Monday, December 31, 2012

Andoren, Chelish, and Taldan Treatment of Prisoners of War

I wrote this up for my players in the Pathfinder 'Flashpoint Campaign' so that they'd have a good understanding of how three of the primary navies treat their prisoners of war.  Obviously not every Navy in the Inner Sea is as 'civilised' as these three as some will ransom off, enslave, or even kill even the officer class.  The Andoren try to treat all captured naval personnel relatively well while the Chelish generally reserve better treatment for the officers (although even they will treat captured enemy sailors better than their own prisoners).

Basically, the details are pretty similar to the rules set out during the Napoleanic War.  See below.

For the naval officers and the nobility, there is no need for armed guards or barbed wire after you have gained their contractual surrender. Such individuals must not attempt to leave the assigned area, which must be at least 200 feet square per officer, up to a minimum distance of 1000 feet per twenty officers. As commissioned officers, they are to be paid a gold piece a week and may spend such gold where they will. They must not be put to work though may volunteer to do work for free or at a price.

Details of their capture must be tendered on a Messenger Ship of Innocence, which flies the white flag, and carries no armament, or in some other fashion, to the Admiralty of the country of the official’s standing so that it can be known.

They must not be injured by intent or negligence and any injuries must be tended by any available medical personnel. Treatment must also be provided, as well as can be given, for any disease or other infection, or poison, or such other malady as might be gained by the prisoner.

They must not be kept in solitary confinement.

They must be fed and watered, and given shelter, as best befits their station, according to that which can feasibly be provided. They are not to be tortured, physically or psychologically, nor are they to be interrogated (as defined by an absence of food or sleep; or repetitive and intimidating questions), though general inquiries and conversations may be had so long as they are polite and with recourse for the officer to redraw from conversation.

Officers may be traded to the country of their official standing, in exchange for anything that has been contractually agreed upon, between those two countries. In terms of conditional or unconditional surrender, and times of peace, all prisoners of war who have not lost status due to the aforementioned crimes are to be released to the countries of which they gained their official standing.

If the officer were to stray or break the laws of the realm, of which they have been informed, then they are to lose their status as an officer and be treated as any generic prisoner of war may. If the officer were to commit sabotage and attempt any damage of infrastructure, or attempt to subvert those who are in service to the officers or the military, or attempt to collude with those who are subverting such individuals, then they are to lose their status as an officer and be treated as any generic prisoner of war may.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dystopic Form of the City Miami

Miami - 2052

9,532,460 population

This sprawling city and the rest of Florida enjoyed a population explosion when it accepted no less than three waves of refugees from nearby states.  Many of those refugees were first turned to the task of walling out the other refugees when it was found that a number of irradiated individuals were heading East and when the first reports of zombies started flooding in.  Salvation Wall must be credited to the 2028 new American Conglomeration – a combination of corporations who agree on certain civic regulations such as hose pipe diameters for fire trucks to ensure the country could continue to function.  Approximately four million of these American refugees settled in and around Miami, almost doubling its population, where a number of housing projects boasting skyscrapers sprung up within a few years.

In fact, Miami describes itself as a futuristic society rather than a cyberpunk one which is something many cities claim but which is actually quite true of Miami.  While there is a huge augmentation craze (mainly revolving around plastic surgery or useless frills like augmented feet that can exude roller blades) and while there are still criminal wars, advertising wars, and industrial espionage aplenty, Miami is still a place of sun and sand rather than smog and shadows.

The Miami river is relatively clean and habitable thanks to the fact it largely comes from the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee although special desalinisation plants and anti-rad plants do their best to keep the various rivers entering the lake, and the lake itself, clean.  This is a semi-difficult task as sometimes radioactive dust is whipped out from the central states and blows quite far and wide.  On the plus side, the water ranges from only slightly irradiated to safe and that’s quite good all things considered.  On the downside, it is quite polluted due to the sudden increase in communities built along its banks due to the refugees although that has simply taken it to the level of the Thames River rather than to the level expected of a cyberpunk society.  

Miami River Docks have space for small cargo terminals for ships up to 230 feet in length to load cargo.  It is also an area into which all manner of contraband—contraband (namely brand name knock offs, illegal aliens—has been discharged into the US.  It is perfectly legal to buy and sell correctly labelled and manufactured drugs but it is illegal to manufacture or sell poorly made drugs.  The Chemistry Safety Commission (largely made up of mafia dons and pharmaceutical companies) make sure of it and are free to dole out massive fines on pain of injury to those who ignore them or don’t pay the correct tithes (erm, taxes).

While there are taxes, these taxes are generally more obviously linked except in the case where organised criminals have covered their antics in legal-sounding words.  People must pay a certain amount of tax but can divide up the proportions and assign it to different areas online.  20% income tax online to certain general areas (i.e. education) or 21% to assign it to certain types (i.e. primary schools or other languages or education in Coral Way) or 22% to institutions (Sacred Hearts Primary School).  A certain proportion is kept aside for basic necessities (internet cables, road repair, etc.)  This has led to areas with wealthier residents getting a real boost to their local environment whilst areas with a largely poor or unemployed populations miss out as most people are happier to pay a little more tax so long as it affects their local area.

The police are restricted to detective work involving violent crimes and mass property damage.  Everything else is dealt with by private police which can range from private investigators to trumped up bouncers to mercenaries.

Public transport is a lot easier than private transport due to the substantial growth found across Miami.  There is a commuter rail system, fully automated Metromovers  on skyways in Downtown areas, taxis, and some buildings also have helipads.

This is a rich city with a large number of Spanish-speaking citizens that have also unofficially accepted the existence of vampires though most people haven’t met one (or don’t know if they have) and some still think it’s some sort of cultural meme like Anonymous that makes a point to hack photographs.  Religion is on the rise due to a large settlement of southern Americans and the fact that the dead are walking which has increased the prevalence of Christians, Muslims, and Jews – with a sad coincident increase in fundamentalism and evangelism.  Death cults are also on the rise with people believing the End Times are upon us.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Skill Under The Spotlight: Science

Science is generally easy to think up uses for but surprisingly rarely used in a lot of games perhaps because games of occult science don't come up so much outside of the Ordo Dracul and even then it normally falls under the occult skill.  Your best bet is not to be too shy in coming forward with requests to use the Science skill if it seems appropriate.  Sometimes the Storyteller just won't think of how you could use Science to take a look at a strange animal's meaty bones to see if you can identify if it's canine or something else.

Specialties can range from various sciences (Chemistry, Biology, Physics) to various uses for sciences such as Pharmaceuticals or Mechanical Design.

Create a drug (Intelligence + Science).
Put together a chemical mixture (Intelligence + Science).
Make an explosive (Intelligence + Science).
Identify a chemical compound (Intelligence + Science).
Detect ignition fluid in the bomb evidence (Intelligence + Science).
Find forensic evidence (Wits + Science).
Identify forensic evidence (Intelligence + Science).
Know what forensic teams can accomplish (Intelligence + Science).
Destroy forensic evidence accurately (Intelligence or Wits + Science).
Decipher scientific texts (Intelligence or Wits + Science).
Play havoc with the electrical systems (Intelligence + Science).
Invent a mechanical device (Resolve or Intelligence + Science).
Perform an experiment (Intelligence + Science).
Comprehend an experimental write-up (Intelligence + Science).
Demolish a building in a few simple steps (Intelligence + Science).
Identify botany or other critters beneath the microscope (Intelligence + Science).
Identify botany or other critters in the wild (Wits + Science).
Understand where a supernatural departs from natural laws (Intelligence + Science).
Complete microsurgery or other microscope-based actions (Dexterity + Science).
Know just how to lift, push, or pull objects to take advantage of physics to help you (Strength + Science).
Figure out how to use your own mental focus and other biological principles to maintain concentration under pressure or pain (Stamina + Science).
Impress another scientist (Manipulation or Presence + Science).
Witness a rather grotesque or upsetting scientific experiment (Composure + Science).
Fake being a scientist (Manipulation + Science).
Perform a scientific presentation (Presence + Science).
Convince someone using scientific knowledge (Manipulation + Science).
Cover up the masquerade using scientific blather (Presence or Manipulation + Science).
Recognise laboratory equipment (Wits or Intelligence + Science).
Use laboratory equipment (Intelligence + Science).
Create a really good fire (Intelligence + Science).
Demolish a building using explosions (Intelligence + Science).
Placement of explosives (Intelligence + Science).

This will be the last Skill Under The Spotlight for awhile as I'd like to spend my Fridays talking about other aspects of my current games' worldbuilding or other more technical articles.

You can find the core article with all of the other likely links over here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Attention Gaslight Gamers

 If you are planning to run or play a Gaslight game, in other words, a game set in Victorian England than you are best served by doing some research to really bring the setting to life. Why bother setting something in this era if it really just feels and acts like a modern version of your own country with slightly backwards technology and some funny clothes? The era is so much richer than that and it doesn’t take many historical details to give it a sense of authenticity and richness. I’m not suggesting that you need to be able to describe each step of lamp lighting but being able to mention a lamp lighter and his assistant, or a link boy, or a maid clearing up coal smuts, can adds that extra layer and help your players get a feel for what it would be like to actually be there.

I mean, did you know that there have been technological advances in candles? They used to be much smokier and sputtered but over the Victorian period they became both easier to produce and more like modern day candles. Just think about the extra atmosphere you could apply by mentioning the sputtering candles over the table.

You don’t have to get paranoid and go overboard, though. Unless roleplaying is your groups’ idea of historical re-enactment with a criminal or paranormal bent, they’ll be happy if you mention a technological advance that doesn’t occur until a few years later or if you neglect to have the paupers use rush lighting in place of candles in the early Victorian period. They really won’t mind. Honestly. But they may like a few touches that secretly teaches them something new and helps place them in the exotic and strange world of the past.

How do you do this? Well, I turn to a couple of really good books that cram oodles of historical details between their covers. Oh, and don’t worry, I’m not being paid to point them out. I wish I were but, alas, I am not an internet sensation just yet.

Everyday Life in Victorian and Regency England will give you a really good understanding of a largely urban lifestyle. It touches on the issues of the rich and the poor and is rich with not only technical details but ones of lifestyle choices and social changes. It plunges straight into discussions of lighting so it just goes to show that Kristine Hughes really doesn’t want to waste words. It has some explanatory pictures and the detail is written in a very understandable style that keeps it from being boring or a difficult read. This book covers quite a breadth of topics and while you could doubtlessly spend your time slaving over dozens in books you won’t really need to with this one as it will cover most things. If you’re running an investigative game, it can also help you think up some extra clues and issues that could be massaged into a plot.

The Victorian Farm is based off a television series and will give you a fantastic and incredibly in-depth view (with lots of colour pictures) of the world of Victorian farming with an eye to the tenant farmers. While this is a bit more specific, if you are playing a game where your characters are involved in farming or even if you’re on a country estate, this can be incredibly helpful. The book goes into the nitty gritty details even more than the documentary but feel free to read one and watch the other. It talks about animal husbandry, cricket, fun and games, raising crops, technological advancements, cooking, greenhouses, walled gardens, hedgerows (more complex to build than you’d think) and the various specialised jobs that a rural area required.  It also talks about the impact of the rise of foreign imports, factories, and a push toward large-scale farming.

So there you have it. Hope this helped.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

World of Darkness on the Sea

There's a really need wikipedia on World of Darkness games on the ocean that has some werewolf gifts, changeling merits, and plenty of information on why vampires might go to the sea and what they might be doing there.  If you're considering a seaborne adventure or would like to get involved with developing the rules or putting forward your ideas for such a game, then this is the place to go.

Game Translation: Cold Fear

Cold Fear is a videogame that revolves around the Coast Guard's arrival on an old Russian whaling vessel, Eastern Spirit, in the Bering Strait, after the first tactical team sent in died.  Tom Hansen, former soldier who is now a member of the Coast Guard and who can read Russian, climbs aboard the ship with his colleagues who all automatically split up to search the vessel quickly.  This is all during a massive storm so, unfortunately for them, the vessel that brought them here has to back off, thereby abandoning the poor characters' to their fate.  Considering that the first team was a SEAL team that didn't last all that long you've got to pity poor Tom Hansen and wonder just how much information the CIA agent in charge of it all has actually given the poor man and his compatriots.

One of the first things you'll notice about Cold Fear is the importance placed on environmental effects.  You begin on a ship that tilts from side to side with the waves and then step out onto a deck that has a crate on a chain that swings back and forth across the deck and damages you if you get in the way.  There are spots with ruined railings where you can be washed overboard or paused, struggling to hold your position, against the water as your muscles grow more fatigued.

This is a bit trickier to model in a roleplaying game as it can be quite difficult to bear in mind the differences of walking across a sloping deck as opposed to a steady one.  If you have difficulties with this, try to pause and visualise some of these locations as well as the sensation of moving across a moving deck.  Another option is a visual cue, such as tilting a ruler over an eraser first one way than another so you can bear in mind the motion.

If you have a map, and with this sort of game you really should, you can just make them make a roll at random intervals to see if they hold their feet or slide across to the railing.  If they happen to be crossing a section with a broken railing at the time, give them a further roll if they're sliding to their doom in order to give them a shot at grabbing the railing.  What if they said they were timing their movements to coincide with the waves and grabbing the railings at the bad points?  Fantastic.  It shouldn't be a problem to simply allow them a free pass until they try to do something else - such as clamber up the deck to a door or fire a round.

The swinging obstacles are also a bit trickier as they rely on timing in the videogame but you can't rely on that in a roleplaying game.  Your best bet is to make it an Acrobatics or Athletics check to get past.  Dodge might work in a pinch if your game system allows it.  In fact, it's generally a good idea to build in as many different types of athletics obstacles as you can - especially if your game has different dice rolls for climbing, jumping and dodging.

There are also some semi-submerged corridors which slow you down as you move along.  If you blow out the fuse box, it'll then electrocute the water when the ship rocks far enough to the sparking fuse box side.  This is the one of the trickiest elements to model as it heavily relies on timing.  Unless you want to physically model it by putting a sticker on the inside of a cup and rocking the cup back and forth, zapping them whenever you rock it so far the sticker gets wet, you're going to have to rely on good old-fashioned die rolls.

You could just roll a 1D10 for every action they do (including every ten feet of wading) and electrocute them whenever it comes up on a 1.  Or you could simply make them do Survival checks (or some other roll) to see how well they can time the zaps before rushing across.  Or you could avoid including this hazard.  Up to you, really.

Since ships are, by definition, a rather finite size with a finite number of rooms you'd be best off encouraging some back tracking to give your nasties more than enough of a chance to come at the characters at all the right points.  This also requires players to think about where they might find the right key or an alternate path to the destination.  If you want to do this, accept that sometimes the players will think up a doable work around (such as balancing precariously on an edge to get from one side of the deck to the other) and if it seems plausible you're best off warning them as to any inherent dangers and then letting the dice fall where they may.  Using steel doors will help prevent an axe from becoming the ultimate work around.

Now that's a dedicated enemy....
A map will be incredibly useful through all of this.  You can mark out traps, obstacles, locations and monsters either before they get there or, if you like to improvise, after you describe things.  This can help you keep the places straight in your head when they return to the location which can handily help both plannners and improvisers alike.  If you want to be kind, provide the players with a copy of the blank map.  That'll at least sort out comments of: "But I thought it was quicker to get there!" or "You didn't say this room was *that* large!"

The other thing to bear in mind is that it's easy to gain sympathy for the poor human fools stuck on the whaling vessel and this just won't work if you want to use them as an easier target for the early combats.  Players will go to great extremes to avoid being the bad guy if they don't want to be one, so if you want shoot outs between both sides of the vessel to be automatic rather than occasional you're really going to have to avoid any notes or love letters that might make the players seek another option.

It's also a good idea to either accept that the players will drag any friendly survivors along with them, include a "safe room" that can be defended, or kill those survivors before the players get the chance to feel too attached.  While there's always room to kill a survivor later on, players tend to look for foul play when favoured characters are killed so cinematical, "A monster charges across and tears his head off" may lead to cries of: "Shouldn't we roll Initiative?" 

While it's tempting to say that if the players were getting into the mood of the thing, they wouldn't argue when you kill off an NPC, the truth is that if you've done your job well and really made a character sympathetic the players will care about their death and will therefore most likely want a shot to save them.  If the situation is iron tight but coincidental, like a sudden electrical surge in the waterways, the players might not react with indignation but may well assume that you only did that because you were sick of running the NPC.  Still, you should know your players and how they're likely to react to this.

Which might be true.

Anyway, a campaign based around Cold Fear, or including elements of it, should appeal to Tacticians as the obstacles require a bit of forethought to cope with.  They'll also add to the immersion factor, funnily enough, as if you have a party of players they're likely to be military trained and therefore should be thinking tactically in how they go about things.

Action Heroes who are purists about being able to simply run and gun will be disappointed as you need to worry about bullets and be a bit cautious because the enemies are tough and obstacles can zap you into behaving more cautiously than they would like.  Of course, Action Heroes who enjoy horror, tactics, and are okay with moments of vulnerability could potentially enjoy this more than most as increased risks make the successes all that sweeter.

Explorers will poke and prod around places that they probably shouldn't and this gives you a good chance to liberally spread around scare moments and clues.  They're the ones who will help the players actually go around the decks rather than bee lining straight for the most logical point and then refusing to move.  They tend to be easily habituated to their current circumstances as well as intensely curious about what they haven't seen yet.  Use them as your lure.

Investigators also tend to be thorough as they try to collect clues like scratches on the wall, written documentation, and other such hints.  They're also probably the first to notice the bodies twitching as they tend to be more keen on poking corpses to see what they can find out.  Take advantage of this but be aware that they may solve your plot long before you intended them to do so.  Throwing a few sub-plots involving hidden romances between the crew that can be picked out of clues can also give them a bit more to solve.

Communicators generally miss out in a lot of Game Translations because videogames don't do politics, generally, and very few even do social situations where fancy footwork might cause a better outcome (like the social 'combat' in Deus Ex).  There's not much here for them either so they might start poking their fellow compatriots or even acting suspiciously just to get their jollies.  Preempt this with the odd NPC encounter - perhaps talking through locked doors or in other areas - where it's vital that they convince the NPC of something.  Ensure that this isn't resolved with a single dice roll although having to trek to another room to get them something would be in keeping with the themes of this game.

If you want to check out the trailer, you can find it here. If you want to read up on the TV Tropes you can find them here.

For the next Game Translation, you have a choice of these: Left for Dead, Project Zero, Gears of War, Dracula: Origins, Realms of the Haunting, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, or Dishonoured. If no one picks anything by next week, it'll be either Left For Dead or Gears of War.

However, I might well try my new Game Impressions plan where I deeply investigate the first hour of Cold Fear to get an idea about how to apply the lessons more practically into a roleplaying game.

If you want to see the list of games I've done thus far, you can find the Game Translation series starter over here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Split Parties From A Player's Perspective

We often hear about the trials and tribulations of running a split party from a Storyteller’s perspective where the individual running the whole thing offers advice and bemoans the difficulties.  We don’t often think of what it’s like as a player. 

I mean, sometimes it’s not even the player’s fault that the party is split but they have to cope with the difficulties anyway.  Perhaps they have a Storyteller who splits the party willy nilly (bam!  a portcullis drops between you!) or simply make it impossible to achieve certain objectives without splitting the party (you have one hour to rescue the princess from the crumbling tower AND prevent a riot starting all the way over in the city centre).  Sometimes another player makes the demand.  Perhaps they have their character sneak away in the dead of night to fulfil a goal or the rest of the party are eager to split up to conduct a better search.  Sometimes you have a serial splitter in the party who loves to run off and be a lone wolf to an audience of bored and steadily irritated players – that’s a post and a half just to itself.

So what’s it like to be at a party that splits up? 

I can’t speak for everyone but I often feel a few things.

I normally feel dread, annoyance or curiosity or a mixture of the three of them. 

Dread because these things can take awhile if not handled deftly and that’s a whole lot of sitting on your bottom.  Roleplaying isn’t like a movie.  There’s a lot of wasted space, pauses for rules checks or combat decisions, irrelevant conversations, pacing interruptions in terms of dice, and some rather boring description – all of which isn’t as noticeable when you’re in the thick of it and it’s all directly relevant to you.  When you’re just an observer, it can often be as fun as watching fish in an aquarium.  Mildly interesting for the first ten minutes but after that you want to find something else to do.  To make matters worse, you’re expected to be quiet and not interrupt the main game.  If you don’t interrupt, the split might go on and on and on and on.  If you do interrupt, your boredom is sated briefly but people might get cross with you.

There may be annoyance if you see that the players involved and Storyteller aren’t trying to recombine the party quickly or at least keep up a fast enough pace that the group might rejoin swiftly or you might get a shot on the other side of the split.  This annoyance grows greatest when a lone wolf runs off while everyone’s sleeping.  There’s no inter cutting which means you could quite literally sit there for an entire session watching someone enjoy themselves freezing you out of the game.  A player’s annoyance towards that often feels a bit like road rage.  You know they’re being dicks but you’re powerless to do anything but continue to watch unless you decide to totally flip out.

There can also be curiosity if it seems like an interesting enough thing to watch.  If you have faith that the players and the Storyteller aren't going to leave you out in the cold for a few hours with nothing to do, you can always sit back and see what happens.  This is less likely if it's a combat you get to watch because, let's face it, watching someone else roll dice and discuss game mechanics isn't nearly as interesting as rolling your own dice.  It's more likely if there's going to be some sort of verbal confrontation, emotionally laden event or sometimes even a fast-paced obstacle course (as the rules are often simpler for acrobatic antics than combats).

In short, if the Storyteller switches between the me and the others quickly enough, the part that I'm watching is dramatic enough, and/or there's a comfortable atmosphere where I know that everyone's needs are being considered than I'll be fine with it.  Other people need their time to shine.  Sometimes it really is better if my character isn't there.  Generally if it's around ten minutes or so I'm happy to watch but otherwise I'd like to be able to leave the room and chat with friends while waiting for my turn.

This might not be the case for everybody but I'm notoriously twitchy and easily bored as a player (there goes that Attention Deficit Disorder again) and there's only so long as I can sit on my hands.  At the very least, let me find a way to read a book in a nondisruptive manner.

So yeah, those are the main things I've experienced.  What have been your experiences?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Flashpoint: The Island's Interior

Lhye recalled a ruined fishery to the west of the island but when they arrived at the walled encampment with its stone walls they found that it looked in pretty good repair.  A tall metal fence ringed one side of it, entering the water, with some oddly shaped inlets / cages for capturing baby reefclaws when the tide washes them through.  They found the wooden gate in good repair and it has an auroch skull as a door knocker which, considering the demon spotted on the island, made them wonder if there were some kind of demonic worshipper there.

They knocked on the door and heard a large dog barking.  A wild-looking Varisian woman with a tattooed face peeked over the wall and treated them with suspicion (a blue guy and a tiefling?) but they talked their way inside and she opened the wooden gates using a winch system on the inside.  She seemed pretty confident -- which made sense considering that her home was Consecrated.  It turns out that she's a cleric of Erastil which explained all the cairns with animal bones about the place (a lesser known series of Varisian traditions from a settled village area just north of Riddleport).  She's been here for the past ten years hunting reefclaws and giving the rare folk who visit the island sanctuary.  She wants it to be homely as she's hoping to get herself a husband one of these days.

Her house was a ramshackle affair, however, the second storey tilting precariously over the square stone base.  A ladder led up into that storey which is where she kept her bedding and, presumably, other things.  The bottom floor was rather homely with a cooking fire and chimney, some chairs, a table, and things like that.  Outdoors she'd managed a rather small and spindly garden in the weak soil.

They ask her to look after Haylei for them as they head to the stone circle and she accepts on the condition that they come back and spend some social time with her.  On finding out that they'd paid the boatmen to return at dusk, she gets a bit annoyed and says she'll need to track them down to make sure they don't get killed by baby reefclaw swarms as they get aggressive at that time of day.

And so off they go to the stone circle, fighting two schir along the way.  The stone circle is basically like a far smaller stone henge with only 9 internal stones and 15 in the outer ring.  There's a stone base lying on two other stones in the center of these circles.  As Lhye enters, the stones vibrate with a gentle hum.  They can tell that the stones are magical and have a moderate evocation aura.  There's a number of dove and pigeon feathers around which makes them think that there's some kind of sympathetic magic at play here.  Considering the devils wanted Lhye's blood they decide to give that a go.

It takes a bit of effort to get through Lhye's DR as nobody has cold iron but soon they are merrily marking all of the stones with his blood and find that each of the internal stones rings out with a different tuning fork sound.

So yes, a short session but that happens occasionally if we're all in a bit of a muck about and idle chit chat mood.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Changeling Meet Kult

There's a really good post on Kult RPG forums about how Changeling and Kult share a lot of essential principles.  As a big fan of Silent Hill, this was a bit of a *click* moment for me.  Any chance to inject more horror into my dark fantasy really gets my inspirational juices moving.  It also works out because my players all have a lot of experience with the World of Darkness and can generally guess what they're facing and what powers are being used against them.  This is sometimes fine.

After all, horror works best when it contrasts against familiarity and my players generally play monster races (vampires, changelings, demons) so creating a new level of the familiar world of monsters and men and then contrasting it with a far more alien sense of place and creature is quite cool.  Especially when you're running Mage.  Anything that makes them scratch their heads and re-contemplate their place in the world works out.

In truth, I think that's one of the reasons why I liked the old World of Darkness because each monster type had it's own world - a jigsaw puzzle, as it were - and the pieces of their puzzle rarely matched up with anyone else's.  This led to a world of confusion for the players and meant that no one could be quite sure how reality worked.  Sure, you might be a Mage ... but I might be borrowing more heavily from the Demon variant of the world or the Werewolf one.  By choosing a different paradigm from within the same setting, I could even change what made a Mage a Mage.  Since all of the creatures were said to share a world, there was a lot of acceptance for a more fluid and nebulous existence where some of the angles didn't quite align.

New World of Darkness still incorporates a little of this but has largely incorporated all of the worlds into one big jigsaw puzzle.  The only species which really sits apart from that are the Changelings as the Hedge and Arcadia don't truly fit into the other paradigms as neatly as, say, the astral plain and the hisil.  Other than the accepted histories of the world as believed by werewolves versus mages, mostly it all matches up.

The fact that Changeling plays with the existing paradigms means you have greater flexibility with how you incorporate it into the rest of the world.  What are the Fae?  They could be anything.  What is the Hedge?  Generally naturalistic due to the influence of Celtic mythology but it doesn't *need* to be.  The Hedge for a city really could be Metropolis.  In fact, as it's a game of beautiful madness you could shift the paradigm many times to ensure your changelings stay on uncertain terms.

I guess what has always bothered me about running changelings is that the game feels like it should resist the full comprehension of players.  It should resist the ability for players to go: "Oh, that is this and this is something else.  I've read about it."

Now, of course, the writers *have* built that into the books but every time they describe it they need an element of consistency or readers will complain and on the many points that they do introduce setting inconsistency or alternate levels, the players can read it too and therefore be prepared for it.

In other words, the *click* moment was that by borrowing some of the mythos of other settings I feel I can actually do a better job at evoking that mysterious feeling that I believe should be at the core of Changeling.  Does the mythos have to be Kult?  No.  Kult is just a mythos that I can certainly play quite well.

In truth, it could be anything.

And that's sorta the point.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dystopic Special Equipment

At the start of the campaign I gave my players the opportunity to decide on three concepts for special equipment for their characters.  I then put together the rules to make their hopes and dreams a reality.  I thought you might be interested.  These rules are for the new World of Darkness.


Sheathed Blades
+2 Lethal Damage.
These spring-mounted blades are hidden in sub-dermal sheaths at the wrist, elbow, and below the knee that are specially designed to protect the wearers.  Their bio-mechanical design ensures that they will function even in an EMP field as they do not require electronics and respond instead to tendon action against the augmentation.

Mechanical Cloak
This augmentation provides a +5 bonus to Stealth against non-video mechanical surveillance (metal detectors, infra red or ultra-violet detection).  This field has been specially calculated to defend the target against identification and will not extend to cover anything beyond four inches from the body.

The Mask
This mask provides 30x binocular vision and can be connected to various open grids to allow information to be downloaded and overlaid across the visual field by those who know the correct IP.  It also includes an encoded verbal transmitter and receiver with a maximum range of 500 feet in a short-wave radio format or anywhere within mobile phone range in the satellite format.


Neural-Wireless Interface Prototype Mark I
This is the basic design which allows the user to access computers over Wi-Fi or other networks using the mind alone.  It also allows information access but this requires a penalty to other senses that are currently in use by the interface (visual and/or audio).  This penalty can range from -1 to absolute.  Trained Observer does mitigate this penalty.

Neural-Wireless Wave Design Prototype
This upgrade allows the user to access hard-linked devices such as Intranets that are not normally accessible without a keyboard at an appropriate access point.  This might involve hand scanners, video cameras, or other security devices that lack a keyboard.  The user places their hand against the device and seeker wires erupt to locate and interface with the device to operate it manually using the Neural-Wireless Interface.

Bee Tip Augmentation
These sharp devices extrude from specially designed finger pads inserted in the finger tips.  One set of the devices are electrodes that allow the individual to administer a tazer on a touch attack.  The other set of devices can absorb poisons or sedatives that can be administered through shallow skin punctures (poisons that require a vein will not work with this design).  These devices are not metal and therefore not subject to metal detection.  These devices are administered with a successful Brawl roll.


Dragon Armour
This body suit uses a fluid design held between two layers of ballistic material that will harden upon impact from a high velocity object and then ripple away much of the force.  While this has a much reduced value against sharp objects and a slightly lower armour value versus subsonic ammunition (2), it isn’t detectable from metal detectors, protects the body except for the face and often the hands from toxins (+2 bonus unless face is specifically target), protects against fire (-1 to damage for first three rounds) and provides slight protection against radiation (+1 bonus).

‘Whisperfox’ SMG
+4L damage
30 foot range
40 bullet clip
Rate: 4

This smart weapon emits a sound that counters the noise that comes from this compact SMG to ensure that it is utterly and eerily silent.  However, there is still a significant muzzle flash that can be spotted by those who are looking in its direction.  It uses 4.6x30mm rounds and is otherwise identical to the H&K MP7 Gas Operated Submachine Gun.

Spirit Ammunition
These specially designed bullets are etched with mystical symbols and use an alchemical gunpowder derivative which allows the bullets to strike spirits and other immaterial beings that are capable of being injured in the astral plane.  These bullets don't injure material creatures and therefore can be sprayed with abandon or shot at a victim of possession.

Nomad 6

HK (HunterKiller) Bow
    L damage
      foot range

With its targeting scope, this bow can be aimed like a sniper rifle and allows for the use of the sniping skill at reasonably close range (100ft).  It’s also made of sturdier stuff and is fireproof.  The cord itself has Durability 5 while the bow has Durability 6 which makes it sturdy enough to be used as a melee weapon.  The sharp point on the top end can also be used as a +1 blade.  The HK company are keeping their lips sealed about the materials used in the item’s construction.

Chessner Dropship (Iraqi)
+3 Handling
Acceleration 19
Safe Speed: 257km/hour
Top Speed: 1200km/hour
2+8 People
Durability 6
Size 22
Structure 28

Power tanks are partially regenerating which is due to the use of applied phlebtonium (pseudo-science) which ensures that the fuel is actually radioactive and produces a cold heat that nevertheless causes the drop ship to have all of the manoeuvrability of a helicopter.  The energy pads are beneath the wings which can be rotated and uses as a weapon at very short range (5 feet).  The engines can travel 2500km at normal speed before requiring a 24 hour recharge.  If jet speeds are employed it can travel 700km before requiring a 24 hour recharge.  After 200,000km the fuel cells must be replaced.  

HK (HunterKiller) Ammunition
The HK bow is capable of firing a number of ammunition fair and true although some of them have limited range due to their weight and size.  He can have 12 arrows of odd shapes or up to 20 regularly shaped arrows (screamers and regular arrows).  Current choices of ammunition include:

·         Grappling Hook (+1B damage, 120ft range)
·         Flares (As Flare Gun, 30ft range)
·         Screamer (as regular ammunition but intimidating)
·         Sonic Blast (6 dice to deafen versus their Stamina + Composure)
·         Smoke (As Smoke Grenade, 30ft range, half radius)
·         Tear Gas (As Tear Gas Grenade, 30ft range, half radius)
·         Grenade (As Grenade, 30ft range, half radius and damage)


Investigator Glasses
These fashionable glasses can switch between Ultra Violet mode (all the better to notice blood sprayed with luminal), Infra Red mode, x3 zoom function, and can take snapshot recordings if a button beside the right spectacle.  These snapshots can be played back over the goggles or downloaded to a computer.  It can also make three short high quality video recordings of up to 1 minute OR three low quality video recordings of up to 10 minutes OR about an hour worth of audio recordings.  They can double as sunglasses in bright light although they aren’t capable of coping with a flashbang or any violent sudden or bright light.

This Mobile Forensics Kit is a stunning piece of electronic technology which is capable of detecting all sorts of compounds.  If you put a piece of carpet in there, it can analyse it for fibre matches or tell you if there were any accelerants found in there.  It can analyse blood types, run DNA or fingerprint matches if given two samples, and detect toxins in meat.  It can also be used to analyse fluids or crumbled solids and give a read out on all of the terrestrial material compounds found within.  It basically acts as a fully functional CSI lab and, though it still requires all the necessary rolls, it gets results in a cinematic amount of time (rounds or minutes) rather than a realistic amount of time (hours, days, or weeks).

Ghost Glass
This device is an old magnifying glass that is about four inches wide and set in an etched brass frame.  The magnifying glass has turned opaque over the years and sometimes it refracts the light into rainbows and other streaks of colour when in the presence of spirits, ghosts, and other unearthly or transient entities within the astral plane.  It is also said to be of use in detecting subtle possessions, elf gates, and whether someone is currently being plagued by a dream entity.  While it won't always give definitive answers, even with a successful occult roll, it always provides hints and tips that can help the players move forward.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Game Translation: Left 4 Dead

To be honest I've only played the sequel but as the gameplay is pretty solid and similar from what I've seen and read I think I can be confident in capturing the basic elements of this type of game.  In the videogame you play one of four random misfits who are caught in the middle of the outbreak and must shoot their way out of it through four levels of zombies.  Luckily, this is pretty easy to translate but it's still important to check a few things about your game system and make adjustments if necessary.

For starters, this wouldn't make for a great campaign unless your players are happy to swap out characters willy nilly because if you did more than four adventures (or levels), it's unlikely that any of the beginning characters will survive to the end.  Heck, even with four adventures this is unlikely.  Ensure that they can bring in new characters at the safe house that marks the end of each adventure.

The easiest way to think of this game design is an urban dungeon crawl with lots of zombies where certain traps (car alarms and other noisy occurrences) will cause a horde of zombies to rush forth.  Create a street map with a few building maps to keep on hand and have a think about which doorways to board up, which cars to alarm, and where to place ammunition, health packs and safe houses.

Car alarms will be a tricky one.  Some games have the option to hit the person or object behind the target if you miss the target by a certain amount.  In other games you'd only hit the car if the zombie were accidentally using it as cover and were partially concealed behind it and you either missed them or tried to shoot through the car.  If you're using a miniature map (which may prove problematic due to the size of streets as opposed to the size of your average dungeon room for which they are intended) you can at least reveal there's a car behind them that *might* be alarmed.  Otherwise you'll have to describe it as being there and give the players a choice.

If you want a desperate scrabble for ammunition, sprinkle it around and develop ammunition item cards where the players can erase bullets as they go - either by adding them to their revolvers or once the clip itself is spent.  This isn't too much minutiae *if* you create an easy system with erasers.  Otherwise, it probably will be and might also damage the character sheet if you're using that sheet to rub things off.

I'd recommend introducing health packs although very few roleplaying games use them (unless you count healing potions in D&D and Pathfinder).  The player characters will be taking a lot of damage and it's important to give them something that will allow for quick and easy healing.  Simply dropping Cure Light Wounds potions that look like first aid kits into your game would work a treat.  Make it take a round to use on yourself or someone who has been downed.  If you want to be true to the game, allow player characters who have been dropped to the floor a few rounds to be saved by a health pack before dying.

For those who don't know, a Cure Light Wounds potion heals 1D8 hit points.  You could have something similar to heal World of Darkness health levels, Call of Cthulhu hit points, or any other game's health meter.

Oh, and it's probably also a good idea to let your player characters get more hit points than usual as they'll be in a lot of combats.  If you tried this game with regular World of Darkness you'll get frustrated by players that become obsessed with stealth and hiding.  When you try to flush them out with hordes they would then get frustrated as well since they have no hope of surviving.  You want a nice balance where they should be able to take on several zombies and a special zombie in a single encounter without dying for good.  If this means giving them more health levels, perhaps double or triple, then that's fine.

Some people have dogs.  I have Special Infected.
In truth, you could probably get away with the basic zombies dealing a set amount of damage in each successful hit.  This allows you to control the scene a bit better and reduces your amount of math.  You'd then only need to roll to hit.  If this amount of damage is about the average of what the players expect and you're up front about doing it and your reasons why you shouldn't have much of a problem.  Considering the sheer amount of combat your players will be facing, they'll probably be quite happy to reduce the amount of zombie dice rolls or the need for you to sit and count up the dice.

These are also not your usual shamblers.  They're faster than most and some of them are *really* fast.  They can run, jump, climb, and break in through windows.  The only place they won't break into (or surround) are specially designed safe houses that were meant to protect people from the zombie plague.  Some of these zombies have special powers - they puke on you which attracts zombies, they have long tongues that can entangle you and drag you towards them, or they can charge like bulls and knock you down.

Oh, and one other thing.  The player characters need to be immune to this disease.  If not, they will likely be infected within the first encounter.  Yeah, this game has that much combat in it and any roleplaying game that tried to use the same framework needs to have the same.

A campaign based around Left For Dead, or including elements of it, should appeal to Tacticians due to a need to stay on top of changing situations and ensure that all of the characters are fully employed in staying together and helping each other out.  Action Heroes will enjoy all the zombie killing, running away, and the need to cope with such changing circumstances.

Explorers will enjoy the opportunities to take a sneak peek into a number of real world locations so try to be a bit imaginative and perhaps do a bit of research into the sort of settings you use - such as IKEA.  Try to get your hands on a map, at the very least.  These players might not be so keen on the restrictions placed on Exploration, though.  After all, the risk of another zombie horde attacking discourages poking about in drawers or spare rooms.

Investigators won't have much to do here.  If they're a big fan of zombies they might be okay for the short-term but will likely get frustrated since all of the running and hiding in safe houses doesn't really give them the opportunity to hunt for clues and exercise their mind getting to the bottom of something.  If they tilt towards being one of the Tacticians or Action Heroes on a secondary level than they might be all right.  Otherwise I'd recommend more of a Dead Island game.

Communicators will need to get their kicks from safe houses so try to introduce the odd NPC - perhaps over radio - so that they don't feel stifled by a complete lack of social interaction.  You could even introduce the politics of safe houses if you were willing to throw in some elements of Dead Island as the various survivors compete for resources - namely your assistance.  Certainly give them a breather in the safe houses to talk amongst themselves which will be popular amongst all of the roleplayers and dramatists anyway.

If you want to check out the trailer, you can find it here. There's also some TV Tropes that you can take a look at over here.

For the next Game Translation, you have a choice of these: Left for Dead, Project Zero, Gears of War, Dracula: Origins, Realms of the Haunting, Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Dishonored, The Dig, Chronicles of Mystery: The Tree of Life, or Cold Fear. If no one picks anything by next week, it'll be either Dishonored or Chronicles of Mystery: The Tree of Life.

If you want to see the list of games I've done thus far, you can find the Game Translation series starter over here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Insylum Summary

In Insylum, you play an amnesiac in a psychiatric institution.  I'm using the Brookhaven Hospital map from Silent Hill (see here and over here) which has two copies of the 2F - one for men and one for women.  It's the 2F which is where James spends all of his time.  Anyway, in Insylum you have three coloured tokens that you play with rather than dice.  As this is also a vampire game, I added a fourth colour and adapted the rules a little.  I used poker chips for all of these.
  • Blue - Fatigue.  You bet these against the Storyteller's bet to accomplish physical or social tasks by betting them.  I also sometimes allow them to be spent to accomplish mental tasks - such as dredge up an old fact dimly remembered about biology.  You earn these through fulfilling your Vice / Virtue, completing a goal, having an enjoyable time, or otherwise getting to know yourself.
  • White - Lucidity.  You can spend these to disbelieve an illusion.  If it's real, you don't lose the chip.  It costs 5 Fatigue chips to earn a Lucidity chip.
  • Black - Memory.  You can spend these to check if you have a Memory related to your current circumstances.  If so, you can lock in a skill and have access to using dice rather than relying on Fatigue bets to get these done.  This allows you to save up more Fatigue and quicker.
  • Red - Blood.  One of these can be spent with a Fatigue point to represent the fortitude of the Beast - such as in the typical blood buff of physical tasks.  This refreshes whenever he's fed but goes down by one whenever he awakens.
Now for the Dramatic Personae.  It's always tricky trying to create characters with schizophrenia in a manner that doesn't downplay the difficulties of their experiences nor which paints them all in the same brush and ignores their personality.  These characters are mostly high functioning with positive rather than negative symptoms.  As these are summaries they focus on their schizophrenic symptoms but during the roleplay I make a point to ensure that a number of them can, and do, have regular conversations that don't revolve around their symptoms.

The male patients:
  • James P.  Amnesiac Daeva who is told that he is hallucinating his blurred reflection and fangs (when they descend) and is deluded by thoughts of vampirism since he has no hunger for real food and therefore is fed a warm meat slushy every night that he reinterprets into blood.  He has had his moments of violence and has assaulted Hester (who locked herself into the bathroom), the chief orderly Sunderland, and tried to bite Dr. K.  He remembers none of this.  He has allegedly only been here two weeks.
  • Ron.  This man has a low IQ of 65 which makes it difficult for him to understand exactly what's going on sometimes, especially as he has two voices constantly arguing with each other in his head and undermining his confidence.  He can be a bit vulgar because he doesn't have the same boundaries that most people have.  He really loves birds and makes a lot of clay birds.
  • Cliff.  An American tank soldier whose suffered severe PTSD ever since a plane crashed into the side of his tank.  Luck led to the side popping and him escaping unharmed while the rest of his crew burned to death or were crushed by the initial impact.  His flashbacks are severe enough to be considered temporary delusions (as he feels he's there) and hallucinations due to what he sees.  In short, he's been misdiagnosed.  He's great at clay work, keeping other people calm, and is a generally stand up guy with a whole lot of patience.
  • Paul.  Italian.  He doesn't understand English very well but tries to get on with the others.  He's normally treated as window dressing.
  • Edgar.  Paranoid schizophrenic but the meds seem to be working pretty well with him as, while he maintains his delusions of the robot sentries and false neighbours reporting back to the Nazi-run American government, he manages to cope in social situations pretty well even though he's pretty suspicious of other people's motives.  Able to find the humor in every situation - including his own - he sometimes plays up his delusions just to make the orderlies worry before getting bored and going back to his usual behaviours.  He's a good painter.
  • Harley.  Schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur who believes that he's the chosen of God and that the apocalypse is happening in the outside world but this institution is safe because he's here.  He's very religious and the other patients tend to simply nod and smile and then get back to whatever they were doing.  He spends the most time with Edgar (who puts up with him the most).
The female patients:
  • Hester.  She takes pride in being considered a 'violent schizophrenic' and bears some of the hallmarks of being a hunter as she dealt with weird 'shadow things' that would come over things by attacking them.  She stopped and put herself into the hospital when she almost killed her mother and has since decided that the 'shadow things' can ride people but can't puppet them.  She believes that every night the 'shadow things' come for her because she did an urban legend in the mirror.  Strong, calm, capable but thought to be suicidally depressed due to attempted suicides that she says were actually attacks by the 'people in the mirror' which left a knife by her side.
  • Nora.  Catatonic schizophrenic.  She's quite pliable and will walk where led and sit if pressure is applied gently to her shoulders.  She's in her mid-sixties.
  • Molly.  Thinks she's a Mafia Moll to Al Capone and has a telephone to him in her bedroom.  Otherwise a bit of a wild and flirty young woman who indulges her passions whenever she gets the chance.  She was committed because she retreated into her fantasies to the extent that she didn't notice the hovel she lived in or the fact that her mother had died.
  • Annette.  A really good pianist who doesn't respond much and has been therefore treated as the good listener of the group though she lacks the desire to form relationships and so others have to constantly take the first steps.  She does enjoy listening to people, though, and has sort of been adopted by Hester.
  • Elizabeth.  She hasn't been interacted with yet.
  • Rita.  She hasn't been interacted with yet.
The staff:
  • Sunderland.  Orderly.  Often has to deal with James' boredom and frustrated playfulness.  Is generally not impressed but tries to be nice to the patients.
  • Dr. Kelly.  Psychiatrist.  A calm, gentle yet still quite business-like woman who gives each patient an hour of her time and leads group therapy.
  • Nurse Rachel.  She gives the patients their drugs each morning but isn't really noticed until James has a 'dream' about her.  She became a nurse to make a difference.
The visitors:
  • Sister Michael.  A nun who comes to visit James on occasion.
The Sessions

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dystopic: Capturing Meissan

Leningrad's player wasn't there but I couldn't think of a good reason for him not to be there (but also couldn't be bothered running him) and so we kind of just pretended he didn't exist for that session.  You know how it is sometimes.  I've got a few weeks (probably around a month) until the next game so we've got time to come up with an excuse later.

The team regrouped at Bio-Connects HQ and Nomad 6 and Tokyo were both briefed on the situation.  Their plan was for London to approach Meissan as someone who'd partially cleaned up her mess and who wanted to be paid a lot for it.  He was to lure Meissan up onto the roof.

There was also an argument about whether London's phone should be destroyed to get rid of CASEI.  In the end, London used it to find out if Meissan were a British agent and if she'd been given a mission to kill off a Cheiron agent who'd been making partnership arrangements with Bio-Connects.  He found out that she'd been declared a rogue agent and redlisted (kill or capture call out) for the past seven months.  No such mission had been declared by British Intelligence either.

They decided to head to the breakfast bar (which was part of a Super-Mall with apartments up top, businesses in the lower middle, shops and eateries in the lower floors and a subway station in the lowest floor) and Nomad 6 got permission to land on the ceiling airship-park.  Reaching the location, Nomad 6 paid for the spot with a chit-card (like a Woolworths card with a certain amount of cash on it only it is recognised everywhere yet totally anonymous unlike a credit card).  He paid at the start rather than the end so he had to pay a larger amount to cover a day and a night in case they stayed that long.  The security guard could keep the unnecessary extra so it was also a bit of a bribe.

They found a spot surrounded on two sides by the rooftop walls and on one and a half sides by a tall set of air conditioning duct / machines and a cooling tower.  Nomad 6 climbed onto the cooling tower and got into position with his bow.  Tokyo was handcuffed and had a sack over her head and had to kneel with Miami pointing a gun at the side of her head.

London went down sixty eight floors in a great big elevator which had mirrored walls and couches ringing it.  Once he was on the right floor, he came out and found a very blue cafe worked by attractive women in pleated skirts.  He spotted the only white woman in the cafe who had a packet of e-cigarettes by one hand as she held a PDA with the other.  She had curly dark hair and wire-framed glasses.

London approached and she made him right away, asking him to sit, which he did.  They had a short conversation where London outlined the plan and offered her Tokyo.  When she demanded to know if anyone else were with him he boldly explained that there were two others AND Nancy Kurosawa (Tokyo).  She was both an arrogant and suspicious person and the two elements of her personality warred for a minute.  London rolled low on his Persuasion (one dice) and she rolled low on her Subterfuge (two dice) but she won by enough to tell that there was more to this than met the eye.   She finally accepted his offer but had no intention of going to the roof with him.

As she headed into the elevator behind him, he sensed that something was about to go down and accurately read in her body language that she wasn't planning on going with him to the roof.  So he backed up to the end of the elevator, giving her a moment to hit the button.  There was also a couple kissing in the elevator but there wasn't anything to do with them at this stage.

Meissan placed an e-cigarette in her mouth and London shot her instinctively with his silenced SMG (gun has a noise emitter that makes a sound that cancels out the gunshot) before she managed to shoot him.  He winged her and her shot buried itself in his special dragon skin armour (jelly-like substance between two layers of fabric that hardens on ballistic impact like a kevlar plate).  It wasn't a regular shot but a high-velocity thick dart intended to pump poison into him.  Since the one point of damage downgraded to bashing I figured that the dart hadn't penetrated the armor and so he didn't have to worry about that.  She then stepped out past the elevator doors so that he couldn't see her.

Nomad 6 got a call from CASEI (the program on London's phone) and when he responded he could hear gunshots.  The call then disconnected and GPS turned on to show London's location.  He hopped down from the water tower and Miami took the hood off Tokyo's head.  As they raced for the elevator, Tokyo hacked the systems and turned on the fire alarm (but not the sprinklers as they only go off if a certain amount of smoke is detected due to the risk of damaging merchandise).

London ran out of the elevator and fired another burst into her and this did a hefty amount of damage.  At that, Meissan turned tail and ran for the subway stairs, moving with surprising speed in an almost halting and supernatural manner.  She was soon lost in the crowd called by the fire alarms.  Still Tokyo managed to spot her through the cameras and London, who followed her onto the subway platform, also spotted her.  Miami used Patterns and could tell that Meissan wouldn't get onto the currently parked subway train in the next few days.

When Tokyo, Miami and Nomad 6 were in the elevator, Nomad 6 spent some Faith to quickly cause the elevator to descend faster than normal by stringing Point A and Point B together so that they were almost touching.  Ahh, the joys of bending reality.  They got down to the ground floor in time for London to have snuck around behind Meissan (who was gazing around with segmented golden eyes looking for him) and press his gun against her back.  She stiffened and he led her into the elevators.  They were silent on the way up.

Seeing the guns, the security guard who'd come out of his box to help usher people to their vessels simply stepped back into his box and locked the door.  The team hurried out to their dropship and got in.  Nomad 6 flew away.

London used Voice of Heaven and said: "Tell me who you were working for and why you did this."

Despite some difficulty getting the lore to work (he had to subtract her Resolve from his roll), his power won and she responded: "Cheiron Group wanted to take out Bio-Connects infiltrator asset to undermine Kurosawa and leave the company vulnerable to further attack due to the military contracts they recently won with the Japanese Military."  The lore wore off and she fell silent.

Nomad 6 put the dropship on autopilot and checked Meissan's wounds and saw that they'd healed to merely deep scabs.  She also looked a fair bit more gaunt than when London had first met her.  They flew the dropship to Bio-Connects and part of the way there Meissan started drooling a thick drool that indicated dehydration and she was all the more gaunt.  She passed out and Nomad 6 put the call out for a hydration team to be waiting up there.

When they landed, Kurosawa and a team of medical experts were waiting.  The experts rushed off with her and most of the team (who wanted to keep an eye on her).  Kurosawa and his daughter returned to his office.  Tokyo told him everything (leaving out the demonic details) and Kurosawa determined to keep Meissan with her bizzare augmentations for further study rather than relinquishing her over to British intelligence.  He didn't mind so much what happened to Muoi Kai so long as they learned from her what they could.

London, Miami and Nomad 6 went to speak to Muoi Kai as Tokyo went to get showered and dressed for her party but the doctor wouldn't let them in without Nancy or her father's presence.  So they called down Tokyo and were finally let in.

Muoi Kai had had her limbs disconnected and put on a table to one side.  Her forehead and torso were strapped to the metal table.  The team instantly felt sorry for her as all evidence suggested that she thought she were simply in the fight against Cheiron and had been hoodwinked.

London led with a very official revelation that Muoi's boss was working for Cheiron Group, had been redlisted by the British government, that a team were coming for her and that she'd better tell what she knew.  Muoi became anxious about that and didn't say anything which led London to apply a bit more verbal pressure.

Tokyo swept in as the good cop and defended Muoi Kai as a hoodwinked poor woman.  Muoi quickly responded to Tokyo's good cop routine so Tokyo convinced London to go 'get a coffee' and leave them for five minutes.  It was amazing how well the Good Cop / Stern Cop routine worked out.  I was roleplaying Muoi and despite the fact that it was a bit transparent I could 'feel' the NPC warming up to the possibility of having someone on her side - especially as it was the woman she had almost helped kill for no good reason.  Tokyo even got Muoi's word that she wouldn't attack them and had her limb augmentations put back onto her.  A process that took five minutes per limb.

Muoi then explained that:

  • She'd met many of Meissan's friends tangentially but Meissan tried to keep her various assets apart.
  • Muoi had been considered Meissan's military asset.
  • Muoi is irritated by the whole secret agency business as she had no way of knowing that her old handler had gone rogue and would prefer to get out.
  • Muoi met a man with an accent nearly identical to Miami's (hispanic American from Florida) but while she'd seen his face she'd never gotten his name.
  • Meissan was interested in footage of blurred individuals (thought to be ghosts in Japan) and had Muoi watched CCTV footage for them.
  • Meissan was allied with a team of four individuals who also had a paramilitary feel who would be alerted when such footage was found.
  • Meissan and Muoi knew several politicians who were influenced by Cheiron but allegedly the British government refused to allow them to touch such individuals.  Muoi can give their names.
  • Meissan had told Muoi that the Le Reve woman was a Cheiron agent visiting Tokyo as this was the only place she could receive new orders.
Tokyo promised Muoi that she could go home but that she needed to hide out.

Tokyo then went to see Koji Yukichi and demanded the service of him and his mother to make up for the death of her pilot and the near death of herself.  He was to go out amongst the underclasses and sow hope within them.  He was happy to swear his life to her - doubly so when she revealed her true angelic form. Tokyo gave Koji extra Presence, a little extra Persuasion, and the Inspiring merit with two of his own Faith, keeping one for herself.  At that stage he became worshipful of her and opened doors for her and even tried to convince his mother of her true splendor but his mother remained suspicious (even after seeing Tokyo's true form) so Tokyo said she'd give her time and asked Koji to keep working on his mother.

London was told by British Intelligence that Kurosawa wasn't cooperating and so he went to see him personally.  Kurosawa explained that he wasn't going to release Meissan as he had no reason to believe that British Intelligence would tell him anything they learned and it was his company that Meissan had been attacking.  He needed to learn what he could and he could only rely on his people to do it.  He gave a time frame of six months before releasing Meissan.  London did manage to get Muoi from him, however, and she was given to the four British Intelligence agents who took her away with them.