SixSimple: for use with CONTROL

I do like narrative systems.

Character Generation
You create a character description consisting of up to 10 facts (maybe related to Quirks, Drive, Flaws) and underline 5 of them. These 5 things are your most descriptive traits which may be objects, skills, contacts, background items and can, in theory, be called into play at any time. If the timing seems inappropriate, the Narrator may require the sacrifice of a Story Point or a card of a significant value from the hand. This really only needs to be one paragraph.

Choose one more to be your Drive – the most fundamental ambition for your character. This is commonly related to the reason why the character is not content to stay home and sow crops or catch fish.

Choose one flaw. This can be physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. It may be how the character perceives the world or how the world perceives the character.

This character sheets is nicknamed a “Charagraph” mainly because Paracter sounds silly.

Traits : “Turi is a shell diver like all of her family. She is tall, thin and wiry and like most in the region is dark, with coppery-brown hair. She lives with her three brothers and her father – an arrangement which has made her tomboyish and she’s a capable wrestler as a result. She carries a steel knife and a diving shell which allowed her to stay underwater for nearly 10 minutes. She has collected a small fortune in pearls and semi-precious stones from her diving exploits. She never knew her but her father claims her mother was a woman of influence from one of the big inland cities. Her family are somewhat devout to the Old One and still have a small shrine to her in their basement.
Drive : She is Driven by her desire to gain wealth and travel to see if she still has family in the cities.
Flaw : Due to an overdive when she was younger which caused her eardrums to burst, Turi is 40% deaf

Idea for card based play:
(You may want to look at the rules for IllusionDev) Everything has a opposition value. You have a hand of 5 cards by default. When you play one and win the conflict, you pick up one. Every task has a single resolution – one card draw blind against the pack. If you lose the conflict you do not pick up.

Optional Rules: Normal conflicts are just a comparison of the numbers, such as Jack versus a 4 in the example here.

The Face card rule would be that if you play a face card and win, you get to choose the outcome. So if Turi had played her 8 here, it would have been a normal win. If she plays the Jack and wins, she can give a narrative of the outcome!

The Hand or Trait rule says that you can increase or decrease your active hand by two by decreasing or increasing the number of traits you have. So, you can have seven underlined traits if you choose to only have a hand of three available to you. Or a hand of seven and only three underlines traits. Essentially hand + traits should equal 10.

Example: Turi has five cards in her hand: 8H, JC, 3D, 7D, 2S. She is fighting against a would-be thug who wanted to rob her of her hard-earned pearls. She wants the conflict over and done with quickly so she plays her highest value card, JC. The Narrator makes a draw for the thug and gets a 4 of Spades. She beats him handily and draws a card, 8D to replace her Jack.

If you win a conflict you pick up again. Advantages and flaws and difficulty are represented by additional cards being drawn and added to the first in a Blackjack fashion. If you have an underlined trait then you can play a SECOND card to bolster the first. If the area is covered by a flaw then the opposition gains an additional card draw.

Example: Turi is fighting again, this time 10 metres underwater, against a Reef Eel, a large and voracious predator. Normally this would give the Narrator the opportunity to draw TWO cards against her one. But she’s a Shell Diver and has that trait underlined so it cancels out the additional draw. She plays her 8D and the Narrator draws from the deck for the Eel. 9H! Ouch. She’s hurt but not down and doesn’t get to draw another card. The Narrator will now decide if the Eel attacks again or retires back to it’s hiding hole. If it attacks again, she only has 4 cards in her hand with which to defend herself.

For one-to-many conflicts: everyone plays their single card. And work out the conflict as normal. Most people and animals will be incapacitated or removed from the conflict with a single loss. Some non-players may rival the Player Characters in their ability to resist incapacitation by having an effective hand of 2, 3, 4 or more!

Example: Turi and her friend Tobin have confronted a hooded stranger who has just dropped something into the village well. All three make their plays. Juri plays a 7D, Tobin a QH. The Narrator draws for the stranger and gets a 9S. Turi is hurt and as she has not rested is down to 3 cards! But Tobin gets a good decisive strike and elects to have staggered the stranger. The Narrator has decided that the Stranger has an effective hand of 3 which means to be incapacitated, he needs to be defeated three times in conflict. Our heroes attack again: Turi plays an 8H and Tobin a 7C. The stranger draws….a 4C! This means he takes two hits, one from each, which brings him down to 0. He falls to the ground…

Story Points:
Everyone starts with one and these can be used to
retcon a narrative scene just played
change the outcome of any single conflict (any single play of cards)
change an item of background to fit
heal one Serious Wound instantly/quickly/turn it into a flesh wound that can be ignored.

Combat and being hurt.
Combat is the same as any other play. Being hurt – every time you lose a conflict you do not pick up a fresh card until you have had time to recuperate. In essence, lose conflicts five times and you’re effectively incapacitated. NB: Your Hand represents how you cope with fatigue, setbacks, defeat and anything that tests your determination and willpower.

Wounds are represented differently. Anything less than a serious wound is dealt with using the Hand reduction described above. If, however a combat ends where the winning card was a face card (and the winner gets to describe the effect) the winning result was more than 10 points higher than the losing result then the loser ends up with a Serious Wound. Serious Wounds are like normal hand reductions but they have a longer lasting impact on the character as hand reductions are made back using sleep or recuperation. Serious wounds can only be removed by proper medical attention (which to all intents and purposes does not exist). A Serious Wound therefore is a potentially permanent and possibly fatal addition to a character.

Until healed, each Serious Wound represents a Hand reduction of 1 for every activity.

Optional Rules:

Soaking Wounds

It’s possible to “soak” a wound by using Traits or Drive. Using a Trait means making a blind play against another blind draw by the Narrator. If the player wins the draw, then they may explain away the wound. If they lose they take a SECOND wound.
e.g. Ferren has a Drive which describes his hatred of the Saruch Ascendancy, a cult responsible for the death of his father. During a duel, he finds out that his enemy is a member of the Saruchs and when wounded he attempts to soak – rationalising that his drive to defeat the Saruchs gives him strength in battle. He will either ignore the wound or gain a second wound…but it may be worth the gamble.

If a Serious Wound is not bound then every week that passes the character received another Serious Wound. After the character has received three serious wounds, he or she is dead. If a serious wound is bound then in most cases the player can erase the Serious Wound after one month of play. (and it takes two months to remove two serious wounds).

If a character has three serious wounds and then elects to Recuperate rather than Die, then the character may survive but the player must describe how the wounds have permanently affected the character.

CONTROL: How to run the game. Part 1.

Starting the Game
This game has the rather traditional role of GameMaster assigned to one player, usually “C”.

The player will be provided with missions in one of two ways.

TOP-DOWN
Requests which come from GOVERNMENT and are passed to CONTROL via “C”. These will be in the form of mission dossiers. These can be pre-prepared dossiers or a verbal briefing, CONTROL will begin to plan their activity, allocate their Agents and Assets and arrange timing.

BOTTOM-UP
Incidents caused by ENEMY and after information-gathering, CONTROL must present their findings to “C”. CONTROL must decide the appropriate response whether that be “No Further Action” or whether there is a need for a mission response.

CONTROL

There should be one member of CONTROL for each player in the game. One Player Character will be assigned the role of “C” and in control of a large percentage of the background of the game, two will be assigned the roles of “DC” (Deputy Chiefs) and the remainder will be “D” (Directors). At the start of the game, all that is needed for each member of CONTROL are three facts:

The characters name
The characters previous job
The name of the person in Government who helped them get the job.

As the game continues, members of CONTROL need to keep records of the Agents and Assets on their books. They can do this using the Agent Profile sheets and the Assets Roster sheet.

Previous Job suggestions: Diplomatic Attache; Ministry of Defence; Senior Agent (5, 6); Major or higher, Army Intelligence Corps; Commander or higher, Naval Intelligence; RAF Operations Support (Intelligence) personnel.

AGENTS

Agents are both vital and expendable. They represent years of experience and training, a temperament

Agent Generation

TRAITS
You create a character description consisting of up to 10 facts (maybe related to Quirks, Drive, Flaws) and underline 5 of them. These 5 things are your most descriptive traits which may be objects, skills, contacts, background items and can, in theory, be called into play at any time. If the timing seems inappropriate, the Narrator may require the sacrifice of a Story Point or a card of a significant value from the hand. This really only needs to be one paragraph.

Agents are required to describe TWO of the following in their underlined traits:
Tradecraft – cryptography, surveillance, interrogation, concealment, espionage skills
Military Science – demolitions, tactics, morale, technology, command, control
Combat skills – use of weapons, unarmed combat, sniper

DRIVE
Choose one more to be your Drive – the most fundamental ambition for your character. This is commonly related to the reason why the character is working as an Agent.

FLAW
Choose one flaw. This can be physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. It may be how the character perceives the world or how the world perceives the character.

The description of an Agent need not describe their age, origin or birthplace. It should provide a physical description and a brief of their abilities and experience.

ASSETS

Assets are characters who have little or no access to Classified information and a low security clearance. They may be highly skilled or highly experienced in their fields, but they are commonly ignorant of the intelligence community.
specialists (scientists, pilots, assassins)
bodies (drivers, henchmen)

To create an Asset, three facts are needed.
The Assets name
The Assets reason for being used: skills, contacts, position, background
The Assets personal reason for working with the Agents

SYSTEM

The system I’m using at the moment is SixSimple (derived from the GameSystem designed for SeaFarers). The system will be posted in a couple of days.

Get Carter

I started this evening sitting down to watch The Bourne Identity on ITV2 but as it happens they run ad breaks every 18 minutes and I’m reminded why I hate linear television. The content is either shit or broken up by advertising breaks.

I attempted to remedy my ennui by putting on “The Descent” though I figured it might be better for another night and I opted to go for a film I’ve not seen in years, ‘Get Carter‘ starring Michael Caine. I only just found out they remade it in 2000 with Sylvester Stallone. Sounds like a sick joke.

Carter is a hard nut though it’s kinda tender when he first faces his brothers corpse. Everything is so run down, raining, allpaper peeling, paint layered upon paint upon paint. His niece is working at Woolworths, a bastion of sixties Britain (which just went into administration). Everyone looks pasty, malnourished and it’s amazing when you see some of the actors we take for granted in their youth. Britt Ekland, on the other hand, looks radiant.

I’m watching it now for inspiration for CONTROL. Makes me want an electric shaver and a kipper tie 🙂

6 – Terminology

(Though I’m still unsure of the final name to call this game, for the time being I’m going to be referring to it both by the nom de plume ‘6’ and the nom de guerre ‘CONTROL’. I hope that suffices to confuse)

AGENT – highly trained civil servants. Because of their skills and experience, they are paid better than their civil service counterparts to the tune of almost £8000 a year.
ASSET – individuals who through their skills, background, contacts or position have
BLACK BAG – covert or clandestine surreptitious entries into structures to obtain information
CELL – a method for organizing a group in such a way that it can more effectively resist penetration by an opposing organization.
CONTROL – closeted senior officers within the Special Executive.
C – chief of the Special Executive. C’s name is often publicly known as is his position as he is selected for the work by politicians. C’s position is always re-evaluated when a new government comes into power. He will almost always be a diplomat or senior ranking civil servant and probably will be holding a knighthood and looking for a Baronet.
D – directors. The Directors of the Special Executive may be recent appointees (selected by the current government), long term appointees (past DCs) or selected from the most senior Agents (who may be too well known to be of operational use).
DC – deputy chief. The two deputy chiefs are appointed by the current government. They usually intend to stay in their current position for a term not more than four years and then move on, hopefully to cushy ambassadorial roles. Their commitment to the job is questionable and they seldom come from an intelligence background.
DAY OUT – The first mission for Agents who have been released from the Field School.
DEAD DROP – a location used to secretly pass items between two people, without requiring them to meet.
ENEMY – the current enemy of the day whether military, political, economic, ideological. In the standard game, the player AGENTS are assumed to be from the Western Bloc and therefore the ideological enemy is the Eastern Bloc, composed of the governments behind the Iron Curtain. The enemy in a specific scene may be a fellow agent from another intelligence agency, an agent of a friendly government, an agent of a hostile government or even the civil law and security forces of any country in the world. In the modern world, the definition of enemy will change several times during the career of an agent and may change even during a single mission.
ESCAPE KIT – usually a passport, some money and other documents that an agent keeps, often circulating in the mail from a dummy address just in case things go badly and he feels the name to escape.
FALSE FLAG – covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities.
FIRM – The internal name for the Special Executive.
FIELD SCHOOL – the training facility for Agents. They will be taught weaponry, demolitions, languages, tradecraft
GLASS HOUSE – A private section of the civil prison at Shepton Mallet, Somerset used for the containment of domestic traitorous Assets and dishonoured Agents. They are kept separate from the civilian criminals and it is common knowledge that some of the inmates of the Glass House are actively serving loyal Agents, keeping tabs on their imprisoned ex-colleagues.
GOVERNMENT – The current government, whichever party is in power. Governments treat CONTROL as their best friend, AGENTS as useful but expendable tools and ASSETS very poorly.
JIC – the Joint Intelligence Committee consists of the Chairman of the JIC, C, K, the head of the Defense Intelligence Staff, representatives from the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister?s Cabinet. The function of the JIC is to provide a definitive top-level assessment for the Cabinet Office.
K – the enigmatic Director General of the domestic security service.
MICE – Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego – the basic procedure for creating assets.
Money – the Asset is working solely for financial reasons. He may be being paid directly in cash by the Agent or may have a series of bank accounts and dead drops. He may be involved in financial schemes which would be assisted by the Agent?s government.
Ideology – the Asset is working for ideological reasons. He may not agree with his employer or government. He may hold the Agent?s country or government in high esteem.
Coercion – the Asset is being coerced to work for the Agent through blackmail, threats to himself or his family, fear of exposure or other means.
Ego – the Asset is working to further his own ego and may harbour delusions of grandeur. In truth he may want nothing more than to be caught by his own side so he can reveal his genius to them.
MIX – the British secret services have, since WW1 been known by their department numbers. The MI prefix stands for “Military Intelligence” even though the majority of the secret services have been wholly civilian.
5 – the origins of the Security Service, also known as MI6, are within the domestic security section of the Secret Service Bureau, established by the Committee of Imperial Defence in October 1909.
6 – The origins of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6, are to be found in the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau, established by the Committee of Imperial Defence in October 1909.
NATO – Founded April 4th, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is founded by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States in order to resist Communist expansion.
STEGANOGRAPHY – the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one apart from the intended recipient knows of the existence of the message.
TRADECRAFT – a collective word for the techniques used in modern espionage. It can refer to generic topics or specific techniques.

An update and also “Under Development”

These are the games I’m currently working on – as in trying to spend an hour every night writing something, anything. Some nights are more productive than others. I’m only hampered my Black Macbook being pinched by my partner because she has more important stuff to do but hopefully before the end of September that will be resolved when I take delivery of a brand spanking new 17″ MacBook Pro.

It’s a much better machine for working on at night anyway because it’s got the whole glowing keyboard thing which means I can tap away at night without the light on.
My only distraction so far really (apart from her indoors) is Battlefield 2142 which is proving to be a lot of fun and I’m slowly but surely getting better at playing it as I get used to the health dispensers and the ammo dispensers. I need to practise more before playing against real humans and also need to get learning the maps! I’ll also be able to play it on my new laptop which will be a real relief considering the discomfort in my back after hunching over an iMac while perched on a stool with my head cocked to one side due to the sloping roof in the little side room.
Without further discussion, here’s what I’m working on.

“6” – previously named CONTROL, “6” is a modern espionage game framework. The initial background is Cold War era, British Secret Service (MI6) with a setting more familiar to readers of Le Carre or Deighton than Fleming. Release planned before December 2007.
“Solar Racer” – a sports-focused sci-fi RPG set in and around the dangerous sports of zero- and microgravity vacuum racing. Complete background for the world post 2200 and guidelines for pimping your racer. Steals a lot from an earlier game I wrote but never finished called “Airtight”. Maybe it’ll see release at some point as a supplement for ‘Racer. Release Spring 2008
“Time Killers” – a series of one-off adventures. Each scenario includes rules, pre-generated characters, setting and scenario. Basic premise is the players are time-travellers tasked with “fixing” some bloopers in time. Each scenario should take 2-4 hours which is perfect for those of us who find ourselves with a minimum of prep time or have a free slot at a convention.  Release of first scenario, December 2007.

CONTROL

Tonight I put together the first eight pages of CONTROL, a game I hope to release in PDF form in just two weeks, time permitting.

CONTROL is an espionage game set at the start of the second Cold War, a period of intense emotions which I remember well. The game itself uses the model of Tiered Play, similar to Troupe Play. Players will play more than one character during the game.

At least one player must play a member of CONTROL, the committee which oversees espionage operations. Other players take the roles of AGENTS and ASSETS where the former are experienced and trained spies and the latter tend to be individuals who find themselves involved in espionage due to money, ideology, coercion or ego.

CONTROL makes decisions on agents and resources and keeps records on assets while trying to maintain and enhance their own career by working with the government. The enemy is a minor concern.

AGENTS try to build relationships with assets, negotiate with Control for resources and have to contend with the enemy.

ASSETS commonly just try to stay alive.

The game will, to a point, hinge on the interactions between the tiers.