Crises And Downtime

Campaign Rhythm: Crises and Downtime

Broadly, campaigns are divided into two phases: Crises and Downtime.

A 'Crisis' is what we call the meat of the game. Crises are big events that advance the story, add new elements to the mix and allow all the various actions and plots by the characters play out. Every Angel attack counts as a Crisis, but there are other forms of Crisis too- a kidnapping, for example. Despite the name, a Crisis does not necessarily have to be a major, dangerous event- a diplomatic summit can be a Crisis, for instance. A Crisis merely needs to have some stakes and involve all the characters. A Crisis can be anywhere from several hours to a week or more in time.

Downtime, then, is the time between a Crisis- once we hit a Downtime, the driving force of the Crisis has either been dealt with or allowed to go on its way that it's out of everyone's hands. Downtime allows characters to return to their personal lives, develop their abilities, wash off the LCL (or the blood, or both), build relationships and pursue their own goals. Downtime usually ranges in length from a fortnight at bare minimum to a month or several months, depending.

At its most basic, then, the flow of the campaign is Crisis 1->Downtime ->Crisis 2->Downtime and so forth. It's a little more complicated than that, but not by much.
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The Rhythm of a Crisis

Crisis are, as noted, where the meat of the game happens. Essentially, it's where characters perform, and the thing that characters prepare themselves for.

Crises come in two broad flavours: Angel attacks, and everything else.

Angel attack Crises are resolved using the E-Scale Combat rules, and usually start with the Director intercepting the Angel. This Crisis tends to be resolved all at once.

Other Crises deal with various other incidents. Unlike Angel attacks, these crises tend to be more drawn out, with more build up, tension and a climax. As a result, they're usually not resolved in a single session of period of time- instead they might take two or three. As an example, let's say the team is investigating a spy who hacked their dossiers. It might play out like this:

  • The team investigates the hacking, finds some clues- including a code that resembles a hacking attempt in a part of the city above.
  • The team investigate the hacking in the other place, and find a clue that has them off looking in a shadier part of town. Whilst they're there, they're intercepted by some goons intended to keep pursuers away. They beat the goons, take a few minor hits, then manage to search the hacker's place. They just missed him!
  • The team scrounges together a few clues and markers from the hacker's place. This takes some investigating, but they find that he's trying to leave by the docks on Tuesday morning. They assemble there and ambush him- a frantic fight ensues but they take the hacker down. He explains that he was the one who did it, but he wasn't working for himself- he was hired. But he doesn't know who by… Only that there's a shady organisation out there looking for the pilots' information.

So that breaks a case up into three chunks- responding to the initial situation, pursuing a lead, then the final showdown.

However, there's several gaps in between those. What happens if, in step two, the fight with the goons seriously hurts a player? Is that player expected to go into the ambush without any rest? No. Because cases should be divided into several chunks, there's time for brief pauses in the action. This is known as a Break. In Breaks, players have time to rest up, see to injuries, and do some short side investigations of their own, to either gather extra info or resources. What if David wants to slyly approach some shady contacts to get info on the hacker? What if Evie wants to persusade Security to give her extra muscle for the ambush on the hacker? They can do that in Breaks.

  • Angel attacks do not have space for Breaks by themselves. However, if the players are able to disable an Angel, they can elect to take a Break to rest, re-arm and prepare themselves.

To summarise, the rhythm of the campaign now looks more like this:

Crisis 1 -> Break -> Crisis 1 pt 2 -> Break -> Crisis 1 pt 3 -> Downtime -> Crisis 2 pt 1…

Breaks should be flexible in time- whether it takes place over an in-game hour or in-game day. Whatever the time, it plays out the same way mechanically, and shouldn't be too long.

At the end of a Crisis, players may master one of the Exemplaries in their current Role (even if the Crisis goes badly), and the GM rewards the players. This can be in information, some gear, Surplus (especially for Angel battles) or development with their Bonds, but a special reward is giving them extra Downtime Actions, which is covered in the following section.
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Downtimes and Breaks

Downtimes are a chance for the characters to look over their own needs, to relax without feeling the pressure of a Crisis on them, and to advance their own interests. Most importantly, it gives them a chance to develop their abilities.
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Downtime Actions: Social Actions, Development Actions and Wild Card Actions

During each Downtime, a character is given at one least two Development Actions, one Social Action and one Wild Card Action. They can spend these actions on performing one of the following activities. Note that the effects of an activity are often slightly different if you're using your Wild Card action on them- Wild Card actions usually offer more options or increase the power. Social Actions can be spent on Social activities; Development Actions can be spent on any non-Social activities; and Wild Card Actions can be spent on any activity.

Name Subname Keywords Normal Effect Wild Card Effect
Training Activity
Develop a Score - Training You gain an advance in a single Score matching your Aptitudes, increasing it by +5. You gain an advance in any single Score, increasing it by +5.
Develop a Skill - Training You gain a Focus in a single Skill matching your Aptitudes. You gain a Focus in a single Skill.
Develop a Talent - Training You gain a Talent that you both meet the prerequisites for and matches your Aptitudes. You gain a Talent that you both meet the prerequisites for.
Recovery Activity
Heal - Recovery You restore all lost Wounds, and lose one Injury point. Test Endurance (Injury); for every three DoS, you heal another Injury Point. You restore all lost Wounds, and lose one Injury point. Test Endurance (Injury)+30; for every three DoS, you heal another Injury Point.
Reduce Stress - Recovery You lose 1 point of Stress. You lose Physique/2 Stress.
Reduce Trauma - Recovery You lose 1 point of Trauma. You lose Will/2 Trauma.
Social Activity
Tap Bond - Social, Bond For Confidants whose abilities must be Downtime Tapped, you can do so using this action. You may tap as many as you like. Unchanged.

This is the main engine by which characters grow their abilities in this game. There are no experience points- rather, they grow by investing time. They must also balance this time out with actions needed to heal themselves, meaning that truly difficult battles might slow a character's development as they spend time healing.

As you can see above, developing a Score, Skill or Talent with a normal Development Action requires you to gain an advancement that matches your Aptitudes, whilst Wild Card actions allow you to develop any skill, score or talent (that you meet the prerequisites for) regardless of Aptitudes or not.

This means that Scores, Skills and Talents that match your Aptitudes will grow much quicker than ones that you don't. As a player, you can choose to use your Wild Card Action to diversify your abilities, or you can use it to put even more energy into your strengths, gaining power in those areas much faster.

As a reward for performing well in a Crisis, the group might be granted extra Development Actions for the following Downtime, and that Downtime alone. In exceptional cases a character might even be granted an extra Wild Card action!
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Gaining Extra Activities

Through the game, you may discover new Activities that you can spend your time on, often as a reward from investigations, due to benefits from your Confidants, or due to Exemplaries. These Activities are often more efficient than the generic starting Activities!

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Changing Roles

A player can only change their Role during a Downtime, although they can change their Exemplaries during a Downtime or during a Break.

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Break Actions

Breaks are short actions that can be conducted during a Break. Due to the time limited nature of Breaks, what you can do in them is highly restricted. You can do one of two things:

  • Break Heal: You restore Physique Bonus number of wounds.
  • Tap Bond: You can tap a single Bond, so long as you haven't tapped them since the start of the previous Downtime.

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Investigations

During a Downtime, characters are given leeway to fit in as many investigations of their own design as the GM sees fit to let them take. These investigations can involve finding new resources, fostering new contacts, deepening relationships with existing contacts, using skills to heal or assist allies, and more. These can be free form, and not all of them will necessarily use the Investigation mechanics- they might just be simple roleplays.

Characters may do Investigations during Breaks, but as a guideline any more than two is not recommended, and their investigations should deal with the Crisis. Finding resources or tapping existing contacts are good examples- finding new contacts, not so much.
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Automatic Resting Bonus

At the end of each Downtime, you gain the 'Automatic Resting Bonus', which reduces your Stress by 2 and Trauma by 1.
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In Summary:

  • The game's rhythm is divided into Crises, Breaks and Downtime.
  • Crises are the meat of the game, where players fight Angels, advance agendas, and solve problems. Breaks breaks a Crisis up into several parts, whilst Downtimes separate one Crisis from the next.
    • At the end of a Crisis, the GM gives the players their rewards. All players master an Exemplary from their current Role if they haven't already, and may be rewarded with assets, Bonds, clout or extra Downtime Actions (or even Wild Card Actions) during the next Downtime.
  • Downtimes give you one Social Action, two Development Actions and a Wild Card Action, with Social Actions letting you use your confidants, Development Actions letting you improve any score, skill or talent that shares an aptitude with you, and Wild Card Actions letting you improve any score, skill or talent.
    • During Downtimes, you can engage in Investigations, which lets you gather certain assets, develop Bonds or pursue information- they're freeform and a negotiation between you and your GM.
    • Downtimes have more freedom in time and scope when it comes to Investigations, but Break Investigations should relate to your Crisis.
    • Downtimes also reduce 2 Stress and 1 Trauma at the end of them.

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