1879: Actual Play: Getting Rid of an Owie

Continuing our Actual Play series, let’s look at the decisions players make in regards to healing. Injuries do occur to player characters, after all, no matter what system you’re playing, and how you get rid of them varies. Knowing the mechanics and the resulting strategy helps keep you from having to build a new character.

Sam Ridley started out with a Toughness (TOU) Ability score of 14, his player having rolled spectacularly during character creation. Higher numbers went to his Dexterity and Perception, which are the critical Abilities for an Airship Pilot, but we’ll talk about that when we tackle Character Creation. That 14 gave Sam a base Death Rating of 34, an Unconsciousness Rating of 28, a Wound Threshold of 9, and 3 Recovery Tests per day. It also gave him a TOU Step of 6, which translates to a d10 for the Action Die. Sam can take up to 28 points of damage before he falls over, and 34 before he’s dead. If he takes 9 points in a single hit, he will take a Wound, and those are bloody annoying, every Wound giving you a -1 Step penalty to every die roll you make. Yes, even healing. Sam’s player can heal him up to three times per day by making a Recovery Test, which is to say the player makes a roll using Sam’s TOU Step and heals that many points of damage. This roll can only happen when the character has been out of combat for a little while, and has had time to, well, recover.

Bethelie Lepercq, being an Aristocrat, had her higher numbers put into Perception and Charisma. Her player had to settle for a 12 as a starting TOU Ability score, which gave Bethelie a TOU Step of 5, a Death Rating of 29, an Unconsciousness Rating of 24, a Wound Threshold of 8, and 2 Recovery Tests per day. This might help explain why Sam takes point in a fight, while Bethelie finds cover and provides fire support.

Since character creation, Sam and Bethelie have both advanced from Initiate, at a Professional Rank of 1, to Journeyman, at a Professional Rank of 5. Again, we’ll get more into this when we do Character Advancement. For now, it’s enough to know that their players have been able to buy up Sam and Bethelie’s Ability scores, one point per Professional Rank achieved.

Sam’s player has put two of those points into TOU, raising it to a 16. This increases Sam’s base Death and Uncon to 39 and 32 respectively, raised his Wound Threshold to 10, and brought his TOU Step up to 7, so that his player rolls a d12 for Recovery Tests instead of a d10. More importantly, at Journeyman, Sam was able to learn the Skill Shake It Off, which allows him to make a Recovery Test at a bonus of his Skill Rank in the middle of combat. Being an Airship Pilot, Sam can spend Karma for Shake It Off if his player so desires, and so can throw in an extra die if the situation becomes dire. With the combination of an increased TOU Step and a Karma-enabled Skill that buffs his in-combat Recovery Tests, Sam has become quite a bit more difficult to take down.

Bethelie’s player, on the other hand, has chosen to upgrade her Dexterity, since it’s the basis for her Firearms Skill, upon which she relies heavily, and her Perception and Charisma, as previously mentioned being critical to her Profession. Only one point has gone into Bethelie’s TOU Ability score. That raise from a 12 to a 13, however, brought her TOU Step up from 5, a d8, to 6, a d10, increased her Death and Uncon base Ratings to 32 and 26, bumped her Wound Threshold up to 9, and gave her one more Recovery Test per day. Bethelie’s player would have to raise her TOU quite a bit more before such a major breakpoint in the chart would be hit again.

Both players have invested in Durability, a special Skill that became available when the characters advanced from Professional Rank 1, Initiate, to Professional Rank 2, Novice. Each Rank bought in Durability adds the character’s TOU Step to their Unconsciousness Rating, and their TOU Step times 1.2 (rounded down) to their Death Rating. This gets recalculated if the character’s TOU Step goes up, and if the base Death and Uncon Ratings change. Both players have put 5 Ranks into Durability. Let’s see how those stack up.

Sam at this point has a base Death and Uncon of 39 and 32, and a TOU Step of 7. His 5 Ranks of Durability add 42 points to his Death Rating and 35 points to his Uncon Rating, for a Total Death and Uncon of 81 and 67. Sam can be on the receiving end of a three-man barney and still throw a punch back.

Bethelie, with a TOU Step of 6, adds 36 and 30 to her Ratings, giving her a Total Death Rating of 68 and Uncon Rating of 56. She’s still going to want to find cover when possible, although she can afford to take a risk every now and then.

Sam and Bethelie had a bit of a hard time with their exit from Paris, running afoul of one of Bethelie’s old creditors. She pointed out that she’d sent two cases of champagne six months later, the value of which would have more than covered what she owed plus a bit to make up for the inconvenience. Antoine retorted that Bethelie had not covered a rather substantial amount of interest, which of course had continued to accrue over the six months between her abscondment and the arrival of the champagne. Besides which, in Antoine’s opinion, Bethelie was a terrible judge of champagne.

Well. Calling Bethelie rude names over money was just business, but impugning her knowledge of French wines was unforgivable. There were harsher words exchanged, and then hot lead, and by the end of it, while Sam and Bethelie made it to Sweet William and left the City of Light astern, they’d both been injured, Bethelie rather the worse. We join our intrepid explorers aboard Sam’s airship, as they take a moment to Recover.

Sam used one of his Recovery Tests for the day in the middle of the firefight, to power his Shake It Off. That dealt with most of the damage from Antoine’s derringer, the tiny gun not being terribly effective to begin with and less so as range increased. (Yes, Bethelie did in fact make a comparison about Antoine’s weaponry. Using her Taunt Skill for it left Antoine spluttering so badly that his next shot missed wildly, and then he had to reload, which gave Our Heroes a much needed opportunity.) Sam is still carrying 19 points of damage, but no Wounds. He’s still got 48 points of buffer before unconsciousness, but as this scene is closing out the day for the characters, Sam’s player opts to spend one of his two remaining Recovery Tests. The player rolls a d12 and gets a 12, rolls again and gets a 9, for a total of 21. Sam’s damage is gone. He’s still got one Recovery Test left for the day, and no damage, and as soon as he gets some well-deserved rest, his Recovery Tests will replenish and he’ll start the next day fit as a fiddle.

Bethelie took a second risk, which wasn’t perhaps the wisest of decisions. She’s now carrying 27 points of damage, and worse, two Wounds, having taken two inconveniently well-placed rounds from Antoine’s henchmen in retaliation for insulting their boss’s, um, equipage. While Shake It Off is available to her at Journeyman, she hasn’t learned it yet. (This might be a hint to do so.) She’d really like to have a little lie down now, if you please. She goes below, and consults the ship’s cook, Gerhardt Schlieben, who’s picked up a Physician Skill somewhere in the depths of his sordid past. Gerhardt gets a 22 on his Physician Test, when he only needed a 5, and so with his Physician Skill Rank of 3 and 3 extra successes, Bethelie gets to make a Recovery Test at +6 Steps. This takes her from a Step 6 and a d10 to a Step 12 with 2d10, but then back down to a 10 and 2d8 because of those two Wounds she’s carrying. She gets a total of 9 on her die roll, and takes her Current Damage down to 18. Since the airship has an estimated travel time of three days to their next destination, Bethelie’s player decides not to use the terribly expensive booster potion she’s acquired, and instead to heal the slow way. The player makes another Recovery Test, this one at a Step 4 with a d6 due to the Wounds, and gets a 5, then makes Bethelie’s last Recovery Test for the day and gets a 1. Le sigh. Bethelie goes to bed with 12 points of damage and two Wounds, and a sip of chlorodyne.

Getting rid of Wounds requires either a terribly expensive healing potion, or knowing a priest or shaman who’s willing to take the Strain to cast a Heal spell, or a good deal of patience. Bethelie has only a booster potion, which will buff a Recovery Test but will do nothing for Wounds. She’s not exactly on the best of terms with the Catholic Church, not since Lyons anyway, and really isn’t the sort to make friends with clergy. She’s going to have to do this the hard way.

Once per day, when the character first wakes up after a decent night’s rest (or the equivalent), their player can spend their first Recovery Test of the day and heal one Wound. (They don’t get to roll to heal Damage as well.) The next morning, game time, Bethelie wakes up, and her player marks off a Recovery Test and erases one Wound. She’s still carrying 12 points of Damage and a Wound, so is moving a bit slowly this morning. This results in her complaining to Gerhardt that she really feels like she ought to have had a much better time last night to feel this way today, and Gerhardt consoling her with a demitasse of Turkish coffee. Bethelie’s player is grateful that there are three full days of downtime, as one of those is going to be taken up with more Recovery Tests, and the next will lose a Recovery Test to the remaining Wound. If things go pear-shaped, though, as they have a distressing tendency to do, Bethelie is going to have to be much more careful, stay in cover, and not try any fancy shooting.

Where are Our Heroes going, that’s within three days’ air sail of Paris? What did Mr. Peretsky tell them at the Maison d’Pierre that has sent them on their current mission? What are they likely to run afoul of at their destination? Tune in two weeks hence for the next thrilling installment of Actual Play!

Tally Ho!