More fun toying with my Static/Signal cyberpunk setting. Today I'd like to think a bit about missions, and in particular, fallout from missions, and from that some thoughts on group formation mechanics.

As a reminder, the cyberpunk game I'm envisioning is built around players going on Ghost Missions, where they are hired by a Megacorp or powerful Crime Syndicate to complete a mission against some other Crime group or Megacorp. Corporate theft, sabotage, espionage, kidnapping, extractions, assassinations, etc.

The mechanic I’m thinking about is called Traces.
Here’s the idea: while on a mission your character walks into an office reception area and talks their way past the receptionist. Sure you made it into the office, but you also showed up on camera. If you weren’t in a decent disguise, you left a Trace.  Maybe you also left a fingerprint while picking a lock, and a blood sample when a guard shot you.  That would be 3 Traces.
At the end of the mission you need to lay low to avoid blow back from the corporation you just had your run against.  You roll an appropriate skill (Stealth or Street for example) against the total number of Traces you acquired on that mission. If you beat the traces the target didn’t put enough clues together to figure out it was you. If they win, then they know or suspect it was you, and they become that much more likely to decide you’re worth the cost of tracking down and killing. The number of shifts of victory they got is advanced on a unique stress track for that Organization.  If too much stress is built up, they send a Cleaner Squad to take you out while you are trying to lay low between missions.

Now I haven’t worked on the details on this, but I’ve got some ideas.

Right now my concept is that each players has their own stress track for each group, but I could also see advantages in having a group track instead, or unified tracks instead per organization, or a single bar overall.

The advantage to per-person tracks is that it lets you take Consequences to negate stress, and it lets you run groups a bit adhoc, which is something I’ve enjoyed about Shadowrun games or drop in games in general, and which plays to the mission format’s strengths. Characters and even Players can rotate through or miss sessions without too many issues.
It’s also a got downsides in having a lot of stress tracks to manage, and not adding to group cohesion.

The advantage to per-organization tracks is that it can increase the danger in taking missions against foes you have already angered.  You might think twice about pulling a hit on a Yakuza drug warehouse if you’ve been leaving clues at the last 3 runs against them.  It also allows for missions to lower the stress of your client. AKA: doing a mission for the Yakuza can lower the stress you have with that group, putting you on friendlier terms with them.

To make the concept playable, the number of organizations needs to be winnowed down, which is where game creation comes into play. The first session of a Fate game is typically a character/world/game creation session. For Static/Signal this could involve:

Selecting a Megacity, or making your own.

Selecting 3 Megacorps, or making your own.
Which Megacorp is Headquartered Here?
Which Megacorp is the Long Time Competitor?
Which Megacorp is the aggressive New Player in the City?

Selecting 2 Crime Groups, or making your own.
Which Criminal Group is the old guard that controls the best turf?
Which Criminal Group is trying to take over that turf?

Inventing a Fixer that the group shares.

High Concept: Most densely packed city in the world
Trouble: Threats From The DPRK Kyushu Contested Zone
Home of Tamahagane Industries (Corp 1)
XK Group are the Biggest Competitor (Corp 2)
VS Tech is the Hot New Corp in the Sprawl (Corp 3)
Yakuza Dominated Underworld (Underworld 1)
Vory are making a play for more turf (Underworld 2)
Fixer: "Spyder Jack"

I’m not sure how to handle a Cleaner Squad hit. It could be done as a straight up conflict scene, but I’d rather simplify it a bit.  The concept I’m leaning towards is a Challenge between the effect character and the Cleaner Squad.  The player wants to get out alive, the Cleaner squad wants them dead.  It’s not a fight, because the player is explicitly outnumbered/gunned. It’s about personal escape. The player can Concede (automatically take an Extreme consequence) or they can risk death on the Challenge.  Yes character death; this is supposed to be a bit gritty.
Example: A player has run out of Stress with XK Group, and they have sent a hit squad to take out the Street Ronin in the coffin motel he’s been living in. “You thought you were laying low enough in your don’t ask cheap Yellowzone coffin motel, but you wake up abruptly as someone in full body combat armor cracks open your pod and tosses in a live bomb before slamming the pod door shut and engaging some kind of lock. What do you do?” This is the first exchange in the Contest: Bomb vs player’s applicable skill (Tech to disable it,  Meat to break out of the pod in time, etc)  IF the player survives, their stress track with that organization is cleared. They either think you’re dead (or close enough to learn your lesson) or think you’re too much trouble to kill.

There’s also a lot of other hooks that can be worked into this system.  Bolt Holes or safe houses that make it easier to survive Cleaner Squad hits. Identity remapping to clear all your tracks by becoming someone else.  White ICE can inflict Traces on people instead of Integrity Stress, etc.

I like the concepts but I’m not sure it works smoothly yet.

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