On the last Dev Journal we looked at what the new rules for using runic arrays will be like. For this Journal, we’re taking something old and turning it into something new.
For those of you that have played the Sigil System, you’ll be more than familiar with the Contacts system, that gives you some concrete game mechanics to represent your network of NPC contacts in your campaign, and how to get the most out of them. We’ve taken that, updated it, and we’re putting it into the new Runed Age.
As the saying goes: “it’s not what you know, but who you know”; and this might as well be a law of physics in the city of Middelburg. In the Runed Age, you play as a professional criminal, so it makes sense that you will need a network of informers, fences, dealers, wheelers, corrupt constables and everyone in-between that will free you up to commit all the crimes you need.
Each contact has two Skills: Influence and Aptitude, and like a PC’s Skills, they run from 0 to 100. Influence represents how close a relationship you have with your contact, while Aptitude shows how good the contact is at whatever it is he does.
When you want a contact to do something, you first need to see if they have the time/energy/patience/or just plain old like you enough to do what you want. This is where the Influence Skill comes in. You roll your contact’s Influence Skill, and if you succeed, then your contact has the time of day for you. If not, then for some reason that your GM will give you, your contact can’t do what you want him to do.
As with everything else, there is always modifiers to this, which will be detailed in the book, but just quickly they come in three varieties.
The first is a good old Social Skill Check, which you can roll before doing the Influence Check. This can be any Social Skill, and whichever one you use will determine how your interaction with your contact is flavoured. Succeed on the Social Skill Check and the result of your roll will become a bonus to the Influence Check. Fail, and the total by which you failed will become a penalty to that Influence Check. It’s risky, so if you’re not confident in your Social Skills, don’t bet the house on it.
Speaking of money, that is the second modifier to an Influence Check. The more you are willing to offer your contact in terms of money, goods, favours, information, etc, the more they will be willing to do a favour for you you. You scratch their back, they scratch yours.
And lastly, the severity of the task you are asking from them will give a modifier to the Influence Check. The more difficult the task, the less of a chance there is that they’ll say yes.
So between these three, there is more than enough for you to cover all your bases and get that contact working for you. Even a weakness can be overcome in another way. For example: if you know that you are going to ask something complex and difficult, then you know the bring along a lot of sweet words or money.
Once you’ve gotten your contact to agree to do something for you, it’s up to them to do it. Here you simply roll the contacts Aptitude test and use the same severity modifier from the Influence Check. If the contact succeeds, then they’ve done what you needed, and the better they roll, the better of a job they did. It’s as simple as that.
Leveling your Contacts
At the end of any session where your GM believes there is a chance that either your contact got better at what they do, or your relationship got better (flowers always works), he’ll tell you to either roll Influence or Aptitude (or both if you’re lucky). For these leveling rolls, if you roll under your contact’s Skill then nothing happens, but if you roll over it then that Skill increases by 1d5.
For example: if you went the extra mile for one of your contacts, brought them something for free, gave them a good tip, or protected them from an enemy, your GM could say that there is a definite chance that your relationship with them got better. So you roll an Influence Check and try to beat a (let’s say) 55. You roll 83, and so your contact’s Influence goes up by 1d5 (rolled a 3) and now your contact has an Influence Level of 58.
Works exactly the same as going up, but your contacts will lose levels instead. So at the end of the session, if your GM decides that you (or your contact) did something that would make your relationship suffer or they become a bit more incompetent at their job, then you will roll either Influence or Aptitude. If you roll under the Skill Level, then everything is fine, but if you roll over then your contact’s Skill Level will decrease by 1d5.
Moral of the story? Be nice to your contacts, and don’t ask for more than they can give, or you can lose them quickly.
And that’s all there is to the rules of the contacts. In the book you’ll get some more flavour options as well as how you get contacts when you create your character, but the rules are as simple as this!