The Dice Pool Podcast

Where adventure is just a roll away

A monthly podcast produced by gamers for gamers and dedicated to the newly released Genesys Role Playing Game by Fantasy Flight Games.

Interpret This! #4

TYPE: Cyberpunk

SETTING: Android: Netrunner

SETUP: It had been a long week. The local Yakuza boss had paid Kino a high price to keep the riff-raff out of their new servers. Kino scratched his chest through his sweat infused Siphon Corp t-shirt as he shot an eye across the status of the upgrades the cyber-jocks were installing. Kino had lost count of the number of breaches that the system had recorded since the downtime started. He excelled at his job, but it may have been cheaper for Oyabun Eiichi, and a lot easier on Kino’s synapses, if they had just cut the hardwire to The Net during the upgrade. That request was met with a sharp right hook from one of Eiichi’s goons. Kino pressed his thumbs into the tissue connecting his upper and lower jaw. “Yup. Still hurts”, he thought.

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Kino’s basement smelled of old cheese and stale cigarettes. He had been awake for almost 48 hours now, and his basement was looking more like a garbage pit than the clean workplace he started with. Kino looked across the room, his pile of Diesel energy drink bottles stacked haphazardly in the recycler. “Felix will clean it up”, he yawned. “Frap! Bad sign”, his thought continued, as he lit yet another cigarette.

The nicotine gave him the pep he needed as he looked over at the clock. 2 minutes. This was the real danger time. He knew it, and every runner worth a cred knew it too. This was going to be the point where Kino was going to earn every credit, every favour he had been offered by Eiichi. The number of pings, tracers and breaches he’d been tracking and fending off was going to pale in comparison to what was about to go down. He had seen his firewall take this sort of pounding in the past, and he was confident it would hold.

Kino had been tracking Net traffic in between placing tracer after tracer, while keeping on top of what he suspected was about to occur. He smiled that cheeky grin his boyfriend kept ribbing him about. “It’s a sign of confidence”, he thought to himself. He had done this many a time before, and this was going to be no different. He was the best, and it was time to earn his keep. Suddenly, there was nothing. An ordinary SysOp wouldn’t have picked it. No traffic. No breaches. Nothing. Kino sat up in his chair like a meerkat and cracked his fingers in preparation. He tilted his head several times feeling a slight crack with each sway. He reached over and flicked his cigarette into his full ashtray, the mound of stubs collapsing, and falling to the floor. On his hand’s return, he grabbed a stim, and slapped it on his arm. He was ready.

In less than a minute, Kino realised that he was not ready. He was never going to be ready. His custom firewall was suddenly ablaze and breaking apart before his eyes. His fingers moved across the keys of his custom rig quicker than any time he could remember. Breach after breach. Wave after wave. Even with a team of hackers at his disposal, he could never have contained the onslaught. His first defence went down, then his second. Every ICE he could muster fell like flies. The attack was nothing short of brilliant. Nobody could coordinate an attack such as this. And then it dawned on him. No ‘body’. Kino gulped as his mouth instantly dried. His hands whisked across the keys, but he wasn’t sure if what he just realised was going to ever be enough. He only needed a minute, and this was going to be the longest one of those in his lifetime.

SKILLS: Kino is a Netrunner and has been tasked with protecting the computer server of Yakuza gangster Oyabun Eiichi. Kino has an Intellect of 3, and a Computers (SysOps) (Int) of 3. Kino was provided with a sizable payment prior to the job, with the remainder paid on completion of his task. This has given him some much-needed cash to upgrade his rig which provides him with a single automatic upgrade to his Computers (SysOps) skill. He has made several rolls before while watching The Net for suspicious activity. Kino was successful in the check and spotted the problem before it started. He also rolled 2 Advantages, and so applies 1 setback dice to any incoming attacks as he reads The Net’s flow of data. Kino has the Defensive SysOp talent which provides 2 additional setback dice to any check. Since Kino is defending on this occasion, his skill becomes the difficulty for the attacker. The difficulty of the check is therefore:

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DIFFICULTY: Since the situation is done in reverse, the attacker must use their skill as a positive in this circumstance. The attack is unknown, however does have an Intellect of 4 and a Computers (Hacking) (Int) of 4. The system has been ongoing since the servers went down, and the opposition has been monitoring Kino’s response upon each breach. The GM grants a Boost die in that circumstance and flips a Story Point to add an Ability die to the pool. Kino’s player says that his rig has some additional upgrades that kicked in just before the attack and flips a Story Point back to upgrade the difficulty of the check. The attack has been getting assistance from elsewhere which provides a single boost, plus they have the Distinctive Style talent, which adds 2 Successes and 2 Threat to the dice roll. The final Skill Dice Pool is:

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The GM makes the check for the attacker and roll the following result:

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Well listeners, it's time to Interpret This!

Interpret This! #3

TYPE: Gas Light Horror

SETTING: Arkham Horror

SETUP: The dripping wax entranced Shamus as it formed a pool at the base of the candelabra. The pile of solidifying liquid morphed with each drop. Its intoxicating dance of patterns was alluring. His mind wandered to the grandfather clock in the corner, it's pendulum ticking a rhythmic, hypnotic tone. The oscillation of the ticks reminded him of the pulse coming from the rift that he and his companions had been called upon to investigate under the old church.

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Abruptly his focus was broken with a sudden crash from a pile of books tumbling to the library floor, an action which drew the angry hushes of several nearby scholars. The librarian responsible for the interruption fumbled with the books to prevent more of them falling onto the polished black and brown tiles. She smiled at Shamus from across the room in a kind of unspoken apology, to which he nodded in polite acknowledgement. Shamus stared at her face for a moment. There was something about her that was familiar, something that he could not put a finger on.

The young man shook his head. “Focus”, he thought. It was late, and Shamus hadn’t slept in 48 hours, but he had a responsibility to his companions Abarrane and Terrence who were elsewhere, tracking the whereabouts of the cultists they had encountered several days before. He had been sifting through ancient manuscripts for hours with no end in sight. He was lucky to have access to the library, a benefit he had gained from his late Uncle’s contribution to the expansion of the western wing.

Ranbir, the young Indian boy Shamus had rescued back in Cairo three months earlier, approached him from the library stacks to his left. “This is the last book I could find Mister Tash”, the boy chimed as he gently placed a voluminous Tome on the table. “It has a nasty looking cover, see? That eye in the middle there, I’m sure it winked at me”.

The boy smiled like a cat presenting a kill to its master. The young lad had agreed to become Shamus’ student rather than face the consequences of his actions at the crypt Pharaoh Khafre Shamus, and had become quite useful in Shamus’ studies.

Shamus smiled at the child and turned his attention to the book. The Voynich Manuscript. He had heard of it before, its contents filled with unusual pictures and in a language he had never seen before. This was his last hope, and his friends who were likely already on their way back from Croagh Patrick’s Chapel to collect him, were depending on his success.

SKILLS: Shamus is a Mythos investigator and has been tasked with finding a ritual capable of sealing the rift between the darkest planes of the Hellmouth and the natural world. Shamus has an Intellect of 3, and a Knowledge (Occult) (Int) of 2. Although not qualified, Ranbir has been assisting Shamus in his research and provides Shamus with a single Boost die. Shamus also has 1 rank in the Tier 2 talent, Book Worm, which grants him 2 Boost die to any Knowledge check made within a library. Shamus has no Story Points currently after his associates’ encounter with the cultists, but due to his Uncle’s contribution to the library (a fact established earlier in the adventure), provides an Upgrade to his skill check. The final skill dice pool is:

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DIFFICULTY: The topic Shamus is researching is obscure and the GM determines the difficulty of the check is going to be Hard. Shamus has been at it all night, and due to a lack of sleep, the GM adds 2 Setback dice to the pool. The narrative has offered the GM the opportunity to add an additional Setback die for Shamus’ sudden fascination with the librarian who continues to stare over at him while she reassembles the stack of fallen books. The GM automatically upgrades the check since the text in the book his associate has brought him is unintelligible (the upgrade coming from a previous Despair). The GM flips a Story Point and upgrades the check again, explaining that 48 hours is the longest Shamus has ever stayed awake and fatigue is affecting his ability to focus on the task at hand. Shamus’ player explains that his character has worked under worse conditions in the past and declares his use of the Tier 1 talent, Knack for It, which allows him to remove 2 Setback dice from any Knowledge (Occult) checks he makes. The final Difficulty Dice Pool is:

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Shamus’ player makes the check and rolls the following result:

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So listeners...Interpret This!