You guys are MACHINES!
Or at least some sort of hybrid human/machine…
There’s a shotgun in there somewhere.
You’ve already gotten us to the 70% line and past. As always, thank you so much! Keep spreading the word!
New Reward: Circles!
While talking with some of you about the operatives, you kept suggesting these be added, so to go with the Operative Update, you can now form your own custom circles!
Circles (described in more detail below) are groups that your operatives belong to: local communities, hacker collectives, professional guilds, cults, veteran associations… This pledge allows you to create one of the groups operatives can belong to! These in turn are held by larger circles predefined by regions/professions.
Changed Rewards: “Two Pack” dropped to $50!
That’s right! If those $10 were stopping you from making the leap, you’re out of excuses! Now you can create any two operatives, specialists, companies, or corporations for only $50, along with your name and the game!
If you are currently backing the $60 Two Pack, please change your pledge to the new $50 reward and save a ten-spot (or upgrade to a Headline, Mission, or Circle for only $15 more)!
From $75 and up, if your reward doesn’t include a Headline, Mission, or Circle, you can add one for an additional $20 on your pledge! To do so, select Manage your Pledge and raise the amount by $20 for each thing you want to add. Note: Only one of each is permitted.
Just to make things a bit clearer, I made a chart to show what you get for each tier. It’s also added to the Kickstarter page, now! Hopefully that will clear up some questions.
The operatives are the sword and shield of the Broker. They are the eyes and ears. They are your tools, your attack dogs, your advisors, and sometimes even your friends or enemies.
There are a many things that define a Operative: Their Name, Avatar, Profile, Traits, Skills, Statistics, Circles & Contacts, Resources, and Loyalty.
Their name, of course defines what they are called. An operative can also collect aliases as other corporations begin their attempts to find out just who was responsible for bombing that embassy their mole was working in. They may also start with an alias, as is popular in hacker and criminal circles.
Their avatar is their unique look: Different styles and colours to show off who they are! You can check on your operatives at any time, and see their avatar running through your missions, training hard, or idling at home enjoying the luxuries you enable them to buy.
The profile is like a profession: it defines the kinds of skills the operative generates (if not pre-made), the kinds of skills they prefer to develop, and can also have a few other tweaks such as their reactions to events and the kind of things they’ll acquire (see: Resources).
Originally this was hidden information but after talking to the community about the project, this will be represented as a small icon by their name to make it easier to sort and find the kind of person you want!
Traits are the core of an operatives personality, and one of the more complex systems. They can be good, bad, or anything in between. First, traits give you an idea of who that person is, from the name alone. It’s a “narrative seed” that helps you to build a larger personality and voice and mannerisms for that operative in your mind! Second, most traits have a direct and literal game changing impact.
Here are a few examples:
- Cheerful operatives do better on social tests and form connections to other operatives faster than most… unless the other operative has the trait Depressed, Curmudgeon, or the like… then the constant barrage of happiness just gets on their nerves!
- Addict operatives are less than ideal… while normally functioning people, they do tend to enjoy their vices on their time off. this can be a problem if you suddenly call them onto a mission, or if they’re assigned to a continuing operation, as they’ll perform worse on the job. If you check on them while they’re at home, you’ll probably notice the place is a bit of a mess, and they don’t tend to have a lot of money on hand.
- Bloody operatives certainly have their uses, getting large bonuses in assassination plots, firefights, and weapon skill challenges… but they’re also much more likely to startthe firefight! if a plot goes wrong with a Bloody operative, the chances of sneaking away quietly drop significantly as the safety comes off.
- Orthodox operatives are great, getting a small bonus for one test per plot… as long as you planned for it. The minute you go off script, the Orthodox operative loses their cool, doing worse at almost everything! They’re great for stable operations and support, but not the kind of person suited to a more risky mission.
Traits can modify skill tests, what kinds of plots they recommend, the gear and property they acquire, their loyalty and how it changes, how they interact with each other, their responses to event (and what kinds of events they get), and more. Traits make up all the unique ways that operatives are more than just a set of skills.
When an operative faces a challenge, their school and stat determine the height of their success, and skills provide the base amount of success you can expect. While there may be other modifiers at play, that base success is what helps you to plan out your missions!
Skills are the reason you hire operatives: they’re used to break through the challenges in plots and advance towards your objectives. Skills are grouped into schools (Shortartms, Longarms, and Heavy are grouped under Firearms), giving the operative a synergy bonus to the other skills in that school. Say our sniper is forced into a pistol duel; while he wont have the certain success of his Longarms skill, the points it contributes to the Firearms skill gives him a chance.
Stats are the inherent abilities of your operative, providing a raw (and unpredictable) talent to related skills, and also providing the various forms of basic health and defense.
- Body is the operative’s core physical ability. It’s used in feats of strength, to determine the maximum amount of gear they can carry, cybernetics they can install, and as the amount of wounds they can take before going down.
- Agility is the operative’s speed, balance, and dexterity. It’s used for precision and reflex, determining the maximum amount of gear an operative can carry without being encumbered, and is used to “soak” attacks in combat, as they throw themselves into cover or hit the ground.
- Acuity is the operative’s intelligence and mental sharpness, used in a wide variety of skills. It also helps operatives in developing their skills, and acts as a sort of “health” for hackers when faced with a difficult barrier on the net.
- Integrity is the operative’s mental fortitude. It isn’t used for many skills, but “soaks” the damage from a variety of non-physical attacks, such as intimidation, net barriers, social sparring, negotiations, morale loss from injuries, and so on.
- Personality is the operative’s sociability, how genial and easy to talk to they are… and how good they are at twisting words to their advantage! Used as the basis for social skills, and as a sort of “health” when engaged in a social conflict over contract terms, interrogations, seduction, or more!
Circles are the communities and networks an operative is connected to; a community that they talk to or work with or simply signed on with. Their immediate circle is in turn part of larger circles, connecting the various groups into pre-defined pools of people. A hacker probably has a small circle of her friends on the net, or a node network she hangs out in, and that in turn is connected to hacker communities around the world!
When your broker is looking for someone to hire, they have a selection of circles and favour with them. The stronger the connection, the better operatives the broker can hire from that circle. If a broker treats that social circle well, he’ll gain more favour, but if he starts to treat them poorly, kills too many of their people, or otherwise upsets them through events, all that favour can start to slip away. Brokers will make enemies, it’s part of the job, but make sure you’re making the right enemies and keeping the right friends!
Contacts are specific people within that circle that the operative knows and has a connection to. For example, when an operative signs on with a corporation, they join that circle and will owe a certain loyalty to it. But within that circle (if you treat them right, personally) they may begin to feel more of their loyalty is owed to *you* specifically. Operatives who work together will also begin to develop bonds with each other. Useful if they don’t much care for you, since they’ll stick around to be with their friends!
Resources are composed of five parts: The Resources Value, Gear, Cybernetics, Salary, and Property.
The Resources Value is an abstract representation of “stuff” provided by gear. During a mission, if an operative fails to pass a challenge, and they have gear that enables that School or Skill, they can use Resources to bump up their test to success! Budgeting resources is a vital part of planning missions. Whenever you assign the operative to a challenge, if there’s a gap between their skill and the challenge, the resources are marked as potentially spent. If the challenge is greater than the Operative’s school and stat combined, it’s marked as confirmed to be spent.
Those resources are precious, and they will especially be vital if a mission goes off rails, and you face more challenges than originally planned. In times like that, it’s good to have saved some in reserve, or established an operation of Safe Houses that the operatives can stop and resupply in.
Gear is the wide range of equipment the operatives can bring with them on missions. There are three general “types” of gear:
- School Gear allows them to spend resources on any challenge for a certain school. The SkyEye Minidrone allows for resources to be spent on Presence checks, useful for detecting ambushes and spotting small details.
- Skill Gear allows them to spend resources for a specific skill in a school but with a small bonus. A V-80 Hellion Sniper Rifle would be a piece of gear that enables the operative to spend resources on [Firearms:Longarms] challenges, and provides a bonus while doing so.
- Perk Gear is more varied, and can provide an artificial bump to a stat, skill, or other tweak. Golem Fullplate Body Armor gives an extra 2 points to body, but only for soaking hits!
Cybernetics are similar to gear, and are limited by Body as well. Unlike gear, cybernetics can’t just be swapped in and out, and require a lot of money and time to install. Usually it’s best to get cybernetics you think the operative will use often, and use gear to pick up the slack.
Salary is simply the amount you pay the broker each time you collect your budget. Most of it is spent maintaining their lifestyle (see:Property), and some is collected in a small slush fund they’ll use to but new property, gear or cybernetics they personally want, or just to save up for a rainy day.
Property is all the stuff your operative owns, all the lovely shiny toys they can buy with that hard earned money. It consists of furniture, gadgets, tool benches, huge wall-sized TVs, servant androids, security, and fancier apartments and penthouses. The more they get paid the more they can spend, though like most people, operatives fall into the trap of increasing their expenses through rent and other property. You can check up on your operatives and see what property they decided to acquire, often reflecting their traits.
Finally, there’s the loyalties an operative holds. Out of 100%, an operative’s loyalty is divided among her circles: the communities she belongs to, and the corporation that hired her. Within those divisions of loyalty, an operative can have specific ties of loyalty to other contacts… not always a good thing if you get her friend at the corp killed!
Where an operative’s loyalty lies is never a clear answer, but you do have a general sense of what her potential lowest and highest loyalty to the corporation is. There are many ways to make that loyalty more clear, and to discover any loyalties she might hold to other circles (or corporations!), whether through events, keeping her close to HQ, or even running missions to spy on your own operatives!
Loyalty is an ever shifting thing in Net Gain, as dozens of things can impact where they stand. As a general rule, paying them well and keeping them alive is enough to make operatives happy. Getting a salary for being on retainer is a pretty nice deal for most of your operatives! If an operative is in danger, faces challenges they’re not up to, getting injured, or finds out such things happened to one of their contacts or circles, their loyalty will drop respective to the damage done. Events can also change loyalties in unexpected ways.
Take the example of Conrad finding love on the battlefield. If he pursues that option, he’ll certainly be happy that you didn’t interfere, and will most likely gain loyalty to you, but he’ll also gain a chunk of loyalty for this new person (who just so happens to be part of a rival corporation!). You might be able to exploit that bond later, or if the other corporation finds out, they might try to use it against Conrad! Of course, you could always tell him to stay on task, but snuffing the flame of passion is rarely taken well…
Loyalty isn’t always given, but sometimes held. A bond sets a minimum loyalty “lock” on an operative, preventing their loyalty from dropping below that point. A bond is put on an operative when you hire them, the security of employment keeping them from making rash decisions when things get bad. Bonds can also be placed through less ethical means, such as blackmail or holding hostages (ideally a method only used on your enemies!). Each bond has a strength determined by what placed it: how much you’re paying them, or how incriminating the blackmail is.
Whenever loyalty would drop below this bond, the bond is instead strained, eventually returning to normal. Press someone far enough, though, and the bond will shatter, loyalty will plummet, and often disastrous consequences can follow! For a weak salary bond, this could simple be the operative quitting, but for stronger bonds it could lead to long and bloody vendettas!
I hope you enjoyed this recap of the many systems that power the operatives, creating complex characters who will react in surprising ways, and give your world life!
Specialists are just like Operatives, but during generation a Specialist has a much higher limit for their starting stats, skills, and resources!
I didn’t think I’d be writing about these so soon, but as we close in on the goal, it may be time to start teasing some of the expanded content I have planned. Funding above the goal means more time developing additional features that didn’t quite make it into 1.0!
The first goal I have planned is at the $25,000 mark: The War Room.
The War Room is where the magic happens. Off on one side, the finely furnished office of the Broker, with a resplendent view of the city below. Through the office door, the pit of cubicles, filled with analysts and handlers scurrying about, eagerly doing their jobs, while your off-duty operatives mill about stealing the doughnuts from the break room.
The war room can be expanded with funds from the budget, adding in exercise rooms and shooting ranges for your operatives, extra banks of servers for collecting Intel, massive maps on screens for tracking global actions, support staff for your operations in the field, or slip den for your weary staff to take a break and fall into some virtual reality.
This “ant farm” of activity will not only get you a behind-the-scenes peek at the support that goes on to keep your operatives running, but each new upgrade comes with perks to enhance the corporation and operatives!
The War Room also unlocks Staff: these lead managers and advisors work directly under you, taking on important roles of the shadow war and giving passive bonuses to the team based on their own skills. The staff is comprised of operatives you can hire, and is a great way to retire those operatives that have served long and well, but at this point know too much to risk in the field. A comfy desk job will put their skills to use and keep them out of harms way! Of course, if you really need them you could always call them back into the field for one last job…
Next Update: Economy!
Next time we’ll talk about how the economy works, corporations, companies, and assets!