Monday, 7 March 2016

City of Thieves- A Heistbox System- Part 2

So, I was planning on having this system ready to playtest by the end of February. Sadly that didn't happen. While far from complete, in a week or two I may be ready for playtests. Here are most of the core mechanics of the game. Some crucial stuff is missing and it hasn't been edited for clarity, but I figured I'd throw an update up here, just to prove it's not another one of my half-abandoned projects. Considering I'm writing this as a replacement for my Hexcrawl game, I can't let it languish.

Resolution Mechanics

Players roll dice in two situations: When they are opposed and when they have a time constraint. For example, a leisurely drive during planning would not require a roll, but a car chase after a heist would.

Players roll a number of six-sided dice equal to the relevant skill plus the connected ability and keep a number of those dice equal to the ability. These dice are referred to as the dice pool. They add up the value of the kept dice and compare it to the difficulty. Rolling all 1s is a Catastrophe and has effects beyond failing accomplish the intended goal.

Certain factors such as planning, gear or circumstances can add or subtract from the dice pool.

The difficulty of a roll is set by the Game Master or the opponent of an opposed roll. The base difficulty for a roll is 9, but can be higher or lower depending on the circumstances of the roll. During an opposed roll, the opponent rolls first and the result of their roll determines the difficulty of the second roll.

Stages and Initiative

A Job is divided into several Stages. The situation in a Stage determine its type and the type of Stage then determines what skills and actions are available to the characters within that scene. The stages are listed below, along with how long a round of that kind of stage lasts.

Prep: 1 day
Social Call: 10 minutes
Heist: 5 minutes
Action: 1 minute

If multiple scenes are taking place at once, start at the smallest unit of time and resolve until it reaches the threshold for the next highest scene. If a scene resolves before it exceeds the threshold then consider it a full round of the next highest unit of time. For example, 2 Heist rounds equal 1 round in a Social Call, but 3 Heist rounds equal 2 rounds in a Social Call.

Regardless of the Stage, characters may take two types of actions:
Bolster: Skip your turn, but add +1k0 to the next roll a character of your choice make. If they don't make a roll on their next turn, they lose this bonus.
Wait: Skip your turn with no additional effects.


If multiple groups are competing or the order in which things happen is a factor in a given scene, then roll Initiative as a group. How the group rolls initiative depends on the scene they are taking part in. Listed below are the type of rolls required to determine initiative and their corresponding scenes

Heists and Prep: Brains+Planning
Social Call: It+ Size Up
Violence and Foot Chases: Muscle+ Athletics
Vehicle Chases: Fingers+ Driving
Once the group rolls for initiative, the Game Master gathers the totals from the rolls and writes them down from highest to lowest, marking which specific side of the conflict the value belongs to. These values create the Slots that characters then use to take their turn.
At the highest value, the person or people responsible for playing the owning faction choose a character to take their turn in that slot. Once their turn is over, it moves down to the next highest slot. Once all the available Slots have been used to take a turn, the round is over. Normally, each character involved in that specific conflict must claim a Slot each turn, however, members of the Crew have access to a Focus Round.

During a Focus Round, a particular character may claim as many slots as other players on the crew are willing to give them. A character may only take one Focus Round per session.

Abilities and Skills

Muscles: Violence and unsubtle physical actions

Shooting: Governs the use of firearms and other projectile weapons (Action)

Hand to Hand: Governs the use of unarmed and melee weapons (Action)

Athletics: Used from swimming, climbing, running, lifting, and all manner of physical activity as long as subtlety is not the main concern (Action/ Heist)

Intimidate: Influencing others through threats and causing fear (Social)

Resist: Used during violence to avoid damage by taking cover or dodging. (Action)

Explosives: Used for the production and implementation of explosives, planted or thrown. (Action/ Heist)

Fingers: Daring and subtle physical actions, technical skills

Driving: Use and control of automobiles and stormers in stressful situations (Action)
Cat Burglary: Used from swimming, climbing, running, lifting, and all manner of strenuous physical activity as long as the main concern is subtlety (Heist)

Palming: Pick pocketing and other sleight of hand tricks (Heist)

Sneak: The capacity to conceal oneself while not exerting oneself physically (Heist)

Lockpicking: Knowledge of how to force simple locks open (Heist)

Build: Construction or modification of spaces and devices (Prep)

Brains: Knowledge, Planning and Observation

Mysticism: Mastery of one of the great magical Traditions, as well as general information about arcane matters (Prep)

Planning: The capacity to perform research and run schemes (Prep)

Lookout: General situational awareness (Heist)

Safecracking: Knowledge of the methods used to force open safes (Heist)

Appraisal: The ability to assess the worth of valuables and to detect forgeries (Prep)

Forgery: Knowledge of how to create fake documents and valuables such as art (Prep)

It: Sex Appeal, Social Skills & Social Connections

Connections: Knowledge of potentially useful people, such as fences, and how to reach them (Prep)

Size up: The ability to identify potential marks and to get a read for their loyalties and intentions (Social)

Con: Knowledge of confidence schemes and skills relevant to their execution as well as the creation of disguises and false identities (Social/Prep)
Impress: Influencing people through charisma, talent or sex appeal (Social)

Manipulate: Influencing people through lies and trickery (Social)

Convince: Influencing people through rhetoric and persuading with the truth (Social)

Action Scenes


Getting The Drop:
If your target is unaware that you are in the same zone as them, you are able to get the Drop. You make a roll with Hand to Hand, Shooting, or Explosives versus the opponent's Training Score. If attacking with fists or a weapon with the Blunt tag, then this is a Subdue roll. If attacking with another weapon, then this is a Murder roll. In either case, add the bonus from any wielded weapon.

While getting the Drop is safer than Gang Warfare, there is still a strong chance of killing your opponent, even if that is not your intention. The goal of these rules is to set a middle group between the harmless knock-out punch seen in fiction and the reality of head injuries.

Subdue Rolls and their results:
Attacker Fails: Target is Aware
Attacker Succeeds: Target is Aware but Unconscious
Attacker Succeeds by 3+: Target is Dead
Attacker Succeeds by 6+: Target is Unconscious

Murder Rolls and their results:
Attacker Fails: Target is Aware
Attacker Succeeds: Target is Wounded and Aware
Attacker Succeeds by 3+: Target is Dead

If the target is Conscious and Aware they may attempt to Flee, which may begins a Chase of the relevant type, Call for Help, which raises the guards' Awareness Scores, or they could Square Up, which may start Gang Warfare. If the target is Unconscious but Aware, they know their attacker's description, although the use of disguises mitigate the danger somewhat.

When getting the Drop on multiple people, any result where the target is Aware or made with a firearm will also make the target's allies Aware.

Gang Warfare:
A measure of last resort for a desperate crew of thieves. Gang Warfare is when two or more people engage in combat where both sides are Aware of the other.
After rolling Initiative as outlined in Chapter 1 (pg XX). After rolling Initiative, everyone rolls Resist with any armour bonuses, and records the number as their Cover Score.
When the round reaches a character's claimed initiative slot there are several actions they can take.

Flee: The character moves to exit the Zone, Every slot between this action and the character's next action gets a chance to join in. If an enemy joins in, then a Chase begins. On the character's next action, they leave the Zone and the Gang Warfare.

Reposition: The character moves within the Zone. This may give them access to different gear or circumstances, but also allows a character to re-roll their Cover Score.

Attack: The character uses weapons or their own body to attempt to harm another character. The aggressor rolls Muscle+the relevant skill with their opponent's Cover Score as thedifficulty.
Skills useful in an attack are Shooting, Hand to Hand, and Explosives. Shooting and Explosives require specific gear to use in combat. If the character is in a vehicle, they can also make an Attack with Fingers+Driving, but must make another Fingers+Driving check to avoid crashing if the circumstances warrant it.
If a character attacks using the Hand to Hand skill, it is assumed they move the distance to their target as part of their Attack. They do not re-roll their Cover Score.
If the character is using the Hand to Hand skill and successfully hits, they can choose to Restrain. A Restrained character cannot Flee or Reposition on their turn. To break free from a Restraining character, the two characters may roll opposed Muscle+ Athletics.
Any Attack in which the aggressor's roll is not a Catastrophe reduces the target's Cover Score by 1. Exceeding the target's Cover Score reduces the value by however much the Attack exceeded the Score.
If the target's Cover Score drops to 0, then they become wounded and any leftover damage is the number of days until they recover.
If the target is already wounded and their Cover Score drops to 0, they are Dead.


Chases have two scales for Velocity, Speed and Muscles.
Speed is typically used when a vehicle can use its full capacity such as on a road with normal traffic. Vehicles have a set Speed rating. Certain characters, through the use of advanced technology or magic also have a Speed Rating. Their Speed is set by whatever means they obtained it.
Making rolls using Speed involves rolling a pool of Speed+Driving.
If a character is unable to use their vehicles full capacity, they roll Fingers+Driving and are considered to be traveling at Muscles velocity.
Similarly, if someone on foot is granted Speed but is unable to use it due to cramped conditions, they use their Muscle+Athletics and are considered to traveling at Muscles velocity.
Characters traveling at Muscles velocity roll Muscle+Athletics.

Chases begin with the sides rolling initiative as outlined in Chapter 1 (pg XX). Participants roll Resist with any armour bonuses, and records the number as their Cover Score. The GM then sets an initial Distance.
The Distance is how much ground separates the groups. Each chase has one Target and every other participant is considered a Pursuer. If there are multiple people in the Target group and they split up, chasing after each group of Targets is considered a separate Chase. A Target may consist of multiple people, as long as they are moving together. These classifications determine which actions are available to a participant.

Targets may, on their turn:

Attack: A character may attempt to Attack, as in Gang Warfare, during a chase. Attacking with a melee weapon requires a Distance of 0. Attacks against a Vehicle target its Body Score, attacks against a Passenger or Pedestrian target their Cover Score.

Accelerate: This action allows a character to increase the distance between them and their Pursuers. They make an opposed roll versus their Pursuers and if successful, increase the Distance by 1. If there are multiple Pursuers, then each group able to Close rolls. If in a vehicle, only the driver may Accelerate.

Shake: Characters may use this action in a variety of ways, all representing careful maneuvering as a means of deterring their Pursuers. If in a vehicle, only the driver may Shake. The most basic application is entering a crowded space. Participants in the chase then use the rules for cramped conditions. The target may attempt to surmount an obstacle. The Target sets a difficulty and rolls against it. Similarly, their Pursuers also roll against it. If the Target is successful, increase the Distance by 1. If the Pursuers are unsuccessful, increase the Distance by another 1. This action may also be use to dislodge someone who has taken the Board action. The Character rolls Fingers+ Driving versus the Pursuers Muscle+Athletics, if successful, the Pursuer is thrown from the Vehicle.

Escape: This action allows a character to leave a chase victorious. To escape, a character must have distance from their pursuers equal to the fastest Pursuer's Velocity Rating and be able to Accelerate.

Pursuers may, on their turn:

Takedown: Only available to Pursuers at Distance 0. Characters make the relevant opposed rolls. If the Pursuer succeeds, they end the chase, Victorious. If they fail, then Distance increases by 2. If the Pursuer performs a successful Takedown while on foot, they may immediately initiate a hold against a Target. If the Pursuer is in a Vehicle and successfully performs a Takedown, the Target is subject to an immediate Ram attack.

Board: Only available to Pursuers in Vehicles against Targets in Vehicles at Distance 0. This action allows a character to move from one Vehicle to another. The Pursuer rolls Muscle+Athletics versus their Opponents Fingers+Driving. If Successful, the Pursuer is always considered to be at Distance 0 to the target.

Attack: A character may attempt to Attack, as in Gang Warfare, during a chase. Attacking with a melee weapon requires a Distance of 0. Attacks against a Vehicle target its Body Score, attacks against a Passenger or Pedestrian target their Cover Score.

Ram: A ram is a special form of the Attack action, only available to the driver of a vehicle. If the Distance is a 0, then the Pursuer may attack using Fingers+Driving against the Body or Cover Score of the Defender, dealing damage as normal. The attacker's Vehicle grants a weapon bonus.

Close: This action allows a character to decrease the distance between them and their Target. They make an opposed roll versus their Target and if successful, decrease the Distance by 1. If in a vehicle, only the driver may Close. Additionally, if the Pursuer has a Speed Velocity Rating and the Target has a Muscles Velocity Rating, attempting to Close reduces the Distance to 0. On a successful roll, the Pursuer may also attempt a Takedown or Ram.

Fall Off: This action allows a character to leave a chase without having caught the Target. No roll is needed but in the case of a Vehicle, only the driver may perform this action.


Spots and Zones

Heists take place in a Spot. A Spot is a small area, no larger than a few city blocks. Spots are made up of Zones. Characters begin a Heist outside the Spot and Concealed.
Zones are spaces denoted by a character's ability to move from one point in the Zone to any other point within the span of a single Heist Round. Unless a Tag says otherwise, characters can move through a Zone without a roll, or with a Stealth roll if they wish to remain undiscovered. An Aware Guard in the Zone prevents a character from moving with Stealth.
Zones come with two qualifiers, Tags and Barriers.
Tags denote special circumstances that make a Heist more or less difficult.
Barriers divide Zones within a Spot. Barriers may have one or more Securities. Each Security has a Tag and a Score. The Tag denotes what kind of obstacle prevents movement between zones. The Security Score marks how difficult overcoming those obstacles are.

Zone Tags:
Hazardous: Movement in this zone requires either an Athletics or Cat Burglar Roll
Noisy: Stealth rolls are permitted against Aware Guards
Hidden:Rolls to discover the Layout of a Spot do not uncover the presence of these Zones. Discovering Zones with this tag requires a special roll as detailed below under the heading “Research”.
Crowded: Rolls made with Cat Burglar, as well any Subdue or Murder Rolls cause all Guards in the Zone to become Aware.

Barrier Tags:
Lock: Bypassing requires a Lockpicking roll
Vault: Bypassing requires a Safecracking roll
Height: Bypassing requires an Athletics or Cat Burglar roll
Structure: Bypassing requires an Athletics or Build roll

Non-Player characters present at the Spot with an interest in keeping people out of the spot or particular zones within it, and/or keeping them away from the Loot are designated as Guards. Guards are mostly built like regular characters, but have two Scores that determine their interactions on the Heist Time frame until they gain the Aware state.
Both of these scores are determined with the following formula:
Score= 3x Kept Dice +(1 per additional rolled die)
Awareness: Tied to the guard's Brains + Lookout Pool
Training: Tied to the guard's Muscle+ Resist Poll

In a Zone with multiple guards, use the highest Awareness score for all.

Research takes place during the Prep Stage and lets the characters discover important information about the Heist. The standard skill for Research is Planning. Planning takes more time but doesn't require risks or payment.
Alternatively, a character may roll Connections to draw on their contacts. This halves the difficulty of the roll but you must pay 1 Reputation per roll made.
Another option, which also halves the difficulty of the roll, is a stakeout. In a stakeout, the characters roll Lookout against the difficulty of their Research goal, but also roll stealth against the Awareness Score of the Guard(s) nearest the edge of the Spot. Failure on the Stealth roll raises the Crew's Heat.

Layout: Base difficulty of 6 with +1 per zone.
Characters wishing to discover a Hidden Zone roll their research skill and declare they are looking for Hidden Zones. If the roll meets or exceeds the rating attracted to the Zones in the Spot with the Hidden Tag, the character discovers them as part of their research.

Mark: Identify people of interest to the Heist. The base difficulty for this roll is 25-(The Target's Connections Skill)

Itinerary: Learn the schedule of a Character or Spot. The base difficulty for this roll is 20.

Planning can accumulate Foresight which acts as a specialized currency to be spent on Schemes
When using a planning roll to accumulate Foresight, the threshold for gaining 1 Foresight is 3
Each player can have a pool of Foresight equal to their Brains+Planning

1) Ambush- Reposition a member of the Crew instantly within a Spot- 1 Foresight per Zone moved
2) Training- Add dice on action- 1 Foresight per rolled die and 2 Foresight per kept die added
3) Secrets- Allows someone to make a regular Connections, Planning, or Mysticism roll- 3 Foresight per roll
4) Cache- Spend Resources retroactively, if used to purchase gear, the character of your choice gains the items-1 Foresight per Resource spent
5) Blueprint- Add a Zone with the Hidden Tag between two other Zones-If the Zone connects to the edge of the Spot the base cost is 3 Foresight, if not, the base cost is 1 Foresight. In both cases, the cost increases by 1 per Zone the new Zone bypasses.
6) Switch- Allows someone to make a con schemes roll for disguises or a regular forgery roll- 3 Foresight per roll

Social Calls


Loyaties are representative of the ideals and relationships that drive your character forwards. Players have a maximum of 4 Loyalties, one of which is their Prime Loyalty. The Prime Loyalty is the most important connection your character has, something that they will only forgo under the most strenuous of circumstances. Loyalties are short descriptions, focusing on the person or idea and the type of relationship.
Some example Loyalties:

Hatred: Germans
Devoted: Spouse
Devoted: Crew
Hated: Police
Desire: Knowledge
Desire: Ruth the Flapper

Loyalties may be manipulated by others during Social Calls, either changing the regular Loyalties to something different, or switching one of their existing Loyalites with the Prime Loyalty. Characters may only alter one Loyalty per Social Call. A Character may alter one of their Loyalties in the same way at the beginning of a session. Characters can also use their Loyalties in two other ways.

Lean Onto: When Leaning Onto a Loyalty, you are using your connections, or the connections of another to add 1k0 to a roll. Leaning Onto your own Loyalties, you can apply the bonus from any Loyalty of immediate relevance to any type of action. For example, you could Lean Onto your Hatred of Police in a shootout, but couldn't add your Devotion to your Crew unless someone in your crew were threatened beyond the circumstances of the shootout such as being wounded. When Leaning Onto another person's Loyalty, you can only use it during social calls. Furthermore, if you are attempting to alter another character's Loyalties, you cannot Lean Onto the Loyalty you are attempting to alter. To put it another way, you can't use a person's love for their job to get them to take a bribe, but you could use their fear of their loan shark to get them to risk the job they love.

Lean Into: People refuse to compromise their morals, connections, and biases. Leaning Into a Loyalty is how a character can shut down an attempt to manipulate them. If an attempt at pushing an agenda goes against one of your Loyalties, you may Lean Into that Loyalty in order to deny the attempt. The exception to this rule is if someone is trying to alter that Loyalty. The character can still Lean Into other Loyalties that apply. For example: A handsome German man were trying to seduce a married woman. The German man attempts to alter her Loyalty, Devoted: Husband, to Desire: Handsome German. The married woman could not Lean Into Devoted: Husband, but could Lean Into Hatred: Germans in order to negate the pushed agenda.

Social Calls

A Social Call is when one or more parties attempt to push an agenda or agendas on others. This could be something like seduction, bribery, or running a confidence trick.

Social Calls use skills with the Social tag.

To begin a Social Call, roll Initiative as outline in Chapter 1 (pg XX). When you claim a slot on the initiative order, you may either attempt to Read Room, or Push Agenda. After players make their roll, and the results are determined, the group can roleplay however much of the interaction they like, with the goal of reaching the predetermined result.

Read Room: In order to achieve a goal, characters need to know who they need to talk to in order to make that happen. A character attempting to Read Room rolls Size Up versus their opponent's Size Up. If the aggressor succeeds, the character learns the identity of their target. If their opponent succeeds, the aggressor still learns the identity of their target, but the target also learns the presented identity of the aggressor.

If your target has already been identified, you can use a Read Room roll to determine a single Loyalty of your choice, you are able to ask if there are any Loyalties that would impede your current Agenda. If the opponent it aware of your identity, on a failed roll they learn which Loyalty you were trying to uncover. If the opponent is unaware of your identity, they learn it on a failed roll. On a success, you learn the relevant loyalty, but your opponent remains in the dark about your identity or intentions.

Push Agenda: If your character know who their target is, you can then attempt to Push Agenda.

The first step is to set an Agenda. Your Agenda is what you want to get from your target. This is not, for example, seducing the target. Seduction is the means to an end, the Agenda is what you gain from that seduction, it could be as simple as getting someone alone or it could be something complex like convincing them to lend the crew their car.

The next step is to create the Build Up. This stage is creating the emotion state you want in your target. These states are either negative or positive. A failed roll versus your opponent's Size Up yields the negative emotional state for the skill used to Build Up. On a successful roll, you create a positive emotional state. The emotional state is set and cannot be altered until another character attempts a Build Up. Furthermore, if a character is in a negative emotional state, the character responsible for the Build Up that invoked that state cannot Follow Through. If they change their presented identity, for instance, through a disguise, they can attempt to Build Up, or Follow Through.

The skills used in the Build Up and the Positive/Negative Emotional States they create are listed below:

Intimidate: Fearful/Angry
Con: Mark/Wise
Impress: Devoted/Envious
Manipulate: Accepting/Suspicious
Convince: Engaged/Stubborn

To complete your agenda, you need to Follow Through on the Emotional State you, or another character created. To Follow Through you roll Intimidate, Impress, Manipulate or Convince against your target's Read Room. If successful, you achieve your agenda. On a failed roll, their Emotional State changes to the relevant Negative Emotional State, depending on what skill you used.

Emotional States

Accepting: The target buys into whatever lie the aggressor is spinning.

Angry: The target is furious with the aggressor and will resist their agenda.

Devoted: The target wants to be like the aggressor or to be with the aggressor.

Engaged: The target is considering the aggressor's rhetoric and may change their stance on whatever the debate concerns.

Envious: The target hates the aggressor for showing off their talents or being better than the target.

Fearful: The target is afraid of the aggressor and will comply with their wishes.

Mark: The target buys into the Con the aggressor is pushing.

Stubborn: The target is set in their opinion concerning the debated subject and will not accept the aggressor's stance.

Suspicious: The target does not believe the lie or lies that the aggressor tells them.

Wise: The target recognizes the nature of the aggressor's Con.

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