Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: The Pretender and L7
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
I was thinking about setting up a run involving the team extracting a Pretender, like from the show, which got me to thinking, what would a Pretender's stats be? I was also thinking about a book I read several years ago. I think it was called Project Genesis, but I can't remember for sure, and searching online has provided no results. It was about a project, L7, IIRC, to bring the dead back to life. It kind of worked, but the subjects were missing the emotional center that had made them human. They were pretty much pure intellect with a sense of survival and no moral compass. I thought that would be a nice element for SR, but I don't have the book anymore and I can't remember details for setting up the stats. So if anyone can help with wither of these, cool.
"The Pretender" was a very good show and Ms. Parker was my favorite character.

That said, I would have a hard time defining what a Pretender is in terms of game mechanics.

It would be easier to say that a Pretender is a plot device and never something to be put to paper.

Failing that, I'd say each Pretender has a special "skill" - for argument's sake, call it "Pretending."

This skill is, for all practical purposes, "Cosmic Acting." The skill can duplicate any existing skill which the Pretender has had time to study and/or be exposed to. Not unlike the Marvel Villain who could duplicate physical stunts - "photogenic reflexes" they called it.

However, the Pretenders can perform similar feats with mental skills like Engineering or Physics.

These "borrowed" skills don't last long and there is a finite amount of skills that can be borrowed - otherwise Jarrod would have been an expert marksman and martial artist, etc. in every episode.

Maybe give Pretenders a dice pool and borrowed skills deplete from this pool until the borrowed skills are "released?"

Just idle thoughts. And for pity's sake - make it a race. It's not something that someone can "learn" to be.

Plot device would probably be the best route to take, but in the nearly 16 years that I've ben running and playing games, I've always had a problem with PD characters. I'm running Harlequin, and I plan on HB, and it drives me nuts that he doesn't have stats. frown.gif That said, I like the idea of treating him kind of like the Taskmaster. I always thought his power was spiffy keen. It would definately be a race.
Herald of Verjigorm
Race? So you don't think dwarves can be so spiffy?

You only need design rules if you want a PC to have a chance at being one.

As an alternate to the draining pool concept posted, a different pool abnormality might be worth trying.

For any such quick-learned skills, the character uses intelligence as if it were the appropriate skill and uses a high filled pool to suppliment it. The pool is specific for each skill and loses one die each day (or maybe each essense if you want it faster and with a constantly used trait involved). Each time int is used for an unknown skill, the difference between the TN and the highest die roll (if a success) is added to the pool.

example: P is smart, int 8. P has never trained himself to be proficient in rocket science. P wants to recalculate a Deimos landing. With the aid of some nice charts and computer modeling, the TN is only 9. P rolls his 8 dice and manages a high roll of 11. P now has a pool currently of 2 dice to help with future rocket science, but will lose these dice if not used soon.

Probably too much to track, but think of the savings in skills once you get a simsense gaming deck, some software and cerebral boosters.
The Question Man
I would use Cyberware DELTA Grade SkillWires, Knowsoft Links, etc... And Aura Masking to hide it from Security/Magic Detection.

Here's a good Link:
The Pretender -

QUOTE (Herald of Verjigorm)
Race? So you don't think dwarves can be so spiffy?

You only need design rules if you want a PC to have a chance at being one.

While dwarves can be spiffy, I think of the Pretender as being like dwarves ,and trolls; a variant of humanity. I suppose if using BP, any race could have a Pretender. I'm not good with plot device characters. Even if a player has only a snowball's chance of getting to play a Pretender, I still want to know what they could do. If I have the numbers and capabilities defined, then I can do a better job of presenting the character. Your idea is interesting, but it if I understand it correctly, it would be a lot to keep track of.
Pure Plot Device characters only work if the PCs don't decide to fight them directly. If the happens, GM rullings become completly arbitrary. It aways helps to have stats and rules to fall back up.

To be true to the show, I wouldn't make a pretender who's primary power is the ability to fake skills. Jarod's true power was the ability to perfectly empathize with anyone, given enough information about the person. The recordings from his time at the Centre make this abundently clear. It is also why he is able to stay one step ahead of everyone.

I would say that a Pretender who was trained and used as a simulation tool, as Jarod does has a huge base of background knowledge but few, active skills. However, he would be able to convert that background knowledge into active skills with a small expenduature of Karma and minimum training (within reason). He wouldn't be able to become a martial arts master because martial arts requires more training than knowledge. Most actions taken in combat are reflexive, especialy in melee combat. To learn combat skills, he would have to spnd an approperiate ammount of time training his body and reflexes. His knowledge would make that easier and eliminate the more academic parts of training, but physical training would still be necessary.

For example, Jarod has the background knowledge skill Medicine (9), which encompases all the knowledge a person would gain from medical school and much more. He can diagnose any disease and make an approperiate perscription. However, he still cannot perform complex surgery. Although he knows what to do, his hands don't. After spending 9 points of Karma and 9 days practicing his surgical skills on cadavers, Jarod gains Biotech (9) and can outperform all but the best and most specialized surgeons and doctors.

Mastering a martial arts from a knowledge skill would require years of training, but he could still learn a lower rank from partial training. Required training time would would be GM discression, of course. Also, I would rule that he can't raise active skills beyond the level of the linked knowledge skills.

A Pretender's greatest powers would be his empathy and an ability that could best be called "pretending". A Pretender can predict the motivations and decisions of any character, given enough information. The Pretender must have a background knowledge skill for each of the target's active skillsand must have detailed information about the target. Survailance is a must, as are details about the target's past and childhood. Exact research time and TN should be determined by the GM. I'd assume that there should be positive TN modifiers if the Pretender's skills or less than or greater than the target's skills. In one case, th epretender doesn't have enough knowledge to accuratly profile the target, in the other the Pretender may apply knowledge that he has but the target lacks.
"Pretending" alows the pretender to run detailed simulations using his empathy ability. A pretender using this ability needs to be isolated fror the duration of the simulation having the outside world, save for a handler who helps keep him grounded. A Pretender without a handler, or with an unskilled or indifferent handler, would risk losing himself in the simlation and would require a willpower check with the same TN as the simulation to avoid severe psycological damage. A Pretender who fails this should take a mental flaw. There sould also be a new active skill specificly for guiding Pretenders through simulations.
A pretender's simulation would be vastly more accurate than a similar simulation run by the most powerful supercomputers on the planet, so that Megacorps have a reason to seek them out and train them. With enough information, a Pretender can accuratly perdict the future months in advance. However, it requires more information than most can assimilate. Some corps turn Pretenders into living computers who's sole purpose is to simulate future events. These unfortunate souls are incapible of fuctioning normaly and are hopelessly insane, lacking any self image they can't differientiate between themselves and others and are usualy incapible of sperating reality from simulation.

For the purposes of character creation, I would say the Pretensers can put no more than 10 BP into active skills, but can put BP into knowledge skills at a rate of 2 Skill Points fer Build Point.

You could also have undevolped Pretenders, who's talents went unrecognized. They would be created like regular characters, with the exception that the must have an Intelligence of 6 or greater, including racial modifiers, and a player would have to spend BP for a "pretender metatype". They would possess a Pretender's empathy, but wouldn't know it. Their empathy would have to be discovered and devolped over time. Also, powerful people would be after any pretender, even an untrained one. Undevolped pretenders would be targets if their abilities were to become known. I'm sure that interested parties would activly search DNA databases for people with the genetic potential to be pretenders.
Easy, Pretenders default to INT for all skill tests at no penalty. Badda bing, badda boom.
QUOTE (hyzmarca)
To be true to the show

That's an interesting approach, coming at it from the sim POV instead of the skill duplication path. Damn, good ideas all around. I'm going to have to figure out which will work best for my games. I never thought to try and stat out the Sim ability. Cool.
Anyone else have any ideas? Simple, complex, I'm interested.
And I take it so far, no one has any idea of the novel I'm talking about? After spending the day searching for it, I'm starting to wonder if I didn't imagine it. But I'm pretty sure that it's real; it's the only place I've ever seen the word fugazi that wasn't a reference to the band.
QUOTE (Nerbert)
Easy, Pretenders default to INT for all skill tests at no penalty. Badda bing, badda boom.

I'd like to vote for this one. smile.gif
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (Nerbert)
Easy, Pretenders default to INT for all skill tests at no penalty. Badda bing, badda boom.

Or maybe just for all INT-linked skills, with the possible exception of Decking? That deals with almost all technical and B/R skills, plus a few others, but keeps the guy from defaulting to his int 7-9 when Brawling. smile.gif

There does seem to be some theme of studying another guy with similar skills, though (not familiar with the Pretender thing myself), so maybe some extra rules for that? Would that be worth, say, 10-15 BPs?
Not very familiar with the Pretender thing myself, but if you want to make it rules-based but not learnable - how about a unique magic type? Some ideas:

'Adept of the Pretender Way(?)' with access to some special powers

'Pretending' - each level of this power reduces by one the TN for defaulting. Must be bought separately for (a: each attribute, OR b: each skill group) Cost: (0.25 or 0.5 per level?)

'Skill Sense' - each level increases the Task Pool by one.

'Predicting' Metamagic - The adept has an ability to recognize and predict a persons actions; make a test using the special 'Prediction' skill against a TN from the table below. Each success gives the adept one die in a special pool that can be used in any success test against the character, including surprise tests. Make a new test for each interaction in which the adept wishes to predict the target's actions.

TN - How well known the person is
10 - Complete stranger
8 - Acquaintance
6 - Level 1 Contact equivalent
4 - Level 2 Contact equivalent
2 - Level 3 Contact equivalent

TN - Condition
-1 - Adept has the Empathy power and target is in range
-2 - Adept has studied, spied on or otherwise gained information about target's actions.
-1 - Combat situation and the Adept has Combat Sense
+1 - Target is doing something new, or using new ability
+2 - Target is doing something completely out of character (due to Influence, duress, etc)

(Not sure if this last ability fits with the idea, but here it is anyway)
From what I understand, pretenders are naturally predisposed to being able to take on the characteristics of whatever occupation, job, person that they want with a minimum of studying. So since its genetic, a pretender could be any race, and they could be awakened to boot.

If I were going to allow a PC to play a pretender, which I never, ever, ever , ever would. I would say it would cost an extra 100 build points on top of anything else, plus karma costs for raising INT are doubled. But they start with an extra +3 to INT. And as I said, they can default to INT for any skill test at no penalty.
Wasn't L7 that chic grunge band from the 90s? Thier first big album was Bricks are heavy with the hit single "Pretend we're Dead"? And the single from the next album was "Andre"?

Or am I confused?
Jason Farlander
QUOTE (Nerbert)
But they start with an extra +3 to INT. And as I said, they can default to INT for any skill test at no penalty.


So wait wait wait... youd give this theoretical Pretender PC a 9 in every skill in the game? without having to spend any skill points? Sorry... but, umm, no. "Lets see... Ive never trained, and have physical attributes all at 2's, but I'm better than grand masters of their specific martial arts!" Maybe you should just cut all TN penalties for defaulting in half, and, perhaps, eliminate defaulting penalties *only* for INT-linked skills. That would also make it much less costly a thing to purchase - perhaps a 10-point or 15-point edge.
if you've never seen the TV show, you wouldn't know that a real pretender is unquestionably the scariest living thing in the universe.
QUOTE (Nerbert)
if you've never seen the TV show, you wouldn't know that a real pretender is unquestionably the scariest living thing in the universe.

You are clearly unfamiliar with Horrors ™ nyahnyah.gif
Jason Farlander
QUOTE (Nerbert)
if you've never seen the TV show, you wouldn't know that a real pretender is unquestionably the scariest living thing in the universe.

I saw a few shows. Yeah, theyre impressive. I dont recall him using his intellect to be a master gymnast, though.
QUOTE (kevyn668 @ Jul 11 2004, 10:11 PM)
QUOTE (Nerbert @ Jul 11 2004, 09:18 PM)
if you've never seen the TV show, you wouldn't know that a real pretender is unquestionably the scariest living thing in the universe.

You are clearly unfamiliar with Horrors ™ nyahnyah.gif

A Pretender could keep the Horrors running around in circles for years.

To put some limits on Pretenders, they should be discouraged from using cyberware. Double essence penalities to most cyberware, tripple for headware, due to their unique brain structure. They would almost require Deltaware for any upgrades, betaware certainly.
Bioindex costs would also be doubled, but any bioware that alters the brain would destroy a Pretender's abilities.

The Centre is also a good plot device. In the 20th century, the most powerful gevernments in the world relied on it, but were also affraid of it. Centre personel were able to opperate above the law in the US without any real attempt to hide their actions from officials. Usualy, they give orders to the police. I'm sure the same is ture in other countries. An international orginization that has apparently existed for centuries and may be concerned with saving the world, but sells their services to the highest bidders, exploits children, and performs inhumane genetic experiments. It would certainly have some impact on the Sixth World, but would probably go unnoticed by everyone except major governments, the biggest Megacorps, and perhaps a few Great Dragons.

Also, Pretenders should be able to exceed 6 unmodified inteligence at character creation, up to the racialy modified limit. But, they should have to pay for it. After that, they should be also to raise their intelligence without limit, provided that they have enough Karma.
QUOTE (kevyn668)
Or am I confused?

I don't think you're confused, but then, I don't know you. biggrin.gif L7 is a group of girls with heavy chugging guitar, but that's not the L7 that I'm referring to. Unless they got their name from the novel, and I doubt that they did.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012