Posted in Android Cypher, Role-playing Sessions

Android Cypher Part 3: Tickets Please

(Image by Dusty Crosley)

After Ji Ho was betrayed by Drake2173.  We had little recourse.  Our only play was to go to Luna and solve this case ourselves.  Luther Connelly, Elizabeth’s husband had motive and opportunity and the perfect alibi; he wasn’t even on the planet.  There was just one problem.  The wait time to get a legitimate ticket up the Beanstalk was a couple of months.

Now Ji Ho as a cop could go on official business at the drop of a hat.  He, however, was suspended. He had no assets that could get him a trip up, not without getting him in a whole lot a trouble with the force.  We had to come up with another way.

I decided to contact my, on again, off again employer ZHIHN or /-|-\, as he commonly known as among my crowd, to see if had a way up.  After I made the customary marks at our usual dead drop, he contacted me in chat.    He was rather helpful, but not.   He had a run heading to Midway Station half way up the stalk.  His usual courier was good, but he’d throw it my way if I needed the ticket. One ticket, half way.   Not very helpful.   I asked about the job, though, since I planned on going up anyway.  /-|-\ told me it was a simple delivery to Wilders Club and it paid well.  /-|-\ wasn’t one to send me some bad packets, I was too valuable to him, so I told him I’d take the job once I found a way up.  Continue reading “Android Cypher Part 3: Tickets Please”

Posted in Gaming Advice, Set Piece

Set Piece: A Clear and Present Danger

If you see a cool scene in a book or movie and you think it will make a good scene in your game, use it.  With some retooling, you can make it your own.  I’ve used the below scene quite a few times and only once been called out on its inspiration.  But the player who figured out the inspiration said it only made the scene more fun for him.

 Scene:

The Players are in a vehicle(speeder truck, van, carriage, whatever) when an “incident” up ahead forces them to turn onto a narrow street with buildings on either side.   A vehicle pulls in behind them and up ahead  something blocks their path. That is when the ambush starts, usually with an explosion.

Mood:

The mood in this scene is surprise and chaos. There are other factors that really depend on what the PCs are doing in the vehicle in the first place. Are they escorting an important figure, transporting a valuable McGuffin, moving stolen goods, or just going for a ride? Each reason can really effect the intensity of the scene.

An ambush like this just doesn’t happen out of the blue, make sure there is a faction that hates the PC enough, or wants what the PCs have enough, to pull this off.  This ambush  will have a better effect on the players if it is orchestrated by a returning villain/faction rather than a new one.  It will also let the players know that that faction/entity is really dangerous.

It should be clear to the PCs that the enemies have greater numbers, the better terrain advantage, and possibly better fire power than the PCs.  Getting out alive should be the number one goal of the PCs. If they have a large cargo they cannot easily take with them, then they may have to forfeit it to the enemy… for now.  If you don’t think your PCs will be inclined to flee; well you could kill one, if you want to send that kind of message, or takes them prisoner.(a set piece I’ll get to later)

This should not be unwinnable, just have the odd stacked against them.  But the PCs may need to change their parameters on what it means to win. Continue reading “Set Piece: A Clear and Present Danger”

Posted in Android Cypher, Role-playing Sessions

Android Cypher Session 2: Red Tape

(The player who plays Bishop couldn’t make this session, but we carried on without him.  This one is not written from Kloë’s point of view like Session 1 was, it is more in a standard recap format. )

The prime suspect in the group’s investigation, Elizabeth Connelly, turned up dead. Ji Ho arrived on the scene and had to wrestle jurisdiction away from the archology’s own police force.  Bishop had been badly injured in the chase/gunfight that occurred on the way to the scene and left to seek medical attention.  Mrs. Connelly had been shot in the eye and found in a Network Immersion Rig with the gun lying on the floor near her body. A quick scan by Ji Ho’s bioroid partner (who was very miffed he hadn’t been included in the other investigation so far) revealed no gunshot residue on her hands or arms, showing she did not commit suicide.   The victim’s bioroid butler (who found the body) said that no one had come in or left the premises since his master had gotten home.  Security footage soon backed up this claim.

Ji Ho soon realized that the victim was still tapped into the Network.  With a little bit of coaching from Kloë,(via some seemingly garbled text messages) Ji Ho was able to open a port on her Rig for Kloë to hack in remotely. Upon doing so, however, Kloë soon encountered some nasty barrier ICE and had to quickly jack out before she suffered the same fate of the victim.  Kloë decided she had to get to the scene.   Meanwhile, Ji Ho had made another discovery; the victim’s husband had no belongings at the dwelling. It soon came out in a couple of interviews that her Husband (who worked for the same company she did) had left her a few months back.  He also left for Luna 9 days ago to conduct some business for his company with Hass-Bioroid. Continue reading “Android Cypher Session 2: Red Tape”

Posted in Set Piece

Set Piece: The Hold-up

I was in the corner of the shop ogling the ornate clockwork pigeon on a perch when my ears caught the slightly elevated conversation going on at the counter.

“Hey Shamus, Miss Elvestean hasn’t paid us yet this week.”

“Yes… yes, I did,” Came the hesitant female reply. “I paid you on Tuesday… you came in on Tuesday… It’s only Friday today.”

“Is that right?”

“I don’t know boss…  We had that thing on Tuesday. We weren’t uptown.”

“Did you hear that Miss Elvenstean we had a thing on Tuesday. There is no way you paid us then.”

By this point in the conversation, I had snuck close up to the counter and sized the two thugs up.  The black haired one named Shamus was rather beefy, he was trouble. The store owner was trying to hold her ground, but  the other one, the tall and lengthy  one, he pulled his blunderbuss from his belt and pointed it at the store owner.

“Listen lady,  pay us, or else.”

This I couldn’t handle alone.

I slowly backed up toward the front of the store and flipped open my communicator to call Alexis, when disaster struck.

Hey, Conner.…We’ve got a lurker here… about to cause some trouble.”

(Image from Pulp Fiction ©1994 Miramax)

The Hold-up

(or The Extorion…. depends on how you set the scene.)

Scene:

A lot of buying of gear is done off-screen in PRGs but when it takes place during the session it sometimes can be a slog for both players and the GM.  Now it’s time for you to spice things up.  While the PC’s are in a store browsing the wares.  Quite a few ruffians come in to hold up the shop owner.

Mood:

The scene may seem simple, but it can serve many different purposes. All of which would help define the mood.  So as a GM decide what you want the hold-up to accomplish:

Establish the presence of a gang or organized crime in the town – Maybe the intruders are looking for protection money. They own this turf so a few bystanders seeing them accost this shop owner doesn’t bother them.   This is a good encounter for PCs that are new in town.  It sets up who some of the local groups are without using exposition.

Establish a McGuffin – the villains want something that the store owner has something special.  “We know you have it old man, hand it over and no one gets hurt.”  A good adventure starter if the PCs want to get involved.  This kind of quest start can feel more organic since it’s up to the players themselves to get involved or not.

Force PC’s out of their comfort zone –  The whole party doesn’t all shop together usually. Have this encounter happen to the rogue who was already pick-pocketing items, or the mage or the face character.  Can they talk or con their way out?  Depending on how they respond it could be a great chance for character defining role-play.

Establish Corrupt Law Enforcement – Maybe it’s the town guard harassing the merchant.  Accusing him of selling illegal goods.  (maybe the shopkeeper is)

This isn’t necessarily a combat encounter.  The PC may be able to defuse the situation with great cunning or a sharp tongue.  They may not even get involve.  Don’t force them too. Continue reading “Set Piece: The Hold-up”

Posted in Android Cypher, Role-playing Sessions

Android Cypher Session 1: A Murder in Velvet

Ji Ho caught a murder case, his first real Murder case since the EVE incident got him sidelined at the station.   This was good for me since he was sidelined he could subtly look into Kyle’s disappearance.  Granted it didn’t do a lick of good, the trail was still cold.  We needed a break, I needed a break, and Ji Ho’s case was just the thing.

Some scum named Edwin Hinson got himself shot dead on the plaza level of a parking garage.  I say some scum because Hinson had quite a few priors; racketeering, fraud, and blackmail (more on the latter later).   The men who shot him, 3 of them, were dressed like hooligans and wearing some kind of freaky metallic face paint, they also jumped right off the plaza level to the street below after they offed Hinson.   What kind of people do that, Augments? Gangbangers?

The security footage Ji Ho showed me was useless, the department had a high powered facial recognition system but it couldn’t make heads or tails of the perps, my systems could do no better.  The freaky face paint screwed up all chances of ID-ing the killers.  Face paint Jo Ho swore he’d never seen bangers or mobsters wearing before.    Well, to be honest, the footage wasn’t entirely useless.  When Hinson was accosted he made a rather interesting inquiry.

“Did one of their husband’s send you?” Continue reading “Android Cypher Session 1: A Murder in Velvet”

Posted in Set Piece

Set Piece: Bad Shaft

Set Piece

Set Pieces are a weekly look at an encounter you can use at your table.  These small scenes are modular in nature and can be slot into adventures rather easily.  I will discuss the tone you can take in these scenes, the enemy types you can encounter and different options that you can make that will affect how the encounter could play out for your players.

(the following Set Piece is an expanded take on and encounter I wrote for D20Radio’s GM Holocron. If you are a fan of Star Wars and Star Wars role-playing you should take a look at d20radio.com and their Order66 Podcast)

elevator-shaft

Bad Shaft

Terry’s grip on the rope was slipping, Kate said the harness should hold him, but he had his doubts.

                “Hurry up would you,” Kate called from below. “Or I’ll unhook this rope tied to me and leave you up here alone”

Terry slowly continued his decent, but then a crash came from above. Terry looked up but his headlamp barely illuminated 10 feet.

                “What the hell was that?” He called.

                “I don’t know, but I don’t like…  Hurry up Terry!”

                “Look out!” Terry called as the rusted metal shield they had wedged in front of the shaft’s entrance came crashing down from above.  Kate propelled herself off one of the walls and her and Terry barely avoided the falling shield.  Terry looked down to see if Kate was alright.  Kate’s eyes were filled with terror as she was looking up… up past Terry to the shaft’s not so hidden entrance.

“Ohh God… it’s coming!”

 Scene:

The elevator is busted, the mine shaft has a lift no longer, or there is something shiny deep down in the well; for whatever reason, the PC’s are climbing up or down a very confined corridor. What a great location for an intense encounter.

The encounter works best if the threats are coming from the opposite direction that the players want to go, and not something they have to fight through in this space. The scene is best not as a straight fight but rather a desperate escape or a chase.

Mood/Threats:

The type of threat really sets the mood in this scene.  A mindless horde or horrific monsters make this a desperate climb or decent, with a possible struggle here or there as a fast creature makes it to the players.

If the threats have ranged weapons things turn a bit hectic but less desperate.  A firefight as the players position themselves under(or above) bits of machinery or side support beams make things play out differently.  However, if their threat is above them, they may have to watch out for things they hit falling down on top of them.

Another take is having the threat environmental, rising lava, water, or an encroaching gas would make the climb just as desperate but change the threat from an enemy to something more inevitable.

 Mechanics:

Athletics or Climbing checks should or course be used in this encounter, but not every round.  If the players have a rope or climbing gear, or other means to making climbing easier they shouldn’t need to roll just to climb up or down at a normal pace.  However, if they are trying to go fast, or make a difficult maneuver, or a ghoul has jumped on their back and is about to bite into their neck, then you should probably have them make a check to make sure they don’t fall.

That said a failure on a check doesn’t mean they fell.  They just weren’t able to find purchase on that other wall or got held up and moved slower than expected, only a critical failure, despair or GM intrusion should have them falling into the depths. Even then some other save, or another player should be given a chance to save their friend.

Fighting of any kind should be made more difficult due the climbing situation.

Tips:

Keep the players moving.  Forward moment is key to this scene being memorable rather than a slog.  If the players want to stay and fight the threats, ramp up the physical checks by having their ropes get cut, or climbing pick start to break.  If the players are getting bogged down with the threats, introduce and environmental one that affects both friend and foe to thin the enemy ranks and break the players free.  (a sudden explosion from above rocks the ground, water cascades from above…)

Don’t drag out the encounter unnecessarily.  If the players make great climbing checks to get out of their super quick let them.  Play up how big the horde is and how horrible the scene is they are leaving behind. Make it feel like their skill saved them from a horrible fate. Make them hope they can find ANOTHER way out.

 

Posted in Gaming Advice, Rants

The House Rule

I must admit I am kind of allergic to house rules.  I don’t like them.  I am always skeptical of rules my friends or random strangers have come up with to ‘fix’ an issue they have with a game.  I assume that games have been thoroughly researched, tested, play-tested, and tweaked before they ever make it to publication.  So the rules as written are written for a reason.  That ability or +2 bonus is there because it’s balanced, and changing it even a little bit may have unforeseen consequences down the line.  It is like computer coding.  How many times has a ‘patch’ to fix one small problem caused a completely unrelated system to crash or fail? (in my line of work… every patch) So I don’t like to ‘patch’ the rules.

That said there are acceptable levels of ‘House Ruling’ I can handle.  In RPGs, many people come up with new abilities, items, monsters, even classes.  This is fine.  RPGs aren’t competitive (or at least not the ones I play) so as long as your homebrewed class isn’t blatantly broken and overpowered that my character never gets a chance to shine then I am good.  If the classes available didn’t meet the vision you had for the character you have been dying to play, then by all means house rule it. Continue reading “The House Rule”