(REWIRED WEDNESDAY) Recalibrating Perks

Perks in REWIRED were intended to help players flesh out their characters in more detail. Sure, there’s a bunch of cool combat-assisting augmentations and psychic powers, but there’s also plenty of perks that focus on specialized roles or giving a character an edge in their surroundings. In this RECALIBRATED article, I break down the basic guidelines for Perk design, provide some new perks as examples, and hopefully give you some ideas on how to custom build or tweak your own. Remember this, though: these are just guidelines, and even in the core game you can see examples of how I strayed off the path a bit.

image by Mark Hoekstra. Licensed under CC-BY-SA-NC
image by Mark Hoekstra.
Licensed under CC-BY-SA-NC

Most perks in REWIRED were intended to be single ranked, giving one of the following:

    • +4 to a Skill roll under a particular circumstance
      Intimidation: Receive a +4 to Influence rolls when attempting to intimidate, bully or interrogate another character.
    • Give a bonus to a derivative stat (+2 on Defensive stats, +4 or +1 per Ranked)
      White Hat: The hacker’s knack for cybersecurity grants them +2 to their Firewall rating
    • Allow a character to change a die roll to “6” on a particular action once per scene.
      Windfall: Once per scene, you may change one of your die results on a Wealth roll to a “6.”
    • Grant a “free” maneuver or action, either per session or scene.
      Fortune’s Favorite: Once per session, the character may ignore a successful attack against them without spending Edge.
    • Granting some kind of advantage within context of the setting (like Garage, Off the Grid, etc.)
      Fake Identity: The opposite of Off the Grid, the character has a full-fledged alter-ego, with legal papers and everything. May be taken multiple times for multiple identities.

 

Augments behave in much the same way, usually putting in some sort of limitation to use but with a bonus that could be stackable with a natural perk (for example: Enhanced Audio with Alert can grant a +6 bonus to listening based awareness checks.) One thing that should stand out is how Augments may also grant bonuses to attribute-based skill rolls. Muscle Augments, for instance, can add their rating to any Chrome based skill checks – it doesn’t add to the attribute itself, it just modifies the performance of related actions.  Augments also allow characters to interface or do things that naturally no human can do (Interface Jacks for plugging into electronics, cybereyes recording video feeds or seeing in infrared, etc.) A last benefit of augments, of course, is that (if the GM allows the rules at the end of the Equipment booklet) they can be bought. The cost is usually hefty, of course – either being a strain on a character’s Funds or a pain in the ass to find a trust-worthy surgeon who isn’t going to botch the job or give you third-rate parts.

Ranked perks, whether augmentations or otherwise, are intended to give a gradual boost for the sake of game balance. Stuff like boosting the initiative rating, or enhancing melee attacks (which leads to increased damage) felt like things I needed to rein in – the system is deadly enough, I wanted to ensure some survivability! Ever since WYRED, I’ve seen even the littlest weapons like a simple knife in the hands of a slightly augmented opponent practically disembowel a PC.

Free Form Perks

Using the guidelines above, a player (with GM approval) may scheme up their own narrative flavor to define a perk bonus. Optionally, a GM may ditch the core Perks entirely for this approach. It can be particularly handy for expanding the game on the fly, or even re-skinning for a different genre in a jiffy.  For instance: Let’s say we wanted to play in a bit more high-tech setting. Timmy wants to be a “fully converted cyborg cop” concept. He may jot down perks like these:

  • Hardened Alloy Frame: +2 to Toughness (he wanted +4, but the GM gave him a fat OH HELL NO.)
  • Enhanced Articulation: +2 to Wires based skills.
  • Motion Sensors: +4 to Awareness checks when detecting movement.

Another option is to tie in character background detail in defining a free form perk:
Grown up in the enclaves, programmed by authorities — +4 to Corporate Policies knowledge rolls to cite exact regulations when enforcing authority. 

 

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