When going up against an expert the PC has to start out with a resistance roll before they can even attempt an action of their own. Can that happen multiple times within the course of an encounter?
For example, maybe the crew is going toe to toe with a demon of tremendous power. At the outset of the fight I might have the demon simply gut one of the PC’s which triggers a Resistance roll on the PC’s part. Following that they engage in battle. After a what feels like a “round” or each PC has had a chance to act, could the demon then get another He-Just-Does-The-Thing action?
In all of the actual play vids I’ve watched I’ve never seen it done that way, so I’ve always assumed it doesn’t work that way, but there have been times within my game where it felt like it would have been appropriate.
I say absolutely yes, the demon (or other powerful npc) can take an “expert action” whenever it makes sense in the fiction.
I’ve run several encounters with dangerous supernatural NPCs (avatars of forgotten gods, demons, Lord Scurlock), and have threatened the PCs with deadly or deeply concerning consequences whenever the NPC would have the opportunity to act. (I don’t necessarily block it out in “rounds” – just let it happen when it makes sense in the story.) I think that’s just portraying the world honestly, and showcasing the terrifying skill or power the PCs are faced with. It also showcases the myriad tools the PCs have to deflect danger. In my experience, these end up being really memorable moments.
Balancing it out with being a fan of the PCs is key. Really let them come up with creative ways to deal with the threat (or flee from it).
Remember that doesn’t have to be your only tool though. When my players went up against an end of season big bad, they had to fill a 12 clock to defeat him, starting from Position and Effect of Desperate / None.
So even to get limited effect against him, ticking one clock segment, they had to push themselves, use teamwork, etc. and with Desperate consequences, even on a 4 or a 5 they were taking Harm. They burned through Stress like it was going out of fashion.
And did I mention the minions?
This is kind of my take on it too, but I hadn’t seen an example of J. Harper doing it in either the Bloodletters or Final Word game, so I didn’t know if it was, strictly speaking, within the rules.
There’s only been a couple of times where I felt like it would have been appropriate, but it’s good to know it’s not completely off the table.