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Block by block


a crime procedural rpg by Thomas McGrenery

It’s not about trails of clues, little grey cells, suspects in drawing rooms. It’s about doing the work.Piece by piece, street by street, block by block.
That’s how you build a case.

Basics

What are we doing here?
We’re playing a roleplaying game about police detectives. It works best with three participants in the group. One member of the group will be the GM, describing and portraying the world and its inhabitants. The others are the players, each taking on the role of one member of a detective squad. The genre is a largely realistic mid to late-20th century police procedural, something like the kind of TV show that gets described as 'gritty' in reviews even if it isn't.
The aim of the game is to investigate crimes, close cases, and not get fired. Each detective on the squad has a personal caseload, which they are ultimately responsible for. But the overall performance of the squad reflects on all its members too, so as players you’ll need to help each other out.It’s not a game about interpreting clues and solving puzzles. That will happen some of the time, but the goal you always have is to investigate cases hoping to get a break – a significant piece of information. A break can be a suspect, a witness, or a key piece of evidence.The three types of break are important: to close a case, you need at least one of each. When you’re ready, you take your case to the DA – having more than the minimum number of breaks makes it more likely that the DA will accept and thereby let you close the case.Rolling Dice
This text uses dice notation in the “xdy” format. The x is the number of dice to roll, while the y is the number of sides each die should have. So “1d20” means one twenty-sided die, while “3d6” mean three six-sided dice.
Ability Rolls
When you apply your skills and expertise to a task, you make an ability roll. Sometimes I may write this using the name of the attribute, like “make a Wisdom roll” or whatever.
This means you roll a number of six-sided dice equal to your level plus your attribute modifier, minimum 1d6. You’re trying to roll as many 6s as you can.
Damage Rolls
When you successfully confront an opponent in an action scene, you make a damage roll – the size and number of dice will vary depending on the situation, as specified later on in these rules. The result of the damage roll is deducted from the target’s HP.
Advantage & Disadvantage
When you make a die roll “with advantage” that means you roll an additional die, then drop the lowest die-roll from the result.
E.g. You are making what would normally be a 1d20 roll but have advantage, you roll 2d20 instead. You get a 3 and a 14. You ignore the lowest roll, so your result is 14.When you roll “with disadvantage” it’s the other way round. Roll an additional die and ignore the highest roll.
E.g. You are rolling 4d6 with disadvantage – you roll one more six-sided die for a total of 5d6, but only count the four lowest. You get 1, 2, 2, 3 and 6 – you ignore the 6 and count the four lowest for a final result of 8.
You add one die maximum per roll for advantage or disadvantage, even if there are multiple reasons you might be at an advantage or disadvantage in the current situation.Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other out, back to the normal number of dice.
Multiple sources do not stack – if you have three things giving you advantage and only one causing disadvantage, that one thing is still enough to nullify all of the advantage. On the plus side, you only need one advantage on your side to slough off a world of disadvantage.

Cases

Casework is the core of Block by Block. Every detective starts the game with a single active, unsolved case. The GM rolls the basic details at random, then you get to work.The basic unit of time in casework is the week. For simplicity’s sake, there are always four weeks per month.By default each player character can do one legwork action per week. If you need to, you can work overtime to pull double shifts.
Player characters may participate in as many action scenes per week as they like within the bounds of believability.
The week ends as soon as any player calls a downtime scene, which begins the downtime phase (q.v.)
Every week, the GM rolls 1d6. On a roll of a 1 or 2, a new case comes in for the squad to handle. The detective with the fewest open cases is assigned as lead detective. If two or more detectives have the same case load, determine the lead at random.When a new case comes in, you have the first 24 hours - essentially a free bonus turn - in which you can undertake a legwork action on that case only. This is in addition to the standard week and doesn't affect the number of actions for the week.

New Cases

When a new case comes in, the GM must roll on the tables below to determine the initial facts of the case, as follows.1) Victim & crime details
2) Time elapsed since crime
For a homicide, roll or choose where the body is found, rather than where the crime happened, if it’s unbelievable the crime scene itself would be undiscovered by now.
3) First Break threshold: how much Progress is required before the first Break. Record this secretly.
Break threshold rolls are based on how much time has passed since the crime took place.
- Within first 24 hours: 1
- Within first week: 1d3
- Within the first month: 1d4
- Within one year: 1d6
- More than a year: 1d10

Legwork, Progress & Breaks

Each week, you can make one Legwork roll without penalty. You do this by rolling a number of d6 equal to your level, plus the appropriate attribute modifier, but minimum 1.- Crime scene investigation +Wis/+Int (player chooses)
- Hit the archives +Int
- Hit the street +Wis
- Stakeout or wire-tap +Con
- Pore over technical reports +Int
Every 6 you roll is Progress.
Any roll of 1 means you have a hunch.
When you follow up on a hunch: leave any 1s and 6s on the table, and roll any dice showing 2-5.
After that roll, every 1 or 6 = rogress
BUT every 1 also = Stress
For each point of Stress, choose one:
- Reduce your HP by one (cannot go below 0)
- Strain a relationship
- Permanently reduce an attribute by 1 (adjust modifiers as necessary)
When you pull overtime, making additional Legwork rolls in one week, on the second or subsequent roll Stress is doubled and you must always follow up hunches.You want to get Progress because that’s how you get Breaks.
When sufficient Progress is made to reach a Break, the GM rolls on the appropriate Break table for the type of investigation activity and presents the result to the players. Sometimes the Break simply occurs with no further effort, other times the detectives must do something specific in order to claim the Break.
Breaks through action
The other way to get a Break is through an action scene. You can do as many of these as you like within one week. If your actions are reckless or difficult to justify, you will strain one or more relationships.
The kind of Break you get is based on the logical results of your action scene. Note that you get a Break from an action scene even if you fail in your original goal. For example, you might lose out in a car chase that you started in order to grab and identify a Suspect. But as you watch your quarry drive into the distance beyond that level crossing, you might find some Evidence instead.Whenever there’s a Break in a case, the GM rolls to see how much Progress is needed for the next Break based on legwork, based again on how much time has elapsed since the crime was committed.

Closing a Case

“Consider the fact that a case is regarded to be cleared whether it arrives at the grand jury or not. As long as someone is locked up-whether for a week or a month or a lifetime-that murder is down. If the charges are dropped at the arraignment for lack of evidence, if the grand jury refuses to indict, if the prosecutor decides to dismiss the case or place it on the inactive, or stet, docket, that murder is nonetheless carried on the books as a solved crime.”
-- David Simon, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets

To close a case, use a Legwork action to take it to the DA (take 1d6 Stress if you’re on overtime). You must have at least one each of: Suspect (in custody), Evidence and Witness.Roll 1d20 and add 2 points for each Break you have.
– Add 2 if the suspect is a member of an ethnic minority, 4 for a despised minority.
– Add 4 if the victim is a police officer.
If the result is equal to or higher than the minimum sentence for the crime in years, the DA takes the case and you may mark it closed.
If the case remains open, you may try again later.
– If you have at least one new Break, roll as normal.
– If not, strain your relationship with the DA.
California sentencing for homicides in 1976
Second Degree Murder – 15 years to life
Second Degree Murder of a law enforcement officer – 25 years to life
First Degree Murder – 25 years to life
Other crimes target numbers
(approximate, as actual sentencing is in months)
Robbery – 3 years
Burglary – 2 years
Assault – 3 years
So, always aim for the minimum sentence, right? Well. I'm not going to write up an exhaustive system of how the police interact with the segments of society that influence them. It would be baroque. But this is part of the GM's between-sessions job: how do influential people, and society at large, react to certain outcomes? Are the detectives in charge straining relationships?
And in play, it's for the players. Do you want to take the path of least resistance? The lowest minimum sentence, the easiest suspect to put it on? Even if there are no concrete repercussions, what does your personal sense of justice say?

Breaks

When sufficient Progress is made to reach a Break, the GM rolls on the Break table matching the type of investigation activity that reached the threshold.

Crime Scene Investigation
+Wis/+Int (player’s choice)
1-2 Witness
3-4 Material Evidence
5-6 Suspect
Hit the archives
+Int
1 Witness
2-3 Evidence
4-6 Suspect
Hit the street
+Wis
1-3 Witness
4 Evidence
5-6 Suspect
Stakeout or wiretap
+Con
1 Witness
2-4 Evidence
5-6 Suspect
Look over a lab or autopsy report
+Int
1 Witness
2-5 Evidence
6 Suspect
Break Characteristics
Witness
1-2 Compliant, instant Break
3-4 Unwilling, requires an interrogation action scene to gain the Break
5-6 Hostile, must be forcibly brought in and interrogated to get the Break
There's a 5% chance a Witness Break applies to another case (1-5 existing prior case; 6 new case)Evidence
1-3 Instant
4-6 Out of reach, must gain access to gain Break
Suspect
1 High-profile, respected, -4 on Closing roll, strain relationship with top brass to bring in.
2-3 Working class (+0)
4-5 Out of reach (in hiding, protected, outside the city, vanished)
6 Despised minority, +4 on Closing roll
1 Compliant, instant break
2-4 Unwilling, must be beaten in interpersonal scene to get the Break
5-6 Hostile, must be forcibly arrested to get Break
There's a 5% chance a Suspect Break applies to another case (1-5 existing prior case; 6 new case)"Most homicide victims in [1970s] Los Angeles knew their assailants. In 61.2% of cases, the offender was a member of the victim's family or a person otherwise acquainted with the victim. However, the distribution of victim-offender relationships was different for men and women (Figure 3). A total of 42.7% of women were killed by a family member or intimate acquaintance, compared with 14.9% of men. Women were most likely to be killed by their husbands; men, by friends or acquaintances.”

New Cases: Homicide (1970s LA)

2d6 rollTime elapsed
2-31d6/2 hours (no rounding)
4-62d10 hours
71d6 days
83d6 days
93d6 weeks
103d6 months
111d6 years
122d10 years
2d6 rollDistrict
2wilderness
3-5CBD/downtown
6-7low-income area
8resort/retail
9industrial area
10ethnic enclave
11wealthy, celebrity neighbourhood
12quiet, upscale neighbourhood
Match these results to the specific districts you name for each category in your setting. 
1d100 rollVictim gender
1-80Male
81-100Female
1d8 rollVictim ethnicity
1-5Black
6-7Hispanic
8White (90%)/Asian (10%)
1d100 rollMethod
1-57Gunshot (1-80 Handgun, 81-00 Other)
58-82Cutting weapon
83-93Bludgeoning
94-00Other (e.g. strangulation, poison)
1d100 rollLocation
1-48Victim’s home
49-60Workplace
61-00Other: street/alley/public space

Humanizing the Victim
If you want an emotionally charged game DO, and if you want a light-hearted game absolutely DO NOT, do the following:
– Have people share memories of the victim
– Have people describe things they wish they had said to them
– Have the detectives find the victim’s cherished possessions from their childhood

Downtime

At the end of each week we take a moment to see what your characters do when they’re not at work.There are a number of things a character can do in these ‘time off’ scenes:
Spend extra time with your partner. As long as neither of you has marked strain on your relationship, your partner can choose a stat and roll 3d6. If the result is higher than that stat’s current score, the stat increases by 1.
Repair a relationship. Get a Relationship back from strained to good by spending a downtime scene doing something nice with that person, making a Charisma roll and accumulating progress equal to your relationship level. You may accumulate this progress over two or more downtime scenes. If you fail (i.e. get zero successes) in any such scene, your relationship deteriorates by a level.Create a new relationship: do something enjoyable with another person, then make a CHA test to add them as a new relationship. The level of this new relationship is 6 minus how many 6s you rolled to create the relationship, minimum 1.Spend time by yourself: relaxing or enjoying a hobby. Reroll your HP.

for the GM

When a New Case Comes In

  • Roll for the victim: record their name, case number (e.g. 1972-12 for the 12th case of 1972), lead detective on the players’ Caseload sheet

  • Roll for time elapsed - record when the crime occurred on the Caseload sheet

  • Roll for the first Break threshold - record this on your Case sheet

  • Choose or roll location - record this on your Case sheet

Don’t do any more than this at this point. Decide the details of the location when a PC goes there. Determine each Suspect, Witness or piece of Evidence as they come up.Keep detail low: it’s a natural instinct to try and pin down the exact details of a crime scene. Especially for experienced RPG players. They’ll want to know exactly where the paint brush is lying in relation to the body, timelines down to the minute, and so on. But although you as the GM are figuring out how the details would be based on what you know happened – the painter was over here, so the brush would’ve fallen here – so you aren’t just “making up” things as you go, it’s still hard to provide that kind of detail without tripping yourself up and having to correct yourself later. And that’s a problem because the player detectives will have been proceeding with their investigations based on an incorrect understanding of the situation.So what do we do? You give only the minimum detail and you save things for later. Not in a grudging way but in order to make sure players have the right info. You’ll need to reassure them from time to time about this. Tell them: “This isn’t going to be a ‘gotcha’ later.”Always in Block by Block, think about what a detective show on TV would do. We rarely care exactly which filing cabinet a detective looks in. They just go to “check the files” and report back with what they found. The tracks left by a vehicle aren’t a particular make or model as much as they are or aren’t a match for the car parked outside the suspect’s house. That’s what matters: whether they confirm or deny the building blocks of the case.Suspects
When a Break comes up in the case as a Suspect, either introduce a new suspect or add information about an existing one.
By default, add suspects until you have three. Then, as new Suspect Breaks come in, add incriminating information to each in turn. Then add information that clears all but one suspect.When you develop a new suspect, consider the following points.
Most homicide victims know their assailants.
In 61% of cases, the killer is a member of the victim's family or is otherwise acquainted with them.
43% of women and 15% of men are killed by a family member or intimate acquaintance,
Women are most likely to be killed by their husbands
Men are most likely to be killed by friends or coworkers.
*These statistics are based on LAPD data from the 1970s.Witnesses
When a Witness crops up, choose someone whom it makes sense would be nearby. If you’re stuck, roll 1d100 on the victims table.
Circumstances
Alcohol can be detected in 46% of victims
In 30.2% of victims tested, blood-alcohol levels were 100 mg% or higher, the legal level of intoxication.
Verbal arguments precede 33% of homicides.
When does someone have advantage or disadvantage?
The rule of thumb is that only a significant advantage or disadvantage counts. If there’s any doubt, it doesn’t count.
Decide on a case-by-case basis: be fair and reasonable when you do, but don’t feel the need to be consistent from one game session to the next. Situations change.
Falsifying Evidence
Sooner or later, someone will ask about this.
Roll +INT or +WIS to create a Break.

Stock NPCsStreet tough
Level 1 fighter
AC10, 5HP (combat)
Mafia enforcer
Level 3 fighter
AC12, 14HP (combat)
Sleazy senator
Level 5 hotshot
Mastery of schmoozing
AC14, 17HP (social)
Bank robber
Level 2 fighter
AC11, 9HP (combat)
Public defender
Level 2 scholar
AC11, 7HP (social)
Fancy lawyer
Level 4 scholar
Mastery of law
AC13, 14HP (social)

A note on demographics
The tables presented here approximate crime statistics from Los Angeles in the 1970s, except for the Victim Occupation table, which approximates the plots of TV shows about cops.
Districts
(with LAPD examples)
Name at least one in each category for your setting:
– quiet, upscale neighbourhood (Brentwood, Bel Air)
– CBD (Downtown, Financial District)
– low-income (Boyle Heights, Pico-Union, Watts)
– wealth, celebrity (Hollywood, Culver City)
– ethnic enclave (Chinatown, Koreatown)
– industrial (any low-income)
– resort (Venice)
Inspirations
Books
La forma dell’acqua, Andrea Camilleri
Farewell My Lovely, Raymond Chandler
Goodnight Nobody, Jennifer Weiner
Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, David Simon
Morte no Estádio, Francisco José Viegas
White Jazz, James Ellroy
TV
The Bill
Blue Heelers
Castle
Engrenages
Il commissario Montalbano
Line of Duty
Luther
Marcella
Ófærð
Psych
Streets of San Francisco
The Rockford Files
Films
Balle Perdue
Bullitt
The Driver
Duel
End of Watch
L.A. Confidential
Narc
Nightcrawler
One False Move
To Live & Die in L.A.
Other
L.A. Noire video game
The Trail Went Cold podcast
Virginia video game

1d100 Victims

  1. Nanny

  2. Wealthy teenager

  3. Prominent politician

  4. Illegal immigrant

  5. Socialite

  6. Mafia lawyer

  7. Plastic surgeon

  8. Drug smuggler

  9. Professional gambler

  10. Therapist

  11. Fashion model

  12. Con man

  13. Illegal immigrant

  14. Teacher

  15. Musician

  16. Bicycle courier

  17. Assistant District Attorney

  18. Cop

  19. Art dealer

  20. Bridesmaid

  21. Gang enforcer

  22. Professional athlete

  23. Prostitute

  24. Museum/gallery curator

  25. TV host

  26. Burglar

  27. Chef

  28. Multiple (1d6+1 victims)

  29. Psychic

  30. Bail bondsman

  31. Doctor

  32. Stripper

  33. Public transport worker

  34. Astrophysicist

  35. Dock worker

  36. Stage magician

  37. Escort agency owner

  38. Detective

  39. Lottery winner

  40. Wealthy heir(ess)

  41. Taxi driver

  42. TV producer

  43. Socialite

  44. Reporter

  45. Beauty pageant contestant

  46. Ex-con

  47. Casino owner

  48. Man dressed as Santa Claus

  49. Radio DJ

  50. Industrial whistleblower

  51. CIA agent

  52. Drug dealer

  53. Ice-cream seller

  54. Factory worker

  55. Auto mechanic

  56. John/Jane Doe

  57. Movie star

  58. Sailor

  59. Soldier

  60. Lawyer

  61. Novelist

  62. College student

  63. Police informant

  64. Waiter/waitress

  65. Zookeeper

  66. Security guard

  67. Armoured car driver

  68. Smuggler

  69. Civil servant

  70. Call-girl

  71. Salesman

  72. College professor

  73. Fisherman

  74. Beat cop

  75. Pimp

  76. Undercover cop

  77. Pharmacist

  78. Nurse

  79. Firefighter

  80. Book publisher

  81. War veteran

  82. Teenage runaway

  83. Investment banker

  84. Night watchman

  85. Accountant

  86. Fashion designer

  87. Photographer

  88. Drug dealer

  89. Prosecution witness

  90. Junkie

  91. Car dealer

  92. Union official

  93. Refuse collector

  94. Beggar

  95. Construction worker

  96. State’s witness

  97. Bookie

  98. Drug kingpin

  99. Truck driver

  100. Game designer

Characters

Attributes
Roll 3d6 in order to determine your six basic attributes:
Strength (STR) – physical prowess
Dexterity (DEX) – coordination, reflexes and agility
Constitution (CON) – health, patience and stamina
Intelligence (INT) – wits and reasoning ability
Wisdom (WIS) – street smarts and experience
Charisma (CHA) – charm and force of personality
If none of your attributes is above 10, choose one and set it to 18. There has to be a reason they made you a detective, after all.Each attribute has an associated modifier based on its value, as follows:
3: -3
4–5: -2
6–8: -1
9–12: 0
13–15: +1
16–17: +2
18: +3
Starting Class
Now choose your initial class: Fighter, Rogue, Scholar or Hotshot.
Note down a background pertaining to that class, something that completes the phrase “I used to be (a) ____________.” When you are doing something where your background comes in useful, roll with advantage.
Fighter backgrounds may be related to combat training, hard living or any experience involving tough physicality.Rogue backgrounds relate to the seedier side of life: criminal activities, deceptive practices or experiences of the underworld in general.Scholarly backgrounds must incorporate learning and education of at least a broadly academic, nature.Hotshots are daredevils and performers – racing drivers, stuntmen, actors and the like.
Determine HP
HP is a measure of your ability to take action or overcome adversity – what “HP” stands for changes depending on the circumstances.
Roll your class’s Hit Die to determine your starting HP, adding your Constitution modifier. If your total is 0 or less, record your HP as 1.
Fighter: d8
Rogue: d4
Scholar: d6
Hotshot: d4
Details
Name
Description
Vague history
What police assignment would you least like to get?
The City
Choose a characteristic of the city where you live and work. This is added to the City Taglines for the group.
Gaining Levels
At the end of each session, ask yourself the following questions. For each ‘yes’ answer, mark 1xp.
When you have total xp equal to twice your current level, increase your level by one.
– Did you close a case this session?
– Did you bring one or more City Taglines into play?
– Did you strain a relationship this session?
– Did you reach 0HP or less during this session?
Optionally: Your level is always at least half as many years as you’ve been a detective, rounding up, regardless of cases closed.At each level, choose a new background from any class and roll the class’s Hit Die, adding the result to your maximum HP.Relationships
You have a Relationship with the following people at these tiers:
1 – Your detective partner
2 – Spouse or love interest
3– Your commanding officer (squad supervisor)
4 – The District Attorney
5 – The commissioner/top brass
You may, at character creation, swap round numbers 1 and 2Each relationship is either good or strained. In various circumstances you may be given the option to strain a relationship in order to push your luck and get things done. In all such cases, you may only do so if your relationship is currently good. If you need to strain a relationship in order to perform an action but the relationship is already strained, the action fails.Get a Relationship back from strained to good by spending a downtime scene doing something nice with that person, making a Charisma roll and accumulating progress equal to your relationship tier. You may accumulate this progress over two or more downtime scenes. If you fail (i.e. get zero successes) in any such scene, your relationship deteriorates by one tier, e.g. from 2 to 3.Creating a new Relationship, which begins strained, requires a downtime scene and a successful Charisma ability roll. The tier of this new relationship is 6 minus how many 6s you rolled to create the relationship, minimum 1.Not Getting Fired
Yes, there’s paperwork. To keep being a detective, you have to close cases. At the end of each month, calculate your personal closure rate: the number of cases you closed divided by the number of new cases you received that month.
Average it since the beginning of the year (i.e. if it’s March, add all your monthly averages and divide by 3)
This is the percentage chance that your Relationship with your commanding officer does not become strained. Note that closing an older case still counts against the rate for the month in which you close it, so it’s theoretically possible to get a rate of over 100%.
If you fail the roll but the Relationship is already strained, the problem goes upstairs and strains your Relationship with the commissioner. If that is already strained, you are kicked off the squad and demoted to harbour patrol, the evidence locker or wherever you least want to end up, as noted at character creation.At the end of each year, calculate the whole squad’s closure rate for the year: number of cases closed divided by new cases received that year.Now calculate each PC’s closure rate for the year. Average the two (add them together and divide by two). This is the character’s percentage chance of not being demoted. You can strain your Relationship with the top brass to get out of this, but not with your commanding officer. This one goes direct to the top.Non-Player Characters
Run-of-the-mill non-player characters (NPCs) are level 0, have 1HP and do not belong to a class.
Notable NPCs may have class levels in one class only. In situations outside their class’s area of expertise, NPCs’ HP is halved, rounding up.E.g. a 3rd-level Fighter NPC who has 12HP gets the full complement of Hit Points in combat, but has only 6 Hot Pursuit or Hostile Position in other action scenes.Some NPCs are designated as Masters in their field. These work as backgrounds do for PCs, allowing them to roll with advantage when their expertise is relevant.Their HP are rolled according to their class, one die per level:Fighter: d8
Rogue: d4
Scholar: d6
Hotshot: d4
NPCs do not normally have attributes outside the 9–12 range, and therefore have no attribute modifiers.

Chase Obstacles

City Streets

Card ValueHearts: Wisdom (Street smarts)Clubs: Charisma (Sheer bravado)Diamonds: Dexterity (Quick reactions)Spades: Intelligence (Calculating the odds)
AClear roadLook out - muppets!Water sprayed on road surfaceMerging traffic
2Red lightThrough a wooden barrierSuddenly opened doorPedestrian crossing
3Side-street shortcutAcross a plazaUnexpected dogConfusing junction
4Speed bumpsHandbrake turnIce-cream/snack vendor in roadHighway off-ramp
5Mostly empty parking garageSmash through a gateTwo people carrying a sheet of glassSlow traffic on bridge
6Mostly full parking garageSidewalk shortcutJ-turnBlend in with traffic
7Narrow alleywayPublic parkPotholeSharp turns
8Storm drainFlight of stepsVehicle stopped in junctionVehicle parked in lane
9Railyard/industrial areaShopping mall shortcutSmoke or or impaired visibilityPlay it cool, then floor it
10Road closedTrailer parked across roadFruit scattered across roadU-turn
JDead endReckless jumpConstruction workTraffic jam
QAccident at intersectionOne-way street, the other wayVehicle crossing junctionStreet parade
KBridge/overpass outPolice/authorities roadblockSudden oncoming vehicleCross oncoming traffic

Action

When you go to an action scene, you’re confronting a hostile witness or suspect. Each side is trying to break down the other’s resistance by reducing their HP to 0 or less. Exactly what that means depends on the type of action that’s happening.To decide the order characters act in, make an ability roll. PCs who succeed go before their opponents, those who fail go after. Roll modified by Dexterity for fight scenes, Charisma for social and interrogation scenes, and Wisdom for chase scenes.

Brawls & Shootouts

In a fight, HP becomes Hit Points.To attack someone, make a damage roll, modified by STR for brawling and DEX for ranged weapons. The target loses that many Hit Points, minimum 1.When damage would take you below 0HP, take it off STR or CON instead. Then make a CON roll - if you fail, you’re critically injured and are incapacitated.Fight Damage
Fists & feet: 1d4
Knife, nightstick, etc.: 1d6
Handgun: 1d6
Shotgun: 1d10

Rifle: 1d12*
* = Exploding dice: if you roll the maximum amount (e.g. 6 on a d6), roll again and add it to your total.
.

Conversation, Interrogation, Manipulation

When you are having a conversation with someone who doesn’t want to help you, HP becomes Hostile Position. At 0 Hostile Position, you succumb to the other side’s wishes.Each turn, choose a target. All characters involved secretly choose one of these options, then simultaneously reveals their choices:For investigators:
Good Cop
Bad Cop
Make them Sweat (only on your turf)
For NPCs:
Mouth Off
Play it Cool
Clam Up (in interrogation, roll a D6: on a 1, your lawyer (Scholar, level 1D6) shows up)
Compare each attacker & target pair. If you need to roll, roll 1d20 and add your CHA modifier. Whoever has the highest result is the winner of the exchange. Break ties by rolling again.
Note that since a character may only choose one approach per turn, teaming up on one target is effective: the classic good cop/bad cop routine.
Bad Cop vs Mouth Off: The winner rolls damage, then doubles it.Bad Cop vs Play it Cool/Mouth Off vs Good Cop: If the winner chose Bad Cop/Mouth Off, normal damage. Otherwise no damage.Bad Cop vs Clam Up/Mouth Off vs Make them Sweat: No damage to either side. Don’t bother rolling.Good Cop vs Play it Cool: Winner deals normal damage.Play it Cool vs Make them Sweat/Good Cop vs Clam Up: If Play it Cool/Good Cop wins, normal damage. Otherwise no damage.Note that in play, the order of things is a little weird compared to how we normally do things in TTRPGs. It's like 1) set the scene 2) select and show approaches 3) play out the conversation based on your approaches 4) see how things turn out. If you start talking before you choose approaches, that gives the game away.Manipulation/Interrogation damage
On your own turf: 2D6+Charisma modifier
On their turf: 1D4+Charisma modifier
Neutral ground: 1D6+Charisma modifier
Threatening with violence (can be done in fight scenes): no card duel, weapon damage +Charisma modifier; answer for your actions later.

Chases, Escapes

In a chase situation, HP becomes Hot Pursuit. At 0HP, roll on the Chase Outcomes table.
If one side’s mode of transport is notably faster than the other, that driver has advantage.
Either side may end the chase at any time – usually this will be because the quarry wants to initiate a fight scene before they hit 0HP.
Characters in the same vehicle pool their Hot Pursuit. But if you have two or more occupants more than your target vehicle, your chase rolls have disadvantage.Chase rolls
Get a deck of cards and shuffle it. Deal the top card face up. That’s the road ahead: the value is the potential damage (face cards = 10, A = 1), the suit is the nature of the obstacle. Diamonds = Dex, Hearts = Wis, Clubs = Charisma, Spades = Int (S for smarts).
Place one road ahead card in front of the quarry, and one in front of the pursuer. The quarry has already passed the pursuer’s first obstacle without incident.
The quarry can:
– take the route ahead and roll to meet the challenge if the card is face-up
– slow down: flip the road ahead face-down but stay on current card
– swerve: flip a new card: the quarry must take that challenge immediately, whatever it is
If pursuer and quarry are on the same card, the quarry may not slow down. If the quarry is able to slow down 3 times in a row, the pursuit ends with the quarry’s escape.To attempt a driving challenge, the quarry makes a driving/riding/running ability roll: on a success they move ahead one space, flipping a new card. On a failure, they lose HP equal to the amount shown on the card (10 for face cards).The pursuer may follow any already flipped card, flip a card of their own to take a new route, or slow down (miss a turn to flip the card ahead face down)..To join the quarry’s route from another one, the pursuer must swerve to create a “bridge” from their current card to the quarry’s current card and attempt its challenge.The obstacle tables give examples of what challenges you might take on in different environments - but it doesn’t really matter specifically what the things are, so make up your own obstacles that fit the scene and are exciting and fun.Ending the Chase
It’s over when the quarry is able to slow down three times in a row and not get caught, someone stops voluntarily, or someone hits 0HP. If someone reaches 0HP or less, roll 1d6 to see their condition as their car gets blocked in, they’re cornered, flipped or whatever:
1) Regain all HP
2) Regain half HP
3) Regain 1HP
4) Lose 1d6 from STR/DEX/CON (determined randomly).
5) Roll 2d10 and keep the lowest: lose that many points from STR/DEX/CON.
6) Lose 1d10 STR/DEX/CON.
No-Contests and Desperate Pursuits
The first thing to check, before you begin your chase scene, is if it’s even a chase. If there’s just no way for one party to compete – such as if a person on foot tries to race a car on a featureless desert highway – it’s not a chase. The car just gets away, or if the pedestrian is the fugitive this should be a fight scene.
But sometimes the situation will give the party who’d usually just lose a small chance. For example, a cop on foot could chase some crooks in a car by taking shortcuts through gardens and back alleys before they get out of the city. In such cases, if the natural loser can give a compelling reason they have a chance, they can play out the chase rolling with disadvantage.One-Sided Pursuits
If the quarry doesn’t know they’re being pursued, such as when cops race across town to arrest a suspect before they can board a flight to Mexico, the fugitive can only follow the road ahead - they may not change routes.
Splitting up
If there are two or more fugitive vehicles, they can split up. You have to be the driver and forego an attack on your turn to split off. Pursuers must decide who they’re going to follow. If no one follows you, on your next turn you’re gone and can exit the chase.
Tailing a Suspect
This is a Wisdom ability check. If you succeed, the quarry doesn’t spot you. If you fail, it turns into a chase scene.