Downtime

Most of the time between sessions is spent on routine tasks for the United Front. Everyone is expected to work for their bullets, which includes a lot of guard duty, shifts in the kitchens, carrying equipment around, routine maintenance, and the likes. However, you do get days off, and it’s unusual to be assigned more than 8 hours worth of work in any given day, so there’s some time available for private enterprises and activities.

Healing and Recovery

Healing Table

HT Healing (Natural)
8 20 (4)
9 22 (5)
10 25 (7)
11 27 (10)
12 28 (12)
13 29 (13)
14 30 (14)
15+ 30 (15)

The Healing Table (left) shows the maximum a character can recover in a downtime period. The first number assumes spending the downtime period in the Fort’s Medical area (effectively a TL6 medical center), while the second is without a Physician watching over.1 Characters with Regeneration(Slow) recover an additional 30 HP. If the character only needs to recover 1/5 of this (rounded down), they have time to do other downtime activities (making use of their sick leave to get some work done).

Alternatively, you can choose to risk the chair. If you are lucky, the chair will fix your injuries and install a useful piece of cybernetics. If you are less lucky, the chair will decide to do exploratory surgery, install something completely random and useless (shoulder mounted toaster) and leave you to recover from the surgery in addition to your original wounds. The chair requires a significant quantity of electronic components to function, though far less than it did. These components are somewhat subsidized by the United Front (the only way to bug test it is to use it), but it still comes with a fee of 10 bullets.

Helping out

Characters inclined to make the world a better place can probably find all manner of ways to be a positive influence on the world around them. Most don't require much in the way of mechanics. Just roll an appropriate skill and let the GM narrate the result (and note down your success/failure). Helping out in the community doesn’t provide any hard and fast benefits, but is discussed by the GMs between sessions, and can provide jumping off points for new plots.

If your actions as particularly visible to the leaders of the United Front, this may overlap with Working Your Way Up, helping attract a patron or a promotion (regardless of the character’s intent).

Major construction works, like building power plants, radio broadcast towers, or laser defence grids uses the usual rules for Crafting. The rules for required parts and time may be relaxed slightly, with locals offering up some of their own junk or time to help in the construction effort (at the GM’s discretion). You do need some appropriate parts, however, so these kind of projects are best attempted after finding something useful in a plot.

Politics and Promotions

The United Front is in a state of flux, it’s current leaders frequently disagreeing about matters of policy. While the Old Boss is largely able to arbitrate between them for now, his impending retirement is increasingly kicking off conflicts as the leaders jockey for positions and compete for influence.

Smooching up

Socially adept characters can attempt to smooch up to superiors through social interactions. Doing so requires an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) modified as explained below. If you succeed your roll, you increase your standing in the eyes of the superior in question, which may lead to them sponsoring you for a promotion or choosing to provide you with patronage. At the same time, this also increases the superior’s standing in the gang; influence is a two way street.

If you fail while rolling anything other than diplomacy, however, your standing will instead decrease.

Really stupid ideas: you'd have to be really clueless to attempt to seduce the Crusader, who is in a monogamous, healthy relationship and considers infidelity a deadly sin. Similarly, attempting to make an off-the-books deal with the Archivist is probably doomed to fail, and none of the gang’s leaders are particularly open to being strong armed by the rank and file.
Reaction modifiers: you get all your usual reaction modifiers, including the penalties for high freakishness or corruption. Most social disadvantages come with a penalty to reaction modifiers which may apply in this situation, though Sense of Duty and a couple of others provide a bonus. Of advantages, talents may provide a bonus with appropriate leaders and reputation certainly applies.
Rank: you get twice your rank as a bonus on this roll. So a full fledged members of the United Front gets a +2, while a new recruit (like most player characters) get no bonus.
Patron: you get a bonus of +2 to smooch up to your own patron. As your standing with your patron increases, so does this bonus.

Tearing Down

Alternatively, you can use many of the same skills to deliberately undermine someone's authority. This is typically an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) against the general public of the Fort, but depends entirely on the character’s approach.

On a successful roll, you decrease the leader’s influence over the gang, potentially triggering shakeups within the gang’s leadership. Unless you’ve taken special care to hide your involvement, however, it will also make your target annoyed with you, which may have unpleasant consequences.

Working your way up

Even without having social skills, it is possible to ingrain yourself with a superior by doing extra tasks for them. Pretty much any skill can be used for this, depending on what the character wants to do, and who they want to impress.

If it helps the surrounding community as much as it helps the United Front, this overlaps with Helping Out. This is a less effective way to attract a patron, since the effort is only peripherally related to the superior in question. On the other hand, it’s more visible to the rest of the leadership (meaning it’s just as effective if you’re seeking a promotion) and does more to improve conditions in the wasteland.

If it mostly just benefits the United Front, without doing harm to anyone else, it doesn’t really require any special consideration. This is the default assumption for most tasks. Fixing cars for the Hangermaster, helping out in the kitchens for the Cook, doing paperwork for the Archivist, etc.

Helping a leader at the cost of doing long term harm to the rest of the world is occasionally possible, if dispicable. Examples would be things like raiding villages and bringing back supplies, or helping the Quartermaster peddle addictive drugs. If you are doing this with the superior’s approval it can be one of the fastest ways to build up patron. If not, it’s no more likely to get you ahead than anything else; and is basically just dickishness for the sake of being a dick.

Getting rich

The people of the United Front have it good compared to most people in the wasteland. A roof over your head, enough food and water, and you get paid? Yet the kind of people the Front recruits aren’t really the kind to settle for a decent life. There’s always more to be had, either for their own sake or to help others. So enterprising characters constantly seek ways to acquire more resources.

Working on the side

Everyone in the United Front is expected to work for their bullets. In addition to the occasional adventure this involves a lot of guard duty, patrols, picking up tithe from villages, repairing things, working in the kitchen, doing paperwork, etc. While it’s possible to volunteer for more work than just what you are assigned, people who do aren’t necessarily paid more. They do tend to be promoted faster, which does mean a little extra pay, but you aren’t really paid overtime.

So working for extra payment is a matter of finding a second job. Pretty much anything you are good at can be a job, provided there is some demand for it around the Fort or the surrounding villages. Examples include Physician for a doctor, Sex Appeal for a prostitute, Lifting for a laborer, Theology for a preacher, and Mechanic for a repairman.

Roll against an appropriate skill, with a +2 if the skill is in especially high demand these days and/or a -2 if there are an unusually large amount of people currently practicing that skill in the area. Success gives a rifle bullet (worth $10) for each degree of success (minimum 1). Payment can also be in other types of ammo, or in rations or other common trade goods at the player’s option.

Looting

Another way of making money is by launching expeditions into the wastelands to look for items left behind during the apocalypse, or lost since by long dead wastelanders. This is dangerous work, and is typically best done with well armed groups working together over several days and equipped with a heavy truck to haul whatever loot is recovered. The United Front organizes this kind of scavenging expedition every couple of months; volunteering for one of these is an excellent way of accumulating riches.

With limited free time and working alone, downtime looters are limited to picking through relatively safe nearby areas like the city of Grenoble. This kind of looting is a thankless grind of fruitless searching occasionally punctuated by locating something vaguely useful.

Scrounging for junk is the easiest and safest alternative. Treat as Working on the Side, above, except you use Scrounging as your skill and are paid in Junk. So you don’t have to look it up: you gather $10 (100lbs) worth of Junk per degree of success (min $10).

You can risk scrounging for something more valuable, but in doing so you risk hurting yourself through falling debris, pitfalls, and rival scavengers. Make a Scrounging roll at -3. On a success, the GM rolls once on the Looting Table. The Looting Table can be found on the last page of the GM’s Combat Summary, or on pg. 38 of The New World (as the Scrounging Results Table). On a failed roll, you start the session with 1d worth of lingering HP injuries (which have already received first aid and medical care). Characters with Rapid Healing instead start with 1d3 HP injury.

Trading

Trading is the art of buying cheap and selling for a profit. Traders aren’t quite so picky about what they buy or sell, as long as the price is right. Traders’ stock fluctuates over time, as stuff is bought and sold. Since no-one wants to keep track of all these trades, carefully evaluating every trade and role playing out every encounter with random peasants, we’d like to abstract away as much of this as possible.

To begin trading, designate some of your gear as Trade Goods. Trade Goods is an abstract concept which functions much like Junk (Wastelanders 30), in that the only thing that matters in game terms is how much it weighs and how much it is worth. We’ve got 5 different categories of trade goods below. To convert gear into trade goods, pick the category which closest describes the goods and sum up the total value of trade goods you have within that category. Divide that value by the Value per Pound to get the weight.

Trade Good Value per Pound Value per Ton Trading modifier
Junk $0,10 $200 +5
Clean Water $1 $2,000 +2
Consumables $5 $10,000 +0
Equipment $20 $40,000 -2
Ammo $200 $400,000 +2 (See Text)

To be able to trade, you need to be able to carry your trade goods from settlement to settlement. Goods you keep locked in your room at the fort cannot be traded and do not affect your profit. For the purposes of these rules, we assume you are using a combination of scavenging and trading for meals to keep your caravan watered and fed. The same is not true for fuel, however. If you’re using a car (that doesn’t use a gasifier) you need to bring along your own fuel (assume 8 hours on road each day of trading).

There are only three things which affect your profit (in these simplified rules).

The first is what you are trading. Decide what you are selling, and what you are looking to buy (this can be the same Trade Good). You get the Trading Modifier (above) for both these categories2 If you are selling from multiple categories use the worst modifier. If you are buying from multiple categories use the best modifier; you receive an equal amount of each Trade Good by value.

Ammo is special, since “everyone” knows the fair price for ammunition types and most people have some ammo with them for bartering with. This makes it next to impossible to profit trading ammo for ammo due to the competition and fixed price. However, as long as you have other Trade Goods, ammo can function as a very useful slush fund (much like money does in our society). If you aren’t both selling and buying ammo, treat it as having a Trading Modifier of +2.

If you are both selling and buying ammo, note that it cannot be the only thing you are selling or buying. If you are trading ammo for equipment and ammo, and as noted above there is no profit for trading ammo of ammo, you are in fact just trading ammo for equipment.

The second thing that matters is how fast you are travelling. The faster your caravan can move, the more trading you can get done in a given period. If your move is 3 or less (when carrying everything), take a -2. If your move is 10 or more, take a +2. If your move is over 20, take a +4. Note that wheeled vehicles have a cruising speed of half their max speed when travelling over average terrain. If you stick to roads, take a -2 for the increased competition along your routes.

Trading rolls

Current Regional Wealth: $1503

Make a Merchant roll with the modifiers listed above and half your general reaction modifiers. On a success, you trade away 1% of your stock of each of the Goods you were selling per point you succeed by up to a total value equal to the region’s wealth. Make a note of the total value you sold. You earn twice this, divided evenly amongst the goods you were buying.

New Equipment

Item Value Modifier Table

If the item falls between
two values, use the highest


Item value Modifier
$50 +4
$100 +2
$200 +0
$500 -1
$1,000 -2
$2,000 -3
$5,000 -4
$10,000 -5
$20,000 -6
$50,000 -7
$100,000 -8
$200,000 -9
$500,000 -10

Getting your hands on powerful hardware in the wastelands is no easy task. Quality equipment is rare, and those who have it are unlikely to be willing to part with it without serious compensation. Acquiring a piece of ultra tech gear can be an adventure in and off itself (see the long term character goals page).

The best way to get your hands on new gear is during play; scavenging it from ancient ruins of looting it from the corpses of your enemies. The United Front encourages members to turn in excess gear to benefit everyone, but will generally turn a blind eye if you come back with a shiny new rifle while turning in your old musket as loot. Hoarding equipment, on the other hand, is frowned upon. No-one needs seven rifles, and those weapons could do a hell of a lot more good in the hands of some new recruits than they can in a duffel bag hanging of your bike.

Requisitions

Equipment that is handed into the gang is either used for trading (keeping the gang supplied with ammunition and food) or stored until someone has need for it.

Convincing a superior that you have need for a certain item is a viable down time activity. Doing so requires an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) modified as explained below. If you succeed your roll, you get the item you need or whatever the UF have available that is closest (at GMs discretion). It will also increase your standing in the eyes of the superior in question, which may lead to them sponsoring you for a promotion or choosing to provide you with patronage. If you fail while rolling anything other than diplomacy, however, your standing will instead decrease.

Really stupid ideas: you'd have to be really clueless to attempt to seduce the Crusader, who is in a monogamous, healthy relationship and considers infidelity a deadly sin. Similarly, attempting to make an off-the-books deal with the Archivist is probably doomed to fail, and none of the gang’s leaders are particularly open to being strong armed by the rank and file. The GM is free to give a -10 penalty to such attempts, and even if you succeed you are likely to make yourself a powerful enemy in the long term.

Asking the right/wrong person: The leaders of the Front have fairly clear areas of responsibility. The Hangermaster handles vehicles, the Archivist handles guns, the Cook handles food, the Quartermaster handles the rest4, etc. Going behind the back of one of these to get something undermines the leader’s authority and will be noticed. Of course, if you want to weaken someone's position undermining their authority is a viable strategy. It is however more difficult, giving a -2 or more.

Just sucking up: if you don't actually want any gear, but just want to suck up to your favorite boss, the effects on your standing of the roll are doubled.

Modifiers

Reaction modifiers: you get all your usual reaction modifiers, including the penalties for high freakishness or corruption. Most social disadvantages come with a penalty to reaction modifiers which may apply in this situation, though Sense of Duty and a couple of others provide a bonus. Of advantages, talents may provide a bonus with appropriate leaders and reputation certainly applies.
Rank: you get twice your rank as a bonus on this roll. So a full fledged members of the United Front gets a +2, while a new recruit (like most player characters) get no bonus.
Patron: you get a bonus of +2 to make requests from your own patron. As your standing with your patron increases, so does this bonus.
Cost of request: The more expensive your request, the harder it is to convince people to give it to you. Getting a handful of extra bullets to replace the ones you lost protecting the Farms from Zombeetles is fairly routine while getting yourself an assault rifle is harder. See the Item Value Modifier Table above.

Bartering

Buying gear from traders is a two step process. First you need to find someone who has the item you want and is willing to part with it. This is an Area Knowledge or Current Affairs (Business, People, or Regional) with a penalty based on the cost of the item. Alternatively, you may roll an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise) with the same penalty (plus any reaction modifiers that apply against the general public) to represent asking around.

Once you’ve tracked down someone to buy from, you need something to barter with. Most gear is worth about half price5 when bartered away for something specific, while Ammo And Power Cells always sell for their full value.

If you want, you can try to negotiate a better deal using the Merchant skill (or IQ-5). Each point you succeed by increases the perceived value of your bartering goods by 5% up to a maximum of their full value (bullets are completely unaffected). Each point you fail by decreases the perceived value of your bartering goods by 5%, to a minimum of 20% (again, bullets are completely unaffected). To reiterate: the perceived value of your bartering goods starts at 50%.

As an example: Say you want to get your hands on a Gas Mask (worth $400). You’ve got a Cheap Auto Pistol ($480) and a suit of Studded Leather Armor ($210) (both taken off a ganger you killed last week) to trade, as well as the ammunition the ganger was carrying. The pistol and the armor have a “book” value of $690 in total, so the perceived value starts at half that, or $345. The trader is willing to give you $345 worth of gear in exchange for them. So you’d need $55 more to reach $400, which is 11 pistol rounds. Or you could risk trying to negotiate a better deal.

You have a Merchant skill of 13, and roll a 9. Nine is 4 less than 13, so you succeed by 4 for a 20% increase to perceived value. Out come the calculators. Your goods are now worth 70% to the trader instead of 50%, so the pistol is worth $336 and the armor $147 to this trader. You could toss in some more bullets and keep the armor, or you could ask the trader if they have some ammo to spare to even out the deal. After a bit of back and forth, you hand over both items in exchange for the gasmask, 8 rifle rounds, a spent rifle casing and a paper cartridge.

Crafting

Sometimes the only way to get what you need is to make it yourself. We use the crafting rules from The New World as modified here. They're listed as “Inventions, Upgrades, and Repairs” in that book for reasons that I can't fathom.

Gathering Parts

In order to make something, you first need parts to make it out of. You can get parts by Looting, Trading, Bartering, Requisitioning, or acquiring them during play. Gadgeteers need 30% of an item’s value in parts in order to build it without penalties, while people without that Advantage need a full 100%.

However, not all parts are created equal. All the wood in the world brings you no closer to building a longsword, if you don't have anything you can use for a blade. How useful something is as a part depends on how readily it fits with what you are trying to make:

Unrelated: It has nothing to do with your intended product. Clothes for the construction of a gun or vice versa. x0.1 value

Barely Related: You may be able to come up with a reasonable argument for why it might be useful. Clothes torn up and used as rope to hold a wasteland car together. x0.5 value

Related: Eh, it's close enough. It's not really the same thing, but you could easily see how most of it could be repurposed. Clothes used make bandages with some careful cutting and sowing. x1 value

Junk: Junk is always worth it's full value as parts. It weighs a lot for any given value, but it's very versatile. x1 value

Raw Materials: If you're lucky enough to get you hands on raw materials which haven't yet been used for anything, and they're the right kind of raw materials for what you want to make, they're worth a little extra. A bolt of cloth on hand when making some clothes. x1.5 value

Very Closely Related: It's immediately clear how you’d use the part in the final construction with little or no repurposing. Pants when you want to make a pair of shorts or a pistol when you want to make a rifle. x2 value

The Exact Same Thing: Having a copy you can scrap for parts makes it incredibly easy to make something. Having a shredded jacket on hand when making yourself a jacket. x4 value

Broken Parts: A broken part has half the value it would have as a part if it were intact. So a broken copy of the thing you are building has twice the value of the thing. As we'll see below, having twice the parts you need or more gives a bonus on the roll. Merchants are often willing to sell broken stuff at a fourth their regular price, meaning looking for broken stuff is usually worthwhile for dedicated techies.

Crafting Modifiers

Object Cost Table: The main modifier for crafting is how expensive the target object is. Like everything in After the End, items more advanced than TL4 cost more than they normally would (double the cost for each tech level above 4). Use the Gadgeteer column for characters with the Gadgeteer advantage and the Normal Person for people without it. Use New for scratch built projects, and Upgrade (Upg.) for modifying items.

The modifier in parenthesis is for downtime use; since we only allow one downtime roll, you might as well get the bonuses for spending extra time. The Time column is in downtime sessions, with the times in parenthesis providing guidelines for how long crafting takes if done on screen6 (the GM is free to adjust this based on circumstances).

Value Normal Person Gadgeteer
Upg. New Time Upg. New Time
Up to $10 -2(+1) -7(-4) 1 (1 full day) +2 (+8) -2(+4) 1 (30 min)
Up to $100 -4(-3) -9(-8) 1 (4ish days) +1(+5) -3(+1) 1 (a few hours)
Up to $1,000 -6 -11 1 -1(+2) -5(-2) 1 (1 full day)
Up to $10,000 -8 -13 3 -2(+0) -6(-4) 1 (2ish days)
Up to $100,000 -10 -15 11 -4(-3) -8(-7) 1 (5ish days)
Up to $1,000,000 -12 -17 NA -5 -9 1
Up to $2,000,000 -14 -19 NA -7 -11 2
Up to $3,000,000 -16 -21 NA -8 -12 3
+$1,000,000 -2 -2 NA -1.5 -1.5 +1

Sidenote: Yes, Gadgeteers are significantly better at making stuff than normal people. This is by design. Gadgeteer is to making stuff what Gunslinger is to shooting; it takes you from the strictly realistic and into the realm of action movies. Gadgeteers are the kind of people who fix burning engines in the middle of a high speed chase.

Tech Level Modifier: Lower tech items are easier to maintain and construct in the wasteland, in addition to being cheaper (and hence easier to build).
TL Cost Multiplier Modifier
0-4 x1 +4
5 x2 +3
6 x4 +2
7 x8 +1
8 x16 +0
9 x32 -3
10 x64 -6

Parts: For each 10% or part thereof of parts you are missing, you take a -1 on the roll. Note that you may not try at all unless you have at least 10% of what you need. If you have extra parts, you get a bonus: +1 for 2x what you need, +2 for 4x, +3 for 8x, +4 for 15x, and +5 (the maximum) for 30x.

Workspace: Working in the Fort, or having the right toolkits yourself gives a +5 to regular people, and a +2 to Gadgeteers (put another way, gadgeteers have less penalties from improvising, which are already baked into the object cost table). Having the wrong tools, but still having tools, is a +2 for normal people, but gives gadgeteers no benefit above improvising.

Spending Character Points

When not to use these rules

Player characters can freely spend character points on attributes, and on most advantages and skills. Basically, unless it’s specifically mentioned here go right ahead. Obviously, the list of stuff that is restricted might be expanded as things the GMs haven’t thought of are brought to their attention.

Mutants can freely pick up new mutations, though non-mutants picking up mutations is slightly more shady (preferably work with your GM to arrange for a radiation accident or other explanation for why you suddenly have mutations).

Mages can freely improve their skill level with spells they already know, or buy up Magery (to the campaign limit of 3). Learning new spells does require spending the down time studying, however.

Training exotic skills and abilities

The following advantages, and the skills that require them, need to be trained, either by finding a teacher or by spending your downtimes working out how to do it.

  • Extra Attack 1
  • Gadgeteer
  • Gunslinger
  • Magery 0
  • Weapon Master

Finding a teacher requires a relevant Area Knowledge or Current Affairs (to know where to find one from before), or a downtime period spent asking asking around with an influence roll (Diplomacy, Fast-Talk, Intimidation, Savoir-Faire, Sex Appeal, or Streetwise). Naturally, if you come across a potential teacher in game there’s no need to locate one. You could also try to requisition training through the United Front/your patron.

Teachers generally don't work for free, requiring a rifle bullet ($10) or equivalent for each character point the ability is worth. This is not necessarily all payment; learning Gunslinger might well require firing a large number of rounds. Teachers discovered on screen may get their payments in other things than mere material goods, or may feel they owe the players enough to offer training for free.

Actually learning is automatic, given access to a professional teacher (someone with the ability in question and Teaching at 15 or higher). Without professional assistance, learning requires succeeding a relevant skill roll (+2 if you have a teacher, even if not a professional one). An IQ based weapons skill roll for figuring out fancy combat techniques, Thaumatology for learning new spells, Engineering for figuring out shortcuts in construction techniques, etc.

Player Character Teachers

The rotating duty rosters of the United Front make it difficult for two people sync their free time enough to arrange for effective training. As a result, training with a fellow player character takes two downtime sessions (for each of you) unless there are extenuating circumstances. The teacher must succeed a teaching roll both times (a failure means it takes an extra session), and the student must roll a relevant skills as normal, unless the teacher has teaching at 15 or higher.

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