Over on his blog, Ryan Macklin recently proposed a hack-an-RPG-so-it’ll-run-the-Fast-and-the-Furious game design contest. This is my entry: a hack of Night’s Black Agents.
2 NIGHTS 2 AGENTS
“And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.”
2 Kings 9:20
I’ve never watched a Fast and Furious movie because life’s too short for anything that can’t be done in ninety minutes flat.
I watch a lot of trailers.
2 Nights 2 Agents uses Night’s Black Agents as its base. However, instead of playing super-spy badass operatives known as “Agents”, you play as “Furies” – creative and industrious thrill-seekers, who drive fast cars and defy the laws of physics. Maybe you’re also a super-spy, or a globe-trotting law enforcement officer, or maybe your profession isn’t terribly consistent. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re a “creative and industrious thrill-seeker”, because that’s in the rules of the contest.
Begin with character creation. Your Furies have no points in Investigative abilities. Wait, isn’t Gumshoe a system about investigative roleplaying? What’s left when you take out all the investigation rules? Well, the Thriller Chase rules basically.
If you do slow down enough for some investigating…
- Remember that General abilities can be used as Investigative abilities too, to find clues and make Spends. In this way, Medic can substitute for Diagnosis, Hand-to-Hand can substitute for Intimidation, Sense Trouble can substitute for Notice etc.
- Alternatively, General ability tests might be necessary, especially to set-up what would otherwise be covered by Interpersonal abilities. A surprising number of potential contacts will only cooperate when they’ve had a drag race with you first.
- The Director will just give you any information you need to continue with an adventure. In other words, you’ll always count as having the Investigative abilities you need for Core Clues.
- The Director promises not to be an asshole and drop your street racer somewhere she can only succeed with Accounting or Bureaucracy.
Furies start with 20 pool points in Driving, 4 points in Health and 3 points in Stability. They then have 50 more points to spend on General abilities. Your Driving pool must be your highest, and your second-highest General ability must have a rating of at least half your Driving pool. You don’t start with any points in Cover or Network, but you can buy points in it with your extra 50 as normal.
Don’t bother with an MOS. You probably won’t need the mechanical effects of Drives or Sources Of Stability either, but they’re fun!
Night’s Black Agents has rules for Chases, Extended Chases and Vehicular Combat covered. It’s central ability-spend mechanic, where you constantly gamble to spend just enough pool points to succeed and no more, is a good model for the risk-taking street racers live and die by. It doesn’t really have rules for racing though, which is what this mini-hack is for…
Start as though you were running a Thriller Chase, but use a “Track” instead of a Lead. Like the Lead, the Track usually runs from 0 to 10, but might be shorter (for drag races) or longer (for cross-country). There are no “runners” or “pursuers” in races, only “racers”. All racers (and there can be more than two) start on the Track at 0. Whoever gets to the end of the Track first wins the race.
Each turn, racers secretly spend and simultaneously reveal Driving points as in a Thriller Chase, then roll against the difficulty – to begin with, this is 4. Any racers who succeed on this roll move 1 up the track; any racers who fail stay where they are. In addition, whichever racer (or racers, in case of a tie) beat the difficulty by the highest margin moves an additional 1 up the track.
Raises work slightly differently in a race, since there is no “runner”. Whilst secretly spending points at the start of a round, any racer can note that they are raising – the difficulty increases by 1 for each and every racer that announced they were raising. Work out the difficulty once spends are revealed, and make rolls to see who succeeds and who fails. At the end of the turn, the difficulty lowers by 1 for every racer that raised and subsequently failed to meet the new difficulty. This is the only way for the difficulty to come down, unless every racer agrees for it to be lowered!
The special rules for Crashes, Ramming and Swerving apply as normal, except they modify changes in the Track rather for than the Lead. In addition, any racer that makes it to Track 7 or higher can “Dash For The Finish” – this works like a Sudden Escape, except that if multiple racers try to dash at once, only the racer that beats the difficulty by the highest margin wins (use vehicle Speed to break ties). Everyone else crashes and burns.
Your can also use the rules for “Attacking During Chases” if your game is like Mad Max or Death Race or some shit.
Don’t forget to flavour your actions with narration! Raises and Swerves need narrative justification in races just as they do in Thriller Chases.
PUSH THE LIMIT
Sometimes when running a Thriller Chase, especially when the two sides are fairly evenly matched, there can come a point at which both runner and pursuer have used up all their Driving points, and exchanges consist solely of rolling dice at one another. This is not fun. The rulebook suggests that if chases are losing momentum, the Director should introduce some other overriding element to bring them to a close, but it can be difficult to do this in a way that doesn’t just hand victory to either the runner or pursuer. You can also introduce ways to refresh Driving pools, clever use of Investigative abilities especially, but we jettisoned them at the start of this hack. So here’s a way to keep up the pace whilst introducing a bit more high-risk, high-reward action.
In 2 Nights 2 Agents, if a PC or NPC ever runs out of Driving points in the middle of a Race, Chase or Combat, they can sacrifice their action for the turn (failing any tests to move up the Lead or Track) to “Push the Limit”. You may choose a difficulty between 2 and 6, then roll a d6 at +0. If you meet the difficulty, you refresh a number of Driving points equal to twice the difficulty you set. If you fail, you spin out and crash, removing you from the Race or Chase if you were in one.
ARE THERE STILL VAMPIRES THOUGH?
Sure? Yes! And I bet they’re infiltrating underground street racing gangs where they can prey on humans without detection by human law enforcement. Maybe you’re also undercover to track down the monsters and destroy them.
And you could probably get pretty creative with abilities and weaknesses for racing vampires. Maybe they drink gasoline instead of blood. Maybe they recoil not from sunlight but from headlights at full beam. Maybe their cars don’t appear in rear view mirrors.
Ignore that bit in Night’s Black Agents where it suggests that driving vampires are “undignified”. Vampires are bad-ass and driving is cool.
And when building your conspyramid, don’t bother sprawling out too much. Maybe a tower is better than a pyramid. The Furies will looking for the fastest most direct way to get to the top anyway.
This hack hasn’t been playtested and might be terrible. But if creative types hesitated before rushing out shoddy material, we wouldn’t have Tokyo Drift.
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