Combat Example 1

by J. Thaddeus Klopcic and David Berkman

This is an example of diceless combat done over email with David Berkman GMing and J. Thaddeus Klopcic as the sole player. It was done to fit JTK's request, specifying:

Can you offer a quick example of intense conflict resolution ("Combat") in a mechanicless system that
a) Reflects differing skill/advantages
b) Allows for the element of chance
c) Masks the "Invisible Hand" of the GM moving the plot along
I am just curious as to your response. I figure that this is a fairly easy exercise, but it would help clarify the argument for me.

Now, in the example below, David (the GM) is written in italics, while J. Thaddeus is in normal type.

The Hotel Fight

You're in a small hotel room, at night. It's a little downtown cheap hotel, yellowed wallpaper, hard creaky bed, very little furniture. The woman has the briefcase upon the bed. Her supple form is bent over the task of opening the locks to reveal the long awaited contents (providing a good rear view). There is a dry tenseness in the air, which is not held in check at all by the heat. The single working bulb in the table lamp provides mostly shadows, and very little illumination.

The woman stops short at her task and lifts up her head. One thin eyebrow raises slightly as she looks towards the door.

"Did you just hear something?" she says quietly. The handcuff she wears the steel case by has gone taught as she reaches with the other hand into her overcoat, towards where a gun would be holstered (small of the back).

What are you doing?

Wow. I wasn't expecting an _interactive_demo_, but this is even better. TIA! OK, let me see...

O.K. We'll be going through some minute actions, so this will take a little while, but I'm game.

With a silent nod, I motion the woman to into the bathroom. Quickly drawing my Browning(?), I stand next to the door on the hinges side, with my back to the wall. If anyone enters, the door will mask my position. Taking a deep breath, I listen carefully.

The woman now raises both eyebrows in a quizical look, then seems to realize something, and nods. She picks up the briefcase and moves silently towards the bathroom. The bathroom door clicks closed at about the same time the doorknob your standing next to makes the faintest of turns... and stops, locked. There is a pause of several heart beats...

Please also include a brief discussion of GM thinking. I want to understand the system from both perspectives, if possible.

O.K. Be prepared.

I roll to the other side of the door, next to the doorknob. Still standing with my back to the wall, I quickly unlatch the lock and jerk the door open with my free hand. Hopefully the snoop's hand will still be on the knob and he will be caught off balance. My gun is ready if he isn't...

[There are 5 or 6 armed gunmen outside, with automatic weapons, just about to shoot the lock of the door, the knob off the door, and possibly the door off the frame. You might catch the one trying to open the door off-balance, although this isn't likely with the ligh touch he was giving that doorknob. The rest would blaze their guns at you, and you would be full of holes. However, I don't want it to end that soon, so I'll give you a little warning. Quick use of the Theatrix flowchats for combat.]

You reach for the door to jerk it open when the silence in the room is broken by loud, rapid gunfire in copius quantities. Your left hand explodes in pain, several holes appear in your trenchcoat, small bits of wood begin to leap of the door and its frame, rapidly leaving holes behind, you blink away the darkness from your eyes...

Side Discussion (Note 1)

What are you doing?

Trying to stifle my gasp of pain, I dive behind the bed onto the floor. (Not much in the way of cover, but what else is there?)

[Maybe I'll tell you in a minute]

The door slams open as you leap over the bed. You don't manage to stifle the gasp of pain when you dive behind the bed, and instinctively stop your face from hitting the ground with your hands, or rather hand. The shock of pain when your left shoulder strikes the ground is totally drowned out in the *SHOCK* of pain in your left hand, as you take most of your weight there, your Browining still in the right hand. There are definitely still some nerves there.

You take a big involuntary shuddering breath, and try to crawl quickly towards the corner of the bed, before the guys in the black trenchcoats get too far into the room.

Peering around the corner of the bed, I squeeze off a couple of rounds at the door to give the fellows outside something to think about before they come barging in. Now, I have to try to remember: does the fire escape go near the window of this room, or even better, a window in the bathroom?

You squeeze off a few rounds, and there is a small spray of red blood on one of the legs facing you, a yell, 'Jezuz Fuckin' ...rrrrr!', as a man hits the ground. His buddies entering the room are stepping back, and moving left and right for some cover. The guy who hit the ground looks up from his prone position, and you are starring right at each other. Good unobstructed view from under the bed. 'Rrrrrrrrr....', a grimace of hate as that Uzi comes swinging around towards your exposed flank.

You haven't looked out the window in the bathroom, but the one in the room didn't lead onto a fire escape. Of course it's only 3 stories up...

[I was thinking about the windows as well]

I fire two more shots at the goon on the floor to give him something else to think about besides my "unprotected flank". The next bullet goes into the light bulb in the lamp. (Important Safety Tip: Next time, turn out the light before opening the door.) Hopefully the bathroom door is within a quick crawl behind some sort of cover. Pound on the door: ``Let me in!'' You've both got a clear line of fire on each other. You've got your gun out and pointing in that direction. The first shot takes him in the top of the head as your eyes clear of the initial shock of pain, and your aim is less wild. I assume you go directly for the single light with your next shot. The light goes out with a flash. A heavy body lands on the bed above you.

So far, so good... There is the shuffle of feet on the other side of the bed, farther back. A body slams into a wall in the opposite corner of the room. And the goon moving towards the corner of the bed from which you are firing, ducking across your line of fire as you take out the light, is of immediate concern, because he stands in the dark, about 4 feet away, with his Uzi pointing right at you. Your painflully balanced in a prone position, on your left shoulder, alongside the bed, with your gun too far out of line to shoot him before he tags you.

Side Discussion (Note 2)

The room's single window is to your left. The bathroom door is behind you, just behind your feet. The door to the room is on the other side of the bed to your right.

What are you doing besides laying there and dying?

This is a possibility. So is surrender. I could make a dive for the window, which you have hinted at. This would require standing up in front of an Uzi at point-blank range and dropping thirty feet onto pavement. The bathroom offers another avenue, with similar liabilities. If we were rolling dice, I would be hoping for an artficiality, like an incredible initiative roll to save my butt. In any case, it looks like I've failed the mission. But to keep things interesting, how about this:

With all the speed and adrenaline I can muster, I slide underneath the bed and keep going, headed for the open door.

Time scale is shorter than that, so lets just start and see how it goes. You can't slide rapidly enough not to get aced. The automatic has a bead on you. You can however roll (ouch). I assume you'll bite down on your lip and do it (if we were face to face I would ask, but in the interest of some efficiancy, and the few alternative options, I'll run it as though you go for that).

You roll under the bed as hard as you can with a line of gunfire following you. Fortunately, a matress is soft and thick, and will tend to quickly deform the bullets which strike it. Unfortunately, these are fairly high velocity rounds. What comes out the other end of those holes is wads of matress stuffing, which flies into little bits as it explodes outward. As you roll towards the outer edge of the bed (towards the door), in a fair bit of agony now (your shoulder is just bruised, but that hand may never be the same), you are enveloped in a cloud of matress fuzz. There are *a lot* of bullets firing through that matress and following your path. You finish your roll at the other side of the bed, as you are stopped by a foot. Face up, in the dark, one of the goons has his right foot squarely on your chest, and the business end of an Uzi about 1 foot away, square dead on your center of mass. Amongst the matress fuzz and darkness you can't see his face, doesn't really matter at this point anyway, but he makes a short snort of derision. The sound of gunfire is dying away, leaving a ringing in your ears. You can make out the back of the guy who landed on the bed. He's standing up now, his back to you, with his gun pointed downward at the center of the matress.

Not even time for a prayer really.

And then the goon with the foot on your chest leaps off of you, and does a poorly acrobatic half-pirouette through the air, landing in a heap beside the guy with the serious brain hemmorage. The whole thing looked like a scene from a silent movie, and there just this high pitched ringing in your ears.

Side Discussion (Note 3)

So are you just gonna' lay there?

Hell no. I plug the guy with his back to me, then roll for the nearest cover (besides the ex-bed) while I try to figure out who's left.

You squeeze of two rounds into the standing goons back. You are under the only cover other than the other side of one of the walls (out the window, out the door, back under the bed maybe). Where are you rolling to, just after squeezing off those two quick rounds into the guy's back (freeze moment in time, because he hasn't even begun falling yet)?

I sure hope she doesn't toss the pin and drop the grenade. Most people usually hold the grenade in their hand and pull the pin with their teeth. Unless this is her version of a "dead-man's switch". (Dead-woman's switch?)

GMs thoughts: She needed to open the bathroom door, fire that gun, and pull the pin quickly, which means she needed to open the door with her free hand, which is on a short leash (the other is holding the gun). She would have had to fumble at the door if she had a grenade in her hand, and she couldn't afford the time to fumble for the grenade afterwards.

I should be close enough to the door that I could rise to a crouch, spin 180, and end up near the doorway. As I spin, I'll try a snap shot at the guy in the corner who tried to drill me on the other side of the bed.

You rise to a crouch and begin a spin, a little awkwardly as your a bit more lightheaded than usual. There is a definite throbbing in your eardrums, which exists even in the otherwise ringing silence of the room. As you turn towards the corner for your next target, seeking him in the darkness, and the man on the bed falls towards the ground, a few facts sink in. The gun in the hand of the goon on the bed, whome you just plugged in the back, is firing, and continues to fire as he falls. The motion of his arm, and the dancing force of the Uzi, create a swirling line of plaster puffs as they trace a line along the wall in a wide, sweeping arc. There are 2 goons on the other side of the bed. If there were only 5 to start with, then there they are. If there were 6, then you have another assailant in the darkness. The 2 on the other side of the bed are dropping to the ground in sort of a dive. That nice young lady you left in the bathroom is framed in bathroom's doorway, by the dim light coming in through the room's single window, and the open one in the bathroom as well. She is holding a monster hand cannon in one hand, a grenade in her teeth, and she's pulling the pin on the grenade with her left hand, yes, the handcuffed one, with the big steel breifcase held awkwardly under one arm. How she opened the bathroom door, you don't know. She has an extremely worried look on her face.

This flashes across your field of vision as you trun towards the corner of the room, allowing the Browning to point your way. That sweep of machinegun fire doing the dance of death is headed around the room, about chest high, in the opposite direction of your spin, ie. towards you.

Looks like fun.

Side Discussion (Note 4)

What are you doing?

I'm in another awkward position, as usual. How about a diving roll through the open door and around the corner? I'll be listening for the Uzi to stop firing and for the thud of a grenade being lobbed into the room. Maybe I'll also be able to hear the "ping" of a grenade arming handle.

You dive across the two bodies in the center of the room and roll for the open door. That ringing silence in your ears is going to make subtle noises difficult to hear. Besides, you realize quite plainly as you hit the ground that this is one dive too many for that left hand. It doesn't support your weight, so your wrist is forced to instead. There is a shudder of pain and an agonizing 'pop' in your wrist, which is complaining loudly about the abuse. The hand with the gun in it is forced to take your weight, except that your holding a gun, which makes that an awkward operation as well. Your right hand is forced into an awkward angle as the gun refuses to balance perfectly on its top, your trigger finger is bent painfully, and the gun discharges (you feel this more than hear it). Your roll misses it's mark a bit and you body check the door frame with your shoulder and back (scrape). You end up in a semi-fetal position, head out the door, feet just in the room, and your left hand is a useless lump of agony. A small dark object bounces off the bed and lands on the floor in the middle of the room. The woman framed in the bathrrom doorway is screaming something at you and motioning with her now empty gun hand for you to come toward her, as she transfers the briefcase into a better grip. There is a spray of gunfire that rakes across the bathroom door, and the nice pretty woman, who no longer seems to be holding a gun, spins around and falls backwards into the bathroom.

Hosed - ouch! Well, there doesn't seem to be much to do except make a last effort to put a wall between me and that probable grenade. I'll try to get as far from the open doorway as I can. Too bad - I didn't even catch her name. Once the grenade goes off, I'll go back in to mop up. Well, you're not broken, just hurting. You definitely can't use that hand for anything, but you can get up using the other hand, ignore the twinges in your back, and pull yourself around that wall. You kick youself to the other side of the wall, and ... boy, does that hand hurt. Even trying to move it is agony.

OK, stand up and count five seconds for the grenade to go off, then back into the room to mop up. If the grenade hasn't gone off, I'll take my chances and go in anyway. And if the goon squad tries to retreat through the door in front of me, I'll plug 'em. Do I hear any noises in the room with my much-diminished hearing? O.K. You push yourself into a standing position, careful to hold your wrist as still as possible, because otherwise it HURTS. You count off 5 seconds, and that muted high pitched ringing in your ears fades out to a high pitched buzz. You are definitely feeling a bit lightheaded, you're still exsanguinating at a fair rate through the hole in your left hand. Still no explosion. What are you doing?

Well, the best defense is a good offence, so they say. Assuming I still have my gun, I'll lean around the doorframe, using the wall as partial cover, and see if I can get a snap shot at a goon or two.

Yes, you still have your gun. I would have said if you had lost it, in most cases.

You lean around the doorframe, into the darkened room, and can't make out a moving body. You see the two on the floor, and the dark lump that's supposedly the grenade. The bathroom door has been closed again, and the window has been smashed (only tatters of glass remain about the edges).

Well, is it really a grenade? Has the pin been pulled? If it's armed, I'll duck out of the room and get as far away as I can. Well, in the darkness of the room, with the light coming through the windows, from your position at the doorway, the small, round lump on the floor sure looks like a grenade.

OK, I'll duck back into the hallway and wait another ten seconds, then lean back in again. In the meantime, I'll try to wrap a handkerchief around my hand.

You have to bite down on your lower lip to keep from screaming as you wrap that handkerchief around that hand. Any movement is NOT good. You wait ten seconds and lean back in. Same situation.

All right, then. I jump over the bed to see if I can catch any lurkers unawares. If there's no one there, or if they are no threat, I'll enter the bathroom. My aim is to get into the bathroom as quickly as possible, after ensuring that the bedroom is secure.

Well, the space between the bed and the wall is a bit short for that kind of leap, but I get the point. Here's a rough of the room. DD is the door, = is the bathroom door, B is the bed, T is a table, C is a chair, and x is the broken window.

|              TT |
=              TT |
| BBBBBB          |
| BBBBBB          |
|               CC|
|               CC|

Wince, pain (your hand). You get to the other side of the bide, gun leading. You cross the two fallen guys with the Uzis in their cold dead fingers, and the one you plugged in the back on the bed, automatic in his hand as well, and there is no one else there. Out the broken window is the brick wall of another building, and another window opposite this one, but that window is not broken, and it's dark, and the distance is too far to jump. There are bits of broken glass crunching softly under your feet on the cheap rug. The bathroom door is closed, but there is light coming from underneath the door.

Gee, I wish I had this when we started...

Ho ho ho, now I have a machine gun too.

I'll hoster my gun and grab a Uzi - you never know when you might need some extra firepower. Then I'll rap on the bathroom door. ``It's me - the coast is clear.'' I'll pull back to the side of the door, just in case.

You hear both the knock on the door, and your own voice, only slightly muted now.

The door open quickly to reveal your lady friend leaning against the door frame, the steel case still attached to her wrist, and Desert Eagle .50 cal. in her other hand (how she wraps her hand around that you don't know). She looks no less beautiful for being dishevled. There are several holes in her blouse, revealing the typical blue of a flack vest underneath. Her left shoulder wasn't so lucky, and she's bleeding from a bullet wound there.

She coughs hard, and taps herself on the chest with the gun, smiles weakly, and says in that odd accent (maybe israeli, maybe russian) ``I didn't wear the trauma plate. It's too uncomfortable with breasts. That will teach me.''


``Do you still have the microfiche?''

I pull out the microfiche in its steel can. ``I assume you agree to the terms of the deal? Then let's make this quick. I don't think either of us want to be around here for longer than we have to...''

``Lets get out of here, it's no longer safe. There is obviously a leak in one of our organizations. I have a Mercedes limousine parked outside. It has bullet proof windows ... and a privacy screen. We can seal the deal there.''

She moves over and opens the bathroom window.

``And we should do something about your hand. All that blood could be going to better uses.'' She gives you a little smile and turns, gun first, to check outside the window.

I nod. "Ladies first." I pocket the can and move so I can watch both her and the door to the room.

She climbs out the window and onto a the fire escape outside, making only a few soft metalic sounds. She pauses a moment, lokking around, then motions for you to follow.

So there was a fire escape out the bathroom window. OK, I follow carefully behind, with my Uzi at the ready.

GMs thoughts: Always was, even before you mentioned it.

You move carefully out the window onto the fire escape. It's damp from a recent rain. The back of the alley is fenced off with a high (about 10') wooden fence, about 40' from you. The front of the alley opens onto the street, wich is lit by spaced lamps, about 20' in front of you. You are three stories up on a five story hotel. The broken window is behind you, toward the back of the alley. The opposite building is about 20' feet away across the alley. Below you, just behind the fire escape, towards the back of the alley, is one of those large green open dumpsters, about half full of trash. On the opposite side of the alley from it are several metal trash cans, and the trash cans are beside a single exit door in the opposite building. Other than these objects, and a few puddles, the alley is empty.

The women moves on ahead of you, quietly, towards the bottom of the fire escape, which ends one floor up from the alley, because the end ladder is still retracted.

I'll follow the woman down to the bottom of the fire escape, keeping careful watch for any sign of movement in the alley below or on the rooftops above. Can I figure out why the window was broken and where the extra goons went?

Well, there are few chices, as you move down you look at the window. Somebody could have broken the window, stood crouched on the sill, and made a jump for the fire escape. Hairy, but possible. That means they could have made it to the roof. A two story climb from the window to the roof, directly, seems impossible (good thought to look up though, very few people think about up, and I've used that before). If someone leapt from the window they would likely end up in the large garbage dumpster, almost directly below ...

You've come down a flight of stairs, just behind the lady, and both of you are cautiously looking about, when several garbage bags in the dumpster move quickly, and noisily, revealing one of the goon squad, Uzi in hand, while the other one pushes himself out from underneath the dumpster, Uzi pointing upward. They were a little bit hasty. They would have had a better shot if they had waited for you to get to the bottom ladder. What are you doing...

I'll drop to a crouch and spray the garbage bag guy with the Uzi. I assume I have minimal cover, but I'll try to get a snap assessment of the possibilities.

The possibilities for cover aren't particularly good. There's up, and there's down. Your'e on the second story, so down is a two story drop onto concrete. Up is a climb. You drop to a croutch, the woman in front of you drops a bit and swings the hand cannon into line with a target as well, and then the bullets fly. There is the rattling of several Uzis echoing off the brick walls of the alley, and the loud thunderclap of the Desert Eagle. This close to it, the shock wave is a palpable hot slap in the face, and that ringing starts buzzing in your ears again. Crouched down on the metal staircase, firing past a metal railing, with only the metal stairs, and the metal slats of the second floor firescape landing for cover, is not a real sweet position, and all the metal in the way limits your arc of fire. You've got to sort of hang out a bit to tag these guys who are not directly below you, but are close to it. Then again, you want to keep the vital parts of your body behind as much metal as possible. The whole thing is rather awkward. As you spray, and bullet holes start punching through garbage bags around your targets feet, and pinging off the sides of the garbage bin. A big mother impact occurs very close to the head of the guy under the bin, and he ceases firing to scramble out of the way and out from under the bin, and is in motion. There is a hail of bullets around you, rapid pings and sparks all over the place, several are too close for comfort at all. The woman beside you falls over and slumps against you, landing painfully on your left arm. All of this happens with 2 seconds as you take your first spray across the guy in the garbage bin, then he suddenly goes down as one of his legs just gives out from under him and he falls backwards into the trash, still alive, and still firing. A line of atomized brick runs up the side of the hotel, and one of the windows shatters.

What are you doing...

OK, switch targets. Where's the guy who was hiding under the trash bin? He's next... Well, he's crawling his way out from under the trash bin and isn't in a position to fire, the guy you just shot is still very much alive and if you just ignore him he'll shoot again, then again he's been wounded and the guy crawling out of the dumpster is fairly open, but the woman you're with is just slumped against you, and you're still in a very open position up on that fire esacape, and that hail of bullets was no fun the first time.

Your choice.

OK, I misunderstood about the other guy - I thought he was out in the open.

He's covered by dumpster from the waste down, and crawling out from under the rest of the way, so he is partially out in the open, not able to dodge, and a fine target. I just wanted to make sure you were clear on the situation before making a choice of action.

Well, as long as I have a bead on the dumpster dude, I'll keep firing until he is unable.

That would also be fine.

Is she moving or making any noise?

She just fell against you in an odd way, and no, she didn't make any noise.

So now that we are both clearer on what's going on I'll have you confirm your action for me again. Sorry, but it's a tight moment and I don't want any misunderstandings due to the communication method.

All right, then: I will fire at the guy IN the dumpster, who should be an easy target since he's flat on his back underneath me and I already have a bead on him. As for the other guy, if this was a more mechanical system, I'd suggest he was due for a morale check. But, that's not here nor there. If I can give the ``In-the-dumpster-guy'' enough to think about so that he won't be firing back at us, I'll switch targets to the ``Under-the-dumpster-guy-but crawling-out''.

Make sense? We'll see. No moral checks here because people do things for a reason. If that reason becomes saving their hides, they do. If that means putting your neck on the line because despite the odds you think you still have a chance for the big money, then that's another thing.

In diceless play you create your opportunities.

Side Discussion (Note 5)

You let hot lead fly at the guy on his back in the dumpster. He fires back at you. Holes appear in garbage bags, several shots hit his legs, he jerks, bullets clang off of the metal gratings of the fire escape again. Ms. silent and unmoving is still leaning painfully on your left hand. The guy under the dumpster pulls his legs free and rolls towards the back for cover. Something leaps up and bites your right leg. More holes appear in upper body areas of the guy in the dumpster. He does this jerking dance, laying there in the dumpster and his gun goes silent. The guy who was under the dumpster rolls to a kneeling position, putting the corner of the dumpster between you and he. One little Indian with very hard cover left.

Oh, fun. Well, desperate times call for desperate measures...

I'll pop off a quick burst at the last Indian to convince him to keep his head down, and I'll hunker down in the best cover available,keeping the woman's vest between my vitals and the goon's Uzi. (Sorry, hon, but if we both want to come out alive...) I'll do a rapid pat down of the woman's trench coat. Does she have anything that feels like another grenade?

You pop off some rounds, which go pinging off the dumpster, and do cause the goon back there to duck, which does give you the time to pull the pretty woman in front of you for protection. That doesn't seem to be so much of a shame because as you lift her off your hand, you notice the the blood running down her chin, and the entry hole there. You also notice the biting pain in the back of your right thight, and the blood there. The bullet seems to have lodged in a bunch of muscle, which is better than the large arteries and veins nearer the groin, which means you get to move, only painfully. Well, limp quickly would probably be closer to the truth. There's an involuntary sweat broken out upon your brow. So you haul the woman's body up for protection and pat her down quickly for a grenade. It's awkward because you have to use one hand for both operations, right and left side, and by the time you locate the 2 grenades in the inner left pocket, pretty boy behind the dumpster is unlaoding a few more rounds. That's multiple pings and sparks, multiple ricochets, and serveral thuds into the nice woman's body (luckily stopped by the flak jacket, in respect for the dead).

Poor lass. I didn't even get her name.

I fire another burst to the guy to get his head down again. Then, I'll grab a grenade and toss it behind the dumpster WITHOUT pulling the pin. In the dark, he shouldn't notice. (Heck, I didn't) Hopefully that will flush him out. If not, I'll shoot the handcuff chain.

You fire a bit to keep your opponent ducked down, and toss one of the grenades over the dumpster and behind it. Not too tough. Ptang, rattle, rattle, rattle...

<laughter from behind the dumpster>

``Give it up. The grenades are not armed. Do you think the bitch wanted to kill herself up in that little room? No, she had to wait a minute until she came down here... She is dead, isn't she? I don't know what she promised you, but you would never have gotten it. You be just one in a long line of suckers. We probably saved your life by interferring.''

<strange accent again, but different this time, almost certainly middle eastern, and more arabic than israeli>

Well, this isn't getting any easier. OK, during his little speech I'll shoot the handcuff chain, grab the briefcase, and bust through the nearest window. The other options don't look too good.

O.K. Brrrrrap, kping, ping, ping, you shoot the handcuff chain (I hope you appreciate these sound effects, because no expense was spared in their creation I assure you). Now you've got a problem. Which hand does the briefcase go in? It can't be the left, and you haven't got a holster for the automatic. Your right leg is going to be a bit of a problem, but you don't think it will keep you from making a jump. Also, you can jump for a window to the side of the fire escape and hope, that's a good 10 feet, at a poor angle, from a slippery fire escape (the rain, you knew it would come in sometime). Or, you can climb up or down. Up one floor leads to the room you came from, down one floor is a 1st story room, or behind you (actually down just 1/2 flight of stairs, so close) is the corresponding 2nd story room. That one's hardly a jump at all. You can climb down a 1/2 flight and run/leap for it, or you can swing to the back of this ladder, and hurl yourself down and away towards it (with what hand that will be accomplished I don't know).

It's up to you (you know, I thought we were almost done, but you may actually run through every possibility I was prepared for, rather than just one. I'll explain this when we do finish).

Well, I'll be hard pressed to come out of this at all, so I guess I get the booby prize. Maybe next time.

You get the best prize of all. You get to roleplay through it.

Great. I hope they're on my side...

So many choices, so little time. Oh, well.

Jam something in the trigger of the Uzi and chuck it into the alleyway. (It's probably out of ammo by now anyway). Maybe I'll get a lucky riccochet. Then grab the briefcase with my right hand, go down the steps, and break the window with the briefcase. I go in behind the briefcase.

You jam a cigar into the trigger of the Uzi.

``If you give me the microfiche I will let you live.''

The Uzi fires away and you chuck it into the alley, it bounces once or twice, another window breaks, and the thing spins around in the alley firing for a few seconds. There is a loud scream of pain from behind the dumpster. I assume you take this opportunity to run down the stairs, bust in the window, and climb into the 2nd story room, which is empty, with the door standing wide open.

All right - a lucky break.

Lucky? It was a good idea. That's not luck.

I know, but it _seemed_ lucky. Two points for your ``diceless'' system.

O.K. Luck is an interpretation of events, and not a cause in and of itself.

I'll stop briefly to bandage my leg with a handy towel or bedsheet, then head for the back stairs. Hopefully the stairwell will go down to the basement and I can find a service tunnel to make my escape.

Five story hotel, small rooms, cheap, there's no car garage below it. There might be a basement, but it would be rare for that basement to have a street exit. However, there aught to be at least one fire exit in the building. I wonder where that goes? Maybe there's a back exit?

Well, a lot of these old buildings have service tunnel entrances in the basement for water and sewer pipes, cable and electrical, etc. They used to supply coal for boilers through these tunnels, so they are big enough to walk through. But, I'll use whatever discreet exit I can find.

Side Discussion (Note 6)

You wrap a hotel towel around your leg, and limp quickly out of the room. A door slams shut up the hallway as you step out. There are two exits off this floor, besides the other rooms along the hall, and that's the small elevator in which you rode up, and the fire exit / stairwell which is at the end of the hall nearest the elevator.

Ooooh. You know something about old buildings, you could certainly attempt to look for such an exit <evil grin>.

I'll head for the stairwell and follow it down to the next floor. How quickly can I move, and how long do I think I could keep it up?

Well, the leg is in pain, but you can limp quickly with only wincing pain, so you could probably run in agony. The problem is that you've lost a fair amount of blood and are light headed, and could probably use some medical attention. But hey, you're still up and moving. I'll tell you when you fall over. You head down the stairwell, cheap and small, to the first story, and come to the door. Behind the door is the obvious muffled sounds of people moving and yelling, furniture being moved, etc.

Fair enough. I didn't want my character to decide between leaving the relative safety of the hotel for the streets of New York at night. :^) I go down the stairs.

Oops, sorry. You started on floor 3 in the room with the gunfight, you went down 1 floor on the fire escape, then went down 1 more floor on the inside staircase. You would not have heard anything through the door there, and if you open it, it's just a hallway like the one you entered from (I guess the hotel uses the english numbering system, and this is floor 1). If you go to the bottom of the stair, they end in what must be the lobby, and behind the door you can hear the sounds of people and movement, as described before. I gave you that result 1 floor early, sorry.

What would you like to do?

I'm assuming then that this stairwell doesn't go to the basement. OK, can I open the door a crack to peek out and see what's going on?

You would assume correctly. You crack the door open, and from that angle ou can't see a whole lot. It's the hotel lobby. You can see the closest corner of the registration desk, and part of a wall. You hear a commanding voice with an arabic accent say "Out of my way pig". Someone moves quickly across your field of vision, somewhat panicked.


I'll pop another clip into my gun and listen some more, trying to get an idea of how many are out there.

You pop another clip into your gun, as the footsteps get closer to the door. There is definitely a set of footsteps getting closer to the door...

I'll draw back and hide behind the stairs. If there is no place under the stairs, then I'll stand so that I will be behind the door if it should open.

This is an access stairwell, concrete, drab, no space under that last staircase. You stand behind the doorway. There is another pause. No sounds. The door handle moves, and the door opens a little bit. A woman screams. The door closes. There is a gunshot, followed by some yelling in a foriegn tongue. Another pause, and the door opens a bit again...

I'll stay in my position and wait for the person to come through the door. If it's a civilian, I'll try to keep him/her quiet and find out who's outside. If it's a kin to the fellows upstairs, I'll try to catch him unawares and knock him unconcious, otherwise I'll blow him away. I need a silencer...

The door handle moves again. The door opens a little bit... then it moves fast, as though someone has kicked it open hard. The door bounces off you in your position behind it, and the stairwell fills with white smoke. You can hear the distinct sound of a fire extinguisher in operation.

What now?

Wierd. I'll slam the door closed and head back up the steps to the next floor.

You slam the door closed and the and it bounces of something metalic from the sound. The white cloud of smoke roils with the pressure difference. There's a curse in a foriegn tongue from behind the door, a large metal object hits the floor...

What's up?

I'll pop a round through the door and head back up the stairs. I'm not sure what this guy is up to, but I don't think I want to stick around to find out...

Oh man. You love dropping the wasps nest to see if it'll break. There's this thing about bullets and armed men. You rarely get just one.

You pop a round through the door, and turn to limp quickly back up the stairs. You hit maybe the second stair (having to grope quite a bit because the stairwell is now full of white smoke) when the ratta tat tat of what you distinctly recognize as an uzi is punctuated by the staccato of breaking wood from the door, and the harmony of several shrill screams from beyond the door. I think it's only fair to warn you that if this guy comes after you, you'll have a gunfight. The distance to the next door, and your leg. You can't outrun him. How many seconds have you got before he comes after you? You look up that stairwell towards your getaway, and you know the answer.


A bit is deleted here, unfortunately. The door begins to open, and Thaddeus' character puts a shot into the door as soon as it opens.
The door swings back shut. The white smoke drifte some more, their are screams from outside dying down again. You wait, and catch your breath. The outside becomes quiet as well, except for the sound of one woman crying.

OK, I'll nudge the door open with my foot and take a quick look out into the hallway. Are there any exits nearby? Also, do the Uzi's have slings for carrying?

A sling, sure. That will be helpful. You've got the case under the arm with the bad hand (I assume that you're were carrying both it and the gun), and you can sling the Uzi, and still carry the Browning.

You nudge the door open (O.K., you pull it a little bit open, get your foot in there, and nudge it the rest of the way), and are looking out into the lobby of the hotel. Men and women are cowering in various places about the lobby. Tables and couches have been moved to clear an isle in front of this door. Almost straight across the lobby is the entrance to the hotel.

OK, I'll take the bait. I'll open the door all the way, check both sides (left and right), and bluff my way through. "FBI! Nobody move!"

Bait? Bait!? I would never... it wouldn't have crossed my mind....

Actually, this has been here for a while now, and was a possibility when the combat started. It became a reality the moment you went back through the window.

You push open the door and step boldly out into the bright white lobby, over the body of the dead man lying on the floor, next to the fire extinguisher. To the right is the check-in counter, straight ahead is a double glass door leading out into the street. To the left is the rest of the lobby, with men and women, mostly older, lying down on the floor. YOu come limping through the door looking like a walking hospital case and screaming 'FBI! Nobody move!". Surprise. Nobody moves. One older hispanic woman starts that wailing again from where she lies beside an overturned table.

Good. Just the effect I wanted. Actually, at this point, I don't think I care too much about more than getting my rear out of here.

I'll holster the gun and grab the nearest Uzi, then do my best impressive limp to the front door.

You already have this guy's Uzi (with sling). You limp across the lobby towards the front door. There's only slight movements and wimpers as you cross the intervening space. The desk clerk pokes his head up from behind the registration counter. The fluresent lights are harsh against the white tilesof the lobby, and freedom and the cool night air are in front of you as you reach the glass doors. The street ahead is damp, deserted, and unevenly lit by the few working street lights.

OK, I wasn't sure if I had picked it up or not. I'll take a quick look over my shoulder to make sure nobody is about to plug me, then I'll finally get out of this hellhole and step out onto the street.

You take a glance back at the cowering crowd, and push open the doors, stepping out into the cool, moist air of freedom, which way do you go?

You're going to want to hurt me in just a bit, because we are very close to done, but not quite done. But don't let that stop you. Go ahead and walk down that street (last Scene).

Unfortunately, at this point the example trails off. But it was hopefully enough stuff to give you an idea of how this works.

Remember, though, that not all diceless games are like this. There are a wide variety of styles, of which this is only a taste. See for more complete and interactive discussion.

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Fri Jan 26 00:06:34 CST 1996