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./FSCK-US - Gears and Wheels

All the information and rules for the GM running the game.

The role of the GM

The GM is a cooperative adversary, in that they want the story to unfold but not without challenge to the agents of the players. This requires them to walk a fine line. That said when the action kicks in, the GM doesn't hold back and agents can die. Luckily Quick Character Creation is fast!

The SCP Foundation

The SCP Foundation is a powerful group operating worldwide to secure, contain, and protect civilization from the paranormal. This is much like the Warehouse group in show Warehouse 13. While the agents of the players do not work for the SCP, the Agency has tight relations with them. In practice the Agency runs point and investigates possible paranormal situations and eventually reports back their findings to the SCP and they step in to contain any issues.

All stories in this game are centered around the paranormal case files, SCP files, of the foundation. When you start a game, roll a random SCP from series 1 to build upon for the paranormal element of the ongoing investigation. You could use the described element directly (say it was stolen, etc.) or create a related phenomenon to explore.


Task resolution is simple in this game: Compare power number to difficulty. If it is less, the agent fails, equal or greater means success. It is a /touch/ more complicated though, but only in the fail condition. When that happens in play, you:

  • Tell the player of the agent: Not going to happen, nope, or negative. Let them know the difficulty is greater than their power.
  • At this point, they can elect to: leverage knowledge to get a die, or spend Cool dice to increase their power.
  • If the difference is more than seven, make sure you mention: this looks impossible.
  • Bonuses to the power remain until the logical conclusion of the current situation, ending of action, investigation type, etc.

This gives the player a chance to work out a way for their agent to succeed anyway. They may also incur a Penalty to leverage a rule to allow them to succeed, no matter what the numbers say.

When story shifts occur, such as: things getting resolved, action ending, natural progression of focus, etc. the GM can call for a Flag.

Knacks are the main source of power and cover the actions agents generally attempt during play. However two special other powers are available: Prowess and Talent.


An Agent can use their Mental, Physical, or Social prowess power number for an action if they lack the proper Knack. The more complicated the task, the more GM will increase the difficulty: +1 to +6. Trying truly complicated tasks without the proper knack incur +10. Like trying to Hack without Hacking. They can boost this power number with Cool and knowledge just like a knack.


Sometimes natural talent is the only thing that applies. In these cases the GM will have the agent roll 2d6 under either a Rating for something unlikely or under twice a rating for something likely. This is particularly useful for reactions where the agent has no time to actively apply a knack. Dodge that beam out of nowhere? REF Talent roll. Make a good first impression on someone unexpected? CHA Talent roll.

Action Mode

In Action mode, the shit is hitting the fan. Action mode happens when physical threat is present to the agents. It could be a fire-fight, an exploding crashing helicopter, or zombie horde. Whatever, who knows but it is bad and could be deadly. In Action Mode only: Action Knacks, Prowess, and Talent rolls apply. If an agent wants to use an investigation or utility knack in an inventive manner, they must use one or more Cool dice as well.

Investigation Mode

If the agents come across a clue, or are unsure of what they need to do next, your are in Investigation mode. In this mode only Investigation Knacks, Prowess, and Talent can be used. If an agent decides to use an Action Knack, we switch to Action mode until that is resolved.

Failures in this mode are not like failures in other modes. In these cases failures cause the GM to pick up a hazard token, reduce the challenge and possibly introduce another clue. That is, unless another agent immediately tries something after a failure. In the end, at the point the GM has more Hazard tokens than the Agent with the highest cool rating, you'll get a case of misdirection. The GM decides at that point that one agent (of their choice) misreads the clues and the story goes off in that direction.

Utility Mode

If the game isn't in Investigation or Action, it is in Utility mode. In this case an agent can use Utility knacks to earn Ability Tokens. These tokens are owned by players but can be traded freely. You can spend ability tokens (up to three) on any number where you could explain how preparing ahead helps, as so:

  1. +3
  2. +5
  3. +6

Like other bonuses to numbers, these stick until logical changes in the situation.

You get Ability tokens by declaring you are using a Utility Knack, play out a short scene of that, and then roll a d6 for every three points of power in that Knack as so:

  • 1-6: 1 Ability
  • 7-9: 2 Ability
  • 10-12: 3 Ability
  • 13-14: 4 Ability
  • 15-16: 5 Ability
  • 17+ 6 Ability

You may only over do this if you hold no ability tokens. You can't ever hold more tokens than your cool rating (not current dice, rating). Only one agent can get ability per Utility “break”, the time between Action/Investigation modes.

Combat and Damage


Damage is rating with a power, like Ratings and Knacks. But it works to reduce either Toughness or Health. To get the damage of an attack, or anything causing injury you look up its effect power (reduce by armor/defense) on the follow table with the roll of a die. If the result is a six and the attack is brutal you can re-roll for more damage (same roll again, adding cumulatively).

Damage Rolls
Roll 1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10 11+
1 - - 1 1 1 1
2 - - 1 1 2 2
3 - 1 2 2 2 3
4 1 1 2 3 3 4
5 1 2 3 3 4 5
6 1 2 3 4 5 6

If the damage is 11 or more, the health/toughness lost is: 1d6 + (damage-10). In this way a shotgun doing 18 damage as close-range is 1d6+8 (18-10). Damage with a ! after it is piercing and had as impact rating. Impact is how much damage goes to toughness before it skips right to health.

Common attack damages:

  • Fist: STR
  • Kick: STR + 3
  • Club: STR x 2 + 1
  • Sword: STR x 2 + 3! - Impact 6
  • Light Pistol: 12! Impact 2
  • Heavy Pistol: 14! Impact 3
  • Modern Rifle: 16! Impact 1

Common armor defenses:

  • +X! increases the effective impact of piercing damage.
  • Light armor, leather, etc: 1,2
  • Heavy armor, light body armor, chainmail, etc: 2,3+2!
  • Heavy modern armor: 4,5+3!


Injury is loss of Toughness or Health. Toughness is like armor for health. It comes back pretty quick (1d3 a day) and doesn't have any effect except when Toughness is gone Health is lost instead. When Health is lost, it comes back slow (1d3 per week, without medicine). When all health is lost, the character is down and out and may die. Health lost below zero is counted up as: Mortal Injury. Every time that increases a 2d6 roll must match or beat it to remain alive at all.

Story Mechanisms


When a player incurs a penalty, the GM does one of three things: Earn Hazard, Create Peril, or Introduce a Dark Twist.


The GM adds to their hazard counters an amount equal to the agent with the least amount of cool (but more than zero cool).


The GM pays an amount of hazard equal to an agent's cool to introduce a Peril for them. A Peril is something that looms over them and could result in problems for them in the future (see Flag). It may or may not be immediately revealed to the player. Record the amount of hazard used for the Peril for future use.

Dark Twist

If the GM holds more Hazard than the agent with the most cool, they may introduce a twist to the current narrative that immediately complicates things for the agent(s). Discard Hazard equal to two plus the number of players (or your whole stack if less).


When a Flag is thrown (usually because an agent ran out of cool or a story flag is reached) it is time to trigger one or more peril. The GM must discard 3 hazard for each Peril triggered.


Agents have equipment. We don't worry about the small stuff, they will be provided what they need as assigned. But special gear, fancy stuff, it another matter. This stuff comes from two sources: Agency and Commercial.

Agency Gear

Any agent that has Supply/Agency and Ability tokens can trade them in for special gear. This gear is later stored or returned (to get back the Ability tokens) in Utility Mode play. If stored, it can be called upon for a Penalty and used until the GM has the agency recall it (only in Utility Mode). All agency gear comes with special features as created by the GM when the item is checked out by paying ability tokens:

  1. This gets the agent a nice normal item with a weak special feature.
  2. This gets the agent a powerful item with a useful special feature.
  3. This gets the agent a powerful item with an impressive special feature.

Commercial Gear

Agents can get commercial gear if they have Ability Tokens and Supply/Commercial. They trade in tokens for it as so:

  1. This gets a powerful item with limited use, or a normal item.
  2. This gets a powerful item, or an impressive item with limited use.
  3. This gets a impressive item.

When the agent loses or throws away a commercial item they gain one Ability Token and 1d3 cool dice (overflowing to other players).

Agent Assistance and Teamwork

Teamwork is implied in the game. When agents work together they automatically get a bonus to their power equal to the number of Agents active and participating. Note: This is possible for Utility Mode checks.

If two agents have the same knack, they can directly work together. In this case the assisting agent can spend their cool dice for the other's power number. Doing this lets the GM draw a hazard token.

fsck-us/gears_and_wheels.txt · Last modified: 2019/05/26 09:54 by jasonp