Pulling Rank

Action heroes frequently work for intelligence, law-enforcement,
military, or security services. Normally, either all or none
of them will be active operators, although they might not all
serve the same master; details depend on the campaign.
Employees of such organizations can buy social advantages
(see Lenses, pp. 4-5) that entitle them to ask their employers for
To get help, the person asking must be in good standing
with his organization – that is, he has to have and honor a Duty
to his employer at the “9 or less” level or above, and hold Rank.
Rank 0 counts! It costs 0 points, but it isn’t the same as no
Rank. Somebody with no Rank has no Duty . . . and no chance
of receiving aid.
The chance on 3d of getting assistance, the Assistance Roll
(AR), depends on Rank; see the Assistance Table. If several PCs
with the same boss need help, roll once for the person of highest
Rank, adding 1/5 of the total Rank of the others (rounded
down) to his Rank. For instance, a Rank 3 spy, two Rank 2
agents, and a Rank 1 operative would roll as if their Rank were
3 + (2 + 2 + 1)/5 = 4.
If an NPC preauthorized aid for the mission, use his Rank
(usually 5+) instead. In this case, the GM may fake the roll. It
might be crucial to the plot that help arrives – or that a doublecrossing
NPC hangs the heroes out to dry!
Odds of assistance are low for junior operators – even in a
sizeable team – but an AR is a success roll, subject to Luck and
Buying Success (p. B347). Several bonuses may apply, too. Of
course, there may be penalties, and if modified AR falls below
3, there’s no chance of success!
• Person requesting aid has Smooth Operator: Talent.*
• Person requesting aid makes Administration skill roll: +2 for
critical success, +1 for success, -1 for failure, or -2 for critical
• Previous requests by team this adventure: -1 per AR after first.
• Request especially appropriate to situation: +1 to +5.†
• Request especially inappropriate to situation: -1 to -10, and
failure by 10
or critical failure means disciplinary action.†
•Specific modifiers: See Sample Assistance (below) for modifiers
that apply instead of or as well as those for appropriateness.

  • Administration works only in situations with paperwork;
    Smooth Operator, only in person. Neither applies when
    requesting help over the phone or radio!
    † The GM judges what’s appropriate or inappropriate. A
    wounded Military Rank 0 soldier might get 5 when shouting
    for medevac, while even a Rank 8 general would have -10 to
    request a nuclear strike “just because.”
    The players should limit their requests to things that suit
    action-movie realism – and the GM should occasionally
    reward cooperation by awarding +1 to +5 to the AR, or by fudging
    the roll and having help just show up, if that would be more
    fun. Beyond what’s reasonable, though, is what’s possible. This
    list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a good start:
    Aerial Surveillance: Helicopter arrives in 1d
    10 minutes, or
    1d hours outside city. Crew report what they see in real time
    over the radio.
    Backup: NPCs at most equal to the PCs in number arrive quietly
    in 1d+10 minutes, or in 1d hours outside the city. They
    have a few relevant skills – Driving, First Aid, Guns, etc. – at
    level 10-15 (1d+9), and carry handguns.
    Bailout: Heroes arrested by police while following orders or
    who have 15-point Legal Enforcement Powers can “get
    out of jail free” with a successful AR. Results take 10 minutes
    in home jurisdiction but 3d hours in another
    (friendly) jurisdiction.
    Base Access: Permission to enter a military base other than
    the soldiers’ post. Roll at the gate, at 5 unless it’s a secret
    base or one for a service different from the heroes’.
    Cash: Collected in person or comes by courier in one day.
    Maximum $100 at Rank 0, $300 at Rank 1, $1,000 at
    Rank 2, $3,000 at Rank 3, $10,000 at Rank 4, $30,000 at
    Rank 5, $100,000 at Rank 6, $300,000 at Rank 7, or
    $1,000,000 at Rank 8. Multiply by 10 if it’s for show and
    will be returned.
    Disappearance: “Authorization” to make an illegal arrest. The
    PCs must do the dirty work – this just guarantees that they’ll
    get a holding cell and no legal trouble. AR is at -5 if target
    isn’t a known terrorist. Takes at least 1d hours to set up.
    Facilities: Access to the best-quality computer, lab, machine
    shop, etc., where the heroes can use appropriate skills at +4.
    This is only possible in person, in home territory, for facilities
    that make sense (e.g., cops can access an auto garage
    but not code-breaking supercomputers).
    False ID: A temporary identity (p. B31), ready in one day.
    Files: Dossiers, manuals, maps, etc. Collect in person, take
    electronic delivery in 1d minutes, or wait a day for a courier.
    Fire Support: Air or artillery strike, starting 1d minutes after
    the call unless preplanned. AR is at -5 outside a combat
    zone or -10 in friendly territory!
    Forensics: Autopsy, crime-scene analysis, DNA test, etc., conducted
    on request. Report comes in a day, electronically or
    by courier.
    Insertion/Extraction: Clandestine drop or pickup via helicopter,
    sub, etc. Time varies from 1d
    10 minutes for loitering
    support to a day or more if called in cold.
    Medevac: Ambulance for urban operators or chopper for soldiers.
    Typically arrives in 1d+10 minutes, but may take 1d
    hours or worse in remote areas. AR is at 5 to +10 under
    legitimate circumstances.
    Records Search: An appropriate database search – DMV for a
    city cop, Interpol for a federal agent, etc. Collect it in person,
    take electronic delivery in 1d minutes, or wait a day for
    a courier.
    Replacement Gear: Anything standard-issue for organization
    and mission. Collect it in person or wait a day for a courier
    (or 1d days for a big item like a vehicle). Military personnel
    (only) can get an airdrop in the field in just 1d hours.
    Safe House: A structure outside friendly territory, unknown to
    the opposition, checked for bugs, and stocked with food
    and medical supplies. It takes a phone call to get the
    address. The building might be 3d miles away in town, or
    in the nearest big city if the heroes are in the countryside.
    SWAT: As backup (above), but with body armor and rifles, and
    not quiet. AR is at -5 if made “just because,” +5 if the brass
    sent the heroes into a dangerous situation.
    Technical Means: Communications intercepts for a specific
    target, plaintext of a code broken on a supercomputer, satellite
    recon of a specific locale, etc. AR is often at -1 to -5.
    Success means the data arrive electronically or by courier
    in a day. Real-time drone surveillance takes only 1d hours
    to set up if available.
    Transportation: Ordinary commercial transportation relevant
    to mission. Can usually be arranged almost in real time
    over the phone!
    Warrant: A legal warrant to search premises, plant wiretaps (-5
    to AR if the target isn’t a known criminal or terrorist), etc.
    Arrangements take 1d hours at day but 1d
    8 hours at night
    (fewer judges!).
    Availability by Service
    Intelligence: Cash (to buy information); facilities; false ID;
    files (dossiers on enemy spies, maps, etc.); insertion/extraction;
    replacement gear; safe house; technical means; transportation.
    Law Enforcement: Aerial surveillance; backup; bailout; cash
    (for bribes); facilities; files (case report, criminal jacket, etc.);
    forensics; medevac; records search; replacement gear; SWAT;
    transportation; warrant.
    Military: Base access; files (maps, technical manuals, etc.);
    facilities; fire support; insertion/extraction; medevac; replacement
    gear; technical means; transportation.
    Security: Aerial surveillance; backup; bailout; disappearance
    (requires 15-point Legal Enforcement Powers); facilities;
    files (dossiers on terrorists); forensics; medevac; records
    search; replacement gear; SWAT; transportation; warrant.
    If the heroes requested information (files, forensics, records
    search, etc.), treat their organization as though it were a Contact
    Group (p. B44) with effective skill 18, and make a skill roll.
    Success means the PCs get what they need. Reliability is
    “Somewhat Reliable” – if the skill roll fails, those at home base
    draw a blank. On a skill roll of 18, someone decides that the
    request was above the PCs’ clearance or pay grade! Instead of
    aid, their service’s equivalent of Internal Affairs or CID shows
    up to complicate the adventure.
    If the heroes asked for anything more substantial (backup,
    cash, transportation, etc.), their employer serves as a Patron
    (p. B72). Treat it as a “powerful organization” in all cases – the
    CIA or USMC might outclass the LAPD, but individuals and
    squads can at most reach one or two steps up the chain of

Assistance Table
-————-Rank 0* 1 2 3 4 5† 6† 7† 8†
Assistance Roll 3- 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14

  • Heroes with Intelligence or Military Rank must have a Duty to claim Rank 0+; those with Police or Security Rank require
    Duty and Legal Enforcement Powers.
    † Starting PCs can’t buy Rank 5+ but can be promoted there in play (GM’s option).

Pulling Rank

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