Confrontations are the core mechanic of the game. If an action has a chance of failure, it will likely be resolved through a confrontation. Confrontations are the only instance during which characters can play cards.
Confrontations arise when a character declares an action, and whoever is affected by it declares he wants to act against it. Alternatively, the GM, representing difficulty or bad luck, creates a confrontation when she tries to force the action to fail.
It is not recommended to resolve actions related to dialogue and deduction by using cards. In these cases, the best option for a deeper game immersion is to let each character play his role in order to obtain the information or agreement he needs throughout interaction with other players and NPCs. In case of not reaching an agreement, these situations can be resolved with a Cunning confrontation.
Confrontations with the GM
When a character performs an action, the GM can confront him to try to stop the character from succeeding. During a confrontation with the GM, she counts as having the same Attributes and Affinity as the character she is confronting, and her opposition counts as an action for all resolution purposes. The GM does not have a Skill value but she does not receive a disadvantage for it. Additionally, she always has 2 advantages that can be overcome as normal.
In these situations, the GM acts as bad luck or an accident happening. If the GM wins the confrontation, the action will be unsuccessful and it is recommended that she explains how the action failed. If she scores a critical success, there can be an interesting or dangerous reason for the failure.
Example: Edward is trying to infiltrate an enemy base. He finds a lonely guard at the end of the corridor in front of the door he must cross. The guard is unaware of Edward’s presence so there cannot be a confrontation; anything Edward does to him will succeed. Edward shoots him with his silent weapon. Suddenly, the GM plays a card from her hand, a very powerful 10. Edward looks at her distressed. If he misses the shot, the guard could be alerted and the mission will be compromised. Edward has Ballistic 6 and Dexterity 2, and his weapon grants him one advantage. On the other hand the GM has an initial action value of 0, plays 2 cards (same as the Attribute used by Edward) and has two advantages. Edward is in inferiority and therefore he can only play 1 card. If Edward wins the confrontation, he kills the guard without drawing any attention. If the GM wins the confrontation, it will be up to her to describe the failure. She could say that Edward’s gun has a malfunction and he will be forced to fix it or find another way around the guard, or she could say that Edward shot misses, alerting the guard.
Confrontations Between Characters
When a character is going to be affected by an action and he is aware of it, he may decide to confront that action. He must explain what action he is performing as a countermeasure and determine what Skill and Attribute his action relates to.
A countermeasure must be able to make the confronted action fail: by damaging the attacker’s target; by affecting his senses, capacities or equipment; by getting the character into a position where the action he is confronting cannot reach him, etc.
A Hacking action can be stopped by hacking the rig that is being used to attempt the attack, or a character can be stopped from hitting his target by blinding him.
If there is conflict about the appropriateness of an action as a countermeasure in a confrontation, the GM must decide if it is appropriate or not before allowing the players to resolve the confrontation. If it is not, the confronting character can attempt a different action or be affected by the action as normal.
The action value is an action’s numerical value. There are several things that can modify the value of an action and its final value will affect the outcome of the confrontation and determine its winner.
Skill values are reduced by one per damage counter (both physical and neural) the character has, to a minimum of 0.
All actions relate to an Attribute. When a character is involved in a confrontation he will be able to play up to as many cards as the value of the Attribute he is using. He will add the value of those cards to his action value.
The total number of cards played by a character during an initiative round can never be higher than the Attribute used, regardless of the number of actions performed using that Attribute (unless specified otherwise by another rule).
Advantages (+) represent having a form of upper hand over an opponent, while disadvantages (-) represent difficulties or hindrances a character can have when trying to perform an action. Both can be gained through roleplaying, through equipment, or through Upgrades that grant them. Each disadvantage cancels one advantage, and if the character has no advantages to be cancelled, it gives one advantage to the character confronting him.
During a confrontation, the characters that have the least advantages will be in inferiority and, as a result, will have the maximum number of cards they can play reduced by one. In case of a tie, all characters will be able to play the normal amount of cards. The GM can also be affected by advantages or disadvantages.
A character can be considered in an advantageous situation when he is undercover, when his enemy is restrained, when he enters a room undiscovered and catches other characters with their guards down, when he is in a higher position than his enemy, etc. A character can gain advantage from several sources at the same time or even several advantages from the same source if the benefit it provides is very strong. There are so many possibilities that it is the job of the GM to determine how and when to grant advantages or disadvantages to characters.
The deck of the GM contains the jokers from all the decks used by the players and herself. A joker card played during a confrontation turns the last card played by the confronted character into a card of value 0. If the character had not played a card yet, it will affect the next card he plays.
A joker card still counts towards the maximum number of cards the GM (or NPC) can play, and the card nullified by the joker still counts towards the maximum number of cards the character can play.
Outcome of a Confrontation
In a confrontation, the action with the higher action value is considered successful and its confronting action is considered a failure. In case of a tie, all actions fail.
Levels of Success
When an action has a value 1 to 4 points higher than its confronting action, it succeeds without other effects.
When an action has a value 5 or more points higher than its confronting action, it achieves a decisive success and it may have improved effects as described in the relevant Skill or piece of equipment. Those actions that do not have an effect described for a decisive success will not be improved unless the GM finds a fitting effect for them.
When an action has a value 10 or more points higher than its confronting action and the last card played for it was a court card, it achieves a critical success. Its effects are improved as described in the relevant Skill or piece of equipment, or as the GM sees fit if they are not described anywhere. The effects of a critical should be twice as good as the effects of a regular success.
Erica and John shoot at each other. After playing all their cards, taking into consideration all the action value modifiers, the final action values are 31 for Erica and 19 for John. Additionally, the last card played by Erica was a 13. Erica outperforms John by 12 points and the last card she played was a court card, so she achieves a critical success. She does twice the damage of her weapon to John. This represents a headshot or a shot to some other vital area.
Whenever a character fails an action, it is up to the GM to tell why and how. She can just have the action fail, or she can have it succeed with complications. However, she should follow a few guidelines to incorporate failures into the story.
When a character fails an action against another character or the GM, it is typical to have the failed action simply fail. If it is a Shooting action, the bullet misfires or misses its target. If it is a Repairing action, the mechanic simply fails to repair it. If it is a Hacking action, the hacker is not able to override the defences of the device or his rig momentarily fails.
However, when the GM confronts and defeats a character with a critical success, she can get creative. If it is a Shooting action, the weapon is jammed and the shooter cannot use it anymore until it is fixed, or the shooter hits a friendly character that was in close proximity to his target. If it is a Repairing action, the mechanic could have damaged the device even more and further Repairing actions could be more difficult or impossible. If it is a Hacking action, the hacker’s rig might break down or be infected by a virus.
Resolving a Confrontation
To resolve a confrontation, players must always follow the same steps.
- A character declares an action and its target or targets if there are any.
- The GM declares if she wants to confront the action.
- All the characters that can declare a counteraction do so if they want.
- All the characters that declared a counteraction declare the activated effect they will use, if any.
- The initial character declares the activated effect he will use, if any.
- Inferiority is assigned to the character(s) with the least advantages in the confrontation.
- The character with the lowest action value plays a card from his hand. In case of a tie, the players play first. If there are two or more players involved in a tie, they play their cards face down at the same time.
- Step 7 is repeated until all characters can’t or do not want to play more cards.
- The confrontation is resolved. All the actions with an action value higher than the action they are confronting are successful.
- All successful actions are resolved according to the outcome of the confrontation.
- The GM determines the failures of all other actions.
In order to keep gameplay streamlined, it is important that each participant of a confrontation says the value of their action out loud each time they play a new card. This way nobody is forced to calculate the value of the action of his opponent every time he plays a card.
If an action affects several characters, such as the explosion of a grenade, all affected characters can confront that action. Before any cards are played, every character affected by the action must decide if he will enter the confrontation. The GM may also be involved in a multiple confrontation.
To resolve a multiple confrontation, calculate the final action values of each of the characters involved and the GM if she participates. Calculate the successes or failures of all confronting characters individually against the character that performed the initial action and apply them according to the normal success rules. If the GM wins her confrontation, the action of the character she confronted fails regardless of its success against other characters. Note that even if an action itself is a failure, it still causes all confronting actions with a lower value to fail.
If a character is in Inferiority against only some of his opponents, he can still play his last card, which will only modify the value of his action against those opponents that do not have advantage over him. Similarly, the effects of decisive or critical successes are calculated and applied individually against each opponent.