From sunup to evening the two picked their way along the looted pile-up, the pantomime of normalcy along this highway intersection. The two travelers even managed to catch a surprise meal when Bob got spooked by a couple of equally frightened rabbits in the underpass.
Bob asks if he should tick off a shotshell from his ammo counter. The GM says, "Nah, it's not really a survival scene so only a cock would have you do that. Besides, if I need you guys to run out of ammo, I can make it happen." Sometimes we should learn to keep our thoughts to ourselves!
While the haul wasn't as big as they would have liked it to be, the parts certainly are more than they had hoped for. Bob insists that Smythe keep the parts, ostensibly because she needs them more than he does. The real reason isn't that Smythe is a looker--she's not, and besides as one of the cowboys who keep everyone alive Bob probably has a couple of hopefuls back home. What's going on is that doing so will prove his goodwill. Or so he hopes.
It also makes up for the fact that they have to move at the speed of their slowest member--in this case the GM states the roads are passable, so it is the pack horse at 12km/h. (On the other hand, if going offroad, it's the trucks: 8km/h assuming flat and open terrain.) For going well below their capable speed, the GM decides the vehicles use only half their usual fuel consumption, same as idling. It's 7 and a half miles an hour, that's practically idling anyway!
The two trucks and two pack animals travel for 4 hours, making it 50 klicks before something noteworthy happens. Bob's hybrid SUV burns 1.9 litres of Gasoline (58.1L left in the tank), while Smythe's technical burns up 4 litres of sweet sweet diesel (leaving 66 litres in the tank).
As the sun slips under the falling western terrain the two travelers slow down to better spot a place to rest for the night. No-one has maintained these roads for a year--who would waste the petrol on mowers or asphalt?--and so the grasses and underbrush to either side have grown tall despite the nuclear-enhanced winters.
Little do they know, the area is already claimed.
The GM is evil (that's redundant) and has set up a little ambush. The leader has a Professional rating in Tactics, and 6 COG. All attackers are Novice in Tactics, so he has no penalties. The 3 dice for Pro rating come up 1, 9, and 20. The attackers' Margin of Success is 5.
Ambushes are Opposed Actions, so at 50m (Tight range band), the GM calls for a Tactics (AWA) check from Smythe, accepting that in searching for a good locale she mostly has a mind to detecting ambushes. Total penalties are -2: -2 for Tight range band, increased to Medium due to Dim light conditions (moonlit, clear sky) but decreased by 1 due to Smythe having the Eagle Eyes advantage. Smythe has an AWA of 7, so her target number is 5. Her dice come up 5 and 15... a marginal success (0 MoS). This does not reduce the attacker's 5 MoS, but still a success so the GM deems she sees the muzzle flare as they open up.
Normally Bob would be considered Lightly Encumbered due to his tactical vest, giving him an Initiative of 12, and Smythe would be Moderately Encumbered due to her vest with plates, so base initiative of 9. Due to being ambushed, Bob and Smythe both have a base initiative of 0.
They still get to make their OODA checks to add to their base initiative. Bob's OODA is 1, and he doesn't roll any ones. Initiative 0, Bob doesn't act this Exchange of Fire.
Smythe, however, is a bit more aware. Her OODA of 5 serves her well: She rolls a pair of fives. Every die that succeeds in addition to the best adds +2 MoS, so despite neither die being able to give even a 1 Margin of Success, she has a 2 MoS. Because they're both successful rolls.
The baddies are Lightly and Moderately encumbered, and none of them make their OODA checks. That still means the Lightly Encumbered ones have an Initiative of 12, the Moderately encumbered ones have an Initiative of 9. Smythe's 2 MoS gives her an Initiative of 2, which isn't much to work with... this Exchange of Fire. D:
Suddenly up ahead, the grassy ditch on the far side of the bend sparks bright red. Smythe has just enough time to shout "Front!" before the rounds start whizzing right towards her truck. They fly past, not even grazing. Are they aiming for Bob's SUV??
Threat tokens are a short-term system of morale in T2k13/Reflex system. Unsurprisingly, they revolve around the Coolness Under Fire (CUF) attribute. It's like if Cyberpunk's Cool attribute got fleshed out some more.
The short version is that anything that would cause significant immediate stress gives you a Threat Level. When you have more Threat Levels than CUF, you start taking penalties. At -5, your character shuts down.
One of the coolest tips in the book, by the way, is the use of Threat Tokens to help players keep track. The two best examples are spent casings and candy. No eating until combat ends or you reduce your TLs! D:
So how does this affect our characters? Let's take a look!
Some threats are basic. For example, combat occurring is always 1 TL. It's just plain stressful. Ding!
Neither of our PCs have been attacked directly, but the enemy is using burst fire. Ding!
Moving along to some tactical considerations, our PCs are being ambushed (Ding!), fighting in darkness (Ding!).
Our PCs can see the enemy, though and what you don't know about can't hurt you--since the ones they can't see haven't attacked or made themselves known in any way, no threat levels from that.
Bob states that Donkey getting ripped up counts as a friendly casualty for him, adding another TL to Bob.
So Smythe has 4 TLs, Bob has 5. Now let's look at what mitigates them. These results temporarily raise your CUF. That's slightly different than lowering TLs, because you may need to make a CUF check... and these things provide a certain boost to confidence under duress.
So far they only benefit from Tango Down: Smythe can say with confidence that she has dealt with the machinegunner. +1 CUF (maximum bonus from this: +3)
Smythe has CUF 7, raised to 8 from that alone. She has taken 4 TLs, so suffers no penalties yet.
Bob on the other hand has a CUF of 3 which, while not terrible, isn't going to do his underpants any favours. Bob has 5 TLs, which is 2 more than his CUF... so all of Bob's actions take a -2 penalty.
On the other point, for roleplaying his character well the GM awards Bob a Survival Point. After all, he didn't have to count Donkey as a pet.
Something else to note: If Bob is attacked (Ding!) with lethal force (Ding!) by someone he can't see (Ding!), he'll be at -5 and no longer able to carry the fight.
Now might be a good time for Bob to dig into his 20kg of "Personal Gear" and decide he had some night-vision goggles!