Bringing Scenes to Life: The Drill

(On Netflix, the scene starts at around 29:50 in “The Secret of the Fire Nation,” the combined two-parter that includes the aired episodes “The Serpent’s Pass” and “The Drill.” The scene in question occurs in S2 E13 of the aired episodes, “The Drill,” but S2 E12 on the Netflix version.)

In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Book 2: Earth, Episode 12: “The Drill,” the Gaang knows that a giant Fire Nation drill is threatening to break through the walls of Ba Sing Se! Katara is healing some of the injured guards when Sokka’s player decides that now is a good time to trigger his playbook move, Here’s the Plan. He proposes a plan to take down the drill from the inside, and instead of asking him to detail every step of the plan, the GM asks who’s committing to the plan. They agree they all are, so Sokka’s player rolls with Creativity at no penalty. He gets a 12 and takes 2-hold he can spend while enacting the plan to overcome or evade an obstacle, create an advantage, or neutralize a danger. 

The GM then cuts the scene straight to the team attempting to get inside the drill without being seen! The GM describes them being in a trench in front of the drill, out of sight. Toph’s player then says she wants to create a giant dust cloud that can hide their approach. She asks if she’s relying on her skills and training, but the GM says she’s not; the uncertainty isn’t about whether she can do this. Actually, she’s tricking the people in the drill. Toph’s player agrees, and says she wants them to ignore the cloud. She rolls and gets a 7—they fall for her trick and she gets to choose one option from the list. She picks, “They overcommit; they are deceived for some time.” The Gaang race through the cloud to the drill, unseen!

Now that they’re close, they have to get inside. Toph’s player again speaks up, saying that she’ll tunnel under the drill. The GM says that sounds awesome, and it isn’t a move—Toph can definitely make a tunnel! The Gaang winds up under the drill, and just as the GM is asking them how they’re actually going to get inside, Sokka’s player decides to spend one of his hold from Here’s the Plan. He’s using it to create an advantage, and he says that Sokka spots an open hatch they can crawl through. The GM agrees, and the whole group passes up through the hatch into the drill…except for Toph! Toph’s player is about to say she goes in when the GM reminds her she won’t be able to bend inside (she hadn’t yet invented metalbending), so she decides to hang back. That means she’s abandoning the group, however, so Sokka has to mark a condition as per Here’s the Plan! He decides to mark Insecure. As Toph stays outside, the others move in.

Sokka’s player decides to immediately try to clear the condition by taking foolhardy action without talking to his companions. He says that, without talking to anybody, Sokka will break some machinery of the drill, stating that it can be a great way to get an engineer to come check it out so they can press the guy for information on the drill’s weaknesses. The GM reminds Sokka’s player, though, that the action has to be truly foolhardy—that if Sokka does this in order to clear his condition, then everyone is agreeing to is that this action is foolhardy, genuinely dangerous or not a great idea. 

Sokka’s player says that he didn’t really think about it that way, so he’d rather not act foolhardy. He’ll just assess the situation to figure out how to take down the drill. But the GM points out that it’s pretty hard to assess the whole drill from down here in a metal room in the underbelly…so Sokka’s player decides to go back to his first plan and get the map, but he’d rather just spend the last hold from Here’s the Plan—he says he wants to break a piece of the drill, have the engineer show up, and then take his map, no problems. Even though there are several steps in the individual action, the GM thinks the spent hold should cover the whole action, only asking for more details on how exactly they quickly subdue the engineer and take his map. The players say that Katara just freezes the engineer using the steam vapor from the broken pipe. And now, the Gaang has a map!

Sokka’s player then asks to assess the situation using the map. He rolls, and gets an 8, choosing to ask, “What here can I use to destroy the drill?” The GM says that on the map, Sokka can see that the drill consists of an inner mechanism and an outer shell, connected by braces. If they can destroy the braces, the entire thing will collapse—so the Gaang moves into action!