Catch Your Breath, Lockers, and HQ
I haven't talked about Substitution in a while, since I got neck deep in other projects, so I wanted to come back here and talk very briefly about what I've been working on for this game. Nothing is ready to publish yet, but I've got a few things I can talk about!
Rest Up/Catch Your Breath
The Breathless SRD uses Catch Your Breath in place of Rest Up, and can be done at any time. In this game, I really wanted to have down time away from missions be what lets Substitutes get in touch with themselves and let off a little stress. Because skill reduction only happens on failed rolls, thus less often than base Breathless rules, resting up could be harder to do, because your skills would remain useful for longer.
I stand by that, and I like that mechanic! However, I do think that the idea of catching your breath is fantastic, thematically, and can still very much fit into Substitution. Imagine a firefight between you and the serial killer you're sent to capture, you're shooting at him, he's shooting at you, and you miss a couple of times, dropping your Shoot skill. You both stop to reload, and while you do, you take a few long, cleansing breaths, trying to shake away some of the jitters. You Catch Your Breath.
In Substitution, catching your breath resets one skill and removes 1 stress (for reference, Rest Up resets all skills and removes 2 stress). It's not a full restoration, but it does let you get your bearings, and it still introduces a complication to the scene. You can catch your breath as often as you'd like, but taking all that time away from a tense situation is gonna get complicated.
In addition to these new rules, resting up can only happen at HQ now. Which brings us to ...
HQ is where your team meets to discuss plans, regroup, and debrief. It's where you keep your mission-specific items so you don't have to have dangerous nuclear bombs or AK-47s in your closet at home. It's where the Archivist keeps their fancy computer so their kids don't accidentally send out an SOS to other Substitutes. It's where you have a bed, or a couch, to lay your head down for a bit when the world gets a little bit too wild.
It can also be upgraded! Throughout the game, you'll be able to select upgrades for your HQ, giving bonuses or upgrades to your team. A Workbench allows you to reset one of your items, a Rec Room lets you remove 3 stress instead of 2 when you rest up, and a Supercomputer gives a bonus when making a hacking or research check. There's also a Storage Shed upgrade that gives everyone +1 space to their Locker.
Speaking of which ...
Everybody has their own locker, which lets them store items during and between missions. By default, they have room for 3 items, a.k.a. 3 spaces, though certain Advancements or upgrades can boost that. Any unused item can be placed in the locker, and will remain at its current die type. When starting a new mission, characters may take an item from their locker in addition to their starting loadout.
This gives Substitutes a bit of flexibility in their missions. Perhaps the Analyst picked up a grenade during the last mission, but didn't get a chance to use it. Pop it in the locker, and grab it next time you need to enter the fray. With the workbench upgrade and an operator advancement, there are options to reset items back to their starting die type.
I've mentioned them a few times, so ...
Succeed or fail, at the end of each mission, your Substitute will be able to choose one Advancement. There are universal options, like increasing a skill die, or boosting your vocation ability. There are also specific advancements for each vocation, such as the Leader's "+1 to Sway checks when smoothing out a situation", or the Operator's "When you rest up, you may add one die step to an item". Each vocation will have 3-5 unique advancements. When combined with the 4 universal advancements, that gives a lot of room to grow for each Substitute.
There are a few things I didn't cover here, such as Vocational Items, or a change to how Vocational Abilities function, but this is a good sample of what I've been working on. In addition, I've been writing more lore for the game, including alternate eras of play and a loose timeline from 2002 through the 2400s.
Apparently I don't know what the word "briefly" means, but here ya go, a little bit about what's been going on behind the scenes for Substitution, one of my favorite games that I've made. I hope you enjoyed reading this - leave a comment to tell me what you're most excited about, or what YOU'D like to see!
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