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DoubleCross The 3rd Edition (Shunsuke Yano)
DoubleCross The 3rd Edition
FarEast Amusement Research

Year of Release: 2009
Designer: Shunsuke Yano

Die Rolls: The highest die out of #d10 + skill, where # is a relevant attribute. Exploding criticals.
Classes: Characters can have up to 3 of 12 "Syndromes," but have incentives to specialize in just one or two.
Time System: Round-robin.
Distance System: Concrete. All distances are measured in meters. Melee characters enter an engagement with their targets in order to attack them.
Meta-Currency: Sort of. Characters can convert their bonds with NPCs into 'Tituses' in order to gain advantages such as extra dice and the ability to reroll.
Non-Combat Options: Robust. Every character can acquire 'simple powers' from their Syndromes for a low cost, which have unique and powerful, but purely narrative effects.


DoubleCross is a RPG in the vein of X-Men that takes place a divergent version of our modern world, where a mysterious life form known as the Renegade Virus has emerged from dormancy and begun to infect humans and other life. Creatures infected by the Renegade Virus become one of two things depending on the severity of the infection: monsters known as Gjaums (or Germs,) or mutants with superhuman powers, known as Overeds. Multiple strains of the Renegade Virus increase, and these all grant Overeds different types of powers, from psychokinetic control over electricity to super-speed to genius beyond human comprehension. Overeds, however, stimulate the Renegade Virus within themselves whenever they use their powers, and are constantly at risk of transforming into Gjaums themselves.

The existence of Overeds and the Renegade Virus are kept secret from humanity at large, and the keepers of these secrets are the Universal Guardian Network, a worldwide organization which hopes to create a world where normal people and Overeds can live in harmony when civilization is ready. But not all agree with this philosophy. The purpose and goals of the terrorist organization False Hearts are shrouded in mystery, but one of them is to destroy the UGN - and they have Professor Alfred J. Caudwell, the discoverer of the Renegade Virus thought to have died years ago in an accident, on their side.

Player characters in DoubleCross are generally agents of the UGN who fight Gjaums or work to foil plots of False Hearts while maintaining a cover identity in human society.


Character Creation

The most fundamental choice when it comes to making a character in DoubleCross is choosing their Syndromes. These are akin to classes in other games, and determine which powers the character can choose from. You can have from one to three Syndromes; a character with a single Syndrome has access to powerful abilities unavailable to anyone else, while a character with three Syndromes will obviously have a wide and versatile ability selection, but is limited in how much they can strengthen any one of those abilities and is prevented from taking some of them entirely.

One's choice of Syndrome also determines their base statistics. There are four statistics; Body, Sense, Mind, and Social. Some Syndromes are well rounded in which statistics they give bonuses to, while others are heavily biased towards a single statistic. Characters also get a single stat point from their "Work" (their occupation, such as "Student", "Thief" or "UGN Agent") and three stat points that they can assign to any statistic of their choice.

The next step is determining one's skills. Characters receive 4 preselected skills from their Work, which may be social and information skills for a normal profession or combat skills for a dangerous one. They can then choose 5 skills of their own, or increase the level of existing skills. Skills range from melee and ranged weapon proficiency, to knowledge of various subjects and organizations, to special cases like the 'Procure' skill (which determines the amount of equipment that you can possess.)

After that come abilities (referred to as 'powers' by the translation.) In addition to getting a few powers automatically based on your Syndrome choices - notably, every character gets ranks in 'Concentrate', which if used decreases their critical number - characters select 4 other abilities. Unlike many games with a similar system of modeling abilities, they cannot increase the level of any abilities they've already picked. Instead, they get to increase the level of 2 chosen abilities, as a separate choice.

While characters are discouraged from picking them at character creation due to balance issues, every Syndrome in DoubleCross has several "simple powers," which are thematic abilities that only rarely affect anything the player could roll a die for but set them apart when it comes to roleplay. Simple powers are extremely cheap to acquire and upgrade (though most don't need to be upgraded,) and every character will be able to pick up a few after their first game session, if they so desire.

The final consequential step of character creation is choosing items. The items a character can possess is dependent upon their Stock Points, based upon a formula based on their Social statistic and Procure skill ability. Stock Points are 'spent' to acquire equipment, much as XP might be spent in similar F.E.A.R. systems.

This glosses over some of the more esoteric possibilities of character creation, such as the ability to play a Renegade Being (a sentient colony of the Renegade Virus itself, possibly symbiotic with a non-sentient life form like an animal or plant.) Players can also disregard the entire process after picking Syndromes and build a character entirely by spending EXP.

Character Advancement

After each game session, the GM in DoubleCross awards the players XP. Like in most Japanese TRPGs, they're supposed to tick checkboxes when the players do certain things (help move the session along, provide a space for it to happen in, etc.) and use those to determine how much XP each player gets. Also like in most Japanese TRPGs, the GM gets some XP of their own, so it's easy to switch GMs without anyone's character falling behind the power curve.

XP can be spent on leveling up attributes and leveling up or acquiring new skills of any type.


Checks in DoubleCross use a unique system among Japanese TRPGs that in general RPG parlance falls into the nebulous category known as "dice pool systems." It's fundamentally simple; take a number of ten-sided dice equal to your relevant attribute, and roll. Then take the highest die roll you got, add your skill level and any other modifiers, and see if you rolled over the target number. If you did, you succeed.

Of course, things are never actually that simple. You can fumble if you roll a 1 on every die (unlikely with more than a couple) and, more importantly, critical. By default, if you roll a 10 on any die, you roll again and add +10 to your final result. If you roll a 10 again, you add an extra +10, and roll yet again. Ad infinitum. The fun part is that you can quite easily lower your critical number (or that of an ally) from 10 to 8, 7 or even lower.


DoubleCross's core combat system is pretty familiar-looking if you've played any other F.E.A.R. game before, or even something like D&D 4E. There's a Setup Phase, characters take turns in order of initiative, and then there's a Cleanup Phase. During their turn, characters have a Major Action and a Minor Action.

The unusual parts (though it's not that unusual if you've taken TOKYO N◎VA for a spin) begin with that each of your actions don't have to consist of a single ability. You can combo an unlimited number of abilities as long as they're compatible in terms of timing, targeting and so forth. In contrast to TOKYO N◎VA, this is possible even with timings such as setup actions. Also in contrast to TOKYO N◎VA, you aren't restricted by which cards you have in your hand. The only limit on how high-powered a combo you can make is how much of a risk you're willing to take.

This risk is known as Encroachment, and represents how active the Renegade Virus is in your character's body. It's a percentage value that should ideally be below 100% and starts getting dangerous above that, as at the end of the game, if you can't lower it below 100% your character will turn into a Gjaum. Every ability you add to a combo increases your Encroachment Rate by a certain percent, and some powerful abilities can only be used when it's above 80% or 100%.

Another quirk of the combat system is that distance is tracked using meters. This isn't all that consequential for anyone except ranged weapon users, as most powers have a range of "Close," "View" or "Weapon." Close means that you need to be engaged with the target, while View means that you just need to be able to see them.


As was briefly mentioned in the character creation section, every Syndrome in DoubleCross has seven "simple powers", which can be acquired at level up for a mere 2 XP. These range from the Angel Halo Syndrome's "Hound's Nose," giving them the ability to literally see scents and microscopic particles, to the Exile Syndrome's "Organism Infiltration," which allows them to secretly embed their own body inside that of a sleeping or unconscious victim through shapeshifting. As is evident from those examples, some of these are pretty darn creative, and you will instantly comprehend the full range of roleplay abilities of your Syndromes by giving them a once-over. For the most part, there's no actual rules for handling them, though some of them say say 'the GM can require a skill check if they deem it appropriate.'

Even if you ignored everything else of mechanical consequence in the DoubleCross core book, you could have a great 'theater of the mind' roleplaying session using nothing but Simple Powers. In fact, the game might be better that way...

Personal Opinions
Quote:A tabletop game is a bit like a clockwork watch. No matter how elegantly designed the rest of it is, if one gear is substandard, the whole thing works poorly.

In the case of DoubleCross, that substandard gear is its power cost system.

DoubleCross tries to encourage you to think about Encroachment Rate as a risk worth taking rather than a resource. The closer you get to that 100% edge, the more experience you earn, the bigger your die rolls are, and the more awesome the powers you can unleash are. Then, after the action is over, the dramatic climax is whether you become a monster or your allies can pull you back to humanity. For a one-shot campaign of the type many Japanese TRPG players favor, it's a sound mechanic. When you're not attached to a character, why not live dangerously?

Unfortunately, most TRPG players elsewhere in the world (or at least every group I've been in) have a different perspective on what a game should be. We want epic campaigns that last months, maybe even years. We want characters we can count on to stick around and get attached to. Not characters that might turn into monsters and become unplayable due to pushing our luck.

In this type of game, DoubleCross's cost system encourages exactly the opposite type of behavior that it's intended to. Players attached to their characters play them timidly, performing high-cost combos only when absolutely necessary. They'll never turn one of their precious Loises into a Titus for a temporary advantage, and risk failing their Encroachment Check. It's not fun.

As a result, I can only recommend DoubleCross for one-shots, short games, or groups where everyone is on board with the system being high lethality when played as it's meant to be played.
- Anzelotte

  • Unique, intriguing take on the superhero setting
  • Character creation allows for plenty of freedom and customization
  • Inspiring (if not mechanically deep) non-combat gameplay options

  • Interesting combat abilities are the exception, not the rule
  • The power cost system encourages timid, conservative gameplay
  • The official English translation and its layout are somewhat clunky


I love the open-ended character creation in this idea. I could think of so many conflicts in the story that could come out of having so many options.
I liked Double Cross 2.

Can you tell me what differences are there between editions or are they pretty much the same?
(02-15-2018, 11:10 PM)Tempus Wrote: I liked Double Cross 2.

Can you tell me what differences are there between editions or are they pretty much the same?

Did you play it in Japanese? The edition that was translated to English by Ver. Blue Entertainment was Double Cross 3.

I own a Double Cross 2 expansion book (couldn't find the core book) but only skimmed it enough to determine that Encroachment Rate was still a thing and lost interest when it was. I really should take a closer look at some point.
No, I played the English version by Blue Entertainment so I guess I'm "current" with the edition lol

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