Sinless combat is so cool!
I remember, once, during a game of 4e Dungeons and Dragons, I had enough time between rounds to calculate every one's average basic attack damage (since all our encounter/utility cards were burned) and determine with statistical accuracy that we had 14 more rounds to go until we killed the boss. Sure enough, 14 rounds later, he was dead.
Can we conceptualize how many failures in that experience there are?
Sinless is not like that. Sinless combat is violent and terrifying.
The truth is, the weapons we have today, even toned down for a tabletop role-playing game, are ridiculous. A Vulcan Cannon fires 7200 rounds per minute. That's 120 bullets per second. The main limiting factor in its use is that the ammo weighs so much it can only fire for a few minutes. They were worried about the bullets hitting the ground, so they program them to explode in 4 seconds after a mile.
Full auto is a thing. It is very hard to survive if you are caught in the open, and someone shoots 30 bullets at you. Sinless is not a game about slowly removing opponents' hit points while they retain their full effectiveness. In an extended conflict, the Sinless are sure to lose.
Which is why they don't do that.
They prepare ahead of time and know the location and general power of the opposition. They develop a plan to obviate challenges like Vulcan cannons, accomplish their objective and plan an escape. And five out of six times, things go as planned.
That other time though, they miss something in the dossier, and there's an unexpected threat they didn't prepare for. Do you decide as a referee when this happens? My advice would be no. There are always more threats on a site than it's possible for players to prepare for. Sometimes they don't check for magical critters, and there aren't any magical critters there. That one time, they miss that and have a hydra pop up to cock their run.
I use operations to introduce characters, conflicts, and background information and later use that information to design future runs and create a changing campaign world. I'm designing a run generator and referee tools that allow you to do this with low overhead.
And after every operation, there's always fallout. Maybe someone got snapped by a camera. Maybe someone is seeking revenge.
Combat is about solving problems that you've prepared for. And the design of missions leaves plenty of room for surprises. What about people that are organized and plan well? Well, maybe they are ready to move up to the professional tier of missions. Like all classic play styles, players can choose their level of danger.
It can be a shift from people who are used to encounters designed to be fought and won. A well-run and planned operation isn't one that exposes the players to return fire. That said, characters in Sinless are quite competent and powerful, which means they have the ability to address "surprises" in the run. There's very much a fun dynamic in my playtests where the players are like:
It's a great time. :-)
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