ACTUAL PLAY SAMPLE
Below is a sample of one of our recent games of NGS. This is a very literal interpretation of a play sample, showing you exactly what was said and done in the game. The play of NGS is fast and fluid and we have found that everyone gets into both the game and their characters easily. Showing the actual moment-to-moment dialogue helps to display this.
This play sample is a snapshot of gameplay from an ongoing campaign. The setting for the game is the Destiny Undone setting, a fantastical alternate history set in 1889 in the American West, and it is included in the NGS book. Listed below are the Player Characters and NPCs involved in the Play Sample.
A former Texas Ranger who ran out of the state during the war with the Aztecs, Tex believes in the law and tries to avoid violence for anyone except the Aztec invaders. When he was a lawman, he was known for his incredible skills of tracking and investigation. Over the course of a decade on the job, only one man ever managed to escape him. Tex loves his two 1876 Colt Peacemakers, a good game of cards, strong whiskey and stronger women.
Janey, Spirit of the West
Born on a ranch out West, Janey can ride a horse, rope a calf and shoot a gun just as good as any man and is better than most with her trusty rifle. When JP and his cronies came out and established the Territories, Janey's family lost everything. She rides now, seeking to undo the damage they have caused, and to find justice for her family, and many like them.
Dolly was a former madame until her town and brothel were overrun during the Aztec incursion of Texas. Dolly is as beautiful as she is deadly; a desert rose with sharp thorns, if there ever was one. While searching for a new home, she seeks justice in the west by burying any Aztec she can lay her hands on.
A Sikh from the exotic nation of India, he is an immortal warrior ever in search of justice. He carries the five K’s or Signs of the Sikh, which mark him both as a foreigner and one of the faithful. Though he does not chase battle, he does not avoid it, being ever ready to defend himself and his friends at a moment’s notice. Omar fears nothing, save a loss of righteousness.
Otetiani is a shaman from the lands of the Pacific Northwest. He is a master of the spirit realm who has even trained with Sitting Bull himself. He sees into the world of dreams as easily as most peer to the horizon. His knowledge of magical cures, rituals, and truths is second to none. Otetiani prefers quiet contemplation with the spirits, but his ability to assume the forms of natural animals makes him a fearsome combatant when his hand is forced.
Ping is a former slave from the Far East. He was taken from his home at a young age and raised in a mining camp. Ping found that even at this young age that he was not alone since the soul of his grandfather would visit him regularly. During these visitations, the spirit would instruct him on the customs and traditions of his people. Under the tutelage of this ancient spirit master, Ping gained the strength to defeat his captors and flee into the desert. Now, he hunts those that would make slaves of his kin, both revenge and justice delivered at the end of a fist.
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt.
Teddy was born to wealth and plagued by asthma and various health concerns as a young man. He overcame this through vigorous outdoor activities and, in doing so, gained an undying love of the natural world and the wilderness. His life changed in 1884, when his wife and mother died on the same day under mysterious circumstances. He went west and was incommunicado for more than two years. Now, as far as anyone knows, he serves on the Civil Service Commission, at the request of the president. In truth, however, he operates a network of independent contractors and mercenaries along with Nikola Tesla, struggling to bring down the power of J.P. Morgan and his cronies.
A Serbian/American inventor and physicist, he immigrated to the United States in 1884. Shortly after his arrival, he began working for Thomas Edison. Edison's inventions took off at this point, perhaps due to the involvement of Tesla, perhaps due to the funding of J.P. Morgan. They had a falling out in 1886 and the common story is that this was over money. Many suspect there may be a darker element to the split. Tesla joined with Theodore Roosevelt in response to Edison moving west. Now, Tesla is trying to give Teddy's contractors the best technological edge he can supply in their many battles against Morgan.
Previously, on Destiny Undone…
The players have recently learned that a secret base is being operated out of Lake Tahoe by one of Morgan’s allies. All of information suggests the base is heavily guarded and that there is no clear way in. It is this information that has prompted our heroes to suggest a more radical form of arrival at the target area….
GM: Tesla walks in, clearly very excited. “I can’t wait to show you what I have prepared, come with me, I’ll show you how we are going to get there.”
Tex: I was figur’n a horse and/or feet would cover the distance, but alright. Can’t wait to see this.
GM: He takes you upstairs to the surface.
Omar: This is your fault.
Tex: I had nothin to do with this.
Omar: You are the one putting ideas in his head.
Tex: I am just tryin to put his skills to some use.
Omar: Thanks to you, we are probably going to be shot to Tahoe in a net covered in BBQ sauce.
Tex: At least it would be delicious.
Janey: He clearly had the idea before we got here. Simmer down boys.
GM: Tesla leads you to a clearing and in the middle of the clearing you see a massive contraption. None of you have ever seen such a thing before. It is a long steel tube with wings that remind you of a bird except they are far more rigid. On each wing is a large device that hums and crackles with electricity. There is a door on the side of the contraption and a single window at the front. It looks like you could all fit inside. Teddy says, “I have scouted out a great deal of the area around Tahoe, and no matter which way we go, there are just too many guards and no good way to sneak in through the few passes we have available.”
Tex: So what is the solution?
GM: (Tesla) It flies.
GM: (Tesla) With us in it.
GM: (Teddy to Omar) Now hold on a second there beard boy. I’ve been in this contraption and it works.
Omar: Oh? Oh no.
GM: (Teddy) So the plan is this: Tesla has us all set up. We all wear these packs on our backs with cords on them. When we get to the right place, we jump out of this contraption and pull the cord. A big chute comes out and slows your fall so you can land nice and gentle-like. No one dies…probably. Also, we’re all gonna be wearing these boots, when you press this button, a wooden plank comes out of the front and back of the boot, like skies. Then we just ski down the mountain into town. Quiet as can be, element of surprise.
Janey: You want us to get into this thing, go up in the air, and then jump out?
GM: (Teddy) Yep, and I’m going with you.
Omar: You know I have changed my mind. That sounds like fun.
Dolly: I can’t do that.
GM: (Teddy) Why sure you can.
Tex: Other than the parts that are either lunacy or madness, this seems like a great plan. Let’s do that. Let’s get in your…what’d ya call it?”
GM: (Tesla) Tesla-Plane.
Tex: You gotta stop naming things after yourself. Makes you seem arrogant. I don’t call this my Tex-Horse and my Tex-Guns.
Omar: Aren’t you from Texas?
Tex: They didn’t name the state after me.
Omar: Very well, Mister Tesla. I shall fly in your Thunderbird.
GM: (Tesla): I will do the piloting. It should be quite simple.
Dolly: I don’t know what skiing means. Would someone tell me?
Omar: You ride down the face of a mountain on wooden planks.
Dolly: That’s impossible.
Omar: Have you gone sledding?
Tex: I’ve only seen snow twice in my life. Didn’t like it either time.
GM: (Teddy) Well, you’re about to see a great deal more of it.
Otetiani: I recommend some warmer clothes. I would not wear a skirt.
Otetiani: When you are falling down the mountain, your skirt will fly over your head and you will not be able to see.
Janey: We’re jump’n out of a plane. I think seeing once we get to the mountain is the least of our worries.
Tex: Janey’s got a real good point there. I mean, this crazy contraption exploding on the way or just wreck’n into a mountain, us smashing into the mountain when we’re fall’n, or break’n our neck as we slide down it, or any of a hundred other things’ll likely kill us. So, I would wear whatever you like.
Dolly: That’s very comfortin.’
GM: (Teddy) Everyone in!
Everyone proceeds to board the Tesla-Plane, some with more cajoling than others. People begin suiting up as Tesla takes the cockpit and Teddy walks everyone through the basic of how to use the parachutes.
GM: You are all holding on and Tesla begins warming up the engines.
Tex: ‘bout how long will it take us to reach Tahoe?
GM: (Tesla) Perhaps one hour.
Tex: Perfect, I think I can be drunk enough to actually try this by then.
Dolly: I think I would like some of that whiskey as well.
Tex: Of course, we’d all be better off with a little sauce.
GM: Tesla sits down in a small seat with a pair of thick black goggles and a thick leather jacket. Teddy closes the door and the engines thrum to life.
Dolly: I need more alcohol.
Janey: I would like to join you in that.
Tex: Comin’ right up ladies. (Pours whiskey for all) This one is done! (Throws the bottle against the side of the plane to the resounding noise of glass shattering.
GM: The engines rev up and it is nearly deafening at first. The entire cabin has a charge in the air as the steel of the plane begins to shake.
Dolly: How do we get our gear down the mountain?
Dolly: HOW DO WE GET OUR GEAR DOWN THE MOUNTAIN?
GM: The plane lurches forward so hard it nearly takes you off your feet. It seems to shake to one side, and then the other, and you feel a great compression. When you regain your footing and look outside the only window in the plane, the cockpit, you see blue sky all around. No trees or ground in sight, you are up in the air, and fast.
Dolly: Another one over here please.
Tex: Comin’ up.
Dolly: We’re all gonna die.
Omar: This is delightful. There is no reason to be afraid, hahaha.
Dolly: I want you all to know, before I die, that I love you very much.
Everyone continues gearing up and also drinking. Making sure to put on both their winter gear and their parachute. Once high in the air, the noise dies down some.
Dolly: So how do I get my stuff down the mountain?
GM: (Teddy) You wear it on your back.
Dolly: Oh, I don’t think all those suitcases are gonna fit on my back. She gestures to a large pile of suitcases, clearly containing a massive amount of clothes.
GM: (Teddy) When did you even load those things?
Omar: It is fine. I shall carry it down the mountain.
Ping: I have seen less cargo on ships crossing the ocean...
GM: All continues as normal for a short time and then suddenly and apropos of nothing, you become weightless and start to feel the plane lurch forward. Everything goes very quiet save the wind. You see Tesla start hitting buttons and pulling levers and making hushed angry noises to himself. Without warning, the engines roar back to life and the plane levels out.
Tex: (Drains the rest of a bottle of whiskey) See, I told you drinking was the right answer! That makes 3! (Tex throws the bottle against the side of the plane, smashing it. He then pulls out his pistol and fires off a round in celebration, which proceeds to ricochet around the cabin.
GM: (Teddy) HEY!
Omar: Tex! Are you crazy?
Omar: If you kill this thunderbird, we will all die!
Tex: It’s a metal bird, it can’t die, watch (Tex pulls up his gun to shoot again and in unison, everyone jumps at him).
Tex: Fine, but I’m gonna need another bottle and my left arm.
At this point, the player for Otetiani is laughing so hard at Tex’s antics, he throws a Narrative Accolade to Tex. The player for Tex can either cash this in for experience later, or use it when attempting a Narrative Ability to automatically succeed. A Narrative Accolade can be given out any time. There is no wrong reason for a Narrative Accolade; anything fun, engaging, exciting, hilarious, climactic or whatever your group favors can earn an Accolade.
GM: With Tex’s guns away, the rest of the trip proceeds without incident and soon you are over the drop site. Teddy walks to the edge of the cabin and pulls the door open. Cold wind rushes through the cabin and you look down into a beautiful and serene mountain valley. From this height, the snow-covered world seems completely at peace, but you know there is something sinister and deadly waiting for you down there.
Omar: Teddy! Where do we aim?
GM: (Teddy) Right there! And he jumps from the plane.
Omar: I take the pack in my hands and jump right behind him.
Dolly: I don’t know…
Tex: I grab Dolly and jump, Whiskey bottle #4 in the other hand on the way down.
GM: Okay, I am going to need a single Physicality check from everyone.
This is the first time the Players have been called on to make a check. Physicality is one of 4 Mechanical Abilities in NGS (Physicality, Intellect, Personality and Extraordinary). These abilities are assigned a single die (starting at a d6 and possibly increasing to a d12 over the life of the character, but never more than 1 die) and a bonus (from +1 to +4, based on how you assigned priority, which does not change over the life of the character). In this situation, the PCs are checking to see how well they do when doing something quite extreme (jumping from an experimental plane with questionable parachutes in cold weather when none of them have ever done this before). If one of the PCs had a Narrative Ability that was relevant (which could be anything obvious such as flight, or something less obvious like the ability to control their density), they could try to use that ability here. When they describe how they are using their Narrative Ability, it could have several effects from eliminating the need for a roll all together to granting a favorable condition bonus to the roll, hence making the check easier. In this case, since the game is relatively low-powered and the shape changing character is electing to use the parachute to blend in, everyone makes a check.
GM: So Omar and Tex, you have a problem. Everyone else, your chute deploys without incident and you begin to slow your descent. For most of you, this is a wholly new experience. You float slowly toward the earth and for the first time have a few moments to really take in the beautiful scenery and amazing landscape. You also note that Omar and Tex are having some serious issues. Omar, your chute opens, but when it does, all the ropes and cables become tangled and the chute doesn’t properly straighten out. It slows your fall a little, but it’s catching air the wrong way and threatens to tear or worse, wrap you up in it. Tex, your chute doesn’t open.
Otetiani: I don’t deploy my chute, since I am the person that can easily save someone if something goes wrong.
Tex: I pull the cord, see nothing happening, and say “huh” then I drain the rest of the bottle of whiskey and hurl it off into the air. I scream “FOUR DOWN, I TOLD YOU I COULD GET HAMMERED IN AN HOUR!” and draw my gun and shoot it as I fall.
Omar: Haha! A challenge!
Otetiani: Looks like I will not be experiencing this chute after all. I will save Tex. I angle my body straight at him and bullet toward him. I normally shape shift into birds, so I understand the mechanics of flight and how to move myself around in the air.
GM: Absolutely, that isn’t a problem. You bullet down to him and collide into him hard, but safely and wrap your arms around him.
Tex: I vomit on him.
GM: Okay, you manage to get him secured, and though vomit covered, you can deploy your chute and between that and your natural shape shifting, the two of you can easily glide to the ground without issue. Omar, you still have an issue, what are you going to do?
Omar: I am going to try to untangle the cords and straighten out the chute.
GM: Okay, make me two checks. (The GM applies a +2 to the necessary DC Omar needs to succeed, making the check more difficult, since Omar had stated he didn’t bother to adjust his chute and was just holding it in his hands as opposed to strapping it on tight). Make me a Physicality check and an Intellect check.
Omar: Physicality is 5.
Omar: Intellect check is 2.
GM: Have you ever seen a cat stuck in a set of drapes?
Omar: So be it! I click the button on my boots to extend the skis and I aim for the largest snow bank.
GM: Okay, make me another physicality check since you are just going to try to stick the landing.
Omar: 12. For Narrative Abilities, I have Super-Strength, Super-Agility, Immunity to Physicality and Immortality.
GM: Okay, you steer yourself toward what you guess to be soft snow. You mange to actually land skiing. Given who you are, you only break one of your legs and crack 4 of your ribs. You suffer 3 damage instances, slide down the mountain a little ways and then fall face first into the snow unconscious, but you’re alive.
This is the first time a character has suffered a damage instance. Player Characters have 4 damage instances. This is the amount of damage they can suffer before being removed from the scene. Sometimes this could result in death, sometimes it could be unconsciousness. The actual outcome of reaching 0 damage instances is a combination of the style of game you are playing (a gritty, survivalist sword & sorcery game might be death at 0 where as a high-powered super-hero game might simply be a few minutes of unconsciousness) and the narrative reason you were reduced to 0 damage instances. Losing damage instances might have other effects as well, based on the GM and the story. In the case above, the PC fell 20,000 feet and then hit the side of a mountain. Though he was actually tough enough to survive such a thing, the GM ruled that he was still unconscious from the excessive damage.
So, our intrepid PCs are now upon the mountain side. Omar landed a significant distance away from the rest of the group as he never deployed his parachute. The remainder of the group is a ways up the mountain and are now preparing themselves to make the trip down the mountain into Tahoe. As far as anyone knew, this was nothing more than a peaceful ski trip down a quiet mountainside.
Otetiani: The first thing I want to do is walk into the Spirit World. I know the last place we visited had spirit guardians, and I want to make sure the area is safe. I am going to use my Astral Projection and Dream Walking Narrative Abilities to do so.
GM: Sure, no check is necessary. You find you are able to enter the Spirit World without difficulty. Nature seems quiet here, probably from the large industrial activity secretly going on in Tahoe, but there are neither guardians nor dangers you can perceive.
Otetiani: I report this back to the group and tell them we are ready to go.
GM: Okay, who all is drunk?
Tex, Janey & Dolly: Us.
GM: Okay, things will be a little more challenging because you are intoxicated. (The GM notes this so he can adjust the conditions, increasing the DC for appropriate checks that those characters may be required to make). Teddy then says, “Your friend, he doesn’t die easy, correct?”
Tex: Naw. He don’t die for whatever crazy reason.
GM: (Teddy) So, should we go and get him?
Tex: Oh yeah, we’ll need to grab him before we get into town (Vomit). Sorry, still a little drunk and I just fell out of the sky.
GM: Teddy turns to begin skiing down the mountain and, as he does so, a hail of arrows rains down around you. They were short in the initial volley so none of them actually make lethal contact. Turning and looking up the mountain, you see Aztecs on simple skis. It seems a war party has also learned of this secret city and is seeking after its wealth. There are about 40 of them—far too many to take on in a straight fight. You realize your best bet is to stay mobile and head down the mountain.
Otetiani: I did not expect to see them here.
GM: (Teddy) Come on! We gotta go!
Dolly: I am not sure I can do that.
Tex: I am just going to push her down the mountain.
Ping: I am going to also make sure that everyone gets pushed and going. I will hang back and try to catch or defect arrows.
Janey: Can we ski and shoot?
Tex: I don’t know, but we’re gonna find out. I am going to slide down the mountain backwards and start shooting at Aztecs.
GM: Okay, everyone who is skiing, make me a Physicality check. This is going to determine how well you are skiing as you attempt whatever you do over the next several rounds.
GM: Alright, everyone is good.
The GM had set a low DC here, as he just wanted to make sure nothing catastrophic was going to happen. This was just the bar to ski moderately well, so there was no need to make it an epic check. The actual tension from tougher actions would come in the following rounds when the PCs attempted to deploy abilities to answer the challenge(s).
GM: You are all skiing. Who is skiing backwards?
Tex and Janey: Us.
GM: (Notes this as this is a further challenge for both of these characters, they are now at a total of +2 to all DCs due to the unfavorable conditions of trying to ski backwards, while drunk). The Aztecs take off the mountain after you. They are lightly armed with spears, crude swords and bow and arrows. Their skis are not as good as yours, but they certainly have you outnumbered by 8 to 1. Let’s go around the table and tell me what you are going to attempt.
In this case, the GM is using a narrative determination for initiative. In NGS, the default assumption is that initiative is determined by the story. The characters simply tell the GM what they are hoping to accomplish and how. Once everyone has stated what they are trying, the GM makes a common sense call to what actions happen in what order, including what the opposition (if any) is attempting to do. This can seem scary at first, but in practice, a bit of maturity makes this a much more narratively rich and rewarding way to structure the scene.
Tex: I am skiing backwards and putting two shots in two Aztecs.
Dolly: You killed my girls! I am skiing the wrong way, that is, skiing down the mountain in the correct direction and trying to figure out how to turn around and shoot at them.
Janey: I am going to try to use one rifle as a ski pole and use the other one to shoot them.
Ping: I have to wait until they get close. Is there any spread out to the edge right now?
GM: They are moving as a tight pack right now.
Ping: Well, with my Advanced Mobility and Super-Agility Narrative Abilities, I assume I have no problem skiing around?
GM: Correct. This is rather easy for you, all things considered.
Ping: Okay. Then I am simply going to take a defensive line and try to defend others who would be hit by arrows by catching them out of the air.
Otetiani: I am going to turn into a bird and try to pick off a straggler on the edge.
GM: The problem is right now, there really aren’t any stragglers. They all just started skiing and they are in a very tight pack. If you go at one, you are going to deal with several others.
Otetiani: Well, I know that they can’t ski up hill, so I am just going to try to fly over and above them.
GM: Okay, during this round, they are still getting up to speed, so I am going to let all of you go first. Let’s just go around the table.
Tex: Okay, Physicality I assume for the shots?
GM: Great roll. At this point, its like shooting into a wave: you can’t help but hit something. Two Aztecs drop.
In this case, the GM has elected to make these bad guys more simple mooks. Rather than each enemy having an opposed defense roll against the player’s attacks, these lesser threats have a set defense value which a player’s attack is checked against. This is a great way to do combats with large numbers of low-skilled enemies, rather than having to nominate individual targets and waste time with lots of fairly meaningless opposed rolls. These bad guys also have only one damage instance each, and easy to put down individually. It is the fact that they have large numbers that make them a deadly threat.
Dolly: I am just skiing, so Physicality 5 this round.
GM: Okay, you are remaining steady, but you can’t turn yourself around to shoot accurately yet. Okay, onto Janey. What you are attempting is pretty crazy, because the rifle was not meant for one hand and the rifle also makes a terrible pole as it’s too short, but I will give you a shot.
Janey: Yeah, 5. Never mind.
GM: It seems you were just pushing your luck too much. Maybe your pistol would be more effective. Alright, Ping. I am going to come back to you, as you are going to go with the bad guys since you are trying to defect their arrows and not directly taking an action. Otetiani, you are just trying to get above them correct? Go ahead make a physicality check.
Otetiani: Yep, Physicality 11.
GM: You easily get up the mountainside and you take a stealthed position. You blend perfectly into the snow.
Otentiani: Sounds great.
GM: Okay, so now they fire at you. I am just going to generate some bulk rolls and you all will be trying to avoid getting shot. Everyone make me a single Physicality check, Ping, since you are defending, make 2 checks and you can use one or both of those on someone else.
Ping: 6 and 16.
GM: Okay, Tex, you are doing pretty good, but because of your intoxication and you are going backwards, you do get hit once, take a damage instance. Dolly, you are going to get hit as well. Janey, you are fine, you dodge out of the way. Ping, you are fine and you can block one other person’s arrow.
Ping: I will stop the arrow hitting Dolly.
GM: Sure, so only Tex takes a damage instance. That brings us to the next round, what are you all doing?
Tex: Alright. We ain’t bringin’ them down fast enough. We gotta get ahead of this. Injin! Injin!
Otetiani: I can hear you.
Tex: Injin! Avalanche! We gonna ride the wave. I am going to use my Investigation and Advanced Senses: Vision Narrative Abilities to show him the best place to start an avalanche. Then he can turn into an elephant or something and stomp around making a bunch of noise and hopefully start an avalanche above them.
GM: Sounds good (The GM notes that part of the unfavorable condition will not count for this check, as skiing backwards won’t hinder this check, only the intoxication).
Dolly: Are there trees on the mountain?
GM: It’s not covered with trees, but there are a few trees dotting the mountain here and there.
Dolly: Alright, I am going to try to ski into the trees and get them to follow me and hit some trees.
Janey: I am switching to pistols and going to fire into them.
Ping: Assuming they aren’t still close to us, I will maintain a defensive posture.
Otetiani: I am going to do what Tex says. I will attempt Tex’s crazy plan.
GM: So you are going to turn into an elephant and try to start an avalanche. This round I am going to have Otetiani start, and go with Tex, since you are both trying something that will affect the rest of the round. Tex, make your Intellect check and then Otetiani, describe what you are doing, and we will determine what check if any is necessary.
Tex: Intellect of 11. I am going to shoot into the snow to mark the location.
Otetiani: I am going to turn into an elephant and make a bunch of noise and stomp around where he indicates.
GM: Make a Physicality check then, and you will gain a +2 favorable condition bonus from Tex’s Investigation.
Otetiani: 10, so 12 with the bonus.
GM: Alright, you stomp around and make a great deal of noise and the snow starts rolling. It’s slow at first, but you know you have set it in motion. This is going to be an avalanche rolling down the mountain very soon. Ping, you will act with them again. Janey, go ahead and make me a Physicality roll.
GM: Are you double pistoling?
GM: Okay, just like Tex you shot straight into the wave and two of them drop. Dolly, make me a Physicality check to navigate the trees.
GM: Alright, you manage to avoid falling or hitting any trees, but you don’t really manage to weave into anywhere too dangerous where they could be caught up. All right. That is that round. Now they are going to shoot back at you.
Ping: I would like to use my Precognition Narrative Ability to make sure I am in the best position possible.
GM: Sounds great. You can easily apply your defense to any party member. Everyone else make me a Physicality check against the incoming rain of arrows.
Tex: Not so good, 3.
Janey: Same, 3.
Ping: 5 and 16 again.
GM: Dolly, you are out of this, as the trees do manage to obscure the shots this time. So as it stands right now, Tex and Janey have a damage instance incoming. Ping, you have enough to stop one attack, who are you trying to save.
Ping: I am going to defect the arrows coming for Janey.
GM: Sounds good. You easily move over and knock those arrows out of the air. Tex, you take another damage instance. You aren’t necessarily getting shot directly, but a few arrows graze you. Teddy tells you, “Keep aiming for the bottom of the hill! I am going to go get Omar and meet you down there, good luck!” He then skis over an embankment and is gone. Next round, the avalanche begins roaring down the mountain, what are you all doing?
At this point, the encounter has changed and a new challenge has evolved thanks to the efforts of the PCs. There are still Aztecs firing upon them, but there is also an avalanche roaring down toward them. Hopefully, it will catch all of the Aztecs first, but the PCs also need to be mindful of this new situation and start deciding what they are going to do about it to get out of the way of the roaring deluge of snow.
Tex: I am just going to focus on getting down the mountain, pure speed. Avalanche’ll get ’em! Just go as fast as you can! Let God sort out this problem. Yeehah!
Janey: Guns away. Full speed down the mountain.
Ping: I can move pretty fast, so I will go ahead and defend again.
Otetiani: I am going to turn into a peregrine falcon and race down the mountain toward them. I would like to claw a guy in the face as I go by if I can.
GM: Everyone who is just skiing, go ahead and make me a Physicality check.
GM: The three of you finally totally get your bearings. You turn around and focus wholly on skiing and manage to make good speed down the mountain. Ping, you will go with them as usual. Otetiani, make me a check to strike at a guy as you go by.
GM: Fantastic, you easily swipe at an Aztec’s face and take him off of his skis. He falls and in a matter of seconds is swallowed by the oncoming avalanche. The last round of arrows they dare fire before they focus wholly on skiing sails into the air, so everyone make me a Physicality check again to avoid arrows.
Tex: 3, again.
Ping: 11 and 16.
GM: So, we are looking at one damage instance on Tex, Janey and Otetiani. Ping, given that roll, you can elect to stop arrows against two people, but that will mean you get hit by one of them and take a point of damage.
Ping: Sounds good. I am going to block the arrows on Janey and Tex and I will take a damage instance.
GM: Sounds good. So one damage instance to Ping and Otetiani. The avalanche builds speed and begins roaring down the mountain. Omar, you are going to wake up as your bones knit themselves back together. Its going to take a while before your regeneration actually heals the damage instances, but you are awake. You don’t have to do anything in this scene, but start thinking about what you want to do. At the very least, you will want to think about your broken leg.
Omar: I will break the ski off and make a temporary splint for my leg to help it knit back together.
GM: You do that. For the rest of you, the avalanche is speeding up and it’s going to grab some of the Aztecs, but it’s also going to overtake you. Also, those of you that are intoxicated, you are no longer going to be suffering any penalty, the avalanche and the adrenaline has sobered you up and focused you. What are you doing now?
Tex: How close will they be to us this round?
GM: They are going to get pretty close; the lead ones will be amongst you.
Tex: Alright. Come back to me in a moment, I need to think.
GM: Sure. Dolly?
Dolly: I am going to steer out of the avalanche at an angle.
GM: Okay, it’s risky but doable. You won’t make as much forward progress, but if you are successful and get away, you will be out of the path of the avalanche.
Janey: I am going to focus on speed and just power down the mountain.
Ping: Anyone that comes in range is getting a throat punch.
Otetiani: I am going to help Dolly get out of the way.
GM: Sure, are you going to be a big bird, like a vulture or a condor?
Otetiani: Exactly. I am going to pick her up and glide with her down the mountain. Then drop her so she gets ahead of the avalanche.
Tex: Okay, I have my plan. I am going to slow down and let two ride past me. When they do, I am going to draw and shoot them. As they fall, I am going to ski off of them, using them as a ramp to jump up into a tree.
Tex: Its crazy, but I feel like its time for a big plan.
GM: Alright. Well your plan will cause you to go after them, but everyone else can pretty much act first as they aren’t attacking at range and have to be amongst you before they can do anything. So let’s start with Otetiani and Dolly as your actions are related. Otetiani, go ahead and make me a Physicality check to pick her up. You can then glide and drop her without issue if you are successful. If he does, Dolly, you will need to make a Physicality check to land safely and keep skiing.
GM: Great. You easily glide and pick her gingerly up. Dolly, you feel two massive claws lock around your shoulders and then you are airborne. The two of you glide down the mountain away from the path of the avalanche. Dolly, go ahead and make your Physicality check.
GM: Good enough. You land a little rough given your speed, but you manage to stay on your feet and ski safely away from the oncoming snow. You two are now safe for this round. Janey, go ahead and make your check.
GM: Great, you speed up and you are staying ahead of the avalanche. You can even shoot at an Aztec coming close on that roll if you like.
GM: Ping, you are trying to grab, punch and trip them and you are far more nimble and agile than they are on the mountainside. Make me two Physicality checks, I will let you attack two of them.
Ping: 11 and 9.
GM: Successful. You easily take two more Aztecs off their skis and you know the oncoming wall of snow will cover them in seconds. Okay, so two ski past Tex and try to quickly swing at you. Make a physicality check.
GM: Good enough. They are focusing mostly on skiing, so they don’t manage to connect. Go ahead and try your plan. You will need to start with a Physicality check to shoot them both.
GM: Good. They are only a few feet away and you are a deadeye with your pistols. They both start to drop. Now comes the really hard check. You are going to have to make an Intellect check and a Physicality check to ramp off of them, and then a Physicality check to grab the tree.
Tex: I am going to do two things here. First, I want to use my Luck Narrative ability. Second, I want to cash in my Narrative Accolade to auto-succeed. If I do both of those things, what do I have to do?
Tex has chosen to cash in his Narrative Accolade to auto-succeed on a check. This doesn’t mean he can accomplish anything, there are still limits (he couldn’t shoot down every remaining Aztec with one bullet or ramp a single snow bank into town), but it lets very cinematic and fun actions happen automatically. What it’s really doing is giving control of the story to the PC. They now have license to take control of the narrative and shape it in a way that they enjoy and find compelling and engaging. If Tex didn’t use the Narrative Accolade he had earned earlier, he could turn it later for experience.
GM: With Luck and your Narrative Accolade, I will let you make one roll on your highest mechanical priority to pull off this incredible stunt.
Tex: I would like to use Intellect since it’s a test of my plan.
GM: That sounds fine. Go ahead and roll it up.
Tex: 13! YEEEEHAAAH!
GM: Exactly. You ramp directly off the two dying Aztecs and leap into the higher branches of a nearby tree with a thud. You manage to avoid taking any damage from the sudden stop, but it does knock the wind out of your for a second. As you catch your breath, you look down to see the avalanche overtake the Aztecs and rumble beneath you. Janey and Ping gracefully speed ahead of the avalanche. Otetiani and Dolly are safely out of the avalanche’s path.
The snow rumbles and eventually the avalanche dies out. Tex gets down out of the tree and makes his way down to meet up with the group. At the base of the mountain, you all find Teddy and Omar, who looks a little worse for wear, but surprisingly well for falling out of the sky and hitting a mountain. You all leave behind your winter clothes as you enter the foothills and make your way through a thick deciduous forest toward the edge of Tahoe and the secrets that wait within.