What are the canonical cinematic fights?
1. Mano a Mano (duel, brawl, or tournament) in this two characters usually evenly matched fight it out for a bit, in the end one walks away the victor the other is down for the count, dying or dead.
2. The Fray (gun fight at the ok corral, mayhem) Lots of people are fighting, bullets are blazing it is chaotic, and hard to follow. Usually multiple people or monsters on both sides.
3. Sniping (assassination, sneak attack) One person attacks another, usually unaware.
$. Dungeoneering. A group fights their way through one foe(s) after another, marshaling resource, applying healing, and managing ammunition.
I am going to ignore $ at the outset. Not something I am interested in simulating in this game.
3. This seems to me more a matter of planning than of randomness. I propose to simple let these succeed in the cases where it is appropriate, perhaps with a minimum of randomness thrown in when the planning is missing.
1. My card draw system. Each opponent draws a card from the same deck.
a. If the cards are the same suit, the higher card wins the fight quickly and effectively. There is a slightly less than 1/8 chance a particular person will win this way. A 1/4 chance someone will. This might be depressing to someone who invested a lot into the fight.
b. If the cards are the same color, the winner gain an advantage. They draw again, but the person with the advantage draws two cards. This increases the odds of winning dramatically.
c. If the cared are different color, the winner gets an opportunity to change something about the scene. For example they could move the fight onto a precarious surface, or outside, or hit the lights so it was dark. This might effect the fight in beneficial ways.
Characters can also do things to gain an advantage or throw the opponent at a disadvantage. When you have the advantage you get to draw two cards.
A typical fight, with no one at the advantage, using this system seems to run about 3 draws, with some being finished in 1, others going 5 or 6 even as much a 13.
With an advantage it would go even quicker.
Will this add enough tension and suspense to the game?
2. The Fray.
The card system might become too complicated for a gun fight or fray type situation.
Suggestion using cards.
Each PC draws a card, GM draws twice. High gets to succeed at an action using that cards theme (Heart = Emotion, Spade = Background, Diamond = Mental, Club = Physical). Ties both get to succeed.
Serenity crew versus Niska's gang of five.
Round 1. Draw
MalKS Zoe4C Jayne3S Simon8D Kaylee10D River9C Wash2D GM Kd 3H
Mal and the GM both succeed.
Mal shoots can takes out one of the Gang.
One of Niska's goons hits Jayne sending him to the floor.
Round 2. Draw
MalJH Zoe4S Jayne7H SimonKD Kaylee10D River9C Wash10C GM 4D 5H
Simon wins. He pulls River out of the line of fire.
Round 3. Draw
Mal10H Zoe9H Jayne9D Wash10S KayleeQC GM 2C 3C
Kaylee wins, she shuts the airlock door cutting off two baddies.
Round 4. Draw
Mal7S Zoe8D KayleeAD WashAH GM 7H JC
Kaylee and Wash tie. Kaylee escapes. Wash takes out the last goon.