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Psywar on the fly

Hi to everyone! I am a beginner master and I need your help.
One the most interesting feature that allured me to this game it’s the Psywar. I had a little truble on abstracting the entire system but I manged, eventually.
So if I have time I can create a social map with zones, connection and so on. What for me it’s overwhelming it’s create a social map on the fly in casual encounter.
Let’s se an example. PC’s are resting and cheering in a club, maybe sifting for information. Than a a triad kill party enter to kill a rival and a shooting begins.
How can I create a social map on the fly? What benchmarks or focal points I should keep in mind? My goal is to allow to the psywarriors player to shine as the other two field specialists in any (or almost) scenario, drawing on the same options that dakka warrioris and hacker have.
Thank you for your observations!

Don’t.

For casual encounters, who are by definition less important than any kind of pre-planned social relationship map, you won’t need a social map at all. You can use the Difficulty modifiers in the tables in the Psywar chapter to give you any necessary difficulty for such social encounters, then go by the one-metanoia-rule to decide how your psywar actions work out.

A casual encounter is probably only as “socially complex” or even “threatening” as an encounter with a trooper type NPC, so not very much.

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That makes sense. But if I was forced in a direction I didn’t plan before, how can I make up on the fly a social warfare scene? With guns it’s easy, I don’t need even a map (I am aknowledged about some pillars like cover, some osbstacles etc. It’s mundane); with the quantronic world same but with psywar? It’s not so easy for me imagine in the blink of an eye a decent complex scene (I mean a scene not solvable with bare skill checks).
There are some ingredients that you, more seasoned than me, keep in mind when you set up a psywar scene that you didn’t plan? Or simply you skip it to a simplier rappresentation of it (like the skill check or the direct psycombat without movement/zones)?

You find creating a combat scene on the fly easy? - With all this multitude of variety in guns, combat styles, Talents, zones and zone effects and, of course, the actual combattants?

You say, you don’t need a map for physical combat?
Why do you think you need one for social combat (or hacking, that is)?

Just do what you would do in case of a physical combat without any kind of zone map available.

If it is a scene of “decent complexity”, this is probably important and didn’t occur on the fly.
If it is a scene on the fly, it is probably less or even unimportant and not complex at all.
And for not so complex scenes, you go for “bare skill checks” - as you would in physical combat or quantronic infowar combat, too.

If someone wants to knockout a single guard, you don’t need an elaborate zone map and go for multiround combat, when a skilled fighting PC could do this in one turn.
If someone wants to open a quantronic lock on a door, you don’t need an elaborate zone map for the quantronic network, when a skilled hacker could do this in one hacking action.
If someone wants to coax a concierge to give up the name of a guest one of his tenants often brings home, you don’t need a social map depicting how the concierge is connected to the housing management corporation, how the tenant is connected to the same corporation by means of a rent contract, how the guest is connected to the tenant by being a good friend of his or her, etc. You only need a single action or maybe a one-two-“punch” to get your single-metanoia effect on the concierge to get him to give you the desired information.

The last option: use the single-metanoia rule, make it one or maybe two actions, eventually with the support of other characters, considering the long list of modifiers of the Difficulty of this action, and you’re fine.

Don’t overthink the simple things. Overthink the really complex ones.

Social maps you will need, if you go for a long con or a lengthy undercover mission where you want your players to enter the social network by going undercover, insinuating themselves into an elaborate social relationship network. - This would be the main opposition for a scenario, just as an elaborate quantronic network would be the main opposition for any hacker or an elaborate battle zone would be the main battlefield for a physical fight.

Thank you, you unravelled some doubts I had.

About that, sorry, I didn’t mean to be arrogant but It’s easier to me. Probably not the best scene ever but if PCs start a fight in a street out of blue It’s not so complicated set a street, two sidewalk (three zones) some parked cars (obstacles; light cover), the street maybe knows some traffic and could be considered a saturation zone. Maybe there’s a canal or a ditch, could give more strategic use and so on.
If the players like the hacking, unlock a door could be quite easy to set up in a strategic view with simple interlinked directories like Pannel/Driver/Padlock/unlock.exe (3 zones with the “.exe” as objectives). Of course if they think it fits.
The same operation appears to me more complicated for the psywar. My worry It’s just about to concede the same experience to all the players, according to their field of expertise. I don’t want that a player “sit on a bench” or have a diminished acceess to levels of the game because it’s principal warfare it’s psicological.

But your advise to not overthink simple things it’s welcome, it’s a my flaw that I should correct.
Keep simple simple things.

So, may I disturb you a little more and ask you how you build a psywar map? I read the GM Book and the Corebook but I wish have more info and spill some more expirence.

That sort of mid-level complexity scene for psy-war is exactly the same.

The PCs are walking down an alley and 4 gang-members and a gang-leader step out in front of them.

Physically.
This is a grid of 9 zones: 3 alley zones (with scattered debris, burnt out vehicles, garbage cans etc which provide light cover if you move within Reach of them). 6 abandoned building zones, with locked doors facing into the alley.

Quantronically.
Each abandoned building is it’s own quantronic zone (the locked doors are part of this zone, as are some security cameras that look into the alley on 3/6 of the buildings).
They’re all connected to a ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ zone: the Neighbourhood Watch zone has a publicly facing Maya-cluster.

Socially.
The 5 gang-bangers are low level street thugs; they’re their own Social Zone.
They’re part of the larger Triad presence here. The Triad is the overarching social-zone for most of the generic sub-mondo NPCs / Contacts in this adventure.
The leader is also part of of a local bio-modification scene.

Done.

Now, I probably don’t tell my players all of that.

  • They can physically see the 9 physical zones, so I tell them that (although maybe I gate the existence of the security cameras and doors behind an Observation D1 test if it’s at night).

  • Quantronically, with Analysis 1 they can see the 6 zones associated with the abandoned buildings (Analysis 1 lets you ‘see’ quantronically 1 zone distance); and with Analyis 2 they can see 2 zones distance so can see the Neighbourhood Watch zone . I probably gate the Security Cameras behind an Analysis test (D1 probably).

  • Socially I almost certainly gate those zones behind a Lifestyle / Thievery test. I probably abstract it on the fly:

Ok, that player has good contacts with the Triads, so he starts at Medium distance from the Triad Zone. In which case it’ll be a D2 Lifestyle/Thievery test to see if he knows someone he can name drop to the gang leader [D1+1 Zone distance] and a D3 Lifestyle/Thievery test to see if he knows who these gang-bangers are [D1 + 2 Zones distance].

If these gang-bangers are particularly Insular or obscure, I’ll increase the Difficulty higher.

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I find it helps when making Psywar Maps to think of how a Corporation is organised and then make the make up like it is someone trying to move through that Corporation.

At the center you have the CEO/Leader around them the division executives/lieutenants and beyond them the Group Leads/Peddlers and then their workers/minions.

Then you just need to decide who knows who and who has access to who to figure you where the Dyadic links go.

Thinking of Psywar like a Spider-Web where you want to get to the middle has worked best for me and its also a helpful image to figure out Quantronic Zoning as well.

Having said all that, in 100% of my Psywar rolls thus far in 2 years of running Infinity I have found it far easier to run everything as quick and dirty Psywar attacks using “Intransigence” to represent how resistant a target is to doing the thing you want. I have 2 extremely skilled Psywar characters, one per game I run and just having them make a roll and then check their Psywar damage has been the smoothest way forward for me. Unlike with Physical Combat any Psywar map I make is purely for my own reference, I never show it to my players and I just use it to keep track of who is doing what to whom and where as Psywar tends to be far more long-term than the instant results of a gun to the face.

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Where I find Psywar Maps are useful is for answering the question “What do I know about X?” moreso than “I want X to do Y.”

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