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Back in January 2013, some folks on /tg/ including myself bounced some ideas for a modern setting. It only lasted three threads, didn't get a whole lot of crunch in, and went into the pile of "/tg/ gets shit done but not really if you think about it" stuff. Regardless, the premise is still in my mind to this day, and I wonder if there's other anons who want to tackle this thing too.

If you've got time to read, here's the threads in question:

>Thread 1: http://archive.moe/tg/thread/22571179

>Thread 2: http://archive.moe/tg/thread/22683517

>Thread 3: http://archive.moe/tg/thread/22744323

If not, here's the gist:

>The number of payphones in your city are dwindling.

>The remaining payphones happen to be installed on leylines.

>You got a special calling card that lets you use these phones to commune with spirits.

>You're drawn into a brutal struggle for survival against other callers.

>All of this is orchestrated by the elusive Operator.

>You are most likely playing this game with Unknown Armies.


"In April, there were 559 pay phones in the major metropolitan area of Inland Empire. The utility service began removing the least used, unprofitable phones, leaving just 179 phones across at the beginning of this year's Autumn Equinox in September. The city plans to continue taking them out of operation until the last payphone is decommissioned the morning after the Winter Solstice, in late December. In Inland Empire this is the time between early autumn and midwinter is marked as the time between the Harvest Festival and Winterfest, due to the local history of an early harvest to make for way for the planting of winter wheat. This period has always been a time of increased crime, suicides, and the rise of a new annual crop of urban legends; and this year is no different.
"On the morning after the Harvest Festival, the news reported a ritualistic killing and this year's urban legend began to spread, the story about a phantom phone card a friend of a friend's cousin found in his wallet following the previous night's drunken celebration downtown. A card that allows you use to use a pay phone as a conduit for the summoning of spirits into this world. And the rumors seem to have multiple sources, but then again, these things always do.
"There is a secret war about to begin in this city, a red harvest as those possessing the phantom cards use the city's constantly dwindling population of payphones to invoke otherworldly being to strike down their rivals and defend themselves, because only one of them can control the last payphone on the Winter Solstice, where for one night you will be able to speak to god and change fate."

- The first OP's concept.

  • need to add some antagonist cabals, and some tales from "The Listeners forum.org/2spooky" (a bad MacAttax mailing list sort of knock off; a way to structure the game's rumors as a bunch of payphone nerds and people more in the know sharing creepy pastas about payphones)


The game uses Greg Stolze's One Roll Engine (or ORE) system, for simplicity and because it's a d10 dicepool system.

In ORE games, play is broken down into three stage:

  • Declaration:

Where all the players decide what actions they're gonna take, and they and the GM decide which set of Stats+Skills are being used and thus what each player's dice pool for that turn is. Added to this are modifiers and special dice, such as Mastery Dice, which is a die either added to the roll to be rolled or set to a given number before rolling.

Note that the pool of dice that is rolled never exceeds 10d10 even after the addition of special dice, for strict statistical reasons, but the number of dice in a pool can theoreticall exceed that cap. Such >10 dice pools are taken to indicate greater than human levels of whatever and the GM takes this into account when deciding what the specific effect of a successful roll is, because teh size of the dice pool is always taken into account. So someone with a die pool of

Once all that is sorted out the second phase occurs;


Where (kel's surprise!) everyone rolls at the same time (or they take turns if there aren't [# of players times 10]d10 available and the results for each roll are just recorded). What a player wants is matched sets of dice from their roll. The number of matching dice is referred to as the "width" of a roll, while the number ON the dice is the "height", and is often referred to in terms of "WxH", so a pair of 3s would be 2x3, or a quint of 8s 5x8. Any matched set is a success unless the difficulty of an action requires a minimum "width" - so someone with 2d10 who gets 2x1 succeeds while someone with 10d10 dicepool but gets no matches at all (so their roll is 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) fails. But, at the same time the height DOES matter, because it and the size of the dice pool detirmines the quality as well as other elements of the success (for instance, the place an attack hits is detirmined by the height), so 2x2 from a 4die pool is a better success than 2x1 from the same sized pool, and between two players who both got 10x10 successes, the person with the bigger dice pool beyond the 10d10 cap is taken to go first and to have have done more with their success than the other.

The Width is what's usually the most important thing about a roll - the player with the widest roll has the initiative and their action goes first, then the next widest, and the next. as previously stated, height then dice pools are used to break ties, though such ties are usually assumed to happen fairly close to the same time anyway so it usually doesn't matter that much. Similarly, the width of a roll also detirmines the degree of success, 2x10 is nice, but 3x5 is just harder, better, stronger, faster, and 4x1 is even better. If a roll has more than one matched set, the player gets to decide which they want to use (very important if you're trying to gimp someone without killing them when you get a roll with both a 4x10, a very nasty head shot, and 2x3, which just hits their left leg, in your roll). Pre-set Mastery Dice, if they match, are taken into account at this point and are treated like any other dice in terms of working out if you've got a success.

Then the second set of special dice called Trump Dice are added to rolls, and Dial Codes are noted if relevent to the roll and Dial Die are subtracted.

Trump Dice are dice that the players note they're using prior to rolling, but which they get to set to any number they like AFTER the roll and basically guaranteed at least a matched pair unless you want to add a specific Dial Code to an already successful roll. Trump Dice often represent supernatural abilities and powers, in Dial 0 these can be used at the expense of a Phonecard's Credits. Like Mastery Dice, these can also be added to a dice pool like a bonus die before the roll to increase the number of dice rolled instead of being set after the roll.

Dial Codes are where ORE's use becomes unique and starts to justify itself - basically with d10 dice pools you can have rolls that match 3+ number phone codes so for instance:

Player 1 rolls a dice pool of 5 to perform a blast attack against a zombie, and gets a 2x11 success and a 9 as one of the other dice, he can if he wants then use up an additional phone credit to apply the 911 Dial Code to the blast, and that means his magical working is given an "accidental" flavor, so instead of a clearly magical blast hittin the zombie, a random out of control car comes down the street and smacks the zombie, clipping it in the right leg and doing 2 blunt damage to its leg.

Need more codes at the moment, only can think up ways to incorporate 958, 555 and 911 into things right now.

Dial Die are another thing unique to Dial 0: here you can "dial a number" over a course of a few rounds, basically how multiple round long rituals are worked out, but also a way to cheapen the credit costs for doing spells; basically while doing magical workings you have to pay a "peak rate" cost in credits from your card, but by subtracting die that have numbers matching ones found in the spell's "emergency number" (each spell your card can do has a "phone number" or something, might make it a single "emergency contact number" found on each card, probably should do the magical crunch first... or not...) from your dice pool (remembering that the overall size of your dice pool does affect the overall strength or quality of the final effect of your roll) you can basically get a discount on the spell's cost equal to the number of dice you remove. And you can remove die from your pools over several rounds to "dial" the full number if you get the right dice, thus either being able to do a freeform magical spell for just 1 credit without having to get more dial die or to perform a multiple round ritual spell at its peak cost.

After the rolling, then comes the final stage of a ORE round:

  • Results

Where the GM takes all the rolling and stuff that happens and actually puts it into effect in the order decided by the rolling.

  • more crunch to come, will lay out stats, skills, and the magical system with a rough paradox-esque mechanism too.

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