A couple of the guys in my group brought their sons last game, so each of them ran a character. It was hard to role play a hardened gangster with a 10 year-old at the table! I made up for the lack of swearing in the synopsis below.
The video starts with a blurred image of Suko Goro rocking back and forth in a chair, taking a swig of beer.
“Quit moving around Goro.” A woman’s voice from off-camera says. “I’m having trouble with this damn camera. I’m not sending Haruna any amateur vid. “There it is.” She says, as the image comes into focus. “Start talking.”
“Ok, so we come back to your place in Kabukicho with this disc your hacker buddy Shinzo had recorded all his shit on. Now, none of us know dick about computers, so you call up this software jockey, Kozo Kanzaki, to crack the fucker for us. Anyhow, this guy shows up and he looks like he’s ten years old or something, but he undoes the encryption pretty as you please and we figure out what Shinzo was actually doing. Turns out he was researching NDM’s competitors and stumbled onto some money laundering shit. The trail starts at Makita Genetics to Wu-Ketai Industries to Norsk Cargo Lines and onto Stern Weapons Technologies.
“Now when we hear all this, we start seeing some of this shit falling into place. ‘Nobuda’ is the name we got from that hitman at The Monkey Temple. Well, it just so happens that one of the VPs at Makita Genetics is named Nobuda. I remember him on the vids from a year or so ok trying to smooth over a scandal about faulty cloned retinal transplants. Caused like 200 people to go blind or some shit. Can’t be a fucking coincidence.
“That nerve gas we found traces of in your old safe house is called Delta-8 and it was manufactured by Stern. You remember the pictures of those Chinese guerrillas what got gassed on Tau Ceti like a dozen years or so ago? Freaked the shit out of me when I was a kid. Shit’s totally illegal, but I know a guy that can get a hold of it if you need to kill someone, and his family, and his pets and all the fucking roaches in his house.
“You start making calls and land us a job at Haruna Biolabs. They’ll be pretty pleased if we can take Makita down a peg or two. They send over this suit named Yenny to act as our handler, I guess.
“Anyhow, you’re thinking that some of your old crew might have made it out of that Delta-8 deathtrap alive. You’ve got a PO box setup where they’d drop off a letter if they were still breathing. We decide to go down there and stake it out. We hire this bum to go up and open the mailbox while we watch. That Kozo kid is pretty fucking with it. He spies some douche take off while the rest of us are standing around with thumbs planted firmly in asses. No way we can catch the fuck, but Kozo figures the security cam from the Meatstick joint nearby had got his image. After a significant amount of fucking around – apparently Meatstick’s got some serious ice running – he finally scores a good picture of the runner hopping into a Kamikaze Cab.
“Meanwhile, we read the letter from the PO box and it’s a fucking ransom note for Toritaka, your old techie. Some bastard’s got him and he wants a lot of money. Said he’d offered him to Makita too, the douche.
“Toshiro’s buddy works at Kamikaze, so after Kozo tries to hack their system and fails we decide to head down and see if we can figure out where that fair got to. Fuckwit the cabby ain’t too happy to see us, but he’s happy enough to take a bribe and find out who was in the cab. Turns out the same bastard we saw on the Meatstick vid works at Kamikaze! And he comes strolling out of the shitter while we’re paying off fuckwit! He spies us and bolts, but we run the bastard down and catch him in a nearby warehouse.
“After a proper beat down, the little shit, whose name is Buntawara, tells us he’s got Toritaka back at his apartment. Guy’s a fucking amateur. Keeps going on about how he’s an investigative journalist or some shit and this is his big break. Stupid fuck is in way over his head. His flat is only a couple blocks away, so we hoof it over and head on up. Buntawara’s passed out because of his wounds by the time we get there, so Toshiro grabs him by the shirt collar and props him in front of the door while I open it with his keycard. Soon as the door opens, somebody hucks a fucking grenade right at us. Luckily, Toshiro spots it, drops the little shit right on top of it, then jumps into the room blazing away with his shotgun.
“Turns out it was Toritaka what pitched the grenade at us! It was only a flash-bang, but fuck, you see a grenade you shoot, no? Now stupid fucking Toritaka is bleeding out on the floor of Buntawara’s flat. What a clusterfuck. But whatever. Guy got what was coming to him if you ask me. Buntawara got what he deserved too. Turns out being a human shield on that stun grenade was enough to make him give up the ghost.
“We start tearing Buntawara’s flat apart, looking for anything useful, when another fucking grenade comes rolling through the door! Dumb fuck Toshiro runs over to try and kick it out into the hall and it blows up right in front of him. Guy doesn’t take a scratch! Can you fucking believe it? The gods must hate me! I catch a chunk of shrapnel and then I’m in the hall carving some ninja up. Toshiro makes sure of the job with his shotgun.
“That bastard looked like he was on his own. We decide to hang around until the cops show up to see if they’ll spill anything on the son of a bitch. All we get is he was working for Makita. No shit.
“Meanwhile, Kozo spends the time breaking into Buntawara’s computer. Turns out the guy runs a blog called Buntawara’s Buzz. Haven’t heard of it? Not surprising, I think only Filbanto Stew has fewer followers. Anyhow, this cock-knocker has got files of vid with your buddy Toritaka spilling everything he knows about Makita. Looks like Buntawara was giving him Atropine or something in exchange for all the dirt. Fucking humanitarian.
“Anyhow, we’ve probably just scratched the surface and the whole thing smells like shit. We know fuck-all about this money laundering or where your buddy Shinzo is at. We kept Haruna from paying out any ransom for that Toritaka fuck, and Makita from grabbing him so I’m calling it a win.
“Hey Freckles. Why am I doing this debrief shit? I know Toshiro is a fucking moron and you’ve got that ugly-ass mole and shit, but Sureji or Bobby could pull their own weight once in a fucking while.”
“Would you stop whining? And quit calling me Freckles.”
“Getting under your skin?”
“You’re a real asshole Goro…”
We started our Zaibatsu game last week. It was pretty awesome despite some terrible die rolling from the players. We’ve added a few house rules to our game. A major departure is armor is a lot better in our game. If you play RAW, expect to write up a new character often!
Fair warning for any of my 3 followers… If you’re concerned with foul language you might want to give this one a pass. I don’t think I quite got the F-bomb into every sentence, but it wasn’t for lack of trying!
The camera wobbles. For a moment, you catch a blurry glimpse of a woman’s hand covered in rings and then it comes into focus. The image is of a young man; maybe twenty. He looks bored, slouching in a kitchen chair. His bullet-shaped head is shaved bald, his eyes are a little too far apart and there is a gang tattoo visible on his neck. He’s big. His forearms are corded with muscle and if you know what you’re looking for you can see traces of steroid and growth hormone abuse.
“That thing on?” He asks gesturing.
“Yes.” A disembodied woman’s voice replies.
“I swear Suki, if you use this against me I am going to fucking gut you.” He snarls.
“Just get going, ok Goro?” She replies. “Take it from Takano’s…”
“Right. See we’d just finished our orientation bullshit for those fuckwads at Ellis-Itami. Toshiro’s been begging Bobby, Sureji and me to go there and telling us that his uncle owns the fucking place – seriously, fucking Takano’s! Everybody knows the Yakuza run that place. Anyhow, we’d just ordered and got some beer and shit when Sureji comes in with our first paychecks, only they ain’t paychecks. Some shit about unpaid administrative leave. Bastards laid us off, they did.
“So, Takano’s if hopping, like always, and I’m thinking, ‘How the fuck am I going to afford these fucking noodles?’ I mean I’m laying out a month’s rent for dinner and shit here. So I scope the place out looking for some easy marks. I see you and your rent-a-goons at the table next to us, this douche rockerboy and his squeeze, in a fucking poodle skirt, a bunch of day laborers and finally, these drunk corps. So I’m thinking about rolling those corp-fucks later when everybody – and I mean fucking everybody – pulls guns and opens up on you and your crew.
“We flip over our table and suddenly you’re hiding there with us. I bust a couple caps into one of those corps then take a round myself. Bobby’s spraying fucking bullets everywhere and screaming that he’s hit. Sureji’s gun gets stuck on auto and he’s blazing away at the fucking ceiling. Suddenly, Toshiro yells ‘grenade’ and hucks one into the middle of those corp goons. Stupid fuck forgets to pull the pin!
“Anyhow, everybody kind of froze for a second and I’m like, ‘Fuck this!’ I pull my katanas and me and Toshiro tear out into the room to carve some of those fuckers up. Meanwhile, Sureji picks up you and, using the fucking table for a shield, makes a run for the door with Bobby not far behind. Toshiro and I fall back too and then that dumb shit flings another grenade into the place. They ain’t gonna serve any noodles at Takano’s for a fucking long time! At least I don’t need to worry about paying for dinner…
“Hey, can I get a fucking beer or something here?”
“Ok, sheesh. You’ve had like four already. Keep going, I’ll get one.”
“So, I can hear the sirens getting near and you’re all like, ‘I’ll hire you guys to protect me, I work for NDM Bank and shit’. So we figure we’d better get moving. You say you’ve got a safe house somewhere in Kabukicho where we can hole up and Toshiro says he knows a cab driver at Kamikaze Cabs that can get us there. Turns out the fuckwit cabby is halfway across town so we started hoofing it towards the old Skytree Mall to meet him. I know a shortcut through this punk bar called The Smell. The bouncer starts giving us a hard time and I’m just about ready to bounce his fucking head against the concrete when you sweet talk him into letting us in.
“Seriously Suki, have you ever thought of getting that fucking mole taken off your face? You’d be kind of hot without that hairy-ass thing…”
A woman’s hand places a bottle of Red Dragon in front of the man. “Here’s your goddamn beer. Keep going.”
“Sure thing freckles. Anyhow, we come out by the mall and the taxi picks us up and takes us to your safe house in Kabukicho. You patch us up and we get a little shuteye. Next day, you tell us you don’t work for NDM Bank anymore and you want to figure out who’s trying to kill you and you’ll pay us and shit. Said you want to go back to your old digs in Harajuku and see if any of your crew is around or if you can find anything that may shed some light on this shit storm. Sureji is thinking that is exactly the right place to get ourselves ambushed, so we’d better be fucking careful.
“Apparently, Sureji ain’t fucking careful. We come to your old pad. Your fucking elevator opens to the kitchen of ‘The Monkey Temple’ (an Indian restaurant) for some stupid ass reason. Anyhow, we come walking in and half the cooks bolt as these two bastards pull katanas and start swinging. Don’t bring a sword to a swordfight with me fuckface! I hacked into both those assholes. Took one out and opened the other to a sucker punch from Sureji. We tied that guy up and then boarded the elevator.
“Now we all figured there’d be gunmen waiting in your apartment, so we took the lift up to the roof level. Sureji found a firehose and let it down the side of the building so we could climb on down to your balcony. When he tried to sneak open the door, those fuckwads open up on us. Luckily, we got us some armor off the assholes in the kitchen, so Toshiro and I charge in with blades while Sureji and Bobby lay down some covering fire. Didn’t take too long to take those fucks out.
“So your place had been pretty well ransacked. We all started looking around and you figured they’d gassed your old crew with some kind of nerve agent or something. That’s pretty hardcore. Looks like your hacker may have been grabbed. He was definitely doing some crazy shit… Had some recording device plugged into his deck and we found his download disk squirreled away in his fucking sock drawer. We need someone who knows tech to crack that fucker.
“Anyhow, we woke up that puke who ambushed us in the kitchen. I dangled him over your balcony until he talked, but he didn’t tell us nothing useful. Just some douche named Nobudo hired him to whack anybody who came to your pad. Since we told him we’d let him go once he talked, I obliged. The owner of that Hyundai is gonna be fucking pissed when he sees his car.
“Grab me another beer freckles?”
“Fuck you Goro, get your own damn beer. We’re done.”
“The Experiments” is a “one-shot” scenario for Traveller by Felbrigg Herriot. I stumbled across it on Lulu.com while looking for adventures that might go well with Zozer Games “Hostile“. It was described as a horror-survival scenario, so I figured it would fit the bill. My copy is a 24-page saddle-stapled book (6.5″ by 8.5”) that reminded me of the old “LBB” version of Traveller.
The premise of the scenario is the player characters have volunteered to help colonize a planet, but instead wake up in an underground facility that is rapidly flooding and crawling with monsters. It’s a cool idea, but as presented the adventure looks like a “reverse dungeon crawl”. The characters start at the bottom level of an underground facility and must fight their way to the top.
Now, I like a good dungeon crawl as well as the next goblin, but “The Experiments” doesn’t deliver one. The facility is boring – it’s basically a box full of rooms. It’s flooding, but I couldn’t find any rules or suggestions for how fast the water rises. There’s nothing preventing the characters from checking out all the rooms. There are no cool gadgets or anything that makes me think this is a high-tech complex. There is nothing gory or scary at all.
What this adventure really needs is for the author sit down and watch “The Poseidon Adventure” and then turn all the dials up to eleven. Underground complex? Screw that, this is an ocean floor facility. Is it flooding? Hell, yeah. There are also fires burning out of control, visibility is only a few meters, and the whole structure is groaning audibly under the weight of a mile of water pressing down on it. Are there monsters? Oh yes! Nasty SOBs that don’t seem to have any trouble ambushing you. There are no guns down here, you need to improvise weapons. You need to swim through a flooded chamber full of xeno-piranhas to get to the escape pods. Oh, fuck! There are no escape pods, the rat bastards who brought you down here took them all. How the heck do you get to the surface??? Did the AI just announce that the reactor is melting down?
It’s hard to pull off a survival adventure. I’ve never done it successfully myself. There’s a lot of pacing involved. As soon as the players are about to solve one problem, they should be confronted with something worse. If your group is swearing at you and threatening to play a board game next week, you are probably do it right. I do have some ideas for how I’d change this one. I may need to write this up when we play Hostile.
The Experiments is available at Lulu.com.
We’re gearing up to play a little Zaibatsu in the near future. I’ll try to do a proper review after we get a game or two under our belts, but to save you time: BUY IT!!!
The player characters are below. We tweaked character generation a bit – players were given 45 points to allocate for the UPP. This makes them slightly tougher (on average) than random rolls. We also decided to play by the Cepheus rules where your stat bonus will impact the die rolls.
(TBD) 399C66 – Hustler
Skills: Broker 1, Bujutsu 0, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 0, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0, Recon 1, Streetwise 1, Urban Survival 1
Retrogenics: Inner Ear, Subdermal Pouch, Super Legs
Bobby Datsun 9C9663 – Ex-Commando, 30 years old
Skills: Bujutsu 1, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 1, Heavy Weapons 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0, Take Aim 1
Retrogenics: High Pain Threshold, Super Arms
Kozo Kanzaki 49CC62 – Software Jockey
Skills: Bujutsu 0, Comms 1, Computer 1, Electronics 1, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0
Retrogenics: Eidetic Memory, Micro Vision, Parabolic Hearing, Waking Sleep
Dopinder 879696 – Driver, 21 years old
Skills: Bujutsu 1, Ground Vehicle 1, Gun Combat 0, Hover Car 1, Jujutsu 1, Karate 0, Urban Survival 1
Retrogenics: Cat Eyes, Mimicry, Waking Sleep
Suki Greenberg 4569C9 – Street Surgeon, 24 years old
Skills: Broker 1, Bujutsu 0, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 0, Investigate 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0, Leader 1, Medicine 1, Streetwise 1
Retrogenics: Eidetic Memory, Micro Vision, Poison Fangs
Suko Goro C9A563 – Burakumin, 20 years old
Skills: Bujutsu 1, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0, Streetwise 1, Urban Survival 1
Retrogenics: Ambidexterity, Bug Eyes
Sureji Tsuchi 99C663 – Samurai, 26 years old
Skills: Bujutsu 0, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 1, Recon 1, Security 1
Retrogenics: Super Arms, Vat Grown Eyes, Wakeful Sleep
Toshiro Musashi 9CA662 – Ex-Commando, 27 years old
Skills: Bujutsu 1, Demolitions 1, Ground Vehicle 0, Gun Combat 1, Jujutsu 0, Karate 0, Take Aim 1
Retrogenics: Subdermal Armor
Proceedings September 9, 2218, Court of Inquiry, 61 Cygni, Leyland-Okuda Corporation District HQ
Cmdr. Shapiro (CS): Will Lt. Commander James Lakhshmikantapur, Second Officer, please take the stand. (Is administered the oath for sworn testimony.) Cmdr James Lakhshmikantapur, can you for the record…
Lt. Cmdr. Lakhshmikantapur (Lakh): ….call me Jimmy. Nobody calls me “James.”
CS: ….please describe your relationship with Captain Kowalski.
Lakh: I’m second officer on Esther, so I’m usually on the bridge at the helm, doing maintenance on sensors, tracking down system errors, that kind of stuff. Minh, I mean Cap, was a sorta…quiet guy. Private. I don’t know…I guess I didn’t really know him that well. Did he have a family?
CS: Did you ever observe Capt. Kowalski to act erratically? Any cause to be concerned for his mental state?
Lakh: …no, not on duty. Never. He was steady. Sometimes he got real hyper for inspections, but… I mean, I…
CS: …please continue, Commander.
Lakh: …I guess I had heard that he used to have a skyscraper problem. But it was years ago. He kicked it.
CS: You’re referring to the synthetic stimulant and hallucinogen called “skyscraper?”
Lakh: Yeah, either that or it was snakebite or skyballs. I can’t remember… but I never saw him act…
CS: So you had no idea that Capt. Kowalski was an addict? That he was using up to 75 micrograms per day of “skyscraper?”
Lakh: …uh, no, not at the time. Really. But like I said I didn’t really know him that well. I wouldn’t necessarily…if I had known, I would have definitely…
CS: Tell me about the Captain’s last shift.
Lakh: OK. So I’m on solo night watch on the bridge and Heff starts buzzing about …
Lakh:…Esther’s computer, HFB-8300. I call him Heff. He’s a pretty normal guy for an AI….what? OK. So, Heff starts squealing about a manual alarm pulled down in companionway A3…right down from Cap’s cabin.
CS: A crew member had pulled the alarm?
Lakh: Yeah, so I dispatched a tech and a marine to go see what…
CS: And they found?
Lakh: Shira laid out in the hallway by the alarm, deep scratches on her face, he tore out her eyeballs. The Captain dead in his cabin….what a freakin’ mess…
CS: You refer to First Officer Shira Yoshiru? The captain had bled to death from self-inflicted wounds, with shattered durasteel mirror shards?
Lakh: Yeah, exactly. So we treated Shira the best we could. Marine searched her cabin and found the rest of the skyscraper. She was selling to a chunk of the crew…Cap had a relapse…it’s because of LO quotas, you know? Leyland-Okuda pushes us, squeezes us so hard. Some people just break…
CS: But not you, Commander. You assumed command of Esther for the remainder of the run? I understand you’ve efficiently served through the deaths of three captains now? You are to be commended for your…
Lakh: Yeah, a cakewalk through the inner system…no big deal. Technically not three dead skippers. Two. Pia was first mate, acting captain. It was labeled “android glitch”, not death. I want to talk more about the quotas from LO…
CS: Thank you for your candid testimony Commander, that will be all at this time…
Lt. Commander Lakhshmikantapur was promoted to full Commander and reassigned as First Officer aboard Llama, CSS-7316.
Lt. Greenwald (LG): Good morning, Commander. Please describe your movements during the final hours of Llama, before she was completely destroyed at the cost of sixteen lives and of its cargo of approximately six million tons of high grade ores.
Cmdr. Lakhshmikantapur (CL): I was on the bridge, at the conn. The Captain was getting rack time. I was playing games with Harry and…
LG: For the record, who is Harry?
CL: That’s our computer. I call him Harry, easier than HFB-9000. He plays a mean game and his music archives are huge. He also knows a lot of jokes, like the one where the sloth and the priest walk into…
LG: …So your attention to Llama’s course was distracted by the game of chess you were playing?
CL:…checkers, actually, I really suck at chess, never could remember how all those guys move.
LG: Ok, then, so you weren’t really focusing on your duties, monitoring the ship’s course because of the checkers game. So when Llama began exhibiting problems, you didn’t immediately take actions to correct it?
CL: Well, the thing is, we were hauling rock from the outer Trojans back to Luna, so like a three week burn, with nothing in the way and no reason to watch every second. Harry does that for us, that’s why he’s there.
LG: But in this case HFB-9000 became erratic and so as first officer and pilot you should have stepped in to take manual command of the vessel?
CL: Well….yeah. But it started off no big deal when Harry reported an anomaly…
LG: What sort of anomaly?
CL: Harry thought he saw a drive plume for a second and then when it blinked off, with a residual heat signature, he said it must be a pirate trying to blindside us. But we were just outside the Mars line and there hasn’t been a pirate raid anywhere near there in like 40 or 50 years…so I kind of blew it off as a sensor error.
LG: But HFB-9000 insisted that a dark ship was on an intercept course?
CL: Yeah, and then a minute later all hell broke loose. No warning, Harry fired up an evasive 5-G burn, alarms blaring, stuff flying all over the bridge. On that Trojan run, we just never do high-G maneuvers, so people get pretty lax about unsecured gear…I tried to confirm his pirate ship but the manual scopes couldn’t find anything. Nothing out there except some random rocks.
LG: So, Commander, why didn’t you assume the helm and correct the situation?
CL: Harry locked me out. Locked everyone out. I ordered Pat down in engineering to ditch the core, but she couldn’t get through his firewall. Plus the 5-G burn sort of made it impossible to get up and go pull his plug, even if I could find it…the Captain wasn’t responding, probably knocked out by the burn or killed right away by debris….after like 15 or 20 minutes of this the proximity warning appeared.
LG: And that was from?
CL: That big freaking rock that Harry was steering us at. He wouldn’t alter course, said the pirates were still in pursuit and talking nonsense about his creator, Professor Irving Culus at University of Titan or some crap like that. We were headed right for it, so I ordered all hands to escape pods. Some couldn’t get to them I guess….
LG: Llama was completely destroyed, so no logs or computer fragments exist to verify your account. How do you respond to this?
CL: Pat made it out and she can tell you how it all went down. Let me tell you, I will never set foot on another boat that has a HFB unit on board, unless there’s a great big kill switch right on the bridge.
Commander Lakhshmikantapur was found not guilty of any wrongdoing in the Llama matter.