I’ve been enjoying The Wrong Mans, and this is a Don’t Rest Your Head hack to try to generate that kind of play: a handful of morally decent working schlubs stumble on a deadly conspiracy and decide to further involve themselves, somehow not dying due to hilarious luck and perceived lack of threat despite being way out of their depth.
- Why aren’t you determined to stay out of this altogether? What’s the reason you’d even entertain getting involved in this? Recent breakup? Tense home life? Stuck in a dead-end job? Just bored?
- Why are you hesitant to call the cops? Seriously, though, there has to be some reason you don’t just involve the police, yeah? Afraid of racial profiling? Known local pothead or crackpot with credibility issues? Nasty breakup with the police chief’s kid? Maybe you just live alone and spent last week playing video games every night, and are pretty sure you don’t have much of an alibi?
- Who do you want to keep out of this? Everyone has somebody they care about, even if they’re basically losers, don’t they? Do you have an invalid parent? Ex that you’re still trying to get back together with? Younger sibling? Surely not a spouse and/or child to take care of, or you’d run screaming the other way, right? Right?
- What’s your job like? You didn’t think you were just going to take a few days off to solve crimes, did you? What do you do for work? Who’s the rival who’s going to tattle on you if you keep skipping out? Why is this a risky time for you to start being absent?
- What just happened? How’d you get involved, anyway? Case of mistaken identity? Murder right in front of you? A man staggered out of an alley with a dagger in his back and pressed a USB drive into your hands? Unlike normal for DRYH, it’s okay if two or more of you have the same event (you were friends and acquaintances beforehand, and you were either together at the event or heard about it shortly after from the guy it happened to). If you all have a different event and don’t know each other, though, it just means that the GM gets to create a conspiracy so insane that it accidentally rolled in multiple unrelated bystanders.
- Discipline remains unaltered, but is colored by the fact that you’re not at all skilled in violence or espionage and are mostly getting lucky mimicking things you’ve seen on TV. As usual, when Discipline dominates, you reduce Chaos by one as you actually get a chance to dial things down.
- Exhaustion becomes Chaos; it represents the growing inability of the agents of the conspiracy to adapt to the spanner that you, personally, have thrown into the works (and a little bit that you’re becoming a little unhinged and willing to go all gonzo). Unlike normal, it goes up by one only when Luck dominates, but, like normal, you add it to all your rolls. When it gets to 4 or higher, the agents are starting to think of you as a real threat, and any losses in a violent confrontation may actually kill you. When it gets above 6, you die the next time you go up against the conspiracy, even if you win; best try to make Discipline dominate before then. When Chaos dominates, the conspiracy adds a layer of complexity that gets involved by the next scene: new opponents, new macguffins, and new investigations into you by the authorities.
- Madness becomes Luck; you’re probably only going to get out of this by having lucky breaks, and somehow you keep having them. As usual, you can always add up to six Luck dice. Successes on them result in improbable coincidences, stupid ideas that actually work, and the like. When Luck dominates, the opposition starts to think maybe you’re not getting lucky after all; increase your Chaos by one.
- Exhaustion talents become Professions, and represent the one thing you’re actually good at (and this is not allowed to be anything that should be directly useful in the world of murder and espionage). When you’re using your Profession, all failed Discipline dice count as 6s, increasing the chance that it will Dominate. That’s all it does; you’re not an action hero.
- Madness talents, speaking of which, are not used in the normal implementation of this idea. If you’re in a fantasy, sci-fi, or supers setting, you may wind up with a Power of the GM’s choice at an applicable point in the story. Like normal for Madness Talents, you have to roll one or more Luck dice to activate it (it’s probably unreliable and hard to control).
- Pain becomes Conspiracy, but is essentially unchanged. The GM does not roll any Conspiracy dice when you’re in trouble not related to the conspiracy (dealing with work, cops, or family); you still have to roll to see if you fail (and get stuck in some mundane problem) or if something else dominates; but if Discipline dominates, you still get to reduce Chaos. When the opposition is someone involved with the conspiracy, the GM should roll up to 12 dice, as normal for Pain, with higher dice pools representing digging deeper into the onion layers of the conspiracy. Rolling any dice at all, therefore, is a nice clue to the players that what they thought was mundane is actually involved in the conspiracy. When Conspiracy dominates, gain a Mistake coin: even if the character succeeded, he or she did something stupid that will haunt the group later (like leaving behind evidence).
Crashing and Snapping
- You don’t crash or snap directly. As noted above, when Chaos is over 3, any failures in a violent situation can result in the character getting killed (or at least seriously injured), and when it goes over 6, the next violent confrontation is pretty much automatically deadly. Of course, by the time Chaos starts getting that high, you’ve probably got so many people coming after you that you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to.
- Coins of Despair become Mistake Coins. They represent, well, mistakes the player characters made catching up to them. They work the same as despair, and generate coins of Hope when used.
- Coins of Hope are unchanged.