Whenever the push comes to shove, and a simple task or a contest isn’t enough to satisfy everyone, it is time to dive into a conflict. A conflict is a systematic and verbose method to resolve a complicated situation and unlike some other games you may know, conflicts in edgerunner are not limited to combat situations, although it is the preferred method for that.
Conflicts are verbose, and take some time to resolve. Before breaking out into a conflict, always consider resolving the situation with a simpler method. The best conflicts are ones that generate lots of story details, without dragging out the outcome. If a conflict looks like it is going to consist of mostly the same moves repeated over and over, reduce it into a contest and be done with it.
A conflict has a number of specific features
It consists of a sequence of exchanges, periods of time where everyone involved gets to take one action.
It is played on a map that sets the scene. This map can represent a real location, or it can represent an abstract space such as moods, social circles or network nodes. The map consists of discrete zones, with borders between them.
Every action in a conflict must conform to one of these:
A move action to move something between zones on the map
An attack to take out an opponent
A defense to modify a stress threshold
A maneuver to place an aspect on something
A recovery to reduce hits on a stress track
A resist action to prevent one of the above from happening
A continue action to keep on doing the same thing
A very simple action that does not require a test or contest
It ends when one side either concedes or is taken out
Other than that, what you can represent with a conflict setup is quite flexible. A firefight or brawl is an obvious candidate, but a heated debate, a hacking attempt, a car race or a corporate hostile takeover action can very well be played as a conflict.
Conflicts may seem mechanical, but do not skip the storytelling. Every action made in a conflict should generate a story detail. Remember, that’s what this game is all about.
The duration of an exchange is not set in stone but it is a good idea, for the sake of consistency, to pick a duration from the time track. “3.3 seconds” or “2 weeks” is too rigid. “a few seconds” and “a couple of weeks” are better, as the implied flexibility of time reduces debate on what can and cannot be done in one exchange.
The characters take their actions one by one. The question of who goes first is called the initiative. There are multiple methods for determining initiative, but the one we recommend is called social initiative.
Social initiative is simple: Whoever wants to go first, goes first. Of course this requires some arbitration. Designate a player to be the caller. The caller should preferably be someone not involved in the conflict, otherwise the referee can become or appoint the caller. The caller is supposed to keep track of who has acted and who will act next.
At the beginning of an exchange, and after every action, the caller asks “Who’s next?”. Whoever responds first gets to act. If multiple players want to act, the caller runs an auction on how many shifts the players are willing to commit for acting first. The highest bidder gets to act but must subtract his bid from his roll.
The map is probably the most important feature in a conflict. It portrays the environment and provides details for all kinds of opportunities and threats.
A map consists of zones, which are of variable size, geometry, and description. A zone should be defined as any space(physical or abstract) that is discrete from others. The basic rule in considering if a feature on the map warrants its own zone is if it would make a diffrence to be there or not, then it is a zone. Considering an indoor map, a room with walls and a door is definitely a zone, but a huge room may be split up into multiple zones, because it would matter which end of the room you are in. In an outdoor map with huge spaces, that whole building may be represented as a single zone because all that matters is if you are inside the building or not.
Zones are connected to each other with borders, through which movement may be possible. All borders have a pass value which defaults to 1, and that pass value represents the cost of moving through that border. A border may represent any kind of persistent obstacle, or just inherent difficulty in passing from one zone to the other. For example, a low wall may be a border with a pass value of 2, or a border between two crowded zones may have a pass value of 3 because of the difficulty of moving through the crowd. Things like firewalls defending computers connected to the net, or the red tape around scoring an interview with an important government official may also be represented as borders with higher pass values.
It is possible for a border to have more than one pass value for different conditions. For example, the wall between two rooms, with a door on it may be; 1 to go through the open door, 2 more to open or close the door, 4 to break the door or 7 to break through the wall. A border on a slope may be 1 when going downhill and 3 uphill.
Conflict actions are different from tests and contests that they are limited to interacting with things on the map only. Anything beyond this principle is out of the scope of that conflict, and should be resolved afterwards.
After a player declares his character’s action but before he rolls the dice, the caller calls for compels. Compels work the same way as described in using aspects and fate points but the result of a compel is more constrained in a conflict. A successful compel causes the compelled character to skip his turn, for whatever reason that fits the compelled aspect.
A move action represents the concentrated effort to cover distance on the map. The character rolls the appropriate skill vs. 0, and the number of shifts is the limit on the total pass values of borders he can go through. If he rolls badly and gets a negative result, he may get spin, which can be used against him later. He can still use his free move though.
If shifts from the movement roll are not enough to overcome a border value, the character cannot move through that border. He may attempt invoke aspects or take stress and consequences to boost his movement.
You may want to force a resisting target to move on the map. Driving the enemy out of Hill 319 and persuading someone on a map of opinions are examples of moving another entity on the map.
When determining range to the target, use the target’s starting zone.
The target’s player has the option of resisting the move, stealing shifts from the roll.
Unless it is a map of metaphorical space, factions don’t move on the map. Instead, they deploy resources on the map.
An attack is an attempt to take out an opponent in the conflict. An attack can take any form that is reasonable in the context of the conflict. Attempts to shoot, distract, tackle, frighten, persuade or any other thing that would force him to give up on the conflict are considered attacks.
Any shifts from the attack roll are applied as stress against the appropriate stress track of the target. It is assumed that the target always resists an attack action. Not resisting an attack always ends up in being taken out, which is quite undesirable.
The mode of attack must make sense when the skill used and range to target is considered. You simply can’t punch a guy with two rooms in between, but assuming conditions are right, you may taunt and scare him.
Not only characters are the targets of attacks. Anything that resists anyone can be a target of an attack. For example, you can attack the integrity track of the stubborn lock on the gate with your electronics skill in order to bypass it.
It may also be possible to attack some kinds of borders on the map. If the attacker takes out a border, he can then redefine the border and its pass values, within reason. The border’s stress threshold is assigned by the referee unless preemptively declared by a player.
A defense is the active use of a skill to protect yourself(or something else) from stress. You may use an appropriate skill to replace the stress threshold on a stress track on your character or on another target.
If the stress threshold later reverts to a level where there remain marked boxes higher than the threshold, nothing happens. The stress threshold matters only at the moment stress is received. The boxes above the stress threshold remain as they were, to be considered if the threshold is raised with a defend action again.
The maneuver is simply put, an action taken to place an aspect on something. Valid targets for maneuvers in a conflict include zones and borders on the map, any equipment used or lying around, and any of the characters involved.
The target number for a maneuver is zero. The aspect is considered placed with zero shifts. If a resisting target wants to block the aspect completely, they must reduce the roll to at most -1 shifts.
Seems easy, but with zero shifts, you just place the aspect but must use fate points to invoke it later. One shift on the roll buys you a free invoke to use in the conflict. Two more shifts buys a second free invoke, three more buys a third.
The number of free invokes you can get is also the number of stress boxes this new aspect has, for the purposes of constituting a target if someone else attempts to get rid of it later.
You should remove such an aspect instantly if it ceases to make sense. This doesn’t mean the you can instantly remove an aspect if your character is attempting to get rid of it. That would be the subject of an attack action with the aspect as its target. It only means that you should remove it if the description of the aspect becomes meaningless because of the things that happened after the aspect was created. This is especially true if the aspect describes a situation that requires the active participation of a character, and that character is no longer capable of participating. When in doubt, use table consensus.
Many preemptive defensive moves can be emulated with aspects. Want to do nothing but take cover? Use a maneuver to place
Dug in on yourself, and tag it to boost your defense roll later. Want to keep a net node secure? Place an aspect;
Icewall on the node, use it to compel anyone trying to enter. Want to protect your girlfriend’s peace of mind? Maneuver to place
"Let me handle this, baby" on her and use it to give a hard time to anyone who approaches her.
Recovery is an attempt to clear up a stress track in anticipation of more damage. Anybody may attempt to clear the stress on anybody else but both of them must use their action, ie. act together.
The shifts on the roll are used to clear stress track boxes. You need a number of shifts equal to the box number to clear a single box. You may clear any number of boxes anywhere on the track as long as you have enough shifts.
Recovery does not necessarily represent “healing”. Anything that gives any kind of relief or breathing room to a character may be represented as a recovery action. Supporting a friend’s lie may be a recovery action if she’s being grilled. Covering fire may give the other squad a moment to catch their breath, recovering their stress boxes.
This is a special type of action that lets you keep the investment you made for a previous action.
In Edgerunner, you cannot retry an action. Any retries your character makes are rolled into the story generated by the single roll you make. But in conflicts that consist of exchanges with a limited time frame, this does not work. For this purpose, there is this “continue” action that allows you to build on the action you chose in the previous exchange.
Remember that the core parameters of a conflict action are the skill, the action, and the target. If all of these are the same as they were in the previous exchange, you cannot roll again. Instead, you must take a continue action.
You may still opt to invoke more aspects and boost your roll, except the ones you had already used previously. You may also use an invocation to re-roll the dice from the previous exchange. (It’s a good idea to keep your dice untouched until it is your turn again. It makes keeping track much easier)
Resisting is the only thing you can do if it isn’t your turn. It is the only immediate response you can give if you are the target of an action.
You do not roll when resisting. Instead, you take stress and/or a number of consequences, and remove shifts from the ongoing action. You may choose to drive the shift total to zero or less, completely stopping the action, or you may just kill some of its shifts to reduce its effectiveness. You may also invoke aspects to reduce the roll by 2 or force a re-roll.
Except when resisting direct attacks, you determine the type of stress you take from a resist action. Of course, your decision must be backed up by your story. Better come up with an interesting explanation of how your Reputation gets bruised by bullets or the table may override your decision.
You must be the target of the action in order to resist it. You cannot resist actions directed at other targets. Try to “defend” them so that they can resist more. Get your defenses up early in a conflict, so that you can resist more.
If an action is simple enough not to warrant a roll, and it can fit in the time frame of an exchange, then it can be done in a conflict. Anything that involves a roll however, must be modeled as one of the actions above.
If you are trying to do something that would take longer than an exchange, then model it as a problem that has an aspect (or two) and a stress track that can be attacked using a skill.
The stress threshold of such a problem is determined based on the difference between the duration of an exchange and the time it would normally take with a mediocre roll. The difference as steps on the time track is stress threshold of the problem.
The problem can be “attacked” to solve it, and “defended” to keep it from being solved. A “recover” action can be used to revert it to its initial state, and aspects can be placed on it with a maneuver. If it makes sense, it may even be moved on the map.
A problem is solved if it is taken out. Whatever the original intent was, consider it accomplished.
There are two distinct ways that conflicts end in Edgerunner. If every actor on one side of the conflict is taken out, the conflict ends in a messy manner. To prevent that, the losing side can offer a concession, a story acceptable to all sides, that marks the end of the conflict.
If a character(or any other thing) receives stress higher than his threshold on any of its stress tracks, he is considered taken out. This is an important thing. The player loses his control over the destiny of a character who is taken out. The opponent now determines what happens to the character, in accordance with the last action that took him out. This is a powerful ability. The opponent can narrate anything that makes sense in the context. The character is almost completely at the opponent’s mercy.
There is something you can do if you are stuck in a losing battle. You can offer a concession. A concession is a story that ends the conflict, possibly one that will be advantageous to your opponent, but not as detrimental for you as actually being taken out. If your opponent accepts your concession, the conflict ends with the story you just offered.
It is good to discuss and modify the offered story a little, but if it turns into a haggling slugfest, stop and continue the conflict. Just as in a game of Go, a conflict ends when everybody agrees that it ends.