The Heat Die

Game mechanics for when you’re being hunted

This is a draft for discussion and consideration only; it is not currently canon for my campaign. It may or may not be playable as-is. It probaby hasn't been playtested.

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.

Taking precautions

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,

Losing heat

For permanently getting rid of heat, see lying low in Downtime Actions.