Mini-Firefights: How to make more interesting?

I’m finding the person-to-person mini-Firefight doesn’t give us enough tactical interest and payoff for the time it takes to execute.

My last mini-firefight we screwed up a little because there’s no Contact roll; dropping that roll would speed things up some. But the fact that all you can do is advance, withdraw or go into the close combat mini-game feels sort of…dull. I’m not sure what one gains by adding advance and withdraw, other than the ability to take up a position and gain some dispo and cover.

Because of the lack of rich tactical interaction like you get with a full Firefight, we’re pretty much just left with trying to advance into someone’s position, or actually beating the shit out of each other with (usually) versus tests.

Probably our dissatisfaction with this level of fighting comes from many years of playing Exalted, which is comprised almost entirely of intricate man-to-man combat.

Maybe what might help is ideas on setting more interesting man-to-man stakes? I understand the “blow the other guy away” thing is implicit in all firefight objectives; in last night’s game, we were both really stuck on coming up with anything more interesting than that because that’s all we wanted out of the fight: I wanted him dead, he wanted me dead, end of story.

I dunno…the Firefight rules rock so hard for large-scale combat. I’m taking suggestions on how to make the mini version more interesting.


I know this doesn’t answer your question, but the first thing that pops into my head is, “Why not resolve it with one roll?!” If you don’t have “something you want” in the conflict, there’s no reason to set stakes. You can resolve the whole thing a tense moment with two Weapons Fire rolls.

Also, there’s nothing that says you can’t do one-on-one full blown Firefights. Those things are SCARY (at least for me!). The Mini FFs are for extended Close Combat engagements. Use the fullblown FF rules when you’re using Assault Weapons and heavier weapons to kill your enemy dead!


I’m not feeling the one-roll resolution when it comes down to two FONs facing off. The stakes are way, way too high for it all to come down to one roll. If I were playing, there’s no way I’d let the GM say “Let’s see if one of us can grease the other with a single roll.”

This is about the only decision in the entire game where one-roll conflict resolution is unacceptable to me. Character ownership, player primacy, authorial control, deprotagonization and all that I guess. As a GM it’s not so bad since I have a cast of 6, but as a player I can’t see the upside of daring the GM to remove me from the game 'til the next phase.

I also get that setting the stakes so high and then resolving it all on a roll might be right for some groups. It’s just not fitting into my head (yet?).

Interesting point on choosing between mini-Firefight and ICHASHITF: I guess I could decide which to use based on the guns we brung, not on what we’re trying to accomplish. I still wish you could choose to flank, suppress, take cover, etc. even if all you brought were a brace of assault rifles and jack lasers.


That’s what I’m saying. You CAN. You can run a regular old Firefight with just my character vs your character.


Okay…when would you recommend the mini-FF rules be used? What are your personal guidelines?


When you don’t have a big gun and you’re in tight confines or when I use my Skanda to Infiltrate and ambush your ass and force you into a conflict.


Okay, so why not use ICHASHITF in that case?

Still deciding how I want to slot the mini-FF between the two ends.


Advance can also do this: “After occupying a position, extra successes may also be spent to degrade enemy disposition at a two-for-one ratio.” (p.483)

Withdraw can give you range superiority, and also “against a versus maneuver, margin of success from a Withdraw reduces the enemy disposition. However, those same successes are also subtracted from the Withdrawing unit’s disposition. If your opponent loses three, you lose three.” (p.493)

If the point of the combat is something other than killing each other, then these maneuvers are very helpful to grind down disposition.

Ah yes…I forgot about the dispo hits you can achieve with advance/withdraw. Good point on that.

Still thinking through the best way to use each kind of firefight,


Ok, how about you think about it like this:

I want to Destroy the base/steal the files/escape/some sort of specific goal other than killing the other side ====> Mini Firefight.

I just wanna kill the guy! =====> The Verses Roll.

I mean hell, when you use a mini firefight and perform a close combat, it boils down to the same thing. Bang - You die, I die, we both die, whoever rolls higher or meets the obstacle.

Jon’s got it. Use the Mini FF for goal oriented stuff involving pistols and swords. Use straight CC for killin’ stuff. Use full FF for scary stuff involving machine guns and lasers.

Sounds like good guidelines. Thanks guys!


Of course, there is always the option of grabbing “Fight!” from BW and porting it to BE… which was what I was considering for conflicts like this. I think it might make the Kerrn way too good, though :slight_smile:

I recall we once used the full Firefight rules for a 1v1 battle involving a Vaylen assassin infiltrating an island fortress of one of the PCs. The Vaylen’s Firefight goal was to get into the Ambassador’s presence to use ‘I Corner Him and Stab Him in the Face’ rules. Security’s goal was to capture the Vaylen. The Vaylen was Observed crossing the security zone between the sea and the residence, started taking well aimed rifle fire from the house, sought refuge in the Pool, and the bushes, and as his diposition began to drop began Withdrawing back to the ocean. I recall making the mistake of scripting Withdraw twice, thinking if the first attempt was unsuccessful then the second one would provide another chance. What I didn’t realize was that the Vaylen couldn’t ‘Withdraw’ into the Ocean position–you have to Advance into Positions–even ones behind you! Ah, well. I think the Vaylen might have escaped in a subsequent round…but now I’m not so sure.
The point is the 1 v 1 Firefight worked really well and was a lot of fun. It was a complex enough terrain and tactical situation that we wanted to use more than a single versus test for the infiltration.