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  • Writer's pictureRobey

Zero Dark Design Blog 5 - Specialisms

Updated: Feb 9, 2020

In the Zero Dark setting, it's kind of assumed that your X Team is going to be made up of specialists: serious, military operators who consider the work of entering an area, killing the enemy, securing the objective and extracting to base to be... well, their job.  It's a job they are good at and they understand and accept those risks.

It should be said that, for those who want to, you can entirely ignore the setting and create your own.  The team could just be a rag-tag group of tourists, lost in a Westworld-like robot theme park, or a gang of Jedi younglings trying to escape from Order 66.  But for the purposes of this blog, we'll assume they are the default scifi military operators.

The nature of a special forces team is that each team member will tend to fill a particular role.  Everyone can do everything, but everyone is the best in the team at doing one particular thing.  Specialisms represent that particular level of special expertise.  As a result, any one hero can have only one specialism.

The Leader is, obviously enough, the one in charge.  But whilst every team has a leader, not every team has a Leader.  In this sense, a leader has a level of personal charisma and dedication that inspires the members of the team to out-perform even their own high standards.  A leader gets a pool of re-roll dice that, used wisely, can make the difference between victory and defeat.  But if the leader goes out of action, unused dice may be lost.

A Doc isn't necessarily (or even, perhaps, usually) an actual doctor.  A doc has a gift for combat medicine that will often make "proper" medical professionals despair when they see the mess of dressings, random environmental objects and analgesics these guys dispense to keep their team mates on their feet when all good sense should have put them on a stretcher.  Docs can re-roll any or all of the dice in medic tests performed on a non-synthetic character.

An EWOp is an Electronic Warfare Operator, often called a "combat hacker" by the media, although it's not something you should call them to their faces.  EWOps can seriously mess with the enemy game-plan, buffing their friends, de-buffing their opponents and dominating enemy synthetics, turning them into allies.  Electronic Warfare opens up a whole new dimension of play.

Sappers have come a long way from digging trenches by the time of Zero Dark.  If EWOps deal with software, these guys deal with hardware.  They unlock remotes as allies, carry sentry devices, like mines and sentry guns, and can act like docs when doing medic tests on synthetic characters.  If you just need to reliably blow something up, you want a sapper.

No team likes having to work with Spooks.  It's rarely clear who, exactly, they work for or even if the name they gave was their real one.  They have a weird level of insight to enemy plans but only ever seem to be involved when the missions are particularly difficult.  Spooks manipulate the Control Deck by removing cards (running down the clock) which they can they put back in to replace any flip result with a preferable one.

What do you think of Zero Dark's selection of specialists?  Are there any we haven't included that you think ought to be in there?

In the next blog, we'll look at the remaining categories of upgrades - armour, weapons, gadgets and traits.

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