Pitching a BoB X-Com Hack

This is a very cool start - although I wonder if having six “default” stations is too much for a BoB hack, they’re almost always going to end up being split between less players.

My thinking was that rather than the required/optional split that Bob uses, all six positions are 'core but split up as much as possible, with the expectation that they will be combined in typical groups. It is after all easier to give one person two playsheets than split responsibility for one playsheet between two players. The final version will have suggested combinations (for example, biomedical and science will usually go together in a 5 player group).

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YdCPvI1rN7yED0QZHTzSQUo-UvWjac3U?usp=sharing

If anyone is interested, my attempt at hacking Band of Blades/Blades in the Dark to run something like X-Com 2 meets Half Life 2 is playtest ready.

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I really like this. The playbooks gave good flavor, but the cadre leader took me a while to realize that it was a “rookie” type character. I love the q branch special ability.

I need more time to process the section sheets, but they look good. Having the GM spend threat to disrupt the resistance should work well to drive play.

This is a pretty cool model for any type of resistance.

I really like what I’m seeing here, Ranx, and it seems to be a pretty faithful and straight forward adaption of some of the tropes.

Thank you!

I’m fairly dissatisfied with the name ‘Cadre Leader’, it’s not euphonic and also the playbook should allow people to play as actual rookies rather than having to be leaders. the playbook was originally called just ‘Cadre’ but that caused all sorts of confusion. I’d welcome suggestions along those lines!

(and any other suggestions of course)

Thank you!

Rookie, grunt, combatant, green, soldier (since the others are all specialists), Cherry, Noob, Fodder, FNG (F’n New Guy)

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Carl’s work here is inspirational - and I’m strongly considering running this game in the new year. Having a couple of hours free today, I threw together some revised playsheets based on Carl’s Occupation: Earth above (and suggested a new possible name.

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I ended up going with ‘Partisan’, since it is another term for guerrilla/insurgent but also has connotations of ‘blind loyalty’ that fit the playsheet abilities.

Those playsheets are superb, John! And seeing something I worked on get picked up by someone else in the community is a great feeling. If you do end up running it I expect a detailed debrief!

I was thinking Rebel Planet as the name but Alien Dawn is good too.

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This is really exciting.

left some comments and suggestions. Disregard at whim =)

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The rpg Sigmata dies a nice job of conflicting agendas and conflicts between allies during an insurgency.

Can you go into any details on this?

The premise of Sigmata is that PCs are part of a resistance fighting back against a fascist government in a near future / alternate USA. The setting includes 4 factions that are allies to the characters / resistance. The factions have very different ideologies, with the only thing in common being a hatred of the current government. During a “campaign phase” type of segment, the PCs are faced with a complication caused by a faction doing something true to their ideology that complicates the rebellion.

In a FitD hack, it could be as simple as having different types of engagement rolls. So, how does the government respond? What problems (or benefits) do the allied factions cause? How do these events move the rebellion forward, or set it back?

Finally got around to running this hack for the first time over the weekend.

I think I went in a little under-prepared, but the game ran really well in play. We managed to get through one tactical operation, one strategic turn, and a covert operation to disrupt a Counter-Insurgency threat action.

I probably hadn’t spent enough time thinking about the details of the world before hitting go on the session - particularly the details of the nature and the agenda of the alien occupation force. Had to riff a lot on the fly, and it was particularly obvious at the point that I wanted to bring in an alien encounter. I went with a background that was fifty per cent Phoenix Point and fifty per cent Doctor Who.

The background: It’s 2042, 22 years after a mutagenic pandemic (yes, called the pandoravirus) wiped out 60% of the Earth’s population. Twelve years ago, time travellers from the distant future arrived and established a totalitarian regime across the whole planet - the New Commonwealth. The time travellers - humanity’s distant descendants - are the alien occupiers in this situation, but the pandoric mutants are rife in wilderness areas.

In terms of mission play: It’s actually only my second time running a Forged in the Dark game. I missed the clarity of PbtA-style moves. Every time there was partial success, I felt adrift. A clear GM sheet would have helped a lot - and the “tactical missions” advice section in Carl’s draft rulebook was really helpful once I remembered it existed. The covert mission was a little harder to adjudicate.

In terms of the strategic play: As people have said about BoB, it possibly felt a little too much like book-keeping. I feel like the strategic side of things could be tightened up, and having six sections for our three players was a little overwhelming. I am not sure that having the Intelligence section (or disruption of Counter-Insurgent actions) be the only way to get mission opportunities is ideal.

Character creation: A randomised name/callsign/background generator would have sped things up. This was the most time-consuming piece of character generation, and when we were creating new character mid-mission. BoB’s lists of names for the different backgrounds clearly would have been a plus here.

Actions and abilities: It felt like Assault (for tactical missions) and Deceive (for covert missions) will be weighted a lot more heavily than any other actions - hard to see any character who doesn’t start with one of those picking it as their first advance.

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Is there a way to get a look? I’d love to see if I could do a one shot with my group.

If two actions are much more important than the others, perhaps you could break them up to provide different styles of assault / deceive or, start with them as a default rating and provide options for specialization.

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Hi @ebrunsell - the playtest documents are linked above:

Here is Carl’s ruleset: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YdCPvI1rN7yED0QZHTzSQUo-UvWjac3U?usp=sharing

Here are my playtest sheets: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zcFpTXjupWbe5z9zrnWvUQOKTH3XFRHw/view?usp=sharing

First off, thanks so much for running this and providing feedback!

I’m glad the tactical mission advice helped, and I definitely need to complete an equivalent covert mission section.

My players also found the lack of missions a little constricting. My current priority is to create some random starting missions to start them out and faction missions to round out the selection, as well as clarifying that ticks towards the mission opportunity clock should be picked up as secondary rewards whenever the GM has a good idea for them.

Random names are oddly tricky. The game is set on modern or near future earth so I’m not keen on making a big table with ‘mike/dave/suzie/andrew’ etc. Backgrounds should be kept to an absolute minimum and only come out in play. A table of callsigns is a good idea.

I’m interested that assault is so highly rated. Did your players realise that demolish and stalk can both be used for shooting? (Spending lots of ammo and time respectively)

With deceive, the action was originally called ‘Allay’ as in ‘allay suspicions’ and contrasted with inspire which was better for getting people to actually do things. Maybe revert to that naming to emphasize the distinction?

Also group actions are very useful for situations where only one person has the skill.

I also need to include a section in the covert advice recommending a framework for covert ops where only one agent actually ‘goes in talking’ and the rest of the team provides support by stealth, hacking, coordination, sniper cover & observation etc. This set up leans heavily on flashbacks and some cinematic conceits about communication technology.

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Playtest report from the first couple of sessions - copied from Discord, please excuse the formatting.

Session 1: Explained the premise and created operatives - 2 Pointmen (Abdul and Frank Paxton), 1 Heavy (Don Mack), 1 Assassin (Jean-Paul), 1 Scout (Entwhistle). First mission in media res (i.e. GM came up with it) - ambush of collaborator convey (2 HMMVs, 3 Trucks). Location: ruined industrial area. Ambush began with an armored bulldozer (driven by Jean-Paul) smashing the lead HMMV into a wall and explosives collapsing a wall on the rear vehicle. The team then assaulted the remaining collaborators with sniper cover. The mission almost went pear-shaped when Frank Paxton was pursued into the ruins by a squad of collaborators and almost killed before he was able to eliminate them, and the team discovered the central truck was transporting an alien - some kind of giant psychic octopus - which it grabbed Abdul. Jean-Paul was able to use the bulldozer to shove it into a empty industrial waste pit. The team escaped in the surviving trucks with a decent number of supplies
First strategic phase - players chose sections and created starting assets. At some point, the group established that the invasion had happened before the end of the cold war and that the resistance was operating in eastern Europe (specifically the city of Danzig/Gdansk).
The tactical section undertook training of some operatives (which ones they were is not included in my notes), political section recruited cadres, logistics section began constructing a warehouse, the biomedical section provided medical care to some of the soldiers injured in the first mission, and the research section began research on an alien artefact that had been recovered from the trucks. They managed to discover it was a communications device broadcasting on some kind of psychic frequency, but could not shut it off. The intelligence section resolved to launch an emergency mission to dispose of the device before it revealed the location of the resistance laboratory, and hopefully gather some intel about the alien response force at the the same time.

Key playtest learnings: Some typos on the playsheets. Loadout needs some blank lines. After handing out section sheets the players decided to read out all of their available actions to the group - this was tedious and killed momentum. Section sheets should have some summary of the other sections and how they relate to you?
Combat wound up a bit ‘turn-takey’, and I probably forced Paxton to resist too many times. Partially this was because the PCs were operating as five individual heroes rather than fireteams. Something to consider in future combat missions.

Session 2: Only three of five players were available. Sections redistributed as appropriate. Still in strategic phase 2, we began with the reactive covert mission being planned in session 1. Created 3 new operatives - Tech (Johnny Messarah), Assassin (Barghest), and Chameleon (Captain Benz). Some initial discussion of the mission objective and obstacles. Logistics section spent a supply to fuel up a nondescript civilian truck for the mission. The briefing was delivered in character by the Intel Section Chief to Johnny and Barghest at the bar which serves as the resistance HQ. They encountered a roadblock and Captain Benz (with the Philby advance) who informed them the road was closed and sent them on another route to prevent the truck being searched, then covered up the evidence of their presence. The team reached the target site, and old mechanic’s shop, and dumped the device then set up surveillance. Shortly thereafter, Benz’s unit was temporarily seconded to a special operations unit called ‘Pursuit Team Nemesis’ which deployed them as part of a cordon around the target village. A gunship arrived and dropped off a squad of collaborator special forces in full-body armour, which secured the target building. The cordon began to close in but Barghest and Johnny managed to slip through by sacrificing a drone as a distraction and escaping through the hole created as Benz sent his unit on a wild goose chase.
The mission included several ‘flash-forwards’ to interrogations conducted by a scruffy, chain-smoking counterintelligence officer from Nemesis
The intel gained from the mission allowed the resistance to mark two segments on a new project clock - the opportunity to launch a counterstrike against Pursuit Team Nemesis.
At this point all of the sections had used their assests so Strategic Phase 1 ended.

Strategic Phase 2: Political section attempted to recruit more personnel and was able to acquire an intelligence asset - a classical composer from the west who concealed coded messages in his postmodern musical scores, broadcast on the resistance’s pirate radio station.
Logistics section continued constructing the warehouse
Tactical section attempted some training exercises, which unfortunately resulted in a serious injury to Dan Mack. The biomedical section was able to save his life, but he lost several fingers (permanent wound)
Intelligence section attempted to locate an opportunity to acquire some heavy machinery to boost the logistic section’s construction efforts. This was unsuccesful, and generated additional threat.
The science section, having lost access to the alien artefact, began prototyping night vision goggles
The resistance was contacted by their allies, the holdouts, with a mission opportunity - breaking one of their agents out of a collaborator prison.
Having used all their assets, Strategic Phase 2 ended

Strategic phase 3: Intelligence section was able to locate heavy construction equipment being used by the collaborators, which would allow the logistics section to complete their warehouse.
Political section attempted further recruitment and acquired a cadre and a mole
logistics section made good progress on the warehouse
At this point the session ended. Tactical, biomedical and science sections are yet to use any assets

Key playtest learnings: Having an alien artefact in the first mission was smart. Taking it away as soon as the science team started to study it was not. Should have come up with a better outcome for the lab accident in session 1 - although it lead to an interesting mission, the flow on effect cut the science section off from being able to do interesting things. This is probably gm advice.
Science section should have a list of example tech1 and tech2 devices that can be prototyped immediately without having to capture alien tech, so they always have something to do
The training accident was kind of a downer, since the action was only chosen for lack of anything else useful to do end result was 2 assets wasted and a seriously injured operative. Training should either be more valuable, accidents less punitive or both
The resistance needs to start with some mission opportunities available to get them over the initial hump.
Things that worked well - I’m pretty happy with the overall framework of sections taking actions with assets in the strategic phase
Everyone seems to have grasped their sections okay. Just need to make sure that they have something to do every phase
Giving xp for learning about other characters works well, I think. It gives a good incentive to work character details into play and to pay attention when others to do the same.