Cyberpunk: Hacking the Hazard Die
After hacking the Traveller Patron table into a cyberpunk context, I have one major skeletal component of what I suspect could become a little, hacked-together game system. I have a little recipe in my head: some basic gun combat, maybe Mothership or Trav, simple skill-based characters, and a bunch of grimy little procedures. A simple job, in and out.
The second bone in this skeleton is Strict Time Keeping. My usual preferred tool for this is Necropraxis’s Hazard System. I like having a flexible relationship between the game clock and the actual fictional minutes and seconds that are portrayed as having passed, such that the latter can be improvised or ignored1. I also like having a consistent tool to turn to in order to handle time pressure, which I find especially important in the sundry heists and jobs that a cyberpunk game deals with.
A Hazard die for downtime or combat feels clumsier here, and I don’t expect to write one.
Roll on the Mission Hazard table once every turn, starting from the beginning of the infiltration.
|The police response gets closer. Roll 1d6 and remove the result from the Heat ticker. If at zero, more now arrive. If the heat hasn’t been called, count as free.
|Security tightens. Doors close, alarms sound. The facility itself attempts to oust its intruders. If security has not been alerted, count as free.
|Something in the facility changes. Guards change shifts. The janitor cuts the lights. The blast furnace turns on.
|Drugs, exploits, permissions, and other temporary effects expire.
|Roll once on the Encounter table.
Heat is a basic countdown ticker for simulating police response time. Each mission has its own Heat ticker, set ahead of time (the party can learn the Heat rating of the installation during legwork). The Heat which it represents depends on the police contracted to the installation in question. Typical or low-security installations will depend on the security of the district they’re based in. Other installations will contract private security. The following table serves as a rough guideline for Heat ratings. Heat ratings might be modified by circumstances such as blackouts, riots, strikes, acid rain, etc.
The amount of police response that comes down when the ticker hits zero should also vary according to the level of security of the installation.
Cyberpunk game systems often have a pretty bad case of the “this combat took place over about 14 fictional seconds and took 180 actual minutes” issue. Abstract time helps with the first figure; a reasonably slim combat system will hopefully tamp down the latter.↩︎