Stealth Mod Developer Journal #4

Hello everyone and welcome to our fourth dev journal about the Stealth Mod we are making for the Sigil System.

Last time we talked all about how your characters can increase the Levels on the Awareness Scale, both through the use of Stealth Skill Checks as well as through narrative actions.

This time we’ll be talking about quite the opposite. This dev journal is all about decreasing your Awareness Level and keeping yourself hidden.

Time

The most important factor when it comes to lowering your characters’ Awareness Level is time, pure and simple. When you have aroused the suspicion, paranoia or rage within someone then the best thing to do is just to wait until it passes. Other than the narrative actions outlined below, this will be the main way of keeping yourself hidden in the Stealth Mod. Each Level of Awareness comes with its own time limit that needs to pass before the Awareness Scale will lower a Level.

Bear in mind that the time is cumulative, meaning that the time shown above for each level pertains only to that level. This means that if your Awareness Level is at Level 6, you will need to wait 1 hour for it to drop to Level 5, then wait 30 minutes for it to drop to Level 4, and so on and so forth. This may seem like an excessive amount of time, but remember that by Level 5 the compound knows you are there and by Level 6 they are actively hunting for you. They won’t just stop after five minutes and forget all about you and think the arrow through their head was just the wind. They will look and hunt and search and only after they have made sure you aren’t around will they relax.

Thresholds

To make things even more difficult for you, certain narrative actions that increase the Awareness Levels will come with a time threshold that will need to pass before that Level’s timer starts ticking down. What actions cause these thresholds will mostly be up to your GM but they will involve a response from the enemy NPCs that will need to be handled before things can continue. For instance, should an enemy disappear and the compounds radios him to check on things, they will become suspicious that he isn’t answering. Other than the 2 level bump in Awareness, this action will come with a 30 minute threshold that will simulate the enemies looking for this vanished guard and seeing what happened.

The longer the response will be from the compound, the longer the time threshold will be.

Narrative Actions

While you can always wait for the time to tick by until the compound has forgotten all about you, you can be proactive and help them along. This is the most vague of sections as there is no way to predict, or write rules for, all the inventive and creative actions that players will come up to decrease the awareness.

However, in saying that, what we can put to paper is that you can use the narrative actions to reverse the narrative actions that led to an increase in Awareness. By fixing what went wrong, you can immediately lower the Awareness Level to what it was before. This won’t work for everything, but you will be surprised what you can get away with.

To use the example for above: a guard went missing and the compound knows about this. This would cause the Awareness Scale to increase by 2 Levels and if you are Level 3 already this isn’t good news. So you think quickly, strip the guard down, put on his clothes and try your best to impersonate him. When the higher ups come calling, you are successful in your Deception Skill Checks and they believe your excuse that your radio’s batteries died. Immediately the Awareness Level went back to Level 3 from 5 without waiting for the Threshold or for time to pass.

And there you have it, everything you need to keep yourself hidden and continue skulking around where you shouldn’t be.

Next week in our Developer Journal we will talk about Zones and how you can chop up large compounds to make things more manageable for your players.

Stealth Mod Developer Journal #3

Hello everyone and welcome to our third dev journal about the Stealth Mod we are making for the Sigil System.

Last time we showed you the Awareness Scale, the central mechanic around which the entire Stealth Mod revolves and which governs all of its actions. It’s a simple scale from 0-10 with the notice and then aggression of the compound increasing with the scale.

This time we are going to talk about the ways you can increase that scale, whether by design or accident.

Stealth Skill Checks

This being a Stealth Mod, the Stealth Skill would always have been front and centre among the ways to increase the Awareness Level.

When you roll a Stealth Skill Check for the compound (not the individual like we talked about in the first dev journal) and you fail, the Awareness Level will rise. It’s as simple as that. By failing that Skill Check, you have alerted the compound to your presence and as such they are now more Aware of you.

The way this works is that you take the first digit of the number by which you failed your Stealth Check and that is the number of Levels that the Awareness increase by. To put it another way: Let’s say you had to beat your Stealth Skill Level of 50 but you rolled a 75. This means that you failed your Stealth Skill Check by 25, the first digit of which is 2. Thereby the Awareness Level increases by 2.

How this happens is up to the narrative control of your GM and will depend on a thousand and one different contextual clues such as the genre, the setting, the compound and the enemies.

Stealth Skill Checks might be the easiest way to keep track of how the Awareness Levels are increasing, but there is more to life than Skill Checks.

Narrative Actions

There is a world of things you can do to raise the Awareness Level of the compound, narratively speaking, that simply can’t fall under the purview of a Skill Check. This can range from the good old fashioned turning off the ray shields, to making enemies disappear or even leaving bodies lying around for the rest to find. Some actions will be intentional, others accidental, but all will serve to influence the awareness scale.

When we publish the Stealth Mod we will provide a (non-exclusive) list of actions that will increase the Awareness and by how much, but in general your GM will be able to look at the Scale and whatever it is that you just did to determine by how much the Levels increase.

For example, should the enemies find a suspicious corpse lying about this would raise the Levels by 8! Should you start at Level 0, this would immediately send the compound into lockdown, which from a narrative standpoint is quite reasonable.

In contrast, a simple distraction like throwing a coin to distract several enemies and make them move after it will only increase the Level by 1.

Level Limits

Various actions that cause only a few bumps in the Awareness Scale will have an upper limit to which they can affect the Awareness Levels. You can’t throw a coin ten times to distract guards and end up with them tearing the compound to pieces and declaring war on everyone they see. After a while, they will know you are in the compound and then it won’t do any good.

As such, this sort of action will only ever increase the Awareness Level up to Level 3 and not beyond it. Other actions will have other Limits that will prevent accidentally ruining your plans and allowing the narrative to continue.

So there you have it, everything you need to know how to increase Awareness.

However, increasing Awareness is often the last thing you want. You want that Level as close to 0 as possible. So…

Next week in our Developer Journal we will discuss everything you can do to keep the Awareness Level to a minimum and keep yourself hidden.

Stealth Mod Developer Journal #2

Hello everyone and welcome to our second dev journal about the Stealth Mod we are making for the Sigil System.

Last time we talked about the difference between Individual Stealth and Compound Stealth, and the different stealth-based actions you can take while skulking around and what their effects are upon each other.

This time we will be talking about the central mechanic of the Stealth Mod: The Awareness Scale.

The Awareness Scale is to the Stealth Mod as the Difficulty Modifiers are to the Sigil System. This Scale will be the central mechanic that all the rest of the Stealth Mod will be based around. Everything that you do while stealthing around a compound will, directly or indirectly, affect the Awareness Scale.

Whatever you will be doing, you will either be increasing your mark along the scale or decreasing it. It really is as simple as that. Both narrative actions and mechanical Skill Check results will contribute to raising or lowering your Awareness Level, so you won’t need to worry about different rules for different actions you can take.

The Awareness Scale works very simply: it describes the mood of the compound and the higher the level, the worse the mood is.

Two things to remember. Firstly, as with last week’s dev journal, remember the difference between Individual Stealth and Compound Stealth. The Awareness Scale is all about the compound and not about the individual. So while individual enemies might know that you are in the compound and be actively searching for you, if they don’t report this to the compound at large, then the scale won’t ever go up. Only when the compound as a whole (or at least at a most) knows something is amiss is when the Awareness Level increases.

Secondly, a compound is only as large as a GM wants it to be. It could be a single house or perhaps even a whole tower-apartment block or castle or star destroyer. However big the GM wants the compound to be is how big it is. This means that each compound does present a different challenge as Armed Patrolling (for example) is a much different scenario on a star destroyer than in a three bedroom house. In later dev journal we will be exploring and discussing the concept of “zones” and how a GM can chop up a compound in various zones. If and when that happens, each zone will have its own Awareness Scale that you will have to worry about, but at least it will all come in manageable chunks.

So there you have it: one simple scale that is all you need to concern yourself with as you sneak around enemy compounds.

Next week in our Developer Journal we will start looking at all the actions you can take to increase and decrease the Awareness Levels on the Scale.

Stealth Mod Developer Journal #1

Hello everyone and welcome to our very first developer journal ever, for anything really. Before we set up the website and our social media, we had already completed 99% of the work on The Runed Age, and the Sigil System was a quick transcriptional job.

But here we are going to work with you through the steps of creating the very first Mod for the Sigil System. The Sigil System is made to be modded and we would love for you to come up with your own mods for it, but first here is our very first official mod for the Sigil System:

The Stealth Mod is exactly what it says on the box: a mod for the Sigil System that enhances and extends the mechanics for more stealth-based gameplay. While there is the Stealth Skill in the Sigil System, it is just one of 20 skills (barring the potential 100 specialisations) and so it doesn’t quite stand out from the crowd. That is what we aim to change.

Of course, as with any mod for any sort of game, these rules will be entirely optional, so don’t feel constrained by them, rather add them to your games if and when you want that extra stealthy flavour.

Compound vs Individual Stealth

So let’s get started with it! The Stealth Mod is meant more as a narrative and Skill challenge than a simply Skill Check. Much like the Social Combat rules already Present in the Sigil System, the Stealth Mod rules are meant for lengthy scenes where being stealthy is paramount throughout it. It is more than a simple Check as narrative actions itself will affect the grander situation.

To give an example: to simple sneak past a couple of sentries into a secured building requires only a Stealth Skill Check and falls under the Individual Stealth heading, because once that specific Skill Check is over (success or failure) that “Stealth Scene” is over and done with. Compound Stealth is once you have gotten into that secured building and you have to be continuously stealthy throughout your time there in everything you do or you will either set off the alarm, alert the patrolling guards, get caught on surveillance or all three. Almost all your actions inside that secured building (whether they come with a Stealth Skill Check, other type of Skill Check, or no Check at all) will have an effect on how well you are hidden and you (if at all) you are perceived by your antagonists.

That is Compound Stealth and that is what the Stealth Mod is all about.

Stealth Actions

Mentioned in the Sigil System is the use of Skill Check results as positive or negative modifiers for further Skill Checks. In this mod we will emphasise all the modifiers that you can wring out of your Stealth Skill and its specialisations and vice versa.

In any stealth based game, outright combat is always considered as a last resort as the noise of a simple fight could wake a neighbourhood and then there goes your plans. Instead, silently taking down opponents with the element of surprise is what you want, and this is where the Skill Check As Modifier comes in handy. As you approach you opponent unseen, you would roll a Stealth Skill Check to determine whether or not he perceives your approach. The success or failure of this Skill Check would then be applied as a modifier to your next Fight Skill Check to take that opponent down. Let’s say you rolled 20 points below your Skill Level for the Stealth Skill Check, this would mean you gain a Modifier of +20 to your Fight Skill Check (on top of all other Modifiers your GM would put on that Skill Check). This means that the better your Stealth Skill Check, the more confident you can be your other actions.

The reverse can also be down. Let’s say you are a nimble chap in good health but you’ve never really been all that good at sneaking around; climbing walls though, that you can do with ease. So when you roll your Athletics Skill Check to climb the wall of the secured building, the result of that Skill Check would then applied as a modifier to your Stealth Skill Check to see if anyone saw or heard your climb. The better you are at climbing, the less effort and noise it will take to climb a wall and thus the more stealthy it would be.

In the Stealth Mod, all (or close to all as makes no difference) the actions you will take will have an effect on yourself, your surroundings and/or your opponents that in turn will effect how stealthy you are.

Next week in our Developer Journal we will have a look at the Awareness Scale that is the central mechanic behind the Stealth Mod and determines just how stealthy you are.