Player Facing

If Gumshoe is player facing, why in Fear Itself does combat go to the; your go - there go, style of play.
Maybe because its an early version of the system?
But as I move into our next session tonight, the forth or fifth (its a record for Gumshoe), and the malevolent ghost attacking the players in Crooks End (I would do spoilers but its so old...), I am struck by the above combat style. I don't want to pick up dice in the game, as GM, except for the odd roll for random encounters...
So can't the combat be player facing?
Player rolls to attack.
Player rolls to dodge/defend.


  • edited February 2015
    Gumshoe can be player facing, although it isn't designed that way.  I've noticed at least one place where Gumshoe refers to itself as player facing (in Night's Black Agents (NBA)) but that doesn't match my understanding of player facing--where the players are doing most of the dice rolling. I think you can easily run combat the way you have described.  One issue to be aware of is that the skill used to dodge/defend (athletics, weapons, HTH) will be expended faster than with normal combat rules (especially if the same skill is used for both attacks and defense). So the characters may need a few extra points.  And more skilled opposition will require higher dodge/defend scores.  
    I plan to do something similar in an NBA game I am running at the Dreamation convention later this month.  I'll describe the NPCs' actions, and let the PCs respond.  The NPCs don't "attempt" anything--they just do it! Whether the bad guys succeed or not is up to the PCs.  Focus remains on the players.  This also frees up my time by virtually eliminating the point tracking I will have to do for NPCs.  
    I actually want to go beyond player facing combat as you have described.  Even though the player is rolling the dice, the process is still "PC acts, someone rolls dice.  NPC acts, someone rolls dice".  Resolving the combat is still a matter of attriting the opponent's Health (or hit points or whatever).  I'd like to see the fight resolved with perhaps a single set of rolls.  I'm still thinking about this, though.  
    I should mention as well the optional "Player Facing Combat" rules as described in NBA.  These rules allow a PC to defeat one or more (generally low power) opponents with a single die roll each.  The rules are designed for speeding up fights with mooks, but I like the idea of resolving a fight with a single die roll.   
  • Hi Mel,
    I was going from this;

    and this, which I had only just found but looks very similar to what I was doing.

    We gamed last night and it seemed to work, but I take your point about the point spend. In a way it gets the conflict resolved faster, just maybe refresh the pools between bouts.

  • Hi Allan,
    Yes, I have to admit I have overlooked Gumshoe's player facing claims.  Gumshoe does, to be fair, have some player facing elements.  I just don't think Gumshoe goes far enough to be player facing and, in fact, the player facing aspects are presented as options for minor portions of the game.  Take, for example, the "player facing combat" I mentioned from Night's Black Agents, which is provided as means of taking out mooks and other minor combatants.  For "real" fights, traditional combat is used.  Another example, also from NBA, are the three levels of contests which are presented as providing escalating levels of dramatic tension. The lowest level is "player facing contests" used for "quick, active, one and done" contests.  More dramatic scenes use full contests; the third level of escalation are thriller chases (and other "thriller" type rules from Double Tap).  
    You're very right--Gumshoe sells itself as a player facing system.  From playing and running Gumshoe games, that claim surprises me and I think is exaggerated.   
    I would love to hear more about how the player facing fights or other contests worked in your game!  I want to do something similar at Dreamation but I am conscious that I shouldn't stray too far from the rules as written.  

  • I had it as the player rolls attacks as per rules.
    Defence was against the players own hit threshold, with the player rolling for defence, so they subtracted the defence pool and added the attackers pool.
    I occasionally gave bonus's for terrain or other player/GMC actions.
    So the bonus could take the form off additional negative mods to the players defence roll.
    Any appropriate ability could be used for the pool.
    Only had one game so far and that was with random ghost manifested items attacking the players.
    I don't have NBA as yet.
  • Thanks.  I think I'll try something similar.  I wanted to try something along the lines of one roll-per combat, but that's probably too far out of the normal rules.
  • Not that I needed too, but probably look to have combat pools refresh straight away after, or if there is a significant breather/pause/break in the action.
    Player fights, player flee's, attacker has to catch up, that would be a break in the action.
    Previous injuries still apply.

  • That's a good tip.  I am already going to simplify cherries (skill bonuses in NBA) so that an 8+ allows a narrative refresh for any skill (once per scene) extra attacks, extra damage, and (most controversially!) adding points to the skill roll after the d6 roll.  Even at full pools, an unprepared group of agents will have a hard time against a vampire.  
Sign In or Register to comment.