Sunday, September 13, 2015

Coded in the Blood

The idea: Corporations have been scrambling to unlock the secrets of the gene since the discovery of DNA. With little to no oversight much is learned and many shortcuts are taken. Genetics is the secret to controlling the future and making all the money. The first dinosaur was cloned in 1984, and by the nineties nearly anything was possible. Now corporations use genetic hybrid soldiers and spies to fight their secret wars and wars of secrets. This is Burn Notice, but with the TMNT.

Inspirations: TMNT, Jurassic Park, Secret of NIMH, Burn Notice, The Moreau Series, Dark Angel

Creating Characters
Creating characters for this hack is a bit different than in standard Fate Core. The aspects have been changed a bit and the  skills have been replaced with Roles, which I will go into a bit when we get there. Also there will be a couple of options for what you can do for stunts and extras, and we will dive into those at the appropriate time.

Aspects
Concept: This aspect represents your basic personality and how people view you. Some sample archetypes you can build from are: Hero(Courage and Competence), Caregiver(Compassion and Generosity), Explorer(True to Self and Going Your Own Way), Creator(Creativity and imagination), Fool(improvisation and happiness). If you are having trouble come up with an archetype aspect use those examples as a basis for constructing your aspect. Combine your basic personality with your role in the team. Some sample roles include: Wheel Man, Hitter, Hacker, Face Man, Mastermind, Spymaster, Cleaner, Mechanic. Don't feel limited to those examples, if you have a better idea, by all means, go for it. Juts bear in mind that your characters are meant to be part of an elite infiltration and espionage team.
Genotype: You were born in a test tube, a hybrid of human and animal DNA, property of a corporation and trained to do the bidding of your corporate masters. This aspect represents the species of creature that you are, or that half of you are. You could also play a human member of the team, if you think that the corporation would not send expensive and difficult to replace assets into the field unsupervised.
Trouble: This is standard trouble as seen in Fate Core. What gets in the way of your character's goals. Try not to take a trouble relating to being hunted by the corporation if you intend to run through the campaign framework I lay out in this post, as that will be a central premise of the game.
2 Bonds: Bonds are aspects that link you to the other players' characters or non-player characters. Talk it over with your table and come up with some good links with the rest of the group or the setting.

Roles in the Field
Roles operate more like skills than like approaches, in that they are competence based, to a degree. However they are a little more open ended than professions, and so kind of fit into the area between professions and approaches. You describe how you are doing a thing through the lens of your spy training. Currently the Roles are rough and maybe described less than perfect. If I decide to do a bigger work up of this setting I will definitely rework these to be a bit more precise. I have a real urge to do these as free form skills. So if you want to try that out, please let me know how that goes. As it stands, if it makes sense to use a role in a given situation, they can use it. When making your character you get one role at +3(good), two at +2(Fair), and three at +1(Average).

Wetwork: Spilling blood, assassination, murder, any type of fighting and the like. Can also be used for intimidation, but only if you are really willing to harm or kill the person you are intimidating. Used primarily for attack and defense.
Surveillance: monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting them. Use of electronic devices and direct observation. Generally used for overcome and create advantage.
Social Engineering: psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. This is your go to role for manipulating and getting along with people. This is used for create advantage and overcome actions.
Black Bag: Breaking and entering(clandestine). This covers physical stealth as well as lock picking, picking pockets, and getting around security or observation. Overcome and create advantage, though it could be used for defense in the right circumstances.
Intelligence Collection Management: Dealing with the logistical and tactical concerns of an operation. Lore skill,basically, but with added perception and movement stuff. Basically this skill covers understanding what is going on around you and making the most of that knowledge. Usually used for overcome or create advantage actions.
Counterintelligence: information gathered and activities conducted to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted for or on behalf of foreign powers, organizations or persons or international terrorist activities. This is used for create advantage, overcome, and defense actions.

Stunts & Gear
There are two ways of doing stunts and gear for this setting. The first is to use standard Stunts from Fate Accelerated and create advantage rolls to represent the unique abilities and specialized gear. The other way of doing it, and my preferred method, is using the asset system from Jadepunk. I would just expand techniques to be able to handle any weird powers and animal hybrid might need and remove the requirement for jade in devices.

Flashbacks
Once per session each player may have a Flashback. The flashback must in someway relate to the current situation. Have the player give a brief description of what it is and how it relates to the scene. After the description have the player create a relevant aspect. They gain a free invoke on that aspect. Also the player should make a note

The Company
GTRI(Genetic Technologies Research Institute)
Founded in 1981 by Malcolm Hammond-Grant with the dream of creating dinosaurs, GTRI made great headway in the early days when no laws existed to deal with what they were doing. The cloned their first dinosaur in 1984 and founded Mesozoic Land in 1989, allowing the paying public to see dinosaurs, alive and thriving, for the first time ever. By 1994 GTRI had moved far beyond merely cloning to direct manipulation and hybridization. by the end of the 90s it and its chief rivals(SynGen, Neurological Innovations, and Weyland-Yutani) had many hybrids ready for full production. The American Government had used small squads in the late 90s in the War on Drugs. However it was the War on Terror was a great boon to these countries, as powerful deniable soldiers were seen as a necessary evil to win out against the current foe.  Now, 14 years later every government wants Hybrid Soldiers to fight in their clandestine wars. Businesses and Power Players also utilize these assets in their games of international commerce. No one has yet successfully bid for these Hybrids to be viewed as Sapient life. There have been a surprising number of unexplained deaths involving those who push for it though.

Important NPCs
The Company Liaison
Name: Dirk Gunschotte
Aspects: Inveterate Schemer; These Creatures Are My Way To The Top; Profit Above All
Skills: The Corporate Game +3, Company Secrets +2, Tradecraft and Survival +1

The Doctor
Name: Marina Navarre
Aspects: Top of My Class; I Must See To Their Health; Sometimes I Have Second Thoughts
Skills: Master of Medicine +3, Psychology +2, Running Away and Smoothing The Way +1

The Technician
Name: Malinda Jones
Aspects: Cutting Edge Engineer; Machines Over People; Gunschotte is Bad News
Skills: Practical Engineering +3; Research and Development +2; Investigation and Countermeasures +1

Internal Security Squad
Aspects: Follow Orders
Skills: Run and Gun +2; Silence and Service +1

The Campaign Breakdown
This is just a very basic frame work to showcase how this sort of campaign might go. I would recommend using some of the tools for world building from some previous Fate games. City Building from Dresden Files would work the best, I think, as it would fit the concept of Burned Hybrid Spies who are hunted by the company and must make the most of the connections they can find.

Intro Scene
The PCs return from a mission to be debriefed. Take a moment and have the players describe a great moment their character had in the previous mission. The mission was successful and they arrive at the safe house unharmed. The safe-house is in a nondescript warehouse along the river, lake, or other natural boundary. When they arrive, have the debriefing start, but let the players know that their characters are aware that something is off. There are far too many soldiers/guards hanging around. As the debriefing gets under way, feel free to emphasize an ominous and oppressive atmosphere. As the scene goes forward Dirk will ask the players to give themselves up for destruction. He will tell them he knows what they have been up to. Make sure the players are aware that their characters do not know what they are accused of. Then the fight will probably start and players being players, they will probably escape.

The rest of the campaign will focus on escaping, finding out what it is they are accused of, and trying to get back at those that framed them. This could lead into all sorts of interesting places and to any number of interesting people. There could be a Mutant Underground in the city led by a radical leader seeking to violently end the repression and slavery of his people. A network of criminal gangs all being led by a dangerous and unpredictable mob boss. They could make friends or enemies with reporters, police detectives, corporate execs, and any number of interesting people. Keep in mind the mood of paranoia and competence. Let the characters be awesome, but also let them know that there are bigger fish in the sea.

So what do you think? I would love to hear any critiques, comments, or criticisms. Also if you use this to run a game, let me know how it goes.