Combat Example

NOTE: All rolls made in this Example Combat were made at the time of writing to allow the situation to play out naturally.

Example: The Deal

Bradford: Okay, I’ve got the briefcase with the alien’s blood handcuffed to my wrist. Before we step out of the car and enter the abandoned factory, I wanna talk to the other Contractors.

GM: Sure.

Bradford: I pull my snub nose revolver from my pocket and place it in the glovebox. “Alright fellows, remember to leave the guns and weapons here. We’re endeavoring to make a deal in good faith.”

Alice: Alice blows a raspberry. “Weapons? Who needs ‘em?”

Xu-mei: Xu-mei unhooks his katana’s scabbard. “You sure it’s a good idea to go in unarmed, prof?”

Bradford: “Positive as a porcupine. These sorts of creatures have a very strict code of ethics. The knife too.”

Xu-mei: I unsheathe my tanto and stab it into the Bentley’s leather seat.

Bradford: Bradford glares at him.

Xu-mei: I roll my eyes, take the toothpick out of my mouth, and stick it into the seat next to my knife. “Happy?”

Bradford: “Quite.”

Alice: Alice hops out of the car and whistles an upbeat tune.

Bradford: “Decorum, Alice. Remember our conversation?”

Alice: I stop. When he’s not looking I do a pantomime mocking him.

Xu-mei: Xu-mei’s mouth gives a twitch of a smile, then straightens. “We should have set a trap.”

Bradford: “Well it’s a little late for bright ideas now, isn’t it? After me, folks.”

Alice: I follow.

Xu-mei: Same.


GM: Alright, you enter the abandoned factory. An industrial cathedral of concrete towers over you. Moonlight streams in through broken windows, casting jagged shadows on the debris-covered ground. A cold voice: “You’re late.”

Alice: “We stopped for ice crea--”

Bradford: “--We were detained. But we’re here now. And we have the blood.”

GM: Three men in long black coats and dark sunglasses step out of the shadows and walk to the center of the room. The largest one is carrying a medium-sized cage draped with a sheet. The one in the middle speaks. “We’ve scanned you for weapons. You’re clean.”

Bradford: “Just as we agreed.”

Xu-mei: I look for other people in the shadows.

GM: Give me a Perception + Alertness roll, Difficulty 8 due to the darkness.

Bradford: Ooh, me too.

GM: you can all roll.

Alice: (1 Perception, 0 Alertness): {5} Outcome: 0

Bradford: (2 Perception, 1 Alertness): {5, 6, 6} Outcome 0

Xu-mei: (4 Perception, 3 Alertness): {10, 2, 8, 7, 9, 7, 5}. My outcome is 4.

GM: Alice, Bradford, you don’t notice anything. Xu-mei, you catch the glint of a rifle’s scope peering through one of the upper windows. Looks like someone has repelled down from the roof. Bradford: Are you going to tell us?

Xu-mei: not yet.

Bradford: Well then, I guess Bradford walks up to the men in the middle of the room.

Alice: I follow.

Xu-mei: Me too, but I’m going to check out the window. Is there any glass left, or is it totally cleared out?

GM: High or low?

Xu-mei: High

GM: {7} Okay. There is some broken glass in the upper part of the frame.

[NOTE: What the GM just did was flip a coin using a d10. This is not a part of The Contract's system. Rather, it is a GM technique used to quickly make an impartial decision.]

Xu-mei: Is the window within 75 feet?

GM: Yes.

Xu-mei: Okay. I do nothing for now.


GM: As you near the men, you notice their deathly-pale skin. One appears to be quite young, perhaps no older than 14. The second is heavily muscled and stands a head over the rest of you. The leader, the one in the middle, is of average height. “Let me see the blood,” he says.

Bradford: I open the suitcase and show off the vials.

GM: The green glow of the vials bathes the man’s face. He looks at his young partner, who nods. “Very good.”

Bradford: I close the suitcase. “And I assume you have the creature?”

GM: The man with the cage pulls the sheet away to reveal a small, three-headed puppy inside. Its fur is blood red, just as the Harbinger described. It’s curled up on its blanket, fast asleep.

Alice: “Puppy!”

Bradford: “Everything seems to be in order. Let’s do this.” I uncuff the suitcase and make the swap.

GM: Yup, they hand over the dog. “It’s a shame to see him go,” says the leader. “A Cerberus would make a fitting pet.”

Bradford: “You’re the one who made the terms. Now, we’ll be taking our leave.”

GM: “Not so fast.” The leader draws an uzi from his coat. The big one pulls out a bat with a chain wrapped around it, and the younger one draws a sword. “It seems your weapon scans weren’t very thorough.”

Bradford: “But-- the vampiric code of ethics!”

GM: He shrugs. “They’re more like guidelines, really. Now set the puppy down and stand over there.”

Bradford: “Why, so you’ll have a clean shot?”

GM: “Stand. Over. There.”


Xu-mei: I use my Blade Dance Power to use the glass to cut the rope holding up the person at the window. There’s no sign I’m using the Power besides my fingers twitching.

GM: Okay, the glass breaks with a delicate tink and begins to saw away at the rope. The leader doesn’t seem to notice. “You have three seconds to move. One. Two--”

GM: Just then, the rope snaps. The guy at the window falls with a shout and the crack of a rifle. The vampires glance towards the sound.


Alice: Ooh I want to use my--

Bradford: -- I’m goin to ru--

Xu-mei: --My other Power--

GM: Hold up! Let’s enter Combat. I’m not going to give the vampires a free attack because they were distracted at the start of combat. Otherwise, they would get a shot off before combat begins. Roll Initiative.

Alice: (3 Dexterity, 4 Wits) {7,9,7,10,5,6,8} Outcome: 7

Xu-mei: (4 Dexterity, 3 Wits) {6,2,5,7,9,7,6} Outcome: 5

Bradford: (2 Dexterity, 5 Wits) {10,7,10,3,9,8,1} Outcome: 7

GM: Jeeze. . . you guys are so lucky. (The GM rolls for the NPCs’ initiatives here and privately establishes a turn order. In this case, the leader gets 4, the kid vamp gets 5, the big guy gets 2, and the one who fell from the window gets 6). Okay Alice, you tied Initiatives with Bradford, but since you have higher Dexterity, you’re up first. What do you want to do?

Alice: I spend a point of Imagination and use my Power Cartoon Violence to pull a giant, animated mallet out of my pocket and bash the big guy in the head.

GM: Okay! Roll, what is it, Wits + Performance Difficulty 6? He will use his Action as a Reaction and attempt to Defend with his club.

Alice: (4 Wits, 5 Performance) {4,8,1,6,3,2,7,7,10} Outcome: 5.

GM: [rolls Brawn + Melee for the big guy’s Defensive roll] {3,1,1,9,5,5,8} Outcome: 0. Well that’s just classic.

Alice: My Power does +3 damage, so I deal 8 damage?

GM: Yup. You squash him down into a pancake, killing him instantly.

Alice: Hah!

GM: Blood and gore splatters on everything and everyone.

Alice: Right. I put the mallet back in my pocket. Somehow it fits easily.

GM: Bradford it looks like it’s your turn.

Bradford: Well I don’t have any combat abilities, and I’m unarmed, so I’m going to sprint away with the cerberus puppy.

GM: Okay, for a committed movement like that, roll Brawn + Athletics, Difficulty 7 because it’s dark and you’re carrying a cage.

Bradford: I don’t have any Athletics, so the roll is Difficulty 8 for me. {2,2} I get an Outcome of 0.

GM: Okay, with an all-out sprint you can move 5 x (Brawn + Outcome + Dex) feet, so that means you still make it 20 feet. You run awkwardly, slipping in the big guy’s blood and struggling to carry the cage. You jostle the puppy badly, but you make it almost to the factory door.


[It is now the outside Vampire’s turn. They took a Severity 2 Injury in the fall. Since they hear the sounds of fighting coming from inside, they will take a moment to stand up, gather their wits and head inside to check out the action. The GM opts to hand-wave the exact movement tracking in order to keep the action going, deciding that they’re going to make it nearly to the front door.]


GM: Xu-mei, It’s your turn. Alice has squashed the biggest vamp with her mallet, splattering you all with blood and guts.

Xu-mei: The Mjolnir Enhancement on my Blademaster Power allows me to call my katana to me if it’s within 50 feet.

GM: Yes. But you’re too far. You’ll have to run back to the door to get in range.

Xu-mei: Okay. I run back to the door and call my katana to me.

GM: The door is 25 feet away, and you have 4 Dexterity. You can get there with your Combat Movement [5 + 4 x Dexterity feet] without incurring a penalty. You reach out. The sword crashes through the Bentley’s windshield and flies into your hand. According to the Power, this counts as a Quick Action, so you are at -2 dice for other Actions you take this round.

Xu-mei: I can’t move again this round, can I?

GM: You can use your Action to move, but you can’t use Combat Movement, no.

Xu-mei: Okay. I am going to hold my Action.

GM: To hold your Action, you have to specify a condition and what you’ll do if that condition happens.

Xu-mei: If any enemies come close, I’m going to attack them with my sword.

GM: Perfect.


GM: It’s the vampire kid’s turn. He hisses and his sword bursts into purple flame. He is going to attack Alice.

Alice: shit. I can Exert my Mind to dodge with my next round’s Action, right?

GM: Yup.

Alice: I do that.

GM: Okay, roll Dexterity + Brawl or Athletics, Difficulty 6 to dodge.

Alice: (3 Dexterity, 3 Athletics) {10,4,8,5,7,5} Outcome: 3.

GM: (Vamp kid 4 Brawn, 4 Melee, Difficulty 6) {1,10,4,2,7,7,1, 5} Outcome 2.

Alice: Hah!

GM: You are. . . so lucky. He slashes at your neck, and you manage to fall to the ground just in time. His blade gives your bangs an asymmetric trim. The scent of burning hair fills the air.


GM: Now it’s the leader’s turn. He’s going to shoot Bradford.

Bradford: Me?!

GM: yeah.

Bradford: Why would he shoot me when Alice is right there?

GM: I don’t know. Maybe if you survive you can ask him about it.

GM: (Dexterity 4, Firearms 4, Difficulty 7) {9,4,4,1,1,7,4,5} Outcome: 0. Are you kidding me?!

Bradford: Ha!

GM: He fires a burst from his uzi. Puffs of concrete explode around your feet.


GM: Alright, Alice, we’re back around to you. You’ve used up your Action, but you can still use your Combat Movement.

Alice: Can I activate my Power Meep Meep! to run away?

GM: No. It requires an Action.

Alice: Shit. Well, I guess I’ll just run away as fast as I can. I’ll head towards the other door and hopefully draw them away from my team.

GM: Okay, you have 3 Dexterity, so you can move 20 [5 + 3xDex] feet. You scramble away from the kid vampire, slipping on the blood as you go.

Alice: yeah, yeah. I cry out, “A little help here?”

GM: You are still about 15 feet from the door they used to enter.


GM: Bradford, it’s your turn.

Bradford: I keep running towards the Bentley.

GM: Okay. Give me a Perception + Alertness roll, Difficulty 7.

Bradford: uh, sure. (2 Perception, 1 Alertness) {8,9,8} Outcome: 3

GM: jeeze, what are the odds? Yeah, as you run outside, you notice a pale man standing about ten feet from the door near the side of the building. He’s wearing black tactical gear and readying a rifle.

Bradford: So wait, what can I do?

GM: Since you succeeded your Alertness check, I’m going to say that you’ve used your Combat Movement to get through the door, but you still have your Action.

Bradford: Can I dodge?

GM: You can’t dodge bullets without a Power, but because you have the Initiative and are using an Action instead of a Reaction, you can make a Dexterity + Athletics roll, Difficulty 7 to try to dive behind cover.

Bradford: Okay. Rolling at Difficulty 8 since I still don’t have Athletics. (2 Dexterity, 0 Athletics) {10,9} Outcome: 3.

GM: Nice. You dive behind a nearby hedge. Now it’s his turn, and he’s going to fire at you.

GM: (3 Dexterity, 4 Firearms) [Difficulty +1 (7) because Bradford successfully found partial cover]. {7,3,1,8,10,10,6} Outcome: 5. The rifle is +2, so you will take 7 damage.

Bradford: I have specialty-made armored clothing. Kevlar weave.

GM: Is it on your equipment list?

Bradford: Yup! See?

GM: Okay, that’s two Armor, meaning 5 damage. He fires several shots into the bush, and one explodes through your right leg just below the knee. You take a Severity 5 Injury, which means in addition to the damage you will receive a Battle Scar. In this case, that will be a Moderate Limp (Combat Movement decreased by 15 feet to a minimum of 5).

Bradford: Craaaap. I cry out “Help!”


GM: It’s Xu-mei’s turn. Xu-mei, you hear Alice and Bradford both calling for help and gunshots coming from outside. Alice is running the other way.

Xu-mei: Shit. . . Bradford has the puppy, doesn’t he?

GM: Yes.

Xu-mei: I duck outside and slash the guy shooting at him.

GM: Okay, you can easily make it there with your Combat Movement. Give me a Brawn + Melee roll, Difficulty 6.

Xu-mei: I Exert my Body to increase my Outcome by 1. (4 Brawn, 5 Melee) {8,9,8,5,9,9,8,3,4} Outcome: 6 + 1 = 7.

GM: Yeah, he isn’t dodging.

Xu-mei: The sword gives me +1 Damage, and with my Blademaster Power, I get another +1. So, 8 Damage.

GM: Anything in particular you’d like to do to him?

Xu-mei: Oooh, I wanna slice him in half.

GM: Done. You dash past the vampire with a flash of your blade. There’s a pause, he looks down, then the two halves of his body slide apart.

Xu-mei. I say, “some motherfuckers are always trying to ice skate uphill.”

GM: Excellent.


GM: It’s now Vamp Kid’s turn. He’s going to attack Alice again.

Alice: Shit. Can I Exert my Mind to borrow next Round’s Action again?

GM: Yup.

Alice: I do it. I’m at a -1 Penalty from the Mind Damage. (3 Dexterity, 3 Athletics, -1) {7,2,3,4,9} Outcome: 2.

GM: (Vamp kid 4 Brawn, 4 Melee, Difficulty 6) {3,4,10,8,1,1,8,1} Outcome 1. Look at all those 1s! You roll out of the way again. The sword slashes clean through a nearby I-beam.

Alice: I scream and giggle.


GM: Vampire boss’s turn. He looks back and forth between the door and the remnants of his beefier minion (now ground beef). With a growl, he leaps toward Alice.

Alice: Me?

GM: Yes. He clears the 25-foot gap with a single bound, lands on top of you, and will attempt to bite your throat.

Alice: I can’t do anything, can I?

GM: It doesn’t seem so. (4 Brawn, 3 Brawl) {10,3,10,7,9,2,3} Outcome of 6, and he does 7 Damage. Any Armor?

Alice: No.

GM: His jaws open wide, giving you an excellent view of his terrible fangs before he lunges into your neck, ripping out your throat with one fell swoop.

Alice: Before he does, can I say, “T-That’s all folks?”

GM: Absolutely. Since you have only 6 Body, this Severity-7 Injury is fatal. Alice is dead.

Alice: RIP

Xu-mei: Well, fuck.

Bradford: Damn.

GM: Rest in peace, Alice. At least you get a Charon Coin. That lets you start your next Contractor with a free Gift.

Alice: You know, that does make me feel a little better. I have some ideas I’ve been wanting to try. . .


GM: Okay, back outside. You two hear Alice’s scream cut short. Bradford, despite the searing pain in your leg, your adrenaline is running hot. What do you do?

Bradford: I toss Xu-mei the keys to the Bentley and start hobbling that direction with the puppy.

GM: Okay. And you, Xu-mei?

Xu-mei: I take the keys and sprint to the car. My goal is to pick up him and the puppy and then drive away.

GM: Okay, roll Brawn + Athletics Difficulty 6 for the all-out sprint.

Xu-mei: (4 Brawn + 4 Athletics) {7,5,3,9,1,9,4,7} Outcome: 3.

GM: Okay. With an all-out sprint you can move 5 x (Brawn + Outcome + Dex) feet, so that means you move up to 55 feet. That’s plenty. You can even start the car.


[At this point, the GM has decided that the leader vampire is going to take a little while enjoying his Alice meal and that the kid vampire is going to approach the outside cautiously, which will take a little too long if the Contractors stick with their plans.]


GM: Xu-mei, you make it to Bradford with the car. Do you help them inside?

Xu-mei: yup.

GM: Okay, you see the kid vampire rounding the corner just as Bradford closes the door behind him.

Xu-mei: I step on the gas and get us out of there.

GM: The wheels kick up a hail of gravel before finding purchase and yanking the car down the road. Combat is officially ended.


Bradford: “We did it! A single infant cerberus ready for delivery! By God, I feel so. . . ALIVE! --Ah my leg. . . Xu, would you be a dear and head to a hospital?”

Xu-mei: I take the car far enough away that I’m sure the vampires aren’t going to catch up and then pull over. Somewhere a little remote.

GM: You park on the street in a suburb. It’s late. Most of the houses are dark.

Bradford: “This doesn’t look like Boise General, Xu.”

Xu-mei: I pull my Tanto out of the seat and stick it against Bradford’s throat.

Bradford: “What the hell?”

Xu-mei: “You son of a bitch. We lost Alice!”

Bradford: “Please. All battles have casualties.”

Xu-mei: “This was your battle. Your plan. No trap. No weapons. ‘The vampiric code of honor.’ You make me sick. Her blood is on YOUR hands.”

Alice: Kill him!

Bradford: Bradford is sweating profusely. “Okay, fine. My research was a bit shoddy. But I’ve already paid my price. Look at me. I’ll be lucky to walk again.”

Xu-mei: “You’ll be lucky to BREATHE again when I’m done with you. Balance must be maintained. Justice must be done.” I dig the knife into his neck a little.

GM: A bead of blood runs down the blade.

Bradford: “Hold on! Listen. Please. You saved my life back there.”

Xu-mei: “I’m about to fix that mistake.”

Bradford: “Was it a mistake? You could have saved Alice, but you saved me. Why?”

Xu-mei: Xu is quiet for a moment. “Because you had the puppy.”

GM: The Cerberus’s leftmost head licks Bradford’s sweaty face through the cage.

Bradford: “Yes, the puppy. You could have saved her and you didn’t, because you want to get paid. Isn’t that true? Well if your intention is to turn back time, you’ll have to give him up as well.”

Xu-mei: Okay hold on, out of Character. My Contractor is Vengeful, and I feel like he would want to kill Bradford.

GM: Xu-mei is your Character. In the end, you can choose what he does.

Xu-mei: Right, but I don’t want to and he’s being pretty convincing. . .

GM: If you want, we can have him roll to see if he convinces Xu-mei to spare him. That will prevent any metagaming.

Xu-mei: Yeah that sounds good.

GM: Okay, Bradford. Let’s get a Charisma + Influence roll, Difficulty. . .

Xu-mei: 8.

Bradford: Here goes nothing. (4 Charisma, 4 Influence) {4,7,3,3,10,9,1,3,} Outcome: 3.

Bradford: “Xu. She signed the contract.”

Xu-mei: I tense up, then sigh. “Maybe we’re both to blame.”

Bradford: “I’m glad you’ve seen the light. Now, if you’d just remove your blade from my neck. . .”

Xu-mei: I cut off his left ear.

GM: Bradford, you take a Severity 1 Injury and receive a Battle Scar.

Bradford: “AAAAAH!! What the hell!”

Xu-mei: “That’s a warning. And it’s your last one.” I push him out of the car.

GM: Do you want to resist, Bradford?

Bradford: No. I think I’d like to get away from this guy.

Xu-mei: I say, “And read some fucking books on vampires!” and speed off. Next stop: the Harbinger. I have a puppy to deliver.