Good & Evil, Incorporated: Flushing Out Suspects

Welcome back to corporate witch-hunting with Good & Evil, Incorporated.

I was going to talk about Talents next, but it occurred to me that I should first lay down the systems they plug into. The heart of the post is the “Investigation and Antagonist Traits” section, where I use antagonist character sheets to address a problem I have with investigation games. The “Stress” and “Mission Pool” sections cover some of the mechanics that underlie that solution.

Stress

Stress is a pretty familiar topic if you’re acquainted with Cortex Plus. Basically, Stress comes in a number of categories (like Injured or Afraid), and each of those categories has a die rating. In a conflict, your opponent rolls any relevant Stress die against you.

In G&E, as in Dragon Brigade, Stress is tied to Attributes. Since the last post, I’ve decided that my Attributes are: Cool, Hard, Sharp, and Weird. Each has an associated Stress type: Shaken, Hurting, Confused, and Cursed. When the Stress die gets bigger than the associated Attribute, the character’s knocked out.

Sorcerers and demons suffer Stress, too, though they’ll probably have a different set of Attributes. More on that below.

I debated whether or not to have Stress or just use Action’s Complications. I decided on Stress, because having categories of disadvantage sends the message that the Specialists encounter certain types of trouble regularly.

Stress also presents a set of easy hooks to attach Talents to. For example, a Closer can have a Talent that inflicts extra Stress during an interrogation, or a Cleaner can inflict extra Stress when sniping at a suspect.

I haven’t worked out Stress recovery yet. Suggestions are welcome.

The Mission Pool

The GM has a pool of dice which they can use to increase task difficulty and fuel demonic powers. When a die rolls a 1, the GM can choose to create a Complication, or take it for the Mission Pool.

This is one of those GM budget mechanics that I enjoy. I don’t have much against GM fiat, nor am I trying to make GM play tactical. However, playing a resource game helps me as GM pace sessions. And if the players know that my action now drains resources that might be used against them, that gives them another avenue to whittle down the opposition — it’s a little like hit points for the scenario.

Investigation and Antagonist Traits

Sorcerers and their demons have their own set of traits. Sorcerers have Motive, which is the core of everything they do. Demons have Loyalty, which measures both their fidelity to their masters and their purchase on our reality. Both have Attributes, Distinctions, and potentially Powers.

What I want to drill into here are sorcerer Attributes. Player Attributes all lend themselves to immediate action. Sorcerer Attributes are a little different. I’m still figuring out the list, but here’s what I’ve got right now:

  • Connected: The sorcerer’s temporal resources. Money, friends, allies.
  • Stable: The sorcerer’s sense of control over their life and environment.
  • Vital: The sorcerer’s stamina, health, and reserves of magical strength.

One of the problems I have with investigation games is that they often consist of finding clues and putting them together while the monster or suspect is relatively passive. There might be more murders or other forms of pressure along the way, but the investigators aren’t interacting with the suspect when he’s off stage. They can’t do anything mechanical to affect him until they catch up with him… which can make things anti-climactic if there isn’t a big fight.

The Connected and Stable Attributes are designed to address that. With Attributes that have long term implications, and which can take Stress, the investigators can apply pressure to the suspect even when he’s not present. They can freeze his bank account (Connected Stress) or prevent him from coming back to his apartment or sanctum (Stable Stress). Moreover, the suspect can strike back, rolling Connected to put the cops on the trail of our Company investigators.

In this way, the investigators can interact with the suspect even when he’s not there. That makes the investigation a little more like what you might see on a TV procedural: a series of confrontations between a perpetrator and the investigators chasing him.

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