Instincts: brain-frying vs. face-stabbing vs. bodyguarding

Following a rather messy mini-Firefight in our last session, my group had some questions about Instincts and the order they should apply in when the Instincts themselves come into conflict with each other. Our hypothetical situation is thus:

Agent Vespa has an instinct “If a Bright Mark flares, so does my weapon.” If a psychologist uses his powers near Vespa, Vespa gets a Close Combat roll ala ICHASHITF.

Reno Kesh is an evil psychologist with the instinct, “If attacked, fry their brains.” As mentioned in the rules, this allows for a Psychic Duel regardless of the outcome of a ICHASHITF.

Reno’s bodyguard, ‘Bushi’ has an instict “If Kesh is attacked, respond with brutal, overwhelming force.” This allows Bushi to roll his Close Combat in lieu of Reno (or possibly help Reno) in a ICHASHITF.

What happens when Agent Vespa corners Reno and attemps to make with the stabbing? I -think- that either:

  1. Vespa and Bushi roll Close Combat. Assuming Vespa isn’t killed, he’s locked in a Psychic Duel with Reno? Bushi’s instinct basically removes Reno as a valid target for Vespa’s attack.
  2. Vespa and Reno (with Help from Bushi) roll Close Combat. Assuming Vespa isn’t killed, he then Psychic Duels Reno (even if Reno died from the ICASHITF).

What happens when Reno tries to mind-rape Vespa? Does it work like “fry their brains” in reverse? Vespa gets a ICHASHITF regardless of Reno’s Psychic Duel outcome?

It seems to me that these Instincts in concert don’t really protect the people in question, they just ensure you get some payback as the blade sinks in. Is that correct?

I need a brave soul to step up and take a shot at this one. Come on, don’t be shy.


Toughie. Could you negotiate the outcome in your stakes and treat all three instincts as effectively simultaneous? If it’s all ICHASHITF then it’s a single simultaneous roll anyway.

If it were my game, I’d probably have the bodyguard throw helping dice at the psychic during the ICHASHITF and keep him the focalpoint of the attack.

Finally, I’d probably rule that the rolls happen in the order in which the stuff is triggered. The whole sequence starts with Vespa, right? So I’d do his ICHASHITF vs. Reno (plus Bushi’s help dice), setting stakes along the lines of “If Vespa wins, he incapacitates Reno before he can start a psychic duel (but Bushi has the option to initiate his own ICHASHITF); if Reno wins, he incapacitates Vespa, starts a psychic duel, and Bushi has the option to hit Vespa while he’s down.”


I’d probably rule that the rolls happen in the order in which the stuff is triggered.

The problem I had here stems from the rules, actually -

The bolded part there is my emphasis, and I missed that in my earlier read-through. I think you’re right that it should be based on who’s instigating the conflict, Paul.

  1. If Vespa tries to ICHASHITF Reno, then it’s Reno’s Instinct that’s triggered here. Per the rules, we have a Psychic Duel FIRST, and said Duel could negate the need for a Close Combat test. Bushi’s Instinct could then allow him to initiate his own ICHASHITF vs. Vespa immediately afterwards, or, if Vespa was not sufficiently deterred by the Psychic Duel, allow Bushi to give helping dice to Reno during Vespa’s original stated attack. I agree that having the bodyguard help his charge rather than shifting the focus is a better idea.

  2. If Reno tries to mindfuck Vespa first, it’s Vespa’s Instinct that triggers. He’d get a ICHASHITF vs. Reno that could kill Reno before the Psychic Duel commences, but Reno’s Close Combat test would be assisted by Bushi as per the bodyguard’s Instinct. If Reno’s not taken out, then we proceed with the Psychic Duel.

It was the text that described what happens when a dude tries to face-stab a psychologist when Instincts are not involved that confused me.


My reading of the timing, based on that paragraph, is:

  1. Initiate the attack and make the roll. Don’t resolve the outcome yet.

  2. If the psychic wins the ICHASHITF or if he has an appropriate instinct, initiate the psychic duel. Resolve the psychic duel.

  3. Resolve the ICHASHITF roll.

BIG FAT EDIT: Sorry, didn’t read all the way through. It does read like the Instinct supercedes the ICHASHITF! Sweet! This is one of the few times it sounds like an Instinct will actually get you out of trouble.


Now we’ve flip-flopped our interpretations! :slight_smile: You’re where I was when I originally read that paragraph.

I currently interpret that last sentence to mean that a psychologist with the appropriate Instinct can preempt and interrupt a ICHASHITF with a Psychic Duel - no Close Combat roll, do not collect $200.

EDIT: Based on your edit, it looks like we ARE on the same page now. Cool beans.


LOL! That’s exactly where my interpretation is as well. We’re in agreement. Move along, nothing to see here.

(I’m glad the bodyguard-adding-helping-dice interpretation works for you – it’s going to come up in my game tomorrow night, I’m sure of it, so it was nice to think it through first).


On a slightly related topic, I think the bodyguard only applies helping dice if he and Reno were to choose the same Close Combat action in the ICHASHITF (much like any typical Close Combat exchange - duplicate actions help each other, but different actions are resolved separately). If Vespa chooses Hand to Hand and Reno chooses Hand to Hand, but Bushi chooses Weapons Fire, then (Psychic Duels notwithstanding) Reno and Vespa roll a versus test while Bushi rolls an independent test. If Reno and Bushi were to both pick Weapons Fire vs. Vespa’s Hand to Hand, Reno or Bushi would apply helping dice to the other, but only one Weapons Fire roll would be made.