Inferno playtests: No combat, no problem

I’ve now run four sessions of Inferno. Two run throughs of what will hopefully become the quickstart scenario, and two in a campaign. In total that’s about twelve hours of playing time. I’d guess we’ve spent no more than an hour resolving combats of any kind.

That’s not been deliberate. In the quickstart scenario two of the pregens are quite capable of handling themselves and there are opportunities for fights. And in last night’s campaign session the party decided to make up for finding themselves outmatched a week earlier by equipping themselves with revolvers before setting out to confront a criminal gang. It’s just that other ways of solving problems and confronting challenges turned out to be more exciting.

We’ve raced carriages across the countryside, pulled off oceans eleven style heists, fought and won elections, snuck into secret lairs, leapt from sky palaces onto both the top of Big Ben and the Crystal Tower, danced at balls and much much more. At no point have I felt, as GM that what the game needed right now was half a dozen ruffians to accost the heroes to provide some ‘action’.

This is good news. Of the twelve houses in Inferno (sort of character classes) only two are really combat facing by nature, and they don’t have to be. The members of House Aries might be swashbucklers, spies or the like, but they might also be consulting detectives or (it turns out) heroic doctors. House Leo is the house for generals, and while they may well be able to look after themselves they’re at their best ordering their troops into battle.

And just as House Aries and House Leo have a predisposition to combat but don’t have to go that way, there’s no reason other houses couldn’t. Magicians and engineers can find plenty of ways to be destructive, and there’s no reason a member of one of the political houses couldn’t wield a deadly blade (probably poisoned).

So while I’ll want to give the rules for fights a good run out at some point, I’m not too worried about this at all. If Inferno is an RPG that helps GMs and players break out of the trope of a fight at the start, a fight in the middle, and a big fight at the end, I’ll be delighted.

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