Speed as Scale

One of my favorite things about playing Silver Age Sentinels (a supers game) was that mobility came cheap. It was easy and inexpensive to make a hero who could be anywhere on the battlefield, which made combat feel wonderfully dynamic and fast moving. This pops into my mind as I watch Anime like Naruto and Bleach, where big jumps and disappearing and reappearing are just part of the color of the conflict, and I think about representing that.

I was thinking along those lines when I considered ninja vs. Godzilla fights. The ninja mobility makes it possible for them to fight a much larger opponent because they can zip in and hit, and the creature needs to actively try to hit them. if they were on the ground, at normal speed, the creature would incidentally crush them, but their mobility allows them to make a fight of it.[1]

That got me thinking that maybe the trick is not to represent that kind of mobility as speed, but rather, as scale. The ninja’s speed lets it operate at the same scale as the monster, making ti a fair-ish fight[2].

All well and good, but this lead to another interesting implication – if it’s scale, then it’s more of a passive ongoing effect, and perhaps that is better represented as a zone of control rather than movement per se. That is to say, a ninja (or whatever) has a functional space which they can move freely within. No rules or checks, they can just describe it.

If we were talking in Fate terms, let’s say the smallest version of this is tactical speed – the ninjas zone of control is, effectively, his zone and any adjacent zones. He can engage any enemy in any of those zones, describe himself vanishing and reappearing, jumping and all these things. Many of his adversaries have the same advantage, so a single exchange may take place across several zones.

But importantly, excepting the reach element, he’s not moving, not in the mechanical sense. He’s still anchored to his starting space unless he moves, in which case his zone of control changes.

Notably, this trivializes almost any boundary, but that’s probably apt, given the way that ninja jump, and it moves combat into the arena of overlapping zones rather than discrete ones.

The idea can scale up. A more badass ninja might have a bigger zone of control (however you choose to define it), limited only by the genre.

This is the sort of thing which, if I allowed, I would allow for everyone, especially since this is effectively foundational for a genre.

Anyway, just a wacky idea.

  1. Though whether they can do enough damage to hurt Godzilla is a whole other question.  ↩

  2. Depending on genre, the ninja operating at that scale may get an implicit combat advantage against non-ninja.  ↩

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