Sunday, 9 January 2022

Gambling (Solo Ops)

Happy New Year!

Dr. No, opening scene

For the first few episodes I'm going to talk about Night's Black Agents, Solo Ops. I'm noodling around with a few ideas, but as it's been a while I figured I should re-read the Solo Ops rules. OK, so if I were to set a scenario in Monaco ... of course, Gambling ...

What? Gambling isn't a General Ability in Solo Ops?!?

grumble grumble grumble I guess Casino Royale isn't a spy thriller grumble grumble grumble Roger Moore only got the Bond gig because he knew how to play cards grumble grumble grumble

Well, here's a problem that needs fixing.

To begin with, (from the NBA main book, p. 29-30):


You are conversant with the rules and etiquette of all forms of gambling, from Texas hold ‘em and roulette to horse racing and numbers rackets. To win (or strategically lose) at a game of chance or sporting flutter requires a Gambling test, or a contest if played against an NPC with the Gambling ability. In addition to playing by the rules and winning, you can:

  • spot cheating, either by the house or by another player
  • stack a deck, rig a horse race, load dice, or otherwise cheat

Palming cards, tiles, or dice is allowed as a Gambling test; anything else requires Conceal or Filch.

Gambling doubles as an Investigative ability when used to:

  • calculate the odds of events ruled by probabilities
  • use Bullshit Detector on professional gamblers despite their poker faces
  • interact with gamblers and blend in at casinos

This doesn't require significant modification for Solo Ops. As Director you might want to tweak it for your table, but that description covers all the bases.

Some Edges are needed, and here's a couple for you:

Luck of the Devil

Gambling Mastery

In any General Test discard this Edge to change a result of natural 1 to natural 6. If this is used to change two or more natural 1s to natural 6s, gain the Shadow Problem Devil Cuts the Cards.

[explanation: in most General tests the player only has 2 dice, which means in theory the player can only ever roll two 1s in any test. However there are some Edge masteries, like Martial Arts, which grant extra dice, and it can be a real kick in the teeth to have four dice and roll four 1s. Statistically improbable, but not impossible.]

Devil Cuts The Cards

Continuity, Shadow.

There is such a thing as being *too* lucky. Your karma is out of balance, and you can feel its weight on your shoulders. Taking Time during a scenario to rebalance removes this problem, but it cannot be removed between scenarios (Continuity) nor does it vanish when the character changes cities.

Sylvia Trench

Gambling Mastery

Discard to gain a Network Contact who just happens to have exactly the skills you want, or need, in any one scene after this Gambling scene. I admire your luck, Mr. ...  

Gambling Mastery

Discard this Edge in a Gambling scene to remove any one non-Continuity Shadow or Heat card. Your troubles melt away in the heat of your lucky streak, and you burn joss on your way into the gambling hall just to make sure.

Let's have a couple Gambling Problems as well, just to round things out. In any Gambling challenge there's always the chance something will go badly wrong and the player has to eat the consequences. In this instance:

Sore Losers


Sure, you won, but at what cost? The lowlifes you were playing with want payback, and are willing to dime you out to the law (or maybe something worse than the law) to get it.

Plenty O'Toole

You picked up a good-time playmate who will not go away, and their mooching is very distracting. Even if not physically present in the scene they have your phone number/address (how? who knows? watch the Deleted Scenes to find out) and can call at the worst possible moment. Take -1 to the next Mental test, and discard the card - and the playmate. What the hell is my black wig doing in the pool?

[possible additional/alternate wording: If the Mental test result is a Setback, the playmate dies. Add either 1 Heat or 1 Shadow, player's choice.] 


There are worse things than losing. A cold chill settles over you as you realize you've attracted unfriendly attention - and whatever it is watching you now is whispering your secrets to very unpleasant powers. Shadow increases by 1 so long as this Problem is in play. Counter by finding a way to throw off or distract this unfriendly watcher.

That's it for this week! Next time, more Solo Ops.

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