Calling all agents: This burst transmission contains the classified outline for Double Tap: The Night’s Black Agents Expansion Book. Use this intel at your discretion.
Which is to say, read it, share it with your Night’s Black Agents game group — or the people who would be your Night’s Black Agents game group if they just had this one thing cleared up … You see, if we get some really good ideas here in the comments, there’s a bit more room in the book for them. Not a whole lot, mind you: it’s already fully loaded. But, if I may mangle the metaphor a bit, it’s not fully locked.
And if you have specific ideas for stuff to go into the sections that are already in the outline, well, feel free to add those in comments too. Where we may or may not STEAL THEM AND GIVE YOU ONLY A MEAGER “BLACK LEVEL AGENT” CREDIT FOR YOUR TROUBLE. That’s just how we roll, here at P.E.L.G.R.A.N.E. For example, I’ve only got two vampiric monster ideas (the Assyrian/Babylonian ekimmu and our old pals the zalozhniy) for that “More Monsters” section, so if you’ve got a favorite bloodsucker you’re hankering to see, sing out.
Seriously, we’d especially like to hear from people with Night’s Black Agents campaigns: what do you want to see more of? What works? What might work? Tell us. We’ll get the intel to those who need it most.
THE NIGHT’S BLACK AGENTS EXPANSION BOOK
Outline by Kenneth Hite
(500 words; Hite)
What this book is and how to use it.
(25,000 words; Wieland)
This section mirrors the similar section in the Trail of Cthulhu Keeper’s Resource Book (pp. 4-37 in that book), providing expanded information and examples for the various abilities.
For each Investigative ability, this section provides:
- Specific ability uses and techniques, thriller-color infodumps, and “ability focus” material, in whatever ratio seems right for that ability: e.g., grifts for Reassurance (or Bullshit Detector!), how a séance works for Occult Studies.
- At least three example benefits from spends (NBA, p. 46).
- At least one example TFFB (NBA, p. 108-109).
- At least three vampiric traces and clues that the ability can pick up (similar to the “Investigation” sub-section in each monster writeup in Trail of Cthulhu, and the “Sample Clues” sub-section for each Ability in the Keeper’s Resource Book). If applicable, use the vampire type glyphs here to identify each clue by the type of vampire (Supernatural, Damned, Alien, Mutant) most likely to leave such a clue.
For each General ability, this section provides:
- Specific ability uses and techniques, thriller-color infodumps, and “ability focus” material, in whatever ratio seems right for that ability: e.g., pickpocket techniques for Filch, ways to defeat security systems for Infiltration, scrounging and improvisational use of scenery with Preparedness, the “Mozambique Drill” Shooting technique.
- If the ability can be used investigatively, some of the other material for Investigative abilities above (benefits, vampiric clues, etc.)
- At least one new cherry for each ability except Shooting. If you’re on a roll, add more than one. Multiple cherry rules, as follows: When a General ability reaches 8 rating points, pick the cherry you want to use. It does not change. You can add a second cherry (if available) when you have 14 rating points in that ability, a third at 20 rating points, etc.
(2,000 words; Plant and Hite)
Adapts Will Plant’s See Page XX article.
Hite to provide specific rules for the Achievement system plus mechanical guidelines and benchmarks where needed.
(2,000 words; Wieland)
Incorporates and expands Rob Wieland’s See Page XX article.
(3,000 words; Kulp and/or Hite)
In playtest, the most common request was for a big list of guns, even though the requester (usually) knew that it had no real reason to be there. In this section, we provide a big list of guns, both those seen in thriller movies and in actual use by clandestine and covert operators.
The compiler of this list should ensure that every firearm from the Bourne movies and Ronin, at the very least, is included, as is every firearm normally issued to the Spetsnaz, GSG 9, SEAL Team Six, and other major special operations forces. Doubtless, other absolutely iconic weapons will occur to the compiler. The Internet Movie Firearms Database will be your savior.
The model for this list of guns is the firearms table in Trail of Cthulhu (p. 186).
||Colt M1911 .45 ACP automatic pistol; Kimber makes a clone M1911
||US Marine Corps MEU(SOC), Delta Force, FBI HRT, Greek Army, Thai Royal Army, badass but graying U.S. patriots
||Pistol-whipping someone with it does +0 damage; Stopping Power
The Notes column is for any other rules effects; other interesting, inspirational factoids about the weapon; and a place to list the weapon’s associated gun cherry, if any.
The reason that there was no big list of guns in the corebook is that, damage modifiers and type of weapon (pistol, rifle, shotgun, SMG, assault rifle) aside there is no rules-mechanical difference between guns. This section also adds some difference back in in the form of gun cherries.
A gun cherry is a special feature of the weapon, drawn either from its real-life performance characteristics or its military legend, that provides a bonus of some kind when the user rolls an unmodified 6 and succeeds. (This also addresses another common playtest concern: players who rolled a 6 after spending a lot of points felt their good roll was “wasted.”) More than one weapon can have the same gun cherry; no weapon should have more than one.
Each gun cherry has a trigger event (usually the roll of an unmodified 6, usually on Shooting) and an effect, e.g.:
Trigger: Roll an unmodified 6 on a Shooting test that hits a foe.
Effect: The foe’s action moves to the end of the ranking order in combat.
Note to the author of this section: try very hard to avoid extra damage as a gun cherry modifier. Extra damage, even on a 6, is an expensive bonus in the NBA game economy: see, for instance, the Critical Hits option on p. 73. That said, a gun cherry for an exceptionally accurate weapon could easily drop the cost of a Called Shot by 1 (on a 6, immediately refresh 1 spent Firearms point), giving a damage bonus on the back end, as it were.
(2,500 words; Adamus and Lindke)
Follows the basic pattern of the Spytech section of the NBA corebook (pp. 96-100). Provides brief descriptions and salient rules effects of both actually existing equipment, including:
- 3D printer/fabricator (useful for Forgery, too!)
- countersound generator
- harpoon (and rules for running its cable around a Jeep winch as in Vampires: Los Muertos)
- more drugs or toxins (use format from p. 81 for these)
- scrambler, etc.
and cinematic gadgetry, including:
- Mission: Impossible style face mask
- burning/cutting hand laser
- jet pack (with rules/stats compatible with the NBA Vehicles section on p. 101)
- digital stealth (e.g., the “ugly shirt” from Zero History)
In cases where there is a cinematic version of an existing gadget (a parasail worn under your coat, for example), provide both, as with the Climbing Hoist on NBA p. 98. Signpost cinematic spytech in the description.
Either in this section or the Guns section above, a list of possible anti-vampire ammunition loadouts for conventional firearms and tranquilizer guns, by type of vampire. Also, provide a basic notion of the point spends (Vampirology, Chemistry, Shooting, etc.) and time needed to create such a loadout.
If you want to take a swing at a rule for Q-style gadgets and “joke shop” spies, go for it. Otherwise, Hite will do it. Most likely in the form: Describe, ideally in the form of a flashback, the implausible gadget you claim to have been issued. Spend 12 total points from Preparedness and whatever ability the concealed gadget uses (e.g., a bomb in a pen would cost 12 points from Preparedness and Explosive Devices). You now have, on your person, a gadget meeting your specs. For wilder games, lower the cost to have a gadget: Daniel Craig has a laser-watch for 12 points (Preparedness and Shooting); Sean Connery has a laser-watch for 9 points; Roger Moore has a laser-watch for 6 points.
New Thriller Maneuvers
(2,000 words; Lindke)
Provide 10-12 new thriller maneuvers, both combat and otherwise:
Verbal Trauma Unit
Prereq: Medic 8+
Once per session, a player with a Medic rating of 8 or more can gain a 3-point refresh in that ability by uttering a brief narrative description of his or her actions surgically sliced from medical drama:
- “He’s tach-ing! Very thready pulse, shocky, eyes dilated … flesh cold and moist … Damn it to hell, I won’t lose another one. Not today!”
- “I pop the top from the syrette and smoothly insert it into her armpit, right where the axillary vein goes over the trapezius.”
- “My hands greasy with blood, I tear the duct tape with my teeth and then whip it around Jensen’s thigh. My eyes are far away, however, seeing only the basement in Sarajevo where I first felt life slip through my fingers.”
At the Director’s discretion, descriptions so bloodily graphic or antiseptically detached as to amount to vampiric porn may earn a 4-point refresh.
These utterances needn’t be improvised; players can crib from Gray’s Anatomy (book or show) in advance, then adapt their medical doubletalk to the injury.
Other Thriller Contests
(8,000 words; Hindmarch)
This section adapts the Thriller Chase Rules in the NBA corebook (pp. 53-60) to other abilities besides Athletics, Driving, or Piloting, and to tension-building sequences other than pure chase scenes. For the first three types of sequences below, follow the pre-existing Thriller Chase dynamics and rules as closely as you can, while adapting them to the specific challenges of the specific contest. You don’t have to rewrite the rules; reference to the Thriller Chase Rules is not just allowed but preferred.
Also, each type of sequence should:
- Provide examples of Raises and Sudden Escapes in the contest, and versions of Ramming and Swerve.
- Provide specific example uses of Investigative abilities (p. 57), especially by other players besides the main runner/hacker/infiltrator/watcher.
- Provide at least one (and ideally more, depending on local color) thrilling element list (p. 54).
- Feel free to introduce Thriller Maneuvers (like Parkour and Gear Devil in the corebook) specific to this type of contest
Models the contest between the hacker and the system’s defenses/security professionals.
Models stealth-mode computer games as well as heist movies: infiltrator vs. security.
Models the contest between watched and watchers: Bourne in Waterloo Station.
Hunting for your target in a large area; the example here is Harker’s posse tracking Dracula down in London, or the CIA tracking Bourne from a single sighting in Moscow. This system is intended to model the players as the team of hunters vs. a single vampire or Renfield or terrorist. This probably works better not as a straight port of the Thriller Chase but as a player-facing mod of the Extended Chase (p. 90-91), to be played out as a micro-game before a session that opens or closes the target’s Hot Lead.
Standard Operating Procedures
(2,000 words; Kulp)
These are specific player tips for what to do when you:
- don’t know what to do next
- feel like there’s nowhere to turn
- hit a new location
- uncover a profusion of new chaff and detail
- uncover a strong single new lead
- deduce or sense vampiric activity but have no confirming data
- encounter resistance getting information out of someone
- are hunkered down and are afraid to unhunker
In other words, logjam-breakers and practical advice for stumped or demoralized players to help them proactively dig themselves out of trouble and get the story moving again. Cast them as specifics, special cases, and expansions on the Bucharest Rules (pp. 116-117).
(3,500 words; Adamus)
Twenty-five instant NPCs suited to the spy thriller genre. Each writeup should include: important abilities, a physical description, a story hint in the text, and the preferred Interpersonal method to win their cooperation. Then three things they can provide as an asset (for the vampires or for the agents), three clues they possess, and three handles for roleplaying them.
Athletics 9, Conceal 5, Hand-to-Hand 6, Mechanics 2
Tanned by the weather, grizzled Erik wears a slick vinyl parka over dull clothes. He holds himself ready, a bit hunched over. His eyes size you up behind his cigarette smoke; he’s done enough off-the-books deals and seen enough strange cargo come in to know you’re not here by coincidence. He’s had to cover for too many weaklings to have patience with them at his age; only if you seem tough will he pay attention, but not if you try to bully him (Athletics or Hand-to-Hand used as an Interpersonal ability).
As Asset: Access to cargo before inspection; access to ships; use of heavy cranes
As Clue: Saw a coffin unloaded; knows who the mafiya stooge in the union is; knows which warehouse the Chechens use
In Play: Squint against the sunlight off the water; hunch your shoulders like you’re about to pick up a heavy object; steal a quick look over the player’s shoulder to see who’s backing him up.
(3,500 words; Kulp)
Twenty-five instant locations common to urban settings or spy thrillers (the Remote Farmhouse could work, too). They can be campuses (Touristy Graveyard), buildings (Glass Skyscraper), events (Political Rally), single rooms (Drug Lab), or streets (Red Light Street).
Each writeup should include a quick “Stock Footage” description, followed by the Cameos you might run into there (if you’re not writing the Cameos section above, put in who you think might fit; I’ll edit to make it work), three clues, and any sensible rules effects (e.g., Red Light Street provides 2 free pool points for setting up a safe house). Then three elements of the location to use in a fight, and three elements of the location to use in a chase. (Type of Thriller Chase in parentheses: Open, Normal, Cramped)
After you get through the metal detector, your eyes adjust. Multiple levels break up the enormous warehouse-like space. Sound is deafening, lights dazzling or dim. Two brilliantly lit big bars dominate the ends of the room, the middle is a dance floor broken geometrically by tables occupied by lounging douchebags and their parasitic girlfriends. VIP spaces up on the balcony and in a raised dais on one end provide architectural reinforcement of social status. The bathrooms are down the hallway; no, farther down than that.
Cameos: Dealer, Party Kid, Thug
Clues: Traffickers talk while high or boasting; cold spots or missing mirror images; infrasound creates mesmeric trance in susceptible patrons
Rules Effects: People are here to be seduced; if you have Flirting, get 1 free pool point to spend here. Noise, motion, and darkness add 1 to visual and auditory Difficulties.
In a Fight: Bouncers and thugs have guns; bottles in the bar; cute hostages
In a Chase: Slide down the bar; foam drops down obstructing vision; jump off VIP area balcony onto dance floor (Cramped)
(2,000 words; Hite)
Adds four more monsters from the world’s store of vampiric and quasi-vampiric terrors.
(2,000 words; Hite)
Another fully statted sample vampire type, with servitors and forensic spoor.
Pulling Them Apart
(2,000 words; Palmer)
Incorporates James Palmer’s See Page XX article on how conspiracies turn on themselves.
Adds graphic for the Vampyremid
(1,000 words; Wieland)
Notes and advice on running an NBA game with only one player character.
(2,500 words; Hite)
Character generation modifications and rules specifics for running NBA in other eras besides the modern day.
- Victorian (1880s-1890s)
- World War II (1930s-1940s)
- Cold War (1960s-1970s)
Complete Cherry List
Names and summaries of all General ability cherries, in this book and corebook
Mental Illness Flow Chart
Graphic representation of the Mental Illness rules on pp. 82-84 of NBA corebook
Index for both books of all the rules and game-play changed by the various modes
New Thriller Options
Thriller options (and gun cherries) added in this book, in the same format as pp. 218-219 of NBA corebook
Complete Vampiric Abilities List
Names and summaries of all vampiric abilities
The escalating conflict Vampyremid from “Pulling Them Apart”