Action-movie combats are about much more than shoot-outs and explosions. Characters trade barbed insults, knock each other about, and try to stare down or frighten their opponents. In Destiny, these kinds of moments are enabled by the use of Combat Interaction skills.
Though Combat Interaction skills can be used outside of combat (see the skill’s description in Chapter 3), they have special utility during combat, utility no other skills can match. In combat, players can choose to use CI skills in one of four basic ways.
1.) Distraction. Each Success Rating achieved when using a CI skill causes a -1 penalty to the target’s actions for the next round. (This is the assumed default for CI Skill Challenges.)
In connection with the Initiative rules, successful distractions can count for Seizing the Initiative, Pressing the Advantage, or Countering a Press.
2.) Temporary Traits. A character who achieves a Spectacular Success (4 SR) can instead choose to apply a temporary Trait to the target, such as “Unnerved” or “Distracted”. (See Character Traits for a description.)
3.) Provoking reactions. If a character achieves a 4 SR, they can choose to provoke a specific reaction defined by the player (instead of Distracting the target or attaching a temporary Trait). “He runs away, towards the edge of the ship’s deck.”
Gamemasters have the final say on whether the described action is reasonable or possible.
4.) Activate a Destiny Deck card. Some Cold Destiny Deck effects require CI use to activate. (See The Destiny Deck.)
Intelligent use of CI skills can change the course of a combat and, though not capable of killing an opponent outright, they can nonetheless be critically important.
Combat Skill Distractions
Combat skills can also be used to distract the enemy, using the same mechanics as Combat Interaction skills. The player rolls a Skill Challenge for the combat skill, and each Success Rating applies a -1 penalty to all actions taken by the target next round.
This can represent suppressive fire (firearms), a feint (melee weapons), or other attempt to hamper the target.
However, combat skills cannot attach a temporary Trait to a target, provoke a reaction, or activate a Destiny Deck card. Only Combat Interaction skills can accomplish those.
Why have CI skills?
1.) Cinematic moments. They encourage players to taunt their enemies, to try and trick them, to intimidate them. These are more interesting than hack and slash, and more cinematic.
Every action-movie fight is broken up with people making fun of each other, trying to scare the other guy (“Do you feel lucky? Well, punk, do ya?”), and so forth. By making them combat-viable options, such actions are encouraged.
2.) Everyone has a weakness. That villain? Temper. Taunt him, and he will freak out and attack. The Vizier? Secretly a coward. Intimidate him, and he will give himself away.
CI’s ensure everyone has a weakness. If you can suss it out.
3.) Encourage non-lethal strategies. Not all combats have to be a fight to the death. CI’s mean non-lethal strategies can work, which can be of great benefit if the goal is to capture the enemy, rather than kill. “Give yourself up, or we’re coming in!” With a high enough intimidation total, he might.
4.) Synergies with physical attacks. But, often enough, non-lethal strategies work best in concert with physical attacks. Trick the bad guy, keep him monologuing, until you’re in position to attack. Then launch a sneak attack, and wipe him out.
5.) Give non physical characters ways to contribute in combat. Super-scientist, but clueless with a gun? Use your intelligence to trick the bad guys into giving themselves away, or look the wrong way, or make some other mistake.
6.) Discourage dump-stats. Charisma (Influence, in my game) is useless, right? Doesn’t do anything for you. Dump all the points and put them into Dexterity or Strength. Only… without Influence, you are easily taunted. Oops. Now you’re the weak link.
Those are the game design reasons. But all these skills have real-world application as well. Tricks are a constant in war (such as Patton’s fake army). Intimidation is a potent tactic — take the Rebel Yell, the Stuka’s siren, or Mongol ferocity.
Combat Interaction skills encourage cinematic moments and allow players to engage in tactics other than hack and slash. Both of those make Destiny a better action-movie RPG.