Alta Inseguridad by Traveller
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Okay, I know I should get back to more Elven Crystals fuckery but I just came across a personal blast from the past while putting some stuff in order.
Spaniards and Spanish-speaking fellows may have come across Ediciones Zinco's classic Guía Básica del Juego de Rol (Basic Guide to Roleplaying.) Zinco was a Spanish publisher of comics, books and games, and brought 2E Advanced Dungeons and Dragons to the Spanish-speaking audience, along with other games like Shadowrun and Mechwarrior. The Basic Guide was a stand-alone magazine explaining what role playing games were about, how to get started, what games were available and so on. It also came with a couple of games: Krieghad was a simple CYOA affair, centered on an agent from Good Guy Kingdom sent to spy on Evilbad Realm. It was fun, had multiple routes (do you skulk around the city finding clues, or make a ruckus, get captured, and let the enemy take you into their stronghold?), but it also had a couple of annoying gotchas, like skills you could pick up at chargen that were completely useless.
The other game, though I never actually played it, holds a special place in my heart, as it is literally the first role playing game I ever read. Its name:
Alta Inseguridad ( High Insecurity ) is a modern-themed role playing game, meant to be easy on beginner GMs and players. The game spends few words explaining what a RPG is, though, since it assumes players have read the magazine it's in. It does tell us that players play the role of a common person, embroiled in an adventure of "our days" (the halcyon days of the Twentieth Century!)
Chargen is easy enough. After determining a character's name, gender, age, nationality, and occupation, we roll our main stats: Power , Coordination , Constitution , Intellect , Communication and Senses . 2d6 rolls for each: players may decide to roll them down in order, with an optional seventh roll to replace any stat (last result stands); or simply rolling 2d6 six times and assigning the results to the stats as the player deems fit. Here we also determine the character's Life Points (CON x 2) and Fate Points (INT + 1d6).
Skills go from 3 to 11, where 3 is the knowledge an average citizen may have on the matter and 11 is Nobel Prize material. A character may have as many skills as INT points they have, and their actual value is left to be decided between the player and GM. Sure, you may have Buddhism at 11, but that's not going to be good if you end up working as a cab driver. Alternatively, you may multiply INT x 6 and divide that number among your skills, with a maximum of 8 points in any given skill. The skill list is pretty long, but you're probably familiar with the stuff you will find here if you've played a modern setting RPG in your life. If for some reason you can't find a skill you would like your character to have, the Science, Hobby and Other Experiences skills can be used to sub for them. There are no character classes per se in Alta Inseguridad, but there are suggested skills for characters of certain occupations to take, like in Call of Cthulhu. A cab driver, for instance, may have Driving, Public Relations, Mechanics and Sports (soccer), while a beat cop may have Legal Procedures, Bureaucracy, Weapons and Ammo (pistol), Local Knowledge (city) and Driving.
Oh, also, there is a Love and Sex skill.
Rules! The basic mechanic is 2d6 roll under, with a natural 2 being a critical success and a natural 12 being a critical failure. For skill rolls, the character must roll equal to or under the relevant skill, or try beating a TN of 3 if they don't have the skill. If the action the PC is attempting is not really covered by a skill, the GM may call for an roll against a relevant stat, after an appropriate difficulty modifier is applied. For opposed rolls, characters roll 1d6 and add the relevant skill or stat to it: highest roll wins. Fate Points are optional, but if used, the player must state that they're using them before making a roll: if they go over, they must subtract FP from the roll until it succeeds. If the roll would've been a success in the first place, the character still loses 2 FP, and if they don't have enough FP to make it, the remaining FP are lost and the action fails anyway. FP are recovered at the beginning of each game session.
Combat! Because "as they say, a role playing game consists in some combat rules and an universe in which to apply them." After determining initiative starting with the character with the highest Senses score and going down, rolling off any ties, characters get one action. Unarmed combat uses the character's Brawling or Martial Arts skills, or their raw Power. Damage in unarmed combat is fixed and determined by the particular maneuver the character is using at the moment. There doesn't seem to be any rules on what maneuvers can be used at one time, though, so there doesn't seem to be any way going by the rules as written from stop characters from spamming Martial Arts charges, the highest damaging move at 5 points. Also, Martial Arts maneuvers deal the most damage of the three attributes, so the only check against MA seems to be the GM vetoing it at chargen. As for armed combat, the relevant skill or stat depends on the weapon being used, defaulting to Coordination if no relevant skill is possessed. The relevant skills and stats are Weapons and Ammo (for most small arms), Military Ordnance (for heavy weapons) Coordination (for most improvised weapons), Power (for actual melee weapons and some thrown weapons), Brawling (for some improvised weapons and classic street fighting material) and Martial Arts (for AZN FU stuff.) There is a handy table for weapons and the damage they deal: of course, since it's a Spanish game, the Astra .38 pistol is there. A PC with 0 LP is unconscious, and one with negative LP is dead. Characters recover 2 LP a day with rest and medical care, 1 with emergency aid and some rest, and only half an LP if they must keep trucking no matter what.
Experience! Oh, wait, there aren't really rules for it. Alta Inseguridad assumes that characters stay as they are, though we do get some guidelines like giving characters one point or two in skills in which they got a critical success during a complete adventure.
And now, the adventures . Here is where Alta Inseguridad really shines because they're all, well, normal stuff. This is not a supernatural action game or a high-powered tactical operators on operations shoot fest: indeed, the game references Trauma , a French RPG in which characters are also regular folk, only facing horrifying, deadly situations like massacres, hostage takings, terrorist attacks and such. Players ended up making ex-mercenary PCs most of the time just to survive, and Alta Inseguridad doesn't want to be that: it's less Rambo, more The Game. The suggested plot seeds include the sudden death of the director of the company the PCs work for, and the quest to retrieve the keys to the safe he had with him before the competition can (of course, the safe only has clean underwear and a stale sammich, you weren't expecting top secret documents were you) There's also a case where sports commentator PCs get an anonymous tip saying that XXX Football Club, where XXX is the football club the GM hates the most, has bribed the ref right before the finals. It's all a ruse by the president of the rival team, who knows this is their last shot at winning the cup, but as the seed asks, are PCs idiotic enough to sink a completely innocent team into opprobrium? (Yes.) Or my favorite, where the characters take a friend with a twisted ankle to an ER, where a psychiatric ward patient armed with an IV pole is holding people at bay. And then a street kids gang tries to raid the ER's pharmacy. And an ambulance with a serious case is racing their way. And the biggest blackout in decades is about to hit the city. AND WHAT DO THE PCS DOOOOO . There's also a couple of noirer seeds, like one where a PC lawyer is threatened to let his most recent client be found guilty or else, or the search for the daughter of a missing friend that ends up uncovering an international slavery ring.
After some notes on trying not to offend the sensibilities of the players because life is shitty enough already and we're not gonna pull each other's hair over some goddamn game, what is wrong with you people, we get a full sample adventure. Characters must have some relationship with the law (attorneys, law enforcement officers, detectives, etc.) as they start at the funeral of one Julián Bastarrica , a.k.a. Old Man, their old Civil Law professor at college. The Old Man was a bastard when it came to grading, but also a brave soul and friend of impossible causes. The Old Man had no family, so aside from the PCs only two other people attend the funeral: Miguel Sandoval is a police inspector that deeply respected Julián. Since his death was officially ruled an accident and he is in the Vice Squad and not Homicides, he hasn't been able to investigate, and if PCs show interest he'll give them his card. The other attendee is Victoria Ribera , Vicky to her friends, who is a Journalism student that will soon break down, blaming herself for his murder. If PCs manage to calm her down, she'll say she was writing a report on the Islas Verdes national park when she spotted a merchant ship not far from there. She took some pictures, and noticed that the ship was throwing cases into the ocean. She showed the pictures to Julián, who said he was interested and later called her to tell her she had put him on the trail of an important story. She never heard from him again.
The PCs, hopefully, will want to investigate the Old Man's death. Miguel and Vicky know the official story: Julián was leaving his house when a red sports car ran him over. He died in the spot and the driver escaped. If PCs investigate the murder scene, a spot check will let them see the car's track marks on the road: the vehicle was stopped, then took off at great speed. Asking around, they'll find out that he had no real close friends, but the old lady running the local bodega knows EVERYTHING FOREVER WHY DON'T THEY ASK HER BECAUSE SHE WANTED TO TELL THE POLICE AND THE POLICE YOU KNOW THEY ARE GOOD PEOPLE BUT THEY DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN TO HER AND THAT GUY LOOKED MEAN OH GOD If the PCs can endure five minutes of the old lady, they'll find out that someone "suspicious" was around the neighborhood. The description is vague, but he was missing the right lobe. She also wrote down the car's license plate. Calling up Miguel, he'll tell them that the investigation was handled by one Detective López , who closed the case saying it had been an accident - with no mentions of witnesses, license plates, or anything. Miguel will advise PCs not to fuck with López, but he'll try to find out stuff on his own. If they give him the license plate number, he'll run it through the system and report that it belonged to Gonzaga S.A., an industrial holding. Gonzaga has hands on many pies, from fuel services to television, and an exclusive contract to dispose of nuclear waste produced by the country's nuclear power plants. Oh, yes, this is going where you think this is going. The holding is controlled by José Gonzaga , a man that became a multimillionaire overnight through some shady means, but nothing has ever been proven. He lives in a fortress-like villa outside the city.
As mentioned before, the Old Man had no close friends. He had been retired for almost ten years now, but he was still very active in the lecture circuit, and invited to several radio and TV shows. The chief editor at Vicky's newspaper will tell PCs with a successful roll that Julián had promised him a bombshell about Gonzaga S.A., but any relevant documents must be still in his house as the Old Man worked from them. If they enter or break into the Old Man's house, they'll find the house just as it was during their student days, only there's a modern computer on a table now. There's a half-written article on the word processor, claiming that Gonzaga S.A. is in grave violation of radioactive waste disposal regulations, not allowing inspectors to enter their facilities. The article promises a second part, and "revelations before the courts." A Computer roll will tell the characters that the hard drive seems to be too full for what little programs it has (oh, early '90s ). Another roll with a -2 penalty (dick move, game) will reveal a hidden directory full of dirt on Gonzaga: they dispose of the waste by dumping it in Islas Verdes, way more cheaper than transporting them overseas for processing. The steel and concrete cases the waste is transported in will break in a few years, according to experts, with dreadful consequences for the local wildlife.
Oh, and if they phone up Vicky, her worried parents will answer: she has disappeared. Characters that were digging up stuff on Gonzaga will get a call from none other than José Gonzaga himself, asking them to come to his villa to discuss business details tonight, ten o'clock. Surely their friend Victoria will appreciate it! If they go with the evidence to Miguel, the detective will say that López sure missed a shitload of stuff... but it's all circumstantial at best. No one will really care about the ecological damage, it will mean a fine at most, and Gonzaga claims that the car that was used to murder Julián had been stolen weeks prior. As for Vicky, Miguel cannot enter the house without a warrant. He can present the evidence they have and charge López with negligence, but that will give them enough time to Gonzaga to clean up house, Vicky included. The PCs at this point may try to just forget about the whole business (they'll be assassinated some time later, Gonzaga does not like loose ends), flee (Vicky will be found dead two days later), attempt a daring rescue of Vicky (that will fail as the villa has alarms up the wazoo and the PCs would be hit with legit breaking and entering charges) or just play along and accept Gonzaga's invitation. Oh well!
As Gonzaga's two guards frisk them at the entrance, the PCs will notice one huge thug in a black suit watching them. A Senses roll will tell them that yes, he is missing his right lobe. Once they're taken into the mansion, they'll find Gonzaga in a silk robe and a drugged, sleeping Vicky next to him. Martín (the thug) will be on his guard for any shenanigans. Gonzaga is actually quite affable, and will offer the PCs pretty much anything they want, as long as they hand over the dirt Julián uncovered and forget about the stupidities of a cranky old man that could never set foot on earth. PCs may pretend to make the deal with him, in which case he'll have documents brought in for the PCs to sign, implicating them in Gonzaga's dirty business. Or they may refuse and take the high moral ground, in which case he'll simply tell Martín to dispose of them. Either way, Detective López will storm into the mansion and demand to talk to Gonzaga, who will take him to a separate room, leaving Martín and the guards with Vicky and the PCs. The conversation will grow loud soon, and they'll hear a panicking López pleading with Gonzaga to use his influence and shut down his case before Internal Affairs gets to him. Martín will get closer to the door, ready to protect his boss, and here's where the PCs may try a surprise attack, escape with Vicky or anything else. If the PCs don't do anything or find themselves in trouble, help will arrive in the form of Miguel, armed with his favorite warrant - his trusty Llama .38.
If López is taken into custody, he'll recognize having taken bribes from Gonzaga to shut the investigation down promptly. Martín will admit to killing Julián on Gonzaga's orders, and the tycoon will just request a lawyer. The three of them will go to prison on murder and conspiracy charges, and hopefully Julián will be proud of his old students from beyond the grave. Hooray!
And that's it for Alta Inseguridad. Cheers!