Hello everyone and welcome to our fifth dev journal about the Stealth Mod we are making for the Sigil System.
Thus far in our dev journals we have shown you what “compound stealth” is, what the Awareness Scale is and how it works, and how to increase and decrease your Awareness Levels.
So there is really only one thing left. This dev journal will talk all about Zones.
All the way back in our first dev journal we talked about what a compound is and how this Stealth Mod and the Awareness Scale is completely focused on the compound and how it reacts to your presence rather than the individuals within it. Failing on a Stealth Skill Check against an individual enemy does not necessarily mean that the compound’s Awareness Level will increase, and similarly succeeding on a Stealth Skill Check against an individual enemy does not necessarily mean that the compound’s Awareness Level won’t increase.
In our second dev journal, we mentioned that a compound can be of any size that the GM wants, and while this is true there is a stark difference in how your actions affect the mood, perception and awareness of enemies inside a single, simple three bedroom house and a spacefaring battleship 1km across. Having the same actions create the same effect on both of these compounds’ Awareness Levels is more than just a bit unrealistic.
For that then, we have zones!
Zones are simple: they are compounds within compounds. They are how you can split up your large compounds in manageable bits so you don’t have to worry about how someone 200 meters is reacting your players’ actions.
Let’s say that you have an entire royal castle, or 20 story skyscraper, or the aforementioned spacefaring battleship as your compound that your players will skulk through. Each is too large to be manageable, so instead for the royal castle you could have each level, wing and tower be its own zone, for the skyscraper each floor could be its own zone and each section of the battleship could be its own section.
While this may at first seem like a lot of bookwork and keeping notes, you can easily handle it by just keeping a rough idea in your head of the zones immediately surrounding the one the players are currently in. The players won’t be able to directly influence any zone they are not currently in, so you only really need to keep score of the zone they are in and from that you can infer the Awareness Level of the surrounding zones.
And speaking of that:
Increasing and decreasing Awareness in non-active Zones
It’s a mouthful of a subheading, but that’s because this section will be easy and quick. Non-active zones, ie. zones that the players are not currently in, increase and decrease their Awareness Levels based on the zone that the players are currently in. Over time, non-active zones will acclimate to the Awareness Level of those nearer to where the players is.
Decreasing Awareness is easy, it ticks down over time just like normal until it reaches the Awareness Level of the zone the players are currently in.
Increasing Awareness in non-active zones also works through time as the players do not have any direct effect in those zones. To increase non-active zones’ Awareness Level, simply flip the time table from last time’s dev journal upside down and that’s the time it takes for them to tick up to the Awareness Level of the players’ zone. The only difference here is that the time it takes to go up an Awareness Level does not stack. So to get to Level 3, it doesn’t first take 10 hours to get to Level 1, 5 hours to get to Level 2 and then 3 hours to Level 3. You can skip straight to Level 3. So if the players get their zone up to Level 10, it only takes 1 minute for adjacent zones to rocket all the way up there.
The reason for this inversed time tracker is that it simulates how at lower levels, there is not a lot of concrete proof that there is anything amiss. It is mostly just a feeling and so the adjacent zones might not be overly troubled, or even hear about, activity that could be dozens of metres away from them through several stout walls. It will take awhile for word to reach them, or for the general feeling of unease to spread to them. At higher levels of course, there is much more activity in the zones and thus word of what is happening will spread more quickly.
Now you might be thinking “what if the Awareness Level of the active zone increases midway through the adjacent zones’ time to increase has passed?” Well that’s simple, if for example the Awareness in the active zone goes from Level 1 to 2 while there is only 1 hour left for the non-active zones to get to Level 1, they don’t take an additional 8 hours to increase. You simply use whichever time is less.
The narrative caveat
Another reason why you don’t have to worry too much about keeping score about every single zone is because a single narrative action by the players could upset the entire compound and all its zones. They could place a bomb in one zone and it could explode while they are ten zones over. The players might be in a compound with video surveillance and so the security knows what is going on in every zone and they all increase by the same amount, or you might have an important NPC as an enemy and he is just too cowardly and runs off an tells everyone in the compound about the players.
The smallest narrative action can change everything, so keep an eye on the time of the adjacent zones, but don’t worry about an area that might as well be a million miles away.