[RSBMats] AAR: A New Challenger Appears II !

More action, less ... no, actually, more
violence, too!
When last we spoke, A'yero the Snake had just strutted out into the southeast region, looking for fame, fortune, babes, and a good thick neck to introduce to some hard krav maga lovin'. This is the kind of thing we show up for, the kind of thing that gets audiences on their feet, so there's no reason to hold back at this point.

So let's pry the book back open, get the pages flippin', and find out what's the what with this.

Page 9 is where we left off and where we pick up.

First up is figuring out if we're fighting solo or same side against the game, or head-to-head against another sentient human. Since no sane sentient human has burst into my house, demanding to play Red Streets, Blue Mats, I think it's safe to say I'll be cranking this one solo.

Sigh. Not the first time.

Yeah, go ahead, make that joke.

Likewise, I might take a shot at a campaign later but for now let's set up for a one off fight. We're still checking out this business, after all. Our fight'll be against a Grunt or an NPMA (Non-Player Martial Artist). to be determined.

We're fighting a one off, so I can just pick the Locale the fight happens at. Much like the original Red Sand, Blue Sky (hardcore Roman gladiatorial combat, kids), in a campaign game you'd start in a Fringe locale and fight your way up to the big leagues. Page 23 has the Locales available and I give them a quick scan before deciding on what kind of crazy is about to happen. A'yero has just started, wandering the Earth like David Carridine looking for a good time, so I know I want him to start in a Street Octagon behind a dirty, grungy bar where bare-knuckles fights are a good way to earn a few bucks and maybe impress a few lot lizards. That means we're talking a Fringe Locale. And in this case, I think it's going to be a dirty, dusty back lot octagon which is really more a circle of jeering back-woods sumbitches behind an off-highway truck stop on the backside of I-40 on the south side of Memphis, Tennessee.

Glancing down 23, I see that my opponent will have a chance to have lowered Attributes for being out here in the sticks. You don't find the best fighters out here, but that's par for the course.

Now we need to figure out the number of matches in this craphole. In the campaign, you can fight as many times as you like provided you make your Recovery Test between matches. Since this is the equivalent of the pre-credits fight scene in a cheesy 80's action series, we'll just have time for the one fight before the theme song kicks in. (Note: This is extremely NSFW. I'm not jokin' with you, bro. But neither is this series. Must be a Cinemax original.)

I can see that the Recovery Test hinges on a Strength check, which means poor A'yero isn't exactly going to be known for his stamina in the ring. Possibly not even outside of it. Some things you just have to make up with technique. This might be a real problem as we go on, but that is the promise of the unpredictability of life.

You can also refuse a match, if you've had your ass handed to you. Not important here, but good to have in your back-pocket. This is a terrible idea if you're uninjured, though, since there's a chance your Attributes will drop. It's no use being a wuss in the octagon.

I'm a slacker, but not so much that I'm not even going to provide an octagon to fight in. Like so!
The Octagon!
Only bluer and a lot more orderly.

(Actually, this is just the octagon included in the back of the RSBMats book itself. There are also character tokens, as you'll see shortly. If you're looking to make your own character tokens, there is a great tool online called TokenTool. It's absolutely fantastic and runs on pretty much everything because it's written in Java. If you think you might use online tools to run games, you owe it to yourself to use a great toolset. Also, if you want great pictures to use for hardcore badasses in modern setting, trawl the criminal law and arrest booking sites.)

So we have an excellent setup here. Let's really set the scene:
It's an ugly crowd out behind the Pilot. It's not the usual place these boys get together, that'd be the Double-J and its shitty buffet. But tonight they had the random ritual shooing of the lot lizards, which was fine with him, because the business A'yero was looking for is a lot harder than finding a woman to bed. He sees Brad, the absurdly blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy A'yero's seen before seemingly accidentally putting together the matches. 
Brad throws a big, sweaty arm over A'yero's shoulder, dragging him half around back toward the nearby motel's pool, muttering, "We'll get you good and hooked up, esse. If you're in. You in, boy?" Brad's face looks like it drove deliveries over ice roads long before the rest of his body caught up and that body just slowed his face down. A'yero believed a man like that would find him a good fight, so just nodded and clenched a fist; a hard slap on the back and Brad staggered off to make the next hookup. Names didn't matter out here. Thirty guys, barely ten chicks, and some lines scratched in the sand on top of remnant mud was the octagon. Big guys stood along the edge ready to give you a shove back in and maybe a clout to the noggin' if you were too boring.
A'yero didn't care. Any excuse to get out and away from his father's fists.Don't find too many ex-Mossad-types living in cheap single-wides and drinking unemployment, but that was his dad. 
He'd heard there was fights, fights where you could get the living shit kicked out of you but maybe find a guy whom you could show the back side of your fist to, then follow up with a couple more interesting introductions.
Yeah, that's the stuff.

Now it's on. We have the place, we have the how, we have the motivation. Now we need the flesh.

Page 11 has us drawing our opponent. Remember, no matter how this turns out there's a chance the poor sod's Attributes'll get cut thanks to being out in the Fringes. Them's the breaks.

First we figure out what Region we're in (North America, obviously, in this case), and we roll 1d6 and check the Match table to see where the other guy's from. I'm using's die roller because I'm too lazy to go grab my physical dice from the next room.
Cool, a 4. We're out on the Fringe (for the US, anyway), so that means the other dude's a local. Makes perfect sense, truthfully. Guy doesn't even have a name, he's such an extra. He's The Other Guy.
(An aside, if I might be allowed. The Regions defined in RSBMats are all really, really big areas. North America. The Middle East. Asia. This can actually be a bit of a problem since the Region is directly linked to how "good" fighters in that Region are and what quality the octagons are. Very technically, the way I'm doing it here with the backside of TN being Fringe is wrong; North America is considered a Prime tier which means the best opponents and the best rings. Since all new fighters start in Fringe areas in the campaign, by the text of the rules you couldn't pull a Rocky, start in West Philadelphia, born and raised, and fight your way up to Apollo Creed. Basically, the entire UFC in MMA couldn't actually happen. I find that kind of a bug, myself; your mileage may vary. My gut says burning a few more pages on sub-Regions within each larger Region that could allow some intra-national development might be a good move. I'm kind of tempted to work on some of that myself, but for the moment, I'll just work through narrative.)
Guy's a local, so we look over at p50, to see what kind of dude he is. Well, the text says page 50. Actually looking at it? It's p51.

First up, what's the NPMA table to test on. 1d gets us ... another 4. That's table 2. 1d on table 2 gives us ... 5. That points us off to the pre-generated fighter Boris. Hmmm, Boris, Boris ... Holy crap, Boris is a monster.

Sambo Grappler, Heavyweight, with Attributes of Sa 6/St 6/Sp 6, Rating 6, and Signatures of Hard as Nails, Resolute, Strong Willed (3 more Bonus Dice than normal?!), and Guile (for another -1 success on A'yero's Maneuver table). This looks terrible. How are you supposed to look badass at the beginning of your own series when The Other Guy is this?

Time to create him a sheet, though, just to track stuff. (Interestingly, I find another bug while transferring Boris. His text says he has a Rating of 6. The sheet says to calculate the Rating by adding, dividing, and then rounding to the nearest whole number. But Boris comes to a 5.4. Nearest whole number is 4. I believe the intent was to round up to the nearest whole number. Actually, it's worse than that; it was 5.4 before I put in the 24 points in Signatures. 18 x 3 = 54, plus Signatures of 24 points gives 78, divided by 10 gives ... 7.8. Holy Jesus. How that is supposed to be a Rating of 6 eludes me. At least he doesn't have any Bonus Dice ... yet.

Oh, wait, p7: Get Bonus Dice equal to your total Attributes. So ... 18. This might be a different beginning than I expected. Would have been nice to have that mentioned in the NPMA chargen, though. Also, it says NPMAs will have their Fighting Style and Region. That's true for Region, but there's absolutely no mechanics for that under Fighting Style.)

So, the Other Guy is a big-ass, hulking, grab-your-ass wrestler with fists the size of sledgehammers and two weight classes bigger than A'yero so TOG gets +1d6 on the Attack Table every time.

How could this possibly go wrong?

It's time for page 14, Entering the Octagon! Now, what you didn't see was me fiddling around in Adobe Illustrator so that I can actually present a turn-by-turn piece with all kinds of visuals. So there's that.

Opposing Martial Artists come into the octagon from opposite sides, naturally enough. They head right at each other. When they both reach the Center, the Ref yells, "Fight!" and two dudes try to beat thirty shades of shit out of each other. It's very exciting. This is what the start looks like!

Round 0
You'll notice there's a little zebra-striped token in there. That's the Ref, who makes an easy marker for whose turn it is at any given point.

And now, the part of the show you really came for, the betting. Yes, RSBMats covers placing bets on your own fighters -- or against them. But you'd never, ever try to convince one of your own to take a dive so you can collect on the odds, right? Right? Never. Since A'yero barely has a dollar to his name, we'll front him the minimum bet of 10 which, like a boss, he puts on himself. His Rating is 6. The Other Guy's Rating is 8 (after correcting for bad math). That's a Spread of 2, so if A'yero wins, he'll walk away with bruises, bleeding, and 12 fat dollars in his pocket to buy a couple Band-Aids and a burger. If he loses, well ... It's a bad night all around.

Time to get our knuckles on! But first, a little inspiration!

Whew. You can't have a fight scene without something to keep the audience hooked.

Page 15 is where the meat of how to throw bits of yourself at someone else with the intent of hurting them comes in and where our combat turns into something a whole lot more complicated.

Round One, Fight!

We have three phases per turn: Movement, Maneuver, and Attack. Both A'yero and TOG start in the Center of the octagon facing one another and we roll to see who moves first.

A'yero: 4, TOG: 3. Oh, thank Hell, A'yero will get to go first and might have a chance to get action in early.

No one has any Signatures or Circumstances that would affect the Movement check, so we're still solid!

A'yero's in the middle of the ring with TOG. He could back away or shift left or right, but can't move to TOG's rear. But he doesn't want to do that, because he came to this god-forsaken hell-hole for a fight, by God, and he'll have one. Time to move on to the Maneuver phase.

A'yero has a Savvy of 5, so starts with 5d6 in his Maneuver pool. It drops to 4d6 because of his Slow Signature. TOG has a Savvy of 6 (good grief), and doesn't have any pool modifiers. We go to the dice.

A'yero: 2, 1, 1, 5. TOG: 1, 1, 5, 5, 6, 6.

We're looking for 1s, 2s, and 3s here, thank Hades. A'yero has 3 successes, TOG has only 2! Each of them has a Signature that kills one of their opponent's successes, so that's A'yero with 2, TOG with 1.

A'yero has 1 success more than TOG, and by the Maneuver Resolution QRS (Quick Reference Sheet), that means he becomes the Attacker and attacks head on. I'm not sure how smart that is, but sure ... We'll allow it.

(Note that we haven't used any Bonus Dice yet. We certainly could have, according to the rules on p3-4, but there's no actual mention of doing so as a reminder in the text on resolution processes. That seems a bit of an oversight to me since the tables refer to when NPMAs use theirs.)

Now we move on to the Attack phase. Since A'yero has Vicious and amazingly won the Maneuver phase, he has a +2 in Attack. I fear he's going to need it.

Again, we kick everyone 1d6 for their Attack pools for every point of Savvy they have, so 5+2=7 for A'yero and 6 for TOG. Pool rolls same as above, looking for 1s, 2s, and 3s.

A'yero: 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6. TOG: 1, 2, 4, 5, 5, 6.

A'yero has 3 successes, TOG gets 2. Because of his Signature Resolute, he would never count as having less than 1 success on Attack, but it doesn't add any.

Ah, bugger. TOG is 2 weight classes higher than A'yero. He gets another die in Attack. 2. That gives him 3 successes.

Hmmm, and page 7 has the rules which explain when NPMAs roll Bonus Dice. This could get kind of ugly. I think we'll hold off on using Bonus Dice at all until next round, on either side ... which could just be ugly for A'yero at this point. C'est la vie!

Attack Resolution is equal successes and A'yero is the Attacker, so both sides stay right where they are in the Center.Unfortunately for A'yero, that's a no damage result, so while he gets off a series of staggering punches to TOG's gut, the big lug no-sells it and gets ready to have his own fun.

Ah, crap. It's TOG's turn. Same set up as before, face to face in the middle of the ring. He has no reason to move out and every advantage, and the bastard knows it, too.
(Aside: The Turn Sequence rules on p16 are particularly badly written. It's stated emphatically that turns are not simultaneous and that each fighter takes a complete turn before the next. Movement, Maneuver, and Attack. All well and good. Except that the first step of Movement phase is everyone rolling 1d6 modified by Signatures and Circumstances, which sets movement order. Which implies that everyone can and does move in the Movement phase, which is a direct contravention of what the Turn Sequence first paragraph states. Frankly, that part of the Turn Sequence text makes no sense at all, and if you remove it and assume that actions within a phase are not simultaneous but ordered by the Movement test results, it makes somewhat more sense. In fact, a close reading of the actual example on p16 under Flow of the Turn suggests something in particular:
    • Turn starts for everyone. Everyone does a Movement phase / Movement Order test. This sets sequence for the rest of the turn.
    • First fighter in Movement Order decides whether to:
      • Move out of the current zone and if so, to where
      • If in an unoccupied zone,
        • Make a Flying Attack at another fighter in an adjacent zone.
        • Catch Your Breath (for Bonus Dice)
        • Play to the Crowd (for Bonus Dice if they have the Charismatic Signature)
      • Stay in an occupied zone and:
        • Go to the Maneuver Table (and thus invoke Maneuver Phase)
        • Go to Try for the Lockup Table, which has it's own sequence but effectively ends by someone being 
          • Knocked Down, 
          • Locked Up in a hold , 
          • or directed straight to the Maneuver Table (and theoretically invoking Maneuver Phase)
        • If the opponent is Locked Up, go to the Submission Table, which goes to the Escape From Submission Table, which ends in either:
          • Tapping out and game over,
          • Losing 1 Location Point in the targeted Location, then Going to Escape from Lockup on the Attack Resolution Table (which is odd, because no one entered it from there)

That leaves out a couple of possible Special Attacks like Choke Hold, but is essentially complete. The short version is that there's no way the Movement Phase can be immediately followed by Maneuver, Attack, then back to Movement for the next fighter involved. Movement must be ordered but singular or there's no point to picking that order in the first place; it'll just change every time a new fighter activates. In fact, the text of the Phase itself says as much, with, "Movement is from highest to lowest score with ties being re-rolled..")

So, right, The Other Guy ...

He's an NPMA, so we need to actually ask the NPMA Movement -- Grappler Table what this dude is up to. Remember, we're skipping Bonus Dice this round, so no complications there. We're rolling 1d6 versus the current Savvy (which is 6). 2. An easy pass 1, starting in an occupied zone, so we go to Try for Lock Up by TOG.

This looks ... bad.

At least it's Savvy-based. TOG has his base pool of 6, +1d6 for being a Grappler, for a total of 7. A'yero has a Savvy of 5 ... with no particular bonii. Oh, my.

TOG: 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 6. 4 successes. A'yero: 1, 2, 3, 3, 5. 4 successes. It's a squeaker!

Both sides get +6 successes for their Speeds. And thank Hell for it, or A'yero might be toast. We've got equal successes on both sides, and The Other Guy is stuck, trying to find an opening to go for an arm-bar on the tiny, elusive A'yero. TOG makes a Savvy check to stay on his feet and narrowly makes it; A'yero is just short of a chance to get the guy on the ground and pound him.

Not today.

And that's the end of the first cycle. Both men have gone for some serious attacks but haven't truly exerted themselves as yet. The Other Guy looms over A'yero, but the cocky little dude is holding his ground and even has a little grin. In the next exchange, we'll bust out the Bonus Dice and see what kind of crazy starts happening then. I expect blood to flow.
(Aside: Another problem with the text not matching what the text says elsewhere. Page 18, in the Multiple MMA Attacks block, we have the black belt Chan moving into the same zone as Master Lee, going to a Maneuver Table check, and both scoring the same successes, "so both remain in the same movement zone." But that's not what the Maneuver Resolution table actually says, which is, "The active player cannot find an opening to attack and returns to the Movement Zone it previously left.")
Next thrilling episode! A'yero busts out some hardcore moves and The Other Guy screams in anger! Quick flashes of A'yero's troubled childhood drive him into a killing frenzy! But will it be enough? Can it be enough? Tune in next time, and find out!
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