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