Category Archives: Power of 12

Updates on New Power of 12 Games

The Company Man Expansion for Deniable Asset is in its first stage of review.

I have also begun work on a Sci-Fi setting: Alpha Star.

I wanted to combine character types from Sci-Fi RPG games I have enjoyed over the years like SLA and Shadowrun, and wonderful Sci-Fi dramas such as Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Star Trek.

Alpha Star is just coming together but the backstory is this: somewhere in the future Earth’s sun is due to suffer Core Hydrogen Exhaustion and Earth will be uninhabitable.  This occurs billions of years too early.  No one knows why: yet.

The people of Earth are no where near discovering light speed or anyway of traveling to other star systems.  The answer is to send out colony ships, with  colonists in hyper-sleep, and hope that one day they will find a new place to call home.  Scientists are sent along, working in small teams, hoping to eventually make scientific discoveries.  As they reach old age, a new team is woken up to continue the work.

Alpha Star is one of twelve colony ships sent out.  Its destination is Alpha Centauri.  78,000 years into their journey, something happens…

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Power of 12 Role-playing System – What is it?

Just put this on my randomencounters.net site.  Thought I’d share it in the blog.

The Power of 12 Role-playing System is a living creature as much as a game system.  It is designed to encourage role-play and fun.  It expands and contracts as you see fit.

The Power of 12 Role-playing System relies on four basic stats.  In each book I call them something different, something that relates to the genre: “Foci” for Of Gods and Relics, “Modus Operandi” for Deniable Asset.  Really, they are stats.

But I don’t call them stats.  “Stats” is a word that carries specific meaning in our hobby.  I did not want stats in my game.  I wanted empowering descriptors that, each time you looked at your character sheet, you saw an answer to the desperate situation at hand.

I also chose the 12-sided die for that reason.  No one else was using it.  It carried no history or bias with it.  It was free to be molded into something powerful.  Thus, the Power of 12.

Each Foci or Modus Operandi is itself a unique and empowering descriptor.  In Of Gods and Relics you have nine to choose from.  That’s right.  Your four stats don’t even have to be the same as the character next to you at the table.

Any given Focus has a value: 1 to 6.  That is how many D12s you roll.  7 or higher, is a success.  The enemy rolls against you.  If you are attacking and get more successes, your target takes damage.

Simple enough.

What if your “stats” were Courage, Honor, Ancestry, and Joy?  As a Vendai Warrior, your ability to defend your comrades and right the wrongs of the world is not based on your physical strength and sword skill.  It is based on your Courage.  As it should be.  Now you can play a muscle bound Conan-like character or a smallish man of meager beginnings.  Either way, your Courage is what you fight with.  Your Honor is what holds you up against the storm of evil.  Your Ancestry steadies you against the blows of your enemies.  Your Joy – or love of Joy, or hope for Joy – drives you to glory or treasure.

Words or weapons, it all works the same.

You can swing a sword with Courage easily enough.  But what about that dramatic moment where the hero, surrounded by armed men, stands tall and delivers that awesome line, “You may kill me, but I’ll be damned if I don’t take most of you with me.”

In other role playing games, that is hyperbole and completely beside the real action which is to swing your sword and hope you hit.

In the Power of 12 Role-playing System, that killer line IS your action.

You speak that line.

You roll your dice.

if you get more success than the enemy, HE takes damage.  He was struck by the power of your words.  We have all seen it.  Maximus, Conan, Gowron, William Wallace… they have all turned the tide of battle with words.  Now you can too.

Deniable Asset has Modus Operandi that are more fixed: Blunt Instrument, Investigator, Infiltrator, and Technician.  Those are your “stats.”  Those are the empowering descriptors that, each time you look at your character sheet, you see an answer to the desperate situation at hand.

And there is equipment: Relics and followers for fantasy, gear and support team members for espionage.  You collect them, use them, add them to your dice rolls.  They have Foci and Modus Operandi.  They have personality and meaning.  Describe how they help you, roll your dice, have your fun.

Empower yourself with 12-sided dice.

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Deniable Asset Executive Copier session one

Notes from my recent game session running the Executive Copier Mission

I hope to illustrate the flexibility and fun gameplay promoted by Deniable Asset.

By using Obstacles and Challenges, creating rules on the fly, and never stopping play, we had a great time!

Power of 12 eric sack triangle deniable asset

Those of you not familiar with the game, feel free to grab the free download “Deniable Asset: Hiding in the Mosque” from drivethruprg.com. It gives you the basics and has the introductory mission that starts the characters off.

Here’s how it went:

The Agents:

  • Conrad – Primary MO – Investigator
  • Hans – Primary MO – Infiltrator
  • Dimitri – Primary MO – Technician
  • Antoinette – Primary MO – Infiltrator (altered from pre-gen)
  • Ramone – Primary MO – Blunt Instrument

Our action begins with the first Scenario of Hiding in the Mosque. Antoinette is a new Agent after all and the players told me they looked forward to the opening of Hiding in the Mosque and insisted that all new Agents go through that.

Since we have some experienced Agents, they get to play the roles of the NPCs in that opening Scenario.

This, oddly, goes much more smoothly then when the group went through this scenario the first time.

Must be the presence of character Agents.

Oh, and Imelda wasn’t playing. She had a lot of fun the first time.   I had no idea that the electrical cord of a toaster could be used as a weapon.

Afterwards the players invent the Hospitality Supply Company as a cover for the Bureau to supply equipment to the Agents. They drive there in cars they acquired during Hiding in the Mosque.

At this time I award two character points. Most of the players had gone through Hiding in the Mosque previously and the game really takes off once each Agent has a piece of Gear and/or a Support Team member.

We’ll cover Conrad’s Gear and Support Team Member in detail.

Conrad chooses a lighter and gives it the MO, “Never Runs Dry.” It would play an interesting and creative part during the first Scenario of Executive Copier. A lighter? Yes, a lighter. Of course, now I have to add a lighter to my next set of Gear cards.Eric sack deniable Asset power of 12 gear lighter cardsEric sack deniable Asset power of 12 gear gun cards

Conrad also brings a pistol with him. He names it “Revolver” and gives it the MO “Damage.” Pretty straightforwardEric sack deniable Asset power of 12 nadia cards

Conrad also brings Nadia, a Support Team member he developed from Hiding in the Mosque. She was a competing agent (that we invented during that mission) that he turned through seduction (very Bond-esque).   Oh, the people she worked for will come looking for her. That will come when Conrad least expects it!

A number of unique things happen during the first Scenario at the abandoned warehouse.

After silently approaching the warehouse and breaking into the front office area, they realize there are a number of bad guys on both levels of the warehouse (on the floor and on the catwalk). The players want to enter the warehouse and spread out in hidden positions.

I describe the warehouse as a large, open, two story building with rickety shelves – reaching 1 1/2 stories tall – sparsely filled with crates and boxes. Plenty of partially obscuring cover.

I assign an obstacle of 2 to that effort. Each Agent would have to roll their MO against that value. Two or better, and they would get in position. Less than two success and they would not only be discovered but suffer the difference in damage.

They each took up positions and rolled. All were successful. I expected that. We are rolling dice, but the odds were in their favor. I decided on an obstacle of 2 because the guards are named “Inept Guards” for a reason.

Small risk but I made that up on the fly and it added to the suspense and risk without having to know where each guard was, how far away they were, what their ability to “observe” might be, what exact kind of cover there was…

Ramone’s player had to leave at this point (real life commitment) so he is called away on a side mission by Lusya, the Cell Coordinator.

From there I had everyone roll for initiative. Action was about to happen.

  • Dimitri: 4
  • Antoinette: 2
  • Hans: 1
  • Conrad: 1
  • Rashid and the Inept Guards : 0

That’s how it fell out.

Dimitri asks just how rickety the shelves were. I say “very rickety.” He then announces he wants to push them over like dominos in hopes of taking out a few guards at once.

I decide that, with the guards wandering around, however many successes he rolls he “attacks” that many guards with the domino falling shelves and that each guard will also have to defend against that many successes.

So, the better he rolls, the more shelves he topples over, the more guards he will catch in the confusion, and the more potential damage he will do to each one.

He rolls 5 successes. He smiles.

Five guards are caught in the mess, each defends separately, and each takes some damage.

I allow the other Agents to maintain their “hiding” by making an MO roll against an obstacle 3 – it is getting more difficult to stay hidden now that action has started.

Antoinette decides to stay hidden as long as possible. Safety in the shadows?

Conrad faces off against several guards on the catwalks while Hans works his way to the other end of the warehouse where the goods are piled up on a pallet.

Rashid, the leader of the Inept Guards is trying to maintain order and figure out what just happened.

Dimitri’s next move is to leap on the shelves he had just pushed over, run along them as they falll and kick Rashid in the chest.

We compress time a bit so he can do all this in one smooth action. I loved the idea.

He rolls his MO to attack Rashid.

If he rolls poorly, I can describe all sorts of badness that might happen along the way. If Rashid rolls well he might see Dimitri speeding along the shelves and fire his gun or leap for cover.

As it is Dimitri rolls quite well again and pulls off the amazing and fun stunt with panache!

By this time Hans is at that end and able to step from behind cover to fire at Rashid.

Here is a look at Hans’s character sheet:

eric sack deniable asset powerof 12 agent sheet

You can see he picked up a Perk from defeating Rashid in the warehouse. His term is more direct, but I will call it here, “Cajoling and Deceitful.” This is worth one extra D12 if it can be at least loosely used in a MO roll.

Meanwhile Conrad and Nadia (his Support Team member) are up on the catwalk. Nadia has Conrad’s gun (a piece of Gear) and fires while Conrad uses fisticuffs to waylay Inept Guards. Nadia and the Gun are part of Conrad as a character so they add their dice to his. But they are be narrated separately, allowing for more fun and action.

Conrad decides to muscle one guard off the catwalk and throw him onto the lower floor. Conrad describes his action, rolls his dice, the Inept Guard rolls fewer successes, takes the difference in damage, and is sent over! There is no extra falling damage. The damage he takes from Conrad’s dice roll IS the falling damage. Conrad narrated his actions, and that led to the resulting interpretation of the damage he took.

In the next round Conrad pulls out his Lighter (it has an MO value of one) and tosses it at another Inept Guard as a distraction, then performs a roundhouse kick – attempting to knock him off the catwalk as well.

In this case Conrad rolls poorly and the inept guard dodges Nadia’s bullet – Nadia is still firing in support of Conrad – as well as Conrad’s kick. But a lighter with a flame that “never runs dry” is too good to pass up.

So, I decide that this Inept Guard was strapped with explosives – a suicide vest if you will. But, lacking sophisticated detonators, it is set off by a simple fuse – one that Conrad’s well placed lighter just lit!

No damage was done but a GREAT opportunity for narrative and drama.

Conrad now has to diffuse that bomb – which he does in subsequent rounds – but his decision to have a lighter as a piece of gear, naming the MO “Never Runs Dry”, and using it so prominently creates wonderful opportunity.

Dimitri and Hans work Rashid into a pickle and demand he tell his men to give up.

That is an attack that Dimitri makes against Rashid and succeeds. Rashid takes damage from that “demand” like any other attack.

I judge that Rashid would rather live – he has children to feed – so he gives the order.

I roll for him, I roll for each guard. Those who fall short give up or run away. Those who do not get angry and fire at Rashid! The traitor! My call – anyone else running this game could have made lots of other decisions. That was mine.

Those are just some of the examples from the play session that I believe show the ease and flexibility of Deniable Asset and the Power of 12 Role-Playing System.

In the next warehouse there may not be rickety shelves or Inept Guards. The situation will be quite different and the Agents approach will be equally different.

And they will try something new and different that there are not specific rules for. But by using Obstacles, keeping the focus of the conflict between the Agents and the NPCs, encouraging the players to play Secret Agents rather than a rule set, wonderful things occur!

I would love to hear how your play sessions go.

Post them in this forum or e-mail them to me. Contact information is on my site at www.randomencounters.net.

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Agent Dossier now up on our Drivethrurpg storefront!

Deniable Asset: Agent Dossier has been uploaded to my publisher page on Drivethrurpg.com.  Just click here to go there now.  It is a free download.

Deniable Asset Agent Dossier Cover

20 dossiers that represent all the Agents from Deniable Asset: Hiding in the Mosque and a blank dossier for recruiting your own agent – in both “nice to look at” and “easy on the printer” formats.

Of course, permission is granted to photo copy – or print extra copies – for your personal use.

The Agency does not approve of non-personal use.

Why now?

This is a prelude to the upcoming mission, Red Herring.

Red Herring picks up where Executive Copier left off.  As much as any espionage mission picks up where the previous one left off.  Oh there are tie-ins and an undercurrent of white lies.  The first Scenario gives the Agents a nice high level overview of the mission.  A view from 35,000 feet as it were.  And that will be their exact altitude when the proverbial waste hits the jet stream.  Good luck with that.

I love working on espionage.

Executive Copier let me get my feet wet.  I developed a screen play style of presentation and a certain visual aesthetic that I liked.  Red Herring should take that a step further.  It is also encouraging me to develop the deeper, connected layers of the espionage world.  Just who is behind what, who is paying who, and the all important why.  It is a spider’s web, a cavernous plot spawning endless sub-plots.  It all seems to spiral out of control.  And yet, at the source, there may only be a few players directing this huge production on a stage the size of the world.  But the actors have much latitude and their methods are circuitous at best.  It’s anyone’s guess if what was intended is ultimately what gets accomplished.  If you start at one end you would never find your way to the other.  Best to leap into the middle.

I also love the stories of the NPC agents.  Many of those may never make their way into print – behind the scenes, before the Agents come along, and their “where are they now” futures.

If they get a future.

Here’s hoping we all get a future… in the next mission.

Random Eric.

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Card Accessories for Deniable Asset

My next endeavor is to add some useful tools for Deniable Asset through cards: Agent cards, support team cards, and gear cards.  Looking at a deck with 12 themed cards for each type.

The cards will take the place of a character sheet and allow for physical placement on the table to allow for easy recognition of which element you agent is in, who is carrying which piece of gear, and which support team members and gear are out of the scenario for healing.

Image

Ready to be filled out by the player!

The next question is… do we provide generic cards for the players to fill out… or pre-filled Agent cards, Gear cards, and Support Team cards… or both!

Pre-Filled and ready to play!

Pre-Filled and ready to play!

If you have an opinion, leave a comment!

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Deniable Asset is Officially Available for Download!

Deniable Asset (for those of you with security clearance) is available for download on http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=3656 .  The print edition will be coming shortly!  The first Mission, Executive Copier, will arrive shortly as well.

DeniableAsset_frontcover drive thru cover image

In celebration I have penned some fiction: again, you must have clearance!

Fear not, thanks to sophisticated java plugins your retina patterns and finger prints have already been scanned (what do you think those web cams and USB keyboards are REALLY for?!).

Enjoy…

Part 1

I should be shocked by this. 

I should be devastated by this. 

I should be curled in the fetal position.

Star takes one look over the railing.  The guard down below hasn’t noticed her.  She leaps.

With practiced precision she brings the weight of her fall, through the heel of her hand, onto the neck of the guard.

The guard collapses as Star lands in a crouch.  She straddles the guard, both her hands gripping his head, and with practiced precision she snaps his neck.  She steps up suddenly, stunned at her own brutality.

How she knows how to do all this is a mystery – the mystery; time for questions later.

Star picks up the guard’s assault rifle.

A little much for guarding a warehouse of basic goods.

She walks along the outer wall, past crates and boxes.  The smell of vegetables and other foodstuffs noticeably absent despite the obvious markings.

Drugs?  Weapons?  Don’t ask questions.  Just get the job done.

Star works her way along the next wall to the metal steps that lead to the office.  A full story up, it overlooks the entire warehouse.  A light is on.  As she quietly ascends the steps, she attaches the silencer to her pistol.  If there is anyone guarding the safe, then she can’t afford to alert anyone else.

She stops just before the last step and peers into the office: one guard, a woman in full Muslim hi jab, and children.  At least ten.  The woman is teaching them.

Now what?

The instructions from the Bureau are very specific: get the files, leave no witnesses, torch the place, and make it look like an accident.  Bullets are generally not accidental.

Star knows she can’t hesitate.  She has to move before they see her.  She steps to the door, pistol ready.  Star opens the door slowly.  Better that they are curious than alarmed.  She steps in and levels the pistol at the guard’s head…

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It’s ok to “split” the party!

In a recent D&D game I have been playing in (4th ed. and yes I do play games other than my own… I call it ‘research’ ;-).  My character is an Orc Paladin. “In 4th Ed.?”  Yes.  It’s amazing what you can do when you treat the guidelines like guidelines rather than enforceable government statues.

Chuck, our DM, set up a nice scenario where it behooved us to split into three directions (4 of us at the table other than Chuck).  We were all mockingly stating, “We learned this in Lord of the Rings, NEVER split the party!”  Gently prodded, we took the bait and, lo and behold, my Orc Paladin secured a new follower, our two types made their way up the trail to the overlook and secured that against fair odds, while our final member kept watch on a fair sized skirmish and learned some valuable information from one of the survivors.

What is important is that each of our characters got to do something of interest to them and not wait around while someone else “got to do something.”

We would have missed 2/3rds of the fun had we stuck together.

We had to buy into the idea that separating allows us to get more things done in less time.  This will not ALWAYS be the case.  But when it makes sense to do so, brave adventurers should be encouraged to strike out in smaller groups, or solo and meet up again later.

I bring this up because Of Gods and Relics™ and the forthcoming Deniable Asset™ are built to allow this.  The Power of 12™ Roleplaying System has a very easy method to balance any Conflict for the characters or Agents present.  Just add up all the Foci (or Modus Operandi for Deniable Asset) of all the characters (or Agents) and you know how much should be on the other side of the conflict for a fair fight.  Nudge it one way or the other depending on how easy or difficult you want the Conflict to be.

It has been one of the guiding principles of RPG game design here at Random Encounters: it’s a game, let the people play!

I for one prefer to spend my role-playing time building up my empire – even if it starts with one follower and takes a year to grow into a small band of dedicated Orcs – or standing up for the rights of peasants, or overthrowing the evil overlord – or the good overlord if I am playing evil – rather than tabulating dollars, gold, or credits.

Currency in most RPGs is there primarily as a limiting resource, just like in real life.  If the characters get too much, they get too powerful.  If they don’t get enough, they remain too weak.

This kind of system set up forces the players to manage not their characters but the lower ends of the power “food” chain: the things that make the stuff that make them powerful.  Gold doesn’t make you powerful: gold buys magic items that then make the characters powerful.

Not that this isn’t interesting or fun for many.  But I feel there is more fun to be had for myself and a fair portion of the table top RPG fan base in abstracting economy and minutia in favor of playing the hero directly.  The Power of 12 Roleplaying System was designed for that so you can split the party and enjoy the same fun and freedom of simultaneous split scene action that we get in so many movies and books.

Besides, computers are so much better at crunching economy and minutia: managing the “things” that control the “stuff” that make characters heroic. 

However Chuck, Dungeon Masters, Games Masters, and Game Administrators everywhere are far better at making you, the player, feel heroic while playing your character.

More playing, less preparing to play!

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