This happened a while ago, so excuse the lack of details.
I had the squad investigating a farm with a stable against Blighter. They found a crow near the stable and were investigating inside. I believe I’d thrown a Consequence against them and a crow had run off as a ‘complication’.
I worked with my players to try something and try to learn the game as intended.
I wanted to do a cinematic moment where the horror broke into the stable and launched a horse at the squad. In D&D I would have had them make a DEX saving throw to avoid the horse.
I suggested it would be 3 Harm (getting hit with a horse, and crushing them) and then the players could use Stress, etc. to manage it.
Is that the right way to handle such a thing?
One player felt the game has very balanced cause and effect/penalties and adding in Harm like that somewhat randomly seemed to upset that balance of give/take.
My player is one who is normally quite good at grasping game concepts, mechanics, and numbers so I agreed that we wouldn’t do that and I’d look into it. He pointed out how few of those hits people could take and that it would hinder the characters and group very quickly.
Maybe that’s fine/that point of the grittiness of the game?
Overall I had a few players really like the game, and some that it just didn’t jive with so we’re trying out other stuff but I do really want to come back, and with some more knowledge!
What you’re looking for are Resistance Rolls.
From the book, p. 40
When your PC suffers a consequence that you don’t like, you can choose to resist it. Just tell the GM, “No, I don’t think so. I’m resisting that.” Resistance is always automatically effective—the GM says if the consequence is reduced in severity or if you avoid it entirely. Make a resistance roll to see how much stress your character suffers as a result of their resistance.
You make the roll using one of your character’s attributes (insight, prowess, or resolve). The GM chooses the attribute, based on the nature of consequence:
- Insight: Consequences from deception or understanding.
- Prowess: Consequences from physical strain or injury.
- Resolve: Consequences from mental strain or willpower.
Your character suffers 6 stress when they resist, minus the highest die result from the resistance roll. So, if you rolled a 4, you’d suffer 2 stress. If you rolled a 6, you’d suffer zero stress. If you get a critical result, you also clear 1 stress.
If at any point a player character wants to avoid or mitigate a consequence, regardless of whether that consequence was the result of an action roll or the fiction, they can make a resistance roll.
In your example, the players could say, “I would like to resist having my bones crushed by the horse” and then make a resistance roll using the attribute you choose (likely prowess). They can then narrate what they do to avoid or reduce the harm. They could also use any armour they are wearing to reduce the level of harm.
Resistance rolls as Sokhrates describes are indeed one of the mechanics that make FitD games.
In BitD or BoB you are perfectly allowed to “throw” some Harm at you players, and then they would resist it. That’s what’s described (for Band of Blades) under the section “NPC Danger”, page 270.
However, your players are right that this would deplete their stress resources, already quite rare, very rapidly. Indeed, this is what makes BoB different from vanilla Blades: resources, especially Stress, are much rarer. But it also means that as a GM you should use this sparingly. Page 270 says that “dangerous NPC” can “take initiative”, and that only NPCs which are “true masters of the moment” can make their own move, which has to be resisted by the PCs even before they can act.
So, in your case, I would say that the Horror is only a Elite, which is on par with some of the players, but not that much more powerful. It is dangerous, yes, but is it a “true master of the moment” ? I would say that this should be reserved to Infamous and Lieutenants in particular circonstances. Therefore I advise not to have an Horror throw a horse and crush the PCs without them being able to act or react before they are crushed. Follow the GM"s actions, page 331 : " Telegraph the trouble before it strikes" and “initiate an action with an npc” are some of them. Then if the PCs don’t react, or if they act and you have to inflict consequences: ''Follow through".
You could have said “A Horror appears. It’s made of ten or twelve corpses seen together. It barely fits in the stable, but its huge arms lift a screaming horse and it gets ready to throw it at you. What do you do ?”