Monday, February 7, 2011

The Sacred Cow Job

I pulled together a gone on pretty short notice today, with no real sense of what I was going to do with it. I ended up pulling up something together pretty much whole cloth, and it ended up weird but pretty cool.

Premise was a city of gods, where one god (the Lamplighter) had forcibly assumed prominence and taxing the prayers of other gods (prayers and offerings take a physical form), so the players are champions of various bound gods, hijacking prayers and doing dramatic things in the names of their patrons.

System-wise, I started from a Leverage template (predictably). For stats, I used the amber set of _how_ you do things (Force, Wits, Grace or Resolve) and for roles, I followed the model I used for Supernatural and focus on what you use to do it (Sword, Tool, Knowledge, Tongue or Self). Rounded it out with three distinctions. The weirdness came with the patron deity who gave each character the "Gift Of..." - some power reflective of a domain. The examples below will make it clearer. Players also had the option of adding extra gifts by acquiring additional obligations to other gods. Mechanically, that took the form of an additional distinction chosen by the GM. If I'd had a little more time I might have made it more involved (such as calling for specific behaviors) but this worked out well enough.

One change I ended up making was something I'd misremembered as a Leverage rule, but which ended up working out really well in practice. After dice are rolled, if the players need a reroll, they can get it, but only if they find some way to change their die pool, such as introducing a new asset or using another distinction. This has the interesting effect of rewarding keeping a few dice in reserve, and can also end up forcing a player to hurt himself with a distinction out of necessity..

This ended up with some seriously messed up characters. I'm going to transcribe their sheets here because I actually think the gifts are kind of mechanically interesting, and might be useful fodder for anyone looking to supernatural up their Leverage variant.

Warren, Agent of Visha

Force: d10
Wits: d8
Grace: d6
Resolve: d4
Sword: d10
Word: d8
Tool: d8
Knowledge: d6
Self: d4

To Owe is to Understand
It Is Only Temporary
Everyone Pays Their Debts
Everything Must Burn (Master Charr)
Always Give A Sucker An Even Break (Alerian Empress)

Gift of Fleeting Wealth
* When gaining benefits from Distinctions, roll d10 rather than d8
* When you roll a 1, generate 2 complications
* When creating an asset, it starts at d8, but there's almost certainly a catch to it.

Gift of Fire (From Master Charr)
* Immune to Fire
* Spend a plot point to self immolate. For the duration of the scene, if an enemy wins a physical conflict where they've engaged hand-to-hand, they take d4 fire damage. Plus, looks awesome.

Gift of Redemption (From the Alerian Empress)
* Take on an injury from another player.
* Spend a plot point to turn any of your dice into d4s. Each die so transformed increases damage done by one step.

Mary, Agent of Efficiency

Force: d12
Wits: d6
Grace: d4
Resolve: d6

Sword: D12
Word: d6
Tool: d8
Knowledge: d4
Self: d6

Promises First
How Hard Can It Be
99% Inspiration
Unnecessary Casualties (From the Executioner)

Gift of Improvisation
* Spend a plot point to duplicate another player's ability. May require another plot point expenditure if the power in question requires it.

Gift of Delivery (From the Executioner)
* Perfect timing: Show up in any scene when you feel like it.
* Non shall halt the messenger: Spend a PP to dramatically open any door

Orvik, Agent of Fenris the Flayed

Force: d6
Wits: d4
Grace: d8
Resolve: d10

Sword: d8
Word: d4
Tool: d10
Knowledge: d6
Self: d8

It Doesn't Hurt Yet
The God Guides My Lash
Repulsive (The Patchwork Man)
Hungy (Gulb, God of Gluttony)

Gift of Pain
* When you inflict Hurt, also inflict d4 Upset
* Your hurt threshold is d12
* Spend a PP to add your Hurt value to all rolls for the scene.

Gift of Beggars (From The Patchwork Man)
* Pathetic: When enemies have multiple opponents and have no pressing need to go after you, you're always targeted last.
* Melt into a Crowd: Spend a PP to vanish into any crowd

Gift of Meat (From Gulb, God of Gluttony)
* Smell of Blood. Always aware of living beings around you, even if you can't see them
* Rending Teeth: Spend a PP to make an attack using Self rather than Sword. On a hit, +1 step of damage, and you recover one step of hurt.

Beryl, Agent of the Down One

Force: d10
Wits: d4
Grace: d4
Resolve: d10

Sword: d10
Word: d6
Tool: d8
Knowledge: d4
Self: d8

Giant Hammer
Drunk (Gift of Tipsel)

Gift of Gravity
* Fall Safely from any height
* Spend a plot point to drastically reduce or increase your weight. If it's relevant to the action at hand, you may keep an extra die.

Gift of Drink (Gift of Tipsel)
* You are always confused d4 but you never take further confused damage unless it's self inflicted by drinking.
* You can Add your confused level to any roll, thus reducing it by one step (minimum d4). If you spend a PP, that extra die is kept.

Konur Tagg, Agent of Mardaug The Thunderer
Force: d10
Wits: d4
Grace: d6
Resolve: d8

Sword: d10
Word: d6
Tool: d6
Knowledge: d4
Self: d10

If It's Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Loudly
I Must Not Have Hit It Hard Enough
I Can't Talk Around Women
Can't Ignore Tears (Gift of Kaela, Mardaug's consort)

Gift of Thunder
* You can be heard anywhere and have no problem hearing in the noisiest of environments
* Spend 1PP when making an attack. Minimum damage is d8, and inflicts d4 confused while making a lot of noise.

Gift of The Tender Heart
* You have armor d4 vs Upset
* Inflict -1 step damage less Upset damage
* Spend 1pp to remove Upset damage from an ally, and roll and keep that die.


  1. Very interesting. I like the re-roll if you change your pool idea.

    So the Gifts were basically like Talent packages, some of which were not necessarily beneficial? Seems sort of like Smallville Distinctions with their d4/d8/d12 effects.

    I notice Konur Tagg has armor d4 vs Upset. Did you usually use a Stat associated w an effect for 'armor'? As in, Wits vs Confused, Force vs Hurt? Resolve vs Upset? Or something else?

  2. The default gift package was One always-on benefit, one Spend a PP for an extra benefit. Obviously, they don't all follow that, but it established a baseline, so I could go "Ok, that feels a bit too good, let's add a tweak".

    Armor worked like this: If you took a hit of that level or less, you reduce it by a step. Basically meant that Konar could take Upset hits, but could ignore the more trivial ones.

    There were 5 stress tracks (Hurt, tired, confused, upset and mundane). Hurt == Resolve, Tired == Force, Confused == Grace, Upset == Wits. The stat represented the player's injury threshold. (Mundane was an oddball, since it represented damage to the character's relationship to a god, but it never came up in play)

    -Rob D.

  3. I'm guessing players had 8 increase steps to assign to Sword/Word/etc. How did you come to that number and did you find it as you expected or too high/too low? Did players feel fine with that amount and the freedom to distribute them as they liked?

  4. d4/d6/d8/d10 (Stats) and d4/d6/d8/d8/d10 (roles), with players free to swap values up and down within the group, to a max of d12. Net result felt a little high, but appropriately so.

  5. Ok that's easier than X number of die size increase steps.

    Yes that array would feel high compared to Leverage's d10/d8/d6/d4/d4. If/when you do it again will you allow swapping up and down?

  6. I flipped through a copy of Leverage at the FLGS before and during a break in our AW play. Tempted to pick it up but did not due to immediate cash flow restrictions do so...I am intrigued by my group trying this next.

  7. @Jvstin You will absolutely have to report if you do! I'll be very curious what you think.


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