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1 - Influencing the Story
The purpose of these rules is bring the flavour of fast-paced heist movies to the table, empower the GM to move the plot along quickly, empower players to feel like they are not at a disadvantage when we jump into the action quickly, and reflect the fact that the characters are skilled professionals who are able to prepare for situations the players might not think of.
Legwork montage (optional rule)
When time is short or we just want to get into the action faster, we can replace a fully played out legwork phase with this compressed option.
- Each player describes how they are approaching doing legwork for this mission and rolls an appropriate skill. You can use any skill you can justify, but the classic choices include Persuasion, Intimidation, Hacking, Research, Common Knowledge, Astral, or specialist knowledge skills like Arcana or Science.
- If it seems fun to do so, we may play out the short scene.
- Across the group, the highest single roll is kept.
- Each success and raise on that highest roll earns a “Legwork Bennie.” These can be spent in place of normal Bennies, but only to Influence The Story (see the next section.) They are shared amongst all players.
Note that legwork takes a significant amount of in-game time, so the players may choose to skip this step and go in blind if time is of the essence.
Influencing the Story
These rules provide more structure on how Bennies may be spent to influence the story in the player’s favour (see SWADE pg 90.)
During play (either normal play or during a dramatic task (see below), a player may choose to spend a Bennie to Influence the Story in the following ways. (Note that this is how Legwork Bennies may be spent.)
- Unused LPs can be spent to retroactively purchase gear that can be useful in the current situation. Note that this must be gear that makes sense in the story, eg. if the players have already sneaked in then the gear must be concealable.
- Declare a flashback scene to bypass some obstacle via preparation that was done beforehand. Describe the flashback, and then instead of rolling to overcome the obstacle directly, substitute in a different skill used inside the flashback, and roll that instead. If the substituted skill roll succeeds, the obstacle is bypassed.
Heists as Dramatic Tasks
When the plot demands it, we can resolve an entire heist quickly using a lightly modified version of the Dramatic Task framework from SWADE (see pg 122).
- Each step of the task will require a different skill, as per the usual Multiple Skills rule. These will all be declared upfront by the GM and will be determined by the overall approach the player’s want to take (stealthy, disguised infiltration, force, etc.) There will usually be the same number of rolls as there are PCs.
- The skill may be substituted for another by using a Bennie, as described above. But note that any given character can only roll any given skill once during the whole heist.
- Depending on how tight the security is, these rolls will all be made at somewhere between -1 (a small business, lightly guarded facility) and -4 (a corp high-security R&D facility with elite guards.)
- Each step of the task will have a different character making the roll. Players can choose who freely. One other character may choose to Support the roll, as usual – but see the next point.
- Each character can only roll any given skill once during the Heist. This means they cannot Support using a skill that they are going to roll in a later step. Skills substituted in via a Flashback (see above) do not count towards this rule
- Each success and raise contributes a Task Token. The required total of tokens across the rolls will be set by the GM, and will vary with the difficulty of the heist. The usual target will be a total of six tokens across four rolls. A Critical Failure on any roll subtracts one Task Token.
Failure to complete the task may result in a partial success, a complication, the players being discovered and having to fight their way out, or any other outcome as fits the narrative being played out.
2 - The Heat Die
The authorities in the Sixth World are bloated, corrupt, lazy, and largely ineffective. Rarely are they focussed on going further than “peacekeeping” (ie. violently intervening in violent crimes). Crime prevention and detective services get very short shrift in the annual budgets. The city may be covered in cameras and all manner of surveillance gizmos, but most of the time, ain’t nobody got the time to look at them on the off-chance they catch a glimpse of a perp.
Occasionally, though. the PCs may nevertheless do such spectacular things that they end up being actively hunted by forces much more powerful than themselves who are suddenly told “screw the budgets, we want these guys. NOW.”
These rules provide a simple framework for running these incidents.
The Heat Die
Heat represents how close the authorities are to the PC’s trail and how complete a view they have of the PC’s ongoing activities. It is represented by a die type, ranging from d4 to d12.
Some authorities might not have the resources to take the die type all the way to d12 and so it might be capped at some lower value.
The Heat Roll
Every time the PCs take an action that puts them at any risk of exposure, we make a Heat Roll to see what happens. Actions that might result in a Heat Roll depend a lot on the resources of whomever is tracking the PCs, but might include:
- Being in public around active security cameras hooked up to facial recognition, gait recognition, etc. Disguises can help somewhat but not totally.
- Digital forensics, eg anything linked to a SIN that the authorities can discover, eg bank accounts held in a fake SIN.
- Physical forensics, eg blood or other viable DNA left at a crime scene.
- Astral forensics, eg using magic and not taking several minutes to wipe the scene of all traces of the caster’s astral signature afterwards.
- Having an active material link in possession of the authorities, like a preserved tissue sample. (This is a disaster.)
A Heat Roll is a roll of the current Heat Die. If the search is being led or co-ordinated by a Wild Card NPC, an additional Wild Die is rolled.
If the result of the Heat Roll is a Success, the authorities investigate the outcome of the action after the PCs are done and successfully link it to the PCs. Raise the Heat Die by one step.
If the result is a Raise, the authorities realise what is happening in sufficient time to intervene - vastly complicating the PC’s lives.
Most of the time, the PCs can take precautions to obviate the Heat Roll. For example, they can wear disguises, hack or avoid cameras, destroy physical evidence, wipe astral signatures, etc.
Such precautions always come at an extra cost, either in consumable gear they need to use or in terms of extra time they need to take (or both.)
When taking active precautions, one PC can attempt a suitable Skill roll to oppose the Heat Roll. This cannot be Supported.
Shaking the tail
If the PCs can come up with a suitable set of actions to try and lose their persuers temporarily, they may attempt to do so.
This will usually take the form of a three-step Dramatic Task. If they can collect three task tokens, the Heat Die drops by one step; five task tokens and it drops by two steps. The Heat Die never below a d4, however,
For permanently getting rid of heat, see lying low in Downtime Actions.
3 - Contacts
Summary of how you can use NPCs to help you
See below for definitions of all these terms.
- Connections edge - can get help from one or more people who belong to a specific group or faction. Each PC who has the Connections edge can do this once per session. These NPCs are extras and will usually roll a d8.
- I know a guy - any PC can declare a new acquaintance who owes you a favour and can help with one task. Costs a Bennie. Can only be done once per session for the whole group (not once each). Optionally, any PC can spend a second Bennie to convert the acquaintance into a contact. These NPCs are extras and will usually roll a d8.
- Contacts - once per session, each PC can call on any of their contacts for aid. Does not cost a Bennie. Contacts are Wild Cards and will usually roll a d8 plus a Wild Die. Contacts will ask you to return the favour from time to time.
Clarification of Contacts vs the Connections Edge
The Connections edge (see SWADE pg 50) provides your character with a connection to a specific group or organisation of people.
You can only use the Connections edge once per session, and only when the narrative allows (eg. you have to be able to contact the group, and they have to be able to reach you.)
NPCs you know through the Connections edge are Extras (not Wild Cards) and so do not roll a wild die. Should they have to roll any traits, they will usually roll a d8.
“I know a guy…”
At any point during gameplay, you may spend a Bennie to make up an acquaintance who owes you a small favour. You may do this to get information, a small amount of specialist gear, access to a restricted area, or anything else that you can convince me makes sense.
Note that “I know a guy…” is restricted to being used once per session across the whole group (not once each.)
The acquaintance starts with Friendly disposition, as they owe you a favour.
Contacts are characterised by two stats: their contact die type and their disposition.
The contact die is the die type the contact will roll when making any test on your behalf in their area of expertise. Most contacts have a d8 die type, although this may vary when the story suggests it.
All contacts are Wild Cards, and so also roll a Wild Die on all trait rolls.
Contact disposition uses the Reactions table (see SWADE pg 33). To summarise, each contact’s current relationship to the PC can take one of these values:
|Hostile||Openly hostile; might attack, betray, or otherwise hinder. Will not help without a really good reason.|
|Unfriendly||Isn’t interested in helping unless offered substantial reward.|
|Uncooperative||Will only help with coercion or reward.|
|Neutral||No preconceptions. Expects fair payment for services.|
|Cooperative||Sympathetic; may volunteer small pieces of information.|
|Friendly||Will go out of their way; will do simple tasks for free, and willing to consider dangerous or very complex tasks for reasonable payment.|
|Helpful||Anxious to help, at any reasonable cost to themselves.|
Using contacts to assist you
You can call on your contacts at any time for help, without needing to spend a Bennie. But you can only do this once per session; your contacts have their own lives and they are not all sitting around at your beck and call.
Creating a contact from an acquaintance
Normally, after you spend a Bennie to do I know a guy (see above) or after you use the Connections edge, that NPC fades out into the background of the story. However if you wish you can spend a second Bennie to recruit them as a permanent Contact.
Note that it can be anyone in the group who spends the Bennie and hence “adopts” the acquaintance; it doesn’t need be the same person who spent the first Bennie.
Contacts recruited this way return to a Neutral disposition, as they have repaid the favour implied by I know a guy.
At the start of downtime, each PC who has any contacts must draw a card. If it’s a face card, one of their contacts will need their help with some thing (see below.) The PC can choose which contact this event affects.
At the GM’s option, this might have to resolved during downtime (taking one or more of the PC’s downtime actions) or after downtime, during the next mission. It might be resolved in a single Wealth check, need the PC to pass a Dramatic Task, or become an entire background story.
If the PC ignores the contact, their disposition will drop one or more levels. If they successfully help, their disposition will improve by one level.
|Clubs||The contact is in trouble with the authorities (Knight Errant or a megacorp) and needs to lie low.||The contact shows up at your door, wounded and bleeding.||The contact has been arrested; they need to be bailed (or broken) out; or the PC needs to find a patsy for their crime; or they need to prove their innocence.|
|Diamonds||The contact has a problem or difficulty in their profession and needs help.||The contact shows up at your door with a fat credstick and offers you half if you can deal with the people who want it back.||The contact is in deep to a loan shark or other shady source of credit, and their patience has run out.|
|Hearts||The contact’s livelihood is threatened and they need help to save it.||A personal tragedy has happened and they need your shoulder to cry on (a breakup, bereavement, illness, etc.)||The contact has been attracting too much attention and someone is hunting them… and the people they know.|
|Spades||The contact needs your help to get information on someone or something, and it has to be done discreetly.||They’re starting to worry about you and need reassuring that you’re loyal to them.||The contact is out for revenge on someone and needs your help getting it.|
Any contact at the Helpful disposition level will give you some extra service, assistance or item for free, above and beyond what they usually can do. The details will depend on the contact’s background and skillset and we will work together to create this.