Draft Intelligence System

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Like mass combat and campaigns, Star Crusade handles intelligence actions largely off-camera with a series of rolls adjudicated by +request. These rolls may be rolls made by PCs who are skilled in espionage or they may be made by NPCs working for a PC.

Overview

Intelligence actions are undertaken either by an individual or by an spy network. Most spy networks belong to House, Church, or League intelligence agencies, but some some PCs may have personal spy networks paid for out of their personal budget. Paying for a personal spy network is expensive and uncommon, but it has the advantage of not being subject to faction oversight. Intelligence agencies remain one of the primary ways factions - particularly noble houses - maintain links to family members, since even if a family member is vassal to a lord of another house they still remain in contact with their house's intelligence network.

Spy networks have traits - Subterfuge, Analysis, Security and Covert Action - as well as a number of teams, which determine how many operations they can undertake a fortnight, as well as a reach, which determines the distance they can comfortably operate at. Networks have a base-line operating budget and then also must pay for operations they undertake.

Spy Networks and Network Traits

The primary intelligence asset is the Spy Network, which represents a group of spies capable of executing covert tasks. Sometimes, individual PCs or NPCs will perform intelligence operations on an ad hoc basis, rather than relying on a spy network. Any individual who directly performs a significant intelligence operation must dedicate a Major Effort to that operation; for more details on the relationship between spy actions and Major Efforts, see 'Spy Actions and Major Efforts', below.

A spy network does not have a defined number of individuals, but is instead measured in its effectiveness in four areas, represented by four traits:

Subterfuge
This trait represents a spy network's ability to infiltrate rival organizations, whether the court of a noble, a guild hierarchy, or another spy network. Subterfuge operations may succeed by casually cultivating friendships or through harsher methods like blackmail, double agents, or even psychic or Changed infiltration. Successful subterfuge operations may result in gaining an ally, gathering information or placing a mole. Individual PCs often engage in subterfuge actions by using the Courtier, Charm or Knavery skills.
Analysis
This trait represents a spy network's ability to make sense out of the often broad amount of information that comes in, as well as its ability to engage in signals intelligence, cryptography and the like. Analysis often provides synergy bonuses to other operations, though analysis-focused operations may involve decrypting some important piece of information or sorting through large amounts of data. Individual PCs often engage in analysis actions by using the Espionage, Politics Lore, or appropriate People & Places skills.
Security
This trait represents a spy network's ability to engage in counter-intelligence by defending against infiltration, detecting and preventing rebellion and monitor the internal security of itself or the larger organization it serves. Its rating represents the skill of an organization's "secret police", and it is often rolled without any formal operation as a 'defense' against other spy network's operations. Security operations, however, can represent mole hunts, pogroms, re-education programs and loyalty compliance audits. Individual PCs often engage in security actions by using the Inquiry, Bureaucracy, Courtier, Steward, Commerce or Espionage skills.
Covert Action
This trait represents a spy network's ability to engage in direct action - wetwork, stealth intrusion, sabotage, and the like. A spy network's Covert Action trait has a great deal of overlap with the Raiding trait of many military units like Rangers, and those units can generally roll their Raiding trait at a -2 to engage in covert actions. Individual PCs who engage in covert actions tend to roll Stealth, Vigor, and their various combat traits.

Teams

Spy networks also have a Teams raiting. Teams is not a trait; instead, it represents the maximum number of intelligence operations a spy network can undertake in a single fortnight.

Generally, all teams in a network have the same traits. In some cases, there may be multiple networks that do not interact well with each other - like the various branches of Li Halan intelligence - or there may be individual 'special teams' lead by PCs or important NPCs that deviate from the traits of their network in one or more areas.

Reach

Spy networks have a Reach rating, which indicates the area in which they have established assets - safe-houses, pre-arranged dead drops, station agents and the like. Reach comes in levels:

Fief/Small Organization (Cost x1)
The intelligence network runs only to a single fief, which allows them to conduct operations inside their own borders and in fiefs that immediately border their lands. Usually this also allows operations in Akko. For organizations, this represents a strictly internal intelligence system.
Local/Large Organization (Cost x2)
The network is on the scale of a county, allowing intelligence operations within a county and its vassals as well as the neighbors of those vassals. For organizations, this represents an internal intelligence system that might cover an entire guild on planet or even the internal structure of the Church.
Regional/Interstellar Organization (Cost x4)
The network is on the scale of a planetary region like the West Bank of the Shining Gulf, including its immediate Kurgan neighbors, perhaps as far as Iskandretta.
Planetary (Cost x8)
The network covers an entire planet and even other worlds within the same system.
Multi-planetary (Cost x16)
The network covers several planets as well as worlds linked to them on the jumpweb, like the holdings of a single House or all League worlds.
Jumpweb (Cost x32)
The network covers the entire jumpweb.

If a network tries to undertake an action outside its reach, it takes a penalty - a -1 for every ‘step’ beyond its reach. If a local network tries to do something regional, it is at a -1; if it tries to do something on another planet, it might be at a -4 or a -5. These penalties can be reduced by taking specific steps towards a complex operations - for example a regional network first establishing a safe-house in Edom, then scouting out some overwatch positions, and then trying to steal the Lord of Edom’s golden scepter.

Faction Intelligence Agencies

Almost all factions have access to an intelligence agency of their own that PC members can call upon. Intelligence agencies have the four traits described above as well as a number of teams. If there are more PC requests for intelligence operations than an agency's maximum operations, staff will adjudicate a priority based on the benefit to the House, Guild, or sect from each proposed operation. Similarly, PC requests for agency action that seem contrary to a faction's interest may also be modified. In general, faction intelligence agencies are setting features - they are a huge benefit to PCs, who receive free intelligence support, but they also demand things from PCs who engage regularly with them.

Imperial Eye

Subterfuge 7, Analysis 9, Security 7, Covert Action 7 (10 active teams on world; planetary)

The Imperial Eye is ancient and byzantine, reaching back to the First Republic. The vast amount of information the Eye has access to makes it particularly skilled at pulling together the big picture.

Jakovian Agency

Subterfuge 9, Analysis 7, Security 7, Covert Action 7 (10 active teams on world; planetary)

The Decados' spy network is the Eye's only real rival. It is particularly adept at turning double agents.

Hawkwood Rooks

Subterfuge 5, Analysis 4, Security 4, Covert Action 7 (3 active teams on world; regional)

The Rooks are famous for individual action and derring-do, though they are frankly otherwise a little deficient.

al-Malik Mutasih

Subterfuge 6, Analysis 6, Security 5, Covert Action 5 (5 active teams on world; High-Tech 2; planetary)

The al-Malik's spy agency is renowned for its use of technology. It can use its high-tech toys to add synergy bonuses to operations; it can add up to two such bonuses per fortnight.

Li Halan Intelligence

Hidden Martyrs
Subterfuge 3, Analysis 3, Security 9, Covert Action 4 (1 active team on world; planetary)
Jingcha
Subterfuge 5, Analysis 4, Security 3, Covert Action 3 - (1 active team on world; regional)
Yuan Men
Subterfuge 2, Analysis 5, Security 4, Covert Action 5 - (2 active teams on world; planetary)

The Li Halan do not have a single spy network; instead, they have three, none of which communicate with each other. This means that despite the Hidden Martyr’s exceptional Security rating, the effective Security rating of the House against external threats is 5.

Hazat Archons

Subterfuge 4, Analysis 6, Security 4, Covert Action 6 (4 active teams on world; Military Intelligence; regional)

The Hazat archons are masters of reconaissance and battlefield intelligence, and their official spy network assets are usually complemented by Archon rangers in the field. They receive an extra synergy bonus any time they are engaged in military-focused operations.

The Synecullum

Subterfuge 5, Analysis 4, Security 6, Covert Action 3 (5 active teams on world; planetary)

The Church has its own intelligence assets, often focused on watching its own against heresy and other dangers.

Eskatonic Sanhedrin

Subterfuge 1, Analysis 3, Security 6, Covert Action 1 (1 active team on world; small organization)

The Eskatonics police their own ranks for signs of occult corruption, but do not look outward.

The Scravers

Subterfuge 7, Analysis 4, Security 4, Covert Action 6 (8 active teams on world; Street Smart; planetary)

The Scravers do not have an intelligence network so much as they are an intelligence network. They also receive an extra synergy bonus any time they are engaged in street- or crime-level operations.

Charioteer Killroys

Subterfuge 1, Analysis 3, Security 5, Covert Action 3 (1 active team on world; large organization)

The Charioteers police their own ranks for Sathraists and look out for unlicensed jumpkey manufacture.

Muster Vigil

Subterfuge 1, Analysis 2, Security 6, Covert Action 1 (1 active team on world; large organization)

The Vigil are more internal police than spies, though they are particularly effective internal police.

Engineer Harbringers

Subterfuge 1, Analysis 4, Security 4, Covert Action 4 (1 active team on world; High Tech; large organization)

The Harbringers focus on maintaining Engineer patents. While they do not have the focus on technological toys the al-Malik has, their general expertise means that they can apply a technological synergy bonus to one operation per fortnight.

Reeves Auditors

Subterfuge 1, Analysis 4, Security 2, Covert Action 5 (1 active team on world; large organization)

The Reeves's auditors are in the business of reclaiming lost assets. As such, they are unusually skilled at covert action for a Guild network.

Olivet

Unknown

Olivet maintains an informal network of spies that reports to Count Walker and his spymaster Sir John Phocas. Phocas generally is willing to help out Justinian interests on Yathrib, as Count Walker wants the House to prosper.

Chancery

Unknown

The Chancery pays its own small network of informants, though there is little consistency to their operations, with each new Chancellor generally building a new network from the ground up. Benedict Shrum, a native clerk who joined the Reeves guild, was principal secretary to Count Joscelin and remained in the office when Count Feodor became chancellor in a reduced role as third secretary. He has been the de facto person running the chancery since Count Feodor's accident.

Intelligence Operations

Characters can order and engage in intelligence operations using spy networks they have access to or by themselves. Operational success or failure is generally determined by a set of contested rolls.

Timing

Each spy network can perform a maximum number of operations per fortnight equal to its number of active teams.

Spy Actions and Major Efforts

Agencies can engage in intelligence operations without direct oversight by a PC; indeed, that is their modus operandi. Generally, a spy network can perform a number of actions per fortnight up to its number of teams without any Major Efforts on the part of a player.

Sometimes, however, a PC will want to either (1) direct a spy operation using the assets of their personal network or their faction agency, (2) closely oversee an operation directed by a PC or NPC spymaster or (3) conduct an operation themselves using their personal skills.

  1. To direct a spy operation, the character must dedicate a Major Effort to that endeavor. If there are multiple fortnights in an IC period, one Major Effort will allow a character to direct one operation per fortnight. When a character is directing a spy operation, it is the character's Espionage skill which is rolled, along with the traits of the spy network. A character can direct more than one intelligence operation in an IC period, but each one requires a separate Major Effort.
  2. To closely oversee a spy operation directed by another character (PC or NPC), a character must dedicate a Major Effort. As described in the Major Effort rules, a character can closely oversee two actions taken by subordinates with a single Major Effort, and so a character who uses a Major Effort in this fashion can closely oversee two intelligence operations per fortnight. When a character is closely overseeing an intelligence operation, it is their subordinates who makes rolls, but the character may provide a synergy bonus, be involved in the decision-making process, and also reduce the opportunities for corruption or disloyalty on the part of subordinates.
  3. Characters who personally attempt a significant spy operation must dedicate a Major Effort to doing so. In such a case, the character is the person making friends, influencing people, or infiltrating a target, and their personal traits and skills are used for the rolls as appropriate.

Adjudicating Intelligence Operations

When a character +requests to have an intelligence operation performed, staff will evaluate the +request and make a series of rolls to determine the outcome. There is no hard and fast rule for how actions are adjudicated, but staff usually uses the following principles:

Intelligence operations roll network Trait + spymaster's Espionage
Almost always, the roll for an intelligence operation performed by a spy network (instead of an individual PC) will be the appropriate network Trait + PC or NPC spymaster's Espionage.
Intelligence operations have a VP target
Staff generally sets a VP target for intelligence operations. Simple tasks are 1 VP while hard tasks may be 2 or 3 VPs. Some complex operations may play out over several fortnights, at which point there will be a running VP total. Targets who have a high Security or are actively tasking their network to engage in counter-intelligence may raise that VP target, and in some cases there may be active contested rolls.
Intelligence operations turn on multiple rolls
Only in the simplest of operations will success or failure turn on a single roll. Usually, staff will roll the appropriate trait three times, usually once for Planning, once for Execution, and once for Follow-Through. They may set a target number for each roll or total the VPs earned on all three rolls; overall success or failure will not rely on any one of the rolls, but which rolls are better and which are worse will help staff adjudicate the results.
Security rolls play a part in detecting intelligence activity
Failure on a roll does not automatically result in detection; instead, staff usually rolls the target's Security + Espionage against the network's appropriate trait + spymaster's Espionage.
Mishaps and Critical Successes can upset all expectations
On mishaps and critical successes, all guesses are out. People may succeed, there may be unintended consequences - all sorts of things might happen.

High-Profile and Low-Profile Operations

Characters can choose to make an operation high-profile or low-profile. A high-profile operation gives a character a +2 on their operations rolls, but if they fail the operation they are automatically detected. A low-profile operation gives a character a -2 on their operations roll, but if they fail the operation they are much less likely to be detected; unless the opposing side exceeds the threshold on their detection roll by 2 VPs, they will either not know the identity of the organization that targeted them or just believe that an action is innocuous. For example, a low-profile subversion operation to recruit a mole in a rival's court that is detected would just reveal that ordinary friendships are being formed, not that spies are at work.

What Intelligence Operations Can Do

Here are some example intelligence operations:

  • Recruit a member of a rival's court as a double agent (Subterfuge, 6 VP running total)
  • Recruit a member of a rival's court as an IC ally (Subterfuge, 4 VP running total, low-profile)
  • Assassinate an enemy military commander (Covert Action, 3 VPs, high-profile)
  • Listen in on enemy communications to determine their actions next fortnight (Analysis)
  • Steal an incriminating letter from a rival's boudoir (Covert Action, 1 VP)
  • Discover moles in your organization (Security, 1 VP per compromised person)
  • Spread malicious gossip about a rival (Subterfuge, 1 VP)
  • Spread malicious gossip about a rival and blame it on a different rival (Subterfuge, 2 VPs)

Sometimes intelligence operations naturally chain together. For example, Lord John may wish to turn Lord Roger's steward into an agent. First, he tries to learn everything he can about the steward, an Analysis action at 1 VP. He learns that the steward has an estranged daughter who lives with her mother in Akko. Next, he kidnaps the mother and daughter - a 2 VP covert action. Finally, he uses this to blackmail the steward, a 2 VP subterfuge action with a +4 to his roll for having the daughter.

Synergy and Dissonance in Intelligence Operations

In addition to blessings, careers, and other skills, characters may get synergy if:

  • The target of the operation is a member of their faction
  • They have other assets in place in the target organization
  • Any special agency or operation traits

They may get dissonance from the target's careers, blessings, and other traits, as well as:

  • One or more penalties for the targets being from an insular or substantially different culture, like Known Worlders targeting Kurgans
  • One or more penalties for subterfuge attempts against targets with strong internal loyalties like the Justinian or Brother Battle
  • One or more penalties if the target organization has specific knowledge that is about to be the target of an operation

The Cost of Intelligence Operations

While the number of active teams in a spy network determines the maximum number of operations it can undertake a fortnight, those individual operations still require a budget.

Simple intelligence operations cost 100 firebirds. Complex, multi-fortnight operations may cost 500 firebirds. Very complex operations, like covert actions occuring at long distance, may cost 1000 firebirds. Extremely simple, low-profile operations may be free, particularly when performed by a PC.

Some examples:

  • Making friends with a courtier at a rival's court (free if done by a PC)
  • Engaging in a systematic reputation campaign against a rival (100 firebirds)
  • Stealing an item from a rival (100 firebirds)
  • An assassination attempt behind enemy lines (500 firebirds)
  • A mole hunt inside your intelligence agency (500 firebirds)
  • A raid to recover intelligence from Iskandretta (1000 firebirds)
  • Substituting a metonym for your rival's captain (1000 firebirds)

Characters can also put more resources into an intelligence operation to increase its chance of success. Instead of tasking an agency to do a task once, a character can task an agency to do it twice; this occupies two of a network’s teams and costs twice as much. For each extra team a character assigns to an operation, their roll will receive one synergy bonus.

Personal Spy Networks

Some individuals may choose to fund a personal spy network.

Personal spy networks have the same four traits as a faction intelligence agency - Subterfuge, Analysis, Security and Covert Action. Characters must pay an operations budget for these traits. A spy network has a trait of 1 by default, with higher traits according to the following chart:

  • Trait 1 - 125 firebirds/year
  • Trait 2 - 250 firebirds/year
  • Trait 3 - 500 firebirds/year
  • Trait 4 - 1,000 firebirds/year
  • Trait 5 - 2,000 firebirds/year
  • Trait 6 - 4,000 firebirds/year
  • Trait 7 - 8,000 firebirds/year
  • Trait 8 - 16,000 firebirds/year
  • Trait 9 - 32,000 firebirds/year

Spy network traits above 6 require a significant intelligence culture in a character’s faction, and cannot generally exceed 1 or 2 points above the ‘baseline’ of a character’s faction agency.

Reach applies costs as noted in the ‘Reach’ section, above; every level of reach doubles cost. A fief-wide network is x1, a local network x2, a regional network x4, a planetary network x8 and so on.

The above costs are for one team. For every additional operation can conduct per fortnight, add the cost of the network again - so a two teams is double cost, three teams are triple cost, etc.