The GC can also spend action dice to prompt “events,” impromptu obstacles and crises that make the player characters’ lives more interesting. Events are incredible GC tools, allowing him to nudge the players when they grow idle, shake up a flagging scene, or respond to in-game events with logical consequences. When prompted by a Subplot or other rule, an event has no cost; otherwise, each event costs 1–4 GC action dice based on the desired intensity. This cost decreases by 1 if any trigger listed with a chosen event has occurred (i.e. even if multiple triggers occur, the cost only decreases by 1). An event’s cost may never decrease below 0. Any number of events may occur during each scene, but the GC should never introduce events that he can’t explain. Every event must be traced back to a plausible cause, whether the GC tells the players what it is or not. Think of events as the effect part of any “cause and effect” chain. When something happens that should logically prompt an event, the GC can spend some of his action dice and introduce the event as a fluid extension of the storyline at hand.
Many things can endanger bystanders… A villain can appear from “off-screen,” suddenly holding a delivery boy hostage. One of the characters’ most recent romantic conquests can call her lover from a phone booth across the street, where she stands on several pounds of C4. A busload of schoolchildren can ricochet out of a twelve-car pile-up, headed for the edge of a suspension bridge… The GC can spend action dice to trigger such events in two different ways. First, he can spend and roll any number of d12 action dice to endanger a number of bystanders equal to the action dice result (alternately, the GC may decide that 5 bystanders are present per die spent). Second, he can reduce the bystanders’ statistics tier from its base of Tier IV, at a cost of 1 action die per tier reduction (minimum Tier I). For a list of sample bystander statistics, see page 453. The GC may spend no more than 4 action dice to introduce one or more Endangered Bystanders event. Allowing any bystander to die usually prompts exposure (see page 435).
Care must be taken not to overuse this event, lest it lose its emotional punch, or worse, become farcical. Saving one runaway bus is heroic; saving four is just silly.
Event Triggers: During the current mission, the team completed every listed objective (thus proving to the villains that extreme measures are required to defeat them).
Hazards are dangerous or explosive interruptions that threaten the team’s welfare. They include crossfire, explosions, contagion outbreaks, and other dangers, as shown on Table: Hazards. They can be the work of the mission’s villains or a Subplot character, random twists of fate, or just a way for the GC to stimulate a dull session or add some flavor to a new clue he wants to hand out. For example, crossfire might easily be attributed to a skirmish that sweeps over the characters’ position in a war zone. Alternately, it could be a gang fight or bank robbery in a peaceful city. Likewise, an explosion in a war zone could follow a bomber’s passing or the distant thunder of artillery, but in a less hostile region, might happen due to a gas main mishap or the work of terrorists (or both).
Event Triggers: During the current scene, any character suffers an error with a Knowledge check to navigate through a war zone or other dangerous area; during the current scene, any character suffers an error with a ranged attack (thus drawing potentially hostile attention to his team).
One of the characters is targeted for liquidation, perhaps by the mission’s villains, perhaps by a Subplot character, or maybe even by his own Faction or Freelance network (see Reputation and Net Worth, page 439). The assassin’s statistics are determined by the number of action dice spent to introduce this event (1 action die generates a Tier I assassin, 2 action dice generates a Tier II assassin, and so on). He makes 1 attempt to kill the target character, during which he is subject to all standard rules, including morale.
Event Triggers: During the current mission, the character suffers an error with a Computers/Access System, Investigation/ Canvass Area, Networking/Contact, Streetwise/Black Market, or Streetwise/Bribe check (thus “making some noise on the grid”).
This is similar to the Subplot of the same name (see page 57). One of the characters is mistaken for someone he isn’t, for comedic, dramatic, or possibly lethal results. In order to convince everyone involved of his true identity, the character must complete a Complex Impress/Persuasion Task with 1 Challenge + 1 additional Challenge per action die spent to introduce this event (maximum 5 Challenges). The DC of the first Challenge is equal to 10 + the current mission’s Threat Level and the DC of each subsequent Challenge increases by an additional 2 (i.e. at Threat Level 2, the first DC is 12, the second DC is 14, the third DC is 16, and so on).
Each Challenge represents an encounter or debate with the confused NPC, with successful and failed Challenges representing the NPC accepting or rejecting the players’ points throughout. The players may come up with alternate ways to deal with the problem, however, and the GC should allow them to make plausible skill checks against the same DC to complete Challenges as appropriate.
If this Complex Task is failed, no amount of convincing moves the mistaken NPCs — they firmly believe the character is the person for whom he was mistaken. Only bringing the character and the person for whom he confused together with each mistaken NPC allows the Complex Task to begin again, with each of its DCs increased by 5. The GC is encouraged to milk such long-term confusion for as much comedy, drama, or suspense as he can, raising the bar with each successive failed Complex Task.
Event Triggers: During the current mission, the target character suffered an error with any Cultures, Impress, Intimidate, Manipulate, or Networking check (thus prompting the misunderstanding).
Weather ranges from merely annoying to highly lethal, as shown on Table: Nature’s Fury.
Event Triggers: None.
A Responsibility may be any Tier II NPC (e.g. a hanger-on, a relative, a target to protect, etc.), or any item with a Damage save bonus no higher than +10 (e.g. a glass figurine). The GC can spend action dice to trigger this event in two different ways. First, for each action die he spends, the responsibility lingers for 1 scene (minimum 1 scene). Second, for each action die he spends, 1 Tier III NPC wants to kill, capture, or destroy the responsibility, as defined when the event is introduced (minimum 1 NPC). Allowing any of these outcomes usually prompts exposure (see page 435). The GC may spend no more than 4 action dice to introduce any single Responsibility event.
Event Triggers: None.
An NPC approaches the characters and offers them a bribe to either intentionally fail a mission objective or join the NPC’s organization, completing the mission for their new masters (in the latter case, possibly with a new set of objectives).
The NPC may be any sample special character offered on page 454, whose tier is equal to the number of action dice spent to prompt this event.
If the NPC is bribing the characters to fail a mission objective, he offers each of them 1 contact whose grade is equal to the number of action dice spent to prompt this event (i.e. acquaintance, associate, confederate, or partner). No skill check is require to approach this contact, but after the contact is used once, he declines to answer any further summons.
If the NPC is bribing the characters to join his organization, he offers each of them 1 point of Reputation or $50,000 in Net Worth per action die spent to introduce this event (as appropriate to thecharacter and/or campaign type). This bonus Reputation or Net Worth represents the characters’ higher standing within the new organization, should they accept the offer.
The entire team must accept for a deal to be struck; if even one character refuses, the NPC withdraws the offer. The Game Control is advised that this event should only be introduced with great care, as it can easily split a team’s loyalties, especially if one or more of the players are immature or inexperienced.
Event Triggers: During the previous mission, any character suffered an error with a Profession/Accomplishment check; during the previous mission, any character lost 2 or more Reputation, or $100,000 or more Net Worth, due to exposure (in either case, establishing the character’s poor relationship with his current organizational masters, which could also be assumed to apply to his team).
One of the characters’ items is or becomes flawed or completely defective. The GC may spend 1–3 action dice to increase the error ranges of all attack and skill checks made with the chosen item by 2 × the same number (i.e. spending 1 action die increases the error range by 2, spending 2 action dice increase the error range by 4, and so on). Alternately, he may spend 4 action dice to cause the item to become worthless and unusable.
The problem crops up when the action dice are spent, and may even target an item the character has previously used during the same scene (as a defect or “bug” that didn’t immediately become apparent). The GC may introduce this event at any time except when the item is being used (i.e. the GC may not use this event to prevent or cancel an action taken with the item).
The target item may be chosen from the character’s personal or mission gear, or may be any item he has collected during the mission. Even a Faction- or Freelance network-issued item or weapon may be targeted (having slipped through the suppliers’ safeguards). Event Triggers: During the current mission, the character has suffered an error using the target item.
While the team or a character group is on the move, the GC may spring an impromptu chase on them. Commonly, this will happen as part of the current mission with the pursuers trying to catch the PCs being the villains of the piece, though they can also be Subplot characters, or even potential allies inadvertently spooking the characters from a distance. The GC should decide all of these details, as well as the NPCs’ plan if they catch one or more of the characters, before he introduces this event.
The GC can spend action dice to trigger this event as follows. First, there is 1 pursuer per action die spent, each a Tier II hunter, or controlled by a Tier II hunter (minimum 1 hunter). If the PCs use a vehicle, each hunter is in a vehicle of the same category and Caliber, and accompanied by 1d4 passengers, or the vehicle’s maximum passengers, whichever is lower. Also, each of these passengers is a Tier I hired gun. Finally, each hunter and passenger is armed with 1 weapon with a Caliber 1 lower than that of the vehicle.
Second, the GC may spend 1 or more action dice to increase the Tier of all NPCs involved in the chase by 1 (i.e. 1 action die increases the hunters to Tier III and all hired guns to Tier II, 2 action dice increases the hunters to Tier IV and all hired guns to Tier III, etc.).The GC may spend no more than 4 action dice to introduce any single Surprise Chase event.
Event Triggers: During a chase or combat in the previous or current scene, the characters have let any opposing character escape.
At any time when the team or a character group isn’t moving, the GC may spring an impromptu combat on them. Commonly, this will happen as part of the current mission with the attackers trying to capture or kill the PCs being the villains of the piece, though they can also be Subplot characters, or even (comically) neutral NPCs inadvertently perceiving the characters as a threat. The GC should decide all of these details, as well as the NPCs’ plan if they capture or kill one or more of the characters, before he introduces this event.
The GC can spend action dice to trigger this event in two different ways. First, there is 1 enemy combatant per action die spent, each a Tier II soldier-for-hire (minimum 1), each of whom leads a squad of 1d4 Tier I hired guns. If the PCs are armed, each of these combatants is armed with 1 weapon of any category and the same Caliber; otherwise, the soldier-for-hire becomes a martial arts master or street brawler and the hired guns become martial arts mooks or street fighters.
Second, the GC may spend 1 or more action dice to increase the Tier of all NPCs involved in the chase by 1 (i.e. 1 action die increases the soldier-for-hire to Tier III and all hired guns to Tier II, 2 action dice increases the soldier-for-hire to Tier IV and all hired guns to Tier III, etc.).
The GC may spend no more than 4 action dice to introduce any single Surprise Combat event.
Event Triggers: During a chase or combat in the previous or current scene, the characters have let any opposing character escape.
Characters who regularly enter the field with high-end gear, or become embroiled in missions involving unique or valuable items, often become targets for a variety of scoundrels. The GC should have a sketch idea of a thief’s plan, and perhaps 1 or 2 backup plans, before introducing this event.
The GC can spend action dice to trigger this event in three different ways. First, the GC may increase the thief’s base Tier of III by 1 per action die spent (maximum Tier V). Second, each thief has 3 Caliber II items suited to his plan, but the GC may increase the number of items by 1 per action die spent. Third, the GC may increase the Caliber of all items the thief carries by 1 per action die spent. The GC may spend no more than 4 action dice to introduce any single Thief event.
Event Triggers: During the previous or current mission, after and outside the Intel Phase, the characters acquire any Caliber III or higher item, or any item with an actual cost in excess of $50,000.
Most missions worthy of play are expensive and delicate endeavors, and a great deal of trust is necessary for the characters’ Factional or Freelance network masters to continue supporting them. This trust earns the characters the benefit of the doubt, which is why they commonly wind up “under review” instead of cut out, or off, entirely. This event represents the fallout of suspect mission outcomes, and gives the Game Control a powerful tool with which he can show the ramifications of failure in nearly any setting.
The GC may only place a team under review at the start of a mission’s Intel Phase, and may not introduce this event if the team is already under review. The highest gear Caliber from which a team under review may choose is reduced by 1 per action die spent (minimum Caliber II). Further, each character suffers a –2 penalty with all Profession/Accomplishment checks made during the current mission per action die spent, and his error range with these checks increases by 1 per action die spent as well.
Finally, a Tier III observer accompanies the characters everywhere they go. All of this event’s effects linger until the team convinces this NPC that they can return to unrestricted duty. This requires the characters to complete a number of consecutive mission objectives equal to the number of action dice spent; if even 1 mission objective is failed, the process must begin again. The process may carry over into subsequent missions if the team is slapdash or unlucky.
Event Triggers: During the previous mission, the team willfully ignores any mission objective; during the previous mission, the characters fail to bring home more than 1/2 their gear picks (rounded down); during the previous mission, any combination of team characters lose a total of 10 or more Reputation, or $500,000 or more Net Worth, due to exposure (thus establishing their poor track record).
The team’s activities or another aspect of the mission draw the attention of a journalist, conspiracy hunter, or other NPC who threatens to “out” the characters to the world. In order to evade the NPC or convince him to remain quiet, the team must complete a Complex Task with 1 Challenge + 1 additional Challenge per action die spent to introduce this event (maximum 5 Challenges). The DC of the first Challenge is equal to 10 + the current mission’s Threat Level and the DC of each subsequent Challenge increases by an additional 2 (i.e. at Threat Level 2, the first DC is 12, the second DC is 14, the third DC is 16, and so on).
Each Challenge represents an attempt by the team to prevent the story about their activities from coming to light. This involves a broad spectrum of skill checks, and the GC should allow the players to define each within the context of the current mission, adhering to a couple basic tenets in the process.
- No two subsequent Challenges may involve the same skill check, nor may the same skill check be used for more than 1/2 the total Challenges to be made (rounded up).
- In order for the characters to use a skill check to attempt a Challenge, the associate action must make sense to the Game Control within the context of the genre, campaign qualities, game setting, mission backstory, and other elements currently in play. For instance, coercion is unlikely to work against a world-class newspaper reporter. Likewise, reason is unlikely to appeal to a crackpot theorist. The GC need not explain his justifications for overruling a skill check, though he should always tell the players if a check is doomed to fail before it is made.
- The GC should always leave room for at least 2 different skill checks to complete each Challenge, and should intentionally vary them from Challenge to Challenge (the same way the characters must attempt subsequently different checks). It’s strongly recommended that the GC decide upon these intended skill checks before the players explain their plan to tackle each Challenge.
If this Complex Task is failed, the story goes public and the characters suffer exposure totaling 3 points of Reputation loss or $150,000 of Net Worth loss per action die spent to introduce this event, as appropriate. Assuming the characters’ Reputation and/ or Net Worth scores remain positive, play continues as standard thereafter, though the characters must change names and code names (the assumption being that the team’s backers use the exposure losses to fund new identities for each character).
Event Triggers: During the current mission, the team is within 1 mile of any explosion inflicting 20 or more points of damage in a public location, front-page news (e.g. public use of a previously unseen military or gadget technology, death of a major public figure, etc.), or public tumult (e.g. massacre, riot, or unscheduled gathering involving 100 or more people); during the current mission, any combination of team characters lose a total of 4 or more Reputation, or $200,000 or more Net Worth, due to “incident,” “noise,” or anonymity exposure.
The team’s activities draw the attention of the authorities and a Tier II police detective is assigned to track them down and bring them to justice. He becomes the Predator in a manhunt that continues throughout the remainder of the current mission (see page 382), and if he succeeds in tracking the team down, he converges on their location with a number of Tier II police officers equal to the number of characters known to be on the team. The detective makes an earnest attempt to take the characters alive, and if he succeeds, the mission either ends or diverges into an interrogation (see page 380), per the GC’s discretion.
If the characters respond with violence and escape, another manhunt is launched, this time with a Tier III police detective who brings Tier III SWAT/strike team members with him when he catches up with the team. This second wave of hunters is uninterested in negotiating with the characters and fires upon them at the first provocation. Further, if the characters are taken into custody by this second team, the mission immediately ends.
Each subsequent time the characters escape, the authorities come back with a new team at a higher Tier (i.e. the third team consists of Tier IV NPCs, and the fourth and each later team consists of Tier V NPCs). Should the mission end with the characters in custody (though not for attacking the police), their Faction or Freelance network springs them before the start of the following mission — at a price (each character sprung loses 10 Reputation or $1,000,000, as appropriate). The Faction or Freelance network springs the characters even if they did attack the police, but the price rises to 20 Reputation or $2,000,000 Net Worth, as appropriate.
Event Triggers: During the current mission, the team commits any felony (whether they are noticed or not).