Death may Die
Detecting an adversary is an important part of defeating that adversary. Spotting clues is an important part of investigation. Feeling the arcane in the air is a useful part of not dying as a consequence of it. Perception comes up a great deal, and this section provides some useful information about it.
In order to make these rules coincide with the rest of Magenta, the “range” for perception is based on the same system for weapon range. There is no “close” range for hearing or scent because it isn’t the primary sense for humans. An animal generally will not have a “close” vision range, but may have one for hearing. Sixth Sense only has a Close Range for certain purposes.
|Listen||S10, M20, L90, E400|
|Sixth Sense||(C5), S15, M40, L260, E1600|
|Smell||S5, M20, L40, E120|
|Spot||C5, S15, M60, L410, E 3000|
Listen: Hearing range is measured from the ability to clearly make out what someone is saying. One can generally make out a whisper in a quiet room at 10 meters, a normal conversation voice at 30 meters, and a shout at 100 meters.
Sixth Sense: This doesn’t appear to be a “sense” per se but it does function in a very basic level. In one sense, it appears to be the mind’s ability to keep up with the various interleaves of information that a real-time high-stress environment represents. However, there are several other senses that this does represent.
There are myriad senses within the body, sense receptors that might be so specific as the pulmonary stretch receptors or more broadly applied as the vestibular system. These don’t appear to be of much use, but in terms of the body’s reaction to the environment proprioception allows real-time reaction to external events. These kinesthetic senses tell us as much about the world around us as about ourselves.
More directly, however, there are the human senses of thermoception and nociception, which are specialized sensory arrangements for the detection of heat flux and discomfort/pain. These inform us a great deal about the world around us – indeed, our thermoception is one of the major ways we can tell if someone is behind us (the heat from their bodies causes a positive heat flux in the air). Indeed, even the homely old sense of touch is an important sense for feeling sound pressure in our body, feeling vibrations in the ground, sensing wind (and disruptions in air flow, etc.)
Beyond all of this are senses we were not previously aware of before 2034. Detection of arcane events isn’t a fully measured phenomenon (in part because arcane events themselves aren’t fully measured), but it is known. Events as far away as a mile are detectable to particularly sensitive individuals (perhaps farther for particularly powerful events).
Thus, while you might think of Sixth Sense as a “fill in the blank” sense, it is, in fact, an important catalog of all the myriad secondary senses that didn’t make it into the “big three” (or even the “big five”) and the ability of the brain to correlate all of the disassociated information gathered by them.
Smell: This is the most vague of the different measures. Short range is the distance at which one can smell something just odorous enough to be detected (degree of odor being by quantity and amount of itself it’s discharging into the atmosphere). Medium range is the detection range for ten times that degree of odor (most food freshly prepared), Long range is for one hundred times that amount (an open bottle of perfume, most noxious scents), and Extreme range is for a thousand times that amount (overpowering.scents). Wind conditions may cause this to vary.
Spot: The distance for vision is based on visual acuity. In order to resolve an object as more than a speck it must stimulate two adjacent receptors in the eyes. In optimal conditions, this occurs if the object has an apparent size of one arc minute. A human being of average size resolves at one arc minute at a distance of around three kilometers. For this reason, the Extreme range for vision is 3000. Incidentally, this is also the distance at which a car’s headlights will likely resolve as two separate lights rather than as a single pinpoint of light.
The Rules for Sensing
Most people aren’t actively looking around. People aren’t primed to detect everything around them. They’re certainly paying attention to whatever they’re looking at, but most of the world is the subject of passive observation. Some people are capable of actively assessing passive awareness in this way, and some people are not.
Passive sensing is the Rote use of a skill. Use the Rote for the primary sense (Spot is typical). The base difficulty is Range (usually also a Rote). Physical Cover isn’t measured (a transparent boundary won’t block vision), but Concealment does matter. Generally, these difficulties will always be Rotes.
|Sense difficulties are Rotes for the sake of ease. Simply put, if five Main Characters, each with three Supporting Characters apiece, need to check for all four senses and have difficulties rolled for each of them, that’s too much dice. This system allows the GM to very quickly determine who notices what without any major hassle.|
For non-visual senses, this can vary. Other noises can block sound as can sound baffles and physical obstructions (if they’re wide enough). Being in water presents at least 50% Concealment against sound. Still air is 25% Concealment against scent, while wind moving a scent towards the character removes Concealment. Wind moving it away increases the Concealment – 50% for a gentle breeze, 75% for a noticeable breeze, and 100% for wind of any strength. Other scents might also mask a scent.
Sensing Beyond Range
Particularly powerful experiences might be detectable at longer ranges. A telescope can multiply visual ranges, but looking for a twenty-foot-tall behemoth is usually something you can do from a considerable distance. Events like this might multiply your normal sense ranges. This might also make secondary senses more operative than the primary (see Sense Synergy, below).
Even if you’re using Spot, your other senses can assist in directing you. Even the absence of information from another scent can be informative. The smell of something burning might inform you that there’s something burning in the area, but if you don’t see any fire you know the fire is either elsewhere or recently dead. Hearing fire can also help.
Whenever you attempt to detect something, any other operative sense may assist. If your Rote for a given secondary sense would be able to detect the thing at that distance (given Concealment), then reduce the Rote difficulty for the primary sense by 1. This can go so far as (every secondary sense will allow you to reduce the “marks” of difficulty by 1). This includes Sixth Sense.
Watching, in the Magenta rules, primarily focuses on “shooting anybody who enters the area.” In this system, to Watch means to “actively observe an area for changes or developments.” You must set the general direction of your Watch (or declare that you’re Watching in all directions, which is inefficient) and what your default response will be if you spot it (which could be something so simple as “take note of what it is”).
If you Watch, you can actively scan out to Medium Range for any given sense. If you focus your perceptions in a given direction, you have a better chance. When you’ve set Watch, once something happens you can react to it. Note, however, that if you don’t score a Critical Success, you won’t get any major information. You’ll know “something moved” in most cases. This is a split second reaction, so you get very little information. If you roll a critical success, you may opt to take a different reaction than the one you were planning. Otherwise, you go with your original plan (which could be to shoot a teammate).
Watching does allow you to break from Rote, which means you might Watch just by “looking around,” such as your first time walking into a room. As an action you look around. You may opt to Rote, Roll, Push, Breeze, or Risk the test as usual. You may even do the same for secondary senses, which can give you a difficulty break on the primary sense.
If you concentrate your Watch to a 90 degree cone, then you suffer an additional +2 difficulty. A 180 degree cone causes you an additional +3 difficulty as one part of your watch is always distracting from another. Trying to keep watch in a 270 degree area is a +4 difficulty, while trying to keep watch in all directions is a +5 difficulty.
You can reduce these difficulties by one point by concentrating on a single “level,” that is to say not looking up or down from a single area. Hence, if you’re keeping “eyes to the horizon,” you suffer no difficulty penalty for a 90 degree Watch (+1 difficulty is automatic success), and only a +4 difficulty for watching in all directions.
Critical Success and Fumble
Critical success allows you to gather rapid detail on a sensory event. For instance, you don’t just “smell something,” you smell a person whom you may or may not recognize. Your Sixth Sense isn’t just a spidey-sense tingling, it’s the sense that somebody has silently and unnoticed entered the room (or perhaps that something unnatural is going on).
This isn’t helpful if you have some time to take in what you’re seeing, because given a few moments you’d probably be able to pick out the information anyway. It does, however, inform you of
Sensors might enhance your ability to perceive. Many astronauts use small radar systems to spot objects that they let go of “for just a moment” when they inevitably drift away. This adds Sensor Operations as a fifth sense skill, with ranges based on the sensor. This suffers no particular penalties just for doing, but keep in mind that if the sensor isn’t looking from your perspective or if it’s utterly ambiguous and requires heavy interpretation just to get an idea of what you’re sensing (like most sonar systems), then you suffer a 25% Concealment penalty.
You may also opt to use the sensor as your primary sense in favor of Spot if the sensor allows for it.
Hiding and Sneaking
Hiding increases the Concealment difficulty others suffer to spotting you. Although these rules assume that the rule isn’t in use, Magenta requires that the character also suffer 25% Concealment to spot or attack anybody else.
Sneaking changes in these rules by a little bit. Someone who is sneaking is moving while hiding. They can move up to their Sneak Rote in distance. Note that it is no longer a rule that you must have 25% Concealment to sneak – however, sneaking is pretty useless if you stick out like a sore thumb. Nothing looks like a human silhouette so much as a human silhouette, and a d4 difficulty isn’t much to beat.
During a round of movement, the lowest Concealment you enjoy is the amount of Concealment people have to beat to spot you. This makes the 2 meter adjust rule very important.
You might want to look like something other than a person. You can increase your Concealment to visual senses by looking like the environment. Camouflage might increase your Concealment by up to 25%. A ghille suit is intended to overcome this, and it can increase your Concealment bonus to 50%. Note that both of these mechanisms can increase your Concealment to 100% even if you’re taking aim with a weapon.
However, you may not enjoy the benefit of a ghille suit if you’re moving about (the motion breaks the confusion of the eye). In addition, unless you’re using a long-barreled rifle (which won’t flash) and a silencer chances are you’ll lose the Concealment benefit of camouflage (and 25% of the benefit of a ghille suit) when you fire.
Camouflage can also apply against other senses as well. Moving near to a stream (without splashing in it) might conceal the sounds of your passage. Hunters are prone to covering themselves in the scents of nature, including moss, dirt, etc. This could act as camouflage against smell. There typically isn’t any mechanism available to provide the benefit of a ghille suit for non-visual senses, though they may function against certain artificial sensors.
So, what does Sixth Sense let you do other than react quickly? Sixth Sense is the ability of the individual to amalgamate all senses, even minor tertiary sensory systems, into useful information. It provides initiative and it can assist with any other sense. However, it can sense certain things on their own.
The most important thing that Sixth Sense can do is actively detect things in the immediate area. Within Close range, Sixth Sense can track movements and actions even where vision fails. This doesn’t detect colors or details, but it can act as a separate, primary sense for tracking. It can even be used as a targeting sense provided the person has, in fact, detected the thing with Sixth Sense.
Sixth Sense can also detect arcane procedures and active arcane devices. An active arcane device is one that’s performing its own arcane process, not one that was constructed using arcane technologies. An arcane-induced super-sharp knife is just a knife (albeit a very special one). An arcane-induced super-sharp knife that will glide farther when thrown will raise alerts in a few sensitive people when someone throws it.