Tuesday, March 29, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk: Common Tasks V.3

Since I've revised the classes,  (see my earlier post from today) I'm also revising the "common activities" / tasks system. The basic idea is still swiped straight from Lamentations. A basic recap of the system:

Everyone has a base 1-in-6 chance to perform these tasks, with the following exceptions:
-Enforcers have a 2-in-6 for sneak attack.
-Neuromancers have a 2-in-6 for bypass and decrypt.
-The infiltrator may use the covert ops ability to replace acrobatics, bypass, climbing, decrypt, skulk,  slight of hand, and sneak attack. All of these tasks are essentially covered.

Each task has a linked ability score. Characters who have a score of 15 or greater in the linked ability score receive +1 to their score for that task.

Acrobatics   [Dex] - Used for balance, tumbling, jumping, and other such feats. A successful acrobatics check might allow a character to roll past an enemy, impose a penalty on an enemy's attack rolls, or other effects determined by the GM.

Bypass  [Int]- A character with a wireless device or electronic tools can use this skill to bypass doors, cameras, and other security measures. Failure may trigger the trap or alarm if there is one.

Climbing [Str]- The ability to make an ascent or descent without climbing gear. Failure might result in being unable to climb, getting stuck halfway, or falling, depending on the circumstances and the GM's discretion.

Decrypt  [Int]- The ability to unscramble downloaded data that has been encrypted.

Jury-Rig [Int]- The ability to make a quick and dirty repair; hotwire a car, patch up a damaged weapon, etc. These repairs are basic and temporary.

Medic |Int|- This is immediate first aid, meant to prevent characters from bleeding out.

Skulk  [Dex]- The ability to move quietly or hide in shadows.

Sleight of Hand [Dex]- The ability to palm objects, pick pockets, and other surreptitious tasks.

Sneak Attack [Dex]- When attacking a target that is unaware of the character's presence, a successful sneak attack roll grants the character a +4 to hit and will double the amount of damage rolled on the dice. On a failure, the character still receives +2 for the opponent being unaware. This can be used with a ranged weapon, but only out to the weapon's short range increment.

Perception [Wis]- This will allow a character to notice hidden things or observe minute details. (A humming invisible laser barrier, approaching guards, conversation on the other side of the door, etc)

White Box Cyberpunk Classes, Draft 4

 Looking back over my cyberpunk classes, I've made some changes. There is no skill system anymore. There are still "common tasks" inspired by Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but I'm retooling how they work. 

I've also taken a page out of the James Spahn playbook, particularly how he has written up a thief and jester class for White Box.

I've switched the operative back to the infiltrator class and made them a breaking and entering type thief class. I've also brought the neuromancer back as an analogue to a cleric/magic-user, using reskinned spells as combat programs and the turn undead table for hacking/rigging. 

My cyberpunk world now also takes a more Shadowrun 4th edition view of the internet; rather than a Lawnmower Man-esque virtual landscape, the future grid is a series of wireless networks with virtual overlays that can be seen by those with wearable tech. Think the Minority Report movie for starters. This setting also now assumes that nearly any device is network-capable... even guns and cybernetic implants. This allows the neuromancer to run in real time with the party. 

I'll be posting the tables and rules for the neuromancer's combat programs (spells) and rigging (turning) later today or tomorrow hopefully. 

One more change I am considering, but have not yet implemented: unified xp progression for the different classes. 


Enforcer
Some call them street samurai, some call them solos, but enforcers are the professional muscle of the underworld, specializing in violence. 

Level    XP         Hit Dice    BHB   ST   Contacts
1             0          1+1          +0        16           1          
2           2,000      2            +1          15         +1        
3           4,000      3            +2          14         +0        
4           8,000      4            +2          13         +1      
5          16,000     5            +3          12         +0       
6          32,000     6            +4          11         +1      
7          64,000     7            +4          10         +0        
8        128,000     8            +5            9         +1  
9        256,000     9            +6            8         +0
10      512,000     10           +6            7        +1

Enforcer Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Enforcers are able to use any weapons or armor. They are the only class trained in the use of heavy weapons and armor.

Combat Machine: Against enemies of one Hit Die or fewer, Enforcers get one attack per level each combat round.

Saving Throw: Enforcers receive +2 to saving throws vs. death

Specialization: Enforcers receive a +1 to hit with either ranged weapons or melee weapons. This bonus is chosen at character creation and cannot be changed.

XP Bonus: Enforcers receive XP bonus for either a high strength score.


Face
Faces are social chameleons, able to navigate the various factions of the underworld. Well-connected and suave, they gain information the old-fashioned way. Faces follow the old adage that the easiest way to break into a place is to look like you belong there.

Level    XP       HD  BHB   ST   Contacts  Guile
1            0            1     +0       14        4         1
2          1250        1+1 +0       13      +2         2
3          2500        2     +0       12      +2         2
4         5000         2+1  +1      11      +2         3
5        10000        3       +1      10     +2         3
6        20000        3+1  +2         9     +2        4
7        40000        4      +2         8     +2        4
8        80000        4+1  +3         7     +2        5
9      160000        5      +3         6     +2        5
10    320000        5+1  +4         5      +2       6

Face Class Abilities

Weapons/Armor: Faces prefer light weapons, but can use medium ones as well. They likewise prefer light armor but can wear medium. They don't use heavy arms or armor.

Saving Throws: Faces gain +2 to any saving throw against an effect that would confuse, deceive, or charm them.

XP Bonus: Faces get an experience bonus for having a high charisma score.

Guile: Faces are social chameleons, deceivers, and diplomats. By rolling equal or less than their guile score, a face can use their guile to engage in expert deception. Tasks they can attempt include disguising themselves, blending into a social situation, fast-talking an NPC out of being hostile, etc. The GM is the final arbiter of what falls under the purview of this skill. Note that when 6 in 6 is reached, a guile roll only fails if two sixes are rolled in succession. 

Luck: Faces get by on wits, luck, and treachery. They may re-roll one attack roll or saving throw per game session.


Infiltrator
The operative is the team's specialist. Part hacker, part burglar, possibly field medic or engineer, the operative brings specialized technical knowledge to the team. 

Level    XP         HD    BHB   ST    Contacts Covert Ops
1             0           1       +0       14           2        1        
2           1,500      2       +0        13         +1       2         
3           3,000      2+1   +1        12         +1       2        
4           6,000      3       +1        11         +1       3         
5          12,000     4       +2        10        +1        3        
6         24,000     4+1   +2         9          +1        4         
7          48,000     5       +3         8         +1        4        
8          96,000     6       +3         7        +1         5        
9        192,000     6+1   +4         6        +1         5       
10      384,000     7       +4         5        +1         6       

Infiltrator Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Infiltrators prefer light, easily concealable weapons, though they may use any light or medium weapon. Operatives may only wear light armor. 

Saving Throw: Infiltrators receive +2 to any saving throw meant to avoid a trap or security countermeasure.

XP Bonus: Infiltrators receive XP bonus for a high dexterity

Covert Ops: Infiltrators are skilled in a variety of specialties. By rolling equal to or less than their covert ops score on a d6, the infiltrator can move in absolute silence, blend into shadows, scale sheer surfaces without gear, bypass security equipment and locked doors, and other clandestine activities. The GM is the final arbiter of what can and cannot be accomplished with this skill. 

Mastery: Once per game session, the infiltrator can declare automatic success on a covert ops roll. This must be declared before the dice are rolled. The GM can rule that truly impossible tasks cannot benefit from this ability. 


Neuromancer
Sometimes called deckers, riggers, netrunners, and even stranger names, the neuromancer is more than just a hacker. Neuromancers interface their nervous systems directly into the invisible web of information that permeates the megaplexes of the future.

Level    XP         HD    BHB   ST  Contacts
1             0           1        +0      16       2    
2           1,500      1+1    +0      15      +1
3           3,000      2        +0       14     +1
4           6,000      2+1    +0       13     +2
5          12,000     3        +1       12     +1
6         24,000     3+1     +1       11     +1
7          48,000     4         +2      10     +2
8          96,000     4+1     +2       9      +1
9        192,000     5         +3       8      +1
10      384,000     5+1     +3      7       +2

Neuromancer Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Neuromancers can only use light weapons and armor. 

Saving Throw: Neuromancers have +2 to any saving throw to resist technological devices. 

XP Bonus: Neuromancers receive XP bonus for a high intelligence

Combat Programs: Neuromancers create (or copy) complex attack programs that can be used against machines, devices, and even those who have too much cyberware. A neuromancer begins the game with 3 combat programs. They learn others as they gain levels and steal them from computer systems and other neuromancers.

Rigging: Neuromancers can plug themselves directly into machines, controlling them as if they were extensions of the neuromancer's own body.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Brief Aside: DSA 5th Edition

For awhile, I had a strange fascination with Das Schwarze Auge. Reading through FanPro's translation of the 4th edition, released as The Dark Eye in English, pretty much cured me of that fascination. (Although I dig on the clone of the first edition that some Australian dude posted online as The All-Seeing Eye.) I received an email over the weekend from a dusty old DSA mailing list I joined aeons ago that contained a link to the quick start rules for DSA5 in English.

I'll say this: the artwork looks lush an beautiful.

I'll also say this: You have to make three separate d20 rolls to use a skill.Fascination cured once again.

Gute nacht, Das Schwarze Auge.

My next post will resume with my White Box Cyberpunk tinkering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Whitebox Cyberpunk Classes, V.3

Here's another look at the three core classes, this one incorporating the basic skill system I put in place in my previous post. Although derived from Lamentations of the Flame Princess and its "common activities" system, this is less harsh in that all classes can improve their skills after 1st level. The infiltrator has far, far more skill points than the other classes. In fact, the class so closely resembles the specialist of LotFP, I have named it the operative, a slightly more appropriate name, I think.


Enforcer
Some call them street samurai, some call them solos, but enforcers are the professional muscle of the underworld, specializing in violence.

Level    XP         Hit Dice    BHB   ST   Contacts  Skills
1             0          1+1          +0        16           1             1
2           2,000      2            +1          15         +1           +0
3           4,000      3            +2          14         +1           +1
4           8,000      4            +2          13         +1           +0
5          16,000     5            +3          12         +1           +1
6          32,000     6            +4          11         +1           +0
7          64,000     7            +4          10         +1           +1
8        128,000     8            +5            9         +1           +0
9        256,000     9            +6            8         +1          +1
10      512,000     10           +6            7        +1          +0

Enforcer Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Enforcers are able to use any weapons or armor. They are the only class trained in the use of heavy weapons and armor.

Combat Machine: Against enemies of one Hit Die or fewer, Enforcers get one attack per level each combat round.

Saving Throw: Enforcers receive +2 to saving throws vs. death

Specialization: Enforcers receive a +1 to hit with either ranged weapons or melee weapons. This bonus is chosen at character creation and cannot be changed.

XP Bonus: Enforcers receive XP bonus for either a high strength score or a high dexterity score. This is chosen at character creation and cannot be changed.



Face
Faces are social chameleons, able to navigate the various factions of the underworld. Well-connected and suave, they gain information the old-fashioned way. Faces follow the old adage that the easiest way to break into a place is to look like you belong there.

Level    XP       HD  BHB   ST   Contacts  Talents/Skills
1            0            1     +0       14        3         2/2
2          1250        1+1 +0       13      +1       +1/+1
3          2500        2     +0       12      +2       +2/+1
4         5000         2+1  +1      11      +1       +1/+0
5        10000        3       +1      10     +2       +1/+1
6        20000        3+1  +2         9      +1      +2+1
7        40000        4      +2         8      +2      +1/+0
8        80000        4+1  +3         7      +1      +1/+1
9      160000        5      +3         6      +2      +2/+1
10    320000        5+1  +4         5      +1      +1/+0

Face Class Abilities

Weapons/Armor: Faces prefer light weapons, but can use medium ones as well. They likewise prefer light armor but can wear medium. They don't use heavy arms or armor.

Saving Throws: Faces gain +2 to any saving throw against an effect that would confuse, deceive, or charm them.

XP Bonus: Faces get an experience bonus for having a high charisma score.

Talents: Faces are skilled in carousing and deception. At first level, they can use the following talents. The base chance of success for each is 1 in 6, though they gain 3 points to spend on raising talents. Faces also gain accumulative extra points each level to raise whichever talents they choose. A talent with a 6-in-6 chance can only fail if two consecutive 6's are rolled.

  -A Thousand Faces: A face can also use this ability to disguise themselves, though posing as a             specific individual usually won't work if scrutinized by someone who knows the impersonated             individual.

 -Face in the Crowd: Faces are at home in any social situation, from corporate board meetings to wretched hives of scum and villainy. Using this ability, a face can blend in perfectly, looking like they belong in any social situation. This ability fails if the face gets into combat or attracts undue attention to themselves.

 -Fast-Talk: Faces are masters of talking their way out of situations. On a successful roll, the face          is able to shift an NPCs reaction one way or the other: hostile NPCs can become neutral, neutral         can be friendly, etc. This cannot be done in combat. The player should make an attempt to role-play the fast-talk. The GM may award a bonus to a particularly clever ploy.


Strange Luck: Faces get by on wits, luck, and treachery. They may re-roll one attack roll or saving throw per game session.



Operative
The operative is the team's specialist. Part hacker, part burglar, possibly field medic or engineer, the operative brings specialized technical knowledge to the team.

Level    XP         Hit Dice    BHB   ST    Contacts Skills
1             0          1                  +0        15            2        4
2           1,500      2                 +0        14         +1        +2
3           3,000      2+1             +1        13         +1       +2
4           6,000      3                 +1        12         +1       +2
5          12,000     4                 +2        11         +2       +2
6          24,000     4+1             +2         10        +1      +2
7          48,000     5                 +3          9         +1      +2
8          96,000     6                 +3          8         +1      +2
9        192,000     6+1             +4          7         +1      +2
10      384,000     7                 +4          6         +2      +2

Operative Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Operatives prefer light, easily concealable weapons, though they may use any light or medium weapon. Operatives may wear light or medium armor, but the latter imposes a penalty on many of the skills that are part and parcel to the operator's trade.

Saving Throw: Operatives receive +2 to any saving throw meant to avoid a trap or security countermeasure.

XP Bonus: Operatives receive XP bonus for a high intelligence score.

Expertise- Once per game session, the operative may re-roll a failed skill roll.

Mastery- Unlike the other classes, the operative may have a skill rated at 6-in-6. If this is the case, a skill roll fails only if the operator rolls a 6 and then immediately rolls a 6 again. If the second roll is 1-5, the operative succeeds regardless.

White Box Cyberpunk Skills 2.1

Update 3/27/16:  Changed the bonus requirement to 15 instead of 13.

I went back and examined the Lamentations "common activities" rules. I took the list of ten tasks and reordered it for a more cyberpunk feel. Here are the tasks. All characters begin with a 1-in-6 chance of accomplishing these tasks. Characters who have a score of 15 or higher in the listed ability score begin with 2 in 6. I included the LotFP equivalents in parenthesis, where applicable.

I'm calling these things "skills," which are things every character can attempt. I am using the term "talents" to refer to things that work mechanically like skills (x in 6) but are restricted by character class. (Most of the face's abilities, for instance)

A new change: Enforcers and faces cannot have a skill higher than 5 in 6, effectively capping them at about 85%. Having a skill at 6 in 6 is now the sole purview of the operative class. (Formerly known as infiltrator, and posting in a few minutes) Faces can have their talents at 6 in 6, but not these skills. 


Acrobatics   [Dex] - Used for balance, tumbling, jumping, and other such feats. A successful acrobatics check might allow a character to roll past an enemy, impose a penalty on an enemy's attack rolls, or other effects determined by the GM.

Bypass (Tinkering, Open Doors) [Int]- A character with a wireless device or electronic tools can use this skill to bypass doors, cameras, and other security measures. Failure may trigger the trap or alarm if there is one.

Climbing [Str]- The ability to make an ascent or descent without climbing gear. Failure might result in being unable to climb, getting stuck halfway, or falling, depending on the circumstances and the GM's discretion.

Decrypt (Languages) [Int]- The ability to unscramble downloaded data that has been encrypted.

Jury-Rig [Int]- The ability to make a quick and dirty repair; hotwire a car, patch up a damaged weapon, etc. These repairs are basic and temporary.

Medic |Int|- This is immediate first aid, meant to prevent characters from bleeding out.

Skulk (Stealth) [Dex]- The ability to move quietly or hide in shadows.

Sleight of Hand [Dex]- The ability to palm objects, pick pockets, and other surreptitious tasks.

Sneak Attack [Dex]- When attacking a target that is unaware of the character's presence, a successful sneak attack roll grants the character a +4 to hit and will double the amount of damage rolled on the dice. On a failure, the character still receives +2 for the opponent being unaware. This can be used with a ranged weapon, but only out to the weapon's short range increment.

Perception (Architecture, Search) [Wis]- This will allow a character to notice hidden things or observe minute details. (A humming invisible laser barrier, approaching guards, conversation on the other side of the door, etc)

I feel a little bit better about this, but now I need to rethink the infiltrator. The face can do things that nobody else can do. A lot of these skills were the purview of my first version of the infiltrator class. I'm of two minds: on one hand, I don't like the idea of the infiltrator just being "the guy who can do stuff everyone else can do, but better." On the other hand, everybody can fight, it's just that the enforcer is better at it. 

With this skill system tentatively in place, I will post a revision of the three classes that takes it into account.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk Pt 3, Skills - Er, Ideas Anyway


After considering some of JB's thoughts on talents for the face and infiltrator classes, I thought perhaps I'd rethink my skill system, starting with a Lamentations-inspired task system. Here are the basic cyberpunk skills. Every character has a 1 in 6 base chance of doing one of these:



Bypass- The ability to open electronic doors and disable security or other devices. The character needs some kind of device or tools.

Climb- The ability to ascend a sheer surface without climbing gear.

Decrypt- Steal and decrypt data. Must have a device on hand.

Perception- Hear faint noises, anticipate ambushes, find very minute details, etc.

Skulk- Moving silently, hiding in shadows

Sneak Attack- Bonus to hit, double damage

These abilities all function as described in my class post, but now every character has them at 1-in-6.


Optional Rule: Characters with a Dex of 13 or higher add +1 to their scores in climb, skulk, and sneak attack. Characters with an Int of 13 or higher add +1 to bypass, decrypt, and perception.)


Enforcers begin with 1 point to improve one of these skills. They gain additional skill points at levels 3, 6, and 9.

Faces begin with 4 points to improve skills, gaining two points every level.

Infiltrators begin with 3 points and gain 1 point per level.

Hmm. No. This is not what I want. I'll have to think it over. Leaving this post up as a sort of "note to self."



White Box Cyberpunk Class Revisions

In a previous post, I introduced my White Box Retrocyberpunk write-up. After getting some opinions on them, I've come to the following revisions:

Enforcer: No revisions
Face: Remove the Face's "skulk" talent.
Neuromancer: Scrap entirely.

Neuromancers still exist in the setting, but they are not playable characters. They are, however, accessible via the hackers contact category.

I have replaced the neuromancer with the infiltrator, a sort of spot hacker/burglar. They don't jack in directly, but rather use devices and tools to manipulate technology. For visuals, see the cover art to Shadowrun 5 or the character Kasumi Goto from Mass Effect 2.

I'm not crazy about the class name, but it will do for now. With the diverse array of talents, the player can decide whether they want to focus on tech,

Infiltrator
Part hacker, part burglar, the infiltrator uses stealth, subtlety, and sabotage to remove obstacles to the team. 

Level    XP         Hit Dice    BHB   ST        Contacts    Talents
1             0          1             +0        15                2             4
2           1,500      1+1         +0        14              +1           +2
3           3,000      2             +1        13              +1           +2
4           6,000      2+1         +1        12              +1           +2
5          12,000     3             +2        11              +2           +2
6          24,000     3+1         +2         10             +1           +2
7          48,000     4             +3          9              +1           +2
8          96,000     4+1         +3          8              +1           +2
9        192,000     5             +4          7              +1           +2
10      384,000     5+1         +5          6              +2           +2

Infiltrator Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Infiltrators prefer light, easily concealable weapons, though they may use any light or medium weapon. Infiltrators may wear light or medium armor, but the latter imposes a penalty of -2 to to skulk, climb, or acrobatics.

Saving Throw: Infiltrators receive +2 to any saving throw meant to avoid a trap or security countermeasure.

Sneak Attack: An infiltrator who attacks while skulking or otherwise undetected makes the attack roll at +4 and inflicts double the damage indicated on the dice.

XP Bonus: Infiltrators receive XP bonus for a high intelligence score.

Talents- Similar to the face, the infiltrator has unique talents. These talents are a combination of stealth and hacking techniques. Each talent begins at 1 in 6. At 1st level, the infiltrator receives 4 points to improve their talent scores. A talent that is 6 in 6 only fails if the player rolls a 6 and then another 6 immediately.

*Acrobatics- The infiltrator can perform feats of tumbling and balance, such as walking along a wire, rolling past an enemy in combat, or making a running leap between rooftops.

*Bypass Doors: The infiltrator can crack the security on a door or other barrier. The infiltrator must have tools to do so.

*Climb: Infiltrators can climb sheer surfaces even without the aid of a grapnel or other climbing gear. Failing the roll means the infiltrator gets stuck halfway. Failing a second time means the infiltrator falls.

*Decypher: The infiltrator can use their device to decrypt data or translate languages.

*Detect/Disable Security; The infiltrator can spot hidden cameras, traps, or ambushes. Once detected, the infiltrator can use their device to scramble or disable the countermeasure. Depending on the countermeasure, failure may trip the alarm or trigger the trap.

*Skulk: The infiltrator can move silently or hide in shadows, remaining almost undetectable. (The infiltrator can still be revealed by thermographic sensors, etc)

*Perception: By concentrating, an infiltrator can pick up on faint sounds and minute details such as approaching guards, the hum of a laser security system, etc.




Monday, March 21, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk Pt. 2: Contacts

On the mean streets of the cyberpunk dystopia, who you know, and who owes you favors, can make all the difference.

All characters start the game with a certain number of contacts, which can be accessed on the roll of 1 on a 1d6. Characters who begin with more than one contact by dint of character class can spend more than one contact on the same category, having fewer but more reliable contacts. For instance, faces start with 3 contacts. The face's player could start with hackers 1, fixers 1, safehouse 1, or perhaps fixers 2, safehouse 1, or fixers 3 and nothing else, or any other combination. 

As characters gain experience levels (and thus reputation), they gain additional points to put into contacts. These points are accumulative. Contacts cannot be raised above 5. 

When a character needs to get in touch with a contact, the player rolls 1d6. If they roll equal or less than the level of the contact, the contact is able to do them a favor. If they roll higher, the contact is either unavailable or unable to help. A category of contact can be called on only once per game session. 

After the favor is carried out, the GM should secretly roll against the character's contact. If the roll is successful, the contact will require a favor in return or otherwise cause a complication in the character's life in the near future. This is at the GM's discretion, but the return favor should roughly match the assistance provided. 

Note that if a player refuses to do the return favor, or if the contact is killed or somehow compromised, the PC can lose a point in that category. If that category of contact reaches zero, the character has burned his bridges and cannot access contacts of that category again until they have points to raise it back above zero. 

Here are the categories of contact and what kinds of help they can provide. The GM is free to add her own, alter existing categories, or disallow certain categories entirely. 

Corporate- Corporate contacts can slip an executive's shredding to the PCs, arrange for a brief hole in security, or simply supply them with the present state of the ongoing clandestine wars between the corps. They might even be able to identify which corproration has hired a particular group of operatives. 

Criminal- While most of these contacts are in fact criminals, the criminal contact specializes in finding out information about the 'plex's underworld: who's warring with who, what turf to avoid, etc. 

Fixers- Fixers can get hard-to-obtain black market items and find buyers for the same. Anytime a PC needs some illicit gear or needs to sell a commodity, they can dial up their fixer contacts to get it done quickly and discretely. 

Hackers- The PCs can use hacker contacts to sell purloined data/information, as well as obtain data. (The password to a network, perhaps) Hackers can also create technological chaos at a given site, allowing PCs to slip in more easily.

Law Enforcement- Most law enforcement in the cyberpunk future is privatized. Nevertheless, PCs can pull contacts to get minor offenses overlooked, divert the presence of police at a soon-to-be crime scene, or perhaps keep an enemy jailed a few days longer by cocooning them in red tape. 

Medical- The character can call up a back alley doctor, moonlighting paramedic, or other source of medical attention. Only relatively minor attention can be rendered by a contact; anything too severe and the character will likely have to pay. 

Muscle- The character can call on NPC thugs of some sort (ex-cops, gangers, freelancers, etc)  to provide protection, assault a target, or accompany the character into battle. The PC can call on a total number of HD worth of muscle equal to his level in the contact. If any of the NPCs are killed, the character loses a point in this category. Return favors will almost always involve violent situations. 

Safehouse- The character can call up an NPC who has somewhere to lay low for up to one week per level of the safehouse category. A character in a safehouse can rest, heal, and generally not worry about being hunted down by enemies for awhile. 


Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Royal Society Files: Session 0

Last night we started my steampunk Savage Worlds campaign, with five of six player in attendance. (One was out ill) One player played remotely via Skype, the others played 'round the table.


We ended up doing preludes, a modified version of the interludes rules in Savage Worlds Explorers Edition. Each player drew a card and the suite told them the type of flashback/prelude we'd be playing. A brief summary of the preludes:

*Nutzenboltz- A construct woke up on a table, surrounded by shadowy scientists. He was put through a number of tests, surprising his creators with his level of self-awareness. An experiment designed to test his ability to feel emotions went awry when one of the scientists threatened him with a blowtorch. The construct went berserk and escaped the lab, which was destroyed in some kind of meltdown or self-destruct. Wandering the alleys of London for hours (or days?), citizens finally spotted him and called the police, who in turn called the Royals. Teddy Rathchild and Red de Wynter showed up. They managed to talk the mysterious construct down and take him to the Royal Society headquarters at Burlington House, where he now resides.

*Red de Wynter- Having left her aristocratic family, Red was recruited by an airship privateer, Captain Kessler of the Black Rook. After raiding a Portuguese airship, the Captain ordered Red to throw the helpless captives overboard. When she refused, he tried to. She intervened, leading to a combat. He fumbled and went over the side. Red tried to save Captain Kessler, but only ended up with his overcoat as he plunged to his death. She took the Black Rook and crew back to England, where she learned that Captain Kessler was actually her uncle...

*Rowena Quinn- While attending a mesmerism symposium in Paris with her husband and daughter, Rowena encountered Professor Edward Collins, a rival of her husband and former member of the Royal Society. Collins experimented with the notion that he could rewrite the human psyche. Claiming to have reformed his treatment to be less dangerous, he was one of the speakers at the symposium. He used his technique on Rowena's husband, planting a suggestion in his mind to make him angrier and angrier. Rowena tried to help him with a fellow mesmerist, but he went berserk, taking the other man out of the window in the ensuing fight. Both died on the street below. The Professor also programmed Rowena's daughter to try and assassinate her with an explosive disguised as a music box. The plan went awry and although Sophia was killed, Rowna was spared. Rowena encountered the Professor at her husband's funeral. She tried to attack him but was restrained by other funeral goers. She has since vowed to find and kill Professor Collins.

*Eliza Rose Davies- Elizabeth never met her mother. She was raised mostly by her governess while her father, a member of the Royal Society, was often away on Society business. One day, her father came home from a field assignment looking haggard. He had a strange book and locked himself in his study for days. Eliza managed to sneak in and find him in the middle of some kind of ritual, a Seal of Solomon on the floor with a shadowy figure in it. She was ushered out of the room by her panicked father. She shadowed him for the next week or two, watching his degeneration. During one of her forays into his study, she recovered a diary of her mother's that seemed to detail her mother's study of alchemy, astrology, and theurgy. Eliza pocketed these and studied them in secret. One night, she was awakened by screaming. She got into her father's study just in time to see him taken through a portal by that shadowy figure. The study exploded into flames. The only item recovered from the rubble was a burned book cover reading "The Lesser Key of Solomon." The Royals took the girl in and enrolled her in a school for gifted students.

*Teddy Rathschild- Orphaned at a young age, Theodora was raised in an orphanage. She escaped around age ten, creating a false identity and enrolling at a school for gifted children. It was there that she developed her interest in chemistry. One morning in the dark hours past midnight, Teddy snuck into the school's laboratory to try her hand at making a truth serum. It was here that she encountered fellow student, Eliza Rose Davies. Bullying the other girl into being a lab rat, Teddy used her attempt at a truth serum to learn Eliza's secrets. She discovered the girl was practicing alchemy, a superstitious and ineffective precursor to chemistry. The girls were discussing science versus philosophy when the school Matron entered the lab. Eliza managed to hide, but Teddy ended up scrubbing floors in the school dining room for a week.

We still need to do one or Peter Quinn, but his player was absent due to illness. I'm presently trying to work in the idea that Rowena and Peter are related, given the fact that the players picked the same surname. (Albeit unknowingly)

So we have some roleplaying and characterization established, as well as a few character relationships. Our next session is April 1st. I'm going to try to get with the player of Peter (Nathan, who played the Qotah Expert in my Stars Without Number game a couple of years ago) and do his prelude via Skype before the next session. Hopefully next session we'll be able to hit the ground running in the game's present of March, 1888.

Friday, March 18, 2016

White Box Cyberpunk Ideas Pt 1: Character Classes

I want a simple cyberpunk game; one that isn't just gun/gear porn or two completely different roleplaying games that you play at the same time (the hacker doing things and everybody else doing things)  I've been waiting for this for a couple of years, but I'm not hopeful that I'll see it anytime soon. A few years ago I did a Shadowrun conversion for Stars Without Number, but in retrospect I'm not at all happy with it. I'm also thinking I want something modular that starts out more like Cyberpunk 2020, with the elves/magic stuff from Shadowrun as an optional add-on.

Given my recent proclivity for Swords & Wizardry White Box, I started working on a write-up WB style.

I'll start with the classes: enforcer, face, and neuromancer. The enforcer is basically this game's version of the fighter. The face and neuromancer two approaches to having a rogue/thief type class; the face is more of a bard/social class with some traditional sneaky type thief abilities, whereas the neuromancer is meant to be more of a dungeon type thief. (The dungeon being the corporate megaplex or whatever) When you get right down to it, what does a thief do? Pick locks, find and disarm traps, make sneak attacks...and my neuromancer write up does the digital equivalent of these.

A note on "contacts," a column you'll see in the class writeups- rules for these are forthcoming, but here is the short version:  characters can allocate points into contacts of various categories (criminal, dealers, etc) A character can call in a favor from a contact by rolling the contact number or less on a d6.

I had originally planned to have the neuromancer's programs work like spells, but that made zero sense and renaming/reflavoring all the spells started to get tedious. On the other hand, perhaps I could introduce a saving throw-based mechanic to determine if the programs are effective. Some of the spells could be repurposed to work as 'realspace hacks,' like turning hold person into a program that can paralyze someone with cybernetic limbs or an exoskeleton.

I had also considered a fourth character class, the hijacker, based on the Shadowrun concept of the rigger. This is a specialized hacker who essentially takes over drones/vehicles. I had planned to use the turn undead tables as a basis for their attempts to invade and control those systems. Perhaps I should give the ability to the neuromancer, using the character's level vs. the complexity of the system, measured roughly in HD.

My two main concerns with the first draft are thus: that the neuromancer doesn't have enough to do in realspace (although this has proven to be a problem in both early editions of Shadowrun and in Cyberpunk 2020), that the face is too unfocused, and that the enforcer is boring. (This, of course, parallels the argument that playing a plain ol' fighter is boring.) Any thoughts are welcome...

JB, your thoughts are especially welcome due to your work on Cry Dark Future.

Below are the first draft write ups for the three main classes.


Enforcer
Some call them street samurai, some call them solos, but enforcers are the muscle of the underworld, specializing in violence. 

Level    XP         Hit Dice    BHB   ST        Contacts
1             0          1+1          +0        16                1
2           2,000      2            +1          15              +1
3           4,000      3            +2          14              +1
4           8,000      4            +2          13              +1
5          16,000     5            +3          12              +1
6          32,000     6            +4          11              +1
7          64,000     7            +4          10              +1
8        128,000     8            +5            9              +1
9        256,000     9            +6            8              +1
10      512,000     10           +6            7              +1

Enforcer Class Abilities

Weapon/Armor Restrictions: Enforcers are able to use any weapons or armor.

Combat Machine: Against enemies of one Hit Die or fewer, Enforcers get one attack per level each combat round.

Saving Throw: Enforcers receive +2 to saving throws vs. death

Specialization: Enforcers receive a +1 to hit with either ranged weapons or melee weapons. This bonus is chosen at character creation and cannot be changed.

XP Bonus: Enforcers receive XP bonus for either a high strength score or a high dexterity score. This is chosen at character creation and cannot be changed.



Face
Faces are social chameleons, able to navigate the various factions of the underworld. Well-connected and suave, they gain information the old-fashioned way.

Level    XP       Hit Dice     BHB   ST   Contacts    Talents
1            0            1            +0        14          3              4
2          1250         2            +0        13      +1              +2
3          2500         2 +1        +1       12      +2               +2
4         5000          3             +1       11      +1               +2
5        10000         3+1         +2        10     +2               +2
6        20000         4             +2         9      +1               +2
7        40000         4+1         +3         8      +2               +2
8        80000         5             +3         7      +1               +2
9      160000         5+1         +4         6      +2                +2
10    320000         6             +4         5      +1                +2

Face Class Abilities

Weapons/Armor: Faces prefer light weapons, but can use medium ones as well. They likewise prefer light armor but can wear medium. They don't use heavy arms or armor.

Saving Throws: Faces gain +2 to any saving throw against an effect that would confuse, deceive, or charm them.

XP Bonus: Faces get an experience bonus for having a high charisma score.

Talents: Faces are skilled in carousing and deception. At first level, they can use the following talents. The base chance of success for each is 1 in 6, though they gain 4 points to spend on raising talents. Faces also gain 2 extra points each level to raise whichever talents they choose. A talent with a 6-in-6 chance can only fail if two consecutive 6's are rolled.

           -A Thousand Faces: A face can also use this ability to disguise themselves, though posing as a             specific individual usually won't work if scrutinized by someone who knows the impersonated             individual.

         -Face in the Crowd: Faces can blend into a crowd or highly public area, becoming impossible to           spot unless they attack or otherwise give themselves away. They can follow individuals through           a crowd without being detected so long as they stay a reasonable distance back and don't call               attention to themselves.

        -Fast-Talk: Faces are masters of talking their way out of situations. On a successful roll, the face          is able to shift an NPCs reaction one way or the other: hostile NPCs can become neutral, neutral         can be friendly, etc. This cannot be done in combat.

        -Skulk: Faces can move around without making much noise or being noticed. They must have              reasonable cover or low lighting to use this ability.

        -Sticky Fingers: The face can pick pockets, palm objects, plant things on someone, or otherwise          perform feats of prestidigitation.

Strange Luck: Faces get by on wits, luck, and treachery. They may re-roll one attack roll or saving throw per game session.

Neuromancer

Level   XP    Hit Dice    BHB    ST   Contacts    Hacking
1           0         1            +0        15       2                 4
2          1500   1+1          +0        14     +1               +2
3          3000     2            +0        13     +1               +2
4          6000     2+1        +1        12     +1               +2
5        12000     3            +1        11     +2               +2
6        24000     3+1        +1         10    +1               +2
7        48000     4            +2          9    +1               +2
8        96000     4+1        +2          8    +1               +2
9       192000     5           +2          7    +1               +2
10     384000     5+1        +3          6   +2                +2

Neuromancers Class Abilities
  
Weapons/Armor Restrictions: Neuromancers are techies, not fighters. They can employ only light weapons and light armor.

Saving Throw: Neuromancers receive +2 on any saving throw vs. technology

Implants:  Neuromancers begin with a Data Jack, free of charge.

XP Bonus: Neuromancers receive an XP bonus from having a high intelligence attribute.

Hacking:  With a cyber-rig, neuromancers can attempt the following actions within a system. The neuromancer must be jacked in to the network and have a grid-capable device on hand. Each task generally takes only a single combat round.

                     -Crack- The neuromancer can gain access to a restricted system or open a secured door                        in realspace.

                     -Decrypt- The neuromancer can decode data nodes and copy,  delete, manipulate, or                            otherwise meddle with information. Failure to decrypt often triggers security measures.

                     -Killer- If undetected, a neuromancer can launch a surprise attack against an IC                                    program or an enemy neuromancer. On a successful check, the neuromancer makes the                        attack  roll at +4 and inflicts double damage. On a failure, the neuromancer can still                            make an  attack, but the bonus is only +2 and inflicts normal damage.

                    -Spoof- The neuromancer becomes undetectable by IC and enemy neuromancers, unless                       they reveal themselves via an attack or are detected by sniffing.

                    -Sniff- Find enemy IC and spoofed runners in the same node.

                   -Spring- The neuromancer can disable security systems or traps on realspace by                                 accessing their interfaces through the grid.

Each task begins with a 1 in 6 chance of success. Neuromancers receive 4 points to distribute among their tasks, and an additional two points with every earned experience level after 1st. The maximum value for a task is 6-in-6. In this case, the neuromancer fails only if they roll two consecutive 6's on a d6.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Royal Society Player Characters

Tomorrow begins my Savage Worlds steampunk game, The Royal Society Files. The characters are mostly done and mostly named. Here's our roster:

*Theodora "Teddy" Rathchild, a scientist specializing in chemistry.
*Scarlet "Red" de Wynter, an adventurer/airship pilot.
*Eliza Rose Davies, a Hermetic magician/alchemist with a wasting disease.
*Peter Quinn, a jack-of-all trades with a high-tech weapon and minor psychical talent.
*(name pending), a student of mesmerism/animal magnetism with strange psychical gifts
*Nutzenboltz, a mechanical man of mysterious origin. 

The first case the PCs will deal with is the reappearance of the notorious urban legend, Spring-heeled Jack. While the figure was dismissed as utter poppycock decades ago, a recent rash of crimes committed by a high-jumping, masked scoundrel has prompted the overburdened Metropolitan Police (aka Scotland Yard) to turn the case files over to the Royals.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dragon Treasure Trove

I was at the used bookstore last night and found that they have a bundle of lots (a bundle of bundles? A lot of lots?) of old Dragon magazines. I plopped down eight bucks for issues 49-59, minus 53. I might go back this weekend and pick up another bundle.

Lots of good old ideas jumped out at me. Some garbage ones, too. Good with the bad... that's the calling card of the good ol' vintage Dragons.

Royal Society Files runs this Friday. more on that later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Royal Society Files: Setup

In 1839, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace constructed the Analytical Engine. Over the next ten years, Great Britain became the most technologically advanced nation on Earth. While Analytical Technology has been reverse engineered by other nations (the United States, Japan, Germany) Britain remains the undisputed technological powerhouse of the world. This period came to be called the First Wave of Progress.

In 1872, just a year after Charles Babbage's death, his son Henry Provost Babbage perfected the Babbage-Lovelace Analytical Engine Mark II, a smaller, more efficient, more powerful version of his father's magnum opus. This was the beginning of the New Wave of Progress. Devices are becoming somewhat smaller and mass-production is increasing. Poverty and unemployment are on the rise as machines replace labor once done by human hands.

It is now March of 1888. Some world events:

*In the United States, the National Geographic Society formed two months ago. The group aims to explore all presently unknown regions of the Earth, including the subterranean world. 

*In Germany, German industry captin Rudolph Carl Von Stuben has gone public claiming that his great grandfather, J.H. Muller, invented the Difference Engine (predecessor to the Analytical Engine) before Charles Babbage, and that Babbage stole his design.

*Greece has begun a period of rapid modernization, headed by a mysterious and newly wealthy industrialist named Valerios Stais.

*In British West Africa, a warlord known as Makaia has somehow pushed back British troops. Reports say that the natives are somehow armed with comparable firepower.

*In London, reports of Spring-Heeled Jack, an urban myth, have begun again after nearly fifty years of silence.

*The Labour Reform Party is born of the trade union movement. Violent protests, sabotage, and vicious strike breaks erupt across the industrial zones of London. 

The campaign will begin with a visit to Burlington House, the headquarters of the Royal Society, by one Inspector First Class Frederick Abberline of Scotland Yard.