Thursday, May 23, 2024

Recalled from Action: Mission Impossible

Instead of finishing my session reports for the Beneath the Missing Sea campaign, here's the hottest new trend from Sahh on the OSR Discord, ReCalled from Action: take a scene from a comic or movie and write it up as if you were handling this fictional series of events in-game. This aims to demonstrate to others how to handle situations as a ref and also to show off various games we like.

I've chosen to do a short but memorable fight from Mission Impossible: Fallout, instead of the example provided from Berserk, and I'll be handling the scene with something a lot like Ms. Screwhead's Pyrhhic Weaselry (a game I've shown before). The specifics of Pyrhhic Weaselry (hereafter "PW") are beyond the scope of this post, including themes (something like experience), motifs (cherished items that involve background and give a bonus as a skill), and even Paths (its very cool version of classes). For the sake of this demonstration, I'll be relying on the concession and injury system as written and avoiding the actual rolls and numbers (generally 2d6+bonus vs 10) beyond noting that Lark is a much better martial artist than the other two so I'm giving him two actions per round rather than the usual one. I could eschew this by giving him the Path of the Warrior and developing combat styles for him, each of which would allow him to declare two actions as one intention, but it already took two hours just to get these images formatted on Blogger, so screw that. 

I've gone ahead and bolded their intentions for each round but it should usually be clear.

Not a lot of shots with all three actors clearly visibly fighting, but this one was pretty cool.

In this scene, the reluctantly paired-up superspies, Ethan Hunt of the IMF (Tom Cruise)  and August Walker of the CIA (Henry Cavill), are tracking down missing plutonium cores in a Paris nightclub (as you do) where they are to meet an arms dealer, Alanna Mitsopolis (Vanessa Kirby but not appearing in this scene). She is expecting to sell the cores to someone named John Lark (Liang Yang), so their plan is to use the typical Mission Impossible superspy disguise creation device to take his place in the deal. They come across him in an unusually empty, clean, and bright nightclub bathroom.

Entering the restroom, the two heroes take up positions on either side of Lark. From some combination of their choice of position at the sinks to their appearance to Hunt paying very close attention to the other patrons leaving the space, Lark is tipped off. In the logic of the game, they failed to surprise him. Typically I handle this the OD&D way with a chance-in-d6 roll, and in this case, they missed.

Realizing they're spotted, Hunt proceeds to call for an attack first. I either go with the fiction or roll a d6 for going first, but more often if the players call out that they're attacking before I begin to say so, I let them go. Hunt attacks with a sedative-filled syringe, hoping to immediately incapacitate Lark. Attacks are not rolled in PW so I'd have to judge the effectiveness of this via the strength of the poison and where the hit landed, but Lark rolls to parry the attack, succeeds, then uses his action to disarm him of the weapon. This, again, wouldn't be something rolled per PW, but instead, the player would need to state an intent that would have the desired effect. In this case, I'd rule that any attack that hinders the hand would work, and Lark goes with slamming it into the counter. Hunt rolls, fails, and the syringe drops to the floor.

Walker doesn't have a weapon on hand and is instead carrying the disguise kit. Choosing haste, he decides to use that as a weapon with a warning that when they go to use it, I'll roll to see if it was damaged. He goes for a knockout blow and Lark fails his roll. A heavy blunt object to the head is incapacitating. The player, fearing that their fight is over already, chooses to concede by saying that he'll drop his gun but the knockout wears off quickly. The GM agrees.

Cinematic fights have a natural back-and-forth and I've attempted to keep a consistent routine throughout of Hunt > Lark > Walker > Lark. Since Lark was incapacitated, he lost his second action.

The two know that the disguise kit takes several minutes to work and they're in a public bathroom with a beaten and unconscious man, so they carry Lark into a stall. The gun falls out of Lark's pocket unnoticed onto the floor per the concession earlier.

The GM wants to keep the tension up, so he rolls every minute to see if anyone walks into the bathroom. Almost immediately a group of 1d6 random clubgoers enter the restroom. They go about their business for a moment before noticing the PCs.

The GM then rolls just in time to see if the machine had been broken when used as a weapon. It's not entirely broken but damaged enough that it will take longer. Hunt's player gives an, "Really?" look to Walker, then they start with the face scanning.

Rolling to see if they're noticed where they are hidden (how hidden I think they are fictionally-in-d6), one of the men spots several feet within one stall. Assuming the group are engaged in some kind of frisky activity that couldn't wait until they got home, they knock and made rude suggestions. The players choose to wait them out. The GM decides that this would be approximately a morale check against the men, they fail, get bored, and wander off. The spies let out a relieved sigh.

Just as the men exit the restroom, Lark awakens. The real fight begins.

Hunt immediately tries to grab Lark, stating an intention to restrain him, but fails. This would be something like Incapacitation per above, but the fictional positioning difference is important. Previously, it was incapacitation by heavy blunt object to the head. That would knock someone unconscious but would clear up in minutes. In this case, Hunt would be seeking to restrain Lark, which would still amount to the same except that Lark is conscious and resisting.

Lark responds by kicking Hunt out of the stall. Perhaps his intention was to do so given that he was too close to do something more harmful. That's merely a disadvantage, so either he succeeds at doing so or that is Hunt's concession.  Hunt ends up on the ground but that's impactful because getting back to his feet is an action.

Walker and Lark punch each other to no real effect. That'll be happening a lot and either means that they both rolled successful defenses or they sustained minor disadvantages that failed to be taken advantage of.

While Hunt clambers to his feet (his intention) Walker decides to suplex Lark. This is smart: Walker is huge and Lark is small, leading the GM to judge this action more generously. Lark successfully rolls against it. 

And it could end like that with a return to the status quo but Lark's player realizes that the fictional positioning has changed. Plenty of martial arts have techniques for redirecting parried attacks into throws, and calling upon this would reverse the situation--now the smaller fighter having just stopped an attack has an advantage. So when he declares an intention to instead throw Walker, the GM rules this generously and when it succeeds Lark ends up atop a Walker on the ground.

He immediately uses his other action to deliver a blow to Walker's throat. This doesn't stop him but this prior blow to the throat will come up later.

Lark and Hunt exchange blows to little enduring effect. In another game, these would be misses or fairly meaningless hitpoint damage. Walker gets back to his feet.

Hunt follows up with something more effective. His last blow smacks Lark in the face, delivering probably a glancing blow that leaves him in (a disadvantageous) position to be hurled by Walker through the bathroom mirrors. This probably hurt but not enough for Lark to get back to his feet and grab the plumbing as an improvised weapon.

Hunt attacks Lark with his fists, to no effect, while Lark attacks Hunt with the metal pipe, which would hurt a lot more if it hit, but Hunt rolls successfully to dodge. Lark gets grabbed by Walker, shrugs it off (rolls a successful defense), and then uses the pipe to toss Walker to the ground.

Hunt fails to punch Lark again (apparently all of his skills are invested in running) and Lark responds by grappling him with the pipe, then attempts to stab his throat with its sharpened end. He succeeds with the first and fails (is defended against) the second.

Walker uses his action to get up and approach them. While it's not an action, his famous "arm reload" is too cool to not mention.

Hunt uses the nearby counter to kick the pair back to free himself, likely meaning that he forced a concession on Lark, and succeeds but immediately gets punched in the throat, taking a concession to get knocked to the ground. Walker squares up and starts laying into Lark with body blows to little effect, but fortunately for him, Lark's counterattacks land the same.

They exchange more punches but only Lark's are successful, first knocking him to his knees (a disadvantage?) before using his other action to kick Hunt back down, who'd only just gotten standing again.

Lark smacks Walker to knock him out of the fight, likely an incapacitation concession from his potentially lethal chop to the throat, building on the prior blow to the throat mere moments before. Hunt slowly gets back to his feet, clearly the worse for wear. Lark uses his other action to pose and looks very cool doing so.

Hunt charges Lark intending to tackle him and Lark fails to stop it, and further fails to elbow him mid-charge. But...

the pair land near the dropped gun from earlier and Lark uses his action to retrieve it.

Hunt grabs his wrist with the intention to control the gun and keep it from pointing at him and briefly succeeds. But he can't compete with the action advantage that Lark has who states an intent to overpower the grapple and aim for a headshot. Just as he succeeds at the action and is about to fire...


Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) fires unexpectedly from offscreen, having just come into the restroom looking for them. She is aiming (as we'll see in a moment) at his chest. Lark's player, realizing that he is done and caught, decides to do something tricky. Normally, concessions reduce damage--they're a bargain after all. He argues that being still, surprised, and with her accuracy with the weapon, she'd be able to kill him instantly if she wanted. But he doesn't want to be caught, he wants to die like a Hollywood mook to deprive the PCs of their goal (classically done by throwing themselves out nearby windows). So he concedes that the bullet not only hits him, it kills him and it destroys his face. This is, in a way, a win for him as a fictional villain, so it actually sorta works as a bargain.

The GM considers using a roll anyway. Attacks aren't rolled, defenses are, and he could have Lark roll as a sort of defense. But the GM usually goes with what he thinks would be funniest and so Lark takes the bullet right to the face.

The three regather over the downed plutonium buyer and observe the state of him.
Walker: "Can you still make a mask?" 
Hunt: "I need a face to make a mask."
Ilsa: "Sorry, I was aiming at his chest."
looks at her gun disgustedly
Ultimately Ethan takes a gamble that Alanna doesn't know what Hunt looks like (a gamble he's fond of making) and so attends the meeting as Lark anyway, but things go awry as they always do and it leads to several more exciting scenes. And that's Recalled from Action of the bathroom fight from Mission Impossible: Fallout in Pyrhhic Weaselry.

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