Terminator: Runners, a Psi*Run hack

Screenshot from The Terminator

For Day 2 of RPGaDay this year, Michael Duxbury said that the RPG he’d most like to see published is an RPG based on the Terminator franchise, particularly the first few movies about unstoppable time-travelling killer robots in disguise, in which the only way to survive is to run away. Alberto Muti suggested a Psi*Run hack and, well, I went and made one.

Presenting Terminator: Runners.


Terminator: Runners

This is a hack of Psi*Run by Meguey Baker. You will need that game to run this hack, as this page describes changes from the base game.

Characters

“That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear! And it absolutely will not stop—ever!—until you are dead!”

The Terminator

The Terminator replaces the Chasers from Psi*Run. There is one Terminator. It is, for most of the game, effectively invulnerable. It is relentless. It initially appears to be human, but its true appearance may be revealed if it receives damage during the game.

The Targets

At least one Runner is designated as a Target. Targets are the individuals that the Terminator has been programmed to destroy. Although they might know why they are being hunted, they are not very familiar with Terminators or the dystopian future they come from, and they are not used to the methods of warfare needed to defend themselves.

If any of the Targets die, then the game is over. Runners lose. There is no hope for the future. Humanity is doomed to be destroyed by the machines.

Targets have access to the Discover category, but they do not have access to the Weapons category (unless there is only one Runner, in which case they have access to all the categories).

The Protectors

In a game with two or more Runners, at least one Runner is designated as a Protector. All Runners who are not Targets are Protectors.

Protectors are individuals who know about the terrible future, and want to prevent the even worse future that would result from a Target’s death. They may be from the future themselves. They may not be fully human.

Protectors are expendable. They may die without compromising the future, as long as the Targets survive.

Protectors have access to the Weapons category, but they do not have access to the Discover category.

First scene

“Come with me if you want to live.”

The first scene does not take place at a Crash site. Instead, the game starts when all the main characters (including the Terminator) arrive at the same point. The Terminator has found its Targets, usually in a public place, but the Protectors arrive just in time to whisk the Targets away.

The first roll of the game must be by a Protector (if there is one), and must use the Flee, Weapons, Harm, and Exceptional dice.

Questions

“Reese. Why me? Why does it want me?”

None of the Runners have amnesia, so instead of choosing questions at the start of the game, there is a pre-set list for Targets:

  1. “Why has the Terminator been sent to kill me/us?” – This should be used to explain what the Targets will do in the future to help humanity against the machines.
  2. “What family or loved ones do I have, who are now vulnerable?” – The Terminator can now attack the identified individuals in its chasing scenes, or use them as bait to draw out the Targets.
  3. “Why have the Protectors come to save me/us?” – More than just a desire to save the world, this should be used to explain what personal connection exists that caused these specific Protectors to give up everything for the Targets.
  4. “How is the Terminator vulnerable?” or “How can we prevent the machines from controlling the future?” – The answer to this question, whichever version of it is answered, should be the impetus and justification for all subsequent use of the Fight risk.

The game no longer ends when all the questions have been answered. Instead, when this happens, the Discover risk is replaced by a new Fight risk.

Risks

“You’re already dead, Silberman. Everyone dies. You know I believe it, so don’t fuck with me!”

Risks, i.e. the dice categories that Runners choose when making a roll, have been altered to suit Terminator‘s setting and style. The Risks in Terminator: Runners are:

  • Flee
  • Get away
  • Discover
  • Fight
  • Weapons
  • Harm
  • Care
  • Chase
  • Corner
  • Terminate

Flee

Flee is based on Goal. It focuses on the Runners’ attempts to escape imminent danger by moving to different locales.

Flee is active when the Terminator is no more than 1 locale behind the Runners.

A result of 6 allows the Runners to move the equivalent of 2 locales (i.e. the Terminator must move 2 locales in order to catch up). A distance of 2 locales can be represented by a dotted line. The dotted line can be overwritten with a solid line if the Terminator moves 1 locale closer.

Flee can also be used to free a Runner that has been cornered by the Terminator, but this is the equivalent of moving 1 locale.

Get away

Get away is based on Goal. It focuses on the Runners’ attempts to escape to a temporary place of safety.

Get away is active when the Terminator is on the Runners’ trail 2 or more locales behind them, and the Fight risk is not active.

On a success, move the Runners one locale, but do not draw a line between their last locale and the new one. This indicates that the Terminator has lost their trail.

Discover

Discover is based on Reveal. It is about the Targets learning facts about the future, either through witnessing events first hand or being informed by the Protectors.

Discover is active when the Terminator has lost the Runners’ trail and the Targets have unanswered questions.

  • 5-6: The Target learns something that answers one of their questions, and the Terminator does not reacquire their trail. Protector players have first say.
  • 3-4: The Target learns something that answers one of their questions, but the Terminator reacquires their trail. Target players have first say.
  • 1-2: The Target does not learn anything that answers their questions, and the Terminator reacquires their trail. GM has first say.

When the Terminator reacquires the Targets’ trail, draw a dotted line between the Terminator’s current location and the Targets’ current location. This line indicates that the Terminator is now 2 locales behind. If it moves 1 locale closer, overwrite the dotted line with a solid line. If it moves 2 locales closer at once, it catches up immediately.

Fight

Fight is based on Goal. It represents the Runners’ attempts to defeat the Terminator and save the future. This may be direct physical damage to the Terminator itself, or an attempt to change history to prevent the Terminator from existing.

Fight is active when there are no unanswered questions remaining.

When Fight is rolled, the Terminator immediately reacquires the Targets’ trail (see Discover, above), and cannot lose it for the rest of the game.

Succeeding on a Fight roll when the Runners are in the same locale as the Terminator is the only way for the Runners to win the game.

Weapons

Weapons is based on Psi. It represents the use of firearms, explosives, heavy vehicles, and other things capable of doing large amounts of damage, particularly collateral damage. After all, if you don’t save the future, those people are dead anyway.

Harm

Harm is based on Harm from the base game, although the results are different.

Impairment is likely to, but does not need to, be applied to the Runner who makes the roll. If the Runner risking Harm is already doubly impaired, then any resulting impairment must be applied to a different Runner.

  • 4-6. Runner is unharmed and unimpaired. Player has first say.
  • 1-3. Runner is hurt and impaired until tended to. GM has first say.

For the avoidance of doubt, Hurt must always be rolled when the Runners are in the same locale as the Terminator. It is also active whenever the Terminator in one the Runners’ trail.

Care

Care is a new risk. It represents moments of personal connection and preparation for conflict yet to come. Care is the only way to remove impairment in the game.

Care is active when the Terminator has lost the Runners’ trail.

The Runner who rolls Care should choose the Runner to whom it applies before rolling. This indicates a shared moment of tenderness between them. Runners cannot Care for themselves unless there is only one Runner in the game.

  • 6. Remove a double impairment. Player has first say.
  • 4-5. Remove one impairment. Other player has first say.
  • 2-3. Do not remove any impairment. GM has first say.
  • 1. Impairment has become permanent and will persist for the rest of the game. Player has first say.

The result on a 1 does not necessarily indicate that treatment has made the injury worse, only that nothing more can be done to help. For example, a broken bone has been splinted, but still causes problems.

Chase

Chase is the same as in the base game.

Chase is active when the Terminator is no more than 1 locale behind the Runners.

If the Terminator has lost the Runners’ trail, it can still move to new locales and have scenes. These may take place in locales that the Runners visited earlier, or in new locales. The Terminator may attempt to lure the Targets out of hiding by going after their loved ones (if these have been identified by the Targets answering a question), or may prepare for its next opportunity by arming up or performing self-repair.

Corner

Corner is based on Capture.

Corner is active when the Terminator is in the same locale as the Runners but no Runner is currently cornered. Do not roll Corner for the first roll of the game.

The Terminator will attempt to corner the Targets before the Protectors, if this is narratively possible.

Terminate

Terminate is based on Disappear.

Terminate is active when the Terminator has cornered a Runner.

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