Thursday, September 15, 2016

Madness Dossier - Some Template Observations

There are a few things I noticed with the Madness Dossier templates that seem to be worthy of comment.

The Patron

All Sandmen have Project SANDMAN as a 90 point Patron (15 or less; Special Abilities +100%) and some lenses are given on p. 28 that adjust this, either adding Minimal Intervention (to represent a more political and bureaucratic Project), lowering the appearance roll to 12 or less (representing a Project that has its resources stretched thin) or both. I ended up going with the Minimal Intervention option, if only because I probably was going to play it that way anyway (Charles Stross' Laundry Files is nearly inescapable as inspiration for me in this campaign). 

I considered just removing the Patron altogether and using the rules for Pulling Rank (In GURPS Action 1: Heroes and the eponymous Social Engineering title as well) instead. I'm not sure why this wasn't given as an option, actually.


None of the Templates have Wealth, even though with US/British civil service salaries they probably ought to be mostly Comfortable. I think the intent here is to use the Standard (and Not-so-Standard) Issue box on Heroes p. 27, but it doesn't actually say anything about this in Madness Dossier (probably because Action is merely suggested, not required). I'm more-or-less doing this anyway, although I haven't decided if I'll actually track the team's budget that closely, and I'm using Abstract Wealth (Pyramid #3/44 Alternate GURPS II p.30) for any personal expenses rather than worry about the $2000 per month.

Martial Arts

As I said in the previous post, I think it would be a little odd to have Kliel as the only style in the game, especially for Commandos who should have had a shooting style and probably a combative hand-to-hand style from their military training; so I adjusted the Commando template a bit. 

The Duty

All Sandmen templates have Duty (Extremely Hazardous; 15 or less) [-20]. I probably will need to give out special assignments as Duty In Action (Action 2: Exploits p. 45) suggests. This has a weird effect that almost every mission will have everybody given a special assignment; I suppose the Secondary Taskings on Madness Dossier pp. 8-9 will come in handy here.

The Golden Child Dependents

The Golden Child has Dependents (Next cohort of Golden Children; Built on 50%; Friends; 12 or less) [-20]. This seems to present a puzzle, because it doesn't make a lot of sense to send even a well-trained teenager into the field with preteens in tow. I started a thread on the forums about this, and Phil Masters said:
I suspect that the template assumes a Golden Child campaign, set in and around the location where the project is being run, and all about multiple Golden Child PCs trying to relate to the rest of the world and watching each others' backs. If you have a Golden Child on secondment to a field team, to see how the concept actually works in the field or to bring some unique skills to the table, I'd drop that disad.
However this doesn't actually seem to be the case at all to me; the Golden Child template has the same Extremely Hazardous (15 or less) Duty that all the other templates have; the missions described on pp. 55-58 are all field assignments; p. 43 says "Most Madness Dossier campaigns feature the team at the sharp end, tussling with irruptors and quashing cults." and explicitly says that rear echelon personnel are NPCs. I don't, therefore, think the intent was to have Golden Child PCs stuck back in Granite Peak, but rather to have them training on the job as part of a field team.

One solution is to just make a Dependent roll matter during the parts of the adventure that occur in Project friendly firmbases and the like. Another is to make sure that threats to the Golden Children cohorts appear in a way that the PC Golden Child can deal with them, even if there aren't any younger Children immediately at hand. I worry that both of these approaches may seem contrived. I'd certainly appreciate any thoughts on this!

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