Project Dismember 2010
The majority of the House Rules can be found here on my blog. Additional rules can be found below.
Alternatives to Failure
Instead of just failing all the time, whenever you roll a failed result on the dice you now get a choice: Outright Failure without major consequence, or Just Barely Successful with Relative Consequence. The “Relative” determined by the badness of the roll: basic failure would imply a character-impacting loss of some kind, while matched failure would probably imply injury or worse. For critical failure, on the other hand, you’re already screwed, but the GM might offer you a hard bargain, such as barely succeeding while royally screwing everyone else.
Given the mechanical slowness of that first fight, and the fact that a traditional initiative-based combat round structure doesn’t really seem to fit the Unknown Armies rules, I’ve devised the following conflict resolution format for future such encounters. My goal is to take “minor” situations and resolve them in their entirety in less than a minute. Here’s how it works.
When the conflict is escalated to a point of action, we initiate a “round” of combat, with minor adjustments. Each person handles initiative as normal. The GM structures the initiative results as normal (Success beat failure, and High roll beats Low roll). Then, starting with the worst initiative roller, declare what you intend to do for the duration of this encounter. People with better rolls get to base their intentions off of what they perceive as the obvious intentions of those with the lower rolls.
You’re basically setting your stakes. Some examples:
- Survivor: I’m going to use my weapon’s range to keep the zombies at a distance so we can escape.
- Survivor: I’m going to go balls to the wall and beat in zombie skulls with my bat.
- Survivor: I’m looking for a superior position, maybe an escape route we can use that will be hard for them to get through.
- Undead: The zombies are going to try and bring you down, swarming around the store aisles and surrounding you.
Once all have declared, we work down from the best roll and resolve them. Make a relevant roll for your planned action. When narrating outcome, consider the scope of this roll. You are not just rolling for a single action, but instead for a whole series of thing. Your roll could represent you beating down a dozen or more shamblers, or it could represent all of your efforts to fend them off and get your friends to safety, securing your exit behind you. Additionally, it is entirely possible for your actions to make void those after yours. If the zombies outside want to come in, and you manage to successfully barricade the only entrance, then their action would be made either more difficult, or outright impossible. Likewise, if your intention was to provide first aid to your buddy, but he gets killed before you can, then you still try but the roll is made pointless.
Subsequent Stages of Conflict
If this resolves everything, great. If not, move to a second “stage” of the conflict. The second stage is handled exactly like the first, but as far as narrative is concerned, the stakes need to be different. If Stage 1 involved dealing with a zombie inside the gas station, and the zombie won, Stage 2 might involve the survivors trying to escape, while dealing with the fact that one or more have been bitten. The stakes can never be the same twice in a row; if you fail to overcome the threat in the first stage. you can’t just rinse and repeat until you win. You gota try something new, because the playing field and the stakes are different.