NBA Combat: Shooting vs. Not Shooting

How do people run combat when one person is shooting at a person who is 1) unarmed; 2) not shooting back; or 3) doing some other kind of ranged attack, like a vampiric power? The rules only talk about Shooting vs. Shooting.

One option might be Shooting vs. Athletics (dodging), except that normal humans, even Jason Bourne, can't generally dodge bullets. Vampiric Speed might allow for that, but sometimes you need to shoot a regular old human target. Another option is Shooting vs. target's Hit Threshold, which is slightly higher if one has a high Athletics. That abstracts things pretty well, but is rather drastic.

Thoughts? Thanks.


  • Do you mean initiative? Or to hit? If it's to hit, it's always the target's hit threshold, whatever they are doing.
  • The NBA system book's section on Combat begins with:

    "Combat is a specialized sort of contest, usually involving any of the following abilities:

    „„Hand-to-Hand vs. Hand-to-Hand, Hand-to-Hand vs. Weapons, or Weapons vs. Weapons: the characters are fighting at close quarters. „„

    Shooting vs. Shooting: the characters are apart from one another and trying to hit each other with guns.

    As with full contests, the combatants take turns using their abilities. The other
    guy may swing first, but the fighter with the highest rating seizes the initiative.
    Unlike an ordinary contest, in a fight it is usually advantageous to strike first.

    A contest proceeds between the two abilities. When combatants using the Hand-to-Hand, Shooting, or Weapons abilities roll well, they get the opportunity to deal damage to their opponents."

    My question is: What ability do you use if it's Shooting vs. someone-not-shooting - running/dodging, preparing a non-gun ranged attack like a vampiric power, etc.? Are humans considered fast enough to use Athletics to dodge bullets?
  • There has to be some adjudication as to what makes sense. Shooting vs Weapons or HtH makes sense if the combatants are really close; arms reach, even. You can imagine it as a struggle where one combatant has a pistol and is trying to get the barrel aimed at the target while the other combatant is struggling to keep the pistol at bay while simultaneously choking the pistol holder. In other situations, a combatant with a firearm at longer range gets a shot or two as the unarmed combatant closes. As mentioned, above, the determination of whether or not the firearm hits is based on a roll vs hit threshold. I typically like to make all the rolls player facing, so an unarmed PC charging an armed NPC would roll Athletics against a target number I set to avoid getting hit. Survive two or three shots, and then the PC can engage in HtH combat. Something like that.
  • This makes sense. Thanks!

    Looking forward to running my first NBA game shortly, The Harker Intrusion, as a possible prelude to the Dracula Dossier (if my players like NBA enough).
  • Let us know how it goes!
  • The initiative rule is (for me) the weakest part of the GUMSHOE system. Though the rules look relatively simple, and you can make intuitive rulings about cases like the one you bring up, it seems to assume one on one combat, and of course with a team of many players, combat is rarely that simple.

    To follow the rule as written, you need to first go round the table (in any convenient) order to ask each player's intentions. Then base the action order on the skill they intend to use (with guns generally going first when matched with martial arts). But what if one player changes their mind about their intention? For example what happens when a player intends to shoot and opponent, who "jumps in" and closes for martial arts engagement, so the okay wants to pistol whip him instead?

    You CAN make it work, but it's seldom as fast an furious as the system intends. Mel and I have discussed it in another thread, and tend towards using something like Cortex Plus' initiative system instead.
  • I've got the Firefly RPG, though I haven't paid much attention to the rules... I'll check out how it handles initiative. Thanks for the tip. Do you have a link to that other thread?
  • It's not massive, about seven below this one, called "Initiative"
  • Timewatch has an alternate initiative system in which the current actor designates who acts after him, until everyone has acted (the opposition tends to get a joint move). The last actor decides who goes first next round.
  • Thanks again, to all of you. I haven't had time to read my Timewatch PDF yet - I'm waiting for the eventual hardback to show up - so I appreciate the tip.
  • Yup, that's pretty much the system in Cortex plus too. In Timewatch, any thoughts on who goes first?
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