Hack the Planet question - acts of god?

Hi all,

I came here for advice on ‘Hack the Planet’. I just finished reading it, and I couldn’t exactly understand how to use ‘acts of god’.

What I understood of it: it’s about forces of nature being unleashed by climate/environmental catastrophe. I’m thinking ‘2012’ (the disaster film) with more pollution and radiation. So: hurricanes with fire, tsunami with ocean plastic, lightning storms, acid rain, solar flares, earthquakes, etc.

What I didn’t get is:

  • ‘Acts of god’ is listed as one of the plans for the score. I see how dealing with such an act of god can be an entire score by itself (as in, the hurricane will destroy something and we need to go save it), or thrown in the mix as an environmental (adequate word, lol) challenge. I can’t see how it can provide the means for something else (as I understand the other types of plan).

  • In many cases, when talking about how to deal with acts of god, there is a lot of reference to ‘specialised tech’. It’s the detail to be provided when planning an ‘act of god’ score, it’s needed for the Quirk’s ‘Limit Break’ ability, it’s mentioned in the Comets’ and Shifters’ crew abilities (‘Solarpunk’ and ‘Data Cutting’) to deal with acts of god, extracting fuel and data, respectively. The thing is, since acts of god covers such a broad category of disasters, I don’t see what kind of specialised tech could be used in the same (or even similar ways) to deal in these ways with a hurricane AND an earthquake AND a tsunami AND a solar flare. Does the game expect the crew to find (acquire asset, craft, etc) such tech for each ‘kind’ of act of god?

  • specifically about the Quirk’s ‘Limit Break’ - I can imagine what it means to Control an act of god: stopping an earthquake, redirecting a hurricane, attracting lightning to a specific target, etc. But besides the ‘specific tech’ problem mentioned above, the ability (p. 90) says ‘after you weaken it as an obstacle’. So ‘controlling’ it is not what you can do to deal with the act of god, but something you do after you ‘weaken’ it some other way? The ability also says ‘how this looks is up to you and the tone of the table’, but I can’t imagine a way to explain to a player what this might be.

  • about acts of god, their tier, and the magnitude tables (on pp. 223-224): I understand the magnitude thing is not only for acts of god (but also explosions, emp’s, etc), still, I have a hard time imagining anything less than tier 3 by those standards (especially since they’re supposed to be scary - p. 13). What would be a low-tiered act of god? The desert’s sun (rather than a full solar flare)? A big wave (rather than a tsunami)? If so, then I’m back to the previous question: how can one lower the tier of a tsunami, turning it into ‘just a big wave’? What does the ‘specialised tech’ for these things look like?

Sorry for the long post. I think that’s all I didn’t get.

I guess it helps to say that, although I love FitD games, I haven’t played one myself yet. Also, I haven’t had contact with cli-punk literature. So maybe I just need to go read ‘Heavy Weather’ and play some Blades.

Also, I’m new here =) hi!

1 Like

Hi Pedro. Tagging @Frasersimons in case he wants to help out.


Hi, @Pedro_Salgado - welcome to the community.
As Jason suggests @Frasersimons is the author so will have absolute clarity. It’s a good question and I asked a GM the same one recently. We agreed that there would be times when we actively sought/confronted an AoG and that was when that job type would apply.

  1. Some scores are so big in scope they require multiple plans. In order to enter the corp, for instance, we first need to get through the AoG. So we use the AoG plan, then switch it up to a different plan for getting into the corp. There are many obstacles that could be in the way of a plan, one of which could be an Act of God.

  2. Specialized tech is just tech that has been developed that can be applied to AoGs. So it’s an item that grants fictional positioning against most Acts of God. This is a grey area that the GM would deal with. If it’s extremely complex and intricate, it might require getting an asset instead. The crew has to be able to execute their special ability and to do so, the fictional positioning is a specialized form of technology that exists. So with that already being established in the world, along with the other crews’ special abilities, you can assume that you wouldn’t need to acquire an asset for anything like that. If it falls outside of those parameters, they probably need to acquire an asset or start a project to make it themselves, etc.

  3. Acts of God are obstacles, there are suggestions in the book as to how to handle them in the fiction. They may for example, like all obstacles, have a higher Tier rating than the crew. In order to adequately affect a change on something like that, they’d need to surmount it first. Then they can manipulate it. It could look like many things…? If they were attempting to change the path of a storm, it might be deploying technology in the atmosphere to alter the path, which would be the clock that needs to be ticked in order to make that happen. It could be stopping the storm entirely, “defeating” it. It could be harvesting elements from the storm. For something people might be more aware of: before Paul can ride the giant worm thing in Dune, he’s gotta use those hooks (specialized tech) to latch onto it, climb onto it, and then use the hooks to steer it (I have only seen the mini-series on TV).

  4. A lower Tier AoG could be the sun, yes. Magnitude is only helpful when you want to assign a Tier. What would specialized tech look like for something like the desert sun being particularly scorching? Perhaps a portable, pop-up canvas with a reflective surface that’s maneuverable so they don’t get burned? As a GM you pose the problems and play to find out how the players creatively surmount the obstacles. All the players have an item called ‘Screen’, which is specifically for “normal” conditions of the sun where they get burned. So it’s easy to think that some days are stronger and it wouldn’t be enough. But if a GM decided consuming Screen was enough, that’s a perfectly fine thing to suggest. It consumes their resources and bypasses an obstacle that sounds like it’d reasonable be the same Tier as them.

Just like in Blades in the Dark with demons, it’s kind of up to the GM and players to imagine what controlling a demon, as well as what an obstacle as a demon mechanically looks like and how it is handled. Acts of God are similar to that. Specialized tech, so long as the fictional positioning is right, means the players always have some effect, even if it’s limited (they can use Teamwork and push themselves, right).


Oh! Also, don’t read Heavy Weather it what you are looking for is fiction where people are manipulating the weather events. That book does have some interesting tech but it’s mostly about a group of people who are basically storm chasers that suspect a huge weather event is coming that is way worse than everything seen before. They don’t manipulate weather events. It’s kind of like Twister taking place in a dystopia due to climate effects having ravaged the states. It’s right for the look and feel outside of Shelter 1, but I don’t think it’ll help you visualize how characters may use their crew abilities.

Visually, the movie Elysium is pretty on point for what I imagine as well, and then you don’t have to invest in finding something no longer In publication.

I’m not sure there’s a shorthand touchstone for that aspect of the fiction, but that’s why impacting AoGs in the game are handwaved with specialized tech. I didn’t encounter players who had a problem coming up with an idea for what they wanted to do with an AoG and how it’d look in the fiction, though. So I would say try not to stress about it and trust your group will come up with something when the time comes!


Thanks @Frasersimons (and everyone else)!! I liked the comparison with Blades: it’s easier to not worry about what this means for demons/spirits/magic because they’re more obviously fictional (if that makes sense).

I appreciate the encouragement as well! I’ll eventually just stop worrying about it and see how it goes. I’ll report back here with my impressions when I do.