I Need a Doomsday Device

One of the enemy figures out note in my upcoming game has the instinct “If I’m about to be hulled, activate the Omega Contingency.” I’m vaguely considering upping that to “If I’m about to be hulled or killed…”

(The Omega Contingency is basically a cyberware activated trigger to a space station that sends out a pulse that makes the sun go supernova. Game over man, game over.)

So, how to I give her this?

Is it color, because I don’t actually intend to use it?

What if I actually do intend to use it in the situation that the PCs are stupid enough to go ahead and kill her anyway, even if after she goes ahead and tells them they’re making a horrible mistake?
(My gut instinct is to make the activation device it self color, and her cranial transmitter the actual device.)

Because building a big enough weapon to destroy the solar system seems hard, even with a big resource budget.

So this would basically be a device that ends the game prematurely? I think that actually is against the rules, and not particularly fun.

Now, a device that has horrible consequences and a countdown the players can stop is potentially fun. You could build it with something like:

Artillery weapon (9 pts)
Single shot (1 pt)
Enhancement: Affects every one in the scene (8 pts)
Enhancement: Affects every one NOT in the scene (8 pts)
Pain in the Ass penalty (3 pts)
Categorical Limitation: the good guys can stop the countdown somehow (-1 pt)

For a total Resources Obstacle of 28.

As a general GMing rule, you never, ever want to create the possibility of suddenly ending the game because the players “do something dumb,” because they’ll probably do it – or if they don’t do it, they’ll feel as if you gave them a false choice with only one real option (railroading), and they’ll be right. You don’t want to create the possibility of suddenly ending the game because the players do the exact right thing, either. You want any choice the players make to lead to more complications, more choices, and more play:

“Okay, you refuse to join the Dark Side and jump? Now you’re hanging off the bottom of the space station, calling out with your psychic mind powers. Guys, do you go back for him or not?”

“Okay, you join the Dark Side and take your father’s hand. Okay, now your father wants you to capture the other player characters. Do you do it or not?”

I agree with Sydney, that device sounds like it would be a pain in the ass, and no fun really. What happens when the enemy just jams your signal? or when they steal it? and change the access code?

Anyhow this tech is color. The out of game agreement is if it’s used the game is over. You should stat up the security tech for it though as If I was the GM I would be messing with it… As historically doomsday weapons get stolen or sabotaged…

Now personally I am all for cortex bombs they are perfectly fine…

Oh, here’s the question I really should be asking you – it’s right in the rulebook:

“What’s your intent?”

You’ve said what you want this doomsday device to do, but why? What effect on the game do you want this to have? Do you simply want to make sure this particular Figure of Note is never, ever killed? Do you want to give the players a sense of their whole planet hanging in the balance? Something else?

I might make the creation of such a device a manouver or even phase intent.

My intent is twofold: the first version, which is just “If I’m about to be hulled”, to give myself an excuse why the Vaylen don’t just hull this person, and instead have a tenuous agreement with her. The second version which has “If I’m about to be hulled or killed…” is more likely what the character would do. The intent here is to stop anyone from just dealing with her by killing her directly.

So destroying her corporation, defeating her politicially, or even blowing up/stealing her doomsday device and THEN killing her are ok.

Sydney- I like your writeup, and I might use that.

You realize that by saying “You can’t kill this character” you are telling the players “PLEASE KILL THIS CHARACTER.” I don’t think you could erect a bigger flag.

By buying her some property and putting some thought into the Security system I think you could give her some defense. Truthfully, why does any one want to hull her or killer her other than the DDD? Is this the only reason that she is a target?

You should work on her relationships, her contacts, her minions. This paranoid FoN needs to insinuate herself so deeply into the factions of the planet that they NEED her alive. Get the PCs to owe her favors. Go for Duels of Wits and fight for non-aggression agreements. Preemptively attack anyone who MIGHT threaten her.

If you stat up a doomsday device and put her in control of it, that’s cool, but you should then be prepared to offer that FoN up as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of awesome. In fact, shouldn’t you not really be too attached to these people anyhow? If they die, they die, and the players outthought and outrolled you. Kudos to them.

Personally, I’d downscale the doomsday device to something that doesn’t end the game (because that unequivocally suck) but that does HURT.

In fact, every fiction I’ve experienced from watching movies to reading books to playing RPGs strongly suggests that “blowing up the world” is the least effective way to threaten the audience/players: After all, the “world” being blown up doesn’t really exist. This is why you have all those campaigns where baffled GMs go, “But – but – you have to take this mission/fight this bad guy/join forces with the NPC! You have to save the world!” And the PCs go, “Uh, yeah, I go get drunk now.”

Figure out something the players (not the player-characters; the real people playing) really care about and make your Doomsday device blow up that. One player made a Mundas archcotare, spent lots of Circles and Resources statting up the local temple and its clergy, and is really excited about this fictional religion? Have the FoN say, “If you kill me, a signal will go out and launch a nuclear missile that’s gonna smack your temple all to hell.” One of your players spending a lot of time and energy writing Beliefs and backstory about his character’s relationship with his sister? “If you kill me, a signal will go out and trigger the cortex bomb I secretly implanted in your sister five years ago.” That way, the players still have a real choice, because the game doesn’t end either way, and it’s a challenging choice, not a slam-dunk: Is it gonna hurt more to let this traitor walk away, or to wake up every morning and see the smoking ruins of the temple? Which makes it harder for your character to look at himself in the mirror every morning, saving the sister at the price of making a deal with the traitor, or sticking to his principles and sacrificing the sister?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “escalation” always means “bigger boom.” You can (as Vincent Baker says) “escalate inward,” so that the stakes get smaller and smaller, more and more personal, and as a result more and more emotionally intense. Think about, to use the classic geek example, the Star Wars movies (the real ones, not the prequels which must not be named): Which do you care about more, that some rebel base/fleet/whatever filled of imaginary people you’ve barely glimpsed on screen gets blown up, or that the heroes’ relationships work out – that Han somehow proves he’s a real friend to Luke despite its cynicism, that Luke somehow reconciles with his father?

Y’know, maybe instead of second guessing my motives, you could actually answer my question?

She’s a Bond-style supervillain. The doomsday device is all part of the motif.

Hi Willow,

I’ll answer your question directly: What you are asking for is beyond the scope of technology in Burning Empires. Why? Because it contravenes the Infection mechanics. Giving a player the ability to end the game at will (which is what you’re asking for) defeats the purpose of the game. I don’t think this is unique to Burning Empires, either. If you want to destroy a world utterly, then you must make that your phase intent. In my opinion as the author, such an intent is only permissible within the scope of the Invasion phase.

I hope that helps. Also, in the future, please be polite to people trying to help you on these forums.

Thank you. Color tech it is.

Aha. That answers my “what is your intent” question, then: You’re interesting in setting a certain tone, one like a James Bond movie. In that case, my objections to making tech you don’t intend to use would go away, because in a Bond movie, there’s almost always a doomsday device, and it never gets used – it’s just there as a kind of exclamation point.

Or, as one might say, as Colour. Just make a pact with the players that they won’t destroy the doomsday device until it’s dramatically relevant. And burn bits of it as need be. They try to chase it down? It can burrow very fast and hides in an aquifer. They cross the aquifer? They get into a firefight with your sharks with frickin lasers on their heads. They break in? There’s heafty security and hoperfully they get captured, whereupon you can rant until one of them uses Evil Genius-wise and pokes the self destruct button with his tongue.