Steal This: The Burn Pile (Savage Worlds/NE/Supers)

Here’s another seed for a campaign idea that I may or may not ever get around to fleshing out (like all of my Fringe influenced campaign posts.)

The Year: 2189. 2207. 2525. Fuck it, it’s in the future far enough for a bunch of cyberpunk/transhumanist type shit. Most world governments have become Plutocracies, with the wealthiest at the lead and usually making some shitty decisions for their benefit.  Technology has hit a gonzo level…anything can be grown, modified, digitized, grafted, cybernetically augmented, whatever. Cities are giant sprawls, the rift between the Wealthy and the Poor is massive, and needless to say: Life sucks.  Technology may be convenient but it’s also lead to more black markets, shady politics, corrupt authorities, hardcore drugs and still can’t stop most venereal diseases. Hell, maybe some have been cured and others have been invented over time.

Needless to say, this makes the Prison system a fucking mess. The easy solution would be just to kill more criminals, but that’s been known to cause some riots and revolutions. And those suck during an election year. Instead, someone decided that maybe it would be a great idea to make them work their debts off. Let someone else who could use the labor feed, clothe and discipline them. Then the idea was tacked on that if the Prison system was, instead, used as an Auction Block, that would also be more money coming into the funds for the ones they have to take care of.

Welcome to The Burn Pile.

The Burn. It’s a phrase used many different ways (almost as much as the term “Fuck.”) It’s the term for the price on your head. It’s the debt you’re forced to pay off. It’s the moment you tell your “employer” to shove it, and you feel something burst in the back of your neck, with the last thing your retinas holding being the smile on that asshole’s face. You get Burned. You Burn things. Some things are Burning, or going to Burn. You get the idea.

One day, you’re robbing banks, running drugs and maybe doing some contract killings. The next day, you’re watching the overnight Jury decide they find you guilty, and get your ass dragged off to some holding facility. Oddly enough, they treat you good. You have a nice condo for a cell, good food, and they provide you a nice private Rec area to keep in shape. And then, in the middle of the night, you’re black-bagged by the guards. They knock you out, drag you off somewhere. When you come to, you have a sharp headache. You’re in a white holding cell, and a man grinning on the vidscreen welcomes you to the company. They found your “skills” an asset, and had bought you your “freedom” for a $500,000 fee.  Until that fee is worked off, you’re considered property of the company. You start work Monday.

For minimum wage.

A Campaign Idea for Savage Worlds, using Supers Companion (Or Necessary Evil).

Part Shadowrun, Part Necessary Evil, Part Justifiers. The players are a Burn Team, consisting of Burn Operators. You’re not just run of the mill criminals (those guys work the crap labor jobs and pencil pusher operations.)  No, you’re better than that. You’re professional, and there’s a lot of work for assholes like you. Somewhere, someone with a lot of money took interest in you. They want you for your talents, your skills and your notoriety. They just didn’t want to be connected to you directly. So, chances are they went through a Burn Broker. They fronted the cash, they set up the contracts. They picked out who they wanted for their roster. Now some sleaze-bag middleman gets to legally be your guardian, your owner, and your boss. If you ever want to walk the streets a free man again, you’re gonna have to work the jobs he offers ya. If you skip out on him, he has more than enough crazy “employees” who are willing to gun ya down. If you screw up the jobs, or threaten the likelihood of him or his clients, he has more than enough fall-out men to take the blame and make life absolutely hell for you. It’s time to get to work.

Character Creation

Standard Savage Worlds character creation using the Super Powers Companion. Although the mood technically isn’t a “Supers” style game, I want it to be a fast-paced and high powered sci-fi setting, and the Super Powers Companion covers a wide range of abilities without having to reinvent or re-learn the system. Also, I’m using a lot of rules from Triple Ace Games’ Daring Tales from the Sprawl.

  • Street Heroes Environmental Setting
  • Inherent Power/Total Power options. More details below.
  • Trapping Restrictions: All “powers” and character concepts are to be kept in Sci-Fi tone. No supernatural, magical powers. Stuff like cybernetic implants, bioengineered parts, weird science, alien DNA and the like are all fully acceptable.
  • Rules for Computer Hacking, Contacts and Research from Tales from the Sprawl are also to be used; Cyberware however will remain as trappings of Super Powers.

An Operator’s Worth

Officially, the price of a criminal is supposed to be the “debt” owed to payback society. Truth is, however, it’s become more of a gauge of how skilled or powerful one is.
At character creation, all Burn Operators receive “Arcane Background (Super Powers)” for free. If you want to rename it for flavor (Arcane Background: Burn Operator or whatever) go ahead, but mechanically speaking it works the same, with Power Points. They start out valued at $1 Million in Burn Debt. If they so choose, they may either sacrifice Power Points to shave $50K off their debt, or increase their debt $100K per additional point gained (Maximum 15.) Remember this campaign idea uses the “Total Powers” option (meaning what powers they pick at creation is what they get!) so spend wisely.

Campaign Ideas:
There’s actually a lot of different ways this idea can be handled. The best thing to do is either tell the players the angle you want to go with, or let them develop their characters and back stories together to see what kind of a team or basis of operation would play well. If everyone’s stumped, here’s a few ideas:

  • Bad Company: Straight forward, nitty gritty Burn Operations. The team could be former military ops, professional criminals or just all around bad asses recruited by a Burn Broker to handle some nasty contracts. Play sessions are episodic missions, ultimately progressing towards the goal of working off all debts and buying the criminals their freedom.
  • The Setup: The Burn Team is an assembly of strangers who just happen to all have connections to the Burn Broker’s benefactor. The one thing they all share is that, in some way, they have betrayed the client in the past, and are now being forced to work together for their sinister schemes.
  • The Revenge: Opposite from The Setup, the Burn Operators were all betrayed, black mailed or setup by the same person or organization. The Burn Broker, or his clients, just happen to have their own grudges to settle and choose the characters for their shared interests in settling the score.
  • The Redemption: Not all Burn Operators are cold-hearted criminals. Sometimes, good people do bad things. Other times, Bad People see the error of their ways. Luckily for them, not all Burn Brokers are greedy, selfish bastards. The Burn Team has been bought out by a Broker who deals only with good intentioned, morally upright causes that may have no other options but to look to a Burn Team for help. This is the chance for villains and criminals to try to do something right with their abilities.