Friday, January 11, 2013

Urban Fantasy: Secrecy and Discovery

One of the tropes of the source material listed, is the fear of discovery or rather the need to keep ones abilities secret. I want that in the setting, because the supernatural is suppossed to be hidden and just out of reach. Being discovered could vastly complicate a characters live.

Most of the Extras are pretty obvious when used. If there are witnesses in the scene that do not know about the characters' abilities, then there is the risk of discovery. I see two ways to run this:

(1) The player character needs to roll Lying or Stealth to cover up his abilities.
(2) The non-player characters roll Notice to see, if they notice something is odd and not quite right.
(3) The player characters roll an active defense against the observation attempt.

Method (1) gives the player more control over the roll, but also runs the risk of burning much needed resources like advantages and FATE points to remain unnoticed. Either the game master or the player decides which skill is used Lying or Stealth, or if the better or worse of the two skills is used.

Method (2) reduces discovery to a check made by the game master. It will probably resolve quicker and cost less additional resources.

The game master also needs to decide, if a seperate roll for each supernatural character is made or one roll for all characters. Method (1) probably relies on making a role for each character and method (2) on making a role for the scene.

Player character cover-up

The difficult of the Lying/Stealth roll is pretty straight forward. The difficult starts at mediocre (+0) and rises by +2 for each  stunt Extra used by that character in the scene. If a character has used an Extra skill, the difficulty of avoiding discovery is equal to the level of the skill used (the theory being that more powerful abilities are more impressive and obvious in their display). If a character used both skills and stunts, use the higher difficulty for the Lying/Stealth roll. The difficulty is reduced for each zone difference between the observers and the character.

Outcomes:
  • Failure: The bystanders notice that something isn't quite right. Depending on circumstances, they may not be able to place a finger on what is actually wrong, but at the least they become super-suspicious of the character. The character gains an aspect that describes being discovered.
  • Tie: The character fears discovery and flees from his present location or the observer gains a boost on the character or the character takes a mental stress.
  • Success: The character remains undiscovered.
  • Success with style: The character remains undiscovered and may immediatley clear a mild mental consequence as relief sets in (or downgrade a more severe mental consequence, if there is an available consequence slot at the next lower level).

Bystanders noticing

Unless a supporting NPC or a main NPC is present, assume that the Notice skill of the bystanders is average (+1). They have to roll higher than the player character's Lying or Stealth skill (as determined by the situation and the game master). For each stunt Extra used they receive a +2 bonus on their skill roll. If an Extra skill was used, they receive the skill as bonus. The difficulty is increased for each zone difference between the observers and the character.

Outcomes:
  • Failure: The observers are none the wiser.
  • Tie: The observers harbor suspicions and get a boost on the character.
  • Success: The observers discover that the character is a monster.
  • Success with style: The observers discover that the character is a monster and immediately cause two mental stress to the character.

Players roll versus Bystanders

The third option lets the players roll Lying or Stealth and the bystanders roll Notice. The bystanders receive bonuses to their roll like described above: For each stunt Extra used they receive a +2 bonus on their skill roll. If an Extra skill was used, they receive the skill as bonus. The player characters receive +1 bonus for each zone difference between themselves and the observers. Obstacles may also add to the player characters' rolls.

Outcomes:
  • Failure: The bystanders notice that something isn't quite right. Depending on circumstances, they may not be able to place a finger on what is actually wrong, but at the least they become super-suspicious of the character. The character gains an aspect that describes being discovered.
  • Tie: The character fears discovery and flees from his present location or the observer gains a boost on the character or the character takes a mental stress.
  • Success: The character remains undiscovered.
  • Success with style: The character remains undiscovered and may immediatley clear a mild mental consequence as relief sets in (or downgrade a more severe mental consequence, if there is an available consequence slot at the next lower level).
After looking over the three possibilities, I will probably use the last one, because that seems to provide the most dynamic way to handle discovery.

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