Your team works to improve your relationships with Contacts so you can join together and build a better future for your town. You primarily improve those relationships through ventures.
You can approach any Contact and ask them what kind of help they need. Even if a Contact has a grudge against your team, they will accept your assistance. Your community is too small and too desperate to turn away from anyone inside it.
Your team can only reach out to Contacts, not factions. Factions have their own system of support and people to use for operations. You’re focused on your local community.
The GM will frame a brief scene where you seek out the Contact. You will see them in their normal environment and maybe learn a few things about their current situation. There is no negotiating for pay, so the meeting should focus on learning just enough to agree or turn down the task.
You can always turn town a request. Describe how you exit the situation and make a contact roll. In this case, the consequence is adding a grudge with that Contact.
Your team spends time planning out the details of their task. As players, we skip past most of that. Since you can use flashbacks to jump back to preparation when it becomes relevant, there’s no reason to dive into it now.
All you have to do is choose what type of plan your team has already made. There’s no need to sweat all the little details and try to cover every eventuality ahead of time, because the engagement roll (detailed below) ultimately determines how much trouble you’re in when the plan is put in motion. No plan is ever perfect. You can’t account for everything. This system assumes that there’s always some unknown factors and trouble—major or minor—in every operation; you just have to make the best of it.
Before you start planning your venture, the group sets the stage for the upcoming action together.
Set the Stage
The group will go through a series of questions to create some of the possible obstacles together. GMs can take inspiration from what their players put forward, and players can use the information they gain as if it was gathered during research before the venture. It is fine to provide short responses or say what comes to mind first. Think of these answers as springboards to use once you jump into the action.
Alternate between the GM and players each asking a question. Continue until every player has asked one question.
What is the biggest threat?
What is the unseen threat?
What detail of the threat's operation is often overlooked?
Who is an unseen ally?
How could this venture escalate local tensions?
What potential danger worries you the most?
How do these threats scare (or intimidate) their enemies?
Which of your Contacts told you about the unseen threat?
Which of your Contacts told you about the unseen ally?
Which of your Contacts could be hurt by this venture?
Making a Plan
Now that your group knows some of what they face during the venture, it’s time to plan your approach.
There are seven different plans, each with a missing detail you need to provide (see the list below). To “plan a venture,” simply choose the plan and supply the detail. Then the GM will cut to the action as the first moments of the venture unfold.
Each venture you undertake will involve a major obstacle or series of obstacles. Your plan is only intended to take you to the first one. As the saying goes, no plan survives contact with the enemy, so don’t worry too much about which plan you choose.
More than anything, this plan sets the opening scene of your venture. You can think of it as shaping the opening tone. Does your group want to open on a tense scene of intimidation? Choose the force plan. Do you want to begin with the chaos of a large crowd demanding answers? Chose the rally plan. Want the quiet strain of ducking guards? Choose a stealth plan. And so on.
When you choose a plan, you provide a missing detail. This helps give some additional direction to the opening scene and explains, in broad terms, how you launched this plan. If you are using a cunning plan to out-maneuver a hostile gang, explain what special insight or knowledge you have to gain the upper hand. If you want to sow discontent in the over-air conditioned cubicles of your local corporation, name the point of contention you use to build dissent.
Players can make up the detail or gather information from town: describe how you seek out the information and roll. The GM will provide the detail, its viability tailored to the success of your roll.
After the plan and detail are in place, each player chooses their character’s load. This indicates how much stuff they’re carrying on the venture and how others perceive them.
They don’t have to select individual items—just the maximum amount they’ll have access to during the venture. Characters have access to all the items on their playbook. Items require load equal to the number of checkboxes next to them. Items in italics take up no load.
Once the players choose a plan and provide its detail, the GM cuts to the action—describing the scene as the team starts the venture and encounters their first obstacle. But how is this established? The way the GM describes the starting situation can have a huge impact on how simple or troublesome the venture turns out to be. Rather than expecting the GM to simply “get it right” each time, we use a dice roll instead. This is the engagement roll.
The engagement roll starts with 1d for sheer luck. Modify the dice pool based on the following factors:
The engagement roll assumes that the PCs are approaching the target as intelligently as they can, given the plan and detail they provided, so we don’t need to play out tentative probing maneuvers, special precautions, or other ponderous non-action. The engagement roll covers all of that. The PCs are already in action, facing the first obstacle—kicking open the warehouse door; sprinting past the military checkpoint, racing towards the test site; passed the gang lookouts, approaching the leader; etc.
Don’t make the engagement roll and then describe the PCs approaching the target. It’s the approach that the engagement roll resolves. Cut to the action that results because of that initial approach—to the first serious obstacle in their path.
The outcome of the engagement roll determines the position for the PCs’ initial actions when we cut to the score in progress.
1-3: serious trouble. You overreached your abilities, are overwhelmed, or face desperate consequences.
4 or 5: risky situation. You need to act under fire. A threat will take charge if you don’t respond immediately.
6: have the advantage. You can see the approaching danger and have a chance to act first. You have the upper hand.
No matter how badly you roll, the worst you’ll face is serious trouble. The game assumes you did enough planning to get some measure of success. You will always reach that first obstacle with a chance to act.
How Long Does it Last?
The engagement roll determines the starting scene for the PCs’ actions. The engagement roll is a quick short-hand to kick things off and get the action started—it doesn’t have any impact after that. The PCs will act, and the world will react to the new dynamic.
The venture phase continues based on the character’s actions and the world’s response. Like we covered in The Basics, the majority of play is a conversation built around goals and obstacles. Follow the momentum of the dice and story where it leads.
The venture ends in one of two ways.
The team can complete its task. Any task undertaken for a Contact will have a specific success condition. Once you meet that condition and reach a place of (relative) safety, the venture comes to a close.
Or the team can give up on its venture. Maybe the consequences have spiralled out of control. Maybe you learned something new and don’t want to complete the task. Maybe you have filled your stress trackers and marked off every condition. Whatever the case, the team can end a venture at any point. Describe how the scene resolves, and cut away to the next phase: town.