Threat Level: A '24' hack

  • 31 Replies
Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2011, 11:53:38 PM »
Hey Steve,

What are gunfights like in 24? I've never seen the show. It would be super cool to make gunfighting moves that reinforce what the show is about. Here's what I did for my police procedural hack, which is all about how it's easier to be a bad cop than a good one:

When someone goes for a gun, roll +street
10+ hold 3
7-9 hold 2
miss, hold 1
spend hold, 1 for 1, to:
- draw your gun
- aim your gun
- shoot someone you're aiming at
- get a good look at someone or something
- get the hell out of the way
- get someone else into cover

I have a feeling 24 is more heroic though, yeah?

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2011, 12:20:35 AM »
So the thing is: there really are two sorts of fights in 24.

In the first, the protagonists know there's a conflict coming. There's a known target or objective that's usually well-defended and problematic to get to, or an asset or location to defend, or there are two or more evenly matched squads vying for a common objective.

Fights like this have a clear geography and time pressures. There are usually multiple objectives to reach or multiple threats to fend off.

As an example of that first one, someone might have to sneak into a facility and plant a bomb, while another character is killing security forces guarding another area.

As an example of that second one, Jack and Tony are involved in a shoot-out in a harbour container facility: they're being encircled by two squads of gunmen while a truck loaded with nerve gas is being prepped to be driven away.

In the other type of combat, someone suddenly responds with violence - perhaps they don't want to be questioned, or Jack Bauer snaps and decides to incapacitate someone so he can question him more effectively. This sort of violence is usually over extremely quickly: either the combatants are unevenly matched or they're very evenly matched and things get extremely bloody and brutal as both sides apply every ounce of their skill with absolutely no mercy.

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2011, 12:42:30 AM »
You know what that second sort of conflict is like? It's like Escalation in Dogs - how far are you prepared to go to survive / get what you want / stay unharmed?

It also occured to me that if you totally outclass your opponent, then you win. An outclassed opponent has to gain leverage through hostages, having a gun, some sort of distraction, or something similar to even have a chance against a Field Operative.

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011, 12:56:00 AM »
That last bit is very interesting! I want to see the moves that make that true in the game. Maybe some no-roll moves?

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2011, 02:57:40 AM »
I double-posted before you replied, Simon. Which last bit were you talking about?

---   ---   ---

I did a bit of reading about Seize by Force, and had a bit of a think about using it in Threat Level. (I haven't thought about the ramifications of your police procedural move, yet, Simon.)

Here's what I came up with:

When you're involved in sudden, no-holds-barred violence against an evenly-matched opponent suddenly involved in a brutal fight, decide if you and your opponent are evenly-matched.

If you're evenly-matched, roll+force. On a hit, choose options. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7–9, choose 2:

  • you secure one of your opponents (otherwise, you get it, but it’s not yours securely; others can try to take it away from you again - THINK ABOUT THIS, AND REWRITE IT)
  • you suffer little harm (otherwise you suffer the normal harm, as per weapons and armor)
  • you inflict terrible harm (otherwise, normal amount of harm)
  • you impress, dismay or frighten your enemy (which means the NPC enemy absolutely must change her behavior, but it’s up to the GM to say how. NB: This can include escalating the consequences of the fight.)
  • you seize the advantage and can move again immediately (otherwise, you follow the dramatic logic of the fight to establish who gets the next move)

If you're not evenly-matched, the combatant with the advantage ... [I'M NOT SURE WHAT, YET.]

This is the everything-on-the-line move, when a character charges towards their goal with no concern for their own safety: no-holds-barred violence is the easiest way to do harm (and maybe kill) someone, but it also means you will definitely get hurt doing it.

'Unevenly matched' means unskilled, unprepared or incapacitated in some way. Note that a character can change from being unprepared to being prepared after you've attacked them - it just means you had the element of surprise. An opponent can become evenly matched by gain leverage (such as hostages, more firepower, some sort of distraction, or gravity).
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 04:19:05 AM by Steve Hickey »

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #20 on: May 30, 2011, 05:21:34 AM »
By "last bit" I meant the bit about Operatives just winning against all but the best opposition.

Maybe you could check out Ghost Opera? I'm thinking about a hierarchy that tells you who is at an advantage in a fight, or if you're evenly matched. I did a similar thing in Dungeonfuckers.

Something like:

Are you outnumbered more than 3 to 1?
Are you caught off guard, ambushed, or compromised?
Are they highly-trained, specially equipped, or very well prepared?

If you answered no to all questions above, you succeed as if you'd rolled a 10+. Otherwise, roll the dice.

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #21 on: May 30, 2011, 05:41:51 AM »
    I like it. Maybe make it a bit more symmetrical?

    • Is one side of the fight outnumbered more than 3 to 1?
    • Is one side of the fight caught off guard, ambushed, or compromised?
    • Is one side of the fight more highly-trained, specially equipped, or very well prepared?

I've got another move: I'm thinking I might combine Go Aggro and Manipulate to create this ...

When you try to get someone to obey you, tell them what you want and give them a plausible reason to do (including the threat or actuality of violence).


For NPCs: On a 10+, they have to choose: force your hand and suck it up, or do what you want as long as you them promise something first (whether you keep your promise is up to you).

On a 7–9, they can force your hand and suck it up, or do it as long as you them promise something first and give them some concrete assurance right now that you'll keep your promise, or they can instead choose 1:
  • get the hell out of your way
  • barricade themselves securely in
  • give you something they think you want
  • back off calmly, hands where you can see
  • turn your attention onto something else
  • tell you what you want to know (or what you want to hear)
  • [/li]

For PCs: on a 10+, both. On a 7–9, choose 1:
  • if they do it, they mark experience
  • if they refuse, it triggers their Oppositional move
  • [/li]

What the PC does then is up to them.

Hmm. Do I even need the player to roll if they're trying to get a PC to obey them?

I'm musing on some ideas for battle moves, now.[/list]
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 04:13:05 PM by Steve Hickey »

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2011, 12:07:56 AM »
Rolling Go Aggro and Manipulate together makes sense, I think. What are they "sucking up" though, when they force your hand?

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2011, 05:42:57 AM »
I think they're sucking up the consequences of the plausible reason that you gave when you gave them an order.

"Do it or I'll kill your daughter, Mr Secretary."

"... Then do it. ... I'm sorry, Audrey."

---   ---   ---

"If you don't issue me with that full pardon, Mr President, I'll have no choice but to allow the attack to proceed."

"America's weathered worse. And I will not compromise the values of this Office by excusing what you've done."

---   ---   ---

"You do this, Jack, and you're dead to me."

"It's been an honour working for you, Sir."


Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2011, 05:32:35 PM »
Hi Steve,

You might want to check out the battle moves we're working on for The Regiment. They're not exactly what you need, but there's some similarity and maybe they'll spark an idea or two.

The Regiment: Elements

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2011, 06:47:42 PM »

That looks good! I like how it gets around the "crappy leverage" problem. If the threat is weak, they'll just suck it up. What do you do when the PC is bluffing?

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2011, 04:52:55 AM »
Simon, your question threw me for a loop: I forgot how moves like these are PC driven - in this genre, a lot of the orders that get given are from powerful or villainous NPCs towards the PCs. Bluffing often doesn't come into it.

I'm going to have to think on that for a bit.

John, that Regiment stuff's great. I will think about it.

In the meantime, I've taken a lot of inspiration from Burning Empires' rules for Firefight and I'm going to throw that into the mix.

When a battle or firefight or infiltration/extraction is imminent, the GM draws a rough map of the location.

The players establish the objective of the operation.

Any analysts can use a to-be-created move to add data to the map (advantageous entrances, information about security systems, etc). I think it'd be cool if there's a certain amount of information to be uncovered (say, 3 bits of information), and on a miss the GM gets to use those against the PCs. That feels like it'll give the fiction some integrity.

Now it's time to apply the 'Prepare a battle plan' move. I think I'm going to add to this: on a 10+, the GM gets 1 surprise to throw at the PCs. On a 7 to 9, the GM gets 2 surprises. On a miss, the GM gets 3 surprises.

Surprises include:

- advancing the combat clock 1 segment
- triggering a boobytrap or ambush
- flanking the PCs
- making a hard move
- extracting 1 NPC to safety, along with 1 item.
- NPCs gain first move advantage
- ... maybe some other stuff.

As part of all this, there might be some Burning Empires-style establishing advantageous positions and cover, and a Contact/Surveillance roll to establish enemy positions and who gets the first move.

That's all set-up, and I think it's a start towards creating the tense planning feel I'm looking for. Now I'll have a think about the actual heat of battle, but for a start I think there are moves like:

- Leadership
- Fire and Maneuver / Covering Fire
- Hold a position: using Maintain an untenable position (from AW) and Hold Fast (from the Regiment)
- Evade or Infiltrate
- Observe / Gain Intelligence (Assess the Situation from The Regiment?)
- Stay the fuck down (from AW)
- Brutal Assault, up close and personal

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2011, 05:53:25 PM »
Oh, and on a tangent, here's my mini-playbook for the Mole. Like everything else, it's a work in progress:

Mini-playbook: the Mole

When you’ve been revealed to be working against the Agency, add this playbook to your own.

One Step Ahead (from AW)
When you declare retroactively that you’ve already set something up, roll+insight. On a 10+, it’s just as you say. On a 7–9, you set it up, yes, but here at the crucial moment the GM can introduce some hitch or delay. On a miss, you set it up, yes, but since then things you don’t know about have seriously changed.

Take two
When you’re trying to maintain your cover, you can make two moves in a row even if it would normally feel right to switch to being someone else’s turn.

When someone’s suspicious of you, you get a good chance of noticing it. Roll+insight.
On a 10+, you notice and can take action (against them, to cover your tracks, to escape).
On a 7-9, you notice but / and [I NEED TO COME UP WITH SOME OPTIONS FOR THIS]
On a miss, you notice what’s going on just at the last second.

Speak softly (I think this is a no-roll move, but I need to work on it)
When you try to talk to others in the conspiracy, you do it but choose one:
- you’re noticed
- you arouse suspicion.
- you leave a trace
- it affects enemy behaviour in an otherwise inexplicable way
- you create a problem by neglecting your day-job (multi-tasking

Carry a Big Stick
When you lure someone to their doom, if they have no reason to suspect you and you come up with a plausible reason, then they follow you.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 11:49:53 PM by Steve Hickey »

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #28 on: June 05, 2011, 07:10:11 PM »
All right! I've nearly written every thing I wanted to for this first brain-dump draft. Here's a couple of things.

Threat Clocks

These are equivalent to an episode of 24. They centre around a specific crisis, and describe the 'What would happen if the threat isn't dealt with'. (Threat Clocks are inspired by Mystery Clocks in Monster of the Week.)

Here's an example of a low-tech terror threat. Taken pretty much from Bruce Schneier's amazing 'Movie Plot Threat' competition.

A series of sniper attacks have occured in a major metropolitan area over the last month. So far, there have been 12 fatalities.

The ‘sniper’ is actually a two-man team of sleeper agents, who both appear to be quiet men who live alone and have normal domestic lives. They are part of a bigger terror cell.

  • 00:00   Agency receives solid intelligence on location of next sniper attack
  • 00:15   Prepare for raid
  • 00:30   Go-order for raid is given
  • 00:45   Raid complete
  • 00:50   News of the raid’s outcome leaks to media
  • 00:55   2nd and 3rd sniper teams are activated and prepare to strike
  • 01:00   2nd and 3rd sniper teams strike simultaneously in completely different suburbs.

This episode gives the PCs plenty of room to gather intel, prepare for and participate in the raid, and then follow-up on the consequences of the raid (regardless of its outcome).

I see this Threat Clock as part of a larger 'Conspiracy Clock' (equivalent to a half-season of 24) involving a domestic terror plot executing a series of on-going, low-tech and devastating attacks in multiple locations designed to trigger a shutdown of federal government.

Torture and Enhanced Interrogation

I already mentioned that I feel really uncomfortable with 24's (and potentially this game's) frequent use of torture and enhanced interrogation to advance the plot.

I definitely don’t want to fetishise the details of torture - which is a little at odds with the AW philosophy of describing the fiction so that you can describe the consequences and to do it, do it.

I want make torture a lot more dangerous and problematic than the TV show presented it. I want to emphasise the downsides of these techniques: false intelligence, creating enemies, alienating allies, the moral cost on the torturer, and harm.

So this is a work-in-progress:

When you extract information from someone using torture, tell the GM what you want to know.

The GM decides how tough it will be to break the person you’re interrogating and chooses 1 to 4 options from the following list.

- inflict 1 - 4 Harm on the person
- you'll need to threaten someone the person holds dear
- you need to take the Post Traumatic Stress condition
- an NPC you hold dear needs to be involved in or witness the interrogation and is alienated from you
- you’re going to need __________ to help you with your interrogation
- you’re going to have to cross a line you swore you never would
- you'll need to plausibly threaten or intimidate the person you're interrogating
- it’s going to take an extra 1 / 2 / 3 segments to break the person

The GM might connect all of these options with an “and”, or might throw in an “or”.

Each option (except the last) takes one segment to enact. You can’t do anything else during that segment.

Then roll+??? Force? Command?

  • On a 10+, you get what you wanted and 1 Hold
  • On a 7-9, you get something related to what you wanted - an intermediate step and 2 Hold
  • On a miss, ??? I HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THIS: Maybe 3 Hold

The GM spends the Hold on the following options:
- the appearance of compliance
- compliance
- false intelligence
- creating an enemy
- triggering a crisis
« Last Edit: June 05, 2011, 07:15:51 PM by Steve Hickey »

Re: Threat Level: A '24' hack
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2011, 05:22:31 AM »
I just wanted to say thanks to Mike, John and Simon for all the help you've given me in this thread. I've compiled all this material into a google doc and my next step is to refine that by doing some solo playtesting of char-gen and the battle rules.