Diamond Dogs: Battle and Handouts

For those of you who are still following me, this will be the last (?) post detailing the rules of the game.  First, I go over the skill check system, then I explain battle.  Every Sai-Fi game has different rules for combat, and they’re all better than the system I threw together for this one.  I make no apologies; the game is more about how awesome David Bowie is than fighting.  That being said, I’m pretty content with what I came up with; it’s not particularly original, but it gets the job done and is somewhat thematic.

The second part of this post will go over the handouts that help drive the session: Secrets and Enigmas.  These are stolen unabashedly from Shinobigami and Magikalogia.  The next post concerning Diamond Dogs will detail the scenario that I ran, including the NPCs and their Secrets.

Skill Checks

This game uses 2d6 to determine success or failure during a skill check.  It’s fairly simple: the GM determines the skill in question.  The character checks their sheet: if they have the skill, they need to roll a 5 or higher to succeed.  If they don’t have the skill, they check the skill chart to find the nearest skill, and count the number of boxes inbetween their skill and the skill being checked.  The number they need to hit is equal to 5+ the number of boxes counted.  This is called the target number.  The empty boxes (Gaps) also count, making skills in separate categories more difficult to succeed on.


Battle occurs in two ways: a Scene Player (or the GM during a Master Scene) chooses a Battle Scene for their turn during the Main Phase, and the Climax Phase.  During battle, the forces of Bowie form a Band, a predetermined battle formation, and the enemy does the same.  When this happens, the Bowie Clones perform their powerful Songs, each with its own incredible effect.  While the band wails away, a mysterious energy is emitted from the Bowie Clones that attacks and assaults the enemy.  The Bowie Clones are so powerful that their Songs can be performed even as they jump around and dodge and do awesome stuff like somersaults and drugs.

Battle takes place on an abstracted battlefield consisting of 5 areas: Band Baseline, Band Backup, Frontmen, Enemy Backup, and Enemy Baseline.  They are aligned linearly, thusly: [Band Baseline][Band Backup][Frontmen][Enemy Backup][Enemy Baseline].  Each character chooses an area to start in.  Obviously, the Band may not start off in the Enemy areas, and enemies may not start in the Band areas.  Frontmen for both the Band and the enemies start in the same area.  Characters may target anyone they wish, but when targeting enemies that are not in the same area, they add a +1 to the target number for each area distant.

Initiative is determined at the beginning of battle and persists until the end of battle.  The GM rolls 1d6 to determine a category, then 2d6 to determine a random skill; the Band’s Frontman attempts to succeed on this random skill check.  On a success, the Band acts first.  Initiative order moves from the Frontmen area to the Backup areas, then to the Baseline areas.  This means that if the players win initiative, the Band’s frontmen go first, followed by the enemy frontmen.  Then the Band’s backup, then the enemy’s backup.  Finally, the Band backup is followed by the enemy backup.

On a character’s turn, they may use 1 Attack Song or move to an adjacent area or accumulate 1d6 Crowd.  Characters may use as many Support Songs as they can afford to.  During battle, anytime a Bowie Clone takes damage, they may sacrifice 1 Crowd per HP to negate the damage.  Any characters that lose HP during a Battle Scene (not the Climax Phase) drop out of the scene.


Handouts make scenarios run smoothly and act as objects of the player’s investigations.


As Diamond Dogs is a cooperative game, usually only the NPCs get Secrets.  The GM should take a small slip of paper and fold it in half.  The front ‘cover’ should have the NPC’s name and descriptive details.  The back ‘cover’ should include its Secret.  When the Secret has been uncovered, the slip of paper is unfolded so that both are visible.  Secrets can be anything from “Lady Stardust is a man” to “this character is your mom” to “this character is a rock and roll suicide” to “this character is actually a member of the Spiders of Mars and wants to kill you” to “anyone who uncovers this Secret realizes that this NPC never existed and was simply a figment of your imagination; this realization completely refills the HP and Crowd of the character that uncovered this Secret.”

Enigmas are sort of like environmental Secrets.  An Enigma handout is a folded slip of paper that has a vague description of something going on in the scenario.  A character may choose to uncover the Enigma the same way a Secret is uncovered.  The unfolded portion of an Enigma explains the effect of the Enigma as well as how to nullify it.  Effects of Enigmas are effective even while they are still unknown by the players.  Example Enigma:  “Enigma: Moonage Daydream.  A strange, pungent odor permeates the air. / Effect: Bowie Clones are intoxicated by the narcotic haze and have a -1 penalty to all rolls until nullfied.  To Nullify: A character may make a free skill check against Drugs once per Scene while they are the Scene Player.”

Rules End

I hope this stuff made sense.  These are the basic rules I used to play, improvising when necessary.  The game was a ton of fun, and I’d like to hear about any sessions that are played.  As always, if you have questions or want some clarification, let me know.


~ by mattgsanchez on June 1, 2011.

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