NPC gang leaders

  • 18 Replies
NPC gang leaders
« on: July 27, 2013, 12:28:37 PM »
Barbecue (NPC hardholder) sends a medium-sized gang in to the PC's brothel to make a show of force, and maybe seize and hold someone.  The gang is led by Rothschild, who is a bad mother fucker.  So, as long as Rothschild is present as a clear strong leader, the gang will keep fighting up to 4-harm, but if Rothschild goes down, the gang stops fighting at 3-harm (if Rothschild is hurt or falls back), or 1 or 2-harm (if Rothschild is killed).  So:

When the PCs inflict harm on the gang, who decides which NPC gang members were hit? 

If the PCs inflict even 1-harm, but say "I'm targeting Rothschild", and Rothschild takes the injury, then she is no longer a strong leader, and the gang now stops fighting at 3-harm.  If the PCs inflict 2-harm, and say "I'm targeting Rothschild", then Rothschild is dead, and the gang stops fighting at 2-harm (immediately). 

If I (as MC) get to choose, then Rothschild gets hit last (so that she looks like the bad mother fucker she's supposed to be), and the gang keeps fighting until 4 harm, when Rothschild either dies or withdraws. 

Can the PCs choose to target Rothschild instead of targeting the gang as a whole?

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2013, 07:38:52 PM »
Personally, I'd say 'yes', but have it not a sure thing.  Maybe have it require them to choose 'take definite hold' as a 'seize by force' option.  Maybe have them Act under Fire to get in a position for a clean shot.  Either way, if they're inflicting harm on an individual, they're doing negligible harm to the gang as a whole, so the gang won't take harm, and I'd still have the leader get the gang size defensive bonus (bodies getting in the way, blocking the most damaging targets).

But ultimately, I'd do what made the most interesting story without violating 'what honesty demands'.



  • 609
Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2013, 08:04:00 PM »
Sure. Why not?

Player "I'm shooting at Rothchilds!"

Do you have a page ref for the clear strong leader rule in the book. I can't find it.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2013, 08:19:27 PM by noclue »
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013, 02:21:49 PM »
I'd definitely go for her pulling one of the gang into the players line of sight at the last second at least once, just to show how cold she is. I'm likely too late to this, how'd it go?

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2013, 03:21:49 PM »
Strong leader rule is from p. 169, When a Gang Suffers Harm.  Also on the MC playsheet.

Why not, for me, is that is players can target the gang's leader, then they should always target the gang's leader.  If the gang's leader goes down at 2-harm, then the gang is leaderless, and breaks at 1-harm.  So every gang breaks after 1 or 2-harm, whether it has a leader or not.  This, to me, is not saying what the rules demand (since the rule is that a gang with a strong, present leader keeps fighting to 4-harm), and will make the player's characters' lives boring (because it makes every gang the same, and no gang very scary). 

So my impulse is to say Rothschild gets hit last, because even though I'm looking at her through crosshairs, I want the players' characters' lives to be not boring.  But I'm sure the players will want to target her, so I want to have something to tell them when they try. 

SoylentWhite and Withers, excellent suggestions.  Next game is actually in a week, so still lots of time to figure this out.  I will make sure to post how it does play out. 

Has anyone had this happen in play?  You mean your players don't target the gang's leader?



  • 609
Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2013, 03:58:07 PM »
If you were up against a gang and you knew who the leader was and the leader exposed themselves to harm, wouldn't you shoot them first? Wouldn't you hope to demoralize them by taking out their strongest member and sow chaos in the ranks? Why protect Rothschilds from the PCs and benefit from his presence while hurting the PCs?

Whenever your attention falls on something you own, consider first destroying it, burning it down, tearing it apart...that's in the book too.

Maybe another leader will take up the throne.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."



  • 609
Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2013, 07:36:03 PM »
Of course, nothing says Rothschilds can't be smart and send in a first wave to soften them up before he jumps in. Why make things easy for them?
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2013, 10:21:35 PM »
Why not, for me, is that is players can target the gang's leader, then they should always target the gang's leader.

Just because they should do something, doesn't mean the fiction will lead them to do so, or that it will even be possible if they want to.

I mean, if Rothschild leads the gang by charging up in front like a badass, then probably the PCs are going to shoot her in the face. If Rothschild hangs back, or the fight is in messy close quarters, or a thousand other things, then probably targetting her is going to be challenging or even outright impossible.

It all depends what's actually happening. It also depends what your PCs are like, whether they act tactically or are more likely to respond to things as they happen. If you're like 'twenty armed toughs burst in -- they're shouting and shoving people back and one of them gets right up in your face with a knife and a crazy glint in her one good eye. What do you do?' then your PC MAY say 'I calmly step back and try and figure out who is in charge and shoot them' but more likely they are going to deal with the situation as it presents itself. If you don't want your PCs to calmly choose the most beneficial tactical option every time, then don't present them with a calm, tactical situation.

But also, like somebody said, it's not your job to keep Rothschild alive. It may be your job to make Rothschild a badass, if that's what honesty demands, in which case I suggest some custom moves, i.e.

When Rothschild would otherwise take fatal harm, she can choose to have a nearby gang member take it for her instead, or

Whenever Rothschild gets into a fight with another NPC or group of NPCs, Rothschild wins.

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2013, 12:14:22 AM »
I get that I'm not trying to keep Rothschild alive.  I'm trying to make an interesting, exiting, dramatic action scene. 

Of course I could make custom moves for this NPC, but that's not my point.  There is already a rule that a gang continues to fight to 4-harm with a strong present leader.  What I'm wondering is how to interpret that existing rule.  I guess my question is, if the PCs can target individuals within a gang of NPCs, then when does the strong leader rule apply?  Is it meant to be only for PC gang leaders? 

It seems to me that if the fight with the strongly led squad of soldiers ends after they take 1-2 harm, and the fight with the disorganized leaderless mob also ends after they take 1-2 harm, then there is no mechanical difference between these two gangs (Other than their size, weapons, and armor, which is to say, there is no mechanical difference between having a strong leader and not having one), and neither of the gangs is very scary.  The rules for a gang fighting longer if they have a strong, present leader seem to be there so that some gangs are tougher than others.  And if Rothschild hangs back, then she is not being a strong present leader. 

Do you guys use this rule when your PCs fight NPC gangs?  How much harm do your NPC gangs take before they stop fighting?  Have you had PCs target the leader of a gang, and how have you handled it? 

Daniel, your suggestion that the specifics of the fight in the fiction makes a difference is a really good one.  For this specific scene, I'm imagining a squad of BBQs soldiers burst into the brothel, guns drawn, they fan out to cover the whole place, then Rothschild comes in, I tell them that this is a big deal, BBQ only sends Rothschild in when he really means business, and Rothschild starts making demands, saying they're here to take one of the girls back to BBQ.  So Rothschild is up front, visibly leading the troops, making demands of the PCs.  Maybe it won't come to fight, but if it does, they will likely target her (I would).

But aside from this specific scene (which may not end up actually happening, I'm just thinking about what BBQ is planning, and what the PCs do may totally change that), I'm looking for a consistent way to interpret the gang-fighting rules. 

So far I'm really liking Soylent's suggestion that targeting the leader means "seizing definite control".  I would also say that in some situations (not this one) the PCs need to read the sitch to figure out who the leader is.



  • 609
Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2013, 03:44:09 AM »
Well, a few thoughts. I think that if the PCs can get a bead on Rothschilds they should be able to shoot at her. But, that doesn't mean they can get a bead on Rothschilds.

MC: The door is kicked open and Balls and Laserjet come flying into the room with Uzis. There's bullets spraying everywhere. Fido, what do you do?

Fido: I'm waiting for Rothschilds. I'm going to get her.

MC: There's bullets flying fucking all over the room. Balls is swinging that damn Uzi your way. You can see a bunch of other people rushing toward the door and one of them may be Rothschilds, but you've got some other things to worry about right now. Do you stand your ground or grab some cover?

Fido: Damn! I drop behind this big metal table...

MC: Awesome. It's right there, so you can jump behind it no problem. There's bullets plinging off it, deforming the metal with each hit. You hear Rothchilds' voice over the din "Didn't I warn you? Didn't I tell you not to cross me!"

Fido: Can I figure out where she is in the room? Do I have a shot?

MC: Sounds like you're reading a charged situation...

So, yeah. I don't have a problem with them taking out Rothchilds. If they can get at her. I'd let the fiction be my guide. There's all sorts of things you can do to make it hard to get at Rothschilds and keep it interesting, covering fire, smokescreens, crazy close quarters brawling.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 03:52:16 AM by noclue »
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2013, 08:55:20 PM »
Here's an idea: seeing your badass leader take a bullet between the eyes seems pretty dismaying to me. Impressive and frightening, too. If the PC's hit on their Seize By Force roll, and then select "impress, dismay or frighten your enemy", then the enemy gang leader goes down. Otherwise, she doesn't. This way, you're disclaiming responsibility, like the book says: you didn't decide to have her live, or to kill her off; the dice and the players decided that.

Alternately, if one of the PCs is intent on singling out the leader of the enemy gang, have them Read a Sitch to identify who's in control, and then Act Under Fire to close the distance with them unscathed. If they succeed, they're free to act against the leader individually however they like.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 09:03:17 PM by TheAudientVoid »

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2013, 12:45:49 AM »
Great suggestions Audient.  Widely applicable, and with lots of player choice for how to engage the gang leader.  Thanks!



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Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #12 on: August 01, 2013, 11:31:32 PM »
Minor thing: if I recall correctly, the gang leader rules are that a gang will fight to 3 harm if there's a strong *or* present leader, and to 4 harm if the leader is both. Rothschild is a strong, present leader but BBQ sure sounds like a strong leader. So if the PCs take out Rothschild, the gang will still probably fight to 3 harm.

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2013, 07:20:31 PM »
Thanks Jeremy, very helpful suggestion!  I hadn't thought of BBQ being the gang's real leader, although of course he is.  That definitely helps make gangs tougher. 

So here's what actually happened in play, the gang-fight scene I was preparing for didn't end up happening, but we got two other gang-fight scenes instead.

Scene 1
Doc and Doomspot are haggling at the market, when 10 of BBQ's soldiers show up, armed and armored, led by Norvel (BBQ's plan was for this small gang to keep Doomspot busy while Rothschild's larger gang attacked the brothel, but that never ended up happening).

Norvel:  "You two, BBQ wants to see you.  You're coming with us."

Doc:  "Okay."

Doomspot reads the sitch.  "Who's in charge here?"  "Norvel is."

Doomspot:  "They're a small gang?  I'm a small gang.  I put my pistol to Norvel's head and tell him to fuck off.  I'm going agro."

Norvel takes the harm (3-harm minus Norvel's 2-armor).  He's wounded, but still up, and now the rest of the gang is turning their guns on Doomspot.  Grace and Franky are seeing all of this happen from inside the brothel.  Grace, what are you doing?

Grace goes dangerous and sexy, catching Norvel's eye and keeping him from acting. 

Doomspot seizes by force, doing 5-harm to the gang (minus their 1-armor), and frightening them.  With Norvel distracted by Grace (and BBQ absent), the gang stops fighting at 3-harm.  Doomspot cuts Pellet in half with his assault rifle, and shoots Harrow and Ridley in the back as they're running away.  The surviving gang members are all wounded, the gang is broken, and the fight is over.  Norvel is still staring at dangerous and sexy Grace.

Scene 2
Doc drops his gas can, and runs for the nearest cover, into the brothel.  Doomspot assists him by pushing some guy out of the way, and misses the roll.  "Some guy" turns out to be Lost, one of Ball's gang of juiced-up speed-addicts, just coming out of the brothel. 

Lost:  "This fuckin' guy just shoved me!  No one disrespects Balls' crew on our own turf!"  Balls comes out of the back of the brothel, pulling on his pants and picking up his shotgun.  More of Balls' crew are coming out of the market, pulling out knives, pipes, and crowbars. 

Doomspot:  "They don't have guns?"  "Nope." "How many of them?" "About 10 for now, but you can see another 20 still moving up through the crowd, grabbing their weapons." 

Grace reads the sitch.  "Which of the gang is most dangerous?"  "Balls."  She goes dangerous and sexy again, freezing Balls so he can't act. 

Doomspot:  "I'm shooting Balls"

Cool.  He's helpless while he's staring at Grace, so you can totally shoot him, but he's still in the doorway and, his gang is all around you with crowbars in your face, so you'll be acting under fire. 

Doomspot tries to act under fire.  Franky yells from the brothel to assist him by distracting the gang.  They both miss their rolls.  Lost shoots the gascan Doc dropped at Doomspot's feet.  Doomspot takes 3-harm from right on top of it, Franky takes 2-harm from the doorway, and the gang barricades themselves in the brothel.  The fight is over, Doomspot is left outside, and Balls is following Grace off to one of the bedrooms. 

What I learned:
-The details of the fiction make a huge difference, and the right move often becomes clear because of the details of the fiction.  Sometimes it seemed right to let the PCs just target the gang leader, sometimes it seemed right to make them act under fire.
-My players love to read a stitch to figure out who the leader is. 
-Even though the Gunlugger dominated the battle scene, there was always lots of stuff for the other characters to do, especially because they could assist each other. 
-The Battle Babe is great at taking out gang leaders!

Next time:
BBQ can't just let Doomspot get away with cutting down his soldiers like that.  Now he has a reason to send in Rothschild with a large gang to make a show of force. 

My next question:  The gang-combat rules refer to small, medium, and large gangs, but the Chopper and Hardholder never seem to get access to large gangs.  Did I miss something?  Do Choppers and Hardholders ever get large gangs, or are large gangs only for NPCs?

Re: NPC gang leaders
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2013, 08:49:16 PM »
Hardholders can start out with a large gang (~40 bodies) but anyone can get it if they keep recruiting or cloning or what have you.