In the final installment of this series I will touch on a whole different aspect of the action hero genre; competition! Intense contests of skill are a common occurence where action heroes are concerned, whether it is knife-throwing or archery, a boxing match, or a game of poker. An entire chapter of Search & Destroy provides options for making those sorts of scenes a focal point of the game.
Most high-stakes contests include social and psychological pressure that is not usually featured in RPGs. In S&D, you or your opponent can spend a competency die to impose a Gut Check. When a gut check is evoked, the targeted opponent must make either a Composure or Will check along with his or her current aptitude roll and take the lower result! So yeah, nervousness or lack of confidence can actually be a big aspect in competitions.
Looking back at my beloved copy of Victory Games 007 RPG, I was surprised to find that the rules for gambling were actually fairly bland. They got the job done, sure. In fact, at the time, it was impressive that any RPG went so far to model a particular genre. But decades have passed and there I was looking at the Supers Revised rulebook contemplating how to enable cool gambling scenes.
The first step was to adopt the Gambling aptitude as presented on page 37. Much like the great 007 game, I started with the basic opposed gambling rolls. You bet. You roll. Somebody wins. Simple. This is an excellent way to play the early rounds of a tournament when the stakes are lower.
As the stakes are raised and the tension increases, things get more interesting. Players get more desparate. This is where I wanted the optional rules to take it to the next level as well. So Gambling Ploys are introduced. Ploys are other tactics used at the table to gain an advantage over another player. So when the Judge decides it is time to kick-it-up-a-notch, gambling ploy rounds begin. As is always the case with Supers Revised, your ploy may call for any aptitude that makes narrative sense. The most common ploys will use Performance, Presence, Sleight of Hand, or Awareness. Based on those aptitudes alone, you can already imagine the various things a character could do to distract, observe, or cheat one's way to victory! All the gamblers at the table may engage in a ploy and the one that wins the ploy contest, may then place a particular opponent at a disadvantage for the gambling roll to come. It works nicely to add the extra dimension to gambling scenes.
Other types of competitions discussed in this section are combat sports, such as mixed-martial arts or boxing. Of course, such sports are basically conducted as combat, but there are some differences. The pace of the action and recovery between rounds are two aspects that are modified to make combat sports feel more like a sporting contest and less like a street fight.
Finally, basic contests of accuracy are also covered. The rules provide examples of how target numbers can correspond to a target. Simple stuff, but when you add Gut Checks to the mix, it adds a bit of depth. In fact, you could easily apply Ploys to this type of contest too, if desired.
So there you have it, the sixth area in which the Search & Destroy toolkit is designed to bring the action hero experience to the table. I hope you enjoyed these design journals and that they provided some insight on what this supplement is trying to accomplish.