Back to Crafty Games Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
October 01, 2014, 07:19:00 PM
Home Help Search Login Register
News: Welcome to the Crafty Games Forums!

Note to New Members: To combat spam, we have instituted new rules: you must post 5 replies to existing threads before you can create new threads.

+  Crafty Games Forum
|-+  Products
| |-+  Spycraft Third Edition
| | |-+  SpyCraft 3.0 and, Y'know, Spy Stuff
« previous next »
Pages: 1 [2] Go Down Print
Author Topic: SpyCraft 3.0 and, Y'know, Spy Stuff  (Read 3771 times)
mathey
Agent
***
Posts: 227



View Profile
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2010, 01:06:22 PM »

Thanks, Pat!

I like knowing you guys read this stuff even if you don't end up using any of it.

Logged
TheAuldGrump
Control
******
Posts: 3286


Because The Cat Told Me To...


View Profile
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2010, 05:14:36 PM »

Just to toss around some more common spy tropes for discussion...

Any thoughts on how to make these spy activities playable yet fun in 3.0?

Surveillance: Sitting around in cars and watching places is boring in person, but if its going to be a part of my spy games, are there ways to make it more than just a few Notice/Search checks?

Tailing People: Same thing here; is it going to be easy to handle yet flavorful and engaging?
Here I cheat, and outright tell the PCs to send minions to do it. Smiley This is especially useful when the scene is a dead end. Once or twice I have even told them 'that was a dead end - do you want to have sent Bob, the Generic NPC, to waste time on the stakeout while you do something else?' The time still gets wasted, but it doesn't have to be table time.

Quote
Investigation: This is a big part of spy stories, but its handled in all sorts of ways in roleplaying games. These range from "the players have to figure this out on their own" to "players invent the clues and the GM works backwards from those to the solution". Is it worth getting its own Dramatic Conflict, only stretched out over the course of a mission? Or would it better to keep it simple and only use skills/dice to uncover specific clues the players then have to sort out? I suppose this might end up in 10kB instead, but I thought I'd mention it here.
I generally have a flowchart, listing what clues lead where. Clues can be followed in any order, skipped entirely, or lead to red herrings. I make sure that important information has more than one path leading to it. A method that I picked up from Millennium's End. I use complex actions to handle the investigation, with the number and quality of successes determining how much and what is found. (Though the hardest to find is not necessarily the most important. Sometimes it takes the players a while to figure that out.)

Quote
Mind Games: Most spy stories involve layers of duplicity, deception, and psyching out your enemies. We saw Brainwashing, Seduction, and even rules for harassment in 2.0; will these be in 3.0? Do we want to try new approaches/conflicts/disposition rules? FC has some adjustments to the latter that I can see working.
I got nothin' Tongue

The Auld Grump
Logged

I don't know how the story ends...
But I do know what happens next.
mathey
Agent
***
Posts: 227



View Profile
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2010, 02:04:06 PM »

Here's something else that has sort of been hinted at in my past posts, but may merit a closer look:

Sneakin' Around.

SpyCraft characters often sneak around, especially if they're spies. They want to scout out a place, or steal something, or simply bypass potential threats to achieve objectives. Its what they do. But in my experience in tabletop, it can be difficult to play/run a scene that emphasizes stealth. The chief reason is that my players inevitably have one team mate who either can't roll worth a damn or who didn't get the right sneakery skill (Blend or Sneak). The result tends to be something like this:

Quote
Me: OK, you prepare to enter the Evil Mastermind's Secret Base. Since you're actively trying to be quiet about it, let me see some Stealth rolls.

Players; Oh, Hell. This never goes good.

(Players Roll Dice and Add Numbers)

Players: All of us got good rolls, but that one player who sucks at sneaking and/or rolls horribly all the time sucked and/or rolled horribly. Crap.

Me: LOL. You are spotted.

Players: So much for trying stealth! Let's kill some dudes!

This results in players who just don't bother with sneaking because of the drag effect of their one fellow player's lack of sneak skillz and/or bad rolls. I might be okay with this, but given the spy genre's occasional emphasis on subtlety and the fact some PCs are built to be sneaky, it feels like we're missing an opportunity here. I mean, if one guy is a klutz and wearing an entire National Guard unit's worth of weapons and armor and ANOTHER guy is trying to be Solid Snake/Sam Fisher/Batman, it just doesn't seem right that Klutzy McArmament ruins the sneaky guy's time to show off. ESPECIALLY if the result is Klutzy McArmament then getting to waste the responding guards while sneaky dude feels suboptimal for said result.

First off, I can see that part of the problem here is on my end. The more die rolling that goes on, the more the chances of a lousy roll come up. Also, the more PCs that have to roll to perform the task, the more chances there are that one or more of them are suboptimal sneakers.

Second, its also partially down to the players' choices in character creation. If the team doesn't get together on making sure everybody has certain skills, its fairly likely that the mix will include at least one unsneaky PC (or one inept investigator, or one guy who can't swim worth a damn, or one person who ruins every social scene they're in). This is particularly true in 2.0, where being untrained in something is more than a little inconvenient, especially as ones PCs and thus one's opposition go up in TL.

One possible solution is making it a Cooperative check, but that can be complicated by the one unsneaky PC being untrained in the relevant skill and having a jacked chance to commit an Error. His participation, in other words, increases the chances the whole team will really foul up being sneaky. Breaking it out into a Complex Task with the best sneaker's skill being the one checked might work, but in a way it feels like a cheat that's hard to back up narratively; is Solid Snake letting Klutzy McArmament ride on his back? Signaling him when and how to move? Laying down soft mats for him to walk on? Or do we leave Klutzy behind when sneaking into the base - and how does that work if/when things hit the fan?

Another possible approach is making sure the team understands what the gaps are in their skill set and structure their mission approach based on what they can or cannot do. Thus, if the players agree as a group that they ALL need Blend/Sneak because they want to be stealthy, they just find the skill points or Feats that'll let 'em do it.

In practice, though, this rarely was made apparent to my players despite any consulting they did with each other. Its real damn easy to miss or misinterpret some skills and what they mean - especially Blend and Sneak. Maybe its the word choice, maybes its the passive/active split (which I've whined about before), maybe its just the fact that players NEVER read the rulebook when making their characters (trust me on this; they don't read it all - just the bits that interest them or obviously hinge on their concept). Theoretically, as the rules maven and guy in charge of seeing the Big Picture, the GM should advise the players about this sort of thing, but this is another thing that can be hard to catch when you've got a lot of characters and rules to track.

Any thoughts on making stealth less useless in 3.0? Is it fixable with a Campaign Quality like: Sneaky PCs (All PCs can spend class skill points in Blend or Sneak and receive an equal amount of ranks in the other skill)? Should it be structured specifically with Cooperative Checks or Complex Tasks or even a Dramatic Conflict? Or should we just be okay with keeping one or more PCs out of a common spy genre scene because they chose the wrong class for it?
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 02:06:34 PM by mathey » Logged
Krensky
Control
******
Posts: 7032


WWTWD?


View Profile
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2010, 02:24:07 PM »

Or you do what happens in my game.

The pointman uses his ability to give Krutzy Snakes bonus for the roll.
Logged

We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. - Werner von Braun
Right now you have no idea how lucky you are that I am not a sociopath. - A sign seen above my desk.
There's no upside in screwing with things you can't explain. - Captain Roy Montgomery
Crafty_Pat
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 9456


End of the World? Donít believe the hype.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2010, 03:26:07 PM »

Have you considered calling for team checks?
Logged

Patrick Kapera
Crafty Games
www.crafty-games.com

UPDATES/PRESS INFO
Mailing List: http://bit.ly/14FJIw7
RSS: www.crafty-games.com/needtoknow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/craftygames
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Crafty_Games
YouTube: www.youtube.com/craftyhomeoffice

In game terms, reality is b
Gentry
Powered By Publisher
Control
******
Posts: 2822


It's a Trap!


View Profile WWW
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2010, 04:39:45 PM »

I'm not sure that team checks fix the problem. In the case of 'everybody must succeed', which surely is what getting into the secret volcano base is supposed to be, Klutzy still screws it up for everybody.

I guess you *could* break into small teams for this. I've seen tables break the Snakes off the Klutzys and let the Klutzys draw fire, while the Snakes attack from the shadows at the sentries that spot the Klutzys. But that doesn't fix the problem of Klutzy raising a general alarm with his epic fail sneak lameness. Hmm. 
Logged

I'm a secret VAO Control (Shh!)

Check out Wyrmstone for FC Open Source campaigning

Have you joined Knife Rights yet?

Live and game in Flyover Country? Join Tornado Alley Game Guil
Crafty_Pat
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 9456


End of the World? Donít believe the hype.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #21 on: April 17, 2010, 07:27:36 PM »

Honestly, I don't see what you're after. Team checks get past everyone having to roll, but yes, you still have to deal with the character lacking finesse - as it should be. Teams are only as quiet as their loudest member, after all.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 07:45:42 PM by Crafty_Pat » Logged

Patrick Kapera
Crafty Games
www.crafty-games.com

UPDATES/PRESS INFO
Mailing List: http://bit.ly/14FJIw7
RSS: www.crafty-games.com/needtoknow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/craftygames
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Crafty_Games
YouTube: www.youtube.com/craftyhomeoffice

In game terms, reality is b
Agent 333
Control
******
Posts: 2032



View Profile
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2010, 08:27:54 PM »

Honestly, I don't see what you're after. Team checks get past everyone having to roll, but yes, you still have to deal with the character lacking finesse - as it should be. Teams are only as quiet as their loudest member, after all.

Unless you also happen to have a pointman on the team, then they're only as quiet as their quietest member...
Logged

When all your problems are nails, all your tools start looking like hammers.
Crafty_Alex
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 3244


Damned if I do, damned if I don't.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2010, 09:33:47 AM »

If the concern is that a character won't be able to Sneak in 3.0, it's pretty much quashed by the presence of Origin Skills. Anyone can be sneaky now, at no skill point expenditure penalty.

If Klutzy McArmament chooses not to be sneaky, that's his problem - he has made a choice to not spend skill points and/or invest in the Origin Skill to be sneaky, so he has to "pay the price."
Logged

Sletchman
Control
******
Posts: 4108


Gentleman Scholar.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2010, 09:42:14 AM »

If Klutzy McArmament chooses not to be sneaky, that's his problem - he has made a choice to not spend skill points and/or invest in the Origin Skill to be sneaky, so he has to "pay the price."

Exactly - if the team doesn't want Klutzy McArmament to give away their sneakiness, they tell him to hang back [which as far as I'm concerned is the price of not investing in sneak skill in a sneaky game].  The other option of course is the Sage / Pointman using Lead or Best of the Best to make the whole group sneaky.
Logged
Morgenstern
Control
******
Posts: 5233



View Profile
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2010, 06:08:56 PM »

I would also see a place for special training in this - Klutzy McArmaments might/should be able to temporarily buy up so ranks in Sneak.

How a gamemaster is going to run a setting isn't always appearant from the outset, and softening the transition while players are earning the next level where they can adjust to the actual lay of the land will help.

However, without direct relief and intervention from the GM, Origin skill mis-matches are forever.
Logged

At your own pace: Do. It. Now.
How about some pie? - Heroes of the Expanse
Sletchman
Control
******
Posts: 4108


Gentleman Scholar.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2010, 08:50:49 PM »

I would also see a place for special training in this - Klutzy McArmaments might/should be able to temporarily buy up so ranks in Sneak.

How a gamemaster is going to run a setting isn't always appearant from the outset, and softening the transition while players are earning the next level where they can adjust to the actual lay of the land will help.

However, without direct relief and intervention from the GM, Origin skill mis-matches are forever.

Thats true, I've played in games where the GC gives you an outline for one thing, and runs something else entirely.  Of course thats where skill gadgets, skill training resource picks, and skill boost prizes come into play.  Assuming they're available that is.
Logged
Crafty_Alex
Crafty Staff
Control
*****
Posts: 3244


Damned if I do, damned if I don't.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2010, 09:25:55 PM »

Skill Training is a Favor IIRC.
Logged

Sletchman
Control
******
Posts: 4108


Gentleman Scholar.


View Profile WWW
« Reply #28 on: April 19, 2010, 10:15:49 PM »

Skill Training is a Favor IIRC.

I was referring to the gear pick on Page 282 of Spycraft 2.0 [2nd Printing].  But the favour is another means to the end.
Logged
mathey
Agent
***
Posts: 227



View Profile
« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2010, 02:58:54 PM »

Thanks for the replies guys.

I have to admit that I'd forgotten about Team Checks in 2.0, but as has been noted, any team check is only as Sneaky as its respective Klutzy PC - unless they've got a Pointman to make sure they use the Solid Snake PC's Sneak.

I'm happy to hear that Origin Skills are indeed going to be in 3.0, and I think that provided the players share a mutual interest in Sneak OR can handle splitting the team, they'll have less chance to totally blow every stealth attempt. Skill Training can also pick up some of the slack, but I don't recall how well the ranks scale as PCs and their opposition gain levels. 

Thinking about this and reading the replies, it sort of reinforces how important it is that the GM and the players are on the same page when deciding what kind of Spy game they want at the outset, individually and as a group. Klutzy McArmament is probably going to feel rightfully stupid if he was told from the first session that stealth and subtlety was a priority for the GM's premise. On the other hand, the Snakey guy might also feel out of place if everybody else got on board with a GM who wanted every mission to feature tactical armor and blowing the living Hell out of anything that got in the team's way. The trickier region lies in between, though, where I think most of my own spy adventure games and perhaps many other GM's games lie: some sneaking around, some explosions of violence.

It may just be the tried and true formula of spy adventure gaming or the fiction they're inspired by, but its fairly typical for missions to begin with the team of spies in investigation mode, then follow that with a little action to keep the shooters happy, then resolve things with some sort of critical objective set piece focused on a specific locale or notable event. This last place is where The Plan That Never Works Out As Expected is typically executed, and its also where the fragility of team stealth tends to be most obvious.

To put it another way, we ALL know that James Bond isn't going to infiltrate Blofeld's secret volcano base in the climax and get what he came for without being spotted. On some level, we WANT Bond to get caught so he can escape the deathtrap, battle the henchmen, and go toe-to-toe with a lieutenant or the mastermind himself. Having him safely skulk past the trap, the goons, and the main baddie and get the McGuffin without a hitch might be optimal in "real" intelligence operations, but we've been taught by years of these kind of stories and games that its boring to play it that way. Players and GM share this expectation, I think, so Klutzy McArmanent and the complication he produces is perhaps an inevitable consequence.

Having said that, though, it IS possible to play one of them stealth/action games like Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell (pre-Conviction, anyways) or what-have-you and enjoy the heck out of pulling something off without a single shot fired or neck broken. I can't say that its a common experience, mind you - the exclamation points always show up and Snake or Sam have to bust some caps in some guards - but I like the idea that a PC created in that vein should get a shot at pulling off a bloodless yet exciting sneak that gives the same dividends for him that Klutzy'll inevitably get when its time to waste some mooks.

Is it something that's critical to me liking the core mechanics of 3.0? Heck no. But I thought I'd throw it out there as something to mull over: making stealthy play as engaging and feasible as shooty play.
Logged
Pages: 1 [2] Go Up Print 
« previous next »
Jump to:  


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.13 | SMF © 2006-2011, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!