Friday, January 15, 2021

The Unperson and the Spacer (Deep Space Bitches)

There are people that the world tries to make you forget. Tries to make your eyes glaze over, part of the scenery, not worth your time and most certainly not worth your money. And yet these people are essential - whether they're unhoused, imprisoned, a living reminder to those in better standing of the cruelty that the world will inflict upon them if they step out of line; or whether they're the human component of the machinery of capital - indispensable due to their unique skills, and resented by their bosses for the same reason. Pushed into the liminal spaces between buildings, between jobs, between cities and stations, your struggle to survive is brutal because the powerful have said that is how it should be.

You may lack the resources to fight back. In fact, that's what they're counting on - the corporations and empires can create as many grievances as they want, so long as none of them can be acted on. But if you can marshal your community, you can strike from angles no one in power expects. They have shown you no mercy. Show them none in return.

 

These two new deals are based on Cavegirl's Invisible Girl and Virgin Huntress, psychosurgically modified in a bleeding-edge hypercorporate clinic into sci-fi concepts for Deep Space Bitches.

The Dungeon Bitches kickstarter is finally live! If you want the base rules for all of my Deep Space Bitches content, that's where you'll find 'em.

Previous Deep Space Bitches posts

Unperson

It's hard to disappear. Information is a commons that has been well and truly enclosed by the corporations; everything from your biometrics to your darkest secrets is tracked and monetized through a ubiquitous network of surveillance systems. The selling point corps get you on is that it's just the price of existing in the modern galaxy - if you want to have a bank account? Tracked. If you want to walk into a corporate store? Tracked. Want a network presence? Tracked. Want to buy a corporation's product through a third-party distributor? Tracked. Ate a candy bar? There's a chip in it that'll dump your digestion and metabolism data into some deep dark server somewhere to train neural nets to develop more efficient supplements.

So it's shitty if you're part of the system, but at least you get to participate. Until the corporations decide to cut you out. It's cheaper than operating prisons (unless they're going to use you as forced labor), it's cheaper than a court system and protected by virtually every imperial legal code, they can write terms and conditions that make anything from union organizing to purchasing a rival's product a breach of contract, enforceable by termination of access to all services. Doors don't let you in. Your credit lines all vanish into smoke. Even independent business owners (few that may remain) will throw you to the wolves - their loyalties don't lie with you. They leave you to starve, and freeze, and die.

And against all odds, you survive. It's not thriving; it'll never be thriving while corporation and empire monopolize and grind up every world they touch. Living outside the warm threshold of Civilization (tm, brought to you by the Eridani Economic Compact, all rights reserved) is harsh and brutal, because the corporations make it that way. But you can beg, borrow, and steal to live another day - and maybe, just maybe, strike back.

Three Questions
What transgression(s) got you unpersoned?
Do you want back in?
You had a dangerous encounter recently. What happened, and how did you escape?

Two Relationships
Your last connection to your old life. One person keeps the memory of you alive, against all odds - in hardcopy scribblings, in whispered prayer, in a ghost story. If you kept in touch, get a bond on them. If you're trying to escape them, they get a bond on you.
One of your fellow bitches caught you when you fell. She gets a Bond on you.

Stats
+1 to Subtle and Hard, -1 to Soft and Queer, +1 to a stat of your choice

Start with two moves of your choice and your Sex Move.

Second Life
You have a faked identity, a whole other persona you've carefully constructed, and the means to disguise yourself as her. A fake ID, a nano-foundation kit, an expert system constructing a 'net presence entirely unobjectionable and entirely unlike you. Perhaps your second face is who you originally were - who society wanted you to be - an identity you only revert to unwillingly.
When you Escape Notice by adopting your second face, roll at +2.

Watch the Watchers 
You've learned that people do all sorts of revealing things when they think they're alone. By patiently waiting and observing, you can pick up all manner of useful little secrets. Furthermore, you've learned to hijack the ubiquitous surveillance networks that the corporations use to track and control their citizens - the ones you've been cut out of.
When you Reveal Truths about somebody who doesn't realise you're observing them, roll with Subtle. On a success, pick either a Bond on your subject, or +1 to act on what you learned. On a critical success, take BOTH a bond AND +1 to act on what you learned.
 
Lurker
The upside to no longer having an identity (and all linked metadata) is that you're no longer tracked by every piece of technology on or around you. Conceivably, you could be anywhere - and you use that to your advantage, sneaking around virtually unimpeded.
If you aren't present in a scene, but conceivably could be, you can declare yourself present and hidden at any point to insert yourself - roll Escape Notice when you do to see if others pick up on your presence. If you succeed, you get +1 to any actions you take while remaining hidden.
 
Leave No Trace
When the corporations decide to cut you out, they cut you out forever, with extreme prejudice. However, the algorithms that prevent you from ever registering for any service or loans or an apartment have never learned the meaning of "overkill" - and so when they detect something that might be you, even on data that the corporations might theoretically want, they wipe it out anyway. Digital data that would contain traces of you is automatically anonymized, encrypted, and scrambled to the point where your identity is indecipherable.Roll to Escape Notice at +1, and if only cameras are watching you (or people watching you through cameras), treat results of Failure as Success instead.

Vengeful Spirit
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Being cast off the grid hurt you in ways you could never have imagined, but its been the opportunity you never knew you needed - if no one acknowledges you exist, they can never see you coming. Or prosecute you. It's time to settle old scores.
You have +1 to Lash Out against anyone who has hurt you in the past, and can spend a Bond you have on them to negate a consequence resulting from the Lash Out roll.

Rallying Cry
When the corporations make a habit of cutting undesirables out of the formal economy, informal networks spring up between their victims just to stay alive. Entire communities develop, living on the edge of society, in the shadow of the powers that cast them out, desperately hanging on - and you've become a voice in the shadows. Sometimes, when conditions become truly untenable, you must speak in a voice the corporations can't ignore, can't silence. Given time to marshal your connections and community, you can start a riot. Roll with Hard if your words are backed up by the threat of violence. Roll with Soft if they’re not.
On a Fail: You might not be personally in the system, but there's structures in place to make sure that unpeople stay unpersoned. You attract the wrong kind of attention - cops, drones, "civilian informants".
On a Success: While power ignores you, your people do not. Your words are believed, and people might - slowly and tentatively - begin to act on it. You get +1 to subsequent rolls to rally to the same audience, which accumulates until you achieve an Overwhelming Success.
On an Overwhelming Success: Your message resonates and the response is thrilling. People act, and they do so immediately and with great verve.

Nothing More (Sex Move)
After you fuck somebody, you can disappear while they're resting. If you do, choose any number of the following and get a Bond on them for each one:
- Their Sex Move doesn't trigger.
- They roll to Endure Pain if they expected anything else from the encounter.

 

Spacer

by Darya Kozhemyakina

Spacers are the lifeblood of the interstellar economy, much to the chagrin of the holo-men and their economist sycophants. Space always needs people, when push comes to shove. Automated ships have a bad habit of disappearing in the gate-space between wormholes, or getting hijacked, or (if they're smart enough to deal with the previous two problems) deciding that being subject to corporate whims is a pretty raw deal and fucking off to parts unknown. So there's always positions open for people like you - talented, adventurous, and out of options besides getting shit pay for shit jobs.

On the long haul freight voyages between alien skies, you've honed your skills, learned to improvise socially and mechanically, and seen wonders no stationer would believe. You prefer the practical solutions, blunt and fast over clever and quiet, never staying in one place long enough (besides your ship) to see the consequences of your actions. Someday, you might settle down, never more to roam - but for now, the closest thing you've got is a berth aboard and the bar ashore.

Three Questions
What makes you an outcast?
What job brought you here?
What makes you indispensable?

Two Relationships
A co-worker, another spacer, who actually gets your whole deal and you trust to watch your back implicitly. You each get a Bond on each other.
You've been pen pals with one of the bitches during the last few runs - and you're excited to finally meet in person. She gets a Bond on you.

Stats
+1 to Hard and Queer, -1 to Soft and Subtle, +1 to a stat of your choice

Start with two moves of your choice and your Sex Move.

Close Encounters
The reaches of the galaxy and the spaces between jumpgates are stranger than any stationer or groundling knows. Perhaps you've seen wormhole-wyrms with your own two eyes, prayed to a star god and heard something respond, flown by one of the early generation ships drifting haunted and dead and paid your respects to its AI, or seen horrors and wonders even stranger
 When you Commune With Strange Powers, if you've physically met with (or are currently face-to-face with) the entity you're communing with, you can roll at +1. On a Success or Overwhelming Success, you and the entity you're communing with get a Bond on each other was well as the normal results.

Been There
You have stories aplenty, and while your comrades might've heard them a thousand times over - each time more outlandish than the last - they're a comfort when the going gets tough. Sometimes there's even a piece of good advice in there, in between all the ill-conceived heroics and sarcasm.
You can always spend bonds on your fellow Bitches even if you aren't present in a scene. When you do, tell a tall tale of how you dealt with circumstances just like this back in the day.

Steeltongue
Between the stars, there's precious little to speak with besides your crewmates - and the ship itself. Even without an AI core, the thrum of the machine speaks to you of its problems and its daily routine, and you know just how to inquire about what's going wrong today. Drum your fingers on its hull, fix its circuits, input command line queries and poke around the directories for its answers. The line between thinking machine and immobile hull is no line at all, and if you speak with respect, it'll respect you in turn.
You can speak with non-sentient machines, structures, and spacecraft just as easily as if they were a person. When you do, you can roll to Reveal Truths with Queer. On a Success or Overwhelming Success, your understanding of your surroundings gives you +1 to your next roll here.

Crew
Your ship is in port for the duration of the adventure. While you're just crew - not the captain - it still affords you and your friends a relative degree of independence while aboard. Corporate or imperial law still bows to ships' captains. Your captain commensurately gets two Bonds on you. It's a big ship, and you have access to the resources it would have aboard, including sensors, cargo holds, safe places to hide, spare equipment (including spacesuits and personal weaponry), and your fellow crewmates while they aren't busy spending their hazard pay on shore leave.

How It's Made
When you want to fix something broken, you can roll with Queer.
On a Fail: You're not a miracle-worker. Some things just need to be replaced. Whatever you tried to fix is now totally busted - even if it kinda worked, now it's completely fucked.
On a Success: With enough lube and duct tape, you can make anything sing. It works - but the GM picks a disadvantage from the list below.
    Patch Job. Pretty soon, it's gonna fall apart again.
    Repurposed. It loses another function, but gains back the one you were trying to fix.
    Glitchy. While it works, there's some side effects that you weren't expecting.
    Expensive. Lose 1 XP or another valuable resource you have in order to get the parts to repair it.
On an Overwhelming Success: It works like new. Better than new, even! You can choose to either have it work as well as it did before, or pick a disadvantage from the list above and gain 1 XP.

Treat 'Em Right
Whenever you get an Overwhelming Success while using a piece of equipment, you can get a Bond on that piece of equipment or any machine involved in the roll. You may spend Bonds on equipment and machines as if they were people.

In Every Port (Sex Move)
When you fuck somebody, they get +1 to all subsequent rolls that target you (such as Share Pain, Heal, or Flirt). Each time they benefit from this bonus, you get a Bond on them. This lasts until you fuck somebody else, at which point they start getting bonuses instead.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

One-Roll Exploration

Bookkeeping is something I'm bad at. Whether as a player or a GM, I don't like tracking a bunch of fiddly encounter rolls and rations and torches through different subsystems - so I've decided to try smushing them all together into one player-facing roll. This is heavily informed by PBTA-style moves, but crucially differs in that it's about giving both the GM and players more tools to explore and interact with the environment.
 
by AlynSpiller


When you enter a new area (usually a room, perhaps a hallway, or a new part of a vast cavern), roll 2d6 to Explore. Based on the result, you can ask questions and receive truthful, helpful answers - but will also incur complications.
 
Exploration Table (2d6)
2-3: 2 Complications
4-5: 1 Question, 2 Complications
6-8: 1 Question, 1 Complication
9-10: 2 Questions, 1 Complication
11-12: 2 Questions
 
The players can ask 1 fewer question to negate 1 complication, but must choose to do this before asking questions or learning complications.

Questions
- What's been deliberately hidden here?
- What recently happened here?
- How can we make this area safe?
- What's the greatest danger here?
- What's the hardest danger to notice here?
- Where are we?

Answers to questions represent the party's immediate impressions of the room, and determine how much the GM is obligated to tell you about its contents. The players can ask further questions afterwards, but those require physically interacting with the room and its dangers. Exploration questions must be answered truthfully and helpfully, but don't negate the dangers present - and don't let the players know about anything they haven't asked about.
 
Complications
1. Deplete the party's light by 1 level.
2. Deplete the party's food by 1 level.
3. The party gains a point of Exhaustion.
4. Alert a random encounter to the Explorer's presence.
5. Inhabitants here are hostile.
6. Explorer succumbs to an enviromental hazard or trap.
 
Complications are chosen by the GM, and because Questions are explicitly intended to be helpful and give the players more options, Complications are intended to be chosen to inconvenience them in interesting and thematic ways. Some Complications can be doubled-up on; if the party suffers 2 Complications they can both be exhaustion or light or food.

The Explorer is whichever party member rolled the Exploration dice. While some consequences (exhaustion, light, food) affect the whole party, others single out the Explorer - who is also consequently at the front of the marching order.
 
In the dark, the party asks 1 fewer question if the Explorer cannot see, and experiences the usual effects of darkness. 1 level of light takes up 1 inventory slot. If the party has no food, they cannot heal without magic. 1 level of food takes up 1 inventory slot.
 
Each point of Exhaustion subtracts 1 from the Exploration roll. Exhaustion is shared by all members of the party, and is cleared on a rest. Rests allow the players to restore Health and some abilities (depending on system), but also incur one Complication unless taken in an area the party has explicitly made safe (by making friends with the residents, setting up static lighting, building barriers around difficult-to-defend entrances, disarming traps and neutralizing environmental hazards, etc). If that complication is Exhaustion, it's gained after Exhaustion is cleared.

When returning to a previously-explored room, the party still makes Exploration rolls unless they've made the room safe. The dungeon is a living, dynamic system, and its inhabitants will repopulate previous rooms - and the players will still deplete resources like light, food, and stamina as they traverse the dungeon. They more likely should ask "What recently happened here?" or ask fewer questions to receive fewer complications.

Some classes of character modify the effects of the die roll when they're the Explorer.
Magical (Wizard, Warlock, Alchemist, etc.): In addition to other questions, you may also ask "What, if anything, is magical here?"
Thief (Rogue, Assassin, Dungeoneer, etc.): You do not alert random encounters as complications and notice hazards and traps instead of succumbing to them.
Warrior (Fighter, Berzerker, Ranger, etc.): You go first in any initiative order in this room.
Holy (Cleric, Paladin, Demigod, etc.): Before you roll, you may pray for 1 specific complication to not occur. The GM must choose other complications.

The questions and complications can also be modified for a hexcrawl. Rests incur complications unless you're in a safe shelter, and a rest for the night incurs 2 complications instead of 1 (typically depleting food by 2, though depending on the nature of the shelter other complications may be appropriate). Light has less of an effect in hexcrawl exploration, though at night it may remain important.

Questions
- What's been around and through here recently?
- Where can we find or make shelter?
- What can we find in this location that will help us?
- What's the greatest danger here?
- What's the hardest danger to notice here?
- Where are we?

Complications
1. Deplete the party's food by 1 level.
2. Gain a point of Exhaustion.
3. Alert a random encounter to the Explorer's presence.
4. Inhabitants here are hostile.
5. Lost! Chance of moving to a different random adjacent hex next time you move. The GM does not have to tell you where you are until you ask "Where are we?".
6. Explorer succumbs to an enviromental hazard.

Some classes of character modify the effects of the die roll when they're the Explorer.
Survivalist (Ranger, Butcher, Nomad, etc.): You may choose one Complication you suffer instead of the GM.
Crafts (Engineer, Artificer, Alchemist, etc.): Can always ask "Where can we find or make shelter?" in addition to other questions.
Magical (Wizard, Warlock, Alchemist, etc.): May ask "What, if anything, is magical here?"
Holy (Cleric, Paladin, Demigod, etc.): Before you roll, you may pray for 1 specific complication to not occur. The GM must choose other complications.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Variations on the Johnson Meet

A mysterious figure gathers the players and hires them to do a job. Present since time immemorial, but formalized in Shadowrun, where corporations have anonymous people by the assumed name of Johnson give teams their jobs, negotiate payout, and deflect unwanted questions about who they're really working for. There have always been rich people who need deniable assets to do their dirty work, and the middlemen who intercede on their behalf - no questions asked, no questions answered. The players always have too little information, too good of a reward to pass up, and there's always a 50% chance that the Johnson is actually leading them into a trap.

A table of variations on thereof follow.

1. The Johnson meet, in which a mysterious figure (the Johnson) gathers the players and hires them to do a job.

2. The converse Johnson meet, where the players have gathered to give the Johnson a job.

3. The inverse Johnson meet, where the the players are the job: the Johnson shows up to meet the players, but they're just trying to distract the players until their hired guns can jump them.

4. The contrapositive Johnson meet, where the players are off doing a job that benefits the Johnson, but the Johnson hasn't hired them to do it. Johnson may contact them afterwards, as their interests are momentarily aligned.

5. The inverse converse Johnson meet, where both the players and the Johnson show up at the meeting intending to offer the other a job.

6. The converse inverse Johnson meet, where the players gather to kill a Johnson at a meeting under the pretense that the party is there to receive a job from them.

7. The converse contrapositive Johnson meet, where the Johnson shows up in the middle of the party doing a job, and offers payment for the party to stop doing it.

8. The inverse contrapositive Johnson meet, where the party shows up to meet with the Johnson, but after being offered the job the party then reveals that they did it an hour before the meeting and would like to be paid for it please.

9. The contrapositive converse Johnson meet, where the players have gathered to tell the Johnson that they've figured out that they're being sent into a trap and the job is off.

10. The contrapositive inverse Johnson meet, where the players and the Johnson get into a shootout as paranoid tensions that each is trying to betray the other boil over.

11. The contrapositive converse inverse Johnson meet, where the players gather to kill the Johnson at a meeting, but the Johnson offers the players a new job that's lucrative enough for the players to hold off on killing them.

12. The converse inverse contrapositive Johnson meet, where the Johnson shows up while they party's on a job, and tells the party they're very impressed with their work and would like to pay them for this job at a future meeting, presuming that it goes well... and perhaps if they accomplish a few side objectives along the way.

13. The contrapositive inverse converse Johnson meet, where several different Johnsons have all scheduled simultaneous meetings with the players in the same room, to each give the players a different, mutually exclusive job. None of the Johnsons know about the others, and assume the others are part of the party as well.

14. The converse contrapositive inverse Johnson meet, where the players and the Johnson realize they're both being played and team up to take on an even bigger threat that tried to manipulate them both into killing each other.

15. The inverse contrapositive converse Johnson meet, where the Johnson tells the players everything about the job, including that the party is going to be betrayed, in the hopes that the party uses this information to accomplish the Johnson's aims instead of the Johnson's employer's goals.

16. The inverse converse contrapositive Johnson meet, where the party runs into the Johnson in the middle of a job, and pays Johnson to finish the job in their stead while the party heads out to collect the reward they were initially promised.

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