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 7. The Group Subtlety Track

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PostSubject: 7. The Group Subtlety Track   Mon Jan 30, 2017 5:53 pm

7 The Group Subtlety Track

What is Subtlety?

Dark Heresy 2 introduces a new mechanic called 'Subtlety'. This is a number which represents the extent to which the bad guys in the setting are on to you and your plans.

Enemies facing Characters with low Subtlety are likely to be better prepared for the Characters' plots and schemes: that bank heist you are planning will have more guards and better security than you might otherwise expect, for example. They are also more likely to take pro-active steps to screw the Characters over, such as by speeding up their plans to perform that ritual to summon Dagon, or sending assassins after the Character. By contrast, Enemies facing Characters with high subtlety are more likely to be unprepared for the Characters' attempts to take them down, and far less likely to be pro-active in stopping the Characters.

Your Subtlety level can make certain tasks easier or harder. For example, Characters with high Subtlety will find it easier to make inquiries to learn about the shady dealings of criminal gangs, as everyone is feeling confident and loose-lipped. If Subtlety is low, by contrast, everyone will be on edge and clammed up, and finding out about the low-lives of Midnight Town will become that much harder.

Similarly, Characters with low Subtlety will find it much easier to impress the local Arbitrator, or to command a fleeing mob of terrified loyal citizens to engage with the xenos horde chasing them. This will be much more difficult for Characters with high Subtlety - why should anyone listen to some nobody?

Subtlety 0: Game Over, Man

All Characters (including Characters controlled by other Players) share a joint Subtlety track. The track starts at 50. If the track ever drops down to 0, the Calamity is triggered. If the Calamity is triggered before turn 12, the players will have one more turn to try to save the world, and if they fail to stop the Calamity, the game is lost. This is something your Characters know in game (on an abstract level) - the Tarot Cards (or whatever) have told you that if your enemy gets wind of what you are doing, the Calamity will begin.

Hitting 0 Subtlety does not, therefore, necessarily mean that you have all lost the game. However, it makes it very likely: especially if the Calamity is triggered early on. This is because the earlier the Calamity is triggered, the less prepared for it you will be, and the less chance you will have had to deal with certain elements of the setting which stand to make the Calamity much, much worse.

It is therefore strongly advised that you all attempt to go about things in a generally subtle manner. Players are encouraged to engage in PVP or other 'persuasive' methods of play if they think another Player's Character is acting without subtlety - after all, they are jeopardising the fate of the world.

Gaining and Losing Subtlety

Characters will gain Subtlety if they cover their tracks well. Adopting a disguise or a cover story for why you are in Midnight Town and sticking to that story will make your Subtlety go up, as will successfully lying to the guard about why you are in a forbidden area of the factorum. Sneaking into that factorum so well that the guard doesn't spot you in the first place will earn you even more Subtlety.

Characters will lose Subtlety by failing to cover their tracks and doing things that alert the enemy to the fact that everything is not going as swimmingly as they might like. For example, the following things will lose Subtlety:

  • Failing to convince the guard you totally belong in this forbidden area of the factorum
  • Murdering members the Cult of Evil (TM)
  • Going on a shopping spree for expensive items
  • Revealing to the local criminal overlord that you work for the church

Revealing that you are trying to prevent a world-ending calamity on behalf of the church will lose you a lot of Subtlety.

It is very possible for the same scheme to gain and lose Subtlety. For example, Tech-Priest Joe decides he wants Lady Melania dead as he has discovered that she is running a cult which worships Slaanesh. However, he knows he will get into deep trouble if he is caught, as Lady Melania has many sympathisers. As a result, he kills her at 3pm and falsifies evidence which indicates to those investigating the murder that she died at 6pm. At 6pm, he makes sure that he is very publicly preaching the wonders of the Omnissiah on the street corner by the local busy drinking hole. This gives him the perfect alibi for the 'time of the murder'.

In this instance, killing Lady Melania might lose Joe 1d5 Subtlety, but his cover up plan might gain him 1d10 Subtlety. If he is lucky, he might gain Subtlety overall, which would represent him being struck off the list of likely suspects. If he is unlucky, he might lose Subtlety overall, which might represent one of the investigators seeing through the ploy.

Keeping an Eye on Subtlety

The Subtlety track is something only the GM can see, but it is possible for Characters to make inquiries in-game to find out how they are doing. For example, they might eavesdrop on conversations at the local drinking hole, or send spies to ask key figures what they think about the state of Midnight Town. This will require a +0 Inquiry or Awareness skill, with modifiers depending on how you go about trying to determining your Subtlety level.

Success will force the GM to reveal to you the tens characteristic of your current Subtlety level (i.e. '6' if your Subtlety level is 63).

This should not be done lightly, however, as a bad failure can result in negative consequences. This could be you losing Subtlety, or you being given an incorrect number.
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