Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)


So we need to define some lore. I wrote this pretty much fresh from memory, but I was super tired when I wrote it, so please forgive any typos. I’ll get to fixing them.

  • Cryptos: both a term used to describe your “secret”, or your mind or soul and the Intervertebral disc-like device implanted in all citizens in their youth that stores the personalities and defining memories or ideals that make a person a person. At the moment of bodily death, should a cryptos survive, it may be “spun up” and the cryptos within be communed with, or given particular circumstances may be transplanted into another body. A cryptos can also survive on a sufficiently complex device or network of devices, although after some time they do become “hungry” and may feed off other crypos on a shared network or even destroy a human’s cryptos and “possess” them.

  • Awoken: during the dark centuries before the Reformation of the Human Mandate or even the establishment of the Golden Sundom at the end of the Succession Wars, mankind was brought to the brink of extinction in the Caveat Emptor sector. The discovery of how to create Cryptos allowed for not only the storage of human minds, but also their replication. Awoken refer not only to the replicated Cryptos but also to minds that have spent so much time tinkering with their own humanity or surfing codescapes that their minds have been altered into something more and other than purely human.

  • Revenant: An ancient horror of the benighted centuries prior to the Reformation of the Human Mandate where Cryptos and replication technology was used to turn human beings into mindless killing automata. Many have since been decommissioned or secreted away to crypts rumored to exist beneath several of the RHM’s largest Executor (the Imperial Armed Forces’ elite infantry forces) garrisons. Other rumors persist that some revenants managed to reclaim their old memories or stitch together new cryptos and live amongst the populace today, masquerading as Awoken.

  • Lazarus: Some fortunate souls are able to purchase, customize, and maintain numerous bodies that they may download their cryptos into, or even maintain backups of their own cryptos in the event of a copy’s destruction. This process is extremely costly and only the upper crust of the Reformed Human Mandate can afford such luxury.

  • Shapers: the miracle interstellar and super-luminal travel was bittersweet, as it gave rise to individuals who would one day become known as Shapers. Trace amounts of the exotic substances that make interstellar travel possible tend to build up in individuals who would sail the stars or work in industries in or around the space economy, which lead to deathly cancer, madness, and uncheck telekinetic outbursts that killed tens of thousands before therapeutic and cybernetic procedures were developed to channel this destructive force. Now known as shapers, these individuals can harness cystic buildups of these exotic particles to manifest controlled yet powerful displays of telekinesis or even limited telepathy. Becoming a shaper can be a way out of poverty if you can live long enough to reap the benefits.

  • The Rebound: Little remains widely known about either the Shadow’s empire or the petty kingdoms of the Unbound that proceeded it and preceded the Golden Sundom, but tales of the Eternal Tyrant’s boogiemen and generals persist. Since Rebound by the High Lord Executox, these supernatural terrors now serve as the commanders of the RHM’s Executors and Navies, as well as the HLE’s personal ambassadors to the seven Great Houses of the RMH. To a one, they are beings of truly horrifying potency and more than capable of devastating any one of the great capitals or any lesser city of the RHM, or so the stories tell.


I’m going to refine some elements of the lore. I want demons to exist within the fiction, but I want them rooted in the science fiction of the setting. So - what is a demon? A demon is not malevolent, or at least not purely. A demon is defined as preternatural or supernatural, has inhuman power, and inhuman goals. It is apart from the limitations of humanity.

Vampires are a classic, archetypal critter of dark fiction, and maybe in this setting they could be a Cryptos that couldn’t shake the habit of feeding on the cryptos of living beings? I dunno, we’ll have to look into that more.

I want to do something with Niffins, which in this setting would be shapers who attempted more than what they could handle and it burned away their humanity/sanity, so a physical form without a cryptos or human personality - just a mind. Just, zipping about, doing whatever they want with reality.

Have to think on it more.

I may… maaay consider adding in Jotun (people who grew up on worlds with higher gravity) or shidhe (people who grew up on lower gravity worlds). Have to root it in science fiction though, and nothing close to classical fantasy archetypes.

I think that Cryptos are a result of shaper technology, so that ties together the in-universe space magic and interstellar travel. Okay, neato. They’re not the same thing, but the technologies are in the same family.


Famous Mercenaries Groups of Caveat Emptor:

  • Serenity’s Scions: Led by the infamous ship and company captain Shark, Serenity’s Scions stepped onto the sector stage following the deposing of House Kranz and the re-establishment of House Welker as the ruling house of Serenity in the closing years of the Unification Wars. Their officer corp is rumored to be none other than House Kranz’s terror and shock infantry, the Serene Guard, and mystery surrounds Shark’s identity and relationship to the Welker Family.

  • The Ancients: A former mercenary company that now makes up the household guard of House Hinata of the Frontier Assembly, the Ancients take on the legends and myths of ancient heroes and heroines, becoming masterful scholars of those stories as well as peerless warriors in the hopes of continuing those legends into the modern era. They adorn their lancer suits with pictograms of their stories and ink their bodies with the same. It is believed that some bare names and stories from time-lost Terra.

  • Harlequins: Arguably the last, most famous, and most mysterious of the great mercenary bands of Gamble, the company’s Companions are rumored to be immortal, although if asked they will respond that they simply are luckier and craftier than most. Claims of favoritism are often leveraged against them for what is seen by critics to be a revolving door policy between their ranks and House Harlow of Omniverse Interstellar’s internal security services and household guard.

  • The Night Mares: Following the conclusion of the Sunset Wars, the fore-bearers of House Somniatores established a proper house guard regiment from the cyber-assassins and irregular warfare groups that aided in their liberation from the Golden Sundom. The Night Mares recruits almost exclusively from within Somniatores’ house guard and the Shaper academies monopolized by the Ascendancy. They boast the largest number of privately employed and battle-tested Shapers.

  • The ArcHive: The last surviving remnants of the zealous militia regiments of Voyage’s ill-fated hivemind cult. They maintain an outward facade of a freelancer company, but rumors persist of continued use of bio-technical mal-tech that was supposedly decommissioned and quarantined by Executor forces prior to the end of the Unification Wars. They specialize in small unit tactics in conditions that would normally make technical communications equipment inoperable.


Awoken Playbook

minds shaped by and from machines

Before the rise of the Golden Sundom, humanity came close to the brink of extinction within the Caveat Emptor sector during the Unbound Succession. Unshackled form their servitude to the now fallen Tyrant Kellner, these monsters fought mercilessly and ravaged the sector. A collection of proscribed sciences were unlocked in this time across numerous worlds where the light of civilization still shone to replenish depleted workforces, and the first children of the machine were born. Some were human minds shaped by a lifetime spent wandering endless deserts of data servers, while others were patchwork cryptos sewn together from the memories and personalities of living human beings. Collectively, these and other origins are the stories told for those we know today as the Awoken.

When you play an awoken, you earn xp when you address a challenge using technical acumine or altered perspective, mark playbook experience. The populated worlds of Caveat Emptor are filled with computers of all scales and qualities and planetary capitals are connected by strong noospheric networks that uplink to satellite clouds capable of downloading and uploading data from transiting ships.

Were you born flesh and blood or silicon and fiber? How do you know? Do you even care? Were you mistreated or venerated for your otherness? Some cultures and societies actually hold awoken in the highest regard, while others see them as monsters or tools. They are regarded warily for this and like Shapers, they are viewed as a part of the “other” or abhuman - akin but apart.

Starting actions: 2 in attune, 1 in tinker

Awoken Contacts

At character creation, a new Awoken selects one of the following (or create their own contact) to be a friendly Agent and one to be a hostile Rival:

  • “Cryptarch”, A slippery hacker. They are indentured while working off a criminal sentence for data theft.
  • Glimmer, a faithful awoken. They have been lifted up by a powerful family who they serve faithfully.
  • “Old One”, a true artificial intelligence. They are clearly of ancient but unknown origin.
  • “The Antiquarian”, a twisted cyberneticist. They have offered to pay you for a claim on your corpse after you’re done with it.
  • “Slide”, a split personality. They are an awoken who’s memories split into distinct personalities, one of whom is a killer.

Awoken Items:

  • Fine Multitool: either you carry on your person or have implanted cybernetically within you the best portable computer, engineer’s tools, communication suite, and miniaturized material printer built into a hazard and emp-hardened casing that you can afford. [1 Load]
  • Tactile Interface: you have a corded or wireless neural uplink that attached somewhere to your nervous system that can connect you with devices. [0 Load]
  • Touchstone: you carry a simple totem that your refuse to let anyone else handle, which reminds you that you are awake and back in the real world. [0 Load]
  • Cybernetics: you may create cybernetics during downtime by Tinkering with tools and materials. [1+ Load].
  • Programs: you may create code programs during downtime by Attuning with tools and materials. [0 Load]

Special Abilities

[o] Cryptic Heritage: may converse with complex devices as if they were people.

Just because you can converse with a machine in this way does not guarantee that they will want to respond in kind.

[o] Black Ice: When you harm a device you may cause a lesser harm to a person operating or attached to it.

[o] Panoptes: When you use a network of devices to search for a mark, you gain +effect.

[o] Transhumanist: You can Tinker with bodies and cybernetics to treat wounds or stabilize the dying. You may Study a malady or corpse to learn its secrets. Everyone in your crew (including you) gains +1 result level when they recover.

[o] Cyberneticist: When you invent or craft a cybernetic, you get +1 result level to your roll (1-3 becomes a 4/5, etc.), and begin with one formula already known.

Follow the Inventing procedure with the GM (page xxx) to define your first cybernetic augmentation.

[o] Code Talker: When you invent or code a program, you get +1 result level to your roll (1-3 becomes a 4/5, etc.), and begin with one program already known.

Follow the Inventing procedure with the GM (page xxx) to define your first special program.

[o] Terra Firma: when you handle your Touchstone you gain +1d when you react to re-establish what is real or resist mental harm from dump shock.

[o] Lucid Dreaming: during downtime you gain two ticks that you may distribute amongst your special projects.


Updated the Sector Map. Btw, if you haven’t checked out Sectors Without Number, you really should if you’re into playing a Stars Without Number Revised game and you want a sector map and a way to play the faction game all in one. Here’s a link to the guy’s patreon if you’re interested.


Thinking over the art style I’ve been tinkering around with, and it’s basically Mass Effect and Titanfall done in the Darkest Dungeon style, and I’m still trash with it, but I’m getting better.


So the way I’m handling Luck (stress), Harm, and Trauma is that you’ve got a number of Luck equal to the sum of your reaction (attribute) ratings. A newbie character could have as few as four or as many as seven Luck to start with. Luck can be spent resisting harm or to power your actions. Once you’re “out of luck” you start to take Harm as part of a failure cascade. When you take tier 4 harm for the first time in a score, you’ve suffered harm that has traumatized you, and you earn a trauma; if you earn two of these in a fight, then you die.

In this system, reaction rolls are made by spending 5 luck and earning back luck equal to your highest die roll. If you roll a six, then you net recover one luck from the roll. You can earn back a second luck with a second 6, but no more luck for subsequent 6s on that roll. Your luck at the end of a reaction roll cannot exceed your total luck.

If you suffer tier 3 or 4 harm, then either an Awoken’s application of their transhumanist special ability, the application of the MediGel item can keep you on your feet, the assistance of a crew mate or cohort, or (if you still have luck left) pushing your luck is required to keep you in the fight; otherwise you are considered incapacitated, and if left unattended you will die.

Okay, so let’s do some stress testing of this system: we know that a newbie character can have as few as 5 and as many as 7 Luck, and a veteran character can have as high as 12. Here’s a nifty tool for math-hammering the statistics on a d6 pool system. I’m not going to post the statistical breakdown here, but tl;dr a player with 4 Luck can afford to botch 1 reaction roll before they’re at risk of suffering harm and a veteran can botch 3; at worst you’ll spend 5 Luck to avoid harm and at best you’ll net one or two Luck back.


So I redrew the map (again) to make the borders a little more balanced. I play tested it a little, and found that the central powers were (almost) always uniting so that they would have enough of their ingress routes covered to hold up the outer powers. Now, things are a little more balanced.

It’s important to note that these “regional powers” are not nations. House Harlow only has overt control of the Diadem system, but has ensured the loyalty of seven whole systems if ever overt war was declared. As it is, diplomacy is still playable, just with economic and espionage as the “armies and navies” instead of outright military units. If ever the paradigm is shifted, then overt warfare could become a reality. If a system has more than one planet, then each planet may be taken or held individually; thus a system may be influenced by more than one faction. You cannot push through a system if at least one other world in that system is held by another faction. House Steinitz cannot push past Downing and into Diadem from Emery if House Harlow puts a force on Downing or any other world in that system.

Here’s some lore:

The Reformed Human Mandate: Having shuffled off the yoke of the Golden Sundom and the madness of Kellner, this renewed Mandate seeks the prosperity of Mankind.

  • The Executive Office (Executors): The agents of the High Lord Executor tasked with ensuring the RHM’s endurance and loyalty.
  • The Perimeter Agency (Inquisitors): They are the wall the divides light and dark, and they aim their gaze both within and without.
  • The Exchange of Light (Mediators): Bringers of reconciliation and fair trade, these negotiators seek harmony amongst all worlds.
  • The Preceptor Archive (Archivists): Keepers of ancient lore tasked with taking the torch of reason into the dark places of this sector.

The Old Powers: The three powers that struck down the Golden Sundom and Reformed the Mandate. From their joint ventures, the younger states were brought back into the fold.

  • House Harlow (Omniverse Interstellar): An interstellar megacorporation that wields its technological supremacy to tremendous effect. Their Colors are Green, Bone, and Abyssal. To everyone else, it appears that they are a completely symbiotic pairing of aristocratic state and megacorporation, but in secret the two natures are perpetually at war for supremacy, and there is a troubling, revolving door between House Harlow security forces and its burgeoning mercenary trade, which thrives because they are the best equipped and trained forces for hire anywhere in the sector.
  • House Somniatores (Awoken Ascendancy): The mageocratic heirs to the Psychic Authority and the great thinkers of the Mandate. Their colors are Burgundy, Pink, and Teal. A eugenic mageocracy bent on subtle manipulations of their rivals. They are defined by graceful imperiousness, elegant spite, and any agreement of submission to a higher authority is almost certainly feigned.
  • House Ceannaiche (Great Chartist Clans): A thalassocracy of a thousand merchant, industrialist, and explorer principalities. Their Colors are Navy, Orange, and White. Potentially the oldest of the factions, these merchants claim to have sailed the black heavens since long before the great collapse. It becoming increasingly clear that the Clans’ “thousands of confederated concerns” ethos is a front, and that House Ceannaiche wields almost tacit control.

The New Powers: Uncertain and self-centered, these powers are held in check by their dependance on and the oversight by the Old Powers on behalf of the Mandate.

  • House Cuneyt (Luminous Expedition): A meritocratic bureaucracy tasked to reunite the tailward systems with the Mandate. Their colors are Cyan, Orange, and White. An analogue to Turkish-Vikings mixed with the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. A young kingdom built on the bones of a very old one who’s nature is mostly lost to even the Executors.Recent archeological endeavors have revealed that these were amongst the Sector’s earliest colonies.
  • House Steinitz (Kinabar Commonwealth): The modern descendant of a pirate republic turned kleptocracy, has this oligarchy truly reformed? Their Colors are Vermillion, Black, and Gold. Based on an idealized germanic industrial state. Seen as cold industrialists who are incapable of building without destroying, but do accomplish astounding feats of engineering and technology.
  • House Hinata (Frontier Assembly): A conglomeration of displaced industrialists and Scream-displaced revanchists led by House Hinata has finally returned and after a brushfire conflict with survivors of the great collapse who had claimed the world as their own, the Frontier Assembly was assembled as a republic of worlds. Their colors are Robin blue, Gold, and Green. Based on Europeanized Asia, but where asian cultures are dominant. Last remnant of the Golden Sundom’s faith and have partial knowledge of a lot of secrets from all three dark periods.
  • House Jaroslaw (Periphery League): System states that’ve banded together out of a share purpose of mutual independence from the larger powers. Their colors are Grey, Gold, and White. They are the youngest and least cohesive, which make them desperate for any edge in holding off the aggression of other states.


A Formalization of Shaper-Tech

Shaper Technology refers to cybernetics and pharmaceuticals required for maintaining a Shaper’s talents and lives, the technology that goes into interstellar starship drives, and shaper runes that impart a modicum of the same energies and materials involved in other shaper technologies to mundane users ( levitation, super conductivity, light or color manipulation, etc). While the origins of Shaper Tech are forgotten by the citizenry at large within the Reformed Human Mandate, its mechanisms and replication are well known to the sector’s great powers.

These technologies are strongly regulated, both for the security of the populace and for the consolidation of power, but unsanctioned proliferation of these volatiles technologies and sciences is not unheard of. Part of the mission statement of the High Lord Executox’s Executive Offices (Executors) is to identify and either recruit or eradicate those who either express shaper talents or delve into unlicensed shaper technology.

Shaper Syndrome and its assorted, onset maladies are terminal. Left untreated, a sufferer of Shaper Syndrome can live a pained and hazardous existence for decades before succumbing either to an array of auto-immune diseases and cancers or increasingly violent bouts of uncontrolled use of their powers, which can lead to mass casualty events. House Somniatores hosts the largest academies and rehabilitation infrastructures dedicated to turning Shaper Syndrome into a tool for those that suffer from it and for the RHM at large. A regime of medication and maintenance of a suite of cybernetics that tap into Shaper Compound Buildups within the body can mitigate symptoms, prolong life, and even allow for control over shaper powers (given proper instruction). Proximity to industries related to interstellar travel has been the dominant contributing factor towards the manifestation of Shaper Syndrome, although House Somniatores purports that genetic heritage does factor into an individual’s potency and ability to cope with the symptoms.


Central Tension of Caveat Emptor: The Seven Great Houses fight in the shadows through proxy allies and mercenaries for power they aren’t legally allowed to have by rule of the Reformed Human Mandate.

You are a lancer or mercenary serving in a proxy force or mercenary company for one side or the other.


Having trouble thinking up a six crew playbook. I don’t supposed I truly need one, but I feel it would be appropriate. I’m waffling between Household and Cult for my sixth.

Household would see the crew as a noble’s in-house ne’er-do-wells who have day jobs but can be called upon to take the fight to the family’s enemies, defend them when they are attacked, and to carry out their business in secret. A Household crew would not concern itself with any business other than the noble’s business, which would most assuredly be deadly.

A Cult would see the crew carry on many of the functions as in Blades in the Dark. In spite of its secular setting, there are plenty of mysterious aspects of the setting around which a cult could spring up:

  • Shaper Technology: some might view Shapers or even space flight as mystical or divine. Any who encounter niffins (shapers who did not heed the fable of Icarus) would surely see them as demons.
  • Awoken, Cryptos, and Patches all make for excellent cybernetic and digital necromancy and dream-magic.
  • A Perpetual would almost assuredly become the focal point of religious worship by the deluded or mad, and it would certainly feed into their ego.

I think I want to delve into Household a bit more, but perhaps evolve it into a more special agent sort of deal. People who are sanctioned criminals like the rest of the crews, but who act to protect secrets and business rather than expose or prey upon secrets. I have to think more on this.


I’ve gone with Keepers, who protect the secrets and business of their patron

They’re modeled after the Men in Black and the Laundry: roving, secret agents who clean up messes, flip assets, and get up to spy stuff, but aren’t necessarily freelance. They tie their fates to a single patron or mission statement. They’re a little Cult like and a little Shadow like.

Okay, onward to continuing to flesh out these crew playbooks and to write up the crew creation section. Since choosing to stick with the most of the core systems of Blades and mothballing the unique rolling mechanic, I’ve had to do a bit of back tracking, but I think it’s been worth it. I’ve just got to finish the creation and advancement sections, formalize the changes to the base mechanics that I’ve already written up, do up the character and crew sheets, and edit, and then I’m ready to submit it for review and finishing! Super excited.

Current List of Crews are:

  • Chartists: Profiteers and concierges of illicit goods and services
  • Envoys: Assassins and saboteurs adept at obliterating obstacles
  • Keepers: Protectors of secrets and business interests of a patron
  • Proxies: Soldiers of fortune that leverage craftiness for victory and coin
  • Radicals: Guerillas and recidivists who break the law “for the people”
  • Sleuths: Spies and scientists adept at uncovering and brokering secrets


Going to review the Focus writing for character creation and sketch out a dogs in the vineyard inspired intro-conflict scene sort of mechanic. Just some things to tinker with.


An update to the Tier and Population terminology for Caveat Emptor

Populations in Caveat Emptor are defined by a modification of the categorical Colvillian system where each descendant category has a smaller population than its ascendant.

  • Dominant: The most numerous, culturally potent, or and politically influential population.
  • Pluralities: In leu of a clear Dominant population, two or more pluralities may exist between different populations, each has roughly the same population size and political clout.
  • Minorities: Almost as populace as a dominant or plural population, but wields little or no political power.
  • Enclave: Within a clearly known region or area they are the dominant population and culture, but are rarely seen amongst the wider population.
  • Individuals: Sparsely numbered and uncoordinated in their agendas.

Tiers are important metrics for assessing the potency of a faction, and follow a Blades in the Dark power rating system:

  • 6: You have expanded your influence and reach to an entire system, and similarly powerful factions from abroad will attempt to buy your loyalty or replace you with a more agreeable puppet. Welcome to the Great Game proper.
  • 5: Whether legitimately or through proxies, you control an entire world and its population, and the local system government has their eye on you.
  • 4: You pose a serious challenge to the planetary governor themself and may contest them and equally potent agencies with parity where you have a presence.
  • 3: While you lack the outright legitimacy to do so, you wield power over numerous government institutions and industries on the at least your Home World.
  • 2: You may marshal enough clout and forces to have a limited say in planetary politics and government functions as power players in your own right.
  • 1: You’ve managed to rise slightly above the dregs and are able to operate with parity against the agents of lesser planetary power players.
  • 0: You hold no real power outside of your modest lair and cannot contest with much more than a handful of similarly destitute operators.


Revisiting Order vs Chaos on a player and crew level.

Within the Blades native system, there is a heat and wanted level system that works perfectly well for my purposes. The guts of the system can be ripped out and rewritten to act like a matrix, where each row of the matrix is a Wanted Level, which I will rename to Chaos level and that has various affects on the setting. When your heat increases, the Chaos rises. When your heat lowers, the Chaos drops. Some crew advances can be taken that thrive off of high chaos or heat while others try to keep things calm and subtly reshape the map of power.

High chaos means the cost of goods and services increase as uncertainty is injected into the open market and the black market is more heavily relied upon, people are more cynical and paranoid as they lose faith in civil institutions, armed responses from factions are more potent as they focus on conducting business with a mailed fist to hold onto power, and foreign and lesser local powers will become increasingly bold in their attempts to establish and strengthen their hold in the setting.

Low chaos (high order) means the cost of goods and services decrease as certainty returns to the open market and the black market is less heavily relied upon, people are more trusting and optimistic as they regain faith in civil institutions, armed response from factions are less potent as they focus on conducting business with a gloved hand to improve relations, and foreign and lesser local powers will become decreasingly bold in their attempts to establish and strengthen their hold in the setting.

I like the idea of crews injecting a ton of chaos into a world, taking power, and then excising all of that chaos to re-establish order before someone takes advantage. So let’s take a look at the factions that will be present on every world:

  • First, there will be the local, Tier 6 planetary and system governments, as well as a pyramidal “food chain” of lesser factions (let’s assume each lower tier has one or two times the current tier of lesser factions).
  • Amongst those native, lesser factions there will be a foreign faction from whichever sector-scale power own the allegiance of the planetary or system government. For examples, House Harlow owns the allegiance of all the worlds in the Gamble, Marigold, Roses, Diadem, Hyacinth, Bounty, and Downing systems even though they only outright control the world of Diadem.
  • There will be other foreign, sector-scale factions of varying degrees of Tier based on the population size of that foreign population on that world. For example, Gamble will have a minority population of Chartist Clans and citizens from the RHM homeworlds, as well as Enclaves from the Awoken Ascendancy, Frontier Assembly, and Kinabar Commonwealth, which means that there is likely a Tier 5 faction that belongs to House Harlow, two Tier 4 or 5 factions that belong to the High Lord Executox’s forces and House Ceannaiche respectively, and a Tier 3 faction that belongs to House Hinata, House Somniatores, and House Steiniz that represent the Enclaves they have planet-side or in-system.

Each faction could attempt to increase their control of a world should enough chaos be injected into the system, and if a player wishes to seize control of a world, then they’ll have to climb over or maintain alliances with these foreign and local powers, which will become increasing more difficult as the chaos rises. This is further impacted by a meta-game of a diplomacy-analog where the sector-scale powers vie for dominance of the sector. A foreign faction that you just knocked down from Tier 4 to a 3 on a world might shoot back up to a 4 seemingly over night, because their parent faction seized a neighboring world and are pouring more resources and bring in more talent into the system. Smart crews will pay attention to the power politics of the sector, if the players at the table aren’t already the ones playing the diplomacy game to begin with.


I want to keep Heat the same while working more on Chaos. So we know that with each increase in Chaos, the following effects worsen:

  • The cost of goods and services increase on the open market
  • Restricted goods and services become more available through the black market
  • People become more cynical and paranoid
  • Armed responses become more potent
  • Non-Dominant factions will become more bold during the faction turn.

Okay, so let’s work on some mechanics:

  • When you make a downtime activity and spend Coin to improve the result, it costs +1 Coin for each level of improvement per every Chaos level.
  • When you interact socially with someone who is not a cohort or contact, you take a number of -1d penalties to your action rolls equal the Chaos level minus your crew’s relationship level to that faction.
  • When you make an engagement roll, take -1d for each Chaos level due to every faction being on heightened alert.
  • During the faction turn, when factions make fortune rolls against factions of equal or greater tier than themselves to weaken their hold or reduce their tier they gain +1d for every Chaos level.

That may need to be dialed back a bit, but I feel like that should give the players some pause when considering how to manage their Chaos levels. It may be too punitive, considering we’re keeping the fallout bits from resolving the score.

Now that we’ve worked out Chaos and Heat, Let’s look into Subtlety.

Design Goal: Create a system that affects how “below the radar” you’re flying in a way that’s different from Chaos.

Review: Chaos is a measure of how destabilized a community has become and its mounting affects on how your party conducts business.

Considerations: Do we actually need subtlety, or can it be folded into Chaos? Semantically, you can have a chaotic system that you are “hidden” in, so there is definitely a design space, but is there a need?

Design Premises:

  • When subtlety is high, hostile have a hard time finding you to mess with and friendlies have a hard time finding you to support.
  • When subtlety is low, hostiles have an easy time finding you to mess with and friendlies have an easy time to find and support you.

Unlike Chaos, subtlely really is a function only of how identifiable you are, and what impact that has on influencing your activities, but this is more or less covered by resolving unfinished business during the downtime phase, and may ultimately be superfluous.

I feel like I’ve just rewritten the same statement, so I’ll throw this into an edit for the chaos post.


It’s been a few days since I finished the last draft of my thesis, and I’m almost to the point of mental recovery where I can pick this up again. I tinkered a bit last night, and I’m going to jump into this more this weekend and into next week.

Back soon with more updates!


By way of an update to other systems hacking efforts:

  • Coin will be narratively brought in line with the John Wick coin currency system: it’s a unit of a promise for services rendered and for our intents and purposes could mean favors, political clout, legitimacy that grants rights and privileges, debts, varying currencies, and other forms of buying power that a PC can lean on to acquire what they need.

  • The Luck and Heat systems have been overhauled somewhat significantly:
    – If a PC has unspent Luck, then they may Push Their Luck to gain +1d on a roll and trigger special abilities that may impact that roll. This transfers two Luck to the GM’s Heat pool.
    – If the GM has unspent Heat, then the GM may Turn Up The Heat on the PC to worsen a consequence or add a consequence to the PC’s roll. This transfers two Luck to the PC’s Luck pool.
    – If a PC accepts a Devil’s Bargain, then they may gain +1d in exchange for a consequence.

This brings the Heat and Luck system more into line with Genesys’ story point mechanics.

I’ll be giving the playbooks and crewbooks another iterative pass as the next step in the process.


We need to work on the Chaos levels and how to resolve them. Originally, Wanted levels were used to describe the degree that the authorities were displeased with your activities and the severity of what will befall you should you be captured. Chaos is a measure of how unstable society has become through your and other’s actions.

First, we need to look at BitD’s Wanted mechanics and how to remove wanted levels.

Secondly, we should look at Dishonored’s Chaos system and how chaos mounts and dissipates over time.

Lastly, I want to look at the Division 2, who’s entire premise is about taking a city in the throws of maximum chaos and returning it to civility.


It’s been far too long since I last worked on my project. Work, school, and a laps into an old gaming habit prevented me from working on my blades hack, and I’m glad to be back.