Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Night's Black Agents Char Gen - GUMSHOE

This is a general summary of character creation in the GUMSHOE vampire spy thriller game NBA printed by Pelgrane Press.

The premise of the characters in this game are:

"For a few years now, your character has been part of Europe’s shadowy underground of criminals, mercenaries, and deniable paramilitaries. Before that, you were on the rolls somewhere: MI5, DGSE, Stasi, perhaps even the CIA or Mossad. Someone recruited you out of the sunlight, and taught you to survive in the shadows."

Usually in the first operation, the players uncover proof of the existence of vampires and also come to the attention of the vampire conspiracy.



I am using a mix of two game modes meant to evoke certain styles of spy thriller. For the most part I am using Burn (emphasizing the psychological impact of espionage in general and the existence of vampires in specific) and Stakes (where the characters tend to have somewhat deeper motivations than just getting the job done.

There are four basic steps two character creation:

  • Choose one or more Backgrounds. Each background is worth 6 Investigative Build Points and 18 General Build Points. The backgrounds have no particular mechanical benefit and they are not strictly needed, but they are set packages of points which fit a certain theme and allow for quick building characters.
    • At this point characters also get a free 10 points in Cover and a number of free points in Network dependent on how many players there are.
      • 2 players - 12 points each
      • 3 players - 8 points each
      • 4 players - 6 points each
      • 5+ players - 4 points each
  • Choose Investigative abilities. Investigative abilities are always successful, spending points from these pools may grant extra benefits or access to extra information. 
    • Even 1 pt is professional level expertise and you rarely want more than 3 in one ability.
    • In general, you want every available Investigative ability represented within the team so it is a good idea to take skills you that other players don't have but some overlap is fine.
    • Investigative pools refresh at the end of the operation.
    • Every player gets Streetwise and Tradecraft at 1 for free.
    • You do not have to spend all your points at the start, you can save some to reveal skills you've previously kept hidden to that point.
    • Players get a number of Investigative Build Points dependent on the number of players in the game.
      • 2 players - 32 points each
      • 3 players - 24 points each
      • 4 players - 22 points each
      • 5 players - 20 points each
  • Choose General Abilities. Players have 70 points to spend on these.
    • General Abilities have a risk of failure. They represent the abilities used to survive action scenes. You roll 1d6 and spend points from your pool to try and beat a hidden difficulty number.
      • General Abilities can sometimes be used as Investigative Abilities. For example, Explosive Devices can be used to analyze a bomb and get clues from it. This works like a normal Investigative use, if it moves the plot along, it is free, if it deepens your understanding of what is going on or gets you a benefit you don't strictly need, it will cost points.
    • Your second highest General Ability has to be at least half the level of your highest General Ability.
    • Rating 0 is basic civilian competence and makes critical failures possible. 
    • Rating 1-3 is a sideline ability, you were trained in it but don't depend on it.
    • Rating 4-7 is solid but not off the charts.
    • At Rating 8+ you often unlock "Cherries" special abilities related to your high skill.
    • High ratings are expected, but you may want to have someone competent in many things.
    • General Abilities refresh when you get a chance to rest and recover and some of the Cherries allow for recovering pool points as well.
    • You do not have to spend all your points at the start, you can save some to reveal skills you've previously kept hidden to that point. 
    • All players get Health and Stability at rating 4 for free.
    • Players should also pick an MOS at this point. An MOS represents a specialty skill, you pick one General Ability which once per session you can automatically succeed at a roll with. It is best for every player to choose a different MOS so there are some broad abilities.
  • Build out your personality and dossier.
    • You will choose three Sources of Stability: 
      • A Symbol (something that represents your beliefs)
      • A Solace (person you can turn to)
      • A Safety (a sanctuary which even thinking about helps you calm down and deal with stress). 
      • These can and do get destroyed or corrupted in the course of an extended campaign, but it is uncertain if this will happen in a one-shot.
    • You can also pick a Drive which represents your motivations. 
      • I am allowing secret Drives, so people will be picking two Drives one just to tell me and one that they claim for everyone else. 
      • These can be the same Drive if you don't have a secret Drive obviously.
      • The Drive you give me is the one that has mechanical impact, though this might mean people will see through your claimed Drive if you have a secret one.

Backgrounds


Each background costs 6 Investigative Points and 18 General Points.

Ratings granted by Backgrounds stack with each other and points gained from other sources. For example, many Backgrounds give you more points of Network and Cover on top of your free points and at least one or two give more Health and Stability. If this puts more points in an Ability than you want, you can trade those out for other Abilities no problem.

You can take the same Background more than once.

You don't have to take any Background and can choose to build from scratch instead.

  • Analyst - Focuses on shifting through information and seeing a pattern.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Data Recovery 1
      • Languages 2
      • Research 1
      • Traffic Analysis 2
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities: 
        • Accounting
        • Bureaucracy
        • Criminology
        • History
        • Human Terrain
        • Military Science
    • General Abilities 
      • Digital Intrusion 2
      • Network 5
      • Preparedness 4
      • Sense Trouble 5
      • Surveillance 3
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Gambling
  • Asset Handler - Focuses on collecting human intelligence and handling contacts.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Bullshit Detector 2
      • Intimidation 2
      • Negotiation 1
      • Reassurance 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Flattery
        • Flirting
        • Human Terrain
        • Tradecraft
    • General Abilities
      • Cover 3
      • Sense Trouble 5
      • Shrink 4
      • Surveillance 6
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Conceal
        • Disguise
  • Bagman - Handles financing.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Accounting 2
      • Bullshit Detector 2
      • Intimidation 1
      • Negotiation 1
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Data Recovery
    • General Abilities
      • Conceal 4
      • Digital Intrusion 3
      • Sense Trouble 6
      • Surveillance 5
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Disguise
  • Bang and Burner - Sabotage and demolitions expert.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Architecture 2
      • Chemistry 2
      • Criminology 1
      • Intimidation 1
    • General Abilities
      • Conceal 4
      • Explosive Devices 8
      • Infiltration 2
      • Mechanics 4 
  • Black Bagger - Breaking and entry expert.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Data Recovery 1
      • Electronic Surveillance 2
      • Photography 2
      • Streetwise 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities: 
        • Architecture
        • Notice
    • General Abilities
      • Conceal 2
      • Digital Intrusion 2
      • Filch 6
      • Infiltration 8
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Preparedness
  • Cleaner - Expert in cleaning up (or finding) evidence at a scene. 
    • Investigative Abilities:
      • Bureaucracy 2
      • Cop Talk 1
      • Criminology 2
      • Urban Survival 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Chemistry
        • Data Recovery
        • Electronic Surveillance
        • Notice
        • Streetwise
    • General Abilities:
      • Conceal 6
      • Disguise 2
      • Driving 4
      • Explosive Devices 2
      • Infiltration 2
      • Stability 2
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Digital Intrusion
  • Cobbler - Expert in documentation and counterfeiting.
    • Investigative Abilities 
      • Bureaucracy 1
      • Forgery 4
      • Photography 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities: Cryptography
    •  General Abilities
      • Cover 6
      • Digital Intrusion 4
      • Disguise 2
      • Infiltration 4
      • Mechanics 2
  • Cuckoo - Also called a "face-man" experts at social infiltration and deep cover.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Flattery or Flirting 2
      • High Society 2
      • Reassurance 2
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities
        • Human Terrain
        • Streetwise
    •  General Abilities
      • Cover 3
      • Disguise 8
      • Filch 2
      • Gambling 3
      • Sense Trouble 2
  • Hacker - An expert in digital intrusion.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Cryptography 1* (Free from Digital Intrusion 8+)
      • Data Recovery 2
      • Electronic Surveillance 2
      • Traffic Analysis 1
      • Urban Survival 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Accounting
        • Bureaucracy
        • Forgery
        • Human Terrain
        • Reassurance
    • General Abilities
      • Digital Intrusion 10
      • Disguise 2
      • Infiltration 2
      • Mechanics 4
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Network
  •  Investigator - A general troubleshooter, give them a problem and they solve it.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Bureaucracy 1
      • Cop Talk 1
      • Interrogation 1
      • Law 1
      • Notice 2
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities: 
        • Criminology
        • Intimidation
        • Streetwise
    •  General Abilities
      • Disguise 2
      • Hand-to-Hand 6
      • Infiltration 2
      • Sense Trouble 2
      • Surveillance 6
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Athletics
        • Driving
        • Shooting
  • Medic - Healer, diagnostician, torturer, administer of truth serums. Stuff like that.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Bullshit Detector 2* (Includes Free point from Shrink 8+)
      • Chemistry 1
      • Diagnosis 2* (Includes Free point from Medic 8+)
      • Forensic Pathology 1
      • Interrogation 1
      • Pharmacy 1
      • Suggested Alternate Ability:
        • Human Terrain
        • Languages
        • Reassurance
    • General Abilities
      • Medic 10
      • Shrink 8
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Driving
        • Health
        • Stability
  • Mule - Smuggling experts.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Bureaucracy 1
      • Forgery 1
      • Negotiation 2
      • Outdoor Survival or Urban Survival 1
      • Streetwise 1
      • Suggested Alternate Ability:
        • Archeaology
        • Art History
    •  General Abilities
      • Conceal 8
      • Driving 4
      • Piloting 2
      • Surveillance 4
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Cover
  •  Muscle - Bodyguards and assault.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Interrogation 1
      • Intimidation 1
      • Military Science 2
      • Outdoor Survival or Urban Survival 2
    • General Abilities
      • Athletics 6
      • Hand-to-Hand 8
      • Shooting or Weapons 4
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Explosive Devices
        • Sense Trouble
  • Watcher - An expert in first hand surveillance, shadowing and stakeouts. 
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Electronic Surveillance 2* (includes Free point from Surveillance 8+)
      • Notice 1
      • Photography 2
      • Tradecraft 1
      • Urban Survival 1
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Architecture
        • Human Terrain
        • Streetwise
        • Traffic Analysis
    • General Abilities
      • Disguise 2
      • Infiltration 2
      • Driving 4
      • Surveillance 10
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities
        • Athletics
        • Conceal
        • Digital Intrusion
  • Wet-Worker - Expert assassins.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Intimidation 2
      • Streetwise 2
      • Urban Survival 2
      • Suggested Alternate Ability:
        • Criminology
        • Electronic Surveillance
        • Photography
    • General Abilities 
      • Shooting or Weapons 10
      • Hand-to-Hand 4
      • Surveillance 4
      • Suggested Alternate Ability:
        • Disguise
        • Explosive Devices
        • Infiltration
        • Special Weapon Training - Special Rule will refer to that below in the Ability summaries.
  • Wheel Artist - An expert transporter.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Cop Talk 2
      • Streetwise 2
      • Urban Survival 2
      • Suggested Alternate Ability: Electronic Surveillance
    • General Abilities
      • Driving 10
      • Mechanics 4
      • Piloting 4
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Sense Trouble
        • Surveillance
  •  Wire Rat - Tinkerer's, gadgeteers, modifiers and electronics experts.
    • Investigative Abilities
      • Chemistry 1
      • Data Recovery 2
      • Electronic Surveillance 2
      • Notice 1
      • Suggested Alternate Ability:
        • Architecture
        • Photography
    • General Abilities
      • Conceal 3
      • Digital Intrusion 2
      • Infiltration 2
      • Mechanics 6
      • Preparedness 5
      • Suggested Alternate Abilities:
        • Explosive Devices
        • Surveillance

Investigative Abilities


Investigative Abilities always succeed. Even if you have used all your points you can still use them to look for vital clues.

Core Clues which move the plot forward cost nothing to find. You merely have to indicate that you are using the proper skill at the proper time. There may be multiple Abilities that can reach the same clue.

Clues which provide flavor but no real benefit or depth of knowledge also are free to acquire.

Clues which provide extra depth or make you aware of alternate paths but aren't strictly needed to move the plot forward cost 1 or 2 points dependent on their impact.

Points are never wasted, if there is no benefit to be gained the GM will not take them.

Investigative Abilities can also be spent to gain other benefits.

Investigative Abilities do not normally refresh until after an operation/adventure is complete. In a one-shot, this means never.

There is no Deception or Lying ability. Lying is considered a tactic through which another ability can be used. For example, you might lie about the effects of a drug in a syringe using Diagnosis or Chemistry.

  • Academic Investigative Abilities
    • Accounting - Book-keeping and accountancy procedures.
    • Archaeology - Study of ancient cultures and artifacts.
    • Architecture - Understanding of buildings, their construction and layouts.
    • Art History - A knowledge of art and great artists and ability to appraise objects.
    • Criminology - You study crimes and the ways to solve them.
    • Diagnosis - Diagnose illness, poisons and injury.
    • History - Expert in recorded human history.
    • Human Terrain - Understanding the interaction of organizations, cliques, politics and the like in a region.
    • Languages - Knowledge in various languages
      • 1 pt - +1 Language (total 2)
      • 2 pts - +2 Languages (total 5)
      • 3 pts - +3 Languages (total 8)
      • Each additional point +3 more languages
      • Sign Language and Lip-Reading count as separate languages
      • You may learn closely related languages without a rating point...but without spending a full language on it I will call it "mostly get by."
      • You do not have to set these at character creation and can suddenly reveal that you've known X language "all along."
    • Law - Knowledge in human laws.
    • Military Science - Student of warfare, strategy, logistics and tactics.
    • Occult Studies - A study of historical occult knowledge.
      • This is one ability that it makes sense if nobody has it at the start. But it does represent knowledge found in books, so it is not prohibited.
    • Research - A skill at researching information online, in libraries or so on.
    • Vampirology - Knowledge of different types of vampires.
      • This is another ability where it makes sense if nobody has it to start since you're not supposed to know about vampires at the start. But it primarily applies to the public lore rather than definite knowledge so it is possible to have. Also, there are secret Drives and if you saved some points to spend in game you might suddenly reveal hidden knowledges.
  • Interpersonal Investigative Abilities
    • Bullshit Detector - Detecting attempts at deception or hiding discomfort.
    • Bureaucracy - Understanding the layers of civilian bureaucracy.
    • Cop Talk - Deal with cops, understand their lingo and keeping them relaxed.
    • Flattery - Getting people to help by complimenting them as subtly or blatantly as you wish.
    • Flirting - Adept at using your wiles to get cooperation from people that find you sexually attractive.
    • High Society - Understanding of high society and it's social currents.
    • Interrogation - Adept at getting information out of someone.
    • Intimidation - Adept at gaining cooperation by threats direct or implied.
    • Negotiation - Expert in making deals with other people.
    • Reassurance - Expert in making people feel comfortable and relaxed.
    • Streetwise - Expert in behavior of crooks, criminals and the underworld.
      • All players have 1 point in this for free.
    • Tradecraft - Expert in the basic procedures of espionage and recognizing other agents and who trained them.
      • All players have 1 point in this for free.
  • Technical Investigative Abilities
    • Astronomy - Study of celestial objects including stars and planets.
    • Chemistry - Analysis and manipulation of chemical compounds.
    • Cryptography - Creating and breaking codes.
    • Data Recovery - Using computers to retrieve and analyze seemingly inaccessible information.
    • Electronic Surveillance - Using bugs and cameras to watch people from a distance.
    • Forensic Pathology
    • Forgery - You can fake things, spot a fake and identify a forger.
    • Notice - Expert at casing a scene and finding important clues.
    • Outdoor Survival - Expert in living outdoors and in the wilderness.
    • Pharmacy - Identify and create drugs and medicines.
    • Photography - Expert in photography including taking useful surveillance for analysis later.
    • Traffic Analysis - Identify important patterns and data from a large mass of information.
    • Urban Survival - Expert in living within high population centers including reading the mood of a crowd or how to find shortcuts.

General Abilities


Your second highest Ability must be at least half as high as your highest. If you have two at the same rating, you're fine.

General Abilities recovery over time and when you get a chance to catch your breath at least a little.

Health and Stability recover slower.

Most General Abilities also have Investigative uses. In which case they act like Investigative Abilities.

Cover and Network only recover if you spend Experience on them. When they are used, they are gone forever.

Choose one General Ability as your MOS.

  • Athletics - Used for general purpose physical activity from climbing to dodging falling rocks.
    •  Cherries (Bonus abilities for 8+ Ratings)
      • +1 to your Hit Threshold - you are hit on a 4 instead of 3.
      • Parkour option for Thriller Chases.
        • Once per scene you can gain 3 point Pool refresh for Athletics by giving a bit of high-charged narration. Narrations that make everybody go "Cool" might earn 4 pts.
      • Support Moves for Thriller Combat
        • Use your Athletics to give another agent a bonus to hit in combat by inconveniencing an enemy.
      • Breakfall
        •  Reduce falling damage by one quarter of your permanent Rating (rounded down) as you use your athletics to soften your fall.
  • Conceal - Hide things from view. Including camouflage and stashing on your person.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      •  Perfect Holdout - Hide a small object on your person which cannot be found without an X-Ray or Strip Search (or some supernatural powers)
  • Cover - Represents your stash of cover identities.
    • When you need to use it, you can assign unused Cover pool points to a specific Cover ID.
    • Points are spent to pass tests on the validity of a Cover ID.
    • When a specific Cover hits 0, it becomes red-flagged on someone's radar.
    • Cover IDs can only be refreshed from Experience or from unused Cover pool points.
    • Cover pool points can only be refreshed from Experience.
    • You do not have to establish these at character creation. You can simply declare "I have this fake ID as an art appraiser that we can use."
    • All players have 10 points in this for free.
  • Digital Intrusion - Hacking and understanding digital structures.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Cracker's Crypto - You get 1 free point in the Cryptography Investigative Ability.
  • Disguise - Ability to alter your appearance.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Connected Cover - You can declare that there is an NPC who knows you by the name of one of your Cover IDs.
  • Driving - Ability to control land vehicles.
    • Cherries (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Grand Theft Auto - Spend 1 Driving point to automatically steal any standard civilian or police vehicle without a roll. Military and other more specialized or secure vehicles still require Infiltration rolls.
      • Gear Devil - As per Parkour, once per scene gain a 3 pt Pool Refresh for Driving by narrating an octane fueled greatness. 4 pts for exceptional great narration.
  • Explosive Devices - Ability to analyze, disarm and plant explosive devices.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Bigger Bang - May choose to spend 3 extra points to add another die of damage or 6 extra points to add 2 extra dice of damage. These point spends do NOT add to the success of your roll.
  • Filch - Ability to grab small things or palm them so no one can see.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • No Slip-Ups - You can spend Filch pool points AFTER your roll to succeed, however points spent after the roll give you +1 to the roll for every 2 points spent.
  • Gambling - Ability to read the odds, analyze percentages, read poker faces and the like.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Luck of the Devil - At the beginning of the session roll a die. At any point you choose you can use that roll to replace any roll by yourself or an opponent. 
        • For instance if you rolled a 5 on the Luck die, you can later use that to replace a 1 rolled on damage or to make a jump.
        • Or if your luck die was 1, you can use that to replace a 6 rolled by an opponent in a chase.
        • Please narrate what the lucky event is that helps you out.
  • Hand-to-Hand - Ability to fight unarmed and analyze other people's training.
    •  Cherries (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Eye of the Tiger - Spend 1 pool point to assess an enemy telling you if they are within 1 point of your Hand-to-Hand, higher than that or lower than that.
      • Extra Attacks - Spend 3 Hand-to-Hand and 2 Health to get an extra attack in a round. These don't add to chance of success but allow the attack. You may spend this a second time to gain a third attack.
        • You may attack a separate target with your extra attack, but they their Hit Threshold increases by 2 for the second target, 3 for the third and so on.
      • Martial Arts - Works like Parkour, once per scene you can get a 3-pt Hand-to-Hand Pool refresh by narrating an awesome explanation of the way you attack mentioning your history of fighting on the street, or your training in multiple martial arts or whatever. Excellent narrations will recover 4 pts.
        • This is separate from the once per scene Martial Arts use for Weapons.
      • Mook Shield -  Spend 3 Hand-to-Hand and attack any Mook in Point-Blank range or 3 Hand-to-Hand and 2 Athletics and attack any Mook in Close range. 
        • This attack does no damage.
        • The Mook now grants you full cover and increases your Hit Threshold by 1.
        • The Mook is hit by any shots that miss you.
        • The Mook reduces the damage of any shots that hit you by 4...by taking that 4 damage.
        • On your next turn you may fire a weapon but must either drop the corpse (or extremely lucky living Mook) or spend an extra 3 Shooting points to shoot under their arms.
  • Health - Ability to resist death.
    • You are healthy until this reaches 0 at which point you are Hurt or -6, at which point you are Seriously Wounded and need hospital time. At -12 you die.
    • You have 4 points for free, but you will likely want more if you expect to be in danger frequently.
    • Naturally recovers at a rate of 2 points per day of restful activity.
  • Infiltration - Stealth and the defeat of security systems.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Open Sesame - Automatically bypass any normal, commercial lock or alarm with no role. More secure locks and alarms will need specialized equipment (and rolls) which may be illegal to have without a locksmith's license.
  • Mechanics - Building, repairing and analyzing machines
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Swiss Army Prep - You can spend Mechanics as Preparedness points as long as you include a jaunty Burn Notice/MacGyver style narration about how you're repurposing the piece of equipment you're using.
  • Medic - Skill in treating injuries.
    • Can be used to recover Health to people who are Hurt or stabilize people who are Seriously Wounded.
    • Characters who are not Hurt (0 to -5 Health) cannot be healed because they have not yet been injured.
    • You heal other people 2 Health points per 1 Medic point spent.
    • You heal yourself 1 Health point per 1 Medic point spent.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Medical School of Hard Knocks - You gain 1 free point in the Diagnosis Investigative Ability.
  • Network - This represents your pool of contacts.
    • This works almost exactly like Cover but represents real people.
    • When you declare a contact you have, you move unused Network points to this person.
    • When a contact reaches 0 Network then their favors for you have caused them to be exposed to attention.
    • Points for specific Contacts can only be refilled by unused Network points or Experience points.
    • Network is only refilled by Experience points.
    • Network can be used as almost any Investigative ability as well.
    • These do not have to be declared at character creation.
  • Piloting - The ability to control planes and boats and evaluate them.
    • Cherries (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Grand Theft Aero - Spend 1 piloting point to automatically steal any standard civilian or police aircraft or watercraft. Military or other more specialized or secure vehicles require Infiltration rolls as normal.
      • Gear Devil - As per Parkour, once per scene gain a 3 pt Pool Refresh for Driving by narrating an octane fueled greatness. 4 pts for exceptional great narration.
  • Preparedness - Represents your foresight.
    • Declare that you have a set item on hand. Things that make common sense will have low difficulties or even be automatic. (for example, a first spare clip or a flashlight.) More unusual requests will have higher difficulties and some might be vetoed outright.
    • Cache - You can "discover" an equipment cache placed by yourself or an old agency. 
      • Difficulty 6 to find it.
      • Difficulty 4 in a Familiar City
      • The cache may be guarded.
      • Each player may pay 1 Preparedness point to name one piece of equipment that the cache has.
      • You may name two pieces of equipment for free.
      • The cache can include a vehicle.
      • The equipment is not necessarily top-of-the-line or well maintained. A roll of 1 while using cached equipment may result in a malfunction. A mechanical check may prevent that.
      • The GM may veto equipment requests.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • In the Nick of Time - Retroactively declare an action you prepared in advance.
        • Examples include
          • A smoke or incendiary bomb going off.
          • Power suddenly cutting out in the building.
          • Finding a gun that someone else snuck into the building for you.
          • A traffic snarling parade you researched before the operation began interfering in a chase.
          • Bomb threat clearing a mall.
          • Sudden peal of church bells due to a donation.
          • Switching a briefcase for an outwardly identical one.
        • You must have had opportunity and ability to set up the event. This can include help from other agents who suddenly understand why you asked them to do "X" thing.
          • This allows pre-action planning to be kept to a minimum since it allows the players to flashback to the planning stage and declare "we set this up beforehand."
        • Still requires a test.
  • Sense Trouble - Detect danger and ambush.
    • If a Sense Trouble test is called for your character knows something is wrong. A success gives them specifics, a failure is just a general sense of something bad coming.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Combat Intuition - You can use your Sense Trouble permanent Rating for determining when you act in combat instead of another pool.
  • Shooting - Ability with bows, firearms and even heavy weapons.
    • You can spend 2 Shooting points to make an attack beyond a weapon's normal range. These two points do NOT add to chance of success but only allow you to make the attack.
    • Cherries (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Extra Attacks - Spend 4 Shooting and 1 Stability to get an extra attack in a round. These don't add to chance of success but allow the attack. You may spend this a second time for a third attack.
        • You may attack a separate target with your extra attack, but they their Hit Threshold increases by 2 for the second target, 3 for the third and so on.
      • Sniping - By taking one round to aim you can reduce the Hit Threshold of a target. Reduce it by 1 if the target is aware of you. Reduce it by 2 if the target is unaware of you. Requires a rifle.
      • Special Weapons Training - For 6 General Build Points you gain a +1 Damage when using a specific type of weapon (long bow, crossbow, Walther PPK, Desert Eagle, P90, etc).
      • Suppressive Fire - Lay down a line of fire to block people following you. 
        • The difficulty of the action depends on the length of the line.
          • Alleyway/Doorway - Difficulty 3
          • 1 Lane Road/Driveway - Difficulty 4
          • 2 Lane Road/Warehouse Doors - Difficulty 5
          • 3 Lane Road/Hangar Doors - Difficulty 6
        • This can be maintained for 2 rounds with a pistol or 5 rounds with an assault rifle or submachine gun. After which you must reload.
        • Opponents have to make an Athletics roll to pass the line. 
          • If they fail they take damage and fall back.
          • If they succeed by less than 5 then they pass the line of fire but take damage. (This might not be an actual hit because they might still have Health, remember only Health below 0 is an actual injury)
          • If they succeed by 5 or more, they pass the line of fire with no problem.
      • Techno-Thriller Monologue - Works like Parkour (and Martial Arts and Gear Devil), once per scene may refresh 3 Shooting pts by giving a narration of your impressive firearm skills. Narrations worthy of a Chow Yung Fat movie might earn you 4 pts.
  • Shrink - Ability to comfort people and restore their confidence and sanity.
    • Treat mental illnesses.
    • Recover 2 points of someone else's Stability for each 1 Shrink point spent.
      • You cannot self-shrink.
    • Calm down panic stricken characters.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Talk it Out - You get 1 free Rating point in one of the following Investigative abilities.
        • Bullshit Detector
        • Flattery
        • Interrogation
        • Reassurance
  • Stability - Your sanity and willpower.
    • Resist temptation and mental manipulation.
    • All players start with 4 for free.
    • You're mostly fine as long as you have positive Stability.
    • At Stability 0 to -5, you are Shaken.
    • At Stability -6 to -11, you are Shattered and acquire a mental illness
    • At Stability -12 you are incurably insane.
  • Surveillance - Ability to watch people without being noticed or to notice someone else watching you.
    • Cherry (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • The Wire - You gain 1 free Rating point in Electronic Surveillance.
  • Weapons - Ability with melee weapons.
    • Cherries (Bonus for 8+ in this Ability)
      • Quincey Morris's Bowie Knife - You can throw any balanced melee weapon at an opponent within Near range with no increase to Difficulty.
      • Extra Attacks - Spend 3 Weapons and 2 Health to get an extra attack in a round. These don't add to chance of success but allow the attack. You may spend this a second time to gain a third attack.
        • You may attack a separate target with your extra attack, but they their Hit Threshold increases by 2 for the second target, 3 for the third and so on.
        • Extra Attacks are only allowed with swords and weapons that deal +0 or less Damage.
      • Martial Arts - Works like Parkour, once per scene you can get a 3-pt Weapons Pool refresh by narrating an awesome explanation of the way you attack mentioning your history of fighting on the street, or your training in multiple martial arts or whatever. Excellent narrations will recover 4 pts.
        • This is separate from the once per scene refresh from Hand-to-Hand.
      • Special Weapons Training - For 6 General Build Points you gain a +1 Damage when using a specific type of weapon (brass knuckles, switch blade, katana, long sword, staff, stake, etc).

Personality and Dossier


Each player should have 3 sources of Stability (unless they have the "Nowhere Else to Go" Drive).

  • Symbol - This can be as general as your country's flag or the cross or as specific as a photo of your deceased wife or the rosary from your monastery days.
    • Taking a minute or so to meditate or appreciate this symbol allows you to refresh 1 Stability.
    • This can be done once per session.
    • Losing the symbol causes a loss of 1 permanent Stability rating if you do not recover it by the end of the operation.
      • General symbols like a flag cannot be lost this way.
    • If your symbol is proven valueless (Jesus was a vampire, your country is supporting the undead, your wife faked her death to join the vampires, etc) then you immediately lose 3 points of permanent Stability Rating.
  • Solace - This is a person you can turn to for solace.
    • This cannot be the other players, they experience the same stresses as you and are thus reminders of it.
    • Spending six hours of normal activity (conversation, dinner, gaming, sex, etc) with this person allows you to recover 2 Stability pool points.
      • This time must be safe from all violence or supernatural intrusion.
    • Spending a full day with this person between operations allows refresh of all Stability.
      • This again must be free of danger and the supernatural.
    • If the Solace betrays you, you immediately lose 2 points of permanent Stability rating.
    • If the Solace is killed or made a vampire, you immediately lose 3 points of permanent Stability rating.
  • Safety - A place of safety you know will always accept and shelter you.
    • It is considered a bad idea to go to the place of Safety because you will expose it.
    • At the end of any session in which your Safety remains inviolate, you refresh 1 Stability.
    • If you do go to your Safety it is considered a Haven.
      • You can refresh three General Ability pools.
      • Preparedness tests have a difficulty of 2 less.
    • If your Safety has an owner or caretaker you can activate them as a free contact with a value of 6 without spending Network points. 
      • However, this rating cannot be rebuilt with Network or Experience points.
    • If your Safety or its owner is ever destroyed  you immediately lose 3 permanent rating points of Stability.
  • Replacing loss Sources of Stability
    • As soon as you spend Experience to rebuild your Stability, you may replace a lost Source of Stability with one of the same type.
      • A destroyed Safety cannot be replaced.
      • A Symbol proven valueless cannot be replaced. 
Every character has a Drive. To preserve any secret Drive taken, you can give me a Drive in private and put a separate one on your sheet.

Drives can be used to regain Stability. Following your Drive to take a potentially unwise activity will net you 1 Stability for actions that are not all that important to the current operation.  If it pushes the plot along, you regain 2 Stability points.

If you resist your Drive you LOSE 2 Stability for temptations that are secondary to the plot. If your resist your Drive in a plot-significant manner, you lose 4 Stability points.

This is a Trail of Cthulhu rule. The NBA equivalent is very vague and just says you might have a "stress penalty" if you ignore your Drive too much. I'm not going to enforce this rigidly, it's meant to add to the flavor of mental fatigue and reward you for roleplaying, not force your character down certain paths.

  • Altruism - You got into the game to protect people or make the world a better place and you are still trying to do that. (MacGyver for the win)
  • Atonement - You did something wrong and are trying to redeem yourself. (Equalizer for the win)
  • Comradeship - You stay in the game because your team is like your family, as dysfunctional as they may be. (Can't think of an example off the top of my head.)
  • Mystery - You are driven to solve a mystery, either a specific and personal one or just mysteries in general. (Sherlock Holmes for the win)
  • Nowhere Else to Go - You have no where to go (You have no Safety and thus only have two Sources of Stability: a Symbol and a Solace) (Can't think of an example of the top of my head.)
  • Patriotism - You do what you do for your country. (Nick Fury for the win)
  • I Never Left - You are still an agent of your original employers, you never turned mercenary for real. It is all years worth of deep cover. (Ronin for the win). This is almost always a secret Drive.
  • Programming - You have been programmed to hunt vampires by some group. This might be a supernatural impetus or a scientific one. This is a secret Drive. You can suggest some ideas, but I'll determine the specifics of the programming and who's behind it. (Bourne Identity for the Win)
  • Restoration - You want to get back in with your original agency. (Burn Notice for the win)
  • Revenge - Vampires killed, hurt or turned someone you cared about. This is a secret Drive since the team doesn't know about vampires. (If everybody gives me secret Drives about hunting vampires, this will be funny). (Lord Godalming for the Win)
  • Slayer - You discovered vampires existed and new that it was your purpose in life to destroy them. Another vampire-related secret Drive. (Blade for the win)
  • Collector - Hey, another vampire related Drive. You are driven to learn everything you can about the vampires either for personal reasons or for an employer. You or your employer wants the power of vampirism or least to control it. (Hellsing for the win.)
  • Thrill-Seeker - You got into this life because you enjoy the thrills. (The bad guy in the new A Team movie for the win.)
  • Transparency - You understand the need for secrecy but feel that the crushing culture of secrecy that exists in the espionage world has become cancerous. You want the truth, at least some of it to get out.

 

History


Consider how your character was introduced to the world of espionage and what agency you started with. Also consider your age. People in their 50s would have been dealing with the last gusts of the Cold War while the younger sets would have been dealing with organized crime, renegade agents and terrorists.

Also consider how you got out of your agency (or pretended to get out if you have something like I Never Left....and suddenly I'm imagining that episode of MacGyver where Mac, an old friend from the CIA, an FBI agent and a DEA agent all stumbled over each other under cover in the same operation from different directions).

Finally consider how everybody met up. In a one-shot you might all be hired independently and be meeting for the first time.

Quick-Reference 


(This is from my Trail of Cthulhu-ish adventure but it is mostly the same. I'll post the rolls for Thriller Combat and Thrilller Chases rules for NBA later. Also note that the link backs on these pages go to the Loss of Life ToC scenario instead of this page. I'll try to fix that later.)

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