Dresden Files: New York
Blocks are used to keep something from happening
To perform a block,
- Declare what specific type of action the block is intended to prevent
- Roll an appropriate skill.
The total of that roll is called the block strength. During the exchange, any time a character wants to perform the action that’s covered by the block, he must roll against the block and meet or exceed the block strength to be able to perform that action.
If he fails, he cannot perform the action in question.
If he meets or exceeds the block strength, the action resolves normally, with benefits for extra shifts if the roll beats the block strength by a wide margin.
A block has to be specific and clear in two ways:
- who it’s intended to affect,
- what types of action (attack, block, maneuver, move) it’s trying to prevent.
Usually if the block can affect more than one person, it can only prevent one type of action. If the block only affects one person, it can prevent several types of action—up to all of them—as context permits.
You can’t use a block to prevent someone from making a defense roll.
A block action usually lasts until the player who initiated the block takes his next turn. At that point, he must choose whether he wants to take another action or if he wants to maintain the block. There are no special rules for maintaining blocks. Just roll the action again and take the new result as the block strength for the next exchange.
A block must be reasonable to have an effect. You may be able to use rescources to bribe thugs or hired goons into not attacking and considering taking the money, but that not feasible with a mindless or fanatical opponet. Throwing salt might keep a spirit from being able to attack you but mortals will be only slightly annoyed unless you manage to get it in their eyes. Gun shots can easily pin down a mortal and fragile supernatural creatures worried what the bullets might do to them but a tough enough supernatural creature might scoff at being shot. Likewise brandishing an article of faith might keep many supernatural creatures at bay but mortals are likely to not care about your preferred religious beleifs.
Blocks as Defense
Blocks used to prevent attacks do not stack with automatic defense rolls. The player will still make their defense roll and then can use either the block strength or their defense against the attack.
One of the most common applications of the block is to perform a grapple, a close combat action which involves restraining the opponent more than causing damage. Because the main intent of the grapple is to prevent the opponent from doing something, it’s regarded as a block action in the game.
In order to do a grapple, you have to:
- Tag or invoke an appropriate aspect on the target to justify the grapple.
- Roll your Might skill (unless you have a stunt that allows you to use another skill).
The result establishes the block strength of the grapple.
The taged or invoked aspect come from a maneuver to get you into position, a consequence you’ve inflicted, or even an aspect you’ve assessed. As long as it clearly communicates some combat advantage that would allow you to try a grapple, it’s fine.
When you successfully grapple a target, you establish a block against all actions he might take in the exchange. The target is also prohibited from sprinting (page 212) or supplemental movement (page 213) until the grapple is broken. You must reroll every exchange in order to maintain the grapple on your opponent, as per the normal rules for blocks. However, you get some additional options in every subsequent round you’re still holding onto your opponent: if you so choose, you can freely make an unopposed attack, movement, or maneuver on your opponent as a supplemental action, which has a value of 1 shift.
In other words, whenever your turn to roll the grapple comes up again, you can automatically choose to inflict a one-shift hit to the target, drag the target with you one zone, or inflict a maneuver (like Tangled Up), and then you must roll the grapple at –1 (the other action you take is considered supplementary because it doesn’t require a roll).
Finally, you can also release the grapple if you want to roll a standard action instead, like making a full attack, performing a maneuver, or throwing the opponent (basically forced movement, to a maximum of one zone). The target gets a defense roll, as usual.
In this way, an effective grappler can eventually whittle someone down to “taken out” status in a series of subsequent exchanges.
However, the target is not lacking in options when he gets grappled—he can still roll to attempt any action. If the target cannot beat the block strength of the grapple, it’s assumed that the grappler is still holding onto him, giving the grappler his entire set of supplementary options next round. If the target beats the grapple strength, however, the action succeeds. Additionally, if the action is something that could reasonably break the grapple—an attack, a spell, even a threatening look—the grapple is automatically “released.”
The GM might rule that someone who is grappled cannot perform any actions that require a great deal of clearance (such as swinging a sword) or complex articulation (such as lockpicking or spellcasting). She might also rule that some actions aren’t blocked at all by a grapple (such as perception rolls, academic insights, and so on). The group should talk about its expectations here before engaging the grapple rules.