Honest NPCs are the best.

Let’s talk about panel 4. Creating a tense situation out of nothing is sometimes tricky. Asking everyone to roll Notice is, by itself, a giveaway, which is why D&D and the like go with Passive Perception scores. I like doing what Nadav is doing here – making an attack/damage roll and only then have the players realise this is what’s happening – since it creates an immediate sense of “WE’RE BEING ATTACKED!”.

I prefer jumping to the damage roll, and just assuming a hit, because while a laser that’s almost hitting you is, of course, alarming, a laser that did hit you is even more so. Just don’t deal an important amount of damage.

If this were D&D, then dealing 1d6 damage to a person with 45 hit points is fair game; while you didn’t give them any warning, and didn’t make a potentially-missing attack roll, the cost isn’t that great. It’s especially true if you (the GM) also know that the upcoming fight scene isn’t going to be dangerous – and it isn’t, as we see two PCs quite easily dispatching the turrets. They were there mostly to create this sudden moment of tension, and to have the players be on their toes as they progress further in the adventure.

Compare to Savage Worlds, where there’s a danger of explosion. ANY damage roll is potentially catastrophic, which is why players are much more justified in feeling that they should have a fair chance to avoid it. Then again, a sudden damage roll is also more intense in SW than it is in D&D. So Nadav is betting that a single d6 won’t pass Mac’s Toughness, and even if it does, it probably only Shaken him. Mac’s high Toughness is why Nadav targeted him in the first place – he doesn’t actually want to harm anyone, this is not the point of this fight scene.

So my main takeaway from this is, know what you’re playing. If you’re playing drama-first, your fight scenes are meant to achieve an emotional goal, and everything is a tool to achieve this. If you’re in a free-for-all sandbox, do the exact opposite of everything I wrote here.

Aviv’s New Art Project

Aviv has been busy doing some initial art for a new book by Scott Fitzgerald Gray that’s going to be Kickstarted on the 29th of September. It’s an illustrated version of the classic “The Three Musketeers”, with a few subtle changes, as you’ll note from the cover. Click to follow the Kickstarter campaign and be notified when it goes live!

Also, Shana Tova to anyone who celebrates, and you know what, also to those who don’t, since it just means “have a good year”, and you all deserve to have one, unless you aim to harm someone, in which case I hope you’ll fail.