Impractical Applications (An Unexpected Success)

Last week, I talked about a fight scene I was running, in terms of the difficulty of figuring out what sort of yardstick the primary characters were going to be. I’m going to go on a bit more, about some of the other factors of the fight itself.

The first was just the sides. In most of the fights I’m used to running, it’s one major enemy versus a knot of PCs and one, maybe two NPCs—part of the group is generally focused on tactics and crazy plans, part on loud splashy actions, with a little bit of overlap between the two. I can focus on a couple characters’ actions, occasionally let the NPCs either do something awesome or get written out quickly, and let someone else carry the battle. But in this one, the sole PC was more noncombatant than my own average PC, while there were six other NPCs to be taken into account, all of whom needed to make a decent showing. Talk about multitasking! On the plus side, I had a pretty good idea where I wanted the fight to go, so I just said “Do what you want, when you want” and started describing actions.

The second part, further complicating the actual descriptions, was a pair of facts about the PC present. First, she has tactile magic sense. What one person might see as an aura of faint golden light, for instance, she feels as the residual warmth of the sun on a cushion. She’s the first character I’ve ever done this with, though I’ve done auditory magic sense in the same setting. So throughout this fight, not only am I having to come up with impressive things for all five combatants to be doing, I’m having to back it up with how Kiriko’s senses render the magic that’s been being thrown every which way. This means talking about things that feel like flowing blood or bone-chilling cold against the not-quite-touch of fingers and the feel of cloth being repurposed to things for which it is not usually meant. Then there was describing the effects of one rather nasty elemental attack; its effects always gave me the impression of corrosion, and its overall flavoring was woodish, so when I was coming up with a feel, I started with a pitcher plant, realized the digestive juices wouldn’t be strong enough so I used an inevitable in-world analogue (after all, everything else in this place is Out To Kill You), and carried on from there. The other relevant fact is that she’s technically feline, being an uplifted housecat, so not only did I have to come up with these displays, I needed to try to explain them in a maner consistent with a feline mindset.

And yet it was beautiful. Perhaps it was because of the descriptions, or because, having never used dice in this game, I was focused on making an interesting conflict rather than a well-rolled one. It might just have been luck. But whatever it was, it was great fun.

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