Extended Example 3: Gvoudzon's Run

Last Updated 4 May 2001.

Kenneth gives us an extended example of The KB3 Traveller Task System in full-on combat action.

  1. Introduction
  2. Gvoudzon's Run
  3. Conclusion

1. Introduction

I think examples are best at communicating systems. I'm going to actually roll dice as I write. You'll see the game session encounter as it unfolds. I'm also making the situation up as it unfolds, trying to show you different types of throws made in KB3 - showing them to you in context.

The character is one you all know, Gvoudzon the Vargr (physical stats 788, mental stats 76), and he's run by Paul the Player. Gurd the Game Master is reffing (I think he's from a Baltic state 8-> ).

I'm using straight KB3 rules, as written in the revised summary (nothing has changed since then). I'm using random difficulty throws. And I'm using the E-Die.

When I list individual die results below, I will always list the E-Die first so that you know which result appeared on it.

My aim here is to show you the flow of a game using KB3.

Notice how quick the system flows - there aren't a lot of modifiers to deal with - no charts to look up - you're using your stat numbers and your skill level almost exclusively.

All you really have to worry about are your stats, your skills, and difficulty categories.

You can add more complexity to the system, if you like. I use CT modifiers in my game - it makes it more complex, but I like how weapons can be differentiated using CT. You can tailor a weapon to fit a certain character. KB3 is flexible - add, or don't add - complexity as you see fit in your game.

2. Gvoudzon's Run

Gurd: We pick up tonight's session right were we left off. The March Harrier has been hailed by another ship. Scans revealed that the ship outguns the Harrier, and the Captain of the other ship has called for you to heave-to and prepare for borders. The umbilical is attached, and the seal on the airlock has just been broken.

Paul: Gvoudzon's going to make haste from the bridge and open the floor hatch to see if he can get a look at the boarders from above.

G: OK. Gvoudzon moves. He swings the hatch open. Too late - it took him some time to get up out of the Nav seat, transverse the bridge, and get the hatch open. As he peers down into the entry area on the lower deck, he can see that the hatch to the cargo deck has just sealed. While you were moving to the floor hatch on the bridge, the boarder moved through the outer airlock hatch, across the short distance to the inner cargo hatch, and into the cargo deck. As you peered down, he was closing the door.

P: I need my gun! Daeus! Throw me that autorifle behind your chair!

G: Normally you wouldn't need to roll for that, but Gvoudzon is under time pressure. He trying to grab the weapon and scoot on down the ladder after the intruders. Daeus tosses the weapon in your direction, but you're going to have to make a Task Throw to catch it and keep on truckin'.

P: I don't have any skills to help me catch something.

G: You'll have to go Default then, measured with your DEX. That gives you 1D. Daeus is not that far away, and the rifle is fairly easy to grab. I'll say it's an Average throw.

P: (Paul throws 1D....."3")

G: (Gurd throws the difficulty of 2D....."6, 6") 24! But, Attribute-only rolls are reduced by Governing Stats. What's your DEX?

P: Damn. Gvoudzon's DEX is an 8.

G: That reduces the difficulty to 16, but you still missed your roll by over 8 points. Since your roll is less than your Difficulty Throw minus Stat, that's Greater Failure. The weapon tumbled toward you long-ways. You couldn't catch it. It smacked into you, then clanged down the open hatch at your feet, landing on the lower deck. If you ever had any hope of stealth, it's gone now.

P: I've got to get down there!

G: A couple of breaths, and you're down.

P: I pick up the autorifle. Is it OK? The barrel's not bent or anything, right?

G: Well, it looks fine upon quick inspection - just a few scrapes. If you take a round to look it over better, I'll give you an Easy roll to inspect it using your Rifle skill, governed by EDU.

P: I'll do it. If don't need any surprises in a firefight. Gvoudzon's skill is Rifle-3. That means I could have 4D on the throw, but that's overkill for a 1D difficulty. I'll use the Skill Option of reducing my target number. I'll throw 2D and have a -2 applied to difficulty. (Paul rolls 2D....."6, 1"). Hey! A six on the E-Die! My total is 13, and you've got a -2 on the Difficulty Throw!

G: (Gurd rolls 1D....."5"). The Difficulty Throw is 5, reduced to 3 with your Skill Option. What's your EDU? There's a possibility that the E-Die hurt you, pushing you up into the Marginal Success bracket.

P: Gvoudzon's stat is EDU 6. Damn - I rolled over by 10 points! Since it's higher than my Difficulty Throw plus Stat - you're right! I only get Marginal Success.

G: As Gvoudzon inspected the weapon, he saw the action lever was bent. You take another round to work the action and make sure it is OK. The weapon is fine, but you spent two rounds checking it out instead of one. What do you want to do now?

P: I'm going to cycle the airlock, protect myself on the edge of the door with cover, and peer out into the hold.

G: OK, you do that. The lock is open. You see nothing but the opposite air lock hatch on the other side of the ship. Cargo crates pile to your right, in the normal fashion that you and the crew stacks them, and to the left is the air/raft, secured to the deck. You know the layout of the cargo deck. Two rows of double stacked cargo containers line the hull with a 1.5 meter "hallway" row down the center.

P: I'm going to use my Vargr sense of smell to see if that can tell me anything more. Do I smell anything?

G: That's another Attribute-only roll. You can default it at 1D using your INT to interpret what you smell, but I'm not going to give you any idea of difficulty. Gvoudzon's has no idea where the intruders went, so he has no idea how hard it would be to "smell them out". Roll your bone.

P: (Paul rolls 1D....."3") I've got a 3. My INT is 7, so you'll have to subtract that off the difficulty because this is an Attribute throw.

G: (Gurd rolls behind his GM's screen. He doesn't want Paul to get an idea of where the intruder is based on the difficulty of the throw, so he rolls the entire roll in secret. Gurd decides that smelling someone out like this would be tremendously hard for a human, but since Vargr have a heightened sense of smell, Gurd is going to make it a Difficult throw. He throws 3D....."5, 6, 4". The total is 15 minus Gvoudzon's INT score. The adjusted total of the difficulty is 8. Gurd sees that Gvoudzon missed his roll, but his roll fell within the range of 8 minus 7 - so only a Regular Failure was rolled, not Greater Failure.)

P: Did I smell anything?

G: No. You took a big, deep breath, but your nostrils told you nothing.

P: Alright-ey, then. Gvoudzon will move, autorifle at the ready, with his back against the cargo crates that are to his right. He'll keep his eyes shifting from the 1.5 meter corridor betwixt the two rows of cargo containers, in an arc across the hatch to the far airlock, to the air/raft and back. I don't think anybody's had time yet to get up on top of the containers, but I'm worried about that damn air/raft. Somebody could be hunched down in it. Gvoudzon will keep the rifle pointed more towards the cargo corridor, but at least half of his attention of ever second is on that air/raft. Right before he moves out from behind the cover afforded by the airlock he's in, he'll check to see the weapon is on semi-automatic. I've only got the one clip on me, and I don't need to be wasting ammo.

G: Sounds good. Gvoudzon is moving cautiously. He's close with his back to the containers, directing his attention as you said, but he doesn't "slide" is back on the crates--there's about an inch or two between him and them. He's trying to be quiet as well. You're at the corner now. Do you want to peek around? You've seen nothing suspicious yet at the air/raft.

P: I'm not going to peek. If there is someone in the air/raft, he's keeping his head down, and he doesn't know exactly where I am. I'm going to jump around the corner, completely into the corridor, weapon ready, in complete battle stance.

G: Gutsy move! Gvoudzon swings around the container, autorifle held high, but not against his shoulder. He's pretty good with weapons and knows about the recoil. As soon as you jump around, you see a human at the far end, close to the hatches to the M-Drive. The stamp of your feet as you swung around catches his attention. His back is to you, but he's swinging around to face you, bringing his weapon to bear. He so far down, he had no idea you were there. I'm going to give you automatic surprise. You can have one action, then we'll roll initiative, going into regular rounds.

P: I'll shoot that sucker!

G: Let's see...it's 20 meters down there. That puts him in Short range. It's a Difficult shot. Roll your dice!

P: Difficult is 3D, and I've got Rifle-3. That means I've got 4D to roll. I don't think I'll use any Skill Options this time, I need to roll everything I've got to make sure I get that sucker. (Paul rolls 4D....."6, 4, 3, 6") A six on the E-Die and three of my dice are evens! I've got a total of 35! Yes!!!

G: (Gurd rolls 3D for the difficulty of the shot...."4, 6, 2") Your difficulty was 12, but that E-Die hurt you again. The E-Die can swing it in both ways, no matter if a "1" or a "6" is rolled. Sometimes a 6 will help you; sometimes it won't. And the same is true for the "1". You hit, but your DEX is 8 and you rolled over your target number by 20. You hit with Marginal Success. Subtract a die from your damage. The guy's not wearing anything but a spacer's jumpsuit, so there's no armor to figure.

P: My autorifle does 3D, so I'll roll two dice. (Paul rolls 2D for damage....."1, 5") That's 6 for first blood!

G: (Gurd sees the NPC's physical stats of 764. He reduces these to 164, keeping his DEX high for a return shot.) All right. The surprise round is over. We're going into regular rounds. Let's roll initiative.

(NOTE: In my game, I roll 1D6 + DEX + END plus a few modifiers for initiative. You should roll whatever you're used to - or however you're used to resolving initiative. Whichever way you do this, it has no impact on the KB3 task system - you're just deciding who goes first.)

P: (Paul rolls initiative for Gvoudzon. He rolls 1D+22.....initiative is 28) All right!

G: (Gurd rolls for the NPC bad guy. He rolls 1D+10.....initiative is 13) OK, since the intruder's base is so low compared to Gvoudzon's, there's no use in rolling initiative. Gvoudzon will always go first, or last, at his choosing.

P: I'm going to take my shot! I've got to take that dude out before he shoots me! I'll roll my 4D again for my autorifle attack. (Paul rolls 4D....."2, 6, 2, 5") I've got a 15! Let's see if I hit!

G: (Gurd rolls difficulty again, rolling 3D for a Difficult shot....."5, 5, 6") A 16!

P: Aargh! I missed by 1!

G: Well, at least it was just a Regular Failure! (Secretly, behind his GM's screen, Gurd plots to have the second intruder - the one Gvoudzon hasn't seen yet - ease out of the air/raft and sneak up behind Gvoudzon for a hand-to-hand attack. This second NPC has a weapon too, but the GM knows what the players do not - that the real reason the ship was stopped was not piracy or some other reason. These men were paid to capture Gvoudzon and drag him back to the Vemene base. These NPC's are Tukera! So, Gurd will throw a roll behind his screen. Paul has no idea what he is doing. For this roll, Gurd decides to throw the second NPC's Stealth versus a static target number - Gurd wants to keep the game moving at its fast pace and doesn't want to bog the game down doing two rolls himself. The NPC does not have Stealth, but it is a Default Skill. Under the circumstances of the firefight, Gurd decides it is an Average task for the NPC to sneak up on Gvoudzon, since the Vargr's attention is on the other man trying to kill him. The sneaking NPC's DEX is 7, and since this is an Attribute-only roll, this is subtracted from from the difficulty. The static difficulty of an Average task is 7+, so this modifier reduces that number to 0. It's an Automatic Success! But, Gurd rolls 1D anyway, just to make sure he doesn't roll a "1" on the E-Die. He rolls...."2". The guy is right behind Gvoudzon, and Gurd will let him act during the next round.)

P: Next round? OK, I'm going to shoot him again! Same deal! (Paul rolls 4D to hit...."6, 6, 3, 6") What a roll! Probably another Marginal Success. My total is 39.

G: (Gurd knows that Gvoudzon's very high initiative is too high for the second NPC too, so he doesn't tip his hand that another NPC is about to strike. Gvoudzon will automatically go first anyway. Gurd rolls 3D difficulty for range for the Vargr's shot....."3, 4, 4") A total of 11. Yep. Marginal Success. Subtract a die from your damage.

P: (Paul rolls damage of 2D...."3, 1") Three and one.

G: (Gurd reduces the stats of the first bad guy down further to 151. Since this guy just got shot at, Gurd makes the NPC behind Gvoudzon go next with a hand-to-hand attack. Normally, this would be a straight opposed roll versus Gvoudzon's Infighting skill, but Gvoudzon is caught completely unawares. Gurd rules that a fair bonus for the NPC to cover this situation is to use the NPC's STR as a negative modifier to Gvoudzon's defense roll.) Paul, there's movement behind Gvoudzon!

P: What! No way!

G: (Gurd rolls the hand-to-hand attack. The NPC has Brawling-1. His physical stats are 774. Gurd rolls 2D for the attack....."6, 2") There's a second man behind you - also in a jump suit. He's got a weapon draped across him - one like the other NPC has - but this guy is attacking with his fists. My roll of 16 is his Brawling attack. You can defend yourself with your Infighting, but because he caught you unawares, you'll have to take 7 points off your roll.

P: Damn! I need some help down here! Where are my other crew-mates?! (Paul rolls Gvoudzon's Infighting-1, giving him 2D....."5, 8") That's 13 minus the 7. I've got a total of 6 versus your 16. Maybe that damn Marginal Success measurement will work in my favor this time.

G: (Gurd looks at the NPC's STR of 7) It does. He hit, but it's Marginal Success. Hands do 1D damage, so removing that one die means that he hit you but did not damage you. It's the end of the round now, and the guy at the end of the hallway will start to run up to where you two are fighting. He can cover that 20 meters in 1 round, so he'll be part of the fight next round. And that's right now. Gvoudzon has high initiative. What do you want to do?

P: Gvoudzon's going to shove the tip of his weapon barrel right up against the closest man's chest and blow him away!

G: All right. He's not just going to stand there and let you do that, and he'll try to bat your weapon away or grab it. This will be an Opposed Throw: your weapon skill versus his Brawling skill.

P: I've already seen how he fights, and I know he's not that skilled. My rifle skill is Rifle-3, so I can have 4D if I want them. But, I want to use my Skill Options again. I'll throw 3D versus his 2D, and I'll put the other point on my DEX 8 for measuring purposes - trying to roll Greater Success.

G: Smart. If you roll Greater Success, I'll apply damage randomly to the NPC. A shot at this range? It's the least I can do for point blank. Roll.

P: (Paul rolls 3D....."4, 2, 4") I've got a 10, and I'm using a 9 stat to measure.

G: (Gurd rolls the NPCs Brawling defense roll....."3, 3") Total of 6! You hit! And, it's Greater Success. Roll damage!

P: My autorifle does 3D. (Paul rolls....."6, 4, 2") 12 points - and it's first blood again!

G: It's not going to matter much with a roll like that, but I'm going to apply it randomly due to your Greater Success roll. (The NPC's stat's are reduced to 704). Hot damn, Paul! Gvoudzon just shoved the barrel of his autorifle into this guy's gut and blew a hole in him! He falls down, blood dripping from a smoking wound in his abdomen. You've gone this round, and this guy can't go. It's time for the original NPC to make his move. He's using his weapon as a club. He could shoot you with it, but he's not - and you notice this! You also notice from his stance that he looks like he knows what he's doing. (Gurd knows the NPC has Brawling-3, and although Gvoudzon can't normally tell how skilled someone is, Gurd decides to get Paul worried!) He just saw you blow his buddy away, so he's got no idea how well you fight hand-to-hand. He's going to play it safe and throw all 4D into trying to beat you into unconsciousness (with the NPC's reduced STR 1, Gurd knows there's no hope of rolling Greater Success anyway. The GM rolls 4D....."6, 2, 3, 4"). 27! You can defend with your weapon using your Infighting skill.

P: All right, then. My skill is Infighting-1. Even if I throw 2 sixes, I don't have a chance of beating that 27! (Paul rolls 2D....."6, 6") I can't believe it! A total of 24! I should have just rolled 1D to ensure he rolled Marginal Success - now he's got Regular Success on me!

G: Them's the breaks. His rifle is used as a club in this manner. A club does 2D damage. (Gurd rolls 2D....."2, 1") Well, look at that - only three hit points! Even though it's first blood on Gvoudzon, the break goes your way as well!

P: I'm going to take them off END. My physical stats are now 785.

G: New round. You're up.

P: I ought to shoot this guy like I did the other one, but I want to capture this one in case the other one is dead. If I can knock him unconscious, we can capture him and try to find out what's going on. I'll swing my autorifle like a club. (Paul rolls 2D....."4, 2"). My attack is 6.

G: OK, he's blocking with his rifle as well. (Gurd knows the NPC's STR is still only 1, so decides to get tricky!) He'll use a Skill Option - I'll roll 2D and subtract 2 points from your total. I'm rolling 2D versus 4+. (Gurd rolls the NPC's defense....."3, 5"). An 8! He blocked the attack, but his STR has taken so much damage, that just 1 point over target is a Marginal Success. The guy's weak. His blows aren't as strong as he'd like them to be. I'll add a point to his Fatigue Pool. But, it's his turn to act now. He's going to swing at you again. I'll throw 2D and add 2 points to his STR, making it an effective 3 for measuring purposes. (Gurd rolls 2D....."6, 1") A total of 13!

P: Gvoudzon is defending himself, and he'd better throw both dice at this one. (Paul throws 2D....."3, 3"). Six! You hit, but it's only Marginal Success!

G: I'll take one die off of damage. (Gurd rolls damage 1D....."1") Lousy die!

P: (Paul reduces Gvoudzon's DEX by one point.) My physicals are now 775!

G: New round. You're up.

P: I'm going to swack him again! (Paul rolls 2D....."2, 5") Total is 7.

G: I'll throw 2D and reduce your total by 2. (Gurd throws 2D....."1, 6") Oh no! I lost that odd die, but my total is still 6 versus your reduced number of 5. Wait a minute! That "1" really helped me out. I'm within 1 point. He just defended with Greater Success. That can only mean that he blocked your swing in such a way that he damaged you! Take 2D damage! (Gurd rolls 2D....."1, 2")

P: Unbelievable luck! My physicals are now 653. It's his turn to act now.

G: He swings again. I'll throw 2D and reduce your total by 2. (Gurd throws....."6, 6") That's 24!

P: I'll defend with all I've got. (Paul throws 2D....."4, 2") A 6. You hit, but it's Marginal Success!

3. Conclusion

I could go on with this fight, but I think you've seen enough to see how the system plays out. See, KB3 is very quick and very conducive to exciting roleplaying.

Once you get familiar with the system, add in some more complexity. Use the Combat Pools in T4, or use the range and stat modifiers for weapons in CT.

Tailor your game the way you like to play it.


Extended Example 3: Gvoudzon's Run, copyright © 2001 Kenneth Bearden.
Compiled and edited by David "Hyphen" Jaques-Watson.
Used by permission.

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