Saturday, July 19, 2014

XIX. Broken Contract - Move Actions

Stat card mock up by Sam Alcarez.

Its been a while since I discussed the mechanics of the game. The last time I discussed mechanics in depth was actually back in February in the post: VI. Broken Contract - Actions and Interruptions. I want to take a moment to go into a little more detail on Actions, and specifically how movement works in the game. This is an excerpt from the rulebook:

Move Actions are how your Characters move in the game; whether to give chase, duck and run, or just walk down a street or into the next room. Like any good action-adventure movie, walking around is not enough, so Rushing, Jumping, and Crawling are all types of Move Actions. Each Move Action can only be used once per turn. Move Actions aside from Go Prone/Stand Up are discussed in terms of Inches. 


Each Character in the game gets 3 Actions per Turn and as referenced in the above, each Move Action can only be used once per Turn. Its worth noting you have access to the following list of Move Actions:

  • Dive Roll - D3" (1AP)
  • Go Prone (1AP)
  • Hustle/Disengage - D3" (1AP)
  • Jump - D3" normally/D6" if immediately following a Rush of more than 3" (1AP)
  • Rush - D6" (1AP)
  • Stand Up (1AP)
  • Walk/Crawl - As Move Stat in Inches (1AP)
What this means is that a Character can use all 3 of their Actions towards Move Actions, but may not repeat any of them. Thus, you could Walk, Hustle, and Rush in a single Turn, but you couldn't Rush 3 times.This all is meant to represent Movement in a very cinematic way.

When you watch an action movie you see our heroes and villains walk normally, do the cautious jog, and finally do the flat out sprint. These are represented by Walk, Hustle, and Rush. If you can envision with me, Jason Statham or Scarlet Johansson Walking at a normal pace to an area of cover. They see the coast is clear, so they Hustle cautiously out into the open. A guard appears and either yells or opens fire, and they Rush! forward and sprint away.

Now allowing a Character to just Walk steadily forward 9" (3" per Action) would be way too predictable and boring. Everyone would choose that option, and in the heat of an altercation people are not that deliberate, predictable, or sure footed. Additionally, they are likely going to want to perform other Actions in the same turn like Attacking, Shooting, or Searching - but those are a whole other discussion.

Some of the Actions mentioned above are extremely straight forward: Stand Up, Go Prone, and Crawl are exactly what they sound like. Crawl is grouped with Walk because they behave the same and you can't Walk and Crawl in the same Turn.

Where Move Actions get dynamic and sometimes risky are when you push the limits of what you can do. For example, a Dive Roll is performed at no direct risk to the Character and moves you the same distance as a Hustle, but you end in the Prone position, potentially putting you at greater risk if an enemy is close by, or giving you greater protection if there is an ore cart to hide behind, for example. 

The greatest risks lie in any Move Action that involves a D6 roll because not only are the distances highly unpredictable, a natural 1 rolled on the D6 causes you to Stumble. Thus, Rush and a Jump immediately after a Rush can net you the furthest possible Move Action distances, they also give you the highest risks of something going wrong. These Move Actions are for the bold, the desperate, and those in possession of a re-roll!

To close this out, lets finally go into greater detail on the Stumble. Throughout the rules, rolling a natural 1 on a D6 can have unfortunate results. Using your Move Actions there are only 2 types of moves that hold that risk - the Rush and the Jump immediately following the Rush. In either case, if you roll a 1 for distance you Stumble, which behaves as a sort of involuntary Move Action. You roll a D3 and move that many inches forward. You then have to make an Agility Stat Check to stay upright. If you successfully make the Agility Check, you still loose all of your remaining Actions as you struggle to balance yourself. If you fail the Agility Check you immediately Go Prone. In both cases you probably suffer no damage (unless you fall down a mine shaft or something on accident ;) but your Character is most likely not doing what you want them to do, putting your Character at risk. But, of course, if you were to Walk, Rush, and Jump for your series of Actions you could potentially move an amazing 15" across the board, but you are also giving your Character 2 chances to Stumble and fall on their face. Decisions! Decisions!

Play testing has shown that how people approach these options is highly variable based on their own personalities. I've seen players cautiously stick to Walk and Hustle as they move around the board, and I've seen the risk takers run circles around them through good rolls. I've also seen games where a player wants their Character to be Jet Li, and instead behave like one of the 3 Stooges. This is an area where I drew heavily from games like Blood Bowl and Gorkamorka in the "spirit of the rules" because this unreliability when you push your Character creates a highly entertaining cinematic feel.

If anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to share them below. Are any other fans of games like Blood Bowl and Gorkamorka our there following Broken Contract?

Thanks for reading!
-Nick

Oh, and if its been a long time since you read the What is Broken Contract? page, or you never have, it got a thorough update last week to better reflect what Broken Contract - Deep Underground is when it is launched on Kickstarter September 1.

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