I’ve been toying with a Ghost in the Shell style campaign for some time, now. It’s an interesting universe, especially the TV show, and I thought it might work well for my group. (One of the players is desperate to play a Tachikoma…I told him that I might, if this comes to fruition, let him play all the Tackikomas in the squad. It’ll annoy the hell out of one of the other players because he can do the cutesy voice.)

First consideration: which mechanics to use? I quickly threw out OGL d20 — I hate the mechanics and the class-based character rules. Savage Worlds was a possibility, but there’s certain aspects of the mechanics I just don’t like. Ubiquity just didn’t have the feel I wanted, so I turned to Cortex…but which one: Cortex Classic or the FATEified Cortex Plus? I won’t touch Smallville with a ten-foot pole; it’s a hot damned mess.Leverage had some things to recommend it here — the more fast and loose skill sets, the discriptor abilities, and the fact the characters wind up being uber-competent.

In the end I decided for Cortex Classic (a shock to any regular reader, I know…) Character creation is fairly straightforward, using the house rules that allow for the swapping of creation points between Attributes, SKills, and Traits/Complications — as with first generation Serenity rules. I do use the 2nd Edition (or Battlestar Galactica) trait rules, where they are ranked as a die, rather than the more confusing die step. No fixed experience costs for stuff, as per BSG and afterward — I use a hybrid experience based on the Serenity rules: skills cost XPs equal to the die you’re buying (raising a skill from d6 to a speciality d8, for instance, costs eight), attributes 4x the die you’re seeking (raising to a d8 Strength from d6 would cost 24 points), and Traits get raised at 2x the die/Complications are bought down at the cost of the current Complication die (lowering a combat paralysis flaw from d4 to d2 would cost 4XP. this makes buying off major complications hard — as it should be, but you can get that mild phobia under control in a few adventures.)

There are existing cybernetics rules in the core Cortex book that with a bit of tweaking mirror the cyberbrains and other tech from GitS…cyberbrains automatically give an Enhanced Communication trait, as well as a benefit to finding information. I’m stuck between whether this should be an Intelligence die step or a die bonus (example: a D Class Cyberbrain is a d4 Trait and gives Enhanced Communications d4 — wifi access with a d4 reliability and a d4 Knowledge or Expertise skill so long as they are online [or a 2 step on intelligence, haven’t decided].) These skills are essentially “book knowledge” and wouldn’t aid someone in, say, doing surgery. You might know what to look for, but you’re not going to be skilled with the scalpel…you could research karate techniques, but you don’t have the training and muscle memory to use it effectively.

Full body cyborgs would most likely have to be done as packages, especially the bad ass combat models with hidden weapons, etc. I had considered building them more as vehicles with full stat packages to mirror their being tougher, faster, etc…but then tough about the show and the portrayal of the cyborgs — bullets tear them up pretty effectively; even Kusanagi wears armor (when she’s not appealing to fanboys and otaku by being skimpily dressed.) So they’re human-scaled — just stronger, faster, etc.

Weapons and vehicles are have fairly similar real-life analogues and are easy enough to put together. Here’s my first pas at a Tachikoma:

AGL d6, STR d12, VIT d 10, ALE d6, INT d6, WIL d4 (pre-sentience) d6 (post-sentience)

TRAITS: Personality Backup d4 (mind state can be retrieved up to last back up); Thermoptic Camouflage d8

FLAWS: Curiosity d4, Duty d10

SKILLS: Athletics d4, Heavy Weapons d6, Perception d6, Tech Engineering d4

WEAPONRY: 2 7.62mm machineguns in their “arms”, 1 nose-mounted 50mm grenade launcher (or 12.7mm gatling gun.)

My next issue: do I run the game in Japan, with the characters as part of Section 9, or do I set it in another locale on the planet? I can see the first option being appealing, but I suspect the characters from the show would start creeping into the plotlines too often.

Right now, I’m leaning toward setting it either in Rio de Janerio or Sao Paolo, Brazil — an up and coming world power, with loads of black market issues, crime, etc. etc. The other option was to set it in a more futuristic India. Right now, I’m leaning toward Brazil, with a lead in adventure that would take them to Japan — I’m thinking they stumble onto a think tank smuggling ring and have to trace it back to Japan with Section 9’s aid. confiscated Tachikomas would wind up in their ESWAT (or whatever I call it) division.

That was the last point: Are they cops/military like the GitS characters, or maybe criminals..? I’m leaning toward the former.