Customizing AOR Modifiers

A brief essay on the intent behind AOR Modifiers and how we recommend using them.

        After dozens of conversations with players about AOR Modifiers and how they should be used during games, we felt it was a good idea to give everyone a bit of insight on the intent behind modifiers and a how we suggest they be incorporated. And while it's a deep topic, we promise to keep it as quick and painless as possible.

     First, before we talk about how they should be used, let's take a minute to review what, exactly, an AOR Modifier is; it's a mechanical representation of how the use of an item affects the speed of future actions.

     The most common modifiers applied are in the form of penalties while shooting guns, and in that capacity they're easy to understand. If a gun has a lot of recoil it knocks you further off target than normal, so it takes longer to aim your second shot. Thus, your next action happens slower than it would normally.

     But is that the only time a character should have their AOR modified? And should the only modifiers be penalties? The answer to both questions is absolutely not. There are dozens and dozens of situations in real life where circumstances affect the timing of your actions, and we can simulate that by adjusting the AOR Modifiers from one action to another.

     The easiest way to know when either a bonus or penalty might be appropriate is to simply look at your own actions in real life. If you imagine that the normal things you do every day are the baseline for a standard action, then the things that you do at a faster or slower rate could have either bonuses or penalties.

     If we look at the act of driving, for example, we know that lots of things don't really take any more or less focus than normal. Making turns and changing lanes are both what you'd consider "par-for-the-course" activities and can be done at a normal, unmodified speed. But what about things like backing up and parallel parking? When you do these actions you have to pause, concentrate, and then execute the maneuver at a much slower-than-normal speed. This slow-down could be demonstrated through the use of an AOR Penalty. Similarly, some things--such as taking an off-ramp--are still what you'd think of as an action, but require even less focus and can be done faster than normal. This could be demonstrated through an AOR Bonus.

     Now, obviously, we are not suggesting that you add Modifiers to all actions; especially not to actions as trivial as normal driving maneuvers--that would make the game long, slow, and ridiculously boring. All we're doing is demonstrating how Bonuses and Penalties could work.

     Instead we suggest you add them relatively sparingly and only at times when it makes good, dramatic sense--particularly when it increases the excitement and tension of a roleplaying scene.

     For example, we like to add bonuses as an AOR Modifier when a character chains short, fluid punches or stick strikes together into a terrifying dervish of destruction. Or when they rip off shot after shot while the barrel of their gun is pressed firmly against their target's belly. In these cases, just like an awesome fight scene in a gritty action movie, you can easily envision a character pulling off up to double or triple the attacks that they normally would.

     Similarly, it's sometimes appropriate to add additional AOR Penalties, or even make an action the only thing a character can do for one or more rounds. The first time you reload an unfamiliar weapon might have an AOR Penalty, for example. So, too, could switching from attacking someone in front of you to someone behind you. Or using a particularly unwieldy weapon. While, in the extreme, cracking a safe, forcing a stuck door to open, or setting up a barricade could be the only thing a character gets to do for entire rounds.

     The important thing to remember, however, is that it should all work to enhance the story and gameplay experience.

     One of our favorite examples comes from a recent game where a Valherjar, who was once an old Musketeer, found himself fighting a gang of street thugs while armed with nothing but a broken broom handle.

     As the gang approached, the Musketeer picked the man he thought was the leader and shocked the thug by charging quickly inside his guard. Once he was in tight, the Valherjar unleashed a flurry of lightning-fast blows aimed at the man's knees, neck, and groin--dropping the gang-banger before he even knew the fight had started.

     From there the Musketeer transitioned to another priority target; lunging at a guy with a gun on the far side of the gang. The lunge was awkward, forcing the Valherjar to cover several feet in a single attack, but the effect was profound. The broken, jagged edge of the stick plunged deep into the man's chest--sliding smoothly between his rib cage and tearing a ragged hole in his heart.

     Unfortunately for the Musketeer, the thrust was too good and caused the stick to become lodged in the dying punk's chest--forcing the Valherjar to abandon the weapon and move unarmed onto his next target.

     So, can you see all of the potential examples for AOR Modifiers in that encounter?

     First, the player character made several short, fast attacks, most of which could come with Bonuses because of how quick the follow-up actions would be.

     Next, he could suffer a Penalty for transitioning to an awkward and distanced target, an action that would be much slower than normal.

     But not only did the attack hit, it hit with so much damage that the Narrator ruled there was no way it could happen without a deep, penetrating strike. Thus, a final, player-optional Penalty was imposed; with the Narrator telling the Player that the stick was pretty solidly stuck inside of the thug, and to retrieve it would include take an action all by itself.

     So instead of wasting the time, the character instead let go of the stick and attacked his next target unarmed.

     Of course, as we said before, we're not telling you to add AOR Modifiers to every action a character performs--we're just trying to encourage you to use them sparingly, in ways that you feel might make a roleplaying scene more exciting, engaging, and entertaining. 



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"Valherjar", "Game Monkeys", "Game Monkey Press"; Trademark: Game Monkey Press- 1999-2004.