Inglorious Violence
So I’ve talked a lot about Ties and Vendettas (which are vital peoples/places/things to you, and have Points), and Depravity (which is ultraviolence and has a rank). What about this idea of violence being the last resort? About it being the choice that can be damning? That violence is the first step in the crime tragedy that leads to every bloody footstep to follow, winding to an ignominious fate? Conflict. We’re talking about Conflict. We’re talking about why Conflict matters to people, and why people react the way they do; why someone tries to break someone’s face, and not make a deal. We’ll define a Conflict as any action within the game that the player or the character disagrees with…

The Narrator says that Mikey Ferraro comes into your bar and is talking about how much of a nuisance it is when store-owners in the neighborhood get high-and-mighty with him, and he’s behind the bar grabbing himself something to drink on your dime and you just found out Ma’s rent is come due and she has no money? You’ve got something to say.

Conflict.

If one of your Ties is directly threatened (and I mean directly — gun pointed at your girlfriend, you’re evicted from your apartment, someone is smashing up your car) you declare the intent of your conflict and roll a number of d6’s equal to the Points invested in that Tie. If your Tie is not directly threatened (the Tie is absent from the scene where the threatening is happening, for example), you declare your intent and roll a number of d6’s equal to half of the Points invested in that Tie, rounded up. If none of your Ties apply and you still want to say “NO!” to the direction the NPC’s are heading with the story, you have a few options at your disposal. You can Compromise or you can Fight. Otherwise, it’s assumed they gain your compliance through cajoling, threatening, incentivizing — whatever works for your group.

Compromise & Fight
If you Compromise, you give up ground in some way to appease the NPC with whom you’re having Conflict, to help ensure you get your way. You may decrease the value of one of your Ties by 1 Point to take its value (before decrease) in dice for a particular Conflict; your character chooses to bring that Tie into the Conflict himself, damaging that relationship in the process, to give him an edge. In the above scenario, if your character doesn’t have Tie: My Bar for full points or Tie: My Ma for half points to deal with whatever challenge Mikey Ferraro may be presenting, the player could decrease — for example — Tie: My Car for dice… and maybe he begins selling pieces of that car to Mikey, to try and cover his Ma’s rent. Who knows! It’d be different for every character every time! When you do this, the point is lost regardless of success or failure. Add another Fact to your Tie.

If you Fight, you’re going for the throat. There is no persuasion, there is no coercion, there is no getting your way — if there were, you would have tried to Compromise. Or maybe you did, and it didn’t work — but you still won’t give up. Now you’re here. When you Fight, you add one Violence die (a die differentiated from the others by its color) plus an additional number of Violence dice equal to your Depravity to whatever pool of dice you may have.

So, if you’re Fighting for one of your Ties, you at least have that connection to bring you back down to humanity and maybe save you from any scars… but if not, then the only dice you’ll be throwing will be Violence dice.

Now, for disclosure: You can Fight, succeed, and not succumb to darker instincts, though! It is possible — it means you got into a fight, but you did not go too far. Someone probably got hurt, sure — but no one was sent to the Hospital or the Morgue. This means, in the Fight you succeeded on any die that is not a Violence die. However, if your success in a Conflict comes from a Violence die, then you succeed only by going too far — you are going to send someone to the Hospital or the Morgue (your choice, with conditions). You may narrate this resolution however you deem appropriate, but the point is it goes too far and is damaging. To the person, to relationships, to feelings — beyond typical violence; the kind of action that causes Trauma. In addition to Trauma, when succeeding on a Violence die, you increase your Depravity by 1 rank.

ie, Let’s say that Antony Ribasso (remember him from further up?) is the character who owns the bar (remember that from further up also?) that Mikey Ferarro is rummaging around in for a drink. He’s complaining about his protection racket, nursing a shiner, pouring out some gin and you tell him to stop — you can’t let any tabs slide, you gotta cover Ma’s rent. He laughs, oh that old broad, she still not paying? That’s a shame, but he keeps pouring.

You roll dice for the Conflict. Antony in this example has Tie 4: My Bar and Tie 3: My Ma — the biggest bonus would come from the bar, so he takes 4 dice for that +1 for each additional Threatened Tie. Antony collects 5 dice and tries to Compromise with Mikey. Y’see, Antony has Tie 2: Phil (one of the members of the Crew at the table) and he declares while spending a Point of that Tie that “Phil owes Mikey some money.” With that Tie now damaged, Antony has 6 dice, and he throws them, promising to go with Mikey to collect on Phil next time… but he does miserably. No success. The Tie with Phil is now 1, regardless.

Finally, Antony decides a Fight is the only way to go. He still has 6 dice since a Compromise will last a whole scene, and he adds 1 Violence die for going into a Fight. Looking at Antony’s character sheet, the player notes that he started the character off with Depravity 2 and he now adds an additional 2 Violence Dice. Throwing 9 dice total, he is likely to succeed! But if he succeeds off of his Violence dice, then he has begun a walk down a road painted with blood. If he does succeed off the Violence Dice, Mikey will wind up in either the Hospital or the Morgue, Antony will have Depravity 3, and both characters will take Trauma.

Stay tuned for Part 4

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