P153 (Downtime Activities): “You can only attempt actions that you’re in a position to accomplish.

P153 (Downtime Activities): “You can only attempt actions that you’re in a position to accomplish.

P153 (Downtime Activities): “You can only attempt actions that you’re in a position to accomplish. If an activity is contingent on another action, resolve that action first.”

My current set of players keep an eye on their heat tracker and wanted levels, frequently wanting to reduce heat and take dangerous actions to finish projects, train, etc. The characters are often in a position (often, a risky one) to reduce heat in one way or another (which I take to mean being “contingent on another action”). Hence, I read this to be saying Resolve the action to deal with the danger first to get them into position to safely take the DTA, and the reduce heat DTA instructions to then be adding to make a downtime activity roll using an action rating (not an action roll) to determine how much heat is reduced.

Problem is: these are going to be the same action roll, and it feels weird to do that (the first result, for the action roll to get into position, could be a Critical, then the second one to determine the DTA result could be a 1-3, reducing only 1 heat). The alternative seems to be to have them be one roll, but then this directly opposes the instructions in the quoted text. This leads me to wonder: am I reading too deeply into the directions in the quoted lines, thereby placing unnecessary layers of complexity between the PCs and their goals in downtime? Maybe I am missing something? Something else?

11 thoughts on “P153 (Downtime Activities): “You can only attempt actions that you’re in a position to accomplish.”

  1. From my perspective, “in a position to accomplish” doesn’t necessarily mean an action roll. If a scoundrel happens to already be on speaking terms with a Bluecoat, then that is established in the fiction. You already know them. You can then go consort or command or sway them, and that roll is the reduce heat roll.

    Now, if that Bluecoat happens to come to a bad end, then you would probably need to establish some sort of relationship with a new contact, which might require something like a long-term project to set up.

  2. I run Downtime as a break for the characters, so unless there’s something actively preventing them from doing a Downtime Action as described, I go straight to the Downtime roll. I see it as Downtime Actions are limited because the characters don’t get many opportunities for them, so simple obstacles like “there’s some risk” are represented by the action limit.

    For example: the player wants to reduce Heat by bribing a snitch to spread confusing information, but the snitch is not on good terms with the crew. I ask them to say how they’re getting the snitch to actually talk to them (choose the Action type) and let them roll for Reduce Heat.

    Related example: Same as above, but locating the snitch in question and getting them to make deals was previously established as hard enough to require a long-term project (which would also set them up as a contact). I would have the player take Downtime Actions to finish the “make contact” project first before they could Reduce Heat in that way.

  3. I take the quoted text to refer to dire circumstances or far-fetch’d ideas. Examples: if a PC wants to work on a long-term project to improve their lair, but their lair has been burned down, they gotta get a new lair first; if a PC wants to craft an item to attack Lord Scurlock’s weaknesses, but doesn’t know Lord Scurlocks weaknesses, they’ve got to do a long term project to investigate first.

    The part about an activity being contingent on another activity is just saying that if there’s some “A->B->C” sequence of actions the PCs want to do, where each action requires success at the previous one, you have to do A first, then B, then C.

  4. Thanks for the input.

    Hm. I wasn’t inclined to agree much with the answers, but well, I guess that’s because I am referring to actions poorly suited to the thing being done and risky courses of action (rather than times when a DTA first makes more sense).

    For example, I assume they can work on LTPs with available things, improve their lair, etc. without an action roll before each activity roll. But I don’t assume they can safely start random bar fights (rolling Skirmish in place of Study) to advance their clock for “Become a master in their chosen fighting style.” [advanced section stuff] Or, assume they can just Consort an Ink Rake editor (one of their contacts) into reducing their heat for free. (!)

    The former felt risky at least. While the latter felt more like a controlled situations for them, because of the tendency for small complications. So, I asked for an action roll (each of them, separately) and because of the quoted text I lumped it into actions taking place in free play, to put them in a safe position to spend those DTAs safely. They each got a 6 on their action rolls though, so I agreed they could now spend their respective DTAs and roll to work on the LTP and reduce heat. Using.. naturally, their high ratings in Skirmish and Consort a second time, respectively.

    (!): Both of these happened in play, and are the basis for this question. Knowing this: was how I handled it not in the spirit of the text I quoted? I don’t want to needlessly complicate downtime but I wonder about the riskier and “weasel”y approaches to completing certain projects and reducing heat, as examples.

  5. For the “Become a master in their chosen fighting style,” is this for Iruvian Sword Arts as described in the book, or something similar? It sounds like you gave them a Long-Term Project clock. I’m inferring from your post that you feel that if you let them use Skirmish on it repeatedly, they’ll fill it faster than you’d like? For one, remember that after achieving mastery, they still need to spend a Playbook advance to take the relevant ability, so it may not be as fast as you think. If they’re really spamming it and the fictional justification is week, you can tell them that they’ve learned as much as they can from picking random bar fights, and need to study in a different way. Maybe they need to practice their speed and acrobatics (Prowl) or their precision and accuracy (Finesse). Maybe they need to actually sit down with ancient scrolls to learn the underlying principles (Study).

    For the Reduce Heat, I would have only required the Downtime action roll. If the player has been calling on this contact frequently, I might start and tick a clock “Ink Rake Editor wants a favor” to represent that they can’t get infinite benefits out of a contact without giving something back. And remember it’s not “for free,” they need to spend either a Downtime Action, a Coin, or a Rep to Reduce Heat. If the player was trying to get the benefit of Reduce Heat without spending any of those, then it’s reasonable to tell them No.

    If you feel the crew is flush with Downtime Actions to the point where they’re practically free, then you likely need to be hitting them with more consequences, Heat, and Harm during scores. That will encourage them to spend more actions on Indulge Vice, Reduce Heat, and Harm.

  6. S. Tan yea, that is the thing they seek and it’s a long term project clock (specifically, as opposed to a danger clock). I think simple action rolls won’t get them to mastery of that.

    But no, it’s not about them doing it faster than what I’d like. I revel in their successes, and I’d like them to do it as fast as possible! But if I let them use Skirmish repeatedly, they just.. do it faster than makes sense – if they should have to Study it, and have a Study rating of 0. Also I think it naturally introduces extra risk, hence the action rolls.

    I think we decided to frame it more as a two step process.. preparing for comprehension of the sacred text, and then to find/study a martial arts text (a la a ninja scroll) later.

    And I appreciate your opinion about reducing the heat being easier. I just disagree because this NPC had to put their professional reputation on the line, since the request was about spreading false rumors through printed stories and the NPCs influence to get it done. The action roll was about them doing it without getting charged, or straining the relationship in the process.

    If the text isn’t talking about these kinds of situations when it says “contingent on another action” – then I guess I should ease up!

  7. Also, don’t forget Ignoring Your Vice on p157. If they don’t use one of their actions to indulge their vice. then they take more stress.

    So, if they’ve taken harm, their two free actions are often for vice and healing. The third one is going to cost them coin or rep to perform, so, I’m all for letting them get something done without too much trouble.

  8. Mark Cleveland Massengale Ah, okay, the example helps clarify things. In that case, I think you were a absolutely right to make it a Risky roll, but turning it into two seperate rolls (Risky action roll, the risk-free DTA, if I’m understanding correctly) feels a bit tedious.

    I’d suggest just making it a single roll. Player says “I want to work on my awesome martial arts LTP by starting a random bar fight”, you say “sure, but that’s a Risky way of going about it”, they say “Yeah, makes sense, but maybe that means it’ll be great effect?” You say “that makes sense”. They spend the DTA, make the roll and resolve with the normal action clock rules. Making it two rolls feels like rolling twice for the same thing, to me.

  9. That doesn’t work though. The possible results of an action roll simply don’t line up, and appear to be incompatible with the assured progress of a DTA roll. That is: I would feel shafted if I spent a DTA only to make an action roll where I could fail and get no progress. And, alternatively, it would be strange to make a risky roll and get both 1 tick and simultaneous consequences on a 1-3.

    Instead, it seems that the action roll part should precede the DTA roll after all. While it seems redundant, it’s not: no one is actually rolling for the same thing (one roll is action roll for doing the thing, and once that’s out of the way, the other roll is the downtime roll for actual progress or number of heat reduced – which could easily be modified by the initial result)

Comments are closed.