Extra Effort in Combat

The GM may regard Extra Effort in Combat (p. B357) as a natural fit to a cinematic Martial Arts game. And it is! The decision as to who may use those rules will influence the campaign's overall flavor, though.

If only individuals with Trained by a Master or Weapon Master can employ extra effort, and if the PCs have those advantages while "cannon fodder" NPCs do not, then combat will move quickly. The masters can spend FP to buy a decisive edge over their adversaries and defeat several times their number. This suits games in the action-movie spirit: the heroes emerge from battle tired but victorious after defeating vast hordes of inferior foes!

If both sides have special advantages and can use extra effort, then battles may last a long time. Skill being equal, if one side uses extra effort, then the other must do the same to compete . . . and a Feverish Defense standoff between expert fighters results in few fight-stopping hits. This is in keeping with showdowns between masters in martial-arts fiction. While fine for dramatic finales, it's a little boring as standard fare.

If anyone - even the man on the street - can draw on extra effort, then masters may conserve their energy. They can make multiple accurate attacks without extra effort, and have abilities that enhance defense and damage. They'll force mundane foes to use extra effort to keep up, thereby wearing down their enemies to the point where they're easy prey. This supports the myth that true masters make fighting look effortless. It's also a fair way to prevent PCs with special advantages from outclassing those without, keeping combat fun and interesting for everyone.

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