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Removing Core Equipment

I ran into an interesting problem in my first John Carter game. Normally I can just hand over momentum to somehow make a piece of core equipment unavailable. What about typical momentum/threat spends like a disarm or a player rolling multiple complications? Do you also hand over the momentum?

The first time it came up I’d spent momentum to disarm a PC. I just ruled that they didn’t get momentum because it was just a disarm that left the PC’s sword within reach so it wasn’t removed from the scene.

The second time that it came up a player had rolled 2 complications and I used those 2 complications to say that an impact from the PC getting backhanded by a white ape and sent flying through the air had cracked the shell of a bullet and when they fired it exploded exiting the barrel, mangling the barrel of the PC’s rifle. I did give the momentum because it would have felt like I was being a jerk if I just handed over momentum to do that and not spent the threat since that would have meant wrecking the PC’s item and the threat pool increasing by 4.

Hullo, Werlynn,

Interesting question…

When it comes down to it, when a character is disarmed, even when dealing with a Core Equipment weapon (such as a sword or whatever), no Momentum should be handed over. In the case of a disarm, the core equipment weapon in question is not lost at all… it’s within arm’s reach or whatever. The sword doesn’t need to be replaced, per se, it’s still there to be claimed back after the combat is over or even perhaps during the fight scene. Now, if the villain of the piece or some other NPC decides to steal or take the sword from the battlefield, then yes, the character should get the Momentum.

In the second case, that’s different. First, quick question: when the bullet exploded, did the character take damage as well?

Anyway, by their nature, Complications aren’t meant to hurt the character or cause damage to them, though I suppose that a mean Narrator might do so. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: And I’m assuming that the character struck by the GWA was also injured from the blow even before the Complication? That said, in this case, the player should have received the Momentum, since unless there’s another radium rfile around, they’re not going to be able to easily re-acquire one of those weapons in the scene, let alone when the scene was over. A 2 Momentum gain for the player character might appropriate there.

We’ll see what others have to say on the subject. :slight_smile:



No I didn’t hurt the player too. I’d have been a jerk to throw damage on top of taking away their weapon to encourage the player to go hand to hand with the ape to take heat off his friend in melee. It was just Loony Toons style exploded gun barrel.

I didn’t give momentum the first time but I did give it the second time in addition to using the complications.

Also: one of the example complications is literally hurting the character: they twist their ankle or something while walking across the desert IIRC. :thinking:

Kaor, Werlynn,

While I understand where you went with the fight with the White Ape, all I will say is that I would have handled that differently. Especially since going mano-a-ape would have definitely involved Might and the White Ape’s strength is prodigious. :slight_smile:

Oh, and yes, the Complication example on page 48 has the hurting of the ankle, causing him to walk more tenderly , with a nagging ache and a bit of a limp , but it does specifically state that it does not do any damage.


Right. I didn’t damage anyone with that complication.

The ape’s tremendous might was quite a problem. “It defends by being gigantic and tremendously tough and not otherwise caring about your tiny sword.”

The player rolled two 20s. I wanted to do something worthy of 4 threat without the visual of me putting 4 threat into the threat pool that they were already throwing lots of threat into and seeing lots of threat be spent from.

Hullo, Werlynn,

Suffice to say, I use the Optional Rule on Radium Bullet Are Explosive from page 74.

I will say that if you wanted to remove the character’s radium rifle, there were other ways to do it. But it’s all about the heat of the moment, isn’t it? :wink:

Out of curiosity, what was the player trying to do when he rolled the 2 d20s? And how many d20s was he rolling at the time?


He was shooting the rifle. I don’t remember how many dice but it was a few and the roll also failed.

He’d just run up to try and jump up and stab the ape but been defended against and counterattacked. I spent momentum from the counter to knock him away instead of deal more damage. When he rolled the complications shooting the cracked bullet was a narratively plausible event. I described it completely so he knew it was a result of what had just happened.

I wouldn’t have done anything random and I have extremely strong feelings about critical failures that come from failures of the character’s skill in games where competence is supposed to be high. I won’t use critical failures to make PCs look like fools. I’ve called out GMs mid game for it.

I don’t have any problem with how I choose to use the 2 complications. It was just a question of how it interacts with the core equipment mechanic.

Hullo, Werlynn,

Don’t really have much to add here to this bit. Just a couple of things I want to say.

First off, I don’t think that you handled the situation wrongly at all, and if I come across that way, I apologize.

Insofar as Complications go, and what the purpose of a Complication is (as defined on page 48 of the Core Rulebook), discussed in context of the Core Equipment rules, there is a difference between destroying a weapon and making it unavailable due to lack of ammo or being tossed several ads away from the character. Nothing more to add to that bit.

The other thing to bear in mind here, and I don’t know the Conan system that well (and don’t remember seeing them in STA), is that John Carter doesn’t have an critical success or critical failure stuff. That’s not what Complications are, as I understand them. And if I’m wrong, I’d appreciate someone straightening me out on this matter.

It’s also worth remembering and noting in the system that even a roll with Complications attached can be successful if the player still manages to roll enough successes, in addition to the Complication. And there is also the Success at Cost rule as well to keep in mind when the dice aren’t going the players’ way.


I’m aware of what complications are for. I wasn’t asking about how they work. The question was about whether I should have just handed over the momentum to do remove the core equipment and done something else with the threat since it specifically says you just have to pay the momentum.

All I did was use critical failure as a short hand for failure and multiple complications rolled. Multiple complications on top of failure winds up looking exactly like what other systems do when you critically fail—a failure with additional complications. Success with a whole bunch of momentum looks just like a critical success of you spend all the momentum on that result.

Hullo, Werlynn,

I guess in some ways what I was wondering during this whole discussion about the game sitch in question is why you didn’t give them Momentum to remove the Core Equipment, given that as you had said, they were struggling to get Momentum generated most of the game.

All I can add here is that the term “critical failure” is a misnomer here, at least to me. From my experience with critical failures in other game systems, when a character critically fails at a task, whether in combat or outside of it, something really BAD happens. That’s not what Complications in John Carter seem to be in my interpretation of them or how they feel to me in the game.


I specifically made a point of saying I did give the momentum.

Tomayto tomahto

Hullo, Werlynn,

I got nothing else to add here.