I’m going to describe this system which I once described to JWalt; it’s kinda of a precursor to the poker-based mechanic I posted earlier.
When you’re on a mission, draw a card whenever you’re attempting to make progress on your goals, if you’re delayed/waiting, or whenever the Operator/GM indicates that you should draw.
- 2-10: Nothing change yet.
- J/Q/K: You make progress (explain/moderated by the Operator).
- A: You are interrupted by an agent OH SHI-
That’s it. You can see that this tosses a lot of to the GM-and/or-group-consensus, because it’s again mainly about pacing. Ultimately, which happens first: do you progress, give up, or get crushed?
I’m not sure if the Ace above should mean always-and-only Agents, or if it should reflect other Matrix threats (so some low-level Wraiths, or maybe some Squids are incoming). Low-level mook-like threats wouldn’t be represented by a card event, above. Rather, I think if the team fails to progress, the GM would simply narrate that there are now security-guards or whatnot that they must deal with, and while they ultimately should be able to handle it, that’s another several draws where they need a J/Q/K to progress, and that delay increases the chance that someone will pull that Ace and that everything will go down.
Look folks: the Matrix is NOT about your super-empowered protagonist! It is about an inflexible SYSTEM that you nontheless attempt to RESIST! And I should add: your game might involve a Neo-like character who can bend the rules, but there should only be one, and it’s important that there are other players who experience none of that freedom and power.