check!'.

Standard penalties for stunts as-described. -2 is the general limit for any single modifying factor outside of multi-target.

That's called "fudging for story". Some play groups are comfortable with it, but most prefer a more even-handed approach. Giving the modifiers that the PCs would know about is pretty standard for my group.

Nope. As a broader rule, only effects that distinctly state they can be brought to bear after a roll are allowed to do so--the default assumes that abilities must be declared before rolling.

Heh. I've only rarely seen my players actively dodge at all (they're pretty hard-core, so that only comes up when they're already at 25+ WP). And yeah, Fortune Points are regarded as far too important for mere defense. Better to use it on a declared action that attempts to get you to safety entirely, if you're that desperate.