13 Jul 2018

Leverage By the Numbers

I've worked on a character from By the Numbers, writing up Numbers for Shadowrun.  The main problem with the story is that I'm playing in someone else's intellectual property.  The characters, though, are mine.  If I can translate them into a new setting, I have a more or less original work.  Heists occur in all genres; Ocean's 11 is a good example.  Move the heist to a different time and setting, like a fantasy world or the far future.  Liberating heirlooms from a dragon's horde is still a heist, as is stealing data from a privately owned space station.  The trappings are different, but the key is how the characters overcome their challenges.

To this end, I'm going to try to create Numbers using the Leverage RPG.  I've delved into the game before, getting ready to write Unruly.  Having learned my lesson the first time, I'll just create Numbers, though the rest of the cast will chime in.

Before starting, though, I do need a setting.  I want to move away from the mash up of cyberpunk and epic fantasy that is Shadowrun while still staying in the realm of science fiction.  The Mecha Academy setting is there ready for expansion.  What that means is no magic (sorry Oz), no elves (sorry Treehugger), and no trolls (sorry Charles).  Cybernetics aren't a thing in the Mecha Academy setting, more for prosthetics than willing replacement.  The setting's gone through that phase.  WIth all that out in the open, let's go steal, er, make us a Numbers!

Time to get started, using the steps out of the Leverage RPG.  I'll modify the process a bit, taking the Fast Recruitment option, then filling in.  First up, background.  Of the four characters in By the Numbers, Numbers' had her background detailed the most for the reader.  Hers also has the advantage of being the most transferable.  Sure, Saeder-Krupp may not have a presence in Mecha Academy, but there are Commonwealth-wide corporations.  They just haven't been needed by the cast at the Academy.  Numbers can still have been a corporate accountant who discovered her boss was skimming*.  However, given the change in setting, Numbers will have to go back to her real name, Christa Page.

Next up, primary role.  In By the Numbers, Christa was the hacker and part-time face.  The equivalent roles in the Leverage RPG are Hacker and Grifter.  The primary role gets a d10; the question is, which one is Christa's.  It's close, but Hacker fits her better.  She uses her social skills for social engineering to crack into computer systems.

Choosing Christa's secondary role becomes easy thanks to the above.  She takes Grifter at d8.  The game calls this combination The Phisher, which isn't quite how Christa approaches things, but is similar.  She much prefers to blend in, creating forged ID to slip past security and taking advantage of the weakest part of network security, the end user.

Time to work out Christa's attributes.  There's six, Agility, Alertness, Intelligence, Strength, Vitality, and Willpower.  There's two ways to assign dice to them.  The focused approach gives two attributes at d10, two at d8, and two at d6.  Versatile gives one at d10, one at d6, and the rest at d8.  There's pros and cons to both.  With Christa, I see her as focused.  She takes Intelligence and Willpower at d10, Alertness and Agility at d8, and Strength and Vitality at d6.  Christa is bright, can be stubborn, but is of average health.

Christa gets to choose one distinction now, and two more will come up during the Fast Recruitment, though not necessarily under her control.  Distinctions provide either a d8, if helpful, or a d4 and a Plot Point, if not.  Christa takes Head for Numbers for her first distinction.

The last step is The Recruitment Job, where the players work out what they did when they first came together.  Since that would be a story all on its own, I am skipping the Recruitment Job for the optional Fast Recruitment.  That will let me fill out the remaining roles, choose two talents, choose two specialties, and choose one more distinction for Christa.

With the remaining roles, two get set at d4 and one at d6.  The d4s indicate what might get interesting if Christa had to fill in for them.  It's not that she's necessarily bad, but complications may come up.  That said, Hitter gets one of the d4s.  Christa isn't a fighter.  She will need Thief at d6; some of her hacking will need sleight of hand to get her ill-gotten IDs.  That leaves Mastermind for the other d4.  Her plans may have some snags in them.

With two talents to choose, Christa needs some justification for what she wants.  The first talent she takes is the Hacker-only Over-The-Shoulder Hacker, letting her to watch someone enter a password to use later on the same system.  It's how she managed to get a little of her own escape money when she fled the corporation and her boss; she hacked into her boss' slush fund and took a liberal chunk with her.  The other talent she grabs is I Just Work Here; she just blends in with the rest of the staff.  That`s how she met the rest of the team; they were breaking into a building she was already in.  Their goals were similar so Christa gave the team a helping hand without them realizing that the worker in the third desk on the left was her.

The specialties are added to roles, showing where Christa has put extra effort.  The first specialty she takes is Accounting, placing it under Hacker.  She can cook books and spot when books have been cooked.  The second specialty she takes is Blending In, under Grifter.  Christa gets an extra boost when she tries to be part of the background.

That just leaves one more distinction.  Professional comes to mind, but the team is meant to be a group of professional thieves, so it doesn't work for what I have in mind.  Corporate, though, fits her better.  Christa carries herself like she's a professional accountant, dressed properly for the office.

That leaves one distinction open.  In the game, the other players can suggest ideas.  Here, though, the other "players" are also in my head.  The last disctinction now becomes what the others think of her.  While Professional would be on their list, there are others that come to mind.  Detatched, Cold, Stand-offish, but not really.  Christa is friendly even if she doesn't let people get too close.  Closed, though, works.

In a regular character creation session using the Recruitment Job, the players would have one job to use for experience, enough to get a signature asset.  Since I'm not really creating a character for use in play, I'll give Christa a signature asset anyway.  It's not cheating, just a house rule, like telling players that use Fast Recruitment to go ahead and choose a signature asset.  It costs nothing and lets players bring out the awesome.  With Christa, her signature asset is a prototype tablet, at least two generations ahead of what's on the market, letting her crack into networks.

Name: Christa Page
Aliases: "Numbers"
Background: Former corporate accountant.

 Agility: d8
 Alertness: d8
 Intelligence: d10
 Strength: d6
 Willpower: d10

 Grifter: d8 (Blending In)
 Hacker: d10 (Accounting)
 Hitter: d4
 Mastermind: d4
 Thief: d6

  Head for Numbers

  Over-the-Shoulder Hacker
  I Just Work Here

Signature Assets:
  Prototype Tablet d8

I've managed to expand the Mecha Academy setting a bit while moving Numbers over.  Always a plus.  If you want, feel free to use Christa as a PC in a /Leverage/ game as written or modified.

Today, over at Psycho Drive-In, Sherlock Gnomes.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, Remaking Peter Gunn..

* It's a common start to many a movie, including Weekend At Bernie's, where two young actuarials looking to move up pull some overtime and discover that some policies have paid death benefits twice or more.

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