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Game Designer's Notebook: Dogs in Broken Contract

Tawna the dog going after a totalitarian security officer.

One of the most frequently requested additions to Broken Contract has been dogs, and honestly, I was a bit resistant to the idea at first. My biggest hang up with dogs in games is that they have frequently been used as living shields. When I came up playing Dungeons and Dragons, they were a piece of equipment that you bought and were treated as disposable. Flash ahead 30 years, and in a game like Zombicide, they felt roughly the same way - like an object more than a sentient being. I just didn't like that dynamic, so I wanted dogs in Broken Contract to be different.

Broken Contract, in many ways, has been designed to highlight the individual. The models are designed on a flexible scale based on perceived character height, and every character is dealt their own individual Initiative Card each Turn. These are deliberate design choices, meant to create attachment and investment in the character's stories. Similarly, the animals in my life are all unique individuals, with wants, needs, personalities, and stories. The only way to do dogs justice would be to make them full characters.

Though I have rules written for dogs in three different sizes, as well as rules for Gen-Mod dogs, those haven't undergone any playtesting.. However, we've played a game with the standard dog, and it felt just right, so I'm going to share what has worked so far.

Dog from the Wreck-Age miniature range.

Creating Dog Characters

Wherever humankind goes, it's best friend follows. Dogs are loyal companions and were long ago proven to better the lives of those around them with their loyalty and devotion. Some work crews have dogs that generally hang back at their barracks compartments, and Black Squadron canine units exist throughout the mines. Other industries, like Agri-Corp, utilize dogs even more extensively giving them free range to work and earn their keep on their own.

Standard Dogs

Every Standard Dog Character starts with these Stats:

Core - Actions: 3 /Move: 5 /Wounds: 2
Combat - Shoot: - /Melee: 5 /Strength: 5 /Agility: 5 /Recovery: 5
Brain - Intellect: 5 /Perceive: 5 /Psyche: 5 /Lead: 6 /Dealing: 5

Points: 8
All Standard Dogs may take 2 upgrades for 1 point each.

I created a deck using blank cards available through
TheGameCrafter.com

These are the current Abilities they can choose from if they draw an Ability Upgrade. Many of these correlate to human Abilities from the Ability Card Deck, so feel free to use those cards and use other cards as proxies during the draw. Just be clear with your opponent what you are doing with your opponent. Also, if you draw a Shoot Upgrade, which is a Stat dogs don't have, for now just treat that as an Ability Card Draw as well.

1. Aggressive - This Animal may re-roll failed Melee checks.
2. Deliberate - This Animal may re-roll Melee checks of 1 when performing a Strike Action.
3. Vigorous - This Animal may re-roll failed Strength checks.
4. Tenacious - This Animal may re-roll Strength checks of 1 when performing a Grab Action.
5. Biter - This Animal receives a +1 to Strength Checks when performing a Strike Action.   
6. Agile - This Animal may re-roll failed Agility checks.
7. Frisky - This Animal may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing a Dodge Interruption.
8. Hardy - This Animal may re-roll failed Recovery checks.
9. Spirited - This Animal may make Recovery checks with a +1 Modifier when they are Down.
11. Persistent - This Animal may re-roll failed Psyche checks.
12. Problem Solver - This Animal never needs to make a Psyche check to perform a Focus Action.
13. Caring - This Animal may re-roll Intellect checks of 1 when performing a First Aid Action on a Down Character.
14. Threatening - This Animal may re-roll Dealing checks of 1 when performing a “Stand Down” Action
15. Vicious Growl - This Animal may re-roll failed Dealing checks when performing a “Stand Down” Action.
16. Rascal - This Animal may re-roll Dealing checks of 1 when performing a Mercy Interruption.
17. Instinctual - This Animal may re-roll failed Perceive checks.
18. Fetcher - This Animal may re-roll Perceive checks of 1 when performing a Search Action.
19. Jumper - This Animal may re-roll failed Strength checks when performing a Push Action.
20. Secret Ability.
21. Bounding - This Animal receives a +2 Modifier to the roll when performing a Rush Action. Rolls of 1 still Stumble.
22. Game - This Animal may ignore a single Wound once per Act.
23. Secret Ability.
24. Stimulated - This Animal may start the Turn with an Extra Action once per Act.
25. Fixated - This Animal may start the Turn Focused once per Act.
26. Spontaneous - This Animal may trade their Initiative Draw up or down by 1.
27. Energetic - This Animal receives two Initiative Cards every Turn and may spread their Actions across both.
28. Fleet-footed - This Animal may re-roll Rush moves of 1.
29. Irrepressible - This Animal may re-roll Psyche checks of 1 when performing an Escape Restraints Action.
30. Protective - This Animal may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing an Impede Interruption.
31. Retriever - This Animal may re-roll Agility checks of 1 when performing a Catch Interruption.

32. Secret Ability.


Finally, if you're wondering how to add a dog to your Crew Roster Sheet, I just used the Adult box and edited the word Adult (10+) to Dog (8+). Thanks for reading. I hope you give dogs a try in your games.

-Nick

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